9 PM Daily Brief – December 12, 2020

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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GS 2

India’s first indigenous vaccine HGCO19 gets nod for human trials

Pressure on the education sector- Due to COVID-19

Will Farm laws reduce Farmers income?

GS 3

Five years after Paris

Why farm laws are enacted?


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FACTLY


India’s first indigenous vaccine HGCO19 gets nod for human trials

Source: Click Here

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

News: India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine candidate HGCO19 has received approval from Indian Drug regulators to initiate Phase I/II human clinical trial.

Facts:

  • HGCO19: It is a novel mRNA vaccine candidate developed by Gennova, Pune and supported with seed grant under the Ind-CEPI mission of Department of Biotechnology of Ministry of Science & Technology.

Additional Facts:

  • mRNA vaccines: It is a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases.It does not use the conventional model to produce immune response.mRNA vaccine carries the molecular instructions to make the protein in the body through a synthetic RNA of the virus.The host body uses this to produce the viral protein that is recognized and thereby making the body mount an immune response against the disease.
    • Advantages: mRNA-based vaccines are scientifically the ideal choice to address a pandemic because of their rapid developmental timeline.The mRNA vaccine is considered safe as is non-infectious, non-integrating in nature and degraded by standard cellular mechanisms.
  • Ind-CEPI mission: It is a Department of Biotechnology mission that aims to strengthen the development of vaccines for the diseases of epidemic potential in India as well as build coordinated preparedness in the Indian public health system and vaccine industry to address existing and emerging infectious threats in India.The mission is implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC). 

Pressure on the education sector- Due to 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 novel coronavirus has turned India’s weak pedagogic system upside down, will be difficult to reunite the new technological environment with child psychology and educational theory.

What is educational technology?

Educational technology is the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning. Educational technology creates, uses, and manages technological processes and educational resources to help improve user academic performance.

What are the Advantages of educational technology?

  1. Democratized access to education– The infrastructure of the Indian education system has been a major concern, However, Ed-tech has the potential to democratize access to education and opportunities even amidst such fragmented market conditions.
  2. Bringing fluidity in the curriculum
  • New elements and concepts– For instance, gamification is a new concept, engaging students to learn by using the design and other elements of video games to capture the attention of learners and help them enjoy while learning.
  1. Equipping students with better perception towards today’s world- Technology is taking rapid strides towards advancement and are also facing a looming climate crisis that demands awareness and active participation.
  • Online teaching facilitates and encourages frequent testing.

What are the issues related to online learning?

  1. Lack of sustained connectivity, a bane- The Indian internet infrastructure is not ready for the paradigm shift to online learning
  2. Cost – Both private and government schools have installed ‘smart’ infrastructure at great expense.
  3. Affordability-In the push for online education post-pandemic, the poorest of poor students left out as they do not have the e-resources (computers, laptops, internet connectivity) to access it.
  4. All subjects can’t be taught online– It is difficult to teach a few new concepts in an online classroom.
  • Social science teachers face greater difficulties than science teachers do in introducing children to basic concepts.
  1. Not all teachers are technical adequate- This challenge places the onus on the teachers to up skill themselves to capitalize on the emerging opportunities.
  • Teachers were asked to adopt a harder duty routine, combining screen time with messaging and responding.
  1. Not considerable as a permanent option- Despite the high momentum, online options are still not considered permanent alternatives to classrooms. The sector can at best make a useful supplementary learning system.
  2. Childhood is now fully exposed to the attractions of the virtual worldand there is no one to offer a safety net. Young children’s access to the Internet brings them face to face with self-styled video teachers of every subject, manufacturers of video games, fantasy app makers, and coding instructors.
  • This can expose children’s to manipulative advertisements, violent entertainment and pornography.

What is the way forward?

  • Government needs to step in to make new system of learning possible for all.
  • Parents have a role to play– It is important that parents acquire a level of digital literacy, they can get help on using parental control apps. These apps will completely block sites that are inappropriate for children, such as porn sites, Online games can also be restricted.

Will Farm laws reduce Farmers income?

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints

Context: The present farm laws alter the bargaining landscape in favour of the corporate players to the detriment of the farmers.

What is current issue with farm laws?

  • The three recently enacted farm laws assented have led to a showdown between the peasantry and the Union government.
  • No consultation undertaken by the central government at the time of promulgating the ordinances and then pushing the bills.
  • Despite repeated demands of the oppositions to refer the farm bills to the standing/select committee for reconsideration and necessary consultation with all stakeholders.
  • Present dispensation believes that its shock-and-awe methods are to be the main medium of governance.
  • The Union government has bypassed the federal structure by legislating on subjects that exclusively fall within the domain of the state government under the state list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

What are the salient features of the bill?

  • Reducing role of MSP: The farm laws open the field to an alternate set of markets/private yards, where the buyer will have no statutory obligation to pay the minimum support price (MSP).
  • No fee: Markets/private yards will not be charged any market fee/levy. The agricultural sector will see the gradual shifting of trade from the APMC mandis to these private yards.
  • Reduce APMC role: The shifting of trade to avoid payment of any levy/market fee by private players and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will eventually witness the redundancy of the APMC mandis, leaving the famers at the mercy of the corporate sharks.
  • Exclude the jurisdiction of the civil court: It will leave the farmers remediless and with no independent medium of dispute redressal mechanism. The farm laws empower the Sub-Divisional Authority (executive) to adjudicate on disputes between the farmers and traders.
  • Increased bureaucracy: The increased bureaucratic control over the adjudication of disputes between the farmers and corporate players will open the floodgates for corruption and rent-seeking.

How the bills are anti-farmers?

  • There are several pro-corporate and perceived anti-farmer provisions in the farm laws.
  • The global experience across agricultural markets demonstrates that corporatisation of agriculture without a concomitant security net in the form of an assured payment guarantee to the farmers results in the exploitation of farmers at the hands of big business.
  • The primary cause for concern is the systematic dismantling of the APMC mandis which have stood the test of time and have provided farmers the remuneration to keep themselves afloat.

What needs to be done?

  • The legality of laws should be expeditiously decided by the Supreme Court to halt the central government’s repeated encroachment on states’ rights.
  • There is need of robust system to annually re-calculate the MSP keeping in mind the rising input costs of diesel, fertilisers, etc to make farming a viable and lucrative vocation.
  • A statutory regulator in the field of agriculture akin to regulators in other fields would fill the gap to address information access and market distortions.

The three legislative nails in the farmer’s aspirations might lead to a bitter harvest.

Five years after Paris

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: The Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UK, France and the UN, on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement, comes at the end of a dreadful year.

What is the climatic status of nations, 5 years after Paris agreement?

  • GHGs: Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere are at record levels, with the global lockdowns only having resulted in a temporary 4.2–7.5 per cent reduction in GHGs.
  • National contributions: All states have submitted their national contributions to diminish and adapt to climate change.
    • These contributions are radically insufficient to reach the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” limit and are even further from the “1.5 degrees Celsius” temperature limit identified in the Paris Agreement.
  • Scaling up national targets: The logic of the Paris Agreement relied on scaling up of national targets over time to bridge the gap. The first of these moments for scaling up is 2020.
    • Although 151 states have indicated that they will submit stronger targets before December 31, only 13 of them, covering 2.4 per cent of global emissions, have submitted such targets.
    • Many are expected to submit their updated contributions or make other pledges at the Climate Ambition Summit.
  • Net zero targets: All G-7 states (except the US) and 11 G20 members have mid-century (2050 or 2060) net zero targets (carbon dioxide or other GHGs). These include Argentina, Mexico, UK, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, the Republic of Korea, Italy, China, and the EU.

Net zero targets need to be subject to credibility, accountability and fairness checks before being applauded. Discuss

  • The credibility check:It is crucial for updated national contributions to reflect targets and actions in 2030 that will take these states to their 2050 or 2060 net zero target.
    • The IPCC 1.5 degrees Celsius Report indicated that to stay within a reasonable chance of achieving 1.5 degrees Celsius, global carbon dioxide emissions have to fall by 45 per cent from the 2010 levels by 2030.
    • There is a significant “overshoot” in terms of GHGs in the short and medium-term, and a reliance on negative emissions technologies to get there in the long-term.
  • The accountability check:  accountability under the Paris Agreement is limited. States are not obliged to achieve their self-selected targets. There is no mechanism to review the adequacy of individual contributions.
    • The most commonly used metric by states (110 of them) is that their emissions are a “small share of global emissions”.
    • The transparency framework does not contain a robust review function, and the compliance committee is facilitative and limited to ensuring compliance with a short list of binding procedural obligations.
    • Accountability has thus far been generated by non-state actors outside the UN regime rather than in the regime.
  • The fairness check: The issue of equity and fairness, side-stepped in the Paris Agreement, is emerging in climate litigation before national and regional courts.
    • “Fair shares” are also an issue in the ongoing case filed by six Portuguese youngsters, including two children, in the European Court of Human Rights against 33 European states for inadequate climate action.
    • Issues of fairness and justice, both between and within generations, are “unavoidable”.

Way forward

  • Net zero pledges need to be credible, accountable and fair to get us to a stable climate. All states, including India, can pledge actions that are credible, accountable and fair.
  • Credible short-term commitments, with a clear pathway to medium-term decarbonisation, that take into account the multiple challenges states face, such as on air pollution, and development, might well be the more defensible choice for some.

Why farm laws are enacted?

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints

Context: A minuscule minority of farmers is protesting against the farm laws. They don’t want an end to the system that has benefited them.

Background

  • The creation of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) came into existence almost 150 years ago to feed the colonial master’s raw cotton for their Manchester mills.
  • The farmers were forced to sell to the masters in a regulated market whose regulation was set by, the colonial masters.
  • The corrosive monopoly power held by the APMCs has been recognised by almost all political parties and farmer unions. For example, the Bharat Kisan Union took out a protest in 2008 arguing for the right of farmers to sell produce to corporates.
  • Till now, Farmers are forced to sell their marketable produce only through a mandi regulated by the government.
  • However, the new Farm bills allows the farmer to sell through the APMC, and to sell outside the APMC.

Why the protest for farm bills is skeptical?

  • Only Fraction of Farmers rely on APMC: The government procures all of its food through APMCs but only about 6 per cent of the farmers in India sell through the APMCs to the government.
  • Serves the Interest of few states only: Those 6 per cent are all large farmers, primarily residing in the two states of Punjab and Haryana. These two states typically account for close to 60 per cent of wheat procurement and close to a third of rice procurement.
  • Leakages in distribution: The government procures from farmers in order to re-distribute the food via ration shops to the bottom two-thirds of the population. But there are leakages. For example, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 stated that only 15 per cent of the food procured by the government reached the poor.

Why Farm Bills are needed?

  • Neither APMC, nor subsidies, has resulted in higher output growth in Punjab-Haryana, the pioneers of the Green Revolution.
  • Subsidised electricity to farmers has destroyed the water table, the extensive use of fertiliser has destroyed the environment.
  • None of the Developing and Developed countries prohibit an individual farmer from selling their produce in the market.
  • It does not serve the Interest of very small and small farmers in India.
  • Unlike the Industries which are freed from regulation agriculture was not freed or thereafter, until now.

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