DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |02 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |02 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context: Odisha CM pitches for international airport at Puri – Naveen Patnaik cites annual Rath Yatra, Sun Temple of Konark and pristine beaches as hubs for tourism

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Art & Culture

About Rath Yatra of Puri:

·     Ratha Yatra (also known as the Car, or Chariot, Festival) is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha, India.

·     It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.

·     The three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra are newly constructed every year with wood of specified trees like phassi, dhausa, etc.

About Konark Sun temple:

·     Konark Sun Temple, located in the eastern State of Odisha near the sacred city of Puri, is dedicated to the sun God or Surya.

·     It is a monumental representation of the sun God Surya’s chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses.

·     It is a masterpiece of Odisha’s medieval architecture and one of India’s most famous Brahman sanctuaries.

·     The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work.

·     It marks the highest point of achievement of Kalinga architecture depicting the grace, the joy and the rhythm of life all its wondrous variety.

·     The temple declared a world heritage by UNESCO was built in A.D. 1250, during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva-I (A.D. 1238-64).

·     There are two rows of 12 wheels on each side of the Konark sun temple. Some say the wheels represent the 24 hours in a day and others say the 12 months. The seven horses are said to symbolize the seven days of the week.

·     Sailors once called this Sun Temple of Konarak, the Black Pagoda because it was supposed to draw ships into the shore and cause shipwrecks.

Konark Sun Temple

News

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of six Light House Projects in six cities as part of the Global Housing Technology Challenge India initiative. He said housing for the poor and the middle class was a priority for his government.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Schemes & Initiatives

About Global Housing Technology Challenge India initiative:

·     GHTC- India intends to get best globally available innovative construction technologies through a challenge process.

·     It seeks to demonstrate and deliver ready to live-in houses in a shorter time, with lower cost and quality construction in a sustainable manner.

·     It also seeks to promote future technologies, to foster an environment of research and development in the country.

  •   The conventional system of housing construction is time consuming as well as resource intensive, hence there is ·     a need to look for new emerging, disaster-resilient, environment friendly, cost effective and speedy construction technologies.

    ·     GHTC-India has been conceptualized to enable the paradigm shift required in the construction sector in the country. GHTC-India will bring change, both in the perception as well as the manner in which construction of houses is done.

    ·     The challenge has three components viz. i) Conduct of Grand Expo-cum-Conference, ii) Identifying Proven Demonstrable Technologies from across the world and iii) Promoting Potential Technologies through setting up incubation centers at selected IITs and organizing accelerator workshops under the Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators- India (ASHA-India) Program.

A look at some of the projects of Light house projects

Important news in short

·     India has expressed “serious concerns” over the demolition of the Karak Hindu Temple by a mob in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, and called upon the Imran Khan government to take “strict action” against those responsible, sources here said.

·     India on Friday urged China to provide “urgent” assistance to 39 crew members of the stranded cargo vessels m.v. Jag Anand and m.v. Anastasia. Both the ships have been stuck for months near the Jingtang and Caofeidian ports.

·     With the government refusing to call the winter session of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha sat for just 33 days in 2020, its lowest ever tally of sittings in a year. There are only three other occasions when the sittings were below 50 days in a year.

·     The Centre has allowed import and export of COVID­19 vaccines without any value limitation in order to ensure speedy clearance and distribution.

·     President Donald Trump on Thursday extended pandemic related bans on green cards and work visas to large groups of applicants through March 31, while a federal appeals court sided with him on a rule that requires new immigrants to have their own health insurance.

·     The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constructed a composite Digital Payments Index (DPI) to capture the extent of digitisation of payments across the country.

“The RBI ­DPI comprises five broad parameters, including Payment Enablers, Payment Infrastructure – Demand side factors and Supply-side factors, Payment Performance and Consumer Centricity,” the banking regulator said.

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

UPSC Editorial Analysis

(The Hindu & The Indian Express)

Editorial

Title: When the Arctic warms

Written by: Navtej Sarna (the former Ambassador of India to the US. He also served as India’s High Commissioner to the UK.)

Topic in syllabus: Environment conservation (GS-3) | IR (GS-2) | Geography (GS-1)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about importance of Arctic region & threats associated with it.

Basics:

What is Northern Sea Route?

  • The Northern Sea Route (NSR) is a shipping lane between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean along the Russian coast of Siberia and the Far East, crossing five Arctic Seas: The Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea.

Northern Sea Route

·     WHY THE NORTHERN SEA ROUTE?

o  Distance from Northern Europe to China and vice versa, approx 40% shorter than via the Suez Canal or 60% shorter via the Cape of Good Hope.

o  Substantial reductions in transportation time, fuel
consumption, environmental emission and eliminates piracy risk

o  Further cost savings by generating return cargoes from the Far East

o  Longer season – amount of ice reduced by 40% over the last 30 years

o  Open for larger and a variety of vessels

What is Arctic Council?

·    
The Arctic
Council
is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced
by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic.

·     The eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle constitute the members of the council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Outside these, there are some observer states.

  • It is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and
    interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Arctic
    inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on 
    issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

    ·    India has Observer status in Arctic council.

    Arctic Administrative areas

    Introduction:

    ·     The Arctic was a frozen fastness, the distant domain of polar bears and fur-clad tribes, or the occasional intrepid explorer. Today the mysteries of the Arctic are literally melting away: The top of the world is falling into the sea in huge blocks, bringing with it challenges that are global in nature.

    Deteriorating condition of Arctic:

    ·     It is in the Arctic that global warming presents its most dramatic face; the region is warming up twice as fast as the global average.

    ·     The ice cap is shrinking fast — since 1980, the volume of Arctic sea ice has declined by as much as 75 per cent. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) which would connect the North Atlantic to the North Pacific through a short polar arc was once the stuff of fantasy.

    ·     The melting ice has now made it a reality and a trickle of commercial cargo vessels has been going through every summer since the last decade.

    ·     Models predict that this route could be ice free in summer by 2050, if not earlier.

    Effect of climate change on Arctic:

    ·     These developments will have a critical impact in several sectors, most fundamentally on climate. 

    ·     The loss of ice and the warming waters will affect sea levels, salinity levels, and current and precipitation patterns.

    ·     Already, the Tundra is returning to swamp, the permafrost is thawing, sudden storms are ravaging coastlines and wildfires are devastating interior Canada and Russia.

    ·     Habitat loss and degradation, the absence of year-long ice and higher temperatures are making the survival of Arctic marine life, plants and birds difficult while encouraging species from lower latitudes to move north.

    ·     The Arctic is also home to about 40 different indigenous groups, whose culture, economy and way of life is in danger of being swept away.

    Why Arctic is attracting different countries?

    ·     The opening of the Arctic presents huge commercial and economic opportunities, particularly in shipping, energy, fisheries and mineral resources. 

     ·     Commercial navigation through the NSR is the most tempting: The distance from Rotterdam to Yokohama will be cut by 40 per cent compared to the Suez route.

    ·     Oil and natural gas deposits, estimated to be 22 per cent of the world’s unexplored resources, mostly in the Arctic ocean, will be open to access along with mineral deposits including 25 per cent of the global reserves of rare earths, buried in Greenland.

    What are the challenges? How the global politics plays around?

    ·     Navigation conditions are dangerous and restricted to the summer. Lack of deep-water ports, a need for ice-breakers, shortage of workers trained for polar conditions, and high insurance costs add to the difficulties.

    Mining and deep-sea drilling carry massive costs and environmental risks. These difficulties may provide the crucial window to work out norms that are focussed on ·     balanced and sustainable development, before human greed overtakes everything.

    ·     The complication is that, unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not a global common and there is no overarching treaty that governs it, only the UN Convention of Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    ·     Large parts of it are under the sovereignty of the five littoral states — Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark (Greenland) and the US — and exploitation of the new resources is well within their rights.

    ·     Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark have put in overlapping claims for extended continental shelves, and the right to sea-bed resources.

    ·     For the present, Russia is the dominant power, with the longest Arctic coastline, half the Arctic population, and a full-fledged strategic policy.

    Claiming that the NSR falls within its territorial waters (the US believes the passage lies in international waters), Russia anticipates huge dividends from    commercial traffic including through the use of its ports, pilots and ice-breakers.

    ·     China, playing for economic advantage, has moved in fast, projecting the Polar Silk Road as an extension of the BRI, and has invested heavily in ports, energy, undersea infrastructure and mining projects.

    India’s status in the region:

    ·     India’s interests in these developments, though distant, are not peripheral. Our extensive coastline makes us vulnerable to the impact of Arctic warming on ocean currents, weather patterns, fisheries and most importantly, our monsoon.

    ·     Scientific research in Arctic developments, in which India has a good record, will contribute to our understanding of climatic changes in the Third Pole — the Himalayas.

    Since 2013, India has had a toehold in the region. It has observer status in the Arctic Council, which is the predominant inter-governmental forum for cooperation ·     on the environmental and development (though not the security) aspects of the Arctic.

    ·     It is high time that our presence on the Arctic Council was underpinned by a strategic policy that encompassed economic, environmental, scientific and political aspects.

    Editorial

    Title: An ill-conceived, overbroad and vague ordinance

    Written by: Justice (retd.) Madan B. Lokur (former judge of the Supreme Court of India)

    Topic in syllabus: Polity (GS-2)

    Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues associated with the U.P. religious conversion ordinance.

    Introduction:

    Article 213 (1) of the Constitu­tion of India provides: “If at any time, except when the Legislative Assembly of a State is in session, or where there is a Legislative  Council in a State, except when both Houses of the Legislature are in session, the Governor is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinances as the circumstances appear to him to require: …”

    ·     There are, therefore, three pre­conditions to be satisfied before the Governor promulgates an ordinance: first, the State Legislature should not be in session; circumstances should exist for promulgating an ordinance and importantly, those circumstances must warrant immediate action.

    Issues associated with the ordinance making power of Governor and President?

    ·     There is no established practice requiring the Governor (or the President under Article 123 of the Constitution) to state the circumstances for immediate action.

    The court can inquire whether circumstances existed that enabled the Governor to be satisfied of the necessity of promulgating an ordinance. However, the court will not delve into the sufficiency of circumstances.

    Issues associated with the anti-­love jihad ordinance (Provisions and counter arguments):

    ·     The preamble to the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, commonly called the anti­love jihad ordinance, merely indicates what it provides for, namely, unlawful conversion from one religion to another by coercion, misrepresentation and so on “or by marriage”. It then proceeds to record the satisfaction of the Governor of the existence of circumstances and the necessity for “him/her to take immediate action”.

    ·     If one fraudulent or coercive inter­faith marriage is taking place, the police can certainly prevent it, as they supposedly do in child marriages. An ordinance is not required for it.

    ·     In the normal course, it is unlikely that these mass conversions would be in secret and almost simultaneous.

    ·     Surely, these can also be prevented by an alert police force by invoking existing legal provisions. Assuming a somewhat unbelievable scenario does exist, how does one justify immediate action for promulgating an ordinance?

    ·     Section 3 prohibits conversion or attempt to convert any person from one religion to another
    by coercion or fraud etc. or by marriage.
    What is conversion by marriage? Nobody gets converted by marriage.

    ·     If an adult person desires to get converted to the religion of the other before marriage, what objection
    can anybody have?

    Should someone genuinely desire to convert but not get married, that person would have to inform
    the District Magistrate (DM) two months in advance of the plan through a declaration, under Section 8. The DM 
    requires the police to inquire the real purpose of conversion and file a report (in a sealed cover?) with the DM.

    ·     The burden of proof — Section 12 provides that the burden to prove the conversion was
    not on account of coercion, fraud, etc. or by marriage will be on the person who has caused the conversion. How is that person expected to know the mind of the converted?

    What is the necessity?

    ·     A healthy convention should develop and the preamble to any ordinance should state the immediacy for promulgating it when the Legislature is not in session.

    ·     This would greatly enhance transparency in legislation, but, more importantly, enable legislators to understand why they are, in a sense, by­passed and why a debate and discussion in the Legislature could not be awaited.

    Conclusion:

    ·     The ordinance is prone to abuse and we have seen its consequences — of intimidation, bullying, arbitrary arrests and the loss of a foetus.

    ·     It is ill-conceived, overbroad and vague in many respects. It vilifies all inter­faith marriages and places unreasonable obstacles on consenting adults in exercising their personal choice of a partner, mocks the right to privacy and violates the right to life, liberty and dignity.

    Explained

    Title: India and the world in 2021: A year to engage and assert

    Topic in syllabus: India and its Neighbourhood – Relations. | Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. | Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora. (GS-2)

    Introduction:

    ·     As India bids adieu to a disruptive year that challenged its diplomatic and military standing, and enters a new one fraught with challenges.

    ·     A reflection of events shows India faced seven hard realities in 2020, and has to deal with six challenges and opportunities in 2021.

    #1: China aims for top

    ·     In 2020, Beijing tried to behave much like the proverbial Rat. A country which, under President Xi Jinping since 2013, had been consolidating its global influence, saw an opportunity in a world distracted with the pandemic.

    ·     While it was targeted initially for being the source of the coronavirus, Xi’s regime turned around and started to flex its muscle in the region. The Indo-Pacific was its playground, where Chinese naval or militia forces rammed a Vietnamese fishing boat, “buzzed” a Philippines naval vessel, and harassed a Malaysian oil drilling operation. It even tried to arm-twist Australia through trade curbs.

    ·     And since May, Chinese troops have altered the status quo along the border with India, claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers, and violated every agreement to maintain peace.

    ·     So, while it was infected with the virus first, it claimed to be the first to overcome it, and to recover — as did the proverbial Rat.

    #2: ‘Trump Americans’

    ·     Over the last four years, the US vacated the leadership space at the world stage under the Donald Trump Administration. It walked out of or weakened almost a dozen multilateral bodies or agreements, from the Iran deal to the WHO.

    ·     While Beijing moved in to claim space, the Trump Administration did one thing right — it targeted China and the Communist Party of China for disrupting the global order.

    ·     Once Joe Biden takes over as President, the US is expected to reclaim the space vacated by Trump.

    #3: Acceptance for Taliban

    ·     Having invaded Afghanistan 19 years ago trying to root out the Taliban, the US finally made peace with them in February as it looks to exit.

    ·     For India, this meant a beginning of the process of re-engaging with the Taliban, and New Delhi reached out with External Affairs minister S Jaishankar’s attendance through virtual mode and a senior Indian diplomat in Doha.

    ·     India has committed $80 million, over and above its $3 billion commitment in the last two decades. This means New Delhi too is finally looking at the Taliban as a political actor, although it is controlled by the Pakistan military.

    #4: Middle East equations

    The US-brokered rapprochement between Israel and four Arab countries — the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan — reflected the changing landscape in the region. With Saudi Arabia and Iran competing for leadership,   along with Turkey, in the Islamic world, there have been growing calls for ties with Israel.

    ·     New Delhi has been ahead of the curve, cultivating ties with Israel as well as Saudi-UAE and the Iranians with deft diplomacy.

    #5: Russia-China bonding

    ·     Brewing for the last three decades, ties between Russia and China got closer in 2020. India has always felt that it was the West, with its approach towards Russia after the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, that has pushed Moscow towards a tighter embrace of Beijing.

    ·     India has strong ties with Russia, and Moscow was the venue for all the India-China official and ministerial conversations over the border standoff. But, it has taken note of Moscow’s position on the Quad and Indo-Pacific, a near-echo of Beijing’s stance.

    #6: Assertive neighbours

    ·     The year began with Bangladesh asserting itself on CAA-NRC, and then Nepal claiming territory and issuing a new map.

    ·     By the end of the year, New Delhi had moved to build bridges with both, wary of an active Beijing.

    ·     Bangladesh pushed back, and India did not notify the CAA rules. Nepal reached out at the highest level.

    ·     India also watched closely the US and Chinese forays with Maldives and Sri Lanka.

    # 7: Aspirational India

    ·     Through 2020, India’s public articulation of “self-reliance” and refusal to sign trade pacts with RCEP countries was widely perceived as “isolationist” and “inward-looking”.

    ·     India did step up to supply medicines and protective kits to more than 150 countries, but did not come across as the global leader the world needed at this time.

    ·     Lack of resources, a contracting economy and its populist politics made it come across as an aspirational power.

    2021: Challenges, opportunities

    #1: Countering China

    ·     India will need continuing support from the US, Japan, Australia, besides Europe leaders such as France, Germany and the UK.

    #2: High table at UN

    ·     As India enters the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the eighth time, India will have to take positions on issues it had carefully avoided — from Tibet to Taiwan, from Iran-Saudi rivalry to the refugee crisis between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

    ·     While cross-border terrorism is one of the top concerns and India will work towards isolating Pakistan further, a limited fixation on the western neighbour would distract from India’s aspirations of being a global leader.

    #3: Friendship with US.·     Much is expected from the Biden Administration for building on Indo-US ties, but a lot will depend on how the US views China in the larger scheme of things.

    ·     New Delhi will build on its deepening strategic and defence ties with the US, and would want to resolve trade and visa issues.

    #4: Wooing Europe.

    ·     As the UK and the EU agree on a deal, India will look ahead to negotiating a deal with the UK and a long-pending one with the EU.

    ·     In May, there is a possibility of an India-EU summit. Already, France and Germany have come up with their Indo-Pacific strategy, and a potential European strategy is a possibility, but a EU-China trade deal would be dissected by Indian negotiators.

    #5: Engaging with neighbours

    China’s growing economic footprint in India’s neighbourhood is a concern. While it is being played out in Nepal, India will also watch China’s moves in the rest    of the subcontinent. Its moves in Iran, too, were closely watched, and as Presidential elections take place in Iran this year, stakes for engagement will be high.

    ·     Almost every South Asian country has had elections in the last couple of years. That means the governments in these countries are stable.

    ·     As the world emerges from the pandemic, New Delhi has a lot to gain from what could be “vaccine diplomacy” with neighbours in 2021 — supplying vaccines either free or at affordable costs

    #6: Global, not just aspirational

    ·     For long, India has played the role of an emerging power — with ambitions to play the role of a global power. In 2021, New Delhi will host the BRICS summit, and start its preparations for the G-20 summit in 2023.

    And the India-Africa Forum summit, which could not be held in 2020, could be held in 2021 or later. New Delhi has opportunities to articulate and be vocal on issues that matter to the world, and be proactive to further its interests.

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