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The Hindu Newspaper 26/06/2020

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 In which of the following, India is not a member?

ASEAN

Mekong Ganga Cooperation

East Asia Summit

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a.  1 only

b.  1 and 3 only

c.  2 and 3 only

d.  1, 2 and 3

Answer : a

India is not a member of ASEAN

2)Consider the following statements with respect to Adarsh Smarak Scheme

It aims to promote basic tourist facilities in well-known historical sites.

It is an innovative scheme launched by Ministry of Tourism.

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

a.  1 only

b.  2 only

c.  Both 1 and 2

d.  Neither 1 nor 2

Answer : a

Adarsh Smaarak in an innovative scheme launched by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Culture.

It aims to promote basic tourist facilities in well-known historical sites.

3)Thudumbattam is a folk art form prevalent in which of the following states?

a.  Kerala

b.  Telangana

c.  Tamil Nadu

d.  Andhra Pradesh

Answer : c

Thudumbu is a percussion instrument from the Kongu region (that includes Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur, Karur, Namakkal, and Salem districts.) of Tamil Nadu.

Thudumbattam, the folk art form, is prevalent in villages around Karamadai, a small town from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

News :- IITM, German institute collaborating to develop green energy solutions:- Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras  are collaborating with their counterparts in Germany to  develop new  materials for green energy solutions. 
The project, taken up under the Scheme for Promotion of academic and  Research Collaboration or SPARC, aims at developing alternative  technologies to produce green hydrogen in anticipation of transition to hydrogen based economy.
SPARC is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Around ₹66 lakh has been allocated for the project.

conventional methods of generating hydrogen result in a large quantity of  carbon dioxide, a green house gas that imposed serious environmental  concerns. 
Whereas electrochemical splitting of water, called ‘Water Electrolysis’  (WE), is clean, facile, and highly  efficient technology for large scale  production of high purity H2. 

News:- ‘Democracy under threat during pandemic’:- Report by Stockholm based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

News:- Japan scraps U.S. missile system:- The Japanese government in 2017 approved adding the two Aegis Ashore systems to enhance the country’s current defenses consisting of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.

Defense officials have said the two Aegis Ashore units could cover Japan entirely from one station at Yamaguchi in the south and another at Akita in the north.

News:- Ozone pollution sees a spike: report:- Report by CSE:- While particulate matter and nitrous oxide levels fell during the lockdown, ozone — also a harmful pollutant — increased in several cities, according
to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

How is Ozone Formed :- Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is
formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influene of sunlight and heat. It can be curtailed only if gases from all
sources are controlled.

About Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a not-for-profit public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi, India. Established in 1980, CSE works as a think tank on environment-development issues in India, poor planning, climate shifts devastating India’s Sundarbans and advocates for policy changes and better implementation of the already existing policies. CSE uses knowledge-based activism to create awareness about problems and propose sustainable solutions. 

News:-

Illegal wildlife trade a global threat: FATF report

News: Financial Action Task Force(FATF) has released a report titled “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” report.

Facts:

  • This is the first ever report of the Financial Action Task Force(FATF) on Illegal Wildlife Trade(IWT).
  • Aim: To provide guidance to countries on measures they can take to combat money laundering from the illegal wildlife trade.

Additional Facts:

  • FATF: It is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris.
  • Secretariat: It is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
  • Objectives: Toset standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering and terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • Members: It comprises 37 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organisations representing most major financial centres in all parts of the globe.

Editorial :-

Drug abuse amidst pandemic

SourceThe Hindu

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic may leave people vulnerable to use and trafficking of illicit drugs.

Status of Drug Abuse:

Global:

  • Around 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up 30% from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users.
  • Nearly 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally however, only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it.

India: 

  • According to the NDDTC 2019 report “Magnitude of Substance Use in India”, at the national level, about 14.6% of the people the ages of 10 and 75 are current users of alcohol and there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs (PWID).
  • According NCRB 2019 report, drug overdose claims every one life in 12 hrs, more than 5% of which are minors.

Covid-19 Impact on Drug abuse:

  • Threat to the vulnerable and marginalised:The socio-economic crisis due to the pandemic might disproportionately affect the vulnerable and marginalised groups, youth, women and the poor. Socially and economically disadvantaged are more likely to develop drug use disorders but receive no treatment for the same.
  • Drug Trafficking:According to UN, Covid-19 has prompted traffickers to find new routes and methods. Illicit activities via the so-called ‘darknet’ and shipments of drugs by mail, may increase.
  • Alternative drugs and addiction:The Covid-19 pandemic has led to shortages of highly addictive opioid and therapeutics for pain management. This may lead people to seek out more readily available substances, including alcohol, sedatives or intravenous injections of drugs.

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking:

  • It is observed annually on 26 June.
  • The theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Better Knowledge for Better Care”.

Consequences of Drug abuse:

Steps taken by Indian Government

  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985:It envisages stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), 2012: It seeks to combat drug abuse in a holistic manner. It was drafted by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
  • Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse:Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to eligible Non-Governmental Organizations for running Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts.
  • National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), 2018-2025:It aims to reduce the adverse consequences of drug abuse in India through a) education, b) de-addiction and c) rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.

Suggested Reforms:

  • Greater investment in evidence-based prevention. This should include awareness on drug related harm, specially health and social effects
  • treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV, hepatitis C and other infections
  • international cooperation to increase access to controlled drugs for medical purposes and preventing diversion and abuse,
  • strengthen law enforcement action to curb the transnational organised crime networks.
  • India can consider experiences from European and Latin American countries while formulating and implementing legislation to stop drug abuse. In Europe and Latin American countries, it was found that non-punitive measures improved health and wellbeing of drug addicts.

2)

Why China is being aggressive along the LAC?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context: Analysing the national security challenge to India posed by the ongoing tensions along the LAC.

Background:

  • In a first incident of fatalities on the India-China border in 45 years, 20 Indian soldiers were martyred in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
  • Claims on the entire Galwan Valley: China has revived its claim and has asked India to pull back from the areas.
  • Satellite images suggest that China has set up defence positions in the valley as well as the disputed “Fingers” of Pangong Tso.
  • Both sides are engaged in a face-off at Hot Springs.

India has been very careful with China. Overall, India has stayed away from criticising China on controversial topics such as its “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang, Hong Kong protests etc. Still tensions are increased along the LAC.

Reasons for increasing tensions along the LAC:

  • Ambitious power:
    • China is now an ambitious rising power which wants to reorient the global order. China is not just an ideological state that intends to export communism to other countries like Soviet Union of the Cold War.
  • Peaceful rise phase of China is over: 
    • China had adopted different tactical positions such as hide your capacity and bide your time or peaceful development during its rise. Now China believes that the global order is at a breaking point as seen in the bad shape of the global economy, crisis in globalisation etc.
  • Salami slice strategy: 
    • China is fighting back through “salami tactics” — where a dominant power attempts to establish its hegemony piece by piece. It denotes China’s strategy of territorial expansion in the South China Sea and the Himalayan regions and India is one slice.
  • China sees India as an ally in progress of US: 
    • China doesn’t see India as a ‘swing state’ anymore. Many in the West called India the “counterweight” to China’s rise and this increased tension is Beijing’s definite message that it is not deterred by the counterweight.
  • Pandemic factor: 
    • China has room for geopolitical manoeuvring in the world grappled with the pandemic such as Europe has been devastated by the virus.
  • Problems of India: 
    • The Indian economy was in trouble even before COVID-19. There was Social upheaval over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the NRC.
    • Tensions in the neighbourhood: Tensions with Pakistan have been high, boundary issues with Nepal and Sri Lanka diversified its foreign policy and China is making deep inroads into that region.

Way Forward

  • India needs a national security strategy that’s decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realism.
  • It should stand up to China’s bullying on the border with a long-term focus on enhancing capacities and winning back its friendly neighbours.

3)

Importance of impartial judging of Foreign Policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Context: Analysing that judging history through the prism of the present can be very damaging to foreign policy formulation.

Biased judging of Past actors and their actions:

  • Accusation on handling Siachen Glacier to Pakistan:
    • Disengagement: The disengagement of Indian and Pakistan forces from Siachen had been on the agenda of India-Pakistan talks for several years.
    • The sticking point: It had been Pakistan’s refusal to agree upon an Actual Ground Position Line from which forces of the two sides would withdraw to new positions.
    • Pakistan finally conceded and it was decided that the disengagement would be done in phases with less risky areas in the first phase.
    • This proposed agreement could not be pursued because the Cabinet Committee on Security failed to approve it. It was not a surrender but a worthwhile initiative due to the unfortunate and hostile trajectory of India-Pakistan relations.
  • Other instances of accusations:
    • The former PM undertook the bus ride to Lahore in 1999 in the light of what we now know of Pakistani coincidental plans to capture the heights over Kargil.
    • Critics questions the PM’s unscheduled visit to Lahore in 2015 or the Pathankot and Uri terrorist incidents thereafter. Whether we should accuse him of endangering India’s security because we were lulled into trusting Pakistani’s goodwill.

There should not be a biased prism to judge past actors and their actions affecting the nation’s interests.

Importance of historical perspective for formulating foreign policy:

  • To learn from what turned out to be correct decisions and what turned out to be errors of judgement. The fear of being proved wrong may paralyze diplomacy.
  • Assessing in the light of historical circumstances: To understand success or failure using then regional and international environment.
  • For example:
    • Due to Western support for Pakistan on Kashmir issue and China’s hostility to India, the Indo-Soviet partnership between 1960 and 1990 was a good strategic move.
    • During the Cold War, particularly after China and the U.S. became virtual allies, Indo-Soviet partnership acquired great significance and played a role in the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
    • Similarly, the India-US partnership today doesn’t negate the earlier partnership with the Soviet Union.
  • National consensus: There has been general acknowledgement that irrespective of their ideological or political persuasion, successive governments have upheld India’s interests firmly and judiciously.

The foreign policy should not be criticized on the basis of domestic political factors only.

Way Forward:

  • Foreign policy should not be fallen victim to very narrow and cynical fighting in domestic politics.
  • Upholding nation’s larger interests: Policymakers must not have their eye on how something will play out domestically. For example- Pakistan has become a domestic political issue which prevents any kind of sober and well-considered posture towards that neighbouring country. We thus limit our room for manoeuvre.

Editorial :

Section 188 of IPC (for disobeying the time restrictions ordered by a public servant), but they were also booked under Section 383 (extortion by threat) and Section 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation).

It is well known that the police include ‘intimidation’ in the FIR solely to obtain an order of remand, as it is non-bailable, if they are bent upon sending someone to jail.

The inclusion of non-bailable sections for a lockdown violation indicates a perverse and prior inclination to harass the two and cause suffering.

The top brass of the police too will have to bear responsibility for this atrocity as it indicates a signal failure to lay down norms for policemen on the field to handle lockdown violations with humaneness.

Editorial : can Online Education replace classrooms:-

No Technology cant replace Arguments:-

Looking at the screen for long periods of time can be harmful. And since schools have shifted to online instruction, it does imply long hours of screen time for the child. And that doesn’t seem to be a healthy way of learning.

In addition to the impact on their health, online learning from home can also be very isolating and lonely for the child. They don’t have their peers around them and are sort of learning by themselves.

Even the teachers’ role becomes limited. Children do not get the kind of supervision that they would in a classroom.

Parents might be too busy with their own work to supervise online learning. These factors impact learning.

Also, many children, especially those attending government schools, are being deprived of education during the pandemic as they do not have access to online facilities. They are actually missing out on their lessons.

Though some families may have access to digital technology, there might not be enough devices for the personal use of all the family members. The parents may be working from home and need to use their computers.

So, each household needs to have several gadgets that they can distribute among all of them so that that is really not possible for a large section of the population.

What’s worrying is the fact that the entire conversation has shifted to the use of technology. It is not just about computers and smartphones, even watching Doordarshan amounts to screen time.

Nobody (in India) is really talking about turning schools into safe places, where education can resume. Education is not just about information or content delivered to students via screens.

It is about a lot more. And most of it takes place through the social interactions in a school, with peers, with the teachers. Since online classes have begun, all that has been cut out.

Arguments In Favour of Technology :- If we stop online education, even the children who have access to technology will lose out. So, stopping online classes is not the solution. Instead, we need to work on providing technology to these [disadvantaged] children.

Some non-government organisations are already working on these issues. They are providing smartphones, electronic tablets and teaching children to make use of technology. We need more such initiatives.

Way Forward:- During pandemics, schools can be opened in a staggered manner, with 50% students attending every alternate day. This will help avoid crowded classrooms and give schools time to clean up their premises.

Temperature checks of teachers, students and non-teaching staff should become mandatory. Teachers should not give students any books to carry home.

Social distancing should be followed strictly by teachers and students.

Second, it will be better to give priority to opening schools for marginalised and migrant children, as they might not have access to technology. We can create separate safe spaces for these children.

Editorial :- Tall claims by Baba Ramdev on coronil:-

The advertising of Ayurvedic drugs is governed by a law that dates back to 1954 — the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act.

The Act does talk about “false claims” and “directly or indirectly giving a false impression regarding the true character of the drug”. But serious diseases such as AIDS or encephalitis, which have emerged in the past 40 years, are not listed under the law.

In February, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released a draft of an amendment to the 1954 Act to correct such shortcomings. But then the country was overtaken by COVID and the Centre has used the 1954 Act to scrutinise Patanjali’s tall claims — the AYUSH ministry’s notice to Baba Ramdev’s outfit was served under this law. Perhaps the government has to find ways to include COVID-19 under its purview. Its use of the ordinance route to amend the 123-year old Epidemic Diseases Act, to curb violence against doctors, could be instructive for the purpose.

This is not to undermine the role of Ayurvedic remedies for people’s health and well-being, especially during the pandemic. Some herbs are known to be immunity boosters.

In fact, Patanjali, reportedly, sought regulatory approval for individual medicines, that it later included in the “Corona Kit”, as “immunity boosters” and as remedies for “cough and breathlessness”.

In claiming that these medicines cure COVID, Ramdev’s company is guilty of flouting medical — and business — ethics, while also discrediting Ayurveda.

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