9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 17, 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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Issue of Consent in POCSO Act

Source: Click Here   

Syllabus: GS 2 – mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections

Synopsis: The Madras High Court quashed a case of aggravated sexual assault of a minor under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The High Court also mentioned the need to amend the POCSO act.

The case and ruling 

  • Madras HC was hearing a case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under POCSO act.
  • This case was filed against an auto driver, in his early twenties, for marrying a minor girl in 2018.
  • Recently the HC Quashed the case. In this case, the Court observed the consensual relationship between the accused and the minor girl.
  • The court stated that the POCSO Act is not intended to bring the romantic relationships between adolescents or teenagers within its ambit. Thus, the act requires appropriate amendments.

About the POCSO Act:

  1. POCSO was enacted as per Article 15 of the Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It aims to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.
    • Article 15 allows the state to make special provisions for women and children.
  2. Aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act, 2012 is equal to the provision for aggravated rape.
    • It means rape occurs within a relationship of trust, leads to pregnancy or any other aggravating circumstance. 
  3. Further under POCSO, an individual will be punished if the victim is below 18 years. It does not consider the consent of minors as relevant. Thus, the accused can’t plead consent as a defence. 

Rationale behind the judgement:

  • POCSO has become a tool for the persecution of young people in consenting sexual relationships. The act completely ignores the natural sexual tendencies of adolescents and undermines their right.
  • The court also said that this case was purely individual in nature. Thus, releasing the accused in this particular case will not undermine the public interest.
  • Punishing consenting youngsters results in their persecution throughout life. This is more evident in cases where the minor victim has willingly eloped or married the accused or carrying his child. 

Concerns associated with judgement:

  • It goes against the established Supreme Court precedent of considering rape cases as a matter of public concern.
  • The Parliamentary Committee (Rajya Sabha) in 2011 prescribed a uniform age of 18. It would make sure that trials of child rape would focus on the conduct of the accused and the circumstances of the offence. Thus, The Possibility of consent was not meant to be an exception under POCSO.
  • The five State studies on the functioning of Special Courts under the POCSO Act shows the complicated nature of consensual cases. 
    • As per the study, adolescents can and do choose to have sex. However, they are still children, and their growing sexual autonomy is prone to abuse. This issue resulted in inconsistent and unprincipled adjudication.

Way Ahead:

  • The judgement has highlighted the urgent need of amending the rigid stance in POCSO Act.
  • The courts should create a fine balance between sexual rights of adolescents and their gullibility of being exposed.
  • Further this balance can be rightly created when the legislature is willing to provide clarity on the core wrongs that POCSO is meant to address.

Why India should Invest More in Research and Innovation System?

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS-2

Synopsis: India could use its education policy to improve the research and innovation ecosystem in the country.


The Government of India celebrates National Vaccination Day every year on March 16 to communicate the importance of vaccination to the people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the significance of this day becomes even more important.

  • India’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine will help India in emerging as a global leader in the post-COVID-19 era.

What steps were taken during the pandemic?

  1. Most developed nations ramped up their efforts to vaccinate their respective population. However, the developing countries were far behind. It could have resulted in another year of humanitarian and economic crisis for them.
  2. Developed countries engaged in vaccine nationalism during this time. However, India made vaccines widely available for other developing countries. India guaranteed a universal, unbiased, and affordable supply of vaccines for developing countries.
  3. This firmly established India as the pharmacy of the world and sent out the message that medical products must be dealt with as global public goods.
  4. The country has supplied vaccines to over 70 countries while ensuring that its domestic demand is met.

Why India should invest more in Research and Innovation?

The IITs came up with significant innovations like low-cost portable ventilators, affordable AI-powered COVID-19 test kits, drones for sanitization, and cheap and effective PPE kits and masks.

These innovations helped in providing healthcare facilities to Indian citizens. Moreover, the products were exported to different countries.  

Thus, India should invest more money and energy in research and innovation to make India a long-term global leader.

Steps taken to strengthen research and Innovation

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is a step forward in this direction.

  1. Firstly, the NEP aims to improve the research and innovation landscape in India. It proposes that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should focus on research and innovation. This will be done by establishing start-up incubation centres, technology development centres, and interdisciplinary research.
  2. Secondly, the NEP also recommends setting up Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities, which will be on the level of IITs and IIMs to achieve the highest global standards in education.
  3. Thirdly, the National Research Foundation (NRF) will be established under the Principal Scientific Adviser. Its aim is to transform India’s research culture. An outlay of ₹50,000 crore for the next five years has been allocated for NRF in the Budget.


The world will remember India for initiating the largest education reforms and emerging from the pandemic as a global leader. The Prime Minister has given a solid boost to the vaccination drive and instilled confidence in the nation after taking the vaccine himself.

Significance and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence(AI)

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and issues

Synopsis: Artificial Intelligence(AI) has the potential to widen the social and economic divisions in society. That will lead to discriminatory outcomes at a global level.


In the last ten years alone, AI has seen exponential growth. AI-based systems are now defeating human champions in games and decoding complex proteins in labs. But the exponential growth of AI has to pursue with caution.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines. Unlike the natural intelligence present in living things, the AI will develop its intelligence based on the data. In simple terms, the more we use AI, the more data we generate, the smarter AI gets.

AI is everywhere in today’s world. For example, using shopping sites, Using GPS mapping technology,  predicting texts in messages and emails, etc.

AI is predicted to leapfrog human intervention in eradicating hunger, poverty, and disease. Further, AI is will help in climate change mitigation, education, and scientific discovery in the future.

Benefits of AI:

AI has helped mankind in many ways. For example,

  1. In the field of Agriculture, AI has helped in increasing crop yields by analyzing farm data, tackling labour challenge, etc.
  2. Similarly, the AI will act as an enabler in the economy. For instance, AI has raised business productivity, improved access to credit, etc.
  3. In the field of Medicine, AI made cancer detection faster and more precise by spotting even a subtle challenge in the gene.
  4. Robotics and AI companies are building intelligent machines. These AI-based robots perform tasks typically carried out by low-income workers like self-service kiosks (replace cashiers), fruit-picking robots (replaced field workers), etc.

Global studies on AI:

  • A global study has predicted that AI can contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030. This is an addition of 14% to global GDP.
  • A study published in Nature reviewed the impact of AI in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study found that the AI can act as an enabler on 134 SDGs. That is 79% of all the SDGs.
  • Further, Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.

The challenges with AI:

Despite having many advantages, AI also has an equal amount of challenges. For example, In 2016, it took less than a day for Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot, “Tay” to start spreading racist content based on Twitter messages.

  1. A proper AI-based system requires a massive computational capacity, which means more data centres have to be created.
  2. AI will increase digital exclusion in all spheres including the exclusion of societies, nations. Further, global Investment also likely to shift to countries where AI-related work is already established.
  3. Apart from that, the AI will reduce desk jobs, such as accountants, financial traders, and middle managers.
  4. The most important concern with AI is the concern of data privacy. The AI algorithm will improve only with access to more data. It will lead to the constant utilization of our digital footprints with or without our knowledge.
    In time a situation might arise where the algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. Scandals like Cambridge Analytica are an example of such a violation of privacy.

Suggestions to improve AI:

The fact is, just like AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, AI can also enlarge the existing problems and create new ones.

  1. Countries have to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures, and codes of conduct in utilizing AI-based systems. The principles not only include the “whole of society” approach but also include the “whole of world” approach. For example,
    • The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation. This focus on multi-stakeholder efforts on global cooperation.
    • Similarly, UNESCO also developed a global, comprehensive standard-setting draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence to the Member States.
  2. In India, NITI Aayog’s Responsible AI for All strategy aims to strike the right balance between AI promotion and AI governance. The Indian government has to adopt the strategy.

Agreeing to the common principles globally is the first step towards regulating AI. The next step would be implementing the principles in reality. Only then AI will provide full benefits to humanity.

“Nominated members” and “Anti-defection Law” in India

Source: The Indian Express

Synopsis: The important reason behind the inclusion of nominated members to RajyaSabha and the provisions of Anti-defection Law.


Recently a nominated MP of Rajya Sabha has resigned due to the allegations under anti-defection law. The allegation raised after a political party nominated him as their election candidate.

Constituent Assembly debate on Nominated members:

During the making of the Constitution, the Constituent Assembly felt that Rajya Sabha should have nominated members. They want to bring in the persons who might not win elections but willing to bring knowledge and expertise to discussions in the Upper House.

N Gopalswami Ayyangar said that nominating members to Rajya Sabha gives “an opportunity to the Upper House to bring outside talent in discussions and debate. Further, the nominated members will bring in the persons who do not ordinarily associate with the House of the People.

Nominated Members to the Rajya Sabha:

Due to the fore mentioned reasons, Rajya Sabha includes 12 nominated members from different walks of life. The criteria includes distinguished fields like literature, science, art, and social service, etc.

The President nominates such individuals as recommended by the Council of Ministers. Except the voting in the election of the President, Nominated members will have the same rights and privileges as elected members. (Nominated members cannot vote in the election of the President).

What is the Anti-Defection Law?

After Independence, there were many times the state governments were toppled due to MLAs changed their political loyalties. This occurred to the Centre also in 1967. So, to reduce that, in 1985 the government amended the Constitution to include the Tenth Schedule. It is popularly known as the anti-defection law.

Salient features of Anti-defection Law:

The aim of the Anti-defection Law was to bring stability to governments by deterring MPs and MLAs from changing their political loyalties.

Even though the Upper House has no role in deciding the present government’s dissolution. Anti-defection law applies equally to both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs. Similarly, the Anti-defection law applies to the State Legislative Assemblies.

The Anti-defection Law deprives the parliamentary/state legislative membership for the violations of the provisions. As per the Anti-defection Law, three scenarios are prescribed as a violation.

Three scenarios mentioned in the Anti-defection Law:

  1. When an elected member “voluntarily gives up” the political party in which he/she got elected. Or when he/she votes in the House contrary to the wishes of the party.
  2. When an independent MP/MLA joins a political party after the election.
  3. When a nominated MP/MLA joins a political party after six month time.
    Note: Nominated Members can join any party of their wish during their first six months.

Judicial intervention on Anti-defection Law:

The courts have interpreted the joining of the party many times. The courts held joining or changing a party not only include the formal ones but also include informal ones also.

The court in past mentioned such informal actions as defection. This includes campaigning for another political party, appearing in political rallies or fighting an election on the symbol of a political party, etc

Measures  to Strengthen India US economic partnership

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis: Strengthening India-U. S economic partnership will help India to become a $5 trillion economy.


  • India and the US have committed to the goal of increasing the bilateral trade in goods and services to $500 billion. Currently, the bilateral trade stands at $146 billion (2019).
  • To achieve this, the Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) needs to be increased to 11.9%. The current CAGR is 7.7% per year.
  • A closer economic partnership will benefit both sides in terms of GDP, employment, and productivity.
  • Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) identifies the following key areas for collaboration to boost India-U. S bilateral trade.

What are the key areas of collaboration as suggested by CII?

  1. First, the need to elevate partnership in Healthcare.
      • India has emerged as the hub of global vaccine distribution. This has led to the establishment of a robust health care supply chain with global countries including the US.
      • Along with this development, India needs to take the following steps:
        • build confidence in the Indian IPR regime,
        • revive the U.S.-India Health Dialogue, and
        • work on mutually recognizing standards and
        • approvals to further co-operation in healthcare.
  2. Second, the need to strengthen existing trade agreements. It can be done by;
      • Reviving the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum meetings along with a cross-sector track-2 group to look at convergence on issues such as market access.
      • Restoring the Generalised System of Preferences. It will help in increasing Indian exports as a result of lower duties for certain Indian products.
      • Working on Free trade agreement that mutually benefits both.
  3. Third, the need to address concerns related to the mobility of professional labour. It requires the following measures,
      • Strict US immigration rules have impacted labour mobility from India. India needs to push for reforming the US immigration system.
      • The MoU on labour cooperation signed in 2011 needs to be updated in line with India’s recent labour regulatory changes.
      • Both countries should strive to finalise a totalization agreement on social security.
  4. Fourth, strengthening cooperation in defence.
      • Both countries complement each other in defence. India is dependent on the U.S. for technology whereas US can be benefitted from Indian manufacturing.
      • Initiating a defence dialogue along with the private sectors of both sides will help in co-production and co-development in the defence and aerospace sectors.
  5. Fifth, improving ties between SMEs.
      • A U.S.-India SME CEOs Forum to facilitate engagement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It will help US SMEs to find new opportunities for investments and sourcing from India.
  6. Sixth, deepening collaboration in clean energy and climate change.
      • The U.S.-India Strategic Energy Partnership should be channelized to promote joint investments in clean energy. (industrial decarbonization, carbon dioxide removal and green hydrogen).
      • Further, initiatives such as, Advance Clean Energy Research, Advance Clean Energy Deployment and Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy needs to be relaunched.
  7. Seventh, Partnership in Digital economy.
      • India needs to take measures to strengthen its IPR regime. It will also enable India to come out of the U.S. Trade Representative IPR priority watchlist.
      • Strengthening IPR will allow India to gain from the US knowledge industry in the fields of robotics, space, AI and electric vehicles etc.

Neglect of Public Health in India

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Synopsis:  India needs to prioritize public health along with Healthcare. It will be helpful to tackle both communicable and non-communicable diseases effectively.

What is the difference between public health vs Health care?

  • Health care deals with individual patients, whereas Public health deals with the community at large.
  • The goal of public health is disease prevention and control. Whereas healthcare is focused on treatment and disease cure (Therapy).
  • Public health employs a deliberate, intervention-based mechanism to reduce the disease burden in a population.
  • Though India ranks among the world’s best in health-care capability, India’s success in providing public health is very poor.

What are the issues in India’s Public health management?

  • First, ineffective public health surveillance leading to a lack of reliable data collection on all diseases
      • Reliable data is required for real-time monitoring of disease burden and to know the trend of declining infection prevalence in a population. This is one of the important tasks of public health which is done through diagnosis.
      • For example, diagnosis of polio in the under-five population through acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and laboratory tests were crucial for the elimination of polio in India.
      • Through diagnosis, we could know about the disease burden of polio. When it reaches zero, we will consider that polio has been eradicated.
      • Yet, India’s public health management does not have an effective plan for collecting data on all diseases and deaths through diagnosis.
      • Using alternatives such as the COVID-19 epidemic curve or serosurveys on random samples does not provide the real no. of disease burden.
      • Further, Post-vaccination surveillance is not conducted. It is considered vital for assessing vaccine efficacy and safety. This points towards the lack of an effective public health surveillance system.
  • Second, lack of authentic public health education
      • Timely public health education (Social Vaccine) is needed to nudge the population’s behavior towards tackling any diseases. For example,
      • For preventing the spread of COVID-19, both non-pharmacological preventive interventions such as face masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and pharmacological prevention by vaccination were strategized.
      • However, the lack of Social vaccines from Public health management authorities delayed the control of COVID-19. Also, it has given rise to the issue of ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’.
      • It has to be noted that, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, India’s AIDS Task Force designed and successfully applied a ‘social vaccine’ to control the disease spread.
  • Third, Public health in India does not address both social and environmental determinants to control the disease. For example,
      • COVID-19 has strong social determinants of infection transmission. Such as overcrowding, urban-rural divide in health awareness and education.
      • Similarly, disease such as Typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis has environmental determinants.
      • Contrary to India,  in countries where public health is given equal status, addresses both social and environmental determinants.

Many infectious diseases in India can be controlled if we adequately invest in Public health. Investment in public health will result in health, wealth, and prosperity.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 17, 2021

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