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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 13, 2021

Good evening dear reader

Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

About Factly- The Factly initiative covers all the daily news articles regarding Preliminary examination. This will be provided at the end of the 9 PM Brief.

Dear Aspirants,

We know for a fact that learning without evaluation is a wasted effort. Therefore, we request you to please go through both our initiatives i.e 9PM Briefs and Factly, then evaluate yourself through the 10PM Current Affairs Quiz.

We plan to integrate all our free daily initiatives to comprehensively support your success journey.
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Need of Specific Law for National Security Screening of Inward FDI

Source- Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3– Internal Security and related issues.

Synopsis – There is no clear law for national security screening of inward FDI in India. It is a major

Introduction-

  1. As per some media reports, India may ease restrictions on FDI by Chinese companies. They will be allowed to invest up to 25 percent in a company through an automatic route.
  2. Last year India tightened its FDI policy. It was aimed at preventing an opportunistic takeover of Indian firms, hit by COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown.
  3. India made all Chinese FDIs subject to mandatory government screening.
  4. Whereas, US, Australia, Canada, and Germany used specific laws to protect their companies against such takeover.

However, India does not have specific law which can block such attempts. Thus, India fails to differentiate between genuine National Security concerns and legitimate FDI.

How India regulates foreign investments?

India primarily uses FEMA to regulate Foreign Investments. RBI governs the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Objectives of FEMA

  • Facilitating external trade and payments.
  • Promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange markets in India.

Shortcoming of FEMA

National security is unrelated to FEMA. Therefore, India needs a separate law for national security screening of inward FDI just like many other western countries.

What are the different types of legitimate threats from foreign acquisitions?

All countries face the difficulty of screening foreign investment in a way that separates genuine national security threats from bogus claims. In this regard, Theodore H. Moran identifies three types of legitimate threats from foreign acquisitions.

  1. Dependency on a foreign supplier – The proposed acquisition would make the country dependent upon a foreign-controlled supplier of goods or services. These goods or services shall be crucial to the functioning of that economy.
  2. Transfer of technology – The proposed acquisition allows the transfer of technology or other expertise to a foreign-controlled entity. There is a possibility that It might be deployed by the entity or its government in a manner harmful to the country’s national interests.
  3. Infiltration and sabotage – The proposed acquisition would allow some potential capability for infiltration, surveillance, or sabotage into the provision of goods or services, which are crucial to the functioning of that countries’ economy.

Unlike FEMA, the new FDI control law would specifically state legal criteria for FDI in an Indian corporation. Also, it would be able to check the genuine national security danger.

What are the provisions required under the new FDI control law?

  • Only the finance minister should have the right to reject strategic foreign acquisitions on national security grounds.
      • For example- the Australian Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act, 1975 empowers the treasurer to block certain foreign acquisitions on national security grounds.
  • Both the power and accountability mechanisms should be part of the law.

Way forward-

National security and capital control are separate and independent policy objectives. Separate legislation for national security screening of inward FDI will be prudent.


Reasons Behind Participation of India in Desert Flag exercise

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis: India and South Korea participated in the sixth edition of the Desert Flag exercise. It is an indication of Increasing Asian security interest in West Asia.

Background

  • The Indian Air Force for the first time is about to participate in the sixth edition of Desert Flag. It is a multi-nation exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Other than India and the UAE, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States are also participating.
  • Though the joint military exercise by Western countries and Arab countries is common, the involvement of India and South Korea showcases the growing interests of Asian economies.
  • The sixth edition of Desert Flag is important considering the recent developments in the West Asian region.
      • Mounting tensions between Iran and the U.S.
      • The signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020 between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain.
      • Ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen.

How West Asia’s stability is important for India and other Asian economies?

  1. First, as net importers of crude oil, the Asian economies are heavily dependent on the West Asian states for their supplies. For example, in April 2020, Saudi Arabia was India’s top supplier of oil followed by Iraq.
  2. Second, for the protection of vital sea lanes, such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. For example, The Indian Navy has made multiple port calls from the UAE and Kuwait to Iran and Qatar in recent years.

Iran – US conflict and its impact on India and South Korea:

Both India and South Korea faced negative impacts of Iran sanctions. The West forced economic sanctions on Iran due to the issue of nuclear weapons. 

  • In 2013, an Indian oil tanker named MT Desh Shanti confiscated near the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian forces. It was seen as a pressure tactic by Tehran to make India pay for Oil Imports. India was unable to pay for oil imports owing to US sanctions.
  • Similarly, in January 2021, Iran confiscated a South Korean tanker, MT Hankuk Chemi, also from near the Strait of Hormuz. At that time, Tehran and Seoul were also in the conflict over billions of dollars worth of oil payments. It was frozen due to sanctions against Iran over its nuclear Programme.

The changing security nature in West Asia:

  • The US security support is eroding in the West Asian region. For example, January 2021 marked the first time since 1985 that the U.S. did not import oil from Riyadh
  • Hence, Regional states will become more responsible for their own security, and Asian economies such as India are strong stakeholders.

The Issue of Programme Code for Media outlets

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Synopsis – Karnataka High Court directs media outlets to stick to Programme Code.

Introduction

  1. Karnataka minister resigned after media aired footage that allegedly featured him and an unidentified woman.
  2. There has been speculation about the prospect of more such CDs that could be aired.
  3. Following that, PIL filed by Jarkiholi’s lawyer. It seeks to take steps to safeguard the right to privacy of individuals and ensure that media do not breach the law by invading the privacy of individuals.
  4. Karnataka HC directs media houses to follow the Programme code defined under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act. It restrained around 70 media organization from broadcasting or publishing contents of a CD.

However, the order of restraining media might become a tool of harassment.

What are the concerns and provisions about the Programme Code?

Concerns-

  • The code contains an elaborate list for a media organization. It says that no programme should be aired that contains
        • Anything offensive for the sovereignty and integrity of India.
        • Criticism of friendly relations of India with any foreign state.
        • Obscene, defamatory, false, and suggests innuendos and half-truths.
  • DMs, SDMs and police commissioners are the authorized officers to ensure that the Programme Code is not breached.
  • It contains defamation, half-truths and innuendo as the potential violations.

Penalties under the code-

If any media governed under the CTN Act violates the provisions and the Programme Code, the code prescribes;

  • Imprisonment up to two years or fine up to ₹1,000 or both for the first offence or
  • Imprisonment up to five years and with a fine of up to ₹5,000

What are the challenges in this case?

  • No complained filed by the victim- It is not possible to show any misconduct in the absence of a complaint from the victim, or even information about her.
  • Invasion of Privacy – An invasion of someone’s privacy or a disrespectful representation of women cannot be justified in the name of the public good.

Incentivising Women’s Domestic Care and Associated Issues

Source: Indian Express

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

Synopsis: Addressing Women’s challenges in an economy is more important than incentivising women’s domestic care work.

Background

  • In the 1991 census, women’s groups undertook a campaign to ensure that women’s home-based labour is getting recognised.
  • Recently, in the poll-bound Tamilnadu state, various political parties announced remuneration for women’s domestic and care.
  • Over the years, Tamil Nadu has nurtured the growth of competitive welfarism. Because many believe that the success of such social security net has resulted in reducing poverty and ensuring inclusive growth.
  • However, the recent proposal has been criticized. It is because Political parties resorted to Populist measures to win elections without paying real attention to the existing women issues

What are the issues of Women that need priority in Tamil Nadu?

  • First, Women working as domestic workers and housekeeping staff are still not recognised as Workforce. The lack of recognition of domestic workers as a workforce forces them to accept poor remuneration, abuses etc.,
  • Second, increasing female indebtedness. The state has allowed and enabled the growth of microfinance in the state, which led to a high level of female indebtedness. Mostly, the loans are taken for a range of social and reproductive purposes such as Children’s education, hospital expenses.
  • Third, the vulnerable conditions of Women in employment have not been addressed by the state yet. For example, denial of equal pay for equal work, sexual harassment at the workplace, lack of social security net, etc.,
  • Fourth, the state has been promoting liquor sales despite many demands from the Women groups to make liquor sales illegal. Spending on liquor drinking reduces the household’s financial ability to spend on basic goods.

Rather than paying wages for women’s domestic care work, the state should address core Women issues and challenges and empower them to become a contributor in development from being a welfare recipient.


Flaws in new IT Rules 2021

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 2

Synopsis: The IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, will result in systematic incremental loss of the freedom of speech and expression.

Introduction 

The final notification of the rules will depend on the decisions of the two petitions filed against it in Kerala and Delhi. 

  • The main motive of this new set of rules is to put in place a grievance redressal mechanism. It will involve the consumer of social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms and digital news web portals.
  • The smaller or medium-sized independent digital news portals will be most affected by this redress requirement. They are already struggling to survive. 

What are the issues in this notification?

The worrying aspect of this move is to control the digital media which are more defiant than the mainstream media.

  1. Firstly, the notification gives the government ad hoc emergency powers to block any content. It would include the content that the government considers problematic even without the symbolic procedure.
  2. Secondly, regulation by the government. The rules have made a mockery of self-regulation by giving the power of regulation to a committee set up by the government. They can regulate the content on the basis of a real or imagined grievance. 
  3. Thirdly, this measure poses a financial threat as monetization opportunities become limited. Investors and brands get scared because of political considerations interrupting business interests and an unusual media policy regime in constant change.
  4. Fourthly, it is eroding pillars of democracy. It is important to realize that the fourth pillar i.e. media is as important as the other three pillars, i.e. the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. A healthy tension among the four pillars keeps the democratic structure strong and vibrant.
  5. Fifthly, it affects free speech and expression. The freedom of the press, although not prescribed as a fundamental right directly, is a derivative from Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g). These articles have given every citizen the right to free speech and expression. 

There is also a question that why the government is curbing press freedom when there are more stringent laws such as Sedition law and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA. 

Conclusion 

This argumentative notification takes it an absurd step further. A deliberate measure of government regulation of the news media is required to be passed off as self-regulation by that same news media. 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 13, 2021

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