Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

27 APRIL 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Another wave spells more nutrition loss

The Hindu


An unquiet neighborhood

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

India third highest military spender in 2020, states data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Syllabus– GS 3: Internal Security

Analysis: –

  • India was the third largest military spender in the world in 2020, behind only the US and China.
  • According to the latest military expenditure database published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks military expenditure and arms trade globally, the US accounted for 39 per cent of the money spent on military globally, China accounted for 13 per cent, and India accounted for 3.7 per cent of the globe’s share.
  • The US spent a total of $778 billion in 2020, China spent $252 billion and India’s military expenditure was $72.9 billion.
  • All three countries saw their military spending go up compared to 2019, even during a pandemic year.
  • While India’s spending since 2019 grew by 2.1 per cent, the increase for China was more moderate, at 1.9 per cent. The US saw a 4.4 per cent growth over its 2019 expenditure.

Complexities of herd Immunity

Syllabus– GS 3: Science and Technology

  • We have all heard of immunity that results in a dramatic reduction of daily cases.
  • Despite serosurveys indicating many metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune having reached high levels of immunity, the same cities are seeing an explosive surge.
  • The number of daily cases depends on three factors: The number of infectious people in the population, the number of susceptible individuals, and the rate of transmission of the virus.
  • The rate of transmission is dependent on the nature of the virus and the extent of contact between individuals.
  • The herd immunity concept is based on lowering the number of susceptible individuals.
  • If sufficient individuals in the population are immune (either through vaccination or a prior exposure), then the number of susceptible individuals drops.
  • For example, if the immune population is 70%, then the susceptible population is 30%.
  • The prediction for future cases, unfortunately, is not that simple.

If the rate of transmission increases (due to change in social behaviour and increased contact) then even with a large percentage of the immune population, a significant number of daily cases can result.

On the horizon: A semiconductor war. The technology war between the US and China is largely a battle over semiconductors

Syllabus—GS 3: Science and Technology

Analysis: –

  • The technology war between the US and China is largely a battle over semiconductors. Semiconductors or chips/integrated circuits(ICs) are the lifeblood of all digital products and digitalisation.
  • They are embedded in every product possible and their penetration is only rising.
  • Just to give context, a simple MacBook today will have over 16 billion transistors compared to tens of thousands in the Apollo lunar module, which landed on the moon in 1969.
  • With the advent of 5G, expect chips to be embedded into every product as connectivity becomes all pervasive.

Mains Analysis

Another wave spells more nutrition loss

Why in News?

The political and social handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the persisting issues of food insecurity faced by millions in India even prior to the novel corona virus pandemic.

Syllabus– GS 2: Government Policies & Interventions

  • India consistently has ranked poorly in all international rankings on hunger (ranking 102 among 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019).
  • With the second, more vigorous wave of COVID-19, the inability of those already on the brink of subsistence to absorb a second economic shock cannot be overlooked even as the current health crisis is creating havoc.
  • Rural distress specifically needs closer examination and urgent policy attention.

The statistics:-

  • The Rapid Rural Community Response or RCRC to COVID-19, a collective of over 60 non-governmental organisations has collected three rounds of data since the lockdown.
  • The third round conducted between December 2020-January 2021 has collected data from 11,766 households across 64 districts, in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

Challenges: –

  • The most recent data suggest a persistence of cutting down on food even nine months after the first lockdown, during the seeming “revival” period.
  • While 40% of the sample cut down on food during the first lockdown, an alarming 25% reportedly continued to cut down on food during the most recent survey conducted between December and January 2021.
  • Households reported cutting down on nutritious food — 80% cut down on milk, vegetables, pulses and oil (around 50% reported cutting down on pulses alone).
  • Disaggregating the figure, socially marginalised Dalits, and those with lesser access to food security schemes (such as migrants) faced more severe food insecurity.
  • Comparing similar households, households in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand were faring among the worst performing States.
  • These reductions will undoubtedly further accelerate the impending effects on children’s nutrition, as highlighted in the National Family Health Survey or NFHS-V (2019-20) and the Global Food Policy Report, 2021.
  • The loss in nutrition may have come as a consequence of people losing their jobs and/or being pushed into lower income brackets over time due to the nature and handling of the pandemic.

Reduction in incomes

  • Pew Research Center has indicated that the middle class in India has shrunk by over 32 million households in the past year.
  • Survey suggests an over 70% reported reduction in incomes post the pandemic, with many falling into significant pre-carity.
  • While 55% of households recalled earning less than ?5,000 per month prior to the pandemic, around 74% reported doing so in December 2020-January 2021.
  • It is thus unsurprising that around 30% households were also seeking loans, and among them, at least half of them reported needing loans for food, all indicative of the debilitating food and financial insecurities that poor households continue to face.

Migrants Issue

  • The second wave of the pandemic comes on the back of an uneven recovery and persistence of crippling food and financial insecurity among the poorest households, especially migrants.
  • Migrants who have travelled to cities only months ago are again travelling back to their villages.
  • In one sample, 74% households had migrant members who had returned to the village during or after the lockdown (in mid-2020); 57% among them had gone back to the destination city by December-January, with 59% of those remaining also wanting to go back.
  • There was limited support for migrants even in existing social protection schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • For example, among the poorest, households with migrants were more likely to seek work than those without (43% versus 32%), but less likely to get work (49% versus 59%) under the scheme.

Necessity of Food security

  • The Government has promised to restart the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) with 5 kg of rice/wheat per person per month for the next two months.
  • The government needs to provide similar support for stabler longer periods;
  • Expand the current offering to include nutritious foods like pulses;
  • Address issues faced in existing schemes such as MGNREGA (like delays in wages and rationing); and
  • New schemes such as a potential urban employment scheme should be explored.
  • Food security schemes such as ration provided to children through anganwadis, Public Distribution System and mid-day meal scheme in primary schools need to be ramped up systematically and urgently.
  • For migrants stuck in cities without work, community kitchens (such as Amma canteens) are required.
  • The most vulnerable will need more predictable and stable support than ever before.

Question: –

Discuss how the political and social handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the persisting issues of food insecurity faced by millions in India even prior to the novel corona virus pandemic.

An unquiet neighborhood

Why in News?

Recent efforts to end two major conflicts in India’s neighborhood have become intense.

Syllabus– GS2: India & Its Neighbourhood Relations.

  • Foreign policy of India has always regarded the concept of neighbourhood as one of broadening concentric circles, around a central axis of historical and cultural commonalities.
  • Millions people of Indian origin, live and work abroad and constitute an important link with the mother country.
  • An important role of India’s foreign policy has been to guarantee their welfare and wellbeing within the framework of the laws of the country where they live.

Eastern Issue:

  • The Myanmar crisis between the military & civilian administration is not new.
  • In 1988, the army annulled the huge mandate won by Suu Kyi & unleashed massive repression.
  • The political reconciliation was found in 2010, but the uneasy coexistence has broken down in early February, when Myanmar’s army known as the Tatmadaw, took charge of the nation in a coup & has cracked down hard on protestors since.
  • Recently, ASEAN has started diplomatic talks with Myanmar’s military leadership to end the coup.
  • But Political forces in Myanmar that the ASEAN initiative will only legitimize the coup & give the military leadership time to consolidate.

Western Challenge:

  • The sources of the Afghan conflict dates back to the 1970s & underwent the following stages
    • Rise & fall of a left-wing govt
    • Soviet occupation & the jihad against it
    • Chaos after Russian retreat
    • 9/11 attacks
    • US military intervention
  • A peace summit on Afghanistan seeking to end decades of internal conflict was scheduled to take place in Istanbul.
  • But due to the Taliban’s refusal to join in any peace conference until all foreign forces leave Afghanistan, the conference got postponed.
  • Before talks begin it wants to denude the Afghan govt & its international supporters of their declining military leverage.
  • Ever since the US began engaging with the Taliban in 2018, the skepticism about the Taliban’s willingness for peace has been high.
  • The concerns of legitimizing the Taliban over the elected Afghan govt are very high.

Unsuccessful Negotiations: –

  • It is easier to produce peace settlements between states by finding equal ground for compromise by glossing over complex problems with diplomatic language.
  • But in a Civil wars scenario, the above techniques are harder to apply.
  • Because stakes for warring parties within the nation are much higher.
  • The fear of the winner taking all real power makes it difficult to negotiate & implement.
  • The next challenge is that the civil wars have their origin in either sharply divergent perceptions about political power or in deep ethnic, religious cleavages.
  • Unlike states can negotiate in a cold-blooded manner about their interests & find ways for reconciling them.
  • Civil wars are driven by political passion which is hard to step back & accept solutions that do not meet their original demands.
  • Although no two civil wars are the same, the context & issues at the hand in Afghanistan & Myanmar are different.
  • Though the Taliban stopped violence against US forces but it is near impossible to get the Taliban to agree to stop its attack on its own people.
  • In the Myanmar case, the ASEAN initiative calls for an immediate cessation of violence & utmost restraint from all sides.
  • But similar to Afghanistan, in Myanmar persuading the military to stop violence is not a easy task.

Need of  Peaceful Solution:

  • ASEAN initiative for “Constructive dialogue among all parties to seek a peaceful solution” is common to all peace processes.
  • But it is very difficult to engage parties in a productive engagement.
  • In Afghan, Taliban is unwilling to engage with elected govt since the Taliban sees it as illegitimate.
  • In Myanmar, though the army to defuse international pressure would engage dialogue with the opposition but victims of the coup cannot accept dialogue on the army’s terms.
  • Role of Mediators:
  • The Afghan conflict has long been internationalized where all major powers including regional powers have acquired stakes in the way conflict is resolved.
  • But unfortunately, the construction of its settlement became harder due to external actors’ divisive nature of the solutions.
  • In the Myanmar scenario, ASEAN has been rolling the ball agreeing to engage with all parties to the conflict.

Way Forward

  • The US hopes that the Taliban will moderate its hardline positions given its need for significant economic assistance for reconstruction, political legitimacy & awareness of the costs of winning power in opposition to the West.
  • In the Myanmar case too, the international community hope that the Military would avoid the risks of political & economic punishment.
  • It is not clear how far efforts of the international community resolve the conflicts. The prospects for positive change in the near term for both nations do not look bright.
  • But the ultimate analysis shows that the sustainability of any peace dialogue depends on the strong internal forces that are capable to endure the nations in a peaceful & democratic manner even against any adversaries.

Question: –

India’s immediate neighbourhood directly impacts it geopolitically, geo-strategically, and geo-economically due to its closeness to the Indian boundaries. Explain in terms of India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

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