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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today
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9 PM for Main examination
- One Nation One Voter ID
- On Prime Minister’s e-Vidya scheme
- Plight of Domestic Workers amid Covid-19 Pandemic
- Importance of Service sector
- Aatma Nirbhar Bharat in agriculture
- Journalism – In need of re-invention
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.One Nation One Voter ID
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 –The stark indignity that many internal migrants endured on their long march home suggests that they are perceived as being politically powerless as they do not form part of voter banks. This calls for considering One Nation One Voter ID as a policy measure to resolve the issue.
Data on Eligible voters
- Total number of registered voters – India currently has over 91.05 crore registered voters and in the 2019 general election, a record 67.4%, i.e., 61.36 crore voters, cast their vote.
- Registered voters who don’ cast vote – 29.68 crore
- National Election Study surveys have shown that about 10% of registered voters refrain from voting due to a lack of interest in politics. That leaves approximately 20 crore voters who want to vote but are unable to do so.
Current model’s of voter portability
- Service voters (government employees) posted away from home can vote through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).
- Classified service voters (e.g., military personnel) can do so through their proxies.
- For senior citizens – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made it possible for senior citizens above the age of 65 to vote by postal ballot, given that they are at greater risk from exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Plight of Internal migrants
- Total number of internal migrants – Internal migrant workers constitute about 13.9 crore as in the Economic Survey of 2017, that is nearly a third of India’s labour force.
- Issues they face for voting –
- Lack of proof of residence – Internal migrant workers do not enroll as voters in their place of employment since they find proof of residence hard to provide.
- Not affordable – Many are seasonal migrants who would rather vote in their villages if they could afford to return home.
Suggested solution for migrant workers –
- Immediate measure– Migrants should be able to physically vote in their city of work based on the address on their existing voter IDs and duration of their temporary stay.
- Long term measure– Aadhaar-linked voter-ID based solution to enable electors to cast their votes digitally from anywhere in the country.
Way forward – Ensuring that every Indian who is eligible to vote can do so must be a central mission for the ECI. We must demonstrate the political will to usher in ‘One Nation One Voter ID,’ to ensure native ballot portability and empower the forgotten migrant voter. Once migrant workers get to exercise their franchise, we expect that we will see a change in how they are treated.
2.On Prime Minister’s e-Vidya scheme
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS-2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context: Union finance minister launched PM eVidya programme in May 2020.
PM e-Vidya Scheme
It is a programme for multimode access to digital/ online education. It aims to promote digital education in the country and make e- learning feasible for students and teachers.
- Top hundred universities will be permitted to start online classes.
- DIKSHAfor school education: This will consist of e-content and energized textbooks for all grades in all the schools across the states and union territories of the country.
- One earmarked TV channel per class for 1st to 12th standard, to air educational content related to their courses and syllabus this academic year.
- Extensive use of radio, community radio and podcasts to broadcast educational programmes for students living in nearby localities.
- Manodarpan: This is an initiative for the psychosocial support of students, teachers and families, who are struggling to maintain their mental health and emotional well-being
- New National Curriculum and Pedagogical framework for school, early childhood and teachers, which will be integrated with 21st century skill requirements.
- National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission, which will ensure that every child attains learning levels and outcomes in grade 5 by 2025.
- Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY):It consists of bespoke materials for the differently-abled.
Significance of e-Vidya Programme
- It synergises and strengthens several distance-education projects — digital, online, and mass media.
- It will benefit 25-crore school children by providing them access to education sitting at home.
- it focuses on developing permanent assets for quality education for generations to come.
- it focuses on equity in education as the dedicated channel for education on tv will help students who do not have access to internet
Conclusion: The approach to education during the pandemic has relied on short-term and strategic initiatives. The e-Vidya scheme is a commendable initiative which will lay a strong foundation for the education system in India.
3.Plight of Domestic Workers amid Covid-19 Pandemic
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and the States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections
Context: Domestic workers are struggling to make ends meet as employers choose to keep them away during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Domestic Workers in India- Brief Overview:
- According to data, Indian homes have witnessed a 120% increase in domestic workers in the decade post liberalisation-from 7,40,000 in 1991, to 16.6 lakh in 2001.
- According to data provided by the Delhi Labour Organisation, at present there are over five crore domestic workers in India, most of whom are women.
Issues faced by domestic workers:
- Lack of legal protection:Domestic work is a predominately female-dominated sector that is poorly regulated and often unprotected by labour law.
- Working Conditions: Domestic workers face the major problems such as – low wages, long working hours, harassment, sexual exploitation, physical torture, poor working conditions.
- Low bargaining power:The domestic workers seldom have an organized mechanism for collective bargaining since they work in the informal sector.
- Lack of Social Security: Domestic workers are not entitled to old-age pensions, gratuity or bonus or medical insurance.
Initiatives taken by Indian Government:
- Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008:
- The Act covers domestic workers and provides formulation of social security schemes for life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits and old age protection by the Central government.
- The State governments are mandated under the Act to formulate suitable welfare schemes for unorganised sector workers relating to provident fund, employment injury benefits, housing, education schemes for children, skill upgradation of workers, financial assistance and old age homes.
- Draft National Policy on Domestic Workers:It seeks to provide right to form their own associations/unions, right to minimum wages, access to social security etc.
- Code on Social Security, 2019: It proposes to amalgamate legislations pertaining to provident fund, pension, medical insurance, maternity benefits, gratuity and compensation. It will subsume Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008
Way Forward: There needs to be a detailed legislative framework that ensures that domestic workers are treated with dignity and respect. Legislation should provide range of workers’ rights such as caps on working hours, bonuses for overtime work, maternity benefits, the prohibition of unfair dismissal
4.Importance of Service sector
Source: Live Mint
Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment
Context: Analysing the role of the service sector for the recovery of Indian economy.
- In 2004-05, services constituted 43.5% of the economy.
- By 2019-20, the proportion had jumped to 50.4%.
Role of service sector in economy:
- Share of Manufacturing sector:
- Historically, countries first develop a vibrant manufacturing sector before creating a vibrant services sector because service businesses emerge to cater to the needs of the growing industrial middle class as factories pop up around cities.
- The manufacturing share of GDP rises steadily before peaking between 20%-35%.
- Indian economy: It has not followed the historical development formula as the size of the manufacturing sector has varied between 15%-16% of the economy in the last decade and a half.
- Growth of service sector:
- The Building of factories generates funds for upgrading them which then increases pressure to invest in improving roads, bridges, ports, railroads, power grids and water systems.
- All this creates jobs and gives people the purchasing power to demand services.
- People have had to fend for themselves to earn a living as the manufacturing sector has not created enough jobs.
- This is reflected in the informal services sector with a huge number of street vendors and small businesses seen across cities.
- Activities part of services:
- Trade, hotels, transport, financial services, real estate and public administration come under services.
- Effect of COVID-induced lockdown: Most of these sectors have either been asked to remain shut or norms of social distancing have ensured that people are staying away.
Importance of revival of service sector:
- Service forms half of the economy: The Care Ratings points out in a research note that two-thirds of the economic sectors would broadly be operating at 50-70% capacity by end Q3 [December] then the balance may not even reach this state this year.
- Longer time to normal: Services like hospitality, tourism, travel, entertainment would take a much longer time to reach anywhere close to normal.
- Services (including the self-employed) will continue to remain unviable as long as social distancing norms are to be followed.
Addressing of concerns and Way Forward
- Limited survival: The Report on Fifth Annual Employment-Unemployment Survey (2015-16) has pointed out that 67.5% of self-employed workers had average monthly earnings of up to ₹7,500 and the things have not improved much.
- The economic revival is not possible unless these individuals get back to business.
5.Aatma Nirbhar Bharat in agriculture
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3- Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, – different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Context: Analysing the scope of “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat (ANB)” in agriculture.
- Indian PM has given the clarion call for ANB in the backdrop of COVID-19 (which has disrupted the global supply chains) and border standoff with China.
- Protectionism: The government has banned 59 Chinese apps, has stepped up effort to check imports and investments from China and asked Indians to “be vocal for local”.
“Aatma nirbharta” in the agriculture sector:
- Presumption: A large country like India should produce most of its food at home.
- Increase in foreign exchange reserves: The “aatma nirbharta” in food is because of reforms in correction of the exchange rate which is coupled with the gradual integration of India with the world economy.
- This has helped India increase its foreign exchange reserves from $1.1 billion in June end, 1991 to more than $500 billion today.
|· The availability of foreign exchange reserves: If India had spent all its foreign currency reserves (the country had about $400 million) just on wheat imports, it could have imported about seven million tonnes (mt) of wheat.||· India has foreign exchange reserves of more than $500 billion.|
· Even if the country has to buy 20 mt of wheat at a landed cost of $250/tonne, it will spend just $5 billion — just one per cent of its foreign exchange reserves.
- India as Net exporter of agri-produce: The graph presents exports and imports of agricultural commodities over the last 10 years (2010-11 to 2019-20).
- It clearly shows that India has been a net exporter of agri-produce ever since the economic reforms began in 1991.
- Golden time of agri-trade: It was 2013-14 when agri-exports peaked at $43.6 billion while imports were $18.9 billion, giving a net trade surplus of $24.7 billion.
- Sluggish agri-exports: Since 2014, agri-exports have been sluggish and sliding and in 2019-20, agri-exports were just $36 billion and the net agri-trade surplus at $11.2 billion.
How to chalk out a strategy for increasing agriculture exports?
- Comparative advantage:
- India needs to export more where we have a competitive edge and importing where we lack competitiveness.
- Current agri-export basket of 2019-20:
- It gives a sense of “revealed comparative advantage”. Marine products with $6.7 billion exports top the list, followed by rice at $6.4 billion (basmati at $4.6 billion and common rice at $2.0 billion), spices at $3.6 billion, buffalo meat at $3.2 billion, sugar at $2.0 billion, tea and coffee at $1.5 billion, fresh fruits and vegetables at $1.4 billion, and cotton at $1 billion.
- High subsidy effects:
- Rice and sugar cultivation are quite subsidised through free power and highly subsidised fertilisers which accounts for about 10-15% of the value of rice and sugar produced on a per hectare basis.
- Faster depletion of groundwater: It is leading to the virtual export of water as one kg of rice requires 3,500-5,000 litres of water for irrigation and one kg of sugar consumes about 2,000 litres of water.
- Incentives for exports of high-value agri-produce like fruits and vegetables, spices:
- On the agri-imports front, the biggest item is edible oils which values about $10 billion (more than 15 mt).
- Atma Nirbharta: India needs to create a competitive advantage through augmenting productivity and increasing the recovery ratio of oil from oilseeds and in case of palm oil, from fresh fruit bunches.
- Potential: The maximum lies in oil palm apart from the mustard, sunflower, groundnuts and cottonseed. This is the only plant that can give about four tonnes of oil on a per hectare basis.
- India has about 2 million hectares that are suitable for oil palm cultivation — this can yield 8 mt of palm oil.
Government needs a long-term vision and strategy to achieve the “aatma nirbharta” in agriculture which requires incentives for export of high-value agri-produce.
6.Journalism – In need of re-invention
Source – The Hindu
Syllabus – GS 4 – Probity in Public service and work culture
Context – Everyone acknowledges that the news industry is in deep crisis. While the prognosis varies and the prescriptions for revival differ, everyone seems to believe that in order survive for sake of democracy, journalism must be re-imagined.
Reasons contributing for crises of journalism
- Digital disruptions– Technology has transformed the way news is produced, delivered and consumed around the world in following ways:
- Worldwide access to journalism, wherever it is reported or published. This includes changes in revenues and costs and in how journalists perform their roles.
- Faster response to news by journalists and their consumers, with implications for the ethics and accuracy of those stories.
- Lower costs of production, enabling greater competition and requiring dynamic new business models.
- New platforms, particularly in social media, that shift the balance of power in news and threaten to disintermediate traditional players.
- Greater mobility in news, for journalists and their audiences.
- The shrinking advertising market– Newspaper agencies, tv media and even radio stations earn their revenue from advertising market. But the corona crises and the lockdown which followed it devastated the economies leading to curtailment of ads for goods and services and thus loss of advertising market for legacy journalism.
- The trust deficit – Fake news, yellow journalism is casting shadows of doubt over the credibility of media and creating the impression that the media is offering just one of several possible truths.
Elements common to good journalism are-
1) Truth – Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth only to promote sharing of credible information in society.
2) Loyalty being a public good- Its first loyalty is to citizens who subscribe it to learn more about their surroundings.
3) Verifying information – Its essence is a discipline of verification to present double-checked information.
4) Independence – Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover to prevent any biasness in reporting.
5) No Politics – It must serve as an independent monitor of power to prevent concentration of power with a single institution and promoting shared power among all.
6) Constructive criticism – It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise which helps to build democracy and enables people’s participation in events.
7) Being precise – It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
8) Conscience is supreme source of ethics – Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience so that they take ethical decisions based on their conscience not under pressure.
9) Duties of citizens – Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news. It includes holding news agencies accountable for all their acts.
Way Forward – The task of re-imagining journalism cannot be left to journalists and media managers alone. It requires the collective thinking of all stakeholders. Readers are the substantial stakeholders and their inputs are essential in reworking the contours of journalism for the 21st century.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
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