9 PM Daily Brief – July 2nd,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-2

  1. Lockdown Impact on MGNREGA and Way ahead
  2. Global challenges and UN’s incapability to resolve them
  3. Reforming India’s digital policy
  4. Banning Applications – Goes against democratic norms

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Lockdown Impact on MGNREGA and Way ahead

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

Context: The government has launched PM Garib Kalyan Rozgar yojana which seems to overlap with MGNREGA.

About Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • It is an employment guarantee act, introduced in 2005 through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
  • The Act aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It is demand drivene. Worker to be hired when he demands and not when the Government wants it. Gram Panchayat is mandated to provide employment within 15 days of work application failing which worker is entitled to unemployment allowance
  • Payment of wages is provided within 15 days of competition of work failing which worker is entitled to delay compensation of 0.05%/ day of wages earned.
  • Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India in association with state governments monitors the implementation of the scheme.
How is the govt’s GKRA Yojana different from MGNREGA?

It seeks to provide 125 days of guaranteed employment and focuses on 116 districts across six states, which received the highest number of returnees. Unlike MGNREGA, it is a one-time scheme and is not available pan-India.

Impact of covid-19 lockdown on MGNREGA

  • The demand for MGNREGS work jumped by 55% from 21.2 million workers in May 2019 to 32.9 million in May 2020.
  • Since April, 3.5 million new workers have registered under the scheme reflecting the job losses in cities.
  • 116 districts, with the highest number of returnees, have witnessed 86% increase in demand under MGNREGS in May from 2019.

Concerns regarding MGNREGA

  • Insufficient budget allocation: MGNREGA’s success at the ground level is subject to proper and uninterrupted fund flow to the states. However, almost every year, more than 80% of funds get exhausted within the first six months
  • Supply driven scheme: Most states have implemented the scheme; till the time the funds were granted to them by Centre. Over time, this led to MGNREGS running in a supply-driven way instead of a demand-based model.
  • Low wage rate: MGNREGA wage of ₹202 per day is 30-40% lower than average wage offered to unskilled workers
  • Delay in wage payments:Wages remain uncleared even after 15 days, and many get denied work.

Measures to be taken:

  • Proper and timely allocation of funds
  • Ensuring minimum wages for workers
  • Effective monitoring of projects
  • Ensuring employment to rural households as per demand for work.
  • Guaranteed Unemployment allowance for all those denied work.

Conclusion: MGNREGA should not be diluted in the name of the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan. The potential for MGNREGA to provide relief to the suffering of rural India should be utilised to its fullest capacity especially in times of Corona when unemployment is at its highest.

2.Global challenges and UN’s incapability to resolve them

Source Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2 – Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

Context – Pandemic has accentuated challenges to global order which needs urgent reforms.

The four major challenges highlighted by the UN Secretary General- Antonio Guterres before arrival of the Corona virus are:

Corona virus crises has aggravated these issues by manifold during last two months:

Challenges Impact of Pandemic
1. Cyber-security threat 1. Cyber Pearl Harbor attack – cyberspace use has expanded in lockdowns across globe but without commensurate growth in security features. Thus next few months will see increase in cyber attacks.
2. Geo-political tensions 1. Increased rivalry of China – USA-China, India-China, Hong-Kong China reflects the state of exacerbated relations and tensions across the borders.
3. Global mistrust Mistrust among friendly neighbors

a. European Union -When faced with corona crisis shortages, almost all EU states responded at the national level.

b. Nordic nations – Norway opened its borders to the rest from the region bar Sweden, because of its infection rate.

 

Impact on diversified supply chains – From efficiency to self-sufficiency

a. India’s Atmanirbhar Mission

b. USA’s Buy American

c. Japan paying companies to relocate from China

 

Suggested reforms

  1.  Strengthening global governance – Reforming global governance architecture which includes reforms in UN organs as well.
  2. Implementing Paris agreement on Climate Change – In April daily carbon emissions were down by 17 per cent compared to last year. New data in June indicates that they are 5 per cent lower than at the same point in 2019, indicating a spurt. Thus, implementation of agreement in spirit and letter to constraint rise in emissions.

Way forward – Challenges that transcend borders are of cardinal importance to India’s well being. It is, therefore, time to conceptualize, in concrete terms, pathways to address them. This will need to include our envisaging the new order and India’s own role in it as well as who our partners in this venture are to be.

3.Reforming India’s digital policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Context: Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, investments in digital services continue to flow at record levels globally, outpacing investment in nearly every other sector.

Need for a robust Digital Policy in India

  • FDI potential: India is an ideal destination for increased FDI flows in the digital services sector.
  • Increasing digitised population: In 2018, India had over 480 million internet users across the country. This figure is projected to grow to over 660 million users by 2023.
  • Start-ups: India has huge potential for innovative homegrown start-ups.
  • Emerging importance of digital services:The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital services. Digital services enable access to and delivery of a wide array of products across multiple sectors, from healthcare to retail distribution to financial services.

Pending Reform Measures:

At present, there are three pending reform measures under consideration that are likely to affect India’s growth trajectory in digital services:

  1. Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB): The bill has been prepared by a high-level expert committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna. The bill seeks to provide for protection of personal data of individuals, create a framework for processing such personal data, and establishes a Data Protection Authority for the purpose.
  2. Draft e-commerce policy: It has been put forward by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The prime objective of the policy is to prepare and enable stakeholders to fully benefit from the opportunities that would arise from progressive digitalization of the domestic digital economy.
  3. Information Technology Act Amendmentswhich aim at making social media companies more responsible for potentially harmful content.

Challenges ahead:

  1. India’s policy changes need to reconcile with India’s strong interest in promoting data privacy, protecting its democratic institutions, and encouraging FDI and India’s position as a global leader in information technology.
  2. India is yet to conclude negotiation on a bilateral trade agreement with USA that could address some digital services issues.
  3. The U.S. has recently just initiated a “Section 301” review of whether digital services taxes in 10 countries constitute “unfair” trade measures, including India’s equalisation levy.

Conclusion: Post-COVID-19 international cooperation and approaches to good governance in the digital sphere should be top-priority initiatives to foster digital services in India.

 4.Banning Applications – Goes against democratic norms

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context – In a virtual strike, India bans Tik-Tok and 58 other apps with Chinese links which has raised questions on legality of strike.

Banning applications by passing an executive order has following legal implications: 

1. Lack of transparency – The legal order banning the apps, by itself has not yet been published or been made publicly available. Disclosure of this order is necessary because the nature of the action of blocking impacts the right not only of the owners of these smart-phone applications, but the public’s fundamental right to receive information.

2. Absence of parliamentary debate and consensus – The Ministry’s assessment may not have been technically examined or debated on the floor of the house. For instance, August 2012’ s decision of blocking around 245 web pages to prevent disinformation that purportedly was causing the exodus from Bengaluru of Indians belonging to the north-eastern part of the country was debated on floor of the house.

3. Aggrieved parties cannot approach court –In Shreya Singhal case, while upholding the blocking powers of the government, court reasoned that the writ remedies would always be available to an aggrieved person. Hence, to approach a High Court in a writ, the petitioner would require the availability of the legal order which needs it public disclosure by government.

 Suggested Solutions

1. Data Protection Act – Passing the bill will ensure privacy and data protection for national citizens, especially those using apps of hostile neighbor.

2. Examining relation between technological advancement and strategic concerns –This involves commencing an exploration into whether investments and operational control pose cyber security concerns. This may be done through legislation and creation of an institutional process that may draw inspiration from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. 

Way Forward – The principle of legality is inherent to a republic that is governed by laws and not the whims of powerful individuals in high office. It is the hallmark of a democracy that laws are validly enacted and do not violate fundamental rights.


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