9 PM Daily Brief – November 21, 2020

9 PM Brief

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 1

Machine hole- Technology led initiative

GS 2

Judiciary is not slipping into ‘barbarism

Digital nation: On delivery of citizen services

GS 3

Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) merger with DBS bank

Banking reforms

Making of a biotech hub


9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLY


Machine hole- Technology led initiative

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 1- Society

Context – Centre announces new measures to end manual scavenging by august 2021.

What is manual scavenging and step taken by government to eliminate manual scavenging?

Manual scavenging is the practice of removing human excrement from toilets, septic tanks or sewers by hand.

  • More than 375 workers died while cleaning septic and sewer tanks between 2015 and 2019.

Government initiatives

  1. Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993-
  • The act prohibited the employment of manual scavengers for manually cleaning dry latrines and also the construction of dry toilets (that do not operate with a flush).
  1. Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013
  • Prohibition:The act prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.
  • Rehabilitation:It seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.

What are the new measures announced by the government?

  1. Mechanized cleaning– Sewers and septic tanks in 243 cities will be mechanized and a helpline created to register complaints if manual scavenging is reported
  2. Change in terminology– The word “manhole” will be replaced with “machine-hole” in official usage
  3. Direct allocation of funds– Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry said that it would directly transfer funds to ‘sanitation workers’ to buy cleaning machines, instead of contractors or municipal corporations.

Why the impacts of such measures always fall short?

These measures are not giving adequate attention to the social conditions that force people to plumb toxic cesspools.

  1. Failure in the implementation of law-
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, allows the use of manual labour to clean sewage if the employer provides safety gear. But, in practice, this provision is more flouted than followed.
  • Municipal corporations and local bodies very often outsource the sewer cleaning tasks to private contractors, who do not maintain proper rolls of workers.
  • In case after case of sanitation workers being asphyxiated to death while working toxic sludge pools in different parts of the country, these contractors have denied any association with the deceased.
  1. Discrimination– The entrenched belief in the caste system that assumes people belonging to a particular caste group will readily perform the stigmatized task of emptying latrines.
  2. The design of septic tanks in large parts of the country is not amenable to technological intervention and machines are too big to enter narrow by-lanes, especially in dense urban areas.

Way forward-

  • Government’s move to use machines is a first step towards according dignity and respect to sewer workers.  However, technology’s emancipatory powers will be realized at their fullest only when the states stop living in denial about manual scavenging.
  • Systems need to be put in place to prevent pilferage, ensure that the machines reach the right hands.

Judiciary is not slipping into ‘barbarism

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

Context: Recently questions have been raised on functioning of judiciary that it is slipping into “judicial barbarism”.

What are the recent charges made against the judiciary?

elgar parishad case

  • Electoral bonds case: The court has refused to do timely hearings of cases that go to the heart of the institutional integrity of a democracy.
  • Elgar Parishad case: The Supreme Court has been blamed for denying bail to Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde, who has been detained in the Bhima Koregaon case that is being probed by the National Investigation Agency.
  • Promoting Love Jihad: judiciary was blamed in legitimising this newest assault on liberty.
  • Arnab Goswami case: Where the Chief Justice of India was blamed for quick hearing of Arnab’s case when other significant constitutional cases are pending for hearing before the court.

Why the charges laid against judiciary are not true?

  • Judiciary has effectively Protected Individuals Liberty: In the Prashant Bhushan case and the case of journalist Vinod Dua. After criticising government, these individuals got an early and effective hearing and also relief from the court.
  • Judiciary has effectively Protected the Freedom from arrest: In 2018, Teltumbde was granted interim protection from arrest by the Bombay High Court. These are reflective of the fact that the Supreme Court has always come to the rescue of citizens.
  • Judiciary has effectively Protected right to privacy: Historic verdicts by the SC such as nine judges held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right and it held that the CJI is a public authority under the RTI Act.
  • Judiciary has always Ensured justice: For example, Umar Khalid though a student he has been probed for his role in the Delhi riots for allegedly trying to incite violence during the Delhi riots, which cost more than 50 lives.
  • Judiciary has effectively Protected individuals freedom and choice: The Supreme Court in Shafin Jahan v. Ashokan K M (Hadiya case) observed that Hadiya, being a 24-year-old adult, had the power to make her own decisions, and the court could not compel her to go to her father or husband against her will.
  • Judiciary has effectively Protected individuals from malafide prosecution: Arnab goswami case prima facie appears to be a case of malafide prosecution. The Supreme Court rightly remarked that the accused should pursue his remedy before the high court.

The criticism of the judiciary stems not from facts or evidence but from ideological inclination and dislike of particular political leaders.

Digital nation: On delivery of citizen services

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2 – Governance

Context: The true measure of digitalisation would be smooth delivery of all citizen services.

Analyse the development of India as a digital nation.

  • Measure of digital nation: The true measure of digital nation is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy.
  • Result of internet access: Affordable smartphones and Internet access have made India a digital nation with an estimated 750 million connections and a thriving financial technology sector.
  • Digital platforms in Covid-19: Digital platforms providing goods and services, including online education and telemedicine, have grown vigorously during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many professionals have maintained productivity by working from home.
  • Schemes and services: Government-to-citizen services using Common Service Centres for:
  • Advice to agriculturists.
  • Digital payments of welfare benefits through bank accounts.
  • Online legal advice to four lakh people under the Tele-Law scheme.

Discuss the sectors which has potential for developing India’s digital governance.

  • Digital method in road safety: If digital methods were applied to other sectors, such as road safety, the results could be dramatic as it can potentially reduce the accident mortality rate of about 1,50,000 deaths a year.
  • Technology in social sectors: Enhanced adoption of technology in health and education;
    • The nucleus plan is Ayushman Bharat, with a digital health identity for all.
    • It should be possible to achieve measurable progress early on at least on one UHC component such as access to free, essential prescription drugs.
  • Issuing a digital health ID: A digital health ID would help prescribe and dispense essential medicines free.
  • The Planning Commission estimated that the public procurement cost for this, in 2011, would be 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP
  • Transformation of internal process:  Efficient digital government depends on transforming internal processes, and fixing deadlines for service delivery.

Way forward

  • If digital has to become a way of life, redefining the complex functioning of citizen-centric services would be a good place to start, with deadlines for government departments.
  • Governance must achieve is a reliable system of digital welfare.

Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) merger with DBS bank

Source:Indian Express

Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context: Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) merger with DBS bank is justified

Why RBI decided for merger of Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) amalgamation with DBS bank?

  • Erosion of trust in financial institutions: India, over the past two years has seen the collapse of four financial firms: IL&FS, Dewan Housing Finance, Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank and Yes Bank.
  • Rise in NPA’s: LVB’s bad loans have mounted to about a quarter of its gross advances, while deposits have shrunk by nearly Rs 6,900 crore in the last one year.
  • Failure of bank’s management: They were unable to come up with a credible capital-raising and revival plan, forcing the RBI to seek its merger with another bank.

Why Investors in Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) are unhappy over its amalgamation with Singapore’s DBS Bank?

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) proposed to write off LVB’s entire paid-up equity capital and reserves, resulting in a zero value of its shares.
  • The situation is similar to that of Yes Bank’s AT-1 (additional tier-1) bond investors, who suffered a total write-down of their Rs 8,415 crore holdings as part of a rescue plan.
  • The LVB’s shareholders, like Yes Bank’s AT-1 bondholders, are demanding compensation for the forced extinguishing of their investments.

The question of who is more important an Investor or a depositor?

  • The RBI’s concern as a banking sector regulator is to first secure the interest of depositors because Banks, unlike regular companies, make money not from owning plants, machinery and property instead, it is derived from deploying other people’s money primarily deposits.
  • No bank, however well-capitalised, can survive if depositors decide to pull out money.

Why the choice of amalgamating with DBS is right?

  • Unlike public sector banks that are burdened with stressed loans and requirement of fund infusion, DBS has committed to bring in additional capital of Rs 2,500 crore upfront.
  • Also, despite being a foreign bank, it has chosen to operate in India through a wholly-owned subsidiary, as opposed to just having branches.
  • Has submitted itself to the RBI’s more stringent regulatory requirements, and DBS will be able to add 550-plus branches to its existing 33. This will send a strong signal to other foreign banks to pursue greater growth opportunities
  • With Indian banks want for more capital, a foreign bank as desi  is most welcome.

Banking reforms

Source- The Indian Express

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

Context- RBI committee has recommended a series of changes that could transform the banking landscape by paving the way for large industrial conglomerates to set up banks.

What are Non-Banking Financial Companies NBFCs?

These are establishments that provide financial services and banking facilities without meeting the legal definition of a Bank. Hence they are frequently referred to as “shadow banks”.

Significance of NBFCs-

  • These organizations play a crucial role in the economy, offering their services in urban as well as rural areas, mostly granting loans allowing for growth of new ventures.
  • They alone count for 12.5% raise in Gross Domestic Product of our country.
  • However, they are restricted from taking any form of deposits from the general public.

What are recommendations of RBI’s working group regarding NFBCs?

Proposal by RBI’s internal working group-

  1. The group also suggested giving banking licences to large corporate or industrial houses after necessary amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  2. It recommended increasing the size of the stake that promoters in private banks can hold to 26% from the current 15% over a 15-year time frame.
  3. NBFC or shadow bank with assets of Rs 500 billion and above, including those which are owned by a corporate house may be considered for conversion into a bank after 10 years of operations.
  4. Conversion to Small finance bank SFB-
  • Payments banks with three years of experience can be eligible for conversion into a small finance bank.
  • SFB and payments banks may be listed within 6 years from the date of reaching net worth equivalent to prevalent entry capital requirement prescribed for universal banks’ or ‘10 years from the date of commencement of operations, whichever is earlier.
  1. The minimum initial capital requirement for licensing new banks should be enhanced from ₹500 crore to ₹1000 crore for universal banks, and be raised to ₹300 crore from ₹200 crore for SFBs.
  2. For non-promoter shareholdings a uniform cap of 15% of the paid-up voting equity share capital of the bank instead of a current tiered structure.
  3. Non-operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) should continue to be the preferred structure for all new licenses to be issued for universal banks. However, it should be mandatory only in cases where the individual promoters/promoting entities/ converting entities have other group entities.

Way forward-

  • It is a welcome idea to boost economic activity, job creation enhancing liquidity.
  • Strict regulations on the use of funds held with the bank and monitoring of related party transactions will be essential, where corporate house is a promoter.

Making of a biotech hub

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- science & Technology

Context: The pandemic has given the country an opportunity to evolve from being the pharmacy of the world to being the centre of a revolutionary research.

How has India performed in the field of biotechnology over the years?

  • Change overtime: India has seen an immense improvement in the number and quality of its healthcare facilities, reduction in pregnancy-related deaths, improvement in sanitation and immunisation coverage and has successfully averted several preventable disease epidemics.
  • Department of biotechnology: The Government of India recognised the enormous potential of biotechnology and established a separate department in 1986.
  • Contribution of innovators: The researchers and innovators have shown the way forward by introducing low-cost diagnostics and testing kits, manufacturing PPE kits, masks & therapeutics and now conducting clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The clinical trial for the vaccine developed by the Oxford University and produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D, has entered the final phase.
  • Tackling the pandemic: The immediate need was to have our indigenous production of masks, PPE’s, ventilators and most importantly diagnostic kits.
  • In less than 60 days from 100 per cent import we attained self-sufficiency with a potential to export.
  • A vibrant innovation ecosystem: Prime Minister launched the Startup India, Make in India and similar other programmes which have today established a very strong foundation of an ecosystem that has been enabling policy initiatives.
  • The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC): BIRAC brings innovators and funders on to a common table, enabling ideas to become a reality and facilitate technological advances that make human progress possible.
  • Achievements in biotechnology: the sector employs the best of minds and contributes to the development of generic and affordable medicare.
  • The country accounts for approximately 3 per cent of the global biotech industry.
  • Industry enterprise, a highly-skilled research force backed by government support, has led the biotechnology sector to grow from $1.1 billion in 2003 to a mammoth $64 billion sector in 2019.
  • India has over 2,700 biotech start-ups and are expected to touch the 10,000-mark by 2024.
  • Over 3,500 biotech companies generate employment, contribute to the country’s economy and facilitate a sustainable environment.
  • By 2025, we aim to be worth a $150 billion industry.

Way forward

  • Atma nirbhar: we must motivate our young scientists to continue this path of research and generate new ideas and solutions. “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” will lead to an entrepreneur-friendly ecosystem in the country wherein our energetic youth and their innovations will thrive.
  • The pandemic has provided the country with an opportunity to play the lead role in a global biotech ecosystem. It is time to build on our existing strengths and enter the next stage i.e. from being the pharmacy of the world to being the hub of cutting-edge innovation and research.

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