9 PM Daily Brief – June 26th,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. Drug abuse amidst pandemic

GS-2

  1. Why China is being aggressive along the LAC?
  2. Cash or in kind – The Food Security dilemma
  3. Importance of impartial judging of Foreign Policy

GS-3

  1. Ease or doing business versus Ease of living

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Drug abuse amidst pandemic

SourceThe Hindu

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic may leave people vulnerable to use and trafficking of illicit drugs.

Status of Drug Abuse:

Global:

  • Around 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up 30% from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users.
  • Nearly 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally however, only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it.

India: 

  • According to the NDDTC 2019 report “Magnitude of Substance Use in India”, at the national level, about 14.6% of the people the ages of 10 and 75 are current users of alcohol and there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs (PWID).
  • According NCRB 2019 report, drug overdose claims every one life in 12 hrs, more than 5% of which are minors.

Covid-19 Impact on Drug abuse:

  • Threat to the vulnerable and marginalised:The socio-economic crisis due to the pandemic might disproportionately affect the vulnerable and marginalised groups, youth, women and the poor. Socially and economically disadvantaged are more likely to develop drug use disorders but receive no treatment for the same.
  • Drug Trafficking:According to UN, Covid-19 has prompted traffickers to find new routes and methods. Illicit activities via the so-called ‘darknet’ and shipments of drugs by mail, may increase.
  • Alternative drugs and addiction:The Covid-19 pandemic has led to shortages of highly addictive opioid and therapeutics for pain management. This may lead people to seek out more readily available substances, including alcohol, sedatives or intravenous injections of drugs.

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking:

  • It is observed annually on 26 June.
  • The theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Better Knowledge for Better Care”.

Consequences of Drug abuse:

Steps taken by Indian Government

  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985:It envisages stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS), 2012: It seeks to combat drug abuse in a holistic manner. It was drafted by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue.
  • Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse:Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to eligible Non-Governmental Organizations for running Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts.
  • National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), 2018-2025:It aims to reduce the adverse consequences of drug abuse in India through a) education, b) de-addiction and c) rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.

Suggested Reforms:

  • Greater investment in evidence-based prevention. This should include awareness on drug related harm, specially health and social effects
  • treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV, hepatitis C and other infections
  • international cooperation to increase access to controlled drugs for medical purposes and preventing diversion and abuse,
  • strengthen law enforcement action to curb the transnational organised crime networks.
  • India can consider experiences from European and Latin American countries while formulating and implementing legislation to stop drug abuse. In Europe and Latin American countries, it was found that non-punitive measures improved health and wellbeing of drug addicts.

2.Why China is being aggressive along the LAC?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-India and its neighbourhood- relations

Context: Analysing the national security challenge to India posed by the ongoing tensions along the LAC.

Background:

  • In a first incident of fatalities on the India-China border in 45 years, 20 Indian soldiers were martyred in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
  • Claims on the entire Galwan Valley: China has revived its claim and has asked India to pull back from the areas.
  • Satellite images suggest that China has set up defence positions in the valley as well as the disputed “Fingers” of Pangong Tso.
  • Both sides are engaged in a face-off at Hot Springs.

India has been very careful with China. Overall, India has stayed away from criticising China on controversial topics such as its “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang, Hong Kong protests etc. Still tensions are increased along the LAC.

Reasons for increasing tensions along the LAC:

  • Ambitious power:
    • China is now an ambitious rising power which wants to reorient the global order. China is not just an ideological state that intends to export communism to other countries like Soviet Union of the Cold War.
  • Peaceful rise phase of China is over: 
    • China had adopted different tactical positions such as hide your capacity and bide your time or peaceful development during its rise. Now China believes that the global order is at a breaking point as seen in the bad shape of the global economy, crisis in globalisation etc.
  • Salami slice strategy: 
    • China is fighting back through “salami tactics” — where a dominant power attempts to establish its hegemony piece by piece. It denotes China’s strategy of territorial expansion in the South China Sea and the Himalayan regions and India is one slice.
  • China sees India as an ally in progress of US: 
    • China doesn’t see India as a ‘swing state’ anymore. Many in the West called India the “counterweight” to China’s rise and this increased tension is Beijing’s definite message that it is not deterred by the counterweight.
  • Pandemic factor: 
    • China has room for geopolitical manoeuvring in the world grappled with the pandemic such as Europe has been devastated by the virus.
  • Problems of India: 
    • The Indian economy was in trouble even before COVID-19. There was Social upheaval over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the NRC.
    • Tensions in the neighbourhood: Tensions with Pakistan have been high, boundary issues with Nepal and Sri Lanka diversified its foreign policy and China is making deep inroads into that region.

Way Forward

  • India needs a national security strategy that’s decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realism.
  • It should stand up to China’s bullying on the border with a long-term focus on enhancing capacities and winning back its friendly neighbours.

 3.Cash or in kind – The Food Security dilemma

Source – Indian Express

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

Context – The current pandemic has reignited the debate – which is better for ensuring food security under National Food Security Act – Cash transfer or in kind (food distribution via PDS).

Current mechanism under Public Distribution System

Arguments for In-Kind distribution of Food via PDS 

  1. Farm income ensured– Since food for distribution under PDS is procured from farmers under Minimum Support Price, in-kind food distribution to citizens ensure assured farm income for farmers.
  2. No transaction cost for individuals – Government procures, stores and distributes food which makes transaction cost for individual almost negligible. Whereas cash transfer would involve going to bank, getting operational account, then going to market etc which adds to transaction cost of individuals.
  3. Underdeveloped Rural Market– Lack of infrastructure, transport and high physical distance between villages and markets creates barriers for rural population deriving benefit from Fair Price Shops.
  4. No inflationary pressure – In kind distribution does not create inflation in market which is done by cash transfer.
  5. No misuse of cash – Individual’s may always not act in their best interest and getting cash would mean it can be misused by householders given the social situations. Example – In patriarchal society, man exercises more power over women and children in terms of resource use. So it can be used for alcohol or drug abuse rather than getting food.
  6. Food availability in pandemics – In current lockdown, when markets have remain closed for more than a month, fair prices shops have proved to be a boon in ensuring food availability for vulnerable sections.

Arguments against in-kind food distribution and for cash transfer

  1. PDS has inherent issues – Corruption, leakage of grain in open market, exclusion-inclusion errors have been pointed out by Shanta Kumar Committee in current PDS system. Thus, transfer will be a permanent solution for such unethical acts.
  2. Cash gives autonomy – Cash transfers gives more autonomy to individuals who can buy food based on their need and nutritional requirement unlike current regime in which only cereals and coarse grains are provided based on quantity prescribed under NFSA.
  3. Reduced fiscal burden –Government’s fiscal burden has highest share from food subsidy which involves procurement, storage (excessive storage also) and distribution cost. Cash transfers will reduce the fiscal burden which then can be utilized for improving rural markets, strengthening infrastructure and for other capital expenditures.

Way Forward – An evidence based policy is required to solve this dilemma which should focus on making individuals – agency for their own welfare rather than making them dependent on state.

4.Importance of impartial judging of Foreign Policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Context: Analysing that judging history through the prism of the present can be very damaging to foreign policy formulation.

Biased judging of Past actors and their actions:

  • Accusation on handling Siachen Glacier to Pakistan:
    • Disengagement: The disengagement of Indian and Pakistan forces from Siachen had been on the agenda of India-Pakistan talks for several years.
    • The sticking point: It had been Pakistan’s refusal to agree upon an Actual Ground Position Line from which forces of the two sides would withdraw to new positions.
    • Pakistan finally conceded and it was decided that the disengagement would be done in phases with less risky areas in the first phase.
    • This proposed agreement could not be pursued because the Cabinet Committee on Security failed to approve it. It was not a surrender but a worthwhile initiative due to the unfortunate and hostile trajectory of India-Pakistan relations.
  • Other instances of accusations:
    • The former PM undertook the bus ride to Lahore in 1999 in the light of what we now know of Pakistani coincidental plans to capture the heights over Kargil.
    • Critics questions the PM’s unscheduled visit to Lahore in 2015 or the Pathankot and Uri terrorist incidents thereafter. Whether we should accuse him of endangering India’s security because we were lulled into trusting Pakistani’s goodwill.

There should not be a biased prism to judge past actors and their actions affecting the nation’s interests.

Importance of historical perspective for formulating foreign policy:

  • To learn from what turned out to be correct decisions and what turned out to be errors of judgement. The fear of being proved wrong may paralyze diplomacy.
  • Assessing in the light of historical circumstances: To understand success or failure using then regional and international environment.
  • For example:
    • Due to Western support for Pakistan on Kashmir issue and China’s hostility to India, the Indo-Soviet partnership between 1960 and 1990 was a good strategic move.
    • During the Cold War, particularly after China and the U.S. became virtual allies, Indo-Soviet partnership acquired great significance and played a role in the birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
    • Similarly, the India-US partnership today doesn’t negate the earlier partnership with the Soviet Union.
  • National consensus: There has been general acknowledgement that irrespective of their ideological or political persuasion, successive governments have upheld India’s interests firmly and judiciously.

The foreign policy should not be criticized on the basis of domestic political factors only.

Way Forward:

  • Foreign policy should not be fallen victim to very narrow and cynical fighting in domestic politics.
  • Upholding nation’s larger interests: Policymakers must not have their eye on how something will play out domestically. For example- Pakistan has become a domestic political issue which prevents any kind of sober and well-considered posture towards that neighbouring country. We thus limit our room for manoeuvre.

5.Ease or doing business versus Ease of living 

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

Context – The lockdowns following COVID-19 have caused many people to introspect about the purposes of their lives, and the purposes of the enterprises they serve. It has also provided an opportunity to reset the course of economies. 

Importance of ease of doing business – It provides growth of whole society by lifting standard of living for all and thus is directly related to the ease of living. 

Issues with Ease of doing business 

  1. Exploitation of labor for profit– More business and industries does not mean the have-nots exploitation will stop and a vicious cycle is created where societal harm is ignored for wealth creation. 

  1. Focus on profit not on public service– The creditors and owners of firm invest capital to gain more profit and in turn they adopt unethical practices to increase revenue and profit margin of the company.  For instance – Doctors who prescribe tests and medicines that patients do not really need to increase the revenues of hospitals and sales of pharmaceutical companies (and improve their own bonuses) are placing the needs of business owners above those of the public they serve.
  1. Entrepreneurship– In India, the tradition of handing business and giving priority to family members and relatives in all deals is still prevalent. This, unethical act called nepotism hinders creation of entrepreneurs at grass-root level. 
  1. Environmental cost– The focus on increasing profit by neglecting the externalities created by industries has led to challenge of global warming and pollution. This particularly impacts the poor most as they are at receiving end whenever disaster occurs, or health cost rises because of environmental pollution. 

Suggested solution – All professional institutions including businesses, are built on three fundamental structures— mission, standards, and identity which needs to be reoriented in post-corona world. 

    1. Mission – It is the purpose of the institution in society. The purpose of any organization needs to be overall welfare of society with accruing limited profit based on Gandhian Doctrine of Trusteeship.
    1. Standards-The standards can be voluntarily determined and applied by the professionals themselves. Otherwise, they must be imposed on them by the public they claim to serve through government regulations. 
    1. Identity – Identity, comprises of a person’s own values and traits, adding up to “a person’s deeply felt convictions about who she is, and what matters most to her existence as a worker, citizen, and a human being”. Thus, individuals need to think and rethink about their values and whose interest those values serve – are they selfish or for well-being of all.

Way Forward – In post-Covid world, growth of business must not be at expense of societal well-being. This requires active participation of all stakeholders to reshape the mission, standards and identity of individuals as well as organizations. 


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