9 PM Daily Brief – December 3, 2020

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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GS 2

Purpose of the vaccine

Behind China’s wolf warrior diplomacy

AMR and health crisis

Disability – policy and challenges

GS 3

GDP recovery- questionable data

Farm Bills Concerns and evaluation

Cyclone Burevi

Explained: How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?


9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLY

Purpose of the vaccine

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- The challenges vaccine poses to qualify as a ‘public health’ intervention in India.

What is the purpose of vaccination?

  1. Individual prevention- – The ability to develop immunity by producing antibodies among those individuals who have taken a vaccine shot.
  • It builds an adaptive immune system
  1. To achieve herd immunity– It is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached.
  • Herd immunity refers to community protection.
  • The threshold coverage is estimated to be around 60% for COVID-19 vaccine to achieve population-level immunity.
  • The idea of herd community is to protect the vulnerable.

What are the concerns related to vaccination?

  1. Safe immunization– There are three major elements of immunization safety.
  • Health care providers must be concerned with the safety of vaccines themselves (their composition),
  • Administration of the vaccination (handling, scheduling, and injections),
  • And surveillance and evaluation of the immunization program, including documentation of vaccine efficacy and the probability of adverse events.
  1. Economic concern-The huge economic resources will be needed to make the vaccine available for a large population.
  2. Lack of infrastructure– Vaccines require cold chain infrastructure for storage. Logistical and Infrastructural issues in storage of vaccines hampering it’s penetrability in the rural hinterland.
  3. Cost- If open market forces determine the cost of the vaccine and affordability then, the section of society most vulnerable to the disease would get left out.
  4. Credibility- ears regarding safety and credibility can be almost impossible obstacles to overcome and must be addressed head-on.

 What are the challenges related to population based vaccination programme?

Priority- Within the country, it is certainly not clear who should be treated first or it should be determined by need, affordability, vulnerability or some other criterion or a combination of all.

The outcome is the clear– If this process target only specific population group then its very purpose will be defeated as the pandemic can infect all groups similarly.

What is the way forward?

  • It is safe to demonstrate the success of vaccination as a public health intervention in a small population, like a block or a district, before scaling it up for the national level.
  • However, if herd immunity is not the focus, then the key purpose of COVID-19 vaccines will be to ensure individual immunity.
  • Protect the vulnerable– Use the first limited supplies of vaccines to protect those most in need, without worrying about the more robust members of the “herd”.

Behind China’s wolf warrior diplomacy

Source: The Hindu

GS2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations

Context: Xi Jinping is deepening a ‘Chinese Communist Party-state’ brand of nationalism for a domestic and global audience.

What is Chinese brand of nationalism?

  • An abrasive brand of nationalism is associated with China.
  • Beijing’s recourse to nationalistic aggression as a foreign policy strategy has gained the euphemism of ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’.
  • It involves a state-sponsored and systemic indoctrination campaign.
  • It has acquired the dynamics of Chinese nationalism with Xi Jinping at the Core.

What is its basis?

  • The Chinese Communist Party initially embraced nationalism as a co-option strategy in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • Nationalism has turned into a state dogma to embed the Chinese Communist Party in the political subconsciousness of the country, and secure the filial piety of its populace.
  • It derives its inspiration from the idiom of ‘Great Rejuvenation’ and its obsession with re-achieving the glories of an imaginary past.

How this is linked with threat perception?

  • The first concerted attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to shape Chinese nationalism came with the launch of the ‘Patriotic Education Campaign’ in the 1990s.
  • At the core of this campaign was the grand design to project the Chinese Communist Party as the harbinger and sole guarantor of the peace, prosperity and sovereignty of the eternally ‘victimised’ Chinese nation.
  • It is based on an aggressive posturing and display of strength in international affairs.
  • It is secured through patriotic indoctrination campaigns, promotion of a leadership personality cult, and the now legendary anti-corruption drive.

What is Agenda of indoctrination?

  • After Mao, Xi has become the only Chinese leader to appoint a Party theoretician on the Politburo Standing Committee.
  • The new ‘Patriotic Education’ guidelines were introduced in 2019, along with the ‘2019-2023 National Work Program for the Education and Cultivation of Party Members’.
  • It includes extra-curricular activities such as ‘Red Education’ and the aim of such programmes is to cultivate future generations of Chinese youth with ‘Red DNA’.
  • In 2018, the Party launched a “patriotic striving spirit” campaign to ‘enhance patriotism’ among Chinese intellectuals.
  • Chinese media outlets have been asked to follow the dictum of “telling China’s stories well” to shape domestic and international opinion as per the Party’s diktats.
  • Promotion of the Xi Jinping personality cult has become an intrinsic component of Chinese nationalism.
  • Elite institutions in China have either established research centres or introduced mandatory courses in ‘Xi Jinping Thought’.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently inaugurated a ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ study centre to guide the “theoretical construction” of China’s foreign policy.

What are the plans ahead?

  • Cult of personality will gain further momentum after the recently concluded fifth plenum of the Party which approved a plan for China to become a global leader in technology by 2035.
  • Xi has further declared his intentions to remain at the helm of China’s affairs long after his due retirement date as General Secretary of the Party in 2022.
  • The international community is poised to face an increasingly aggressive Chinese nationalism.

AMR and health crisis

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Health

Context:  Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a silent pandemic, is growing at an alarming rate.

Why is AMR growing at an alarming rate?

  • AMR:  Globally, about 35% of common human infections have become resistant to available medicines.
  • About 700,000 people die every year because available antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics, antivirals, anti-parasitic and antifungals) have become less effective at combating pathogens.
  • Resistance to second- and third-line antibiotics the last lines of defence against some common diseases are projected to almost double between 2005 and 2030.
  • According to a study published in The Lancet, an estimated 58,000 new-born children die annually from sepsis in India alone because antibiotics can no longer treat certain bacterial infections.
  • Reasons for AMR:
  • Microorganisms develop resistance to antimicrobial agents as a natural defence mechanism. Human activity has significantly accelerated the process.
  • The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials for humans, livestock and agriculture is probably the biggest reason for this.
  • Research points to the role of environment and pollution in AMR.
    • Once consumed, up to 80% of antibiotic drugs are excreted un-metabolised, along with resistant bacteria.
  • Release of effluents from households and health and pharmaceutical facilities, and agricultural run-off, is propagating resistant microorganisms. Wastewater treatment facilities are unable to remove all antibiotics and resistant bacteria.

What are the problems faced?

  • Issues faced: In India, there is capacity to treat only about 37% of the sewage generated annually. The rest is discharged into natural water bodies without treatment.
  • An analysis of single wastewater discharge from a treatment facility in India catering to drug manufacturers found concentrations of antibiotics high enough to treat over 40,000 people daily.
  • Mode of spread: Water may be a major mode for the spread of AMR, especially in places with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Wildlife that comes into contact with discharge containing antimicrobials can also become colonised with drug-resistant organisms.

What are the key initiatives to tackle AMR?

  • UNEP: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified antimicrobial resistance as one of six emerging issues of environmental concern in its 2017 Frontiers Report.
  • The UN Environment Assembly pressed the need to further understand the role of environmental pollution in spreading AMR.
  • GAP: UN agencies are working together to develop the One Health AMR Global Action Plan (GAP) that addresses the issue in human, animal, and plant health and food and environment sectors.
  • MoEF&CC: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued draft standards which set limits for residues of 121 antibiotics in treated effluents from drug production units.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and MoEF&CC constituted the inter-ministerial Steering Committee on Environment and Health, with representation from WHO and UNEP.

Way forward

  • The Centre and State governments in India can strengthen the environmental dimensions of their plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
  • It is particularly important to promote measures that address known hotspots such as hospitals and manufacturing and waste treatment facilities.

Disability – policy and challenges

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Social Justice

Context: 3rd dec is the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities, established by the United Nations in 1992.

More on news:

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.
  • Increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

What are the problems faced?

  • Huge numbers: About a billion people internationally live with a disability, with 80 per cent of these being residents of the developing world. In 2007, the UN passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • India is a state party to the convention, and the World Bank estimates that there may be well over 40 million Indians living with disabilities.
  • Shortage of ramps: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in 2016 but our country is still largely devoid of ramps on its footpaths or government buildings.
  • Poor development: Indians with disabilities are far more likely to suffer from poor social and economic development. Shockingly, 45 per cent of this population is illiterate.
  • Community’s lack of political representation: Despite the vast population of people with disabilities in India, in our seven decades of independence we have had just four parliamentarians and six state assembly members who suffer from visible disabilities.

What are the steps taken by India?

  • Mental health care act: In 2017, the Mental Healthcare Act recognised and respected the agency of persons with mental-health conditions.
  • Expanding the presence of mental-health establishments across the country.
  • Restricted the harmful use of electroshock therapy.
  • Clarified the mental-health responsibilities of state agencies such as the police.
  • Effectively decriminalised attempted suicide.
  • Initiatives: Initiatives to improve the life of Indians with disabilities, such as the ADIP scheme for improving access to disability aids.
    • The Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, or Accessible India Campaign, has aimed to make public transport, buildings and websites more accessible.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act: The best that can be said is that the passage of this law may have helped shift the treatment of disabled persons in society towards rights-focused thinking.
  • Media representation: Mainstream media has increasingly started showing positive representations of people with disabilities, from Taare Zameen Par to Barfi.
  • Representation in sports: Athletes with disabilities have reached the pinnacles of sport and done us proud repeatedly, most recently winning four athletics medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Way forward

  • It is critical that the government work with civil society and individuals with disabilities to craft an India where everyone feels welcome and treated with respect, regardless of their disabilities.

GDP recovery- questionable data

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- The Q-2 sharp recovery is very tactical because of pent-up demand, because of lockdown and the Data used for quarterly growth rates are weak and questionable.

What in the news-

The second quarter GDP contracted at a slower pace of 7.5 percent compared to a massive 23.9 percent 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.

Critic’s view– India had introduced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world which has resulted in the sharpest output contractions and massive losses in terms of jobs and livelihoods.

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 farms, factories and offices is available for the estimation.
  2. Pent up demand- The healthy recovery in the second quarter represents meeting the pent-up demand after the ‘Unlock’ phase started in June.

However, the quarterly figures do indicate the broad direction of change.

  • GDP in the manufacturing sector– It rose 0.6 per cent in the September quarter, in a big sign of recovery compared with a crash of 39.3 per cent in the April-June period.

What are the challenges for sustainable recovery?

  1. Weak aggregate demand-
  • Revenue shortfalls- The government’s debt-GDP ratio has gone up though.
  • Bank credit growth in the economy continues to decelerate.
  • The cumulative growth of the index from April to October this year stood at negative 13% when compared to the same period last year.
  1. Balance of payment surplus– the shortfall is on account of a sharp decline in investment demand, denting potential output.
  • Both exports and imports have shrunk but imports have shrunk relatively more than exports, such a sharp fall in import demand does not augur well for a growing economy such as India.
  1. Rising foreign exchange reserves- India’s flourishing foreign exchange reserves are made up of short-term debt flows; they are not our net export earnings.
  2. Sudden booming stock market– This entirely driven by short-term foreign capital inflows.
  • Such inflows are highly fickle, representing hot money, which can quit the financial markets in a jiffy if perceptions change for any exogenous reason.

Way forward-

  • As an additional expenditure on government consumption or investment or credit growth remain muted, recovery is likely to remain modest.
  • Economic recovery could still prove to be premature and illusory – Economists have reservations about reading too much into the September-October data as a sustainable trend.

Farm Bills Concerns and evaluation

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices

Context: Agriculture in India needs state support to thrive.

Background

  • Recently, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to three contentious farm bills passed by Parliament.
  1. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act,2020 (FAPAFS).
  2. The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 (FPTC).
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 (EC).
  • Indian farmers worry that these farm bills may clear the way for giant Indian companies.

Why the Farm bills are touted as a watershed moment for Indian agriculture?

  • Elimination of middlemen: The reforms would remove the shackles from the agriculture sector and free farmers from the stranglehold of middlemen by creating one market.
  • Abolition of monopoly of APMC mandis: The bills will permit private buyers to hoard essential commodities for future sales, which only government-authorized agents could do earlier, along with changing the rules for contract farming.

Why the farmers are concerned about farm bills?

  • Issue of withdrawing MSP: Since the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is not mentioned in the bills, they fear that they will lose the assured option of selling to the APMC mandis and that this will lead to corporate exploitation.
  • Corporatisation of agriculture: In the absence of regulation, as agribusiness firms might well be able to dictate both the market conditions (including prices) and the terms of contract farming as small farmers do not have the same bargaining power.
  • Loss of livelihood and employment: Farmers are suspicious that the entry of giant Indian companies in future such as Reliance and Adani who have already made investments in the agri-business infrastructure will wipe out their livelihood in farming. For instance, the management of the crop insurance scheme against natural disasters, introduced in 2017, was handed over to one of Anil Ambani’s companies, among others.

How in most countries governments subsidise Agriculture sector?

  • In the US, the agriculture subsidies accounts for about 40 percent of the total farm income. sector ($46 billion in federal subsidies this year). – New York times.
  • Similarly, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy spending has averaged €54 billion annually since 2006.

Why Agriculture sector needs state support in India?

  • Majority of the farmers are small in India: Smallholder and marginal farmers, those with less than two hectares of land account for 86.2 percent of all cultivators – 10th Agriculture Census.
    • For them, it is unaffordable to carry their produce to other states or far-off places to sell. Without some support from the state, the smallest of Indian peasants would be even more vulnerable.
  • Lack of proper jobs: Also, the prospects of generating employment from other secondary and tertiary sector is not bright. For example, the share of the secondary sector in total employment has been stagnant at around 26 percent (as against 41 percent for agriculture) and its share in the GDP is declining.
  • Urban-rural divide: There is a wide gap between urban and rural India in terms of per capita resources is widening.

What is the way forward?

  • Need to increase public investment in agriculture in terms of Agri- infrastructure.
  • Promote Livelihood and Income Augmentation schemes like the Rythu Bandhu in Telangana or the Krushak in Odisha.
  • Need to ensure that no transaction can be done below the MSP, would help alleviate some rural distress.
  • For making farming sustainable, the government should draw inspiration from Andhra Pradesh’s community managed farming model which promotes agro-ecological principles with the use of locally produced, ecologically sustainable inputs, focusing on soil health, instead of depending on chemical fertilisers. This model is more resilient as well as more biodiverse in nature and provides a safety net to farmers.

    Other Important news:-

Cyclone Burevi

Source: Click here

News: Cyclone Burevi is heading towards the Tamil Nadu(TN) coast after crossing Sri Lanka.

Facts:

  • Cyclonic Burevi: It is a tropical cyclone formed over southwest Bay of Bengal.It is expected to bring heavy rainfall over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala.
  • Named by: The name “Burevi” was suggested by the Maldives.

Additional Facts:

  • Tropical Cyclones: These are storms that originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans. They are intense low-pressure areas with very strong winds circulating around them in an anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in a clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Different Names: Tropical Cyclones are known by different names in different regions:
    • Cyclones in the Indian Ocean
    • Hurricanes in Atlantic
    • Typhoons in Western Pacific in South China Sea
    • Willy-Willies in Western Australia
  • Conditions: The conditions favourable for the formation and intensification of tropical cyclones are:
    • Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C;
    • Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex
    • Small variations in the vertical wind speed;
    • A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation is must for cyclone formation in tropics
    • Upper divergence above the sea level system

Explained: How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?

Source: Click Here

News: The talks between farmer unions and the government failed to reach a resolution. The main bone of contention in these talks is the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops which farmers fear the new laws will do away.

Facts:

  • MSP: It is the minimum price paid to the farmers for procuring food crops. It is announced by the Government at the beginning of the sowing season.
  • How was the MSP calculated before? The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) would recommend MSPs for 23 crops by taking into account the supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends and implications for consumers (inflation), environment and terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.
  • What changed with the Union Budget for 2018-19? The Budget for 2018-19 announced that MSPs will be fixed at 1.5 times of the production costs for crops as a predetermined principle.Simply put, the CACP’s job now is only to estimate production costs for a season and recommend the MSPs by applying the 1.5-times formula.
  • How is this production cost arrived at? CACP considers both A2+FL and C2 costs while recommending MSP.However, C2 costs are used by CACP primarily as benchmark reference costs (opportunity costs) to see if the MSPs recommended by them at least cover these costs in some of the major producing States.
    • A2: It covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer — in cash and kind — on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
    • ‘A2+FL’: It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
    • ‘C2’: It is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets on top of A2+FL.

Additional Facts:

  • Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP): It is an attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. It is not a statutory body set up through an Act of Parliament.

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