Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 6th October 2021

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1.   With AUKUS, India must keep its head above water

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations

The AUKUS agreement upset many countries. Has it impacted the Quad, and to what effect?

Be it AUKUS, or the Quad, both arrangements are yet mere shells — thick on pronouncements — thin on  details. Time will reveal their true shape.

The agreement came as US troops made a rather ignominious retreat from Afghanistan. Many therefore see it as  a much needed assertion by the US to reassure allies, and dissuade competitors, by raising a new flag in the  theatre of the Indo-Pacific.

For the Quad, AUKUS should be a welcome move. The arrangement accedes to the demands of some partners  and stakeholders that were loath to see the Quad as a pure security arrangement aimed at China.

The Quad can now comfortably retain ASEAN centrality at the core — seek greater involvement from the  grouping, with the larger security and strategic burden of the Indo-Pacific shifting to AUKUS. ‘Prioritising  security’ by the AUKUS is good for India too as it expands India’s choices in the Indo-Pacific as well as the  larger geopolitical tangle it finds itself in the midst of.

Will the balance of powers in the Indo-Pacific be impacted by AUKUS? What about India?

Several countries had been showing enhanced interest in the Indo-Pacific. These included France, which  declared its own Indo-Pacific strategy in 2018. France, Australia and India also became involved in a short lived trilateral partnership in the Indo-Pacific which managed to meet once. The next meet, scheduled on the  sidelines of the UNGA, fell prey to AUKUS and the submarine fracas.

AUKUS in a sense has created more problems for the trans-Atlantic relationship between the US and Europe  than it has for the Quad. The nuclear submarine deal definitely challenges core security-trade interests of France  where the US has stolen a march over them.

Issues of security, trade and most importantly — the arms trade — inevitably get linked to great power alliances  and groupings. And these linkages have their own short- medium and long-term impacts.

Will the fallout between Australia and France have its impact on India? Can India benefit?

India indeed as an Indian Ocean power wants to have nuclear submarine technologies — the US has been  recalcitrant about sharing high technology with India. With the US committed to technology sharing with its  new partners, if India’s alternatives expand, then the fact of choice is always good.

However, even for Australia’s actual decision on even choosing the submarine is 18 months away — and the  building of submarines will take a decade, and the fleet itself may take yet another. By that time in which corner  do China, Australia, UK and the US find themselves positioned is impossible to predict.

The Quad talks repeatedly of a rules-based international order, yet Quad countries avoid specifically naming  China. Do we now see the Quad retreat from its ‘original plan’ of ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific?

The signaling on the part of the Quad remains mixed. Indonesia and Malaysia expressed their anxiety over  expanding zones of conflict following AUKUS. ASEAN does not want the region to fall prey to great power  competition. Quad — with a broader agenda on vaccines — on infrastructure, on supply chain resilience is  certainly now more welcome than what it was. It therefore can strengthen.

The major concern now is not really how the Quad is impacted by AUKUS. The greater concern is about US  policy now toward the larger Indo-Pacific. What should India’s next concerns be? In the light of the developments in Afghanistan, America’s rebalance toward a new pivot is a cause for concern.  It is a matter of concern not just for India, but several others in the region and beyond — even countries in  Europe have reason to worry.

They are worried about the US’s gradual but definitive retreat from this region and West Asia — the  consequence of the end of a ‘war on terror’ that the US has been losing. The fact is that after the death of  Osama Bin Laden, incidents of terror in the region and beyond have only increased, not decreased — the threat  of terror has expanded.

The Islamic State (IS) may have been defeated in its Caliphate, but now finds fertile breeding ground in the  Sahel and Central Africa, which has France and Europe definitely worried. The IS has perfected a strategy of  taking over ungoverned spaces as recruiting points and staging posts, and the strategy is working to its  advantage. France is stepping back from Mali.

IS now seeks to expand the arc of ungoverned spaces by fomenting unrest in new territories and stepping in to  strike new roots. The uncertainty in Afghanistan makes that country the perfect target — economic chaos, a  humanitarian crisis, a desperate despot. Will Afghanistan once again become the laboratory of terror? These developments imply heightened threats for India, Russia, the Central Asian region — and even China.  Europe might as well brace itself for fresh waves of migrants and refugees knocking at its door. For India, the  China threat is not in the distant Pacific but closer and more immediate; what if China joins hands with Pakistan  to use radicalisation to disrupt? Will the Quad alliance step in, or will the US stay aloof? Will US politics allow it to ever step back in the  region? Or should regional actors redraw arrangements for their own security? The Taliban representative was not allowed to intervene at the UNGA? What does this imply for the future? Unfortunately, there is again very mixed messaging from the powerful. India has already offered humanitarian  aid to Afghanistan, but soon a decision will need to be taken on international sanctions and economic  engagement. It is important that multilateral organisations such as the UN engage to provide stability and find  solutions — to sanction, or to lift sanctions — with conditions should be a multilateral decision and all  countries must act in concert.

A broken, torn Afghanistan cannot again be allowed to become a laboratory for radicalisation, or we all will  have lost another war.


2.  Health benefit package under Ayushman Bharat revised

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Aviation and Security
Sub Theme: Airspace map of India | UPSC

Context: The National Health Authority (NHA), the apex body for implementing Ayushman Bharat  Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY), has revised the Health Benefit Package (HBP)  Master under the scheme.

In the revised version of Health Benefit Package (HBP 2.2), rates of some packages have been  increased by 20% to 400% under the PM-JAY.

Benefits: it would enable the empanelled hospitals to provide better services to the beneficiaries under  Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY.

Benefits of PM-JAY 

Beneficiary Level 

  • Government provides health insurance cover of up to Rs. 5,00,000 per family per year.
  • More than 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) covered across the country.
  • All families listed in the SECC database as per defined criteria will be covered. No cap on family size and age of members.
  • Priority to girl child, women and and senior citizens.
  • Free treatment available at all public and empaneled private hospitals in times of need.
  • Covers secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
  • 1,350 medical packages covering surgery, medical and day care treatments, cost of medicines and diagnostics.
  • All pre-existing diseases covered. Hospitals cannot deny treatment.
  • Cashless and paperless access to quality health care services.
  • Hospitals will not be allowed to charge any additional money from beneficiaries for the treatment.
  • Eligible beneificiares can avail services across India, offering benefit of national portability. Can reach out for information, assistance, complaints and grievances to a 24X7 helpline number – 14555

Health System 

  • Help India progressively achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • Ensure improved access and affordability, of quality secondary and tertiary care services through a combination of public hospitals and well measured strategic purchasing of services in health care deficit areas, from private care providers, especially the not-for profit providers.
  • Significantly reduce out of pocket expenditure for hospitalization. Mitigate financial risk arising out of catastrophic health episodes and consequent impoverishment for poor and vulnerable families.
  • Acting as a steward, align the growth of private sector with public health goals.
  • Enhanced used to of evidence based health care and cost control for improved health outcomes.
  • Strengthen public health care systems through infusion of insurance revenues.
  • Enable creation of new health infrastructure in rural, remote and under-served areas.
  • Increase health expenditure by Government as a percentage of GDP.
  • Enhanced patient satisfaction.
  • Improved health outcomes.
  • Improvement in population-level productivity and efficiency
  • Improved quality of life for the population


▪ The steady growth of a for-profit tertiary care sector poses the additional challenge of  arriving at a basic care package for those who are covered by the NHPS, at appropriate  costs.

▪ The NHPS scheme, which primarily offers support for clinical services such as  hospitalization, fails to address the broken public health system in the country.

▪ The most critical issue remains the limited and uneven distribution of human resources at  various levels of health services, with up to 40% of health worker posts lying vacant in  some states.

▪ Most primary health care centres suffer from a perennial shortage of doctors and even  district hospitals are without specialists. „

▪ Without addressing the human resource situation, public sector healthcare will remain of  poor quality and largely unacceptable, forcing patients to go to the private sector. This  will ultimately be unsustainable and even detrimental for the poor for whom the scheme  is intended.

▪ Indian health sector is suffering from the poor state of primary services which are not  covered by PM JAY. This would create a multiplier health issues in India.

▪ Giving role of ensuring health to private sector is nothing but withdrawal of state. It is  going against the welfare state phenomenon as per article 39(c) of the Indian constitution.

▪ Lack of standards of procedure leaves ample space for the private sector to exploit the  poor strata of society and concentrate wealth.

▪ One size fits all approach on determining the cost of procedure leaves out small private  hospitals which are not cost efficient.

▪ Just insurance cannot ensure quality of service delivery in tier I and tier II cities where  lack of basic infrastructure (both private and public) is at dismal state.

▪ Forty per cent criteria on state’s contribution is not feasible for all the states specially in  post-pandemic crisis.



UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Aviation and Security

Sub Theme: Airspace map of India | UPSC

On the basis of analysis of classical concepts and modern concepts of monsoon origin and mechanism it can be concluded that monsoon is complex and dynamic in nature. Indian monsoon climate isaffected by factors such as – latitudinal position (latitude), altitudinal variations(relief), the mountain wall of the north i.e. the Himalayas,  distribution of land and sea, distance from sea, jet streams (westerlies andeasterlies), tibetan plateau, tropical  cyclones and western distrubances, El Nino and Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

Over the period of time the prespective regarding monsoonhas changed from that of local land and sea breezes  to tropical planetary winds and from surface winds to circulations involving upper air conditions. Monsoon  climate is basically a sub-system within the global climate system. It means there are teleconnections. Till the time scholars are not able to identify all the elements involved in this mechanism and intensity and dynamics of  their roles, correct prediction will remain a challenge even after using super computers and dynamic models. The global climate change has further increased the intensity of this challenge. A high level of accuracy is required in the forecasting and prediction of monsoon in spatio-temporal dimensions to provide stability and sustainability to Indian economy.

Monsoon Prediction and challenges  

  • Monsoon is complex inter-hemishpheric and inter oceanic phenomenon which makes the  predictions very difficult.
  • The Tropical weather as compared to temperate weather is highly variable in nature and is still not  understood well.
  • Further the complex topography of Indian subcontinent comprising loftiest mountains, expansive  deserts, longest and deepest valleys surrounded by ocean from three sides, make the monsoon highly  variable in spatial and temporal contexts.
  • Data insufficiency 

o The IMD collects weather data like temperature, humidity, wind and precipitation through 679  automatic weather stations, 550 surface observatories, 43 radiosonde or weather balloons, 24  radars and three satellites. However this data is not enough given the size of India. However,  more data is required to make the predictions accurate. Further, there are major data gaps, like  those involving dust, aerosols, soil moisture and maritime conditions.

  • Lack of infrastructure- The automatic weather stations are of substandard quality. They need to be  calibrated and cleaned regularly, which doesn’t happen often. That affects the quality of data.  Dynamical models require huge amount of computations, for which supercomputers are required
  • Adoption of western models – which are not fine tuned as per the Indian needs.
  • Impact of pollution- The increased concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere also tends to change  the shape and characteristics of rain-bearing clouds, leading to extreme rain fall events but weakened  monsoon rainfall



UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Aviation and Security
Sub Theme: Airspace map of India | UPSC

Context – PMI for the month of February has been releases which shows a 14-month high and stands at  53.4

⮚ It has increased due to increase in sale, output and due to increase in employment.

What is PMI? 

⮚ It is an indicator of economic health for the manufacturing and services sector.

Who measures PMI? 

⮚ It is compiled and constructed by Market economics and is published by Nikkei.

How is it measured? 

⮚ PMI does not track the volume of production but rather tracks the investors sentiment through a  survey of 500 private sector companies (PSUs excluded)

⮚ There are 5 broad indicators – New orders, Inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and  employment.

How to interpret the reading? 

⮚ Reading over 50 means expansion, whereas below 50 means contraction.

Importance pf PMI  

⮚ It is releases at the start of the month unlike other indicators which are released mid-month that  too for previous months.

⮚ Since it is based on perceptions and released in the beginning of the month, it is a leading  indicator of the economic activity

Tracks investor sentiment Tracks actual production
Published by Nikkei Published by CSO
Covers only private sector companies Covers both private and public sector
Covers both manufacturing and services  sector Cover sonly manufacturing sector
Not used for GDP calculation Used for GDP calculation to account for  unorganized sector



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