9 PM Daily Brief – May 18th ,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

  1. Whether India is excluded from Afghan Peace process?
  2. How Covid-19 pandemic is transforming India’s education system?

GS-3

  1. Agri-Marketing Reforms

GS-4

  1. What are the problems in Working culture of Policemen?

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Whether India is excluded from Afghan Peace process?

Source: The Hindu, The Hindu

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

 

Context: India’s foreign and security policy planners had not anticipated the recent developments in Afghanistan. India continued to rigidly hold on to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani even as his equities diminished with each passing month. 

Recent Developments in Afghanistan shows sideline of India:

  • Early Congratulation: Our PM congratulated Mr. Ghani for winning the elections in December 2019 when the Afghanistan election commission had only announced the preliminary results.
  • Simultaneous Swearing-ins: In February 2020 Mr. Ghani was announced as President-elect, a result that was rejected by Mr. Ghani’s main rival, Abdullah Abdullah. It led to two simultaneous swearing-ins in which both took oath as President.
  • Power sharing in Afghanistan: Though the international community ultimately supported Mr. Ghani but qualified it with an insistence that he enter into a real power-sharing agreement with Mr. Abdullah.
  • Ghani’s response to India’s unconditional backing:
    • The UN Secretariat organized a meeting on Afghanistan where it invited the physical neighbours of Afghanistan—China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
    • In addition, invitations were extended to the US, Russia and the Ghani government but not India.
    • Ghani did not condition his participation on India’s inclusion.

Development in the state of the relations in Afghanistan:

  • The role of US in Afghanistan:
    • U.S. going along with India’s absence:The US expects that if Indian interests are exposed, India will protect them as best as it can.
    • The US wants an active India role:“‘India should talk directly to Taliban, discuss terror concerns directly’,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. point man on Afghanistan and the architect of the Taliban deal.
  • The Taliban question:
    • Direct engagement of India with Taliban: It would be important that issues of concerns like terrorism are raised directly. By avoiding open contacts, India has reduced its role in international diplomatic efforts.
    • Taliban deal:The U.S. is currently crucially dependent on Pakistan for the successful implementation of its Taliban deal aimed at securing as orderly a withdrawal as possible from what is a major strategic reverse.
    • Tolerance for Violence in US-Taliban deal: It contains no commitment to stopping attacks against Afghan forces, only those against American soldiers and NATO forces.
    • Not just Pakistan puppets:Taliban were informally conveying that India should not consider them as Pakistan’s puppets and they had gained international recognition.
  • ISIS in Afghanistan:
    • Attacks in Afghanistan: It is strange that US is absolving the Taliban of guilt of attacks while investigations are still underway and putting it on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIS-KP).
    • Enmity between Taliban and ISIS-KP: Taliban says that ISIS-KP is their enemy but not ready to join hands with the U.S. and Afghan government to go after ISIS-KP. Also, the Taliban are not even willing to announce a ceasefire, amidst the coronavirus crisis, amidst these brutal attacks.

Counterview to include Taliban in talks:

  • Not a political force: If the Taliban comes back to power, join the mainstream, then India will engage with them as we do with any political force in Afghanistan. Talking directly to the Taliban reminds us of one of the situations before 2001 when each country was on its own.
  • Legitimacy to Destructive Taliban: It will become a political force only when it joins the intra-Afghan talks. Otherwise, at best the Taliban can pretend to be some sort of a government in exile based in Doha, conducting negotiations with other players but not with people in Afghanistan. Engaging them directly will give legitimacy to this kind of force in our neighborhood.
  • Proxy of other countries: The Taliban should deal with India as an independent entity, as a nationalist Afghan entity and not a proxy for other countries.

Way Forward

Our bilateral ties are good, and we must be engaged in the regional process for peace in Afghanistan. We should not feel bad if India is not at every table. India needs to take corrective diplomatic action. The truth is, when it comes to Afghanistan’s future, India cannot be ignored.

 

2.How Covid-19 pandemic is transforming India’s education system?

Source: The Hindu- Education Plus (May 18th, 2020)

Syllabus: GS-2 -Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has paved the way for remote education-in the form of online learning.

Adoption of technological solutions:

Due to the covid-19 lockdown, educational institutions have adopted different technologies for teaching:

  1. Recording of video lectures:Lectures are being recorded and then uploaded on YouTube and similar other platforms.
  2. Providing digital notes: Notes and content related to the courses are being provided to students through email, WhatsApp etc.
  3. Live lectures and webinars:Live lectures are being provided on digital platforms at scheduled slots when students can join and interact.
  4. Assessment: Tests and assignments are being conducted using various assessment tools like Quizlet and peer evaluation tools.
  5. Use of MOOCs: Students and teachers are also opting for MOOCs (Massive Open online courses) such as Swayam, Coursera or Edx.

Concerns:

  1. Digital Divide:
    • The major concern with online education in India is the digital divide. Many students, especially in rural areas do not have access to laptops, desktops and internet connection.
    • Further, the digital infrastructure is poor in most parts of the country, with lack of high-speed internet and stable power supply.
  2. Lack of personal contact: A major criticism of online teaching is that there is no personal contact and there cannot be a proper classroom discussion.
  3. Limited social interaction: A major issue with online education is limited social interaction. This hinders development of social skills among children.
  4. Motivation: The structured schedule of attending classes and routine face-­to-­face interactions with teachers are missing in online education. This may lead to lack of motivation and discipline and dropout rates may increase.
  5. Language of Courses: Many students are not comfortable with spoken or written English. This makes online study material inaccessible. In face-to-face teaching, this factor is mitigated to an extent using the bilingual communication.
  6. Research and laboratory sessions: Online classes are not feasible for students with research and application-based work as an essential component. Further, conducting laboratory sessions are difficult in the online mode.

Way Forward: The Covid-19 lockdown has led to many educational institutions opting for online classes. However, in India, where digital infrastructure is inadequate, online education has a long way to go. It is important to bridge the digital divide so that students from different socio0economic backgrounds can benefit from remote learning.

3.Agri-Marketing Reforms

Source – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Context – With mandi closures and supply chain disruptions causing havoc in agricultural marketing, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on some of the critical infrastructure gaps and long-pending governance issues that plague the farm sector.

Agriculture package of Rs 1.63 lakh crore (under Atmanirbhar mission) included farm-gate and aggregation point infrastructure, fisheries, animal husbandries, and others (animal vaccination, micro food enterprises)

What Reforms Implications
Amendment in “anachronistic legislation” – Essential Commodities Act, 1955

 

Features:

· Empowers the Central and state governments concurrently to control production, supply and distribution of certain commodities in view of rising prices

· The measures that can be taken under the provision of the Act include, among others, licensing, distribution and imposing stock limits.

· Centre decides the stock limit- a State can, however, choose not to impose any restrictions.

Amendment

· Deregulation of six categories of agricultural foodstuffs: cereals, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds, potato and onion.

·  Stock limits on these commodities will not be imposed except in times of a national calamity or a famine.

· Exempted (no stock limit) – Food processors and exporters

· Prevent harassment under the Act on the suspicion of hoarding, black marketing and speculation.

· Promote private investment in warehousing and storage facilities.

· Prevents agri-wastage

· Provide stable income to farmers in bumper crop season and

· less volatile prices for consumers

· Increase farm export and promotes surplus in balance in trade

· Food Processing is encouraged thus more employment opportunities.

 

Greater freedom to farmers -A new central law to give choice to farmers to sell their produce · Allow farmers to sell to anyone outside the APMC yard · Greater competition amongst buyers facilitated by contract farming

· Lower the mandi fee and the commission for commission agents

· Reduce other cesses imposed by states

· Remove inter-state trade barriers

· Providing e-trading of agriculture produce

Contract Farming to minimize market risk · Cash availability for inputs, thus better quality of inputs used

· Land Pooling among small and medium farmers is encouraged

· Improved quality and quantity of farm produce

· Assured farm income

· Promotes food processing industries

· Encourage exports

 

 

Challenges:

  1. Long term reforms vs immediate support –a number of farmers and activists said that in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, immediate support and relief in the form of cash transfers, loan waivers, and compensation for unsold produce should have come before long-term reforms.
  2. Lack of availability of working capital– For contract farming, supply to wholesalers and exporters Farmer Produce Organization have better capabilities and bargaining power but they need working capital at better rates (18-22% is current interest rate).
  3. Monopsony – Even without APMC regulated mandis and in the contract farming, buyers can make cartels and decide at what price to buy.

Way forward – The reforms could be a harbinger of major change in Agri-Marketing, a 1991 moment of economic reforms for agriculture and promote growth in stagnant sector which supports almost 49% of population depended on it.

4.What are the problems in Working culture of Policemen?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 4-Public/Civil service values and Ethics in Public administration: Status and problems; ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations and conscience as sources of ethical guidance.

Context: There were visuals of many acts of brutality committed by the police as migrant workers were taking a tough inter-State journey attempting to return to their respective hometowns.

Problems in Working culture of Policemen:

  • British legacy:
    1. A legacy of the British rulers, brutality has been a tenacious characteristic of the Indian police. The Police Act of 1861 established the principles of organization for police forces in India and with minor modifications still in effect.
    2. Most policemen are made to believe from their very training days that brutality is inherent in the very role to be performed by them, to instil a certain degree of fear in the citizens.
    3. This attitude is reinforced by training instructors, who abuse and even manhandle errant trainees.
  • Issue of Human Rights:
    1. Indiscriminate use of Weapons:The mere issue of lathis and weapons in no way justifies their indiscriminate use on innocents or even the accused.
    2. Consider it an inherent demand of the job of policing: Though the subject of human rights is a part of training curriculum in training institutions, no seriousness is attached to it. Those who violate human rights are seldom taken to task.
  • Lack of senior supervision:
    1. Lack of On spot Presence of Seniors: Senior officers are seen very rarely on the spot when their junior-ranking personnel are on duty.
    2. No deterring: Presence of senior officers with their personnel in the field is conducive in building up a spirit of team with them and also serve as an opportunity to brief the personnel and deter them from any wrongdoing.

Policemen facing difficult working conditions:

  • Long working hours: Long duty hours tend to test the patience of policemen.
  • Pressure: Working under tremendous pressure without any respite for relaxation, some of them are constantly on a short fuse and tend to vent their ire on innocent victims.
  • Vacancies in Police force: Large vacancies in police forces are also responsible for this state. Against the UN recommendations of 222 police personnel for a population of one lakh, most States in our country have around 100 personnel only.

Steps to reduce their fierceness during lockdown:

  • Strict guidelines: There should be a set of guidelines for police that in no uncertain terms they should use force on persons violating the lockdown regulations.
  • Persuasive Methods: They should use the power of convincing. In this regard, the Bengaluru Police set an example by divesting the policemen of batons and instead engaging in the use of persuasive methods to seriously implement the lockdown.
  • Quick Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The high-handedness shown by the police during the various phases of the ongoing lockdown even led to a petition being filed with the State Human Rights Commission of Tamil Nadu. The petition called for the institution of a grievance redressal mechanism to inquire into the excesses committed by law enforcement personnel.

Way Forward

With Proper planning in recruitment, training, in service courses and close supervision by senior officers can go a long way in reducing brutality by policemen.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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