9 PM Daily Brief – December 10, 2020

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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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GS 1

Smart Anganwadi system

Nutritional Security

GS 2

India’s diminishing democracy

GS 3

Overestimate GDP growth data

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Smart Anganwadi system

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS- 1

Context: Infrastructure development and capacity building of the anganwadi remains the key to improving the programme, the standards of all its services need to be up-scaled.

Discuss the areas where ICDS programme has lagged behind.

  • Community development: The country has 13.77 lakh AWCs. These centres have undoubtedly expanded their reach, but they need to play a much larger role in anchoring community development.
  • Water and sanitation: Nearly a fourth of the operational AWCs lack drinking water facilities and 36 per cent do not have toilets. In 2015, the NITI Aayog recommended better sanitation and drinking water facilities, improved power supply and basic medicines for the AWCs.
  • Skillset of workers: It also suggested that these centres be provided with the required number of workers, whose skills should be upgraded through regular training.
  • A study on utilisation of ICDS services in coastal Karnataka: It reported enrolment in private nursery schools as a major reason for non-adherence to ICDS services. It also reported the need for improvement in the quality of meals provided by the programme.
  • Lack of facilities: AWCs do not provide the environment that encourages parents to leave children at these centres. Only a limited number of AWCs have facilities like creche, and good quality recreational and learning facilities for pre-school education.

What can be done to upscale the programme?

  • Playing-based learning: Research has shown the significance of the playing-based learning approach in the cognitive development of children.
    • An approach that combines an effective supplementary nutrition programme with pedagogic processes that make learning interesting is the need of the hour.
  • Combined efforts: Effective implementation of the ICDS programme rests heavily on the combined efforts of the anganwadi workers (AWWs), ASHAs and ANMs. Kerala, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are amongst the states that have done relatively better.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan: The Centre’s POSHAN Abhiyaan has taken important steps towards building capacities of AWWs. It is important that a more robust mechanism is now created to regularly assess and plug knowledge gaps.
  • Technology: Technology can also be used for expanding the programme’s quality. AWWs have been provided with smartphones and their supervisors with tablets, under the government schemes.
    • Apps on these devices track the distribution of take-home rations and supplementary nutrition services.
    • In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, anganwadi centres have been geotagged to improve service delivery.
    • Gujarat has digitised the supply chain of take-home rations and real-time data is being used to minimise stockouts at the anganwadi centres.
  • The need to improve anganwadi centres: Its Saksham Anganwadi Scheme aims to upgrade 2.5 lakh such centres across the country.

Way forward

  • First, while infrastructure development and capacity building of the anganwadi remains the key to improving the programme, the standards of all its services need to be upscaled.
  • Second, states have much to learn from each other’s experiences.
  • Third, anganwadi centres must cater to the needs of the community and the programme’s workers.

Nutritional Security

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS- 1

Context: The single greatest threat that blocks the promise of India at a foundational level is malnutrition.

What are the different effects of malnutrition on people?

  • Effect of malnutrition: Malnourished children tend to fall short of their real potential physically as well as mentally. That is because malnutrition leaves their bodies weaker and more susceptible to illnesses.
    • In 2017, a staggering 68% of 1.04 million deaths of children under five years in India was attributable to malnutrition, reckoned a Lancet study in 2019.
  • Heavy burden: Malnutrition places a burden heavy enough for India, to make it a top national priority.
    • About half of all children under five years in the country were found to be stunted (too short) or wasted (too thin) for their height, estimated the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, carried out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with support of UNICEF three years ago.
  • Food insecurity: COVID-19 is pushing millions into poverty, reducing incomes of many more and disproportionately affecting the economically disadvantaged, who are also most vulnerable to malnutrition and food insecurities.
  • Pandemic-prompted lockdowns disrupted essential services: Such as supplementary feeding under anganwadi centres, mid-day meals, immunisation, and micro-nutrient supplementation which can worsen malnutrition.
  • Economic insecurities: It often force girls into early marriage, early motherhood, discontinue their schooling, and reduce institutional deliveries, cut access to micronutrient supplements, and nutritious food which largely tend to be perishable, all of which may worsen malnutrition.
    • Accelerating efforts to address these will be needed to stop the regression into the deeper recesses of malnutrition.

What are the steps to be taken?

  • It is time to renew our commitment to nutrition for two reasons:
    • First, because it conveys the deeply symbolic value of the first 1,000 days from conception of a child till the child turns two years old, marking the most crucial period for nutrition interventions in a lifecycle, which once missed could result in irreversible damage to the child’s physical and mental well-being.
    • Second, focus on nutrition is critical as COVID-19 threatens to derail the gains India has made in nutrition in more than one way.
  • (POSHAN) Abhiyaan: A holistic approach to tackle malnutrition started gathering momentum.
    • Under it, the government strengthened the delivery of essential nutrition interventions so that more children have the right start in life for optimum growth, health, development and a prosperous future.
  • Six-pronged action that can save on the advances India has made in nutrition: These clear action points include commitments around sustained leadership, dedicated finances, multi-sectoral approach and increased uninterrupted coverage of a vulnerable population under programmes enhancing nutrition.
  • Schemes: India already has some of the world’s biggest early childhood public intervention schemes such as the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the mid-day meal programme, and Public Distribution System.
    • India needs to ensure coverage of every single child and mother, along with 12 months of Poshan Maah (Nutrition Month), 52 weeks of breastfeeding weeks and 365 days of take-home ration.
  • Financial commitments: To ensure this, the country needs to retain its financial commitments for the nutrition schemes it already runs.

Way forward

  • The country must track nutrition indices through data systems. Evidence generated through data will also serve well to track the positive impact of POSHAN Abhiyaan, and course correct on the long journey to a well-nourished India.

Challenges threatening India’s democracy 

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Context – With various issues arising, there is an opinion that democracy takes a hit and policymakers must take note of the drift. 

 What are the areas of concern for India?  

  1. Recession – The Indian economy is in recession and is among the worst performing among major nations 
  2. Cyber security attack– India ranked second only to the US among the countries most impacted by the ransom ware threats. 
  • Ransom ware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. 
  1. Concerns with India’s foreign relations–  
  • India-china dispute– China unwillingness to reach a reasonable settlement along the Line of Actual Control. 
  • India-Pakistan relations– China and Pakistan have signed a new military memorandum of understanding to boost their already close defence relationship. 
  1. West Asia– India has to balance its ties with all regional power in west Asia 
  • India’s close relation with Israel is another sore point with west Asia. 

What are the Internal actions threatening democracy in India? 

  1. Revoking of Article 370- The government abolished the article that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. 
  2. The anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act- The CAA is disturbing because it makes problematic distinctions between different groups of people based on religion and is pursuing a divide and rule policy  
  3. Electoral wins at any cost- Winning at any cost has become the sole motif of certain parties. 
  • Election are turning into conflict zones, they have become tinderboxes for communal, caste, political and other forms of violence. 
  • Majority versus the minority have become the stock-in-trade of some parties. 
  1. Constitutional protection and principles of natural justice as also freedom of the individual are at risk 
  • Love jihad– UP Cabinet cleared a draft ordinance against forceful inter-faith conversions — or the so-called “love jihad”. 
  1. Restrictions on Social media freedom- India is beginning to clampdown on social media platforms and enacts draconian laws. 
  2. Farmer’s protest- Latest example of imposing a measure without due discussion and acceptance of farmer and opposition.  

Way forward- 

  • Policymaker needs acknowledge public fears and reassure people, especially in periods of uncertainty. 

Democracy works on the principle of checks and balances. It is these checks and balances that prevent democracy from turning into majoritarianism.

Overestimate GDP growth data

Source-The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context- The higher growth rate of the economy actually masks the decline in the unorganized sector.

What in the news-

The second quarter GDP contracted at a slower pace of 7.5 per cent compared to a massive 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

  • The economy’s performance between July and September when lockdown restrictions were eased is better than most rating agencies and analysts anticipated.

Why GDP data should not be taken as sustainable recovery?

  1. The source of information is not reliable– Very little up-to-date primary information from factories and offices is available for the estimation.
  • The data usually used to project quarterly growth rates were not available and so “some other data sources” were used.
  • The method of calculation of quarterly growth rates is inaccurate.It was implicit in the method of estimation that this component could be proxied by the data from the organized sectors of the economy.
  1. Pent up demand- The healthy recovery in the second quarter represents meeting the pent-up demand after the ‘Unlock’ phase started in June.

How the proportionality between the unorganized and organized sectors disrupted?

  1. Due to demonetization– The cash shortage impacted unorganized sectors far more than the organized sector.
  • The non-agriculture unorganized sector was disproportionately impacted by demonetization, as this sector consists of tiny units that work with cash.
  1. Implementation of the GST-The GST system favoured the organized sector, and demand shifted from the unorganized sector to the organized sector.

Why quarterly growth numbers are not robust?

  1. Collected data limited to organized sector only.
  • The growth of the economy has been much less than that what is implied by the official GDP numbers.
  • While trade has declined, data will indicate growth since it is available only from e-commerce and big stores [organized sector].
  • If the data are taken only from the larger units, the decline of 20% to 30% will not be captured.
  • Not all data are collected– The organized sector was able to restart business but not the unorganized sector due to low demand for the produce of unorganized sectors

Way forward-

  • The quarterly growth numbers are not robust.
  • It is difficult to predict that weather the economy is recovering or not, as the collected data was non comparable.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

Click on “Factly articles for December 10, 2020


Other Important News:

Source: Cabinet approves setting up of public WiFi networks under ‘PM-WANI’

News: Union Cabinet has approved a public Wi-Fi access network called PM-WANI (Wi-Fi Access Network Interface).


  • Aim: To enable easily accessible public Wi-Fi hotspots spread across the country.
  • Stakeholders: PM-WANI will be operated by different players as described herein under:
    • Public Data Office(PDO): It will establish, maintain and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
    • Public Data Office Aggregator(PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
    • App Provider: It will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.
    • Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs and PDOs.To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by Centre for Development of Telematic (C-DOT).
  • Other Features:
    • There would be no licence fee for providing broadband internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.

Source: Cabinet approves Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland, Lakshadweep Islands

News: Union Cabinet has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).


Lakshadweep Islands

  • Objective: The Project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable(OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadmat.
  • Funding: The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF).
  • Implementation: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project.
  • Target: The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.

Additional Facts:

  • Universal Service Obligation Fund(USOF): It was set up in 2002 and was given statutory status under the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
    • Objective: Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network.
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