9 PM Daily Brief – July 24th,2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-1

  1. Urban-Rural India – The false division

GS-2

  1. Calibrated balance: On India and non-alignment
  2. Deepening India-South Korea ties

GS-3

  1. Organizing Rural Labor force
  2. Covid-19 and Inequality

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Urban-Rural India – The false division

Source Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 1 – Urbanization – problems and their remedies

Context – In contrast to the imagination of the city as a hub of social and economic activity, it is now perceived as the center of disease and distress.

Challenges in Urban areas

  1. Over- Congestion in cities–The congestion is most evident in slums in large cities and poses a grave health and environmental challenge. The risk of contagious diseases is more potent in these areas as residents also suffer from a lack of basic services such as safe drinking water and sanitation.

For instance – Many slums in Mumbai and Delhi have become COVID-19 containment zones.

  1. Over-burdened health systems– The health systems in megacities like Delhi and Mumbai are also overburdened and face a shortage of hospital staff and beds. The urban support under the National Health Mission is just three per cent of the total allocation, while 97 per cent of the funds are set aside for rural areas.
  2. Biased policies favoring large citiesonly – Current infrastructure development schemes, including the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Smart Cities Mission, focus on Class I cities. Both these schemes focus on development projects and provide funds for the more developed cities that already have relatively better infrastructure and overlook the nearly seven crore people who live in smaller towns (population between 20,000 and one lakh).
  3. Lack of employment opportunities– While the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) provides employment opportunities to rural households, there is no equivalent scheme for the poor in urban areas.
  4. Environmental challenge– According to the report published by IQAir AirVisual, 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India. This pollution challenge will be exacerbated by the waste created for tackling Covid which includes bio-medical and solid waste.

Way Forward – Small towns that are urban in nature but rural in character are the most neglected in the current policy environment. They are forced to exist with poorer services and policy neglect while having to meet the demands of a large population. Thus, policy orientation toward the binary of rural-urban classification needs to include the smaller town for inclusive development of all.

2.Calibrated balance: On India and non-alignment

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Analyzing the separate statements of the External Affairs Minister which laid out India’s world view in the face of global challenges.

Background:

  • Contention of External Affairs Minister:
    • Non-alignment as a concept belonged to a bygone era.
    • Multipolarity in the world necessitated that India would have to take a definite stand and even take “risks” on issues such as connectivity, maritime security, terrorism and climate change.
  • Not rejecting Non-Alignment in its entirety:
    • While it would no longer remain disentangled from difficult decisions but it would not compromise on its independence.
    • Not part of any alliance: India has never been part of an alliance system nor looking at now. Even the U.S. must look beyond its present alliances and engage with more multilateral arrangements.

Non-alignment:

  • Non-alignment worked for India during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
  • Land boundary between India and China would always be a factor in a “new cold war” between the U.S and China.
  • Indo-U.S. cooperation:In many fields such as the growing maritime collaboration like QUAD.
  • Hard reality: Military collaboration with US on land would prove problematic given India’s disputed boundary with China.

Assessment of India’s constraints and avenues for its potential growth:

  • Assertion of India’s strategic independence: India’s resistance to joining any alliance comes as a timely reminder amid speculation that tensions with China will push India into a stronger friendship with US.
  • Raising the land issue only bilaterally: This despite multiple references by the U.S. Secretary of State to the India-China clashes. He has called for jointly countering China.
  • Outreach to Moscow: Including a visit by Defence Minister and the participation of Mr. Jaishankar in the Russia-India-China trilateral last month and the External Affairs Minister’s comments that India should also seek to build coalitions with “middle powers” such as the EU and Japan.

Way Forward

  • At a time of a double crisis for India — battling the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country and Chinese aggression at the border — the message from New Delhi is one of a carefully calibrated balance.

3.Deepening India-South Korea ties

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2-    Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: Analyzing the relationship between India and South Korea who have signed numerous bilateral agreements with the aim of taking their ties to the next level.

Background:

  • Economic partnership: Itis struck at $22 billion annually.
  • Defence partnership: It appears to have receded from great all-round promise to the mere sale and purchase of weapon systems.
  • People to people: Indians and South Koreans are failing to touch a mutually meaningful chord of empathy. This is at least in part due to cultural prejudices on both sides which stands in the way of a relationship based on openness, curiosity and warmth.
  • Not sufficient momentum: Whatever bilateral progress has been made in the realm of trade and investment has not let people start building bridges in other areas.
  • For example-
    • For South Koreans: There may be a widespread perception of India as a third world country rife with poverty and hunger. While it is true that India is far from eradicating these deprivations, their extent may be exaggerated in the minds of some.
    • For Indian: Indians are unable to distinguish between the cultural and social characteristics of South Koreans and people of other East Asian nations.

Indians in South Korea:

  • Racial prejudice:
    • Within South Korea, the integration of Indians in the local population is far from complete.
    • There have been some instances of what appears to be racial discrimination including toward Indians in work settings in South Korea.
  • Mutual respect regarding cultural values:
    • Itis the key to build a robust partnership between two countries.
    • This would help in filling the information gap that exists between the two countries.
    • Information of Korean Culture: The defining traits of Japan’s and China’s cultures are better identified than those of Korean culture.
  • Indian Culture Centre in Seoul:
    • India’s engagement with a strategically important Asian nation: The establishment of the Indian Culture Centre (ICC) in Seoul 10 years ago was a step in the right direction.
    • Mission: To promote people-to-people contacts.
    • The current focus is on diplomatic initiatives. Though it is an important but not the only component of a potentially rich bilateral space. It can sometimes be complicated for the average South Korean to access its offices and services.
    • The ICC’s attempts to broad-base an appreciation of Indian culture by for example teaching south Indian dances to elementary school students in South Korea or organizing experiential sessions centered on Indian cuisine are commendable.
    • Need focus of the common man of South Korea: Then only it may reach an exponentially wider audience beyond the urban, English-speaking elite of Seoul. The same may be applicable to South Korean culture centers in India.

Way Forward

  • Shifting Balance of power in the region: India and South Korea may need each like never before to protect their ways of life.
  • Both countries will be able to help each other only if they can fill the cultural gaps.
  • People from the two countries need to overcome cultural biases and move closer to each other

4.Organizing Rural Labor force

Source – Financial Express

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

Context – In order to help the rural economy get back to its feet, the government must provide structural reforms to the unorganized rural population.

Unorganized rural population – This comprises the unorganized labour in the industrial and service segments, the small and marginal landed and landless farmers.

Steps to organize rural labor force

  1. Leasing out farm land– Allowing farmers with small landholdings to lease out their lands to a consolidator or Farmer Producer Companies will lead to
    • Minimum wage for farmers– Farmers would be entitled to a lease rental for their land and would get priority to work on the land for a monthly wage that should also be standardized under the minimum wages regime.
    • Scientific farming– Consolidation of farm holdings would enable scientific farming and improve yields per acre of land as the consolidator can bring in modern agriculture techniques, plan their cropping cycle and use high-yielding seeds and fertilizers to maximize crop yields.
    • Objectivity in policy making– The government can also work in coordination with the consolidators to plan the crop acreage and decide on the MSP based on the total planned output of various crops and also ensure that the cultivator gets a fair return for their investment.
  1. Skilling farm labor– Excess farm labor should be identified, and skilling institutions be set up for their training, for jobs that are essential or are in demand. Initiatives should be taken for them to be able to join the MGNREGA with farm operations to provide more work.
  2. Using data for policy implementation– A comprehensive database of farm and farm-less labour in terms of number and their skill sets is essential to put them to optimum and productive employment.
    • Better allocation of human resource– This skilled labour can be used to expedite various infrastructure and capital development schemes of the government.
    • Preventing congestion in cities– This will ensure that labour does not migrate to the cities unless they have the requisite skills and can be linked to any company in the manufacturing or services sector.

Way Forward – To give a fillip to the agriculture sector amid the gloom of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the government has rightly announced a spree of reforms, including additional funds and loans for farming and allied activities and a proposed deregulation of the sector. However, in long term organizing farm labor will accrue multiple benefits for all the stakeholders and this require an array of structural reforms in post-corona India.

5.Covid-19 and Inequality

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS-3- Inclusive growth and associated issues/challenges

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated health and economic crises have revealed the loopholes in our economic and political systems and highlighted the inequality in the society.

Covid-19 and Inequality

  • Vertical Inequality: The plight of persons living in poverty during the pandemic, such as those living in informal settlements, in over-crowded homes is a stark reminder of vertical inequality.
  • Poor and marginalised communities are also more likely to live near polluting and extractive projects which cause respiratory health issues and make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Oxfam has estimated that there are 121 million more people may face starvation due to mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies as a result of Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Further, according to the World Food Programme, there will be an 82% increase in the number of hungry in the countries where it operates. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted countries where food crisis is already prevalent. For example, there is 135a5 increase in the number of food insecure people in west and central Africa.
  • Economic growth has led to reduction in income inequality among countries. But within countries, inequality in income has, increased by 4% in Gini Coefficient. A Food and Agriculture Organization assessment reveals that COVID-19 may cause an increase in each country’s Gini by 2%

Suggested Reforms:

  • It is important to invest in health, water, food, housing, social protection and education as rights, not commodities.
  • It is important investing in inequality-busting public services; tackling systemic discrimination and taking ambitious rights-respecting climate action
  • Transformative solutions based on rights and dignity to realise a just and equitable world for present and future generations should be built.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

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