9 PM Daily Brief – December 16, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 2

Justice delivery system

Rise of corporate nationalism

PM-WANI: Revolutionise the way India accesses the internet

GS 3

India’s retail inflation

Vaccine policy

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Justice delivery system

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2-Polity

Context: Inadequacies in the justice delivery system extends beyond the Supreme Court.

What are the various issues faced by the judiciary?

  • Spending on judiciary: It is equated with a call for increasing the salaries of judges and providing better court infrastructure. Such perceptions are unfortunate.
  • Issues under The Legal Services Authority Act of 1987: Under this law, all women, irrespective of their financial status, are entitled to free legal aid.
    • Free legal aid: Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and children too are entitled to free legal aid. This means that a significant proportion of the population falls under a free legal aid regime.
    • Lack of well-trained individuals: There has been little effort on the part of successive governments to provide a task force of carefully selected, well-trained and reasonably paid advocates to provide these services.
    • The system of legal aid in the U.K. identifies and funds several independent solicitor offices to provide such services.
  • The judge-population ratio: It provides one of the most important yardsticks to measure the health of the legal system.
    • The U.S. has about 100 judges per million population. Canada has about 75 and the U.K. has about 50.
    • India has only 19 judges per million population. Of these, at any given point, at least one-fourth is always vacant.
    • Hardly any attention is focused on this gaping inadequacy in lower courts which is where the common man first comes into contact with the justice delivery system.
    • In All India Judges Association v. Union of India (2001), the Supreme Court had directed the Government of India to increase the judge-population ratio to at least 50 per million population within five years from the date of the judgment. This has not been implemented.
  • Other issues:
    • Increasing tribunalisation of the justice delivery process;
    • the extortionate court fees payable to access justice in civil suits in some States; and
    • the poor integration of technology into the system are some issues that readily come to mind.

What can be done?

  • Access to justice: Though ‘access to justice’ has not been specifically spelt out as a fundamental right in the Constitution, it has always been treated as such by Indian courts.
    • In Anita Kushwaha v. Pushpa Sadan (2016), the Supreme Court held clearly that if “life” implies not only life in the physical sense but a bundle of rights that make life worth living, there is no justice or other basis for holding that denial of “access to justice” will not affect the quality of human life.
    • Further, the court pointed out important components of access to justice:
      • Existence of adjudicatory mechanisms.
      • Conveniently accessible in terms of distance and
      • The process of adjudication must be speedy and affordable to the disputants.
    • National policy: The executive, judiciary and the legislature are yet to draw out a national policy and road map for clearing backlogs and making these concepts real.

Rise of corporate nationalism

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context: The Rise of ‘corporate nationalism’ empowers Indian companies at expense of consumers.

Instances where the Sentiments of corporate nationalism has been raised against foreign corporates?

  • Amazon-Reliance Dispute: The counsel for Future Retail accused Amazon of behaving like “the East India Company of the 21st century” and calling it “Big Brother in America.”
  • Whatsapp pay still pending for approval before the Supreme Court: Even though Whatsapp has obtained all requisite approvals. Multiple oppositions claim that permitting foreign entities to launch payment apps would endanger the country’s financial data. This is despite the National Payments Corporation of India’s approval of WhatsApp’s data localisation practices.
  • Severe restrictions on Chinese investments: By mandating prior approval for Chinese FDI, banning several Chinese apps and restricting Chinese bidders from participating in public procurement contracts.

Why shifting the focus to the foreignness of a company for regulatory assessment is problematic?

  • Foreign investors hold majority stakes in most of these “Indian” startups which make complaints of losing market share to foreign companies. For example, while complaining Amazon as a foreign company, Reliance, too, doesn’t shy away from receiving investments from Google.
  • It alters the legal jurisprudence by placing the foreign identity of a party at the centre of regulatory assessments, ultimately subverting the objective of commercial laws.
  • It increases the risk associated with doing business in India by creating cause uncertainty in an already chaotic legal environment.

There is no doubt that the practices of many foreign companies are suspect. Not only foreign companies, many domestic conglomerates too have equally deep pockets and more political sway than their foreign counterparts, and a questionable track record of regulatory compliance.

Indians needs to be protected from its domestic corporate giants as much as any foreign company. This can be guaranteed only if regulators and courts consciously stay true to the statutorily mandated objectives of their respective regimes.

PM-WANI: Revolutionise the way India accesses the internet

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors

Context: PM-WANI has the potential to revolutionise the way India accesses the internet.

What are the needs of PM-WANI?

  • To create value for the consumer.
  • To quickly reach countrymen in the remotest areas.
  • India’s tele-density of landlines never exceeded 7 per 100 people but due to mobile it exceeded to 90 per 100 people.
  • India grew from 302 million internet subscribers to 750 million.
  • India is one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world.
  • To deliver a resilient and reliable connection to every Indian and reliable access everywhere.
  • Despite excellent advances in 4G technology, wired connections still offer superior quality, reliability and throughput.

What are the key features of Pradhan Mantri Wireless Access Network Interface (PM-WANI)?

  • Bring large scale deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots through the country to drive up connectivity options and improve digital access.
  • The scheme envisages setting up of public Wi-Fi networks and access points by local Kirana and neighbourhood shops through public data offices (PDO will be set up on the lines of Public Call Offices (PCOs)) that will not involve any licence, fee or registration.

How PM-Wani can revolutionise access to internet?

  • UPI created common payments infrastructure that unbundled whose app you use to pay from which bank your money was in.
  • This resulted in 3 Cs — greater convenience, higher confidence and lower costs.
  • PM-WANI unbundles whose wired connection you use from who you pay to use that connection.
  • It allows them to interoperate and focus on connecting the last user. It is built on unbundling three as — access, authorisation and accounting.

What are the dimensions along which PM-WANI has broken away from the past?

  • PM-WANI has liberalised the resale of bandwidth. Earlier only licensed players could become Internet Service Providers and resell bandwidth.
  • This has led to the top 5 ISPs owning 75 per cent of the volume of all wired subscribers.
  • PM-WANI allows anyone — a kirana shop owner, a tea-stall vendor, or a Common Service Centre to resell internet to its customers without a licence and without fees.
  • By installing a wireless router, they can get on the PM-WANI network and start selling connectivity.
  • These small vendors will be called Public Data Offices (PDOs), in a deliberate hark back to the Public Call Offices of yore.
  • Due to this deregulation, the distribution of endpoints of PM-WANI will be selected by entrepreneurs rather than being decided top-down.

How PM-WANI is forward-looking in its design?

  • Presence of robust identity infrastructure in the form of Aadhaar and DigiLocker. It will help to authenticate its users.
  • This architecture also allows a central data balance and central KYC, that users can use inter-operably across all PDOs.
  • The network operators then settle accounting between them, much like how telecom operators settle call termination charges.
  • Indians can log in once and enjoy access on all available WiFi networks.
  • It also allows international travellers to take advantage of India’s connectivity, without paying exorbitant roaming charges to their home networks.

India’s retail inflation

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- Retail inflation showed signs of easing in November, led by easing prices of some food items.

 More in news-

Consumer Price Index inflation stood at 6.93% in November 2020 compared to 7.61% in October, according to data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, though it remained above the comfort level of the Reserve Bank.

What are the reasons for decline in CPI inflation?

  1. The movement in retail inflation is broadly driven by the movement in food and beverage inflation which has 46 per cent weight in the consumer price index.
  • Within the food items, the inflation declined for vegetables to 15.63%, cereals and products 2.32%, meat and fish 16.67% and milk and products 4.98%.
  1. Inflation in the key transport and communication category that includes petrol and diesel eased by a marginal 10 basis points to 11.06%.
  2. The inflation for housing eased to 3.19%, while that for miscellaneous items was flat at 6.94% in November 2020.
  • Within the miscellaneous items, personal care and effects 11.97%, recreation and amusement 4.57%.

What are the areas of concern for RBI?

  1. Inflation remained above the comfort level of the RBI-
  • Out of the food basket of 12 items, inflation still remained in the double digits in the case of six.
  • Key protein sources including pulses, eggs and meat and fish continued to register worryingly high levels of inflation.
  1. Worrying high transportation cost– With oil marketing companies continuing to raise pump prices of these crucial transportation fuels, it is hard to foresee any further appreciable softening in food prices in December.
  • This put the RBI’s forecast for average fiscal third-quarter inflation of 6.8% in jeopardy.

Disrupted supply chain logistics, higher operational and labour costs, higher administrative fuel costs partly contribute to the upward inflation trajectory in recent months.

What is the way forward?

  • Policymakers must guard against easing vigilance on prices while considering growth-supportive measures.
  • Price stability must remain the monetary authority’s primary target.
  • The decline in the CPI inflation print in Nov 2020 to 6.93 per cent from 7.61 per cent in Oct 2020 has definitely come as a relief to the bond markets.

Vaccine policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- S and T

Context: Recently unveiled India’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, should make adequate allowances for ground realities.

What is India’s plan on vaccinating people?

  • Strategy to slow the virus spread: With a definitive cure not yet available for COVID-19, vaccines present the world with the best strategy to slow the virus down.
  • India’s plan: The U.K. and the U.S. began vaccinating their people, India has announced its plan and proposed line-up for COVID-19 vaccination.
    • Priority population: As per the government’s strategy, the vaccination is to be given first to health-care workers and then to people over the age of 50, with those over 60 given priority, based on the situation. This will amount to about 30 crore people.
    • Verifying document: The voters’ list for the Lok Sabha and Assembly election polls has been set as the verifying document for the process.
    • Co-WIN: A new digital platform, Co-WIN, will be used for COVID-19 vaccination delivery, and about 1.54 lakh Auxiliary Nurse Midwives working on Universal Immunisation Programmes will be roped in as vaccinators, with more such field staff to be mobilised in collaboration with the States.
    • Cold chain systems: Cold chain systems are to be strengthened across the country to deliver multiple doses.

What are the steps to be taken?

  • Perception management: They need to clear the fog on vaccine safety and efficacy among the people.
  • Detailed plan: A detailed plan must be prepared for vaccinating children and a breakdown of tasks down to the lowest governance rung, as counties in the U.S. have been doing.
    • Unless the latter is done, a proper estimate of the true challenges of administering vaccines in the field will not be available.
  • Tackling vaccine hesitancy: Vaccine hesitancy is a reality and the only way to counter that is to be open and honest about adverse effects and make available relevant information in the public realm.
    • In the past, in some States, vaccination programmes have suffered temporarily because of misinformation about adverse events following shots.

Way forward

  • In this case, a long-term follow up of all who receive the vaccine is absolutely essential. For, therein lies the assurance that everyone in the global line list is waiting for.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

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