Daily Analysis: 7th September 2020

Daily Analysis: 7th September 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Art, Culture and History

1. Economic reforms of Sher Shah Suri, Asaf-ud-Daula at the time of economic downturn (IE)

2. The Wagon Tragedy and Malabar Rebellion (TH, pg 8)

3. Advaita School of Hindu philosophy and Yakshagana (TH, pg 9)

B) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

4. Explained explained: In SC reading of basic structure, the signature of Kesavananda Bharati (IE)

C) Economy

5. Explained: Forex reserves at all-time high — why did this happen, and what does it mean for India’s economy? (IE)

D) Science and Technology

6. Images sent by Chandrayaan-1 indicate possible impact of Earth’s atmosphere on Moon (PIB)

E) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

7. Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) (PIB)

F) Miscellaneous

8. First International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies (PIB)

9. What is Brushing Scam? (TH, pg 14)

A) Art, Culture and History

1. Economic reforms of Sher Shah Suri, Asaf-ud-Daula at the time of economic downturn (IE)

  • Asaf-ud-Daula was the Nawab of Oudh between 1748 and 1797.
  • In 1775, he shifted the capital of Oudh from Faizabad (near Ayodhya) to Lucknow.
  • Every time there was a famine or dip in economic activity, Asaf-ud-Daula would employ the poor to construct a new building of some sort in lieu of food or money.
  • This policy resulted in many iconic structures of Lucknow such as Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza and earned him the saying “jis ko na de maula, usko de Asaf-ud-Daula” (Those who are disappointed even by the Almighty are taken care of by Asaf-ud-Daula).
  • While Asaf-ud-Daula was the master of providing immediate relief to the poor, Sher Shah Suri, who wrested the Mughal empire from Humayun and ruled between 1538 and 1545, is known for investing in building up infrastructure in the form of the Grand Trunk Road and the introduction of rupee as a currency, the development the postal system apart from other efforts to improve the administrative capacity.
  • His efforts had a far-reaching impact on raising India’s productivity and it is for this reason that Humayun, his arch-enemy, called him “Ustad-e-Badshahan” (Teacher of Kings).

2. The Wagon Tragedy and Malabar Rebellion (TH, pg 8)

Context: A report submitted to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 2016 had recommended the removal of the Wagon Tragedy victims and Malabar Rebellion leaders Ali Musliyar and Variamkunnath Ahmad Haji, and Haji’s two brothers from a book on martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. The report sought the removal of names of 387 ‘Moplah rioters’ from the list of martyrs.

  • The book, Dictionary of Martyrs: India’s Freedom Struggle 1857-1947, was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.

Analysis

The Wagon Tragedy of 1921

  • In this incident, at least 60 prisoners suffocating to death in a windowless freight wagon.
  • These men were among 90 rebels, all Muslims, who had been sent by British officials to a prison in Pothanur near Coimbatore. They died in transit.
  • The Wagon Tragedy incident, which took place on November 20, 1921, two years after the Jalianwala Bagh massacre, is remembered as the Jalian Wallabagh of the South.
  • The British Raj tried to cover up this heinous event but finally relented to the pressure and gave a solatium of Rs 300 to the families of those who were killed.
  • The Sergeant of the Malabar Police who ordered the farmers to be transported in this inhuman way to the prisons in Coimbatore and Bellary was called Richard Harvard Hitchcock.

Mapillah Uprising

  • 2021 marks the 100th-year anniversary of the Malabar uprising. 
  • The Malabar Rebellion (also called the Mappila or Moplah Rebellion) broke out in the southern taluks of Malabar in August 1921.
  • It largely took the shape of guerrilla-type attacks on janmis (feudal landlords, who were mostly upper caste Hindus) and the police and troops.
  • The immediate trigger of the uprising was the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by the Congress in 1920 in tandem with the Khilafat agitation.
  • The Malabar Congress, many of whose leaders were Nairs, was the most active participant in these twin agitations with several Hindu leaders addressing Khilafat gatherings.
  • The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations found fertile ground among the Muslim Mapillahs of south Malabar living in economic misery which they blamed in large part on British rule.
  • The British had introduced new tenancy laws that tremendously favoured the landlords and instituted a far more exploitative system than before.
  • The pre-British relations between landlords and tenants were based on a code that provided the tenants a decent share of the produce.
  • The new laws deprived them of all guaranteed rights to the land and its produce and in effect rendered them landless.
  • This change created enormous resentment among the tenants against British rule.
  • The fact that most of the landlords were Namboodiri Brahmins while most of the tenants were Mapillah Muslims compounded the problem.
  • The Nairs formed an intermediate grouping of well-off peasantry with their own economic and social grudges against the Namboodiri landlords but largely unsympathetic to the economic travails of the Mapillahs.
  • Non-partisan analyses of the uprising make clear that multiple factors contributed to the character of the movement. These included economic distress, anger against foreign rule and the tenancy laws it instituted, and religious zeal.
  • But above all it was an agrarian revolt that simultaneously took on the garb of anti-colonialism and religious fanaticism.

Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji, the Khilafat leader who declared an independent state

  • Kunjahammed Haji’s father, Moideenkutty Haji, was deported and jailed in the Andaman Islands for his participation in a rebellion against the British. Such personal incidents, very early on in his life, played an important role in lighting the fire of vengeance inside Kunjahammed.
  • An interesting facet in Haji’s early life was his fascination with traditional music-based art forms like Daffumutt and poems like ‘Malappuram Padappattu’ and ‘Badr Padappattu’ and how he used art as an instrument to rally the locals against the British.
  • For nearly six months, Haji ran a parallel Khilafat regime headquartered in Nilambur, with even its own separate passport, currency and system of taxation.
  • During the time, an extensive army with the participation of Hindu men was built with the express aim of thwarting any attempt by the British to overthrow the Khilafat rule.
  • He declared his territory an ‘independent state’ in August 1921 with Haji its undisputed ruler.
  • But the rule did not last long. In January 1922, under the guise of a treaty, the British betrayed Haji through his close friend Unyan Musaliyar, arresting him from his hideout and producing him before a British judge. He was sentenced to death along with his compatriots.
  • All the records connected with the Khilafat raj was burnt in order to make the people forget the Mappila khilafat rule of six months.

What was the impact of the protests?

  • The rebellion of Mappilas inspired by religious ideology and a conception of an alternative system of administration — a Khilafat government — dealt a blow to the nationalist movement in Malabar.
  • The fanaticism of rebels, foregrounded by the British, fostered communal rift and enmity towards the Congress.
  • The exaggerated accounts of the rebellion engendered a counter campaign in other parts of the country against ‘fanaticism’ of Muslims.
  • That said, the traumatic experience of the uprising also persuaded educated sections of the Muslim community in Malabar to chalk out ways to save the community from what they saw as a pathetic situation.
  • The community’s stagnation was attributed to religious orthodoxy and ignorance. The thrust of the post-rebellion Muslim reform movement in Malabar was a rigorous campaign against orthodoxy.

3. Advaita School of Hindu philosophy and Yakshagana (TH, pg 9)

Context: Kesavananda Bharati Swamiji, seer of the Edneer Math in Kasaragod district of Kerala and petitioner in the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court on Fundamental Rights, passed away in the math recently.

  • A proponent of Advaita philosophy, the seer belonged to the lineage of Thotakacharya, one of the first four disciples of reformer Adi Sankaracharya.
  • The Swamiji was a good singer and a popular ‘Bhagavata’ (singer and director) in Yakshagana, where he rendered compositions in the Carnatic music style.

Analysis

Advaita School of Hindu philosophy

  • Advaita (Nondualism) is one of the most influential schools of Vedanta, which is one of the six orthodox philosophical systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy.
  • While its followers find its main tenets already fully expressed in the Upanishads and systematized by the Brahma-sutras (also known as the Vedanta-sutras), it has its historical beginning with the 7th-century-CE thinker Gaudapada, author of the Mandukya-karika, a commentary in verse form on the Mandukya Upanishad.
  • Gaudapada builds further on the Mahayana Buddhist concept of shunyata (“emptiness”).

    He Argues that:
  1. There is no duality; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya (“illusion”); and nonduality (advaita) is the only final truth. That truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion.
  2. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing.
  3. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (universal soul), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated, just as the space in a jar delineates a part of the larger space around it: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the larger space.
  • The medieval Indian philosopher Shankara, or Shankaracharya, builds further on Gaudapada’s foundation, principally in his commentary on the Brahma-sutras, the Shari-raka-mimamsa-bhashya (“Commentary on the Study of the Self”).
  • Shankara in his philosophy starts not with logical analysis from the empirical world but rather directly with the Absolute (brahman).
  • If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanishads teach the nature of brahman.
  • In making that argument, he accounts for the human error in taking the phenomenal world for the real one.
  • Fundamental for Shankara is the tenet that brahman is real and the world is unreal.
  • Any change, duality, or plurality is an illusion.
  • The self is nothing but brahman. Insight into that identity results in spiritual release (moksha).
  • Brahman is outside time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of empirical experience.
  • No distinction in brahman or from brahman is possible.
  • Nevertheless, the empirical world is not totally unreal, for it is a misapprehension of the real brahman.
  • A rope is mistaken for a snake; there is only a rope and no snake, but, as long as it is thought of as a snake, it is one.

Yakshagana

  • It is a traditional theatre form of Karnataka state in India
  • Yakshagana is a theatrical form of presenting Mythological, historical stories & Puranas.
  • A Yakshagana performance includes music, dance and dialogues, usually recited in Kannada.
  • It is a temple art form that is performed with massive headgears, elaborate facial make-up and vibrant costumes and ornaments.

Meaning and Origin of Yakshgana

  • The word Yakshgana means the songs of the Demi-Gods (yaksh ‘meaning Demi-God, and ‘gana’ meaning song).
  • The performers wear interesting and colourful costumes, and elaborate headgears.
  • The stage design and unique rendering is similar to that of the Western Opera.
  • The true representation of the poems enacted in these plays is attributed to have started during the Vaishnav Bhakti movement in the 11th century. 
  • In 13th century, a Sage named Narahari Thirtha started Dashavathara performance in Udupi, which later developed into the Yakshagana of today.
  • It is believed to have originated in the coastal districts of Karnataka.

B) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

4. Explained: In SC reading of basic structure, the signature of Kesavananda Bharati (IE)

Context: The landmark ruling in which the Supreme Court announced the basic structure doctrine was in the case of Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Ors v State of Kerala.

  • Kesavananda Bharati, the man who lent his name to this iconic case as the petitioner, in which he challenged the Kerala land reforms legislation in 1970, died recently.

Analysis

  • The ruling set out the “basic structure” of the Constitution that Parliament cannot amend.
  • A 13-judge Bench was set up by the Supreme Court, which was the biggest so far.
  • The Bench gave 11 separate judgments that agreed and disagreed on many issues but a majority judgment of seven judges was stitched together by then Chief Justice of India S M Sikri on the eve of his retirement.
  • However, the basic structure doctrine, which was evolved in the majority judgment, was found in the conclusions of the opinion written by one judge — Justice H R Khanna.

What was the case about?

  • The case was primarily about the extent of Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution.
  • First, the court was reviewing a 1967 decision in Golaknath v State of Punjab.
  • Second, the court was deciding the constitutional validity of several other amendments.
  • Notably, the right to property had been removed as a fundamental right, and Parliament had also given itself the power to amend any part of the Constitution and passed a law that it cannot be reviewed by the courts.
  • Kesavananda Bharati, in fact, lost the case. But as many legal scholars point out, the government did not win the case either.

Emergence of the Basic Structure Doctrine

  • The question whether FRs can be amended by the Parliament under Article 368 came for consideration of the SC within a year of the Constitution coming into force.
  • In the Shankari Prasad case (1951), the Constitutional validity of the First Amendment Act (1951), which curtailed the right to property, was challenged.
  • The SC ruled that the power of the Parliament to amend the Constitution under Article 368 also includes the power to amend FRs.
  • The word ‘law’ in Article 13 includes only ordinary laws and not the Constitutional amendment acts.
  • Therefore, the parliament can abridge or take away any of the FRs by enacting a Constitutional amendment act and such a law will not be void under Article 13.
  • But in Golak Nath case (1967), the SC reversed its earlier stand.
  • The SC ruled that the Parliament cannot abridge or take away any of these rights.
  • A constitutional amendment act is also a law within the meaning of Article 13 and hence, would be void for violating any of the FRs.
  • However, in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the SC overruled its judgement in the Golak Nath case (1967).
  • The SC ruled that the Parliament can abridge or take away any of the FRs.
  • At the same time, it laid down a new doctrine of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • It ruled that the constituent power of Parliament under Article 368 does not enable it to alter the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • This means that the Parliament cannot abridge or take away a FR that forms a part of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
  • The court upheld the amendment that removed the fundamental right to property.
  • The court ruled that in spirit, the amendment would not violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
  • The doctrine of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution was reaffirmed by the SC in the Minerva Mills case (1980).

Origin of the basic structure doctrine?

  • The origins of the basic structure doctrine are found in the German/Weimar Constitution which, after the Nazi regime, was amended to protect some basic laws.
  • In India, the basic structure doctrine has formed the bedrock of judicial review of all laws passed by Parliament. No law can impinge on the basic structure.
  • What the basic structure is, however, has been a continuing deliberation.
  • While parliamentary democracy, fundamental rights, judicial review, secularism are all held by courts as basic structure, the list is not exhaustive.

C) Economy

5. Explained: Forex reserves at all-time high — why did this happen, and what does it mean for India’s economy? (IE)

Context: While the overall situation on the economic front is gloomy, with India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth having contracted 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter, and manufacturing activity and trade at standstill, the stock of forex reserves is one data point that India can cheer about amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • India’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves surged by $3.883 billion to touch a lifetime high of $541.431 billion in the week ended August 28.

Analysis

What are forex reserves?

  • Forex reserves are external assets in the form of gold, SDRs (special drawing rights of the IMF) and foreign currency assets (capital inflows to the capital markets, FDI and external commercial borrowings) accumulated by India and controlled by the RBI.
  • India’s reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also considered by some (RBI) a part of forex reserves.

Why are forex reserves rising despite the slowdown in the economy?

  • The major reason for the rise in forex reserves is the rise in investment in foreign portfolio investors in Indian stocks and foreign direct investments (FDIs).
  • Foreign investors have acquired stakes in several Indian companies over the past several months.
  • The fall in crude oil prices has brought down the oil import bill, saving precious foreign exchange.
  • Similarly, overseas remittances and foreign travels have fallen steeply.

What’s the significance of rising forex reserves?

  • The rising forex reserves give comfort to the government and the RBI in managing India’s external and internal financial issues at a time of major contraction in economic growth and to cover the import bill of the country for a year.
  • The rising reserves have also helped the rupee to strengthen against the dollar.
  • The International Monetary Fund says official foreign exchange reserves are held in support of a range of objectives like supporting and maintaining confidence in the policies for monetary and exchange rate management including the capacity to intervene in support of the national or union currency.
  • It also limits external vulnerability by maintaining foreign currency liquidity to absorb shocks during times of crisis or when access to borrowing is curtailed.

What does the RBI do with the forex reserves at its disposal?

  • The Reserve Bank functions as the custodian and manager of forex reserves, and operates within the overall policy framework agreed upon with the government.
  • The RBI allocates the dollars for specific purposes.
  • For example, under the Liberalised Remittances Scheme, individuals are allowed to remit up to $250,000 every year.
  • The RBI uses its forex kitty for the orderly movement of the rupee.
    It sells the dollar when the rupee weakens and buys the dollar when the rupee strengthens.
  • When the RBI mops up dollars, it releases an equal amount in rupees.
  • This excess liquidity is sterilised through the issue of bonds and securities and Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) operations.

Where are India’s forex reserves kept?

  • The RBI Act, 1934 provides the overarching legal framework for deployment of reserves in different foreign currency assets and gold.
  • As much as 64 per cent of the foreign currency reserves are held in securities like Treasury bills of foreign countries, mainly the US; 28 per cent is deposited in foreign central banks; and 7.4 per cent is deposited in commercial banks abroad, according to RBI data.
  • In value terms (USD), the share of gold in the total foreign exchange reserves increased from about 6.14 per cent as at end-September 2019 to about 6.40 per cent as at end-March 2020.

Is there a cost involved in maintaining forex reserves?

  • The return on India’s forex reserves kept in foreign central banks and commercial banks is negligible — analysts say it could be around 1 per cent, or even less than that, considering the fall in interest rates in the US and Euro zone.
  • There was a demand from some quarters that forex reserves should be used for infrastructure development in the country. However, the RBI had opposed the plan.
  • Another issue is the high ratio of volatile flows (portfolio flows and short-term debt) to reserves which is around 80 per cent. This money can exit at a fast pace.

D) Science and Technology

6. Images sent by Chandrayaan-1  indicate possible impact of Earth’s atmosphere on Moon (PIB)

Context: ISRO’s maiden mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, has sent images which show that Moon may be rusting along the poles. 

Analysis

  • The sign of this finding is that even though the surface of the Moon is known to have iron – rich rocks, it is not known for the presence of water and oxygen, which are the two elements needed to interact with iron to create rust.
  • Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) say that this could be because the Earth’s own atmosphere is lending a helping hand which, in other words, means that the Earth’s atmosphere could be protecting the Moon as well. 
  • Thus, the Chandrayaan-1 Moon data indicates that the Moon’s poles are home to water, this is what the scientists are trying to decipher. 
  • Chandrayaan-3 will be a mission repeat of Chandrayaan-2 and will include a Lander and Rover similar to that of Chandrayaan-2, but will not have an orbiter. 
  • Its launch may now take place somewhere in early 2021. 
  • Chandrayaan-2 mission was India’s first attempt to make a soft-landing of a rover on the unchartered South Pole of the lunar surface.
  • However, the lander Vikram hard-landed in September last year.
  • India’s first mission to the Moon Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, had given clear evidence on the extensive presence of surface water and the indication for subsurface polar water-ice deposits.

The Moon Exploration

  • Luan 9 (Soviet Union) was the first unmanned lunar soft landing and first picture from the lunar surface.
  • Lunokhod 1 (Soviet Union) was the first robotic rover to explore the surface of the moon.
  • Chang’e 3 (China) was the first non-Soviet rover on the Moon; first rover after a gap of 40 years.

E) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

7. Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) (PIB)

  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises.
  • The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is implementing this scheme.
  • The main objective of the SFURTI scheme is to organize the traditional industries and artisans into clusters:
  1. To make them competitive, and provide support for their long-term sustainability,
  2. To provide sustained employment for traditional industry artisans & rural entrepreneurs, 
  3. To enhance marketability of products etc.
  • The scheme provides support in the form of two interventions viz. Hard Interventions and Soft Interventions. 
  • Hard Interventions include creation of Common Facility Centres (CFCs), Raw material banks (RMBs), Up-gradation of production infrastructure, etc.
  • Soft Interventions include counselling, trust building, skill development and capacity building etc. 
  • The scheme was revised in 2017-18. Under the revised scheme, two types of clusters are set up.
  • The maximum financial assistance provided is Rs. 2.50 crore for a Regular Cluster (upto 500 artisans) and Rs. 5.00 crore for a Major Cluster (more than 500 artisans).

F) Miscellaneous

8. First International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies (PIB)

  • The General Assembly of United Nations on 19 December 2019 adopted a resolution to observe the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies on 07th September every year starting from 2020.

9. What is Brushing Scam? (TH, pg 14)

  • Under this scam, boxes of unordered (by the recipient) merchandise from Amazon begin arriving. There is no return address, or sometimes it just appears to come from Amazon or another retailer, and the receiver has no idea who ordered the items.

Why would such merchandise be sent to you if you didn’t request it?

  • The companies, usually foreign, third-party sellers that are sending the items are simply using your address that they discovered online.
  • Their intention is to make it appear as though you wrote a glowing online review of their merchandise, and that you are a verified buyer of that merchandise.
  • They then post a fake, positive review to improve their products’ ratings, which means more sales for them. The payoff is highly profitable from their perspective.

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