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Note:  The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination


News Analysis: 13-02-2019

National News

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


Deadly brew

  • A multi-pronged plan is needed to prevent the sale and consumption of toxic alcohol

  • The death of more than 100 people to toxic alcohol in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand has exposed the thriving sale of illicit liquor in the region.

  • India remains among the countries with a high number of alcohol-related deaths, with poor governance, corruption and distorted policies contributing to such periodic tragedies.

  • The governments in U.P. and Uttarakhand cannot evade responsibility for the death of so many people, the majority of them in Saharanpur district of U.P.

  • Preliminary investigation has confirmed the well-entrenched system of illicit liquor vends that are known to exist in the region; several factories producing hooch in U.P. were unearthed within a couple of days of the episode.

  • Moreover, although several liquor-related deaths have been taking place, it took this staggering number of casualties for the authorities to acknowledge the presence of free-flowing illicit liquor.

  • The Yogi Adityanath government prides itself on its law and order measures but its failure to crack down on these dens exposes the hollow claims.

  • It has tried to put the blame for previous incidents on political opponents hatching conspiracies.

  • Several instances of toxic alcohol poisoning in India, including the Malvani hooch tragedy in Mumbai in 2015 that killed 106 people, have been attributed to the lack of affordable liquor for the poor.

  • High taxes and excise raise prices, and cheap brews are peddled by criminal organisations, often in collusion with law enforcement personnel.

  • In U.P., many communities have protested the sale of cheap liquor in pouches that are freely distributed during social events.

  • What seems to have happened in Saharanpur follows the trend, with toxic alcohol originating in Haridwar in Uttarakhand being supplied at a family ritual.

  • While it is no one’s case that consumption of cheap liquor needs to be encouraged or promoted, severe bottlenecks are proving counterproductive.

  • An enlightened policy is needed to strike a balance, curbing illicit flows with zero tolerance, discouraging consumption through social campaigns and reviewing levies on less harmful beverages.

  • At the moment, it is essential to make an example of those who participated in the sale of the lethal brew, and investigate any nexus with the authorities.

  • If it is true that the suspects had a history of dealing in hooch, the Special Investigation Team constituted by the U.P. government should find out how they continued to operate their trade.

  • In parallel, it is vital that the capacities of the health system be upgraded to handle victims of toxic alcohol.

  • Toxicity often comes from drinking methanol, which results in blindness, tissue damage or death.

  • Timely treatment through haemodialysis, infusion of sodium bicarbonate and ethyl alcohol can save lives.

Source: The Hindu

General Studies-II : Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

SC holds Rao guilty of contempt

  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday held the former interim Director of the CBI, M. Nageswara Rao, guilty of contempt for disobeying its order not to transfer Joint Director A.K. Sharma, who was probing the Bihar shelter home cases, from the investigating agency.

  • A Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, termed his act “blatant” disobedience of the order and directed him and the agency’s legal adviser, S. Bhasuram, to sit in the courtroom for the remainder of the working hours. It also levied a fine of ₹1 lakh each on the officers.

  • The Bench, comprising Justices L.N. Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, refused to accept the unconditional apology tendered by Mr. Rao, saying he was aware of the order

  • The Bench said it was unable to comprehend why Mr. Rao transferred Mr. Sharma as Additional Director-General of the CRPF on January 17 but did not communicate his decision to the court, despite being advised to submit an affidavit immediately.

  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Mr. Rao, asked the court to take a sympathetic stand towards the officer, terming the incident a bona fide mistake and an error of judgment.

Source: The Hindu

General Studies-II : India and its neighborhood- relations.


India, Maldives reverse visa stand-off

  • India and Maldives on Tuesday exchanged an agreement to facilitate visas for travel between the two countries in a number of categories, easing a bilateral stand-off which had resulted in thousands of Indian job seekers being denied work permits last year.

  • Under the agreement, the government will free up the visa regime for Maldives citizens who travel to India for medical reasons and for education in particular. This will include allowing Maldives citizens who receive a visa on arrival in India to change their visa status to medical visas if they require hospitalisation during their stay.

  • Medical visas will also be granted to attendants to accompany patients. The government has also agreed to grant visas for parents and other dependants to live in India while their children attend school here. The facilitation has been a long-pending demand of the Maldives government, given the difficulties faced by thousands of short-term visa applicants each year.

  • The agreement will ease visas on arrival for Indian businessmen, and bring cheer to Indians applying for work in the Maldives, as it stipulates that work permits will be issued within 15 days to Indian employees, and the visa fees will be paid by employers in the Maldives.


Source: The Hindu


General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Ageing revolution

  • The Iranian regime must rethink its approach to dissent and personal freedoms

  • Iran has concluded the formal celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution at a time when the regime is under serious global, regional and domestic pressure.

  • The theocratic regime, established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, struck a defiant note by mobilising a huge rally in Tehran and repeating its familiar anti-West rhetoric.

  • But Iran’s leaders are under pressure with a weak economy and social tensions rising at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is becoming increasingly hostile towards Tehran. The fact that the Islamic Republic has survived four decades is telling.

  • Over these years, Iran saw an eight-year-long war with Iraq, near-total isolation in West Asia, and economic hardships.

  • The Iranian regime turned some of these challenges into opportunities — as in the case of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war — and made substantial changes in certain sectors.

  • For example, the investments made in education and health care have seen positive results.

  • As of 2015, the literacy rate among Iran’s adult population was 93%. More than 60% of university students in Iran are women. Access to health care has also improved for large sections of society.

  • But even as the Islamic Republic holds strong, discontent has risen. When Iran signed the multilateral nuclear deal in 2015, the Tehran elite hoped it would allow the country to join the global economic and diplomatic mainstream.

  • President Hassan Rouhani banked on increased investments to bolster the economy. But the détente between the U.S. and Iran ended as soon as Mr. Trump became U.S. President.

  • The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

  • The U.S. has also joined hands with Iran’s rivals, such as Saudi Arabia, to scuttle the country’s regional ambitions, while Israel is repeatedly bombing Iranian positions within Syria.

  • Within Iran, the regime is facing repeated protests as economic hardships mount. After the 2009 Green Movement, which was suppressed brutally, there were widespread anti-government demonstrations in 2017-18.

  • Women came out against the mandatory headscarf in recent months, challenging religious orthodoxy.

  • The Iranian state responded typically — an Amnesty report says “a shameless campaign of repression” was unleashed in 2018, resulting in the arrest of more than 7,000 protesters.

  • Tehran’s criticism of foreign intervention has some merit. American sanctions will only multiply Iran’s economic woes.

  • Tehran will have to deal with the U.S.’s unilateral and hostile policies with help from other countries.

  • But it should also fix its system, tackle corruption and hold government departments accountable for the decisions they take.

  • It is also time for the government, which is celebrating the anniversary of the fall of a despotic monarch, to rethink its approach towards dissent and personal freedoms.


Source: The Hindu


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