25th September 2018, Current Affairs and News Analysis for UPSC Civil Service Examination, SSC CGL and State Civil Service Examinations.

25th September 2018 - Current Affairs for UPSC IAS and State Civil Service Exam

Schemes/National

PM Modi inaugurates Sikkim's first-ever airport

Sikkim’s first-ever airport was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, 2018 at Pakyong. The development is a historic occasion for the entire northeast region of India.

  • The airport was constructed by the Airports Authority of India. Until now, Sikkim was the only state in India remaining without a functional airport.
  • It has a capacity to handle 50 in-bound and as many out-bound passengers.
  • It will give a huge big boost to connectivity and tourism in the north-east as it is one of the few airports in the region.
  • The airport is not only India’s 100th functional airport but also one of the country’s five highest airports.

PM Launched Pradhan Mantri-Jan Aarogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

News

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat, also known as the Pradhan Mantri-Jan Aarogya Yojana (PM-JAY), from Ranchi on the 23rd of September, 2018.
  • He further declared that the scheme would be a “game changer” globally in health insurance.

Background

  • The poor condition of healthcare in the country is not a secret, especially in India’s villages where infrastructure is in a dilapidated state. Government hospitals often fail to provide necessary health services to the poor, with private hospitals being out of the reach of most people. The country’s growing population and lack of resources has made matters worse. According to the 2011 census, India’s population is over 1.2 Billion, make it the second most populous nation in the world after, China.
  • Many organizations, including the United Nations have estimated that by 2025, India would be the most populated nation in the world, surpassing China.
  • More than 32% of total deaths in India are due to heart-related ailments. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, India is ranked low in the Healthcare index; India stands at a rank of 154. This index is out of 194 countries. But despite this, the budget allotment on healthcare services is extremely low.
  • India spends less than 2% of her GDP on public healthcare. But now the Government is working on improving public healthcare services. The National Health Protection Mission or Ayushman Bharat Yojana, launched by the Government is the first major step in this direction. Ayushman Bharat Yojana is a program which aims to create a healthy, capable and content new India. It will also focus on the poor and weaker sections of the society. It aims to provide insurance of upto 5 lakh rupees to each family. The new scheme also intends to improve secondary and tertiary healthcare services for crores of Indians.

HC notice to Centre on OCIs entry into India

The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre to ensure that Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders or foreigners are informed in advance if they are blacklisted and would be denied entry into the country.

Analysis

  • Recently, there have been a number of cases which have been filed in the High Court on account foreigners or OCI card holders not being permitted entry into India when they arrive here.
  • Unfortunately, a common feature in each of them was that none of them had any prior intimation that they were blacklisted, despite having a valid visa.

Remarks:-

  • The High Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to ensure that necessary directions are issued to all the officers, who are authorised to issue blacklisting orders.
  • They are now to inform the foreigners/OCI card holders concerned that they have been blacklisted and their entry into the country would be denied.

Note to Students:

The larger issue which students would need to read about would be that of citizenship. Students are advised to go through this chapter. BYJUs Tablet students can refer the chapter covered on citizenship.

New Online Game To Help Counter Cybercrime Against Children

In a bid to counter cybercrime against children, including threat posed by online games such as the 'blue whale' and 'momo' challenge, the government has launched its own game application. Known as the 'cyber trivia' app, it would include a set of multiple choice questions which will help the kids learn ways to deal with strangers on the internet.

"It is an attempt to teach these children in a fun way, what should be done if they are contacted by a stranger on the Internet who might ask for their pictures or ask them to do things" as per NCPCR.

The game has been developed amid rising cases of suicide by children due to challenges like 'blue whale' and 'momo'. It will soon be available on online stores.

Technology

WhatsApp Appoints 'Grievance Officer For India'

Mobile messaging app Whatsapp has appointed a grievance officer for India and detailed out a process on its website for users to flag concerns and complaints, including those around fake news.

Background:

  • In a recent development the Government of India said that the messaging platform will need to set up a local entity and find a tech solution to trace the origin of fake messages on its platform.
  • Union minister of information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, after meeting WhatsApp head Chris Daniels, said the Facebook-owned messaging application has contributed significantly to India’s digital story but it needs to find solutions to deal with “sinister developments” like mob lynching and revenge porn.
  • Daniels’s visit to India and his meeting with Prasad follows more than a dozen killings across India this year in mob lynchings fuelled by rumours circulating on WhatsApp.

GS II/ International Relations

Rafale Deal Row

News: Former French president recently said that the Indian government had “proposed” Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner for the Rafale aircraft deal.

Current Controversy

  • Under defence offset, a foreign supplier of equipment agrees to manufacture a given percent of its product (in terms of value) in the buying country.
  • Dassault Aviation (French manufacturer) has 'chosen' Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL) as the Indian partner to fulfil offset obligations of the Rafale deal.
  • Both companies have already announced setting up of a joint venture to manufacture aerospace components.
  • Former French President Fran├žois Hollande has now stated that it was the Indian government that suggested the RDL.
  • The charge has raised concerns of crony capitalism in the process of the deal.
  • It seems to be reinforcing the allegation that the deal was structured to favour an industrialist.
  • The opposition parties have accused the NDA government of favouring the RDL over the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

Clarifications

  • Clarificatory statements were soon issued by the Centre, the French Foreign Ministry and Dassault.
  • The Indian government reiterated that governments have no role in offset contracts, which are purely commercial.
  • The choice of offset partners is entirely that of the manufacturer (Dassault Aviation).
  • The French government also said much the same as what India said.
  • Dassault’s statement reaffirmed that it had 'chosen' to tie up with Reliance Defence.
  • But these clarifications did little to clearly address what Mr. Hollande had said.
  • The question that if the Centre 'suggested' a partnership with Reliance Defence remains unanswered.

The way forward

  • Defence modernisation would become the real victim if the political war over Rafale continues.
  • So greater transparency is the only way to clear all the controversy around the deal.
  • Private briefings to Opposition leaders and the disclosure of all information are good starting points.
  • This should however not jeopardise national security or impact the aircrafts’ operational capability.
  • Besides, the decision to reject the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the deal should be reconsidered.

Ecology/Environment

Saving Cauvery’s cradle

Voices have been raised against the proposal of railway lines in Cauvery river basin in recent times.

Importance of Cauvery Basin

  • The Cauvery basin drains an area of about 81,000 sq. km across three states and a union territory.
  • The river originates in Kodagu district while it irrigates agricultural fields, generates electricity, and provides drinking water to downstream communities across south India.
  • The Cauvery and its tributaries contribute the bulk of water to the Krishna Raja Sagara dam which is the primary water source for Bengaluru.
  • But the proposed Mega railway projects are not only economically unviable but also ecologically damaging.
  • It poses a clear threat to the long-term water security of the three States that depend on the Cauvery.

Major implications of proposed railway plans

  • Ecological - All the tracks will cut through large swaths of agricultural farms and fields as well as Protected and Reserve Forests.
  • These areas are spread across Kodagu and Mangaluru districts of Karnataka and Wayanad and Kannur districts of Kerala.
  • In its feasibility report of the Mysuru-Thalassery line, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation stated that the project would not be beneficial to the State.
  • With the protests by the people against the project, the plan to build the line was scrapped.
  • However, plans to build the tracks will re-emerge in time sooner or later.
  • Forest cover - India State of Forests report 2017 noted that Kodagu lost 102 sq. km. of tree cover in just two years.
  • The recent proposal might result in forest-depletion in the Kodagu basin that will have reduced capacity to capture and store rainwater.
  • Raised railway tracks will also impede wildlife and could result in the deaths of endangered animals such as elephants.