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(E-Book) KURUKSHETRA MAGAZINE HINDI PDF - APR 2020

 (E-Book) KURUKSHETRA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020 (HINDI)

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 April 2020 (A double whammy for India-Gulf economic ties (The Hindu))



A double whammy for India-Gulf economic ties (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International relations 
Prelims level:India-Gulf economic ties
Mains level:Impact of oil prices meltdown on India-Gulf economic ties

Context:

  • The Gulf region is at the epicentre of a perfect storm: apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, it also has an oil price meltdown. Although this double jeopardy still has some distance to go before stabilising, given India’s vital relations with the eight Gulf countries, the situation’s impact on bilateral economic ties needs to be anticipated and managed.

Oil prices in a tailspin:

  • The region, especially Iran, has been mauled by COVID-19, and the figures are yet to peak. The pandemic has put nearly a third of the world’s population under some form of lockdown curbing the consumption of hydrocarbons, the mainstay of Gulf economies. 
  • A Goldman Sachs report published on March 30 estimated that COVID-19 had lowered the world crude consumption by 28 million bpd. The consequent oil glut began depressing the price. 
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other crude producers (OPEC+), however, failed to reach a production-curtailing strategy as Saudi Arabia and Russia, the cartel’s two biggest producers, held different views. 
  • As a result, OPEC+ unravelled with each producer chasing a higher share in a collapsing market. Consequently, the oil prices went for a tailspin having fallen by 55% during March to an 18-year low on March 30. 
  • Though the market has recovered since and a wider production-sharing compromise is in the works, the general outlook remains bleak.

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Declining revenues:

  • In a rare joint statement on March 16, the heads of OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that developing countries’ oil and gas revenues will decline by 50% to 85% in 2020 with potentially far-reaching economic and social consequences. 
  • The economic outlook for the Gulf has indeed deteriorated, with Saudi Arabia’s fiscal deficit expected to cross 8% in 2020. 
  • The global economy is expected to have a recession induced by COVID-19 this year. Even if it limps back to growth in 2021, the process may be slow and less energy-intensive: national self-reliance on strategic goods such as pharmaceuticals may deter their trade, and the tourism and hospitality sectors, the core of Dubai’s economy, may take much longer to resuscitate. 
  • The pandemic has already made this year’s Hajj and Dubai Expo doubtful.

India’s ties with Gulf:

  • India’s economic ties with the Gulf states have two dominant verticals: the economic symbiosis and India’s expatriate community. 
  • Bilateral economic ties are strong: the India-Gulf trade stood around $162 billion in 2018-19, being nearly a fifth of India’s global trade. 
  • It was dominated by import of crude oil and natural gas worth nearly $75 billion, meeting nearly 65% of India’s total requirements. Some of these countries have large Indian investments and some have planned large investments in India. 
  • Second, the number of Indian expatriates in the Gulf states is about nine million, and they remitted nearly $40 billion back home. Both these intertwined pillars of India-Gulf ties have been affected by the recent maelstrom roiling the shared region.

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Impact on expatriates:

  • Oil is a cyclic commodity and the Gulf producers have long evolved a pattern to handle its periodic lows. They tend to tighten their belts and dip into their reserves. They also transfer the burden on to the last person in line, viz. the Asian expatriate. 
  • The fresh recruitment stops, salaries are either lowered or stalled, taxes raised and localisation drives launched. The net result is that a large number of expatriates return to their homes. 
  • This time there is an added complication of the pandemic, to which the Asian expatriates living in densely populated camps are particularly vulnerable. 
  • In case the pandemic worsens in the lower Gulf, panic-stricken, wage-deprived Indians may prefer to come back. 
  • This would create an exodus of epic proportions, the nearest example being the evacuation of over 1,50,000 Indians from Kuwait in 1990-91, albeit for political reasons, an event that upended India’s economy. 
  • Apart from creating a logistical nightmare of transporting millions of expatriates back, they would need to be resettled and re-employed.
  • While hoping that the Gulf states are able to contain the pandemic and the oil shock, India needs to make some contingency plans in consultation with the individual countries. 
  • It should do whatever it takes to enhance their capacity to handle COVID-19 cases among the Indian expatriates. India’s missions there also need to monitor the situation and try to avoid panic among its nationals.

Conclusion:

  • In the longer run, it is quite clear that we need to find new drivers for the India-Gulf synergy. 
  • This search could begin with cooperation in healthcare and gradually extend outward towards pharmaceutical research and production, petrochemical complexes, building infrastructure in India and in third countries, agriculture, education and skilling as well as the economic activities in bilateral free zones created along our Arabian Sea coast eventually leading to an India-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Area. 
  • Only then would we have sufficiently diversified the India-Gulf economic ties to protect them from such shocks.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 April 2020 (Victory in defeat : On Bernie Sanders (The Hindu))



Victory in defeat : On Bernie Sanders (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level:Bernie Sanders
Mains level:Significance of the Bernie Sanderswithdrawal from the race for the presidential nominee

Context:

  • Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the race for the presidential nominee from the Democratic Party at this juncture comes as no surprise. 
  • Ever since the Democratic Party field narrowed down to just two, with former Vice-President Joe Biden being endorsed as the overwhelming favourite of the party establishment, Mr. Sanders found the going tough. 

Biden’s emergence:

  • After his strong victory in the South Carolina primary, Mr. Biden emerged as the first among equals among the moderates and consolidated support for himself after the rest of the field was winnowed due to dropouts by other candidates. 
  • In direct contests after his triumph in the Nevada caucuses, Mr. Sanders did not fare too well and Mr. Biden emerged as the presumptive nominee. 
  • With the COVID-19 pandemic relegating the Democratic contest between the two septuagenarians to a lower priority among American voters, the path to a nomination soon became non-existent for Mr. Sanders. 
  • Without a large enthusiastic voter turnout, his chances of staging a comeback grew even weaker, forcing him to withdraw.

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Social democrat:

  • Mr. Sanders ran on a social democratic ticket, promising a universal and single-payer healthcare, free college education and a “green new deal” to tackle climate change. 
  • A lifelong independent before he entered the Democratic primaries in 2016, Mr. Sanders’ earlier campaign had also ended in defeat, but he managed to bring his progressive positions to the centre of the Democratic Party debates, buoyed by support especially among the youth and the white working class. 
  • By 2020, after progressives won a significant number of Congressional seats, most presidential candidates in the party adopted sections of his programme such as increasing the statutory minimum wage for workers and expanding social welfare. 
  • But his unapologetic embrace of the term “democratic socialist” to describe himself in a country that fought a half-a-century-long Cold War for the triumph of capitalism, his crusade against the wealthy and for campaign financing regulations among other systemic changes did not endear him to the Democratic establishment. 
  • Mr. Sanders’ emphasis on economic justice as key to overcome the social inequality in a racially divided U.S. did not have as many takers among African American voters who preferred Mr. Biden’s “safer” candidacy due to his identification with Barack Obama’s presidency in which he served as Vice-President.
  • Despite a favourable opinion of his agenda, Bernie Sanders could not overcome Joe Biden 

Conclusion:

  • Mr. Sanders will be remembered for bringing to the forefront ideas of social welfare, collective action, and liberal internationalism that had been relegated by the neoliberal/neoconservative duopoly that had firmly established itself in the U.S. since the 1980s. 
  • He might have lost the battle, but the war for a progressive America will now be waged by activists inspired by his legacy.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 April 2020 (In time of need: On hydroxychloroquine export (The Hindu))



In time of need: On hydroxychloroquine export (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level:Hydroxychloroquine
Mains level:India-US relations 

Context:

  • After imposing a blanket ban on the export of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on April 4, without exemptions on humanitarian or other grounds, India reversed the policy two days later. 
  • The decision to reverse the ban was made public hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of “retaliation” if India withheld supplies of the drug for which orders had already been placed. 

Need cooperation:

  • Given the circumstances, it would be difficult to believe that the decision to lift the restriction was taken independent of U.S. pressure. 
  • But the pandemic has seen several countries displaying solidarity and cooperation providing essential supplies to others even while tackling the novel coronavirus in their own backyards. 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to Mr. Trump that “India shall do everything possible to help humanity’s fight against COVID-19” should, therefore, be seen in that light. 
  • Lauded as the pharmacy of the global south, India’s decision to export the drug on humanitarian grounds to neighbouring countries and others that have been badly hit by the pandemic is welcome. 
  • Till recently India relied solely on other countries for test supplies and may look to others for essential materials if the situation worsens. 
  • Also, India may have much to gain from the U.S. in the future by this diplomatic act of supplying the drug at a crucial time. 
  • The sudden demand for hydroxychloroquine across the world arose after Mr. Trump championed it as treatment for COVID-19 patients. 
  • The drug became much sought-after in India after the Indian Council of Medical Research approved its use as prophylaxis for novel coronavirus by certain categories of people on March 23. 

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Increasing production capacity:

  • India has a production capacity of 200 million hydroxychloroquine tablets of 200 mg strength each month and three well-established pharmaceutical companies make the drug. 
  • While the capacity is sufficient to meet the current demand, the companies are confident of ramping up production if the need arises. 
  • In all likelihood, in the short term, India might not run out of hydroxychloroquine as the national taskforce for COVID-19 had relied on weak, anecdotal evidence to make the recommendation. 
  • Irrespective of whether India bowed to U.S. pressure, it is unlikely to run out of the drug

Conclusion:

  • Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorisation for the drug to treat COVID-19 patients, on April 7, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its position saying there is no drug available to prevent or treat COVID-19. 
  • Clearly, more research work is needed to establish the efficacy of the drug.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 April 2020 (Team India and winning the pandemic battle(The Hindu))



Team India and winning the pandemic battle(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Health 
Prelims level:Not much 
Mains level:Reviving health infrastructure in India and its globalisation effect 

Context:

  • When will we move COVID-19 from a tense present to past tense? That question hangs perplexingly and lies posed before an embattled world and an anxious India. 
  • As we look to the possible end of the 21-day national lockdown, what next? Is there an early timeline for return to normalcy or will we have to wait for years to regain the vigour and the vitality of life as before in a reconnected world?

Self-reliance in the way:

  • India has to chart its own strategy, whether it is in planning a staged release from the lockdown or in developing domestic capacity for medical equipment. 
  • There will be a need for scientific and economic cooperation with the rest of the world, but self-reliance is the rudder that must steer our ship as we sail through these rough seas. 
  • Globalisation lies shredded as we read of French and German officials protesting at the Americans seizing shipments of masks that they had ordered from China, in what is being called “guerre des masques” (war of the masks).
  • For charting our course ahead, we have to answer several questions. Did the lockdown benefit us and will we gain further by extending it fully or partially? 
  • Will we be in a position to gear up the capacity of our health system for effective public health and health-care responses across the country within the next few weeks if there is a surge in cases? How can we triage our response strategies to best use our limited resources? 

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Moving ahead:

  • The impact of a three-week lockdown on reducing infectivity cannot be gauged well till the third week because the virus has an incubation period that can extend up to 14 days, though the vast majority of cases clinically emerge by 11 days. 
  • Whether there are already infected cases that will spread outdoors after the lockdown will be gauged by clinical criteria (syndromic surveillance) and testing (using viral or antibody tests as indicated). 
  • House-to-house surveillance being implemented in Andhra Pradesh, even during the lockdown, involves accredited village and block level volunteers partnering front line health workers to identify symptomatic persons for later visits by medical teams. 
  • The involvement of designated volunteers and community-based organisations can greatly enhance case detection, isolation, counselling, severity-based care and social support. 
  • Potentially favourable factors for India are the younger age profile and a higher rural proportion of our population compared to China, Europe, the United States or other highly affected countries whose populations are older, urban and highly mobile. 
  • However, this enjoins us to energetically protect the elderly and rural segments of our population. Restricting urban to rural movement to essential goods and essential needs, for at least six weeks after the lockdown ends, will help. 
  • The health, nutrition and financial security of the poor must be ensured. Elderly persons too should observe social distancing and limit visits outside home for this period. Essential economic activity can be resumed in stages.
  • We would be entering June by this time. By then, we should have a better picture of the spread and severity of the epidemic in different parts of the country. 

Need a greater level of testing:

  • That would need a greater level of testing to detect both asymptomatic and symptomatic persons who have been infected, through random population sampling in different parts of the country. 
  • We should quickly gear up our testing capacity to meet this mapping mandate. Hotspots should be identified, based on numbers of self-referred symptomatic cases, persons identified on home visits and population survey results. 
  • These should be ring fenced, with intense search for contacts and active spreaders, with further localised lockdown as needed.
  • The height of summer in June may also give us some respite, if not full relief. There is some evidence that this virus too, like other coronaviruses, is likely to wane in hot weather. 
  • Other suggestions, of protection from malaria endemicity and past BCG vaccination, are speculative and based on correlation studies which do not qualify for inference of causation. 
  • Crowded living conditions and propensity to have myriad mass gatherings, for political, religious or social reasons, can be our undoing if we do not enforce discipline.
  • Even if some factors favour us, our ability to quell the epidemic will depend on how well political will and professional skill can shape a coherent, countrywide multi-sectoral response. Think of it as a game of cricket. 
  • Even if the pitch conditions favour us, we still have to play well to win. If COVID-19 is the batsman scoring freely, the health system is the bowler trying to tie him down and get him out. 

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Focus on health services:

  • We also need to make sure that our health-care system provides timely and competent care to all who need. Primary health-care facilities, district hospitals, public and private tertiary care institutions have to gear up with equipment and augment human resources drawn both from trainees and retirees. 
  • Considering the higher risk to older health-care providers, the first line of care should be formed by younger staff members who will have milder effects even if infected. 
  • The older staff members can provide supervisory support. This will prevent attrition of the health workforce due to exhaustion or illness. 
  • Temporary hospitals for treatment and isolation facilities for persons on quarantine may need to be set up at short notice. Industry must produce essential medical equipment and drugs to meet our needs and, if capacity permits, assist other countries.

Conclusion:

  • This has to be our game plan, with flexibility to change the field settings and bowling options as we reassess the situation periodically. Let us get going, to win this match as Team India.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 April 2020 (Needed, greater decentralisation of power(The Hindu))



Needed, greater decentralisation of power(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:Disaster Management Act 2005
Mains level:Challenges in the Indian federal system

Context:

  • Over the course of the last few weeks, as we have found ourselves in the throes of a pandemic, one of the striking features of governance has been the signal role played by State Chief Ministers across India.
  • Even before the Union government invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005, many State governments triggered the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and installed a series of measures to combat what was then an oncoming onslaught of COVID-19. 
  • These actions have not always been perfect. Some of them have even disproportionately trenched upon basic civil liberties. But, by and large, they have been tailored to the reality faced on the ground by the respective governments. 

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Stratified by limitations:

  • Equally, though, as much as State governments have taken up positions of leadership, they have repeatedly found themselves throttled by the limitations of the extant federal arrangement. 
  • The inability of States to access funds and thereby structure their own welfare packages. 
  • The curbs imposed by a public finance management system that is mired in officialdom. This has prevented States from easily and swiftly making payments for the purchase of health-care apparatus such as ventilators and personal protective equipment. 
  • The colossal disruption of supply chains not only of essential goods and services but also of other systems of production and distribution, which has placed States in a position of grave economic uncertainty. 

Two distinct levels:

  • There are varying accounts of what Indian federalism truly demands. But what is manifest from a reading of the Constitution is that it creates two distinct levels of government: one at the Centre and the other at each of the States. 
  • The Seventh Schedule to the Constitution divides responsibilities between these two layers. The Union government is tasked with matters of national importance, such as foreign affairs, defence, and airways. 
  • But the responsibilities vested with the States are no less important. Issues concerning public health and sanitation, agriculture, public order, and police, among other things, have each been assigned to State governments. In these domains, the States’ power is plenary. 
  • This federal architecture is fortified by a bicameral Parliament. Significantly, this bicameralism is not achieved through a simple demarcation of two separate houses, but through a creation of two distinct chambers that choose their members differently: 
  • A House of the People [Lok Sabha] comprising directly elected representatives and a Council of States [Rajya Sabha] comprising members elected by the legislatures of the States.

Financially autonomous:

  • In formulating this scheme of equal partnership, the framers were also conscious of a need to make States financially autonomous. To that end, when they divided the power to tax between the two layers of government they took care to ensure that the authority of the Union and the States did not overlap. 
  • Therefore, while the Centre, for example, was accorded the power to tax all income other than agricultural income and to levy indirect taxes in the form of customs and excise duties, the sole power to tax the sale of goods and the entry of goods into a State was vested in the State governments. 
  • The underlying rationale was simple: States had to be guaranteed fiscal dominion to enable them to mould their policies according to the needs of their people.
  • Despite this plainly drawn arrangement, the history of our constitutional practice has been something of a paradox. 
  • It is invariably at the level of the States that real development has fructified, but the Union has repeatedly displayed a desire to treat States, as the Supreme Court said in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, as mere “appendages of the Centre”. 
  • Time and again, efforts have been made to centralise financial and administrative power, to take away from the States their ability to act independently and freely.
  • As Christophe Jaffrelot and Sanskruthi Kalyankar have shown, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi rallied against these attempts. 
  • So much so that an undertaking to decentralise power and steer a new era of Centre-State cooperation became a leitmotif of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the 2014 elections. 

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Matters of finance:

  • Some efforts have no doubt been made to this end. But they have been ostensible, at best. Consider the widely hailed decision to accept the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendation for an increase in the share of the States in total tax revenues from 32% to 42%. 
  • While, in theory, this ought to have enabled the States to significantly increase their own spending, in reality, as a paper authored by Amar Nath H.K. and Alka Singh of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy suggests, this has not happened. 
  • Gains made by the States, as the paper underlines, have been entirely offset by a simultaneous decline in share of grants and by a concomitant increase in the States’ own contribution towards expenditures on centrally sponsored schemes.
  • Other measures have proved still more destructive. Notably, the creation of a Goods and Services Tax regime, which far from achieving its core purpose of uniformity has rendered nugatory the internal sovereignty vested in the States. 
  • By striking at the Constitution’s federal edifice, it has made the very survival of the States dependent on the grace of the Union. 
  • The tension today is so palpable that a number of States are reported to have written to the Union Finance Ministry highlighting that more than four months’ worth of Goods and Services Tax compensation to the States — reportedly totalling about a sum of ₹40,000 crore — remains unreleased.

Money bill:

  • The Union government’s centralising instinct, though, has not been restricted to matters of finance. It has also introduced a slew of legislation as money bills, in a bid to bypass the Rajya Sabha’s sanction, even though these laws scarcely fit the constitutional definition. 
  • Similarly, the role of the Governors has been weaponised to consolidate political power. But perhaps most egregious among the moves made is the gutting of Article 370 and the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories without securing consent from the State Legislative Assembly.

Conclusion:

  • To be sure, this impulse to appropriate authority is not in any way unique to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s command. 
  • Congress-led governments of the past have also been susceptible to such motives. But perhaps a crisis of the kind that COVID-19 has wrought will show us that India needs greater decentralisation of power; that administration through a single central executive unit is unsuited to its diverse and heterogeneous polity. 
  • We cannot continue to regard the intricate niceties of our federal structure as a nettlesome trifle. In seeing it thus, we are reducing the promise of Article 1 of the Constitution, of an India that is a Union of States, to an illusory dream.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 April 2020 (Why it is necessary to decriminalise offences under the Companies Act to help businesses (Indian Express))



Why it is necessary to decriminalise offences under the Companies Act to help businesses (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3:Economy
Prelims level:Companies Amendment Bill 2020
Mains level:Highlights of the Companies Amendment Bill 2020

Context:

  • To facilitate ease of doing business in India, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has sought to decriminalise the Companies Act, 2013 by introducing the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020. 
  • While the Novel COVID-19 will inevitably have a wide-ranging impact on companies in India, hopefully these timely amendments will foster faith, improve corporate compliance, and facilitate investments.

Background:

  • The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was approved by the Cabinet and introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020. 
  • Over the past year, this Bill has been the second attempt of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to decriminalise offences under the Companies Act, 2013, the first being the passing of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019.

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Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019:

  • Following the recommendation of ‘Report of the Committee to Review Offences under the Companies Act, 2013’, the 2019 Amendment decriminalised 16 sections of the Act to civil violations. 
  • The 2019 Amendment eliminates the criminality of these violations by levying monetary penalties instead of criminal fines. 
  • Levying these penalties has also been shifted from courts to in-house adjudication mechanisms (IAM) under Section 454 of the Act, whereby adjudicating officers appointed by the Central Government determine the offences and enable companies to promptly communicate, represent, and resolve defaults. 
  • Though these amendments were initially brought in by the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, the Companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, and the Companies (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2019, it finally received Parliament assent by the 2019 Amendment.

Decriminalise the Act: 

  • The Company Law Committee (CLC) was constituted to further decriminalise the Act, as a concomitant measure to support the ministry’s objectives. 
  • The recommendations of the report of the CLC, as is now in the Bill, moots the fact that decriminalisation of minor non-compliance instils confidence in both domestic and global players and boosts foreign investments.
  • The CLC observes that despite the rigours of criminal law, the efficiency of criminal law with regard to corporate misconduct is open to question. Criminal prosecutions are time-consuming and complex. 
  • Accordingly, some scholars argue for corporate criminal offences to be completely replaced by civil prosecution. 

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The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020:

  • Based on the recommendations of the report, the Bill proposes to, decriminalise the Act under the following framework:

Re-categorization of 23 compoundable offences to the IAM:

  • Offences such as non-maintenance of company records at the registered office, non-issuance of statutory notices, non-compliance of disclosure obligations, etc. do not involve objective determination, exercise discretion, are easily determined by the MCA21 system and, hence, may be treated as civil wrongs, determined by the IAM framework.

Omission of the 7 compoundable offences:

  • The offences proposed to be omitted are those that may be dealt with through other laws. 
  • The offences related to non-compliance with orders of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) may be dealt with by NCLT contempt jurisdiction, instead of being treated as separate offences. 
  • Similarly, non-compliance by company liquidators can be dealt with through the relevant provision of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

Limiting 11 compoundable offences to fine only:

  • It is proposed that only a criminal fine be imposed for offences that are substantial enough to warrant criminal liability, but do not warrant punishment by incarceration upon conviction, particularly if the compoundable offences do not involve substantial public interest. 
  • Accordingly, punishment for non-maintenance of account books at the registered office, non-compliance/contravention of public-offer and buy-back requirements, etc. may be accordingly restricted.

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Alternate framework for 5 offences:

  • It is proposed that alternate frameworks could better achieve the intended aim of certain penal provisions in the Act, such as non-cooperation by promoters, directors, etc. with the company liquidator, for which corresponding provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) may be inserted. 
  • Similarly, the maximum permissible fine for the initial offence for which a compounding application has been made may be doubled for non-compliance of an NCLT, or Regional Director’s order of compounding by an employee or officer of the company.

Significance:
Lesser penalties for certain offences: 

  • Section 446B is amended to provide that non-compliance by One Person Companies, Small Companies, Start-up Companies or Producer Companies, or by any of its persons or officer in default, are only liable to one-half the penalty specified in the respective provisions, subject to a maximum of Rs. 2 lakh in case of a company and Rs. 1 lakh in case of person or default officer.

Benefit to Independent Directors (ID): 

  • IDs have been recently in the spotlight for corporate lapses and violations. 
  • The amendments are vital for IDs to dissociate them from personal liabilities of the operational lapses and violations, especially when the offence has been committed without any evidence attributing knowledge, consent, connivance, or lack of diligence of the IDs. 
  • The Ministry’s notification dated March 02, 2020 (being F.No.16/1/2020-Legal) is a welcome step in this direction. 
  • It directs that civil or criminal proceedings not be unnecessarily initiated against the IDs, unless there is sufficient evidence, and if already initiated, must be reviewed.

Way forward: 

  • The aforementioned recommendations endeavour to simplify and accelerate the processes of rectifying defaults by paying penalties, instead of fighting a criminal trial.
  • It also benefits the State by reducing the burden on courts, allowing them to focus on serious offences.
  • These amendments are admirable steps towards the three-pronged goal of:
  • To reducing the burden on company courts,
  • To ensuring investor interests, and
  • To facilitating the ease of doing business while collaterally safeguarding and incentivizing senior management to remain invested. 

Conclusion:

  • This could well be the step towards showing intent to incentivize domestic and global investments, especially post COVID-19.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 April 2020 (It’s time for the Red Berets (The Hindu))



It’s time for the Red Berets (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:International 
Prelims level:UN Security Council
Mains level:Important international organisations and their utilisations 

Context:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) is not equipped to fight a pandemic of this proportion. Its responsibility is to monitor threats to public health and inform and advise the member states. 
  • The fight against COVID-19 has to be on a war footing. For this we need a composite force that has the capabilities of massive sanitisation, testing, hospitalisation and providing support systems. 
  • Even the most powerful nations are not able to cope with the effort and there are signs of conflict on account of shortages of equipment and trained personnel. 
  • The only UN body which has the training for assembling fighting forces for emergencies is the Department of Peace Operations.

A force under chapter VII:

  • The UN Security Council (UNSC) stands paralysed because of petty battles on the name of the pandemic, its origin and the need for transparency. 
  • It should hold an emergency meeting and authorise the UN Secretary General to put together a force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
  • The mandate of the Charter should be interpreted to emphasise that this is the greatest threat to international peace and security. 

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Deployment of forces:

  • In war situations, the Secretary General is able to put together a force in about four months. This operation requires greater emergency. 
  • There is some delicacy about deploying the army internally in different political systems, but UN forces have been acceptable in most countries. 
  • As for the cost, the responsibility for the deployment of forces for peacekeeping, peace building and peace enforcement is that of the permanent members. 
  • Instead of competing with each other for leadership of the post-COVID-19 world, let them help create a post-COVID-19 world.

UNSC Resolution:

  • So far COVID-19 has spread in relatively prosperous regions of the world, which have stable infrastructure and health systems. 
  • We cannot trust that it will not spread to less equipped states, in which the devastation will be much more. 
  • Only a UN force which can enforce social distancing and lockdowns can prevent a catastrophe.
  • Most Chapter VII resolutions determine the existence of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression in accordance with Article 39, and make a decision explicitly under Chapter VII. 

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Many resolutions:

  • Chapter VII resolutions are very rarely isolated measures. Often the first response to a crisis is a resolution demanding the crisis be ended. 
  • This is later followed by an actual resolution detailing the measures required to secure compliance with the first resolution. 
  • Sometimes dozens of resolutions are passed over time to modify and extend the mandate of the first Chapter VII resolution.
  • The UN stands discredited today as the UNSC has not been able to meet. It may take place, now that China has vacated the Security Council chair and Dominican Republic has taken over. Several resolutions are in circulation, but none under Chapter VII. 
  • The first step will be to pass a resolution to take action to end the crisis and authorise the Secretary General to request member states to make personnel available. Meanwhile, another resolution must spell out the modalities of the operation.

Conclusion:

  • The UN peacekeeping forces are called Blue Berets because of the colour of the caps that they wear. 
  • The health force can have caps of another colour, probably red. The launch of the Red Berets will be a historic action to be taken at a critical moment. 
  • The UN’s relevance will be established and there will be concrete action taken to end the pandemic.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 April 2020 (No lockdown for abuse (The Hindu)



No lockdown for abuse (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 1:Society 
Prelims level:National Commission for Women
Mains level:Development of women organisations 

Context:

  • In the first week of the lockdown, one of the 257 complaint calls that the National Commission for Women (NCW) received was from a father in Rajasthan who said his daughter was being beaten by her husband and had not been provided food since the lockdown began. 
  • The call helps to highlights the plight of many silent sufferers of domestic violence across the world in these times. 
  • In China, France, the U.K. and other countries, there have been reports of a significant increase in domestic violence cases since the imposition of lockdowns. 
  • These reports highlight the need for Indian authorities to take this issue seriously too.

Women-victims:

  • The literature on domestic violence suggests that when men and/or women get employed, domestic violence tends to fall as interactions between couples reduce. 
  • Under a lockdown, interaction time has increased and families have been left without access to the outside world. 
  • The literature also suggests that violence is a way for the man to assert his notion of masculinity. 
  • The current atmosphere of fear, uncertainty, food insecurity, and unemployment may create feelings of inadequacy in men. 

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Violence against women in India:

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data show that 24% of women faced domestic violence in 2015-16 not seeing any reduction since 2005-06. 
  • Compared to the survey results, the actual reports of domestic violence to the police are negligible at 58.8/ one lakh women. 
  • The disparity between the crimes reported in a survey and registered with the police highlights how women are unlikely to seek help. 
  • The more telling statistic from the NFHS data is perhaps that 52% of the surveyed women and 42% of the surveyed men think there is at least one valid reason for wife-beating. 
  • This attitude highlights how ingrained and normalised the idea is such that an abused woman should not expect support from others. 
  • The NFHS data also highlight how the proportion of women reporting violence is increasing among families with lower wealth. 
  • The lockdown due to the pandemic is leading to a substantial negative income shock for everyone. 
  • In our interviews with unorganised sector workers, we often heard that women suffered domestic violence coupled with the husband’s alcoholism. 
  • The NFHS data also show a high correlation between alcohol intake and domestic violence. Keeping in mind that access to alcohol may be limited in these times, frustration could also lead to abuse.

What need to be done?

  • The most important thing that we can do is to acknowledge and accept that domestic violence happens and work to reduce the stigma attached to the victims of such violence. 
  • Such support may prompt abused women to seek at least informal means to redress their issues. 
  • The NCW has appealed to women to reach out to their nearest police stations or call the State Women’s Commission for support. 
  • While this is the least that can be done, there are some other formal means by which we can extend help to women right now. 
  • The provision of cash transfers and ration support are likely to sustain the family and also reduce stress in the household leading to lower violence against women. 
  • Since the lockdown began, the amount of TV viewing, particularly of news, has increased. Coupled with a lack of other activity, this is an opportune time to improve messaging. 

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Case study:

  • The French government has extended monetary support to organisations fighting this crime. 
  • British activists have requested their government to release emergency funds to support organisations that are dealing with domestic violence-related issues. 

Way forward:

  • The Indian government should also extend monetary support to such organisations in India rather than rely entirely on ASHA workers on whom the burden of community welfare is already very high. 
  • The staff of such organisations should be allowed to travel without being stopped by the police.
  • Studies show that women more than men tend to be affected adversely during epidemics. We need to take these advisories seriously to prevent further widening of the rift between men and women in our society.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 April 2020 (Prolonged injustice : On Mehbooba Mufti’s detention (The Hindu))



Prolonged injustice : On Mehbooba Mufti’s detention (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:Public Safety Act
Mains level:Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

Context:

  • It has been eight months since the Centre revoked the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded and divided it into two Union Territories in August 2019. 
  • Several political leaders imprisoned in the wake of the abrupt decision continue to be in detention even now, the most prominent among them being the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. 
  • Two other former CMs — Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah — were released last month. 

Public Safety Act:

  • Freedom for Ms. Mufti is still not near, the administration indicated on Tuesday as it shifted her from a guesthouse-turned-jail to her official residence that has been designated as a subsidiary jail. 
  • She will not be allowed to move out of here or receive visitors, and remains in detention under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). 
  • Hundreds of others including veteran Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Naeem Akhtar and IAS-officer-turned politician Shah Faesal continue to languish in jail. 
  • The manner in which the Centre hollowed out Article 370 and dismantled a State set an inglorious precedent in the history of Indian federalism. 

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Incarceration: 

  • Ms. Mufti’s home imprisonment, at a time when the entire population is expected to lock themselves up in their own homes, is the theatre of the absurd. 
  • Her continuing incarceration even after two other former CMs have been freed is inexplicable. 
  • What is it that makes her an exceptional suspect under the PSA? The change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir and the massive deployment of force to deal with its aftermath were spectacles of a new national resolve, according to the supporters of those decisions. 
  • The unfolding tragedy of the pandemic bespeaks the pitfalls of lopsided priorities, by laying bare the country’s inadequate health-care infrastructure. 
  • Jammu and Kashmir is badly hit by the disease, with a fightback restricted by the absence of an elected government. 

Conclusion:

  • The havoc by the virus should not be used as a facade to trample upon civil rights or to criminalise expression of opinion. 
  • If anything, this unprecedented crisis should spur fresh thinking on finding solutions to intractable political problems. 
  • The BJP’s view on Kashmir is as old the party itself. But that by itself is no reason to avoid revisiting the issue. 
  • The very least it can do, however, is to immediately free Ms. Mufti. That will be a good signal to the people of Jammu and Kashmir during these tough times.
  • Mehbooba Mufti’s continued detention in Jammu and Kashmir is hard to defend morally and politically.

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(E-Book) KURUKSHETRA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020

 (E-Book) KURUKSHETRA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 April 2020 (For better use : On MPLADS funds(The Hindu))



For better use : On MPLADS funds(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:Polity 
Prelims level:MPLADS funds
Mains level:Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States

Context:

  • The suspension of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years to boost the funding available for the COVID-19 fight is a step in the right direction. 
  • While taking over MPLADS funds to fight the virus, Centre must allocate judiciously.
  • It may appear at first blush that the decision may undermine the decentralised manner of funding local area development. 
  • However, past experience has been that some members do not utilise their full entitlement and that there is a gap between recommendation made by members and implementation by the administration under this scheme. 

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Key highlights of the benefit from suspension:

  • The immediate benefit now is the freeing up of about ₹7,900 crore over a two-year period so that it can be spent on boosting the health infrastructure needed to combat the pandemic. 
  • This is the second announcement regarding MPLADS that the Centre has made after the disease outbreak. 
  • Last month, it allowed utilisation of MPLADS funds to the extent of at least ₹5lakh by each MP to purchase medical equipment for government hospitals in their constituencies. 
  • Many members made immediate use of the one-time dispensation to recommend the procurement of N95 masks, personal protective equipment, and ventilators. 
  • Now that the entire scheme has been suspended, the government should ensure that recommendations already made are acted upon immediately. 
  • The transfer of these sums to the Consolidated Fund of India would help judicious deployment anywhere in the country, based on an assessment of the varying needs in different regions.

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Major loopholes of the scheme:

  • Political reactions indicate that there is considerable disenchantment over the suspension — the ₹5-crore corpus available to each member is a source of much goodwill for elected representatives. 
  • Better performing MPs identify and fulfil local development needs with empathy and alacrity. 
  • However, there has also been persistent criticism about the scheme’s very nature. A conceptual flaw pointed out by experts is that it goes against the separation of powers. 
  • It allows individual legislators to encroach on the planning and implementation duties of the administration. 
  • Jurists have pointed out that the Constitution does not confer the power to spend public money on an individual legislator. 
  • Experts have called it out for weak monitoring. The Supreme Court, while declining to strike down the scheme, called for a robust accountability regime. 

Conclusion:

  • MPLADS gives scope for MPs to utilise the funds as a source of patronage that they can dispense at will. 
  • The CAG has flagged instances of financial mismanagement and inflation of amounts spent. 
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission recommended its abrogation altogether, highlighting the problems of the legislator stepping into the shoes of the executive. 
  • The current suspension gives some scope for a reconsideration of the scheme in its totality.

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Gist of The Hindu: APRIL 2020

Gist of The Hindu: APRIL 2020

 

VP claims next 10 years to be decade of youth in India

  • Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has said the next ten years would be the decade of the youth in India. He gave an extramural lecture in the IIT, Madras on the topic, 'India 2020 to 2030: GenY's Vision for the Decade,' this evening.
  • In his address, he said, India’s population is among the youngest in an ageing world. He said the strategy and vision for the education of the youth will decide how successful India will be in converting the country’s demographic advantage into a rich dividend.
  • The Vice President said a resurgent India is being witnessed today, driven by the dreams and aspirations of the youth. He expressed confidence that through their collective efforts, the dream of an India that is prosperous, inclusive, peaceful and harmonious can be realised.
  • He said India’s greatest asset is its tremendous diversity, adding, the time-tested bonds of unity are deeply rooted in it. He observed that there is a growing tendency to use technology irresponsibly to spread fake information or hate messages.
  • The Vice President stressed that the nation's timeless values of empathy with the people, harmony with nature, tolerance, non-violence and peaceful co-existence must be promoted.
  • He highlighted that the pursuit of excellence and utmost dedication and devotion to one’s duties and responsibilities are the highest forms of patriotism.
    Experts suggests need of protocol for introduction of wild animals
  • Days after the Supreme Court green-lighted the introduction of cheetahs in India, the top scientist at the laboratory for saving extinct species says it will be a challenge.
  • The court recently gave the nod to the National Tiger Conservation Authority to re-introduce African cheetahs, nearly 10 years after the plea was made.
  • “The background extinction rates are over 100 to 1,000 times due to reasons like hunting, destruction of habitat and human intervention. Species die out naturally but when a species becomes extinct unnaturally, it is like murder,” said Mr. Vasudevan,an expert.
  • Mr. Vasudevan said India would need a protocol to introduce wild animals in the country. “The International Union for Conservation of Nature has a protocol. It has reintroduction specialist groups. It has template guidelines, but we need to adapt them to our needs and we have to develop for our own species,” he said.
  • There is a need to create provisions under the Wildlife Protection Act for a policy on introduction of wild animals. Otherwise, citing this [cheetah introduction], many things can be done. We need to safeguard the interests of other species,” he said.
  • One of the successful efforts of Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species(LACONES) has been the reintroduction of mouse deer in the wild with its captive breeding programme in collaboration with the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad.

In terms of invoicing, India is amongst the most dollarized countries

  • India is among the most dollarised countries as far as invoicing is concerned, and by all these measures of internationalisation, the dollar is largely ahead of other currencies with euro as a distant second, Professor Hélène Rey, Lord Bagri Professor of Economics, London Business School, said.
  • Ms. Rey was speaking at the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India’s 35th Commencement Day Annual Lecture in Mumbai on ‘financial globalisation and international financial markets’.
  • “One can also see the U.S. as an insurer, since the value of its external dollar liabilities such as Treasury bills and U.S. government bonds held by the rest of the world tend to appreciate in bad times, thereby insuring the people holding them,” she said.
  • As a result, the U.S. gets seigniorage as people from different countries use dollars, she said, adding that India was one of the most dollarised countries in the world, following Brazil, Pakistan and Indonesia, in the share of imports and exports invoiced in dollars.
  • Ms. Rey said that according to a survey by the European Central Bank, the dollar dominated 62.2% international debt, 56.3% international loan and 62.7% global exchange reserves, whereas the euro had acquired much less global market.
  • “The dollar is becoming more unstable over time as the relative size of the U.S. shrinks in the world economy while the stock of dollar liabilities in the rest of the world keep growing,” she added.

New Zealand to expand trade with India if the latter does not join RCEP

  • New Zealand on Thursday said it will look forward to a bilateral trade agreement with India in case New Delhi does not join the China-backed mega trade deal RCEP.
  • The Narendra Modi-led government in November decided not to join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal as negotiations failed to satisfactorily address New Delhi's "outstanding issues and concerns".
  • However, the possibility of India joining the trade pact is open provided its concerns are addressed by the member nations.
  • Responding to issues concerning the opening of the domestic dairy sector, he said New Zealand appreciates the concerns of the Indian dairy industry but expressed hope that some solutions could be arrived at through negotiations.
  • Observing that New Zealand was disappointed after India did not join the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, Parker said the disappointment was not only for lost bilateral opportunities but also because the nation believes there is a strategic benefit for India of being on the table when the regional trade rules are made.
  • The RCEP negotiations were launched by leaders from 10 ASEAN member states and six other countries -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in November 2012.

Evidence of colistin resistant bacteria in the gut found in Indian patients

  • A small study involving 65 stool samples taken from patients from a single hospital in Chennai found 51% of them harbour colistin-resistant bacteria. This reflects the presence of such bacteria in the gut as stool samples represent gut colonisation.
  • This is the first study from India which has found indirect evidence of colistin-resistant bacteria in the gut and was published in the journal Diagnostic Microbiology & Infectious Disease.
  • Colistin is the last-resort antibiotic used to treat highly drug-resistant bacterial infections.
  • Colistin-resistant bacteria can be of hospital origin or food origin. Colistin-resistant bacteria of hospital origin do not respond to any of the antibiotics, including carbapenem while colistin-resistant bacteria of food origin will respond to carbapenem.
  • The main cause of colistin resistance in food is due to the rampant use of colistin in poultry. Since poultry litter is used as manure to grow vegetables, colistin-resistant bacteria are found in vegetables as well.
  • In clinical practice, it is the mutation in the mgrB gene or other chromosomal genes that confers colistin resistance to Klebsiella bacteria. In their 2018 study, the authors found mgrB gene mutation in food Klebsiella bacteria.
  • Till date, there is no evidence to suggest that the mgrB gene mutation spreads from food to human Klebsiella bacteria. The only colistin resistance mechanism that is known to spread from food to human Klebsiella bacteria is through mcr gene transfer.
  • In light of that, the finding that a large number of individuals carry colistin-resistant bacteria of food origin in the gut is therefore worrying.

India’s fastest women clinches  gold in Khelo India university games

  • India's fastest woman Dutee Chand clinched gold in 100 meters dash while long distance runner Narendra Pratap Singh bagged his second title at Khelo India University Games in Bhubaneswar today.
  • The 24-year-old sprinter, representing Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), raced ahead to take a massive lead within no time. With her competitors nowhere close to Dutee, the national record holder bagged gold with a timing of 11.49 seconds.
  • The second best, S. Dhanalakshmi from Mangalore University, clocked 11.99 seconds and S.S. Sneha from Mahatma Gandhi University clinched the bronze with a timing of 12.08 seconds.

Centre launches campaign for empowerment of women & girls through education

  • The government has launched a special campaign to take forward the momentum of empowerment of girls and women through education. Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhrial Nishank has said the ministry will celebrate the international women's day in schools and colleges across the country.
  • He said the week-long special theme-based campaign begins from today in the run up to the International Women's Day on 8th of March. The Minister further said, as a tribute to women, the celebration by HRD Ministry will continue throughout the year.
  • The Minister said the government has taken several initiatives since 2014 for the education of the girl child. This is one of the reasons for the success of the scheme of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao whereby the Gross Enrollment Ratio of girls across all levels of education is now higher than boys.
  • The Minister said that a self-defence Olympiad will be organized for girls at school-level on the lines of Yoga Olympiad.
  • He said to ensure safety and security of girls, self-defence training is imparted to girls of class 6 and 12 belonging to Government Schools.

Centre to review monuments under ASI

  • The number of monuments under the Centre’s protection could increase as the government is planning to conduct a review of those under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the ones protected by the State governments, Union Minister for Culture Prahlad Singh Patel has said.
  • At present, 3,691 monuments nationwide are protected by the ASI, with the highest number, 745, in Uttar Pradesh, according to his reply in the Lok Sabha on February 10.
  • The list of the Centrally protected monuments had not seen a substantial increase in many years, and important sites under the State governments could be added to the list, the Minister said. On the other hand, he added, there were some monuments that could be removed from the Central list and placed under the State governments.
  • “The list of centrally protected monuments can go up to 10,000. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are about 7,000 temples, many of which are hundreds of years old. On the other hand, there are some monuments under the ASI that can be shifted to the State list,” he said.
  • The Minister said there were some sites that could be moved from the Central list allowing development works in their vicinity. He was referring to the ban on construction within 100 metres of a Centrally protected monument and regulated construction within 100-200 metres under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 09 April 2020 (Ten questions posed by the virus (The Hindu))



Ten questions posed by the virus (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 1:Society 
Prelims level:Not much
Mains level:Questions posed by COVID-19 pandemic

Context:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is reopening several questions that were considered resolved by the end of the last century. 
  • It is upending our familir world that was built over the last century, challenging certitudes that held our sanity. 
  • Our life after the pandemic will be defined by at least 10 questions on the prevailing organising principles of humankind.

Utilitarian Question:

  • The virus has resurrected the classic utilitarian question in an immediate life and death situation: whether or not, how many, and whose deaths will be acceptable for a greater common good. 
  • “I’m sorry, some people will die… that’s life,” declared Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. “You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths,” he said. 
  • That an ageing population is an economic burden on society has long become our common sense. 
  • There is indeed an incentive in their dying — social Darwinism, the survival of the fittest principle has never been tested this close to the bone. 
  • Data will be harvested to debate the relative net utility of different responses to the virus. 
  • Was Kerala rational in saving the lives of a nonagenarian couple? What is the balance between economic and social goals?

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National Power:

  • What is national power? “We need to have more ‘germ games’ like we have war games,” Bill Gates said some years ago. The U.S. is the pre-eminent military and economic superpower. 
  • The diminishing potency of military hardware has been constantly demonstrated since 26/11, but that has not reduced the global appetite for weaponry. 
  • Strategies for expanding national power involve extracting and transferring public wealth to global corporations while the accompanying politics deludes the masses into a faux sense of power. The paradox of power is global. 
  • India is in a particularly pitiful situation. Hindutva nationalism’s celebration of militarism has correspondingly reduced the attention on social infrastructure. 
  • Its middle class speaks about India’s dubious military prowess but an unwanted encounter with the country’s healthcare infrastructure may have disrupted their fantasy. 
  • Will there be a new understanding of power and security?

Whither globalisation:

  • All countries have tried to enforce border controls to stop the virus, which ironically also demonstrated their futility. 
  • Global cooperation and multinational governance can be jettisoned only at the world’s peril as we know now. 
  • A more serious threat to humanity, climate change, has always appeared distant, but this one is urgent. Hence, the question is not whether we have more or less globalisation but about its character. 
  • It is now a profiteering expedition of soulless greed. Can there be a new globalisation where humanity and environment take precedence?

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Democratic or progressively authoritarian: 

  • Will this expanding state be increasingly democratic or progressively authoritarian? 
  • China and Singapore showed that authoritarian measures work; Germany showed that democratic and inclusive methods work too. 
  • But Italy and the U.S. showed that individualism and markets can impede collective goals. 
  • India, which has deployed a hybrid of democratic and authoritarian measures, remains an open test case.

Neoliberal wisdom:  

  • What will happen to the neoliberal wisdom that unbridled competition of all against all improves efficiency and brings progress? 
  • “This is not the way to do it. I’m competing with other States, I’m bidding up prices,” New York Governor Andrew Coumo lamented. It is not that competition is universal — the poorer undercut one another while the richer cartelize in a neoliberal world. 
  • Cuba, considered inefficient, has sent healthcare professionals to many countries. The virus tells us that competition is risky; cooperation could be redeeming. 

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Populism: 

  • What will happen to populism? Populists have shown remarkable resilience in the face of crises, not necessarily by resolving them, but usually by blaming other countries, communities and political opponents. 
  • All populists around the world will have a virus-mutated version; they will use the new context to advance their pre-existing agendas. 
  • Which of them will tighten their grip over their countries? Will anyone face public wrath triggered by the pandemic and wilt?

Inhuman exploitation of labour:

  • The inhuman exploitation of labour under globalisation, labelled ‘efficiency’ and ‘competitiveness’, has been concealed by the glitz of globalisation and consumerist seduction. 
  • Reports on sweatshops in the developing world have occasionally explored the exploitation of labour, but the virus has brought the lives of labourers out into the spotlight, in a parade of shame — working 16-hour days but unable to get paid leave or healthcare in the U.S; migrant labourers in India walking several days to go home; and the wretched labour camps in West Asia.
  • The ninth question is whether we need to travel as much as we do. At the end of 2019, when the virus was just about launching its global tour, some were travelling for no better reason than keeping their frequent flier status. 
  • In October, a report commissioned by the U.K.’s Committee on Climate Change had called for “a ban on air miles and frequent flier loyalty schemes that incentivize excessive flying.” An emergent no-fly movement still struggles to get attention but now it might. 
  • “May be we can save a few business trips now that we know that these digital tools work well,” Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler/Mercedes-Benz, told BBC. The travel of the privileged has a parallel parody too: the large-scale forced relocation of people.

Idea of community: 

  • The tenth is how our idea of community and boundaries has changed. The COVID-19 crisis has let loose contradictory forces.
  • On the one hand everyone is confined within the tiniest spaces, but on the other, the crisis has also urged us to community action. 
  • Neoliberalism had made all human interactions transactional, and each transaction standalone. Such short-termism delinked the current quarter from the next; the current generation from the future — the prevailing approach to climate change being instructive.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 09 April 2020 (Preparing for exit : On lifting the lockdown (The Hindu))



Preparing for exit : On lifting the lockdown (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2:National 
Prelims level:21-day lockdown
Mains level:Post lockdown challenges

Context:

  • As the world watches, India must plan its strategy for a calibrated exit, possibly in a week, from the most aggressive lockdown anywhere to contain the novel coronavirus. 
  • The government faces the challenge of normalising some level of daily life and oiling the wheels of the economy, without causing a surge in cases that could follow wrong steps. 
  • It is wholly welcome that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought the views of the States on the way forward beyond the 21-day lockdown, and mandated his Ministers to come up with a set of priority actions under a business continuity plan. 

Considering all dimensions:

  • The strategy will have to take into account the exodus of migrant labour from cities to their home towns or to camps set up along inter-State corridors. 
  • Given that this is harvest season, cessation of activity due to labour issues can trigger food deficits and high prices. 
  • On the medical front, States are monitoring those under isolation or in quarantine and straining to trace the contacts of those who attended the Nizamuddin congregation, many of whom are now found in distinct clusters in some districts. 
  • The States must also scale up testing, as part of the latest ICMR advisory for clusters and migration centres, and going forward, as part of the exit strategy. 

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Enhanced testing:

  • These countries opted for enhanced testing, isolation of the infected, tracing of patient contacts and strict quarantine. 
  • After three weeks or more of lockdown, India, where 284 districts have so far been affected, should institute a system of testing that includes not just indicative cases but surveillance samples to determine the extent of spread. 
  • This will enable targeting and containment to specific areas. With high emphasis on social distancing, universal mask use and hand washing, it should be possible to open up some activity and release the pressures building up under the lockdown. 
  • Needless to say, free and widely available testing, and support systems for those infected, will encourage universal adoption. 

Way forward:

  • The identification of hotspots, where a virtual lockdown could be in force even if the nationwide curbs are relaxed, would require planned, humane measures to ensure availability of food, other essentials and medicines. 
  • Mass gatherings, long-distance travel and leisure activity would have to wait. Urban mobility for workers in the absence of public transport could be made possible by encouraging bicycle use where feasible, avoiding congestion.
  • Overall relaxation of lockdown needs massive testing and support for infection clusters

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(E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE HINDI PDF - MAY 2020 (HINDI)

 (E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF - MAY 2020 (HINDI)

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Content Table:

  • राज्य स्वास्थ्य प्रणालियों का मानक प्रदर्शन (आलोक कुमार, शीना छाबड़ा)
  • कोविड-19: नए तरह का खतरा (डॉ स्मिता वातवे)
  • तनाव प्रबंधन के लिए योग (डॉ गंगाधर बीएन एवं निमहंस टीम)
  • स्वास्थ्य प्रणाली को मजबूत करना जरूरी (कविता सिंह)
  • स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र में कृत्रिम मेधा (योगेश के द्विवेदी एवं अन्य)
  • स्वास्थ्य देखभाल में इंटरनेट ऑफ थिंग्स की भूमिका (डॉ अशोक जी मतानी)
  • सार्वजनिक स्वास्थ्य सेवा (डॉ केलासुर शिवन्ना राजशेखर)
  • लचीलापन और राष्ट्रीय भावना (दुर्गा शंकर मिश्रा)
  • मन की बात
  • 'कोविड 19' के प्रभाव से निपटने और अर्थव्यवस्था में नई जान फूंकने के लिए अहम कदमों की घोषणा 
  • 'कोविड इंडिया सेवा' प्लेटफॉर्म
  • अर्थव्यवस्था के पुनरुद्धार पर श्वेत पत्र
  • डीआरडीओ के कोविड-19 कीटाणुशोधन प्रक्रिया के लिए दो नए उत्पाद,
  • जी 20 के स्वास्थ्य मंत्रियों की बैठक
  • मानव संसाधन का ऑनलाइन डाटा पूल
  • डिजिटल लर्निंग में बढ़ोत्तरी..
  • आईजीओटी ई लर्निंग प्लेटफार्म 
  • कोविड-19 का मुकाबला करने में भारत की पहल,
  • अवसरवादी अधिग्रहण को रोकने के लिए एफडीआई नीति में संशोधन,
  • महामारी रोग अधिनियम 1897 में संशोधन

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 09 April 2020 (Hydroxychloroquine: The drug everyone is looking at(Indian Express))



Hydroxychloroquine: The drug everyone is looking at(Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2:Health 
Prelims level:Hydroxychloroquine
Mains level:Uses of hydroxychloroquine

Context:

  • The government has decided to ease its ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has garnered global interest in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

What is hydroxychloroquine?

  • It is an antimalarial drug option.
  • It is considered less toxic than chloroquine.
  • It is also prescribed for patients of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

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Who makes this drug in India?

  • Hydroxychloroquine had a market size of only around Rs 152.80 crore. 
  • However, several countries source the drug from India.
  • Mumbai based Ipca Laboratories has nearly 82% of the market, with its brands HCQS and HYQ. 
  • Around 80% of the volumes produced by Ipca are exported. 
  • Ahmedabad-headquartered Cadila Healthcare has 8% of the market. 

Why has hydroxychloroquine gained attention?

  • The International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA), reported that Azithromycin (antibiotic) added to hydroxychloroquine was significantly more efficient for COVID-19 elimination.
  • However, the study was flagged as being too small to draw a definitive conclusion. 
  • However, by late March, Trump had begun to call the drug a “game changer”, and has since been pushing it.
  • At the end of last month, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued an advisory recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine in asymptomatic healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients.
  • ICMR also allowed doctors to prescribe it for household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients. 
  • However, the government has stressed that the drug can only be used in COVID-19 treatment on prescription, and that it should not instill a sense of “false security”.
  • In March, Following the ICMR’s advisory on the drug, various patients and healthcare professionals are learnt to have stocked up on hydroxychloroquine. 
  • The drug was then moved to a Schedule H1 status, which means patients who need the drug would have to get a fresh prescription every time they needed to purchase it.

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Why did India ban the exporting of the drug?

  • Trump’s statement promoting the drug not only led to panic buying in the US, but also impacted stocks in India. 
  • So, the government banned export of hydroxycloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market on April 4. 
  • India decided to ban exports of the drug. On Tuesday, the government decided to ease the ban.

Why did India life the ban now?

  • The US President warned about “retaliation” if India did not heed his request for the drug. 
  • India clarified that it would supply to countries that needed it the most, and to neighbours who were “dependent on India’s capabilities”.
  • Following this India partially lifted a ban on the.
  • Exports of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol will be allowed depending on availability of stock after meeting domestic requirements and existing orders. 
  • Shipments will be restricted and permission will be on humanitarian ground.
  • This move was from the recommendation of an expert panel led by drug pricing regulator Shubhra Singh.
  • The panel got enough evidence from the companies that we have enough stocks available in the country.

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(E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020

 (E-Book) YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF - APR 2020

  • Medium: ENGLISH
  • E-BOOK NAME : YOJANA MAGAZINE PDF -APR 2020
  • Total Pages: 55
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  • Hosting Charges: NIL
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Content Table

  • Safeguarding Human Rights (Jaideep Govind)
  • Balancing Fundamental Rights and Duties (Dr Ranbir Singh, Dr Ritu Gupta)
  • Objectives and Challenges (Anubhav Kumar)
  • Drafting of the Constitution of India (Dr RS Bawa)
  • Mending Court Judgments: The First Constitutional Amendment (NL Rajah)
  • The Indian Parliament: Performance and Challenges (MR Madhavan)
  • Constituent Assembly and Framing of the Constitution 
  • Panchayati Raj System (Dr M R Sreenivasa Murthy Surabhi Singh)
  • Checks and Balances (SN Tripathi, C Sheela Reddy)
  • Foreign Relations and Indian Constitution (Manoj Kumar Sinha)
  • Gender Rights: Reflection, Commitment and Action (Dr K Syamala)
  • A Living Document (Mahima Singh)

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 April 2020 (Preparing for SAARC 2.0 (Mint))



Preparing for SAARC 2.0 (Mint)



Mains Paper 2:International Relations 
Prelims level:SAARC 2.0 
Mains level:India and its neighbourhood relations 

Context:

  • India has shown diplomatic resilience and leadership by forging unity in the neighbourhood in the war against COVID-19. 
  • A tweet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi resulted in the first-ever virtual summit of SAARC leaders on March 15.
  • Their deliberations reflected a recognition of the serious menace posed by COVID-19 and the need for robust regional cooperation to overcome it. 

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What has happened to this innovative exercise in health diplomacy since then?

  • Considering that SAARC has been dormant for several years due to regional tensions, it is worth stressing that the fight against COVID-19 has been taken up in right earnestthrough a series of tangible measures. 
  • All the eight member-states were represented at the video conference — all at the level of head of state or government, except Pakistan. 
  • The Secretary General of SAARC participated. They readily agreed to work together to contain the virus, and shared their experiences and perspectives. 
  • India’s proposal to launch a COVID-19 Emergency Fund was given positive reception. Within days, all the countries, except Pakistan, contributed to it voluntarily, bringing the total contributions to $18.8 million. Although it is a modest amount, the spirit of readily expressed solidarity behind it matters.
  • The fund has already been operationalised. It is controlled neither by India nor by the Secretariat. It is learnt that each contributing member-state is responsible for approval and disbursement of funds in response to requests received from others. 

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Key challenges: 

  • SAARC members have committed rather limited resources for a grave threat have a point. But they need to study the latest figures which reveal an interesting picture. 
  • So far, South Asia has not exactly borne the brunt of the pandemic. Of the total confirmed cases in the world that stood at 12,89,380 on April 6 (according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resources Center), SAARC countries reported only 8,292 cases, representing 0.64%. 
  • Whether the low share is due to limited testing, a peculiarity of the strain of the virus, people’s unique immunity, South Asia’s climate, decisive measures by governments, or just good fortune is difficult to say. But it is evident that India’s imaginative diplomacy has leveraged the crisis to create a new mechanism for workable cooperation. 
  • It will become stronger if the crisis deepens and if member-states see advantages in working together. Seven of the eight members already do.

A new SAARC?

  • SAARC is now returning to an active phase on a broad front may, however, be premature. 
  • In the backdrop of political capital invested by New Delhi in strengthening BIMSTEC and the urgings it received recently from Nepal and Sri Lanka to resuscitate SAARC.
  • External Affairs Minister of India said that, India had no preference for a specific platform, but it was fully committed to the cause of regional cooperation and connectivity. 
  • The challenge facing the region is how to relate to a country which claims to favour regional cooperation, while working against it. 
  • India has little difficulty in cooperating with like-minded neighbours, as it showed by forging unity in the war against COVID-19. This is diplomatic resilience and leadership at its best.

Conclusion:

  • A thought for consideration of ‘SAARC purists’ who maintain that all proposals for cooperation should be routed through the Secretariat and activities should be piloted by the incumbent chair. 
  • Given what Pakistan has done to harm India’s interests since the terrorist attack on the Uri Army base in 2016 and its continuing resistance to cooperation against COVID-19, the purists’ scenario is unrealistic. 
  • Both New Delhi and its friendly neighbours need to start preparing themselves for SAARC 2.0.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 April 2020 (Do no harm : on safety of health care workers)



Do no harm : on safety of health care workers



Mains Paper 2:Health 
Prelims level:Result of paranoia
Mains level:Health infrastructure and safety measures for health workers 

Context:

  • ‘Primum non nocere’ is the primary, guiding principle of bioethics. Every health-care worker is oriented on the principle of ‘First, do no harm’ during their training. 
  • All medical training is based on this idea, but very little in what they learn prepares them for the reverse: When harm is inflicted upon them. 

Attack on doctors: 

  • Over the past week, chilling stories of assaults on health-care workers, on COVID-19 duty, have been reported. 
  • Visuals beamed in of angry locals who threw stones at doctors, health-care workers and civic officials who went to screen people in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Two women doctors were injured. Earlier, there were reports of locals in Ranipura allegedly spitting at officials as they took up screening. 
  • Last week, doctors at Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital were attacked after a patient with multiple co-morbidities died of COVID-19. 
  • Doctors there even sought police protection. ASHA workers were reportedly attacked in Bengaluru, Karnataka, when they went to collect data on COVID-19 symptoms. Locals grabbed their bags and cellphones, and the police finally had to rescue them. 

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Result of paranoia:

  • These attacks are a result of paranoia and are completely unmindful of the many risks health-care workers take on, merely doing their work in a pandemic situation such as this. 
  • In Wockhardt, doctors and workers have tested positive while treating patients. If these helpers are looked upon as the enemy, it only allows the true foe — the virus — to gather strength.
  • WHO too has developed guidelines for addressing workplace violence in the health sector to support the development of violence prevention policies in non-emergency settings. Their applicability in this situation must be examined. 
  • Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, hailed health-care workers as heroes who must be protected. 
  • Stating that the tireless work and self-sacrifice of these workers show the best of humanity, he also went on to emphasise that unacceptable shortages in critical protective equipment that can stop them from being infected, continue to plague nearly all nations battling COVID-19. 

Conclusion: 

  • The responsibility of restoring order and ensuring the safety of all health workers, whether with personal protective equipment, or against attacks from the public ultimately rests with the government, and in equal measure, the people.
  • The safety of health-care workers on COVID-19 duty is paramount.

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