9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 30, 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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We know for a fact that learning without evaluation is a wasted effort. Therefore, we request you to please go through both our initiatives i.e 9PM Briefs and Factly, then evaluate yourself through the 10PM Current Affairs Quiz.

We plan to integrate all our free daily initiatives to comprehensively support your success journey.
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At Leaders Climate Summit, Countries Adopted Net Zero Targets

Source: DTE

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Synopsis:

At the Leaders Climate summit, the countries including U.S, U.K, Japan, etc. have adopted revamped Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) (under the Paris agreement). This is a step in the right direction, but a higher commitment is desired to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees celsius.

Background:

  • The two-day Leaders Climate Summit was hosted by the US virtually.
  • It was attended by leaders of more than 40 countries amongst whom many have resorted to new NDCs targets and climate commitments.

New Targets and Commitments as part of NDCs:

  • US:  It has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
    • The country aspires to attain net zero emissions status before 2050. Also, it committed to double its annual public climate finance to developing countries by 2024. 
  • Japan: It has pledged to reduce emissions by 46 per cent from 2013 levels by 2030.
  • Canada: It has pledged to cut emissions by 40-45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • EU: It has shown a commitment to reduce emissions by 55 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.
  • U.K: It has shown a commitment to reduce emissions by 78 per cent from 1990 levels by 2035.
  • India: It didn’t announce any updated NDC. However, India reached a consensus with the US over a new India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. 
    • It aims to mobilize investments in clean technologies for industry, transportation, power, and buildings.

Analysing the new targets of Leaders Climate Summit:

  • The new 50-52% reduction target of the U.S is 12 percent higher than its previous commitment. As its previous NDC worked out to a 38 percent reduction by 2030.
  • Similarly, the targets of Japan, EU, U.K, and Canada are greater than their previous emission targets.
  • U.K’s commitments and targets are the most ambitious amongst all the countries.
  • Although the U.S has increased the commitment, it falls short of a 1.5˚C-compatible 2030 target as per the Climate Action Tracker (CAT). The commitment is even short of a  Fair Shares NDC estimate.
    • The fair share of the US is 70 percent domestic emissions’ reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 and a further 125 percent reduction abroad through support to developing countries.

Way Ahead:

  • The summit has put climate back on the agenda and forced leaders of major economies to confront the scale of the task ahead.
  • The U.S should adopt a  57-63 % domestic target to be 1.5˚C compatible by 2030 as per CAT. 
  • Further, the U.S must adhere to the recommendations of  Fair Share NDC analysis. It recommends: 
    • A climate finance contribution of $800 billion between 2021-2030
    • Use of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of $3 trillion to help developing countries

Rising fiscal deficit and Expenditure Need during Pandemic

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development

Synopsis:

The pandemic time demands enhanced government expenditure to support the vulnerable masses and ensuring their survival. Considering this, the government should enhance the spending on physical and human capital formation without worrying about a rising fiscal deficit.

Background:

  • The International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook report had raised the growth forecast for Indian economy. The report expected growth of 11.5 – 12.5% in the financial year 2021-22.
  • However, the country is now witnessing a second wave of Covid 19 that demands greater government support for the vulnerable masses. 
  • Many experts believe that a deviation from fiscal targets and reduced growth rate is justified under the extraordinary time of Pandemic.

About Fiscal Deficit:

  • A fiscal deficit (FD) situation occurs when the government’s expenditure exceeds its income. It is the difference between the total expenditure of the government and its total revenue (excluding borrowings).
  • It is estimated to moderate from 9.5 percent of GDP in FY21 to 6.8 percent of GDP in FY22. The estimation is based on an increase in revenue receipts by 15% and an increase in fiscal spending by 1% in the current fiscal year.

Rationale for raising government expenditure and deviating from FD target:

  • Rising Unemployment: The second wave has resulted in imposition of lockdowns and curfews across multiple states. This has suspended economic activities leading to greater job losses.
    • In the previous lockdown of 2020, the unemployment rate increased by nearly 14.8 percentage points, rising to 23.5 per cent in Apr 2020.  
  • Accomodative Monetary Policy: The policy is already accommodative and may not have enough room to further boost the economy. 
    • RBI reduced the repo rate by 115 basis points since 2020. The inflation level is rising in the economy which may deter it to reduce further interest rate.
    • Nonetheless, the RBI may raise interest rates if inflation levels breach the 6% upper band threshold.
  • Providing a Safety Cushion: Extraordinary times demand greater support from the welfare state for its citizens. Further, stringent measures (like Lockdown) have made social security schemes (like MGNREGA) ineffective.
  • Supporting the Health system: The pandemic has exposed the lacunae of our health system. Significant fiscal support is needed to provide free vaccinations to all. 
    • This is highly desired as the benefits of faster and wider vaccine coverage enormously outweighs its monetary cost.
  • Global Scenario: Other countries are also providing significant fiscal stimulus to revive their economic growth as seen in the case of the U.S. 
    • The country has adopted an easy monetary policy combined with a huge fiscal stimulus to catalyze its economic growth to pre-pandemic levels.

Way Forward:

  • The central government should:
    • Enhance the limit of promised food grains under the National Food Security Act. The government recently promised an additional five kg of grain to the 800 million beneficiaries under the Act.
    • Consider transferring cash to the bank accounts of the poor
    • Reduce non-essential government expenditures and use them for COVID-related expenditure
  • Further, it may raise additional funds through borrowings from the market. This may worsen FD in the short run but would generate additional growth that may make debt consolidation easier when things normalise.

How to Prevent 3rd Wave of Covid-19?

Source: The Hindu

GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Synopsis: Mass vaccination will be the best solution to contain Covid19. However, to prevent the 3rd wave of Covid19, measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene need to adhere.

Background

  • International experience from other countries such as the UK, South Africa, United States already indicated to us about the possibility of recurrence of Second-wave in India.
  • However, preparedness to tackle the second wave was largely ignored.
  • And there is a high possibility of a third wave once the second wave recedes if active measures are not taken to control the spread.
  • Hence, India needs to plan effectively to contain the possibility of a 3rd wave.

How the possibility of a third wave can be Prevented?

  • Mass vaccination is the right option. It will help achieve herd immunity and will bring the Pandemic under control.
  • However, vaccinating the entire population will take a considerable amount of time due to the following challenges:
      • Slow pace of vaccination,
      • Inelastic vaccine supplies
      • limited finances with State governments
  • So, along with mass vaccination drive, India needs to follow other methods such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, ban on mass gatherings to reduce community transmission. For instance,
    • According to a study on Beijing households, face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission when they were used by all household members.
    • Similarly, according to the National Academy of Sciences, near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks in combination with complementary public health measures could reduce community spread.

How to persuade people to wear masks?

  • An experimental study in Bangladesh provides an understanding of how to persuade people to wear masks voluntarily.
  • According to the study by Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, the following interventions helped to increase the percentage of people using masks three-fold.
      • Providing Free masks along with well-designed instructional material.
      • Improvements in mask Quality. Masks should be comfortable to wear in hot and humid conditions, along with effective filters.
      • Reminders from religious and community leaders and volunteers.

How India can replicate this model to Nudge Mask wearing?

  • First, need to allocate budgetary resource for the cost of supplying free reusable masks.
  • Second, imaginative and creative communication campaigns are needed to explain the reasons for mask wearing as well as the right way to wear a mask.
  • Third, community-level leaders, networks of health workers at the village and community levels should be involved in health campaigns.

If the country is to reduce the impact of future waves, it is essential that the above measures are put in place.


A Case for State repression on Civil societies

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations.

Synopsis: Telangana government’s decision to ban 16 civil organisations is an act of state repression on citizens demanding state accountability.

Background

  • Recently, The Government of Telangana banned 16 organisations under the Telangana Public Security Act, 1992 (TPSA).
  • These 16 organizations include workers’ organisation, women’s groups, students’ groups, Adivasi association groups, and civil liberties groups.
  • They were declared as ‘unlawful associations’ and ‘new front organisations linked to Communist Party of India (Maoist) and urban guerillas.
  • The timing of this notification indicates that the government wants to scare people demanding governmental accountability.

What led to the ban on these organisations?

  1. The activists were involved in highlighting various issues against the State and Central Governments through meetings and rallies.
  2. Besides, they were also demanding the release of leaders who were arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, and ‘repealing of UAPA Act, Farm Laws, CAA/NRC’.
  3. However, the state labeled the following charges against the activists to invoke a ban on these organizations, under Telangana Public Security Act, 1992.
    1. One, activists are invading urban areas by adopting various guerilla tactics to wage war against the state.
    2. Two, they were interfering with the public administration or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community. It amounts to a  danger to public peace.

Why the ban on these organisations is viewed as a misuse of the Telangana Public Security Act, 1992?

  • First, protesting against the UAPA or seeking its repeal cannot in itself be interpreted as an unlawful activity. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, is widely challenged in many courts due to its infringement on the fundamental rights of the citizens.
  • Second, Since the investigations are ongoing, supporting the release of Bhima Koregaon accused cannot be framed as a crime under the TPSA.
  • Third, protesting against CAA and farm laws also cannot be dubbed as an unlawful activity.
      • Because the state government itself has not taken a definite stand on the issue of Farm laws.
      • More interestingly, the State Legislature had itself passed a resolution against the CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the National Population Register.
      • The resolution stated that the CAA violated the constitutional guarantees of equality, non-discrimination, and secularism. Further, it will endanger the lives of vulnerable groups who do not possess adequate documentary proof of citizenship.

Way forward

  • Telangana state performance to control the Pandemic has been so far very poor. Even the Telangana high court has criticised the state’s response to control the Pandemic as disappointing and failure in governance.
  • Hence, the government should strive towards fulfilling its constitutional obligations under Part IV of the Constitution by effectively managing the public health crisis.

Exploring Alternatives for Assessing Student Learning

Source- The Hindu

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

Synopsis- There is a need to explore alternatives for assessing student learning instead of holding or postponing board exams in this unprecedented situation.

Introduction-

  • The pandemic provides an opportunity to reconsider educational assessments and evaluations.
  • However, the government is considering Postponing or Holding in person board exams.
  • Instead, alternative forms of assessment must be found for promoting students. It’s time to come up with new approaches to evaluate student learning.

Challenges related to upcoming board exams-

  • First, Students’ future will be harmed if board exams are postponed- Postponing board exams will further disturb the schedule for further courses which include admissions to higher educational institutions.
  • Second, Student safety- Student gathering during offline board exams is also not a viable option due to rising COVID-19 cases.
  • Third, The possibility of cheating during online examinations – Online exams are not reliable as most of the students have cheated in exams.

What are proposed approaches to assessing student learning?

  • Make academic evaluation more rigorous and sustainable
  • Encouraging students to write creatively- The question paper should be structured in such a way that students critically engaged with the subject and assess their analytical ability to solve questions based on their previous experience and knowledge from the book.
  • Formative assessments throughout the year- Teachers could assess students’ progress through the year. This will make an evaluation and learning much more holistic.
  • Inviting higher educational institutions to facilitate online entrance exams.
  • Instead of rote learning, more pragmatic-based learning can be pursued- The mentality that academic achievement is the primary reflection of student progress must be changed and student development must be redefined in terms of social, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Way forward-

To avoid students being stuck in the present model of cramming, rote learning, and fear, it is time to re-evaluate student learning methods. To do this –

  • The government needs to give complete autonomy to educational committees so that they can enforce this reform.
  • Improving the standard of educational assessments and evaluations by including higher educational institutions. This can also deter a mass migration to foreign universities.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 30 Apr, 2021

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