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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 22nd November ’21 | PDF Download

Sifting the pile | TH

  • Annual ‘Swachh Survekshan’ awards
  • The organiser, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, surveyed 4,320 cities for nearly a month and solicited feedback from 4.2 crore people.
    • Garbage disposal
    • Open defecation-free ratings
    • Functionality and maintenance of community toilets
    • Safe management of faecal sludge
  • Indore was ranked the cleanest city for the fifth year, followed by Surat and Vijayawada
  • Chhattisgarh was the cleanest State, for the third time, in the category of ‘States with more than 100 urban local bodies’.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, won for the cleanest ‘Ganga city’.
  • The ‘Survekshan’ awards have a wide range of categories that segregates cities based on their population.
  • While they attempt to capture the diversity of urban agglomerations on the other, it is hard to deflect criticism: every State has at least a few participants who will top one category or the other, thus making the process a giant appeasement scheme.
  • Along with a category such as ‘States with over 100 urban local bodies (ULB),’ where Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were ranked second and third, respectively, there was also a top ranker for ‘State with less than 100 ULBs’ where Jharkhand was judged the cleanest.
  • Then there was a category for a ‘Ganga’ city and separate population-wise categories.
  • This year there was a novel ‘Prerak Daaur Samman’ that saw Indore, Surat, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi Municipal Council and Tirupati categorised as ‘divya’ (platinum).
  • They were assessed for solid waste management.
  • Unsurprisingly, these were entities that had already topped ranks in other categories.
  • Rankings serve two broad purposes: a publicity boost and recognition for the other winners but also motivation to climb higher on the totem pole.
  • Though the number of cities surveyed has increased since the first edition of the survey in 2016, it appears that the same cities — Indore, Surat, for instance — keep topping the list.
  • Are cleaner cities cleaner because they are better positioned to access State funds and thus able to pull further away from other cities?
  • Do States focus their energies and funds in keeping some cities clean to avail of a rank in any of the wide number of categories?
  • Both at the regional level and at the Centre there should be more qualitative analysis of whether India’s cities are getting cleaner in the aggregate or if numbers are hiding inequity.

On the brink | TH

  • The massive mobilisation of Russian troops on the Ukraine border
  • Occasional outbreak of violence along the line of contact between the Russia-backed rebels in the contested Donbass region and Ukrainian troops
  • Brink of an open conflict

  • This time, however, the more emphatic Russian moves appear to be part of a larger strategy of force-projection across Russia’s western perimeter, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
  • On the EU’s Polish border, Belarus, a Russian ally, was blamed for orchestrating a migration crisis.
  • Amid tensions, Russia flew bombers near Poland’s borders earlier this month.
  • In the Black Sea, Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched vessels to shadow U.S. warships.
  • The U.S. has warned its allies of a possible Russian attack on Ukraine.
  • Russia’s aggressiveness could have partly been driven by Mr. Putin’s assessment that the U.S. was strategically weakened after its Afghan withdrawal and its preoccupation with China’s rise in East Asia.
  • This makes Ukraine, which Russia sees, according to scholars at Carnegie, “as a Western aircraft carrier parked just across southern Russia”, at the centre of Russia’s geopolitical tussle with the West.
  • In 2015, an open conflict was averted after the ‘Minsk II’ peace agreement was signed, under the mediation of France and Germany.
  • It was designed to end the fighting in the rebel regions and hand over the border to Ukraine’s national troops.
  • Ukraine was required to delegate more power to the breakaway regions and introduce constitutional reforms, codifying their special status.
  • Russia’s nod for the agreement was possibly because it thought that delegation of power to the rebels would enhance Moscow’s leverage that it could use to prevent Ukraine’s full integration with the West.
  • But Kiev’s reluctance to implement the agreement and its growing military, economic and political ties with the West seem to have prompted Mr. Putin to change his approach — to putting Kiev under direct military pressure.
  • Kiev is now in a tough spot.
  • While it gets military supplies from the West, there is no guarantee that the West would come to its help in the event of a Russian invasion.
  • So a practical solution is to revive the Minsk peace process.

Keeping a close eye on China’s nuclear capabilities | TH

  • Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping virtual summit
  • United States and China, agreeing to hold strategic nuclear talks sometime in the near future
  • China Military Power Report (CMPR) recently released by the Pentagon that categorically underscores the growing challenge posed by the increasing capabilities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its ambitions across various dimensions of military power.
  • The PRC’s nuclear capabilities, in particular, are undergoing a fundamental transformation and a shift seems to be evident in both the quantity and the quality of the PRC’s atomic arsenal.
  • Confirmation provided by the CMPR reveals four specific areas where change is underway — quantitative strength, atomic yield, delivery capabilities and posture.
  • PRC’s nuclear arsenal has hovered at roughly 200 nuclear warheads, half of which directed at the United States (U.S.).
  • By 2027, the CMPR estimates that this number is likely to increase to 700 weapons consisting of varying yields which is three and half times the current Chinese warhead strength.
  • PRC is likely to privilege expansion in the direction of low-yield weapons.
  • Low-yield weapons have been an area of interest and development for the PRC.
  • They are weapons meant for battlefield use during conventional military operations and against conventional targets such as concentrations of armoured, artillery and infantry forces.
  • Lower yield warheads help the PRC avoid causing collateral damage.
  • Lop Nur nuclear facility to test low yield weapons
  • Beijing’s refusal to grant permission to access data from its International Monitoring System (IMS) stations to the Data Centre under the operational authority of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
  • These low-yield nuclear warheads are also likely to find their way into a key delivery capability — the PRC’s Dong-Feng-26 (DF-26) ballistic missile.
  • It is an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) which is launched from a Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL).
  • In addition to the DF-26, China has also developed the   JL-2 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) with a range of 7,200 kilometres capable of striking targets across continental Asia.
  • China’s move towards a Launch on Warning (LoW) nuclear posture marks an important shift in the PRC’s commitment to ensuring that no adversary doubts its response in the event of a nuclear first strike.
  • The PRC’s nuclear competition with the United States will have a cascading effect.
  • The size of China’s nuclear arsenal complicates the potency of India’s nuclear arsenal.
  • Indian strategic planners will have to think about the quantitative nuclear balance and India’s nuclear posture vis-à-vis the PRC.
  • India must pay close attention to the sub-surface leg of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal.
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese have added two new Type 094 (Jin class) SSBNs/nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines to their existing fleet.
  • The maritime dimension of China’s nuclear capabilities might not be an immediate strategic challenge but will potentially become one in the coming years for New Delhi.
  • The Bay of Bengal whose sea depth is very conducive for nuclear submarine missions will leave India exposed to a Chinese atomic pincer from the maritime domain in addition to the continental domain.
  • New Delhi will have to specifically watch the pattern in the People Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) nuclear submarine deployments and address the deficit in its subsurface nuclear delivery capabilities.

The meat of the matter | TH

  • Since the population of Gujarat comprises about 15% Scheduled Tribes, nearly 10% Muslims, 7.5% Scheduled Castes and about 50% Other Backward Classes, and migrants — most of whom don’t have an ideological aversion to meat unlike the Jains and Vaishnavas — we can safely say that a predominant share of the population is meat-eating.
  • Recently, the BJP-ruled civic bodies in Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Junagadh launched a drive against hawkers and vendors running non-vegetarian food joints along streets and footpaths on the ground that selling such food in the open “hurts religious sentiments”.
  • To say that Gujarat is a vegetarian State is akin to saying that the people of the State are teetotallers since prohibition is in place.
  • That liquor freely flows everywhere under the watch of the state is an open secret.
  • Similarly, people regularly consume non-vegetarian food but increasingly not in the open for fear of censure.
  • Pizza Hut opened its first exclusive vegetarian restaurant in Ahmedabad.
  • Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor also opened his first-ever, all-vegetarian restaurant in Ahmedabad in 2009.
  • Reacting to the outcry that followed the ban, Gujarat BJP Chief C.R. Paatil said no action would be taken against vendors selling non-vegetarian food and added that he had directed all the Mayors not to take any coercive action against them.
  • The Chief Minister stressed that the State was not bothered about what people ate.
  • He said action would be taken only against street food carts selling “unhygienic” food or if they are seen obstructing traffic on city roads.
  • In the past two-three weeks, HDFC Bank, Axis and ICICI Bank have sent emails highlighting the risks to customers who are investing in crypto assets, at a time when crypto exchanges have gone on an advertising blitzkrieg with claims which, according to critics, are at times puffery and misleading.

  • Bankers said they are worried that such aggressive advertising by crypto exchanges could lure Indians into investing, without knowing the risks, in an asset class infamous for extreme price fluctuations.
  • India and the US are likely to revive the Trade Policy Forum, discuss issues related to intellectual property rights (IPR) and market access for agricultural goods such as cherries, pomegranates and pecans this week during United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s visit.
  • Tai’s two-day visit, starting Monday, comes ahead of a crucial ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) next week.
  • India’s goods exports to the US in FY21 were $51.6 billion while imports were $28.8 billion.
  • The commerce and industry ministry has already sought comments and suggestions from industry on their concerns and difficulties such as filing, registration, enforcement or commercialisation of IP rights in the US, which can be taken up in the forum.
  • Tai will meet commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and some other senior ministers during her visit, the first as US’ chief trade negotiator.
  • Earlier this month, Tai and Goyal met virtually, wherein they agreed to take a comprehensive look at ways to expand trade relationship, ensure success of the Trade Policy Forum and find meaningful outcomes at the ministerial.
  • In agriculture, the US wants India to allow import of certain American products such as cherries, alfalfa hay and pork.
  • It also wants India to accept the dairy export certificate agreed upon in 2020.
  • In return, India is hopeful of simplified procedures for export of its mangoes, grapes and pomegranate arils, and market access for bovine meat.

NEWS

  • PM Modi calls for constitution of high-power police technology mission for grassroot policing
  • HM Amit Shah to lay foundation stone of Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum in Manipur
  • Central team to start visiting flood affected areas of Tamil Nadu to assess damages from today
  • Schools in Delhi to remain closed till further orders due to air pollution
  • More than 8.4 crore unorganized workers register at e-Shram portal till now
  • Singapore and India reach agreement on resumption of passenger flights from November 29
  • More than 116 crore 87 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in country so far
  • INS Visakhapatnam formally commissioned into Indian Navy
  •  IAF conducts ‘Symphony orchestra’ at Golconda Fort
  • Uttar Pradesh government’s Ganga Expressway project gets environmental clearance
  • 3 killed, 9 injured in road accident on Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway
  • Kerala witnesses considerable dip in Covid 19 cases
  • Delhi reports 29 confirmed cases of Corona virus in last 24 hours
  • China officially downgrades diplomatic ties with Lithuania over Taiwan
  • Chileans vote on Sunday in Presidential election

Q.) Whose birth anniversary is known as Prakash Purb?

  • Guru Nanak Deva
  • Swami Vivekanand
  • Subhash Chandra Bose
  • Rabindranath Tagore

Q.) Oral antivaral drug Paxlovid, is developed by which pharma company?

  • Serum Institute of India
  • Pfizer
  • Merck
  • Johnson & Johnson

 

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