DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |18 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |18 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

News Analysis

(The Hindu & The Indian Express)

Mount Semeru

Context: Indonesian Semeru volcano erupts, spews ash 5kms into sky.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Places in news | Geography

Location of mount Semeru:

Location of mount Semeru

How do volcanoes form?

·      The majority of volcanoes in the world form along the boundaries of Earth’s tectonic plates—massive expanses of our planet’s lithosphere that continually shift, bumping into one another.

o   When tectonic plates collide, one often plunges deep below the other in what’s known as a subduction zone.

·      As the descending landmass sinks deep into the Earth, temperatures and pressures climb, releasing water from the rocks.

o   The water slightly reduces the melting point of the overlying rock, forming magma that can work its way to the surface—the spark of life to reawaken a slumbering volcano.

·      Not all volcanoes are related to subduction, however. Another way volcanoes can form is what’s known as hotspot volcanism. In this situation, a zone of magmatic activity—or a hotspot—in the middle of a tectonic plate can push up through the crust to form a volcano.

o   Although the hotspot itself is thought to be largely stationary, the tectonic plates continue their slow march, building a line of volcanoes or islands on the surface. This mechanism is thought to be behind the Hawaii volcanic chain.

5G technology

Context: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought inputs from telcos and other industry experts on the sale and use of radio frequency spectrum over the next 10 years, including the 5G bands.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science technlogy

What is 5G technology and how is it different?

·      5G or fifth generation is the latest upgrade in the long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband networks.

o   5G mainly works in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum — all of which have their own uses as well as limitations.

·      While the low band spectrum has shown great promise in terms of coverage and speed of internet and data exchange, the maximum speed is limited to 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).

o   This means that while telcos can use and install it for commercial cellphone users who may not have specific demands for very high speed internet, the low band spectrum may not be optimal for specialised needs of the industry.

·      The mid-band spectrum, on the other hand, offers higher speeds compared to the low band, but has limitations in terms of coverage area and penetration of signals.

o   Telcos and companies, which have taken the lead on 5G, have indicated that this band may be used by industries and specialised factory units for building captive networks that can be moulded into the needs of that particular industry.

·      The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed of all the three bands, but has extremely limited coverage and signal penetration strength.

o   Internet speeds in the high-band spectrum of 5G has been tested to be as high as 20 Gbps (giga bits per second), while, in most cases, the maximum internet data speed in 4G has been recorded at 1 Gbps.

difference between 3g, 4g and 5g

Important news in short

·      The United Kingdom has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the G7 summit that is scheduled to be held in June. Apart from India, Australia and South Korea are also invited to participate in the proceedings of the summit as “guest countries”.

·      The India Pavilion at the Aero India 2021 next month will showcase a range of indigenously developed helicopters, while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to hold a conclave of Defence Ministers from the Indian Ocean Littoral (IOR) states, according to a senior Defence official.

·      A message from India to the Sri Lankan leadership on the controversial demolition of a memorial for war victims at the Jaffna University appears to have contributed to authorities’ decision to “rebuild”
the structure on campus. A day after news of the late-night destruction of the monument broke, Indian
High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay met Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

·      Britain’s government on Sunday pressed China to allow UN rights inspectors to visit Xinjiang after raising new allegations of “appalling” human rights abuses against the Uighur minority people.

Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper

·      In an uncommon order, the Delhi High Court has ordered the Health Ministry to explore “crowdfunding” to help two children, who are suffering from a rare disease known as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, in importing exorbitantly priced medicines (Social Influence and Persuasion | Compassion towards the weaker-sections | Utilization of Public Funds)

Editorial Analysis

(The Hindu & The Indian Express)

1.    Before clicking “I agree”

2.    Update debate

Source: The Indian express & The Hindu

Written by: Varad Pande, Subhashish Bhadra (The writers work at Omidyar Network India, an investment firm)

Topic in syllabus: Polity – Right to privacy | Governance issues related privacy policies (GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues associated with privacy policies of digital companies & what we need to address these issues.


·      Problems for the Facebook owned app (WhatsApp) started earlier this month when it announced an update to its terms of service and privacy policy, according to which users would no longer be able to opt out of sharing data with Facebook.

· This triggered a mass exodus from WhatsApp, the likes of which it has never encountered, not even in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which did bring a lot of bad press to its parent, or when the messaging app’s co­founders called it quits a few years ago.

·      There are so many digital companies ask for users’ consent to take the control of their data. People simply clicks on “I agree” without reading those policies.

What are the issues associated with privacy policies?

·      Such policies are not designed for easy reading. A survey of 155 college students in Delhi found that even law students could understand only about half the clauses.

·      Most policies are exclusively in English, which is clearly inadequate in a country where no more than 12 per cent are comfortable with the language.

·      A human-centric study across India found that even people who couldn’t read or write, when made aware of what they were consenting to, cared deeply about it.

o   They wanted a square chance to assess trade-offs, but felt they didn’t usually have such a choice.

·      The Data Protection Bill under consideration by Parliament lists consent as a legal ground for data processing. It also requires that consent be freely given, specific, informed, unambiguous and revocable — all legally-sound objectives, but difficult to achieve in practice.

·      India is poised to accelerate its innovation economy by using data to create innovative products. But consent is broken, and relying on it to enable responsible data sharing seems inadequate.

What is to be done?

·      Businesses need to become more responsible stewards of consumer trust. Not only is it the right thing to do, but is also good for business.

o  This creates a “win-win” situation, where
businesses receive more data and individuals understand better what they are
consenting to.

o  According to a survey, it tested 20 innovative design ideas and found that making consumers read privacy policies by, for example, getting them to  stay on the “privacy policy” page for a few minutes, led to increased trust in businesses and greater data sharing.

·      Regulatory bodies need to step in to guide customers. Consumers do not have the time or knowledge to go through privacy policies. It would also be unfair to expect them to.

o   In other sectors, regulatory bodies step in to bridge this information gap. The food regulator’s food safety certifications and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)’s rating guides have become part of our everyday lives.

o   Similarly, a “privacy rating” for apps can help individuals make more informed choices about their data. Such “rule of thumbs” can help them cut through the jargon, trust businesses more and share more data.

·      Governments and industry associations can play an enabling role by running innovative awareness campaigns that leverage local contexts, and relatable narrative styles.

·      Despite these promising innovations, the “burden of proof” on privacy should rest with providers rather than consumers.

·      Businesses should act as fiduciaries of user data and act in the best interest of the user than simply maximising profits.

·      Regulators can create a new class of intermediaries that warn consumers about dangerous practices, represent them, and seek recourse on their behalf.

·      By educating and empowering every Indian, we will enable her to participate fully in India’s digital economy, and thereby create a meaningful digital life for every Indian.


·      Companies like WhatsApp cannot force these changes in their policies on its users in Europe. For, Europe’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation, more popularly called GDPR, prevents such sharing between apps.

·      India could do with such a law. All it has is a draft version of a law, and it has been so for a few years now. Privacy of a billion citizens is too important a thing to be left just to the practices of a commercial enterprise. It will be reassuring if it is guaranteed by a strong law.

A balanced diet

Source: The Indian express

Written by: Ashok Gulati (Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture at ICRIER)

Topic in syllabus: Hunger (GS-2) | Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country | Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints | Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices; Public Distribution System – Objectives, Functioning, Limitations, Revamping; Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues associated with agriculture & the need of agri-food policy.


·      Framing an optimal agri-food policy in India is the need of the hour. UN population projections (2019) indicate that India is likely to be the most populous country by 2027.

·      By 2030, the country is likely to have almost 600 million people living in urban areas, who would need safe food from the hinterlands. 

·      Indian agriculture has an average holding size of 1.08 hectare (2015-16 data), while engaging 42 per cent of the country’s workforce. Cultivable land and water for agriculture are limited and already under severe pressure.

Issues associated with the Indian agriculture & Why do we need agri-food policy?

·      It is believed that developing countries should invest at least one per cent of their agri-GDP in agri-R&D and extension. India invests about half.

·      India’s critical failing has been the inability to protect its natural resource endowments, especially water and soil.

·      Free electricity for pumping groundwater and highly subsidised fertilisers, especially urea, are damaging groundwater levels and its quality, especially in the Green Revolution states of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

·      This region is crying for crop diversification, especially reducing the area under rice by almost half, while augmenting farmers’ incomes.

·      Sugar and wheat are being produced at prices higher than global prices, and these crops can’t be exported unless they are heavily subsidised.

·      Excessive stocks of wheat and rice with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are putting pressure on the agency’s finances.

·      Rice remains globally competitive, but it should be remembered that in exporting rice we are also exporting massive amounts of precious water — almost 25-30 billion cubic meters, annually. This is the water that is pumped for rice cultivation, enabled by subsidised power supply.

·      All these are signs of sub-optimal agri-food policies.

·      In the marketing segment also, for most of our agri-commodities, our costs remain high compared to several other developing countries due to poor logistics, low investments in supply lines and high margins of intermediaries.

·      Basic hunger has been more or less conquered, but the biggest challenge for next 10 years is that of malnutrition, especially amongst children. It is a multi-dimensional problem.

·      From women’s education, to immunisation and sanitation, to nutritious food, all have to be addressed on a war footing.

·      The public distribution of food, through PDS, that relies on rice and wheat, and that too at more than 90 per cent subsidy over costs of procurement, stocking and distribution, is not helping much. It is already blowing up the finances of FCI, whose borrowings have touched Rs 3 lakh crore.

How should the policy be like?

·      The policy should look at issues pertinent to not only the short run but also try to address medium to long-term challenges.

·      It should be able to produce enough food, feed and fibre for its large population.

·      It should do so in a manner that not only protects the environment — soil, water, air, and biodiversity — but achieves higher production with global competitiveness.

·      It should enable seamless movement of food from farm to fork, keeping marketing costs low, save on food losses in supply chains and provide safe and fresh food to consumers.

·      Consumers should get safe and nutritious food at affordable prices. At the centre of all these is the farmer, whose income needs to go up with access to best technologies and best markets in the country, and abroad.

·      On the production front, the best policy is to invest in R&D for agriculture, and its extension from laboratories to farms and irrigation facilities.

What is the way forward?

·      There is a need to switch from the highly subsidised input price policy (power, water, fertilisers) and MSP/FRP policy for paddy, wheat and sugarcane, to more income support policies linked to saving water, soil and air quality.

·      Beneficiaries of subsidised rice and wheat need to be given a choice to opt for cash equivalent to MSP plus 25 per cent. The FCI adds about 40 per cent cost over the MSP while procuring, storing and distributing food.

·      This cash option will save some money to the FM and also lead to supplies of more diversified and nutritious food to the beneficiaries.

·      All this would mean setting agri-food policies on a demand-driven approach, protecting sustainability and efficiency in production and marketing, and giving consumers more choice for nutritious food at affordable prices.

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