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[oped of the day] In search of the Wuhan spirit

Mains Paper 2 : India & Its Neighborhood - Relations |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Post Wuhan : India - China


Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

The second informal summit between the leaders of India and China is scheduled to take place in the second week of October. 

Wuhan summit

  • At the Wuhan Summit last year, a decision was made to hold more such summits, aimed at ensuring “higher levels of strategic communications.” 
  • China agreed to an informal summit in 2018 despite so many achievements and it actually dd not needed to make concessions to India. 

Choice of Mamallapuram

  • Wuhan was picked by President Xi Jinping as the venue last year to demonstrate China’s economic resilience and might.
  • Mamallapuram is symbolic of India’s ‘soft power’. It is an important town of the Pallava dynasty that ruled this part of south India from 275 CE to 897 CE, is renowned for its architecture, widely admired across the world.
  • Mamallapuram and the Pallava dynasty are also historically relevant. The earliest recorded security pact between China and India involved a Pallava king from whom the Chinese sought help to counter Tibet, which had by then emerged as a strong power posing a threat to China. 

Post Wuhan

  • Since then, China has met with certain setbacks — geo-politically and economically.
  • India is beset by a host of economic woes and now seems better positioned today than in 2018. 
  • Doklam and the disputed border between the two countries remains an issue of concern. 
  • Hopes raised at the Wuhan Summit that the two countries would jointly work together on an economic project in Afghanistan did not work. China, along with countries like Pakistan, remains more intent on ensuring that India has no role to play there.
  • Relations between China and the U.S. have sharply deteriorated. A vast majority of nations in the West have cooled off towards China.
  • A further strengthening of India-Russia ties, as also a new triangular relationship of Russia, India and Japan, appear to be altering equations in the East Asian region. 
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also come under increasing attack, even from countries which previously viewed China as a munificent nation.

Contradictory outlook of the two countries

    • China and India continue to compete and have a contradictory outlook on many strategic and civilisational issues. 
    • These include the nature of Asian security, regional stability and the role of the U.S. in the region. 
    • The China-Pakistan axis has been further cemented.
    • China’s domestic scene – 
      • The economy is far more fragile than in early 2018. 
      • Internal security concerns such as unrest in Tibet, inroads made by radical extremist groups in Xinjiang and the latest turn of events in Hong Kong are also reinforcing fears. 
      • The relentless attack by the U.S. on China’s economic practices has only aggravated the problem.

 

  • Indian scene
  • India’s relations with the U.S. have attained a new high. 
  • Relations with Russia have acquired economics alongside a longstanding military relationship. India’s line of credit to develop Russia’s Far East has fundamentally changed the nature of India-Russia relations. 
  • India’s relations with Japan have greatly strengthened. The Quadrilateral has gained a new lease of life.

 

  • Events in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh will be seen as a provocation. 
    • The recent announcement by India of exercise ‘Changthang Prahar’ in eastern Ladakh, featuring tanks, artillery guns, drones, helicopters and troops, as well as para-drops, is almost certain to be read suspiciously by China. 
    • The reopening of the Advance Landing Ground at Vijoynagar in Arunachal Pradesh for the use of military aircraft and a proposed major combat exercise will add to China’s concerns.

Way ahead

  • India must ensure that it does not provoke China to the point where it would be inclined to indulge in ‘adventurism’.
  • “Subduing the enemy without fighting” has been a recurrent theme in Chinese thinking, and while informal summits have their uses, it is imperative not to overlook this aspect. 
  • China’s efforts are likely to be directed towards ‘disruption’, concentrating on disrupting the strategic alliances that India has forged.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] A welcome move, but it’s unlikely to spur demand

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Monetary policy rate cut


Context

With the 25 basis points (bps) rate cut, RBI returned to the conventional wisdom of a rate change in multiples of 25bps.

RBI statement

    • MPC decided to continue with an accommodative stance as long as it is necessary to revive growth while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.
    • RBI’s decision to increase the household income limit for borrowers of NBFCs and MFIs is welcome. It will enhance credit delivery to a larger customer base at the bottom of the pyramid.
    • There is an attempt to boost the domestic forex derivatives market. RBI has decided to allow domestic banks to offer foreign exchange prices to non-residents on a 24-hour basis. 

Efficacy of rate cuts

    • This may push the debt markets to take a cue from the second-generation policy signals and yields may soften from the current level.
    • Efficacy of rate cuts is questionable against elevated household leverage, deteriorating company fundamentals, and weak demand
    • The number of downgrades in H1FY20 grew by 66% vis-à-vis a 20% de-growth for the number of upgrades. The pace of downgrades has been increasing. 
    • Financial flows to the commercial sector in H1FY20 are significantly lower due to a decline in funding from banks and non-bank sources. 
    • Despite a rising interest scenario, credit had expanded by over ₹1.65 trillion but contracted by ₹93,700 crores even as we are in an aggressive rate cut cycle. This indicates credit risk aversion continues to play center stage for the non-bank sector.

Fiscal policy

    • Centre has done a remarkable job in maintaining fiscal consolidation.
    • We are increasingly concerned about the fiscal position of the states. 

Way ahead

    • More clarity is needed to crystallize the KYC requirements for off-shore entities as also their tax implications.
    • In the current context, an only monetary policy rate cut would not work in isolation. It must be complemented by fiscal expansion.

Back2Basics

Foreign exchange derivative

A foreign exchange derivative is a financial derivative whose payoff depends on the foreign exchange rate of two currencies.

Monetary Policy Committee Notifications

Explained: Pardoning powers of President/Governor

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pardoning powers of the President and the Governor

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The President has commuted death sentences to life imprisonment in at least 20 cases over the past nine years, based on the recommendations received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Pardon

  • A pardon is a government/executive decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offense, as if the act never occurred.

Why need Pardon?

  • Pardons can be granted when individuals are deemed to have demonstrated that they have “paid their debt to society”, or are otherwise considered to be deserving of them.
  • Pardons are sometimes offered to persons who were either wrongfully convicted or who claim that they were wrongfully convicted.
  • Pardons are sometimes seen as a mechanism for combating corruption, allowing a particular authority to circumvent a flawed judicial process to free someone that is seen as wrongly convicted.

Pardoning powers in India

  • Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.
  • A similar and parallel power vests in the governors of each state under Article 161.

I. President

  1. Article 72 says that the president shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.
  2. The pardoning powers of the Indian President are elucidated in Art 72 of the Indian Constitution. There are five different types of pardoning which are mandated by law.
  • Pardon: means completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen.
  • Commutation: means changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsh one, for example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence.
  • Reprieve: means a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation.
  • Respite: means reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
  • Remission: means changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature, for example reducing twenty year rigorous imprisonment to ten years.

Cases as specified by art. 72

  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

II. Governor

  • Similarly, as per article 161: Governor of a State has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law.
  • It must be relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
  • Please note that President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. But a governor of a state does not enjoy this power.

Nature of the Pardoning Power

  • The question is whether this power to grant pardon is absolute or this power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
  • The pardoning power of the president is not absolute. It is governed by the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • This has not been discussed by the constitution but is the practical truth.
  • Further, the constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  • But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
  • The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.

Some traditions

  • It is important to note that India has a unitary legal system and there is no separate body of state law.
  • All crimes are crimes against the Union of India.
  • Therefore, a convention has developed that the governor’s powers are exercised for only minor offenses.
  • While requests for pardons and reprieves for major offenses and offenses committed in the UTs are deferred to the President.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Origin of Urdu Language

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Medieval Urdu literary works, Official languages of India

Mains level : Origin of Urdu Language


Context

  • Recently Punjab University had proposed to merge Department of Urdu language with school of foreign languages to be set up after merging departments of French, Russian, German, Chinese and Tibetan.
  • The move earned huge criticism and Punjab CM objected to this move of PU and said that Urdu is an Indian language like any other Indian language.

Origin of Urdu Language

  • The origin of Urdu language had taken place in India several centuries back and the names of three places-all in India- are quoted in the historical references.
  • All the historical references indicate that origin of Urdu had taken place in Punjab state of India.
  • The great poet Ameer Khusro, in his book ‘Ghurrat-ul- Kamal’ had written that Masood Lahori a renowned poet born in Lahore in 11th century had composed poetry in Hindvi (Urdu) which is also called Dehlavi.
  • This shows that Urdu was very much originated from Punjab as Lahore was the part of greater Punjab only before partition.
  • Even if it has derived some root words from Persian and Arabic languages then they were changed into Urdu language in India.
  • Before it is called Urdu, it was familiar with other names including Hindustani, Hindavi, Dehlavi and Rekhta.
  • The subject, object, auxiliary, verb, grammar, tenses of Urdu are very much Indian and like the Hindi language.

How it got developed and flourished and where?

  • As per the historical references after its origin in Punjab, Urdu got developed and flourished in Delhi along with part of Haryana state and some states in South where it was developed in the form of ‘Dakhni (Deccani) language’.
  • Historians said that it had developed and flourished in Delhi during the period of ‘Delhi Sultanate’ from 12th to 16th century and then during the period of ‘Mughal Empire’ in Delhi from 16th century to 19th century.
  • It flourished as several court poets used this language in their great poetry and writings. And then it was also developed in Deccan states.

Connection with Deccan India

  • When Delhi Sultanate and then Mughal Empire spread its wings towards the Deccan, Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread the language in South.
  • There it got developed and flourished in Dakhan (Deccan) states mainly in Karnataka, nowadays Telangana, part of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
  • The language derived even local words of the local languages of those states and developed it as a ‘Dakhni’ language which was a bit distinctive of Urdu language in North.
  • It was during the reign of Delhi Sultanate emperor Muhammad –bin-Tughlaq who had decided to move his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad or Devagiri or Deogiri ( a present-day Aurangabad) in 1327 in Maharasthra.
  • With the migration of Delhi’s people, the several Urdu speaking people of Delhi spread its usage in Maharashtra for seven years till the capital of Delhi Sultanate was not reversed to Delhi in 1334.

What is Urdu’s official status in India?

  • It is one of the officials’ languages under the Constitution of India, it is among the 15 Indian Languages written on the Indian Currency notes.
  • It is one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal.
  • In Punjab, all old records in the Revenue Department are available in Urdu language only.
  • Several million in Indian speak this language besides it has great impact on around four dozen cities and regions where it is spoken widely.
  • Post-independence much attention was not given to the language and several states where Urdu was a compulsory subject in school curriculum was no more a compulsory subject now.
History- Important places, persons in news

Planet Nine

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Planet IX

Mains level : Possiblities of a primordial black hole in the Milky way



News

Planet Nine

  • Hidden in the outer Solar System lurks a presence, believed to be a gigantic planet orbiting the same Sun and casting a visible influence on the behaviour of a number of other objects.
  • Although it has not yet been spotted, this behaviour would be difficult to explain if such a presence did not exist.
  • It is popularly referred to as Planet Nine, the presumed ninth planet of the Solar System, and occasionally as Planet X.

Planet of tiny black hole?

  • Scientists have proposed that this could be a tiny black hole instead.
  • They have shown that the behaviour of certain Trans-Neptunian Objects like a primordial black hole.

Primordial black hole

  • A primordial black hole is one that is believed to have formed immediately after the creation of the universe.
  • Like Planet Nine, primordial black holes too have been predicted to exist — including by the late Stephen Hawking — but none has been spotted as yet.

What do we know of Planet Nine so far?

  • Over the years, scientists have sought to explain several puzzling aspects of the Solar System by attributing these to the influence of Planet Nine.
  • In a 2016 paper made out a case for Planet Nine’s existence by arguing that it could be responsible for the peculiar alignment of icy objects on the outskirts of the Solar System.

What, then, is the basis of the new suggestion about a black hole?

  • Researchers based their theory proposed two gravitational anomalies.
  • One is the unusual orbits of asteroids beyond the orbit of Neptune, which have fed the prediction of Planet Nine, estimated to be somewhere between 5 and 20 times the mass of the Earth.
  • The other anomaly was observed thousands of light years away, by a project called the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE).
  • In six observations, an object bent the light of a star like black holes do. This is called microlensing.
  • These six events correspond to objects whose masses are in the range 0.5 to 20 times the mass of Earth.

Can the black hole be found?

  • The catch is that it is much harder to look for a black hole than to look for a planet, especially when the black hole is predicted to be of small dimensions.
  • However, it is reasonable to expect a dark matter halo surrounds this black hole.
  • If dark matter can annihilate into particles we know, the halo surrounding the black hole would radiate high energy photons and the halo would be visible in X-rays and gamma rays.
  • Researchers propose to look through a gamma ray telescope dataset and try to find evidence of these annihilations.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Revised charging infra guidelines for electric vehicles

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FAME India Scheme

Mains level : Facilitating early adoption of EVs in India



News

  • Power ministry has revised guidelines for setting up charging infra for EVs.

Why such move?

  • Lack of charging infrastructure is one of the main reasons behind poor adoption of electric mobility in India.
  • As the State Transport Units (STUs) have started operating electric busses on different routed lack of charging infrastructure has proven to be a significant road block.

Highlights of the revised guidelines

  • At least one Charging Station to be available in a grid of 3 Km x 3 Km in the cities and one Charging Station at every 25 Km on both sides of highways/roads.
  • All Mega Cities & expressways connected to these Mega Cities to be taken up for coverage in first phase, other big cities to be taken up in second phase.
  • For inter-city travel, Fast Charging Station to be installed at every 100 km.
  • Separate charging stations for heavy electric vehicles like buses or trucks after every 100 km on both sides of highways.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under Ministry of Power has been nominated as the Central Nodal Agency to facilitate installation of Charging Infrastructure.
  • These Revised Guidelines and Specifications for charging infrastructure shall supersede the earlier guidelines and standards.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

[pib] “Eat Right India” Movement

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : “Eat Right India” Movement

Mains level : Healthcare awareness in India



News

  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched the “Trans Fat Free” logo of Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • This marked an important milestone in the movement against Trans-Fats and also provided a momentum to accelerate the ‘Eat Right India’ movement of FSSAI.

About the logo

  • The food establishments which use trans-fat free oil and do not have industrial trans-fat more than 0.2g/100g of food, in compliance with the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2018 can display “Trans-fat free” logo at their outlets and on their food products.
  • The use of the said logo is voluntary.

Why such move?

  • Studies have recently shown that 60,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular diseases, which in turn are caused due to high consumption of trans fats.
  • Since the impact of trans fats on human health is increasing exponentially, it is very important to create awareness about them.
  • India is committed to eliminating it from the food supply and is progressing towards its objective of trans fat elimination by 2022; a year ahead of the global target by WHO.

What are Trans Fats?

  • Trans fats are the worst type of fats with known health risks.
  • Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.
  • Trans-fats are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings, and can be found in baked and fried foods.

The Eat Right Movement

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has unveiled last year ‘The Eat Right Movement’, built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
  • The programme aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.

The aim of the movement

  • To cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years.

About Green Purple Initiative

  • FSSAI also launched the Green Purple initiative logo.
  • The initiative aims to qualify the chefs on food safety legal requirements and sustainable cooking methods, in order to promote trans-fat free cooking.
  • It will be a six months program that includes key areas of trans-fat free cooking, using less sodium, and hygienic, seasonal, eco-friendly, less energy consuming cooking methods.
  • The chefs shall thereafter ensure global standards of food safety and sustainable environment practices.

Back2Basics

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

  • It is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
  • The FSSAI is headed by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] Youth Co:Lab

Mains Paper 3 : Issues relating growth and development, employment |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Youth Co:Lab

Mains level : Entrepreneurship development in India



News

  • In a latest initiative to recognize young people as critical drivers of sustainable development, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched Youth Co:Lab.

Youth Co:Lab

  • Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, the Youth Co:Lab initiative aims to create an enabling ecosystem to promote youth leadership, innovation, and social entrepreneurship.
  • It is operational in 25 countries across the Asia Pacific region.
  • It is an innovative platform for young people to explore their ideas and potentials, and bring to scale viable solutions, to accelerate India’s progress on the SDGs.
  • Through Youth Co:Lab, young entrepreneurs and innovators will get a chance to connect with governments, mentors, incubators and investors, who will help equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
  • The initiative will also convene a series of youth dialogues across several cities such as New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai to promote entrepreneurship across India.

Area of focus

  • The first phase of Youth Co:Lab will focus on six SDGs: SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

Why such move?

  • With the world’s largest youth population millions in the county are entering the workforce every year, it is critical for India to create a robust employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Innovation Ecosystem in India