9 PM Daily Brief – November 30, 2020

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GS 2

Biden’s nominations for key national security posts

GS 3

Paris Agreement goals are not enough

Farmers Agitation

Vaccination policy


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Biden’s nominations for key national security posts

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Context: Biden’s nominations for key national security posts reflect on the reliance of Obama-era liberal internationalists.

Background

  • Biden wants to rescue the U.S. foreign policy after Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ conduct.
  • He wants Washington to reassume the role of a steward on global governance issues, lead in the advocacy of democratic values and human rights, and sustain its network of alliances from western Europe to northeast Asia.
  • For this, Mr. Biden has nominated veterans from the Barack Obama administration.

How Biden will be different from Trump administration in context of engagement with UN specialized bodies?

  • Trump administration saw the America’s withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council and UNESCO.
  • To restore the relations, Biden has tapped career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield to represent Washington at the UN who has served as the Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

How Biden will be different from Trump administration in context of Climate change issues?

  • Biden has pledged to reverse Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and he is expected to elevate the position as part of his National Security Council.
  • His decision to tap former Secretary of State John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate is reflective of the high priority.

How Biden will be different from Trump administration with respect to Relation with Iran?

  • Biden has pledged to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. He has nominated Jake Sullivan as the National Security Adviser.
  • Sullivan was a key player in the secret negotiations that led to the 2015 deal.
  • He has also worked on the implementation of her ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy the early precursor to the Indo-Pacific strategy.

How Biden will be different from Trump administration with respect to Relation with India?

  • There will be a continuity in U.S.-India ties under Mr. Biden.
  • Trumps nominated key members already have the experience of being part of the modern-day development of America’s ties with India.
  • For instance, Mr. Blinken, oversaw the passage of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. Similarly, Mr. Sullivan had been a supporter of U.S.-India ties being a central component of the ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy.
  • Under Biden’s administration, the priority will be to further build on Mr. Trump’s record. Where, he classified India under the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 and finalized the Industrial Security Annex for the actualisation of the DTTI.
  • We can see major developments in India- US ties with India’s designation as ‘Major Defence Partner’ and the initiation of the United States-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in Biden years.
  • However, the U.S. will reserve apprehensions over some of India’s domestic policies such as India cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir and some of the laws on citizenship.

Paris Agreement goals are not enough

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Context – The Paris Agreement fall short to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.

What are the different conventions, declarations related to environment conservation?

  1. Stockholm Convention
  2. Objective – It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants.
  3. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – Signed in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development also known as the Earth Summit, the Rio Summit or the Rio Conference.
  • A distinction was made between the “luxury emissions” of the developed countries, which were reduced mandatorily, and the survival emissions of the developed countries, which were allowed to increase.
  • Financial package was approved to develop environment-friendly technologies in developing countries.
  • A significant accomplishment of the summit was an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
  1. Issues- Critics pointed out that many of the agreements made in the Rio have not been realized regarding such fundamental issues as fighting poverty and cleaning up the environment.
  2. The Kyoto protocol

    Objective-
    In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted which aimed to achieve a legally binding emissions reduction by industrialized countries.
  • Legally binding– Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR), legally binding targets for 39 developed countries. No legally binding targets for developing countries.
  1. Failure of Kyoto Protocol-
  • Exclusion of developing countries from emissions reduction targets notably Brazil, South Africa, India and China made the Kyoto Protocol inequitable. Ultimately failed to induce significant emission reductions on a global scale.
  • A very low number of member countries ratified– For example: USA never ratified.
  1. Paris Agreement-
  • Objective- To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change and specifies long-term goals regarding global average temperatures, adaptation to climate change and finance flows.
  • Temperature- Hold warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with effective efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Makes all nations voluntarily commit on their own domestic emission reduction targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.
  1. Issues and challenges with Paris Agreement-
  • No enforcement mechanism– As the agreement is not legally binding in nature there are no penalties to be imposed in case of non-compliance.
  • Commitment issue– It does not include any firm commitments by countries to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Unsustainable targets– The world reached at almost 1degree Celsius warming post industrialization and the Paris contributions are not enough to maintain 2 degree Celsius levels.
  • The scientific community has already rejected the Paris Agreement as a solution.
  • USA withdrawal– USA recently pulled out from the agreement seriously damaging the global effort to reverse climate change. This has created new barriers and more pressure on rest of the nations in achieving the targets of Paris agreement.
  • Russia, the fifth largest emitter, hasn’t even bothered to make a pledge.

What is the way forward?

  • Collaborative responses – The pathway to avoiding an even hotter world, require a swift and complete transformation not just of the global economy, but of society too.
  • All countries need to step up, accept that global emissions must reach net zero by 2050 and take very large steps to make it happen.

For example- Improvements in energy efficiency, while closing 2,400 coal plants and replacing them with renewables within the next decade.

Farmers Agitation

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices

Context: Farmers Apprehensions about the new farm laws

Background:

  • Parliament passed three Farm Acts in September to reform the Agriculture sector.
  • The reforms were aimed to make the agriculture sector more efficient and lucrative.
  • However, it had the effect of upsetting large sections of farmers leading to agitation by more than 500 farmers’ unions.
  • Most farmers fear that their precarity will increase as a result of the changes. Farmer leaders have pointed out that the Centre has refused to address their specific concerns regarding the new laws, which they are concerned will render them helpless in the face of exploitative market forces.
  • The Centre has aggravated the issue by rushing through these laws without wide consultation and political consensus.

What were the apprehensions of Farmers regarding new farm bills?

End of the MSP and guaranteed government procurement:

  • The new farm laws give farmers more choices in selling their produce and creates a national market for their produce.
  • This will lead to end of a monopoly market and it will lead to more efficiency.
  • But the farmers fear that the new laws may lead to a dismantling of the MSP and the mandi system, thereby the farmers will have little bargaining power during contracts with private buyers.

End of subsidised electricity:

  • Farmers are also concerned about the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 which might end their access to subsidised electricity.

Way forward

  • The Centre should be open to legislate a guarantee of procurement at MSP which can convince farmers to accept the new laws.
  • Agriculture sector In India must account for uneven environmental factors across different regions. It must balance the interest of the producers and consumers.

Vaccination policy

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Science & Technology

Context: India’s COVID-19 control plan of actions can be the basis for building a much-needed public health infrastructure.

How can vaccine help in eradicating a disease?

  • Preventive medicines: Vaccines play a major role in human mastery over infectious diseases by inducing immunity in individuals.
  • Herd immunity: When a vaccine is rolled out as a national programme and increasing proportions of people are vaccinated, ‘herd immunity’ level increases and disease frequency decreases in the vaccinated population.
  • The ‘herd effect’ of vaccination: That decelerates transmission of the microbe in the whole community, resulting in decreasing disease frequency even in the unvaccinated segment of population.
  • Herd immunity plus herd effect reduces the overall disease burden in the community.
  • Control: In epidemiology, the common word ‘control’ has a specific meaning: ‘deliberate reduction of disease frequency to a desired level, validated with evidence’.
  • For evidence, disease frequencies must be documented both at baseline and on an on-going basis, through systematic surveillance. So, control interventions include vaccination programme and disease surveillance.
  • Elimination: The extreme form of control is ‘elimination’ of transmission of the microbe in a whole country.
  • For example, measles and rubella have been eliminated in Sri Lanka through sustained vaccination achieving high coverage.
  • Diseases eradicated using vaccine: Eradication is global elimination of an infectious disease. So far, smallpox and cattle plague have been eradicated using their respective vaccines.
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was eradicated in 2003 without a vaccine, using ‘non-pharmacological interventions’, or NPI, systematic case detection, contact tracing and quarantine.

What are the statuses of vaccine candidates in India?

  • Protective efficacies: Three COVID-19 vaccines have claims of about 90-95% protective efficacy are BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech), mRNA-1273 (Moderna) and Sputnik-V (Gamaleya Institute).
  • Trial phases: Sputnik-V is under phase 2-phase 3 vaccine trials in India, by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Another vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (OxfordAstraZeneca), manufactured under licence by Serum Institute of India as Covishield, is undergoing phase 2-phase 3 trials in India.
  • An indigenous vaccine candidate, Covaxin (Bharat Biotech), found safe and immunogenic in phase 1 and phase 2 trials, is now under phase 3 trial.
  • Policy development: In India’s national Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), vaccines are procured and supplied by the Union government and vaccination is implemented by State governments.
  • States have the freedom to surpass policy limits if no fund is sought.
  • For example, Delhi used the Measles Mumps-Rubella vaccine when the central government policy was only for Measles vaccine and Sikkim unilaterally used human papillomavirus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in women.

Read also :- current affairs

What can be done to tackle the issues?

  • Policy issue: An important policy issue is whether vaccination should be confined to only uninfected individuals or should it be for all people. All test results of infected subjects are available on a computer data base and that is one way to identify those who were already infected.
  • Trained staff: The vaccination stations should be staffed with trained personnel and supervised by medical doctors.
  • Infrastructure: The site must have a waiting area and a post-vaccination staying area to manage any untoward reaction during the first hour.
  • Digital list: A computerised master list with details and mobile numbers of all vaccinated subjects needs to be maintained for the purpose of post-vaccination follow up to document rare side-effects.
  • Data management: Data management has to be meticulously planned and executed.

Way forward

  • This is a huge opportunity to eliminate the novel coronavirus from India, setting an example to the rest of the world. With will and wisdom we can, and should, accomplish this.

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