9 PM Daily Brief – August 21st,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. Age at Marriage


  1. Elections during coronavirus


  1. A new social contract
  2. Industry 4.0
  3. Targeted policy support towards the urban population


  1. Leader’s Value – To lead the nation amidst challenges
  2. Global platforms giants- Shaping the global order

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.Age at Marriage

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: Indian Prime Minister recently declared that the government is considering raising the legal age of marriage for girls.

Current age of Marriage: At present, the t minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.

Impact of Early Marriage on Health

  • Maternal Mortality: Women attain maximum height during adolescence (10-19 years). Entering pregnancy at this stage obstructs attaining optimum height. It also prevents full growth of reproductive organs resulting in higher chances of obstructed labour and mortality.
  • Child Malnutrition: Poor maternal height (<145 cms) is reported to be one of the highest risk factors associated with chronic child undernutrition. According to data, prevalence of malnutrition among children born to adolescent mothers is 11% higher than among the others.

Interrelation between Poverty, age at marriage and health

  • Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry often lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.
  • According to a study published in Lancet, poverty of the mother plays the greatest role in undernourishment of her and the children.  It concluded that instead of early pregnancy causing malnourishment, they may both be the consequences of poverty.

Negative impact of raising age of marriage for women

It may leave the vast majority of Indian women who marry before they are 21 without the legal protections that the institution of marriage otherwise provides, and make their families criminalizable.

Way Forward:

  • Efforts need to be made to delay the age of conception. Schemes such as universal registration of marriage can help in providing newly married couples with information on family planning and family care.
  • India could also make legal age of marriage for both men and women 18 years- as per the global norms.

2.Elections during coronavirus

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Polity

Context: The Election Commission of India has put its foot down and announced the timely conduct of elections to the 243-member legislative assembly, set to complete its tenure in November but it’s a challenge to ensure level playing field in a mostly virtual campaign.

Elections during Covid-19 Crisis

  • As many as 34 countries have conducted their national assembly or presidential electionswhile fighting against COVID-19. The most successful examples have been of South Korea and, our immediate neighbour, Sri Lanka.
  • The Election Commission has come up with its own set of rules that would be implemented during the Bihar elections:
  • Reduction of the number of electors per polling booth to 1,000 from the current 1,500.
  • Addition of 33,797 auxiliary polling stations to prevent over-crowding.
  • To avoid crowding at the counting centres, the counting tables have been reduced to seven per assembly constituency from 14.
  • EC’s decision to extend the postal ballot optionto senior citizens over the age of 80, COVID-positive patients, persons with disabilities and voters in essential services.
  • Making use of its now famous SVEEP (Systematic Voter Education for Electoral Participation) programme and technological facilities to ensure voter education and mobilisation.
  • The political parties in Bihar are mostly likely to resort to digital campaigning, after Home Minister Amit Shah addressed the people of Bihar through a virtual rally.
  • Besides social media, virtual rallies are going to be a dominant feature of digital campaigning.

Issues with digital campaigning

  • Virtual rallies have their own limitations, like inaccessibility to every nook and cornerof rural, hilly and forest areas, with the internet permeation in Bihar being an appalling 37 per cent.
  • Online communication through smartphones is difficult as usage of smartphones in Bihar is only 27 per cent.
  • The parties will go for expensive communication devices like projection screens,this is where the issue of the level playing field is being raised by the Opposition parties.
  • The richer political parties will have a gala time in mobilising voters, putting small regional/local parties at a disadvantage.
  • During the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the BJP reportedly spent the highest amount of Rs 27 crore on Google, Facebook and their sister platforms for political ads, while the Congress was the distant second with Rs 5.6 crore.
  • The issue of fake news and hate propagandaneeds to be tackled in social media campaigning.
  • For instance, Commission ordered Twitter to take down a communal post by a BJP leader and followed it up by asking the Delhi Police to file an FIR against him.
  • The recent revelations of The Wall Street Journal regarding Facebook have cast a shadow over the platform’s neutrality which in turn has questioned the implementation of Voluntary Code of Ethics issued by the ECI.
  • According to the report, Facebook India, on several occasions, was unenthusiastic in removing derogatory posts uploaded by the ruling party’s leader.

Way forward

By successful election management and efficient working of the election commission of India, Bihar could provide a leading example for conducting elections during a pandemic when all countries of the world are looking at each other for lessons.

3.A new social contract

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context: According to CMIE reports, unemployment is now down to around 9 per cent, and as economic activity has restarted in cities, labour has begun returning from villages.

Need of new social contract:

  • Dominance of informal sector: Over 85 per cent of employment in India is in the informal sector. India has stringent labour laws to protect workers, but this covers only the formal sector — under 15 per cent of employment.
    • Existence of labour aristocracy: “labour aristocracy” has almost complete protection, and employers have almost no flexibility.
    • Minimum level of protection and minimum level of flexibility: There need to address both formal and informal labour spectrum to get the balance right between flexibility and protection for all labour.
    • Need: strong leadership by industry, labour and government and define a well-calibrated social security system.
  • Impact of pandemic:
    • An unplanned national lockdown halted economic activity and wiped out livelihoods, especially of informal workers.
    • Loss of jobs: The Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) estimates that between mid-March and mid-April, 120 million people lost their jobs, with unemployment rising to an all-time high of 27 per cent.
    • Reverse migration:some 10 million people abandoned cities to return to their native villages.
  • Poor living conditions for migrant labour in cities:
    • Mushrooming of slums: where some of the people who clean our homes, deliver our goods, and repair our equipment live in squalor.
  • Failed rural development: India is unique in having 70 per cent of our population still residing in rural areas.

Way forward:

  • Liberal land use regulations: our cities have among the least generous floor-space indices (FSI) in the world. New York, Hong Kong, and Tokyo have an FSI five times Mumbai’s.
    • It will help to reduce rents for quality housing.
  • Collaboration: state and city governments partnering with private developers in getting firms to invest in less-developed districts.
  • Encourage the migration of people to higher productivity occupations in cities.
  • Ensure clean, affordable and accessible housing is available for all in cities.
  • Atmanirbhar agricultural reforms:
    • Grow farmer incomes: by havingthem grow more value-added and export-oriented crops.
    • Import substitution: for instance, the cultivation of palm plantations has the potential for huge import substitution.
    • Medium term reforms:permit contract farming, and open up agricultural markets.
    • Invest massively in rural connectivity and digital connectivity.
    • Promote entrepreneurship:create economic opportunities in rural India.

4.Industry 4.0

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Syllabus: GS-3 Science and Tech

Context: India should blend its production processes with new technologies and develop dynamic capabilities in order to become competitive

Industry 4.0 and India

  • Third-party manufacturers, component companies and a large number of MNC and Indian phone-makers are attracted for smartphone manufacturing in India ever since the first template has been established that is the performance-linked initiative.
  • Samsung and Apple phones will now increase their manufacturing in India. These two companies together hold up to 30 per cent of the global market share in smartphones.
  • About 60 per cent by value is likely to be exported and the total value of mobile phones and components manufactured is estimated to be at ₹11.5 trillion in next five years.
  • India should link incentives to the adoption of modern manufacturing practices as it will help Indian manufacturing be globally competitive in the long-term.
  • Industry 4.0 began as a national strategic initiative from the German government through the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy about a decade ago.
  • Industry 4.0 has now become an important aspect of national manufacturing technology policies in many countries, including those in Asia, for ex- China (Made in China 2025), Japan (Society 5.0), Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Dynamic technologies

  • Internet of Things (IoT), high-speed data communications, the cloud, and data analytics including, those that influence artificial intelligence and machine learning are the foundational technologies which need to be kept in place.
  • Companies can then build on top of this foundational layer and adopt other digital technologies like simulation, AR/VR, autonomous robots, etc.
  • The superior performance of companies depends on integrating internal technological, organisational, and managerial processes to address rapidly changing and demanding business environments.

Innovative work practices

  • Counterfeit free market: Drug control authorities to generate unique numbers securely and in real-time, and transmit them to the printing and packaging machines on the vaccine assembly line. This process is entirely automated and there is no human in the loop.
  • The unique number is used to track and trace the vaccine vial through the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the patient and real-time alerts are sent to all the constituents and the appropriate country’s drug control authority if there is any duplicate number used.
  • Correctly attuned medical devices: Importance of good-quality medical devices like ventilators, pulse oximeters, non-contact thermometers, etc was highlighted during Covid-19 crisis.
  • These devices can connect to the Internet for correct calibration and they can be used to trigger a health helpline based on pre-set parameter limits. Such devices have significant export potential.
  • Digital technologies: An AR headset that resembles and feels like normal spectacles can make workers more productive by superimposing the details of a pallet in their field of vision.
  • The AR headset can also directly connect with stock-taking and replenishment systems in real time.

Up-skilling professionals

  • There should be a body of people who are proficient in the functional aspects of management, data analytics, industry domain dynamics, and digital technologies.
  • The body of people are being up skilled on the latest digital technologies that are useful in the Industry 4.0 context.
  • Mid-career MBA programmes and focussed online programmes provide an opportunity for digital technology professionals to acquire proficiency in the functional aspects of management or in data analytics.

Way forward

In order to develop unique dynamic capabilities that can propel Indian companies to global leadership positions in the Industry 4.0 era, the manufacturing companies needs to synthesise their traditional strength in design and engineering at affordable cost, with strength in digital solutions and data analytics, and world-class managerial expertise.

5.Targeted policy support towards the urban population

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs3: Growth and development

Context: India has now become the third country to have more than a million of COVID-19 confirmed cases, together with the US and Brazil.

Factors strengthening rural economy:

  • Economic relief: government’s Rs 20-trillion economic package announced in May to mitigate the downside impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Passing of long-pending reforms:such as easing norms with regard to the Essential Commodities Act, the government also announced a 10 per cent hike in minimum wages for MGNREGA, a 65 per cent rise in spending on public work schemes.
  • Food security:six-month programme that will distribute free rations to around half of the households in the country.
  • Organic farm growth:raise the disposable income levels of rural households.
  • Good monsoon boosting rural economy:a strong start to the monsoon, along with high availability of water in reservoirs and large fiscal transfers, is helping improve rural growth prospects.
  • Increase in rural consumer confidence: early sowing cycle boost income perceptions for the farming sector.
  • Increased saving: rural savings have still risen as evident from trends in Jan Dhan bank accounts.
  • Availability of cheap labour:government-support programmes may lead to the movement of workers from urban to rural areas and provide for a cheaper alternative to farm labour during the peak season.
  • Twin-speed recovery track with increase in consumption:sales of tractors, fertilisers, and two-wheelers are improving.

Need more targeted policy support towards the urban population:

  • Rural India is naturally distanced and less mobile: COVID-19 remains largely an urban pandemic with large parts of rural India still mostly unscathed.
  • Decrease in demand: urban signposts of demand, like automobile sales, aviation traffic and fuel consumption are lagging.
  • To recover overall economy:Stronger rural sector will only be able to mitigate, not fully offset, the economic damage.
  • Localised lockdown:localised lockdowns continue to weigh on activity in the urban areas. health care management in urban areas and disease resolution will help in economy revival.
  • A more robust recovery cycle in the farm sector can help government in focussing on urban population, which has borne the brunt of the economic and the health crisis.

Way forward:

  • Supporting discretionary for faster economic recovery.
  • Improving fiscal finances to further boost the government’s ability to spend in a pro-cyclical manner.

6.Leader’s Value – To lead the nation amidst challenges

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 4-: Ethics and Human Interface: Essence, determinants and consequences of Ethics in-human actions

Context- Nation building requires a leader who is well read and capable of articulating a sustaining vision that empowers humanity.

Challenges today’s leaders are witnessing

  1. Pro- Nationalism– The rise of ‘jingoistic nationalism’across the globe pose a major challenge as the current pandemic requires collective cooperation of the leaders.
  2. Fake news and misinformation- Social networks are amplifying some fake theories and helping them gain a foothold in the popular imagination. Fear and uncertainty also provide a fertile ground for disinformation.
  3. Financial crisis – An unprecedented global financial crisis has weakened our collective capacity to rescue national economies. The current pandemic has caused loss of millions of jobs with an estimated $3.4 trillion lost in labour revenue and the resultant social distress.
  4. Geopolitical rivalries– Nations are closing their borders to political, economic and environmental refugees even as the nuclear arms race threatens to escalate and environmental challenges threaten the lives and habitats of billions of people in this and future generations.
  5. Emerging digital divides – The yawning gap between under-connected and hyper-digitalized countries will widen, thereby increasing existing inequalities.
  6. Millennium Development Goals [MDG]–The MDGs are eight goals with measurable targets and clear deadline for improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. One of the major MDG failures is the fact that the success of the goals was not experienced equally across the globe.

Defined qualities of effective leadership –

  1. Absolute vision-The very essence of the leadership is to have a clear vision. Good leaders translate their personal perspective into the shared vision and goals of the group that they lead.
  2. Public sentiment – Leaders who strive for a nation state that promises justice, equality, and social cohesion.  Thus, the need of a ‘Leader Statesmen’ who thinks global, think humanity, think peace and co-existence as equals.
  3. Leadership attributes-Integrity, consistency, empathy, relentless determination, self-effacing humility, a binding moral compass and the ability to motivate masses within the inviolate ethical and ideological framework of politics.

Way forward-

In the past, the global leaders who made a difference were liberal and their journey was based on the vision of collective social and economic upliftment.  It’s time to elect leaders that can think global and demonstrate true character. Nation building requires a leader who has intellectual depth to lead the people in the battle of ideas and values.

7.Global platforms giants- Shaping the global order

Source- The Hindu Business line

Syllabus- GS 4- Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance

Context- Global platform giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp are accused of being biased towards tackling hate speech.

Allegations on Facebook –

  1. Unregulated Information sharing on platform- As exposed in a report by an international media organisation, Facebook is symptomatic of a larger infection of unregulated information dissemination through social media.
  2. Hate speech against Rohingya minorities- A Reuters investigation found that Facebook didn’t appropriately moderate hate speech and genocide calls against Myanmar’s Rohingya minorities.
  3. Placed business interest over common good- It is even accused of conducting a psychological experiment on its user’s emotions and more aspect of their personality.

Other Global Platform giants-

  1. Removal of Malicious content – Not only Facebook, Google has been accused of delaying the removal of malicious content even after volunteer groups had reported it to the search giant.
  2. Spread of malicious content- Social media spreads messages way faster than other forms of mass media.
  • Nearly 60,000 posts are shared on Facebook in just one second across the globe.
  • Nearly 8,00,000 messages are sent in just one second across WhatsApp.
  • Almost 70,000 searches are made on Google in just one second.

Obstructions in making successful regulations-

  1. Freedom to speech- Any regulations for social media content should follow globally accepted norms of freedom of speech and impartiality which is hard to apply with the restrictions on the content.
  2. Independent Regulator- An independent regulator can be misused in geographies where the idea of impartiality is used to the wish of the ruling regimes.
  3. Privacy Regulation- The introduction of privacy regulations such as the European Union’s General data protection regulation (GDPR) signalled the fact that self- regulations of the platforms didn’t work in the desired way.

Way Forward-

In a democracy like India, to handle the spread of malicious content- global platform giants, governments, civil society groups and technologists to representatives of vulnerable groups need to work together. It requires collaborative, independent and inclusive regulation that is customised to regional and cultural specifications while adhering to global best practices of content moderation and privacy rights.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

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