9 PM Daily Brief – September 2nd, 2020

Good evening dear reader.

Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC 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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  1. COVID-19’s impact on education
  2. Non-Personal Data committee
  3. Pandemic and food security


  1. To Rebuild and Recover

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.COVID-19’s impact on education

Source- The Hindu

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

Context-Impact of COVID-19 on the education system.

Impact of COVID-19 on private education system

  1. No e-learning access– Low-income private and the government educational institutes have completely shut down due to no access to e-learning solutions.
  2. Endowment resources –Survival of Private academic institutions for the most part is on the annual income that comes from tuition and the assortment of other fees collected, none of the institutions in this country possesses or gets big corpuses from alumni or industry.

Example- Harvard University, to have an endowment of $40 billion, which can be used as fiving out fellowship to subsidizing tuition fees.

  1. Burden on management– Loss of jobs in departments, student’s inability to pay the requisite fee and in many instances, the hostel fee, this entire chain place additional burden on the management.

Challenges arising in dual mode of leaning

The scaling of operations that would include the dual modes of online and offline is going to be expensive due to a dual mode of educational delivery.

  1. Increase in efforts and financing of projects – The new social distancing norms would lead to the enforcement of smaller class sizes, thereby increasing the effective teaching load and multiplicity of efforts.

For instance – Online teaching means new hiring in the IT sector and increased costs due to engagements with Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, and other online platforms

  1. High cost of digital infrastructure – The online teaching mode brings with it increased costs of IT infrastructure such as network bandwidth, servers, cloud resources and software licensing fees.

Possible key reforms-

  1. Soft loans– Centre and State governments can provide soft loans to students to stay with the educational course, especially to vulnerable sections.
  2. New Corporate educational model– Educational institutions could come to be treated like any other corporate body, with an allowable small margin of profit.

Way forward-

The corporate model addresses not just financial sustainability but also a professional governance structure that would entail better accountability and holistic education. Acadonomics of the future will not only decide the fate of the academic sector in India but also its quality, ranking, research, innovation potential and its collective impact on our country’s economy.

2.Non-Personal Data committee

Source-The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Context – The government committee headed by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan has suggested that non-personal data generated in India need to be allowed to be harnessed by various domestic companies and entities.

Gopalakrishnan Committee –

  1. The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) on 13th September, 2019
  2. Purpose- Developing a governance framework for non-personal data and ensure wide sharing and availability of data in society.

Non personal data – Set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information. This means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data. The committee has classified non-professional data in to three main categories-

  1. Public non- professional data – It involves all the data collected by the government and its agencies during execution of all publicly funded works.
  2. Community non-personal data– It involves any data identifiers about a set of people who have either the same geographic location, religion, job, or other common social interests.
  3. Private non-personal data– It can be defined as those which are produced by individuals which can be derived from application of proprietary software or knowledge.

Issues involved-

  1. Favoring big tech companies– Only big tech companies possess the capital and infrastructure to create such large volumes of data.
  2. Data monopoly– Some companies with the largest data pools have ‘outsized, unbeatable techno-economic advantages’ owing to first mover’s advantage, network effects and enormous data volumes which have been collected over years. These act as entry barriers for startups and new companies.

Gopalakrishnan Committee key recommendations-

  1. Data availability– Treat data as infrastructure, or ‘commons’, so that data are widely available for all businesses.
  2. Community Ownership- Sharing of non-personal data, as it may be useful for Indian entrepreneurs to develop new and innovative services or products to benefit citizens.
  3. Reducing dependency– With a robust domestic data/AI industry, dependence on U.S. and Chinese companies will reduce.4
  4. Addressing monopoly– Separating the infrastructural elements of digital service provision from the business of digital service delivery.
  5. Separate national legislationand a separate authority to oversee non-personal data.

 Different roles in the NPD ecosystem-

  1. Data Principal- This is essentially the entity/individual to whom the collected data pertains.
  2. Data custodian-The entity that undertakes collection, storage and processing of data, keeping in mind best interest of the data principal.
  3. Data trustee- Data trusts are data infrastructures that will enable data sharing, sector-wise, or across sectors, and which can be run by various kinds of third-party bodies.

Way forward-

India is the first country to come up with a comprehensive framework in this area. It will set the stage for building a strong, and competitively diverse, domestic data/AI industry in India.

3.Pandemic and food security

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Health

Context: New ideas by working together, learning and contributing together are required to fight

Covid-19 and transform the agri-food system.

Food insecurity in Asia

  • The on-going pandemic has led to a slowdown of regional economic growth and threatened Asia’s food security.
  • The number of chronically-underfed people projected to rise by almost a third to 330 million by 2030 in southern Asia.
  • It is the only sub-region in the world where more than half the children from the poorest fifth of society are underdeveloped which affects their future.

Challenges faced by the continent

  • East Asia has the world’s highest absolute costs for a healthy diet that offers balanced nutrition.
  • Asia and the Pacific are regions where obesity and being overweight, among children and adults, is growing faster than anywhere else.
  • Thus, the two challenges being faced right now: COVID-19 and hunger, a thorn in our side the international community had pledged to eradicate by the end of this decade as per the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2.

Ways to increase resilience across our food systems

  • New channels: There is a need to identify new marketing channels (like e-commerce) and increase efficiency to reduce losses.
  • Improving quality:Improving the quality of products available and storage facilities, which are critical to flows of healthy foods and income to those who produce them.
  • Access to finance and innovations: Inclusive access to finance to strengthen and expand rural supply chains is also crucial. Small land holders need access to financial resources, technology and innovation in order to ensure that the produced food reaches from farm to fork.
  • FAO’s initiative: The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has recently launched a new comprehensive COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme to provide an active and coordinated global response.
  • It is aimed at ensuring access to nutritious food for everyone by mobilising all forms of resources and partnerships at the country, regional and global level.

Benefits from new technology and science

  • Inclusive: Innovators from countries like Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore etc are proving that everyone can benefit from new technologies and science.
  • Some ideas and innovations are as follows:
  • Deploying of drones to monitor flood and pest risks.
  • Smartphone apps that can identify plant diseases.
  • Advanced genetics that build on crop and livestock breeding.
  • Precision agriculture and aquaculture systems that conserve natural resources such as water.
  • Indoor farming and consumer tools for nutrition monitoring and smart purchasing.

Way forward

  • Governments, academia, the private sector, UN agencies, civil society organisations, international financial institutions need to come together and work in unison to provide food to every mouths.
  • The FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, which will be virtually hosted by Bhutan, is the perfect opportunity for the 46 members and other partners to forge ways to accelerate action and influence resources.
  • By working together, learning and contributing together, we can overcome both pandemics and transform the agri-food system.

4. To Rebuild and Recover

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3: Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context: India needs to focus on rebuild and recover to achieve economic growth of 7-8 per cent.

Need to address some traditional sore points:

  • Pandemic impact: Indian economy is suffering due to the pandemic with declining growth and limited scope for a fiscal stimulus.
  • Demand-supply issue: India’s slowdown is largely a structural demand problem that cannot be addressed through piecemeal aid and transfers.
  • Contrast in GDP growth:
    • First phase- when growth was driven by domestic investment and global growth.
    • Second phase- the post-global financial crisis stimulus phase.
    • Third phase- the leveraged consumption phase. The economy is estimated to have lost around Rs 20-28 trillion due to a lockdown, with FY2021 growth likely to be around (-) 11.5 per cent.
  • Focus on demand side: Consumption led growth provides limited scope for a sharp recovery over the medium term without exogenous (and often unsustainable) triggers.
  • To prioritise long term growth: broaden the consumer base by empowering the low and middle-income consumers rather than pushing consumption itself.
  • To protect India’s labour market: If the pandemic results in a prolonged retrenchment of the workforce, it will deepen faultiness in labour market.
  • Uncertainty and savings: temporary incomes coupled with income uncertainty will induce precautionary savings without any impact on growth.
  • Poor social security: The PLFS 2018-19 report places around 24 per cent of the workforce in the regular wage/salary category. However, around 40 per cent do not have a written contract, paid leaves, or security while 70 per cent do not have any written contract. Since most of the workers are informal employee, consumption-led growth in the aftermath of a crisis become a substantial risk.

Steps that should be taken to reform, recovery and rebuild:

  • Increase public borrowing: since revenues have cratered, funding of additional expenditure should be done through higher borrowing. public spending should be directed towards sectors such as roads, railways, infrastructure, healthcare and educational facilities to help rebuild the economy
  • Set up a Development Financing Institution, and an asset monetisation programme.
  • Increase sustainable investment: debt should be seen in the context of future investments being hampered due to current consumption.
  • Streamline processes for quick approvals and ensure timely payments to private operators.
  • Fiscal prudence: India’s public debt/GDP will likely reach around 85 per cent and the consolidated gross fiscal deficit to GDP ratio could be around 12.5 per cent this year. These metrics will take quite a few years to revert to pre-COVID levels and rapid consolidation will adversely impact growth.
  • Any kind of “stimulus” should be well-targeted and have a large multiplier effect.
  • Creating steady and well-paid employment for the bottom and middle segments: to broaden its consumer base beyond the top 10-20 per cent of the population to improve long-term growth prospects.
  • Inclusive growth: focus on infrastructure and manufacturing as the PLFS 2018-19 report indicates that around 50 per cent of the rural non-agriculture workforce and 35 per cent of the urban workforce is engaged in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
  • Make manufacturing easier: the focus should be on labour reforms, fewer/quicker approvals, reducing the compliance burden, and promoting export-oriented sectors.

India needs to address traditional sore points such as the large infrastructure deficit, the weak financial sector, archaic land and labour laws, and the administrative and judicial hurdles to protect a decade of favourable demographics.

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