9 PM Daily Brief – August 14th,2020

Good evening dear reader.

Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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9 PM for Main examination


  1. Digitising health records
  2. National Education Policy 2020 and Challenges Ahead
  3. India-U. K relations
  4. State of Children’s Education during COVID- 19
  5. Transparent taxation- journey of direct tax reforms


  1. Issues with Declaration of Critical Wildlife Habitat (CWH)

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.Digitising health records

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Context: Analysis on Digitising health records


  • A team of experts fromthe academia, government, and the private published a roadmap for re-imagining India’s health data ecosystem.
  • It appealed for an API-enabled personalhealth record (PHR) principles that are reflective of NITI Aayog’s National Health Stack Bluebook and the health ministry’s National Digital Health Blueprint.
  • The idea of personalhealth record is also in line with draft Personal Data Protection Bill which called for the portability of personal data in a structured format.

Objective of Digitising health records: Indian citizens should be able to access their lab reports, x-rays and prescriptions and be able to share them with doctors or family members irrespective of their destination.

Significance of Digitising health records:

  • it increases accountability, improves patient outcomes, and ensures evidence-based policymaking.
  • The portability of clinically-relevant data across states will cut down the costs and saves time.
  • It has the ability to alter practice and improve the quality of care, and the ability to conduct timely institution-based syndromic surveillance by ensuring compliance through monitoring


  • Burden for documentation:runs the risk of reducing highly-trained professionals to data-entry operators who must enter billing and legal information, that has little relevance for clinical care.
  • Misuse of sensitive personal health data while sharing with third party entities: However, The NDHM architecture protect patient’s privacy by mandating the sharing of their health information between entities only with requisite permission and with permanent record of the transaction.

Way forward

  • To enable seamless data exchange, all stakeholders must be incentivised to adopt a standard language of communication. For this to happen, the GPs, pharmacists, laboratories, radiology clinics, insurers and hospitals have to lead from front
  • To solve the burden of documentation, it is imperative that India should have a standardised universal procedure on what to document, when, why, and by whom that is in line with global standards.
  • Should ensure upgradation in digital technology by   harnessing advancements in voice recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning to further its health data ecosystem that would reduce the burden of documentation on physicians and community health workers.

Conclusion: There is an unlimited potential for changing how health data are utilised. Modernising healthcare delivery in India will advance medicine and health for all.

2.National Education Policy 2020 and Challenges Ahead

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: The Ministry of Human Resource Development announced The National education policy 2020 with a goal of transforming the system to meet the needs of 21st century India.

NEP 2020- Brief Overview

            Categories             Key policy Highlights
School EducationNew Curriculum: The 10+2 structure of school curriculum is to be replaced by a 5+3+3+4 which includes 5 years of foundational education, 3 years of Preparatory, 3 of middle and 4 years of Secondary Schooling.


Medium of Instruction: Mother Tongue as medium of instruction till Class 5 wherever possible.


Coding and Vocational Integration: New Curriculum will include coding and Vocational Integration from Class 6.


National Mission to ensure Foundational Literacy and Numeracy skills by 2025.

Assessment Reforms


Examinations: All students will take school examinations in Grades 3, 5, and 8 which will be conducted by the appropriate authority. Board exams for Grades 10 and 12 will be continued, but redesigned with holistic development.


PARAKH: A new National Assessment Centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be set up as a standard-setting body.

Equitable and Inclusive Education


Bal Bhavans: Every state/district will be encouraged to establish Bal Bhavans as a special daytime boarding school to participate in art-related, career-related and play-related activities.


Special Funds: Government will set up a Gender Inclusion Fund and Special Education Zones for disadvantaged regions and groups.

TeachersProfessional Standards: A common National Professional Standards for Teachers(NPST) will be developed by the National Council for Teacher Education by 2022.


Qualifications: By 2030, the minimum degree qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree.


National Mission for Mentoring will be established with a pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers.

Technology in EducationNational Educational Technology Forum(NETF) will be created to provide a platform for the free exchange of ideas on the use of technology to enhance learning, assessment, planning, administration.
Higher EducationIncrease GER to 50 % by 2035: The policy aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio(GER) in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035.


Certification: There will be Multiple entry and exit points with appropriate certification with the option of choosing a 1 year Diploma, a 3 year bachelor’s degree or a 4 year bacherlors’ degree with research across disciplines.The M. Phil programme would be discontinued.


Single Regulator: Higher Education Commission of India(HECI) will be set up as a single overarching umbrella body for the entire higher education, excluding medical and legal education.


Academic Bank of Credit: An Academic Bank of Credit will be established for digitally storing academic credits.


The National Research Foundation will be created as an apex body for fostering a strong research culture and building research capacity across higher education.

Promotion of Indian LanguagesInstitutions: The policy recommends setting up an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation(IITI) and National Institute (or Institutes) for Pali, Persian and Prakrit to ensure the preservation, growth, and vibrancy of all Indian languages.

Issues and Challenges:

  1. Coordination with States:NEP 2020’s implementation will depend largely on state governments, since education is a concurrent subject under the Constitution.
  2. Ignorant to socio-political context: The economic, social and political contexts that have shaped educational outcomes have been ignored by the NEP 2020.
  3. Does not talk about implementation:The NEP is clear on the targets but is silent on the course of action and implementation.
  4. Issues with recommendations for undergraduate degrees:The flexibility in length and structure of undergraduate degrees proposed by the NEP is problematic. If Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes can be either 3+2 or 4+1, the incompatibility will stop the mobility of students between universities. Further, an exit option at the end of every year, in every institution, will make design of curriculum difficult.
  5. Removing MPhil:The end of MPhil programmes could stifle research capabilities and motivation in universities where research is already poor.
  6. Regulatory framework:The NEP proposes the Higher Education Commission of India, with four separate verticals for regulation, accreditation, funding and standards. Given the bureaucratic culture of intervention and control in government, such centralization will make regulation rigid.

Conclusion: The vision of NEP 2020 can only be a success when equal socio-economic opportunities in terms of access to education, change in the culture of institutions in education, regulators and governments, and end the political intrusions in education is achieved.

3.India-U. K relations

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs2: Bilateral Relation

Context: Examining India’s relation with Britain.

India’s support to Britain in the Past

  • India soldiers served as the Largest volunteer forcein the world, with over 2.5 million fighting in Europe, North Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and, Burma
  • Source of Resources India provided almost 200 million tonnes of coal, six million tonnes of iron ore and more than one million tonnes of steel to the Pacific war effort, with and countless Indian civilians securing the supply lines.
  • Demonstrated their Bravery: At Kohima, an Indian-British force numbering 1,500 men fought against 15,000 enemy troops for two weeks resisting phosphorous bombardments and infantry attacks.
  • Sacrificed their lives:The Indian Army were in continuous combat during the three-year long Burma Campaign that resulted in death of 87,000 Indian soldiers

India’s present engagement with Britain

  • Shared challenges: Both India and U.K face challenges of combating the pandemics, piracy, extremism, Modern warfare different from conventional conflict etc.
  • Shared Values: Like commitments to justice, stability and free markets with mutual interest in standing together and more importantly a common history.
  • India- UK partnership in DefenceRoyal Navy vessels of Britain is already operating in the Western Indian Ocean. Biannual Bilateral Armed Forces exercise along with Defence and International Security Partnership

Conclusion: With India pursuing the vision of   Atmanirbhar Bharat the Global Britain can support India’s “vocal for Local” in areas of defence modernisation to maritime technology.

4.State of Children’s Education during COVID- 19

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context: The danger of educational technology widely adopted in COVID induced online classes, is that it is leading to centralized decision-making.

Working of Schools Education System without its own Functionaries:

Since British days, the bureaucracy views schools functionaries with deepest suspicion, both in their capacities and integrity.

  1. Government- run Schools-

Even now there is no provision in the rule book for freedom on any count that matters. Principals and teachers silently follow the orders and circulars issued by the directorate and the examination board.

  1. Privately- run Schools-

The school owners and managers are the one who keep principals and teachers under their thumb. For them the professional knowledge and experience count for little.  Even the management committees and parents generally support the regimented approach of directorates and boards.

Thus, all major processes that affect  life at school have stayed firmly under the centralized exercise of authority and the exam boards have tightened their grip further.

Pandemic impact on education system-

  1. Temporary closed educational institution – To contain the spread of covid-19 virus, all schools in urban and rural area have stayed closed since the last week of March which cause learning loss in lockdown.
  2. Hampered Midday meal- Cooked mid-day meals served to children at school have been replaced in many states by the distribution of grain and money.

Ways to overcome current rural education during Coronavirus:

  1. Smart learning- Not all learning has to occur in the classroom, child psychology say that in its formative stages the human mind needs opportunities to observe natural phenomenon, represent it in different forms and analyze it. Village schools are in a far better position to do so than city schools.
  2. Teacher’s attitude- In village, teachers can bring great energy into their pedagogy by encouraging children to spend time outdoors for assigned observation.
  3. Educational technology- Many urban located schools have opted for the online teaching to compensate for this loss for their students. However, in the village located schools due to lack of facilities such as smart phones, laptop, internet speed, electricity, etc the online teaching school is not a much better option for their students.

Way Forward-

Decentralization should be favored so that the school could touch the core aspects of education as a system. Schools should be allowed to nurture a free, thoughtful mind among the young.

5.Transparent taxation- journey of direct tax reforms

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2 – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Context – Prime Minster recently introduced the ‘Transparent taxation’ platform which the government says is a means of honoring the honest and effort to make taxation system seamless, painless and faceless.

Need of taxation reform-

  1. Reduce the burden of cases from judiciary– The success rate of the tax department in tax cases at all the lever which includes the appellate tribunal, the High Court and the Supreme Court is less than 30 percent.
  2. 2. Increase tax base and revenue collection– India’s tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio stands at 12% which is abysmally low when compared to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries tax to Gross domestic product ratio -34%. Thus, transparent taxation will increase the tax base and tax collection which will give boost to the government’s expenditure.
  3. Ensure accountability of tax officers– Unethical practices by the tax department discourage the tax payer to file returns and lodge related complaint. Computer-generated allocation of such cases will avoid human-human interaction and increase accountability of officer to deal with case effectively.

Key features of new taxation system-

  1. Random Allocation– Appeals to be randomly allotted to any officer in the country through system using data analytics and artificial intelligence [AI].
  2. Officer’s anonymity– The identity of officers deciding appeal will remain unknown.
  3. Faceless – No physical interface, there will be no need for tax payer to visit the officer/office.
  4. Independent Review-The appellate decision will be team based and will be reviewed by independent authorities.
  5. Taxpayers’ Charter-The fundamental rights of tax payers and the basic standards of services that they should expect.
  6. Tax department as facilitator of services –This aims to change the relationship between tax payers and the tax department from being an enforcer to a facilitator.

India will be the 4th country to implement tax payer charter along with Canada, US and Australia.

Taxpayer charter –  Commitment to tax payer-

Taxpayer’s charter – Expectation from the tax payers

Way forward-

The rights of the taxpayers need to be clearly defined. Moreover, there is a need to reassess and reconfigure the working of the tax department by building capabilities to check tax evasion, and widen the tax base, while at the same time discouraging the unreasonable tax demands, and curbing the litigation.

6.Issues with Declaration of Critical Wildlife Habitat (CWH)

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: A PIL has been filed in Bombay High Court seeking direction to the Forest Department to  to urgently notify Critical Wildlife Habitat.

Critical Wildlife Habitat (CWH)

It is a provision under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. It says that in protected areas (PAs) viz. wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, the forest rights could be reduced, and, if absolutely necessary (when there is an irreversible damage to wildlife), forest-dwellers could be relocated in the interest of wildlife conservation.

In 2018, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs issued guidelines on CWH. According to the guidelines, CWH is to be declared in the following way:

  • The Chief Wildlife Warden of a state will notify an Expert Committee for the purpose of identification of critical wildlife habitats (CWH) in a national park or sanctuary.
  • The Expert Committee will identify areas within national parks and sanctuaries, based on scientific and objective criteria relevant to the protected area
  • The Expert Committee will carry out open consultations with all stakeholders, and the proceedings of the consultations, especially the objections, will be documented appropriately.
  • The committee will submit the CWH proposal to the Chief Wildlife Warden. The decision on the proposal will be taken by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

Issues in Declaration of Critical Wildlife Habitat

  • The process of recognition of rights under the FRA is incomplete. For example, in case of Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary, a study found that many villages were resettled when they had rights claims pending.
  • The constitution of the expert committees is faulty. They do not contain expert social scientists familiar with the area.
  • The criteria being used by the committees to determine the threat of “irreversible damage” to wildlife are quite extreme and are not even supported by many ecologists.

Conclusion: The FRA recognises that forest dwellers “are integral to the very survival and sustainability of the forest ecosystem”. Therefore, peaceful coexistence between humans and animals should be acknowledged. A classic example, is that of BRT Tiger Reserve in Karnataka where number of tigers have increased steadily even as the Soligas continue to live inside and gather non-timber forest products.

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