9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 5, 2021

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Lessons from the past for the future of Myanmar

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora

Synopsis: The international community needs to plan according to the ground realities of Myanmar before making any effort to restore Democracy.


  • Following the recent military coup in Myanmar, many countries have voiced their concern to restore the Democracy in Myanmar.
  • However, it is important to understand the present situation from experiences. It will save the efforts of the international community to restore democracy, from failing.

What are the Lessons from past Military coups of Myanmar?

First, the Myanmar military lacks any apathy towards its civilians. It is evident from past examples. For instance, during the 2008, Cyclone Nargis disaster, it refused to allow foreign aid from other countries to support relief works.

    • Moreover, instead of Prioritizing the Disaster relief work, it announced a pre-scheduled referendum on the military-scripted constitution to make use of the situation.

Second, imposing Economic sanctions against Myanmar will not bring any major political change.  It will do more harm to Myanmar’s Poor people. For example, during the western sanctions before 2010, the military was able to economically withstand sanctions by striking deals with Asian countries.

Third, the Military has been emboldened by the absence of punishment for crimes against humanity. For example, ex-Myanmar military general Than Shwe was able to escape without punishment.  He was on the watch list of the international community for perpetuating a crime of human rights abuses during his rule from 1992 to 2011. Brutality against Rohingyas is also an example.

Fourth, Myanmar’s military will try to exploit the ethnic and religious divide among its citizen. So, engagement of the international community with domestic stakeholders, including ethnic minorities, especially from the north is highly critical.


  • The international community has to make use of China’s multi-layered influence on Myanmar. China has been working on Myanmar-related issues since 2013.
  • Before 2015, many mechanisms were planned by Western and Asian countries for coordinating strategies on Myanmar. These initiatives were discontinued after the restoration of democracy in Myanmar. International communities need to revive and bring this mechanism under a common platform.
  • International communities should make efforts to punish those individuals responsible for committing crimes against humanity.

Twitter might face penal action under IT Act

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity; money-laundering and its prevention

Synopsis- Twitter unilaterally restored accounts despite government order for blocking.


  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT ordered Twitter to block more than 250 tweets/Twitter accounts. The order was issued for making fake, intimidating, and provocative tweets.
  • The development came in the wake of violence in Delhi on January 26 during a tractor parade of farmers, protesting against the three farm bills.
  • Accounts included were linked to an influential magazine, members of an opposition party, and the protest movement such as Kisan Ekta Morcha.
  • Many accounts were blocked after the order. However, the majority of them have been restored.

Under which Act Twitter was ordered to withhold the accounts?

Section 69(A) of the IT Act 2000 empowers the government to order an intermediary to block online content. The grounds for such order include sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense.

It is the same section, under which Chinese Apps have been banned in India. The content attached to the said hashtag had been found to be directly falling under Section 69A of the IT Act. Twitter may face penal action for not complying with directions issued.

This section has been criticized for the secrecy of its process. However, in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India (2015) SC upheld the validity of this section.

Way forward

The government’s stand on farmer’s protest is debatable. However, the inflammatory content and Incitement to genocide cannot be interpreted as freedom of speech as it is a threat to law and order.

This situation may lead to a face-off between the tech giant and the government.

U.S foreign policy: The road ahead

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora

Synopsis: Evaluation and analysis on Impact of Mr. Biden’s foreign policy on various regional blocs.


  • President Biden is an idealistic, supporter of multilateralism and is deeply committed to democratic values and principles.
  • He is taking a series of policy decisions to restore the prestige of America’s democracy.
  • However, President Biden needs to plan a lot more as the global environment today is very different from the erstwhile Obama-era.
  • He needs to give a fresh look at many contentious foreign policy issues.

What are the contentious foreign policy issues under Biden administration?

Relations with China:

  • Rising China poses a diplomatic, economic and technological threat to the U.S. Hence old school strategies such as inclusive security architecture in Asia would not be productive.
  • Also, given the current situation, few countries in Asia are willing to oppose China. In this context, Biden administration needs to rethink whether the U.S. should persist with confrontation or attempt conciliation.

Relations with Russia:

  • Strategic ties between Russia and China is growing. It has widened the gap between the two countries (the U.S. and Russia).
  • Further, considering the Russia’s growing interest in Eurasia, the U.S. need to come up with new policy directives to balance their interests.

Relations with Europe:

  • Europe was once a close ally of U.S. but not anymore. They have started pursuing their Strategic autonomy. Germany has risen as Europe’s new Power centre. It dictates Europe’s relations with countries such as China and Russia. For example, Germany, despite U.S objection wants to go ahead with Nord Stream 2, the Russia-led gas pipeline project.
  • The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, despite the U.S.’s objections, is another indication of Europe’s new independent thinking.
  • Hence it would be a tough task of repairing America’s ties with Europe.

Relations with West Asia:

The U.S under Mr. Biden administration has to tackle variety of problems while dealing with West Asia. Such as,

  • The U.S.’s efforts to find a political settlement to end the civil wars in Syria and Yemen.
  • Dealing with Saudi Arabia that is on a Biden ‘watch-list’, adds to the complexity of dealing with West Asia.
  • Another larger problem is finding a solution to deal with the Iran nuclear problem.
      • The ‘Abraham Accord’ between US, UAE and Israel, signed during the last days of the Trump Administration. It has further complicated the situation for the coming Biden government.
      • Returning to the JCPOA, or the Iran nuclear deal framework, may not be a realistic option after signing ‘Abraham Accords’.

How Mr. Biden’s Policy will Impact India?

  1. Biden’s administration could have both positive and negative impacts on India-U. S bilateral relation.
  2. The India-U.S. strategic partnership, defence and security cooperation between India and the U.S. are likely to be further stepped up. Also, Regional security cooperation will be further enhanced.
  3. However, considering Mr. Biden’s strong commitment to human rights, he will be far less supportive of India on several issues. Example: Kashmir issue, treatment of NGOs.
  4. A more concerning issue for India is that under Mr. Biden, countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are likely to play a more critical role than India in achieving security in the Indo-Pacific.
  5. Another upset for India will be Mr. Biden’s Afghanistan policy. There is only little room for India under U.S Afghanistan policy if Pakistan is playing the role of mediator for the new arrangement.
  6. This will have two major impacts on India.
      • One, India’s efforts of the past two decades to restore democracy in Afghanistan would not be recognized.
      • Second, Pakistan would also gain a degree of legitimacy that will encourage it to carry out terror strikes on India with greater impunity.

Urban Mass transport needs policy reform

Source- Down To Earth

Syllabus: GS 2-Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges therein.

Synopsis:  The Budget allocation for improving Urban Mass transport is welcome. Yet much is needed to be done to achieve inclusive urbanisation.


  • In the recent budget, Finance Minister announced fund allocation for improving the Urban mass transport system.
  • A sufficient amount has been allocated for the Kochi, Chennai, and Bengaluru Metro projects.
  • Budget allocation for the Metro projects in the three cities is commendable. It provides greater certainty for these cities to meet their targets.
  • However, the budget allocation for improving bus transport will not be adequate.
  • The budget allocation for expanding the bus transport system is (₹18,000 crore) under the PPP model.

Issues in the Budget proposal for Bus Transport system?

  • India’s ratio of buses to population is a low- 1.2 (per 1,000 people) compared to 8.6 in Thailand and 6.5 in South Africa. Some states like Karnataka are exceptions with the above national ratio.
  • Moreover, Private bus service is a politically sensitive matter in some states with government monopolies in bus services.

What further needs to be done to improve Public transport in Urban India?

The challenge of urbanization needs multiple interventions apart from supplying grants to metro and bus system.

  1. First, State governments control the Urban development instead of city administrations. They have failed to operationalize the nodal authorities to regulate transport.
  2. Second, Common mobility cards are still in pilot mode. It would help citizens, use bus, train, and feeder networks seamlessly.
  3. Third, Metro and bus services are expensive compared to the per kilometer cost of a two-wheeler.
  4. Fourth, Census 2011 identified no. of Census towns. But Urban local bodies are not yet established here. They lack access to funding, infrastructure, and capacity to meet the needs of large populations. Hence, the Recognition of census towns as urban bodies will provide the flow of necessary funds to these growing urban conglomerations.

Way forward

In this context, the Centre should start working with State governments to integrate key areas with its transport vision. Such as affordable inner-city housing, access to civic services and health care, and enhanced sustainability, greenery, and walkability. Only integration can bring about inclusive urbanisation.

Hurdles in the path of doubling farmer’s income

Source- Down To Earth

SyllabusGS 3 – Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country– different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Synopsis – Doubling farmer’s income by 2022 is too ambitious target for the government.


  • In 2016, the Government has set a target of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022.
  • Doubling farmer’s income [real income not the nominal income] till 2022-23 over the base year of 2015-16, requires annual growth of 10.41 percent in farmers’ income.
  • However, there is no roadmap or action plan to achieve this over-ambitious goal.

What are the constraints in the path of doubling the income of farmers?

The target of doubling farmer’s income by 2022 seems too ambitious due to the following issues-

  1. First, data related challenges. There is no official data on farmers’ incomes after 2015-16. There is no report card of the current income levels of the farmers and no plan to achieve this target.
  2. Second, no implementation level plan. ICAR prepared a plan for each state for doubling farmer’s income.  But no details were available on how states are going to implement the plan or how the government will analyze the progress.
    • For Example- In 2017, ICAR decided to adopt and develop two villages as models in each district of the country, so that state governments can follow. But it is found that there is no progress on this plan.
  3. Three, many important schemes, such as crop insurance, interest subvention subsidy, and even PM-KISAN are facing stagnation or decline in allocation under budget 2021. Even Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana received a lower allocation than last year.
  4. Fourth, the procurement of wheat and paddy has gone up. But, it is only benefitting few states like Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh.
  5. Fifth, the agriculture credit portfolio is not equally distributed across the states and across farmers within the state.

Way forward

  • The problem with respect to Agriculture in India is deep-rooted. It requires systemic solutions with a well-thought-out strategy and policy reforms.
  • ICAR should develop models of farming system by combining all their technologies in a package with focus on farm income.
  • Increase in crop intensity and diversification towards high value crops is also the key.


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