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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 15, 2021

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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.

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Aims and Objectives of “Quad Summit”

Source: Click here

Syllabus: GS-3

Synopsis: The Quad Summit held recently. This summit was important for all member countries due to various reasons.

Introduction

The virtual summit brought leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue together. The outcomes announced by Quad leaders include a vaccine initiative and joint working groups to cooperate on critical technology and climate change.

  1. The vaccine initiative has a deadline. One billion vaccines will reach as many Indo-Pacific countries as possible by the end of 2022.
  2. The vaccines will be made in India with U.S. technology, Japanese funding, and Australian distribution networks.
  3. The four Quad countries will make sure emissions reduction based on the Paris accord.
  4. They will cooperate on technology supply chains, 5G networks, and biotechnology.

Why are the QUAD members eager for further engagements?

The summit was hosted by Mr. Biden.  The four leaders are committed to an open Indo-Pacific which is free from bullying. The leaders are expected to meet at the G-7 summit later this year.

  1. Firstly, Biden is eager for the Quad engagement. It is a part of his promise that America will be back to the global leadership, endorsing regional pacts, and taking on the growing challenge from China.
  2. Secondly, Australia and Japan are keen on taking the Quad partnership to deeper levels of cooperation. It is because of maritime tensions with China and trade- telecommunication issues.
  3. Thirdly, India will get more strategic support after the new terms of the Quad. It will also boost its pharmaceutical skills, opportunities for technology partnerships.
    • Regional cooperation on development projects and financing infrastructure will also get a boost. In this domain, China leads usually.

Will Quad be a challenge for china?

However, this does not mean that the whole point of the Quad summit is to challenge china.

  • Firstly, the new U.S. government is still exploring its own relationship with China. They will have an engagement with Beijing’s top diplomats is in Alaska.
  • Secondly, China is the biggest trading partner for Japan and Australia. This relationship will only grow once the 15-nation RCEP gets into action.
  • Thirdly, India has its own ties with China. It is having disengagement talks with china over LAC. India also has other multilateral commitments at the BRICS and SCO groupings. Hence, India kept the conversation at the summit focused on making the Quad a “force for global good” instead of pushing plans for a militaristic union.
    • The Quad’s new “summit avatar” has given India yet another string to its bow, broadening India’s interests on its geopolitical horizons even further.

Why States are Planning for Reservation to Locals in Private Jobs?

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Synopsis: Haryana already passed the proposal providing reservation to locals. Many other states are planning for the same. It is because the States in India are unable to create jobs for their local economy due to various issues.

Background

  • Recently, the Haryana government has passed legislation for reservation of jobs to local Haryanvi’s first.
  • On similar lines, the cabinet of the government of Jharkhand approved legislation to reserve jobs for Jharkhand residents.
  • Also, The DMK in Tamil Nadu announced a proposal to reserve jobs for Tamils in its manifesto.
  • Many economists have criticised the above policies of the State as it is against the liberal idea of a free economy.

What are the reasons for providing reservation in jobs for locals?

  • First, increasing unemployment rate: As per the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate in Haryana is very high among all States in India.
  • Second, fear of Demographic disaster: More than half of all graduates in Haryana are jobless. Increasing Unemployment of youths will inevitably lead to social revolutions and political disorder.
  • Third, Interstate economic inequality is rising: For example, the ‘3-3-3’ effect. The three richest large States (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) are three times richer than the three poorest large States (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh), in per-capita income.
  • Also, inequality is only widening due to the agglomeration impact of modern economic development.
  • Fourth, States have less autonomy to attract new jobs and investment. The lack of autonomy within states pushes them to resort to measures such as protecting jobs for locals through reservation etc.,

Why the states’ ability to attract new industries is limited in India?

Attracting investments and industries is related to many critical factors. States have limited discretion to provide land at affordable prices, provisioning uninterrupted supply of electricity, water etc., But it does not have control over the following aspects that stimulate jobs in states.

  1. First, Industries are willing to invest only in Economies which is growing steadily and at a faster pace. But the growth of Indian economy cannot be controlled by single states alone.
  2. Second, the requirement of abundant high quality skilled and unskilled labour. However, the availability of skilled local labour is a result of many decades of social progress of the State. States that have a very high unemployment rate cannot skill their population within a short period of time.
  3. Third, States have lost their fiscal autonomy after the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). They have no powers to provide any tax concessions to businesses. Whereas in America, States compete against each other vigorously using tax concessions.
  4. Fourth, the agglomeration effect drives new investments and industries in states that already are well established   For example, supply chain, talent, good living conditions etc., This leads to a cycle of the more prosperous States growing much faster at the expense of the lagging States.

The increasing interstate disparity among states will only encourage nativistic sub-nationalism ideas and policies in the future, which is a threat to national integration. Hence, the centre should work towards bridging the development gap between different states along with greater fiscal freedom.


KALIA scheme of Odisha and its lesson for India

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

Synopsis: The Odisha government’s KALIA scheme aims to provide Direct Income Support(DIS) to farmers. The design and implementation of the scheme offer some important lessons to the DIS schemes everywhere.

Introduction:

In India, the Agricultural reforms generally aim to find new solutions to the structural challenges facing farmers. The shift to direct income support (DIS) from the traditional non-targeted agriculture subsidies is the most important one among them.

Few important schemes in this regard are,

  • Odisha’s KALIA scheme – Under the KALIA scheme, Each farmer’s family gets Rs. 5,000 separately in the Kharif and rabi seasons. It is irrespective of the amount of land.
  • Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu – In this scheme, the government provides Rs.4000 per acre per farmer per season to cover the input costs 
  • The Centre’s PM-KISAN scheme – Under this scheme, an amount of Rs.6000/- per year is transferred in three instalments of Rs.2000/- directly to the bank accounts of the landholding farmers’ families.

But the Odisha government’s KALIA scheme offers some important lessons for DIS schemes everywhere.

Some unique steps under KALIA Scheme:

Odisha used a three-step framework for KALIA Scheme. This is called the “Unification-Verification-Exclusion” framework. This framework is used to identify the beneficiaries of the scheme. The important point of the framework are,

  1. Unification: This is the first step. It involves creating a unified database with “green forms”. These green forms are essential for farmers who wanted to avail benefits under the KALIA Scheme. This has led to the creation of 1.2 crore applicants.
  2. Verification: In this step, the unified data get verified. The databases like the Socio-Economic Caste Census, National Food Security Act and other databases are used in the verification process. Similarly, Aadhaar and bank account also got verified to avoid duplication.
  3. Exclusion: In this step, the focus is on the exclusion of ineligible applicants. This includes applicants like government employees, taxpayers, large farmers, and those who voluntarily opted out.

Advantages of the KALIA Scheme’s three-step framework:

  1. Towards inclusive agricultural policy-making: The use of technology and non-farm databases under the KALIA scheme helped to include sharecroppers, tenant and landless farmers as beneficiaries. This facilitates inclusiveness in agricultural policy.
  2. World Bank evaluation of the KALIA Scheme suggests that the beneficiaries are less likely to take out crop loans. Further, Those who take crop loans also take only a smaller amount of loans compared to non-beneficiaries.

Lessons from the KALIA scheme:

  1. Better leverage of data: Any government targeted scheme can use the reliable data collected under the KALIA scheme for service delivery. So the other DIS schemes should aim towards forming such reliable data.
  2. Proof of Data Security: Odisha government obtained the consent for use of citizen data under the KALIA scheme. The data was also kept under a secure firewall. Further, access to data was only available to relevant officials on a need-to-know basis. Other GovTech platforms must use these “privacy by design” principles in data handling.
  3. Effective grievance redressal: The KALIA scheme established an online grievance redressal mechanism (GRM). This online platform is accessible to farmers “offline” at the Common Service Centres closest to them. Using this, nearly 10 lakh grievances were received and resolved. The GovTech platforms should establish such an effective redressal mechanism.

The KALIA scheme has more lessons for the governments on the way of constructing a social welfare system for farmers.


Increasing cyber threat and need for Cyber strategy

Sources: The Hindu

Gs3: Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security

Synopsis: As per the reports, China is increasing cyber-attacks. India needs to prepare a cyber strategy to tackle cyber warfare effectively.

Background

  • Recently, the Recorded Future (a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm) revealed an increase in suspected targeted intrusions against India from Chinese state-sponsored groups.
  • Also, according to State authorities in Maharashtra, the October 2020 blackout in Mumbai was directly linked to Chinese cyber-attack.
  • Indian cyber agencies such as the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) may have information on China’s aggressive cyber campaign.
  • Thus, India needs to adopt comprehensive measures to guard its critical infrastructure from the cyber threat posed by China.

What are the revelations made by the Recorded Future?

  • One, at least 10 Indian power sector organisations have been targeted, in addition to two Indian ports.
  • Two, they have also identified the network infrastructure viz., AXIOMATICASYMPTOTE used for this purpose. Servers of AXIOMATICASYMPTOTE are known to be used by RedEcho. It is a China-linked activity group, that targets India’s power sector, and facilitates the employment of a malware known as Shadowpad.
      • ShadowPad is a network intrusion malware that creates a secret path from a targeted system to a command-and-control server to extract information.
      • ShadowPad is affiliated with both the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the People’s Liberation Army

What are the recent infamous cyber espionages at the global level?

China:

  • Chinese hackers are suspected for the development of a global ‘spearphishing campaign’. It targeted organizations responsible for vaccine storage and transportation. Its objectives are to;
    • target vaccine research
    • gain future access to corporate networks
    • collect sensitive information relating to COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
  • Also, recently in 2021, several thousands of U.S. organizations were hacked in by Chinese espionage campaign. The Chinese group, Hafnium, was identified as responsible for this breach. They exploited a series of flaws in the Microsoft software, that enabled them to gain total remote control over affected systems.

Russia:

  • Russia has been accused of cyber interference in the U.S. presidential elections in 2016.
  • Also, Russia is currently the prime suspect in one of the greatest data breaches concerning the U.S. Federal government.
  • Headlined SolarWinds, cyber-attack in 2020 is a prime example of the damage that can be caused by a cyber-attack.

How other countries are preparing to deter cyber warfare?

  • First, the US, to improve its readiness and resilience in cyberspace, made a budgetary allocation of over $10 billion for cybersecurity in his COVID-19 Relief Bill.
  • Second, China’s 2021 Defence Budget ($209 billion) gives special weightage to the Strategic Support Force (SSF), which embraces cyber warfare.

The Ukraine example (cyber-attack on the Power grid in 2016) should be a wake-up call for India and the world. It reminds us of the availability of advanced malware to carry out sophisticated cyber-attacks. Hence, preparing a comprehensive cyber strategy, that fully acknowledges the extent of the cyber threat from China and other countries, should be recognised as an immediate necessity.


Why India Needs a Future force?

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Synopsis: Like the US, India also needs to build a future force for future wars.

Introduction

War, at its core, is organized violence, waged for political purposes. The real purpose is domination. But the definition of wars changed rapidly. To tackle it, countries need to build a future force. India also needs to build such a future force.

Definition of War in older and modern times

Earlier wars were easy to define. One could know whether a country is at war or at peace. Further, people and security forces knew with whom they are fighting and at which front.

However, war today is practically impossible to define, due to its unpredictability and contactless nature. Military theorist Carl von Clausewitz stated that war is practically limitless in variety(Military, cyber, etc).

So, making the armed forces of a state future-ready is important.

What is future force?

It is a branch force equipped with new manned and unmanned vehicles. This force is linked by a fast and flexible battlefield network for yielding better results in warfare.

Future Forces will radically use technologies such as nanotechnology powered armours etc.

Future force at US

In 2014, the US announced a Third Offset Strategy. This strategy consists of a certain important vision towards the future force. This includes steps such as,

  1. Developing cutting-edge technology in defence such as robotics, big data analytics etc. These technologies are aimed towards providing autonomous learning systems, collaborative decision-making between humans and machines, network-enabled autonomous weapons etc.
  2. Exploration of new concepts for utilizing such technology.
  3. Retaining the best human resources to achieve peace globally.

Why India need a Future force?

India at present recognize the war of older times and neglect the modern war. There are many anonymous threats bypassing Indian frontiers without challenging national sovereignty. For that India needs to build a future force.

Suggestions to build Future force in India:

India also has to build a future force. To achieve that India needs to take important steps. Such as,

  1. Master force-on-force concept: In India, the Chief of the Defence Staff is preparing the future force. He admits that ‘force on force’ concepts are difficult, but it is prerequisite for the future force.
    What is the force-on-force concept?
    Force-on-force refers to the scenario-based training in which the participants work against live role-playing opponents. For example, If a battalion is going for force-on-force training, then the battalion is divided into 2 teams. One will operate as a protecting team. The other will operate as a terrorist team.
    This training is most realistic to the actual scenario.
  2. India needs to master the ‘hybridised effect’ of warfare. It means the influence of mixing up security forces for getting better results in warfare. At present India is adopting the hybridised effect. This is evident by the establishment of the Chief of the Defence Staff.
  3. India needs a confluence of all the technology and the government needs to drive new strategies and tactics.
  4. India needs to break the civilian-military silos. This means building a more positive relationship between civilians and the military.

By fulfilling these steps, India can build a better future force.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 15, 2021

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