9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 7, 2021

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Gs Paper 2 

  • NFHS-5 data suggest improvement on various social indicators 
  • Opportunity to push forward UK-India Free Trade Agreement  
  • Dilemma of Reservation and merit system

GS-Paper 3 

  • Issue of privacy and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 
  • How India is increasing its maritime domain awareness?

NFHS-5 data suggest improvement on various social indicators  

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 2 

Synopsis: Overall trends of NFHS data suggest an improvement in population control, use of modern contraception, reproductive and child health, immunisation, and social determinants of health. 


The National Family Health Survey-round 5 (NFHS-5) covers about 6.1 lakh sample households to provide estimates for 707 districts. In the first phase, data from 22 states and UTs has been released from the latest survey conducted in 2019-2020. 

What are the major findings in the first phase of the report? 

  • One, the data on Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has come down to 2.1 or below (replacement level) in all states and UTs. Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9) and Manipur (2.2) are exceptions in this.  
  • Two, the data shows that the overall use of modern methods of contraception has increased in 20 out of 22 states. The most dominant method being female sterilisation. 
  • Three, the data confirms that the number of women marrying before the legal age has reduced in 17 out of 22 states and UTs, with Nagaland, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim as the top performers. 
      •  Indicators on teenage marriage and childbearing have also improved in 17 states/UTs. 
  • Four, 17 of 22 states/UTs saw an increase in antenatal care visits during the first trimester (Nagaland, Bihar and West Bengal saw the highest rise). 
  • Five, the data shows consumption of IFA tablets by pregnant women for 180 days or more has increased in almost all states/UTs (except Karnataka) albeit this has not resulted in reduction in anaemia levels among pregnant women. 
      • There is a need to consider adding IFA tablets which contain more natural sources of iron, folic acid and other micronutrients in the diet. 
  • Six, 14 out of 22 states and UTs had more than 90 percent of new-borns delivered in institutional facilities and 14 out of 22 states/UTs have seen a drop in neonatal mortality. 

What does the NFHS data suggest on the indicators of women empowerment? 

Women’s empowerment is a widespread concept. However, indicators like household decision making, control over personal hygiene choices and possessions like bank accounts and mobile phones are decent indirect means for evaluation. 

  • The data indicates that the majority of women (80 percent) participated in at least three household decisions. 
  • Hygienic methods of protection during menstruation are being used by more than 64 per cent of younger women in each of the 22 states/UTs, except Bihar at 59 per cent. 
  • Personal possessions such as mobile phone and bank account have increased to over 70 per cent across each of the 22 states/UTs of India (except Nagaland) in 2019-2020 amongst women. 

What does the NFHS data indicate about the public health in India? 

  • All states and UTs show a drastic increase in the number of households with a constructed toilet, improved drinking water and clean cooking fuels which are the indicators critical in improving public health in India.  
  • There has been a rise in malnutrition rates, wasting and underweight children in half of the states which reported an increase in exclusive breastfeeding and adequacy of diets.  
      • Stunting can be affected by multiple factors such as indicators of the mother a child, financial situation, adequacy of diets, water and sanitation facilities, as well as interventions for nutrition promotion and health.  
  • NFHS-5 data also show an increase in the rates of obesity in children and risk factors for chronic diseases in adults like hypertension and blood glucose. 


One should not simplify these results for the whole country because data from phase 2 is yet to come and summary figures may oversee how relative health and nutritional results of the population can be. 

UK-India Free Trade relations and Cairn Energy PLC issue 

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations  

Synopsis: With the conclusion of UK-EU trade agreement, now there is an opportunity to work towards UK-India Free Trade Agreement but resolving Cairn Energy issue must be a priority for that.  


Present developments provide an opportunity for both India and UK to move the bilateral economic plan forward.   

  • Both countries have common interest in the issues, such as climate change and the green economy, economic recovery of both the countries from COVID-19. 
  • After the conclusion of UK-EU trade agreement, UK can now focus on concluding trade agreements with key partners like India. 
  • The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which has been approved in the UK was developed in collaboration between the Pune-based Serum Institute of India and the Wockhardt factory in the UK. 

Importance of resolving Cairn Energy PLC issue 

The recent ruling of arbitration court in the favour of Cairn Energy PLC marks an end to the long-running dispute between Cairn Energy PLC and the Indian government over a retrospective $1.2 billion tax demand imposed in 2015.  

For India-UK trade to move forward and save the cost of arbitration, this issue need to end here.  

  • Cairn Energy PLC was one such global investor whose belongings in India were held in an Indian company in which Indians sat on the board, which had Indian senior management, where many of the engineers were Indian.  
  • The Cairn India got success from a significant calculated risk. The resources which Cairn Energy PLC bought from an international major had failed to find hydrocarbons on the land.  
      • The purchase came with a major capital risk to drill several wells to totally explore the fields in Rajasthan.  
      • After the oil discovery, Cairn Energy PLC then developed these fields and installed new technology to extract the oil and transport it to refineries.  
      • During this entire period Cairn Energy PLC paid all taxes and dues on time and also invested in the local community, creating valuable infrastructure and jobs.  

Thus, there is no reason for dragging this matter any further. 

Why resolving cairns India issues will be beneficial for India? 

The Indian government has publicly stated in the past that the decision of the court would be honoured, so the decision of the court should end the matter.  

  • Firstly, timely and logical settlement of this dispute would lead to an instant validation of the desirability of India as an investment destination and also to India’s status in the international and domestic debt and equity markets. 
  • Secondly, a practical solution to the Vodafone and Cairn Energy judgments would improve India’s position at the top table of global economic powers. 
  • Third, as stated above, it was one of the thorny issues in the India-UK relations and good relations with UK will open many opportunities for India in the EU region.

Dilemma of Reservation and merit system

Synopsis: For decades, merit system and reservation has been seen as opposites, but these differences are getting blurred.

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus – GS-2


The year 2021 is the centenary year of the “Communal” Government Order (GO) in Madras Presidency. It introduced reservations based on castes and communities.

GO was the acknowledgment of the social inequalities prevalent in the society, by the British.

Reservation became one of the most divisive public issues, dividing them into ‘reserved’ and ‘general’ categories. The reservation was seen as the opposite of a merit system.

Reservation, the especially caste-based reservation has been established as bad, whereas the reservations in the name of ‘Merit Stream’ for the wards of employees or alumni of universities and colleges is seen as right and justified.

  • For example; some of the colleges reserve postgraduate seats for the students enrolled in their own undergraduate honors programs. But officially this system is called the ‘Merit Stream’.

However, now with the EWS quota and entry of reserved category students in unreserved categories this difference is getting blurred.

Are the merit system and caste-based reservation, mutually exclusive?

  • If not segregated by the ideological differences, all reservations use merit-based criteria for the selection of eligible candidates. Thus, they are not mutually exclusive.
  • Even in the merit-based system, reservation like arrangements has been established that built exclusionary access. merit is achieved by a mix of ability, effort, and social capital and the social capital plays the most crucial role in it.
    • For example; expensive private schools or coaching institutes are affordable for the rich only, thus ability and effort only cannot get a student admission in them.
  • Most recent judgment in the Saurav Yadav vs. State of Uttar Pradesh case, reiterate the judgment of Mandal judgment, that un-reserved category must be open to all and selection should be merit-based, including for those belonging to categories entitled to reservations.
  • Thus, the reserved candidates making their way into the unreserved categories by the competition with the unreserved candidates should be appreciated.

Issue of privacy and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019

Source Indian Express

Syllabus- GS Paper 3

Synopsis– Present data-based technological development and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 presents a unique challenge to the privacy of individuals.  


By Puttaswamy v India (2017) case, privacy was established as a fundamental right. In other cases, MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra (1954) and Kharak Singh v. Uttar Pradesh (1962), as well, Privacy rights were upheld by SC.  

However, the development of global technology and implementation of the Aadhaar biometric programme in India have diluted the effect of these rulings. Now there is an urgent need to take a new look at the legal position of privacy in India. 

As depicted by Aadhaar based technology and global social media platforms, data has become a new oil i.e., it has become a tool for economic and political gain. It created a stream of data protection legislations, globally. India is also trying to join the league by Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (DPB).   

In India, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (DPB) is currently under consideration by a parliamentary committee. There are various issues in this bill that go against the privacy rights of individuals. 

Commercial and Political consequences of the Data Protection Bill (DPB): 

  1. Data Collection related issues  
  • First- Bill will negatively impact the emerging technologies market of India dealing in the creation, use, and sale of data that is valued at $1 trillion by 2025.  
  • Second- The bill requires digital firms who want to operate in India to obtain permission from users before collecting their data.  
  • Third– Bill also declares that users who provide data are, in effect, the owners of their own data and may control its usage or request firms to delete it.  
      • European internet-users are able to exercise a “right to be forgotten” and have evidence of their online presence removed. 
  • Fourth– The bill allows the government to use “critical” or “sensitive” personal data, related to information such as religion, to protect national interest. 
  • Fifth– Open-ended access to government could lead to misuse of data. Mr. B N Srikrishna, the chairmen of the drafting committee of the original bill, warned that government-access exemptions risk creating an “Orwellian state”.

2. Issues related to Establishment of Data Protection Authority (DPA)  

  • Bill aims to establish a Data Protection Authority (DPA), which will be charged with managing data collected by the Aadhaar programme. 
      • Authority will consist of a chairperson and six committee members,  
      • Members will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee.
      • Members will be selected from senior civil servants, including the Cabinet Secretary. 
  • The government’s power to appoint and remove members at its discretion provides it an ability to influence the independence of agency.
  • Unlike similar institutions, such as the Reserve Bank of India or the Securities and Exchange Board, the DPA will not have an independent expert or member of the judiciary on its governing committee.
  • The UIDAI, for its part, has a chairperson appointed by the central government and reporting directly to the Centre.

3. Issues related to government use of data for surveillance

There are instances that suggest, India is acquiring some features of a surveillance state

  • As stated by the Union Home minister recently, police used facial recognition technology to identify people after the anti-CAA protests and the Delhi riots. 
  • There is a high possibility that police was matching the video offstage with the database of Election Commission and e-Vahan, a pan-India database of vehicle registration.

4. Issue related to the safety of data 

There are instances of controversy where the government has shown a casual approach towards data safety and privacy of its citizens:  

  • First, Safety concerns were raised during aadhaar data collection, which stores biometric data in the form of iris and fingerprints which is a violation of the right to privacy.  
  • Second instance was of Aarogya Setu contact-tracing app which was allegedly not able to protect the data provided by citizens.  

Way Forward 

  • The Data Protection Bill is a unique opportunity for India, a country with some 740 million internet users.  It would be a standard setter for privacy of individuals. 
  • Inclusive debate needs to take place in the Joint Parliament Committee and then in Parliament to examine the Data Protection Bill and promote transparency.

How India is increasing its maritime domain awareness?

Syllabus: GS-3, Security

Link: Indian Express


Foreknowledge was identified by the legendary military theorist, Sun Tzu as the critical element in the battle. It can be gathered only with specialized tools and by men who knew the enemy well.

Although modern warfare has become technology-based and more complex, ‘foreknowledge’ is still critical as the enemy at sea has become more unrecognizable.

A normal fisherman or a port worker can turn out to be a terrorist, a pirate, a criminal, or a sea-robber. To observe and track suspicious movements, Law enforcement agencies require high-grade sensors and communication networks, and information sharing in real-time.

This enhanced consciousness at sea is called maritime domain awareness.

What are India’s concerns regarding maritime domain awareness?

  • People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is developing a generation of stealthier submarines that will be capable of passing through undetected under enemy surveillance.
  • This breakthrough by the Chinese has been ascertained by a successful test of shaftless rim-driven pump-jets.

How India is increasing its maritime domain awareness?

Post-Galwan clash, Indian Navy is mainly focused on improving maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, specifically in the seas around Andaman and Nicobar islands, to monitor the activity of China.

  • Coastal Radar network: India has already integrated Mauritius, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka into the wider coastal radar chain network. Now, it is seeking to set up radar stations in the Maldives, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
  • Monitoring: India’s P-8I aircraft are monitoring near-seas and Indian naval ships have patrolled the Andaman Seas and eastern chokepoints for People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines.
    • India is planning to install an array of undersea sensors near the Andaman Islands in partnership with Japan.
  • Information cooperation: Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region in Gurugram is fast emerging as the most prominent information hub in the Eastern Indian Ocean. Following countries are planning to post their officers at the centre;
    • Seven Indian Ocean countries — Maldives, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Seychelles
    • At the centre, Indo-Pacific navies — Australia, Japan, the U.K, and the U.S.
    • Whereas, France has already posted an officer at the IFC.
  • India has also posted a Liaison Officer in
    • Madagascar at  Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC)
      • India has recently joined the RMIFC as an observer.
      • It is a key center of maritime information in the Western Indian Ocean
    • In Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) at European Maritime Awareness
      • It is helpful in monitoring maritime activity in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Relations with France: India signed a logistics agreement with France in 2019.
    • France has been key for India’s participation in the Western and South-Western Ocean.
    • France facilitated an ‘observer’ status for India at the Indian Ocean Commission.
  • Sagar: India is furthering its Philosophy of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) as a ‘security provider’ and ‘preferred partner’ in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • India has entered into shipping agreements with 21 countries in the Indian Ocean.
    • GSAT-7A, India’s military satellite, will facilitate a real-time sharing of maritime information with partners.

However, India’s maritime initiatives are not just focussed on strategic considerations but also generating cooperative synergies in the neighborhood.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims| Jan 07,2021

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