DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |23 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |23 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

[The Hindu & The Indian Express]

News 

Context: The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, India, has come up with a unique initiative — a “firefly bird diverter” for overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) populations are found in the wild.  

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Species in news | Mains – Environment conservation (GS-3) 

About the Great Indian Bustard:

  • GIB is one of the most critically threatened species in India, with fewer than 150 birds left in the wild. 
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016). 
  • It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. 
  • Its population is confined mostly to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Small population occur in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. 
  • Bustards generally favour flat open landscapes with minimal visual obstruction and disturbance, therefore adapt well in grasslands. In the non-breeding season, they frequent wide agro-grass scrub landscapes. 
  • GIBs are one of the heaviest flying birds in India. 
  • The biggest threat to this species is hunting. 
Great Indian Bustard

How a “firefly bird diverter” works?

  • Firefly bird diverters are flaps installed on power lines. They work as reflectors for bird species like the GIB. Birds can spot them from a distance of about 50 metres and change their path of flight to avoid collision with power lines. 
  • Smaller birds can change their direction [swiftly] but for larger bird species, it is difficult because of their body weight and other factors. 

News

Context: Western Ghats home to 3,387 leopards

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Species in news | Mains – Environment conservation (GS-3) 

About the Leopard:

  • The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. 
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations. 
  • The Indian leopard is one of the big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard. 
  • The Western Ghats region is home to 3,387 leopards stealthily roaming around its forests. 
  • Karnataka tops the list with 1,783 leopards, followed by Tamil Nadu with 868, according to the Status of Leopards in India 2018 report.  
Leopard

News

Context: Health data shows India does not need a two-child policy: PCI 

Topic in syllabus: Prelims & Mains – Human geography (GS-1)

What did expert say? 

  • The latest data from the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS-5) provide evidence of an uptake in the use of modern contraceptives in rural and urban areas, an improvement in these demands being met, and a decline in the average number of children borne by a woman, and prove that the country’s population is stabilising and fears over a “population explosion” and calls for a “two-child policy” are misguided, experts say. 
  • This also implies that most States have attained replacement level fertility — the average number of children born per woman at which a population exactly replaces
    itself from one generation to the next. 
  • “We need to think through and move away from the two narratives being built without any evidence. The data is the response to myth and misconception around the two-child norm

How the situation is changing? 

Health Data

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

The Yamuna Monitoring Committee, in its fifth report submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), has raised multiple issues due to which the river is still polluted, including several agencies missing deadlines related to cleaning the river and internal problems of the organisations. (Environmental ethics, Accountability and Ethical Governance, Probity in Governance)

Important news in short

  • Addressing the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University as chief guest, Our PM said that just as the Independence movement was a common ground for giving up differences, “we should work together for a new India” now. “In every society, there are ideological differences but when it comes to national goals, every difference should be kept aside. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded the ‘Legion of Merit’ by U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday for his role in advancing the India-U.S. relationship. The award was also presented to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 
  • The United States and China on Tuesday sparred over Tibet and the South China Sea, with new moves from Washington marking the start of the last month of President Donald Trump in office fuelling fresh tensions in an already fraught relationship. 
  • On Tuesday, China hit out at the U.S. for passing the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA), a landmark legislation that calls for the opening of a U.S. consulate in Lhasa and also underlines U.S. backing for the Dalai Lama to determine his successor.
  • The government plans to set up a Development Finance Institution (DFI) in the next three to four months with a view to mobilise the ₹111 lakh crore required for funding of the ambitious national infrastructure pipeline, according to Financial Services Secretary. 
  • The Centre on Tuesday invited expression of interest (EoI) for the disinvestment of its entire 63.75% shareholding in the Shipping Corporation India Limited (SCIL) along with the handing over of its management control. 
  • With continuous disruptions in raw jute supplies to mills, manufacturing of gunny bags has been severely hit, which may adversely impact packaging of Rabi crops. Estimates suggest that the quantity of raw jute being hoarded could be about 20 lakh bales, and supplies to mills are at about 50% as against their requirements, industry sources said.

Editorial Analysis

[The Hindu & The Indian Express]

Editorial

Title: The new league of nations

Written by: Sham Saran (former foreign secretary and currently senior fellow, CPR)

Topic in syllabus: 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. GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about why India & the world need global & multilateral efforts to face
upcoming challenges.

Introduction:

  • While the gloom of pandemic may be slowly lifting, the world will repair only slowly and there are worrying intimations of other crises looming round the corner. 
  • We are at an inflexion point, marking a watershed in human experience. Geopolitics has been transformed and power equations are being altered. 
  • There are a new set of winners and losers in the economic sweepstakes. Technological advancement will magnify these changes and India will need to make difficult judgements about the world that is taking shape and find its place in a more complex and shifting geopolitical landscape.  

Lack of global efforts during pandemic:

  • COVID-19 has been a global emergency, recognising no national or regional boundaries but it has been dealt with almost entirely within national confines. 
  • International cooperation in either developing an effective vaccine or responding to its health impacts has been minimal. 
  • The pre-existing trend towards nationalist urgings, the weakening of international institutions and multilateral processes has been reinforced. 
  • Even in the distribution of vaccines, we are witnessing a cornering of supplies by a handful of rich nations. 
  • Help for the poorer nations of the world is a low priority.

Why global efforts are needed?

  • Most of the challenges we confront demand global and collaborative responses.
  • Even a powerful country cannot coerce other nations to collaborate. This is only possible through multilateral approaches and adherence to the principle of equitable burden-sharing. 
  • Most challenges the world faces are global, like the pandemic. These include climate change, cyber security, space security terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and ocean and terrestrial pollution. 
  • They are not amenable to national solutions. They demand collaborative, not competitive solutions. 
  • Such a multipolar order can only be stable and keep the peace with a consensus set of norms, managed through empowered institutions of international governance and multilateral processes. 

How “The East” (particularly China) performed better than “The West” during pandemic?

  • East Asian and South-East Asian countries have managed the crisis more effectively and their economies are the first to register the green shoots of recovery. 
  • Ironically, China being the country where the COVID-19 first erupted early this year, has been the first large economy to witness a significant rebound in its growth rate. 
  • While trade and investment flows in the rest of the world have declined, they have registered growth in this part of the world. 
  • The regional supply chains centred on China have been reinforced rather than disrupted.

What will be the future effect on the world?

  • China will emerge in pole position in the geopolitical sweepstakes commencing in 2021. 
  • The power gap with its main rival, the US, will shrink further. 
  • The power gap with India, its largest rival in Asia, will expand even more. India is already confronting a more aggressive and arrogant China on its borders. 
  • This threat will intensify and demand asymmetrical coping strategies. 
  • We may see the emergence of a loosely structured global order with clusters of regional powers, interlinked and interacting with each other. 

What lies ahead for India?

  • India’s instinctive preference has been for a multipolar order as the best assurance of its security and as most conducive to its own social and economic development. 
  • It now has the opportunity to make this its foreign policy priority as this aligns with the interests of a large majority of middle and emerging powers. This will be an important component of a strategy to meet the China challenge. 
  • India is seen as a potential and credible countervailing power to resist Chinese ambitions. 
  • The world wants India to succeed because it is regarded as a benign power wedded to a rule-based order.
  • India can leverage this propitious moment to encourage a significant flow of capital, technology and knowledge to accelerate its own modernisation. 
  • But for this to happen, India needs to position itself as the most open and competitive destination for trade and investment offering both scale and political stability. 

Editorial 

Title: Five years since Paris, an opportunity to build back better

Written by: Ugo Astuto – Ambassador of the European Union (EU)

Topic in syllabus:  Environment conservation (GS-3) 

Analysis about:  This editorial talks about how India & the EU can work together to meet commitments of Paris agreement & face the challenge of climate change.

Introduction: 

  • December 12 marked the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. The international community, including the European Union (EU) and India, gathered at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 to celebrate and recognise our resolve in working towards a safer, more resilient world with net-zero emissions. 
  • In the midst of this pandemic, there is an ambiguity to call for stronger global action to fight climate change. But the case is more valid now than ever. We cannot afford to let things worsen. 

The green efforts of Europe: 

  • The European Commission launched the European Green Deal — a new growth model and roadmap to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. 
  • To reach climate neutrality by 2050, on December 11, EU leaders unanimously agreed on the 2030 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels. 
  • This will further accelerate the fast decrease in the costs of low carbon technologies. The cost of solar photovoltaics has already declined by 82% between 2010 and 2019. 

The green efforts of India: 

  • India has taken a number of very significant flagship initiatives in this respect, such as the International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the Leadership Group for Industry Transition. 
  • The rapid development of solar and wind energy in India in the last few years is a good example of the action needed worldwide. 

Significance of India – EU combine efforts:

  • No government can tackle climate change alone. India & EU needs pursue all avenues to foster cooperation with partners from all around the world. India is a key player in this global endeavour. 
  • The rapid development of solar and wind energy in India in the last few years is a good example of the action needed worldwide. 

What is the necessity?

  • Good public policies are indispensable but not sufficient. We will also need to foster small individual actions to attain a big collective impact. This is the snowball effect we need starting from the Paris
    Agreement. 
  • The world should mobilise its best scientists, business people, policymakers, academics, civil society actors and citizens to protect together something we all share beyond borders and species: our planet. 

Conclusion:  

  • We can avoid the most dramatic impacts of climate change on our societies. Our global, regional, national, local and individual recovery plans are an opportunity to ‘build back better’. 
  • We owe it to the next generation who will have to bear the burden of climate change and pay off the debt of the recovery. 

Editorial

Title: Pandemic resilience

Topic in syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to
Health. (GS-3)

Analysis about:  This editorial talks about how Parliamentary panel’s call for a new health law post COVID19 is a kernel for reform. 

Introduction: 

  • The report of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs calling for a comprehensive Public Health Act, as a response to the extreme stresses caused by COVID-19, is a welcome call to reform a fragmented health system. 

What is the condition of health sector in India? 

  • When the pandemic arrived, National Health Profile 2019 data showed that there were an estimated 0.55 government hospital beds for 1,000 people. 
  • Prolonged underinvestment in public health infrastructure thus left millions seeking help from a highly commercialised private sector with little regulatory oversight. 
  • The situation was even worse in rural areas, where care facilities are weaker, and urban workers fled to their villages, afraid of the cost of falling sick in cities. 

Why there is a need of reform? 

  • Among the committee’s observations is the absence of insurance cover for many and oversight on hospitals to ensure that patients are not turned away in a crisis such as COVID19. 
  • One of the pandemic’s impacts has been a staggering rise in premiums, especially for senior citizens, of even up to 25% of the insured value. 
  • The insurance regulator, IRDAI, set 65 as the maximum age of entry for a standard policy earlier this year, affecting older uninsured citizens. Such age limits must be fully removed. 

The way forward: 

  • To create an equitable framework lies in a tax funded system, with the government being the single and sole payer to care providers. This is a long pending recommendation from the erstwhile Planning Commission, and should be part of any reform. 
  • The government, as the single payer if not sole care provider at present, would be better able to resist commercial pressures in determining costs. 
  • There is a need of a central procurement of essential drugs, which can then be distributed free. 
  • Legal reform must provide for a time bound transition to universal state provided health services under a rights based, no exclusionary framework, with States implementing it.
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