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Daily Current affairs 22 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair


The Franco-German Tango Editorial 22nd Jan’19 TimesOfIndia

France and Germany now key partners of India:

  • Germany and France have become key partners of India and they are ready to expand cooperation with both the government and the people of India.


France and Germany friendship and cooperation:

  • Following several decades of rivalries and conflicts, including the world wars, leaders of Germany and France decided to establish a new relationship to seal a lasting friendship.

Elysée Treaty:

    • The Elysée Treaty (Treaty on the German-French Cooperation) was signed in 1963 by France and the Federal Republic of Germany.
    • The goal of the Elysée Treaty, just 18 years after the end of World War II, was that enemies should become friends.
    • This treaty laid the cornerstone for the friendship between the two countries and the permanent peace in Europe – a story of great success up to this day.
    • It laid the groundwork for close bilateral cooperation to support European integration.
  • Not just cooperation between governments:
    • The Elysée Treaty not only established a close cooperation of the two governments but also defined a common policy of education, culture and youth.
    • Franco-German Youth Office: Ever since, the Franco-German Youth Office has launched more than 2,00,000 exchange programmes in which more than 60,00,000 youngsters have participated.
    • This youth exchange and the partnerships between thousands of cities on both sides of the river Rhine would have influenced millions of German and French citizens.
  • Significance for the world:
    • The close partnership between these two nations is also of great importance all over the world.
    • Germany and France together support important central points of international relations:
      • Common input for a multipolar rules-based order
      • A trade and development policy based on partnerships
      • A free and open Indo-Pacific region
      • Support for global solutions for global challenges – like climate change

Aachen Treaty - to complement Elysee Treaty:

  • In 2018, the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron decided to complement the Elysée Treaty with the Aachen Treaty.
  • Intensified cooperation:
    • This treaty will further intensify cooperation in a decisive way:
      • In foreign and security policy
      • In future global challenges
      • In cultural and educational policy
      • In transboundary cooperation
    • Within the European Union (EU) and the United Nations, Germany and France will coordinate even closer than before.
    • A Franco-German “Thinktank for the Future” is aimed at developing common answers to new challenges or needs of the governments.
    • This renewed German-French partnership will be at the forefront of EU integration, and will continue to be the driving force behind the future development of the EU.


Significance for India:

  • The increased German-French cooperation has a considerable significance for India.
  • They are showing intent to cooperate with India so that the strength of the law (and not the law of the strongest) regulates the international order.
  • The frequency of official visits between India, France and Germany is a testimony to this.
  • Can lead to better India-EU cooperation:
    • The EU and its member states are important partners for India in the field of economic, social, development, environment and security policies.
    • Germany-France firmly support the strengthening of relations between the EU and India.
    • In late 2018, the EU adopted the EU-India strategy and developed an offer to India to deepen the strategic partnership even more.
  • Scientific and Cultural cooperation:
    • The German-French partnership can also be seen in India in the field of science and culture.
    • DHARMA project: Hence, within the framework of the DHARMA project funded by the EU, researchers from our two countries are merging archaeological finds and historic texts in order to reconstruct how Hinduism developed as both a religion and social model.
    • Heritage cities: Furthermore, the Goethe Institut and the Institut Francais provide the cities of Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh with their expertise to integrate heritage building in the urban development of these two cities.
    • Alliance Francaise and Goethe Institut have also a joint residency programme for artists in West Bengal.
    • Broadly, the scientific and cultural cooperation aims at supporting people-to-people ties between India and Europe, whether it be artists, students or researchers.
  • Cooperation in other sectors:
    • Cooperation between India and these two countries is also promising in the field of development cooperationclimate change mitigationinfrastructure and industry.
    • The common industrial and technological projects have played a central role in the German-French partnership from the beginning.
    • The two countries will also collectively finance sustainable infrastructure projects in India, like the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) have already done to develop the metro of the city of Nagpur and urban development projects in Kochi.


Way forward:

  • Germany and France are looking for a close and dynamic cooperation on all levels towards India.
  • Together with India, they at the forefront of a multipolar order that trusts in democratic and rules-based principles.
  • The countries can synchronise more and more on global challenges in order to strengthen the spirit of multilateral cooperation and partnership which is indispensable for a peaceful and sustainable development.



GS Paper II: International Relations

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Section : Editorial Analysis


Bihar outgrew others in FY18 GDP

The News:

  • Recently, a report " States of growth 2.0" has been released by CRISIL.
  • It ranked 17 states, which are non-special category states/ general category states on different parameters based on Central Statistics Office data. (It left out Goa as it is a small state.)

General Category States: 18 states which do not possess Special Category Status.


What is Special Category status?

  • Special Category status is an arrangement under which a state becomes entitled to certain additional benefits.
  • While a state usually receives funding of up to 60 per cent for the centrally sponsored schemes, the states given this status receive 90 per cent of the funds for such schemes. This is not a Constitutional provision.
  • There are 11 states (states with majorly hilly terrain and NE states) in India enjoying this status:


Note: The concept of Special Category States has now become insignificant after the approval of the recommendations of Fourteenth Finance Commission in 2015 (after centre accepted 14th FC's recommendations for greater devolution to the states, the centre drastically cut the number of these centrally sponsored schemes).


Key Highlights of the report:

  • Faster growth than national average: 12 out of the 17 general category States grew faster than the national growth rate (6.7% in 2018), however growth has not quite been conducive to job creation in a majority of the states. This implies that GSDP expansion has come in from sectors which are less job-intensive
  • Lower growth in employment- intensive sectors: 11 states have recorded lower growth in employment-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, construction and trade, and hotels, transport and communication services, compared with the national rate
  • Widening gap between the states: Low-income states have not sustained high growth long which could bridge the per capita income gap with the high-income states.


Important Facts:

  • In terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP)

Top States (2017-18)

  • Bihar
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Gujarat

Bottom States (2017-18)

  • Jharkhand
  • Kerala
  • Punjab
  • Fastest Growing States (between 2012-13 and 2016-17):
    • Gujarat (manufacturing)
    • Madhya Pradesh (agriculture and allied activities)
    • Karnataka (manufacturing)
  • Top States in terms of Capital Expenditure: (2014-2015 to 2016- 2017)
    • Rajasthan
    • Jharkhand
    • Uttar Pradesh

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Section : Economics


Yellow fever vaccine; necessity and risk

Why in news?

  • The recent death of UK’s leading Cancer Scientist, following a yellow fever vaccination, has invigorated the debate on the efficacy of vaccines and the ‘vaccine hesitancy’.
  • The overall risk of serious side effects of vaccination is very low, but people aged over 60 have about three fold risk of experiencing serious effects.


About Yellow Fever

  • Yellow fever is a viral disease commonly found in the tropics caused by a group of virus called flavivirus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that spreads the Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue virus.
  • The mosquito becomes infected by biting an infected human or a monkey and the virus is then transmitted to other humans.
  • The virus is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.



  • Yellow fever is a hemorrhagic fever that can lead to a high fever, muscle pain with prominent backache, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting. 
  • In severe cases there might be bleeding into the skin, and the virus can affect the cells of liver and kidneys.


Yellow Fever Vaccination

  • Yellow fever vaccine, known as 17D, contains a live attenuated form of the virus.
  • It works by activating an immune response from the body against the virus and this response can memorise the infection and thus confers life long immunity.


Vaccine Side-effects

  • Though vaccination is an essential strategy to combat yellow fever virus, it can rarely cause severe side-effects.
  • The side-effects include headaches, fevers, muscle pain, tiredness, soreness and in very rare cases, infants and older people may develop serious reactions, such as encephalitis, organ failure or anaphylactic shock which may lead to death.


 The Problem of Vaccine Hesitancy in India

  • While India is striving to achieve universal immunization, the problem of vaccine hesitancy has contributed to the immunization gap in the country.
  • According to WHO, “Vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services and occurs along the continuum of full acceptance, including high demand for vaccine, and outright refusal of some or all vaccines”.
  • The reasons for hesitancy in India are:
    • Under-confidence (49%)
    • Convenience (18%)
    • Poverty
    • Ignorance
    • Migration
    • Illness of the child at the time of vaccination
    • Rare case of vaccination side effect may trigger fear in that area


Managing the problem of  Vaccine Hesitancy

  • The hesitancy at any level can undermine vaccination coverage. So, it is important to understand both the extent and nature of hesitancy at a local level, on a continuing basis.

  • Accordingly, a strategy should be developed to increase acceptance and demand for vaccination, which should include:

    • Active hesitancy prevention

    • Ongoing community engagement and trust-building
    • Regular national assessments of concerns

    • Crisis response planning

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Section : Social Issues


Protest against proposed bird sanctuary in Manipur

The News

  • The plan to set up Thinungei Bird Sanctuary (in Loktak Lake), the first in Manipur, has met with stiff opposition from the locals.
  • They are opposing the move because fishing in the lake and plucking vegetables is their main occupation, which will be hampered if the Bird Sanctuary will be set up.

 What is a bird sanctuary?

  • A bird sanctuary is a natural area that is designed to protect and conserve various species of birds and their natural habitats alongwith their rehabilitation and survival.


Need for Thinungei Bird Sanctuary

  • Loktak’s wetland cluster has witnessed a sharp fall in numbers of birds- both migratory and residents.
  • According to Loktak Waterbird Census 2018, the number of birds in the area has declined by 75% since 2016.
  • Reasons for decline:
    • Human intrusion
    • Bird poaching
    • Hydroelectric power project
  • So, in order to combat the menace of widespread bird poaching at the lake, setting up of the sanctuary is a must.
  • Also, India is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species and should take steps to conserve the migratory species.


About Loktak lake

  • It is the largest freshwater lake in Manipur and is famous for the phumdis. Phumdis are the heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matters at various stages of decomposition which is floating over the lake.

  • Considering the ecological status and its biodiversity values, the lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • It was also listed under the Montreux Record, which is a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur.
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park is an integral part of the lake and is the only floating national park in the world.
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park is the natural habitat of the endangered Brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi) which was once thought to be extinct, and it was declared a national park only to preserve and conserve this species.


National Action Plan to save migratory birds

  • In September 2018, India launched a 5-year national action plan to save migratory birds flying in the Central Asian Flyway (CAF).
  • The Central Asian Flyway (CAF) is a flyway that covers the large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans and the associated island chains.
  • India is an important part in the flyway as it provides critical stopover sites to over 90% of the bird species known to use this migratory route. The plan is to protect several wetlands and other natural habitats of migratory birds.


Previously asked questions in UPSC prelims

Question 1:

Which of the following National Park is unique in being a swamp with floating vegetation that supports a rich biodiversity?

a. Bhitarkanika National Park

b. Keibul Lamjao National Park

c. Keoladeo Ghana National Park

d. Sultanpur National Park


Answer: b


Question 2:

Consider the following pairs:

  1. Nokrek Biosphere Reserve : Garo Hills
  2. Loktak Lake : Barail Range
  3. Namdapha National Park : Dafla Hills

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

    1. 1 only
    2. 2 and 3 only
    3. 1, 2 and 3
    4. None


Answer: a


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Section : Environment & Ecology


Steel pipes will link Godavari and Cauvery

The news

  • Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources has revealed plans to interlink the Godavari and the Cauvery rivers.



  • Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been fighting over the Cauvery waters over the past few centuries.
  • In 2016, the Tamil Nadu government sought the Supreme Court's intervention, saying that there was a deficit of around 50 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water released from Karnataka reservoirs, with respect to the mininum limit prescribed by the Cauvery water dispute tribunal.
  • Now, it has been realized that 1,100 tmcft of the backwater of the Godavari river is going into the sea whereas the Tamil Nadu was demanding from Karnataka over 45-50 tmcft of water from Cauvery Basin.


Highlights of the news

  • To solve the water crisis of Tamil Nadu and the Cauvery water dispute, the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources has planned for the Godavari and Cauvery River inter-linking project.
  • The Draft project report (DPR) of the river-interlinking project has been prepared.
  • According to the DPR, it is planned to take the backwaters of the Godavari up to the Cauvery River in Tamil Nadu through Krishna and Penna rivers.
  • The rivers will be interlinked using steel pipes instead of developing canals enroute.
  • The project is estimated to cost Rs. 60,000 crore.
  • The funds for the project could be raised from the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.


Significance of interlinking rivers through steel pipes instead of canals

  • Mitigate scarcity of water: It will mitigate the scarcity of water in A.P., Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Resolve the Inter-state water dispute: It will resolve the Interstate water-disputes like Cauvery water dispute in the Southern part of the Country.
  • Reduced cost: The overall cost of the project could be reduced as there will be no cost incurred for laying down the canals and land acquisition, etc.
  • Reduced water wastage from canal: By using the steel pipes wastage of water from canals could be prevented.


Concluding remark

  • There will be need to arrange funds for the project and moreover the cooperation of the state governments would be required to ensure the completion of the project as per the schedule.

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Section : Miscellaneous


Prelims Program: South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an intergovernmental organisation of South Asian countries that was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka in 1985.
  • The Secretariat of the Association has been set up in Kathmandu, Nepal.



  • SAARC was founded by seven states in 1985. Afghanistan joined as member state in 2007.
  • Now, SAARC comprises of eight Member States:
  1. Afghanistan
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Bhutan
  4. India
  5. Maldives
  6. Nepal
  7. Pakistan
  8. Sri Lanka

States with observer status include: Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius,Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.



  • To promote the welfare of the peoples of South Asia
  • To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region
  • To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of South Asia
  • To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another's problems
  • To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields
  • To strengthen cooperation with other developing countries
  • To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests
  • To cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar aims and purposes


Areas of Cooperation of SAARC

  • Human Resource Development and Tourism
  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Environment, Natural Disasters and Biotechnology
  • Economic, Trade and Finance
  • Social Affairs
  • Information and Poverty Alleviation
  • Energy, Transport, Science and Technology
  • Education, Security and Culture


List of SAARC Summits

1st in 1985: Bangladesh
2nd in 1986: India
16th in 2010: Bhutan
17th in 2011: Maldives
18th in 2014: Nepal


19th in 2016: Pakistan (Cancelled)
20th will be held in 2019: Sri Lanka


  • The 19th SAARC summit was a scheduled diplomatic conference, which was to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • Following the rising tensions after the Uri terrorist attack, India announced its boycott of the summit. Later, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives also pulled out of the summit.


South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)

  • The South Asian Free Trade Area(SAFTA) is an agreement that created a free trade area between the SAARC nations.
  • The SAFTA agreement came into force in 2006 and it aimed to to reduce customs dutiesof all traded goods to zero by the year 2016.
  • The least developed nationsin South Asia- Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives, have an additional three years to reduce tariffs to zero.
  • Objective: To promote and sustain mutual trade and economic cooperation within the SAARC region through the exchange of concessions.


Note: Students do not need to memorise all the objectives. It is just for the basic understanding of the work of the grouping.

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Section : Miscellaneous


Chinese companies warn Pakistan against delay in CPEC project



The News

  • Chinese companies are upset over the delay in the approval of the master plan for the smart port city along the coastal town of Gwadar in Pakistan.
  • They warned Pakistan government that it will have to pay the extra cost caused due to such impediments.


News Summary

Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan:

  • Gwadar is a coastal town in the southwest of Pakistan where China is building a port as part of the CPEC corridor of its One Belt One Road (OBOR, also called BRI) initiative.
  • As part of the initiative, “Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan” was prepared by two Chinese construction and engineering companies. 

Delays in Federal approval:

  • The government has not yet taken any step for the approval of the plan.
  • The decision is still pending with the steering committee of the planning and development department for further decision.

Chinese companies warned of additional costs and slowdown in projects:

  • They have warned that in case of increase in the cost of the plan, the government of Pakistan will have to bear the extra cost.


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

  • The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by Chinese President in 2013, is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
  • CPEC is planned as an economic corridor aimed to facilitate trade along an overland route that connects Kashgar (in China) and Gwadar (Pakistan) through construction of network of highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • It will be accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth.


Benefits for China:

  • For China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the most crucial parts of the Belt and Road Initiative (Also called as One Belt One Road).
  •  China is financing the project through huge loans that will one day give great leverage over Pakistan if it is unable to repay the loans. This modus operandi by China is seen most famously in the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka where China has now taken over the port after Sri Lanka was unable to pay back the huge debt.
  • Apart from economic reasons, the project also serves Beijing's strategic ambition to encircle India.


India also opposed to CPEC

  • India has staunchly opposed the project citing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – an important part of the BRI – that goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • India is also principally opposed to BRI as it sees the initiative as a ploy by China to throw countries into huge debts in the name of infrastructure projects. 
  • Examples of unsustainable debt-laden China's projects can be seen in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan etc.



Problems for Pakistan:

  • Machinery imports for Chinese projects caused Pakistan’s current account deficit to rise by over 50% in the first two years of the CPEC creation.
  • Various quarters in Pakistan noted that China was was pumping in money into Pakistan for CPEC but most of the projects were being implemented Chinese companies rather than Pakistani ones.
  • CPEC has proved to be more expensive than expected, making Pakistan more indebted to China (most of the projects are funded by Chinese loans at high interest rates).
  • Pakistan’s economy is in huge trouble with growing debt along with huge current account deficits, falling currency reserves, and falling foreign capital flows.
  • The US administration has alleged that part of the reason that Pakistan's economy is in such a state is due to its Chinese debt (for CPEC). 


CPEC facing issues with change of leadership in Pakistan:

  • The $60 billion-plus China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been receiving setbacks since Imran Khan came to power in 2018.
  • During the election campaign, he criticised the previous government for the lack of transparency and corruption in the CPEC projects.
  • In early 2019, the new Pakistan government cancelled the 1,320MW Rahim Yar Khan power project, a major CPEC project, after finding it financially non-viable.

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Section : International Relation