9 PM Daily Brief – September 19th, 2020

Daily current affairs summaries

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Mains examination

GS-2

  1. Gurushihya parampara and issues
  2. US- Taliban Peace Pact

GS-3

  1. GST Compensation disagreement between the Centre and the States
  2. Market Failure

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Gurushihya parampara and issues

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Society

Context: The guru-shishya relationship in Indian music has a power imbalance and is inherently prone to abuse.It needs to be demolished.

How different are the practices in Hindustani music and its southern counterpart?

  • The shocking allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against (late) Ramakant Gundecha and Akhilesh Gundechahave shaken the Hindustani music space.
  • The world of Hindustani music, though more modern compared to its southern cousin is actually more patriarchaland medieval in mindset.
  • The pedestal on which gurus are placed by Hindustani musiciansis far higher than any seat given to their counterparts in Dakshin Bharat.
  • Despite all the differences and petty politics between musicians, the “tradition” of watching each other’s back is far more prevalent in the Hindustani world. 

What are the issues associated with the guru-shishya parampara ?

  • Like most relationships, the guru-shishya relationship is grounded in a power imbalance, but here, crucially, the inequality is celebrated. 
  • A need to be subservient to and indeed submit to, the masteris an unspoken necessity.
  • Structurally flawed:students are forced to commit to hours of household chores just to receive those few moments of wisdom, it is celebrated as sacrifice and commitment and endurance.
  • It is also true that abuse increases exponentially when the student comes from an economically poor or socially marginalised community.

What are the steps needed to be taken ?

  • The system must begin with respect for students, and recognition of their independence and rights as individuals.
  • “Humanise” gurus:This is vital because the power structure is naturally tilted in favour of the guru.
  • The parampara that demands obedience and unquestioning regard, only because someone is a guru, needs to be demolished.
  • A problematic area in Hindustani and Carnatic music is the informality in the learning.
  • This informality is justified on the basis that it creates a unique, unconditioned space for learning.
  • Informality can take so many forms, sometimes resulting in episodes of incredible learning, while on other occasions, there are just demands made by the guru because he is in a position to make them.
  • There is a lot to learn beyond the school-university-class framework, but such an arrangement cannot be an illogical, uncaring, student on-call system.

What are the positives in the gurushishya learning?

  • The guru-shishya parampara  provides intimate learning and sharing that goes beyond the syllabus.
  • There are students and teachers who share a bond that goes beyond what the university demanded of them.
  • There are stories of great gurus and famous shishyas across disciplines and geographies. 

Way forward

  • In the guru-shishya parampara , rarely can a shishya stand up against her or his guru and hope to survive another day.
  • The problem with our concretised version is that this promise of magic is used as an excuse to normalise inequality.
  • The system and its core structure should be safe, respectful, and non-abusive of, students.
  • Irrespective of the nature of the guru, the system should provide security and strength and empower the student emotionally and psychologically to stand on her or his own.

2.US- Taliban Peace Pact

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context- The US officials and Taliban representatives have signed a final peace deal to end the United States’s longest war, fought in Afghanistan.

What is the background of US and Afghanistan war?

  • The war in Afghanistan was launched by the US in 2001 after the 9/11 attack. The US-led coalition aimed to overthrow the Taliban.
  • More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict.
  • About 12,000 are still stationed in the country. President Trump has promised to put an end to the conflict.

What does the US- Taliban peace deal comprise of?

  1. Troops withdrawal– US and Taliban signed an agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, which will enable the US and NATO to withdraw troops in the next 14 months.
  2. Taliban commitment-The main counter-terrorism commitment by the Taliban is that Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
  3. Sanctions removal-
  • UN sanctions on Taliban leaders to be removed by three months (by May 29, 2020) and US sanctions by August 27, 2020.
  • The sanctions will be out before much progress is expected in the intra-Afghan dialogue.
  1. Prisoner release– The US-Taliban pact says up to 5,000 imprisoned Taliban and up to 1,000 prisoners from “the other side” held by Taliban “will be released” by March 10. This process took longer than originally foreseen but has now been completed.
  2. Ceasefire-
  • It has been identified as another potential “trouble spot”.
  • The agreement states ceasefire will be simply “an item on the agenda” when intra-Afghan talks start and indicate actual ceasefire will come with the “completion” of an Afghan political agreement.

What are the challenges ahead of India arising from this peace pact?

India’s Dilemma

Due to the Taliban’s coming to power, India faces a dilemma, between:

  • India should reconsider its current policy that a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan must come through an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan controlled process” (considering that the elected Afghan Government is hardly in control of the peace process).
  • India might, consider the option of entering into direct talks with the Taliban. But, If India does so, it would constitute a major departure from its consistent policy of dealing only with recognized governments.

What are the interests of major powers in this agreement?

  1. US– The peace talks provide U.S. President Donald Trump an exit opportunity weeks before his re-election bid.
  2. European Union– It has made it clear that its financial contribution will depend on the security environment and the human rights record.
  3. China– It can always lean on Pakistan to preserve its security and connectivity interests.
  4. Russia– Blocking the drug supply and keeping its southern periphery secure from extremist influences is key.

Therefore, no major power is taking ownership for the reconciliation talks, but merely content with being facilitators.

Way Forward

The withdrawal of US forces has the probability of the creation of vacuum in the region and possibility of filling the void by terrorists and extremists. To ensure that regional security is maintained and Taliban does not dictate the nation, US and other stakeholders in the region like India, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia should come forward to aid Afghanistan to become politically stable for regional security and stability.

3.GST Compensation disagreement between the Centre and the States

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3- Government Budgeting.

Context- The onus would be on Centre to resolve this impasse with regard to compensation cess of GST reforms.

What is GST compensation?

  • The Centre is obliged to pay to the States, for a period of five years, compensation for revenue shortfalls in return for their having ceded the power to levy the multiple taxes that were subsumed into the GST.
  • The compensation is calculated based on the difference between the states current GST revenue and the protected revenue after estimating an annualized 14% growth rate from the base year of 2015-16.

What is current GST compensation situation?

  1. Pending payment– GST compensation payments to states have been pending since April, with the pending amount for April-July estimated at Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
  2. GST revenue gap– The GST compensation requirement is estimated to be around Rs 3 lakh crore this year, while the cess collection is expected to be around Rs 65,000 crore – an estimated compensation shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore.

What were the Options given by the Center to the States?

Options made by the Centre-

Option 1 –

  • To provide a special borrowing window to states, in consultation with the RBI, to provide Rs 97,000 crore at a “reasonable” interest rate and this money can then be repaid after 5 years by extending cess collection.
  • A 0.5 percent relaxation in the borrowing limit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management [FRBM] Act would be provided.

Option 2

  • To meet the entire GST compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crore this year itself after consulting with the RBI.
  • No Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act relaxation has been mentioned for this option.

Issues raised by the States-

  1. Several Sates have rejected both options and some, including Tamil Nadu- have urged the Centre to rethink in view of their essential and urgent spending needs to curb the pandemic and spur growth.
  2. Enforcing a cut in compensation and bringing in a distinction between GST and Covid-related revenue loss is unconstitutional.
  3. The two options offered to the States would impose huge debts on the states and as a result many would not even be able to pay salaries.
  4. States simply do not have the headroom to borrow money to make up for the GST shortfall as every single State has reached its FRBM [Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management] limit.

What are the expected reasons for Revenue shortfall for the fiscal year 2020-21?

  1. Corporate tax collection loss – Companies in sectors such as airlines, hotels and consumer durables will show losses and therefore, pay less tax.
  2. Less income tax collection– Large numbers of workers have lost employment and/or have faced salary cuts. Many private firms are also likely to incur losses. So, income tax collection will also be short by much more than 20%.
  3. Less import – The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) and customs duties will also decline with fall in import.
  4. The production of luxury and sin goods has been severely impactedand they pay the high rate of tax — 18%, 28% and cess on top.
  5. The direct tax/GDP per cent may be expected to fall from 5.5% last year to less than 4% this fiscal.

Way forward

Center needs to renege on its promise to find ways to compensate the state for loss of revenue. Only the Centre is in a position to do such massive borrowing as Reserve Bank has itself said that for the Central government to borrow would be both easier and simpler. Central government would pay 2% less interest than the states.

4.Market Failure

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices

Context: Recently, an allied party’s Minister of NDA government has resigned in protest against the farmer Bills.

What was the subject matter in the bill?

  • Bills seek to replace ordinances issued on key aspects of the farm economy — trade in agricultural commodities, price assurance, farm services including contracts, and stock limits for essential commodities.

What are the issues with the bill?

  • Fear of ending MSP (Minimum Support Prices): Fears that the free market philosophy of the bill could put an end to MSPs for produce that has so far been centrally procured by the government.
  • Against cooperative federalism:Several States have already liberalised agricultural marketing, amending their APMC Acts, and some have allowed regulated private commerce including direct marketing.
  • No levy/fee: provisions in the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, providing for unfettered commerce in designated trade areas outside APMC jurisdictions without levy of any fee.
  • Removing APMC’s will not bring in private investment:for example, Bihar removed the APMC system. The markets suffered loss of fee revenue but with no significant private investments in the sector.
  • Inaccessible APMC’s:The small farmers, who form the majority has access levels to markets under the APMC system at the rate of one for an area of 434.48 sq. km on average. It is below the recommendation of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF), at one market for 80 sq. km.

What needs to be done?

  • Strengthen competition.
  • Massively fund the expansion of the APMC market system.
  • Remove trade cartels and provide farmers good roads, logistics of scale and real time information.
  • Empower farmers through State Farmers Commissions recommended by the NCF, to bring about a speedy government response to issues.
  • Bring strong institutional arrangements.
  • Agriculture and markets are State subjects, and there should be no tinkering with the MSP and Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC), that form the backbone of existing trading arrangements.

There is no guarantee that liberalisation bring investment. Also, government need to consider that laissez-faire policy may harm lakhs of unorganised small farmers, who have been remarkably productive and contributed to the economy even during a pandemic.


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