9 PM Daily Brief – November 27, 2020

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GS 2

Power of Pardon

India – US future cooperation

Ayush and Ayurveda

GS 3

Permitting industrial houses to own banks

Urban planning

GS 4

Vaccine nationalism


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FACTLY

Power of Pardon

Source: Indian Express

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

Context: Recently, US President Donald Trump exercised his powers under the Constitution to pardon Michael Flynn, his former National Security Advisor

What is the extent of the US President’s power to pardon?

  • Constitutional right: The President of the US has the constitutional right to pardon or commute sentences related to federal crimes.
  • No restriction: The US Supreme Court has held that this power is “granted without limit” and cannot be restricted by Congress.
  • Discretionary power: Clemency is a broad executive power, and is discretionary. The President is not answerable for his pardons, and does not have to provide a reason for issuing one.

What are the limitations?

  • Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution says all Presidents shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
  • The power only applies to federal crimes and not state crimes.
  • Those pardoned by the President can still be tried under the laws of individual states.

What is the frequency of usage of pardoning power during different Presidents?

  • In 2017, Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of being in contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop arresting immigrants solely on the suspicion that they were residing in the US illegally.
  • In four years, Trump has granted pardons to 29 people (including Flynn) and 16 commutations.
  • President Barack Obama had, during his eight-year tenure, issued 212 pardons and 1,715 commutations.
  • The only other President who can be compared with Trump for infrequent use of the power is George H W Bush, who granted 77 clemency requests during his one-term tenure.
  • The highest number of clemency grants by a US President (3,796) came during Franklin D Roosevelt’s 12-year tenure, which coincided with World War II.

How Indian President pardons?

  • Not discretionary: the President has to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers while deciding mercy pleas. These include Maru Ram vs Union of India in 1980, and Dhananjoy Chatterjee vs State of West Bengal in 1994.
  • Article 72: the President shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence where the sentence is a sentence of death.
  • Article 161: the Governor too has pardoning powers, but these do not extend to death sentences.
  • Executive power with defined procedure: The President cannot exercise his power of pardon independent of the government. The mercy plea is forwarded to the Home Ministry, seeking the Cabinet’s advice. The Ministry forwards this to the concerned state government based on the reply, it formulates its advice on behalf of the Council of Ministers.
  • Final decision making: Article 74(1) empowers President to return cabinet’s advice for reconsideration once. If the Council of Ministers decides against any change, the President has no option but to accept it.

India – US future cooperation

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- International relations

Context: The future looks bright for U.S.-India trade, but it may not be any easier.

More on news:

  • Constructive stance: There will be a more constructive stance on multilateral issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • In bilateral trade policies: The Biden administration is likely to emphasise enforcement, and that will not differ so much. It is less likely to engage in unilateral tariff increases and more likely to pursue remedies in the WTO.

What are the five likely developments to take place under Biden’s rule?

  • Domestic concerns: Biden plans to focus on domestic concerns first, particularly in implementing a coherent COVID-19 policy.
  • Trade aspects may have limited early relevance for a future U.S.-India trade policy.
  • Trade priorities: As it turns to trade policy, the Biden administration is not likely to place India among its top few priorities.
  • Whether it should prioritise concluding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the U.K. in April before the Trade Promotion Authority expires.
  • Other top priorities:
  • Resolving the Airbus-Boeing dispute with the European Union.
  • Formulating its approach with China, such as finding alternatives to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to set new global standards that address China’s practices.
  • Trade agreement with India: The trade deal still pending with the Trump administration remains compelling. There could be an early opportunity to conclude these negotiations.
  • This trade agreement could pave the way for later additional small agreements.
  • Trade policy forum: The Biden administration will see the TPF’s value as a venue for more regular discussions on a range of trade issues.
  • A refreshed TPF will present new opportunities for the two countries to take up a range of cutting-edge trade issues that will be critical in determining whether the U.S. and India can converge more over time or will drift further apart.
  • These include digital trade issues, intellectual property rights and approaches to nurturing innovation, better health sector alignment, and more regular regulatory work on science-based agricultural policies.

Way forward

  • It will be critical for leadership on both sides to commit to strong efforts to put the trade relationship on a new footing, which will have to involve a ‘can-do’ attitude to solving problems.

Ayush and Ayurveda

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Health

Context: Recently, the Indian Medical systems of Ayurveda, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Unani Medicine have identified surgical procedures that can be performed by postgraduate Ayurvedic doctors in Shalya (surgery).

What is the history of Ayurveda and Allopathic practices in India?

  • After Independence: The Indian state was faced with the difficult task of accommodating both the ascendant modern medicine brought in by the British and India’s traditional systems of medicine, notably Ayurveda.
    • Options:
  • One was to take the best from all systems and integrate them into one cohesive science. This was possible but not easy as the systems had certain incompatible approaches.
  • For a brief period there actually existed ‘integrated’ courses, wherein both Ayurveda and Modern medicine were taught to students.
  • These withered away partly due to opposition from purists in Ayurveda who were outraged by the ‘dilution’ of their science.

Discuss the issues associated with ayurvedic graduates.

  • Ayurvedic graduates experienced an identity crisis: Many of them had joined the course not for the love of Ayurveda but to get a degree with the honorific ‘Dr.’ which gave them upward mobility, social status and even value in the marriage market.
  • Their role: They became resident doctors, intensive care duty doctors and operation theatre assistant surgeons.
  • There is an instance of a homoeopathic graduate manning and training others on the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a complex heart lung machine in the largest unit used for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
  • They work for less pay which allows hospitals to control costs and even make profits.
  • The idea of Ayurvedic surgeons: In an effort to develop postgraduate programmes, Ayurveda medical colleges developed one in “Shalya’ or “surgery”.
  • A procedure called ‘Kshar Sutra’ used for anal fistula was described in Ayurveda texts and has been incorporated in modern medicine.
  • Procedures and complexities
  • Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Amendment Regulations, 2020: It authorises an MS (Ayurveda) Shalya Tantra, or General Surgery postgraduate degree holder on completion of his course to perform 58 surgical procedures.
  • Some of the procedures in the list are rather complicated. For example, removal of the gallbladder called cholecystectomy.

What can be done?

  • Proper training: Ayurveda graduates including surgeons are a large workforce in search of an identity. If they are creatively and properly trained, they can play important roles in our health-care system.
  • IMA needs to be constructive: AYUSH, or Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, is a priority area for the present government. The IMA in its opposition needs to be precise and constructive.

Way forward

  • Serious discussion about utilising India’s large workforce of non MBBS doctors to improve access to decent health care for our ordinary citizens is required.

Permitting industrial houses to own banks

Source: Indian Express

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

Context: Permitting industrial houses to own banks could undermine economic growth and democracy.

Background

  • Recently, an internal working group of the RBI has made a far-reaching recommendation to permit industrial houses to own and control banks.
  • According to the report, the reason for permitting industrial houses to own and control banks is that industry-owned banks would increase the supply of credit, which is low and growing slowly.
  • However, many believe that this step would be a grievous mistake, and it will be a setback to Indian economic and political development.

Why it is a concern?

  • Against the recommendations of the experts: The report states that majority of the experts were of the opinion that large corporate/industrial houses should not be allowed to promote a bank.
  • The problem of connected lending: This can lead to Over-financing of risky activities, encouraging inefficiency by delaying or prolonging exit and entrenching dominance.
  • Regulation of Connected lending is difficult: It is clear from the experience of Indonesia and most advanced countries that regulating connected lending is impossible and the only solution is to ban corporate-owned banks.
  • Overburdened RBI: RBI has encountered much difficulty in dealing with banking irregularities at Punjab National Bank, Yes Bank, ILFS and Lakshmi Vilas Bank. Regulation and supervision need to be strengthened considerably to deal with the current problems in the banking system before they are burdened with new regulatory tasks.
  • Can delay exiting of inefficient firms: This makes it impossible for more efficient firms to grow and replace them. If industrial houses get direct access to financial resources, their capacity to delay or prevent exit altogether will only increase.
  • Can stimulate growth of Monopolies: Already, The Indian economy already suffers from over-concentration. The COVID-19 crisis is aggravating this picture because those with greater resources will not only more easily survive the crisis and they will be able to take over small, medium and large enterprises that have not had the resilience or resources. In this scenario, if large industrial houses get banking licences, they will become even more powerful.
  • Will dampen rules-based well-regulated market economy: The power acquired by getting banking licences will not just make them stronger than commercial rivals, but even relative to the regulators and government itself. This will aggravate imbalances leading to a vicious cycle of dominance.
  • Affect credit Quality: Indian financial sector reforms have aimed at improving both the quantity and the quality of credit. If India now starts granting banking licences to powerful, politically connected industrial houses, allowing them to determine how credit is allocated, it will effectively abandon the principle of ensuring that credit flows to the most economically efficient users.
  • Alternative options do exist: The other powerful way to promote more good quality credit is to undertake serious reforms of the public sector banks.

Mixing industry and finance will set us on a road full of dangers for growth, public finances, and the future of the country itself.

Urban planning

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Disaster and disaster management.

Context- A radical shift is needed in our approach towards disaster mitigation and management. Government can handle cyclones better by investing in town planning and infrastructure.

What are the reasons of no major casualty or lesser destruction by cyclone Nivar?

Cyclone Nivar- It is the fourth cyclone that has taken shape in the North Indian Ocean region this year. The reason for lesser destruction are-

  1. Correct weather forecasting– IMD has pointed the track of the cyclone very early and his help with adequate warnings and evacuation from the coast.
  2. Disaster preparedness – The NDRF deployed 25 teams and disaster management equipment in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.
  3. Government readiness – The Tamil Nadu government has shown brisk readiness in handling the acute challenge of a severe weather event.

What are the concern concerns?

  1. Unplanned development– Unplanned development, encroachments in riparian zones, failure of flood control structures, unplanned reservoir operations, poor drainage infrastructure, deforestation, land use change and sedimentation in river beds are exacerbating floods.
  • Indiscriminate encroachment of waterways and wetlands, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure.
  1. Governments have not shown the rigour to collect and publish data on annual flooding patterns, and measure the peak flows in the neglected rivers and canals to plan remedies.

Way forward-

  • The aftermath now presents an opportunity to make a full assessment not just for distribution of relief but also to understand the impacts of extreme monsoon weather.
  • Governments and local bodies should hardwire urban planning and invest heavily for a future of frequent disruptive weather.

Vaccine nationalism

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 4 – Strengthening of ethical and moral values in governance; ethical issues in international relations and funding; corporate governance.

Context- Problems posed by vaccine nationalism and the possible solutions.

What is vaccine nationalism the problems posed by vaccine nationalism?

Vaccine nationalism occurs when a country manages to secure doses of vaccine for its own citizens or residents before they are made available in other countries.

  • This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.

The problems posed by vaccine nationalism-

  • It undermines equitable access to vaccines.
  • Issue for countries with fewer resources-The most immediate effect of vaccine nationalism is that it further disadvantages countries with fewer resources and bargaining power.
  • Deprives access to public health- It deprives populations from timely access to vital public health goods.

What needs to be done? 

  1. Global framework for equitable access– International institutions, including the WHO, should coordinate negotiations to produce a framework for equitable access to vaccines during public health crises.
  2. Governments should be the custodian of public goods– Governments must step in to regulate vaccine development, innovation, manufacture, sale, and supply ultimately to the public.
  3. Prioritization for high risk groups– The first batch of the vaccines should be made available to all frontline, health and social care workers, police and others who are at high risk of getting the infection.
  4. Ensuring equity-Equitable distribution and access should be ensured. Equity entails both affordability of vaccines and access opportunities for populations across the world, irrespective of geography and geopolitics.
  5. Pre-purchase agreements and contracts should not trump equitable access to global public health goods
  6. It was important for WTO members to work together to ensure that intellectual property rights such as patents, industrial designs, copyright and protection of undisclosed information did not create barriers to timely access to affordable medical products.

Way forward-

  • Countries around the world should stop engaging in overly nationalistic behaviors.  Failure to do so will harm patient populations across the globe.
  • The WTO has a role in getting pharmaceutical firms and countries to treat vaccines and life-saving medicines as a public good.

Read also :- Current affairs

Other Important news  :-

Draft Merchant Shipping Bill,2020

News: Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has issued a draft of the Merchant Shipping Bill, 2020 for public consultation.

Facts:

  • Aim: To repeal and replace the Merchant Shipping Act,1958 and the Coasting Vessels Act,1838.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  • Promoting ease of doing business– The Bill does away with requirement of general trading license for Indian vessels.
  • Embracing digital technology- It enables electronic means of registration, and grants statutory recognition to electronic agreements, records and others.
  • Increasing tonnage and Vessel as a Tradable Asset-The Bill seeks to increase India’s tonnage by widening the eligibility criteria for ownership of vessels thereby increasing opportunities for international trade.
  • Maritime Emergency Response-The Bill seeks to introduce for the first-time statutory framework for regulating maritime emergency response against maritime incidents.
  • Strengthening adjudication and predictability of claims: In order to strengthen the investigation and adjudication of claims arising out of collision of vessels, assessors may be tasked by the High Courts to present their findings on the degrees of fault of each vessel.
  • India as an Active Enforcement Jurisdiction– The Bill incorporates powers of the Director-General to take action against vessels that are unsafe, and pose a threat to safety of life at sea and environment, and includes a procedure for appeal from detention orders.
  • Pollution Prevention: The Bill incorporates provisions that encourage active enforcement of pollution prevention standards and the Central Government has been granted the power to mandate compulsory insurance or such other financial security, for pollution damage.

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