UPSC Essentials: Weekly news express – from Quad to sugar export curb – The Indian Express

Here is all the important news from this week curated as per the UPSC CSE syllabus.

General Studies I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Why in news?

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– May 22nd was the 250th birth anniversary of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

About Raja Ram Mohan Roy:

– Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the father of Modern India’s Renaissance.

-Ram Mohan Roy’s early education included the study of Persian and Arabic at Patna. In Benaras, he studied Sanskrit and read Vedas and Upnishads.

– At the age of sixteen, he wrote a rational critique of Hindu idol worship.

– From 1803 to 1814, he worked for East India Company as the personal diwan first of Woodforde and then of Digby.

– In 1814, after resigning from his job, he moved to Calcutta. He devoted his life to religious, social, and political reforms thereafter.

– Raja Ram Mohan Roy founded Brahmo Sabha in 1828, which was later renamed as Brahmo Samaj. Its chief aim was the worship of the eternal God. It was against priesthood, rituals and sacrifices. It focused on prayers, meditation and reading of the scriptures. It believed in the unity of all religions. It was the first intellectual reform movement in modern India. It led to the emergence of rationalism and enlightenment in India which indirectly contributed to the nationalist movement.

– In November 1830 he sailed for England for a very important purpose. He wanted to be present there to counteract the possible nullification of the Act banning Sati.

– Ram Mohan Roy was given the title of ‘Raja’ by the titular Mughal Emperor of Delhi, Akbar II whose grievances the former was to present before the British king.

– In his address, entitled ‘Inaugurator of the Modern Age in India,’ Tagore referred to Ram Mohan as ‘a luminous star in the firmament of Indian history’.

Points to ponder: What were the contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in social, educational, and religious spheres? List some literary works of Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Quad meeting

Why in news?

The 2022 Quad summit started in Tokyo, Japan on 24th May 2022. The leaders of the Quad countries (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) will participate.

Key takeaways from the news:

– Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Japan PM Fumio Kishida, and newly-elected Australian PM Antony Albanese participated in the Summit. This is the second in-person Quad Summit.

– While addressing the Summit, PM Modi said that the Quad grouping is a force for good and is aimed at an inclusive Indo-Pacific region. He also appreciated the role of Quad in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

– QUAD Fellowship was launched at the Summit. It is a first-of-its-kind scholarship program that aims to promote people-to-people linkages between the four members of Quad. The fellowship will sponsor 25 students from each Quad country to pursue higher studies and doctoral degrees at leading Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) universities in the United States.

– The Quad leaders agreed on a maritime monitoring initiative. It will bolster the surveillance of Chinese activities in the Indo-Pacific region.

– On the sidelines of the Quad Summit in Tokyo, PM Modi also held bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden. The two leaders discussed ways of strengthening cooperation in investment, trade, defense, technology, and people-to-people ties.

– India joined the US-led economic bloc to counter China.

Point to ponder: What are the motives behind Quad? How does the China factor play an important role in Quad summits?

General Studies II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Inter-State Council

Why in news?

– The Inter-State Council has been reconstituted with the Prime Minister as Chairman and Chief Ministers of all States and six Union Ministers as members.

– Ten union ministers will be the permanent invitees to the Inter-State Council.

– The government has also reconstituted the standing committee of the Inter-State Council with Union Home as Chairman.

– The Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are also members of the standing committee of the Inter-State Council.

Key takeaways from the news-

-As part of the process of reviewing the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States, the Government constituted a commission in 1988 under the Chairmanship of Justice R.S. Sarkaria.

-One of the important recommendations of Sarkaria Commission was for establishing a permanent Inter-State Council as an independent national forum for consultation with a mandate well defined in accordance with Article 263 of the Constitution of India.

-The inter-state council is a recommendatory body that has been empowered to investigate and discuss subjects of common interest between the Union and state(s), or among states.

-It also makes recommendations for better coordination of policy and action on these subjects, and deliberations on matters of general interest to the states, which may be referred to it by its chairman.

-It also deliberates on other matters of general interest to the states as may be referred by the chairman to the council.
The Council may meet at least thrice in a year.

– There is also a Standing Committee of the Council.

– Functions of the Inter-State Council are-

1) To create a strong institutional framework to promote and support cooperative federalism in the country and activate the council and zonal councils by organizing regular meetings.

2) Facilitates consideration of all pending and emerging issues of Centre-state and inter-state relations by the zonal councils and inter-state councils.

3) Develops a sound system to monitor the implementation of recommendations put forward by them.

Point to ponder- Which are the other institutions/ bodies which promote Interstate cooperation?

General Studies II: Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.


Why in news?

The World Health Organisation has awarded the country’s 10.4 lakh ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers as “Global Health Leaders” for their contribution in bringing the public to government healthcare programs.

Key takeaway from the news-

– ASHA workers are social volunteers who have been trained to provide information and help individuals in obtaining benefits from the government’s different healthcare programs. They provide a link between marginalized populations and resources like primary health centers, sub-centers, and district hospitals. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) originally created the function of these community–based health volunteers in 2005.

– ASHA workers have become an important part of the government’s pandemic responses, with most states relying on the ASHA network to screen persons in containment zones, test them, and transfer them to quarantine centres or assist with home isolation.

Point to ponder: What are the challenges with ASHA workers?

General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Why in news?

India’s Prime Minister participated in an event in Tokyo to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

Key takeaways from the news-

-This economic initiative came a day before the second in-person summit of the Quad leaders (India, the US, Australia and Japan) in Tokyo.

-It is a US-led initiative that aims to strengthen economic partnership among participating countries to enhance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness, and competitiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

-The IPEF was launched with a dozen initial partners who together represent 40% of the world GDP.

– It is a declaration of a collective desire to make the Indo-Pacific region an engine of global economic growth.

– The Indo-Pacific covers half the population of the world and more than 60% of the global GDP

– IPEF won’t negotiate tariffs or market access, and the framework will focus on integrating partner countries in four areas which include:

– It intends to build high-standard, inclusive, free, and fair-trade commitments and develop new and creative approaches in trade and technology policy .

– IPEF is committed to improving transparency, diversity, security, and sustainability in supply chains to make them more resilient and well-integrated.- In line with the Paris Agreement goals and efforts to support the livelihood of people and workers, it plans to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies .

– This also involves deepening cooperation on technologies, on mobilizing finance, including concessional finance, and on seeking ways to improve competitiveness.

– It is committed to promoting fair competition by enacting and enforcing effective and robust tax, anti-money laundering, and anti-bribery.

Point to ponder: What are the issues and challenges for India in the Indo-Pacific region?

General Studies II: India and its neighborhood- relations

China’s bridge on Pangong Tso

Why in news?
– The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that China is building a second bridge on the Pangong Tso lake.

Key takeaways from the news-

-The site of the bridge is around 20 km east of Finger 8 on the lake’s north bank – which is where the Line of Actual Control (LAC) passes, according to India. However, the actual distance by road is more than 35 km between the bridge site and Finger 8.

-The main objective of the bridges is faster movement of troops, including mechanised forces, heavy weapons, and military vehicles. The bridges are at one of the narrowest points on the lake, close to the LAC.

– Officially, India has said that the site of the bridge is under illegal occupation of China, and that it is monitoring all Chinese activity closely.

Point to ponder: What is the current situation in India’s relation with China since the standoff?

General Studies III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Sugar exports curb

Why in news?

The government announced curbs on exports of sugar.

Key takeaways from the news-

– Also, to provide required relief to consumers, customs duty and Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess (AIDC) on 20 Lakh metric tonnes yearly import of crude soyabean and sunflower oil was exempted for two financial years (2022-23 and 2023-24).

-The exemption of import duties aims to help cool domestic prices and control inflation.

– Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess is a kind of special-purpose tax which is levied over and above basic tax rates. The purpose of the new AIDC is to raise funds to finance spending on developing agriculture infrastructure.

-The AIDC is proposed to be used to improve agricultural infrastructure. Important to note that the aim is not only to boost production but also in helping conserve and process farm output efficiently.

– These steps were taken to maintain “domestic availability and price stability of sugar”. The decision was in the wake of “unprecedented growth in exports of sugar” and the need to maintain sufficient stock of sugar in the country. It is for the first time in six years that the Centre is regulating sugar exports.

– Sugar mills and traders who have specific permissions from the government will only be able to export sugar (including raw, refined and white sugar) till 31st October, 2022 or until further orders. Also, the restriction is not applicable for exports to the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Point to ponder: What are the key highlights of the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) 2019-2020?

General Studies II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

NAS Highlights

Key takeaways from the news:

– A deep learning crisis has set in during the Covid pandemic, with a largescale Central Government survey capturing a fall of up to nine percentage points between 2017 and 2021 in the performance of students in subjects ranging from maths to social sciences.

– The dip has happened across subjects, and grades show the results of the National Achievement Survey (NAS), which had a sample size of 34 lakh students in classes III, V, VIII, and X.

– NAS 2021 also found that as many as 24 percent of the students surveyed did not have access to digital devices at home, 38 percent said they faced difficulty carrying out learning activities at home during the pandemic, while 80 percent said they learn better at school with the help of peers.

– Academic performances in schools across the country have slipped below levels recorded in 2017, except in Punjab and Rajasthan.

– The nationwide NAS 2021 survey was administered by CBSE on one single day at the same time.

– National Achievement Survey was managed through the technology platform designed and developed by the National Informatics Center (NIC).

Point to ponder: What are the key outcomes of the NAS 2021?

General Studies II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Supreme Court asks cops to treat sex workers with dignity

Why in news?

Supreme Court has recognised sex work as a “profession”. SC has said that sex workers should be treated with dignity.

Key takeaways from the news:
– The court invoked its special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

– In 2020, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recognised sex workers as informal workers.

– According to the SC, sex workers are entitled to equal protection of the law and criminal law must apply equally.

– Article 21 declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

– Sex workers should not be “arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised” whenever there is a raid on any brothel.

– A child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade.

– Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children.

– If a minor is found living in a brothel or with sex workers, it should not be presumed that the child was trafficked.

– In case the sex worker claims that he/she is her son/daughter, tests can be done to determine if the claim is correct and if so, the minor should not be forcibly separated.

– Sex workers who are victims of sexual assault should be provided every facility including immediate medico-legal care.

– Media should take “utmost care not to reveal the identities of sex workers, during arrest, raid and rescue operations.”

Points to ponder: How Supreme court of India has interpreted ‘Dignified Life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution? Connect the dots- Right to Live with Human Dignity and Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India.

General Studies III: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Jobs in corporate sector, LLPs grew, proprietorships fell

Why in news?

Factories in the country increased by 1.7 per cent year-on-year to 2.46 lakh in 2019-20, employing a total of 1.3 crore workers, as per the provisional results of the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Note: Just keep the trend in mind not the data and numbers.

Key takeaways from the news

– Gross fixed capital formation, an indicator of investment, grew 20.5 per cent to Rs 4.15 lakh crore in the organised manufacturing sector in 2019-20 as against a growth of 10.2 per cent at Rs 3.44 lakh crore in the previous fiscal, the data showed.

– This compares with a growth of 1.98 per cent in the number of factories to 2.42 lakh in 2018-19 and a 1.2 per cent growth seen in the post-demonetisation year of 2017-18.

– These numbers assume significance as these are the results for the normal year of 2019-20 before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected employment growth.

– Detailed breakup shows that employment in the corporate sector, which includes public and private government and non-government companies, increased 5.5 per cent to 97.03 lakh in 2019-20, while that in individual proprietorship declined 3.1 per cent to 11.36 lakh.

– Employment in the previous fiscal of 2018-19 had shown a 5.8 per cent growth in the corporate sector, a 2.88 per cent growth for the partnership sector. It showed a 1 per cent decline in individual proprietorship in 2018-19 after rising for two previous financial years.

– In 2019-20, urban areas had 1.43 lakh factories with fixed capital of Rs 13.64 lakh crore, employing 72.79 lakh workers, while the rural sector had 1.03 lakh factories with fixed capital of Rs 22.71 lakh employing 57.78 lakh workers, data showed.

– The ASI data relates to factories employing 10 or more workers using power and those employing 20 or more workers without using power.

Point to ponder: What is the state of employment in the private sector versus the public sector?






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