Prelims Specific Questions :-
1) Consider the following statements regarding Royal Indian Navy (RIN) mutiny of 1946.
- It started as a strike in the Royal Indian Navy.
- The INC unequivocally supported the mutiny.
- The objective behind the mutiny was to get complete Independence for India.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1, 2
- 1, 3
- 1 only
- 1, 2, 3
2) Which of the following could be considered as the policy of the early days of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM)?
- Staying out of wars
- Staying away from joining any of the military alliances
- Not acting as a mediator to any bilateral or international conflict
Select the correct answer code:
- 1, 2
- 1, 3
- 2 only
- 2, 3
3) Consider the following statements.
- In the first five-year plans, trade was characterised by import substitution strategy.
- The Second Five Year Plan tried to build the basis for a socialist pattern of society.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
1) The Climate Change Performance Index 2022 has been released by German watch, the New Climate Institute, and the Climate Action Network.
What is the Climate Change Performance Index?
Climate Change Performance Index(CCPI) is an independent monitoring tool for tracking the climate protection performance of 60 countries and the EU – covering 92% of the Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Aim: To enhance transparency in international climate politics and enable comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries.
- Categories: CCPI assesses each country’s performance in four categories:
- GHG Emissions (40% of the overall ranking),
- Renewable Energy (20%),
- Energy Use (20%) and
- Climate Policy (20%).
- The first three ranks of the overall rankings were kept empty because no country had performed well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating.
- Topped by: Denmark has been placed 4th. It is the highest-ranked country in CCPI 2022 but does not perform well enough to achieve an overall very high rating.
- India: India has been ranked in 10th place. India’s performance was rated high in the GHG Emissions, Energy Use, and Climate Policy categories, and medium in Renewable Energy.
- China and USA: China, the biggest current polluter, was ranked at 37th position (down from 33rd last year). The second most current emitter, the US, was at 55th spot.
- Saudi Arabia is the worst-performing country among G20, ranked 63rd
- The performance of these countries, which together account for 92% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is assessed in four categories — GHG emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.
2) Froth formation in Yamuna
The visuals of devotees taking a dip in the froth-filled waters of the Yamuna River sent chills down the spine of the residents of Delhi.
What is Froth Formation?
- This is a phenomenon that takes place on many lakes and streams.
- Foam bubbles are produced when organic matter decomposes.
- These foam-producing molecules have one end that repels water and another that attracts water and they work to reduce the surface tension on the surface of the water.
- These foam bubbles are lighter than water, so they float on the surface as a thin film that gradually accumulates.
What causes the froth?
- The presence of phosphates and surfactants in untreated sewage from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is a major reason behind frothing.
- While these two components comprise of 1 per cent, the remaining 99 percent is air and water.
What are the sources of pollution that cause foam formation?
- Untreated sewage may contain soap-detergent particles.
- The other sources are industrial effluents, organic matter from decomposing vegetation, and the presence of filamentous bacteria.
- The pollution from the sugar and paper industries in Uttar Pradesh also causes pollution in the Yamuna.
What are its health hazards?
- Short-term exposure can lead to skin irritation and allergies.
- If ingested, these chemicals may cause gastrointestinal problems and diseases like typhoid.
- Long-term exposure to heavy metals in industrial pollutants can cause neurological issues and hormonal imbalances.
3) Coringa set for fishing cat collaring project
Conservation biologists of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will begin collaring 10 fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) in the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in Andhra Pradesh. The country’s first such project will be led by principal investigator Bilal Habib. Th exercise involves study of its habitat, feeding habits, threats and movements
In Asia, a similar project had been done in Bangladesh. The project, planned in 2020, had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
Defamation case against Minister adjourned
The Bombay High Court said the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede is a public servant and therefore is bound to be scrutinised, and adjourned the defamation suit filed by his father against the Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik to November 12.
What is Defamation case–
Defamation has been defined under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person is said to defame that person.
Defamation falls into two categories:
- Libel – A defamatory statement published in a written form.
- Slander – A defamatory statement made in a verbal form (spoken).
However, a mere defamatory statement does not amount to defamation. The publication of such statement is a pre-requisite to establish defamation.
Similarly, any such act taking place on the cyber space leads to cyber defamation or online defamation. Cyber defamation occurs when a computer connected to the internet is used as a tool, or a medium to defame a person or an entity. For example: Publishing of a defamatory statement against a person on a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., or sending of emails containing defamatory content about a person with the intention to defame him / her.
International Relations / Meet / Defence
India is hosting the National Security Advisors (NSAs) level ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’
The Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan held here called for “urgent humanitarian assistance” to the Afghan people. The call was given in the meeting chaired by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who urged close cooperation and consultation among the regional countries over the Afghan scenario.
About the dialogue
- It will be headed by NSA Ajit Doval.
- It aims to organise a conference of regional stakeholders and important powers on the country’s current situation and the future outlook.
- Invitations are sent to Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and other key players including Russia, and China.
Not surprisingly, Pakistan has denounced India’s invitation. China too followed Pakistan’s footsteps.
Had Pakistan consented to come, it would have been the first high-level visit to India from Pakistan since 2016.
Pakistani position reflects its mindset on Afghanistan, where it has played a conspiring role.
It reflects its mindset of viewing Afghanistan as its protectorate.
Response from the other countries
India’s invitation has seen an overwhelming response.
Central Asian countries as well as Russia and Iran have confirmed participation.
2) India confers honorary rank of General on Nepal Army Chief
Nepal Army Chief General Prabhu Ram Sharma was conferred the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It is a customary practice by the two countries to confer the honorary rank of General on each other’s Army Chiefs.
India – Nepal Relations
- Nepal is an important neighbour of India and occupies special significance in its foreign policy because of the geographic, historical, cultural and economic linkages/ties that span centuries.
- India and Nepal share similar ties in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini located in present day Nepal.
- The two countries not only share an open border and unhindered movement of people, but they also have close bonds through marriages and familial ties, popularly known as Roti-Beti ka Rishta.
- The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.
- Importance for India can be studied from two different angles: a) their strategic importance for India’s national security; and b) their place in India’s role perception in international politics.
- Rivers originating in Nepal feed the perennial river systems of India in terms of ecology and hydropower potential.
3) Navy displays submarine rescue ability
The Navy demonstrated its submarine rescue capability, available with very few countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), to delegations of Indian Ocean countries during the Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC) 2021.
The Navy has procured two DSRVs from the U.K., of which the first one was operationalised at the end of 2018 in Mumbai and the second at Visakhapatnam in early 2019.
The system can go to a maximum depth of 650 metres and rescue 14 people in one go.
Importance of Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for Indian security:
- Energy security: Nearly 80% of India’s crude oil requirement is imported, which are mostly routed through the sea. Taking into account the total oil imports by sea, offshore oil production and petroleum exports, the country’s cumulative sea dependence for oil is estimated to be about 93%. Thus, IOR is very important to keep India’s oil route safe.
- Trade security: Today, almost 95% of India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent of trade by value are routed via the Indian Ocean. Any impediment to flow of commercial traffic would have disastrous ramifications on her economic objectives.
- Resources: India depends heavily on Indian Ocean resources for resources. Fishing and aquaculture industries are a major source of export as well as providing employment to more than 14 million people. Thus, securing presence in IOR is important for India.
- Security threats: Militarily, the presence of a long coastline makes India vulnerable to potential threats emerging from the sea. One of the worst terrorist attacks in Mumbai was perpetrated by terrorists arriving by sea. India’s nuclear installations, coastal cities are at continuous threat from state and non-state actors. Thus, keeping an eye on the sea is important.
- Piracy: The presence of non-traditional threats like piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and human trafficking also present major challenges and hence, a secure Indian Ocean is key to securing India’s national interests. Multiple cases are reported in the past of drug smuggling near Gujarat coast, Mumbai coast etc.
Union Cabinet brings back MPLAD Scheme
The scheme was suspended for two financial years (2020-21 and 2021-22) but the Government announced a partial rollback. The MPs will get ₹2 crore instead of the annual approved ₹5 crore.
About Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD scheme):
- Launched in December, 1993.
- Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.
- The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
- The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
- MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
- In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
Release of Funds:
- Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.
- The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
- The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
- The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.
- The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.
- At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.
Recommendation of works:
- The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
- The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
- Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
Editorial of the day
Editorial 1 – The case of demonetisation in India
It was done on two previous occasions, in 1946 and 1978, with poor results. But, unlike the limited impact of the previous events, the demonetisation in 2016 caused widespread disruption in the economy, whose costs are still to be properly reckoned.
Five years later, most observers have concluded that this policy was a failure. Very little of its declared objectives — of eliminating black money, corruption, moving towards a “less cash and more digital economy”, or increased tax compliance — were achieved. Expectations of windfall gains of some ₹2 trillion-3 trillion failed to materialise as more than 99.3% of the cancelled notes returned to the banks. If black money had existed as stockpiles of illegal cash, clearly all of it was very efficiently laundered. If the objective was to register a permanent upward shift in the tax base, it failed miserably. Perhaps the most telling evidence of the failure is that the cash-in-circulation has now exceeded pre-demonetisation levels.
2) Does India have a right to burn fossil fuels?
The Government of India has, for the first time, made a commitment to achieve the net zero target by 2070. It remains to be seen whether the government will indeed walk the talk since the experience on this count (or other issues) does not necessarily inspire that confidence.
The crux of the theoretical argument is that India needs to develop, and development requires energy.
Question raised by authors – There is no doubt that economic development requires energy but that does not translate into energy by burning coal. If there are other cleaner forms of energy available, why persist on the usage of coal?
Suggestion by Authors –
- To use renewable sources for energy development.
Levelised cost of electricity from renewable energy sources like solar (photovoltaic), hydro and onshore wind has been declining sharply over the last decade and is already less than fossil fuel-based electricity generation. On reliability, frontier renewable energy technologies have managed to address the question of variability of such sources to a large extent and, with technological progress, it seems to be changing for the better. As for the easy domestic availability of coal, it is a myth. According to the Ministry of Coal, India’s net coal import went up from ₹782.6 billion in 2011-12 to ₹1,155.0 billion in 2020-21. India is among the largest importers of coal in the world, whereas it has no dearth of solar energy.
What can be done –
Continue to use renewable as well as non-renewable source of energy for the time being. Later on, we can switch to renewable source as compare to non-renewable.
3) FCRA changes: ease of monitoring vs crippling curbs
What is the background to the amendments?
Foreign donations received by individuals and organisations in India have been regulated by law since 1976. The Act was since repealed and reenacted with fresh measures and restrictions as the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The law sought to consolidate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by individuals, associations or companies, and to prohibit such contributions from being used for activities detrimental to national interest.
3 Major changes –
- NGO’s Adhar Card can be used.
- Every person (or association) granted a certificate or prior permission to receive overseas funds must open an FCRA bank account in a designated branch of the State Bank of India in New Delhi.
- An amendment to Section 7 of the Act completely prohibits the transfer of foreign funds received by an organization to any other individual or association
Another change is that the portion of the receipts allowed as administrative expenditure has been reduced from 50% to 20%.
4) Amid a raging pandemic, a changing fiscal framework
Recently, the Government cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by ₹5 and ₹10, respectively, to ease inflation and give consumption a boost. In this piece dated February 24, 2021, Dipankar Dasgupta argues how high tax burdens showed a contradiction between the Government’s fiscal policy stance (favouring expenditure to boost growth) and its actual regime (high indirect taxes).
Inelasticity and elasticity of demand
Inelasticity and elasticity of demand refer to the degree to which demand responds to a change in another economic factor, such as price, income level, or substitute availability. Elasticity measures how demand shifts when other economic factors change.
When fluctuating demand is unrelated to an economic factor, it is called inelasticity.
Examples of elastic goods include luxury items and certain food and beverages.
Inelastic goods, meanwhile, consist of items such as tobacco and prescription drugs.
The philosophy of the Economic Survey appears to be that expenditure causes growth, rather than distributional equality. This, of course, is not to support excise duty increases, for it goes against the very principle of the Blanchard argument, which emphasizes maintainable debt and expenditure as the vehicle of development as opposed to increased tax burdens.