Good Evening Friends! We are posting Today’s REVAMPED 9pm Current Affair Brief. In the revamped version we will give you all the news you need to cover for the day. This will serve your need of analysis and facts. Read on to know more.
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Articles for GS Paper 2 (Click on topic to go to it directly)
Articles for GS Paper 3 (Click on topic to go to it directly)
Source– The Hindu
Syllabus Topic – GS paper – II – Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population, WeTilfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population
Context– Amidst COVID Pandemic, fall in treatment offered under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana ( AB-PMJAY)
- Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme of Government of India, was launched as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
- The scheme aims to holistically address the healthcare system (covering prevention, promotion and ambulatory care) at the all three levels i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary level.
- Ayushman Bharat adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two inter-related components, which are –
- Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)
PM- JAY has following features:
- Provides a cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empanelled hospitals in India.
- Over 74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits. There is no restriction on the family size, age or gender.
- PM-JAY provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary.
- PM-JAY is fully funded by the Government and cost of implementation is shared between the Central and State Governments.
Reasons for decline in treatment offered across all categories except general medicine:
- Preparedness by government to prepare the hospitals to combat COVID – Thus the beds and other facilities are being reserved to combat the disease and the surge in future. Also the doctors and other paramedical staff are deployed for treating the same.
- Nationwide lockdown – The lockdown across the nation, continuing since March, has restricted movement of people. This has particularly affected poor and rural people who are dependent on public transport to move across the states to avail such services.
- Fear of contraction of COVID – People have fear and anxiety to contract the disease if they step out or go to the hospital for availing services under PMJAY.
- Use of telemedicine– Government has been actively promoting use of telemedicine to address non-critical diseases.
- Delay in availing medical care threatens the life of the patient who are critically ill and has no means to avail the same in lockdown due to restricted movement.
- The right to healthcare and dignified life of citizens violated. This leads to the violation of social contract on part of the government.
- Rise in cases in future – Since citizens are holding up treatment, once the lockdown is lifted, hospitals will have double burden of treating those under the scheme as well as COVID patients.
Source – Financial Express
Syllabus Topic -GS Paper – II- Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary
Context – Reforms to be undertaken in Judiciary, focusing on arbitration amidst COVID pandemic
Challenges in Indian Judicial System
- Institutional issues – It comprises of inaccessibility for citizens, huge vacancies in courts, problems of lower judiciary and burgeoning cases and judicial delay. For instance, Supreme court has 56,000 pending cases as of 2019 with vacancy of 10% against sanctioned strength.
- Procedural issues – Tribalization of justice, judicial legislation, paper based work, archaic laws presents the procedural issues.
All these issues are further exacerbated by the nationwide lockdown, restricted movement and non-inclusion of judicial services in essential services category.
- Institutional – Filling up vacancies, All India Judicial Services, National Court of Appeal and strengthening Alternate Dispute Resolution – Arbitration
- Procedural– Transparency in appointments, Judicial standards and Accountability Bill, Tele legal service
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
“Differences we shall always have but we must settle them all, whether religious or other, by arbitration.” – Mahatma Gandhi
What is ADR– A process in which instead of going to formal courts, alternative route is adopted for dispute resolution by the litigants. In this, parties involved usually discuss, evaluate the dispute among themselves by appointing a third party called mediator or arbitrator.
Types of ADR mechanisms – Negotiation, Mediation, Conciliation, Arbitration
Arbitration – It is the most formal of ADR mechanisms where rules are prescribed by statutory notification and award by mediator is final.
Arguments for Arbitration
- Prevent rivalry among parties involved and thus amicably resolves the case. This also ensures higher compliance and thus reduced burdened on arbitration tribunals.
- Reduce the over-burdened formal judicial system and thus better focus on constitutional matters
- Speedy disposal of cases as parties discuss, evaluate and explore all the options under ADR
- Lead to better contract enforcement and thus enhanced ease of doing business
- E-filings – All pleadings in arbitration, from the notice invoking arbitration to the statement of claim and witness affidavits to written submissions, are filed by email. Thus in lockdown this provides an alternative when visit to market for photocopies of documents has to be avoided.
Issues with Arbitration
- An arbitration award can be challenged in courts, thus the aim to prevent unnecessary litigation fails.
- More focus on ad-hoc rather than institutional arbitration.
- Appointment of the arbitrator : Lack of mutual consensus among parties hinders the process of appointing arbitrators.
- In such situations, in an ad hoc arbitration, parties have to approach the court under the Arbitration Act for the appointment of an arbitrator. In the current scenario, this will pose an issue as it is unlikely that courts will consider an application for appointing an arbitrator as ‘extremely urgent’.
Way forward– Arbitration can’t be strengthened in isolation, the overall judicial system need urgent reform.
Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 2: Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: The Union government has recently suspended the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years. This has been done to divert these funds to the Ministry of Finance Ministry of Finance for strengthening the government’s effort in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and its adverse effects.
What is MPLADS?
- Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme is central sector scheme launched in 1993.
- It aims to provide funds to MPs to execute certain developmental projects to meet the urgent needs of their constituents.
What are the features of the scheme?
- Role of MP:
- The role of the MP is only recommendatory in nature.
- Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works in the state from where they have been elected.
- Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
- Allocation of Funds:An MP is entitled to Rs. 5 crore per annum to identify and fund developmental projects.
- Release of Funds:Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities in two equal instalments of Rs 2.5 crore each. The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
- Works permitted:Education, Drinking Water, Electricity, Non-conventional Energy Sources, Health and Family Welfare, Sanitation and Public Health, Irrigation, Sports, Animal Care, roads, pathways and bridges.
- Implementation of the Work:Following the recommendation of the MP, the district authority is responsible for sanctioning the eligible works, and implementation of the sanctioned ones
- NodalAgency: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation formulates the policy and releases the funds under the scheme. It also puts forward the mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the scheme.
SOURCE: The Hindu
Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 2: Issues related to International Institutions
Context: Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting global disruptions have reminded us the value of multilateralism and the necessity to preserve it. In the present backdrop of China’s export of faulty materials, export bans by countries, repeated calls by heads of governments and international organizations urging countries to remain committed to multilateralism, let us understand the crisis of multilateralism:
Crisis of Multilateralism:
- Credibility: The paralysis of all three functions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) — negotiation, dispute settlement, and transparency — was one sign of discomfort; another example being functioning of WHO.
- Non uniform governance: Countries with fundamentally different domestic systems of governance did not form a part of post-war multilateral system.
- Working Issue: None of our multilateral institutions was built for a world where the ties of interdependence — which were supposed to enhance the well-being of all — could themselves be “weaponized” for nationalistic gain, at the expense of other players.
- Misuse of rules: The misuse of existing rules (or loopholes) by several countries, especially by China (e.g. via forced technology requirements, IPR violations, and subsidies), to gain an unfair advantage in trade relations.
Aggravations of issues after the Pandemic:
- Supply Chain Disruptions: can also be used as a weapon in International diplomacy. Ex- supply chain of medicinal APIs.
- Protectionism: With rising death tolls, many countries responded with export restrictions on critical medical supplies.
- Issue of faulty equipment: With the shortages of equipment— masks, PPE kits ventilators etc., China offered to sell these products. But India complained of faulty test kits imported from China, China called it for “irresponsible” behaviour and took predatory takeovers.
- Problem of Interdependence: The Weaponized interdependence is not just a theory but a practice that is rapidly evolving.
Reforming Multilateralism: We have to address the issue of the goals and values that underpin the rules.
- Need for reassurance and policies: which reflect a renewed commitment to the reason of multilateralism. A “retreating” United States should demonstrate that autarchy is not the way forward (of this global crises).
- Urgent need for strategic decoupling: Along with handled smartly in cooperation with other like-minded countries.
- Necessitates closer cooperation with some and distancing from others: Membership of such renewed multilateral institutions would not be universal but would limit deep integration to countries with which one shares first-order values — such as pluralism, democracy, liberalism, etc.
Reasons for Opportunities for India:
- USA facing multiple internal challenges: which includes the prospects of a deeply divisive presidential election in November, India could assume leadership in strengthening constructive transnational cooperation.
- China facing a global crisis of credibility: India may mediate to temper with Beijing’s unilateralist revisionism and its acceptance of the rules that regulate the principal multilateral institutions.
- Linking Global value chains: As the West seek a gradual decoupling from China, they would be well served to look toward India.
- China’s image has suffered a dent: Though China may recover faster than most economically, and its military might remain intact but neither aid diplomacy nor the unleashing of Chinese soft power can easily recover the trust deficit.
How India could use the Opportunities:
- Cooperation with like-minded actors: India could work closely with the Alliance for Multilateralism (an initiative launched by Germany and France) to shape both the alliance itself and the reform agenda at large.
- Bridge the deficit: India could lead a coalition and through a regime of incentives and sanctions that seek to embed Beijing into a much more guided and directed socialization into the rules of the international system.
Syllabus Topic – GS Paper-2: Issues related to International trade and Environment Impact
Context: The COVID19 pandemic is an instance where anthropogenic forces have disturbed the ecology, society, and economic equilibrium. Also, the Incremental land-use change has increased exposure to emerging zoonotic diseases by bringing humans and wildlife closer to each other. In this light, it is important to revisit international trade policies and bring them in consonance with sustainable development.
Problems with current order:
- Conflict between trade competitiveness and environmental sustainability:
- The international trade relies on comparative advantage reflected in the relative prices of goods between trading partners.
- It is dictated by several factors such as resource endowments, government subsidies and taxes and environmental regulations and standards which are utilized by countries to influence the competitiveness of their export sectors and faulty understanding or implementation results in a conflict between trade competitiveness and environmental sustainability.
- Economic activity is based upon profit and utility maximization axioms. So, the countries often fail to internalize the social and environmental costs associated with it and exceed the optimum levels of the total production and consumption.
- International trade policies:
- Harmful subsidies at the production stage for enhancing competitiveness of the export intensive sector have led to unscrupulous practices.
- For example, the global fishing industry has received subsidies of various forms directly enhancing their fishing capacity and transport of freight has contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Due to increased fragmentation of production processes, there have been larger distributional implications of international trade in terms of resource use – both natural and human, across the world.
- A pattern has emerged where most of the ‘dirtier’ production has been shifted to developing countries.
- Violations of planetary boundaries:
- Trade is crucial for food and nutritional security for poor regions across the world for providing access to basic goods and also as a source of income.
- Vulnerabilities to climatic factors pose a major threat to the securitization of these people and small changes in the production ecosystem can have large implications in the importing nations.
- Transgression of the planetary boundaries like the hydrological cycle, land-use systems and biodiversity have a huge impact on the yield of export-oriented crops resulting in global scarcity reflected through higher prices.
- Climate risks also pose a challenge to the financial stability of investments and undermine competitiveness of industries.
How can we achieve Economic Wellbeing within the limits of Earth’s carrying capacity:
- United Nations Environment Programme and the WTO Report: It identified that ecologically sustainable trade can provide business opportunities and competitive advantage to developing nations.
- Trade as a Linking factor: between ‘green’ production and ‘sustainable’ consumption.
- Role of labeling and taxes: The Non-tariff barriers such as sanitary and phytosanitary conditions and taxes are imposed to ensure that production processes entail environmentally and socially ethical practices and Developing countries can adopt strict measures of labelling and product standards.
- Advantages for developing countries: They will get a comparative advantage in ‘cleaner’ goods – which is experiencing a gradual rise in demand.
- Role of Sustainable agriculture: It plays an important role in ensuring responsible consumption and production, especially when around 30 percent of global biodiversity threats are due to consumption of food commodities.
- Domestic agriculture policies must be re-examined: to ensure that they do not promote ecologically destructive practices.
- Problems of Government interventions: Price signals determine the cropping pattern and are detrimental to the natural resources in an area – as exemplified by the cultivation of water intensive paddy even in areas that are relatively water scarce in India.
- Importance of Women: With 43 percent of agriculture labour force in developing countries, training women in sustainable agriculture practices and empowering them through financial inclusion will play an instrumental role in ensuring holistic development of the global agrarian sector.
- Fishery sector: Instead of providing additional subsidies to the large fleets, they must reach the targeted groups, who depend on marine resources for livelihood like the poor coastal communities.
Role of Institutions:
- Transboundary nature of Problem: Global concerted efforts are required to tackle them.
- Role of SDGs: It highlights most of the concerns facing the world and should be integrated into the trade policies of individual nations across all levels of government.
- Need for interlinkages: The targets and objectives should be clear and interlinkages between the goals must serve as a yardstick to ensure that the goals are compatible with one another.
- Better coordination: To have greater coordination between departments in national governments and across countries through institutions like WTO.
- Economic competitiveness Compatibility: It must be made compatible with the social and environmental foundations.
- Importance of WTO: The recommendations must be binding on the members and there should be a practice of ensuring implementation.
Syllabus Topic – GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: The Central government has increased excise duty on petrol by Rs 10 per litre and diesel by Rs 13 per litre
Why imposing additional excise duty on diesel and petrol is a bad idea?
Imposing additional excise duty on petrol and diesel will bring immediate revenues. However, it is a bad policy in the long-run because of the following reasons:
- The high taxes on fuel and consequent increase in logistics cost will make Indian market unattractive for foreign investors.
- It will domestic industries are burdened under high logistic cost, more uncompetitive
- The high cost of petrol and diesel may lead to adulteration of transport fuels with kerosene and.
- It can lead to smuggling and fuel mafia enterprise. For example, gold smuggling in 1970s when the import duty on gold was very high.
Syllabus Topic – GS 3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilisation of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s (CMIE’s) latest estimates, unemployment rate has increased to 27.1%-the highest ever on record. According to critics, contractualization of employment has a major role to play in growing unemployment amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
What is contractual work/ employment?
- It is a form of employment where workers are employed on short-term ad hoc contracts. A worker is hired by the principal employer through a contractor- a person who supplies human resource to a principal employer.
- In general, contractual workers are signed on almost a 5-5-5 arrangement: i.e. in three cycles of five-month contracts, subject to renewal every five months.
- Gig Economy:It is characterised by short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. It often involves connecting with customers through an online platform. Example: Delivery boys of app-based food
- Zero-hour contract:It is a type of contract where the employer has no obligation to provide any stipulated hours of work. However, the employee is required to be available ‘on call’, as and when the employer needs his/ her service. Payment is based on number of hours worked.
What is the legislation for contractual employment in India?
Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act, 1970: The Act mandates contract workers to be paid as per the Minimum Wages Act. Further, for the health and welfare of contract labourers, it mandates certain provisions such as safe drinking water, first aid etc are mandatory.
Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019: It proposed giving a legal framework for fixed-term employment through which contract workers serving a fixed-tenure will get equal statutory social security benefits as regular workers in the same unit. Fixed-term employment would not lead to any notice period and payment of compensation on retrenchment excluded
Why is contract employment on rise in India?
The rise in contract employment in India could be attributed to the following:
- low wages as compared to permanent workers
- No need of offering other benefits that it would have to give their full-time employees as stipulated by various laws.
- curb the bargaining poweras companies do not need to deal with trade unions
- efficiency and flexibility in labour use
- stringent labour laws in Indian make difficult for employers to fire permanent workers and hence they go for contractual workers.
How can the interest of Contractual workers be secured?
- There should be socially protected worker contracts.Health, unemployment insurances as benefits should be provided.
- The probation period should be extendedto more than a year so that the uncertainty of short-term contracts can be addressed
- Premium wage rates should be implemented.
- There should be greaterlegal representation to workers
- Formation of unions for minority workers across gender, class, race, etcshould eb incentivised
News:Government of India is launching Vande Bharat Mission and Operation Samudra Setu to bring back Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Vande Bharat Mission:It is a multi-agency mission that will see the operation of 64 flights to bring back Indian nationals from Gulf countries, US, UK among other nations.Once completed, it may turn out to be the largest evacuation operation since the 1990 airlift of 1.7 lakh people from Kuwait.
Operation Samudra Setu(Sea Bridge):It is an operation of Indian Navy to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas.Indian Naval Ships (INS) Jalashwa and Magar are presently en route to Maldives to commence evacuation operations as part of Phase-1.
News:In Assam, over 2,900 pigs have died due to African Swine Fever (ASF). This is the first time that an ASF outbreak has been reported in India.
- African Swine Fever: It is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects and leads to an acute form of hemorrhagic fever in domestic and wild pigs.
- Causes: It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family.
- Transmission: It is transmitted to pigs through:
- direct contact with infected domestic or wild swines
- indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated substances or
- contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage or through biological vectors such as ticks.
- Human Transmission:It is not a threat to human beings since it only spreads from animals to other animals.
- Mortality Rate:It is close to 100% and since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop it spreading is by culling the animals.
- Difference: ASF is differentiated from Classical Swine Fever(CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists.
- The disease is listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and thus reported to the OIE.