27 December, 2020 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • India & Its Neighbourhood Policy - (International Relations)
  • Nano - technology - (Science & Technology)
  • Jal Jeevan Mission - (Polity & Governance)
  • New Species of Sun Rose - (Environment)
  • Economic Slowdown - Reference (Economy)
  • Question for the day - (Environment)

Prelims Quiz


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    UPSC Current Affairs: India and its neighbours – FAQ |Page 14

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations

    Sub Theme: Neighborhood first policy | Challenges | Increased Chinese Assertiveness | UPSC

    Context: India has been pursuing a "Neighborhood first policy" in its foreign policy in the South Asian region. However this policy has been facing challenges specially because of increasing Chinese interference and influence in the region. In this regard let us look at some of the challenges that have sprung up in the past few years.   

    As far as Chinese influence is concerned India has faced mainly three challenges:

    1. COVID - 19 Pandemic
    2. Growing competition for influence in South Asia, and
    3. Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)

    COVID - 19 and the competition for influence -

    Because of the COVID 19 crisis both India and China have competed to increase their influence in the region through the relief efforts.

    Indian efforts -

    Even after being one of the worst hit countries by the Pandemic India because of its inherent strength in the Pharma sector and its influence in South Asia has effectively used this crisis to provide relief in the region

    • India is one of the world’s leading producers of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines.
    • PM Modi held a special virtual summit of eight SAARC nations and proposed a COVID-19 package,
    • Out of which India provided about half of the $20 million funding for relief.
    • India’s military ran a series of missions to SAARC countries and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with supplies of food and medicines.
    • India’s ‘Vande Bharat’ mission flew home nationals from neighbouring countries, along with lakhs of Indians who had been stranded during the lockdown.

    Chinese efforts -

    • China promised to provide the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine to SAARC countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
    • China provided PPE kits and medical equipment.
    • All the SAARC countries are part of the Chinese BRI Project except India and Bhutan.
    • And Majority of these countries are under Chinese debt.
    • As such China has started to provide partial debt waivers to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
    • It also extended a massive $1.4-billion Line of Credit to Pakistan.

    Recent Upheavals impacting the regional ties -

    Increasing Chinese assertiveness -

    • Chinese aggression along the LAC in the Ladakh region led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan valley.
    • China also laid claim to Bhutan’s Sakteng natural reserves.
    • China has also annexed around 150 hectares of land along the Nepal border.
    • A new defence pact has been signed between China and Pakistan
    • And there has been a sharp rise in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.

    Rising Chinese aggression and the growing bonhomie between China and Pakistan both in economic and military areas, point towards the possibility of two front war.

    Other events

    • India has witnessed border issues with Nepal along the Kalapani.
    • Nepal has amended its constitution to include the disputed territory within its Political map.

    India's response to the Challenges -

    India has been pushing forward its Neighbourhood first Policy and the SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) strategy to handle these recent challenges.

    Infrastructure -

    • India has stepped up the delivery of Infrastructure in the region
    • Completion of railway lines to Bangladesh and Nepal, riverine projects, ferry service to the Maldives, identifying other services to Sri Lanka and IOR islands.
    • India is provided line of credit to the tune of $ 400 million with Maldives.

    Welcoming entry of other powers to counter China -

    • India has welcomed the U.S.’s new military dialogue with the Maldives.
    • America’s Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) projects in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh

    Diplomatic efforts -

    • India has stepped up the collaboration the Quadrilateral security Dialogue.
    • Malabar naval exercise has been expanded to include Australia.

    Complexity of India's neighbourhood-

    • India's neighborhood is a complex one.
    • Largest region in the world by Population.  
    • It is one of the least integrated regions with tremendous deficits in terms of infrastructure, connectivity, and interdependence.
    • Also this region is now being exposed to various geopolitical competition dynamics because of rise of China, and increasing US influence in the region.
    • In this backdrop India has realised that there is a need for greater connectivity and integration in the region, specially because of the increasing Chinese influence in its neighbourhood.
    • Further to check the growing Chinese influence in the neighbourhood, India should focus on creating interdependence in the region with the aim of extracting strategic leverage.
    • We know that India has taken over various connectivity initiatives, in terms of energy, interdependence, infrastructural connectivity, grants and loans.
    • This has mainly been because India is facing competition from China.
    • However its is being said that these connectivity initiatives will be meaningless if there is lack of economic integration and easy movement of people and capital.

    SAARC has taken a backseat in India's regional pursuits -

    • It is said that the format of SAARC is outdated and does not serve the complex, fluid regional cooperation agenda any longer.
    • This is mainly because India has refused to attend the SAARC meeting in Pakistan over terrorism issue.
    • Further Pakistan Pursuing its regional connectivity goals exclusively with China in the form of CPEC.
    • While India which does not align itself with Chinese OBOR has started focussing on the Indian Ocean region.
    • This has led to a split of the subcontinent between India and Pakistan which has effectively stagnated the SAARC.
    • India has revived BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and worked in the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) quadrilateral for a framework on motor vehicle and water governance.
    • However, India should understand that India's neighbouring countries other than Pakistan have shown interest in the working of the SAARC. And as such should not be averse to the idea of cooperation in the subcontinent by the way of SAARC.
    • Also if India moves away from SAARC it is quite possible that China can be invited to this forum. This will make things even more difficult for India.

    Do we need to revisit the neighbourhood policy?

    • India's engagement with our neighbouring countries should not be episodic.
    • It should not be event-oriented; it should be process-oriented. India needs to have a plan for continuous engagement at various levels.
    • Further Domestic political considerations should not impact India's foreign policy considerations.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Nanomicelles: using nanoparticles for cancer treatment | Page 09

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology

    Sub Theme: Nanotechnology | Nanometre | Applications | UPSC

    Nanotechnology -

    • Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation concerned with building 'things' - generally, materials and devices - on the scale of atoms and molecules.
    • A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre
    • At such scales, the ordinary rules of physics and chemistry no longer apply. For instance, materials' characteristics, such as their colour, strength, conductivity and reactivity, can differ substantially between the nano-scale and the macro.
    • Carbon 'nanotubes' are 100 times stronger than steel but six times lighter.


    UPSC Current Affairs: Jal Jeevan adds 1 lakh water connections daily | Page–14

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

    Sub Theme: Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) |Challenges in implementing the scheme | UPSC

    Context: Since its launch in August 2019, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) has achieved 32.3% coverage of tap connections in rural India.          

    About the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

    • In partnership with the States, the scheme seeks to ensure that every rural household of the country gets assured drinking water supply by 2024.
    • As of now, 6.15 crore (32.3%) households of the country are getting tap water supply into their homes. Almost 1 lakh new connections are getting added on daily basis.       
    • The government is almost replicating the implementation of its flagship scheme of building toilets in the first term in providing tap water connections to every rural household in the country in its second term. In its first term from 2014 to 2019, the Centre reportedly built over 11 crore toilets in the country.
    • The fund sharing pattern between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.
    • To ensure its implementation without any funding crunch, in 2020-21, a sum of Rs. 23,500 crore has been allocated for the implementation of the JJM. Besides this, in 2020-21, 50% of 15th Finance Commission Grants to Rural Local Bodies, that is, Rs. 30,375 crore as a tied grant, will be utilised for water supply and sanitation.
    • The Mission is set to be based on various water conservation efforts like point recharge, desilting of minor irrigation tanks, use of greywater for agriculture and source sustainability.
    • Mission will converge with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across the country.

    Significance of the mission:

    • India has 16% of the world population, but only 4% of freshwater resources. Depleting groundwater level, overexploitation and deteriorating water quality, climate change, etc. are major challenges to provide potable drinking water.
    • This can generate employment to the currently unemployed force, especially in the context of reverse migration.
    • It will increase ‘ease of living’ in rural areas.

    Challenges in implementing the scheme nationally

    • Out of a total of 731 districts, 256 districts and 1,592 blocks have been classified as water-stressed or drought prone.
    • The State government and local bodies (panchayats) will also have to protect the source of water to be supplied to the households. The government has emphasised protecting local water bodies to be used as a source for supply.


    UPSC Current Affairs: New species of sun rose found in the Eastern Ghats| Page - 10

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment | Mains – GS Paper III – Environment  

    Sub Theme: Portulaca laljii | New Specie of Rose | Eastern Ghats | UPSC

    • Botanists have discovered a new species of wild sun rose from the Eastern Ghats in India named Portulaca laljii, discovered from Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh has unique features such as a tuberous root, no hair in its leaf axils, a reddish pink flower, prolate-shaped fruits, and copper brown seeds without lustre.
    • These morphological features distinguish the species from other species of genus Portulaca. The details of the discovery have been published in the Journal of Asia Pacific Biodiversity Botanical explorations were undertaken in the Prakasam district during April 2018 to February 2020.
    • The species was first spotted in April 2018 but the samples were seen during flowering in July-August. The flowers are very attractive and bloom for months from June to February.
    • The plant can have a rich horticultural value. Portulaca laljii has been named to honour the contribution of Lal Ji Singh, an eminent botanist of the Botanical Survey of India associated with its Andaman and Nicobar Centre.
    • Recently, our scientists have discovered a new and distinct species of banana plant which attains a height of about 11 metres and has orange-coloured fruit pulp. In which part of India has it been discovered?

    (a) Andaman Islands

    (b) Anaimalai Forests

    (c) Maikala Hills

    (d) Tropical rain forests of northeast

    New species of sun rose

    Name - Portulaca laljii

    Location - Eastern ghats