14 September, 2020

  • Prelims Quiz
  • Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha - (Polity and Governance)
  • Exploiting the Chinese exit (EDIT) Page 07 - (Economy and International Relations)
  • Coronavirus fears and preconception advice (EDIT) Page 06 - (Social Issues)
  • Long haul ahead (EDIT)
  • Map Locations
  • Answer to the Prelims Quiz
  • QOD

Prelims Quiz

    Solution.

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    UPSC Current Affairs:  The Second Chair (Deputy Speaker) – Editorial – Pg 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance |Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme: Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha | UPSC

    Context: The post of Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha has been one of the bones of contention between the BJP-led Narendra Modi government and the Congress, which has renewed its campaign for the position ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. This is the first time that the Lok Sabha has functioned for over a year without having a Deputy Speaker.

    Constitutional provisions

    • Article 93 of the Constitution provides for election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
    • While there has not been delay in the election of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker's election has seen intense politicking at various times.
    • This became a political battle particularly after the first non-Congress government of the Janata Party offered the position to the Opposition. Delays in Deputy Speaker's election became routine thereafter.

    The BJP has been reluctant in giving the Congress any handle in Parliament to turn the levers to its disadvantage. It was for this reason that the BJP refused to recognise the Congress's claim to the Leader of Opposition post. The Congress, of course, failed to win the required 10 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha but the government could still have given the position to the Congress. In 2019, the Congress fell only marginally short of the mark with 54 MPs in the 545-member house.

    This has left the BJP in a dilemma. It is not willing to accept a Congress or Congress-friendly MP as the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha. On the other hand, the indecision has caused an unusual delay in the election of the Deputy Speaker. For record, according to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, "The election of a Deputy Speaker shall be held on such date as the Speaker may fix."

    But as per tradition Speaker Om Birla needs the nod of the government for announcing such an election. Once this is notified, one or more motions can be moved by members for election of a nominee as the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha. No member can move a motion for his or her own election. If a properly moved motion is accepted by the simple majority of the house, the MP becomes the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Exploiting the Chinese exit – Article – Article – Pg 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains: GS Paper-III

    Sub Theme: Indian IT Sector must cater to Indians | China ban foreign IT Companies | UPSC Context:   

    • The current India-China border stand-off has expanded watchful Indian eyes into cyberspace; but the Chinese put up blinding shields on their own Internet territory more than a decade ago. The Chinese government began erecting censorship barriers (what I like to call the Great Internet Wall of China) and banned several popular Western websites and applications years ago.

    How did china ban the foreign companies?

    • In January 2010, Google announced that in response to a hacking attack from within China on it and dozens of other U.S. companies, it was no longer willing to censor searches in China and would pull out of the country completely. Meanwhile, in the intervening years since Google and others were forced out, the Chinese Internet market exploded, and has grown to over 900 million users, most of them on mobile (paradoxically via Google’s Android) from just over 300 million in early 2010. This is according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a branch of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

    What impacts did it have?

    • In hindsight, China’s censors look like superb long-range economic planners and technology strategists.
    • The Great Internet Wall did not filter and screen Western content so much as it insulated Chinese entrepreneurs from Big Tech in Silicon Valley.
    • The Chinese web market was left with substantial appetites for Internet-based social, commerce, and lifestyle services which Big Tech could not fulfil.
    • Home-grown firms such as WeChat and Alibaba had a field day building apps that were at first faithful reproductions of Silicon Valley, but soon morphed into distinctly Chinese applications tailored solely to the home market.

    Google

    Baidu

    Youtube

    Youku Tudou

    Xiaohongshu

    Instagram

    WeChat

    Whatsapp

     

     


    Baidu has replaced Google in China. Youku Tudou is YouTube, and Xiaohongshu is a version of Instagram from which users can shop for goods directly. WeChat began as a simple messaging app, but is now many things for the Chinese (social media, news, messaging, payments, and digital commerce).

    2016 Barak Obama report

    • As far back as 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama released a strategic plan which addressed many issues, but the most striking part of this report is that it appeared the Chinese had learnt their lesson from failing to make themselves an IT outsourcing services superpower like India had.
    • According to the 2016 White House report, the Chinese have leapfrogged even the U.S. in AI research, especially in the components of “neural networks” and “deep learning”. In this case, the intellectual property being produced actually belongs to China and is not a faithful duplicate of someone else’s product or technology. This has far-reaching implications. Current affairs show us that the U.S. is likely to follow India’s lead by banning Chinese apps and technology companies.

    Why Chinese tech firms need access to Indian market?

    • With the rise of Jio, and the response from its competitors, the widening reach of Internet connection across the country will provide hundreds of millions of non-urban Indians with fluid access to the Internet.
    • India now has the lowest Internet data costs in the world. In its attempt to dominate the rest of the world, the Chinese Internet industry desperately needs India’s freshly minted 500-plus million netizens to continue to act as a training ground for the AI algorithms they put together.
    • China’s Internet ecosystem is entirely self-created, self-run, and self-serviced, yet it exports the newly banned apps such as Tik Tok and PUBG worldwide — adding to the user base of 900-plus million Chinese netizens whose data they already have exclusive access to.

    The decision to ban such apps in India is not only a geopolitical move but also a strategic trade manoeuvre that can have significant economic impact.

    • Banning these Chinese websites and applications to the Indian public effectively allows our home-grown IT talent to focus on the newly arrived Internet user.
    • Big tech firms from Silicon Valley and China in both hardware and software have been in a tussle over the Indian consumer, but India’s focus remains on exporting IT services while paying little attention to servicing our own nation’s tech market.

    Most alarmingly, while we have spent the last two decades exporting the bulk of our technology services to developed countries in the West, the vacuum created as the Indian Internet grew has been filled by American Big Tech and by the Chinese.

    After the removal of more than 118 Chinese apps, Indian techies have started trying to fill the holes with copycat replacement websites and applications. But faithful copies are not enough for us to make full use of China’s exit.

    The primary Indian IT objective must shift from servicing others to providing for ourselves.

    • In the absence of Chinese tech, Indian entrepreneurs should not simply look to replace what the exiting firms have so far been providing. They should focus instead on providing services and products of high quality that will be used by everyday Indians across the country.
    • The aim of providing netizens with the same services across diverse markets is overarching — regional barriers created by language exist within our own nation.
    • These provide an accretion of excellent smaller markets, with opportunities for specialised Internet services created for a local community, by the community itself.
    • The fundamental focus of the new digital products that plan to emerge in the growing market should be to provide for hyper-regional necessities and preferences. With this in mind, there are several commercial opportunities available. For example, apps and services that provide specific market prices, local train and bus routes, allow for non-traditional banking and lending, education, health, online sales, classified advertising,and so on.

    It’s hyper-local, hyper-regional

    Accessibility is also crucial. With the rise in migrant work and labour all over the country, a news or banking app with, say, an Odiya interface should work everywhere that Odiya-speaking people migrate to. However, national accessibility on its own will not make an app a game changer. Indians are savvy enough to know what a world class app is.

    If we create hyper-local and hyper-regional services of high quality and great accessibility that are also portable across our linguistic diversity, we are far more likely to succeed in creating one of the strongest Internet markets in the world, rather than creating copycat apps or apps that only cater to English speakers.

    Technology companies all over the world have focused their efforts on the 15% of the world’s population with deep pockets while largely ignoring the other six billion denizens of the world’s population. Some sympathetic noises about ‘emerging’ markets are made, but the waters remain largely untested.

    If we go forward with the aim of servicing our own, India’s experiences as a modernising power are of great use to the bulk of the world’s population, which lives in penury when compared to its western counterparts. We can export our “India stack” to other countries in the “south”, such as those in Africa and Latin America. We have successfully done this before with our outstanding railway technology. There is no reason we cannot pull off the same achievement with our home-grown Internet power.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Coronavirus fears and preconception advice – Article - Page 6

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GSII, Polity and Governance

    Sub theme: Problems of Pregnancy during COVID-19 | Protocols for Pregnant Women | UPSC Context:

    • In our preoccupation with managing the COVID-19 pandemic, we should not lose sight of special issues that may pose problems for women in the reproductive age group. The special issues are of two kinds: one that relates to medical management of pregnancy and newborn care. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have provided guidelines to address this issue.
    • The second relates to the advisability of deliberately delaying pregnancy until the epidemic wanes and the disease becomes endemic. All available guidelines are silent on this issue. Is there a need for exercising a choice of timing of pregnancy? What should be a wise policy for the Government of India, or for that matter any government, the ICMR and WHO on this matter?

    Why is there a need for protocols for pregnant women?

    • The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has a special predilection for the cells that form the inner lining of blood vessels. Therefore, organs that have a large number of blood vessels are particularly at risk. The placenta, a unique organ in pregnancy — the source of nourishment for the growing foetus — is highly vascular.
    • It has been clearly demonstrated that in mothers infected close to the time of delivery, the virus can infect the placenta.
      • A small percentage of newborn babies (1.4%) of such mothers have neonatal infection acquired from the mother. While most newborn babies do not develop clinical disease, rare neurologic problems have been described in them.
      • In this context, it is pertinent that in Indian maternity hospitals, routine reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing of pregnant mothers admitted for delivery reveal that about 8-10 % of mothers are indeed infected by SARS CoV-2.
      • The ICMR along with the professional bodies concerned should ensure that the treating teams are aware of the potential for trans-placental transmission of the virus and establish protocols for careful periodic follow-up of the new-born of infected mothers.

    If the virus can infect the placenta in term pregnancy, can it not affect the placenta in the first three months (first trimester) of pregnancy?

    • The important question that comes to mind, therefore, is whether infection of the mother during the first trimester of pregnancy, the crucial period for the development of organ systems in the foetus, can cause congenital abnormalities.
    • In the first trimester of pregnancy, many infections such as those caused by rubella and zika virus cause severe congenital abnormalities in the foetus. Recognition of this fact led to a WHO-approved government policy of routine rubella vaccination as part of the immunisation schedule of children.

    Issue of contraception

    • In the context of COVID-19, it is too early to say whether viral infection during the first trimester will cause congenital abnormalities but the potential for such an occurrence is real.
    • If it is a florid abnormality it would be known by now, but if subtle, by the time the effects on the foetus are recognised, it may be too late.

    Therefore, there is a need to anticipate this eventuality and be prepared for it. In the epidemic context, it is wiser to be cautious and advise effective contraception to postpone pregnancies till the probability of maternal viral infection is minimal.

    What are the advantages in adopting such a policy?

    • Women adopt contraception, they will not need antenatal clinic visits which, during epidemic times, pose a risk of contracting infection in the clinic.
    • Antenatal women constitute a large proportion of subjects who need to visit hospitals regularly and considerable proportions of health-care workers at the primary and secondary levels are occupied with their care.
    • If this demand is less because women in reproductive age group practise contraception, there will be less pressure on the health-care system which is already struggling under the burden of this epidemic.
    • These health-care workers can be deployed for the much-needed care of COVID-19 patients, non-COVID illness and, more importantly, the ensuing COVID-19 vaccination programme, a mammoth task in India.
    • The lower birth rate till the epidemic wanes will ensure that there will be fewer children in the post-epidemic phase for economically distressed families to care for and curtail disease transmission through children.
    • Every day about 748,000 babies are born in India. Since the outcome is unsuccessful in about half the pregnancies (embryo/foetal loss), the daily new pregnancies in India would be more than 15,00,000. With the widespread community transmission in India now, a large number of women who conceive are likely to be exposed to the virus.

    A proportion of those exposed will get infected and nearly 80% of those infected will be asymptomatic or have only trivial transient symptoms. They may not come to medical attention unless a family contact has RT-PCR positive symptomatic disease. At present, in city maternity hospitals, RT-PCR positivity in the first trimester is about 10% of all infected pregnant women and likely to increase rapidly as the epidemic in India approaches the peak. Infected women should have a more intensive follow-up during their ante-natal period to identify and document any fetal abnormality. Analysis of these results will be vital to state clearly whether any abnormality is attributable to the viral infection.

    The risk of exposure of the developing foetus is not just in those who come to hospital but also in all those asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic pregnant women with the viral infection.

    It is important, therefore, to advise all women in the reproductive age group to practise effective contraception over the next several months in order to prevent coronavirus infection during pregnancy and its potential impact on the foetus. The ICMR and the professional bodies concerned will do well to formulate policy on this matter and inform the profession and the public. Women who happen to conceive in spite of the advice may have to cocoon (reverse quarantine) themselves at least for the first trimester of pregnancy in order to avoid infection.

    On vaccination

    • It is predicted that this virus will not go away but will stay on as an endemic problem after the fury of the epidemic is over. When this occurs and when an effective and safe vaccine is available, women in the reproductive age group who have not already acquired the infection and those who do not have circulating IgG antibody to indicate that they may have had asymptomatic infection, will have to be considered for priority vaccination prior to conception.
    • Finally, while this problem will be huge in countries with a high birth rate such as India and China, it will also be a public health problem in countries with a low birth rate, where governments are concerned about ‘population wealth’. The ICMR and governments globally would do well to assess the situation, review all available scientific evidence and formulate and circulate an appropriate health advisory. India has the challenge and opportunity of adopting this policy and voicing its opinion in WHO.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Long haul ahead – Editorial - Pg 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy |Mains: GS III: Economy  

    Sub theme: Index of 8 Core Industries | UPSC

    Context: Factory output continued to contract in July, albeit marginally slower than in June, reflecting the depressed economic conditions as the pandemic rages on. Quick estimates for the IIP show output across the three sectoral components of the index — mining, manufacturing and electricity — all shrank, dragging the overall index to a 10.4% year-on-year contraction.

    Index of eight core industries

    • There are eight core sectors comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, petroleum refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.
    • This index is prepared by Office of the Economic Advisor, Ministry of commerce of and Industry and is published monthly with the base year as 2011-12.
    • The eight core industries constitute 40.27% of the total index of industrial production (IIP).
    • Weightage
      • Highest Weightage: Petroleum Refinery production.
      • Lowest Weightage: Fertilizers production.
    • IIP is prepared by National Statistical Office (earlier CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation.

    Index of eight core industries

    • There are eight core sectors comprising of coal, crude oil, natural gas, petroleum refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity.
    • This index is prepared by Office of the Economic Advisor, Ministry of commerce of and Industry and is published monthly with the base year as 2011-12.
    • The eight core industries constitute 40.27% of the total index of industrial production (IIP).
    • Weightage
      • Highest Weightage: Petroleum Refinery production.
      • Lowest Weightage: Fertilizers production.
    • IIP is prepared by National Statistical Office (earlier CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation.
    Comments

    Tamsil Sajid Amani 2 months ago

    Can anyone please explain Q2. Point 1 w.r.t to Nekki. How is it wrong? And the answer is (b) ?