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. Arctic Report Card
GS Paper 2:
1. GLAAS Report on WASH
2. India-China relations
GS Paper 3:
1. India’s slowing exports
2. Beyond OPS Vs NPS
3. Panel on Competition Amendment bill 2022
Content for Mains Enrichment
1. Sirisha Bandla (Indian Aeronautical engineer)
2. Woman cutting her hair (Iran Protester)
3. Use of sports to tackle the drug menace
4. World’s 1st Carbon Border Tariff
Facts for Prelims
1. National Rail Plan (NRP)
2. Krishi-Decision Support System (Krishi-DSS)
3. Eastern Rajasthan canal project (ERCP)
5. National Energy Conservation Award
8. Women in CAPF
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Physical Geography (Climate)
Direction: The article highlights the environmental changes in the Arctic, the factors responsible for these changes, their impact and the way ahead.
Context: This year’s assessment of Arctic conditions – the Arctic Report Card, which the US NOAA has produced since 2006, has highlighted rapid environmental changes in the Arctic.
Background: Insights about the circumpolar region are relevant to the conversation about the warming of planet Earth, as the impacts of climate change have been witnessed first in polar regions.
Highlights of the Arctic Report Card:
- Temperatures in the Arctic Circle have been rising much more quickly than the rest of the planet.
- This has transformed the region’s climate into one defined less by sea ice, snow and permafrost and more by open water, rain and green landscapes.
- It has turned the Arctic to be wetter and stormier (rainier), with shifts in its climate and seasons.
- Although 2022 was only the Arctic’s 6th warmest year on record, researchers saw plenty of new signs. For example, a recent heat wave in Greenland.
Factors behind rapid Arctic environmental change:
- Warmer air can hold more moisture.
- Sea ice retreats and storms absorb more open ocean water.
- Storms are passing over warmer water before reaching the Arctic, feeding them with more energy.
Consequences of rapid Arctic environmental change: In the form of combined effects of –
- Physical conditions,
- Responses of biological resources,
- Impacts on infrastructure,
- Decisions influencing adaptive capacities and
- Environmental and international influences on economics and well-being.
- Indigenous expertise needs to be augmented by scientific abilities to reconstruct past environments and to model and predict future changes.
- Decision-makers need to apply this experience and knowledge to help mitigate and adapt to a rapidly changing Arctic.
Conclusion: Addressing unprecedented Arctic environmental changes requires listening to one another, aligning values and collaborating across knowledge systems, disciplines and sectors of society.
Q. How does the cryosphere affect global climate? (UPSC 2017)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, and Human Resources.
Context: According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, increasing frequency and intensity of climate-related extreme weather events continue to impact universal access to safe and sustainably managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The GLAAS report, released by the WHO and UN-Water, provides the most up-to-date information on WASH systems in more than 120 countries, making it the biggest data collection ever.
Key highlights of the report:
- WASH and Health: Implementation of policies and plans on WASH in health care facilities and on hand hygiene is constrained by a critical lack of financial and human resources.
- Climate resilience of WASH systems: Most WASH policies/plans do not address climate-related risks to WASH services.
- Finance: Insufficient WASH funding was reported by 75% of countries.
- Leaving no one behind: Measures to reach vulnerable populations and settings with WASH services lack monitoring and financial resources.
- Human resources: Insufficient human resources are limiting WASH service delivery.
- Gender: Increased inclusion, financial support and monitoring are needed to ensure women are considered in WASH decisions and services.
- Data use: Data are not sufficiently used in decisions on planning or resource allocation for WASH.
- Regulation: Regulatory authorities often do not fully perform their functions.
Q. The provision of safe water and sanitation coupled with improvements in hygiene initiatives (WASH) can contribute significantly to ameliorating nutritional challenges and improving health outcomes. Explain.
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Direction: There were multiple articles on India-China relations. We have tried to club them all together.
Context: Indian and Chinese troops clashed in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang sector, beating up each other with sticks and canes, in their closest encounter since the deadly Galwan incident in eastern Ladakh in June 2020.
The incident came days after China expressed objection to Operation Yudh Abhyas, an India-US joint military exercise at Auli in the Uttarakhand hills, claiming it to be a violation of 1993 and 1996 border agreements.
What is the origin of the border dispute with China?
- After the communists took over in China, they withdrew from all international agreements citing them to be “unequal treaties” imposed on it during its “century of humiliation”, and demanded a re-negotiation of all its borders.
- The LAC separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. It is divided into three sectors: the Eastern Sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim), Middle Sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh) and Western Sector (Ladakh).
- In the Eastern Sector, the alignment of the LAC is along the McMahon Line, named after Sir Henry McMahon, foreign secretary of British India. He drew the 890-km line as the border between British India and Tibet (a part of the 1914 Shimla Convention Between Great Britain, China, and Tibet). China now doesn’t comply with this.
What is China’s so-called claim on Arunachal Pradesh, and on what grounds?
- China claims around 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh — the entire state — as its territory. It calls the area “Zangnan” in the Chinese language and makes repeated references to it as “South Tibet”.
Issue of recent Cyber-attack:
- The probe into the cyberattack on some servers at AIIMS in Delhi has found that the IP addresses of two emails, originated from Hong Kong and China’s Henan province.
- China’s latest transgression on the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh led to calls for snapping trade ties to teach Beijing a “lesson”, but official data show that India’s imports from the country have jumped to a record high over the last 30 months.
India and China have taken different paths to development
|Political system||India is the world’s largest multi-party parliamentary democracy.||China is a one-party authoritarian rule.|
|Development Strategy in the Initial years.||India undertook the policy of closed trade. This was to give a thrust to domestic industries and reduce dependence on foreign products and companies. Thus, India followed the Import substitution strategy.||Great Leap Forward (GLF) strategy aimed at the high-scale industrialization of the economy. Rural communities were allowed to undertake collective cultivation. Urban communities were encouraged to undertake industrialization.|
|Economic reforms||Economic reforms started in 1991.
India’s reforms have scaled back state-run industries drive by Liberalization, Privatization, and Globalization.
|Economic reforms started in 1978.
China’s reforms have created a pseudo-free-market command economy.
|External relations||India is a masterful exponent of soft power compared to hard power. India’s best brand ambassadors are its companies, executives, academics and film stars.||The economic diplomacy approach characterizes China’s relations with the world. China is stronger than India in its common hinterland in Asia and is gaining prominence in Africa and central Asia.|
- Development Diplomacy vs Debt trap diplomacy
- China is often accused of “debt-trap diplomacy” – strategically trapping recipient countries with loans they can’t repay. When recipients default, China can seize strategic assets, thus extending its leverage E.g. Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port.
- India is using soft power and developmental assistance. It is steering more than 500 development projects across 64 countries focusing on the empowerment of local communities through capacity building.
- China following 9 – dash lines vs India’s call for open and free navigation.
Rising Influence of China in the region:
- China has invested hugely across the IOR littoral states to secure its own interest through various projects like the Belt and Road Initiative, ‘Maritime Silk Road’, and String of Pearls.
- Economic Investment: Pakistan and Sri Lanka are seeing a rising inflow of Chinese FDI.
- Comprehensive strategic partnerships with Thailand, Myanmar, Mozambique, and South Africa.
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) platform for financing infrastructure construction in Indian Ocean countries.
- Military Base– China is building a military base at Gwadar in Pakistan, a naval base
at Cox Bazaar Bangladesh, based in Djibouti.
- Mineral Exploration– China-Africa Cooperation (investments in mineral smelters)
- Military exercises– China participates in various joint military exercises in IOR.
China, Russia and Iran held naval exercises.
Impact on Indian Interest
- Regional Maritime Security.
- Affects India’s Neighborhood first policy
- Disruption of international shipping lanes
- Economy & trade in the Indian Ocean
- Threatens Energy Security
- Loosing strategic projects-
ü India’s failure to develop the Chabahar port project in Iran might be China’s gain.
ü Lost Hambantota Port to China.
- Minerals, Metals and Ores– Ocean drilling, seafloor resources exploration and
development can be affected.
The Global balance of power has shifted to the east in recent years. The concept of the Asian Century gained credence following the rapid economic growth of China and India since the 1980s, which propelled both of them to the ranks of the world’s largest economies. Thus, a rules-based Multi-Polar World Order creates an enabling ecosystem.
Q. ‘China is using its economic relations and positive trade surplus as tools to develop potential military power status in Asia’. In light of this statement, discuss its impact on India as her neighbour. (UPSC – 2017)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Indian economy and related issues.
Direction: The article highlights the main reasons behind the declining exports and areas where the Indian economy is doing well.
Context: According to the Ministry of Commerce, India’s exports declined by about 16.7 (sixteen point seven) % in October compared with the year earlier.
- This is the first slide reported for any month since February 2021.
- The October imports rose at a much milder pace than earlier, most likely because of softening commodity prices worldwide, resulting in the widening of the trade deficit by 50%.
Main reason for this performance of the export sector:
- Engineering goods (the backbone of India’s merchandise exports previously), fell by 21%. The Engineering Export Promotion Council of India attributed the slowdown to –
- High inflation in developed regions,
- Falling demand in China,
- The slowdown in the EU and the U.S. and
- The Russia-Ukraine war.
- In October, a decline of $2 billion worth of exports was seen in steel and allied products.
- Due to the export duty levied on these products to help increase local availability.
- The government has since removed this duty.
- The Diwali festive season prompted workers to take leave, thus impacting output.
How have the other exporting nations performed?
- Vietnam, an export-dominated country, recorded a 4.5% growth and in the Philippines, it grew by 20%.
- China is an exception this year (registering a decline in export growth) due to harsh lockdowns affecting its manufacturing output.
Signs of relief for the Indian economy:
- Resilient local demand: The investment cycle will spur growth and job creation in the coming days.
- The private sector capital expenditure, on track to touch six lakh crores this fiscal, would be the highest in the last six years.
- The private Capex typically depends on credit or loans, from the banking system
- Inflation has been driven by local factors: Including higher food prices, than imported reasons. However, retail inflation, which has been consistently above 7% in the past few months, stood at 6.8% in October
- Easing international commodity prices and the arrival of the Kharif crop.
Conclusion: Whether the above indicators (positive and negative) signify a temporary or permanent trend, remains to be seen over the coming months.
Q. How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect the macroeconomic stability of India? (UPSC 2018)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
Direction: The article discusses that India needs a newly reformed pension system, instead an NPS vs OPS debate.
Context: Instead of discussing the issue of the old pension scheme (OPS) versus the new pension scheme (NPS), there is a need to revisit the idea of reforming the pension system in the country.
Need to reform the pension system:
- According to the World Economic Forum, people aged 65 and above outnumber children aged five or younger. Though India is at a low risk now, the country may face a longevity risk.
- Longevity risk points to a scenario where rising life expectancy could result in pension and insurance companies needing more cash.
India’s pension system standing in the global context:
- According to the Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index 2022, which tracks –
- Adequacy: What benefits are future retirees likely to receive?
- Sustainability: Can the existing systems continue to deliver, notwithstanding the demographic and financial challenges?
- Integrity: Are the private pension plans regulated in a manner that encourages long-term community confidence?
- India’s pension system is ranked 41 out of 44 countries.
Gross inadequacy of India’s pension architecture:
- At least 85% of current workers are not members of any pension scheme and are likely to remain uncovered or draw only social pension in their old age.
- Of all elderly, 57% receive no income support from public expenditure and 26% collect a social pension as part of poverty alleviation.
- The system for old age income support entailed 5% of public expenditure and state governments bear more than 60%.
- Contributory program funds invested in government securities corner 40% of all interest payments of state governments.
Comparing the Indian scenario with the WB pension framework:
- In 1994, the World Bank provided a 5-pillar (0, 1, 2,3, 4) framework:
- This framework is modified by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) – an autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance, to suit Indian circumstances.
- It is noteworthy that the OPS falls under Pillar 1 and the NPS falls under Pillar 2.
- Pillar 1, where the government-funded pension schemes to a small percentage of the elderly accounts for almost 62% of all public expenditure.
- Pillar 0, possibly the most essential one, gets just 4% of the total outgo.
What can be concluded from above?
- India’s pensions system is in a dire need of reform and doing so will be both good politics and good economics.
- Merely fluctuating between OPS and NPS is not a reform.
Conclusion: It is time for India to relook at its pension system and for the current debate to be broadened to look at pension requirements for the whole set of elderly.
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2021)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Liberalization/ Parliament-Structure, functioning and conduct of business, Competition Commission of India etc.
Source: Economic times
Context: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, has suggested that the government extend the provision of settlement under the Competition Amendment Bill 2022 to cartels so as to make the initiative more pragmatic.
- The amendment to the competition act broadens the scope of ‘anti-competitive agreements’ to catch entities that facilitate cartelization even if they are not engaged in identical trade practices.
Further suggestions of the Committee:
- It recommended some changes to the transaction value threshold prescribed in the draft bill to prevent certain mergers and acquisitions (M&As) from coming under the ambit of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). However, it didn’t suggest any change in the value of the threshold set at Rs 2000 Crores.
- The Amendment Bill makes it mandatory to notify the Commission of any transaction with a deal value in excess of ₹2,000 croresand if either of the parties has ‘substantial business operations in India’.
- Don’t reduce the timeline as there is a shortage of staff
- The new Bill seeks to accelerate the timeline from 210 working days to only 150 working dayswith a conservatory period of 30 days for extensions to approve the merger.
- The Commission should have at least one judicial member
What are Antitrust laws?
They are regulations that encourage competition by limiting the market power of any particular firm
Note: Further information about the Bill and related Questions have already been dealt with here. Please go through it once.
Content for Mains Enrichment
Direction: These examples can be used for illustrations or case studies in Essay/Ethics/Governance/ Environment Questions.
Facts for Prelims:
National Rail Plan (NRP)
Context: The National Rail Plan envisages that the share of freight traffic by rail should go up from the current share of 27% to 45% by 2030
- The Government had come up with the National Rail Plan last year.
Objectives of the plan:
- To create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050.
- To increase the modal share of Railways from 27% currently to 45% in freight by 2030 as part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emissions and to continue to sustain it.
- To assess the actual demand in the freight and passenger sectors
- Forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.
- Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing the average speed of freight trains from the present 22Kmph to 50Kmph
- Reduce the overall cost of Rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.
- The construction of Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) on the important high-density route
Benefits of DFC operation:
- Higher throughput per wagon and per train: Run Heavy Haul trains with an overall load of 13000 tonnes.
- Lower Energy Consumption: Reduce Operation and Maintenance Costs
- Reduction in Transit time: Reduce the logistic cost of transportation and better utilization of Rolling stock
Other programmes of Railways for freight:
- Tariff rationalization and Tariff/freight incentive schemes
- Diversification of freight basket
- Automobile Freight Train Operator Scheme (AFTO)
- Introduction of Cube Container for two-wheeler traffic
- A New ‘Gati Shakti Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal (GCT)’ policy
- As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2030has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects.
Krishi-Decision Support System (Krishi-DSS)
Source: Live Mint
Context: The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and the Department of Space signed an MoU to develop the Krishi-DSS using geospatial technologies (using RISAT-1 remote sensing satellite and VEDAS (Visualization of Earth Observation Data and Archival System)).
Eastern Rajasthan canal project (ERCP)
Context: ERCP was in news recently. Also, at the meeting of the Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers, the modified Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal (PKC) link project was integrated with ERCP as part of the national perspective plan.
The ERCP aims to harvest surplus water available during the rainy season in rivers in southern Rajasthan such as Chambal and its tributaries including Kunnu, Parvati, and Kalisindh and transfer to deficit basins in South-Eastern Rajasthan.
Context: ISRO has taken initiatives for feasibility studies on missions to Venus as well as Aeronomy studies
The term “aeronomy,” coined and introduced about 60 years ago, refers to the scientific study of the upper atmospheric regions of the Earth and other solar system bodies. It covers the chemistry, dynamics and energy balance of both neutral and charged particles.
National Energy Conservation Award
Context: On the occasion of National Energy Conservation Day (14th December), President awarded the national energy conservation award (NECA)
- NECA was initiated by the Bureau of energy efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power in 1991
President also launched the ‘EV-Yatra Portal’ (developed by BEE) to facilitate in-vehicle navigation to the nearest public Electric Vehicle charger.
BEE is a statutory body established in 2002 under the Energy Conservation Act 2001 to promote the efficient use of energy and its conservation
Context: As per the new study, with our every breath, we may be inhaling substantial quantities of microplastics that eventually flow into our blood and accumulate in our organs.
- Previously, it was reported that as much as 74 tonnes of microplastics fell from the air and settled on rooftops, gardens and other surfaces in Auckland, New Zealand in 2020, suggesting the possibility of microplastic mists and clouds existing in the atmosphere
About Microplastics: These are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimetres in length.
- Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML) to develop policies to control marine litter and pollution
- GloLitter Partnerships Project was launched by the IMO and FAO to prevent marine plastic litter from shipping and fisheries
- London Convention, 1972: To control all sources of marine pollution and prevent pollution of the sea
- Plastic Pact (2018) to transform the plastics packaging value chain for all formats and products
- Beat plastic pollution
- Elimination of Single Use PlasticPlastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018 introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
- Un-Plastic Collective (UPC) (a voluntary initiative launched by the UNEP-India, CII and WWF-India) to minimise the externalities of plastics on the ecological and social health of our planet
Context: Two cities in the United States’ state of Washington have taken steps to formally declare their support for legal rights for a group of endangered orcas.
- They are toothed whales and are generally found in temperate and tropical waters (from the Arctic to the Antarctic)
- They have long life spans and are highly social
- Orcas are found across the world and are also known as “killer whales”
- The word comes from the whale’s scientific Latin name, Orcinus orca
- Technically, killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family. So, really, they’re killer dolphins. But because of their size, the word “whale” is used in their name
- As the top ocean predator, they kill other animals to make a living
- IUCN: Data deficient
Women in CAPF
Source: Indian Express
Context: A Parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs has highlighted that women constitute only 3.68% (three point six eight) of the total strength of CAPF
- Previously, the government decided in 2016 to reserve 33% of constable-level posts in CRPF and CISF for women and 14-15% in BSF, SSB and ITBP
- The committee further recommended a fast-track recruitment drive for women and easier posting for them near their home town to further incentivize women to join the force.
About CAPF: Central Armed Police Forces is the collective name of central police organizations in India under the Ministry of Home Affairs. These are technically paramilitary forces
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