9 PM Daily Brief – December 2, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 1

Uttarakhand’s nameplate initiative

GS 2

Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist

Regional priorities

Origin of COVID-19

GS 3

Farmer’s protest

Corporate houses owning banks


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FACTLY

Uttarakhand’s nameplate initiative

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 1 – Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Context- Pauri district in uttarakhand boast nameplates with girls name as district steps up for gender rights.

More in News

The pauri administration in Uttarakhand has launched an initiative, ‘Ghar ki pehchan, nooni ku noo’ (House in the name of the daughter), in its efforts to empower women and girls, under the initiative, villages are encouraged to put their daughters’ names on the nameplates outside their house.

What is the significance of the initiative?

  1. Women empowerment – The initiative is to give due recognition to the women of the hills who are backbone of all activities. This will also bring gender sensitivity among men and, in turn, empower the girl child.
  2. Create awareness– The initiative is an effort by the district administration to create awareness about gender rights and property ownership among women and their families.
  • The programme has been started under the mass awareness component of the Centre’s ‘Beti bachao beti padhao’
  1. To improve child sex ratio- An indicator of early gender discrimination is a matter of concern- at 904, it is way below the state average of 963.

What is the way forward?

  • This progremme is just a start. Having the women’s name on the nameplate will elevate her status in the family and within society too.

In a first of its kind initiative in Uttarakhand, intended to raise awareness about the rights of the girl child.

Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora

Context:  Assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist threatens will have serious geopolitical implications in West Asia and beyond

Background

  • Fakhrizadeh, who is widely regarded as a key figure in Iran’s nuclear weapons programme was recently killed in an ambush attack on a rural road outside Tehran.
  • Also, note that Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general in charge of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard was killed by a US drone strike in January.

What would be its impact on Peace in West Asia?

  • Direct Wars: Iran has hinted that Israel and Saudi Arabia are behind the attack and has vowed revenge. Since the Iran-Iraq war, Tehran has conducted a sort of cold war against its rivals, acting largely through proxies such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen, rather than engaging in a direct conflict. A retaliation to the Fakhrizadeh assassination could change the dynamics of this conflict.
  • Threatens renewal of nuclear deal with US: Israel can push Biden to seek greater concessions from Iran while re-negotiating the nuclear deal which Donald Trump pulled out. This hard strategy can result in strengthening more radical forces within Iran disturbing peace in West Asia.

Regional priorities

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS- 2

Context: Three years after joining the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), India hosted the SCO heads of governments (HoG) meeting for the first time.

 How does the SCO serve India’s quest for geopolitical balance and regional engagement?

  • The focus: The focus of the 66-point joint statement was in developing a “Plan of Priority Practical Measures for 2021-2022 to overcome the socio-economic, financial and food consequences of COVID-19 in the region”.
  • Tackling Pakistan: India made strong observations on cross-border terrorism; he called it the SCO region’s “biggest challenge”, in comments aimed at Pakistan.
  • SCO: The SCO is a rare forum under which India-Pakistan troops take part in joint exercises under the Regional Anti-Terror Structure, although it would seem the two countries have come no closer on the issue.
  • Neither statement on terrorism was reflected in the final joint statement, which focused on trade and economic issues.
  • Dealing with china: India also marked its differences with China over the BRI by not joining other SCO members in a paragraph endorsing the BRI.
    • India also made a pitch for “transparent and trustworthy” trade practices, seen as a sidebar aimed at China.
  • SCO’s significance for India: The SCO is one of the few regional structures India is a part of now, given a decline in its engagement with SAARC, BBIN and the RCEP.
  • The SCO provides India a convenient channel for its outreach for trade and strategic ties to Central Asian countries.
  • It has afforded a platform, when needed, for bilateral discussions with the two countries India has the most tense ties with: China and Pakistan.

Way forward

  • The SCO has been seen as a grouping worth pursuing as it retains India’s geopolitical balance, a useful counterpoint to New Delhi’s otherwise much more robust relations with the western world, and hosting the SCO meeting was one more step towards developing that engagement.

Origin of COVID-19

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS- 2

Context: WHO must work alongside China in quickly uncovering the origins of the virus.

Uncovering the origin of corona virus is shrouded in mystery due to various factors. Discuss.

  • Origin of the virus: In the case of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), its source is still unknown even 11 months after WHO reported the first case.
  • Knowing the natural reservoirs, intermediate hosts and the events that allowed the virus to jump across the species barrier are important in prevention.
  • Soon after the virus spread around the world, there was heightened demand to identify its origin in China’s Wuhan where the first case cluster was reported.
  • Efforts to find the origin: It was only in early August that WHO completed the mission to lay the groundwork for joint efforts to identify the origin.
  • It was only in late October that China began early studies for the two-phase investigation.
  • Politicizing the issue: If China failed to alert WHO immediately after a Wuhan cluster was reported, its reluctance to quickly and earnestly investigate the source can partly be explained by U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to politicise the issue.
  • Economic cost: The reluctance has only increased after mounting international anger over its reporting the outbreak and the huge economic cost of the pandemic globally.
  • Susceptibility: One way to find this out is to know the susceptibility of different animal species.
    • There is strong evidence that the virus originated in bats and probably spread to humans through an intermediate species.
    • Already, many animals including cats have been found susceptible to the virus in the lab and outside.
    • With the virus spread so wide, zeroing in on the intermediate host becomes more difficult as the possibility of humans having spread the virus to animals cannot be ruled out.

Way forward

  • A multi-pronged approach with an emphasis on investigating China’s wildlife farms becomes crucial. This highlights the importance of working alongside China to uncover the virus’s origin.

Farmer’s protest

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Context – Massive communication failure on the part of the central government to explain to farmers what these laws are, and how they are intended to benefit them.

What is the farmer’s and States concern with regard to new farm laws?

  1. Farmer’s fear- This could corporatize agriculture, threaten the current mandi network and State revenues and dilute the system of government procurement at guaranteed prices.
  2. States fear- Due to this bill, the revenue earned by the states in the form of market fees will drop drastically. About 13 per cent of the total revenue earned by the Punjab government comes from these mandis.

What are the demands of the farmers?

  1. Repeal of new agriculture law-Punjab farmer leaders, including two major political parties, demand repeal of these laws.
  • However, repealing would mean bringing back mandi system, licence raj and the resultant rent-seeking.
  1. MSP to be legally binding– Farmers’ second demand is a written assurance in the form of a bill that the MSP and conventional food grain procurement system for the central pool will continue in future.
  • Farmers want a legal guarantee that no procurement will happen below MSP anywhere in the country.

However, The Food Corporation of India is already overloaded with grain stocks that are more than 2.5 times the buffer stock norms.

What are the policy options does government have?

  1. Use of Price Stabilization Scheme – To give a lift to market prices by pro-actively buying a part of the surplus whenever market prices crash, say more than 20 per cent below MSP.
  2. Decentralization of agriculture system – Decentralization the MSP, procurement, stocking, and public distribution system (PDS). Since agricultural marketing is a state subject.
  • The food subsidy can be allocated to states on the basis of their share in all-India poverty/proportion of vulnerable population, all-India wheat and rice production, all-India procurement of wheat and rice

What is the way forward?

  • Farmers protest in India is an indication of larger complex issue. Pressure groups play a vital role in generating awareness and reaching a consensus and sustainable solutions to farmer’s problems.
  • The Finance Commission can work out a formula for distribution funds amongst States, based on some tangible performance indicators and the Centre should get off from MSP, PDS, fertilizer subsidy, and MNREGA.

Corporate houses owning banks

Source: The Hindu

GS3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context: Granting license to corporates to promote banks will be disastrous to the economy as a whole.

Background

  • Recently, the RBI constituted an Internal Working Group to determine if large corporate houses can be given licence to promote banks.
  • The Internal Working Group recommended to allow corporate houses to operate banks.

Read also :- Current affairs

What are the concerns associated with this move?

  • Experts caution: Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and former RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya opined that the recommendations for allowing corporates into banking a “bombshell” and said this proposal needs to be dropped.
  • Issue of connected Lending: Business houses owning an in-house bank may lead to self-lending.
  • Issue of Credit Quality: Banks cannot make good loans when it is owned by the borrower. Even under the existing financial regime, the RBI was unable to detect at an early stage the connected lending which felled large regulated financial entities like IL&FS, Yes Bank (Rana Kapoor and his entities held 10.6% as on end September 2018), DHFL (promoter holding 39%).
  • Growth of monopoly market: India’s business landscape is already starting to resemble a Monopoly board for example, telecommunications and transportation. Allowing corporates to own banks will strengthen this process.

What are the arguments given by RBI’s Internal Working Group in support of giving corporates licence to promote banks?

  • Making necessary amendments to the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to deal with connected lending and linkages between banks and non-financial group entities.
  • Strengthening the supervisory mechanism for conglomerates. These measures will be able to regulate corporate owned banks effectively.

What is the way forward?

  • The way forward should be to privatise public sector banks by allowing wide and diversified holding of stock by the general public.
  • If the government exits banking ownership, it would lead to professional management and broader distribution of wealth. The banks would come under both SEBI and stringent RBI guidelines.

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