9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 5, 2021

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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GS-Paper 1

  • Should There Be Wages for Housework? 

GS-Paper 2

  • Way forward for India at UNSC
  • Rising vaccine hesitancy and its solution
  • A multi-dimensional approach to tackle malnutrition

GS-Paper 3

  • Solving the issue of Urban employment through platform/gig economy
  • Increasing energy efficiency among consumer

Should There Be Wages for Housework? 

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS 1 –  Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Role of women and women’s organization 

Synopsis- MNM led by Kamal Haasan promised to recognize HouseWorksEfforts by historical movement to provide wages for HouseWorks, highlighted many challenges in doing that.   

Background- 

  • Makkal Needhi Maiam MNM, led by its founder Kamal Haasan has promised that homemakers will get their due recognition through payment for their house works which hitherto has been unrecognized and unmonitored.  
  • According to International Labour Organizationwomen perform 76.2 per cent of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men.  This figure rises to 80% in Asia and the Pacific.  
  • The debate around wages for housework remained unresolved within the women’s campaign- ‘wages for housework movement’. 

What is wages for housework movement? 

The International Wages for Housework Campaign started in Italy in 1972 as a feminist movement that highlighted the role of gendered labour in the home and its connection to the production of surplus value under capitalism. The movement further spread to Britain and America.  

Though women’s work helps men to be productive, this contribution is largely unnoticed. It is extremely difficult to quantify how much women contribute to the economy with their unsung work but it would run into the billions or beyond. 

What were the hurdles faced in demand of wages for housework? 

 ‘Wages for housework’ would only imprison women further within the household as- 

  • Paid housework would reinforce gendered division of roles, keeping women in their traditional role of wife and mother.  
  • A salary would isolate women from the community and prevent men from sharing housework.
  • A salary would legitimize their oppression. 

Thus, the idea behind women’s movement should be made them free from daily domestic chores and allow them to participate in social sphere and further including paid employment outside the household.   

What are the issues that need to resolve before providing wages for housework? 

Though MNM has made a promise, but there are few important questions or challenges that need to answered to make it look feasible; 

  • Once salaried, housework would be controlled in terms of number of hours, quality of work, and so on. Who would exercise this control and under what terms? 
  • Would it include women only, who are full-time homemakers?
  • What about women workers who earn an income from home by stitching clothes, selling cooked meals or are engaged in petty trade and identified a ‘Housewives’?  

These issues cannot solve easily. Therefore, the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) an unconditional cash payment to low income households and should be transfer directly to women. 

Way forward- 

Women constitute almost half the population and their needs and issues have to be addressed.  

  • Paid domestic works are done predominantly by women in other’s houses. Thus, a National legislation for domestic workers containing guarantees foe minimum wages, and the workers’ status and rights should be enacted. 
  • The demand of women domestic workers in Tamilnadu address the issue of value of housework in their demands i.e. an hourly minimum wage, a weekly day-off, an annual bonus. 
  • Thus, all political parties must seriously consider their demands as will be helpful in asserting the dignity of housework and making it a visible and valued form of labour. 

Way forward for India at UNSC

Source: Click Here 

Syllabus: GS -2, International Relations  

Synopsis: As India assumes UNSC membership for the 8th time as one of the 10 non-permanent members, it should integrate UNSC functions with national objectives while adjusting to changed realities. 

Introduction  

Dynamics at UNSC have changed completely since the cold war, while India’s attitude has changed from the reactive to the proactive. 

India needs to align its goals of national objectives at UNSC with the present dynamics at UNSC to achieve maximum gain. 

  • India’s new term should be led by purposeful and pragmatism.
      • Purposefulness is about tightly incorporating UNSC meeting with India’s broader national goals.  
      • Pragmatism requires adapting to the changed conditions at the UNSC and avoiding overly ambitious goals. 

How UNSC and India evolved post-cold war? 

  • During 1991-92, India’s term at UNSC was influenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union. 
  • Delhi was fixing its broken economy and was reorganising its foreign policy to survive in the post-Soviet world.
      • Countries Like EU and Us wanted to transform this “inter-national” forum into a “supra-national” institution, to interfere actively in the matter of countries.  
      • India had to resist external solutions to its problems on issues like the Kashmir question and the nuclear.
      • Thus, India was not vocal and adopted a defensive approach at that time.
  • In 2011-12, revived Russia and a rising China began influencing UNSC to resist west.  
  • India witnessed rapid economic growth in the first decade of 21st century which resulted in improvement of its own relative position in the meeting. 
      • Delhi was less defensive than in the 1990s, but was struggling to change its new strengths into practical outcomes.
  • At present UNSC term of India, it is facing the challenge of sharp competition between US, China and Russia. Which is enforced by closeness of Russia-China and disagreement between US and EU.   

What objectives India would be taking along at the UNSC? 

To make its present term fruitful, India needs to work towards 5 objectives; 

  • Firstlymaking the UNSC effective. Except brief moment of cooperation in 1990s, UNSC is dealing with the divisions among 5 permanent members, making it less effective.  
      • India needs to carve out the larger room for itself and try to create an atmosphere of cooperation as done by US and USSR on nuclear proliferation.  
  • Secondlymaking the UNSC more representative. India wanted permanent membership since the end of the Cold War but China does not want India and Japan to join the UNSC as permanent members. 
      • However, India should push its efforts in partnership with Brazil, Germany and Japan, to expand the UNSC.  
  • Thirdly, India has to deal with China’s growing enmity. On the issue of cross-border terrorism china continues to protect Pakistan from the international pressures and also tried to get the UNSC to focus on India’s constitutional changes in Kashmir. 
      • India should try to get the wind in its favour by presenting real facts  
  • Fourthly, the engagement with peace and security issues at the UNSC. India will be able to strengthen its new coalitions. 
      • For example, the Quad which brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US.
      • Collaboration with its European partners like France and Germany in the security field. 
  • Fifthly, Delhi should renew its ties with its old partnersDelhi should express the peace and security concerns of the global south in UNSC. Supporting the rule and survivability of the island states is a critical political task for India. 
      • 60 per cent of UNSC documents and 70 per cent of its resolutions are about peace and security in Africa. There is an opportunity for Delhi to deepen India’s engagement on peace and security issues in Africa at bilateral, regional and global levels.

Rising vaccine hesitancy and its solution 

Source- The Indian Express 

Syllabus- GS2 –2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 

Synopsis- As the country readies to implement its COVID-19 vaccination programme, vaccine hesitancy could be an issue that the government needs to address forthwith. 

Introduction- 

  • Prime-Minister hailed the approval of two made in India COVID-19 vaccines by the drug regulator and said India is on the threshold of beginning the largest vaccination programme in the world.  
  • However, the COVID-19 vaccination intent is decreasing due to increasing hesitancy 

What is the general perception around the world regarding vaccine drive? 

Following are the findings that validates the increasing Vaccine hesitancy. 

  • Recently, a survey with approximately 11,000 respondents was conducted in India, to understand the openness to take the vaccine,  
      • About 53 per cent of the respondent were unsure about taking COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • survey by New Delhi’s citizen-survey platform LocalCircles found that about 69 per cent of respondents saw no urgent need to get immunized. 
      • Key reasons cited for hesitancy were limited information about efficacy, side-effects, and perceived high immunity level. 

Moreover, COVID-19 vaccination intent is decreasing globally. Since August, intentions to get vaccinated have dropped in 10 of 15 countries, most of all China (down 12 points), Australia (down 9), Spain (down 8), and Brazil (down 7).

What is World Health Organization’s view on Vaccine Hesitancy? 

The SAGE Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy concluded that vaccine hesitancy refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services. Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context specific, varying across time, place and vaccines.  

It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence [3C model]. 

  • Complacency– Refers to a low perceived risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and therefore it is assumed vaccines are not needed. Other issues are considered more important. 
  • Convenience – Vaccination convenience is a significant factor that entails physical availability, affordability and willingness-to-pay. This continuum ranges from total acceptance to complete refusal.  
  • Confidence– Refers to a lack of trust in the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, the system that delivers them – including the reliability of the health professional – and/or the motivations of policy-makers who make determinations about vaccines.

What needs to be done to remove Vaccine Hesitancy?  

Misinformation, specifically online, is a big threat to trust in Vaccines and their programs as proved by losses suffered by poultry sector due to erroneously linking consumption of chickens to the disease.  

Communication strategies are critical for tracking, negotiating and shaping perceptions around the vaccines and the programme 

  • Firststrategies need to be shaped around four key themes- Product development, prioritization strategies, programme rollout activities, and AEFI (Adverse Effects Following Immunization) and AESI (Adverse Effects of Special Interest).
  • Second, it is very important to give confidence to the public by discussing the robustness of various processes involved in drug/vaccine development such as clinical trial designs, conduct, monitoring, analysis, reporting and the regulatory reviews that happen before it is approved.
      • This will make the public aware about the rigorous processes followed for clinical trials, and the approval, as followed by regulators. 

Thus, communicating consistently, transparently, empathetically and proactively about uncertainty, risks and vaccine availability will contribute to building trust.


A multi-dimensional approach to tackle malnutrition

Source: – Indian Express

Syllabus – GS- 2 – Hunger and Malnutrition

Synopsis: Solution to the issue of malnutrition is not solely dependent on increasing food intake, but it requires a multidimensional approach including women empowerment.

Introduction
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has provided mixed results.
  • Positive results include fall in infant mortality rates and under-five mortality rates, increase in institutional births and child immunisation rates. Negative results include worsening nutrition level.
  • For dealing with the issue of malnutrition, it is important that direct nutrition interventions are ensured during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in the early years of a child’s life.
    • hot cooked meals with adequate protein, milk, and green leafy vegetables should be provided to the pregnant women, lactating mothers and young children.

How to improve the nutrition level by a multidimensional approach?

  1. Hot cooked meals
    • Many states have replaced the provision of take-home rations with the daily hot cooked meals for mothers
    • It also provides an opportunity for the front-line workers to give pregnant women iron, folic acid and calcium tablets.
    • Moreover, women coming to the anganwadi to take hot cooked meals, instead of take-home ration delivered at their homes, provides workers with an opportunity to engaged in early childhood stimulation activities by counselling and parenting sessions with the pregnant women.
Intergenerational cycle of malnutrition?

malnourished mother will give birth to a low-birth-weight baby; the low-birth-weight baby will grow as a malnourished child, then to a malnourished teenager, then to a malnourished pregnant woman, and so the cycle continues.

2. Adoption of life cycle approach

    • To stop the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, a life cycle approach needs to be adopted, which goes beyond “first thousand days” approach.
    • This approach includes prevention of child marriage by supporting girls to stay in high school by grassroot programs and improving their nutrition level by Mid-day meal scheme.

3. Economic empowerment

    • Childhood care enables girls to become self-dependent by earning their livelihood. Economic empowerment of women is directly linked to the nutrition level of children.
    • To assist mothers working without concern of their children’s safety and well-being, Mobile creches for younger children should be provided at worksites.

4. Strengthening Anganwadi system

    • Worker’s development: Supervisors of anganwadis should be provided with the facilities like interest-free loans and fuel allowance for two-wheelers.
      • Upgradation of Skill level of Anganwadi workers and supervisors should be facilitated through online sessions, trainings and certificate courses on nutrition and early childhood stimulation.
    • Infrastructure development: Facilities for cooking, playing of children, water connection should be upgraded.
      • Double-burner stoves, gas cylinders, pressure cookers and sufficient steel cooking vessels should be provided to cater to multiple meal requirements.

5. Empowerment at gram panchayat level

    • There are around 2,50,000 gram panchayats in India, and nearly 14 lakh anganwadis, the majority of these are in rural areas.
    • Every Gram panchayat must have an anganwadi committee, which would meet every month on a fixed day and will present an action plan for Gram Panchayat.

6. Tackling issue of Exclusion and convergence

Local governments are capable of dealing with both the issues effectively.

    • It can ensure the inclusion of the Poorest, migrants, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities in social welfare programs.
    • Panchayats are best place to deal with the child marriage due to their social reach and influence.
    • Convergence can also be brought by Panchayats by using its funds in strengthening of Anganwadis. It can work with Anganwadi workers, ASHAs, ANMs and anganwadi supervisors to ensure the beneficiaries are provided with immunisation, antenatal care, maternity benefits and nutrition services.

Women empowerment is the key for tackling the issue of malnutrition and local level government are best placed to make this empowerment possible. All the possible assistance should be made mandatory by the government to anganwadi and program focussed on the welfare of women.


Solving the issue of Urban employment through platform/gig economy  

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS Paper III (Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment)

Synopsis– With no urban equivalent to the NREGA as yet, there must be a focus on supporting new forms of urban employment in the form of the gig economy.

Background- Debate around GDP contraction and V-Shaped recovery has ignored the prevalence of unemployment in India.

Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy points to a gradual slowdown in employment recovery which is evident from the fact that national unemployment rate has been increased from 6.51% to 9.06%.

How does the rural economy provide better employment compared to urban? 

For the labour population moving back to rural India, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) provided employment support, which witnessed a 243% increase in person workdays.

Whereas many Indian cities, during this pandemic, shut down the employment avenues for millions of workers, who either migrated to rural areas or took up new forms of platform work. Gig economy became their only source of employment. 

What is the Gig Economy? 

A labour market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.

Performance of gig/platform works   

The Fairwork Foundation published its report related to the gig economy and its annual review of platform labor gains prominence. It used the following metrics to evaluate the wellbeing of gig workers.

  1. Fair Pay 
  2. Fair Conditions
  3. Fair Contracts
  4. Fair Management
  5. Fair Representation

Findings  

In this report platform giants, namely, Uber, Ola, Swiggy and Zomato are at the bottom of the ranking. Only Urban Company and Flipkart scored fairly.

How to increase urban employment? 

As in Urban India, there is no scheme like NREGA.  Government must focus on evaluating, regulating and supporting platform/gig employment.

  1. Issue of evaluation
    • Current understanding regarding the scale and impact of these platforms is only based on the limited disclosure by the companies themselves.  
    • Moreover, there exists no authoritative estimate on the total number of gig workers in India.  
    • There is a need to create a valid database regarding platform works and workers to facilitate evaluation.  

2. Issue of regulation– This step is significantly more sensitive as it revolves around the variable nature of gig work.  

    • As these platforms are used both as a “side hustle”, and primary source of employment.  
    • One-size-fits-all regulatory strategy further complicates the matter as regulations might also hurt the freelancing works that provided avenues to highly skilled workers during Pandemic.  
      • For that, Government can enter into partnerships with platforms like it did by flagship scheme. Swiggy’s Street Food Vendors programme under the PM SVANidhi scheme.  
      • Under this scheme, Swiggy employed 36,000 street food vendors and also ensured the registration of each vendor and their certification by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India.  
      • The simultaneous creation of jobs, alongside the voluntary adoption of quality standards is an example of a mutually beneficial partnership between the state and a platform. 

3. Urban employment –  

    • Similar collaborations can be done by the government for urban employment, that require labour platforms to comply with disclosure norms and worker compensation standards to access government support.
    • It would not only bring down costs significantly (for both the state and their partners), but would also create an environment where firms would be more likely to cooperate with the state.

Way Forward 

India must take significant steps to tackle the challenge of urban unemployment in the present reality.

With Industry 4.0 platforms absorbing increasing numbers of the urban workforce, the government must focus on evaluation, collaboration, and regulation. 

By now, India must have its own understanding of the future of work. For that, the state needs to ensure that this future is defined not only by the quantity of jobs it creates but also by the quality of livelihoods they provide for.


Increasing energy efficiency among consumer

Synopsis: Recently released electricity rules should also focus on the problem faced by DIscoms that can be sorted out by increasing energy efficiency.

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus – GS-3 – Energy-related issues

Recently published Electricity Rules, 2020 lay down uniform performance standards for discoms and makes them liable to consumer compensation in case of violations of their rights.

Rules have been framed keeping in mind the decreasing payment rates for electricity bills due to rising consumption and limited finances.

Electricity Rules, 2020

Challenges faced by Discoms

  1. Firstly, by 2030, residential electricity consumption in India is expected to double. Moreover, increase in electric appliances is creating doubts around the discom’s ability to provide reliable supply at affordable rates.
  2. Secondly, some of the daily use appliances are not Energy Efficient.
    • Out of the 90% households using fans, only 3% are using energy-efficient fans,
    • 60% of T.V.  are energy-guzzling CRT (cathode ray tube) models and
    • desert coolers are not even covered under the labelling programme.
  3. Third, Indian Discoms are facing difficulties in managing their finances that required govt. to sanction liquidity relief to help discoms. But it is only temporary relief.

Way forward

As mentioned above, discoms might not be able to keep up with the demands of consumers in the long run. Thus, following steps are required to reduce the energy demand;

  1. Firstly, availability and affordability of energy-efficient appliances need to be improved.
    • Although BEE is planning to bring ceiling fans under mandatory labelling from 2022, it would double the costing, which would create a barrier.
    • Manufacturers should be provided with lucrative offers to produce efficient technology at scale and bring it within purchasing capacity.
  1. Secondly, nationwide consumer awareness campaign should be launched for energy efficiency.
    • Awareness level among small towns and rural areas is very low compared to residents of metros and tier-1 cities.
    • Thus, a consumer-centric engagement strategy with the cooperation of State governments, discoms and retailers should be evolved to create mass awareness.
  1. Third, supply quality and changing consumption pattern should be monitored on real time basis.
    • Smart metering should be used to monitor actual saving by consumer due to energy efficient appliances.
    • It would create a confidence among people and would also be crucial for enforcing consumer rights rules.

India has many examples of success in creating awareness for energy efficient appliances. UJALA scheme transformed the market for LED bulbs. Now, 90% of Indian homes use LED lamps or tubes resulting into reduction of carbon emission equivalent to 82 million tonnes.

More such programs are required to be fast-tracked.


Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims| Jan 05,2021

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