The Hindu Newspaper 01 June 2020

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Operation Sankalp sometimes seen in the news recently is associated with?

  • a.  e-governance
  • b.  Maritime Security
  • c.  Disaster Response
  • d.  Rural Development

Answer : b

  • In a major development the Indian Navy has launched Operation Sankalp in the Persian Gulf/Gulf of Oman as a measure to re-assure Indian flagged vessels transiting through the region.
  • The development has come in the wake of the attack on oil tankers raising tensions between US and Iran.
  • India has deployed its ship INS Chennai & INS Sunayna in the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf to undertake maritime security operations.

Consider the following statements with respect to Ethiopia

  1. It is located in the region called Horn of Africa.
  2. It shares its border with Indian Ocean.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are incorrect?

  • a.  1 only
  • b.  2 only
  • c.  Both 1 and 2
  • d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Chamki Fever sometimes seen in the news recently refers to which of the following diseases?

  • a.  West Nile Fever
  • b.  Leptospirosis
  • c.  Yellow Fever
  • d.  Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

News :- Rare scorpion fish found in Gulf of Mannar

Camouflaged within the sea grass meadows, the bandtail scorpion fish (Scor-paenospsis neglecta),  well known for its  stinging  venomous  spines  and ability to change colour, was found during an  exploratory  survey  of the seagrass ecosystem.  This was the first time that the particular species  was found alive in Indian waters. The fish has the ability to change colour and blend with its surrounding  environment to escape  from predators and while  preying. 

News :- Bengal’s grand old buildings bear the brunt of Amphan

Which are the Buildings we are talking about :-

Serampore College, founded 200 years back by William Carey, a cultural anthropologist who played a significant role in the spread of western  education,  is one of the damaged buildings. 

The Dupleix Palace at Chandannagar, built by French  Governor General Joseph Francois  Dupleix,  also suffered severe damage. 

The iconic St. Andrew’s Church nearby, which dates back to 1818, also sustained severe damage. 

About ASI :- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.

Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.

Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 24 Circles.

History:- Archaeological and historical pursuits in India started with the efforts of Sir William Jones, who put together a group of antiquarians to form the Asiatic Society on 15th January 1784 in Calcuta.

In 1833 James Prinsep became the secretary of the Asiatic Society. His most eventful achievement is the decipherment of the Brahmi and Kharoshthi scripts between 1834 and 1837. The identification of Piyadasi with Asoka and the contemporary kings mentioned in his Rock Edict XIII enabled to fix a clear chronological bench mark for Indian history.

Alexander Cunningham was appointed as the first Archaeological Surveyor from December 1861 in Archeological Survey of India.

INTACH:- The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage is a non-profit charitable organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

In 2007, the United Nations awarded INTACH a special consultative status with United Nations Economic and Social Council.

News:- Trump postpones G7 summit, seeks to expand list of invitees

G- 7 was formed in 1975 , consists of The Group of Seven is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of the seven largest IMF- advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

USA has invited new countries :- India, Russia, South Korea and Australia

News:- Tata Sons to manufacture Sree Chitra institute’s test kits

Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, has entered into an agreement with the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology , Thiruvananthapuram, for  commercial production of COVID19 testing kits. The kits will be based onthe RT-LAMP (Reverse Transcriptase Loop Mediated Amplification) technology which  can  produce results insignificantly less time there by increasing the throughput of labs in India, a Tata Sons statement said. The tests are expected to get approval  shortly and production will start there after.

The ‘Chitra Gene LAMPN’ test uses an isothermal setup  to create copies of viral DNA for detection, which significantly reduces the complexity of overall process compared to the prevalent Real Time PCR technology.

Editorial of the Day :- UBI and India

Context: Providing Universal Basic Income amid economic crisis due to Covid-19 pandemic is the need of the hour.

Concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI):

UBI is a minimum income (direct cash transfers) guaranteed by the state to every individual every month. It is premised on the belief that every person should have a right to a basic income to cover their needs, just by virtue of being citizens.

UBI has three underlying principles:

  • Unconditionality: a fixed amount of cash will be transferred in beneficiary’s bank account unconditionally.
  • Universality:same amount will be transferred, and it will be transferred in accounts of all beneficiaries.
  • Agency: UBI treats poor as agents, not subjects. Thus, poor can utilize the money in their own customized way to alleviate their condition.

Universal Basic Income in Different Countries

Arguments in favor of Universal Basic Income:

  • Poverty Reduction: Universal Basic Income would lead to poverty reduction. the 2016–17 Economic survey argued that an annual bank transfer of Rs. 7620 (to everyone except the top 25% of India’s income pyramid) would reduce national poverty from 22% to 0.5%.
  • Employment: UBI will create flexibility in labor markets by allowing for individuals to have partial or calibrated engagements with the labor market without fear of losing benefits.
  • Promotes constitutional ideals: UBI promotes following ideals:
  • Equality: UBI seeks to reduce poverty thereby it promotes equality among all sections.
  • Liberty: It promotes liberty because it is anti-paternalistic, as it brings flexibility in labor markets.
  • Dignity: UBI protects individual’s dignity and gives choice to individuals in spending money based on individual circumstances
  • Promotes efficiency in government spending and better targeting: UBI seeks to replace the existing subsidies given by the government under its social welfare schemes. These schemes are riddled with misallocation, leakages and exclusion of the poor. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested that if subsidies were eliminated, the government could provide all Indians with ₹2,600 (in 2011-12 prices) every month.
  • Insurance against shocks:Poor households often face shocks such as bad health, crop losses, natural disasters use personal savings to cope from these shocks. UBI provides insurance against these shocks. The Covid-19 pandemic and consequent economic crisis is a classic example of shock which highlights the importance of UBI.

Case Studies

SEWA Project in Delhi, 2011:

As part of a United Nations Development Program–Government of Delhi partnership, the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and the state government carried out a randomized controlled trial where a group of 100 households in New Delhi were given 1,000 rupees per month.

The experiment observed an increase in expenditures on nutritious non-cereal items like pulses, fish, eggs, and meat increased.

Arguments against Universal Basic Income:

  • Financially unviable: Government must provide some basic essential services like education, health etc. in all circumstances and provisioning money for funding UBI, while providing these basic services may not be financially viable. According to Economic Survey 2016-17, even a quasi UBI would cost the Indian government around 4.5% of GDP (2019 prices).
  • Reduces the incentive to work:A free cash transfer to working individuals would reduce the need and incentive to work as it would take care of their basic needs.
  • Exposure to market risks (cash vs. food):Unlike food subsidies that are not subject to fluctuating market prices, a cash transfer’s purchasing power may severely be curtailed by market fluctuations.
  • Gender Disparity induced by cash: Men are likely to exercise control over spending of the UBI. This may not always be the case with other in-kind transfers like specific benefits to women, elderly etc. otherwise provided by state through targeted schemes.

Alternatives to Universal Basic Income: 

  • Quasi-Basic Income schemes: Quasi basic income scheme as suggested by Economic Survey (2016-17). This would leave out 25% of the richest population in India.
  • Quasi-universal basic rural income (QUBRI):It seeks to target only poorer people in the rural areas and does not cover the masses of urban poor working for low and uncertain wages.
  • UBI for women only: Women are the worst hit almost every aspect of their daily lives – employment opportunities, education, health or financial inclusion. UBI only for women will help in women empowerment and have multiplier effects on the household.
  • Rationalization of subsidies, better targeting and operational efficiency:In absence of UBI, it is of utmost necessary to successfully implement the social welfare schemes to increase the standard of living of the citizens.

Conclusion: IMF has projected global growth in 2020 to be -3.0% and India’s growth at 1.9%. With a looming economic crisis and high rates of unemployment, providing universal basic income, at least till the economy normalizes, is the need of the hour.

Editorial 2 :- India and China Loggerheads at the Border

Context: Indian and Chinese troops are at loggerheads in Eastern Ladakh and Sikkim.

Background: There are four agreements that have signed between India and China for meaningful progress on the boundary issue. But the absence of a definition of the LAC allows new and secret advances on the ground.

Source: The Hindu

How Boundaries are observed?

  • In Eastern sector:The Chinese have not accepted the loosely defined McMahon line which follows the principle of watershed.
  • The Western sector: The LAC is two hypothetical lines based on different military considerations of both sides.

What agreements says?

  • The 1993 agreement (On the maintenance of peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)): Before the final solution, the two sides shall strictly respect and observe the LAC between the two sides and No activities of either side shall overstep the LAC.
  • Both the 1993 and the 1996 agreement (on confidence-building measures in the military field along the LAC): Both sides will reduce or limit their respective military forces within mutually agreed geographical zones along the LAC.

Why are these deeply flawed agreements?

  • No bearing on ground reality: Many of the articles in agreements have no effect on ground. Such as Article XII of the 1996 agreement talks about agreement being subject to ratification and shall enter into force on the date of exchange of instruments of ratification. It is not clear if and when that happened.
  • No clarity to recognise the existing lines of deployment of the respective armies as they were in 1993: The agreement does not reflect any attempt to have each side recognising the other’s line of deployment of troops. If both armies are to respect the LAC, they should have clarity of line.
  • Rather than the LAC, they could have used existing deployment term in 1993 agreement:In such a case there would have been two existing lines of control on the map — one for the physical deployment of the Chinese troops and the other for the physical deployment of the Indian troops. This would have rendered the areas between the two lines as no man’s land.
  • Para 4 in Article II of the 2013 agreement (on border defence cooperation):It urge both sides to work with each other in combating natural disasters or infectious diseases that may affect or spread to the other side. But in current crisis, the standoff could have exposed some of the Indian soldiers to a local Chinese mutation of COVID-19.

How Exchange of maps exercise failed for clearing perceptions of LAC?

  • With military absurdness in the background, both sides have attempted to exchange the maps in western sector in the past.
  • Idea was to superimpose the maps:To see where the perceptions converged and where they diverged.
  • The Chinese side did not accept the maps because they felt that it is not in Chinese interests. If they had accepted them then the Chinese would have with them, India’s claim with regard to the LAC in the western sector.

Way Forward

Both sides should work for early settling the boundary issues and refrain from violating the agreements signed between them.

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