DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |19 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |19 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC Online News Analysis

News

Context: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to embark on a judicial inquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery under the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, requiring a declaration of President’s rule. 

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Polity 

What is in the petition filed by the government?

  • It is Article 356 that deals with failure of constitutional machinery in a State… This power [to impose President’s rule] exclusively vests in the Executive.
  • The power in this regard, like sending a report either to the Hon’ble President or to the Hon’ble Governor or to record a finding in that regard, cannot be exercised by the judiciary. 

About Article 356:

  • In India, President’s rule is the suspension of state government and imposition of direct Union government rule in a state.
  •  Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, in the event that a state government is unable to function according to Constitutional provisions, the Union government can take direct control of the state machinery.
  •  Subsequently, executive authority is exercised through the centrally appointed governor, who has the authority to appoint other administrators to assist them.
  • In practice, President’s rule has been imposed in a state under any one of the following different circumstances:
  • A state legislature is unable to elect a leader as chief minister for a time prescribed by the Governor of that state, at the Will of Governor. 
  • Breakdown of a coalition leading to the Chief minister having minority support in the house and the Chief minister fails/will definitely fail to prove otherwise, within a time prescribed by the Governor of that state. 
  • Loss of majority in the assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the house.
  • Elections postponed for unavoidable reasons like war, epidemic, pandemic or natural disasters.
  • On the report of the Governor of the state if said state’s Constitutional machinery or legislature fails to abide by Constitutional norms. 
  • If approved by both houses, President’s rule can continue for 6 months.
  • It can be extended for a maximum of 3 years with the approval of the Parliament done every 6 months. 
  • If the Lok Sabha is dissolved during this time, the rule is valid for 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha provided that this continuance has already been approved by Rajya Sabha.
  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision to put a restraint on the power of Parliament to extend the President’s rule in a state. According to this provision, the president’s rule can only be extended over a year every 6 months under the following conditions:
  •  There is already a national emergency throughout India, or in the whole or any part of the state. 
  • The Election Commission certifies that elections cannot be conducted in the state. 
  • President’s rule can be revoked at any time by the President and does not need Parliament’s approval.

News

Context: Pressure groups in Meghalaya demanding the implementation of inner line permit (ILP) in the State have threatened to set up entry exit points for weeding out “unwanted people” on their own if the Conrad
Sangma led alliance government cannot do so, on December 21.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Polity

What is inner line permit?

  • According to the Constitution of India, all Indian citizens are free to live and work in any state of the country, but entry to certain states with a protected status requires authorisation by the concerned state
    government i.e. special permissions are required to visit these areas.
  •  Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the concerned state government to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. 
  • It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain a permit for entering into the protected state. 
  • The document is an effort by the government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
  • ILP is required to visit four North-eastern states, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. 

News

Context: The government is exploring all options, including setting up of a bad bank, to improve the health of the country’s banking sector, Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said on Friday. 

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Economy

What is bad bank?

  • Bad banks are set up to buy the bad loans and other illiquid holdings of another financial institution. 
  • Critics of bad banks say that the option encourages banks to take undue risks, leading to moral hazard, knowing that poor decisions could lead to a bad bank bailout. 
  • Bad banks were also considered during the financial crisis of 2008 as a way to shore up private institutions with high levels of problematic assets. 
  • Bad banks are typically set up in times of crisis when long-standing financial institutions are trying to recuperate their reputations and wallets. 
  • While shareholders and bondholders generally stand to lose money from this solution, depositors usually do not. 
  • Banks that become insolvent as a result of the process can be recapitalized, nationalized, or liquidated. 
  • If they do not become insolvent, it is possible for a bad bank’s managers to focus exclusively on maximizing the value of its newly acquired high-risk assets. 
  • Some criticize the setup of bad banks, highlighting how if states take over non-performing loans, this encourages banks to take undue risks, leading to a moral hazard. 

Examples related to Ethics (GS-4)

  • Tech giant Alibaba said in a statement it was “dismayed” that Alibaba Cloud had developed software that could recognise Uighurs. “We do not and will not permit our technology to be used to target or identify specific ethnic groups,” it said. (misuse of technology
  • “Governments are the principal catalysts of this change for the better. Development journalism does not mean beating the trumpet of the governments. It is about examining and reporting on the triggers of change, partnerships built and participation of people and other stakeholders, challenges faced and the way they were overcome etc,” – Vice president Naydu said (media ethics
  • PornHub website is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags. (Unethical business practices, promoting sexual violence)

Important news in short

  • The Kerala High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre and the National Aviation Company of India on a petition filed by kin of the the victims of the Karipur air crash of August 7 this year, seeking compensation under the Montreal Convention.
  • As per Article 21 of the Montreal Convention, in case of death of passengers, the airline was liable to pay up to ₹1 crore as Special Drawing Rights per passenger, the petition said.
  • A national database of migrant workers should be collated at the earliest to ensure that if ever there is a repeat of a COVID19like pandemic, the relief measures should reach the intended beneficiaries, the Standing Committee on Home Affairs has noted in its report. The committee also recommended an urgent review of the 123 year old Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. 
  • Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordow amid tensions with the U.S. over its atomic programme. 
  • The Heavy Industries Ministry is engaged in close coordination with stakeholders on the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme which also covers the automobile sector, and hopefully it will be rolled out very soon, a top official said on Friday. 
  • With the revival of the Indian economy being the primary focus, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday hinted that the Union Budget for 202122 would assign top billing to health sector concerns, while addressing the implications of the post pandemic world for industry and the workforce. 
  • The government on Friday proposed the adoption of E20 fuel — a blend of 20% of ethanol and gasoline — as an automobile fuel in order to reduce vehicular emissions as well as the country’s oil import bill. 

UPSC Online Editorial Analysis

Editorial

Title: 

1. Friend and neighbour (The Hindu)

2. A friend indeed (The Indian Express)

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

Analysis about: These articles talks about issues and solutions regarding India Bangladesh relations. 

Introduction: 

The virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, where they discussed issues ranging from the violent border incidents to the COVID-19 fight, demonstrates their desire to reboot India-Bangladesh ties that have faced challenges in recent months. 

Issues in India- Bangladesh relations: 

  • At least 25 Bangladeshis were killed in the first six months of this year along the border by Indian forces, according to a rights watchdog.  The Teesta water dispute remains unresolved. 
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens, which Ms. Hasina called “unnecessary”, have created a negative impression about India. 
  • Above all, China is making deep inroads into Bangladesh by ramping up infrastructure investments and expanding economic cooperation. 
  • Unfortunate comments by the Union home minister on illegal migration and migrants came close to derailing ties between India and its most important regional partner, Bangladesh. 

Positive things in the relation between both: 

  • The inauguration of an 11-km rail link between West Bengal and Bangladesh — the fifth in the last few years — marks the slow but steady effort by Delhi and Dhaka to overcome the negative consequences
  • of the Partition of the subcontinent in the east. 
  • There has been a systematic effort at restoring the natural connectivities between West Bengal, Bangladesh and India’s Northeast. 
  • In addition to expediting a study looking into a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the statement outlined a host of areas for cooperation, from strengthening river water transport to managing a transboundary elephant corridor and from trade liberalisation to the setting up of a CEO forum. 
  • Delhi and Dhaka are also raising their ambitions for regional connectivity with Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar and Thailand.

The way forward for India: 

  • Ms. Hasina has done relatively well in steering Bangladesh through crises. India should support her fight against the radical elements. 
  • India should also not allow the ideological inclinations of the ruling party to spoil the historic relationship between the two countries. 
  • New Delhi should take a broader view of the changing scenario and growing competition in South Asia, and reach out to Dhaka with an open mind. 
  • It is imperative for India to bolster ties with this all-weather friend, and there may not be a better time to do so than when Bangladesh is to celebrate the golden jubilee of its independence. 
  • As Dhaka prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its liberation from Pakistan and the special role of India in that event next March, as well set ambitious goals for its impressive economic development, Delhi can’t let crude electoral calculations undermine the historic transformation underway in the eastern subcontinent.

Editorial

Title: Walk the green talk

Written by:
Christophe Jaffrelot (senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King’s India Institute, London)

Topic in syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how India needs decisive action to meet climate change mitigation targets, or even exceed them by 2047, as the PM has assured.

Introduction: 

The fifth anniversary of the Paris accord last week was the occasion of a virtual global meeting — the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 — during which Prime Minister Narendra Modi made “a solemn pledge” that in 2047 “centennial India will not only meet its own targets, but will also exceed expectations” in terms of carbon emissions.

What are the targets set by India? 

  • India had set fair targets (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) in the Paris accord in 2015 India had set a target of 175 GW of installed renewables capacity by 2020 and a guarantee that by 2030, 40 per cent of its energy needs will come from renewables. 
  • In 2018, at the Global Climate Action Summit, PM Modi announced an ambitious plan to make India less dependent on coal and natural gas by aiming for 450-500 GW of installed capacity by 2030 through renewable energy. 
  • The Indian railways, too, is expected to go fully electric by 2024 with completion of electric lines by 2023, according to the ministry of railways. 

What are the issues?

  • The solar industry has run into regulatory headwinds. By early 2020, there were cancellations of several auctions by the government. 
  • Investors who were already facing tough markets and shutdowns from the solar supply chains in China pulled out 90 renewable projects amounting to 39.4 GW that were facing delays due to several reasons. 
  • Out of these, 20 GW worth of projects are facing delays and have been granted extensions of five months due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on global supply chains; a further 8 GW worth of projects lack even power purchase or sales agreements. 
  • The market for rooftop solar, which was expected to grow to 40 GW by 2022, has fallen flat with an installed capacity of only 6 GW. 
  • The primary reason is once again a poor regulatory environment, despite both significant central and state subsidies for solar installations. 
  • The main problem has been Power Purchase Agreements between the distribution companies (or discoms, which are often state monopolies) and prosumers (producer-consumers) who would install the solar panels. 
  • The installation of smart solar meters with more expensive metering during peak hours, which could then incentivise the consumer and the discoms to actively push more affluent Indians to adopt rooftop solar. 
  • These reforms, along with public outreach if undertaken urgently, could greatly improve the installed rooftop capabilities. 
  • Despite significant gains in total installed capacity for renewable power in terms of actual power generation, coal still powers close to 72 per cent of India’s electricity requirement. 
  • Even if India is to achieve the 2022 target mentioned above, coal would still account for 65 per cent of its energy mix. 
  • The main issue is that most of the grid is still geared towards the thermal power industry
  • Another problem is the financial distress of the discoms, which prevents them from modernising plants, as the thermal industry is plagued by inefficient tariff setting, expensive PPAs and unsustainable crosssubsidies. 
  • Shutting down old and inefficient plants seems to be the best solution, but if the Central Electric Authority were to shut down the plants over 25 years old — as it should — close to 35 GW could be decommissioned. 
  • For the first time ever, government has decided to open 41 coal blocks for commercial mining to the private sector. This is aimed at addressing India’s excessive reliance on imported coal (30 per cent). In parallel, India plans to install an additional 60 MW of thermal power, which is surprising, considering that today renewable energy is cheaper than coal. 
  • The target of 33 per cent of forest cover remains to be achieved, as Indian forests currently stand at 21 per cent of total geographical area (TGA). The question of declining forest cover is also relevant in sensitive biodiversity hotspots, especially in the Western Ghats and in the forests in the Northeast. 

The way forward: 

  • This is the time for India to take bold action if it wants to meet its objectives by 2047 or before. 
  • India must plan a green recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis to ensure a just and sustainable growth for its population. Doing this will take an incredible amount of resources and political will.

Explained


Title:
A massive hack in US, using a novel set of tools 

Topic in syllabus: Science & technology, Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security (GS-3)

Introduction: 

  • The ‘SolarWinds hack’, a cyberattack recently discovered in the United States, has emerged as one of the biggest ever targeted against the US government, its agencies and several other private companies. In fact, it is likely a global cyberattack. 
  • In an opinion piece written for The New York Times, Thomas P Bossert, who was Homeland Security Adviser for President Donald Trump, has named Russia for the attack. 

What is this ‘Solar Winds hack’? 

  • News of the cyberattack technically first broke on December 8, when Fire Eye put out a blog detecting an attack on its systems. 
  • The firm helps with security management of several big private companies and federal government agencies.
  • It said the attack was carried out by a nation “with top-tier offensive capabilities”, and “the attacker primarily sought information related to certain government customers.” 
  • It also said the methods used by the attackers were novel. 

How did so many US government agencies and companies get attacked? 

  • This is being called a ‘Supply Chain’ attack: Instead of directly attacking the federal government or a private organisation’s network, the hackers target a third-party vendor, which supplies software to them.
  • A Reuters report said that even emails sent by Department of Homeland Security officials were “monitored by the hackers”.


How did they gain access? 

  • According to FireEye, the hackers gained “access to victims via trojanized updates to SolarWinds’ Orion IT monitoring and management software”. 
  • FireEye says the attackers relied on “multiple techniques” to avoid being detected and “obscure their activity”. 
  • The malware was capable of accessing the system files. What worked in the malware’s favour was it was able to “blend in with legitimate SolarWinds activity”, according to FireEye. 
  • Once installed, the malware gave a backdoor entry to the hackers to the systems and networks ofSolarWinds’ customers. 
  • More importantly, the malware was also able to thwart tools such as anti-virus that could detect it.
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