We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
- For previous editions of 9 PM Brief – Click here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- The law of sedition is unconstitutional
- Keeping alive conversations about AIDS
- What India can learn from China’s foreign Policy
- False notions of gender roles should be corrected early
GS Paper 3
- Reopen the files, reconsider privatisation
- Rattling foreign investors
- The drone challenge before India
- In India, forest rights means forest conservation
- India must be wary of monopolistic e-retailers
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Govt. unveils Rs 6.28 lakh cr stimulus post second COVID wave
- India successfully test-fires Agni P, a new missile in Agni series
- Hope to resolve Covishield-EU issue soon, says Adar Poonawalla
- No HC relief to digital news portals seeking stay on IT rules
- Repeal draft Cinematograph Bill: film fraternity writes to I&B ministry
- World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP)
- Govt Plans national stockpile of life-saving drugs
- FTAs with key nations will boost exports, attract more investments: FIEO
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
The law of sedition is unconstitutional
GS2: Structure, Organization, and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
Relevance: Sedition is important to protect the national interest. On the other hand, misuse of this provision will hamper the Fundamental Rights of individuals.
Synopsis: There is an urgent need to review the Kedar Nath judgment on sedition law.
- In Vinod Dua’s case (2021), the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the law of sedition upheld in Kedar Nath Singh (1962).
- The Kedar Nath judgment upheld the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
- The court held that only writings or speeches which incite people to violence against the Government will come within the ambit of sedition.
Why Kedarnath judgment needs a review?
- Firstly, the Supreme Court’s view in Kedar Nath is consistently being ignored.
- Citizens of all ages have been charged with sedition for criticizing government authorities.
- For instance, the recent Lakshadweep case.
- Secondly, section 124A of the IPC clearly violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Further Kedarnath judgment opens the door for misuse by making it conditional.
- It says that ‘only when the words written or spoken etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder’ the law steps in.
- So, if a policeman thinks that a cartoon has the pernicious tendency to create public disorder, he will arrest that cartoonist.
- It is the policeman and law enforcement machinery who would decide whether a person’s behaviour was seditious.
- Thirdly, section 124 A is not a reasonable restriction.
- Accused under this section does not get protection under Article 19(2) on the ground of reasonable restriction.
- Sedition as a reasonable restriction was included in the draft constitution but was deleted during the adoption of the Constitution.
- Fourth, this law was enacted by the British colonial government with the sole objective of suppressing all voices of Indians.
- In the Bangobasi case in 1891, Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s case in 1897 and 1908, and Mahatma Gandhi’s case in 1922, it was held that a mere comment has the potential to cause disaffection towards the government.
- Justice Arthur Strachey in Tilak’s case had made it absolutely clear that even attempts to cause disaffection would attract the provision.
- These arguments do not stand valid after the adoption of the constitution.
- However, SC adopted the reasoning given by the Federal Court in Niharendu Dutta Majumdar vs Emperor in 1942. In which it was held that the gist of the offense of sedition is a public disorder or a reasonable apprehension of public disorder.
- Lastly, this law should be removed for being unconstitutional, but the SC judgment has softened it.
- The Supreme Court emphasized the words ‘public order’ used in Article 19(2) and this made the offense of sedition constitutionally valid.
People have the right to criticize the government, which is part and parcel of democracy. Hence, the law of sedition which penalizes people for criticizing the government should be declared unconstitutional.
Terms to know
Keeping alive conversations about AIDS
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Relevance: India needs to look for each and every way to control the pandemic. Among that, lessons from chronic diseases might provide some valuable suggestions.
Synopsis: To handle the COVID-19 pandemic, we can learn from the lessons of chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a rare fungal infection of the lungs in five persons on June 5, 1981. The world learned for the first time about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV) infection in patients with a weakened immune system.
- India became one of the most successful countries in the world in combating the HIV/AIDS disease between 1997 and 2010. In 2012, the Centre hailed the achievement of “managing AIDS” as a minor step forward in the long process of combating the disease.
- However, now India is lagging behind the targets. For example;
- The WHO aimed that 90 percent of persons living with HIV/AIDS will be on antiretroviral medication, by 2020. Now, at least five years have been added to the deadline.
- Former Union Health Secretary and Director of the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), J.V.R. Prasada Rao, is concerned that the country’s hard-won successes may be jeopardised.
Why India is lagging behind in controlling HIV/AIDS?
The HIV infection diagnosis rate dropped from 60% in 2010 to 23% in 2019. the mortality rate doubled, and new cases spiked five times more during the period.
This happened because the campaign to educate and empower the vulnerable communities, like MSM (men who have sex with men), IDUs (Injecting Drug Users), migrant and sex workers, and truck drivers, is not happening.
- Firstly, strong political leadership, financial support, advocacy, and activism are crucial in the successful handling of the movement. A long-term view of AIDS beyond the health sector and the socio-economic impacts of the epidemic should be considered.
- Secondly, To contain AIDS, a multi-sectoral and multi-pronged strategy is required.
- Supporting science-driven approaches, good quality data, and empirical evidence; and consolidating guidelines are necessary to combat any medical crises.
- The nationalised AIDS treatment plan is a perfect example of how early detection, diagnosis, and treatment saved many lives.
- Thirdly, the NACP’s experience in dealing with HIV needs to be tapped into. The existing workforce in 21,000 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) is well-equipped. They can help in the early detection of infections, reduce vulnerability, and link people with care and treatment services.
- Fourthly, the government needs to change its priorities and re-energise the ICTCs to uphold the right to treatment and the dignity of individuals affected by diseases. Using the available tools in the healthcare system is the best way to mainstream health crises.
Terms To Know:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV)
- Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC)
What India can learn from China’s foreign Policy
Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations
Relevance: China always aligns its national ambitions with its foreign policy for better results. So, aligning India’s national ambition will improve India’s foreign relations.
Synopsis: China’s foreign policy was always directed towards its national ambitions
- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this week.
- The CCP has been commendable in making China the world’s second-largest economy, and a technological powerhouse.
- Though India had much in common with China a hundred years ago, it is not the same now.
- China’s GDP is five times larger than that of India, and Beijing spends three times more than Delhi on defense.
- In this regard, India can learn from China on building flexible global coalitions, adapting quickly to changing internal needs and external circumstances.
China’s foreign policy was always in line with its national ambitions
1st phase: China was against Japanese occupation more than Imperialism
- China’s world view was different from India’s. India wanted to build a “spiritual Asia”, different from the “material West”. Whereas the young communists demanded rapid modernisation.
- Also, a divergence of opinion emerged between India and China towards defeating Imperialism.
- The two sides issued a joint declaration underlining their shared interest in defeating imperialism and jointly building post-colonial order in Asia and the world.
- However, during the second world war, the two national movements could not find common ground. For China, fighting Japanese occupation was the priority and for India, it was about ousting British colonialism from India.
2nd Phase: China departed from Russia to pursue its national ambitions
- India wanted to befriend China and oppose US efforts to isolate Beijing. But the bilateral disputes over territory and Tibet drove them to war.
- On the geopolitical front, communist China moved away from communist Russia and moved closer to the US. To restore regional balance, India moved closer to Russia.
3rd phase: China focused on rebuilding the Chinese economy by committing to peace
- Instead of pursuing revolutionary goals abroad, Deng Xiaoping pursued peace to facilitate domestic development.
- This had helped in establishing peace on the Sino-Indian border, normalising political relations, and expanding economic cooperation.
- But the situation began to change in the late 2000s, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. Also, China’s increasing economic power got steadily translated into military power and diplomatic influence was steadily rising.
4th Phase: China is determined to rewrite the regional order under Xi Jinping
- The fourth phase in Chinese international policies, marked by assertiveness on territorial disputes with neighbours.
- China under Xi Jinping is ready to offer an alternative to the US-led global order. It wants to deliver a superior form of capitalism, better ways of domestic political governance, and a new model of international relations centred around Chinese power.
- Currently, India finds itself squeezed by Chinese power on multiple fronts i.e., Territorial, maritime, and from regional to international institutions.
- The Chinese face-off at eastern Ladakh reflects the more difficult phase in India-China relations.
What India can learn?
China did not let its internationalism come in the way of its national ambition. For example,
- Mao broke from the Russian-led Comintern to initiate the Chinese revolution.
- Similarly, Deng broke from the communist ideology to accelerate Chinese economic transformation in partnership with the US and the West.
For any nation, large or small, internationalism can’t be an end in itself. It is a critical instrument in strengthening national unity, security, and prosperity.
False notions of gender roles should be corrected early
Source: click here
Syllabus: GS2, Women Empowerment
Relevance: Dowry is one of the biggest hurdles to women’s empowerment.
Synopsis: In order to encourage gender equality-related transformation in society, it is necessary to intervene at the school level.
Recently a 24-year-old woman who was believed of being harassed for dowry, died tragically recently. It reveals a lot about the situation of women’s empowerment in our culture.
- 7,115 deaths were recorded in dowry-related cases in 2019. It is nearly 20 women every day, according to the records of India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
- In 2019, the Indian Penal Code recorded over 340,000 cases of crime against women.
What are the gender norms that women have to deal with?
- Problems faced by women: Women’s education does not provide them much influence over their life choices. Women’s decision-making capacity is limited by their lack of access to economic resources. Education and riches do not guarantee a sense of self-worth.
- Social conventions around marital customs and gender roles can only be challenged by the change from inside society.
- Age for marriage: In India, marriage by a specific age is regarded as a universal requirement. According to the 2018-19 National Sample Survey, one in two females (and one in three men) in urban India and three in four girls (and two in four men) in rural India married before the age of 25.
- Dowry: A research project found that married women workers with school-aged daughters were saving in gold for their daughters’ marriages. While yet-to-be-married women workers were saving for their own dowry.
- Domestic violence: Spousal violence was experienced by 27% of women in paid labor and 20% of women who did not work.
- Divorce rates: In India, one out of every four married women is subjected to marital abuse, while the proportion of divorced or separated women among ever-married women was less than 1% in 2018-19. Divorce is frowned upon and considered a betrayal of family honour.
How can social norms be changed?
- Firstly, promoting successful women CEOs and sportswomen as role models could change people’s perceptions. It would also be beneficial if male role models openly challenged gender stereotypes.
- Secondly, “To instil a culture of gender equality, Kerala’s school textbooks will be rewritten and inspected to screen out terms and phrases demeaning women,” tweeted Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
- Steps should be taken to transform our schools and institutions into places where gender equality and equal rights are valued.
- Thirdly, early-stage action to modify gender views among boys and girls would be the single most important policy undertaking. This is a strategy that should be implemented in all Indian states as soon as possible.
GS Paper 3
Reopen the files, reconsider privatisation
Syllabus: GS 3 – Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth
Relevance: Privatisation has the potential to alter the functioning of the Indian economy.
Synopsis: In the backdrop of an economic contraction, it is important to revisit the aggressive privatization of public enterprises. Focus should be on adopting different strategies for sick and profitable units.
- Privatization of the public sector, including banks, has been part of economic reforms since 1991. This was at the core of the ‘Washington Consensus’ which believes that the private sector is inherently more efficient.
- The socio-political realities of India prevented outright privatisation. However, progressive disinvestment of the shares of public sector undertakings has been taking place over the years.
- Privatisation is now happening, with great vigor and dedicated targets. However, India is right now going through its worst economic crisis.
- Unemployment has risen, incomes are falling, and the fiscal deficit is rising. In this situation, outright privatisation may not be justified.
Concerns associated with Outright privatisation:
- First, the number of Indian private firms which can buy out public sector firms is limited. Their limited financial and managerial resources can be better utilised;
- In taking over numerous private firms up for sale through the bankruptcy process.
- In investing in various brownfield and greenfield projects
- Second, the Sale at fair or lower than fair valuations to foreign entities has adverse implications from the perspective of being ‘Atma Nirbhar’.
- Third, PSU enterprises provide for reservations in recruitment. With privatisation, this would end and unnecessarily generate social unrest.
- Fourth, the Government has been able to use its ownership to get banks and public enterprises to do so many things on an immediate basis during the pandemic. This would not have been possible with private ownership.
Types of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs):
- First Category: Enterprises which have been sick for a long time. Their technology, plants and machinery are obsolete while managerial and human resources have become inefficient.
- Second Category: Enterprises which have been financially sick but can be turned around. Their difficulties can be traced to ministerial micromanagement, especially in enterprises with a direct consumer interface. For example, Air India and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) hotels.
- Third Category: Enterprises that are generating decent profits.
Cautious approach towards PSUs:
- First Category: Government should close these in a time-bound manner with a generous handshake for labour.
- These enterprises may be taken away from their parent line Ministries and brought under one holding company. The company should have the sole mandate of speedy liquidation and asset sale.
- Second Category: Private management through induction of a strategic partner is the best way to restore the value of these enterprises.
- They should ideally be made debt-free and new management should be given freedom in personnel management to get investor interest.
- Once debt-free, management control with a 26% stake may be given. As valuation rises, the Government could reduce its stake further and get more money.
- Third Category: The Government can continue to reduce its shareholding by offloading shares. It can even reduce its stake to less than 51% while remaining the promoter and being in control.
This would help in producing Global Champions, as done by China. The country has 91 state-owned enterprises in the Fortune 500 list.
Rattling foreign investors
Source: The Hindu
Relevance: Attracting more FDI is crucial for India’s economic recovery after the pandemic.
Synopsis: Regulatory risks and uncertainty in following the rule of law will discourage FDI in India.
- The Commerce Ministry recently reported that India attracted the highest ever FDI of $81.72 billion in 2020-21.
- However, several economists argue that the surge in FDI inflows is driven by short-term portfolio investment inflows and a few major acquisition deals involving select corporations.
- Further, Government’s disputes with big companies like Vodafone and Cairn Energy, on retrospective taxation, will shake the confidence of foreign investors.
Barriers to FDI in India: Regulatory risk
- Honoring contracts and enforcing awards are vital to attracting the confidence of FDI investors. However, a lack of confidence in the host state’s credibility towards the rule of law hampers FDI investments. Following are some such examples.
- For instance, last year India had lost two high-profile bilateral investment treaty (BIT) disputes with Vodafone and Cairn Energy on retrospective taxation.
- Further, Cairn has launched legal proceedings in the U.S. to enforce the arbitral award of $1.2 billion by seizing the assets of Air India.
- Apart from this, the other set of high-profile BIT disputes comes from the cancellation of an agreement between Antrix, and Devas Multimedia. The agreement was arbitrarily annulled on the grounds of national security.
- This annulment led to a commercial arbitration between Antrix and Devas Multimedia at the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC),
- However, India lost the case. The ICC arbitration tribunal ordered Antrix to pay $1.2 billion to Devas after a U.S. court confirmed the award earlier this year.
India’s willful noncompliance attitude towards adverse judicial rulings.
- What is more worrisome is that whenever India loses a case to a foreign investor, immediate compliance rarely happens. Instead, efforts are made to delay the compliance as much as possible.
- For instance, After the ICC award, Indian agencies started investigating Devas accusing it of corruption and fraud.
- Last month, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) ordered the liquidation of Devas on the ground that the affairs of the company were being carried on fraudulently.
- Further, the NCLT directed the official liquidator to prevent Devas from perpetuating its fraudulent activities and abusing the process of law in enforcing the ICC award.
- This has led to, Devas issuing a notice of intention to initiate a new BIT arbitration against India.
- The non-compliant behaviour on India’s part shows a willful disobedient attitude towards adverse judicial rulings.
- This will not help India in attracting global corporations to its shores to ‘make for the world’
The drone challenge before India
Source: Indian Express, TOI, Business-Standard, India Today
Syllabus: GS3 – Security
Tags: drones, Heron, Predator, Sea Guardian, border surveillance, drone tech.
Relevance: Strengthening India’s surveillance capabilities to deal with constantly evolving terror threats in the border areas esp. J&K
Synopsis: The recent drone attack on Air Force Station Jammu has raised some doubts about the robustness of India’s intelligence and surveillance capabilities in the sensitive border regions. Drones have been a threat for a while but received little serious consideration. This will change now.
Why are drones so dangerous?
- First, they are cheap and can be bought online by anyone. Checking who’s buying drones for what purpose is virtually impossible currently.
- Second, anonymity is afforded to the user due to drones’ uncontrolled proliferation.
- Third, drones do not require much technical expertise to use.
- Fourth, use of drones by terrorists causes a disproportionate psychological effect on people as well as on security personnel.
- Fifth, terrorist drones can be deployed anywhere in the country, not just security/military installations. The state’s expensive weapons system or massive deployment of troops are of little use.
|Also read: UAVs and threats posed by them – Explained in detail|
- Detecting drones is difficult: They are battery-powered, and hence relatively quiet. They can be manually controlled or programmed to fly low giving the defender very little warning time. Also, detection by normal civil and military radars is difficult as their radar cross-section is very small; their small size makes visual acquisition problematic too.
- Neutralization of drones is tough: When a drone makes an approach at night or drones are used in a swarm to saturate defenses, quick response can be difficult.
- India’s underdeveloped drone capabilities: India’s own capabilities to detect drones/UAVs have not yet developed successfully. The Indian security forces have been testing anti-drone jammer technology along the border. But it now turns out that communications between domestic security agencies get jammed when this system is deployed.
- Intensify observation: There is a need for intensifying observation 24×7 to track likely places from where drones are launched.
- Developing indigenous drone tech: India is certainly lagging behind in UAV and drone technology although we keep hearing of the DRDO having come up with a new design etc. They need to work seriously in operationalizing their range of UAVs and drones.
- Supplementing indigenous tech with imports: Since R&D and manufacture of anti-drone systems are at a nascent stage in India, some numbers should be sourced through imports for certain vital areas.
- Formation of a task force: A task force should be formed. This task force should be skilled at taking time-bound anti-drone measures.
- Improving detection & engaging capabilities: Helicopters can be used to detect and engage UAVs. Tracking drones via optical or infra-red means or multi-sensors including sound can be done.
- Efforts need to be accelerated to ensure detection and finding innovative ways to engage them.
- Laser-based Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) is a possible defense system against drone attacks. In India, DRDO has developed two anti-drone DEW systems. They can use powerful lasers to engage aerial targets at a distance of 2 km. However, mass production of these systems is yet to take place.
- Anti-drone protocol: A standing operating procedure based on an anti-drone protocol should be developed.
- Need to broaden the guidelines: Government needs to avoid the knee-jerk response of restricting drones in the domestic arena, most of which is involved in such critical civilian work as mapping land to establish ownership records, or weather drones that survey crop output, floods, and droughts.
- Maintain a graded list: Since it is impossible to address every vital installation, a graded list be made of those to be protected including personages too as the world has been witness to assassinations through unmanned systems, including drones.
- Involving private players: Private industry should be involved. We have plenty of young and enthusiastic IT entrepreneurs whose startups need to be supported with finance for R&D.
- The government’s iDEX initiative must enable multiple players as there are many sub-parts in an anti-drone architecture. Expecting one or two companies to produce the system as a whole will only delay the end-product.
- Monitoring the proliferation of drones: A mechanism to monitor the proliferation of drones and anti-drone technology needs to be instituted quickly. The policy needs to legitimize legal players and prevent the technology from landing up in wrong hands.
|Also read: Anti-drone guidelines by Indian government|
Drone strike signals a major shift in the nature of cross-border terrorism along the Line of Control and the government urgently needs to develop and deploy countermeasures to ensure that it does not escalate into a bigger tragedy in this turbulent region.
Terms to know:
In India, forest rights means forest conservation
Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment and biodiversity Conservation
Relevance: Community Forests Resource (CFR) Rights is essential for forest conservation in India.
Synopsis: The multifarious benefits of Community Forests Resource (CFR) Rights present compelling evidence for India to recognize and support CFR rights. Community forests with legally recognized rights are healthier and associated with lower deforestation rates, higher carbon storage and biodiversity compared to other forests.
- On June 14, Prime Minister addressed the UN High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought.
- He reiterated that India was on track to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030. He cited the example of the Banni grassland in Gujarat.
Case Study of Banni Grassland:
- Banni is home to great biological diversity and is the lifeline of its pastoralist communities. However, climate change and the invasion by Prosopis Juliflora have severely impacted its unique ecology.
- Banni’s pastoralist communities (Maldharis) are applying their deep knowledge of the local ecology to conserve the grassland.
- They uproot Prosopis in the pre-monsoon period and when it rains, the native grass species’ regenerate from their rootstock.
Legal Mandate of Community Forest Resource Rights (CFR) in India:
- Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, bestows adivasis and other traditional forest-dwelling communities, including pastoralists with CFR rights.
- They are empowered to decide on the management and restoration of their community forest resources. Further they can stop any activity that adversely impacts biodiversity or the local ecology.
Compelling reasons for India to recognize and support CFR rights:
- First, our forests are grappling with degradation, an important contributor to GHG emissions. More than 40 per cent of the forest cover is open, often degraded.
- Second, it will help in meeting international commitments. India has committed to restore 26 million hectares of degraded forests and lands by 2030 under the Bonn pledge.
- It has also targeted creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons by 2030 under the Paris Agreement through additional forest and tree cover.
- Third, India’s potential to remove carbon through forest restoration is among the highest in the Global South as per a 2020 study published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution.
- At 123.3 million, India also has the greatest number of people living near areas with forest restoration opportunities (within 8km).
- Fourth, numerous past initiatives were severely criticized for poor focus on CFR that resulted in sub optimal outcomes.
- Social forestry in the 1970s, the National Afforestation Program and Green India Mission have found them to have limited restoration benefits.
- These initiatives have drawn criticism for
- paying little attention to the land and forest tenure of local communities,
- failing to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, and
- not assisting communities to receive the opportunities they desire from restoration.
- Fifth, the recognition of CPR rights has happened at an extremely slow pace in the country. Less than 5 per cent of the total potential area has been brought under CFR. In Banni too, title deeds formally recognizing the CFR rights of the pastoralists are yet to be issued. Further, Institutional support for CFR remains minimal.
Terms to know
- Banni grassland
- Community Forest
India must be wary of monopolistic e-retailers
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
Tags: e-retailers, monopoly, GS2, ecommerce companies, ecommerce
Relevance: Impact of monopolistic companies and ways to combat such monopolies
Synopsis: The technological superiority and huge capital have enabled the e-retailers to capture a significant share of the Indian retail market. They may convert themselves into monopolistic entities in the near future which may pose numerous problems for the nation.
- The big e-retail firms like Jio Mart, Amazon, Tata Group etc. enjoy a large share of the Indian retail market.
- Experts believe that the market would value at $2 trillion dollar by 2030 and would be dominated by few big e-retail companies.
How would they dominate the market?
- Big e-retail companies, by being procurers of goods in large volumes, dictate bottom of the pit prices and impose stifling terms on manufacturers.
- Along with investment in Artificial Intelligence and process systems, their delivery prices to consumers will eventually be less than the procurement price of kirana stores.
- E-retail companies would become super distributors to kirana stores and will use them as pick-up points for ordered merchandise. Simultaneously, kirana stores will be nudged and compelled to increase the minimum order size, driving up inventory costs and losses for such stores.
- This would be a temporary arrangement and over the next 10-20 years, a majority of kirana stores will close.
- Along with them, interdependent businesses of supply chain intermediaries and hundreds of thousands of medium and small enterprises that supply to these stores will slowly cease to exist.
- Inevitably, as stores dwindle in numbers, consumers will find single suppliers and face a monopoly.
- They may also take support of the political class to promote their products. For instance, Paytm flourished as a home grown (swadeshi) brand with active support from politicians during the demonetization. While in reality it has investors from various countries including Alibaba from China.
- Furthermore, now politicians have stopped opposing FDI in retail, a deviation from their earlier stance.
Problems associated with monopolistic e-retailers:
- First, there would be lost of employment. Many among the 20 million small establishments (the kirana stores) would be closed. Further, the 40 million families spread across every street of the country dependent on the informal and formal retail chain would also lose their jobs.
- Second, it would deplete the independent entrepreneurial streak that is essential for a nation’s progress. Monopolies reduce competition, strangle innovation and disincentivize smaller businesses that actually create jobs and economic dynamism.
- Third, it would impact public sector banks and make them lose the lucrative retail segment.
- This would happen as E-retail firms have the ability to source and provide cheaper credit to consumers.
- They will dictate the terms to credit card companies and e-payment platforms to retain part of the fees collected when customers make a purchase.
- Fourth, it would reduce the independence of media outlets by taking a larger share of advertising revenue.
- Due to their huge presence, brands will be obliged to spend heavily on advertisements to gain visibility for their products.
- When Google was founded in 1998, print media collected over 50 per cent of the advertisement revenue. Today, it’s down to about 10 per cent.
- Fifth, the massive control over data would enable them to become arbitrators of opinion and decide the fate of elections. This would undermine free and fair elections in our democracy
- Europe is considering legislation to address the monopolistic behavior of big tech companies and to make data anonymous. India can learn from this for improving regulation, enforcement and anti-trust legislation in the country.
- Further, focus should be placed on augmenting people’s activism that can hold off the oligarchs from having a stranglehold over the nation
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Govt. unveils Rs 6.28 lakh cr stimulus post second COVID wave
Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, PIB, Livemint
What is the News?
Union Finance Minister has announced a number of measures to provide relief to diverse sectors affected by the 2nd wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the measures announced by the Government? The measures announced by the Government have been clubbed into 3 broad categories:-
Economic Relief from Pandemic:
- Rs 1.10 lakh crore Loan Guarantee Scheme for COVID Affected sectors, like the health and tourism sector.
- Expansions of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme(ECLGS) by Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
- Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro Finance Institutions: Under this, a Guarantee will be provided to Scheduled Commercial Banks for loans to new or existing NBFC-MFIs or MFIs for on-lending up to Rs 1.25 lakh to approximately 25 lakh small borrowers.
- Scheme for Tourists guides/ stakeholders: Under this, loans will be provided to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart businesses.
- Free one-month tourist visa to 5 lakh tourists: Once Visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh Tourists Visas will be issued charge to visit India. However, the benefit will be available only once per tourist.
- Extension of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana(ANBRY) from 30th June 2021 to 31st March 2022.
- Additional Subsidy for DAP (Diammonium phosphate) and Phosphorus and Potassium(P&K) fertilizers.
- Extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana from May to November 2021.
Strengthening Public Health
- 23,220 crore for public health: It will support the strengthening of public health infrastructure and human resources. The focus will be on short term emergency preparedness, with special emphasis on children and paediatric care/paediatric beds.
Impetus for Growth & Employment:
- Release of Climate Resilient Special Traits Varieties: Under this, the Government will release 21 Climate-resilient and bio-fortified special varieties of crops.
- Revival of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation(NERAMAC): for getting remunerative prices of agri-horticulture products.
- Boost Export Insurance Cover: Infusion of equity in Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) for 5 years, to boost export insurance cover.
- Broadband to each Village through BharatNet PPP Model: Under this, BharatNet will be implemented in PPP model in 16 States on viability gap funding basis. This will enable the expansion and up gradation of BharatNet to cover all Gram Panchayats and inhabited villages.
- Extension of Tenure of PLI Scheme for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing: The scheme has been extended till 2025-26.
- New streamlined processes for public-private partnership(PPP) projects and asset monetisation: The new process is aimed at ensuring speedy clearance of projects.
- Rs 3.03 lakh crore for a revamped reform-based result-linked power distribution scheme: The scheme is aimed at providing financial assistance to DISCOMS for infrastructure creation, up-gradation of system, capacity building, and process improvement.
India successfully test-fires Agni P, a new missile in Agni series
What is the News?
Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has successfully flight-tested a New Generation Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missile Agni P from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha.
- Agni P is a new generation advanced variant of the Agni class of missiles.
Features of Agni P Missile:
- Canister Based Missile: Agni P is a canisters based missile. Canisterisation of missiles reduces the time required to launch the missile while improving its storage and mobility,
- This means that it can be launched from rail and road and stored for a longer period. It can also be transported across the length and breadth of the country.
- Weight: The missile weighs 50% less than Agni III and has new guidance and a new generation of propulsion.
- Range: The missile has a range between 1000km to 2000km.It has been developed specifically to strike targets in Pakistan. Its range is too short to reach targets in the Chinese mainland.
- Replaced by: The Agni-P will replace the Prithvi, Agni-1 and Agni-2 missiles that were built two decades ago with technologies that are now considered outdated.
About Agni Missiles:
- Agni Missiles trace their origins back to the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme(IGMDP).
- IGMDP was conceived by APJ. Abdul Kalam in the 1980s to enable India to attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology.
- The missiles developed under this programme include (a)Agni (b)Akash, (c)Trishul (d)Prithvi and (e)Nag.
Hope to resolve Covishield-EU issue soon, says Adar Poonawalla
Source: The Hindu
What is the news? Serum Institute of India (SII) Chief Executive Officer has raised the issue of the European Union’s (EU) ‘Green Pass’ at the highest level in the EU.
What is the issue?
A lot of Indian travellers, who are vaccinated with Covishield may not be eligible for the European Union’s ‘green pass’. Thus, they are facing issues in travelling to the EU. It is because, only the ones inoculated with EMA-recognised vaccines will be able to claim this “digital passport”.
Serum Institute of India’s COVID-19 vaccine has been excluded from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) list of approved vaccines for the European Union (EU) Green Pass.
Whereas, Vaxzervria – the version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that is manufactured in the UK or other sites around Europe, has been included by EMA.
What is EU’s green pass?
Europe’s new ‘vaccine passport’ programme is also called Green Pass. It is a digital or paper document that indicates whether individuals have received a COVID-19 vaccination or, in some cases, recently tested negative for COVID-19.
This document facilitates easy travel within and to the group of countries in European Union.
No HC relief to digital news portals seeking stay on IT rules
Source: The Indian Express
What is the news:
The digital news portals seek a stay on the applicability of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on digital news media. But the Delhi High Court has declined to pass any order in favor of the digital news portals.
What did the digital news portals argue?
- The digital news portals argued that the executive power to virtually dictate content to digital news portals would squarely violate Article 14 and 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution.
- They also argue that the rules create a space for the state to enter and control news by way of deletion, modification or blocking, censure, compelled apology and more.
- But the Delhi High Court rejected the arguments.
- Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
- New IT Rules for Social Media and its challenges – Explained, Pointwise
Repeal draft Cinematograph Bill: film fraternity writes to I&B ministry
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
The Film Fraternity has written a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(I&B) to withdraw the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
About the Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021.
- The Draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 makes an amendment to the Cinematograph Act,1952.
- The bill gives the union government the power to ask for recertification of an already certified film if there is any complaint against it.
- It also penalizes piracy and introduces age-based certification.
What are the concerns and suggestions raised by Film Fraternity against the Bill?
- Role of CBFC: The Bill must clearly define the role of the Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC) as a body that certifies film content for public exhibition, and not as a censoring body.
- Drop Central Government Powers on Film Certification: The amendment giving powers to the Central Government to revoke a film certificate must be dropped.
- On Penalising Film Piracy: The existing law already penalizes piracy. Hence, there is no need to introduce further penal provisions. The bill should bring sufficient exceptions on fair use. The offense of piracy must also be made non-cognizable and bailable.
- Age-Based Certification: The film fraternity has welcomed the age-based certification. But they have also asked for a guidance or grievance cell within the CBFC to address and arbitrate any public grievances or complaints about films.
- Reinstate FCAT: The Film Fraternity has urged the government to reinstate the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). It was abolished in April.
- Clear Definition of Public Exhibition: The Cinematograph Act must be amended to include a clear definition of ‘public’ exhibition and bring under its purview only commercial films.
World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP)
Syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Synopsis: The World Bank releases a Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report twice a year. It is the most important source for evaluating the current and future outlook for emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). The recently released edition is significant because of the warnings it contains.
Key findings of the recent Global Economic Prospects report:
- The world economy is recovering from the pandemic. While the advanced economies (with successful or rapidly progressing covid vaccination programmes) appear to return to or even exceed their earlier growth rates.
- Emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) prospects are more mixed.
- The strongest-looking emerging-market region is East Asia and the Pacific followed by South Asia.
- The huge global disparity in vaccine access means that poorer countries are likely to face more waves of the coronavirus and its variants in the coming months and years.
- Inflation: If inflation in advanced economies persists, central banks may be compelled to tighten monetary policy. That could lead to higher capital inflows for advanced economies and the depreciation of EMDE currencies.
- The report shows that one big stumbling block to faster growth and progress for EMDEs is the high cost of a trade. Tariffs account for only one-fourteenth of the total cost of trade, with logistics, transport, bureaucracy and corruption making up the rest. As a result, a good sold to another country costs on average double what it does domestically.
Key findings of the Global Economic Prospects related to India:
- The World Bank estimates that covid will cause the number of people living in poverty to increase by 143-163 million in 2021. More than half of the newly poor in South Asia, mainly in India
- The problem with India is not its economic fundamentals, which are strong, but the fact that poor management of its economy, and the pandemic means “confidence remains depressed, and balance sheets damaged.
|Read more: World Bank|
Govt Plans national stockpile of life-saving drugs
What is the News?
The Government of India is in discussions with the pharma and medical devices industry to create a “National Stockpile of Life Saving Drugs and Vital Equipment” to combat the third Covid wave.
What is the current system of Life Saving Drugs Storage?
- Currently, the government is undertaking only a weekly review of the status of drug availability.
- It is also tracking the manufacturing of the black fungus drug named Amphotericin B.
Why is there a need for a National Stockpile of Life Saving Drugs?
- The National Stockpile of Life Saving Drugs is needed to prevent the massive shortages of critical drugs like Remdesivir and devices like oxygenators and pulse oximeters as witnessed during the second Covid wave.
- The stockpile will also help the country in combating the upcoming third Covid-19 wave, fuelled by the emergence of the Delta-plus variant.
- Moreover, it will also help companies to plan and manage inventory to strengthen supply chains and resolve glitches in the manufacturing of raw materials.
How should the National Stockpile work?
- The Government of India can consider creating a stockpile of 25-30% of annual national demand and warehouse, in the four geographical zones.
- The drugs and the vital equipment selected should be particularly the ones that have limited domestic and international availability and need longer lead times.
FTAs with key nations will boost exports, attract more investments: FIEO
Source: Business Standard
What is the News?
Federation of Indian Exports Organization (FIEO) has said that signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with India’s major trading partners such as the United States, UK, EU, Australia will boost exports and help in attracting more foreign investments into the country.
What are FTAs (Free Trade Agreements)?
- FTAs are arrangements between two or more countries or trading blocs that primarily agree to reduce or eliminate customs tariff and non tariff barriers on substantial trade between them.
Significance of FTAs:
- By eliminating tariffs and some non-tariff barriers, FTA partners get easier market access into one another’s countries.
- Moreover, one of the reasons for the success of countries such as Vietnam in attracting investment and relocating units is its effective FTAs with the rest of the World.
Suggestions given by FIEO to increase exports:
- Firstly, the Government should increase market access initiative funds and formulate a scheme for marketing with a minimum corpus of Rs 1,000 crore annually, to take exports to $1 trillion in the next five years.
- Secondly, the Government needs to push growth in sunrise sectors such as electronics, machinery, pharma, networking products among others.
- Thirdly, there should not be any delay in the release of refunds to the exporters as it results in limiting liquidity for exporters.
- Lastly, the Government should notify the rates under the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme as soon as possible.