DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |29 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |29 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context: Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) unveiled India’s first indigenously developed pneumococcal vaccine on Monday. The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses, SII is also the maker of Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine. 
Topic in syllabus: : Prelims – Science & technology
About pneumococcal vaccine: 
  • The vaccine targets the pneumococcal bacterium, which causes pneumonia and other serious lifethreatening diseases such as meningitis and sepsis
  • Pneumococcal disease is a significant contributor under-five mortality rate worldwide. In view of its
    widespread fatality, the World Health Organization in 2018 recommended the inclusion of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in routine childhood immunisation programmes in all countries. 
  • Pneumosil (the vaccine) has been extensively evaluated in five randomised controlled clinical trials and has demonstrated comparable safety and immunogenicity against licensed pneumococcal vaccines across diverse populations of India and Africa, where Pneumosil was administered to adults, toddlers and infants using different vaccination schedules, officials said. 
  • Based on the trials, Pneumosil was licensed by the Drugs Controller General (India) in July 2020. 

      News

      Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday flagged off the 100th “Kisan Rail” service from Sangola in Solapur district of Maharashtra to Shalimar in West Bengal via videoconferencing. 
      Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Schemes 
      What is Kisan Rail? 
          • In order to serve the purpose of the farming community of the country, Kisan Rail are trains with multi commodities, multi-consignors and multi consignees. 
          • These trains run between fixed Origin–Destination pairs with en-route stoppages, and loading/
            unloading is permitted at any of the en-route stoppage. 
          • The Origin–Destination pairs, routes, stoppages, and frequency of the train is decided jointly by the
            Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare and Ministry of Railways. 
          • The Kisan rail has been set up by the Indian Railways through the PPP arrangement. 
          • Kisan Rail has a national cold supply chain for perishables including meat, milk and fish. 

                News

                Context: Driverless train operations on the Delhi Metro’s 37 km long Magenta Line began on Monday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the first train, via videoconferencing, from the Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh metro station. 
                Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Science & technology
                Benefits of the technology:
                • “In Driverless Train Operations [DTO], initially, the train operator will be present in the train to instil a sense of confidence and assistance. 
                • Earlier, drivers had to spend almost an hour prior to operations to manually check all the features in the trains. However, the new system will help reduce this time manifold. 
                • The “wakeup” time and “going to sleep” time of trains have been fed into the system already,” a DMRC official said. 
                • The Prime Minister said that the expanding metro network was an indication of “ease of living” among the citizens. “In cities where passenger numbers are less, work is being done on the MetroLite version. Similarly, MetroNeo is being planned in cities where the ridership is less. It would be built at 25% cost of the normal metro. Also, for cities where there are large waterbodies, a system of Water Metro is being worked upon,” he said. 
                About National Common Mobility Card:
                • The National Common Mobility Card was also introduced by Mr. Modi for use on the Airport Express Line. “The NCMC will give access to all modes of transport and will help do away with long queues for tokens,” he said. 
                • NCMC will allow passengers with RuPay debit card, issued in the last 18 months by 23 banks, including SBI, UCO Bank, Canara Bank, Punjab National Bank etc, to be swiped for Metro travel. 
                • It will allow entry and exit from Metro stations with the help of a smartphone, known as the automatic fare collection (AFC) system. 
                • The Nilekani committee had suggested that NCMC should contain two instruments – a regular debit card which can be used at an ATM and a local wallet, which can be used for contactless payments, without the need to go back to the server or additional authentication. 

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

                  • To teach children the need to maintain cleanliness and hygiene and imbibe an eco-friendly lifestyle, the
                    Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), earlier this week, launched a ‘Family Sanitation Challan Book’ using which children will be able to penalise their relatives “in play” for irresponsibility or violations in this regard. (Case study ideas)

                  Important news in short

                  • India could benefit from the likely shift in global supply chains from China to other economies in the aftermath of the COVID19 pandemic, according to a survey. The FICCI-Dhruva Advisors Survey conducted this month covered more than 150 companies in India. 
                  • Maintaining the inflation target at 4% is appropriate for India, according to a working paper titled “Measuring Trend Inflation in India”. – The 4% target for inflation — with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower limit of 2% — was set by the Centre in consultation with the RBI in 2016 and its validity expires on March 31, 2021. 
                  • Continuing a string of visits to several countries aimed at strengthening military to military cooperation, Army chief Gen Manoj Naravane arrived in South Korea on Monday on a visit from December 28 to 30. 
                  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has updated its mobile application “My FASTag” with a new feature to check balance status by simply entering the vehicle number. FASTag will be mandatory on toll plazas from January 1. “This new feature will help both highway user and toll operator,” said NHAI. 

                  Editorial Analysis

                  [The Hindu & The Indian Express]

                  Editorial 

                  Title:  Dealing with India’s two-front challenge
                  Written by: Lt. Gen. Deependra Singh Hooda (retd.) (a former northern army commander) and Happymon Jacob (an associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University)
                  Topic in syllabus: Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas (GS-3)
                  Analysis about: This editorial talks about two front war threat for India & their solutions.
                  Introduction:
                        • Till recently, any mention of a two front war evoked two contrasting opinions. India’s military was firmly
                          of the view that a collusive China-Pakistan military threat was a real possibility, and we must develop capabilities to counter this challenge. 
                        • On the other hand, the political class in general and the mainstay of the country’s strategic community felt that a two front threat was being overhyped by the military to press for additional resources and funds. They argued that historically, China has never intervened militarily in any India-Pakistan conflict. Indian strategic thinking was overwhelmingly focused on Pakistan and the security considerations emanating from there. 
                        What are the concerns for India? 
                              • The Chinese intrusions in Ladakh in May this year, the violence that resulted from clashes between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army, and the deadlock in negotiations have now made the Chinese military threat more apparent and real. The direct result of this, then, is the arrival of a worrisome two front situation for New Delhi. 
                              • Between 2017 and 2019, there has been a fourfold increase in ceasefire violations. Some media reports had indicated that Pakistan had moved 20,000 troops into Gilgit Baltistan, matching the Chinese deployments in Eastern Ladakh. 
                              • In a two front scenario, the larger challenge for India’s military would come if the hostilities break out along the northern border with China. In such a contingency, there is a likelihood that Pakistan would attempt to take advantage of India’s military preoccupation by limited military actions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and attempt to raise the level of militancy in Kashmir. 
                              • Cooperation between China & Pakistan: 
                              • Military cooperation is growing, with China accounting for 73% of the total arms imports of Pakistan between 2015-2019. 
                              • In his remarks on the (recently concluded) Shaheen IX PakistanChina joint exercise between the Pakistan Air Force and People’s Liberation Army Air Force, the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff said, “The joint exercise will improve combat capacity of both air forces substantially and also enhance interoperability between them with greater strength and harmony.” 
                              What are the dilemmas for India? 
                                    • Ashley J. Tellis, in his 2016 article, “Troubles, They Come in Battalions: The Manifold Travails of the IAF” estimates that about 60 combat squadrons are needed to deal with a serious two front threat. it is neither practical nor feasible to build a level of capability that enables independent war fighting on both fronts. 
                                    • If a majority of the assets of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are sent towards the northern border, it will require the military to rethink its strategy for the western border. 
                                    • If Indian military remain entirely defensive, it may encourage Pakistan to continue with its actions in J&K with a level of impunity and even raise the level of its involvement on the western front. Adopting a more offensive strategy against Pakistan could draw limited resources into a wider conflict. 
                                    What needs to be done?
                                    • It would be prudent for India to be ready for a two front threat. In preparing for this, the Indian military needs to realistically analyse how this threat could manifest itself and the type of capabilities that should be built up to counter it. 
                                    • The threat cannot be ignored and therefore we need to develop both the doctrine and the capability to deal with this contingency. 
                                    • Developing a doctrine will require close interaction with the political leadership. Any doctrine that is prepared without a political aim and guidance will not stand the test when it is actually to be executed. 
                                    • Capability building also requires a serious debate, particularly in view of the fact that the country’s economic situation will not permit any significant increase in the defence Budget for the foreseeable future. 
                                    • The right balance between major military platforms & technology will have to be struck based on a detailed assessment of China and Pakistan’s warfighting strategies. 
                                    • Diplomacy has a crucial role to play in meeting the two front challenge. 
                                    • The government’s current engagement of the key powers in West Asia, including Iran, should be further
                                      strengthened in order to ensure energy security, increase maritime cooperation and enhance goodwill in the extended neighbourhood. 
                                    • New Delhi must also ensure that its relationship with Moscow is not sacrificed in favour of India United States relations given that Russia could play a key role in defusing the severity of a regional gang up against India. 
                                    • Even as the Quad, or the quadrilateral security dialogue (India, Australia, Japan and the U.S) and the Indo Pacific seem to form the mainstay of India’s new grand strategy, there is only so much that a maritime strategy can help ease the Sino Pakistan pressure in the continental sphere. 
                                    • Politically, the stark military reality of a two front challenge, one that is likely to grow stronger over the years, must serve as a wakeup call for the political leadership in New Delhi, and encourage it to look for ways to ease the pressure from either front. 
                                    • From a long view perspective, therefore, a well choreographed political outreach to Kashmir aimed at pacifying the aggrieved citizens there would go a long way towards that end. 
                                    Conclusion: 
                                    • It is important to remember that China, a rising and aggressive, superpower next door, is the bigger strategic threat for India, with Pakistan being a second order accessory to Beijing’s ‘contain India strategy’. 
                                    • New Delhi would, therefore, do well to do what it can politically to reduce the effect of a collusive Sino Pakistan containment strategy aimed at India. 

                                    Editorial

                                    Title: Reforms with the future and farming needs in mind
                                    Written by:  Ramesh Chand (Member, NITI Aayog)
                                    Topic in syllabus: Agriculture (GS-3)
                                    Analysis about: This editorial talks about necessity of the agricultural reforms in India.
                                    Introduction:
                                              • The major objections and fears relating to the new Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act are that the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) will be eventually closed, the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) will be stopped, corporates will take over agriculture trade, and farmers’ land will be taken over by powerful corporates. 

                                                Why there is need of reform in agriculture in India? (Issues) 

                                                • The gap between the Agri income of a farmer and that of a non-agriculture worker increased from ₹25,398 in 1993–94 to ₹1.42 lakh in 201112. There is widespread feeling of agrarian distress. 
                                                • Aggregate food demand has fallen short of domestic production necessitating the export of a large quantity to prevent domestic prices from falling very low. 
                                                • India’s agri exports are getting difficult to push, imports are turning attractive as domestic prices are turning much higher than international prices. Rural youth including farmers’ children are looking for jobs outside agriculture and there is a serious problem of unemployment in the countryside. 
                                                • There are numerous instances of market failure to the detriment of producers and consumers. This is turning farmers to look at the government for remunerative prices through MSP for most agricultural
                                                  products. 
                                                • Indian agriculture production and the market are not moving to the next stage of development. The growth rate in agriculture is driven by heavy support through various kinds of subsidies and output price support. Net revenue receipt of the Central government is below 9% of GDP. 

                                                What are the positive aspects of these acts? 

                                                • The New Trading Act under attack is the simple requirement of a PAN card for a trader. As in the existing provisions, after having a PAN card, even a farmer can go for trading, his son can do agribusiness and other rural youth can undertake purchases of farm commodities for direct sale to a consumer or other agribusiness firms. 
                                                • The new Act intends to insulate interested farmers (especially small farmers), against market and price risks so they can go in for the cultivation of high value crops without worrying about the market and low prices in the harvest season. 
                                                • The Act is voluntary and either party is free to leave it after the expiry of agreement. It prohibits the farming agreement to include the transfer, sale, lease, mortgage of the land or premises of the farmer. 
                                                • The Act will promote diversification, quality production for premium price, export and direct sale of produce, with desired attributes to interested consumers. It will also bring new capital and knowledge into agriculture and pave the way for farmers’ participation in the value chain.  

                                                What is the way forward?

                                                • The way forward then for ensuring remunerative prices to farmers is through increased competition for sale of their produce, development of modern value chains, value addition, export, and processing as a part of rural economic revitalisation. 
                                                • There is also a need to understand that the APMC has nothing to do with payment of the MSP. Crops other than paddy, wheat and cotton are selling at prices below the MSP in the APMC mandis of Punjab on an almost regular basis. 
                                                • The necessary and sufficient conditions for the MSP are procurement by the government, with or without the APMC. 

                                                Conclusion:

                                                • If these reforms are implemented in the right spirit, they will take Indian agriculture to new heights and usher in the transformation of the rural economy. 

                                                      Editorial

                                                      Title: India and the Anglosphere 
                                                      Written by: C Raja Mohan 
                                                      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, Indian Diaspora. (GS-2) 
                                                      Analysis about: This editorial talks about importance of India’s relations with the west, particularly Britain.
                                                      Introduction:
                                                      • An Anglosphere — or the world of English-speaking people bound by common political beliefs, similar legal traditions, and shared geopolitical interests — was among the main ideas that animated the political movement in Britain that successfully pulled London out of the European Union. 
                                                      • Sceptics have derided the Anglosphere as naive nostalgia for a long-lost empire. But with Brexit done and a trade deal in place with the EU, the Anglosphere is now likely to acquire some gravitas in British foreign policy. 
                                                      How to understand Anglosphere?
                                                      •  Defining the ambit and mechanics of the Anglosphere will certainly take time. The idea of the Anglosphere has a long lineage in Britain’s history. In the late 19th century, Britain confronted deepening challenges to its global economic primacy and growing threats to the stability of the empire from within and rising powers from without. 
                                                      • One response was to build a “Greater Britain” with imperial trade preferences and a common defence system. There were sweeping ideas of a single nation-state for the vast empire governed by a parliament sitting in London. But none of them was realistic. A modest version of this idea passed onto the Commonwealth as Britain’s main international vehicle after the Second World War. 
                                                      • The contemporary debate on the Anglosphere encompasses several ideas. One is the notion of a liberal, free-trading Britain that stands apart from the regulatory state and closed market that Brussels was building. Reinforcing this idea was the notion of a “Global Britain” that reclaims its global maritime orientation, and rebuilds its deep linkages with the English-speaking world. 
                                                      • For some, five nations — the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — are at the core of the Anglosphere. Others define it more narrowly — the so-called CANZUK group that excludes the United States. A broader view sees economic and strategic collaboration with other states like India, Ireland, Singapore and Japan as part of rebuilding the Anglosphere. 
                                                      • At present, only one institution reflects the possibilities of the Anglosphere — the so-called “Five Eyes” arrangement for intelligence sharing between the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
                                                      Why is it beneficial for India to engage with the Anglosphere? 
                                                      • Britain and India today are at roughly $2.7 trillion and occupy the fifth and sixth places in the GDP rankings. But India is well on its way to overtake Britain in the next few years and emerge as the thirdlargest economy in the world in the next decade. 
                                                      • While the Indian elite continues to rant against colonial Britain in public, it relishes, in private, the deep comfort with the Anglo-Saxon elite. There is no such hypocrisy in the Indian middle classes that have unhesitatingly embraced the English speaking world. The US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand remain the preferred Indian destinations for study, work and emigration. 
                                                      • The Indian diaspora is thriving in these nations and is very much part of the political life in the Englishspeaking world. Kamala Harris will soon be sworn in as US Vice President. Three of Johnson’s cabinet rank ministers are Indian and four of Justin Trudeau’s ministers are of Indian origin. Indians are among the fastest-growing minorities in Australia and New Zealand. India is already tied deeply to the Anglosphere, whether Delhi wants it or not. 
                                                      • Two other factors are equally important — the emerging economic complementarity between India and the Anglosphere as well as the shared geopolitical interest in constructing a stable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. These imperatives have already nudged India into a greater bilateral commercial and security cooperation with the prospective members of the Anglosphere. 
                                                      • The Indian elite could emulate the Chinese in transcending the colonial mindset. Delhi today can deal with the Anglosphere on its own terms and for mutual benefit. Unlike China, India does not have to work too hard to realise the natural potential of its cooperation with the Anglosphere. 
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