9 PM Daily Brief –October 8th, 2020

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  1. Platform Workers

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs3: Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

Context: The recent labour codes has not offered any guarantees for better and more stable days for platform workers who are meant to be ‘the future of work’.

What are the key provisions available for Platform workers in the recent labour code bills?

  • The new Code on Social Security defines a platform worker by their vulnerability.
  • The three new labour codes acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories.
  • The Code on Wages, 2019, uses ‘wages’ as the primary definition to define who an ‘employee’ is.
  • The main aim of these laws for a platform worker is to make available benefits and safety nets from the government or platform companies.

What are the concerns associated with new labour codes with respect to platform workers?

  • Platform delivery people can claim benefits, but not labour rights. The new labour codes do not allow them to seek remedy in the courts to demand better and stable pay.
  • This also means that the government or courts cannot regulate platform companies for their choice of pay, or limit working hours.
  • Though the Code on Social Security, 2020, makes platform workers eligible for maternity benefits, life and disability cover, old age protection, provident fund, employment injury benefits it does not mean that the benefits are guaranteed.
  • Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels and how unions elicit political support.
  • The new labour code does not make it mandatory for the platform companies to contribute towards benefits or be responsible for workplace issues.
    The current laws do not see platform workers as future industrial workers. As India embraces ‘new kinds of work’, like delivery, in the digital economy it has to make labour friendly policies to keep India’s young workforce secure.
    Case study: No stable pay for Gig economy/platform workers
    During the last six months, many platform workers have unionised under the All India Gig Workers Union and have protested against Swiggy for reducing their base pay from Rs. 35 to Rs. 10 per delivery order. Assured Stable earnings have been the key demand of delivery-persons and drivers through years of protests.

2. Artificial Intelligence -‘AI for All’

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3 – Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Context- India’s “AI for All” strategy focuses on making India the AI garage of the world, a trusted nation to which the world can outsource AI-related work.

What is RAISE 2020 Summit?

RAISE 2020 summit [Responsible AI for Social Empowerment] is a first of-its-kind, global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India’s vision for social transformation through responsible AI.

  • Panel discussionLeveraging AI for Pandemic preparedness, Inclusive AI and partnership for successful innovation.
  • Organized by– The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and NITI Aayog.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

AI is the branch of computer science concerned with developing machines that can complete tasks that historically require human intelligence. It includes technologies like machine learning, pattern recognition, big data, neural networks, self-algorithms etc.

Economics advantages– The opportunity for AI in India is colossal, as is the scope for its implementation. By 2025, data and AI can add over $500 billion and almost 20 million jobs to the Indian economy.

What are some applications of AI?

  1. In healthcare– Machine Learning-based deep-learning algorithms in AI can aid in the early detection and prevention of diseases by capturing the vitals of patients.

For example-

  • Bengaluru based start-up has developed a non-invasive, AI-enabled technology to screen for early signs of breast cancer.
  • Hospitals in Tamil Nadu are using Machine Learning algorithms to detect diabetic retinopathy and help address the challenge of shortage of eye doctors.
  1. Communication -For the COVID-19 response, an AI-enabled Chatbot was used by MyGov for ensuring communications and ICMR deployed the Watson Assistant on its portal to respond to specific queries on COVID-19.
  2. Biopharmaceutical– AI-based applications have helped companies to significantly shorten the preclinical drug identification and design process.
  3. Agriculture – Technologies like image recognition, drones, and automated intelligent monitoring of irrigation systems can help farmers kill weeds more effectively, harvest better crops and ensure higher yields.
  • ICRISAT has developed an AI-power sowing app, which utilizes weather models and data on local crop yield and rainfall and advise local farmer on when they should plant their seeds.
  1. Weather Forecasting– An AI-based flood forecasting model that has been implemented in Bihar is now being expanded to cover the whole of India to forecast warning 48 hours earlier about impending floods.

What are the initiatives taken by government to adopt Artificial Intelligence?

  1. School curriculum– CBSE has integrated AI in the school curriculum to ensure that students passing out have the basic knowledge and skills of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  2. AI Programs
  3. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had launched a “Responsible AI for Youth” programme, wherein more than 11,000 students from government schools completed the basic course in AI.

1.India has launched National AI Strategy and National AI Portal and has also started leveraging AI across various sectors.

Way forward-

The RAISE 2020 summit has brought together global experts to create a roadmap for responsible AI an action plan that can help create replicable models with a strong foundation of ethics built-in.

3.Ensemble forecast

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Disaster Management

Context: India needs to shift to ensemble weather and flood forecast model to achieve better accuracy in flood forecasting.

What is the significance of using Ensemble forecast?

Deterministic forecast model Ensemble forecast
·         Deterministic forecast model merely indicates “Rising” or “Falling” above a water level at a river point.

·         In this model,there is no idea of the area of inundation, its depth, and when the accuracy of the forecast decreases at 24 hours and beyond



·         It gives probability-based estimation as to different scenarios of water levels and regions of inundation.

·         For example, it can indicate the probability like, the chances of the water level exceeding the danger level is 80%, with likely inundation of a village nearby at 20%.


·         It provides a lead time of just 24 hours ·         It provides a lead time of 7-10 days ahead.


·         Since the end users (district administration, municipalities and disaster management authorities) receive such forecasts with very less “Lead time” and have to act quickly, flood forecast becomes less accurate. ·         It helps local administrations with better decision-making and helps them to get prepared better in advance.


·         India has recently shifted towards -Deterministic forecast model ·         The United States, the European Union and Japan have shifted towards Ensemble flood forecasting along with “Inundation modelling”.

What are the shortcomings with India’s flood forecasting?

Multiple agencies:

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issues meteorological or weather forecasts while the Central Water Commission (CWC) issues flood forecasts at various river points.
  • Therefore, the advancement of flood forecasting depends on how quickly rainfall is estimated and forecast by the IMD and how quickly the CWC integrates the rainfall forecast with flood forecast.
  • It also is linked to how fast the CWC disseminates this data to end user agencies.
  • This complicated arrangement reduces the “Lead time”.

Obsolete methods:

  • Most flood forecasts at several river points across India are based on outdated statistical methods that enable a lead time of less than 24 hours.
  • It renders the India’s flood forecast driven by Google’s most advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques ineffective.

Not uniform across India:

  • A recent study shows that, India has only recently moved to use hydrological or simply rainfall-runoff models not all, but in specific river basins.


  • Therefore, outdated technologies and a lack of technological parity between multiple agencies and their poor water governance decrease crucial lead time.
  • Forecasting errors increase and the burden of interpretation shifts to incompetent end user agencies. The outcome is an increase in flood risk and disaster.

What is the way forward?

  • The IMD has already started testing and using ensemble models for weather forecast through its supercomputers (“Pratyush” and “Mihir”).
  • Yet, the forecasting agency has to adapt with advanced technology and need to achieve technological parity with the IMD in order to couple ensemble forecasts to its hydrological models.
  • The IMD has to modernise the telemetry infrastructure along with raising technological compatibility with river basin-specific hydrological, hydrodynamic and inundation modelling.
  • It also needs to trains its technical workforce to get well versed with ensemble models and capable of coupling the same with flood forecast models.
  • It is only then that India can look forward to probabilistic-based flood forecasts with a lead time of more than seven to 10 days that will place India on par with the developed world.
  1. India’s monetary framework and COVID-19

Source – Live Mint, The Indian Express

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

Context- Higher-than-anticipated inflation prints in recent months have compelled the six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) to hold policy rates.

What causes inflation?

The primary cause of inflation is the mismatch between demand and supply. The mismatch can be in following context-

  1. Excess money supply that raises aggregate demand.
  2. Supply deficiency– A shortfall in the production of a commodity fails to meet even the basic needs of the citizens and thus prices rise causing inflation.

What is the new monetary framework?

The agreement between the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the central government signed in February 2015. The agreement explicitly made inflation targeting the objective of the MPC while using the repo rate as the instrument for it.

  • Rate steady– The Reserve Bank’s MPC was given the target of keeping inflation at 4% with a tolerance limit of 2%. This meant that inflation should be between 2% and 6%.
  • Contrasting target – The target was in contrast with the multiple indicator approach that predated this framework where the central bank focused on both growth and price stability.

What are the impacts of Pandemic on the inflation front?

  1. Higher rate– Consumer prices have been rising at a higher rate than the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) 2-6% tolerance band since April this year, and are likely to rise further in September.
  2. Retail inflation– The prolonged pandemic is likely to have disrupted many smaller companies that produce and sell essential items for which demand is typically steady.
  3. Low investment growth – Investment growth is likely to be impacted more severely than consumption growth, even after the recovery starts gaining traction due to risk aversion, weak profitability and a tendency to preserve cash given the uncertain outlook.

How India can manage to keep inflation low?

  1. Structural reform– The current framework has led to an excessive and obsessive emphasis on point CPI estimates, at the cost of ignoring other indicators. This should be taken into consideration, while reviewing the existing monetary policy framework.
  • The success of the inflation-targeting framework should not only be judged by the actual CPI inflation trend, but also in terms of the convergence achieved between actual CPI inflation and inflation expectations.
  1. Pause on policy rates– RBI should hold policy rates as it will allow the steps taken so far to work their way through the economy and it would bolster its inflation-fighting credentials, which is particularly important for the first meeting of a revamped MPC.

Way forward-

With a large drop-off in tax revenue caused by the pandemic, a high fiscal deficit and rising public debt, the authorities should double down on their inflation targeting objective. RBI needs to remain active with a host of unconventional measures, which will likely include more proactive bond purchases to ensure that market interest rates do not rise significantly due to fiscal and market borrowing-related concerns.

  1. Manufacturing in India – PLI scheme

Source: The Live Mint

Syllabus: GS-3- Economy

Context: India can be the world’s great back-up manufacturing factory.

How can India become back up factory?

  • Production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme: It is designed to facilitate the country’s emergence as a global manufacturing hub for mobile phones and electronic components.
  • 11 global handset and input makers including Foxconn and Samsung are reported to have qualified for special incentives spanning five years, along with five domestic units, including the makers of Lava and Micromax devices.
  • The government expects the initiative to result in output worth ₹10.5 trillion over half a decade, about 60% of it from exports.
  • Apple Inc’s is keen on expanding supply network operations here and except for Korea’s Samsung, all the foreign firms on the PLI list work for the California-based company as contract manufacturers.
  • India could present itself up as a factory to the world for some of its most fancied products as high-end electric car sensation Tesla is also seen to be on its way in the country.

Why could china face a possible potential isolation?

  • “China plus” strategy for global value chains: After the risks of their Chinese dependence began to rise, strategy to diversify sources of supply has gained appeal among transnational corporations.
  • Trump’s trade war with China: Efforts to isolate china have been intensified by worries of a “bamboo curtain” like the iron version of the Cold War era which foreseeably split the world apart into western and eastern blocs.
  • A recent survey of over 200 US firms operating in the People’s Republic revealed that only about 4% were shifting some production back to the US. 
  • China remains an attractively cheap place to make stuff; it also offers a huge domestic market that might take us rather long to match.

What is the way forward?

  • Easy for all to do business: Cherry-picked businesses should not be given privileges at the cost of people at large, for example, as Beijing has long done.
  • Wage bill flexibility is crucial for any large-scale export venture but there are plenty of other compliance requirements that need to be carved down.
  • Land acquisition policy needs clarity: state-earmarked posts are all we have on offer. However, Investors need greater choice.
  • Skill and infrastructure gaps must be filled and an assurance of policy stability will also help in doing so.
  • Our import duties have seen too much change of late, for example, while every link in a global value chain which must operate across borders must be allowed reliable cost projections. 
  • Taxation could do with a repair to simplify a heap of taxes.

    9 PM for Preliminary examination

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