IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th September 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Mega shopping festivals
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III - Economy
- Finance Minister announced an annual “mega shopping festival” in four cities by March 2020 as a measure to reverse a deepening economic downturn.
- The festival is expected to follow the model of Dubai’s annual shopping festival, which is famous for the heavy discounts offered by retailers in the city on popular brands across sectors.
- India’s own mega shopping festival will have different themes in each of the four cities (to be decided) and is expected to focus on sectors like gems and jewellery, yoga, tourism and textiles and leather.
- The government plans to give a booster shot to exports of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through this festival,
- While enterprises are optimistic about such festival, India will have to ensure it is able to compete with the likes of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong if it plans to become the preferred shopping destination of tourists
- This can be done if the festival offers a mix of global and indigenous products, instead of sticking solely to products made in India,
National anti-microbial resistance hub
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Health
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) inaugurated India’s first National Anti-microbial Resistance Hub in Kolkata
- The Hub has been developed by the ICMR in association with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- It will aim to identify antibiotics that work best for diseases and frame a policy for antibiotic use that will prevent resistance.
- It will carry out basic research and have a repository of viral strains that are being collected from all over the country. The Kolkata centre would be the hub for research on antibiotic resistance not only for the country but for the entire South Asia.
Degradation of plastics
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Environmental Conservation
- The team at IIT Madras have demonstrated an environment-friendly strategy to degrade the chemically inert and physically stable plastic fluoropolymer — polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) of which Teflon is made.
- All that is required to degrade the fluoropolymer into molecules is continuous stirring of it in water containing 1,000 ppm glucose and metal ions for about 15 days at 70 degree C.
- PTFE polymer was breaking down into smaller molecules through triboelectric degradation.
- Triboelectricity refers to the electrification of dissimilar objects or materials occurred due to the collision. The process of rubbing materials against each other increase the surface contact producing an electric charge which is termed as triboelectric effect.
- The team has tested polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) using same methodology and got similar results.
- Scientists predict that similar chemistry can possibly lead to micro and nanoplastics in food during cooking as many modern cookware are coated with Teflon.
- Triboelectric degradation of plastic might be occurring in nature in large water bodies such as oceans where metal ions are found in abundance and waves provide constant agitation – may be one of the ways by which microplastics get generated
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure
- Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
Reasonable restriction on Freedom of speech
- The Bombay High Court rejected the plea of Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, for quashing the criminal proceedings against him, observing that there was some material to indicate that the accused was in contact with Naxalites. But being in contact with a militant organisation cannot by itself be a crime, as it does not result in any imminent lawless act.
Freedom of speech :
Freedom of speech and individual liberty are enshrined in Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. However, these rights are not absolute but subject to reasonable restrictions.
What would be a reasonable restriction?
The U.S. Supreme Court tests to determine whether the restriction is reasonable or not
- ‘bad tendency’ test : free speech or acts could be prohibited if they were likely to adversely affect the welfare of the public
- ‘clear and present danger’ test : restriction would be reasonable only if the speech or action constitutes a clear and present (and not remote) danger to state security or public order.
- ‘imminent lawless action’ test : The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit the state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation, except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action
The word ‘imminent’ means ‘likely to happen very soon,’ ‘at hand,’ or ‘fast approaching.’
- The ‘clear and present danger’ test is followed (Indra Das v. State of Assam (2011) and Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam (2011))
- Being in contact with a militant organisation cannot by itself be a crime, as it does not result in any imminent lawless act. One could be a writer who contacts Naxalites for doing research about them, or a social activist, or even a sympathiser. That would be legal, being within the ambit of the ‘clear and present danger’ test.
- it is the higher judiciary which must do its duty as guardians of the citizens’ constitutional rights. The court must not succumb as it did during the Emergency.
SECURITY/ROLE OF MEDIA
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security; Money-Laundering and its prevention.
- Role of Media & Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges
- Challenges in Managing Social Media
Role of media in fake news dispersal
- Controlling fake news is a preoccupation of the technology platforms, the political class, the news media, and an increasing tribe of citizens concerned about democracy being hijacked.
The reason for the fake news dispersal:
- The institutional news media have lost their credibility due to complicit
- The rise of social media has led to the ubiquity and difficulty in controlling/eliminating fake news.
- Governments and political actors (anyone in the business of mobilizing public opinion) have always invested in fake news campaigns to build news of their choice.
Measures to combat fake news:
- Rebuttal (Controversy)
- Removal of the fake news item
- Educating the public
- Controlling the longer political problem.
Do you know?
- Rebuttal is a type of fact checking wherein the fake news is removed by pointing out errors like mismatch, malicious editing and misattribution.
Measures outlined for combating fake news discourse:
- Companies like Facebook and YouTube are pressurized to proactively remove fake news from their platforms and rework their algorithms to ensure that such content does not gain prominence.
- The newly introduced limit on forwarding message on WhatsApp is one more example of this discourse, where accountability to address fake news is dumped on to the technology platforms.
- Educating the end users to be more precise about the news by informing them of verification tools so that they can verify the accuracy of a news item before sharing it.
- Another proposal by the government, concerns tracking the ‘source’ of fake news, primarily to address the issue at its root. But this may cause serious issues concerning invasion of privacy and free speech.
Shortcomings of these approaches:
- It is possible to rebut news on one fake instance (example of children getting abducted) but the ‘fake news factory’ will keep leaking out similar stories to advance its chosen narrative.So, it is impossible to completely ‘remove’ fake news even after rebuttal, given the decentralised nature of dissemination.
- The increasing complexity of issues, in combination with the deluge of information has made it impossible for any individual to develop a well-researched stand on all the topics.
- When the piece of information (fake news or otherwise) stands for someone’s held beliefs, it is readily accepted and shared.
- People don’t care about finding the ‘truth’ behind news item and instead look for evidence to support their preferred narrative (confirmation bias).
Steps to address the debunking of fake news:
- Addressing the weaknesses that allow the fake news narrative to take root. While pushing the fake news, they have to witness the loss of credibility which is perceived as elitist and corrupt.
- We must mobilise public opinion around an alternate narrative that makes the fake news item irrelevant.
- Instead of poking holes in an opponent’s story, it may be more effective to replace it with a different narrative built on facts, as most of the people cannot hold multiple stories in their head.
Even if the fake news is not an electoral agenda, it is in the service of the political. So, we should not lose sight by focusing disproportionately on individual fake news items instead of the larger narrative.
Connecting the dots:
- Will de-anonymising all social media accounts by the government will ensure dispersal of fake news?
- Discuss why the government and the political actors have invested in disinformation campaigns?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements
- India’s first National Anti-microbial Resistance Hub is establised in Kolkata by the ICMR in association with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The centre would be hub for research on antibiotic resistance not only for the country but for the entire South Asia.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- Mega Shopping festivals in India on the lines of Dubai shopping festival can be used as a measure to reverse a deepening economic downturn.
- However, to withstand the competition from existing such events, the festival must offer a mix of global and indigenous products, instead of sticking solely to products made in India.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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