9 PM Daily Brief – December 4, 2020

Good evening dear reader

Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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GS 2

Reopening schools for exams

Gender deficit in Indian Judicial system

Religious Freedom and Personal Choices

GS 3

Need for the procurement system

Protesting farmer’ concerns

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Reopening schools for exams

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS- 2

Context: It is reasonable to plan for school exams in summer if progress on COVID-19 holds.

Should schools reopen for exams, if the covid-19 situation improves?

Views against opening schools:

  • State board’s stance: State Boards are yet to make up their minds on the schedule for annual examinations and the academic session for next year.
  • Badly affected Maharashtra and Gujarat are thinking of postponing the final examinations.
  • ICSE’s views: The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has appealed to States to allow its schools to open Classes 10 and 12 in a limited way early in January.
  • Conflicts in some states: There is also the likely conflict between summer elections in large States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala, and the examination schedule for 2021.

Argument in favour:

The strongest argument in favour of a written Board examination is that it eliminates asymmetrical access, including technology deficits, and gives all pupils an equal opportunity to score.

  • View of CBSE: The CBSE which has more than 20,000 schools under its domain at the secondary level, has weighed in favour of written mode tests, obviously counting on progress in dealing with the pandemic.
    • The board was able to wrap up its 2020 examination schedule that began in mid-February, without getting derailed by the national lockdown in March.
  • Syllabus reduction: Students are relieved that, in line with the experience in countries such as the U.K., the syllabus has been significantly cut down and examination schedules may be put off by a few months beyond March.
  • Vaccine covering teachers: The availability of a good vaccine that will also cover teachers and students through a staggered programme is arguably key to determining the coming year’s academic time-table.

Way forward

  • Hearing public concerns: Education Minister’s move to hear public concerns on such issues through an online consultation is a positive step to build consensus.
  • India is better placed than America or Europe to provide ventilated classrooms, an important factor in controlling viral spread, because of the climate. Yet, a definitive view on the school schedule for 2021 is not possible until the course of the pandemic over the next few months becomes clear.

Gender deficit in Indian Judicial system

Source: Indian Express

GS2: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

Context: Attorney-general KK Venugopal has asked the Supreme court to fix gender deficit in the Indian judicial system.

Facts on number of Women in Indian judicial system.

  • Women comprise only 7.2 per cent of all the judges in the SC and the high courts.
  • There were only eight women judges till now in supreme court and there has never been a woman Chief Justice of India.

Why the Indian judicial system is alleged gender insensitive?

  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court had asked a man accused of “outraging the modesty of a woman” to visit the home of the victim and ask her to tie a rakhi.
  • Nine women lawyers had moved the SC against the bail order.
  • Courts are also known to nudge alleged sexual offenders and victims towards “compromise weddings”.
  • In one instance, SC Chief Justice presided over a case in which he had been accused of sexual harassment at workplace. The SC, which has empowered judgments on gender rights failed to institute an impartial mechanism to deal with the allegations.
  • Similar judgments and conduct of court get tangled in patriarchal notions of honour instead of holding up constitutional rights.

What needs to be done?

  • Need for gender sensitisation of judges and lawyers to avoid judgments that exuberates patriarchy.
  • Greater representation of women across all levels of judiciary is urgently needed for dismantling patriarchal attitudes.

The judiciary should consider the suggestions of the attorney-general and apprise itself of the gender skew in its workings and take urgent steps to bridge the gap.

Religious Freedom and Personal Choices

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Indian Constitution Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Context: The Allahabad High Court verdict in ‘Salamat Ansari’ is a reminder of the Constitution’s most cherished values.

What did the court say?

  • Religious conversions, even when made solely for the purposes of marriage, constituted a valid exercise of a person’s liberties.
  • The High Court ruled that the freedom to live with a person of one’s choice is intrinsic to the fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
  • It held that the judgment in Noor Jahan was incorrectly delivered. Marriage is a matter of choice, and every adult woman has a fundamental right to choose her own partner.

What is the issue?

  • Legislation: Various State governments undertaking projects to outlaw what they describe pejoratively as “Love Jihad”.
  • Petitioners vs. State:
    • The petitioners had approached the High Court seeking orders to quash a First Information Report (FIR). This FIR alleged that crime was committed under Section 366 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises the abduction of a woman with an intent to compel her to marry against her will.
    • The State argued that the partnership had no sanctity in the law, because a conversion with a singular aim of getting married was illegitimate.

What are the other related judgements?

  • Noor Jahan v. State of U.P. (2014): the High Court had held that a conversion by an individual to Islam was valid only when it was predicated on a “change of heart” and on an “honest conviction” in the tenets of the newly adopted religion.
    • Burden of proof: the High Court had ruled that the burden to prove the validity of a conversion was on the party professing the act.
  • Stainislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh: the Court upheld, on grounds of public order, two of the earliest anti-conversion statutes in India: the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, and the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967. These laws required that a District Magistrate be informed each time a conversion was made and prohibited any conversion that was obtained through fraud or illegal inducement.

What does the judgement signify?

  • Right to religious freedom: it is neither the province of the state nor any other individual to interfere with a person’s choice of partner or faith.
  • Right to privacy: It held that an individual’s ability to control vital aspects of her life inheres in her right to privacy. Puttaswamy judgement, has recognised that every individual possesses a guaranteed freedom of thought.
  • Right to live with dignity: It includes the preservation of decisional autonomy, on matters such as “personal intimacies, the sanctity of family life, marriage, procreation, the home, and sexual orientation”.
  • Freedom of conscience: Article 25 of the Constitution expressly protects the choices that individuals make. It guarantees to every person the freedom of conscience. The idea of protecting one’s freedom of conscience goes beyond mere considerations of religious faith.

This is high time that we need to respect people’s choices. When we fail to acknowledge and respect the most intimate and personal choices that people make,we undermine the most basic principles of dignity.

Need for the procurement system

Source- The Hindu

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- Dismantling the procurement system is neither in the interests of farmers nor the government.

What are the concerns of farmers related to new farmer’s acts?

Farmer’s concern- 

  • Their main worry is about a possible withdrawal of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a dismantling of the public procurement of grains.
  • This could corporatize agriculture; threaten the current mandi network and State revenues.

However, the government claims that the farmer’s new laws will-

  • Break the monopoly- It allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers produce beyond the physical premises of Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee (APMC) markets.
  • The MSP-procurement system will continue, and that there is absolutely no plan to dismantle the system.
  • Unshackle farmers– increase options for farmers in the output markets
  • Boost competition– The competition will increase and private investment will reach villages. Farming infrastructure will be built and new employment opportunities will be generated.

Why farm protests have been highly intense in Punjab, Haryana?

  1. PDS is the lifeline – The procurement system and MSP mechanism is strong in Punjab and Haryana.
  • Nearly 88% of the paddy production and 70% of the wheat production in Punjab and Haryana (in 2017-18 and 2018-19) has been absorbed through public procurement.
  1. Other states are hardly benefitted from the MSP mechanism.

Does government want this procurement system?

The need for procurement of paddy and wheat to government is even more because-

  1. To support the needy one– There are nearly 80 crore NFSA (National Food Security Act) beneficiaries and an additional eight crore migrants who need to be supported under the PDS.
  2. To maintain the PDS –  The government needs an uninterrupted supply of grain, particularly from these two States.
  3. To overcome COVID-19 situation- Due to the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the migrant crisis, government needs to procure a huge quantum of grains than in previous years as the government cannot afford to go to the open market.

What improvements are required in new farmer’s Act?

  • Regulatory mechanism– Framework for supervision of all trade (irrespective of its being done on the electronic market or physical market) to ensure fair play by private players vis-à-vis farmers
  • Lack of transparency in trade area transactions are two of the major limitations that need to be addressed immediately.

Instituting these safeguards will make the reforms foolproof.

What is the way forward?

  • The government has to continue its procurement from Punjab and Haryana even after the COVID-19 situation improves and the migrant crisis abates, as the obligations under the NFSA will continue.
  • The government should reach out to the farmer groups and assures them of the indispensability of MSP-procurement system.

Protesting farmer’ concerns

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- Three Acts in Parliament and handed hurriedly, ignoring critical objections inside each house and the opposition outdoors.

Why are these bills being opposed?

  1. End of MSP– The bills also lack any assurance about Minimum Support Price(MSP)
  • Dismantling of the monopoly of the APMCs as a sign of ending the assured procurement of food grains at minimum support prices (MSP).
  • After the abolition of mandis, farmers in Bihar on average received lower prices compared to the MSP for most crops.
  1. Promote corporate control– The farmers contend the federal government is making ready to withdraw from the procurement of food grain and hand it over to the company gamers.
  2. Weak grievances redress system– The dispute decision mechanism from the purview of courts and fingers it over to the SDM and the DC, who’re perceived as being below stress from their political masters.
  3. Hamper the rural growth– The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce act prohibits State governments from collecting market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets that are used for rural growth and market infrastructure.
  4. No mechanism for price fixation – The Price Assurance Act offers protection to farmers against price exploitation.
  5. Food security– Easing of regulation of food commodities in the essential commodities list would lead to hoarding of farm produce during the harvest season when prices are generally lower.
  • This could undermine food security since the States would have no information about the availability of stocks within the State.
  1. Against the Spirit of Cooperative federalism– Since agriculture and markets are State subjects, the ordinances are being seen as a direct encroachment upon the functions of the States

However, the authorities argues that-

  • Farmers will get higher prices– The acts aim to increase the availability of buyers for farmers’ produce, by allowing them to trade freely without any license or stock limit, so that an increase in competition among them results in better prices for farmers.
  • Contract farming– This can present predetermined costs to farmers contracted upfront which will guarantee costs greater than the MSP.
  • This enables farmers to promote their produce anyplace within the nation and interact with personal corporations to promote their crops.

What is the way forward?

  • The farmers’ unions want a complete withdrawal of the recently enacted Farm Acts, and an assurance that MSP and procurement by FCI will proceed.
  • The Farm Acts were legislative measures that were passed without elaborate discussion with stakeholders. Thus, government has to take steps to address the genuine fears of farmers.

Other Important news:-

 How NRIs could vote by post

News: Election Commission(EC) has approached the Law Ministry to permit NRIs to cast their votes from overseas through postal ballots.


  • Current Strength of NRI voters: According to a UN report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.However, Registration of NRI voters in comparison has been very low: a little over one lakh overseas Indians registered as voters in India.
  • What is the current process of voting for NRIs? An NRI can vote in the constituency in which her place of residence as mentioned in the passport is located.She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.
  • If approved, how will voting by postal ballots work for NRIs? According to the EC, any NRI interested in voting through the postal ballot in an election will have to inform the Returning Officer(RO) not later than five days after the notification of the election.On receiving such information, the RO will dispatch the ballot paper electronically.
    • The NRI voters will download the ballot paper mark their preference on the printout and send it back along with a declaration attested by an officer appointed by the diplomatic or consular representative of India in the country where the NRI is resident.

Additional Facts:

    • Postal Ballot: It is a type of voting in elections whereby Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot Papers(ETPB) are distributed to electors and returned by post.

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