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9 PM for Main examination
- The gross abuse of the Manipur mandate
- Nurses refusing to offer services in Covid crises
- Wake up call to Mental Health issues
- Migrant Worker Crisis- What is the Way Forward?
- The upcoming era of gig economy
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.The gross abuse of the Manipur mandate
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Context: The BJP-led government in Manipur is in danger after losing the support of nine MLAs.
- Hung Assembly: In the March 2017 Assembly election, the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats in the 60-member House and BJP came second with 21.
- Decision of Governor: The Governor with inadequately unexplained reasons gave preference to the post-poll alliance led by the BJP rather than the Congress.
- Problems of coalition: The BJP managed to forge an alliance and form the government. The 10th schedule put a ceiling on the Manipur cabinet to 12 including the CM. The BJP kept only three cabinet berths for itself.
- Crisis of democracy: In a sudden turn of events three BJP MLAs joined Congress and four NPP MLAs, an independent MLA and Trinamool Congress MLA withdrew support to the BJP led government and expressed desire to support Congress.
The Manipur crisis reflects the state of Indian democracy where the mandate of the people decided at periodic elections is increasingly being allowed to be twisted by turncoat-elected representatives.
Laws to remove problems of turncoats:
- The Anti-defection law:10th Schedule was introduced in 1985 by the 52nd amendment of the Constitution.
- 91st amendment of the Constitution (2003):The total number of ministers, including the CM, in the council of ministers in a state shall not exceed 15 % of the total strength of the state’s legislative assembly.
Despite the laws, the people in power are still changing sides to their own advantage.
The Manipur case reflects the overturning of the rule of law by those in power:
- Partisan politics:
- Internal friction within the ruling Party: Many BJP MLAs are now concerned with the reduced prospect of re-election from their constituencies if they went to the polls as mere camp followers.
- Changing sides: Three of their MLAs decided to quit the party to align with the Congress.
- Defection: After forming of government, Seven Congress MLAs defected to the ruling side as they were hoping for some official position to share the spoils of power.
- Role of speaker: Petitions for the disqualification of the eight were left unheeded by the Speaker for more than three years.
- Role of Judiciary: After the intervention of the SC, the first defector was disqualified on March 28 this year. The Congress moved the Manipur HC for other defectors which took the cue from the earlier SC ruling to direct the Speaker to dispose of the case at the earliest.
- Changing Sides by Partners:
- Losing coalition partners: The BJP is beginning to lose its partners. Such as the NPP which has four MLAs in the Assembly walked out of the BJP-led alliance and pledged support to the Opposition Congress on June 17.
- Return of defectors: Four of the seven Congress defectors also decided to return to the Congress camp.
The politics in Manipur is a fine example of the law being made a subordinate function of power. There is a need for strong laws and internal politics of the parties to reduce such subordination.
2.Nurses refusing to offer services in Covid crises
Source – Indian Express
Syllabus – GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Context – Nurses abandoning their posts are contributing to the health crisis, but they must be treated with compassion by the state.
Nurses are refusing to offer their services because of the following reasons:
- Shortage of PPE kits – Personal protection equipment has been in chronically short supply, especially in Delhi and has put the lives of both doctors and nurses at risk.
- Long shifts – Shifts are punishingly long, nurses in PPEs cannot take breaks even to go to the toilet.
- Lockdown effect – Many nurses who were not able to go to work when public transport was suspended had their pay docked.
- Lack of family support – Nurses living alone in Delhi are themselves insecure because they do not have social security or family networks that they can fall back on in hard times.
- Care for own family – Those who have family in the capital are concerned because they are generally not able to quarantine themselves in the workplace and could carry the infection home.
- No support of Resident Welfare Associations –Many RWA’s are turning away doctors as well as nurses living in such colonies and working to battle the covid because of fear of spread in their colonies. This discriminatory practice is affecting the morale of nurses and their families.
Consequences of nurses refusing to work:
- Burdened Doctors – Burden of COVID patients on healthcare system, especially doctors will rise manifold.
- Lack of care service – It might deprive the patients of all the urgent services they need to recover soon.
Suggested solutions to retain the warriors–
- Hardship allowance – To offset the multiple risks that they are facing, some nurses are demanding better financial terms, on the lines of the “hardship allowance” which is commonly offered to servicemen at difficult postings.
- Supply of PPE kits – The safety gears need to be made available as per demand for physical safety of nurses as well as their family members.
- Rationalizing working hours – The long shifts need to be transformed based on rotational duty of few hours, so that nurses can get adequate rest for their own health.
Way Forward – In private hospitals, state should commit to provide complete care of nurses from allowances to safety gears as it has commandeered their facilities because of the failure of its own health system.
3.Wake up call to Mental Health issues
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2-Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
Context: The actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his home due to suicide.
There is now an open and thoughtful manner with which the mental health subject is being discussed. It is crucial to understand the nature of mental health distress and what we must do to address it in these troubled times of COVID-19.
The Mental health consequences of the pandemic:
- “Pandemic of fear”:
- Profound uncertainties:They have overwhelmed all our lives such as from our personal risk to be infected to why the country is facing a surging epidemic despite the most stringent lockdown in the world or when life will return to a normal or to what our economic prospects might look like.
- Widespread Mental Health issues: This may be due to general causes such as experiences of anxiety, fearfulness, sleep problems, irritability and hopelessness.
- “Deaths of despair”:
- This term was coined by the Nobel prize winning economist, Angus Deaton. This has been documented as the reason for the reduction in the life expectancy of working-age Americans following the economic recession in 2008.
- Reasons of deaths: They were driven by growing inequality, the weakening position of labour, deep polarisation of society and the lack of prospects for the future.
- Economic recession in India: India also faces some of these problems of American society. Also, it has to face large numbers of people who are absolutely impoverished.
Before the pandemic, the mental health problems were already a major contributor to the burden of illness in India with a third of all female and a quarter of all male suicide deaths in the world occurring in this country. But most of this illness and death goes unnoticed.
Lack of importance to mental health problem:
- Celebrity suicides attract our attention to the issue because it is the only explanation we can invoke for people who are so privileged.
- Greatest burden of mental health problems: This is on the poor, dispossessed and marginalised but we have historically dismissed their suffering as a natural extension of their social and economic conditions.
There have been many initiatives to address the rising tide of mental health problems.
Solutions to mental health:
- Telemedicine platforms: They have the feasibility of remote delivery and the value of psychological therapies. They rely heavily on mental health specialist providers who are very scarce in number and often unaffordable.
- Deployment of community health workers with appropriate training: It effectively delivers psychosocial interventions for conditions ranging from autism and depression to drinking problems and psychoses.
Though there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for experiences which are intimately intertwined with our unique and personal life stories.
Some general principles to manage health:
- Awareness: We should be aware and acknowledge our mental health just like our physical health. For example- Feeling irritable for no reason is as important as chest pain.
- Speaking your problem: Creating a cordial environment for the patients to share their stories can be effective strategy to reduce stigma.
- Do something for others: Science has shown that care-giving and community service makes our life more rewarding and longer.
- Reminding ourself that all are suffering with the same problem: Though some of us may be in a better position but at last mostly will pass through these tough times.
- Seeking help from a professional: If our distress is persistent and not allowed to do things.
Mental health care must embrace the diversity of experiences and strategies which work well beyond the narrow confines of traditional biomedicine with its emphasis on “doctors, diagnoses and drugs”.
4.Migrant Worker Crisis- What is the Way Forward?
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2-Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Context: The economic and social distress caused due to the lockdown has led to reverse migration whereby lakhs of migrants have moved back to their villages. The plight of migrant workers has evoked widespread debate in the development discourse in India.
Migration in India -Brief Overview
- According to the Census 2011 migration data, over 45.58 crore Indians were found to be migrants as against 31.45 crore during 2001 Census. UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and MP had the highest ‘outmigration’. Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat had the largest ‘in-migration’.
Challenges faced by migrant workers:
- Employment in informal economy:Migrants dominate the urban informal economy which is marked by high poverty and vulnerabilities. The common issues they face are non-payment of wages, physical abuse, accidents and even death at work. Out of the total labor force of 465 million workers, around 91% (422 million) were informal workers in 2017-18. The Economic Survey (2017) estimated 139 million seasonal or circular migrants.
- Issue of Identification documents:There is no central registry of migrant workers, despite the existence of The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979. This has led to lack of access to entitlements and social services
- Housing:Lack of affordable housing in Indian cities force migrants to live in slums.
- Financial Access:Migrant workers have limited access to formal financial services and remain unbanked
- Education of children: UNESCO’s 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) shows that children left behind by migrating parents and seasonal migrants face fewer educational opportunities overall.
- Social exclusion:There is often hostility of urban governments, as well as citizens, towards the urban poor, especially migrants to the cities.
Recent Steps by Government to alleviate problems faced by migrant workers
- Affordable rental housing:The central government, in May 2020, announced to create affordable rental housing for the urban poor and migrants. The scheme will be launched under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). The existing government housing which lie vacant will be converted into rental units.
- One Nation One Ration Card: It would address the problem of ration-card portability and benefit nearly 670 million people and by March 2021.
- Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code of 2019:It seeks to merge 13 labour laws, including the Inter-state Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 into a single law. It will promote the welfare of migrant workers and legal protection for their rights.
- Public Distribution of food:The Centre has decided to transfer 8 lakh metric tonnes of grain and 50,000 metric tonnes of chana to state governments to provide 5 kg of grain (wheat or rice) per labourer and 1kg of chana per family per month for two months free. This is expected to benefit up to eight crore migrant workers.
Steps to be taken:
- Review national legal, regulatory and institutional concerns in resettlement and rehabilitation of migrant labourers and adopt a humanistic approach to deal with socio-legal issues
- Expand the outreach of the Integrated Child Development Services–Anganwadi (ICDS-AW) and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) to include migrant women and children. Further, migrant children should be included in the annual work plans of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
- Strengthen the resilience of the financial system and skill workers.
- A comprehensive national strategy that ensures access to entitlements and basic work conditions is necessary to address the plight of migrant workers. Access to legal aid, grievance redressal should be ensured.
5.The upcoming era of gig economy
Source – Indian Express
Syllabus – GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment
Context – The current crisis should force a discussion on the levels of social protection which should be available to gig workers including wage protection, health benefits and safety assurance
Gig Economy – A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.
Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
Rise in gig workers is attributed to following reasons:
- Use of technology– Technology enables gig workers to seek work from home or any location. This has been aided by digitization and high skills of workers. For instance, company like Netflix would seek AI experts from India, paid by the hour, to personalise streaming experiences.
- Increased mobility– The drivers of Uber, the delivery boys of Zomato, the plumbers and electricians of Urban Clap make up the gig world. Mobility connects them with the customer demand in the market for their supply of services.
- COVID induced lay-offs– Aviation, hospitality, automobile entertainment and retail are the hardest hit sectors and are witnessing large number of lay-offs for cost-cutting of firms. The professionals of these sectors, now in abundant supply in market, are looking for jobs in gig economy.
- Flexibility and independence to workers –. Ideally, the gig model is powered by independent workers selecting jobs that they’re interested in, rather than one in which people are forced into a position where, they pick up whatever temporary gigs they can get.
Challenges associated with gig-economy:
- Lack of social security– In absence of policies and regulations for the emerging gig economy, there is lack of social security including wage protection, health benefits and safety assurance for the freelancers working in the new form of market.
- Absence of national database for employers and employees– The missing link in the talent marketplace is a national database of job seekers and job creators. A prospective employee would need access to a job database, sorted by skill, geography, duration and emoluments. Companies should be able to dip into the data pool of talent, experience, location, qualification and expectation.
- Reforming higher education – The placement cells of colleges and universities would need to reorient and focus on preparing students for freelancing opportunities, apart from regular campus placements.
- Lack of gender parity – The low enrolment of girls for higher education in science, technology, engineering and math would constrict their universe of opportunity in the gig world. This would need greater policy attention to ensure gender parity.
Way Forward – The government and the private sector would need to collaborate along with academia to build adequate safeguards in the unfolding eco-system of gig economy.
9 PM for Preliminary examination
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