DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |09 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |09 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

Stress in the army

Context: Over half of Army personnel under severe stress, says study

Topic in syllabus: Mains – Security, Defence, Border area management (GS-3)

What did study say?

  • More than half of Indian Army personnel seem to be under severe stress and the Army has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and untoward incidents than in response to any enemy or terrorist activities, according to the  findings of a study by United Service Institution of India (USI), a Service think tank.
  • There has been a significant increase in stress levels amongst Indian Army personnel during approximately last two decades due to operational and non-operational stressors.
  • Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels.
  • While operational stressors are well understood and accepted by Army personnel, the study says that non-operational stressors that add on “have compounding adverse effects on health and combat efficiency of soldiers and thus affecting their respective units too.”
  • Officers experience comparatively much higher cumulative stress levels, compared to the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) and the stress causative factors are also different. The Officers lack a similar level of trust, faith and confidence in their leadership that JCOs and ORs demonstrate.
  • Units and sub­units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of incidents of indiscipline, unsatisfactory state of training, inadequate maintenance of equipment and low morale, motivation and esprit­-de-corps, thereby, adversely affecting their combat preparedness and operational performance.

Inflation in international agri-commodity
prices | F.A.O.

Context: FAO’s global food price index has hit the highest since November 2014.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Economy

There are three main reasons for international agri-commodity prices firming up in the past few months:

·      The first is a steady normalisation of demand as most countries, including India, have unlocked their economies after May.

o   Even as demand has gradually recovered, restoration of supply chains post-Covid is taking time.

o   Dry weather in major producing countries such as Thailand, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine, plus a shortage of shipping containers, has only aggravated the supply-demand imbalances.

The second reason is stockpiling by China, which has stepped up imports of everything – from corn, wheat, soyabean and barley to sugar and milk powder – to build strategic food reserves amid rising geopolitical tensions and pandemic uncertainties. 

·      The third reason may have to do the ultra-low global interest rates and floodgates of liquidity opened by major central banks.

o   This money, which has already flowed into equity markets, could well find a home next in agri-commodities – more so, in a scenario of tightening world supplies.

About FAO:

·      The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.

·      It was founded in October 1945.

·      The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy and maintains regional and field offices around the world, operating in over 130 countries.

·      It helps governments and development agencies coordinate their activities to improve and develop agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and land and water resources.

·      It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, operates educational and training programs, and collects data on agricultural output, production, and development.

Important news in short

·      The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions, which saw raised voices and increased tensions, ended without any resolution to the ongoing stalemate over the repeal of
the three farm reform laws. A ninth round of talks will be held on January 15, after the Supreme Court’s next hearing on the issue which is likely to be held on January 11.

·      Mumbai attack mastermind and Lashkar­-e-­Taiba operations commander Zaki­-ur-Rahman Lakhvi was sentenced to 5 years in jail on Friday by a Pakistani antiterrorism court here in a terror financing case, amidst mounting international pressure on Islamabad to bring to justice terrorists roaming free in the country.

·      Supreme Court tells govt. to arm forest officers to fight poachers.

o   India recorded the “greatest number of mortal fatalities” among forest officials in the
world.

o   The court said the Centre should consider involving premier organisations such as the CBI to help the forest staff.

o   There should even be a separate wing or wildlife division in the Enforcement Directorate with clean officials to track and investigate crimes of the poachers and the proceeds of their crime.

·      “The smooth transition of power through 17 general elections and over 300 Assembly elections is our
strength,” Lok Sabha Speaker Mr. Om Birla said, adding, “since Independence, India is among the strongest and most empowered democracies.

·      Fulfilling a long pending demand of Ladakh’s Kargil district, the Army on Friday decided to relocate from
the plateaus of Kurbathang and Mulbekh, which will allow the township to expand in an organised manner.

·      China holds third edition of South Asia multilateral meet – India, Bhutan and the Maldives gave the virtual event a skip.

·      India urged the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to work on finding a permanent solution to the issue of public stock holding for food security purposes.

Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper

·      The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider after three weeks a petition filed by a group of women against the compulsory nature of sacred confessions to priests in Christianity. “There cannot be a rule to impose confessions on a worshipper… Ladies are forced to confess before the priest… The court has to see whether confessions are an integral part of the religion,” Mr. Rohatgi went on to submit.  (Religious ethics Vs. right to privacy)

·      On December 29, driven as much by the money spent on this tradition as complaints of drunken brawls and domestic violence, Ratir Kethi village passed a resolution banning the sale, distribution and serving of liquor at wedding ceremonies, and religious as well as social gatherings like fairs.

o   The women of Ratir Kethi drove the change, with the resolution passed in the presence of at least one member from each of the 80 households of the village.

o   Apart from banning liquor at ceremonies or gatherings, the resolution says that if a person in a drunken state misbehaves with family members or indulges in domestic violence, the panchayat will take the matter to the police. (Role of Family Society and Educational Institutions in Inculcating Values. | Social Influence and Persuasion.)

UPSC Editorial Analysis

(The Hindu & The Indian Express)

BASIC INCOME AND PATRIARCHY

Source: The Indian Express

Written by: Arpan Tulsyan (senior research scholar at the Department of Social Work, Delhi University.)

Topic in syllabus: Issues related to women & women empowerment (GS-1)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about why the basic income for household work is necessary.

Introduction:

·      Last month, Kamal Hasan’s party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, promised salaries to housewives as a part of its electoral campaign in Tamil Nadu. This week, the idea was welcomed by Shashi Tharoor, who tweeted that this will “monetise the services of women homemakers in society, enhance their power and autonomy and create near-universal basic income”.

Why the basic income for household work is necessary?

·      Housework demands effort and sacrifice, 365 days a year, 24/7.

·      A large number of women live with domestic violence and cruelty because they are economically dependent on others, mainly their husbands.

·      Every day, an average Indian male spends 1.5 hours per day in unpaid domestic work, compared to about five hours by a female.

What are the concerns?

·      Asking men to pay for wives’ domestic work could further enhance their sense of entitlement.

·      It may also put the additional onus on women to perform.

·      Besides the ethics of buying domestic labour from wife poses a serious risk of formalising the patriarchal Indian family where the position of men stems from their being “providers” in the relationship.

What is to be done?

·      More than creating a new provision of salary for housework, we need to strengthen awareness, implementation and utilisation of other existing provisions. Starting from the right to reside in the marital home, to streedhan and haq meher, to coparcenary and inheritance rights as daughters and to basic services, free legal aid and maintenance in instances of violence and divorce.

·      Our aim cannot be only to ensure “basic income” to women. Women should be encouraged and helped to reach their full potential through quality education, access and opportunities of work, gender-sensitive and harassment-free workplaces and attitudinal and behaviour change within families to make household chores more participative.

·      Once these conditions are met, working inside the home or outside must be a woman’s choice, a freedom that she can exercise for herself.

Conclusion:

·      Just like we do not want women to commodify their reproductive services because of their inherently exploitative nature — we have, therefore, banned commercial surrogacy in the country — let us not allow commodification of housework and personal care. At the same time, let us not ask wives to do what husbands can and need to do for themselves, either out of love or in lieu of money.

Explained: The return of bird flu

Source: The Indian Express

Topic in syllabus: Science & technology (GS-3) | Health (GS-1)

Introduction:

·      After bird flu (avian influenza) was confirmed in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, high alert has been sounded in Maharashtra.

·      Several states, which have been reporting deaths of birds, including crows and migratory species, are scrambling to have samples tested for the virus.

·      As anxiety spreads, there is fear of a fresh blow to the poultry industry — reports have been coming in of people giving up chicken and eggs, and of prices beginning to fall.

The infection:

·      The virus was first reported in geese in China in 1996.

·      Bird flu or avian influenza is the name used to describe a viral infection that is reported mostly in birds, but has the potential to affect humans and other animals. The most common strain of the virus that causes severe respiratory disease in birds is H5N1; various other strains like H7, H8 too, cause infection.

Human transmission:

·      The H5N1 virus can jump species and infect humans from the infected bird.

·      The high mortality rate in humans — almost 60 per cent — is the main cause of concern about the spread of bird flu. In its present form, human-to-human infection is not known — human infections have been reported only among people who have handled infected birds or carcasses.

·      The virus dies immediately if exposed to temperatures over 70 degrees Celsius. Unlike in South East Asian countries, both meat and eggs in India are eaten well cooked, which sees them being exposed to over 100 degrees Celsius. Thus the chances of humans contracting the virus from eating chicken and eggs is extremely rare.

A message to Colombo

Source: The Indian Express

Topic in syllabus: India and its Neighbourhood- Relations. (GS-2)

Introduction:

·      External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s three-day visit to Sri Lanka was significant not for any specific outcomes but for what was achieved in political and diplomatic messaging by both sides. Jaishankar’s reminder in Colombo that the 13th Amendment is essential to ethnic reconciliation came at a time when powerful Sri Lankan politicians close to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, are calling for its scrapping.

What is the 13th amendment?

  • The 13th Amendment was a consequence of the Indian intervention in Sri Lanka between 1987-1990. It flowed from the India-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987. Sri Lanka is a unitary country, and the 1978 Constitution had concentrated all powers in the centre.

·      The agreement was aimed at finding a way forward on devolution of political powers to the then North-Eastern province, comprising the Tamil dominated areas of the island country.

·      Under the terms of the Accord (also known as the Jayawardene-Rajiv Gandhi agreement), the Sri Lankan parliament brought in the 13th Amendment, which provided for a system of elected provincial councils across Sri Lanka. Thus it was not just the Northern-Eastern province that would get a provincial council but provinces in the rest of Sri Lanka too.

What are the issues of India with Sri Lanka?

·      The cancellation of elections to the provincial councils, apparently due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, is being viewed as a first step towards this end. It would be a diplomatic and political embarrassment for the Narendra Modi government if the 13th Amendment was indeed abolished.

·      Delhi’s other challenge in Sri Lanka at this point is to operationalise a 2019 agreement to develop along with Japan a container terminal at Colombo Port, where China has a controlling stake in the adjoining Colombo International Container Terminal.

·      The India-Japan-Sri Lanka agreement had triggered a strike at the port ahead of last year’s parliamentary election, resolved only after assurances from the Rajapaksa brothers that it would not be handed over to foreign developers.

What does Sri Lanka wants?

·      Sri Lanka, for its part, has two main demands from India at this time.

o   One, it wants supplies of the anti-COVID vaccine. Its other request for a $1 bn currency swap has been pending since last year. 

o   India has already said it will prioritise vaccine supplies to its neighbours and should have no problem in accepting Rajapaksa’s request quickly on humanitarian grounds — it can only help Delhi’s image in that country.

o   As for the currency swap, its use as a bargaining chip can last only as long as Colombo does not look elsewhere for help.

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