9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 21, 2021

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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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Short Term Targeted Approach to Achieve Net Zero Emissions Target

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Synopsis: India needs to follow a sector-wise Short term targeted approach with a focus on achieving short-term targets. Rather than admitting the long-term goal of achieving Net-Zero emissions target by 2050.

Background

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 °C report called for global carbon emissions to reach net-zero by 2050.
  • Presently, the target to achieve the net-zero target by 2050 is strongly put forward as the solution to achieve Paris climate targets.
  • The US will organize the ‘Leaders’ Climate Summit this week, consequently, India is under pressure to adopt a net-zero target by 2050.

Should India adopt net-zero target by 2050?

  • India is a climate-vulnerable country and therefore India must also contribute to limit global temperature rise.
  • However, India should factor in the history of global climate negotiations and its own developmental needs before announcing its contributions. For example,
    • India is still a very poor country with a significant development deficit. Further, India’s per-capita carbon emissions are less than half the world average.
  • Further, India should compel developed countries to reach net-zero before 2050. Since developed countries made use of a larger portion of the carbon space.

How India Could Contribute?

  • India needs to focus on Short term targeted approach of low-carbon development pathways that combine competitiveness, job-creation, distributional justice, and low pollution. This approach will be consistent with India moving towards net-zero emissions.
  • A pragmatic approach towards low carbon development in the Power sector is illustrated as an example below. A similar approach to other sectors can be adopted.

What changes the power sector requires?

  • De-carbonizing power sector will help India achieve its net-zero emissions. Since it is the single largest source (about 40%) of India’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Till now, India has focused only on expanding renewable electricity capacity. For instance, 175GW of renewable capacity by 2022 and 450GW of renewable capacity by 2030.
  • But India should also aim at limiting the expansion of coal-based electricity capacity. Coal accounts for roughly 75% of the electricity today.

How to bring about those changes?

  1. First, India needs to pledge that it will reach peak coal electricity capacity by 2030. It would be beneficial for India, since coal is increasingly uneconomic, and phasing it out will bring local gains, such as reduced air pollution, climate mitigation, etc.,
  2. Second, the creation of a multi-stakeholder Just Transition Commission representing all levels of government and the affected communities. This is necessary because the transition costs of a low-carbon future should not affect India’s poor.
  3. Third, address existing problems of the Power sector such as the poor finances and management of distribution companies.
  4. Fourth, India should aim to become a leader in technologies of the future such as electricity storage, smart grids through a partnership with the private sector.
  5. Fifth, India’s electricity transition should couple with job creation and global competitiveness.
  6. Sixth, Enhancing the efficiency of electricity use is important to decarbonize the electricity supply. For instance, Air conditioners, fans, and refrigerators together consume about 60% of the electricity in households. Increasing the efficiency of electric appliances will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also lower consumer electricity bills.

Way forward

  1. Such a sector-by-sector approach can be developed for other sectors to set India on the path toward net-zero emissions target.
  2. Going further, India may even consider committing to submit plausible pathways and timelines to achieving net-zero emissions target as part of its future pledges. It will give India adequate time to
      1. One, undertake detailed assessments of its development needs and low-carbon opportunities.
      2. Two, to assess the seriousness of the net-zero actions by developed countries,
      3. Three, to assess the potential geopolitical and geo-economic risks of over-dependence on certain countries for technologies or materials.
      4. Four,  to develop a strategic road map to enhance its own technology and manufacturing competence as part of the global clean energy supply chain.

Roadblocks to achieve universal vaccination

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis: India needs to develop a practical plan. Presently, it is facing many roadblocks to achieve universal vaccination for all.

Background

  • Initially, India decided to prioritize vaccination for the most vulnerable citizens (nearly 300 million).
  • The main reason for that was the limitations of India’s manufacturing capacity to provide for vaccination of its whole population.
  • Thus, only about 5% of the intended beneficiaries have been vaccinated till now.
  • However, a combination of panic, public pressure, and the magnitude of the second wave has forced the government to authorize vaccines to anyone above 18.
  • Further, the state government’s control over procurement has been liberalized.
  • But achieving the goal of universal vaccination for all is still a distant dream due to a lack of planning and preparedness.

What are the roadblocks to achieve universal vaccination for all?

  • First, lack of foresight has led to shortages in the supply chain. India unlike other countries did not foresee a devastating second wave. Hence, India did not make purchase agreements with other vaccine manufacturers. India also applied different standards, while waiving critical trials for Covaxin, it applied stringent requirements for foreign companies.
  • Second, liberalizing states to procure vaccines will not help. This is because of two reasons,
      • One, already international vaccinators such as Pfizer and Moderna have supply commitments to other countries.
      • Two, States in India are weak in finances and negotiating power.
  • Third, with the resurfacing of lockdown due to second-wave, the administration of logistics will be challenging.

India could have avoided this situation with effective foresight and planning. Now, India should work with Pragmatism and preparedness to achieve the goal of universal vaccination for all as soon as possible.


A Lost Opportunity to Reform the Educational System

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to education.

Synopsis- Pandemic provided a vital opportunity to initiate sustainable reforms in the education system in India. But bureaucrats and administrators failed to take advantage of it.

Introduction-

  • The pandemic offered an opportunity for bureaucrats and administrators to re-examine the educational system, but nothing has changed.
  • As a result of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, students in schools and higher education institutions have once again been affected, as they were last year.
  • Instead of assisting institutions, faculty, and students in overcoming uncertainty, administrators focused on excessive bureaucratic centralization.

The phenomenon exposed the administrative inadequacies of the past year.

Why it is a lost opportunity for bureaucrats and administrators?

The pandemic provided the bureaucrats and administrators an opportunity to initiate sustainable reforms in the educational system in the following ways-

  • Collaborate with teachers to discuss their concerns –
  • Could consider promoting better student-teacher relationships.
  • The exam system could have been reformed. They could create a better system for determining the qualifying grade for students to progress to the next level of study.

However, administrators lost this opportunity because-

  • Rigid emphasis on rote learning.
  • Failure to acknowledge that test results are not the only indicators of a student’s skills.
  • Unwillingness to collaborate with teachers.
  • They ignored plans to evaluate the mental health of teachers, non-teaching staff, and students.

What needs to be done?

Decision-makers need to learn from previous mistakes and take the following steps to find a sustainable solution.

  1. Bureaucratic administrators should consult with Academic stakeholders before any decisions.
  2. Institutions need to reconsider their approach
    • Schools and higher educational institutes need to find alternative forms of assessment for promoting students.
    • Need to come up with new ways to assess the teaching and learning process.
    • Make academic evaluation more rigorous and sustainable encouraging students to write creatively. The concept of open-book exams must be considered.
  3. The bureaucracy must acknowledge that ‘one order fits all’ approach to improving educational system is not feasible.

Way forward-

Administrators need to concentrate on assisting institutions, faculty, and students in overcoming uncertainty. Thus, they should decentralize decision-making.

  • It is important to avoid responses such as canceling and/or postponing exams and remaining fixated with the completion of the academic term.

Need of Granting Interim Bail to Pregnant Women Undertrials

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS:2  Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Synopsis: Even though Pregnant women and children cannot get the Covid-19 vaccination,  they continue to remain in prisons. The court has to provide interim bail to women, children and other vulnerable sections in prison.

Introduction:

Long pending prison reforms, overcrowded prisons made the situation of prisoners in India, very cruel. The state of women’s prisons is much worse than male prisons. But so far the courts do not consider this condition in granting bail to the persons.

Status of women prisoners:

  • So far, bail jurisprudence does not empathize with women and children, or the elderly.
  • Similarly, the courts do not consider Custodial rape, pregnancy, or childbirth and degrading treatment of women prisoners as cruel, inhumane.
  • While granting bail the court does not consider the rights of children of imprisoned parents.

The recent case:

  • In State v. Suman Kumari case, Delhi High Court made a departure from bail jurisprudence. The court regarded the Rights of children of an imprisoned parent and provided bail to a woman.
  • This was a case of dowry murder allegation. In this case, the court mentioned that the imprisoned woman (accused sister-in-law of the dead victim) was also the mother of a 21-month infant. From December 9, 2020, the mother was in prison.

The reasons stated by the court for granting bail:

The court granted bail by mentioning that the Imprisonment of mothers amounts to the “de facto detention of their infant/toddler wards”. The court also observed,

  1. This is a serious violation of Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.
  2. Furthermore, the court also held this as a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. As under Section 3 of the JJ Act, the best interests of the child are considered paramount. Further, the Act suggests “institutionalization of the child as a step of last resort“.
  3. The court also points out that the child under “de facto detention” must not suffer worse custodial conditions than the children in conflict with the law.
  4. In this case, the court considered “empathy” as “the ground for bail”.

Impact of the Covid-19 in Prisons:

This order is more significant as the Covid-19 virus attacks increased in prison. The Covid-19 cases in prisons include,

  • In Tihar Jail, so far(up to April 17) 117 prisoners and 14 jail staff found infected with the Covid-19.
  • 55 prisoners and 4 jail staff infected with the Covid-19 from the Sabarmati Central jail.
  • In Maharastra, 198 prisoners get infected due to the Covid-19.

Disaster Management Act, 2005 on prisons:

At the beginning of the Covid-19, the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA) mentioned overcrowded prisons as hotspots of mass contagion. Further, as per the Act, the state government needs to take mandatory mitigation, rescue, or relief works.

Section 61 of the DMA mentions that the state must provide compensation and relief to the victims of a disaster. The Act also mentions the state shall not discriminate based on the ground of sex, caste, community, descent, or religion.

Earlier committees on women prisoners:

  1. In 2020 the NHRC recommended state governments for releasing women prisoners. Especially the pregnant women and mothers with children from prisons. But, most states did not fulfill the recommendations.
  2. Similarly, in 2020, the high-powered committee of the Delhi High Court did not release all pregnant women or mothers with infants. The high-powered committee mentions the type of offence, duration of sentence, nationality, etc as a condition to release women in prisons. The committee upheld the Prison rules above the DMA.

The high-powered committee failed to read the DMA along with the prison rules. If it read it together, then the most vulnerable population in Prisons such as women, children, and transgender prisoners might receive relief, mitigation, and compensation.

Suggestions to improve the condition of vulnerable prisoners:

  1. The court while hearing the case, shall consider the release of women, children, and trans-prisoners. Also, the court should provide support for their survival.
  2. The court should consider situations like Custodial rape, pregnancy, or childbirth and move towards Gender-Sensitive prisons. This is feasible by creating a system of imprisoning women, children, sexual minorities irrespective of their offense, nationality, or exceptional laws
  3. The Courts also need to strengthen the law’s legal journey for humanity instead of historical attachment to the custody of prisoners.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 21 Apr, 2021

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