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UPSC Online News Analysis


Context: Issues in online learning

Topic in the syllabus: Mains – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Context: Chinese media claimed that a new border village built by China near Bhutan was on Chinese territory, but released images of the village show its location on territory disputed by the two countries.

Topic in the syllabus: Prelims – places in news

Location of the disputed area:

About Doklam:

  • It is an area with a plateau and a valley, lying between China’s Chumbi Valley to the north, Bhutan’s Ha Valley to the east and India’s Sikkim state’s Nathang Valley to the west.
  • It has been depicted as part of Bhutan in the Bhutanese maps since 1961, but it is also claimed by China.
  • To date, the dispute has not been resolved despite several rounds of border negotiations between Bhutan and China.
  • The area is of strategic importance to all three countries.


Context: The Delhi High Court told the Union and Delhi governments to take a decision on a petition seeking grant of paid leave to women employees during menstruation by treating it as a representation.

Topic in the syllabus: Mains – Women related issues & women empowerment (GS-1)

Supporting reasons:

  • The plea by Delhi Labour Union said that women be provided special casual or paid leave as menstruation is intrinsically related to human dignity.
  • By not providing separate toilet facilities, breaks to maintain hygiene during the particular period and paid leaves in form of special casual leaves, the authorities are depriving the employees of their dignity.

Argument against:

  • Some women see period leave as the gendering of the workplace, as a statement of biological determinism, as using biology against women to offer equal opportunities and assignments.
  • In the nature-versus-nurture debate, I have always been on the side of nurture. I believe that social differences and constructs create our differences, not biological essentialism. And I believe period leave is biological essentialism that my feminism opposes. – Burkha Dutt (TV journalist)


Context: The India Meteorological Department has declared an orange alert for the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir.

Topic in the syllabus: Prelims – Geography

About different alerts of IMD:

  • Green alert: When there is no advisory issued.
  • Yellow alert: It indicates very bad weather for several days. It also means that the weather can change for the worse, which may disrupt day-to-day activities.
  • Orange alert: It is issued to give the warning of extremely bad weather. It also means there may be road and rail closures, and stopping of power supply.
  • Red alert: It means weather is certainly going to disrupt travel and power. It means public have significant risk to life.

What does the Indian meteorological department do?

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
  • It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
  • IMD is headquartered in Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica.
  • IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organisation.
  • It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.


Context: Govt. to fast-track green nod – MoEF issues fresh guidelines to accelerate environmental appraisal of projects

Topic in the syllabus: Prelims – Environment related bodies | Mains – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. (GS-3)

About new guidelines:

  • The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) wants to expedite the environment appraisal of industrial projects.
  • Ensuring that EAC meetings are held at least once in 15 days.
  • All proposals that were placed for approval 10 days before a meeting ought to be considered (It is
    15 days now).
  • The queries or issues, which the division may have, should be raised during the EAC meeting only.
  • Member Secretary (MS) ought to ensure that the relevant queries of the division are also pointed out at the time of EAC meetings itself so as to avoid occasion for such queries before and after examination by Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC).

What is Expert Appraisal Committee?

  • Expert appraisal committees (EAC) exist at the Union as well as state levels (state expert appraisal committee or SEAC) to advise the government on environmental clearance of development projects.
  • The role of EAC is integral to the process of granting environmental clearance to development projects.
  • According to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, evaluation of proposals involves four steps: screening, scoping, public hearing and appraisal.
  • EAC/SEAC are involved in various capacities in all the stages, except for public hearing.
  • The Expert Appraisal Committees (EACs) opine on whether a proposed project beyond a certain size ought to be commissioned and recommend ways to mitigate the potential environmental impact.
  • Their advice is critical to the MoEF’s eventual decision to either clear or red flag a project.

What did expert say about the new guidelines?

  • Environmental law specialist and researcher at the Centre for Policy Research, Kanchi Kohli said – “What is even more concerning is the Environment Ministry’s approach to reading down its own mandate for environment protection. Accelerated approvals definitely don’t allow for good
    environmental decisions and do not necessitate that projects will be up and running to support an already sluggish economy. Our current approval rates are close to 100%, and yet there is an economic slowdown.”


Context: India may record a current account surplus in FY21, Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian said, terming it a sign of ‘under heating’ in the economy.

Topic in the syllabus: Prelims – Economy

What is current account surplus?

  • Current account surpluses refer to positive current account balances, meaning that a country has more exports than imports of goods and services.
  • Countries with consistent current account surpluses face upward pressure on their currency.
  • Current account surpluses can also indicate low domestic demand or may be the result of a drop in imports due to a recession.

What is the difference between Current account and Capital account?

  • The current and capital accounts are two components of a nation’s balance of payments.
  • The current account is the difference between a country’s savings and investments. The current account deals with a country’s short-term transactions or the difference between its savings and investments. These are also referred to as actual transactions (as they have a real impact on income), output and employment levels through the movement of goods and services in the economy.
  • A country’s capital account records the net change of assets and liabilities during a certain period of time. The capital account is a record of the inflows and outflows of capital that directly affect a nation’s foreign assets and liabilities. It is concerned with all international trade transactions between citizens of one country and those in other countries.

Examples for Ethics (GS-4):

  • A digital COVID19 relief concert series, titled “Padharo Mhare Des”, has been launched here to support folk artistes, deprived of regular livelihood for several months, in the remote areas of Rajasthan. The fundraising series will present some renowned performers and promote virtual tourism during the pandemic. (Empathy, compassion towards the weaker-sections | Use such ideas in your case studies)
  • M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to be formally arrested, in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case. (Against Probity, integrity, honesty in civil services)

Important one liners:

  • A randomised controlled Phase 3 clinical study by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals found oral antiviral medication Favipiravir, which prevents the replication of the virus lifecycle, led to a significant improvement in clinical cure in patients with mild to moderate COVID19, as per Glenmark.
  • A new, unified single window clearance system for foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals would be in place by March 31, a top government official said, stressing that this would not only make approvals transparent but expeditious.
  • The RBI working group’s proposal to allow corporate houses to set up banks is a “bombshell” and at this juncture, it is more important to stick to the tried and tested limits on involvement of business houses in the banking sector, says an article written by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and exdeputy governor Viral Acharya. The authors said the proposal is “best left on the shelf”.
  • S&P Global Ratings expressed scepticism over allowing corporate ownership in banks given India’s weak corporate governance amid large corporate defaults over the past few years.
  • Chang’e-5 lunar mission – China is preparing to launch an unmanned spacecraft to bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by
    any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.
  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched “Abhayam” mobile phone application which helps women and children travelling in taxis and auto rickshaws to raise an alarm in case of any emergency.
  • The Odisha government proposed to impose penalty on individuals who would spend money in
    furtherance or in support of ‘illegal’ strike and make such offences punishable with imprisonment.
  • The Kerala government decided not to put into immediate effect an ordinance that sought to empower the police to prosecute persons disseminating defamatory content.
  • Pharma major AstraZeneca said its COVID19 vaccine could be as much as 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a new weapon, cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale up than rivals.

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