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Daily Current affairs 31 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Table of contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. State of the World Population 2019.
  2. Liberalism runs into national populism.

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Nationalism and subnationalism in separate Kannada flag.
  2. US Space Command.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Merger of Banks.
  2. Michael Faraday and electromagnetic induction.

 

Facts for prelims:

Special Tiger Force for Corbett Tiger Reserve.

 


 

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

State of the World Population 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings of the report.

For Mains: Challenges and concerns raised and ways to address them.

 

ContextState of the World Population 2019, the flagship report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has been released.

 

India- specific findings:

  1. India accounts for over one-sixth of the world’s population in 2019 (1.37 billion out of 7.71 billion).
  2. It has grown at a rate (1.2% per year between 2010 and 2019) that is just over the world growth rate (1.2%).
  3. India’s life expectancy at birth is lower than the world’s (69 years to 72).
  4. It scores higher than the global average in terms of access to healthcare during childbirth, and also has a much lower adolescent birth rate.
  5. India’s maternal mortality ratio in 2015 was 174 deaths per lakh live births (down from 448 in 1994) while the global MMR in 2015 was 216.
  6. India’s fertility rate in 2019 is 2.3 births per woman, compared to 2.5 worldwide.

 

Top five most populous countries will look like the following in 2027:

  1. India – 1.5 billion.
  2. China – 1.1 billion.
  3. Nigeria – 733 million.
  4. United States – 434 million.
  5. Pakistan – 403 million.

 

Challenges ahead:

  1. Early marriage continues to present a major cultural obstacle to female empowerment and better reproductive rights.
  2. The absence of reproductive and sexual rights has a major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures”.
  3. About 35 million women, girls and young people will need life-saving sexual and reproductive health services this year, as well as services to address gender-based violence, in humanitarian settings.
  4. Overall population of the world is ageing, with the age group ‘65 and above’ growing at a fast rate. By 2050, one in six people will belong to this group, instead of one in 11 in 2019.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.

 

Liberalism runs into national populism

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning of liberalism and forms.

For Mains:  Recent concerns raised and ways to address them.

 

What is liberalism?

Liberalism has been the dominant socio-political ideology in the West since the end of the Second World War, where it has been regarded as the norm until recently. 

The term broadly encompass three definitions:

  1. Economic liberalism: ‘emphasises free competition and the self-regulating market, and which is commonly associated with globalisation and minimal state intervention in the economy’.
  2. Political liberalism: It is founded on ‘belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human being, the autonomy of the individual, and standing for political and civil liberties’ as laid out in various United Nations Covenants.
  3. Social liberalism: ‘linked to the protection of minority groups, and such issues as LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage’.

 

Has liberalism become obsolete?

  1. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that liberalism had “become obsolete”. It is because liberal ideas about refugees, migration and LGBTQ issues were now being opposed by “the overwhelming majority of the population”. Even some western nations had privately admitted that multiculturalism was “no longer tenable”.
  2. Besides, leaders of several other developing countries believe highly centralised political systems work better for political stability and economic progress than western liberal democracies.
  3. Few recent incidents, such as support for Brexit and support for populist leaders such as Donald Trump, imply that liberalism may be in decline.

 

How countries like Russia and China view Liberalism?

Russia has a specific and different kind of civilisation, where sovereignty trumps democracy and national unity, and stability trumps human rights’. Western-style liberalism that prioritises individual rights over those of society is regarded as a ‘challenge to Russia’s style of government’, which presents an alternative model.

In China, the desire for liberty is recognised as universal, but the freedom to protest in unauthorised demonstrations and wilfully shatter the economy and tourism as in Hong Kong, or the freedom to blaspheme and outrage the sentiments of the devout, as in the French Charlie Hebdo case, or the freedom to bear arms as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, are only random examples that show that liberty has limitations, even if they are self-imposed.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

 

Nationalism and subnationalism in separate Kannada flag

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Constitutional and legal provisions in this regard.

For Mains: Concern over separate state flags and the need for a comprehensive framework on this.

 

Context: Karnataka government has indicated that it may not pursue with the Centre a proposal made by the earlier government, for a separate state flag.

 

Is there any provision in the constitution prohibiting a state from having its own flag? 

Supreme Court has said that there is no prohibition in the Constitution for the State to have its own flag. However, the manner in which the state flag is hoisted should not dishonour the national flag.

Under the Constitution, a flag is not enumerated in the Seventh Schedule. However, Article 51A rules that every citizen shall abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag, and the national anthem.

 

Is it regulated under any parliamentary Act?

The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 regulates the hoisting of the national flag.

Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act 1950 prohibits the use of National Symbols for commercial use in India.

Under the 1971 Act, insulting the national flag by burning it, mutilating it, defacing it, is prohibited.

Even the Flag Code of India, 2002 does not impose prohibitions on a State flag. The Code expressly authorises the flying of other flags under the condition that they should not be hoisted from the same masthead as the national flag or placed higher than it.

By implication, the Code provides space for a State flag as long as it does not offend the dignity and honour of the national flag.

 

Can states have their own flags?

  1. Allowing one state to have its own flag could trigger demands from other states too.
  2. Arguments in favour of the decision stresses on the fact that states in both Germany and USA have their own flags without any danger of their imminent disintegration.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

US Space Command

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Space force- composition and functions.

For Mains: Space force- the idea, concerns, challenges and the need for free outer- space.

 

Context: US has launched Space Command.

It is the newest US military combatant command.

 

Key facts:

  1. The US Space command will be the 11th combatant command, the first one to be created in more than a decade.  
  2. The space command will ensure that America’s dominance in space is never questioned and never threatened.
  3. Space command will soon be followed by the establishment of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces.
  4. The space force will organize, train and equip warriors to support the Space Command’s mission.

 

Why it is not a “good idea”?

  • Another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
  • It could undercut ongoing missions.
  • It could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
  • A space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.

 

Why it may not feasible to have a space force?

  • The fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris. And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
  • The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.

  

Why space has become so important?

  • Space is a “war-fighting domain” and global powers like Russia and China are already treating it as such.
  • Besides, the stakes are high. Much of our 21st-century economy and lifestyle — from bank transactions to weather forecasting to television service to the GPS directions — depends on satellites functioning round the clock and without interruption. The military depends on them too.
  • In 2007, China shot down one of its own satellites — mission accomplished in its own right, it also littered orbit with potentially destructive space debris. Many saw the operation as a veiled display of military power.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Merger of Banks

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Which three banks are being merged?

For Mains: Merger- Significance, pros and cons, concerns.

Context: The government plans to merge 10 public sector banks into fourThis would take the number of banks in the country from 27 in 2017 to 12.

 

New mergers include:

  1. Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will combine to form the nation’s second-largest lender.
  2. Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank will merge.
  3. Union Bank of India will amalgamate with Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank.
  4. Indian Bank will merge with Allahabad Bank.

 

 

Why merger is good? – Benefits for various stakeholders:

For Banks:

  1. Small banks can gear up to international standards with innovative products and services with the accepted level of efficiency.
  2. PSBs, which are geographically concentrated, can expand their coverage beyond their outreach.
  3. A better and optimum size of the organization would help PSBs offer more and more products and services and help in integrated growth of the sector.
  4. Consolidation also helps in improving the professional standards.
  5. This will also end the unhealthy and intense competition going on even among public sector banks as of now.
  6. In the global market, the Indian banks will gain greater recognition and higher rating.
  7. The volume of inter-bank transactions will come down, resulting in saving of considerable time in clearing and reconciliation of accounts.
  8. This will also reduce unnecessary interference by board members in day to day affairs of the banks.
  9. After mergers, bargaining strength of bank staff will become more and visible.
  10. Bank staff may look forward to better wages and service conditions in future.
  11. The wide disparities between the staff of various banks in their service conditions and monetary benefits will narrow down.

 

For economy:

  1. Reduction in the cost of doing business.
  2. Technical inefficiency reduces.
  3. The size of each business entity after merger is expected to add strength to the Indian Banking System in general and Public Sector Banks in particular.
  4. After merger, Indian Banks can manage their liquidity – short term as well as long term – position comfortably.
  5. Synergy of operations and scale of economy in the new entity will result in savings and higher profits.
  6. A great number of posts of CMD, ED, GM and Zonal Managers will be abolished, resulting in savings of crores of Rupee.
  7. Customers will have access to fewer banks offering them wider range of products at a lower cost.
  8. Mergers can diversify risk management.

 

For government:

  1. The burden on the central government to recapitalize the public sector banks again and again will come down substantially.
  2. This will also help in meeting more stringent norms under BASEL III, especially capital adequacy ratio.
  3. From regulatory perspective, monitoring and control of less number of banks will be easier after mergers.

 

Concerns associated with merger:

  1. Problems to adjust top leadership in institutions and the unions.
  2. Mergers will result in shifting/closure of many ATMs, Branches and controlling offices, as it is not prudent and economical to keep so many banks concentrated in several pockets, notably in urban and metropolitan centres.
  3. Mergers will result in immediate job losses on account of large number of people taking VRS on one side and slow down or stoppage of further recruitment on the other. This will worsen the unemployment situation further and may create law and order problems and social disturbances.
  4. Mergers will result in clash of different organizational cultures. Conflicts will arise in the area of systems and processes too.
  5. When a big bank books huge loss or crumbles, there will be a big jolt in the entire banking industry. Its repercussions will be felt everywhere.

 

Way ahead:

Merger is a good idea. However, this should be carried out with right banks for the right reasons. Merger is also tricky given the huge challenges banks face, including the bad loan problem that has plunged many public sector banks in an unprecedented crisis.

 

Committees in this regard:

  1. Narasimham committee (1991 and 1998) suggested merger of strong banks both in public sector and even with the developmental financial institutions and NBFCs.
  2. Khan committee in 1997 stressed the need for harmonization of roles of commercial banks and the financial institutions.
  3. Verma committee pointed out that consolidation will lead to pooling of strengths and lead to overall reduction in cost of operations.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Michael Faraday and electromagnetic induction

 

What to study?

For Prelims: features, applications and significance of Faraday’s law.

 

ContextOn August 29 in 1831, British scientist Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction.

This discovery has led to important inventions such as electric motors, transformers, inductors, and generators.

 

Who was Michael Faraday, and how did he discover electromagnetic induction?

Michael Faraday is a Scientist from England, with pioneering contributions in both chemistry and electromagnetism.

 

His contributions:

He discovered Benzeneelectromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, electrolysis, and the effect of magnetism on light.

 

What is Faraday’s law and how did it come about?

  1. Faraday wrapped a thick iron ring with two coils of insulated wire, one on each side of the ring.
  2. One coil was connected to a battery, and the other to a galvanometer.
  3. When the battery circuit was closed, Faraday saw a momentary deflection on the galvanometer.
  4. A similar momentary deflection but in the opposite direction was seen when the battery circuit was opened.
  5. This observation led to the discovery that a change in a magnetic field produces an electromotive force and current in a nearby circuit.
  6. This phenomenon, called electromagnetic induction, was later mathematically modelled by James Clerk Maxwell and came to be known as Faraday’s Law.

Sources: Indian Express.


Facts for prelims:

 

Special Tiger Force for Corbett Tiger Reserve:

Uttarakhand Government has decided to for Special Tiger Force for Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR).

CTR will check illegal human intrusion into the reserve through villages located on its fringes and serve as a second layer of protection for tigers at the CTR.

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