9 PM Daily Brief – September 25th, 2020

Daily current affairs summaries

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Current affairs brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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9 PM for Mains examination

GS-2

  1. The foreign hand: On FCRA amendments
  2. Extent of media regulations
  3. The new NEP 2020 and its flaws

GS-3

  1. Will the farm bills benefit farmers?
  2. Environment and Development

9 PM for Preliminary examination

FACTLy


 1.The foreign hand: On FCRA amendments

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Context: Recently, the amendments to the FCRA were passed in Parliament.

What are the key amendments?

  • Bill proposes to make Aadhaar a mandatory identification documentfor all the office-bearers, directors and other key functionaries of an NGO or an association eligible to receive foreign donations.
  • The Bill proposes to include “public servant” and “corporation owned or controlled by the government”among the list of entities who are not eligible to receive foreign donations.

What are the concerns associated with the recent amendments?

  • Over-regulation of NGO:New regulations put onerous conditions on civil society organisations, and educational and research institutions that have partnerships with foreign entities.
  • No discussion on amendments: The amendments were not discussed with the stakeholder and passed with limited discussion in Parliament.
  • Against Constitutional rights:The International Commission of Jurists has said the new law was incompatible with international obligations and India’s own constitutional provisions on rights.
  • Discourage social work:Thousands of NGOs serve extremely disadvantaged sections. Only presumption of guilt against them all, followed by control, amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Selective barriers:the over-regulation appears to be towards select categories of global ideas and ideals such as environmentalism, human rights and civil liberties.
  • Reduce investments and technology flow:As a growing economy, India has been proactive in seeking global capital and technology. 
  • Against Indian cultural ethos:Prime Minister has often cited the ancient Indian ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as the framework for its global engagement. It does not go well with India’s legitimate ambitions to be a global player

Why such amendments?

  • Misuse of foreign funding: In Parliament, the government alleged that foreign money was being used for religious conversions. For instance, In 2017, the government barred American Christian charity, Compassion International.
  • Loss to the GDP: during the UPA that an official report even quantified the GDP losses allegedly caused by environmental NGOs, insinuating a foreign conspiracy against India.
  • To enhance transparency and accountability: The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under the said Act.

What can be the way forward?

  • Delinkreligious propagation and conversions from the question of foreign funding.
  • There are adequate laws against conversionby inducement. It cannot be decided against the touchstone of the source of funds, native or foreign.
  • Seamless sharing of ideas and resources across national boundaries is essential to the functioning of a global community.
  • Civil societies should not be discouraged unless there is reason to believe the funds are being used to aid illegal activities.
  • Civil societies supplements government worksand sometimes reach to the sections where government cannot.

2.Extent of media regulations

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2- Development processes and the development industry

Context- The Supreme Court underlined the need for laying down clear guidelines, and their effective implementation, for the media against hate speech in the Sudharshan TV case.

What happened when the government attempted to regulate the media?

The government has made several attempts in the past to regulate the media but all such attempts came crashing down in the wake of public outcry. The last attempt was-

  • April 2018-When the Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a circular stipulating that the accreditation of a journalist found to have “created and/or propagated” fake news will be suspended or permanently cancelled.
  • The next 15 hours witnessed a huge furore against the circular, culminating in the I&B ministry revoking the circular.

What are the possible forms of checks and regulations to stop abuse of freedom of speech?

Government regulations-

  • Currently, the government has own regulation policies. Such as-
  1. Cable Television Network Rules of 1994
  2. Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995
  3. The Policy Guidelines for Up linking of Television Channels from India of 2000

Thus, the provisions within give it the power to block the transmission and retransmission of any channel in the country. Its effectiveness is a matter for critical examination.

  1. Self-regulation- It is though ideal, is easier said than done and continues to be a pipedream in India.
  2. Independent regulation- The main concern is it will be set up by whom. If the government does it, the whole world is ready to pounce on it.
  3. Self-cum-independent regulation-  

News Broadcasters Association (NBA)

  • It was set up in 2008.
  • It further set up the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA)with Justice J. S. Verma as its chairman.
  • Condition- Justice J. S. Verma agreed to chair NBSA on the express condition that this will be an independent body and that he would brook no interference from the parent body- NBA.

National Broadcasting Standards Authority

  • Itwas formed with the object to foster high standards, ethics and practices in news broadcasting and take action against defaulters.
  • Its role has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Election Commission.
  • Shortcomings-
  1. Its writ extended only to its members, which was limited due to its voluntary membership. Those who were unhappy with a verdict found it easy to walk out.
  2. It lacks statutory backing from the government.
  3. Extending its jurisdiction to non-members as well.
  4. Empowering it to take punitive action like suspending and cancelling licences.

What are the several indigenous models to preserve the independence of the media?

  1. Empowering the NBSA-With statutory backing, more stringent powers and extending its writ to all news channels.
  2. Supreme Court appointed monitoring panel— like the one it set up in 1998 to monitor encroachments in Delhi which worked very effectively till the members became too old and the Court just forgot about them after appointing them.
  3. Press Council model-An equal failure, spineless and toothless, despite a retired SC judge heading it.
  4. Like the Election Commission— a constitutionally-appointed body which was empowered by the SC in 2002 as a regulator to enforce the model code of conduct evolved by the political parties voluntarily for self-discipline.

Way Forward

The Supreme Court should see this case as an opportunity to change the image of inaction and insensitivity it has unfortunately acquired during the last couple of years. Both Social media and television are needed to be dealt with a suitable and independent model with reasonable powers. Both needs to be dealt with decisively and urgently as unrestricted powers is always dangerous. Therefore, some restrictions on media will be able to keep the country’s social harmony undisturbed.

3.The new NEP 2020 and its flaws

Source- The Indian Express 

Syllabus- GS 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context- The NEP has been charged with fostering inequalities and most importantly replacing constitutional values with banal ideas such as seva, ahimsa, swacchta, sacrifice and courtesy.

What is NEP 2020?

New National Education Policy 2020– Recently cabinet approved a new national education policy which will refine and re-engineer classroom transactions with an aim to:

To reduce curriculum content – It will enhance essential learning, critical thinking and more holistic experiential, discussion and analysis based learning.

New pedagogical structure – It also talks about a revision of the curriculum and pedagogical structure from a 10+2 system to a 5+3+3+4 system design in an effort to optimize learning for students based on cognitive development of children. The new model likely to look like this-

Foundational stage 3-8 years 3 years : play school/anganwadis

2 years : primary school

 Preparatory Schooling Stage 8-11 years(grade 3 to 5) experiential learning across the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences, and humanities.

 

Middle school 11-14 years in grades 6 to 8 a subject-oriented pedagogical learning style
Secondary level 14-18 years(grades 9 and 10) Creativity, away from rote learning

New assessment pattern – It will compel educators to make pedagogical practices more child-centered. Such an approach will allow students to make mistakes, take risks, be creative and move away from rote learning.

Building soft skills- Envisaging more towards empathy, resilience, conflict resolution and relationship building skills, which offer the key to success in a rapidly changing world.

What is Kothari Commission?

In order to remove the defects in the field of education, the government appointed a new education commission to advise the government on the national pattern of education along with general principles and policies for the development of education at all stages.

What are the flaws in new NEP 2020?

  1. Load of studies– Reducing load of studies is mistaken for a mechanical reduction of syllabus/ textbook content, despite the mental load of incomprehensibility— a situation where a lot is taught but little is learnt or understood.
  2. Integrated curriculum– The dilemma for textbook developer/ teacher of what needs to be integrated, resort to random addition/ deletion of content.
  3. Lack of time– If most of the teachers’ time is spent on collecting evidence, record keeping and saving their skin because they know that students’ assessment will be used to assess their performance, then no amount of formative assessment (FA) will improve students’ learning.
  4. Lack of clarity– Confusing the notion of critical thinking with de-contextualized logical thinking whereby textbooks have no mention of conflicts/contradictions which children experience in their daily lives.
  5. Mistakes in programmes– Mistake of “fun in learning” for “fun of learning” thereby reduce the meaning of learning/pedagogic processes to song and dance and banal activities.

Way forward-

It is important that NEP’s fundamental flaws are acknowledged and addressed with immediacy. The aim of new NEP 2020 should not be limited to imparting children with foundational skills of literacy, numeracy and competencies but removing structural disadvantages, thus enabling them to live a meaningful life, simultaneously strengthening our society as a secular, democratic space.

4.Will the farm bills benefit farmers?

Source: The Hindu

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

Context: Recently, three farm bills were cleared by Parliament.

  1. the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill,
  2. the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and
  • the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill

What are the concerns about the bill?

  • Lack of regulation may undermine farmers interest.
  • Lack of regulatory oversight and reporting.
  • Non-transparent and relies too much on private players.
  • Devoid of the State interventionin agriculture, and agricultural policy.
  • The bill assumes that private players don’t exist and APMC has monopoly.
  • Creating an alternative outside APMC is good measure as there will be no mandi fee. However, APMC continues to set the reference price even for private players.
  • In the absence of APMC, there will no alternative for a large market that can actually set price signals.
  • No proper grievance redressal mechanism in no APMC era.
  • The farm bills aiming to enhance choices for farmers as they will get better prices for their produce. However, market prices or farmers’ incomes are not simply dependent on the market structure.
  • During the pandemic, market prices are sluggish because demand is sluggish. Farmers’ incomes are actually seeing a period of stagnation.
  • Other concerns of farmers are ignored in the bill such as growing input cost.
  • The bills are not clear about the procurement policy of the government.

What are the possible consequences of these farm bills?

  • Create Monopoly: Big retail players and corporates could end up monopolising farm tradeand vitiate farmers’ interests. Global experience such as, the French dairy producers and the dairy farmers’ co-operatives in the U.S. Buyer cartels will start fixing the market price.
  • Create re-intermediaries: There is unpredictability as farmers bear most of the risk and big players mostly co-opt with them. Co-opting with farmer will create large set of intermediaries because big players will find it expensive to deal with large number of farmers.
  • Big capital moving into the agricultural commodity trade:The pandemic has caused a massive disruption for capital and profits as well. However, agricultural goods have suffered less because these are necessary items in consumption baskets.

What needs to be done?

  • Policy interventions:In the form of subsidies or procurement. There is MSP and procurement prices but certain policy documents were presented before the government about replacing the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and PDS with cash transfers.
  • Need to regulate FCI:Since 1990s India is not facing food shortage but problem of hunger still persists. This is because of maladministration.
  • Need to regulate private players:Post-liberalisation, private players and capital have a much greater role to play in the economy but the concerns regarding the government public procurement system needs to be addressed to quell fears.
  • Bring clarity:ensuring MSP and creating an alternative outside APMC to encourage private players is self-defeating. Government cannot say they want private players but want to fix MSP also.

5.Environment and Development

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context:  Firms should focus on creating green supply chains instead of following a few environmental practices.

What is environment sustainability?

  • Environmental sustainabilityis understood as buying greener products, avoiding hazardous materials, energy optimisation, and waste reduction.
  • Sustainability, an essential issue of global importance: It has been recognised by The United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the World Bank Group’s global practices.

What is lacking in the steps towards environment sustainability taken by the firms?

  • Firms reluctant to engage: Most of them don’t want to compromise on the economic benefits by engaging in environmentally beneficial activities, while
    • Some others have positioned environmental practices at the forefront due to legislation, and industry and government commitments.
  • Fails to see the bigger picture:  Due to compelling regulatory norms in many firms, high importance has been given to environmentalism. However,
    • In this process, organisations and manufacturing sector; get so serious about the waste reduction and energy efficiency improvements that they fail to recognise the need for restructuring their learning necessitiesand see the big picture of environmentalism.
  • Short-term actions: Government norms, organisational policies and corporate environmental responsibility projects to drive environment-friendly practices are mostly short-term actions towards environmental sustainability.

What are the long-lasting benefits of environment sustainability?

  • Green supply chain practices:
    • Green procurement, green manufacturing, green distribution, and reverse logistics are useful.
    • Practices starting from purchase of eco-friendly raw material to disposal/ reuse/ recycle of used products, employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers will be able to join in environmental concerns in the daily operations of a firm.
    • Green supply chain practices enable organisational learning in environmental sustainability.
  • Connections between green supply chain practices, organisational performance and learning:
    • A survey of 220 respondents across 21 manufacturing units in India was conducted.
    • These inter-linkages not only lead to a long-lasting natural drive towards environmental performance, but also to higher economic performance.
    • The positive impacts of environmentalism can only be felt in the long term when they get rooted into organisational learning systems through green supply chain practices.
    • The resultant learning system eases the knowledge flow in the organisation and help firms to strategize for better performance, bearing in mind the environmental aspects.
    • Environmental sustainability is ensured from the source (willingness) and not through force (regulations).
  • Understanding links:
    • Drawing connections between green supply chain practices, corporate environmental performance, corporate economic performance and the dimensions of learning organisations in firms is necessary for an organisation’s progress and environmental protection in society. 
    • Understanding of these certain links will allow managers and experts to shape their organisational values, work practices, and performances for the greater good of society.

Way forward

  • When the different manufacturing supply chain realise the essential benefits associated with organisational learning dimensions, their drive towards environmentalism will increase.
  • Policymakers should support this thinking by not just imposing environmental practices as regulatory norms but by highlighting on the creation of green supply chain-based learning systems in manufacturing.

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