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9 PM for Mains examination
- Impacted Mental Health during Pandemic
- Supreme court verdict on shaheen Bagh protest
- World Food program
- TRP (Television Rating Point) scandal
- MPC meeting- shifting focus from containment to revival
9 PM for Preliminary examination
1.Impacted Mental Health during Pandemic
Source- The Hindu
Syllabus- GS 2- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Context- The fear of being infected and anxiety about an uncertain present and future have impacted mental health of vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
How the Covid- 19 pandemic has impacted population around the world?
- Change in daily lives-
- Before the pandemic, India’s progress as one of the fastest growing economies led to large paradigm shifts in the daily lives of its citizens.
- Major lifestyle shifts led to the rise of many lifestyle disorders.
- The pandemic has completely changed the way people live.
- New Normal- Necessary precautions such as social distancing, limited interactions and mask usage have become the new normal, with huge social, physical, economic and mental consequences.
- Dire socio-economic conditions arise– Mass migration, unemployment and economic distress — make at-risk groups even more vulnerable during such times.
- Rising stress–
- While progress on a COVID-19 vaccine is promising, uncertainty as a result of the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
- The fear of getting infected, coupled with a lack of knowledge, isolation from the community and the economic fallout has created a new level of stress.
- Vulnerable Population- The most who are susceptible to greater risks of infections are-
Health-care workers, infected people, the elderly, migrant workers, those from resource-poor backgrounds, women facing domestic violence, individuals with compromised immunity, and those suffering from physical or psychological problems.
What are the reasons behind the increase in suicides during pandemic?
- Lack of care in the treatment institution- The findings reveal that one in four of these deaths occurred among hospitalised patients, demonstrating the need for extra care and vigilance during institutional treatment for either COVID-19 or any other illness.
- Alcohol or drug addiction- The sudden closure of alcohol/liquor outlets resulted in an increase in alcohol-related suicides.
- Ignorance of early signs of poor mental health- Such as a sudden change in behaviour, substance use, anxiety, disturbed sleep and difficulty in communication.
What are the necessary steps to prevent suicide?
- Avoid distressing information– While the feeling of uncertainty during this pandemic is normal, being informed and limiting ourselves to authentic sources of information and reducing exposure to distressing news is a good mechanism.
- Educate people for their health- Any sudden change in health should not be ignored.
- Creation of national suicide prevention strategy– The plan incorporates the three universal strategies-
- A ban or reduction in access to highly hazardous pesticides.
- Reduction in consumption and availability of alcohol.
- A non-sensationalised and responsible portrayal of suicide by the media.
- Media role in awareness- The media would need to follow Press Council of India’s guidelines on reportage of suicide and also create awareness about suicide prevention.
- Destigmatising suicide- There is urgent need for Destigmatising suicide as a phenomenon and encourage in large platform to seek help from the counsellor.
- Regular Contact support- It is to ensure there is an increase in the number of functional and accessible helplines and training of gatekeepers. If suicide has been attempted the individual has the required intervention and regular contact support.
The need is of understanding, compassion and support at both an individual and systemic levels. As we continue to fight the novel coronavirus, there is a growing need to make mental health and suicide prevention a priority. A majority of individuals who are suicidal do not really want to die but find living difficult. Support at the right moment can change one’s life decision.
2. Supreme court verdict on shaheen Bagh protest
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: Gs2: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations
Context: Analysing the Supreme court verdict on shaheen Bagh protest.
What did the court say?
- The Court observed that the administration neither negotiated with the protesters in Shaheen Bagh nor tried to clear the scene.
- It appreciated the existence of the right to peaceful protest against a legislation.
- The supreme court stated that public places cannot be occupied indefinitely and protests must be allowed only in designated areas.
- It has directed the government to take necessary action to remove encroachments and obstructions placed during such protests.
- The Court’s view is of balancing the two contrasting rights, the right to protest and the right to free movement.
Are protests legal?
- Protests, derive legitimacy from the rightness of the underlying cause and the extent of public support and doesn’t confirm to legality always.
- In many cases, they are against laws and regulations perceived as unjust. For example, flash strike, spontaneous road block, a call for a complete shutdown, or a campaign to fill up jails by defying prohibitory orders.
- Though they are not strictly legal they are inevitable part of the culture of protest in a democracy.
What would be the implication of supreme court ruling?
- The administration could delegitimise protest and restrict freedom of assembly by stating any of the reasons, that the peaceful protest had continued too long, or in a place inconvenient to others.
- For example, the earlier ruling by the courts, that any ‘bandh’ is illegal, led to routine stay on sector-wide strikes.
- It will undermine the larger democratic need for public expression of dissent in a manner and place that would be most effective.
- Both principles, the need for balance between the right to protest and the right to free movement, and the rule that protests should take place at designated areas are only beneficial from an administrative perspective.
What is the way forward?
- The ruling should not form the basis for suppression of such protests by the force of the state.
- Sudden, democratic resistance should not automatically invite the state’s actions
3.World Food program
Source: The Indian Express
Syllabus; GS-2- International Relations
Context: The winner of Nobel peace prize 2020 is the UN agency World Food Programme (WFP) which has fought hunger around the world.
What is the WFP?
- Then US President Dwight Eisenhower had suggested the idea of providing food aid through the UN system.
- It was established in 1961.
- The WFP is headquartered in Rome, Italy. It is governed by an Executive Board, which consists of 36 member states.
- It is headed by an Executive Director, who is appointed jointly by the UN Secretary-General and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for a fixed five-year terms.
- Humanitarian crisis: More than 12,000 people died in an earthquake in Boein Zahra in northern Iran. The WFP sent tonnes of wheat, sugar and tea.
- It played an important role in providing food aid in Thailand and Algeria.
What is the scale of its work?
- The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency battling hunger. In 2019, it assisted 97 million people in 88 countries, which is the largest number since 2012.
- It delivered about 4.4 million tonnes of food, purchased $1.7 billion worth of food from 91 countries, and $762 million worth of goods and services from 156 countries.
- WFP has 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and nearly 100 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance to those in most need
- WFP has unmatched reputation as an emergency responder, one that gets the job done quickly at scale in the most difficult environments.
- WFP has been a constant presence for the poor and the needy, refugees and the homeless all over the globe irrespective of how difficult the situation is.
Why does the world need a food programme?
- The WFP is the UN’s primary agency that works towards eradicating hunger which is one of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.
- Hungry people: According to the WFP, there are 690 million hungry people around the world and around 60% of them live in countries affected by conflict. The number of hungry people is expected to increase further due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The WFP estimates suggest that by 2030, nearly half of the global poor will be living in fragile and conflict-affected situations.
- People living in countries with long-running crises are more than twice as likely to be undernourished than people elsewhere (2.5 times as much).
What is WFP’s role in India?
- It provides policy inputs, advocacy, technical assistance for improving access to food and focuses on reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System.
- Unique initiatives: The WFP has proposed initiatives like Automatic Grain Dispensing Machine (Annapurti) and Mobile Storage Units for the effective implementation of TPDS.
- Annapurti allows beneficiaries to withdraw their foodgrain quota accurately and at a time of their choice.
- It can dispense two commodities at a speed of 25 kg per 1.3 minutes and has a storage capacity of 200 kg to 500 kg.
- WFP India has completed a pilot on rice fortification used in the government’s Mid-day Meals scheme in Varanasi.
- 4,145 tonnes of fortified rice has been produced and fed to 300,000 schoolchildren since 2018.
- WFP will provide technical assistance for setting up supplementary nutrition production units in 18 districts for supply of quality food to about 33 lakh beneficiaries of the Anganwadi scheme (Integrated Child Development Services).
What has the Nobel Committee said while declaring the award?
- The Norwegian Nobel Committee highlighted the work done by the WFP to eradicate hunger and underlined its role in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
- The World Food Programme has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts during the pandemic.
- WFP continues to work to provide food to the hungry and homeless amid a pandemic as the organisation believes that food is the best vaccine against chaos.
4.TRP (Television Rating Point) scandal
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: Gs2: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies
Context: Recently the Mumbai police unearthed the TRP (Television Rating Point) scandal.
How the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) came in to being?
The TAM controversy
- Initially, there were two rating agencies — Television Audience Measurement (TAM) and INTAM in India.
- However, the data produced by them were contradicting each other, causing great confusion.
- Also, during 2002-03, declaring a private channel as number one channel, which had just 4 per cent share by TAM brought suspicion because 35 out of the top 50 programmes in all TV homes were of Door darshan channel.
Revelation through investigation: The following irregularities were found out
- The poors were paid as little as 400 rupees per month to keep the bribing channel open, throughout the day.
- There were only about 2,000 meters measuring the audience, and this figure was being deduced for the country’s one-billion population.
- Also, there was an issue of conflict of interest. A top international TV network famous for its highly-viewed serials had common ownership with the grand (parent) organisation of the research agency.
The Exit of TAM and the birth of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)
- In 2008, The TAM Controversy was raised in the Parliament.TAM was accused for not having adequate “people meter” (instrument used for measuring the audience) and corruption.
- Later, NDTV sued TAM and Nielsen, a global TV rating agency for allegedly manipulating viewership data in India.
- Followed by this, the then IB minister Ranjan Dasmunshi also voiced her concern regarding TAM.
- Finally, in 2008, The Ministry of Information and broadcasting (MIB) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to frame policy guidelines for rating agencies.
- TRAI recommended an approach of self-regulation through the setting up of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry-led body.
- On July 2015, The MIB, accredited BARC to carry out the television ratings in India.
- Following this, TAM exited TV viewership measurement. Since then, BARC is the sole provider of TV rating services on a commercial basis.
What is the current Issue?
- A similar issue that took place during the TAM years has now taken place under the BARC regime.
- Around 2,000 barometers installed in Mumbai were being used to manipulate TRPs.
What is the way forward?
- With a huge penetration of Direct to Home (DTH) television, the set-top box can now be tweaked to record which channel is being actually watched.
- Even if a fraction of these are adapted as audience monitors, it will be a huge number and provide fool proof data better than the small sample of 40 thousand people-meters with a history of manipulation.
Manipulation of TRP’s is not only a financial fraud but a fraud on the people’s right to know the truth, which the media is morally and legally bound to provide.
5. MPC meeting- shifting focus from containment to revival
Syllabus- GS 3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context- The latest MPC decision came as retail inflation continued to remain at the upper end of RBI’s tolerance range and the policy stance accommodative with reviving growth as the primary objective.
What are the measures taken by RBI to revive the growth?
- Keep repo rate unchanged– The newly appointed Monetary Policy Committee members unanimously voted in sync with RBI members to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4% and maintain a dovish stance for the rest of the fiscal year, and into the next, along with continued provisioning of ample system liquidity.
- Nudge to bond market– RBI request to the market to bid responsibly in government bond auctions, the policy has also taken some very strong measures to dispel any doubts regarding RBI’s commitment to ensuring lower rates.
- SLR HTM limit extended– Extending the recently announced HTM limit hike to March 2022 that will help give confidence to banks to handle higher market risks from deploying higher liquidity in government bonds.
- Announcement of OMOs in state development loans (SDLs), which ensures the expanding borrowing programme of states do not lead to a rise in credit spreads.
- RBI also re-iterated its commitment to ensure smooth functioning of the borrowing programme.
- Liquidity measures– RBI said the focus of liquidity measures by the RBI will now include the revival of activity in specific sectors that have both backward and forward linkages, and multiplier effects on growth.
- The new on-tap TLTRO scheme for banks to borrow up to ₹1 trillion from the window and invest in corporate bonds and other debt instruments of certain sectors.
- Doubling the size of open market operations (OMO) purchases in each auction to ₹20,000 crore to flatten the yield curve further and keep interest rates benign.
- Risk weightages– The central bank also announced a rationalization of risk weightages assigned by banks for all new home loans sanctioned up to March 31, 2022 to spur job-intensive real estate sector.
- Real time Gross Settlement payment system to go 24/7 from December 2020.
What are the projection and positives of the MPC meeting?
Positive growth outlook- RBI underscored while COVID-19 remains a threat, the economy is showing signs of improvement.
- The MPC said the agricultural sector emerged as a bright spot. Its prospects have strengthened on the back of good spatial and temporal progress of the south-west monsoon.
Inflation projection– The RBI said inflation will remain elevated in the September print, but ease gradually towards the target over Q3 and Q4.
RBI’s commitment to keeping its stance ‘accommodative’ into FY22 is a particularly strong one. Combined with its commitment to provide liquidity and manage bond supply, the policy measures are geared towards ensuring that transmission across markets (money, bonds, bank lending) does not freeze and that monetary policy remains active.