9 PM Daily Brief – October17th, 2020

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  1. An opportunity for India
  2. Sex ratio and demographic attributes

3.GST Compensation Issue

  1. NEP and analysis


  1. Governance of Public sector units
  2. Hyderabad Floods

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1. An opportunity for India

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Context- It’s an opportune time for India to push for institutional changes and reformed multilateralism in the global system.

How India can revive Multilateralism?

  1. Leadership opportunity – Since US and West have adopted nationalistic leaning, India should step into the leadership role by advocating the multilateral approach of tackling the pandemic, climate change and terrorism.
  • In 2021, India will join the UN Security Council (non-permanent seat) and chair the BRICS Summit, and in 2022 will host the G-20 summit, which is a great opportunity for agenda-setting.
  1. Increase India’s share in UN Budget- India also needs to invest in the UN with increased financial contribution in line with its share of the world economy and by placing its people in key multilateral positions.
  • India’s share in the UN budget stands at 0.7 per cent. The shares of China, Japan and the US are at 8, 10 and 22 per cent respectively. Raising India’s contribution to at least one per cent might convince its partners that India is serious about pursuing a more vigorous multilateralism.
  1. Window opens for India– Three defeats in election to key UN bodies and the negative reaction to its threat of veto to forestall a discussion on the pandemic in the UNSC clearly point to a disenchantment with China in the globe and is a thumbs down for them.
  2. India beat China to win a four-year term on UN’s Commission on the status of Women [CWS].
  3. India also won a seat each, through endorsements, to two other ECOSOC bodies-
  • The Committee for Programme and Coordination [CPC].
  • The Commission on Population and Development [CPD].
  1. Shift from Non Alignment to Multi Alignment– Multi-alignment is the very essence of India’s foreign policy and the economic policy of India today. This presents an opportunity for India to become a global mediator and help in developing a framework on global Issues.

Way forward-

  • India needs to support reform not only to expand the permanent members’ category of the Security Council but also to revitalize the role of the General Assembly.
  • India, Germany, Japan and Brazil [G-4] have sought to refocus the UN on UNSC reform, they must remain focused and determines even if these changes do not happen easily.

2. Sex ratio and demographic attributes

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Policy

Context: Sample Registration System (SRS) Statistical Report (2018) and global population projections made by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), US show that fertility has been declining in India for some time now.

What were the findings of the report?

  • SRS report estimated the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) as 2.2 in the year 2018, which is the number of children a mother would have at the current pattern of fertility during her lifetime.
  • It is estimated that replacement TFR of 2.1 and fertility is likely to continue to decline.
  • This report estimated the natural annual population growth rate to be 1.38 per cent in 2018 because along with fertility rate, the population growth rate also declines.
  • A comparison of 2011 and 2018 SRS statistical reports shows that TFR declined from 2.4 to 2.2 during this period and annual natural population growth rate also declined from 1.47 to 1.38 per cent during this period.
  • Population would not stabilise or begin to reduce in a few years once replacement fertility is reached because of the population momentum effect.
    • For instance, the replacement fertility level was reached in Kerala around 1990, but its annual population growth rate was 0.7 per cent in 2018, nearly 30 years later.
  • The UN Population Division has estimated that India’s population would possibly peak at 161 crores around 2061 at the medium-fertility variant, and will be lower by about 10 per cent at the low fertility variant. It will peak at 160 crores in 2048 according to IHME.
  • The six states with higher than national fertility rate (and their TFR) in 2018 are Bihar (3.2), Uttar Pradesh (2.9) Madhya Pradesh (2.7), Rajasthan (2.5), Jharkhand (2.5) and Chhattisgarh (2.4).

What does the fertility rate depend on?

  • Fertility largely depends upon social setting and female education is a key indicator for social setting. So, higher the female education level, lower the fertility.
    • For instance, illiterate women in the reproductive age group of 15-49 years have higher fertility than literate women in almost all states.
    • The percentage of illiterate women in this age group was higher than 15 per cent in all the high-fertility states, which include nearly 40 per cent of India’s population.
  • Programme strength is indicated by the unmet need for contraception, which has several components.
    • The proportion of married women who are neither pregnant nor amenorrhoeic and do not desire a child in the next two years or ever but are not practising contraception.
  • The National Family Health Survey (2015-16) provides estimates for the unmet need at 12.9 per cent and contraceptive prevalence of 53.5 per cent for India. This makes the total demand for contraception at 66.4 per cent.
  • Programme’s ability to reach younger people and provide them with good quality reproductive health education and services needs to be urgently strengthened in states like UP and Bihar.
    • Bihar has the highest fertility rate along with the highest unmet need at 21.1 per cent and the lowest contraceptive prevalence rate of 24.1 per cent among all the major states.

What is the state of sex ratio? What can be done to reduce the difference?

  • Sex ratio at birth: Biologically normal sex ratio at birth is 1,050 males to 1,000 females or 950 females to 1,000 males but the SRS reports shows that the number of females per 1,000 males, declined marginally from 906 in 2011 to 899 in 2018.
  • This adverse ratio results in a gross imbalance in the number of men and women and its inevitable impact on marriage systems as well as other harms to women.
  • Increasing female education and economic prosperity help to improve the ratio.
  • Government actions need to be supplemented by improving women’s status in the society.

Way forward

  • There is an urgent need to reach young people both for reproductive health education and services as well as to cultivate gender equity norms. This could reduce the effect of population momentum and accelerate progress towards reaching a more normal sex-ratio at birth.

3. GST Compensation Issue

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Context: Recently, the Centre has acceded to the states’ request, that it will borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore to compensate them for the shortfall in their GST revenues.

What is the Background?

  • For bringing the states in to GST ambit, The Centre assured the states of a 14 per cent growth in their GST revenues.
  • It also agreed to compensate states for shortfall in GST revenue collection for 5 years.
  • GST compensation was decided to pay out of Compensation Cess every two months by the Centre.
  • Now, the pandemic impact has resulted in low Cess collection that has constrained Compensation to states.
  • With expected revenue shortfall of Rs 3 lakh crore, the collections through the compensation cess stand at Rs 65,000 crore.
  • Now, out of the shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore the state governments are being compensated only for losses arising on account of implementation issues that is Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
  • The states were asked to forgo the remaining loss in GST revenues (1.34 lakh crore) as it has  arised out of an “act of god”.

Why Centre has to borrow not the states?

  • The Centre’s borrowing attracts a lower interest rate as compared to that of states.
  • Also, the loans to the states will be at a uniform rate that will help them to avoid interest rate differentials across states.
  • This mechanism is more preferable and convenient rather than all the states rushing to the bond market.

What are the unresolved issues?

  • Increased debt: The mode of the transaction has not yet clearly defined. Irrespective of the mode of transaction, centres borrowing will lead to a rise in general government debt.
  • Centres reluctance to borrow entire amount: The repayment of the loan is not an obligation of the Centre, and will be met from proceeds from future compensation cess collections still centre is reluctant to borrow the entire expected shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore

The Centre’s decision to borrow Rs 1.1 lakh crore is in the spirit of cooperative federalism. Given the huge distress in the economy even the states should show some flexibility, in the spirit of cooperation. The GST Council should approach the issue of compensating states for their remaining losses in a conciliatory manner.

4.NEP and analysis

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: NEP focuses on equity and critical learning as it also addresses present and future challenges.

Explain the changes introduced by the NEP in an elaborate manner?

  • NEP is only the third education policy propagated by the Centre; the other two being the policies vocalized by Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi in 1968 and Rajiv Gandhi in 1986.
  • The NEP is important for several quantitative and qualitative changes across the development band. These range from pre-school to higher education :
    • Emphasis on practicality and skill development.
    • Breaking the stereotypical divide of arts, commerce and science streams in high school.
    • Reorganising schooling years.
    • Making the education system more inclusive.
    • Permission to foreign universities to establish branches in India.
    • Thrust on Indian and ancient languages.
  • There is an uplifting move from periodic “inspections” to self-assessment and voluntary declaration with transparency, quality standards and positive public perception being the keywords.
  • A single, lean structure with four verticals for standards-setting, funding, accreditation and regulation will provide “light but tight” oversight.
  • Other transformative changes include:
    • Education in the local language or mother tongue at least up to the fifth grade
    • Universal access and early childhood education
    • Curriculum change leading to learning outcomes (LOs) and skills.
    • Stress on equity, gender, special needs and promotion of multilingualism.
  • There is a focus on early child development, the effort to reduce the dropout rate, putting in place different forms of valuation, the emphasis on essential learning and critical thinking and the centrality of the teacher and teacher education.
  • The policy aims at a 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in school education by 2030 and 50 GER in higher education by 2025.
  • NEP suggests some elements of the main universal Access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) framework relate to the NCERT’s National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Education (NCPFECE).
  • The integration of vocational education with basic education in all institutions by identifying focus areas based on skills gap analysis and mapping of local opportunities will develop entrepreneurial abilities.
  • Innovations in the higher education ecosystem include:
    • Extension of the graduate course from three to four years
    • Multiple entry and exit points
    • College teachers’ education
    • Replacement of the UGC, AICTE and NAAC
    • Providing the MPhil programme and the proposed National Research Foundation.
  • NEP attempts to bridge the digital divide by upgrading the digital infrastructure, emphasising on learning at your own pace and underlining the importance of online courses.
  • There is a provision to teach coding at the middle-school level and an emphasis on mainstreaming Sanskrit to increase “knowledge of ancient India and its contributions to modern India”.

What are the steps required to be taken?

  • The shift from printed content-oriented teaching to experimental learning and concept-oriented teaching requires the implementation of NITI Aayog’s School Education Quality Index (SEQI’s) vision for teacher adequacy. 
  • It also requires transparent systems for merit-based selection and deployment of teachers and online systems for teacher transfers.
  • The philosophy of access, equity, infrastructure, governance and learning has ultimately to be grounded in action to drive India’s growth, modernisation and structural transformation.

Way forward

  • The policy’s success will also depend on its integration with the government’s other polices such as the New Industrial Policy, Digital India, Skill India, Atmanirbhar Bharat and the “vocal for local” programme. Addressing the necessities of the present and expectations of the future will depend on the policy’s success.

5. Governance of Public sector units

Source- The Hindu Business Line

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

Context- To decentralize decision-making and facilitate more informed investment decisions, the Centre has restructured the board of Steel Authority of India (SAIL).

How Privatization of SAIL can boost their business?

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the restructuring of the Board of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).

  1. Decentralization– This move will facilitate greater decentralization and nimble decision making with the directors-in-charge of plants as direct ACC appointees with their views having weight in the central corporate governance structure.
    • This will also facilitate speedy modernization and expansion programme of SAIL.
    • This decentralization will also ensure there is greater transparency.
  2. Attract investment– The government’s exit will attract private investment and contribute to the exchequer, enabling higher public investment.

What is CPSEs?

Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) are those companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more.

Role- CPSEs have always played a crucial role in executing the socio-economic development agenda of the government as an extension of the government apparatus.

  • During recent lockdown period, CPSEs ensured that essential services such as power, fuel and food-grain supply remain uninterrupted.
  • They are carrying out capital expenditure works/infrastructure development activities of approximately ₹2 lakh crore in the sectors of petroleum, power, defence, mining, logistics, etc.
  • CPSEs not only act as a catalyst for other economic activities but would also provide informal employment during the construction phase.

What are the arguments in favour of privatization?

  1. Efficiency– One of the strongest arguments in favour of privatization aired by its supporters is the dismal performance of the PSEs and, thus, its inefficiency can be removed if these enterprises are privatized.
    • Governments jobs are often taken for granted and have no difference between a performer and a non-performer when considering productivity.
    • Privatization will usher in an improvement in efficiency and as improved performance is concerned with ‘profit-oriented’ decision-making strategy.
  2. Lack of political interference– Indian PSEs are subject to too much governmental and political interference thereby making them operationally inefficient. Private sector is free from such unavoidable interference. They are motivated by political pressures rather than sound economic and business sense.
  • A most important component in enhancing the performance of a PSU is reduced intervention by political powers and preventing misuse of infrastructure by all.

Way forward-

  • Privatization has become a popular measure for solving the organizational problems of governments by reducing the role of the state and encouraging the growth of the private sector enterprises.
  • Privatization should be in a unique form in accordance with the priorities of our mixed economy and as well as by considering operational aspects of the PSUs.

6. Hyderabad Floods

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs3: Disaster and Disaster Management.

Context: Recent Floods in Hyderabad has resulted in the death of over 20 people and a property loss estimated more than ₹6,000 crores.

More on News:

Devastating Floods in the past:

  • In India: Chennai (December 2015), Kochi (August 2018), Mumbai July 2005
  • Around the world: Sydney (December 2018), New York (October 2019), Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans (October 2005)

What are the reasons for flood disaster in India?

  • Climate change: According to climate experts extreme weather events have become the norm. For example, recently floods in Hyderabad is due to record precipitation for most rain in a century. It is not possible for any city or region to absorb this order of precipitation in such a short period.
  • Inadequate Mitigation measure: Indian cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, lacks such contingency plans to deal with sudden bursts of rain while cities in the developed world, such as New York, Paris and Copenhagen have contingency plans such as constructing sponges or sinks.
  • Policy failure: While the Smart City project and the National Infrastructure Pipeline focus on making roads, affordable houses and revamping drainage systems for cities they fail to recognise these as inter-connected objectives.
  • Encroachment of Wetlands: Floods in Mumbai and Chennai were a result of Construction along river beds, wetlands and drainage pathways. In case of Hyderabad, Musi riverbed was occupied by city bus station whereas in Bengaluru case hundreds of lake beds were converted into high rises. All of these activities impact the ability of natural wetlands to absorb water.
  • Inefficient River flow: Along with this, the drains and rivers are not cleaned or adequately de-silted before the monsoon.
  • inefficient urban planning: Most of the city’s urban planning policy, do not cater to the need for underground drainage. For example, Hyderabad’s Hi-Tec city

How India should adapt to it?

  • Need to Prioritise waste recycling.
  • Municipal and urban infrastructure bodies should cooperate with each other rather than working as two separate entities.
  • Above all, the nexus between the politicians, bureaucracy and real estate interests, which leads to violation of zoning laws, needs to be checked.
  • Need to hold local bodies accountable for losses arising out of inappropriate location of properties. This can be done by Re-examining the Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Act.
  • Greater civic participation as envisaged under the 74th Constitutional Amendment, is a must to improve urban governance

India’s cities must have a contingency plan that goes beyond using weather warning technologies to reviewing urban planning and administration.

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