9 PM Daily Brief – May 25th ,2020

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9 PM for Main examination

GS-2

  1. What should the Post-Covid World focus upon?
  2. India – China border issue and solution
  3. Whether there is an absence of Judicial Activism during Covid19?
  4. What role has the Empowered Group 6 played during Covid-19 pandemic?

GS-3

  1. Income support schemes
  2. Agriculture Reforms

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


 1.What should the Post-Covid World focus upon?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- International Relations

Context: The Covid-19 pandemic has had unprecedented effect on the world.

Introduction: 

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed some serious challenges before the world. The virus has spread to 185 countries, affecting more than 5 million people and resulting in more than 3 lakh deaths so far. The role of World Health Organization in managing the pandemic has been questioned at many fronts.

The pandemic has also resulted in huge economic losses with many national economies going into recession. The poor and the migrant population are the hardest hit.

Areas to be focused upon in the post-COVID world:

  1. Strengthening Internationalism:There is an urgent need to strengthen internationalism and reform global institutions such as WHO, UNICEF etc. Global institutions should prioritize on healthcare, education, environment, terms of trade, disarmament and strengthening global financial system.
  2. Strengthening Central Banks:In the post Covid-19 world, the role of central banks will expand beyond regulatory and monetary functions. It is important to strengthen the autonomy of Central banks.
  3. Strengthening Regionalism:Regionalism and internationalism should go hand-in hand. It is important to revive regional associations like SAARC, South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative.
  4. Equality and Equity:Commitments towards egalitarianism, secularism and democratic principles needs to be strengthened.
  5. Role of government: The government policies should be inclusive, progressive and pro-people. Focus should be on public healthcare, education, R&D, livelihood creation, clean environment.

Conclusion: The Covid-19 pandemic has not broken the system but merely highlighted the loopholes in the system.  It’s high time that national governments and international organizations work towards removing the shortcomings in the system.  

2.India – China border issue and solution

Source: The Indian Express

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

Context: Tensions between the Indian and Chinese armed forces increased after a faceoff in eastern Ladakh.

Series of Confrontation: All were resolved through higher political intervention.

  1. Depsang plain in northern Ladakh during 2013- Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s visit to India in 2013 helped to resolve it.
  2. Chumar in eastern Ladakh in 2014- President Xi Jinping’s trip to India in 2014 helped lower the military temperature.
  3. Doklam on the east at Bhutan’s border with China in 2017- A series of high-level meetings between Modi and Xi at various multilateral settings in 2017 provided the necessary political push to disentangle the conflict that lasted 73 days at Doklam.

Background: Two summit-level retreats between Modi and Xi — at Wuhan in 2018 and near Chennai in 2019.

Three features defining the new normal:

  1. Incursions Across the other’s claim line: These were common but not threatening due to divergent perceptions of the Line of Actual Control. Since the late 1980s, Delhi and Beijing had crafted a series of protocols to address these incursions.
  2. Intense face-offs between them: The protocols are unable to cope with the new dynamic marked by more vigorous patrolling by the two-armed forces and more frequent and intense face-offs between them.
  3. Reduction in trust: The diminishing trust between Delhi and Beijing amid the widening arrangement of economic and political conflict threatens the capacity of the two security establishments to manage crises.

Danger: There is a danger of the current face-off in eastern Ladakh becoming a bigger military confrontation.

Three urgent need to control situation:

  1. Taking Opposition in confidence: PM must take the Opposition political parties into confidence on the nature of the crisis.
  2. Need for an early political consultation: for exploring ways to end the stand-off. Reports that Chinese troops are sitting on Indian territory underline the importance of restoring the status quo which is possible through high level meetings.
  3. A renewed effort at resolving the conflict over the boundary dispute:It must necessarily complement the management of frequent crises on the Indian frontier with China. In recent years, Delhi has often proposed that the two countries must begin the clarification of the LAC on an urgent basis. That would pave the way for a political settlement of the boundary dispute.

Way Forward

Instead of increasing tensions in a world reeling under the effects of COVID, India and China must engage in high level political engagements to diffuse them.

3.Whether there is an absence of Judicial Activism during Covid19?

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: Like the rest of the world, India is struggling with the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. The worst affected are migrant labourers. The Supreme Court has failed to satisfactorily acknowledge that the fundamental rights of migrant labourers have been violated.

Problems for Migrant Labourers: 

  • No work.
  • No source of income.
  • No access to basic necessities.
  • No quality testing facilities.
  • No protective gear.
  • No means to reach home.

No relief for workers:

  • Issue of Fundamental rights: 
  • Violation of Fundamental rights: In this lockdown, enough evidence points to violation of fundamental rights of vulnerable populations like migrant labourers.have been grossly violated.
  • Petitions not entertained: The Supreme Court has refused to admit many petitions or adjourn them. By effectively not granting any relief, the Court is denying citizens of the most fundamental right of access to justice, ensured under the Constitution.
  • The migrant labourers issue is inherently an inter-State issue: 
  • In lockdown, the Centre issued many directives but designated the States as the implementing authorities.
  • Lack of accountability: As it is an inter-state issue, they are shifting blames on each other. The questions like Who will guarantee safe transport for the return of migrant workers? When in quarantine, who will grant them a sustenance allowance, or look after their health issues etc. remain unanswered. Only the Supreme Court can enforce accountability of the Centre in these matters.

Grounds of Rejection of petitions by courts:

  • Matter of policy: The condition of migrant labourers is a matter of policy and thus, does not require judicial interference.
  • Government doing its duty: Governments already provide have already provided labourers with two square meals a day.
  • ‘How can such things be stopped’: Incidents like the horrific accident where migrant labourers sleeping on railway tracks were killed cannot be avoided.
  • ‘Merely’ on the basis of based on reports: Lawyers using it to approach the Court.

What court can do on question of policy and non-judicial interference:

  • Numerous judgments where it has laid out matters of policy: The Vishaka guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace, the right to food and various environmental protection policies. In these cases, the Court formulated policies and asked the States to implement them.
  • Presumption by the Court that the government is the best judge of the situation: The Court seems to have forgotten that the Constitution does not fall silent in times of crises.
  • Monitoring state obligations: Nothing prevents the Court from monitoring the situation itself directly. It could easily direct bureaucrats to collect empirical data on the ground.

Observations regarding lack of compassion or judicial sensitivity in handling this situation:

  1. Discouraging petitioners from approaching courts:As the Court determines that it is the executive’s responsibility. Ordinarily, the Court would have at least nudged petitioners towards the High Courts, but here, even that choice is not available.
  2. Matter of how the Court is treating such public interest litigations: The concept of a PIL is to be non-adversarial but the Court is treating these as adversarial matters against the government. PILs, in fact, ought to be a collaborative effort between the court and all the parties where everyone comes together in seeking a resolution to the problem. SC studiously ignoring the real plight of millions of migrants who do not have either the money or the profile to compete for precious judicial time with other litigants.

Term: PIL: PILs are a specific instrument designed to ensure the protection of the rights of the poor, downtrodden and vulnerable and “any member of the public” can seek appropriate directions on their behalf.

Roles:

  • States: To ensure that adverse consequences of this pandemic are minimised.
  • Judiciary: The judiciary becomes the all-important watchdog in this situation to monitor a state’s duty that it is always bound by constitutional propriety and respects fundamental rights.

Role of High Courts as islands of rationality, courage and compassion:

  • At least four High Courts (Karnataka, Madras, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat) have started asking questions about migrant rights.
  • The Madras High Court has quashed criminal defamation cases against media houses stating that democracy cannot be throttled this way.

Way Forward 

The subject matter of migration is inherently an inter-State issue and not an intra-State one. The Supreme Court should not ignore migrant workers when they most needed protection.

 4.What role has the Empowered Group 6 played during Covid-19 pandemic?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, institutional and other stakeholders.

Context:  The Empowered Group 6 has played an important role in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in India.

Background: The government has set up 11 empowered groups for ensuring a comprehensive and integrated response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These groups have been set up under Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Empowered Group 6:

  • The Empowered Group 6 was constituted in April 2020. It is chaired by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
  • Its mandate is to hold discussions with the stakeholders regarding identification of problems, effective solutions and formulation of plans against COVID-19.
  • The various stakeholdersin the group are:
    • UN agencies, World Bank, Asian Development Bank
    • Civil Society Organizations and development partners
    • Industry associations – CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, NASSCOM

Role played by different stakeholders:

Civil Society Organizations and Non-governmental Organizations: 

  • Around 92,000 CSOs and NGOs are assisting state governments and district administrations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some major NGOs involved are Akshaya Patra, Rama Krishna Mission, Tata Trusts, Piramal Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Aid etc.
  • NGOs have played a key role in delivering essentials, creating awareness about prevention, social distancing, setting up community kitchens, providing shelter to the homeless, the daily wage workers.

International Organizations: 

  • WHO and UNICEF have helped in skill building of 15,300 trainers, training for 3951 health officers on Integrated Health Information Platform, procurement of 2 lakh PPEs and 4 lakh N95 masks.
  • UNDP is engaged in the procurement of medical supplies including ventilators for 25 States.

Industrial Organizations: CII, FICCI, and NASSCOM have facilitated innovations and have also helped India become self-reliant in manufacturing of PPEs and masks. At present, 104 domestic firms make PPEs and four manufacture N95 masks. Over 2.6 lakh PPEs and two lakh N95 masks are manufactured in India daily.

Industry and Start-ups: Universities, industries, start-ups have provided many technology-driven solutions during Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them include:

  • Qure.ai: The start-up has developed AI enabled analysis of Chest X-Rays (CXRs) with a capacity of processing 10,000 CXR images per day.
  • Kaaenaat: It is aimed at being operationalized by people with minimal ventilator related training like Asha workers and is highly portable
  • Agva : The cost-effective ventilator developed by this start-up is highly mobile and can be operationalized in ambulances and makeshift COVID wards.
  • Dronamaps: The advance GIS and geo-fencing enabled maps developed by this start-up can be utilized for informing cluster strategies for hotspots.

5.Income support schemes 

Source – Indian Express

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

Context – Chhattisgarh recently launched its farm income support scheme – Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana (RGKNY)

Other Remunerative(income) support schemes:

  • West Bengal’s Krishak Bandhu
  • Jharkhand’s Mukhya Mantri Krishi Aashirwad Yojana
  • Odisha’s KALIA scheme (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation)
  • PM KISAN – Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi

Need of the income support:

  1. Abysmally low farm income– According to NABARD, average monthly farm income of farmers in India is Rs 8900 which do not even cover the cost of production.
  2. Issues associated with APMC Mandi– The mandi yards and mandi traders’ possess several hurdles for farmers which negatively impacts their farm income:
  3. Lack of mandi yards and issue of accessibility– Recommendations provides for that a regulated market available to farmers within a radius of 5 km (a corresponding market area of about 80 sq. km), currently regulated markets cover only 457 sq. km. There are more than 7,000 regulated markets and 20,000 rural markets when the need is at least twice these figures.
  4. Cartelization by mandi traders – APMC Act provides for open auctioning of farm produce so that better income through transparent method can be provided to farmers. However, traders in mandi yards form cartels and determine the prices in their own favor.
  5. High fees and red tapism for entry in mandi–  To restrict entry of player and avoid competition in mandi yards, high fees is imposed for new players.
  6. Lack of infrastructure investment– Most of the mandi’s lack infrastructure for weighing, sorting, grading and storage. This results in poor storage, food wastage, non-acceptance of perishables etc.

Figure 1 – Advantages of Income support

Challenge of Income support scheme  –  Lack of record of tenancy – The government data shows only 10 per cent tenancy in the country while several micro-level studies indicate that it could be anywhere between 25-30 per cent. Cash advances going to absentee owner and not to tenants will not benefit the real tiller.

Suggested solution – 

  1. Identification of the landless laborers and tenants working on farms– the Model land leasing Act is a welcome step in this direction which formalizes the contracts and tenants get incentive to improve land as well as production.
  2. Synchronizing MGNREGA with farm operations– The legal framework of the MGNREGA scheme does allow this on farms owned by people of SC/ST communities, and on the lands of marginal farmers. This can be done with landless laborers as well as sharecroppers.

Way Forward – State level income support schemes needs to be complemented with structural reforms in agriculture. This will make farming sustainable and more remunerative in long term.  

6.Agriculture Reforms 

Source – The Hindu

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

Context – The announcements for agriculture sector in Atma Nirbhar Mission lack addressing structural issues regarding marketing of farm produce

Figure 1 – Supply chain of Agriculture production including stakeholders

Major issues:

  1. APMC mandi– The mandi yards and mandi traders pose several hurdles for farmers which negatively impacts their farm income:
  2. Lack of mandi yardsand issue of accessibility– Currently regulated markets cover only 457 sq. km. There are more than 7,000 regulated markets and 20,000 rural markets when the need is at least twice these figures. Recommendations, thus, provide for that a regulated market available to farmers within a radius of 5 km (a corresponding market area of about 80 sq. km).
  3. Cartelization by mandi traders – APMC Act provides for open auctioning of farm produce so that better income through transparent method can be provided to farmers. However, traders in mandi yards form cartels and determine the prices in their own favor.
  4. High fees and red-tapism for entry in mandi– High fees is imposed on new players to restrict entry of new players and avoid competition in mandi yards.
  5. Lack of infrastructure investment– Most of the mandis lack infrastructure for weighing, sorting, grading and storage. This results in poor storage, food wastage, non-acceptance of perishables etc.

To deal effectively with the APMC malpractices, suggested solutions are:

a.Repealing APMC act– Bihar repealed its APMC act in 2006 to allow free market competition in marketing farm produce which usually takes care of demand and supply in market. This benefits both farmers as they produce as per demand and get competitive prices as well as consumers who get produce at affordable costs.

Counter-argument

    • Despite the abolition of APMC, there were no considerable investment by private sector to create private mandis or market.
    • Also, State’s revenue got affected as revenue from APMC was forgone due to which no considerable improvement in existing mandi’s could be made.
    • Unregulated Mandi’s – In absence of regulated mandi yards and private market, unregulated mandi’s came up which charged high fees from traders as well as farmers and lacked necessary infrastructure also.

b.Model APLM Act 2018 –  Basic features of Act are as following:

    • Farmer can sell produce to anyone including retailers and exporters.
    • Mandatory for traders to make payment same day otherwise seizure of the produce from trader.
    • Allowed PPP allowed in management and development of mandi.
    • Creation of a national market with provision for interstate trading license.
    • Cap on market fee – 2% for fruits and vegetables and 1% for grains.
    • Promotion of e-trading through e- National Agriculture Market.

c.Model Contract Farming Act 2016 – This Act has been enacted to integrate farmers with bulk purchasers including exporters, agro- industries etc. for better price realization. Salient features of the Act are:

    • The Act lays special emphasis on protecting the interests of the farmers, considering them as weaker of the two parties entering a contract.
    • In addition to contract farming, services contracts all along the value chain including pre-production, production and post-production have been included.
    • “Registering and Agreement Recording Committee” or an “Officer” for the purpose at district/block/ taluka level for online registration of sponsor and recording of agreement provided.
    • Contracted produce is to be covered under crop / livestock insurance in operation.
    • Contract framing to be outside the ambit of APMC Act.

Way forward – The structural issues and bottlenecks created by Covid lead lockdown has necessitated increased fiscal spending by government to improve agriculture growth and double farm income by 2022.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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Factly articles for 25th May 2020

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