9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 22, 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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Data Revolution and New Global Order

Source: Click Here 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

Synopsis:

The Digital Data Revolution will shape the new global order. It would give Asia a strategic advantage in the world. India must also be prepared to play a key role in the hyper-connected world.

Background:

  • There has been a shift of global power from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific in recent times.
  • This shift is marked by advancement in “Digital Data Revolution’ while the earlier order was created by the Industrial Revolution.
  • However, this data revolution has created some strategic implications.

Strategic Implications of the Data revolution:

  • Data has created a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship between military and civilian systems. Today cybersecurity has become national security. Thus, it demands a new military doctrine and a diplomatic framework.
  • Data has blurred the line between domestic and foreign policy and calls for establishing new global rules.
  • Further, a growth in smartphone-based e-commerce is generating massive amounts of data. It would give a sustained productivity advantage to Asia.
  • Data streams have acquired a central position in Global trade. Further, a country’s economic and national power is dependent on data. 

These factors allow India to negotiate new rules as an equal with the U.S. and China. The rules must be formulated keeping in mind the new dynamics. 

New Dynamics:

  • China
      • It has made use of data streams and emerged as the second-largest economy.
      • It also has a $ 53 trillion mobile payments market and acquires a global share of 50%.
      • Furthermore, It has formed a joint venture with SWIFT for cross-border payments. The country also suggested foundational principles for interoperability between central bank digital currencies at the Bank for International Settlement.
      • However, it is still highly dependent on semiconductors and unable to avoid US sanctions on banks, 5G, and cloud computing companies.
      • Thus, it is trying hard to overcome this weakness by
        • Distorting dollar-based trade through its e-yuan
        • Launching a $1.4 trillion science and technology strategy   
  • U.S:
      • The conventional deterrence capabilities of US have reduced. It now puts more focus on diplomacy than military power to resolve conflicts with China.
      • In the mobile payments market, only around 30% of consumers use digital means and the total volume of mobile payments is less than $100 billion. 
      • The country appears to be losing its dominant position to China in the global order.
  • India:
    • In the mobile payments’ sphere, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) volume is expected to cross $1 trillion by 2025.
    • The goal is to create a $5-trillion economy by 2025.
    • It faces a challenge of :
      • Balancing engagement with major powers and
      • Retaining its data for innovation and competitive advantage.

Factors showing India’s crucial position in shaping the new global order:

  • China is India’s largest trading partner despite recent border clashes. Also, both the countries are uncomfortable with:
    • Treating Western values as universal values
    • The U.S. interpretation of Freedom of Navigation rules in others’ territorial waters
  • The US wants to invest heavily in India and leverage the Indian markets, a strategy similar to China’s belt and initiative. Further India is seen as a reliable partner to curb Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • New Delhi’s Indo-Pacific vision is premised on ‘ASEAN centrality and the common pursuit of prosperity’.
  • The EU is also determined to enhance its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. This automatically induces the grouping to improve its relation with India.

Way Forward:

  • India is part of both U.S. and China-led strategic groupings which gives it a robust development potential.
  • Further, the country must be prepared to play a key role in moulding rules for the hyper-connected world. This would help it in realising its potential of becoming the 2nd largest economy.

Demands for Delinking of State and Religion

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Constitution – features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Synopsis:

Some religious groups in Tamil Nadu are demanding delinking of state from religious affairs. However, minimal state intervention to promote justice and equality is permitted by the constitution.

Background:

  • Amidst the electoral process, some Religious groups are demanding delinking of state and religion in Tamil Nadu.
  • They are opposing laws like Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Act 1959. The law allows the state to intervene in the affairs of Hindu public endowments.
    • Under this, the government can appoint a State Commissioner for general superintendence over all Hindu religious endowments.
    • The commissioner will further appoint executive officers to temples. They will ensure that the funds are being properly applied. 

Arguments by protestors in favour of delinking:

  • First, intervention by the state is against the secular and democratic credentials of India.
  • Second, intervention undermines their freedom of religion which is guaranteed by the constitution under Articles 25 and 26.
    • Article 25 gives the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion.
    • Article 26 protects group rights. It grants to every “religious denomination” the right: 
      • to establish institutions; 
      • to manage its own affairs in matters of religion; 
      • also, to own and acquire property; and 
      • administer that property in accordance with law
  • Third, there is an unequal degree of control amongst religions. They argue that a lenient attitude is shown towards other religions like Islam and Christianity.

Arguments against Delinking:

  • No credible successor: Apart from the state, no institution or group can curtail the evil practices surrounding a religion.
  • Strengthening Evil practices: Delinking might uphold the interest of dominant communities and strengthen the evil hierarchical division in society. 
    • For instance, the government of Madras formulated a law in 1927 to intervene in the management of religious establishments. As powerful castes and communities within the Hindu fold appropriated control over them.
  • Indian Concept of Secularism: The constituent assembly adopted a model based on the notion of principled distance and not complete isolation like the western model. It allows intervention for establishing a free and egalitarian society.
  • Constitutional Provisions: Articles 25 and 26 are subject to public order, health, and morality. This gives ample scope to the state to frame a law regulating any economic, financial, or other secular activity associated with religion.
    • Using this, the government of Madras enacted a Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act in 1951. It was later replaced by the 1959 Act.
  • Judicial Backing: The supreme court in Shirur Mutt Case (1954) case upheld the 1951 Act. The court said the act was in consonance with the state’s power under Articles 25 and 26.
  • Laws for other religions: There are laws for other religions as well. The amount of intervention depends on the gravity of the situation.
    • For instance, the Waqf Act 1995 gives the government substantial supervisory control over the management of properties dedicated for religious purposes under Muslim law.

Way Forward:

  • Complete state isolation is not possible as per the constitutional directives. Although the deficiencies in HR&CE law must be re-examined on its merits.
  • People should constantly demand transparency and hold the state responsible to the administrative standards prescribed under the law.

Need to Prioritise Vaccination for Migrant workers

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Synopsis: The migrant workers contribute significantly to the economy, however, they are also more vulnerable to the Covid crisis. Hence, the government needs to prioritize Vaccination for the migrant population.

Background

  • COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the nation and nearly 105 million Indians have been vaccinated so far.
  • Priorities for vaccination in India are based on occupation, age and health conditions.
  • But the migrant community with no specific definitions based on any criteria, are not on the priority list for vaccination

Why Migrant population needs to be added in the priority list for vaccination?

First, the Migrant Population is more vulnerable to the Covid crisis than any other community. For instance,

    1. One, Covid crisis has severely impacted their livelihood opportunities. During lockdown, millions of migrant workers lost their jobs, forcing them and their families to poverty.
    2. Two, owing to their informal employment, they lack access to adequate healthcare, nutrition, housing as well as sanitation facilities.
    3. Three, the COVID-19 crisis displaced nearly 200 million migrants.it was the second-largest population displacement since Partition

Second, despite their informal nature they contribute significantly to the Indian economy. For instance,

      • Out of 90 percent of work in the informal sector, 75 percent of work comes from migrants. Further, vulnerable circular migrants manage most of the essential services.

Third, lack of access to vaccination will deprive them of employment opportunities. This will result in a drop in developmental indicators such as the health and education of migrant families. The migrant community needs an adequate support system to survive this Pandemic.

Fourth, further, failure to prioritize their vaccination will result in an economic crisis such as Low productivity, increasing unemployment, and breakdown of the critical informal services.

Welfare measures for the migrant population

To ensure food security, the government announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore spending plan for the poor through cash transfers and other measures.

    • One, the average daily wages under the MGNREGA were increased to Rs 202 from the earlier Rs 182.
    • Two, free food grains for 80 million migrant workers through PDS were also announced.
    • Three, the government-operated separate buses for the stranded migrants.
    • Four, the Centre issued an order instructing landlords not to demand rent and employers to pay wages without deduction during the lockdown period. (the order regarding payment of wages was later withdrawn)

Issues in welfare measure for migrants 

Despite these efforts, the welfare measures have not been able to effectively address the problems of the migrant population.

  • One, migrants were unable to benefit from the food security schemes. Because ration cards were area-specific and some fair-price stores were inaccessible during the lockdown. Further, lack of awareness about One Nation, One Ration Card schemes denied them access to free food grains.
  • Two, the Supreme Court denied a plea requiring payment of the minimum wage to the migrant population. It stated that labourers had already been supplied with free food at the relief camps.

Police Reforms Needed to Ensure Political Neutrality

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.

Synopsis: There is a need to ensure a right balance between the government’s role in appointing or removing the police chief and the need to safeguard the Police’s operational autonomy.

 Background

  • Recently, the State government removed Param Bir Singh (Mumbai Police Commissioner) from his post.
  • It brings back the focus on the long-overdue reforms require, in the process of appointing and removing police chiefs.

History of recommendations for police reforms

  • In 1979, National Police Commission (NPC), suggested for an independent body for the appointment and removal of police chiefs. The rationale was to avoid Political intervention and to maintain independence of the police.
  • Further, the Supreme Court (SC) of India in its judgment, in Prakash Singh Case (2006) reaffirmed the NPC suggestions.
  • Further, the Supreme court entrusted the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to shortlist candidates. After that, the State government can appoint the police chief from this list.
  • However, the Model Police Bill, 2015 placed the responsibility of shortlisting candidates on the State Security Commission (SSCs).
    • SSC is a multiparty State Police Board. It consists of government officials, the Leader of the Opposition, independent members from civil society.

What reforms are needed?

First, need to ensure bipartisanship in the appointment of police chiefs. For that, the constitution of the State Security Commission (SSCs) is needed. For instance,

  • Around 26 States and the Union Territories have established SSCs. However, not a single state adheres to the balanced composition suggested by the SC. Some states do not include the Leader of the Opposition, others do not include independent members.
  • Also, in as many as 23 States the governments retain the sole discretion of appointing the police chief.
  • Further, there are concerns over concern over non-functioning SSCs. For example, according to RTI information, only four SSCs have held meetings since 2014.
  • As a result, the commissions still remain dominated by the political executive.

Second, institutionalise an independent and transparent selection process for appointment and removal of police chief based on objective criteria. For instance,

  • The Model Police Act require the SSC to shortlist candidates on some requirements. It includes the length of service, service record, and range of experience, and a performance appraisal of the candidates over the past 10 years.
  • However, the criteria’s used are more subjective rather than objective. For example, what qualifies as a “good” range of experience?
  • Further, there is no scrutiny process to justify removals from tenure posts.
  • This allows for the use of Subjective terms such as “on administrative grounds” or “in the public interest” to justify the removal.
  • This is against the Supreme Court ruling in Senkumar vs Union of India case, 2017.
  • The SC ruled that satisfaction of the government” alone is not a sufficient ground to justify removal from a tenure post in government. Rather, it needs to be based on verifiable material that can be objectively tested.

What needs to be done?

  • First, objective benchmarks need to be integrated into decision-making processes, both on appointments and removals. It will prevent politically motivated actions.
  • Second, learning from UK’s example to improve transparency of the review process. UK’s ‘The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act, 2011’, introduced public confirmation hearings as an additional layer of check for the appointment of police chiefs.
  • This provides the police chief an opportunity to respond to the allegations leading to their removal.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 22 Apr, 2021

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