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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 20, 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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GNCT of Delhi Amendment Bill 2021 and Supreme Court’s Verdict

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 2

Synopsis: GNCT of Delhi Amendment Bill 2021 appears to go against the idea of representative government.

Introduction 

The Centre’s Bill is trying to amend the law which relates to the governance of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The bill claims that its aim is to implement the Supreme Court judgments on Delhi’s governance structure. However, the proposed changes are the very opposite of what the Court has said.

What was the Supreme Court’s 2018 verdict on the matter?

  • The Constitution Bench verdict in 2018 stated that the LG (Lieutenant Governor) has not been trusted with any independent decision-making power
  • The LG either has to act on the aid and advice of council ministers or implement the decision of the President on the matters referred to him.
  • The ‘aid and advice’ clause applies to the matters, on which the Delhi Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists. This comes with an exception of public order, police, and land.
  • Wherever there are differences between the L-G and the elected government, the L-G should refer the question to the President.
  • Further different judgments have clarified that the power to refer “any matter” to the President does not mean “every matter”.
  • This bill completely undermines the Court’s efforts. The judgment strengthened the elected government in relation to Lieutenant Governor. 

Read moreNCT Amendment Bill

What are the issues with the NCT amendment bill? 

The Court wanted to clarify that the power to refer any matter to the President did not mean that every matter should be referred. 

  1. Firstly, the Bill states all references to the government in the bills and orders would mean the LG. It is irrational to declare LG as the government, in the UT with an elected House.
    • As per the guiding principle, an elected government should not be undermined by the unelected administrator.
  2. Secondly, the provision to Article 239AA empowers L-G to refer the matter to the President, in case of difference of opinion. However, this does not mean that the administrator should come up with a different opinion on every government decision.
    • However, the bill provides the L-G with an opportunity to refer every matter to the President.
  3. Third, instead of Parliament identifying the matters on which the L-G’s opinion should be required, the Bill proposes that the L-G himself would specify such matters.

This bill amounts to a rollback of representative government. The Union Territory concept is one of the many ways in which India regulates relations between the Centre and its units. It should not be used to undermine the basis of electoral democracy.  


Significance of QUAD leaders’ summit for India

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis: India’s alignment with QUAD should be in line with India’s principle of Strategic autonomy. In this article, we will analyse the Significance of QUAD leaders’ summit for India.

Background

  • Recently, the US and China met at a high-level summit in Alaska.
  • This high-level summit was preceded by the first Leaders’ Summit of the QUAD that was held on March 12.
  • During the QUAD leaders’ summit, a number of issues over china were raised by the QUAD members. Such as
      • China’s coercion of Australia.
      • China’s harassment around the Senkaku Islands.
      • Furthermore, China’s aggression on the border with India.
  • The above concerns were directly passed on to the Chinese diplomats by the U.S. during the Alaska summit.
  • Further, during the QUAD leaders’ summit, all countries agreed to establish 3C’s” working groups (on COVID-19 vaccines, Climate Change and Critical Technology).
  • The outcomes of the QUAD leaders’ summit i.e.,  the establishment of 3C’s” working groups and offensive stand on China, are well in the interest of Japan and Australia. However, the outcomes are not supportive of India’s interest.

Why the outcomes of the QUAD leaders’ summit are not in India’s interest?

  1. First, the QUAD leaders failed to support India’s plea in WTO during the QUAD leaders’ summit.
      • India along with South Africa has made a proposal in WTO to waive certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement.
      • A waiver will help India to increase its capacity and funding for vaccine production and manage covid crisis effectively.
      • Further, it will aid global efforts to fight the Covid19 crisis. Because India is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines.it has already exported 58 million doses to nearly 71 countries worldwide.
      • However, QUAD member countries didn’t show any interest in dropping their opposition to India’s WTO proposal.
  2. Second, the commitments made by the U. S to assist India in climate change are not yet implemented. For example,
      • In 2016, the US agreed to fund $1.4 billion to finance solar technology. Yet, the funds have not reached India.
      • Similarly, the US has not joined the International Solar Alliance, founded by India and France, which they committed to join in 2016.
      • Against this backdrop, the establishment of a working group on climate change will be of the least interest to India.
  3. Third, the working group set up to cooperate on critical technologies will benefit India in 2 cases. If it helps in reducing the dependence on Chinese telecom equipment and in finding new sources of rare-earth minerals.
      • But any move by QUAD partners for international rule-making on the digital economy, or data localization will not be accepted by India.
  4. Fourth, QUAD’s tough stand on China will have a major impact on India. For example, a year-long stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). This is because;
      • India is the only Quad member not a part of the military alliance.
      • India is the only Quad country with a land boundary with China.
      • China has made deep inroads along the LAC.
  5. Also, the violence at the LAC has also left three long-term impacts on Indian strategic planning.
      • Need to increase more resources, troops, infrastructure to the LAC to secure the LAC.
      • The possibility of a two-front situation becoming a major territorial threat.
      • Need to prioritize territorial security as against the QUAD’s perception of strengthening Maritime security.

Way forward

  • The posture of viewing QUAD as anti-china has been changed. This is a welcome development from India’s side.
  • Despite last week’s Quad Summit, India’s choices for its Quad strategy will be in line with India’s principle of Strategic Autonomy. India will maintain cordial relations along with its territorial neighbours and close friendships with other democracies, the U.S., Japan and Australia.

Impact of inflation targeting in India

Source: Indian Express

Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Synopsis: According to the Executive Director IMF, Surjit S Bhalla, Inflation targeting has been ineffective to control inflation. Moreover, it has also contributed to a decline in GDP growth because of high repo rates.

About inflation targeting

  • The concept of ‘Inflation targeting’ was got acceptance in New Zealand first. Later it was adopted by 33 countries.
  • In India, it was formally adopted in 2016, at the first meeting of the RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
  • The MPC considered a real repo rate of 1.25 percent as the neutral real policy rate for the Indian economy.
    • A neutral policy rate means the policy rate will be consistent with the growth potential of India.
  • The primary goal of inflation targeting is to contain inflation at around 4 percent, within the allowable range of 2 to 6 percent.

What are the impacts of inflation targeting in India?

The author, in his research paper, has evaluated the inflation target in a global context. It made the following conclusion based on the last 40 years for both the inflation targeting economies and the non-targeting economies.

average median inflation

  • First, countries that did not adopt inflation targeting were able to control inflation better than the countries that used inflation targeting. For example, India’s inflation was around 5.2% (2015-19) for the same period it was 2.4% for economies that did not adopt inflation targeting.
  • Second, inflation depends on global variables, and it is not dependent upon one single factor. So, using an inflation targeting mechanism will not effectively control inflation. For example, 2000-04, has been the golden period of inflation all over the world even in India. During this time, inflation targeting was not in place in India, yet inflation was very low.
  • Third, the belief that a high Fiscal deficit will contribute to high inflation is not true. For example, FRMB act was in place after 2003. However, Inflation in India increased from 3.9% (2000-04) to 7.1% (2005-09) despite the fiscal deficit were limited as per the FRBM act.
  • Fourth, inflation targeting has negatively impacted GDP growth. High policy rates (repo) maintained to control inflation affected the cost of domestic capital. It led to a decline in investment rate thereby resulted in less GDP. For example,since2016, (after inflation targeting was institutionalised), there has been a steady increase in repo rates, and a steady decline in GDP growth

Inefficiencies in the Aadhaar project

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Synopsis: There are many issues regarding the use of Aadhaar for the identification of beneficiaries. So, the central and state governments should allow for an alternative identification mechanism.

Background

  • The use of Aadhaar for the identification of beneficiaries for several welfare schemes such as the PDS, the NREGA and LPG subsidy was made mandatory.
  • This was challenged in 2018 as it was violating the individual’s privacy. But the court upheld the Aadhaar Programme by stating that a reasonable restriction on individual privacy is not unconstitutional. Specifically, if it fulfils welfare requirements and dignity.
  • Recently, a review petition regarding the validity of Aadhar for public purposes was again filed in the supreme court. But, a 4-1 majority Bench rejected the review petition in January 2021.
  • More recently, a petition was filed in the SC stating that 3 crore ration cards were cancelled for not being linked with the Aadhaar database. And these exclusions were connected to starvation deaths in some States.
  • According to recent data, nearly 90% of India’s population has been assigned the Aadhaar number

What are the issues in Aadhar based identification system?

  1. Individuals to avail benefits under the PDS, the NREGA and LPG subsidy etc., need the aadhaar number. But many inefficiencies in the system have impacted the beneficiaries to access welfare schemes. For example,
      • Inefficiencies in biometric authentication and updating,
      • Inefficiencies in linking Aadhaar with bank accounts and the use of the Aadhaar payment bridge
  2. According to some reports, failures in authentication has led to delays in the disbursal of benefits.
  3. Also, in many cases, the cancellation of legitimate beneficiary names led to the denial of welfare services. For example,
  4. According to reports, from 2017, there have been starvation deaths in Jharkhand because of the denial of benefits and subsidies.

Other challenges in using Aadhar based identification system

  1. One, success rates of authentication and the generation of “false negatives” has always been an issue. For example, labourers and tribal people engaged in manual and hard labour, are susceptible to fingerprint changes over time.
  2. Two, there are instances of people losing cards leading to a denial of benefits.
  3. Three, exemption mechanisms that would help beneficiaries avail subsidies and benefits despite system failures are poorly implemented

Way forward

The elimination of ghost beneficiaries can also be addressed by the use of other verification cards and by decentralised disbursal of services at the panchayat level. So, the central and state governments should allow for an alternative identification mechanism.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 20, 2021

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