9 PM Daily Brief – December 14, 2020

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 1

Inter community Relationships

GS 2

Issues faced by Nursing sector in India

Fifth Edition of National Family Health Survey

GS 3

Innovations to curb air pollution

Farm and Banking Reform

Hazardous ideas for Himalayas

In India, over 75% districts hotspots of extreme weather events, finds study


9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLY


Intercommunity Relationships

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: Campaigns against inter-community relationships are a way to redirect anxieties over large-scale structural disruptions.

What is patriarchy? Discuss the recent expressions of patriarchy in society.

  • Patriarchy: A social system that places men, women and other genders in hierarchies learns to perceive the plurality of genders as unnatural and views women with suspicion.
  • Potential sign of anarchy: Lack of control over women’s sexuality is an example of such anarchy that concerns not only the women’s so-called guardians but the society at large.
    • Recent political campaigns geared towards restricting intimate relationships across communities, even as a fictional plot for jewellery advertisements, reveal how deep the fear of women’s choices runs.
  • Beliefs of dominant sections: The dominant sections believe that societies will collapse if women don’t stay in their pre-designated place and if the plurality of gender and sexual expressions somehow finds representation in popular culture.
  • Governance machinery: Allegedly, governance machinery, that today includes the previous autonomous institutions, as well as the media, have successfully redirected anger to old civilisational fears, especially those surrounding the potential anarchy fuelled by women and their sexuality.

Expressions of patriarchy has been a part of public discourse since 1947. Discuss.

  • Special marriage bill: In the early 1950s, when the Special Marriage Bill was being debated in the Indian Parliament, similar civilisational fears had surfaced amongst our early lawmakers.
    • The fears were predominately represented in the discussions on age of consent and divorce with comments which were mildly apprehensive.
    • Kishen Chand’s claim that women between 18 and 22 are emotional and “high-strung” (Rajya Sabha Debates 1954).
    • Tajamul Husain’s contention that older parents would be better capable of reproducing strong and brave Indians “who can defend the country in times of need” (Council of States Debates, 1954).
    • S Mahanty’s allegation that the women in Parliament “have lowered marriage to the morass of sex” under the pretext of equality of rights and status (Council of States Debates 1954).
  • Unease with women’s sexual freedom: Even those who passionately advocated for women’s equality were not able to shed their unease about sexual freedoms. The then law minister, CC Biswas, argued:
    • “Suppose two young persons have made up their minds to marry and you place all these obstacles in their way. Certain very undesirable consequences may follow (Council of States Debates, 1954)
  • Women’s sexuality: According to the early parliamentarians, women’s sexuality carried both the responsibility to reproduce the race and the power to bring civilisations down if their reproductive abilities are left ungoverned.

Way forward

  • Those pushing forward ordinances that aim to overturn the rights guaranteed by the Special Marriage Act carry the patriarchal baggage borne by the lawmakers. But their moves also reflect a lack of courage to work against one’s own patriarchal impulses for the sake of a better future, courage shown by the lawmakers in the 1950s.

Issues faced by Nursing sector in India

Source: The Hindu

GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Context: Nursing education in India suffers poor quality of training, inequitable distribution, and non-standardised practices.

 In News:

  • The year 2020 has been designated as “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife”.
  • Nurses and midwives will be central to achieving universal health coverage in India.

What are the structural challenges affecting nursing sector in India?

  • Low number of nurses: India’s nursing workforce is about two-thirds of its health workforce. Its ratio of 1.7 nurses per 1,000 population is 43% less than the World Health Organisation norm. it needs 2.4 million nurses to meet the norm.
  • Inequal Distribution: Though the number of nursing education institutions has been increasing steadily, there are vast inequities in their distribution. Around 62% of them are situated in southern India.
  • Vacancies: The faculty positions vacant in nursing college and schools are around 86% and 80%, respectively.
  • Higher qualifications of postgraduate nurses are not recognised: There is a lack of job differentiation between diploma, graduate, and postgraduate nurses regarding their pay, parity, and promotion. Consequently, higher qualifications of postgraduate nurses are underutilised, leading to low demand for postgraduate courses.
  • Outdated and fails to cater to the practice needs: The education, including re-training, is not linked to the roles and their career progression in the nursing practice. There are insufficient postgraduate courses to develop skills in specialties, and address critical faculty shortages both in terms of quality and quantity.
  • Lack quality training: Multiple entry points to the nursing courses and lack of integration of the diploma and degree courses diminish the quality of training.
  • Largely unregulated: The Indian Nursing Act primarily revolves around nursing education and does not provide any policy guidance about the roles and responsibilities of nurses in various cadres. Nurses in India have no guidelines on the scope of their practice and have no prescribed standards of care.
  • Lack of accountability for nurses: The Consumer Protection Act which protects the rights and safety of patients as consumers, holds only the doctor and the hospital liable for medico-legal issues; nurses are out of the purview of the Act. This is contrary to the practices in developed countries where nurses are legally liable for errors in their work

What is the way forward?

  • A common entrance exam, a national license exit exam for entry into practice, and periodic renewal of license linked with continuing nursing education would significantly streamline and strengthen nursing education.
  • Transparent accreditation, benchmarking, and ranking of nursing institutions too would improve the quality.
  • The Indian Nursing Council Act of 1947 must be amended to explicitly state clear norms for service and patient care, fix the nurse to patient ratio, staffing norms, and salaries.
  • The exodus of qualified nurses must be contained by Incentivising to pursue advanced degrees to match their qualifications, clear career paths, the opportunity for leadership roles, and improvements in the status of nursing as a profession.
  • A live registry of nurses, positions, and opportunities should be a top priority to tackle the demand-supply gap in this sector.
  • The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has recently formulated a framework for public-private partnership in medical education that could be referred to develop a model agreement for nursing education.

The disabling environment prevalent in the system has led to the low status of nurses in the hierarchy of health-care professionals. The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill currently under consideration should hopefully address some of the issues highlighted.

Fifth Edition of National Family Health Survey

Source: Click Here

GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

News: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey(NFHS).

Facts:

  • NFHS: It was conducted after a gap of three years.It contains detailed information on population, health, and nutrition for India and its states and Union Territories.
  • This is the Phase 1 of the survey conducted in 17 States and 5 Union Territories(UTs).Phase 2 of the survey will cover other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.

Key Highlights:

child health

  • Increased malnutrition among children: Several States have reversed course and recorded worsening levels of child (under 5 years of age) malnutrition parameters such as child stunting; child wasting; share of children underweight and child mortality rate.
  • More Indians are obese and anaemic: The survey has reported an increased share of men and women who were overweight or obese and anaemic (condition in which a person lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body tissues).
  • Jump in Vaccination: The survey has found considerable improvement in vaccination coverage among children aged 12-23 months across all States/UTs.
  • Better household amenities The share of households having access to some basic amenities has increased in most of the states.
  • Urban-Rural gender gaps in Internet use: There is an urban-rural gap as well as gender divide with respect to the use of the Internet.On an average, less than 3 out of 10 women in rural India and 4 out of 10 women in urban India ever used the Internet.
  • Increase in bank accounts operated by women: The number of bank accounts that women not only hold but also operate themselves has increased dramatically over the past five years.

Innovations to curb air pollution

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Context-It is important to have systemic changes at the policy and strategy levels to curb air pollution in India.

Why air quality monitoring is essential?

Monitoring helps in assessing the level of pollution in relation to ambient air quality standards. Robust monitoring helps to guard against extreme events by alerting people and initiate action.

  • There are more than 250 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations and more than 800 ambient air quality monitoring stations operating across the country.

What are the Government initiatives to combat air pollution?

  1. Union Budget 2020-21 allocated Rs.4400 crore for cities having populations above one million to formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air.
  2. Delhi-NCR air quality commission– A new ordinance to form a commission for air-quality management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas.
  • This erases all other authorities that were set up under judicial and administrative orders, seeks to limit the role of the judiciary and creates a supra-centralized framework for air-quality management in the region.
  1. The government has taken various other initiatives to address the issues related to air pollution such as the National Clean Air Program, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms.

However, these measures will have a major impact in the long term. India needs innovations to deliver on the promise of cleaner air in the immediate future.

What are the new innovations to curb air pollution?

  1. PUSA bio-decomposer– an effective way to prevent stubble burning.
  • Pusa bio-decomposer is a solution developed by the scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, which can turn crop residue into manure in 15 to 20 days and therefore, can prevent stubble burning.
  1. Filter-less retrofit device- for cutting particulate matter at source in industries and vehicles.
  2. A nature-based solution to amplify air purification through breathing roots technology for improving indoor air quality.
  3. Geospatial technology and AI- To upgrade capacities to identify, monitor, regulate and mitigate air pollution hotspots.

Example –

The Geo-AI platform for brick kilns – is supporting environment regulators to identify non-compliant brick kilns from space.

  • The platform has already mapped over 37,000 brick manufacturing units across the Indo-Gangetic plains.

What else need to be done to curb air pollution?

  1. Create an innovation framework– Government should provide an enabling ecosystem for innovations to address context-specific air pollution challenges and resources need to be allocated to support testing, certifying and scaling of innovative solutions.
  2. Mobilize private sector participation – Businesses and enterprises need to innovate their operations and functioning to reduce carbon footprint.

What is the way forward?

  • The new budgetary step, which is also a tacit political acknowledgement of the public health emergency, has to gather momentum to step up fiscal solutions for killer air.
  • India needs context-specific innovations not only in the technological but also in the economic, social, legal, educational, political and institutional domains to mitigate the challenges of air pollution.
  • The private sector has strong potential to develop commercially viable products to combat air pollution and boost the innovation ecosystem.

Farm and Banking Reform

Source: Indian Express

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

Context: There is some risk necessary to reform Banking and Agriculture sectors.

What are the recently announced reforms in Farming and Banking sector?

  • The three farm bills legislated by the government recently, which are in the early stages of implementation.
  • The second is a proposal by RBI to let corporates/industry own banks.

Can MSP ensure farm income and Agri-growth?

  • No guarantee of income: Farmers don’t get a remunerative price for their products, with the exception of a minority whose produce, mostly wheat and rice, is covered by the Minimum Support Price policy.
  • Prevalence of middlemen: Most farmers toil on tiny, suboptimal acreage and have no bargaining power vis-vis the APMC middlemen. Choice in buyers gives them some leeway to bargain for a better price.
  • MSP is not a guarantee: even those who get MSP are suffering from a fast depletion of the water table.
  • Excessive use of pesticides/fertilisers due to faulty policy: the high prevalence of cancer in rural parts of Punjab and a higher cost of other foods like vegetables and fruits which are in short supply since everyone who can is planting MSP crops.
  • Post-harvest loss: every year a lot of wheat and rice rots in the Food Corporation of India’s limited warehouses.

What do the laws propose to do?

  • End the monopoly of APMC mandis where farmers had to compulsorily sell their produce.
  • End limits on stock-keeping and allow contract farming by the private sector.

What is immediate response of common people?

  • The new farm laws have brought the farmers of Punjab and other parts of north India to the streets of Delhi.
  • The volume of protest tells us that some of us are afraid of change and unable to see what may be good for all of us a decade from now.
  • Farmers will no longer get a remunerative price for their produce

How future will be different for Agriculture?

  • Growth in demand for non-cereal foods, like vegetables, fruits and proteins will outstrip demand for cereals.
  • Remunerative price for farmers cannot be at the expense of rampant food inflation for the consumer.

What can be the possible consequences if industries house own banks?

  • It will channel lending from that bank to its own business at the expense of better, more efficient fund allocation.
  • It will be much easier for regulators to track any lending to connected entities than it is for them to track the unofficial connectedness, which has led to the NPA problem.

What is the way ahead?

  • Balance the interests of farmers and consumers.
  • Bring policy change as the farm reforms are already 10 years late.
  • Industry houses are the most obvious source of domestic capital to build such banks.

Hazardous ideas for Himalayas

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: China’s major hydropower project as a part of its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), on the Yarlung Zangbo River, in Mêdog County in Tibet.

More on news:

  • The hydropower generation station is expected to provide 300 billion kWh of electricity annually. The Chinese authorities say the project will help the country realise its goal of reaching a carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
  • Indian counterparts were quick to restate their plans to dam the Himalayas on this side of the border. India is reportedly considering a 10-GW hydropower project in an eastern State.

What are the various misadventures that can happen due to the building of hydropower dams?

  • Unavailability of dams: Both countries ignore how unviable such ‘super’ dams projects are, given that they are being planned in an area that is geologically unstable.
  • Competing dams: Over the past 20 years, both China and India have been competing with each other to build hydroelectric dams in this ecologically fragile and seismically vulnerable area.
    • There are two hydropower projects in the works in Arunachal Pradesh on the tributaries of the Brahmaputra: the 600 MW Kameng project on the Bichom and Tenga Rivers and the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectricity Project.
    • China has already completed 11 out of 55 projects that are planned for the Tibetan region.
  • Overestimating economic potential: In executing these hydroelectric projects, the two countries have overestimated their economic potential and grossly underestimated the earthquake vulnerability of the region.
  • Earthquakes in the region: High seismic zones coincide with areas of high population concentration in the Himalayan region where landslides and glacial lake outburst floods are common.
    • About 15% of the great earthquakes of the 20th century occurred in the Himalayan region. The northeast Himalayan bend has experienced several large earthquakes of magnitude 7 and above in the last 100 years, more than the share from other parts of the Himalayas.
    • The 2015 Gorkha earthquake of magnitude 7.8 in central Nepal resulted in huge losses in the hydropower sector. Nepal lost about 20% of its hydropower capacity consequent to the earthquake.
  • Landslides: The main mechanisms that contributed to the vulnerability of hydropower projects were found to be landslides, which depend on the intensity of seismic ground shaking and slope gradients.
    • Heavy siltation from giant landslides expected in the project sites will severely reduce the water-holding capacity and life expectancy of such dams.
    • Even without earthquakes, the steep slopes made of soft rocks are bound to slide due to deforestation and road-building.

What can be done?

  • Nature reserve: In recent years, the Himalayas have seen the highest rate of deforestation and land use changes. The upper Himalayas should be converted into a nature reserve by an international agreement.
  • Himalayan river commission: The possibility of a Himalayan River Commission involving all the headwater and downstream countries needs to be explored.

Way forward

  • India and China, the major players in the region, would be well advised to disengage from military adventurism and seek ways of transforming this ‘roof of the world’ into a natural reserve for the sake of humanity. Carbon neutrality should not be at the expense of the environment.

In India, over 75% districts hotspots of extreme weather events, finds study

Source: Click Here

GS3 – Disaster and disaster management. 

News: Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has released a report titled “Preparing India for Extreme Climate Events”.This is the first time that extreme weather event hotspots in the country have been mapped.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hotspots: Over 75% of districts in India are hotspots of extreme climate events such as cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves and cold waves.
  • Extreme Climate Events: The frequency, intensity, and unpredictability of extreme events have risen in recent decades.While India witnessed 250 extreme climate events in 35 years between 1970 and 2005, it recorded 310 such weather events in only 15 years since then.
  • Cyclones: After 2005, the yearly average number of districts affected by cyclones tripled and the cyclone frequency-doubled.
  • Floods: The decade 2000-2009 showed a spike in extreme flood events and in associated flood events which affected almost 473 districts.
  • Droughts: The yearly average of drought-affected districts increased 13 times after 2005.Until 2005, the number of districts affected by drought was six, but after 2005 this figure rose to 79.
  • Microclimatic zones shifting: These are areas where the weather is different from surrounding areas.The study has found that they are shifting across various districts of India.
    • Reasons: Some reasons behind this shift in microclimatic zones is change in land-use patterns, disappearing wetlands and natural ecosystems by encroachment and urban heat islands that trap heat locally.

Recommendations:

  • Develop a Climate Risk Atlas to map critical vulnerabilities such as coasts, urban heat stress, water stress, and biodiversity collapse
  • Develop an Integrated Emergency Surveillance System to facilitate a systematic and sustained response to emergencies
  • Mainstream risk assessment at all levels, including localised, regional, sectoral, cross-sectoral, macro and micro-climatic level
  • Enhance adaptive and resilience capacity to climate-proof lives, livelihoods and investments
  • Increase the participatory engagement of all stakeholders in the risk assessment process
  • Integrate risk assessment into local, sub-national, and national level plans.

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