DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |30 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |30 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed a Farida bad based thermal power plant to explore utilisation of fly ash in cement plants and also directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to monitor whether covering of the ash dump meets scientific environmental norms.
Topic in syllabus: : Prelims – Environment & ecology
What is fly ash?  
      • Fly ash or flue ash, is a coal combustion product that is composed of the particulates (fine particles of burned fuel) that are driven out of coal-fired boilers together with the flue gases. 
      Optimum utilization of fly ash: 
      • As informed by Ministry of Power, ash produced by thermal power plants is a proven resource material for many applications of construction industries and currently is being utilized in Manufacture of Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC), fly ash bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment
        construction & low lying area development, in agriculture as soil conditioner etc. 
      • Further, following efforts have been made to make optimum utilization of fly ash as an environmentally sustainable and economically viable product: 
      • GST rates on fly ash and its products have been reduced to 5%. 
      • To facilitate 100% ash utilization by all coal based thermal power plants, a web portal for monitoring of fly ash generation and utilization data of Thermal Power Plants and a mobile based application titled “ASHTRACK” has been launched by the Government that will help to establish a link between fly ash users and power plants executives for obtaining fly ash for its use in various areas. 
      • A Workshop and Video Conferences to make use of the Web Page for data updation have been conducted by CEA and NTPC. 
      • Ash-park has been developed and awareness programme for utilisation of fly ash and its products have been conducted. 

          News

          Context: INCOIS launches ‘Digital Ocean’
          Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Govt initiatives
          What is ‘Digital Ocean’? 
                • Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan launched the ‘Digital Ocean’ platform of Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services (INCOIS) here as a one stop solution for all data related needs of a wide range of users, including research institutions, operational agencies, strategic users, academic community, maritime industry, and the public. 
                • “Digital Ocean (www.do.incois.gov.in) is expected to bring a sea change in how the oceanographic data is served for a better understanding of oceans surrounding us. 
                • It will play a central role in sustainable management of our oceans and expanding our ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives. 
                • It will facilitate an online interactive web based environment for data integration, 3D and 4D data visualization, data analysis to assess the evolution of oceanographic features obtained from multiple sources like on site monitoring devices, remote sensing and model data. 
                What is Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services (INCOIS)? 
                • INCOIS provides ocean information and advisory services to various stakeholders in the country, including Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) advisories, Ocean State Forecast (OSF), high wave alerts, tsunami early warnings, storm surge and oil spill advisories, among others, using state of the art technologies and tools to get real time information on oceanographic and marine meteorological data. 
                • The institute has been serving as the National Argo Data Centre and Regional Argo Data Centre of the International Argo Programme. 

                News

                Context: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has been nominated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and
                Immunisation (GAVI) as a member on the GAVI Board, said a release by the Ministry on Tuesday.
                Immunisation (GAVI) as a member on the GAVI Board, said a release by the Ministry on Tuesday.
                Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science & technology
                About GAVI:
                  • GAVI, officially Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (previously the GAVI Alliance, and before that the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) is a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. 
                  • GAVI brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists. GAVI has observer status at the World Health Assembly. 
                  • It currently supports the immunization of almost half the world’s children, giving it power to negotiate better prices for the world’s poorest countries and remove the commercial risks that manufacturers faced in serving this market. It also provides funding to strengthen health systems and train health workers across the developing world. 
                  • GAVI’s approach to public health has been described as business-oriented and technology-focused, using market-oriented measures, and seeking quantifiable results. 
                  • It contrasts with the approach typified by the Alma Ata Declaration, which focusses on the effects of political, social, and cultural systems on health.

                    There are no Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper 

                    Important news in short

                    • Pakistan had increasingly become a pawn in Chinese policy, and under an increasing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related debt trap, further military dependencies in the future would happen, according to Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria. 
                    • In 2020-21, as policy support is rolled back, the impact of the COVID19 pandemic may dent the health of the banks and nonbanks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its Report on Trend and Progress of Banking in India. 
                    • The government on Tuesday said it had proposed to make airbags mandatory for the passengers in the front seat of a vehicle. The step aims to improve passenger safety in case of accidents. 

                    Editorial Analysis

                    [The Hindu & The Indian Express]

                    Editorial 

                    Title:  Resilient supply chains as a pandemic lesson
                    Written by: Sujan R. Chinoy (former Ambassador and currently the Director General of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses)
                    Topic in syllabus:  Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3)
                    Analysis about:  This editorial talks about the importance of supply chain in an economy.
                    Introduction:
                            • A key lesson learnt by the pandemic has been world during the COVID19 the importance of creating resilient supply chains that can withstand disruptions and ensure reliability for the global economy. 
                            Examples of breakdown of supply chain: 
                                    • When the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out, it had an immediate and telling effect on supply chains emanating from China. In India, several companies felt the disruption in the automotive, electronics and white goods sectors. 
                                    • India excels in the pharmaceuticals sector but the overreliance on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) from China still creates vulnerabilities in the value chain. 
                                    • Tensions with China led the United States government to impose restrictions on export of microchips to China’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), following assessment that there was an “unacceptable risk” that equipment supplied to it could be used for military purposes.  
                                    About Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI): 
                                            • Greater weaponisation of trade and technology is here to stay. It is in this context that India, Japan and Australia initiated the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) in September this year, focusing on automobiles and parts, petroleum, steel, textiles, financial services and IT sectors. 
                                            • The SCRI may be bolstered by the future involvement of France, though this might depend on the European Union’s position. The United Kingdom has also shown interest in the SCRI. 
                                            Role of China: 
                                              • China has resorted to tactics of maintaining advantageous trade and economic engagement, without relenting on strategic issues. 
                                              • China’s calls for “normal relations” with India are unrealistic given the continuing faceoff in Ladakh. 
                                              • China has often used its economic leverage to weaken an opponent’s resolve on contentious issues. 
                                              What are the reactions of other countries?
                                                • Australia has demonstrated strong political will in countering arbitrary Chinese sanctions imposed on its key exports of grain, beef, wine, coal and much else. 
                                                • Since the normalisation of diplomatic ties in the 1970s, Japan has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the Chinese economy. 
                                                • Yet, they have shown an early capacity for risk mitigation through the “China Plus One” business strategy, aimed at diversification of investments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India and Bangladesh. 

                                                Opportunities for India: 

                                                • A sizeable number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) chose to relocate to Southeast Asian
                                                  countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. 
                                                • Companies in health care and medical devices, especially those manufacturing personal protective
                                                  equipment (PPEs), would have benefited more by shifting to India which offers a much larger domestic
                                                  market as well as lower manufacturing costs for global exports. 

                                                India’s vulnerabilities (Import dependence) 

                                                • A large emerging economy such as India can ill afford the shocks of disruption in supply chains. Nor
                                                  can it allow itself to be held hostage due to an overreliance on imports. 
                                                • For instance, the pandemic caused a breakdown in global supply chains in the automotive sector since
                                                  most global manufacturers in China abruptly went offline. 
                                                • For India, which imports 27% of its requirement of automotive parts from China, this quandary was a
                                                  wakeup call, given the sudden shortage of braking components, electrical components, interiors and
                                                  lighting fixtures. 
                                                • Despite being the fourth largest market in Asia for medical devices, India has an import dependency of
                                                  80%. 
                                                • There is a tremendous opportunity for foreign companies to enter into tieups with reputed Indian
                                                  defence manufacturers to tap into the growing defence market in India. 

                                                Efforts of India: 

                                                • India is seeking to enhance its presence substantially in the global supply chains by attracting investments in the semiconductor components and packaging industry. 
                                                • The government is actively promoting domestic manufacture of printed circuit boards (PCBs), components and semiconductors, as the Indian electronics sector gradually shifts away from completely knocked down (CKD) assembly to high value addition. 
                                                • Defence is among the key pillars of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ policy. 

                                                How can we understand the Atmanirbhar Bharat policy?

                                                • The push for self-reliance through ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ is not an autarkic policy. It does not imply foreclosure of the Indian economy to foreign trade and participation in the global economy. 
                                                • On the contrary, it is aimed at strengthening India’s capacities to participate more vigorously without being prey to supply chain disruptions. 

                                                Conclusion

                                                • Given the renewed thrust, this is the right time to fill gaps through local manufacturing. 
                                                • India has the capacity and the potential to become one of the world’s largest destinations for investments, and one of the world’s largest manufacturing hubs, in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

                                                Editorial

                                                Title: The tragedy of conservation
                                                Written by: Madhusudan Bandi (faculty member with the Gujarat  Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad.)
                                                Topic in syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment. (GS-3)
                                                Analysis about: This editorial emphasises on why Isolating the indigenous people from their natural habitats in the Western Ghats to protect biodiversity is unproductive.
                                                Introduction:
                                                            • In 2012, 39 areas covering national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and reserved forests in the Western Ghats were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. 
                                                            • Since the time the Ministry of Environment and Forests began identifying the potential heritage sites, there has been unrest among the indigenous people. When the exercise began, they feared for their existence in lands that they had inhabited for decades. 
                                                            • The restrictions on movement following the declaration of these territories as ecologically sensitive areas aggrieved them further. 

                                                              About indigenous people in the region: 

                                                              • The indigenous people of the Western Ghats, including the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, constitute 44.2% of the tribal population of 6.95% of Karnataka. 
                                                              • The Western Ghats are also home to a sizeable population of communities like Gowlis, Kunbis, Halakki Vakkala, Kare Vakkala, Kunbi, and Kulvadi Marathi. 
                                                              • In the context of the Forest Rights Act, they are treated as ‘other traditional forest dwellers’ since they have been living there for at least three generations prior to December 13, 2005 and depend on the forest or forest land for their livelihood needs. 
                                                              • They eke out their living by collecting ‘minor forest produce’ such as cinnamon and kokum from the forest. 

                                                              Vulnerabilities of tribals:

                                                              • Karnataka has a dismal record in implementing the Forest Rights Act compared to other States. According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, as of April 30, 2018, the State had recognised only 5.7% of the total claims made. 
                                                              • Notably, 70% of the claims were disposed off. There appeared to be clear inconsistency in the government’s approach in settling the claims made by the tribals versus the claims made by other traditional forest dwellers. 

                                                              How the approach of declaring the forest areas as conservation & heritage sites by denying tribals their rights is wrong? 

                                                              • Assuming that denying tribals or other traditional forest dwellers their rights in the forest would serve the purpose of conservation is far from the truth. 
                                                              • The Forest Rights Act is not about the indiscriminate distribution of forest land to anyone applying for it. 
                                                              • As per the law, only those lands are recognised where people prove their occupation not later than December 13, 2005. 
                                                              • Moreover, the combined stretch of land claimed by them is comparatively smaller by any account than what has been taken away for building dams, mining, laying railway lines and roads, power plants, etc. 
                                                              • The Global Environment Outlook Report 5 mentions that there is decreased biodiversity across the globe even as ‘protected areas’ have been expanding. People living in nature’s surroundings are integral to conservation as they relate with it in a more integrated and spiritual way. 

                                                              The way forward:

                                                              • Declaration of the Western Ghats as a World Heritage Site is as important in preserving the rich biodiversity of the region as the recognition of the rights of the people who depend on the forests. As confirmed internationally, preserving biodiversity requires the legal empowerment of the people living in those areas. 
                                                              • The government must make an effort to build trust between its agencies in the area and the people who depend on these forests by treating them as equal citizens like everyone else in the country.

                                                                    Explained

                                                                    Title: Why Dedicated Freight Corridor matters — for Railways, the country 
                                                                    Topic in syllabus: Economy (GS-3)
                                                                    Introduction:
                                                                      • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 351-km section between Khurja and Bhaupur in Uttar Pradesh for commercial operations of the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) on Tuesday. He also dedicated to the nation a state-of-the-art Operation Control Centre in Prayagraj. 
                                                                      What is the DFC? 
                                                                      •  The project involves the construction of six freight corridors traversing the entire country. The purpose of the project is to provide a safe and efficient freight transportation system. 
                                                                      • It is Built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore through a loan from World Bank (which is funding a majority of the EDFC; the WDFC is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency). 
                                                                      • The DFC consists of two arms. The section launched on Tuesday is part of the 1,839-km Eastern DFC that starts at Sohnewal (Ludhiana) in Punjab and ends at Dankuni in West Bengal. 
                                                                      • The other arm is the around 1,500-km Western DFC from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh to JNPT in Mumbai, touching all major ports along the way.
                                                                        Section opened by PM
                                                                        Benefits of DFC: 
                                                                        • Around 70% of the freight trains currently running on the Indian Railway network are slated to shift to the freight corridors, leaving the paths open for more passenger trains. 
                                                                        • This is like building an entire railway network from scratch, independent of Indian Railways. All the installations are new. Including the stations, and that’s why the names of a majority of its stations are prefixed with ‘New’, such as New Bhaupur, New Khurja etc. 
                                                                        • Tracks on DFC are designed to carry heavier loads than most of Indian Railways. DFC will get track access charge from the parent Indian Railways, and also generate its own freight business. 
                                                                        • The new section means on the Indian Railway main line, more passenger trains can be pumped in and those trains can, in turn, achieve better punctuality. 
                                                                        • Foodgrain and fertilisers from the northern region are transported to the eastern and Northeast regions. From East and Northeast, coal, iron ore, jute and petroleum products are transported North and West. 
                                                                        • Freight trains usually suffer from unpredictable running times and low speeds of around 25 km per hour. But on this new section they can run at 50-60 kph. 
                                                                        • These areas are agriculture hubs producing potato, paddy and maize. “The agricultural produce will get a pan-India market because of cheaper and faster DFC connectivity,” a spokesperson for the DFCCIL told.
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