DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |31 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |31 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

News

Context:  Rapid deployment of facial recognition system by the government without any law in place poses a huge threat to privacy rights and freedom of speech and expression, say experts
Topic in syllabus: : Prelims – Science & Technology
What is facial recognition technology? & where it is used? 
      • A facial recognition system is a technology capable of matching a human face from a digital image or a
        video frame against a database of faces, typically employed to authenticate users through ID
        verification services, works by pinpointing and measuring facial features from a given image.
            Purpose and status of central FRT Projects
            Issues associated with facial recognition technology: 
            • It puts us on a path towards automated blanket surveillance 
            • It operates without a clear legal or regulatory framework 
            • It violates the principles of necessity and proportionality 
            • It violates our right to privacy 
            • It has a chilling effect on our democratic political culture 
            • It is often inaccurate 
            • It can lead to automation bias 
            • It implies there are secret government watch lists 
            • It can be used to target already vulnerable groups 
            Experience of facial recognition technology so far: 
            • In August 2018, a facial recognition system used by the Delhi police was reported to have an accuracy rate of only 2%. This is a trend worldwide, with similar levels of accuracy reported in the U.K. and the U.S. 
            • Police departments in London are under pressure to put a complete end to use of facial recognition systems following evidence of discrimination and inefficiency. 
            • San Francisco recently implemented a complete ban on police use of facial recognition 
            • Indian Police using facial recognition system to identify protesters Officers comparing CCTV footage with data bank of over 2 lakhs ‘antisocial elements. 
            • Railways look to AI for security solutions. National transporter plans to use facial recognition software to track criminals. 
            • European Commission want a temporary ban on facial recognition technologies in public spaces because of the probable misuse. 

              News

              Context: The government on Wednesday announced that it would open three missions in Estonia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic in 2021, after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared the proposal from the Ministry of External Affairs.
              Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Places in news
              Locations of Estonia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic:
                Location of Estonia
                Location of Paraguay

                News

                Context: As part of efforts to boost defence exports, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the export of the indigenously developed and manufactured Akash short range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system. It also approved the high level committee formed to expedite clearance of such exports. 
                Topic in syllabus:  Prelims – Defence
                About Akash short range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system: 
                    • Akash is an all-weather medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system indigenously developed in
                      India as part of the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Program (IGMDP). 
                    • It provides multi-directional and multi-target area defence. 
                    • The Akash missile can be launched from static or mobile platforms, such as battle tanks and wheeled
                      vehicles, providing deployment flexibility. 
                    • The SAM system can handle multiple targets and destroy maneuvering targets such as unmanned
                      aerial vehicles (UAV), fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters. 
                    • The Akash SAM system defends vulnerable areas against medium-range air threats from low, medium
                      and high altitudes. 
                    • Key features: 
                      • Low voltage DC servo drives for quick response and accurate positioning. 
                      • The Akash missile has a range of 25 km and can engage multiple targets. 
                      • Enables tracking and launching missiles in single or salvo mode, based on commands received.

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

                      • More than 20,000 additional policemen above the sanctioned strength were deployed in VIP protection duty in the year 2019, according to a report prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), a think tank of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). (Case study | Governance – GS2) 
                      • Also refer today’s editorial about thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi.

                      Important news in short

                      • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced the creation of a special wing in the State police to deal with offences against women and children. (Women & children safety) 
                      • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Tuesday approved three infrastructure proposals estimated at ₹7,725 crore for setting up greenfield industrial cities with connectivity to major transportation corridors such as the eastern and western dedicated freight corridors, expressways and National highways. (Infrastructure)
                      • The three projects, proposed by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, include construction of various trunk infrastructure components for the Krishnapatnam Industrial Area in Andhra Pradesh at an estimated cost of ₹2,139.44 crore; the Tumakuru Industrial Area in Karnataka at ₹1,701.81 crore; and a multimodal logistics hub (MMLH) and multimodal transport hub (MMTH) at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh at ₹3,883.8 crore.
                      • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a modified scheme for interest subvention for ethanol production, expanding the scheme to include grain based distilleries and not just molasses based ones. 
                      • The government would bear interest subvention for five years including one-year moratorium against the loan availed by project proponents from banks @ 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks whichever is lower,” a statement said. (Environment – Renewable energy)
                      • The launching of China’s third and largest aircraft carrier is likely to take place next year, State media in China reported on Wednesday, with a renewed push to take forward military modernisation plans amid a number of territorial and maritime disputes. (Security challenges) 
                      • The COVID19 vaccine by Oxford Universty and AstraZeneca has been approved for emergency supply in the U.K., with the first doses being released on Wednesday so that vaccinations may begin early in the New Year, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. (Science & technology | health)

                      Editorial Analysis

                      [The Hindu & The Indian Express]

                      Editorial 

                      Title:  The growth we deserve 
                      Written by: Naushad Forbes (co-chairman Forbes Marshall, past president CII, chairman of Centre for
                      Technology Innovation and Economic Research and Ananta Aspen Centre)
                      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 how we must use our economic crisis to set some bigger things right & how we can achieve the growth.
                      Introduction:
                                • It is nine months since India declared the world’s most stringent lockdown, with four hours’ notice, causing massive economic disruption. Meanwhile, we have passed 10 million COVID infections in India, the second-highest in the world. And the UK has reported a new strain of COVID that is even more infectious. This has been an altogether strange year. Will 2021 be better? What can we look forward to? What should we worry about?
                                Recent performance of Indian economy:
                                          • At the end of the third quarter, the economy is showing a hugely divergent performance. Some sectors are now doing quite well. 
                                          • Pharmaceuticals and chemicals are showing growth on their Year-To-Date numbers. 
                                          • FMCG reached last year’s level in the second quarter and is showing growth in the third quarter, though YTD numbers still lag. The same for two-wheelers. 
                                          • Construction equipment — such as excavators — are showing a huge recovery, with record sales numbers in the last three months, driven by rural demand from sales to individuals. 
                                          • Capital goods are still sluggish with YTD numbers well down on last year, but are now showing some signs of life. 
                                          • In contrast, travel and tourism, real-estate and construction, and retail, are all still at under half last year, with no one forecasting a full recovery this year. 
                                          What is to be done? 
                                                    • We must start by setting out a clear growth ambition. Yes, we had a $5 trillion by 2024 target, but that is clearly dead. 
                                                    • Let us at least aspire to grow 9 per cent for three years, which is what will get us back to our 5 per cent trend line of growth by the time of the next national election in 2024. 
                                                    • The most immediate fiscal stimulus possible is to put cash into the economy. Distribute the pending tax refunds, pay the bills of all companies (large and small), pay off the many arbitration awards pending where the government has lost cases, and pay state governments their pending GST dues. 
                                                    • Invest in public health infrastructure. Some preparation is underway to distribute vaccines, but go much further. Finance state government efforts to build an extensive public health network so we are equipped to handle a possible second wave of the virus. 
                                                    • Invest massively in infrastructure. Roads, ports, logistics — there are dozens of projects stuck as funds are not available. The 20 trillion infrastructure pipeline needs to have some cash flow in it. But there is a bigger opportunity. 
                                                    • Announce a huge privatisation programme, and don’t shy away from calling it that. Our current stock market boom says that buyers are ready to invest. But public-sector stock values are still depressed. 
                                                    • The best way to see them take off is to announce that the government intends to reduce its shareholding to 26 per cent across public-sector banks, steel companies, oil companies, and every manufacturing company and hotel it currently owns. 
                                                    The way forward: 
                                                        • The learning from different protests must surely be that the reforms themselves were right, but the method of doing them needs to be different. We must operate consistent with our democratic institutions. 
                                                        • We need discussion papers for public comment, debate in Parliament, hearing out those who would lose out from the reforms, and compromise with the interests of state governments (including those run by the Opposition). Unless we act now we will have a stunted recovery. 
                                                        • We must use our economic crisis to set some bigger things right. 2021 will be a year to welcome if it returns us to the growth trajectory we deserve. 

                                                        Editorial

                                                        Title:  Separating the wheat from the agri-policy chaff
                                                        Written by:  Biswajit Dhar (Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.)
                                                        Topic in syllabus: Agriculture (GS-3)
                                                        Analysis about: This editorial talks about the importance of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in today’s India.
                                                        Basics:
                                                        What is WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture? 
                                                                      • WTO members have taken steps to reform the agriculture sector and to address the subsidies and high trade barriers that distort agricultural trade. The overall aim is to establish a fairer trading system that will increase market access and improve the livelihoods of farmers around the world. 
                                                                      • The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995, represents a significant step towards reforming agricultural trade and making it fairer and more competitive. 
                                                                      • The WTO Agriculture Agreement provides a framework for the long-term reform of agricultural trade and domestic policies, with the aim of leading to fairer competition and a less distorted sector. 
                                                                      • The Agreement covers: 
                                                                        • Market access — the use of trade restrictions, such as tariffs on imports 
                                                                        • Domestic support — the use of subsidies and other support programmes that directly stimulate production and distort trade 
                                                                        • Export competition — the use of export subsidies and other government support programmes that subsidize exports.
                                                                        • Under the Agreement, WTO members agree to “schedules” or lists of commitments that set limits on the tariffs they can apply to individual products and on levels of domestic support and export subsidies. 
                                                                                Three "Pillars of Agreement on Agriculture
                                                                                Introduction: 
                                                                                • In the ongoing debates around the three new pieces of agricultural legislation and the farmers’ demand for continuation of minimum support prices (MSP), questions have often been raised whether the government should be using the taxpayers’ money to provide subsidies to the farming community in this country. However, logically, two further questions must be asked: 
                                                                                • why have successive governments used the exchequer to provide farm subsidies? 
                                                                                • how large is India’s spending on farm subsidies as compared to those of other countries having substantial interests in agriculture?  
                                                                                Issues related agriculture & their reasons: 
                                                                                • Agriculture has been facing adverse terms of trade over extended periods since the 1980s, and even during the phases when the terms of trade have moved in its favour, for instance in the 1990s and again since 2012-13, there was no distinct upward trend. 
                                                                                • Erosion of farm incomes was triggered by growing inefficiencies, which, in turn, was caused by a lack of meaningful investment in agriculture. 
                                                                                • Every government in post independent India systematically ignored the need to step up investment in agriculture, which would not only have ensured more efficient use of farm resources but would have also been a crucial step towards improving farm incomes. 
                                                                                • If one ranks countries in terms of their yields in wheat and rice — India’s two major crops — the country’s ranks were 45 and 59, respectively, in 2019. It may also be added here that this ranking would go down sharply if the areas recording high yields, such as Punjab and Haryana, are excluded. 
                                                                                • The market has always been the farmers’ biggest adversary, making it impossible for them to realise remunerative prices for their produce.  The lack of a coherent policy for agriculture must surely be regarded among the most remarkable failures of the governments in post-Independence India. 
                                                                                • In most of the recent years, the largest component of India’s subsidies ($24.2 billion, or 43% of the total) are provided to “low income or resource poor farmers”, a terminology that the WTO Agreement on Agriculture uses. However, designation of this category of farmers is left to individual members. 
                                                                                • America provided $131 billion in 2017 and the EU, nearly €80 billion (or $93 billion) in 2017-18. for 2017, India’s farm subsidies were 12.4% of agricultural value addition, while for the U.S. and the EU, the figures were 90.8% and 45.3%, respectively. This then is the reality of farm subsidies that India provides. 
                                                                                The way forward:
                                                                                • The United States, with less than 2% of its workforce engaged in agriculture, has been enacting farm legislations every four years since the Agricultural Adjustment Act was enacted in 1933. 
                                                                                • The problems Indian agriculture are facing cannot be resolved through ad hoc decision-making, and that this country needs an agricultural policy that addresses the challenges facing this sector in a comprehensive manner. 

                                                                                  Editorial

                                                                                  Title: Mahatma message at border 
                                                                                  Written by: Nanditesh Nilay (author of Being Good and Aaiye Insaan Banaen. He teaches and trains courses on ethics, values and behaviour)
                                                                                  Topic in syllabus: Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and World. (GS-4)
                                                                                  Analysis about: This editorial talks about the importance of thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in todays India.
                                                                                  How was Mahatma Gandhi’s reaction to the violence?
                                                                                    • In February 1922, a violent mob set a police station on fire at Chauri Chaura with 22 policemen trapped inside. The home secretary at that time called it a “rebellion against the Raj” but for Mahatma Gandhi, it was an “index finger” that pointed the way to possible anarchy and he called off the civil disobedience movement. 
                                                                                    • He even went on a fast for five days as self-punishment for the violence. He was experimenting with the means of non-violence, and, for him, means were as necessary as the end
                                                                                    Mahatma Gandhi on Means Vs. Ends:
                                                                                    •  He wrote in Young India: “They say ‘means are after all means’. I would say means are, after all,
                                                                                      everything. There is no wall of separation between means and ends.” 
                                                                                    • For, his belief that means are as important as the end ensured that he never compromised on the
                                                                                      means. 
                                                                                    • Just the opposite seems to be the norm today — we compromise on the means, irrespective of our best
                                                                                      intentions.
                                                                                      How Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts are important for today’s India? & how can we implement that? 
                                                                                      • Today, as the market evolves, we are becoming more consumers than citizens. The towering aspirations of consumerism have overshadowed the core values of citizenship. small arguments turn violent. 
                                                                                      • Even on social media, any discourse rapidly disintegrates into words that pour scorn, mock, demean, humiliate or abuse. 
                                                                                      • The Prime Minister launched the grand Swachh Bharat Mission through the Mahatma’s visionary glasses, the clean-up isn’t merely physical. 
                                                                                      • Skill India and Atmanirbhar Bharat have been inspired by the Mahatma’s spirit of self-reliance but the means must be as paramount as the end. 
                                                                                      • Swachh Bharat is not just physical, atmanirbharta isn’t just about manufacturing — our children and the weak must feel safe and secure in this country.
                                                                                      Farmers protest & the way forward: 
                                                                                      • During the farmers’ protest, remembering Mahatma Gandhi becomes unavoidable. It is extremely important to break the deadlock farmers & government through dialogue and minimise any chance of violence. That is why the Mahatma is an inspiration — for both sides. 
                                                                                      • So both need to choose means that are wise, that are in tune with that end and build mutual trust and respect. We may not have a Mahatma in our midst today but we surely have his spirit with us as we enter what will, hopefully, be a happy new year. 
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