9 PM Daily Brief – November 3, 2020

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GS 1
Nutrition fallout in wake of pandemic
GS 2

Serological surveys
Post Quad era
NEP 2020: Analysis
GS 3

RBI’s governance

9 PM for Preliminary examination


Nutrition fallout in wake of pandemic

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 1-Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

Context – The COVID-19 crisis has affected the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme, threatening the food security of children from underprivileged communities.

What are the key findings of recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report?

Alarming situation for India-

  • India has been ranked at 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020. The country’s score of 27.2 is the worst among BRICS countries, and inferior to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • India’s child wasting rate was extremely high at 20.8% – the highest.
  • The child stunting rate in India was 37.4 %,
  • The child wasting was at 17.3 %.
  • The undernourishment rate of India was at 14% and child mortality at 3.7 %.
  • India already far out in terms of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal.

What are the impacts of pandemic on food security of child?

Food security concerns due to pandemic-

  1. Loosing school meals– A real-time monitoring tool estimated that as of April 2020, the peak of school closures, 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, majority were in India.
    • For children from vulnerable households, their only proper meal is the one they get at school.
  1. Inefficiency in policy implementation– The Government of India announced hot-cooked mid-day meal or dry ration for eligible school-going children even during pandemic. However, States were still struggling to implement this.
    • Dry ration distributions in lieu of school meals were irregular and started only in late May.
    • The offtake of grains under MDMS from FCI during April and May, 2020 was 22%, lower than the corresponding offtake during April and May, 2019.
  1. Children engaging in labor activity to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
    • There is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.

What are the possible solutions required?

  1. Diverse diet- Nourishment through a diverse diet that includes fat, protein and micronutrients.
  2. Link local farmers with MDMS – Smallholder farmers can supply cereals, vegetables and eggs to local schools, which could diversify production and farming systems, transform rural livelihoods and the local economy, and fulfill the ‘Atmanirbhar Poshan’.
    • Locally produced vegetables and fruits may be added to the MDMS, also providing an income to local farmers.
  1. New Initiatives under MDMS- School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for mid-day meals.
  2. Awareness program- The adequate awareness about of the availability of the scheme related to MDMS is needed for its proper implications.
  3. The missed mid-day meal entitlement for April-may should be provided to children as dry ration with retrospective effect.

Way forward-

  • With continuing uncertainty regarding the reopening of schools, innovation is similarly required to ensure that not just food, but nutrition is delivered regularly to children.
  • Strict measures are needed to ensure that the Public Distribution System (PDS) is accessible to all, especially the vulnerable.

Serological surveys

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research conducted two serosurveys: May 11 to June 4 and August 17 to September 22.

What is serological survey?

  • Serological surveys are used to detect the prevalence of antibodies against COVID-19/any diseases.
  • Their purpose is to measure the proportion of a population already infected as evidenced by prevalence of antibody against the disease.

How serological surveys are carried out?

  • Statisticians stratify the population and select a random sample from all strata so that the prevalence figure obtained is representative of the whole population.
  • Random samples are tested from the entire population then, the data are extrapolated to the whole population.

Why antibody is tested?

  • Antibodies are the evidence of the host’s response to virus infection.
  • Their presence in the blood-serum confirms past infection.

Why the data derived from serosurveys must be interpreted with caution?

  • Issue with Asymptomatic cases: Asymptomatic cases constitute more than 80% of those infected with the virus. In people with asymptomatic infections, these antibody levels decline over time and become undetectable by 60 days after proven infection.
  • Swift disappearance of S2 antibodies: In a study on exposure-prone healthcare workers in Tennessee, nearly half the subjects with S2 antibodies became negative in two months.
  • Inaccuracy: The latent period between infection and the appearance of a detectable antibody is about four weeks. Those who got infected recently before the survey may not be covered.
  • If taken at face value, serosurveys may not reflect the true level of antibodies prevalence.

What is the way forward?

  • The predicted herd immunity level needed to end the epidemic was 60%. In India, according to the serological surveys, half of the herd immunity level required to end the epidemic was already reached by mid-September.
  • However, during the festival the Governments must enforce strict norms regarding crowding, especially inside buildings.
  • This will ensure safety of the individuals, family members particularly senior citizens.

Post-Quad era

Source: Indian Express

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

Context: Future possible rearrangement of the global structures will have major consequences for India’s economic prosperity and technological future.

What are the likely changes?

  • Expansion of the Five Eyes forum with inclusion of India: Recently India was invited to join the Five Eyes meeting earlier this month in Tokyo on communications security.
  • The growth of “Quad Plus”: Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam can be added along with the existing Quad members.
  • Emergence of league of democracies: To address a wide range of issues, including the defence of shared values, commerce, corruption, taxation, climate change and digital governance.
  • Emergence of the ideas of the “free world: New international coalitions will be formed to address the emerging challenges from China.
  • Expansion of G-7: It will have new nations like Australia, India, Russia and South Korea.
  • Coalition of 10 democracies, including India: it will contribute to the construction of secure 5G networks and reduce the current dependence on China.
  • Demand to reform the global trading system: it has been distorted by Chinese success in subverting it.
  • Reforming the global trade rules: Moving away from the free trade and more focus on self-reliance. For example, American industrial policy and “Buy American” strategy and India’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
  • Development of Clean Network: Clean Network is a broader effort among like-minded countries to build secure technology ecosystems.it eliminates untrustworthy vendors from telecom systems, digital apps, trans-oceanic cables and cloud infrastructure.

What are the opportunities for India?

  • India will engage more closely with Japan and Australia: it will help in developing resilient supply chains to reduce the reliance on China.
  • Opportunities for responsible development of AI: France and Canada have invited India to join the Global Partnership on artificial intelligence a collaboration of 15 countries.

The post-Quad era opens a new phase in which India, for the first time, can help shape global institutions.

NEP 2020: Analysis

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: The National Education Policy 2020 underestimates the problem of settling the three systems of education in India.

More on news:

  • For education to fulfil its social role, it must respond to the specific setting in which the young are growing up. India has sufficient experience of attempts made from the national level to influence systemic realities on the ground.

Examine the evolution of centre-state relations in the field of education?

  • There is a huge history of strong recommendations made by national commissions and of provincial resistance.
  • States had their own social worlds to deal with, and they often preferred to carry on with the ways they became familiar with in colonial days.
  • A prime example is the continuation of intermediate or junior colleges in several States more than half a century after the Kothari Commission gave its much-acclaimed report.
    • The Constitution, in its original draft, treated the States as the apt sphere for dealing with education.
    • Central Advisory Board of Education: One hundred years ago, the Central Advisory Board of Education was created to co-ordinate regional responses to common issues.
      • The ‘recommended’ character of this administrative device meant that the Board served mainly as a discussion forum.
    • India chose to have a Ministry of Education at the Centre and its role was to clear aims and standards, or to pave the road to nation-building and development.
    • After independence, a more substantial scope of the Centre’s activities in education emerged in the shape of advanced institutions in professional fields and schools specifically meant for the children of civil servants transferrable across India.
  • Such institutions received higher investment than the States could afford.
  • The same was for national-level resource institutions which guided policy and encouraged new practices.
    • When the national policy was drafted, it stressed on national concerns and viewpoint without referring to provincial practices that directed strong divergence.
    • Private sector had begun to push both public policy and popular perceptions of education. The force of this push can be measured from the difference between the 1986 policy and its own action programme published six years later.
    • The rapidly expanding and globalising urban middle class had already begun to split from the public system, posing the question of why education cannot be sold if there are willing buyers.

Discuss the various systems of education in India.

  • Central System:
    • There is a Central system, running an exam board that has an all-India reach through affiliation with English-medium private schools catering to regional elites.
    • The Central system also includes advanced professional institutes and universities that have access to greater per capita funding than what their counterparts run by the States can afford.
  • State system:
    • The second system which also features provincial secondary boards affiliating schools teaching in State languages.
  • Private system:
    • The third system is based on purely private investment. Internationally accredited school boards and globally connected private universities are part of this.
  • An attempt was made under the Right to Education (RTE) Act to bridge the gap between the first two systems. The RTE is a parliamentary law, providing a set of standards for elementary education and a call to private schools to provide for social justice via the quota route.
  • Coordination among the three systems has proved unmanageable, even in purely functional terms.

Way forward

  • We need a systemic vision: both for recovery from institutional decay and for future progress.
  • Gradations of failure will have to be determined first and their causes studied before remedial steps are planned.

RBI’s governance

Source- The Hindu

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

Context– RBI has to answer to Parliament why it misses the inflation target and what plans do they have to control inflation.

What is Inflation targeting and what happen when RBI fails to meet inflation target?

  1. Inflation targeting involves using monetary policy to keep inflation close to the agreed target. RBI and Government of India signed a Monetary Policy Framework Agreement in February 2015.
    • As per terms of the agreement, the objective of monetary policy framework would be primarily to maintain price stability (inflation targeting), while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
    • Target given to MPC:The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) MPC was given the target of keeping inflation at 4% +/- 2%. This meant that inflation should be between 2% and 6%.
  1. Condition for failure of inflation target – A breach of the tolerance level for three consecutive quarters will constitute a failure of monetary policy.
    • In such case– RBI have to send a report to the central government stating reasons and the remedial actions it proposes to initiate, and an estimate of the time-period within which it expects to achieve the inflation target through the corrective steps proposed.
    • Aim– To enhance transparency and accountability of the central bank.

What was the reason proposed by RBI for the breach of inflation target?

    • Lack of Data due to lockdown– The MPC is of the view that there was a break in the consumer price index (CPI) series since inflation data for April and May was imputed and not collected by visiting the markets by NSO surveyors. It was rather estimated by the NSO.

However, Prices could be collected from the urban markets and villages after lockdown restriction were lifted and non-essential activities partially restored.

Way forward-

  • The central bank needs to answer three questions — why it has failed to achieve its target; what remedial measures it would take to bring inflation back within the target range; and by what time.
  • Transparency can enable more informed decision-making within the government, greater public scrutiny of the RBI’s performance, and an improved inflation-targeting regime.

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