DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |21 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |21 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis


Context: THE MINISTRY of Earth Sciences (MoES) is developing an ‘Early Health Warning System’ which is expected to forecast the possibility of disease outbreaks in the country. 

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science & Technology 

How it will work? 

  • There are certain diseases where weather patterns play a crucial role. 
  • Such as malaria, for which particular temperatures and rainfall patterns can approximately predict whether an area is likely to have an outbreak with fairly reasonable accuracy. 
  • Changes in rainfall and temperature patterns likely play a major role in the increased incidence of these diseases across geographical locations. 
  • We can predict the likelihood of heat-related diseases as well as diseases such as cholera. 
  • There have been some studies and analysis on weather patterns affecting the spread of viral diseases — especially with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this is a far more complex disease and it is
    difficult to establish a certain link between such diseases and the weather.


Context: A Pakistani fisherman, who allegedly crossed over to the Indian side of the border at Sir Creek in Kutch, has been apprehended by the Border Security Force (BSF). 

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Geography & IR 

About Sir creek region: 

  • Sir Creek Originally Ban Ganga, is a 96-km (60-mi) tidal estuary in the uninhabited marshlands of the Indus River Delta on the border between India and Pakistan. 
  • The creek flows into the Arabian Sea and separates Gujarat state in India from Sindh province in Pakistan. 
  • The long-standing India-Pakistan Sir Creek border dispute stems from the demarcation “from the mouth of Sir Creek to the top of Sir Creek, and from the top of Sir Creek eastward to a point on the line designated on the Western Terminus”.
  •  From this point onward, the boundary is unambiguously fixed as defined by the Tribunal Award of 1968.
  • Though the creek has little military value, it offers immense economic gain. Much of the region is rich in oil and gas below the sea bed, and control over the creek would have a huge bearing on the energy
    potential of each nation. 
  • Also, defining the boundaries would help in the determination of the maritime boundaries, which are drawn as an extension of onshore reference points. 
  • Maritime boundaries also help in determining the limits of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and continental shelves.  
Border Between India and Pakistan
[The Green Line is the boundary as claimed by Pakistan, the red line is the boundary as claimed by India.]


Context: As part of efforts to further expand the coastal radar chain network meant to enable real-time monitoring of the high seas for threats as also expand India’s assistance for capacity building to Indian Ocean
littoral states, efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in the Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh, according to defence sources.

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Defence & IR

About recent developments: 

  • Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been integrated into the country’s coastal radar chain network. Similar plans are in the pipeline with Maldives and Myanmar and discussions are ongoing with Bangladesh and Thailand. 
  • Similar proposals are being pursued with some more countries, a second source said. Two of the coastal radar stations in the Maldives were functional as of last year and work was under way on the third station.

About Info fusion centre:

  • Established on 27 April 2009, the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) is a regional Maritime Security (MARSEC) center hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN). 
  • The IFC aims to facilitate information sharing and collaboration between its partners to enhance MARSEC. 
  •  Since its inception, the IFC has been at the forefront of providing actionable information to cue responses by regional and international navies, coast guards and other maritime agencies to deal with the full range of MARSEC threats and incidents. 
  • This includes piracy, sea robbery, weapons proliferation, maritime terrorism, as well as contraband and drug smuggling. IFC is enabled by having an integrated RSN-ILO Team, its Extensive Global Linkages and Technologies, Shipping Engagement and Capability Building Efforts.
  •  The integrated team comprising both International Liaison Officers (ILOs) and RSN personnel has worked well together to facilitate and catalyse maritime information sharing and collective sensemaking. 
  • The IFC has also established linkages with 97 centers in 41 countries. This is important as a cooperative security approach entails whole-of-government commitment, regional collaboration as well as close links with the global maritime community. 
  • At the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFCIOR) three more International Liaison Officers (ILO) are expected to join soon. The ILOs from France, Japan and the U.S. have joined the centre. 

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

Important news in short

  • In an emergency Cabinet meeting held on Sunday morning, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli recommended the dissolution of Parliament of Nepal and called for general election.
  • The first rescue and rehabilitation centre for monkeys in Telangana was inaugurated at Gandi Ramanna Haritavanam near Chincholi village in Nirmal district on Sunday. It is the second such facility for the primates in the country

Editorial Analysis

[The Hindu & The Indian Express]


Title: Road to India’s economic recovery from the pandemic 

Topic in syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3) 

Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues and the solutions for economic recovery of India.

Issues & suggestions mentioned below: 

  • In the last two decades, we have spent $373 billion for net imports of gold. The bulk of this gold is blocked in the black economy.  

  • A Gold Disclosure Scheme will mobilise taxes, unlock capital lying in the black economy, and upgrade India’s sovereign rating. 
  • Good structuring and execution with precision, targeting 10% of the stock of gold has the potential to raise Rs 3,50,000 crore in taxes and unblock capital of Rs 10,50,000 crore.
  • The levy of import duty on gold has encouraged smuggling and enhanced the attractiveness of gold by increasing the rupee value of gold.
  • A shift of taxation on gold from import duty to GST will increase tax revenues as smuggled gold gives way to official imports.
  • Piecemeal and predictable market divestment among other reasons have resulted in a sharp de-rating of PSUs.
  • Successful strategic divestment of one PSU can re-rate all PSUs. 
  • If PSUs trade at the higher end of their valuations, the market value of the government’s holdings will appreciate in excess of Rs 7,00,000 crore.
  • Indians are large spenders in casinos at Macau, Singapore, Las Vegas, and Nepal. Large-scale betting happens on the IPL, elections, and other events. Matka thrives.
  • We must legalise such activities with necessary safeguards. 
  • This will transit criminal activities to responsible businesses, raise taxes, cut off funding to criminals, and support the tourism industry that has been the hardest hit by Covid-19.
  • As per the Tobacco Institute of India, the representative body of stakeholders in the tobacco industry, smuggled/fake cigarettes account for 25% of cigarette volumes.
  • We need to curb smuggling of cigarettes/manufacturing of fake cigarettes through focused efforts. This has the potential to generate taxes of Rs 10,000 crore.
  • Properties (including encroached and disputed) and financial assets aggregating more than Rs 1,00,000 crore have been held by the Custodian of Enemy Property since 1968.
  • A fast track mechanism to liquidate the same can raise resources and help catch up with Pakistan, which liquidated their enemy properties way back in 1971.
  • From the 1992 securities scam to the 2018 IL&FS and DHFL cases, trillions of rupees are stuck in the absence of resolution.
  • A fast-track mechanism for speedy resolution of commercial disputes will unblock the stuck capital. 
  • The government can do a sale and lease-back of its incredible sets of properties. Rental cost to the government will be lower than borrowing cost through gilts. 
  • Obviously the government will miss on the real estate appreciation. Investors queue up to get the government as a long-term tenant at attractive terms in a low-interest-rate environment.
  • Many Indians are happily paying estate duty in the US on their inherited assets in India.
  • We should levy estate duty on unproductive assets like precious metals & stones, art, and offshore assets. This will encourage investment in financial assets that will provide domestic capital to accelerate growth.
  • Ethical hackers are rewarded to find loopholes in programming. Ethical tax practitioners should be rewarded for plugging tax loopholes.

  • well-motivated ethical tax practitioners will be able to plug leaks in our tax system.

  • In the last two decades, more than Rs 1,00,000 crore of investor money is stuck in collective investment schemes Buying a financial product isn’t as easy as buying gold. Multiple and high-cost of KYC constrains penetration of regulated financial products among bottom-of-the-pyramid investors.
  • Simple and cheaper KYC will ensure more flows to financial products and enhance availability of domestic capital to finance growth.
  • Private corporates invest in mutual funds to optimise their treasury income. PSUs don’t enjoy similar flexibility.

  • Better treasury management will help PSUs to pay more dividend and help re-rate valuations.


There will be many arguments why the above suggestions can’t be implemented. Accelerated growth of India financed by domestic capital is the only reason why the above suggestions need to be implemented. 


Title: Reading NFHS data: why findings of the latest round are of concern

Topic in syllabus: Issues related poverty & hunger (GS-2) 

Analysis about: This editorial talks about National Family Health Survey & its Importance. 


  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) recently released the results from the first phase of the National Family Health Survey (NHFS). 
  • This is the fifth such survey and the first phase — for which data was collected in the second half of 2019 — covered 17 states and five Union Territories. 
  • The most important takeaway is that between 2015 and 2019, several Indian states have suffered a reversal on several child malnutrition parameters. 
  • The second phase of the survey was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic; its results are expected to come out in May 2021. 
  • Experts expect the second phase data on child malnutrition to be even worse, given the all-round adverse impact of Covid.

What is NFHS?

  • NFHS is a large-scale nationwide survey of representative households. The data is collected over multiple rounds. 
  • The MoHFW has designated International Institute for Population Sciences in Mumbai as the nodal agency and the survey is a collaborative effort of IIPS; ORC Macro, Maryland (US); and the East-West Center, Hawaii (US). 
  • The survey is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with supplementary support from UNICEF. 

What data does it collect? 

  • The initial factsheet for NFHS-5 provides state-wise data on 131 parameters. 
  • These parameters include questions such as how many households get drinking water, electricity and improved sanitation; what is sex ratio at birth, what are infant and child mortality metrics, what is the status of maternal and child health, how many have high blood sugar or high blood pressure etc 
  • In the fifth iteration, for instance, there are new questions on preschool education, disability, access to a toilet facility, death registration, bathing practices during menstruation, and methods and reasons for abortion.

Why are NFHS results important?

  •  The NFHS database is possibly the most important one because it not only feeds into the research needs and informs advocacy but also is central to both central and state-level policymaking.
  • NFHS survey results also provide internationally comparable results.

What has NFHS-5 found?

  •  On several parameters, the number of states worsening over the last round — NFHS-4 (2015-16) — is not only high but often more than the number of states improving. 
  • Child malnutrition parameters — such as infant and child (under 5 years of age) mortality, child stunting (low height for one’s age), child wasting (low weight for one’s height) and proportion of underweight children — several states have either been stagnant or worsened. 
  • children born between 2014 and 2019 (that is, 0 to 5 years of age) are more malnourished than the previous generation. 
  • The reversal in the proportion of children who are stunted is the most worrisome because unlike wasting and being underweight (which can be due to short term reasons and represent acute malnutrition), stunting represents chronic malnutrition. 
  • Reversals in stunting are unheard of in growing economies with stable democracies. 

What is the significance of these results? 

Worsening child malnutrition, as well as rising levels of anaemia in women (especially pregnant ones), points to Indian children born in the past 5 years likely suffering from both cognitive and physical deficiencies. 

  • The latest results show that health-wise, India has taken a turn for the worse since 2015 despite improvements in water availability and sanitation methods. 
  • Health outcomes such as child malnutrition data are the result of a complex set of reasons — ranging from the state of a family’s income generation to environmental factors to government interventions. 
  • Experts say that only when the full set of raw unit-level data is available can a proper analysis of why India suffered such reversals over the past five years be done. 


Title: Stopping the slide of health care in India 

Topic in syllabus: Issues related Health care management (GS-2)

Analysis about:
This editorial talks about issues & solutions regarding health care management in India.


  • India’s health care is a dark echo chamber. It is 70% private and 0% public in a country where 80% people do not have any protection for health and the out of pocket expense is as high as 62%.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has revealed the mismatch between the overwhelming presence of the not so well to do and private health care with its revenue modelling that borders more on greed and rent gouging. 

Issues related to our health care system: 

  • 85% of the population cannot afford high cost, corporate private health care. 20% of people can afford modern health care, 40% cannot afford it at all and the other 40%, the so called non poor, pay with difficulty. Nearly 70 million of the non-poor slide into poverty on a year to year basis. 
  • Too little is being done too slowly to have any impact, private hospitals gain under the social insurance scheme in the interregnum. 
  • Even with avowedly 12 crore card holders under Ayushman Bharat, only 1.27 crore people have taken advantage of the scheme. 
  • The insurance backup incentivises hospitals to expand the bill but the patients do not get attended to in their best interests. 
  • The agents of the government, on the other hand, have an incentive for driving down the price of procedures; as a result, hospitals selectively offer some services and procedures (while denying some). 
  • Consumption is high for those healthcare services which are often inefficient because of supplier induced demand created and provided by doctors and hospitals which have superior knowledge,
    compared to patients. 
  • They encourage patients to demand tests and interventions, though the improved quality of care and outcomes are uncertain. 
  • Pervasive demand inducement has an impact in terms of increases in health expenditure. This results in an upward bias in insurance premium which in turn creates a fiscal externality in the long term. 
  • In health economics, where competitive equilibrium often does not exist, the behaviour of a private corporate hospital is skewed in favour of profitability. 
  • Any attempt to cover the non-poor and the rich will result in advantageous selection for those better off crowding out the poor. 
  • Insurance of secondary and tertiary care pushes out long-term investment by the state and people and leads to the continued neglect of primary health care. 
  • A social insurance scheme of such type with our demographic profile only prospers at the cost of neglecting public hospitals. 
  • Because of the problem of access, affordability, absence of quality manpower and the rent seeking behaviour of staff, more than 80% of people routinely reach Registered Medical Practitioners who are not trained to treat patients. But they routinely prescribe antibiotics and steroids for quick relief. The country could be sitting on a dormant volcano of antibiotic and steroid immunity. 
  • Primary health care is the critical piece of health care but government funding is disturbingly skewed against it. 
  • India’s public system has a shortage of nurses too. The ratio of 0.6 nurses per doctor while the World Health Organization specification is three nurses per doctor. 

What are the suggestions? 

  • Ramp up the number of doctors with counterpart obligation to serve in rural areas. The result is uncertain with far greater career options in the private sector. 
  • Revive the Licentiate Medical Practitioner as we had before Independence in the rural areas. This requires starting it de novo with the attendant resistance.  
  • Empower graduates of BSc (Nursing) to be nursing practitioners — as prevalent in many countries. 
  • In any case, nurses have been able to deal with a large number of cases independently in government facilities in understaffed primary health centres (PHCs) where the doctor is either mostly absent or available for a few hours. From the gender perspective too, this is preferable from the angle of maternal and child health. 
  • Primary health care should receive three times more allocation in the budget and doctor and paramedic strength should be doubled merely on the basis of population increase. 
  • If necessary, doctors can be given incentives in terms of extra salary and post graduate seat preference, but in parallel, given penalties for absenteeism for rural posting. 
  • States should be incentivised to carry out the appointments of health workers and doctors. 
  • PHCs should be well staffed and well provisioned through a reasonable fee which will cover at least part of the cost.


With public spending at 1.13% of GDP and a huge shortage of healthcare workers particularly nurses and midwives, policy moves and plans appear like a sound in emptiness. Once the health services become predictable, people will return to these health facilities.


Title: Losing the plot on women’s safety 

Topic in syllabus: Issues related women & women empowerment (GS-1) Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues regarding newly enacted The Maharashtra government’s Shakti Act. 


  • Most governments, when faced with the question of improving women’s safety, inevitably turn to enacting new laws rather than ensuring a more effective legal system. 
  • The Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the accompanying Special Courts and Machinery for Implementation of Maharashtra Shakti Criminal Law follow the same cliché of harsher punishment, more authorities, and wider definitions. 


  • The criminal law amendments post the Nirbhaya case and the recommendations of the Verma Committee brought in several progressive amendments to curb violence against women and children. What is currently lacking is the infrastructure required for effective implementation. 
  • The Bill proposes punishment in cases of false complaints and acts of providing false information regarding sexual and other offences against women with the intention to humiliate, extort and defame. 
  • The provision only points to the patriarchal conception that women are manipulative liars and unworthy of being trusted. 
  • Offences against women often occur behind closed doors or at desolate places, making finding eyewitnesses difficult. 
  • Investigation and prosecution are often shabby and negligent. This results in unfair acquittals, and the victims, in turn, may be accused of having filed false complaints. 
  • A provision for punishing false complaints would result in counter cases being filed against victims, and may thus dissuade many victims of sexual assault and acid attacks from filing complaints, thereby muffling women’s voices.
  • The other aspect of the Bill is the introduction of the death penalty for rape, acid attacks, and for rape of a minor. The amendment to the relevant sections adds that in cases where “the characteristic of the offence is heinous in nature and where adequate conclusive evidence is there and the circumstances warrant exemplary punishment”, the offence shall be punishable with death.
  • However, it does not define what cases would qualify as being “heinous in nature”, thus leaving it open to the interpretation of courts. 
  • There is no uniform benchmark to identify what circumstances make an offence “heinous”. 
  • Contrary to the State’s understanding, the death penalty will only mean that an accused may not stop at just rape and may murder the victim to get rid of the only witness, as the punishment for both will be the same. 
  • Importantly, studies have shown that often, the accused in sexual assault crimes are relatives or persons known to the victims. 
  • If the punishment for the crime is death, then not only the family of the victim, but the victim herself may choose not to report the crime or may turn hostile during the trial.
  • Research has also indicated that judges are unlikely to convict a person when the punishment is death. 
  • Another provision stipulating that investigation should be completed within 15 days, the trial in 30 days and the appeal in 45 days, even if well-intentioned, will only result in improper investigation and trial.
  • This timeline is glaringly insufficient for gathering all evidence or conducting a just trial and would result in hasty functioning and miscarriage of justice. 
  • Similar existing mechanisms for speedy and effective investigation and trial under the Juvenile Justice Act and the POCSO Act are rarely adhered to as neither the police nor the courts have the infrastructure to comply with these timeframes. 
  • Further, the Bill does not state what happens if the investigation, trial, or appeal is not completed within the prescribed time. 
  • There are not enough prosecutors at trial courts and in high courts; most of them are assigned three four courts at a time and they prosecute hundreds of cases simultaneously.
  • The proposed amendments seem to have been recommended without considering similar, already existing provisions in the criminal laws.

  • For instance, the Bill seeks to introduce Section 354E (Harassment of Women by any mode of communication) into the IPC, aiming to punish intimidation of women through social media and electronic platforms. Similar provisions exist under the IPC and the Information Technology Act, 2000, which comprehensively cover all the offences mentioned under the new section.


  • Hence, in effect, these proposed amendments are of little significance. It would be more pragmatic if the government focused on improving the implementation of existing laws and infrastructure.
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