9 PM Daily Brief – November 11, 2020

9 PM Brief

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GS 2

Strengthening public health capacities

GS 3

Unemployment

Cold chain infra for covid vaccine

15th Finance commission report


9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLY


Strengthening public health capacities

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- Lessons learnt by India’s healthcare sector in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and possible solution.

What is Disaster management act 2005?

The stated object and purpose of the Disaster Management Act is to manage disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.

  • It came into force in India in January 2006.
  • The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
  • DM Act in COVID-19 pandemic- measures included from imposing lockdowns to price control of masks and medical services.

What are the issues pertaining to Disaster Management response during COVID?

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed-

  • The approach which continues to be reactive.
  • Significant gaps particularly in terms of medical preparedness for disasters.

The lesson learnt –

  • Health services and their continuing development cannot be ignorant to the possibility of disaster-imposed pressures.
  • The legal framework for disaster management must push a legal mandate for strengthening the public health system.

What are the issues associated with healthcare systems in India?

  1. Issues pertaining to health Insurance – The future development of hospital care services is being envisaged chiefly under publicly financed health insurance, which would very likely be private-sector led.
  • A large majority of private hospitals in the country are small enterprises which cannot meet the inclusion criteria for insurance
  • Private hospitals under health insurance often prefer high-paying, non-communicable disease-related interventions.
  1. Private healthcare interests aren’t particularly aligned with managing infectious diseases and emergencies.
  • Private health sector services during disasters can hardly be a dependable option as there were many instance of overcharging and weak response to treatment.
  1. Lack of integration of disaster management with primary health care-
  • The lack of Community engagement and local bodies has been a major criticism of the Disaster Management Act
  • The existing public primary health care model in the country is limited in scope. It is implicit that the primary healthcare sectors network lags training to deal with the emergency situations like COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the possible solutions?

  • Making primary health care central to disaster management can be a significant step towards building health system and community resilience to disasters.
  • A legal mandate to strengthen public sector capacities via disaster legislation, including relevant facets such as capacity-building of staff.

Unemployment

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Economics

Context: It is for the first time that unemployment has become a big issue in Bihar assembly elections.

What are the issues?

  • Impact of lockdown: The economy contracted severely, Bihar saw millions of poor migrant labours returning home as U.P. and Bihar have a disproportionately high number of out-migrants.
  • Joblessness an issue this election: An opposition leader promised 10 lakh government jobs in his first Cabinet meeting, if made Chief Minister; the Janata Dal (United)/BJP countered him by promising to create 19 lakh new jobs.
  • Labour force: For nearly 10 years after 2003, GDP growth averaged more than 7% per annum. Non-agricultural jobs in India were generated at a rate of 7.5 million per annum. But only 2 million of the youth were joining the labour force (as enrolment in schools/ colleges was increasing).
  • New non-agricultural jobs pulled over 5 million per annum out of agriculture and into construction and other work, where Bihari and U.P. labour got absorbed in large numbers.
  • Demonetisation and the reluctance to competently handle the non-performing assets crisis sent the economy into a downward spiral.
  • Unemployment rise: The number of unemployed educated youth and a disheartened labour force (youth who completed education and training but were still neither in jobs nor searching for jobs actively) increased to unprecedented levels by 2018.
  • Self-employment decline: It is clear that despite the government’s measures (example, MUDRA) to promote self-employment, the number of youths engaged as self-employed declined from 81 million to 63 million between 2005 and 2012 and further to 49 million between 2012 and 2018.
  • This is despite 95% of MUDRA loans being in the smallest Shishu category. The Ministry of Labour’s MUDRA study in 2018 had already demonstrated this fact.
  • Actual government jobs: Only about 7% of the total employment is created in the government, including the public sector undertakings (NSS, 2017-18).
  • Of the total 465 million jobs in India, about 260 million are created in non-farm (in the industry and services) sectors, of which only 34 million are created in the government sector.
  • The Central government tried to create a myth that the self-employed can create enough jobs.

What are the steps to be taken?

  • Private sector employment through appropriate government policy is crucial.
  • Measures are needed to fill the vacant government posts. There has been a massive decline of government sector job growth from 1.3 million per annum from 2005 to 2012 to only 0.4 million per annum from 2012 to 2018.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 is likely to increase the supply of vocationally trained youth due to the expansion of vocational training curricula at the school level, it will have no impact on the labour demand conditions of the industries.
  • Supplementary measures including development of infrastructure and local industrialisation are necessary.
  • The focus will have to be on two kinds of jobs. First, the health and education sectors and the police and the judiciary have too few government staff. These are sectors where the new government can expand government jobs.

Way forward

  • In all governments, State and Central, the share of Groups C and D jobs is an overwhelming 89%, leaving 11% of jobs for Groups A and B. With such few managerial or professional staff, it is impossible to run any government. Post-pandemic, most States will need to increase spending on public health.

Cold chain infra for covid vaccine

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Economics

Context: India must improve its cold chain infrastructure to avail benefits of new vaccines

Elaborate about the potential covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer?

  • Potential covid vaccine: Multinational drug company Pfizer has announced promising results from its ongoing phase-3 trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Effectiveness in trials: Pfizer, which is using a vaccine candidate by German firm BioNTech, had disclosed in September that for a vaccine to be judged 60% effective, 164 volunteers would have to contract COVID-19.
  • Sample size: The claim of 90% is based on a sample of 94 volunteers but it is not known how many belonged to either group. It is also unclear if those who were eventually infected, manifested mild or moderate severity of disease.
  • Awaited result: There is still time to be reliably sure that the results actually hold up in a wider population.
  • There are no large phase-3 trials of the ‘Covishield’ by the Serum Institute or ‘Covaxin’ by Bharat Biotech Ltd vaccine in India.
  • India’s access to vaccine: While there were early discussions with Pfizer, there is as yet no confirmation on whether India can be assured of early access to even a fraction of the vaccine output in the event it is readied.
  • m-RNA technology: The vaccine candidate is based on an m-RNA technology, which avoids the use of an infectious particle, such as a portion of the virus, and uses a piece of RNA that is then made into an antigen by the body’s own machinery.
  • Faster production: It also does not need to be cultured in chicken eggs or other mammalian cells, allowing it be made faster and more inexpensively.
  • Optimum temperature required: They also reportedly need to be refrigerated to nearly minus 70°C and India, with its limited cold chain infrastructure, lacks efficient vaccine storage capacity.
  • Basic strategy: It shows that scientists’ basic strategy of developing a vaccine to target the spike protein of the virus is correct and given that this is an approach most vaccine developers are following, the chances of several encouraging results are high.
  • Moderna, also employs an m-RNA based approach, it is likely that the new vaccine platform may prove to be a breakthrough approach in developing future vaccines.

Way forward

  • India must keep a close watch on such platform-technology and develop expertise. It must also not lose an opportunity to improve its cold chain infrastructure which currently is developed only for rudimentary vaccines.

15th Finance commission report

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context – The Fifteenth Finance Commission led by Chairman N K Singh, submitted its Report to the President of India.

What are the key highlights of the latest report?

The Fifteenth Finance Commission led by Chairman N. K. Singh submitted its report for the period 2021-2026 to President of India. As per the Terms of Reference (ToR), the Commission was mandated to give its recommendations for five years, i.e., 2021-2026.

  • Title of the report – ‘Finance Commission in COVID Times’and the scales are used to represent the balance between the States and the Union.
  • The report is divided into four volumes.
  • The Report is devoted to the Union Government and contains key departments in greater depth, with the medium-term challenges and the roadmap ahead.
  • After the report is tabled in the Parliament, it will be available in the public domain.

Which issues are addressed in the report?

  1. The Commission submitted its report on vertical and horizontal tax devolution, local government grants, disaster management grant, incentives for States in many areas such as power sector, adoption of DBT, solid waste management etc.
  2. The Commission also submitted its report on whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security ought to be set up and if so how such a mechanism could be operationalized.

What are the key points in the report that can impact states revenue share?

  1. The Commission has addressed all its unique terms of reference such as considering a new non-lapsable fund for financing national security and defence spending, and offering performance incentives for States that deliver on reforms.
  2. The Fifteenth Finance Commission has considered the 2011 population along with forest cover, tax effort, area of the state, and “demographic performance” to arrive at the states’ share in the divisible pool of taxes.

States issues-

  • Cutbacks in devolution – Centre has systematically cut the share of States in taxes raised by the Union government.
  • Shrinking of divisible pool- Centre has reduced the pool of funds to be shared with the States by shifting from taxes to cesses and surcharges.

Way forward-

The Centre can reduce States’ fears further by tabling the report soon so that any anxieties can be debated and laid to rest, and States can also plan upcoming Budgets with less uncertainty.


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