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UPSC Online News Analysis

News – 1

Context: Ethiopia’s Nobel Prize win- ning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed started a military operation in the rebellious Tigray region earlier this month. Mr. Abiy has said it would be a limited campaign focusing on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the militia-cum-political party that runs the northern region. However, almost two weeks into the conflict, Ethiopia risks falling into an ethnic civil war with regional implications.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Geography (Places in news)

Tigray region:

  • The region shares border with 2 countries. – Sudan & Eritria
  • Tigray region does not open into Red sea.
  • Tigray region is the northern most part of Ethiopia.
  • Lake Tana is in the south of Tigray region.

News – 2

Context: Vulture numbers ‘stabilising’, MoEF launches action plan to increase population.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Environment & ecology (Species in news)

Critically endangered vulture species:

The Oriental white-rumped vulture

Native to South and Southeast Asia

White-Backed Vulture

Native to Africa

Indian Vulture

It breeds mainly on cliffs in South and Central India, but is known to use trees to nest in Rajasthan

Slender-Billed Vulture

It is found in India from the Gangetic plain north, west to Himachal Pradesh, south potentially as far as northern Odisha, and east through Assam. It is also found in north and central Bangladesh, southern Nepal, Burma and Cambodia.

The Egyptian vulture is listed as ‘endangered’ while the Himalayan, bearded and cinereous vultures are ‘near threatened’.

What is Diclofenac & how is it harmful for vultures?

  • Diclofenac, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain and inflammatory diseases such as gout.
  • It is taken by mouth, rectally in a suppository, used by injection, or applied to the skin.
  • The drug is used in veterinary sector in large amount.
  • Widespread use of diclofenac in south Asian cattle was linked to the deaths of millions of vultures that ate carcasses containing the drug, causing some populations to decline by more than 99% since the 1990s.
  • Even a few carcasses containing the drug could seriously damage a population.
  • Diclofenac is toxic to vultures even in small doses, causing kidney failure. That results in uric acid accumulating in the birds’ blood and crystallizing around their internal organs—a condition called visceral gout.

What is in the action plan?

  • The Vulture Safe Zone programme is being implemented at eight different places in the country where there were extant populations of vultures, including two in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Attempts are made to secure the population of vulture by ensuring the minimum use of Diclofenac and an area is declared a Vulture Safe Zone only when no toxic drugs are found in undercover pharmacy and cattle carcass surveys, for two consecutive years, and the vulture populations are stable and not declining.
  • The action plan aims to carry forth what has already been set in motion by ensuring that sale of veterinary NSAIDs is regulated and livestock are treated only by qualified veterinarians.
  • The Ministry also plans on carrying out safety testing of available NSAIDs on vultures and to develop new ones which do not affect vultures.
  • Additional Conservation Breeding Centres are also being planned across the country, along with Vulture Conservation Centres with samples and information collected from the wild analysed and stored at these centres — one each in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Four rescue centres have been proposed for different geographical areas like Pinjore in the north, Bhopal in ventral India, Guwahati in Northeast and Hyderabad in South India.

News – 3

Context: People cheer on social media as SpaceX, NASA launch second crewed mission to space.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science & technology

What is Resilience?

  • The Falcon 9 rocket named ‘Resilience’ was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

What is the purpose of the mission?

  • The astronauts are to conduct microgravity studies and deliver new science hardware and experiments that they will carry with them to space aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

News – 4

Context: World Bank to advise DIPAM on CPSE asset monetisation.

  • The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Monday signed an agreement with World Bank for providing advisory services to the department for asset monetisation.
  • The World Bank advisory project is aimed at analysing public asset monetisation in India and benchmarking its institutional and business models against international best practices as well as supporting development of operational guidelines, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Economy

What is DIPAM & its role:

  • The Department of Disinvestment has been renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management or ‘DIPAM’, a decision aimed at the proper management of Centre’s investments in equity including its disinvestment in central public sector undertakings.
  • DIPAM comes under ministry of finance.
  • It is responsible for a systematic policy approach to disinvestment and privatisation of Public Sector Units (PSUs).
  • Decisions on the recommendations of Administrative Ministries, NITI Aayog, etc. for disinvestment including strategic disinvestment.
  • All matters related to Independent External Monitor for disinvestment and public asset management.
  • Decisions in matters relating to Central Public Sector Undertakings for purposes of Government investment in equity like capital restructuring, bonus, dividends, disinvestment of government equity and other related issues.
  • Advise the Government in matters of financial restructuring of the Central Public Sector Enterprises and for attracting investment in the said Enterprises through capital market.
  • The government has tasked DIPAM to facilitate monetisation of non-core assets of central public sector enterprises, or CPSEs, under strategic disinvestment of value of Rs 100 crore and above.

News – 5

Context: High praise for Manmohan Singh in Barack Obama’s new memoir. – Former U.S. President says that in many respects India counted as a success story, but he also talks about the striking inequality and ‘violence.

Topic in syllabus: These points can be used in Essay.

What did Obama say about India?

  • The former U.S. President writes that his first trip to India was in 2010 but that the place had always “held a special place in my [his] imagination.”
  • He says this is possibly due to its “sheer size” with a sixth of humanity and 2,000 distinct ethnic groups and over 700 languages. Or, he speculates, it could be because he had listened to the Mahabharata and Ramayana during his childhood in Indonesia, or his interest in Eastern religions or because a group of Indian and Pakistani friends in college taught him how to cook ‘dal’ and ‘kheema’, and introduced him to Bollywood movies.
  • Mr. Obama writes at length about Gandhiji’s life and his legacy, including the inspiration U.S. Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. drew from Gandhiji’s philosophy.
  • He describes a visit with former First Lady Michelle Obama to Mani Bhavan, where Gandhiji used to
    stay when in Mumbai [then Bombay].
  • While Mr. Obama says in many respects India counted as a success story, he is not all praise for the country. He talks about the striking inequality between the rich and poor and says “violence, both public and private” continued to be “an all too pervasive part of Indian life.”

Examples for Ethics (GS-4)

  • A 35-year-old woman in Jaipur was allegedly set on fire by a man who is accused of raping her and had been on the run since April this year. She sustained 70 per cent burn injuries and is stated to be critical, still in hospital. (Against empathy, tolerance and compassion towards the weaker-sections)
  • Nearly 11 months after the Malkangiri Collector’s personal assistant Deba Narayan Panda was found dead after he had gone missing, police have booked the collector and three others on the directions of a judicial magistrate. (Against Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration)
  • Isravel Moses, a 26 ­year­old television journalist who reported on illegal encroachment of land and sale of ganja, was hacked to death in Nallur village in Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu on November 8. (Against the value of accountability & transparency)
  • Ø  A journalist, 35 ­year ­old Syed Adil Wahab, was found brutally murdered in a jungle on the outskirts of Bhopal. (Against the value of accountability & transparency)

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