9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 15, 2021

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.

About Factly- The Factly initiative covers all the daily news articles regarding Preliminary examination. This will be provided at the end of the 9 PM Brief.

Dear Aspirants,

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.
Happy Learning!

Read Previous 9 PM Brief

First Trade Minimum Price” (FTMP): A model to increase farmer’s income

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3: Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.

Synopsis: Industrial revolution 4.0, will reduce employment opportunity. The “First Trade Minimum Price” model can be used for increasing farmer’s income.

How Industrial Revolutions are changing employment dynamics?

  • The subsequent three Industrial revolutions reduced the dominance of the agriculture sector. They made the service and manufacturing sector dominant.
  • This forced the agrarian workforce to shift to secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.
  • The advent of the Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0 will make this situation more complex.
  • The use of new technologies in IR 4.0 will lead to job losses in the service and manufacturing sectors. New techs include Artificial Intelligence, robotics, cognitive analytics, 3D printing, genomics.
  • Thus, the industries employing a huge population from the agriculture sectors will have a reduced capacity for employment.

Present status of Agriculture sector 

  • According to the FAO, about 60 percent of the global population, directly or indirectly, is still dependent on agriculture.
  • However, its contribution to the world GDP is just about 4 percent. Whereas, the contribution of secondary and tertiary sectors to the economy is 90%.
  • In India, the contribution of the agriculture sector to GDP is 12-15 percent. Though it is higher than the world average, it is still much less, compared to the contribution from other sectors of the economy.
  • Centre and state governments are continuously trying to improve the economic status of the farmers. Yet, their efforts are unable to deliver a sustainable increase in their per capita income.

Thus, there is an urgent need to think about the way to avoid the possible employment crisis of the future. It involves increasing the productivity of the agriculture sector and farmer’s income.

What is the method to improve the farmer’s income?

The author suggests a new economic model for fixing farm prices. If this model gets employed then it will address the issue of the agrarian economy, and will also retain the population in the agriculture sector. Also, it will make agriculture more prosperous by bringing rural average household income closer to those engaged in manufacturing and services sectors.

  • The author proposes for “First Trade Minimum Price” (FTMP). According to this model, the local farming community will fix the prices of all the agricultural primary goods on a day-to-day basis or periodically.
  • Also, this will make it mandatory for the first trader to procure the commodity at a price, not below the price fixed by the above criterion.
  • He also suggests the use of robust digital technologies for the exercise of fixing prices.
  • This proposal is based on the present market-based pricing of services and products.  Here, the prices of products or services are determined and decided by the manufacturers or providers.
  • Similarly, the farming community also can decide the prices of their products. It will increase their per capita income. This will also help to retain the agriculture workforce in the farm sector thereby decreasing the unemployment rate.

Need of reforming the blocking powers of Government

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2 –  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.

Synopsis: The government’s use of is blocking powers under Section 69A of Information and Technology Act 2000 (I.T Act) attracted criticism. There is a need to reforms the blocking powers to ensure free speech in Indian democracy.


  • Twitter suspended some user accounts based on Emergency restriction orders issued by Government under Section 69A. Govt. issued this order in wake of violence in farmer’s protest on 26th January in Delhi. 
  • The apparent reason behind such an order was the use of a controversial hashtag #ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide. It could have disturbed the public order.
  • However, later on, Twitter reactivated some of the accounts that didn’t violate Indian law. It attracted a sharp reaction from the Indian Government. A non-compliance order against Twitter and its employees was issued for violating Section 69A.
  • At present, a temporary peace has been established, after a meeting between Twitter officials and the government. 

Government’s power to block online users:

  1. Section 69A of I.T Act 2000:
    • It empowers the government to order an intermediary for blocking access to any information in the digital world.
    • The grounds for exercising the power are; threat to national security, public order, sovereignty and integrity of the country etc.
    • A punishment up to 7 years can be imposed on intermediaries who don’t comply with the government’s blocking orders.
  2. Blocking Rules 2009:
    • It tells the procedure which needs to be followed for blocking online content. As per these rules, the orders are subject to review by government committees. Further all orders and complaints should remain strictly confidential.
  • Issues with Blocking Power:
    1. First, the government can issue restricting orders without any evidence. It undermines the Fundamental Right to free speech.
    2. Second, the confidentiality of orders makes it very difficult for users to challenge it in open courts. There is no requirement of giving any reason or hearing opportunity is a clear violation of due process. 
    3. Third, These rules make censorship an easy and costless option. It places the burden of going to court and gathering the evidence on the user. 
    4. Fourth, The framing of section 69A is in such a way that protection of online free speech mainly depends on the courage shown by intermediaries against government’s blocking orders.

Way Forward:

  1. Reforms should take place in compliance with prior judgments of SC. In the Shreya Singhal case, the court allowed challenges to blocking orders in high courts. In the Kashmir Internet ban case, the court said any order restricting access to the internet should be put in the public domain.
  2. The government should block access to information only when an affected party is given a fair hearing in courts. Direct blocking should be permissible only in emergency situations.
  3. Blocking orders must be put in the public domain along with proper reasoning. The power of government to limit the flow of information needs to be rationalized.

At present the extent of free speech depends upon the capacity of multinational social-media platforms to face governments. Twitter managed to stand up against a clear case of overreach. However, other companies may not show similar courage, especially in cases of borderline overreach thereby threatening free speech. Thus, the demand to ensure free speech must come from citizens themselves. 

‘Disengagement activities’ for reducing Sino-India tensions

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 –  India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Synopsis: India and China have simultaneously begun disengagement activities around the Pangong Tso region in eastern Ladakh. It is a laudable step for reducing tension between the two countries.


  • The two countries were undergoing severe tensions since May 2020. It is when the Chinese army entered 8 km inside Eastern Ladakh.
  • This Chinese encroachment along east of finger 8 along the LAC (Line of Actual Control) led to unprecedented clashes. The most severe was the Galwan valley clash that caused casualties at both ends.
  • Almost 10 months after the first clash, China agreed to enter into a conciliatory agreement.

About the agreement:

  • It calls for a systematic and coordinated withdrawal along the northern and southern banks of Pangong Tso region.
  • China has to pull back its troops at Siriraj, east of Finger 8 and dismantle infrastructure created after April 2020.
  • India has to return to its Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.
  • A temporary moratorium on patrolling activities has been imposed along the northern bank of Pangong Tso.

Reasons behind China’s altered stance:

  • First, good diplomacy was shown by the Indian government that didn’t surrender to Chinese demands.
  • Second, a strategic advantage was gained by Indian army at Kailash heights in the southern bank which enhanced its bargaining power. 
  • Third, China realized that a long stand-off will only hamper bilateral relations and would give little gain.
  • Fourth, the growing closeness of India-US and their greater engagement in the QUAD group, might have pressurized China to alter its stance.
    • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is an informal group of the US, Japan, India and Australia. The group aims to maintain a rules based order in the Indo-Pacific region.  

Way Forward:

  • The agreement must be implemented in letter and spirit to re-instill the lost trust between the countries.
  • The focus should be on doing robust verification and monitoring in order to ensure its effective implementation.
  • The success of this disengagement agreement will also open gates for negotiation on other friction points like Hot Springs and Depsang plains.

Issues in 15th Finance Commission Recommendation

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein

Synopsis: The recent 15th FC report recommendations have been criticised on the basis of two grounds. One, the recommendations will impact co-operative federalism. Two, the recommendations are not aligned with the changing federal structure in India.


  • Recently, the 15th Finance commission (FC) report has been tabled in the parliament. It’s following key recommendations have been accepted by the government.
    1. The Commission has recommended a total devolution of Rs 8,55,176 crore to the states, which is 41% of the divisible pool of taxes.
    2. It also recommended for revenue deficit grants of Rs 1.18 lakh crore to the states.
    3. Furthermore, it recommended a non-lapsable defence fund. The grants component of the states has been reduced by 1 per cent (from 42% to 41%). It will be used to set up special funds for defence.
  • The FC’s recommendation for the vertical devolution at 41% is pragmatic. However, some of its recommendations will have an implication on the co-operative federalism.

What are the issues in the 15th FC recommendations?

  • First, the 1% cut in the devolution is for special funding on defence. It means states are paying Rs 7,000 crore for defence and internal security. But, Defence and National Security are the centre’s responsibility as per the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. This use of funds from states to finance the Centre’s expenditure is against the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • Second, the issues in the horizontal distribution of funds. Successive finance commissions have used the criteria of need, equity for devolving 92.5 per cent of funds to a state. Whereas 15th FC has reduced this to 75%. And the remaining 25% will be based on efficiency and performance. This is the lowest weightage for equity, making the 15th FC transfers the least progressive.
  • Third, 15th FC recommendations do not depict the changed fiscal conditions. For example, after GST, the tax collection method has changed from a production-based tax system to a consumption-based tax system.
    • This structural change has a significant impact on the interstate distribution of tax.  It is not taken into account by the 15th FC report.
  • Fourth, the approach for distributing revenue deficit grants has not changed. The 15th FC could have recommended a minimum-guaranteed revenue of 14 per cent to every state.
    • This unchanged policy approach has resulted in an increase of statutory and non-statutory grants to almost 55 per cent of the total transfers. Whereas the aggregate transfers have dropped to 45 per cent. This makes the devolution process more discretionary.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 15, 2021

Print Friendly and PDF