13 January, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

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  • Reclaiming SAARC from the ashes of 2020 Page 06 - (International Relations)
  • Strained ties Page 06 - (Polity and Governance)
  • Inflation slows to 4.59% as food prices ease Page 14 -(Economy)
  • Migrant Integration Policy Index Page 07 - (Social Issues)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Page 06 - (Science and Technology)
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    UPSC Current Affairs: Reclaiming SAARC from the ashes of 2020| Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations

    Sub Theme: SAARC- Prospects and Challenges |UPSC

    Context:

    • Thirty-six years after it first began, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), appears to be all but dead in the water.
    • The year 2020 marked the sixth year since the leaders of the eight nations that make up SAARC were able to meet.
    • Further evidence of its perilous position, if any was needed, came on the SAARC charter day on December 8, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that India’s position on cross-border terrorism from Pakistan that led New Delhi to refuse to attend the SAARC summit in 2016 in Islamabad, is still in place.

    This indicates that the grouping, which cannot convene unless all leaders agree to meet, is unlikely to do so in the near future.

    The shadows over the meets

    • Over the past year, India-Pakistan issues have impacted other meetings of SAARC as well, making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group rather than a collective, working with each country in separate silos or in smaller configurations. However, the events of 2020, particularly the novel coronavirus pandemic and China’s aggressions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) shone a new spotlight on this mechanism, and should make the Modi government review its position and reverse that trend.

    India’s problems with Pakistan on terrorism, territorial claims and on its role in blocking SAARC initiatives on connectivity and trade are well known. Even so, India’s refusal to allow Pakistan to host the SAARC summit because of those problems is akin to giving Pakistan a ‘veto’ over the entire SAARC process. The insistence is particularly puzzling given that Mr. Modi and his cabinet ministers continued to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meetings along with their Pakistani counterparts, including the SCO Heads of Government meeting in November where New Delhi even invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (he deputed another official).

    • While China’s incursions in Ladakh and the Galwan killings constituted the larger concern in the year, India did not decline to attend meetings with the Chinese leadership at the SCO, the Russia-India-China trilateral, the G-20 and others.
    • No concerns over territorial claims stopped the Modi government from engaging with Nepal either, despite Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision to change Nepal’s map and Constitution to include Indian territories. In a year when the pandemic has forced most multilateral summits to go online, it is inexplicable that India cannot attend a virtual SAARC summit hosted by Pakistan, which would allow the South Asian process to move forward.

    Pandemic-caused challenges

    Second, reviving SAARC is crucial to countering the common challenges brought about by the pandemic. To begin with, studies have shown that South Asia’s experience of the pandemic has been unique from other regions of the world, and this needs to be studied further in a comprehensive manner (“Pandemic Preparedness and Response to COVID-19 in South Asian Countries”; https://bit.ly/3qdhCsN) in order to counter future pandemics. Such an approach is also necessary for the distribution and further trials needed for vaccines, as well as developing cold storage chains for the vast market that South Asia represents.

    The pandemic’s impact on South Asian economies is another area that calls for coordination. Apart from the overall GDP slowdown, global job cuts which will lead to an estimated 22% fall in revenue for migrant labour and expatriates from South Asian countries (https://bit.ly/2MRZvKp), there is an expected loss of about 10.77 million jobs and US$52.32 billion in GDP in the tourism sector alone from the impact of COVID-19 (https://bit.ly/39oXRHV). World Bank reports that have estimated the losses have all suggested that South Asian countries work as a collective to set standards for labour from the region, and also to promoting a more intra-regional, transnational approach towards tourism, citing successful examples including the ‘East Africa Single Joint Visa’ system, or similar joint tourism initiatives like in the Mekong region or the Caribbean islands.

    A time for regional initiatives

    In the longer term, there will be a shift in priorities towards health security, food security, and job security, that will also benefit from an “all-of” South Asia approach. The impact of COVID-19 will be seen in broader, global trends: a growing distaste for ‘globalisation’ of trade, travel and migration all of which were seen to have helped the pandemic spread from China, as well as a growing preference for nativism, self-dependence and localising supply chains. While it will be impossible for countries to cut themselves off from the global market entirely, regional initiatives will become the “Goldilocks option” (not too hot and not too cold), or the happy medium between globalisation and hyper-nationalism. It would be important to note therefore, that as the world is divided between regional trade arrangements such as new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA (North America), the Southern Common Market, or MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials (South America), the European Union (Europe), the African Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA (Africa), the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC (Gulf) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP (South East Asia and Australasia including China), India’s only regional trading agreement at present is the South Asian Free Trade Area, or SAFTA (with SAARC countries).

    China’s quest

    In dealing with the challenge from China too, both at India’s borders and in its neighbourhood, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure. At the border, it is clear that tensions with Pakistan and Nepal amplify the threat perception from China, while other SAARC members (minus Bhutan), all of whom are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners of China will be hard placed to help individually. Significantly, from 2005-14, China actually wanted to join SAARC. Officials recall that every SAARC summit during that decade period saw a discussion on whether China could be upgraded to member status (from observer status). On each occasion, it was fought back by India and most other countries in the grouping, with the logic that despite sharing boundaries with three South Asian countries, China is not South Asian.

    Despite the rebuff, China has continued to push its way into South Asia, as several statistical indicators for investment, trade, tourism and South Asian student preferences for universities (https://bit.ly/3i4jfWI; https://brook.gs/2LMpv9q; https://brook.gs/2LG1t07). In the past year, the Chinese government, and its Communist Party of China party arms such as the United Front Work Department, or the UFWD have used the opportunities presented by the pandemic to push ahead with this quest. Apart from sending medicines, personal protective equipment kits, and promising vaccines to most SAARC countries as part of its “Health Silk Road” initiative, China’s vice minister has held three separate meetings with combinations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and discussed economic issues and Sinovac vaccine availability with them (https://bit.ly/3i2vlQk). Experts suggest that it is only a matter of time before Beijing holds a meeting of all SAARC countries (minus India and Bhutan), for they are all part of the BRI, and even that they will be invited to join RCEP, which India declined.

    India’s steps, more bilateral

    In contrast, India stepped up its health and economic diplomacy in the region, but apart from one SAARC meeting convened by Mr. Modi in March, these have been bilateral initiatives, not a combined effort for South Asia. These are some of the reasons that led all SAARC leaders other than Mr. Modi to urgently call for the revival of SAARC during their charter day messages.

    Despite the despondency, the rationale for its existence remains intact: while history and political grievances may be perceived differently, geography is reality. Seen through Beijing’s prism, India’s SAARC neighbourhood may be a means to contain India, with the People’s Liberation Army strategies against India over the LAC at present, or in conjunction with Pakistan or Nepal at other disputed fronts in the future. New Delhi must find its own prism with which to view its South Asian neighbourhood as it should be: a unit that has a common future, and as a force-multiplier for India’s ambitions on the global stage.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Strained ties | Page 06

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

    Sub Theme: Political Tussle between Lt. Governor and Elected Government in Puducherry | UPSC

    Background

    • The single bench judgment that had held that the Lieutenant Governor (LG) does not have the right to interfere in the daily affairs of the elected government of Puducherry.
    • The single judge had held that the Administrator is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers in matters where the Legislative Assembly is competent to enact laws as contemplated under Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1962.

     Issues of difference

    • LG objection to assembly’s decision to adopt resolution against NPR, CAA
    • LG wants Civic body elections to be expedited whereas the CM want 33% reservation to women in local bodies
    • LG wants elected government to disclose details of CBI probe in 2017 private medical admissions case.

    Rationale

    • Government secretaries were bound to take instructions from and report to the Ministers and the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister.
    • Article 239A symbolizes the supremacy of the Legislature above the Administrator in case of the Union Territory of Puducherry.
    • The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator.
    • Legislature of the Union Territory was on a par with that of a State.

    Ruling of Madras High Court

    • Now the Madras High Court held that the role of Puducherry’s Lieutenant Governor and that of an elected government in the Union Territory were intertwined as per law, and therefore they were expected to act in unison and not in division.
    • State legislatures were a creation of the Constitution, whereas the Union Territory legislatures were created under a law, such as the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, made by Parliament.
    • The primary responsible role of the governance has to be executed by the Council of Ministers who are under an obligation to submit the same before the Administrator through CM.
    • The Administrator thereupon has the authority to revist the matter and in case of adverse  opinion may send for reconsideration to the Council of Ministers.
    • Further the Administrator can call for any information from the Chief Minister on proposals for legislation or other information.
    • Thus the channelisation of the process of governance is therefore through the Administrator.
    •  If the Administrator has a difference of opinion it has to be resolved by referring to the Central Government whereupon the decision of the President of India shall be acted upon. A draft bill can be referred by the Administrator prior to its introduction in the legislative assembly.
    • The role of the Government and the Administrator are thus intertwined.
    • The Central Government through the Home Ministry under orders of the President of India exercises a referral role to umpire a decision in the event the Administrator makes a reference.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Inflation slows to 4.59% as food prices ease | Page 14

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Indian Economy

    Sub Theme:  WPI and CPI-Measurement of Inflation | UPSC

    Understanding the Differences between CPI and WPI

    Criteria

    WPI

    CPI

    Level

    Measures Inflation at Wholesale level

    Measures Inflation at Retail Level

    Who Calculates?

    Office of Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce and Industry

    National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and programme Implementation

    Base year

    2011-12

    2012

    Categories

    Primary Articles

    Manufactured products

    Fuel and Power

    Food and beverages

    Pan, Tobacco and Intoxicants

    Clothing and Footwear

    Housing

    Fuel and Light

    Miscellaneous- Education, Healthcare, Transportation etc

    Highest Weightage

    Manufactured products

    Food and Beverages

    Impact of increase in Food items

    The increase in food items would lead to increase in WPI. However, it would have less impact on WPI as compared to CPI since WPI provides higher weightage to manufactured products and lower weightage to Food items

    The increase in the Food items would have larger impact on CPI as compared to WPI since it gives more weightage to food products.

    Services included

    No

    Yes

    Targeted by RBI?

    No

    Yes. The RBI is required to maintain CPI rate of inflation of 4% with a deviation of 2%.


    Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI)

    • The base year and methodology of calculation of CFPI is similar to CPI. However, in order to calculate CFPI, we take into account only the category of Food and Beverages. Within this category, there are 12 sub-groups such as cereals, Meat, fish, Fruits etc.
    • Out of these 12 sub-groups, CFPI is based on ten sub-groups, excluding ‘Non-alcoholic beverages’ and ‘Prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc.’.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Migrant Integration Policy Index | Page 07

    UPSC Syllabus: Current Events of International Importance

    Sub Theme: Migrant Integration Policy Index | UPSC

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine | Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology

    Sub Theme: Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine | UPSC

     

    What is human papillomavirus infection?

    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that’s passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. There are over 100 varieties of HPV, more than 40Trusted Source of which are passed through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth, or throat.
    • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
    • It’s so common that most sexually active people will get some variety of it at some point, even if they have few sexual partners.
    • Some cases of genital HPV infection may not cause any health problems. However, some types of HPV can lead to the development of genital warts and even cancers of the cervix, anus, and throat.

    HPV causes

    • The virus that causes HPV infection is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Most people get a genital HPV infection through direct sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
    • Because HPV is a skin-to-skin infection, intercourse isn’t required for transmission to occur.
    • Many people have HPV and don’t even know it, which means you can still contract it even if your partner doesn’t have any symptoms. It’s also possible to have multiple types of HPV.
    • In rare cases, a mother who has HPV can transmit the virus to her baby during delivery. When this happens, the child may develop a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis where they develop HPV-related warts inside their throat or airways.

    HPV symptoms

    • Often, HPV infection doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms or health problems.
    • In fact, 90 percentTrusted Source of HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away on their own within two years, according to the CDC. However, because the virus is still in a person’s body during this time, that person may unknowingly transmit HPV.
    • When the virus doesn’t go away on its own, it can cause serious health problems. These include genital warts and warts in the throat (known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis).
    • HPV can also cause cervical cancer and other cancers of the genitals, head, neck, and throat.
    • The types of HPV that cause warts are different from the types that cause cancer. So, having genital warts caused by HPV doesn’t mean that you’ll develop cancer.
    • Cancers caused by HPV often don’t show symptoms until the cancer is in later stages of growth. Regular screenings can help diagnose HPV-related health problems earlier. This can improve outlook and increase chances of survival.

    HPV treatments

    • Most cases of HPV go away on their own, so there’s no treatment for the infection itself. Instead, your doctor will likely want to have you come in for repeat testing in a year to see if the HPV infection persists and if any cell changes have developed that need further follow-up.
    • Genital warts can be treated with prescription medications, burning with an electrical current, or freezing with liquid nitrogen. But, getting rid of the physical warts doesn’t treat the virus itself, and the warts may return.
    • Precancerous cells may be removed through a short procedure that’s performed at your doctor’s office. Cancers that develop from HPV may be treated by methods such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery. Sometimes, multiple methods may be used.
    • There currently aren’t any medically-supported natural treatments available for HPV infection.
    • Routine screening for HPV and cervical cancer is important for identifying, monitoring, and treating health problems that may result from HPV infection. Explore the treatment options for HPV.

    HPV prevention

    • The easiest ways to prevent HPV are to use condoms and to practice safe sex.
    • In addition, the Gardasil 9 vaccine is available for the prevention of genital warts and cancers caused by HPV. The vaccine can protect against nine types of HPV known to be associated with either cancer or genital warts.
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