9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 13, 2021

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GS-2

  • Reasons for frictions between Puducherry CM and LG
  • SC judgment on farm laws: violation of separation of powers
  • Importance of Reviving SAARC
  • Issues in the process of COVID Vaccine trial

GS-4

  • Teachings of Swami Vivekananda

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FACTLY

Reasons for frictions between Puducherry CM and LG  

Source: The Hindu 

Gs2: Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions 

Synopsis: Tussle between the Puducherry CM and LG Kiran Bedi is one of the examples of increasing frictions between constitutional functionaries. In today’s article we are listing the causes of frictions between them.  

Background 

  • Recently, Puducherry Chief Minister (CM) V. Narayanasamy staged a three-day protest against Lieutenant Governor (LG) Kiran Bedi. 
  • The CM accused LG of “functioning in an autocratic manner” and adopting an “obstructionist attitude” in ensuring the progress and welfare of people and asked the Centre for the recall of the Lt Governor.  
  • Whereas, LG defended herself by stating that the Lt Governor’s secretariat is ensuring just, fair and accessible administration, within the legal limits.  

What are the causes of friction between Puducherry LG and CM? 

Both have been in friction over issues such as; 

  • The appointment of the State Election Commissioner, an office critical to holding elections to local bodies in the Union Territory.  
  • The implementation of direct benefit transfer in the public distribution system using cash, instead of free rice, being given to beneficiaries.  

How experts are seeing this issue? 

  • First, the Assembly elections are likely in April or May. The protest of CM leading the protest against the Lt Governor was seen as an act of political mobilisation. 
  • Second, experts opine that LG should also take into account the legitimate requirements of an elected government and try to accommodate Mr. Narayanaswamy’s views on important matters such as the free rice scheme 
  • Even the Centre itself did not see any benefit in the DBT mode when it decided to give additional food grains (rice or wheat) free of during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now the responsibility lies with the Centre to step in and restore the breakdown of communication between the Lt Governor and the Chief Minister in the interest of smooth administration.


Issues in the process of COVID Vaccine trial 

Source: Click here 

Syllabus: GS2, Health and related issues  

Synopsis: Many issues have been highlighted in the Phase-3 trial of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccines. Those issues could have been avoided after HPV vaccine trial controversy. 

Introduction 

In a previous case, Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine trial was carried out on nearly 23,500 girls in the 10-14 age group in Vadodara, Gujarat and Khammam without proper consent. Almost eight years later the Supreme Court of India criticized the government for its inability to take action on illegal clinical trials carried out in India by multinational countries. 

Present situation of the approval process in India suggests nothing much has changed. 

  • The phase-3 clinical trial of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine resembles the HPV vaccine because it seems that the trial is suffering from serious violations. 
  • The ICMR which has assigned the task of promulgating research ethics guidelines is also the cosponsor of the Covaxin trial. 

What are the problems in the Covaxin phase 3 trial? 

After the 2013 SC order, The Indian regulator made audio-video recording of the informed consent of each individual participant mandatory in 2019. Written consent from the participant had to certainly be taken before the audio-video recording. 

However, the process was not followed properly; 

  • Firstly, no efforts were made to explain and inform the participants about the pros and cons of taking part in the trial instead; they were deceived by the trial site to think they were getting a COVID-19 vaccine for free. 
  • Secondly, many participants didn’t know about their rights to get free medical care in case of any adverse events. 
    • Many aware participants sought medical help from private practitioners whereas some of the participants don’t possess mobile phones, thus medical follow-up was not possible.  
  • Thirdly, not enough time was given to discuss with the family before signing the consent formAt least in a few instances, the consent was taken after vaccination, which is a serious violation.  
    • Participants were not given a copy of the consent form and other documents to prove their participation. 
  • Fourthly, 700 participants in the trial were illiterate and there is no evidence that an impartial witness was present during the entire informed consent process to attach his/her signatures to the consent form.   
  • Fifthlycommunities living close to the hospital have told the media that they were offered 750, and luring people in trial for money is unethical.  
  • Although the company maintained that the amount was the reimbursement for the transportation and loss of wages, an open announcement of remuneration was unethical.   
  • Lastly, it is not yet confirmed that institutional ethics committee approved the advertisement for inviting people to the trial, in lieu of money  

Way forward 

  • India has already approved 2 vaccines for restricted use and the virus spread slowing down, so enrolling participants will be more challenging. Therefore, a thorough and impartial inquiry will bring back confidence in clinical trials. 

SC judgment on-farm laws: violation of separation of powers

Source: Indian Express 

Gs2: Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions. 

Synopsis:  The Supreme court (SC) has stayed the implementation of farm laws. The decision is a case of violation of separation of powers.  

Background  

  • Recently, the SC has stayed the implementation of three farm laws until further orders. 
  • The SC has also given direction to set up a four-member committee to break the deadlock between farmers and the Centre. 
  • Many experts opine that by this judgment the supreme court has encroached into political and administrative management without any legal basis and seen as a violation of the separation of powers. 

Are the reforms necessary? If yes, why it has been opposed? 

According to many agricultural experts, agriculture needs serious reform for achieving the following objectives. 

  • To improve farmers’ incomes and well-being. 
  • To increase crop diversification. 
  • To make agriculture more environmentally sustainable. 
  • To make subsidies less counterproductive.  
  • To keep food inflation down, and ensure that nutrition reaches all. 

The government was right to think reforms were necessary. However, the government failed to gain the trust among Farmer communities by prioritising the wrong reforms.  For example, “choice of traders,” which did not tackle the underlying issues, but created more uncertainty. 

What are the negative implications of recent Supreme Court decision? 

The Supreme court (SC) decision has been criticised on the following grounds; 

  • First, SC’s involvement in Farm bill issue will give a misleading impression that a distributive conflict can be resolved by technical or judicial means.  
  • Second, by setting up a four-member committee to hear farmers’ grievances the SC has invaded into political territory. The role of judiciary is to determine unconstitutionality or illegality of law rather than mediating a political dispute 
  • Third, the court has lost its neutrality by seeking to break the momentum of a social movement 
      • Rather than facilitating the orderly and law-bound expression of protest the court has acted to defuse the genuine democratic protest by shifting the onus on the farmers to stop their protests. 
  • Fourth, the court’s action will disrupt the normal political give and take in a democracy between the government and people. 
  • Fifth, the court has redefined the function of mediation the court by violating the first rule of mediation. i.e., The mediators must be acceptable to all parties and appointed in consultation with them. Whereas the SC has Suo Moto appointed a four-member committee without any consultation with farmer groups. 
  • Finally, the court has also positioned itself as an arbiter of national security. It admitted the Attorney General’s contention that farmers’ protests may be the vehicle for the Khalistan movement. 

What is the way forward? 

  • In principle, any mediation to break the stalemate is welcome. But the mediation has to be a political process between the government and the people and it is the responsibility of the Parliament to fix the issue. 
  • What the farmers need is clarity of law and the right to make their demands heard through the political process and civil society not the paternalism of the court 

The court, in the process of saving the government from being on the political back foot the court, has forfeited the very thing it needs most, the repository of trust among its citizens.


Importance of Reviving SAARC 

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS 2 – International relations – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

Synopsis- SAARC has become dysfunctional and not able to meet since las 6 yearsReviving SAARC is crucial for countering common challenges in the region, amid COVID pandemic. 

Introduction 

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia founded in 1985 with 7 member nations. 
  • The group was established to promote regional economic growth through active collaboration. But in past years there has been deadlock type condition especially due to India-Pakistan conflict.  
  • In 2016, the Summit schedule in Pakistan got canceled in the backdrop of the terrorist attack in Pathankot and Uri. Since then, no SAARC meeting has been held.  

 Why SAARC failed? 

The last physical SAARC summit was held in 2014 and subsequently, summits could not be held after that. The reasons for a dysfunctional SAARC are; 

  • First, India-Pakistan bilateral relationsEnmity between India and Pakistan is one of the main reasons why SAARC is not prospering. This long-standing conflict has impacted other meeting of SAARC as well, making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies, to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group. 
  • Secondthe novel coronavirus pandemic and China’s aggressions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) put a new spotlight and shadows for SAARC meeting. 

India’s position on not attending SAARC is particularly confusing. It has been attending SCO meeting even after clashes with China and engaged with Nepal even after boundary related issues.    

Why reviving SAARC can be helpful in countering the common challenges? 

  1. Pandemic Challenges.  
    • First, South Asia’s experience of the pandemic has been very unique. The COVID-19 has provided a window for introspection and for scaling up preparedness for inevitable pandemics in the future. 
    • Second, a Collaborative approach is also necessary for the distribution and further trials needs for the vaccine as well as developing cold storage chain.  
    • Third, the pandemic’s impact on South Asian economies– The economic consequences of COVID -19 on South Asia are proving to be even greater than the health Challenges in the region. 
  1. China’s Factor in SAARC– Amid India- China border tensions, as part of its global expansionism, China is chipping away at India’s interests in South Asia, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure. 
    • China expanding footprints in South Asia by investments in trade, tourism, BRI, and other programs should be given attention. All SAARC members except Bhutan, are Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners of China will be hard placed to help individually. 
    • Only a matter of time before china, it may hold a meeting of all SAARC countries except minus India and Bhutan for they are all part of the BRI, and even that they will be invited to join RCEP, which India declined. 

Way forward 

  • To make SAARC more effective the organization must be reformed and member countries must reach a consensus regarding the changes required.  
  • The tragedy of Covid-19 provided an opportunity for India to demonstrate its compassionate face to secure a region at peace with itself 
  • In dealing with the challenge from China too, both at India’s borders and in its neighborhood, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent countermeasure. 

Teachings of Swami Vivekananda 

Source: Indian Express 

GS4: Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and World 

Synopsis: Teachings of Swami Vivekananda is still relevant to the 21st century youth 

Background:  

  • 12th January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, is celebrated as National Youth Day. His teachings still inspire the youth of India.  
  • At present one fifth of the young person in the world lives in India.  
  • The contribution made by these young population is significant in making India the third-highest growing economy among the 13 major economies in the last five years. 

How Vivekananda’s teachings are still inspiring our Youth’s? 

  • Firstly, by giving the slogan of “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.” Vivekananda’s has inspired Indian youths to take the leadership role in world arena and they are now eager to give direction to the world. 
  • Second, through the slogan of “Make a life’s aim and incorporate that idea into your life…. Think that thought over and over again. Dream it, live it… that is the secret to being successful” he was able to inspire Indian youths to focus more on their goals without any distraction and have helped them to be more successful. 
  • Third, through the slogan of “Until you can trust yourself, you cannot trust Allah or God” Swami Vivekananda was able to educate the youth on the power of Self-belief. 

How Vivekananda contributed to the Idea of a secular society? 

Swami Vivekananda, in his teachings combined thinking of different religions, communities and traditions.  

  • He represented Sanatan Dharma in Chicago in 1893, where he taught the world that it is our duty to encourage all those doing good so that they can make their dreams come true. He also highlighted the values of “Vishwabandhutva”, tolerance, cooperativeness, participation, religion, culture, nation, nationalism and the collective India-Indianness. 
  • Swami Vivekananda instilled his idea of charity at the root of Sanatan Dharma through his teaching that “The more we come to help and help others, the purer our heart becomes. Such people are like God”.  
  • His vision also gave rise to the idea of Antyodaya. Where he said, until the upliftment of the last poor person in the country is ensured, development is meaningless. 
  • At the Parliament of World religions, he said the Sanatani religion is instrumental in teaching the world the lesson of tolerance and universal acceptance. He proudly said Indian soils were the first laboratory and protector of secularism. 
  • When he addressed the Parliament of World Religions, he gave the message of universal brotherhood. 
  • Currently, His inclusive thinking is also reflected in the Narendra Modi government’s slogan “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. 

Swami Vivekananda took forward the efforts made by other thinkers to reach the roots of Indian culture. Secular thinking and the importance of oneness of the world made him acceptable worldwide. 


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