9 PM Daily Brief – September 22nd, 2020

Daily current affairs summaries

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9 PM for Mains examination

GS-2

  1. Basic Structure Doctrine
  2. Abraham Accords [peace for peace deal] and India
  3. Dilution without adequate deliberation
  4. India- China and Russia
  5. UNSC reforms

GS-3

  1. Future of Work – Industry 4.0

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


1.Basic Structure Doctrine

Source: IndianExpress

Syllabus: GS2: Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions.

Context: Recently, Kesavananda Bharati passed away whose name is synonymous with the famous doctrine of basic structure propounded by the Supreme Court.

What is basic structure doctrine?

  • Basic structure doctrine holds that Parliament cannot touch certain parts of the Constitution that are fundamental to democracy, even with the consent of Legislature at the Centre and states by following the procedure established by law.
  • The basic structure doctrine was coined in 1973. (Kesavananda Bharti case)

What is the significance of Basic Structure doctrine?

  • Limitations on Parliament: The doctrine holds that there are certain implied limitations on Parliament’s amending power although these are not explicitly mentioned.
  • Aim: To save democracy from the hands of a tyrannical few and to protect the fundamental rights of the citizen.
  • Torch bearer: The doctrine continues to be valued by Judiciary and is recurrently applied in significant cases.

What are the issues arising due to Basic structure doctrine?

  • Not immune:It was defeated within two years of the judgement when Indira Gandhi suspended all fundamental rights.
  • Not defined: In the absence of any certainty as to what constitutes the “basic structure” it is left to the wisdom of the SC judges to decide upon it on a case to case basis.
  • Regularly tweaking the doctrine: Newer features have been constantly added to list that is “basic” which gives them the immunity that the basic structure enjoys. For example, the Right to Education was introduced by the 86th amendmentin the form of Article 21A.
  • Unlimited powers to Judiciary: for example, the Court recently relied on the basic structure to strike down the 99th constitutional amendment act (National Judicial Accountability Commission). The Bill was passed by two third majorities of both Houses of Parliament and 20 state legislatures
  • Jolt to fundamental rights chapter: The basic structure has now frozen Part III of the Constitutionbut crucial fundamental rights were violated during !950-51. For example, the First Amendment heavily diluted the rights to property and free speech and expression These valuable aspects of democracy cannot now be debated by Parliament

It is certainly important for the Constitution to have certain non-negotiable principles but at the same it must be narrow and comprehensively identified to protect democracy from the hands of elected parliamentary representatives.

2.Abraham Accords [peace for peace deal] and India

Source- The Hindu

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

Context – Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have announced an agreement that will lead to reshaping the order of West Asia politics.

What is UAE-Israel peace deal?

  1. Normalize relations– Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain agreed to a historic deal to normalize their long-strained relations.
  2. Importance– This move is significant because, with the exception of Jordan and Egypt, Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab states owing to its long-standing conflict with Palestinians.
  3. Under the accord– The agreement comes after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to suspend plans to annex parts of the West Bank, one that had been bitterly criticized by these Gulf Arab states, Europe and a few other countries around the world.
  4. As per the deal, the UAE and Bahrain will establish-
  • Embassies and exchange ambassadors.
  • Working together with Israel across a range of sectors including tourism, trade, healthcare and security.
  1. The agreement is also known as the Abraham Accords.

What are the significances of the agreement?

The significance of the Abraham Accords-

  1. Diversifying geographies– The UAE and Bahrain can become the centre to Israeli exports of goods and services to diverse geographies.
  2. Providing skilled man-power– Israel has the potential to supply skilled and semi-skilled manpower to the GCC states, particularly from the Sephardim and Mizrahim ethnicities, many of whom speak Arabic.
  3. Business perspective– Israel is known as the start-up nation and its stakeholders could easily fit in the various duty-free incubators in the UAE.
  4. Sharing Technology– Israel has niche strengths in defence, security and surveillance equipment, arid farming, solar power, horticultural products, high-tech, gem and jewellery, and pharmaceuticals.
  5. Religious diplomacy –The Abraham Accords also open the door for Muslims around the world to visit the historic sites in Israel and to peacefully pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.
  6. To alienate Iran– The agreement could pave the way for the region’s Sunni Arab kingdoms and the Jewish-majority Israel enhancing regional cooperation against their common foe, Shia Iran.
  7. Domestic politics of USA-This agreement brokered by US is seen as diplomatic win of President Trump ahead of the November elections, where he seeks re-election.

What are India’s interests in Israel and Gulf Countries?

  1. Energy –The Gulf region is the world’s largest oil-producing region accounting for 34% of world production, 45% of crude oil exports and 48% of oil proven reserves and India has been heavily dependent on energy supplies from the region.
  2. Military and strategic ties with Israel – The rise of Islamic extremist terrorism in both India and Israel has generated a strong strategic alliance. Even Israel is the second largest source of military defence equipment for India.
  3. Diaspora-India expatriates have constituted a substantial share of regional labour market of Gulf nations.
  4. Remittance from the region– Over eight million Indian diaspora in the Gulf remitting annually nearly $50 billion.
  5. Multifaceted and socioeconomic engagements– Indians are also the biggest stakeholders in Dubai’s real estate, tourism and Free Economic Zone.
  6. Geographical location– The Gulf region is strategically significant due to its enormous energy resources, trade route links to different parts of the world.

Way forward

Israeli foray into the Gulf has the potential to disrupt the existing politico-economic architecture India has carefully built with the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states. India would have to be on its guard to monitor and even pre-empt any threat to its interests in the Gulf. Moreover, India needs to manage the economic fallout of the Israel -GCC synergy.

3.Dilution without adequate deliberation

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context: Recently, the government withdrew three Bills related to labour laws and replaced them with new ones.

Background

  • In 2019, the government introduced four labour codesas Bills to replace 29 existing laws.
  • These Codes dealt with regulation of wages, occupational safety and health, social security, and industrial relations.
  • The Code on Wageswas passed by Parliament last year.
  • The reports on the other three Bills were presented by the Standing Committee on Labour recently.
  • Government has replaced these three bills that were introduced in 2019 with a new bill and it has been reintroduced in Lok Sabha.

What is need of labour laws?

  • To regulate labour and the employer-employee relationship.
  • To simplify and rationalise the complex regime of labour laws.

What are the major changes in new bills?

1st change-2020 Bills raise several thresholds:

  • The Factories Act of 1948defines any manufacturing unit as a factory if it employs 10 workers (and uses electricity) or 20 workers (without using electric power).
  • These thresholds are being raised to 20 and 40 workers, respectively.
  • The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947requires any establishment employing over 100 workers to seek government permission before any retrenchment.
  • The threshold has been raised to 300, with the government empowered to raise it further through notification.
  • The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act of 1946requires employers to formally define conditions of employment under them if they have at least 100 workers. The 2020 Bill has increased this threshold to 300 workers.

2nd Change-More power to Government:

  • The Code on Industrial Relations governs working conditions, trade unions, retrenchment and layoffs, dispute resolution, and establishes industrial tribunals.
  • The 2020 bills provide the government with the power to exempt establishments from any or all of their provisions in public interest

3rd Change: Compromises safety

  • The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions specifies leave and maximum work hours, requires health and safety norms including adequate lighting and ventilation and welfare measures.
  • The 2020 Bill allows the State government to exempt any new factory from its provisions in the interest of increased economic activityand employment generation.
  • It provides Wide discretion to the State government to exempt new factories from basic safety and welfare norms.
  • However, the Factories Act permitted such exemption for a limited period of three months only during a “public emergency”.

4th change- Restricts contract labour:

  • The 2020 Code prohibits the employment of contract workersin any core activity, and specifically permits employment in a specified list of non-core activities including canteen, security and sanitation services.

4th changes- Widens the scope for women employment

  • The 2019 Bill on Occupational Safety allowed the government toprohibit employment of women in undertaking operations that could be dangerous to their health and safety.
  • The 2020 Bill removes this power to prohibit employment of women and instead allows the government to require employers to provide adequate safeguards.

What are the issues remaining to be resolved?

  • There is no clarity whether such features which are left on the government, should be hard-coded in the Acts.
  • The issues of relaxations for small enterprisesto reduce their compliance burden is unresolved.
  • Safety standardsshould apply to everyone while others that provide job security could be based on the size of the firm. However, the Occupational Safety Bill exempts small establishments from its purview.

The need of the hour is that there is wider scrutiny and public discussion on these Bills as several changes are introduced. The bills must be referred to the Standing Committee for due deliberation.

4.India- China and Russia

Source- The Hindu

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

Context- India decided to pull out of Russia’s Kavkaz 2020 military exercise due to  India-China tensions along the Line of Actual Control.

How are the India- Russia relationships at present?

India’s Russia engagement has remained steady till now-

  1. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visits-
  • He visited Russia in June for the 75th Victory Day parade.
  • He was in Moscow again on September 4 to attend the SCO Defence Ministers’ Meeting, which also formed the setting for the bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
  • These visits saw detailed discussions around furthering the India-Russia defence relationship alongside the promise to accelerate certain supplies based on New Delhi’s requirements.
  1. India’s External AffairsMinister S. Jaishankar attended the online BRICS foreign ministers meeting on September 4 and also travelled to Moscow for the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting.
  2. India will host the SCO Heads of Government Meeting in November.

How India- China conflicts are going to affect India- Russia relation?

  1. Uncompleted communications-In June, the Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers meeting, convened at Moscow’s initiative and coming days after violent border clashes that led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers, ended without an official communiqué.
  2. Russia’s diplomatic role-Moscow has been playing a quiet diplomatic role during the recent border clashes without actively taking sides.

Thus, it is hardly surprising that on-going conflict between two prominent members has given rise to concerns about its impact on India-Russia ties.

What are the roles of multilateral forums?

The multilateral forums are playing important role as they foster continued India-Russia cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

  1. The increasingly divergent foreign policies of its members pose challenges of agenda-setting and overall scope.
  2. It also underscores that at this moment of flux, countries such as India and Russia are keeping all their options open.

What are the challenges for India and Russia cooperation in the Asia?

  1. Balancing power– The cold war between China and US, has led Russia to qualitative improve  its ties with Beijing as the superpower looks to partner with a strong external player that can balance the West.
  2. US policies– The U.S. policy towards Russia has further pushed the latter towards China, strengthening the rising power, to the detriment of both Indian and western interests.
  3. Bilateral relationship- This makes it difficult for India and Russia to pursue fully convergent policies; it does not preclude the bilateral relationship from retaining its relevance.

Way Forward

India and Russia are pragmatic players looking at maximising their strategic manoeuvrability, which understandably has led them to align with different powers based on their respective geopolitical positioning. Both recognise the value of having a diversified portfolio of ties and that makes it imperative that seeming contradictions in their respective policies are managed pragmatically while taking a long-term view of the strategic partnership.

5.UNSC reforms

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- International relations

Context: Current political fragmentation is an opportunity for India to build a more dynamic coalition.

How has the pandemic affected the UN?

  • The coronavirus has exposed thestructural weakness of the system (UN) that was set up amidst the ruins of the Second World War.
  • The UN has been unable to respond effectively to the once-in-a-century global crisis triggered by the coronavirus.
  • China blocked a serious discussionon the origin and sources of the crisis at the UN Security Council. While the World Health Organisation did move a bit in that direction, the US was not satisfied with the outcome and walked out of the forum.
  • UN was meant to be a concert of great powers who had a permanent seat in the Security Council and cooperation among the great powers was the preconditionfor its success in the security arena.

How should India restructure its traditional approach towards UN?

There are huge possibilities for enhancing India’s multilateral standing

  • UN is more than the Security Council:While the UNSC was dysfunctional, India developed a multilateral agenda of its own, from decolonisation and disarmament to a new international economic order and mobilised considerable political support for it.
  • The past underlines the possibilities for shaping the global discourse in the present.
  • Basic relationship between national interest and multilateralism:The primary objective of India’s present multilateralism must be to ensure its territorial integrity.
  • Delhi has worked mechanisms like FATFto mount pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting cross-border terrorism in India.
  • Writing the new rules and reshaping the global order:  India needs to strengthen its recent turn to a more dynamic coalition building, while reclaiming its role in the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • India’s new engagement with the US on building like-minded coalitions acquires much significance in this regard.

Way forward

  • Raising Delhi’s contribution to at least one per cent might convince its partners that India is serious about pursuing a more vigorous multilateralism as the shares of China, Japan and the US are at 8, 10 and 22 per cent respectively while India has 0.7 per cent share.

6.Future of Work – Industry 4.0

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- S&T

Context: Technological change need not cause a destruction of productive jobs and that is why a plan is required for industry 4.0

How will technological change affect the jobs in India?

  • Size of youth: India’s global significance in mastering the future of work and employing the largest global unit of 820 million youth is huge.
  • Government policies and labour markets:They should sustainably manage the Fourth Industrial Revolution which triggered “storm of creative destruction” in employment.
  • The potential of capital-labour substitution and the new ecosystem of software/AI/automation-mediated work will overturn 100-year-old ideas of work and employment.
  • Lack of jobs:The ILO warns that the future may not hold enough jobs for everyone and 428 million workers in low middle-income countries like India may not find new jobs.
  • Change in the nature of jobs: In 5-10 years, 10 per cent of human jobs will be substitutableand 50-70 per cent of jobs could be partially automated.
  • Two-thirds of jobs in developing countries including India are prone to automation.
  • Tech Economy 4.0 “transformers”in India’s world of work include robotics, AI, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, supply chain 4.0, 3D printing, big data, digital payments, retail, health, education and professional services.
  • The most-affected labour-intensive sectorsinclude textiles, finance, construction, hospitality, travel, tourism, media, electronics, mining, agriculture, transportation and entertainment.
    • The Indian ICT sector,another major employer, is susceptible to AI/robots replacing workers in its major IT export markets.
    • The retail sector, the largest employer of lower skill youth, is job shedding as e-retail accelerates and human jobs in logistics, warehousing and delivery services are being robotised.

Explain the char dham roadmap for steering technological change?

We could steer technological change to four powers of possible destinations or Char Dhams :

  • Gyaan Dhamis establishing a national observatory for scoping the tech-to-work equation and its trajectory.
  • Databases on existing and future trends, sector by sector, need to be created.
  • India’s future of Tech-Economy 4.0/ employment tie using a human power by 2030 compass and hinge relevant strategies towards that.
  • Kaushalya Dhammeans nurturing “human capabilities” for Tech-Economy 4.0 work. To meet labour market needs, potential skill gaps must be closed through the NEP and comprehensive training infrastructure.
  • Suniyojan Dham involves transformative investments in multi-stakeholder ecosystems to empower the youth and women through future-of-work transitions.
  • It is vital to raise institutions, job-rich sectors and MSMEs, close the rich-poor, rural-urban and gender gap in access to high-quality digital and physical infrastructure and tools.
  • Samajik Nyaya Dhammeans ensuring a just transition through a new social compact among all stakeholders and a universal social protection floor. A human-centred and equity-based approach in future labour market policies and standards is needed.
  • Local and rural production, care and green economies and social and health services must be fostered as job generators.
  • Upakram Dhaminvolves taking special initiatives enabling India to leverage the world’s third-largest ICT workforce to pole-vault into Tech4 excellence.
  • India’s diversity, scale for neural net, data richness, huge base of engineers, mathematicians and coders of AI available or trainable at scale, and decent ecosystems in ICT metros are critical assets.

Way forward

  • Following this Char Dham roadmap, we could avert the alarming prospect of a job-poor future. India’s ambition of sustainably transitioning to Tech 4.0 future of work is recognised in PM Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat.

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