9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 2, 2021

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Challenges of India’s COVID Diplomacy 2.0

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Synopsis: India’s Covid Diplomacy 2.0 is focused on managing many challenges. The majority of these challenges arise due to Covid mismanagement.

ReadProactive Diplomacy 


  • During the first wave of the pandemic, India’s Covid-19 diplomacy was focused on coordinating exports of COVID-19 medicines. Further, it focussed on the repatriation of Indians from abroad under ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ and exporting vaccines worldwide under ‘Vaccine Maitri’.
  • However, now, during the 2nd wave, the focus of India’s diplomacy or Covid Diplomacy 2.0 has changed due to Covid mismanagement.
  • Covid mismanagement has been the reason for Vaccine shortages in India. Three factors are responsible for this,
    • The failure of the Government to plan and place procurement orders in time.
    • The failure of the two India-based companies to produce vaccine doses they had committed to.
    • MEA’s focus on exporting, not importing, vaccines
  • Owing to Covid mismanagement strategies, The Ministry of External Affairs has had to deal with many challenges.

What are the challenges facing India’s Covid Diplomacy 2.0?

  • First, the most urgent task for Indian diplomats was to deal with oxygen and medicine shortages. The Ministry of External Affairs has completed the task of bringing in supplies in a timely manner, and with success.
  • Second, the challenge of dealing with vaccine shortages in India.
  • Currently, India is looking to the U.S. for help to manage the vaccine shortages in India. Multiple options have been worked out to boost vaccine supply with the help of the U.S.
    1. One, requesting the U.S. to share a substantial portion of its stockpile of AstraZeneca doses.
    2. Two, requesting the U.S. to release more vaccine ingredients that are restricted for exports.
    3. Three, to buy more stock from the three U.S. manufacturers, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johns
    4. Four, to encourage the production of these vaccines in India.
  • However, every option has its own challenges. For instance,
    • One, The U.S. government is holding up its AstraZeneca exports until it’s own United States Food and Drug Administration approves them.
    • Two, the U.S policy on releasing vaccine ingredients and components has not changed. Although it has supplied a small amount of vaccine ingredients and components.
    • Three, the Production of Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines in India will take time.
    • Four, even buying vaccines directly has its own challenges.
      • The U.S. companies are seeking a waiver on the need for bridge-trials prior to clearance as well as Emergency Use Authorisation prior to supplying them that goes against India’s principles.
      • Further, the U.S. manufacturers want centralised orders, with payments up-front. It will go against the center’s decision to decentralize vaccine procurement.
  • Third, Indian diplomats are faced with the challenge of convincing countries for a temporary TRIPS waiver at WTO. But, since WTO works on the basis of consensus, getting a Waiver on Intellectual Property rights will be a time taking process.
  • Fourth, regaining trust for India’s vaccine and pharmacy exports among neighbouring countries after the Vaccine collapse is a big challenge ahead. For instance, Bhutan was solely dependent on India for Vaccines was asked to arrange vaccines for themselves. India’s neighbors have now sought help from China and the U.S. to complete their vaccination drives.
  • Fifth, understanding the pathways of emergence” of SARS-CoV2 is significant to tackle the future Covid waves.
    • WHO has listed four possibilities Direct zoonotic transmission, an intermediate host, cold chain or transmission through food, or a laboratory incident.
    • The fourth possibility of being a laboratory incident has gained prominence after scientists and agencies around the world are calling for more research and transparency from China.
    • India is one of the largest victims of Covid19. Thus, it should seek for a more definitive answer at the global and demand accountability.

Way forward

  • India should raise its voice for a stronger convention to regulate any research that could lead, by accident or design, to a pandemic.
  • It is necessary to revamp the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention to institute an implementation body to assess treaty compliance and build safer standards for the future.

Child labour in India- Need of Effective Policy making and programmatic interventions

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Synopsis:  India needs to address the causative factors for Child labor through effective Policymaking and programmatic interventions. It should aim at the elimination of child labor in all its forms by 2025.


  • The Pandemic has amplified the contributing factors for Child labor in India. For instance, School lockdown, increasing unemployment, etc.,
  • However, not all the factors that contribute to child labour were created by the pandemic. Most of them were pre-existing and have been exposed or amplified by it.
  • According to Census 2011 reports, India has 10.1 million working children in the age group of 5-14 years.
  • Out of this, 8.1 million are in rural areas, mainly engaged as cultivators (26%) and agricultural laborers (32.9%).
  • Child labour causes long-term and devastating consequences on child’s education, their skill acquisition, and their future possibilities to overcome the vicious circle of poverty.
  • Effective Policymaking and programmatic interventions can save children from the misery of Child labor.

How right policymaking and programmatic interventions can reduce the instance of Child labour?

  • Child labour in India decreased in the decade 2001 to 2011 owing to right combination of policy and programmatic interventions.
  • Policy interventions such as (MGNREGA) 2005, the Right to Education Act 2009, and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme have helped working Children in receiving formal education.
  • By Ratifying International Labour Organization Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 2017, the Indian government further demonstrated its commitment to eliminate child labour.
  • India also has a dedicated online portal ( pencil.gov.in) for effective enforcement of child labour laws.
  • However, owing to the Pandemic, the rate of reduction has slowed by two-thirds in recent years.

What are the factors that need to be addressed to eliminate Child labor in India?

  • Increase in ‘out of school’ children: UNESCO estimates that around 38.1 million children are “out of school”.
  • Economic crisis: The economic contraction and lockdowns lead to income reductions for enterprises and workers, many of them in the informal economy.
  • Socioeconomic Challenges: caused by the return of migrant workers has compounded the problem.
  • Issues in the Indian Economy: India experienced slower economic growth and rising unemployment even before the pandemic.
  • ‘Digital divide’: Lack of access to the internet, Digital devices have forced challenges in distant learning and online learning for children. According to the NSS Report titled ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’ only 24% of Indian households had access to an Internet facility.
  • Other reasons: increased economic insecurity, lack of social protection and reduced household income, children from poor households Children are being pushed into child labor.

Way forward

  • Strategic partnerships and collaborations involving government, employers, trade unions, community-based organizations, and child labor families can reduce the menace of child labor in India.
  • The government needs to reinforce its commitment to protect children from unacceptable forms of work. It will ensure achieving Sustainable Development Goal 8.7. (Ending child labour in all its forms by 2025)

UN’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour will ensure that the world countries will take swift actions against Child Labour.

Twin challenge of COVID-19 Pandemic and Non-communicable diseases

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Synopsis – There is a correlation between Non-Communicable Diseases [NCD] mortality rates and COVID-19 case fatalities. Government should focus on reducing the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases(NCD).


  • Studies showed that over 70 per cent of mortalities associated with COVID are due to underlying non-communicable diseases (NCD) like diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, and cancer.
  • Prevention and control of NCDs have played a crucial role in the COVID-19 response.
    • For example- India’s previous efforts to minimize NCD-related deaths have resulted in lower Covid-19 case fatality rates.
    • At 1.16 percent, India’s COVID case fatality rate is approximately half that of the world average of 2.17 percent.
  • Every 10% reduction in the underlying NCD mortality rate results in a 20% reduction in COVID fatality rates.

What is India’s NCD strategy?

India developed a multi-sector NCD action plan to reduce the number of global premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.

Major initiatives-

  • Strengthening health care system
    • Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat scheme – The government would invest around Rs 64,000 crore in rural and urban health and wellness Centers [HWC] as part of this programme.
    • Around 1,20,000 PHCs being converted into HWCs to provide primary care for NCD.
  • Providing financial protection
    • PM’s health insurance scheme – The initiative covers 100 million of the most vulnerable population. It reduces out-of-pocket expenditures on health by expanding the scope of primary healthcare to include screening and diagnosis of NCD like CVD, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.
  • To address household air pollution –
    • PM Ujjwala Yojana – The use of LPG instead of polluting wood in 90 million households has reduced the risk of the chronic lung diseases and cancer that women were exposed to.

Suggestions to tackle the twin challenges of the COVID pandemic and NCD morbidities

  • Ensuring universal access to screening for NCDs.
  • Using Artificial Intelligence with telemedicine to continue healthcare for NCD patients during lockdown.
  • Need to put focus on enhancing care policies for prevention and treatment, particularly in low- and middle-income countries to meet their UN SDGs to reduce NCD mortality by a third by 2030.

Way forward-

Achieving the SDG target by reducing one-third of premature mortalities due to NCD will make India more resilient to future viral pandemics. Thus, India must strengthen its health infrastructure through the Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat programme.

Need of Transparency in Covid related Policies

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS- 2

Synopsis: Government should ensure transparency in the policies related to the Covid-19 pandemic in India. Official privacy on pandemic policies intensifies a crisis.


The government created the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) in August 2020. It is a central agency to take decisions on all matters related to vaccine administration and rollout. 

  • The details of the NEGVAC’s meetings were asked under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.  The Health Ministry responded that it does not know where the concerned documents are.
  • The information about the dates and minutes of meetings of other task forces constituted to deal with the pandemic was denied. The reason stated was “The information is not in the public domain”. 
    • The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ICMR and Bharat Biotech for the rollout of Covaxin was also not provided.
  • Such privacy runs through the full range of COVID-19- related matters. This includes vaccine manufacturing, pricing decisions, lockdown planning and running of the ₹10,000 crore-plus PM CARES fund. The officials are keeping the pandemic and vaccine policies a secret by avoiding the RTIs.

Implications of Secrecy 

  • The government is denying information on important policies and decisions. Opacity serves as a cover for over-centralization and misgovernance.
  • Fourthly, effective planning and management cannot happen in an opaque setting. As per experts, the Covid-19 related death toll also increased because of mismanagement and lack of preparation.
  • Confidentiality is reducing the ability of scientists, public health, and policy experts to give feedback and suggestions to the government. Over 900 scientists have appealed to the Prime Minister for access to information and data. 

Amartya Sen wrote about famines in colonial India that mass hunger and death do not occur where information flows freely.

Way forward

  • Sections 4 and 7 of the RTI Act provide for proactive and urgent disclosures where there are consequences for life and liberty.
  • The Supreme Court should order the government to suo motu reveal information related to COVID-19 policies under the above provisions. 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 2 June, 2021

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