9 PM Daily Brief – June 4th,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

  1. The reason behind the growing transgressions by China along LAC
  2. Strengthening the India-Australia bilateral ties
  3. The role of Parliament in handling COVID-19 Pandemic

GS-3

  1. Subsidies in Agriculture
  2. On India’s coronavirus numbers

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.The reason behind the growing transgressions by China along LAC

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Context: There are growing numbers of reports about Chinese troops crossing the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India in the Ladakh region.

Source: Observer Research Foundation

Background:

  • There are around 400 transgressions/faceoffs each year on an average along the LAC.
  • Doklam (2017): The 2017 standoff between India and China at the Doklam trijunction was the first major military standoff between the two sides in a long time in which New Delhi demonstrated it was not a military pushover despite China’s conventional superiority over India.
  • Mounting territorial aggression by China:Chinese troops are yet to withdraw from the transgressed territories which are traditionally considered by both sides to be on the Indian side of the LAC.
  • Two options for India:
    • Accept territorial loss.
    • Force or negotiate a reversal to the status quo unless the PLA unilaterally withdraws.

Explaining the China’s growing territorial aggression?

  • New Delhi’s pointed statements about Aksai Chin following the Jammu and Kashmir reorganisationThe Indian Home Minister’s statement that PoK and Aksai Chin are also part of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019 have been viewed by China of India upping the ante.
  • Construction of infrastructure projects along the LAC: China’s border aggressions in Sikkim and Ladakh may be attributed to India’s infrastructure enhancements at borders.
  • The Chinese angle to the J&K conundrum: 
    • China’s China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): India is critical of CPEC which passes through the Karakoram and has the reported presence of PLA troops in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Larger Chinese strategic calculations:China has given up its traditional slogan of ‘peaceful rise’ and is beginning to assert itself as the next superpower. China wants to give a clear message to India and its smaller neighbours about its rising power.
  • Political messaging in Beijing’s LAC aggression:
    • China could use the military aggression to show political resolve. It will also help to divert attention from other issues like problems in Hong Kong and faliuresin its handling of COVID-19.

Why an all-out confrontation or nuclear use is not possible between China and India?

  • Undesirable military escalation: A direct fight with India does not suit Beijing’s interests. Infact carrying out minor military expeditions with the objective of inflicting small-scale military defeats on India precisely suits the Chinese political and military leadership as they are cost effective, less escalatory and the message gets conveyed.
  • Political constraints: It affects India’s military response by acknowledging such territorial losses. if New Delhi acknowledges loss of territory, it wouldhave to regain it but doing so using the conventionally superior power would not be easy.

Limits of Chinese adventurism:

  • Tit for tat tactics by India:There are several places along the several thousand kilometres long LAC where the PLA is militarily weak. The Indian Army can retaliate back along those places.
  • Maritime domain: China enjoys continental superiority over India but maritime domain is China’s weak spot particularly Beijing’s commercial and energy interest to which the maritime space is crucial.
  • Economic front: Beijing’s interest does not lie in damaging the $100 billion trade with India with its military adventurism.

Way Forward

The time has come for India to checkmate China’s aggression even in the backdrop of maintaining robust economic ties.

2.Strengthening the India-Australia bilateral ties

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context – The virtual summit between India and Australia presents the opportunity for both to plug the gaps in their ties

Figure 1 – Timeline of the stalled ties between two

Priority areas to enhance the ties in post-corona world

  1. Reforming the international institutions– The issues regarding WHO’s handling of the pandemic has lead to demand of reformations in international governance structures. India and Australia both can participate together for a consensus based transformation of such structures.
  2. Fighting climate change– Both can strengthen together the international solar alliance to building resilience against climate change and disasters like Australian bushfire and Indian cyclone Amphan.
  3. Security cooperation in Indo-Pacific– The cooperation in Indo-pacific included a wide range of activities which will ensure better security of the region
    • Both can initiate a full range of joint activities, including on maritime domain awareness, development of strategically located islands and marine scientific research.
    • India’s engagement in Five Power Defence arrangement along with Australia and other member

Way Forward – India need to build its ties with not only great power but also middle ranged countries like Australia which is necessary for resolving global as well as regional issues with better partnership among concerned nations.

3.The role of Parliament in handling COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Context: Indian Parliament has not met and questioned the government on their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parliaments questioning their governments over Pandemic around the world:

  • Through video conference:The Canadian Parliament held its first lockdown meeting towards the end of April with MPs attending through video conference.
  • Hybrid Model:The British Parliament adopted a hybrid model of in-person and video attendance.
  • Combination: Several other countries held sessions either with physical distancing (fewer MPs attend with agreement across parties) or video conferencing or a combination of the two. These include France, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand.

Role of Parliament in our system of governance:

Expected role  During Pandemic
Checks and challenges the government · Accountability: It helps in holding the government accountable on a daily basis through questions, motions and debates. · Absence of Scrutiny of government actions: As the Parliament and its committees have not met for over two months.

 

Highest Law-making body

 

· Passing an appropriate Law: Parliament passes appropriate laws by taking the opposition views in mind.

· This is done by most democratic countries through an Act with suitable checks and an expiry date, which could be renewed by Parliament.

· Handling the pandemic under the Disaster Management Act, 2005: It was not designed to handle epidemics.

· The reasoning is that the central government had no choice as there was no other law that provide it with powers to impose a national lockdown across the country.

Expenditure of government · The Constitution requires all expenditure by the government to be approved by Parliament. · No Parliamentary scrutiny or approval: To the measures announced by the government to address the economic crisis sparked by the health crisis and the lockdown.
Discussions · Represent the people: MPs have a duty to shape policy, guide the government and raise issues in national interest in Parliament.

· Forum to raise important issues: Important issues are discussed and a plan of action is agreed upon.

 

· Challenges due to pandemic: These include addressing questions on how to stall the epidemic from spreading, how to treat people who are infected and how to minimise the loss of life to the virus.

· Humanitarian issues:  Mitigating the impact on the most vulnerable sections of the population which include the mistreatment of migrants.

· But without Parliament all these questions remain unanswered.

 

How to hold a Parliamentary session during Pandemic?

  • Rules to hold sessions:
    • The President summon the Parliament.
    • The Rules of Procedure of both Houses require the Secretary-General to issue summons to each member specifying the “date and place for a session” of the House.
  • Hybrid meetings:These enabling clauses can be used to hold hybrid meetings or remote meetings. The Rules require parliamentary committees to sit within the “precincts” of the House but the Speaker may permit meetings to be held outside. Thus, there is no prior parliamentary action required to permit meetings through videoconferencing.
  • Use of technology: 
    • Using Fiber optics: All district headquarters are linked with fiber optic lines and these can be used to connect the constituency office of MPs.

Way Forward

Parliament should harness the power of technology and should be convened soon to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

4.Subsidies in Agriculture 

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 3 – Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

Context – Recently centre has prescribed that the free power supply scheme should be replaced with the direct benefits transfer (DBT) in all the states

Since 1970s, state governments in India adopted a policy of providing free or subsidized power to farmers to increase agricultural productivity.

Farm subsidy has benefitted the farmers, especially small and marginal. It has also aided the agricultural productivity in nation which has ensured food security for all. However, there are negative implications of power subsidy too which have been discussed below.

Negative Implications of Power Subsidy

  1. Depleted groundwaterdue to over extraction of groundwater and the issue of water-stress in India.
  2. Massive waste of powerdue to large unmetered connections.
  3. Financial burden on state governments due to subsidies given to farmers including rich farmers.
  4. Deteriorating financial healthof the electricity distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  5. Increased cross-subsidy burden on industrial and commercial consumers which affect their total cost of production.
  6. Promotes unsustainable agriculture:Subsidized electricity to farmers promotes growth of crops not suitable to agro-climatic zones like sugarcane, paddy which are water-intensive also.

Suggestions to Rationalize Farm Sector Subsidies

  1. Adopting Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) for power subsidy as prescribed by government.
  2. IEC – Information, Education and communication (IEC) campaigns among farmers regarding judicious use of scarce resources.
  3. Metering –Large number of unmetered connections for farm irrigation leads to unrestrained usage of electricity for irrigation leading to massive waste of power and groundwater.
  4. Promoting sustainable agriculture – Disincentivizing water-intensive crops such as rice in areas where groundwater is rapidly depleting like Punjab and use of methods like drip-irrigation.

Way Forward – Reforms in agriculture including subsidy rationalization is must for economic growth and fiscal consolidation and the DBT in power subsidy is a tool to achieve the same.

5.On India’s coronavirus numbers

Source: The Hindu and Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3-Science and Technology

Context: India’s Coronavirus numbers has been rising steadily.

Covid-19 Scenario in India

  • Total confirmed cases:207,615
  • Total Number of Deaths: 5,815
  • Covid-19 Death rate:79%

Covid-19 Deaths:

According to WHO, the death of every COVID-19 patient is to be counted as a COVID death unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related (e.g. trauma).

  • Recovery Rate(the rate of transition from a state of infection to recovery from the disease- measured as a percentage of the total cases): 48%
  • States with highest number of cases:Maharashtra (72,300), Tamil Nadu (24,586), and Delhi (22,132).
  • Daily reported new cases

Covid-19 curve of India:

How should India tackle Covid-19 cases?

  • Test coronavirus cases more rigorously
  • Focus on the sick patients and ensure that others who test positive but remain asymptomatic also have access to healthcare
  • Government should attempt to destigmatize COVID-19 infection and have more awareness activities.

9 PM for Preliminary examination

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