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9 PM for Main examination
- In an uncertain world, a seat at the UNSC
- The Neglected Pillars of Hospital – The cleaning staff
- Staying alert: On monitoring non-COVID-19 diseases
- Custodial deaths In India – A pervasive Police Culture
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.In an uncertain world, a seat at the UNSC
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2-Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate
Context: India won the election for the non-permanent seat in the powerful United Nation Security Council (UNSC).
- India’s two-year term will begin on January 1, 2021.
- India is serving for the eighth time.
- Composition of UNSC:It is composed of 15 Members.
- Voting in General assembly: Members have to secure a two-third majority of the member states.
How countries were elected?
- Non-permanent members in respective regional groups and their sub-groups:
- Regional endorsements: If there is regional endorsement then all countries, except those with any grievance against the candidates, vote for them and they sail through easily.
- Difficulty in regional endorsement: The countries have to inscribe their names years in advance and those squatting countries have to be persuaded to vacate the place.
- For example- Last time, Kazakhstan vacated the place for India and this time Afghanistan.
- Excitement in Voting in General Assembly:
- Secret ballot: The two-thirds majority is assured but the competition is to secure all the votes cast.
- For example-India got 184 out of 192 vote cast and will never know about the eight countries that did not vote for India.
- African Group: Since there was no endorsement in the African Group, Kenya had to go for a second round against Djibouti.
- In the Western European and Others Group: Canada lost to Ireland in a contentious contest.
- Effect of COVID-19:
- Voting: Ambassadors were allowed to enter the General Assembly Hall one by one instead of the simultaneous voting that usually takes place.
- Unconventional campaign: It took place through Zoom conversations and the sharing of brochures and pamphlets rather than through meetings around the UN.
- Saving of money: The win is normally an occasion for celebration by the candidates.
- Success for India:
- Role of India: The new Permanent Representative of India, T.S. Tirumurti, produced an impressive multimedia presentation with memories of India’s sterling role in the annals of the UN.
- He reacted with victory with the belief that India will continue to provide leadership and a new orientation for a reformed multilateral system in the COVID and the post-COVID world.
The win for India Reignited the hope for its quest for permanent membership of the Council but it is difficult to amend the Charter to add new permanent members.
Issues in Reforms in UNSC:
- Procedure to amend the charter: The debate has thrown up many ideas but none of the proposals has the possibility of securing two-thirds majority of the General Assembly and the votes of the five permanent members.
- Role of Permanent members: They are sometimes adamant about protecting their privileged positions.
- Members against the privilege: Majority of the UN members are against the privileges of the permanent members particularly the veto.
- India’s performance in the Council may earn it respect but it will not lead to its elevation to permanent membership as the opposition to any expansion is not India-specific.
Indi will play a constructive role in UNSC.
India and UNSC:
- Higher profile: Non-permanent members have a collective veto over every resolution in the Council.
- Its role in resolutions: Permanent members can prevent adoption of resolutions by themselves but they need at least nine votes to get a resolution passed.
- Consultation process: India will have an access to the consultations chamber of the UNSC which is closed to non-members of the Council. It is there that hard negotiations take place without any public record characterized by arm-twisting and threats of veto.
- Pressure of different issues: India will get involved in many issues in which it may not have any direct interest.
- Proceeding cautiously: As India does not have veto, it has to work cautiously by not offending anyone.
- India’s mission has earned a reputation that it is next only to the permanent members in influence but its dealing in traditional challenges will depend on the turns and twists in an uncertain world.
- Counter-terrorism will be one of the highest priorities for India at the UNSC.
2.The Neglected Pillars of Hospital – The cleaning staff
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Context – COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of cleaning staff and without them doctors, nurses will be left paralyzed.
The services offered by cleaning staff remains precarious and devalued because of the following reasons:
- Low caste status– Most cleaners are Dalits who belonged to ‘sweeper castes.’
- Low class status– The fact that most of them are contract workers makes them vulnerable to exploitative practices like low wages and absence of social security measures.
Issues they witness in hospitals:
- Neglected by Policy makers– Even in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, Indians were encouraged to applaud the work done by doctors, nurses, and ‘other health workers’ and nowhere the term cleaning staff was used by policy makers to recognize their efforts.
- Absence of basic protective gears– Cleaners do not have gloves as they sweep and mop floors, clean latrines, and wipe delivery tables leave alone a full PPE kit.
- Lack of training– Most cleaners have never received any training as:
- First, cleaning jobs are not considered important enough to warrant special training.
- Second, anyone of a sweeper caste who took the job of a cleaner is assumed to already know what to do.
- Third, hospital staff who received infection control training often did not communicate procedures and guidelines in detail to cleaners because they assumed that they were not intelligent enough to understand.
Way Forward – Policy makers must not allow caste prejudices to exacerbate the dangers of COVID-19. Rather, they should take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to train, protect, and improve the working conditions of these essential workers as they do the indispensable work of ensuring the survival of the sick.
3.Staying alert: On monitoring non-COVID-19 diseases
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Context: Analysing the role of the IDSP in monitoring of the non-COVID-19 diseases.
- IDSP is responsible for alerting the Centre and the wider world on a weekly basis about the emergence of disease outbreaks, a surge in novel pathogens, the rate of spread and remedial action taken. On average, there are 30-40 such alerts.
- Advent of COVID-19:
- Reduction in alerts: The latest weekly report available on the IDSP website is from Week 12 (March 16-22). The alerts have reduced from 2017-2020 in the same week.
- In Week 11 this year, there were 28 alerts of which 12 were for COVID-19 and these corresponded to the 110 cases of the disease that were reported in that week of March from when the disease escalated.
- The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is one of the major National Health Programme under National Health Mission for all States & UTs.
- Objective:To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory-based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends and to detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs).
- It is the backbone of India’s disease monitoring network.
The COVID-19 appears to have veiled the country from any other disease.
Effect of COVID-19 on health infrastructure:
- New normal: The IDSP went into new normal once the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and a lockdown was imposed. It led to reduced focus on other diseases as the reports of other diseases suffered because:
- Neglect of other diseases: There has been a reduction in the notifications of fresh tuberculosis infections and a general decline in claims under the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme.
- Contribution of lockdown: It led to decline of contagious diseases just like to decline in accident related deaths. Many of the outbreaks that are routinely reported involve pathogens contracted from contaminated water or those airborne that spread through social interaction.
- Lack of public updates: The alerts for health has significantly reduced since March 12 which is totally unacceptable for the health of the people.
The pandemic has many lessons for the world.
Learning for the world:
- No perfect forecast of diseases: No modelling can quite forecast the spread of disease and an affliction that may seem under control one week can quickly be threatening the next week.
- Need for routine examination: The unlock policy of the countries should also apply to routine surveillance for other diseases.
- Importance of Manpower: The IDSP is mirroring the experience of public health facilities in other countries and is trying to recruit in the middle of a pandemic. There should be enough manpower to fulfill its mandates.
It will be disastrous if the focus on COVID-19 come at the expense of monitoring other diseases.
4.Custodial deaths In India – A pervasive Police Culture
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 2 – Important aspects of governance
Context – The tragic deaths of P. Jayaraj and J. Benicks, a father-son duo in a small town in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu has highlighted the presence of culture of torture in police force of India.
Torture is integral part of Police forces:
- Data by Asian Centre for Human Rights– The Asian Centre for Human Rights(ACHR) has consistently underlined that about 99.99% of deaths in police custody can be ascribed to torture and occur within 48 hours of the victims being taken into custody.
- Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has stated that a total of 1,674 custodial deaths, took place from 1 April 2017 to 28 February 2018.
- Centerpiece of legislations against heinous crimes – The fact is that the current laws facilitate such torture, such as through the admissibility of confessions as evidence under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
- Supreme Court on torture– In Francis Coralie Mullin v. Union Territory of Delhi (1981) and Sheela Barse v. State of Maharashtra (1987), the Court condemned cruelty and torture as violative of Article 21.
Implications of Custodial deaths
Solution to curb custodial deaths:
- Recognizing its presence– The recognition that torture is endemic and a systemic problem is must as Indian government has denied its presence on many platforms.
- For instance – In 2017, the then Attorney-General represented India in United Nations Human Rights Council and invoked Gandhi and Buddha, stating that “India…believe[s] in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity. As such, the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance of the nation.”
- Strict legal framework– The only answer lies in stringent legal framework that is aligned with and committed to the principles of international law under the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) to which India has been a signatory since 1997.
- Implementation and enforcement– A watertight enforcement mechanism that deters such practices is needed along with a law.
- Social Mobilization through movement– People’s movement at home too, like #Blacklivesmatter against USA police, will bring about the necessary legislative changes that the Law Commission has suggested, and that encourages institutions to #EndTortureToday.
Way Forward – Participation of all stakeholders including the media, civil society and student groups is must in bringing about the change we want to see in the Police’s colonial era practices.
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