9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 28, 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.

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List of 9 PM Articles

  1. SC Stay on Bombay HC judgment in POCSO case
  2. Causes of Rising Inequality
  3. “STI policy 2020” emphasising self-reliance in science
  4. How should India handle the new virus variants?
  5. Reason behind Anthropocene epoch- Capitalism or Socialism?

SC Stay on Bombay HC judgment in POCSO case

Source: Click here

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

Synopsis: Supreme Court put stay on the recent verdict of the Bombay High Court in the sexual assault case.

 Background:

  1. The Session Court had convicted the man for the offence of sexual assault under Section 8 of the POCSO Act.  And sentenced him to imprisonment for three years.
  2. In its recent decision, the Bombay High Court set aside the decision of the Session Court and acquit the man from charges under POCSO Act.  The reasoning given for that is the absence of direct physical contact i.e. skin to skin contact with the victim.
  3. The Bombay High Court convicted the man for the offense of outraging the modesty of a woman under the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to imprisonment for one year.
  4. Supreme Court in its recent decision put a stay order on the decision of the Bombay High Court.

Read MoreWhy Judges are acquitting accused under POCSO Act

Why the SC put a stay on the order of the Bombay High Court?

  • Firstly, the High Court decision introduced a new condition to satisfy for a trial under POCSO Act.
  • Secondly, this erroneous decision of the High Court may be used as a precedent by the other courts in similar cases.
  • Thirdly, this differentiation would also have a negative social impact. Low punishment is less likely to discourage the sexual assaults on the children.

 Way Forward

Sexual abuse and outraging the modesty of a child is a matter of great concern. The step initiated by the Supreme Court is taken to re-evaluate an insensitive judgment which is harmful for the interpretation of the POCSO Act.

Causes of Rising Inequality

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Social Issues

Synopsis – The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply increased the economic inequality in all countries.

Introduction

  • The Inequality Virus report released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda.
  • The report states that the COVID pandemic has increased economic inequality in almost every country.

Read Moreinequality in India Oxfam report |ForumIAS Blog

Pandemic impacts on Rich vis-à-vis Poor –

The economic impacts of COVID pandemic are not the same for the rich and poor. The following facts of the Oxfam report provide a glimpse of sharp difference:

  1. 1000 richest people in the world regain their COVID-19 losses within just nine months. But it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
  2. The increase in income of the top 100 billionaires since the March lockdown is enough to give each of the 138 million poorest Indians a cheque of Rs.94045.
  3. It will take up to 3 years for unskilled labor in India to earn what the richest earned in one second last year.

Some sections are disproportionately affected by the increasing disparities in income and opportunities due to discrimination based on gender, caste, and other variables.

What are the causes behind rising inequality?

Policymakers have accepted inequality as one of the impacts of economic growth.  While they are happy with the reduction in absolute poverty, inequality kept on rising.

The criticism of capitalism has never been taken seriously. Moreover, capitalism has been linked with the existence of democracies.

While the debates ‘the Great Reset’ are ongoing on WEF, states are continuously implementing discriminatory labour policies.

Now, economists are agreed that the divide of new wealth between capital and labour is one-sided.  While the wealthy are getting wealthier, workers are continually being forced into poverty.

Way forward-

The government needs to take specific and concrete action to build a better, more equal future.

“STI policy 2020” emphasising self-reliance in science

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Science and Technology- Developments

Synopsis: The recently released Draft Science, Technology, and Innovation policy has many issues and challenges that need to be addressed to promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat  in science

Background:

  • Recently, the Department of Science and Technology has released the 5th draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation policy for Public scrutiny.
  • It contains the objectives and goals of our new science policy.
  • But it has many issues and challenges that are highlighted below, along with the required actions that need to be taken.

What are the key objectives stated in the 5th draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation policy?

  1. First, it proposes technological self-reliance. It will position India among the top three scientific superpowers. (US, China, India)
  2. Second, to achieve this, it proposes developing a “people-centric” science, technology, and innovation “ecosystem”. This will help us to retain our best minds in India.
  3. Third, it proposes to double the private sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development. This is similar to the 2013 policy.
  4. Fourth, it has proposed the vision for a decentralized institutional mechanism for a robust STI Governance.
  5. Fifth, it also acknowledges the disconnect between science and society in the chapter ‘Science Communication and Public Engagement’.
  6. Sixth, it aims to impart an inclusive culture in academia. For that, the document promises to tackle discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, geography, language, disability, and other exclusions and inequalities.
  7. Seventh, the policy abides by our constitutional obligation to “develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.

What are the issues in the 5th draft of Science, Technology, and Innovation policy?

The author has cited the following issues in the draft science policy that has been released for Public Feedback.

  1. Issues in Readability of the draft: The draft report is written with complex language. It makes the task difficult for the Public to provide meaningful feedback. This destroys the very purpose of Public Scrutiny.
  2. No data on the progress of previous policies: for example, the 2013 science policy had the similar objective of doubling the private sector’s contribution in Research and Development. However, what has been achieved till now in this regard has not been stated.
  3. Policy objectives signify neglect of government responsibility: R&D investment in science is stagnant for several years (0.5% GDP). It is despite strong recommendations by scientific bodies to raise it to 2% GDP.
      • The proposal to increase private sector investment in R&D shows that the government is shifting the responsibility of financing R&D to different agencies such as the States, private enterprises, and foreign multinational companies.
  4. Mechanism followed to institutionalise robust STI Governance is faulty: it proposes for several new authorities, observatories, and centres to institutionalise decentralization. This may end up increasing bureaucratic control which is already high in science administration.
  5. Lack of planned solutions to achieve the stated objectives: for example, the policy mentions more representation of women and the LGBTQ community in academia. But it is silent on how it will be achieved.
  6. It does not provide solutions to address issues in society that hampers scientific research: for example, our belief systems, values, and attitudes have an impact on the quality of research. This explains why Indians who have chosen to pursue research abroad are able to make path-breaking discoveries.

What is the way forward?

  1. First, the private sector cannot be expected to pay for basic research because the return on investment in basic research takes too long. Hence, the government should finance research.
  2. Second, Decentralization of an administrative structure is essential, but it would be a better option to provide more autonomy to research and academic centres for financial management.
  3. Third, we need to control the propagation of pseudoscience in the name of traditional science. It is needed to develop a rational scientific ecosystem for young minds.

With the advent of new disruptive technologies, global competitiveness will be increasingly determined by the quality of science and technology. Hence, the government should priorities raising the standard of Indian research/education centres and R&D spending.

How should India handle the new virus variants?

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 3

Synopsis: Mutation of the coronavirus has become a new threat to the world. India must take precautionary measures to deal with it.

Introduction 

New SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged independently in several countries and the virus is changing very quickly.  If it continues to change, currently available vaccines will become ineffective.

Why do viruses mutate?

All the viruses carry a genetic code in the form of RNA or DNA. The DNA is replicated as the cells multiply and this process may cause random errors in the new DNA.

Errors in DNA can be corrected by the enzymes present in the cell. However, RNA doesn’t contain enzymes, thus errors caused in RNA cannot be corrected. It causes more genetic changes (mutations)in RNA than DNA viruses.

How are vaccines tested for efficiency against emerging variants?

  • Indirect tests are conducted in labs. It will find if variant virus escapes antibodies developed after natural infection or vaccination.
  • Antibodies that neutralize the original virus are tested on the variant viruses. 

Are the emerging variants vulnerable to vaccines?

  • The emerging variants from South Africa could pose a challenge to current vaccines. Not enough information is available yet for the Brazil variant.
  • However, the studies have only tested antibody responses. Vaccines also increase cellular immunity to eliminate infection which has not been tested.

The evidence currently does not suggest that vaccines are failing. 

  • However, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have agreed that their vaccines have had reduced protection against the South African variant. Both the companies are now working on developing new vaccines to fight these variants.

What steps should India take in this situation?

There is no local transmission of the new variants in India until now. Only the UK variant viruses have been found in travellers coming to India. 

  1. Firstly, India should strictly implement masks and limit crowds. It should also do the contact tracing of people infected with the new UK variant. 
  2. Secondly, India should also put a ban on travel from South Africa and Brazil just like the US did. India must also be cautious of people with a history of travel to South Africa since October 2020, and Brazil since December 2020.
  3. Thirdly, the most efficient way to catch emerging variants is increased genomic surveillance. So far, there are only about 5,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences from India in public databases, which accounts for only 0.05 percent of confirmed cases. 

The setting up of an inter-ministerial group -Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) to increase genomic surveillance is a step in the right direction. India should take more such steps. 

Reason behind Anthropocene epoch- Capitalism or Socialism?

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Synopsis: Human race should respect the carrying capacity of the environment in order to survive.

Background

  • After World War 2, there has been a significant rise in the emission of carbon dioxide.
  • Emission was caused by the rapid advancement of the manufacturing sector and the global market system.
  • Along with this, the rapid rise of digital, virtual, and biotechnological systems from the 1990s, have pushed mankind to a new era of Anthropocene from the Holocene era.
The Anthropocene epoch is a time during which human activities started to make significant changes to Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and systems of nutrient cycling.

Is capitalism the reason for the Anthropocene epoch?

  1. The Capitalistic economic system is blamed for the arrival of the Anthropocene epoch. But even the Socialistic economic order could not have prevented this.
  2. If the world had followed Socialist economic order it would have contributed more to the problem of the greenhouse effect. Because its core principle of equitable distribution of resources would have meant more purchasing power for everyone. It would have resulted in more consumption of resources.
  3. Hence, mere criticism of Capitalism won’t solve the issue of sustained “Ecological disaster” by Human Species.

What needs to be done?

Human efforts to control nature through technological developments have backfired. It is evident from the impact of the Pandemic and the negative consequences of Climate change. We need to make the following changes;

  • First, we need to think of an alternative development model. It should include the ecological impacts of development into serious political considerations.
  • Second, societies must plan for Population control to reduce the ecological footprint on nature.
  • Third, the need to shift from “materialistic culture to conservatism. This will also help to reduce the ecological footprint of nature.

Hence, it’s important, for the Human race to continue, should understand its “Species sense”- to live in harmony with nature.


Daily Factly Articles – 28Jan. 2021

 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Jan 28,2021

 

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