InstaLinks : help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
1. Changes in Demography
GS Paper 2:
1. The need to have full disclosure of electoral bonds and political funding
GS Paper 3:
1. Development of Great Nicobar: Strategic imperative and ecological concerns
Content for Mains Enrichment:
1. India’s first suicide prevention policy
2. Framework to curb fake reviews on e-commerce sites
Facts for Prelims:
1. Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
2. Nicobari Hodi
3. Central Depositories Services India Ltd
4. FSSAI floats draft norms for GM Foods
5. 5 Bacteria types claimed 6.8 Lakh lives in India in 2019: Lancet
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Indian Society, Governance- Population and related issues, Geography
Source: Indian Express
Direction: Population and related issues can be asked under different themes in multiple papers. Moreover, India is said to surpass China in population is a significant change. Keep notes ready on demography
- 2022: China will for the first time register an absolute decline in its population
- 2023: India’s population, projected by the United Nationsto reach 1.428 billion, will surpass China’s 1.425 billion
What factors are behind this shift?
- Falling Mortality: Due to increased education levels, public health and vaccination programmes, access to food and medical care, and provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.
- Increasing life expectancy at birth: Between 1950 and 2020, it went up from 43.7 to 78.1 years for China and from 41.7 to 70.1 years for India.
- A drop in fertility: It has slowed down population growth, ultimately resulting in absolute declines (in the case of China).
- The total fertility rate (TFR) — the number of babies an average woman bears over her lifetime
- A TFR of 2.1 is considered “replacement-level fertility”. Simply understood, a woman having two children basically replaces herself and her partner with two new lives. Since all infants may not survive to realise their reproductive potential, the replacement TFR is taken at slightly above two
- India’s TFR is already below-replacement, but it will take a few generations for the absolute population to start declining
- China’s TFR dipped below replacement first in 1991, which was almost 30 years before India’s
Chart 1 shows how sharply the TFR has fallen for India in the last three decades
Implications of these demographic changes:
- For China:
- Decline in prime working age population: It creates a vicious cycle wherein the number of working people to support dependent decreases but the number of dependents starts increasing
- In response, China officially ended its one-child policy, introduced in 1980, in 2016.
- India has an opportunity of reaping a demographic dividend’: the working-age population’s share in the overall population crossed 50% only in 2007 and will peak at 57% towards the mid-2030s (see Chart 2)
- But reaping demographic dividend is contingent upon the creation of meaningful employment opportunities for a young population
Going forward, the challenge before India’s policymakers is to promote growth that generates jobs outside of agriculture. The surplus labour from farms should find employment in sectors — manufacturing and modern services — where productivity, value-addition and average incomes are higher. In the absence of such structural transformation, the “demographic dividend” could well turn into a “demographic nightmare”
Q. Despite the Consistent experience of high growth, India still goes with the lowest indicators of human development. Examine the issues that make balanced and inclusive development elusive. (UPSC 2021)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation
Direction: This article demonstrates how electoral bonds have concealed funding to political parties even more, its impacts, way ahead and a best practice in the conclusion.
Context: According to an RTI reply, electoral bonds worth ₹10,246 crore have been sold by the State Bank of India (SBI) since the instrument was launched in March 2018.
Background in which electoral bonds were introduced:
- Political parties violating FCRA: In 2014, the Delhi HC found both the Congress and BJP guilty of illegally accepting donations from a foreign company, in contravention of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 1976.
- Amending FCRA: Following this, the two parties came together to amend the FCRA to retrospectively legalise the violations, bringing in full anonymity to corporate and foreign political donors.
- Old vs new provisions:
- Previously, only profit-making domestic companies could contribute to political parties, now, loss-making can as well.
- Foreign companies could not previously contribute. A foreign firm operating in India or a foreign entity through a shell company may fund Indian political parties now.
- Capping cash donations: In 2017, the anonymous cash donations to political parties were reduced from ₹20,000 to ₹2,000 to ensure greater transparency in political funding.
Introduction of Electoral bonds:
- The Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS), announced in the 2017 Union Budget, was notified by the Central Government in 2018.
- These bonds can be purchased from select SBI branches by any Indian person or corporation incorporated in India under the scheme.
- The introduction of electoral bonds brought a new form of anonymity to thousands of crores of donations.
How did electoral bonds introduce a new type of anonymity?
- By reducing public and legislative oversight: For example, only the ruling party via the SBI has a full account of all donations being made via electoral bonds.
- Political parties do not disclose electoral bond donors: The only requirement is the annual audit reports with all donations received via electoral bonds. However, these reports are submitted with great delays.
Impact of anonymity:
- Dilutes one voter-one vote principle: This is because electoral bonds give political power to companies, wealthy individual donors and foreign entities, to influence public policies.
- Undue advantage to the ruling party, whether at the Centre or in a State.
Suggestions given by the SC: In 2021 (in response to ADR PIL challenging EBs as unconstitutional), the SC refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds and suggested matching the following (between the purchaser of the bond and political party) to bring in transparency.
Problems with the match the following approach:
- No ordinary person has the time or money to go through documents on government websites or go through income tax returns.
- The total number of registered companies is unknown, and many do not report political donations even if they file annual financial statements.
- All private companies’ annual reports are not easily accessible on the government’s website since they are not mandated to produce them aside from filing annual returns.
- The information regarding donors and donations should be accessible to the Parliament, the Election Commission of India, and the Opposition via SBI.
- The RTI must be strengthened, as only RTI petitions filed with the SBI provide insight into the millions of dollars spent on political parties.
Conclusion: Companies and political parties can show moral leadership by voluntarily disclosing the identities of recipients and donors, as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha did recently.
Q. Trace the changes witnessed in political funding with the introduction of the electoral bond scheme. Critically analyse the potential of electoral bonds in fulfilling the goal of transparency in political fundraising. (250 words)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Internal Security
Direction: The article is an example of the development vs environment debate. It also contains key points about Great Nicobar Island and its strategic significance for India.
Context: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change gave environmental clearance for the ambitious Rs 72,000 crore development project on the strategically important Great Nicobar Island.
- The idea of developing Great Nicobar was first proposed in the 1970s, and its significance for national security and the consolidation of the Indian Ocean Region has been emphasised time and again.
- In recent years, increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Bay of Bengal and the Indo-Pacific has added urgency to this requirement.
About the Great Nicobar Island:
- The Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands are a cluster of about 836 islands in the eastern Bay of Bengal, the two groups of which are separated by the 150-km wide Ten Degree Channel – Andaman Islands in the north and the Nicobar Islands to the south.
- Great Nicobar, the southernmost of the A&N Islands, has an area of 910 sq km. Indira Point, the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island is India’s southernmost point and is less than 150 km from the northernmost island of the Indonesian archipelago.
- The Great Nicobar Island has tropical wet evergreen forests, mountain ranges reaching almost 650 m above sea level and coastal plains.
- It is rich in biodiversity with some endangered species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The leatherback sea turtle is the island’s flagship species.
- Great Nicobar is home to two national parks (Campbell Bay and Galathea), a biosphere reserve and the Shompen and Nicobarese tribal peoples.
- An estimated 237 Shompen (hunter-gatherers who depend on forest and marine resources) and 1,094 Nicobarese (relocated after the 2004 tsunami along the west coast) now live in a tribal reserve, some of which are proposed to be denotified.
- The approximately 8,000 settlers (ex-servicemen from Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh who were settled on the island in the 1970s) who live on the island are engaged in agriculture, horticulture, and fishing.
Strategic location of the Island: Great Nicobar is equidistant from Colombo to the southwest and Port Klang and Singapore to the southeast, and is near the East-West international shipping corridor, which handles a significant portion of the world’s shipping trade.
The proposed projects:
- A greenfield city
- An International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT)
- A greenfield international airport
- A power plant
- A township for the personnel who will implement the project
Significance of the projects:
|● By becoming a major player in cargo transhipment, the Island can participate in the regional and global maritime economy.
● It will promote tourism to the Island.
● Employment opportunities, as over 2.5 lakh direct and indirect jobs are likely to be created on the island.
|● Increasing the presence of the Indian Armed Forces, as the port will be controlled by the Indian Navy, while the airport will have dual military-civilian control.
● The government’s greater goal is to leverage the locational advantage of the island for economic and strategic reasons.
- An ecologically important and fragile region: The loss of tree cover will not only affect the flora and fauna on the island, but it will also lead to increased runoff and sediment deposits in the ocean, impacting the coral reefs, and
According to the government,
- Expediting the project is of paramount national security and strategic importance.
- The development area is only a small percentage of the area of the island and its forest cover, and 15% of the development area itself will be green cover and open spaces.
- A conservation plan for the leatherback turtle is also being put in place.
- India has successfully translocated a coral reef from the Gulf of Mannar to the Gulf of Kutch earlier.
- The Zoological Survey of India is currently in the process of assessing how much of the reef will have to be relocated for the project.
Q. In recent years, India has adopted a proactive policy aimed at transforming the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Examine the strategic and economic importance of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands for India. (250 words)
Content for Mains Enrichment
India’s first suicide prevention policy
Context: In line with the WHO’s South East-Asia Region Strategy for suicide prevention, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the first of its kind in the country.
Data on suicides in India:
- In India, more than 1 lakh lives are lost every year to suicide, and it is the top killer in the 15-29 years category.
- In the past three years, the suicide rate has increased from 10.2 to 11.3 per 1,00,000 population.
- The most common reasons for suicide include family problems and illnesses, which account for 34% and 18% of all suicide-related deaths.
Highlights of the policy:
- Time-bound action plans and multi-sectoral collaborations to achieve a reduction in suicide mortality by 10% by 2030.
- Establish effective surveillance mechanisms for suicide within the next 3 years.
- Establish psychiatric outpatient departments that will provide suicide prevention services through the District Mental Health Programme within the next 5 years.
- Integrate a mental well-being curriculum in all educational institutions within the next 8 years.
- Develop guidelines for responsible media reporting of suicides and restricting access to means of suicide.
- Develop community resilience and societal support for suicide prevention.
Framework to curb fake reviews on e-commerce sites
Source: Indian Express
Direction: Fake reviews are a growing menace esp. when the number of India’s e-commerce is booming
- Standards will apply to every online platform which publishes consumer reviews
Need for new standards:
Reviews play a critical role in shopping in e-commerce. They are more important in three sectors — tour and travel; restaurant and eateries; and consumer durables. But fake reviews mislead consumers to spend money with a business or on a product they may not have otherwise chosen. This could mean other businesses are losing out on revenue they may have earnt, had it not been for the fake or misleading reviews.
- Verification: Methods for verification of review author through email address, identification by telephone call or SMS, confirming registration by clicking on a link, using a captcha system etc. to check traceability and genuineness of the review author
- Moderation: the standard provides for both automated and manual moderation and provides checks for analyzing the review content
- Publication: The standard includes considerations for the review administrator at the time of publication process and after the publication process
- The accuracy of the review, default display and weightage of ratings are defined in the publication process.
- The reviews should be legitimate and the process of collecting, moderating and publishing consumer reviews should be accurate
- The protection of review authors’ personal information should be ensured
Facts for Prelims
Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
Source: The Hindu
Context: 2021 award has been given to NGO Pratham, working in the field of education
The award carries a monetary award of Rs 25 lakh along with a citation and is awarded annually by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust to individuals and organizations
The annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is biennially published by the NGO Pratham, since 2005.
Source: The Hindu
Direction: Go through it once
Context: Nicobari Hodi craft is the 1st application for Andaman and Nicobar’s GI tag
Nicobari Hodi is a traditional craft canoe made using locally available trees for transporting people and goods and for racing purposes.
CDSL or Central Depositories Services India Ltd
Context: According to media reports, certain services at CDSL were disrupted due to a suspected cyber-attack.
- Share depositories hold shares in an electronic or dematerialised form and are an enabler for securities transactions, playing a somewhat similar role to what banks play in handling cash and fixed deposits.
- While banks help customers keep their cash in electronic form, share depositories help consumers store shares in a dematerialised form.
What is CDSL?
- Founded in 1999, CDSL is a government-registered share depository, alongside its other state-owned counterpart National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL).
- It is a Market Infrastructure Institution (MII) that is deemed a crucial part of the capital market structure, providing services to all market participants, including exchanges, clearing corporations, depository participants, issuers and investors.
FSSAI floats draft norms for GM Foods
Source: Business Standard
Direction: GM foods and issues related to it is important for prelims as well as mains.
Context: FSSAI has come out with draft regulations for genetically modified food, proposing mandatory prior approval from the regulator to manufacture, sell and import food or ingredients produced from genetically-modified organisms.
Proposed Food Safety and Standards (Genetically Modified Foods) Regulations, 2022
- Applicability: It will be applicable to food ingredients produced from GMOs that contain modified DNA as well as to food ingredients produced from GMOs that do not contain modified DNA but includes ingredients/additives/processing aids derived from GMOs
- Permission required: No person shall manufacture, pack, store, sell, market or otherwise distribute or import any food or food ingredient produced from GMOs, except with the prior approval of the food authority
- Mandatory Labelling: All food products (GMOs intended for food use and food ingredients produced from GMOs that contain modified DNA) must be labelled with the words ‘contains genetically modified organisms’ on the front
GMO means any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
5 Bacteria types claimed 6.8 Lakh lives in India in 2019: Lancet
Source: Times of India
Direction: These are the common types of bacteria. No need to go into extensive details. Know a few common diseases associated with each of these bacteria.
Context: Five bacteria types — E. coli, S. pneumoniae, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus and A. baumanii — caused nearly 6.8 lakh deaths in India in 2019, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.
Description of five bacterias:
- coli: It is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Most types of E. coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhea. But a few strains, can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of middle ear infections, sepsis (blood infection) in children and pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals and the elderly.
- Klebsiella can cause different types of healthcare-associated infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis
- aureus is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses (boils), furuncles, and cellulitis
- Acinetobacter baumanniican cause infections in the blood, urinary tract, and lungs (pneumonia), or in wounds in other parts of the body
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