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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th October 2019
Published on Oct. 17, 2019, 6:07 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th October 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II - Health

In News

  • The latest Global Hunger Index (GHI) has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries it has mapped
  • The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organisation Welt Hunger Hilfe.
  • For each country in the list, the GHI looks at four indicators –
    • Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability);
    • Child Wasting- share of children under the age of five who have low weight for their height - which reflects acute undernutrition;
    • Child Stunting - that is children under the age of five who have low height for their age -which reflects chronic undernutrition;
    • Child Mortality – mortality rate of children under 5 years (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment).
  • On the whole, the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million. Multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010.
  • With an overall score of 30.3, India falls in the “serious” category.
  • India has the highest percentage of children who suffer from acute undernutrition. On other parameters, where India has improved, the pace has been relatively slow
  • Among the BRICS grouping, India is ranked the worst, with China at 25 and a score of just 6.5.
  • Within South Asia, too, India is behind every other country. Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan (in that order) are all ahead of India.

Indigenous breeds record marginal rise

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III - Economy

In News

  • According to 20th Livestock Census released there are 4.85 crore desi (native) milch cows in the country compared to 4.81 crore population in the last census in 2012, indicating less than 1% increase
  • On the other hand, the milch population of exotic and crossbred cattle — including varieties such as Jersey or Holsteins which have much higher milk yields — saw a whopping growth of 32% over the last seven years, growing from 1.9 crore to 2.5 crore animals.
  • The Rashtriya Gokul Mission, launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government in 2014, aimed to promote indigenous desi breeds. 
  • However, the total population of such cattle (indigenous desi breeds) — male and female together, milk-producing or not — actually dropped 6% to 14.2 crore animals, while exotic and crossbred cattle saw an overall growth of almost 27% to 5 crore animals.

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th October 2019

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/10/17/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_07/9ddc121e_3264579_101_mr.jpg


Army mulls over Joint Services Act

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III - security

In News

  • In his Independence Day address, PM Modi announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to provide “effective leadership at the top level” to the three wings of the armed forces, and to help improve coordination among them.
  • CDS offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive on long-term defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.
  • Thus there is a need for creating arrangements and structures to synergise and which can pave way for effective integration
  • Currently, each Service has an individual Act passed by Parliament. A Joint Services Act on approval by the government will facilitate faster integration.

KHON RAMLILA

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains I – Art & Culture

In News

  • The Culture Department of Uttar Pradesh government is going to organise the country’s first training and performance programme of world famous KHON Ramlila in collaboration with Thailand government.
  • KHON Ramlila is a masked form of Ramlila art of Thailand.
  • It is a form of masked dance depicting the scenes of Ramlila. It has no dialogues and background voices narrate the whole story of Ramayana. It is also famous for its beautiful attire and golden masks.
  • It is included in the list of UNESCO’s Intangible cultural heritage. 
  • The Ramakien (literally ‘Glory of Rama’) is Thailand's national epic, derived from the Hindu epic Ramayana.

(MAINS FOCUS)


TRADE

TOPIC: General Studies 2:
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

RCEP and Data

Context:

  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade negotiations, being held with Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, India may accept free data flow clauses with some public policy exceptions.
  • It needs to be understood that suitable data controls and policies are not to be exceptions but the mainstream of a digital economy and society.

Arguments:

  • India will largely end up ceding most of its data policy space, and data sovereignty. 
  • it will give up any chances for effectively using Indian data for India’s development, and for digital industrialisation to become a top digital power.
  • It will effectively be laying the path for permanent digital dependency, with India’s data flowing freely to data intelligence centres in the U.S., and  China. 
  • A  few global “intelligence corporations” will digitally, and intelligent-ally, control and run the entire world.

About RCEP:

  • Regional Comprehensive Cooperation agreement – is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 members of ASEAN and its five FTA partners (China, India, Australia, Japan, New Zealand)
  • RCEP negotiation was formally launched in 2012, whose member states together account for 3.4 billion people and approximately 40% of world’s GDP.

Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th October 2019

Img: http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/photo/201711/23601_19813_0.jpg

Do you know?

Members of Indian Industry are resisting RCEP due to following concerns 

  • Flooding of the market with Chinese goods impacting domestic manufacturers
  • Lack of access to Indian services in the RCEP countries (Services is India’s strong area and has huge potential to tap into RCEP market)

Issues:

  • India’s trade deficits with nations have always widened after signing free-trade-agreements (FTAs) with them, citing the cases with ASEAN, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, most of which are RCEP nations.
  • It has also been pointed out that India’s vulnerable agriculture and dairy sectors, which are not in positions to compete with Australia and New Zealand, will be exposed to vagaries of global trade.
  • Indian manufacturing is not competitive enough to face the vagaries of a free trade regime. Even after 27 years of liberalisation, inefficiency prevails due to a host of unimplemented reforms in the product and the factor markets. On the factor side, labour market reforms are incomplete. Labour productivity in manufacturing is still one of the lowest in the world with spatially fragmented labour laws are escalating the costs of doing business. Given this, Indian industry is hardly in a position to compete in the level-playing ground in a free-trade region.

Differences:

  • India apprehends that, given its $60-billion trade deficit with China, the RCEP demand to reduce tariffs on 90 per cent of the traded goods to zero will have a disastrous effect on its already struggling MSME sector. India is especially apprehensive about Chinese goods swamping its market, forcing domestic producers to cut production or shut down.
  • India has expressed its reservations over inclusion of e-commerce in the RCEP talks. The RCEP draft is opposed to data localisation, while India fears the monopoly power of digital giants which includes the likes of Tencent and Alibaba.

ASEAN+3:

  • India could be out of the mega trade deal (RCEP).
  • China has started pushing for a free trade pact between ASEAN + 3 (which includes the ten-member ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea).
  • This would effectively mean that among the 16 countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), all except India, Australia and New Zealand would get included in the proposed pact.
  • China may be trying to push for an ASEAN + 3 arrangement to speedily create a new order in the region with itself at the helm to counter the challenge posed by the US with which it is engaged in a trade war.

Data concern:

  • The global digital or artificial intelligence (AI) economy is currently a two-horse race between the U.S. and China.
  •  It is feared that all other countries, including the European Union (EU) and major developing countries such as India, will have to become fully digitally dependent on one of these two digital superpowers. 
  • This will considerably compromise their economic and political independence, something referred to as digital colonisation.

Solution:

  • Efforts to escape such a dismal situation, like in the French and the U.K.’s AI strategies, numerous EU documents, and India’s NITI Aayog’s AI strategy, focus on one central issue — more data-sharing within the country, and better access to data for domestic businesses.

With few global digital corporations such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber, continually vacuum out India’s and Indians’ data, and then by default treat it as their private property it is difficult

Way forward

  • Despite all the concerns, the government must take into account that either slowing down India’s RCEP engagement or walking out of the talks at this stage would cut India out of the rules-making process for the RCEP and give China further space in the regional trade and security architecture.
  • At a time when the U.S. has broken from the global consensus on multilateral trade agreements, an Indian walkout would endanger the united message that RCEP countries, which represent 40% of the global GDP, would wish to send out.
  • It would also be a sharp departure from India’s “Act East” slogan and its extended outreach to ASEAN.
  • Appropriate data policies must ensure that the required data is actually available to Indian digital businesses.
  • Asserting a community’s legal right over data that is derived from, and is about, the community concerned, or about ‘things’ that belong to it. This is the concept of community data inscribed in India’s draft e-commerce policy.
  • Data classification, data ownership rights, data sharing, data trusts must be dealt with

Conclusion:

  • Disengaging from signing binding agreements on uninhibited data flows across borders does not mean that a country would simply localise all data. Some kinds of data may indeed need to be localised, while others should freely flow globally. 
  • It just means that a country retains complete data policy space, and the means to shape its digital industrialisation, and thus its digital future.

Connecting the dots:

  • India must not trade away its national data rights at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations. Justify

FOREIGN POLICY

TOPIC: General Studies 2:
  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

IND-US and Global Politics

  • Global politics is changing at a fast pace. 
  • The global order is now dipping into a vortex of disruptions largely caused by the United States, China (Trade war)and Brexit. 
  • India also stands at the crossroads in terms of its foreign policy approach.

India’s Foreign policy  options:

  • Stable policy of non-alignment and strategic autonomy;
  •  Join the bandwagon of unilateralism and be a permanent treaty ally of one of the superpowers,
  • Embark upon a calculated trip with the objective of expansion in terms of forging new relations and exploring fresh territories by adopting a strategy of “multi-alignment and transactional autonomy”.

Concerns in IND-US Relations:

  • A  no-trade deal, 
  • U.S.-Pakistan bonhomie

Trade deal failure:

  • The prospects of an agreement unravelled due to the failure to reach an agreement on Information and communications technology (ICT) products. 

U S Wanted,

  • The U.S. has wanted India to eliminate tariffs (20%) on ICT products, but New Delhi is concerned that this could open up the market to flooding by Chinese technology.
  • The U.S. wanted greater access to Indian markets for medical devices, such as stents and knee implants, ICT and dairy products and sought the removal of price caps.
  • The US had sought the removal of price caps (“Trade Margin Rationalization” or TMR) on medical devices and greater access for dairy products and some other categories of agricultural goods.

 India wanted,

  • The reinstatement of preferential market access to U.S. markets under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which was revoked in early June. 
  • It had also wanted facilitation of processes in agricultural product markets where it already had access (such as easier certification of food product irradiation facilities) 
  • Greater access in some agricultural markets (table grapes, pomegranates for instance),

US-Pakistan Bonhomie:

  • United States has been one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in Pakistan and is Pakistan’s largest export market.  
  • Trade relations between the United States and Pakistan continue to grow 
  • The U.S. government supports this relationship by funding reverse trade delegations, business conferences, technical assistance, and business outreach.

Ind-US  Relations

Good shades :

  • India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, the ongoing defence cooperation of the past decade worth billions of dollars 
  • The signing of three “foundational defence agreements”, i.e. the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation.

Bad shades :

  • Current trade challenges, 
  • The U.S.’s hyphenation of India with China in its trade war 
  • U S call for the removal of the “developing country” tag assigned by the WTO.
  • During the 1971 war, the U.S. sent its fleet towards India to assist Pakistan.
  • India’s procurement of defence material from Russia 
  • US  unreal expectations such as India having military boots on the ground in Afghanistan.

Concerns:

  • The recent and abrupt abandonment by the Trump administration of the Kurds who assisted the Americans in fighting the Islamic State both in terms of resources and manpower should serve as a warning sign to India in terms of its Afghanistan strategy
  • The current Indian dispensation must prepare for the eventuality of a sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan which could lead to a complete takeover by the Taliban, with potential repercussions on India’s northern front.
  • With respect to Pakistan, there is confused signalling from the official “advisers” of the White House
  • The U.S. campaigned for Iran’s nuclear deal in 2015, then withdrew itself from the accord in 2018 and has now adopted a blanket sanction policy qua any nation dealing in oil transactions with Iran.

Way forward:

  • Before taking any decision on the future trajectory of India-U.S. dynamics, the Indian establishment must remain mindful of the unpredictability and inherent contradictions in U.S. foreign policy 
  • At the same time, capitalise on U.S. “isolationism and retrenchment” by maintaining its time-tested policy of “non-alignment and strategic autonomy”.
  • The Prime Minister must ensure that India-U.S. bilateralism survives the axe of unilateralism without sacrificing India’s “sweet spot” and tag of being “everyone’s friend”.
  •  Mr. Trump needs to realise that India at this juncture cannot afford to get derailed from the tracks of globalisation, regional alliances, trade opportunities

Conclusion:

  • The convergence of perception between India and the U.S. on global and regional issues of common interest provides enormous opportunities for both countries to work closely in reshaping the global political order.

Connecting the dots:

  • A setting where there was a chariot of peace, joint co-operation, multilateralism and liberalism whose strings were controlled by institutions such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Court of Justice has now become one of warhorses pulling in different directions to embrace unilateralism, protectionism and isolationism. Analyse.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1)KHON RAMLILAis predominantly associated with which country/region?

  1. Thailand
  2. Vietnam
  3. South Korea
  4. None of the above

Q.2)Consider the following statements aboutChief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  1. India does not have CDS as of 2019and creation of one will enable to offer seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive on defence management
  2. Currently, each Service has an individual Act passed by Parliament. A Joint Services Act on approval by the government will facilitate faster integration

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3)Rashtriya Gokul Mission is being implemented which ministry/body? 

  1. Niti Aayog
  2. Ministry of Agriculture
  3. Ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry & dairying
  4. Ministry of Rural development

Q.4)GLOBAL HUNGER INDEXis being released by which organisation?

  1. World Food Organisation
  2. UNESCO
  3. World Bank
  4. None of the above

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