9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 19, 2020

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GS 2

Child nutrition need attention

Sixth Schedule discriminates against the non-tribal

India and Bangladesh

GS 3

MSP for other crops

Climate mitigation

What is Solar Winds Hack?

Coal sector reforms to reduce CO2 emissions


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FACTLY


Child nutrition needs attention

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

Context: Worsening of child nutrition calls for immediate and decisive course correction.

More on news:

  • The first phase of NFHS-5, held during 2019-2020, covered 17 states and five Union territories.

What are the findings of the report?

  • Revelation from the survey: southern states have joined the league of poor performing states. Stunting has risen in Kerala and Telangana, followed by just a minor decline in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
    • Also worth mentioning is the persistence of a huge rural-urban disparity in stunting in many states, notably in Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Sikkim.
  • A comparison with the results of CNNS: The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey held in 2016-18, reveals that 10 out of these 11 states had either a negative or subpar performance in stunting.
    • The worsening of child stunting in these states, thus, appears to be a rather sustained phenomenon.
  • Similar pattern appears in the underweight category: Eleven states registered an increase in this metric. Stunting has gone up in 10 out of 11 states where the number of underweight children surged.
    • At least one aspect of child undernutrition has gone up in 14 out of 17 states. Additionally, both stunting and underweight increased in eight states, whereas stunting and wasting increased in six states.

What are the shortcomings of the report?

  • Conflicting data: A definitive diagnosis demands a detailed, careful scrutiny of data, as a cursory look at some of the associated factors reveals a conflicting picture.
    • For instance, access to sanitation and safe drinking water has improved significantly in states where stunting has increased.
  • No clarity on factors: NFHS-5 was carried out in these states at a time when India’s economy was decelerating steadily, followed by reports of rising joblessness and food insecurity.
    • The survey, thus won’t be able to clearly inform how and to what extent these factors have contributed to the worsening of child undernutrition.

Way forward

  • This calls for immediate and decisive course correction, including a critical assessment of the reach and efficacy of the existing nutrition centric programmes.
  • A complacent approach that assumes that all necessary measures, including the Poshan Abhiyan, are in place and the reversal in progress is only momentary will be a sure way to inflict a debilitating, irreversible impact on children’s nutrition and their well-being.

Sixth Schedule discriminates against the non-tribal

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Context – The Sixth Schedule was incorporated to protect the rights of the minority tribals living within a larger state dominated by the majority.

More in news

  • Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) an influential students’ body in Meghalaya has put up banners labelling all Bengalis in the state as Bangladeshis.
  • It is also spearheading an agitation for an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to regulate outsiders coming into the state.

What is Inner Line Permit? 

  • The Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that allows Indian citizens to stay in an area under the ILP system. The document is currently required by visitors to Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • The ILP is issued by the concerned state government .The permits issued are mostly of different kinds, provided separately for tourists, tenants and for other purposes.

What is the Sixth Schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of the tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • The ADCs are like miniature states having specific powers and responsibilities in respect of all the three arms of government: legislature, executive and judiciary.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganize boundaries of the tribal areas.

How Sixth Schedule discriminates against the non-tribal resident?

The Sixth Schedule, has faced opposition as it infringes upon the rights of non-tribals and discriminates against them in various ways-

Violating many of the fundamental rights granted to citizens under the Constitution like-

  • The right to equality before law (Article 14).
  • Right against discrimination on the grounds of caste, race, sex, place of birth or religion (Article 15).
  • Right to equality of opportunity in public appointment (Article 16).
  • Right to settle anywhere in India (Article 19).

What were the impacts of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution on non-tribal people of Meghalaya?

  1. Forces migration– the KSU have driven many non-tribals out of the state,
  • The share of population of non-tribals dwindling from 20 per cent in 1972, when the state was carved out of Assam, to 14 per cent in 2011.
  1. Nearly no jobs for non-tribal population– The new State also promptly implemented near total reservation of jobs for its tribal population.
  2. Non-tribal people were barred from acquiring property in Meghalaya.
  3. The state’s abject failure to provide protection to the minority non-tribals or punish those responsible for violence against them.
  4. 90 per cent of the Assembly seats (55 out of 60 in Meghalaya) reserved for the tribals.

What is the way forward?

  • The Sixth Schedule undermines social harmony, stability and economic development of the state and the region.
  • Indeed, it is now the rights of minority non-tribals that need protection.

India and Bangladesh

Source: Indian Express

GS2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations

Context: Recent inauguration of an 11-km rail link between West Bengal and Bangladesh marks the slow but steady effort by Delhi and Dhaka to overcome the negative consequences of the Partition of the subcontinent.

How economic dissociation started in the Indian subcontinent?

  • The political Partition in 1947, which created Pakistan, did not immediately lead to economic dissociation.
  • After the 1965 war, dissociation begun when the borders between India and Pakistan closed down.
  • It made increasingly hard for the movement of goods and people.
  • The subcontinent turned inward in its economic orientation.
  • Countries in the region de-emphasized transborder connectivity.
  • Political difficulties in both capitals also prevented Delhi and Dhaka from restoring the lost connectivity, even after they recognized its economic importance.

How India-Bangladesh relations evolved amidst dissociation in the subcontinent?

  • Over the last decade, political ties between India and Bangladesh have improved due to systematic effort which helped in restoring the natural connectivity between West Bengal, Bangladesh and India’s Northeast.
  • The recent joint statement issued after Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina met virtually outlines a list of initiatives to deepen cooperation.
  • Bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement outlines a host of areas for cooperation, from strengthening river water transport to managing a transboundary elephant corridor and from trade liberalisation to the setting up of a CEO forum.
  • Both countries are also raising their ambitions for regional connectivity with Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar and Thailand.

What are the immediate concerns?

  • India has not demonstrated the same sensitivity to the tragedy of the post-Partition movement of people across borders.
  • There is political impact of people’s movement on ethnic and religious balances in the east.

What should India do?

  • India need to be careful in addressing the challenges posed by migration as India prepares to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Insensitivity towards illegal migration and migrants will derail ties between India and its most important regional partner, Bangladesh.
  • Avoid making migration a political issue during elections in West Bengal because it can threaten bilateral relations.

India should not let crude electoral calculations undermine the historic transformation underway in the eastern subcontinent.

MSP for other crops

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices; Public Distribution System.

Context: Need to extend MSP for other crops to promote crop diversification.

How India achieved self-sufficiency in food grain production mainly in wheat and rice?

  • Ship-to-mouth situation in India: In the early 1960s, near-famine conditions prevailed in India and some 10 million tonnes of wheat had to be imported from the US under the PL480 programme.
  • Green Revolution: With the efforts of M S Swaminathan seeds of high-yielding dwarf wheat varieties were procured from Norman Borlaug wheat-improvement programme and were distributed to the Indian Agricultural Research Institutes. These high yielding seeds ushered the era of Green revolution in India.
  • Self-sufficiency: With favourable government policies, efforts of agricultural scientists and due to the immense contributions of farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western UP, India achieved self-sufficiency in food grain production mainly in wheat and rice.

Why the farmers from “food bowl “region are against the new farm bills?

  • First, the Farmers of the “food-bowl” states have been selling food grains (mainly wheat and rice) at Minimum Support Price (MSP) since the mid-1960s.
  • This has helped the central government create a central pool of food grains and the Public Distribution System (PDS) to help the poor.
  • However, MSP has not been guaranteed in the newly enacted farm laws, which is the major bone of contention.
  • Second, the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) are under threat from the new farm laws. Many experts feel that MSP and APMC go hand-in-hand. This has created uncertainty in the minds of farmers about the continuation of MSP.
  • Third, though the new farm laws are meant to eliminate the “middlemen” (arhtiyas), farmers feel that a new class of middlemen, that is, lawyers belonging to big companies, will emerge leaving small farmers at a distinct disadvantage. (more than 80 per cent of farmers own less than five acres of land).
  • Fourth, according to the central government, the new laws will ensure contract farming. However, the farmers feel that the big companies might become monopolies, and exploit both farmers and consumers. Farmers fear being made into labourers.
  • Apart from these issues, the manner in which the bills are passed without consultation of stakeholders and lack of discussion in the parliament has provoked a reactionary response from farmers.

What is the way forward?

  • Guarantee MSP: A clause should be added in the law to the effect that no matter who buys the produce government or a private entity, the farmer must be given MSP.
  • Implementation of MS Swaminathan committee recommendation: The National Farmers’ Commission recommended to provide an MSP of 50 per cent over and above a farmer’s input expenses must be implemented.
  • Need for Special MSP:MSP should be determined on the basis of grain quality. For example, wheat varieties grown in the “food bowl” states contain 11 per cent protein compared to 7 per cent protein grown elsewhere.
  • Promote crop diversification: Government need to purchase crops produced other than wheat and rice at MSP. This could help conserve the underground water and soil fertility.
  • Encourage farmers to grow high-value crops: For this to happen the government should set up adequate cold-chain infrastructure so that perishable produce can be kept longer and sold at an appropriate time.
  • Discusssion, Deliberation, Debate:Including intellectuals like M S Swaminathan, Gurdev S Khush, Surinder K Vasal, and Rattan Lal in the “Agricultural Think Tank” and  they should be consulted by Niti Aayog

Climate mitigation

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3- Environment

Context: The fifth anniversary of the Paris accord provided the scope of a virtual global meeting.

What steps has India undertaken to mitigate climate change post Paris Agreement?

  • Renewable energy targets: Initially, India had set a target of 175 GW of installed renewables capacity by 2020 and a guarantee that by 2030, 40 per cent of its energy needs will come from renewables.
  • In 2018, at the Global Climate Action Summit: PM announced an ambitious plan to make India less dependent on coal and natural gas by aiming for 450-500 GW of installed capacity by 2030 through renewable energy.
    • The target was five times the amount of existing installed renewables capacity of 81 GW. Over the last six years, there has been a 72 per cent increase in installed renewables capacity.
  • Electrification of transportation: This seems to be the most promising sector as transportation systems around the country look set to go electric, including local transportation in big cities.
    • The Indian railways, too, is expected to go fully electric by 2024 with completion of electric lines by 2023, according to the ministry of railways.

What are the various problems?

  • The solar industry: The Central Energy Authority (CEA) published a report on “Under Construction Renewable Energy Projects” which listed 90 renewable projects amounting to 39.4 GW that were facing delays due to several reasons.
    • Out of these, 20 GW worth of projects are facing delays and have been granted extensions of five months due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdowns on global supply chains.
  • The market for rooftop solar: It was expected to grow to 40 GW by 2022 but has fallen flat with an installed capacity of only 6 GW. The primary reason is once again a poor regulatory environment.
  • Renewables have to compete with the coal industry: Despite significant gains in total installed capacity for renewable power in terms of actual power generation, coal still powers close to 72 per cent of India’s electricity requirement.
  • Financial distress: Another problem is the financial distress of the discoms, which prevents them from modernising plants, as the thermal industry is plagued by inefficient tariff setting, expensive PPAs and unsustainable cross-subsidies.
  • Carbon sequestration: It is mainly done through forest cover and other plant resources. The target of 33 per cent of forest cover remains to be achieved, as Indian forests currently stand at 21 per cent of total geographical area (TGA).
    • Forests are classified in three categories: “Very dense forests” represent 3 per cent of the TGA, whereas “moderately dense forests” and “open forests” represent 9 per cent each.
    • Commercial plantations and farms are sometimes classified as open forests conceals the true extent of the damage that forests are suffering.
  • Biodiversity loss: The Western Ghats has seen a significant loss in biodiversity with an expected third already lost due to human expansion in the region.
    • It is the Northeast that has witnessed the most damage in the past decade. Of the eight states in the region, only Assam and Tripura have not seen a decline in forest cover.

Way forward

  • The installation of smart solar meters with more expensive metering during peak hours, which could then incentivise the consumer and the discoms to actively push more affluent Indians to adopt rooftop solar.
  • India must plan a green recovery from the current COVID-19 crisis to ensure a just and sustainable growth for its population. Doing this will take an incredible amount of resources and political will.

What is Solar Winds Hack?

Source: Click Here

Syllabus: GS-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security

News: The ‘Solar Winds hack’, a cyberattack discovered in the United States, has emerged as one of the biggest ever targeted against the US government.In fact, it is likely a global cyberattack.

Facts:

  • SolarWinds Hack also called the Supply Chain attack is a cyberattack discovered in the United States.
  • Instead of directly attacking the federal government or a private organisation’s network, the hackers target a third-party vendor which supplies software to them.

Additional Facts:

  • Cyberattack: It is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.
  • Common types of cyber attacks
    • Malware: Malware (malicious software) refers to any kind of software that is designed to cause damage to a single computer, server or computer network.
    • Phishing: It is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email.The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine.
    • Zero-day exploit: A zero-day exploit hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time.
    • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks also known as eavesdropping attacks occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.

Coal sector reforms to reduce CO2 emissions

Source: Click Here

Syllabus: GS-3:  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

News: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has conducted a webinar titled “Reducing CO2 footprints of India’s coal-based power sector”.

Facts:

Coal Sector:

  • Coal Sector Emissions: India’s coal-based thermal power sector is one of the country’s biggest emitters of CO2.It emits 1.1 giga-tonne of CO2 every year; this is 2.5% of global GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions, one-third of India’s GHG emissions and around 50% of India’s fuel-related CO2 emissions.
  • Future of Coal Sector: Coal will continue to be the mainstay of India’s power generation till at least 2030.It will contribute around 50% of electricity generation mix even in 2030.

Measures to reduce emissions:

  • Improving fleet technology and efficiency, renovating and modernising: India has one of the youngest coal-based thermal plants in the world, with around 64% of the capacity (132 GW) less than a decade old.The government’s renovation and modernisation policies need to play a key role in maintaining the efficiency of this fleet.
  • Planning for the Old Capacity: In 2015, over 34 GW capacity in India was more than 25 years old, and 60% of it was highly inefficient. Increasing India’s renewable electricity generation can help further the cause to accelerate the retirement of old and inefficient plants.
  • Propagate biomass co-firing: It is a low-cost option for efficiently and cleanly converting biomass to electricity by adding biomass as a partial substitute fuel in high-efficiency coal boilers.
  • Invest in Carbon Capture and Storage(CCS): It is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere.
  • Promote Coal beneficiation: It is a process by which the quality of raw coal is improved by either reducing the extraneous matter that gets extracted along with the mined coal or reducing the associated ash or both.

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