9 PM Daily Brief – November 23, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS 2

Global governance

The Wide Net of Hunger

GS 3

Relook agriculture subsidies

Trade openness and globalization

Controling AMR

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Global governance

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate

Context: Analysing the need for common global governance

What are the impediments to international cooperation in the 21st century?

  • USA & China: The rivalry between the world’s two largest economies has intensified spreading the fears of a new cold war breaking between them.
  • India – China: The militaries of the two most populous countries of the world has been engaged in a tense standoff for the past seven months.
  • India and Pakistan: Endless state of confrontation between the armies of two nuclear-armed countries.
  • West Asia: Civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen that are externally instigated.
  • Brazil: Fire in parts of the Amazon forest, the world’s largest sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide has been a global concern
  • USA- Russia nuclear disarmament: Uncertainity over the extension of the only remaining nuclear weapons control pact between the US and Russia, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which is set to expire on February 5, 2021.

What are the Other common challenges?

  • Ensuring affordable availability of the COVID vaccine to the entire global population.
  • Making the world economy inclusive, equitable and sustainable for complete eradication of poverty.
  • Achieving time-bound climate action to protect the planet.
  • Preventing the militarisation of oceans, outer space and other global commons.

How can we tackle this problem?

  • Need to establish democratic world government: Since, Non-discriminatory and justice-promoting governance is necessary for creating a more united, safer and better world. So, this concept must be brought to the centre of global discourse and action.
  • Principle of shared sovereignty: Exclusive national sovereignty has become the greatest barrier to human unity and fraternity. The concept of national sovereignty is invoked many times to threaten peace, well-being and development. In the age of globalisation, we must embrace the virtues of shared sovereignty, in which connectivity (physical, digital, cultural and people-to-people) takes priority over the territorial sovereignty.
  • New laws of global governance: Where militarisation of international disputes must be criminalised.
  • Disarmament: The world community must compel all nations, to destroy all their weapons of mass destruction and to reduce their military expenditures.
  • Reform and strengthen United Nations: To gradually evolve into a future world government body. As a key element of UN reforms, permanent membership of its security council must be abolished and nations that wage offensive wars or have failed to resolve disputes with their neighbours should stand disqualified/suspended from UNSC membership.
  • Making governance more broad-based and participatory: Technology and mobility have made it possible for artists, professionals, environmentalists, disempowered communities etc, to collaborate by transcending national barriers. Therefore, their empowered participation in global governance is a must.
  • People’s Movement: Rally the people of all nations, races and religions around a new democratically governing body to address the issues caused by myopic, self-centred and unaccountable national governments.

The solution to polarisation is reform of government and state institutions in a way that they work for all citizens without discrimination and injustice. Societies are healed when governance becomes fair and compassionate.

The Wide Net of Hunger

Source: Indian Express

GS2: Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.

Context: Since the lockdown, the Government of India (GoI) has announced Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and Atmanirbhar Bharat. However, numerous studies have shown their inadequacy.

What is the hunger watch survey?

  • The Right to Food campaign in partnership with several civil society organisations initiated “Hunger Watch”, a rapid survey across 11 states from mid-September to mid-October.
  • The objective was to assess the situation of hunger among vulnerable groups, as well as to take immediate local action to support those in extreme need.
  • It focussed on the conditions among marginalised communities such as Dalit/Adivasi households, daily-wage workers, households with single women, aged or disabled and so on.
  • 41 per cent of sample reported having a monthly income of less than Rs 3,000 pre-lockdown compared to only 2.4 per cent more than Rs 15,000.
  • One-third of them were daily wage workers.

What are the key findings of the survey?

  • Widespread hunger continues to be a major issue irrespective of the income levels:
    • Households also face difficult conditions with 27 per cent saying that they had no income in the month before the survey (compared to 43 per cent with no income during April-May).
    • One in three respondents reported members having to skip meals “sometimes” or “often”.
  • Reduction in consumption to cope with food insecurity:
    • More than half the respondents said their current consumption of rice/wheat was less than what it was pre-lockdown.
    • Two-thirds of households reported that the quantity of food consumption either decreased somewhat or decreased a lot and 73 per cent reported that their consumption of green vegetables decreased.
  • Nutrition hunger:
    • Based on the 2011 National Sample Survey, a recent paper by Raghunathan, Headey, and Herforth, published in the Food Policy showed that between 63 and 76 per cent of rural Indians could not afford nutritious diets.
    • The statistics from the survey comparing the food situation before lockdown and in October indicate about 71 per cent of our respondents reported that the nutritional quality of food worsened.
  • Rural-Urban disparity:
    • Based on leaked consumption expenditure survey from 2017-18, S Subramanian, showed that consumption declined uniformly across rural India.

What need to be done?

  • Need a well-functioning Public Distribution System (PDS) along with cash-support measures through social security pensions.
  • Universalise PDS to prevent starvation.
  • MGNREGA needs to be strengthened along with an urban employment programme.
  • Effective implementation of Mid-day Meal scheme as only less than half the anganwadi children (47 per cent) and 63 per cent of school children said that they were getting some sort of dry rations and/or cash support in lieu of the meals.

Relook agriculture subsidies

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Context– The dire need to shift the nature of support to farmers from input subsidies to investment subsidies.

What are the main reason of air pollution in India and its impact?

  1. Stubble Burning – Practice of farmers setting fire to plant debris that remain in farms after harvest.
    • It emits large amounts of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like methane, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
    • Farm fires have been an easy way to get rid of paddy stubble quickly and at low cost for several years.
  1. Atmospheric Ammonia – Ammonia is a gaseous compound of nitrogen that combines with other pollutants in the air to form aerosols which affect public health and the climate
  • The Indo-Gangetic Plains are global hotspot of ammonia emission due to intense agricultural activities and a large concentration of fertilizer industries.
  • Chemical fertilizers are the largest contributors to nitrogen emission.
  • Researchers found that fertilizer consumption was directly linked to the amount of ammonia in the air.
  1. Other factors causing air pollution includes vehicular pollution, dust, and dip in temperatures, firecrackers, construction activities and open waste burning.

What are the impacts of Agri-subsidies?

  • Power subsidies have not only led to an alarming overuse of groundwater, but also it has severely damaged the health of power distribution companies.
  • Increase in the stock piles of grains.
  • Rising ammonia pollution.
  • Subsidized Urea has led to massive overuse of nitrogenous fertilizers, leading to damaged soils and pollution of local water bodies.

What is the way forward?

  1. Crop diversification- The conversion of paddy areas in this belt to orchards with drip irrigation, vegetables, corn, cotton, pulses and oilseeds, that consume much less water, much less power and fertilizers and don’t create stubble to burn.
  • The approach to diversification has to be demand-led, the role of the private sector in building value chains will be critical.
  1. Direct cash transfer to farmers– Instead of subsidizing fertilizers, direct cash transfers can be made to farmers. With fixed amounts, farmers will likely cut down their usage of fertilizers in the interest of soil health as prices of fertilizers will be decontrolled.

These measures could double farmers’ incomes, promote efficiency in resource use, and reduce pollution.

Trade openness and globalization

Source-The Hindu

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

Context- India’s External Affairs Minister believes that the economic growth that has accrued from globalization is not a good enough outcome for India.

What are the views of External Affairs Minister on globalization and trade pacts?

  1. Trade pacts and globalization have allowed other countries ‘unfair’ trade and manufacturing advantages “in the name of openness”.
  2. The effect of past trade agreements has been to de-industrialize some sectors.
  3. The consequences of future ones would lock us into global commitments, many of them not to our advantage.
  4. Employment challenge was created by trade.
  5. Trade agreements have made India over-dependent on imports.

Views of critics-

  • Between 1995-2018- India’s overall export growth averaged 13.4 percent per year.
  • India’s manufacturing exports (in dollars) grew on average by 12.1%, nearly twice the world average.

What are the proposed reasons for India’s slowed down exports?

  1. Strong rupee approach – The current government “strong rupee” approach is among the chief causes that have been shown to have slowed down exports. The real effective exchange rate has appreciated by about 20% since 2014.
  2. Low export competitiveness– India’s own supply side constraints and bottlenecks, i.e., its difficult regulatory environment, poor logistics quality, inadequate and inefficient trade infrastructure, and high transactions costs, among others, all of which hurt export competitiveness.
  • This low ease of doing business relative to other exporting countries has further eroded the competitiveness of Indian exports.
  1. Policy errors– India’s share in industrial production and manufactured exports in the world economy has declined steadily in last six years, coinciding with the phase of corruption scandals, a severe banking crisis, demonetization and a badly designed GST.

How trade openness and globalization can solve these problems?

  1. Generating employment– Openness to trade is important to India for generating employment in the post-COVID-19 world.
  2. Globalization and India
  • India has been one of the major beneficiaries of economic globalization — a fact attested by IMF.
  • Post-1991, the Indian economy grew at a faster pace, ushering in an era of economic prosperity.
  • Poverty in rural and urban India, which stood at close to 40% in 2004-05, almost halved to about 20% by 2011-12.

Way forward-

  • To denounce trade openness and globalization at this point is also poor timing.
  • Strong rupee policy– led to the surge in imports of goods and services preferred by non-rich Indians, and a measurable loss of competitiveness in labor-intensive exports. On the flip side, the disadvantages Indian exporters have long struggled against the substantially higher logistics remain as burdensome.

Controling AMR

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS-3- Science & Technology

Context: A One Health approach is necessary to control antimicrobial resistance.

More on news:

  • India an important locus for the generation of resistance genes: The multi-drug resistance determinant, New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), emerged from this region and spread globally.
  • The containment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in India: It is central to the global effort to address this threat.
  • In India, over 56,000 newborn deaths each year occur due to sepsis, caused by organisms that are resistant to first line antibiotics.

How are antibiotics categorised?

  • Categories: WHO has categorised antibiotics into
    • “Access” which should be widely available,
    • “Watch” to be limited to specific indications,
    • “Reserve”, to be used as a last-resort.
  • In 2015, India had the highest consumption rate worldwide for oxazolidinones, which have been defined by WHO as “Reserve” antibiotics.

What are the reasons for prevalence of AMR in India?

  • Lack of formal training: Many medical practitioners lack formal training in India and 70 per cent of primary healthcare is delivered by such individuals.
  • Sales companies target both doctors as well as those acting in a medical capacity without required qualifications.
  • Biased information: Pharmaceutical sales representatives are a key source of updates and information for prescribers, but the information they provide may be biased and motivated by commercial considerations to promote antibiotic sales.
  • Sale of antibiotics without prescription: The sale of antibiotics without a prescription is prohibited under Schedule H1, which has been supported by the red line campaign but it is not widely enforced.
  • The lack of access: The lack of access, due to geographical distance or affordability, to medical professionals and prescribers, in rural areas of India, leads 50 per cent of people to buy antibiotics directly from the pharmacy as a first choice.
  • Falsified, substandard or counterfeit antimicrobials: It can worsen AMR in several ways. They can leave patients under-dosed and bacteria that are only partially suppressed may be more likely to evolve resistance.
  • Contamination: Effluents from multinational pharmaceutical companies contain active antibiotics, resistant bacteria and resistant genes.
    • They contaminate rivers, streams and wells, including waters which are used for drinking and bathing. This increases both the emergence of resistant bacteria in local populations and also their spread.

Read also :- Current affairs

What can be done?

  • Access to basic antibiotics: An estimated 170,000 deaths from pneumonia in children under five can be prevented with timely access to effective antibiotics.
  • Balance excessive and inappropriate use: It is a key driver of antibiotic resistance, while ensuring live-saving medicines are available to those who need them.
  • Adequate sanitation: Half of the South Asian population lacked access to basic sanitation in 2018. The Swachh Bharat Mission in India has improved access to toilets in many areas.
  • Improvement in infrastructure: Improvements in the infrastructure required for and access to clean water, adequate sanitation and quality hygiene in India could result in a reduction of 590 million diarrheal cases by 2020 that would have been treated with antibiotics.
  • Vaccination coverage: Vaccination has shown to reduce the transmission of AMR infections and the volume of antibiotics consumed.
    • Mission Indradhanush to address low vaccination coverage strengthened micro-planning and additional mechanisms to improve monitoring and accountability.

Way forward

  • One objective of the Indian National Action Plan (NAP) on AMR is to develop standards to ensure that access to effective antibiotics.
  • Sustainable antibiotic production methods need to be developed and adopted by manufacturers.

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