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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 22, 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.
Happy Learning!

 

Vehicle Scrappage Policy: Challenges and Suggestions

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS-3

Synopsis: Vehicle Scrappage policy will work if incentives are aimed at increasing fuel-efficiency..

Introduction 

The Transport Ministry announced the Vehicle Scrappage policy, after the move for a green tax on ageing and polluting automobiles. This step promises economic benefits, a cleaner environment, and thousands of jobs.

  • Vehicles belonging to the government and the public sector will be scrapped by April 1, 2022. It will require another year to identify junk heavy commercial vehicles through compulsory fitness checks and other vehicles by 2024. 
  • Vehicle scrappage and replacement are viewed internationally as a path to revive COVID-19-affected economies by favouring green technologies, notably electric vehicles (EVs). It is seen as an initiative to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century under Paris Agreement commitments. 

What are the challenges in implementing the vehicle scrappage policy successfully?

Enforcement of this system will be important to get the vehicles scrapped once they are found unfit for use and to stop them from moving to smaller towns.

  1. Firstly, states must support this step by providing road tax and registration discounts. The automobile industry is expected to offer genuine discounts on new vehicles. 
  2. Secondly, the centre has the difficult task of making sure that the scrappage plan gets the state’s support
  3. Thirdly, 1.7 million heavy commercial vehicles do not have fitness certificates. This poses the biggest challenge. Many of these vehicles cannot be replaced quickly in the absence of financial arrangements for small operators. 
  4. Fourth, Fitness testing will be a difficult task. There is a requirement for a huge and reliable system of automated fitness checking infrastructure. It will measure the roadworthiness of commercial and private vehicles after 15 and 20 years. 

Suggestions 

  • The automobile industry is important. Its share before COVID-19 was about 7.5% of GDP with significant downstream employment. The Centre has to arrive at a balanced solution and incentivize the manufacturers of fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Implementation of very high standards and increased taxes on fuel consumers, without prioritizing fuel efficiency is not correct. It will only repeat the mistakes of vehicle exchange programmes abroad. They failed to realise full environmental benefits and taxpayers ended up subsidising inefficiency. 
  • Ecological scrapping, as a concept, must lead to high rates of materials recovery, reduce air pollution, mining and pressure on the environment.

Sachin Waze Case – The Issue of Right to Legal Counsel in Custody

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.

Synopsis – Sachin Waze was arrested recently by NIA in Antilia case. Waze has filed an application seeking permission to meet his lawyer. In this article, we will see the provisions regarding the right to legal counsel for those in police custody.

Introduction-

  • In Feb. an SUV was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s multi-story residence Antilia, with gelatin sticks in it. Mumbai Policeman, Sachin Waze was arrested by the NIA for his alleged role in this case.
  • The NIA recently claimed in Mumbai Court that Sachin Waze has not been cooperating in the interrogation. He has sought his lawyer’s presence during questioning, while the NIA has argued that this insistence could hamper the investigation.

Is access to a lawyer, the right of an accused?

Around the world, arrestees are given various rights. It protects the accused from the use of forced methods like torture to make self-incriminating statements.

In the US, under Miranda warning, a police officer needs to inform the following rights to the accused, before an arrest

    1. The right to remain silent.
    2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
    3. The right to speak to an attorney.
    4. To have an attorney present during any questioning.

Different Constitutional and legal rights of an arrested person in India

  1. Cannot testify against himself-
    • Article 20 (3): No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
  2. Right to know the grounds of arrest
    • Article- 22(1): No police officer can arrest any individual without informing the accused of the reason/ ground of his detainment/ arrest.
  3. Right to consult a Lawyer-
    • Section- 41D of CrPC allows the accused to be able to consult with their lawyers during their interrogation. But lawyers are not allowed to be with the accused throughout the interrogation.

Are lawyers allowed to remain present during the interrogation of an accused in custody?

Although the Supreme Court also noted the difficulty and ruled that a lawyer should not be present during interrogation. However, in certain cases, the court permits lawyers to be present during the interrogation:

  • In the judgment of Senior Intelligence Officer vs Jugal Kishore Sharma (2011) case, the following facilities were allowed to accused-
      • The accused’s lawyer was allowed to watch the proceedings from a visible distance which is outside hearing range.
      • The lawyer was not available to the respondent to consult during the questioning.

In the Sachin Waze case, the special court in Mumbai referred to the same judgment. Waze’s lawyer was permitted to stay in the NIA office during interrogation by the special court, but not allowed to speak with his lawyer in private.


Pew Research study on Poverty in India

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS:1 – poverty and developmental issues

Synopsis: A recent Pew research study report reveals increasing poverty in India. But the report also points out some serious flaws in government policy during pandemic times.

Introduction

A recent Pew research study report reveals increasing poverty in India and China in 2020. As per the report, the pandemic has pushed approximately 7.5 crore people into poverty levels(Earn less than $2 a day). In contrast, the pandemic pushed only 10 lakh people into poverty in China.

Intensity of the Pew Research study on Poverty:

In India, the pandemic reversed the gains made in the preceding nine years in poverty reduction programmes. But in contrast, China pushed back only one year, matching the 2019 level.

Is the Pew research study reliable?

The Pew research study is based on the analysis of the World Bank’s database. However,  the research itself mentions that there are multiple assumptions in the report. This includes the assumption on-base years for income/consumption also. In India, the base year was 2011 and for China, the base year is 2016.

This might be the reason for the large difference between the poverty data in India and China. But still, there are few significant highlights of the report.

Highlights of the report:

  1. Widening inequality in India: The pandemic increased the inequality level in India. As the lower-income populations have borne the job and income losses due to the multiple lockdowns.
  2. The fiscal policy response of India is uncertain. India introduced many policy initiatives to revive the economy. Especially the pre-pandemic tax cuts provided to the corporates to revive private investment and revive growth.
    The Pew research report data reveals that the benefits of fiscal policy measures did not reach the desired persons. So the Fiscal policy has to be assessed.
  3. The National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme’s record level of demand is proof of increasing Poverty in India.

Suggestions:

With the COVID-19 cases increasing once again. If the data on the report is not assessed properly then India might face two critical challenges.

  1. The economic recovery might not be feasible to the desired level
  2. The poverty level in India might increase dramatically.

So the government policy responses will test the government’s policy on ‘lives versus livelihoods’.


Refugees from Myanmar and India’s internal Security challenge

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Synopsis:

Mizoram and the Indian government taking a different stand on the current issue of refugees from Myanmar.

Introduction:

After the coup in Myanmar, at least, 1,000 people from the adjoining Chin State of Myanmar crossed the Border and currently at Mizoram. Since the Chins are ethnically related to the Mizos, The Mizoram government favours providing refuge to the Chins.

But the (Ministry of Home Affairs) MHA issued few directives to the States and UTs for taking measures against influx. Further, The MHA directives advised Mizoram that India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. 

Mizoram at present facing a dilemma between acting on Humanitarian grounds or India’s refugee policy.

Challenges in India-Myanmar Border management:

  1. Most of the borders are without fence: India Myanmar is not like India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The majority of the Border areas are not fenced. The Assam Rifles at the India-Myanmar border is facing challenges in maintaining strict vigil.
  2. Close people to people ties: There are more than 250 villages with almost 3,00,000 populations living within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. In 2018, both Indian and Myanmar agreed to streamline the movement of people within 16 km of the border.

Previous such Refugee problem in Myanmar:

  • Myanmar in the past faced also Extremism, counter-insurgency, and sectarian violence. All these act as a push-factor and made Myanmar people flee into India as refugees. For example, In 2017, More than 1,200 Buddhists and Christians from Myanmar’s Arakan State fled as a refugee to Mizoram.
  • Thousands of Chins are living in Mizoram for more than 40 years now as a refugee. Similarly, in Manipur, the villages of the Kuki-Zomi have often had people crossing Myanmar border and staying in India for some time.

Mizoram’s stand on refugee:

  •  Mizoram’s government issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) to Deputy Commissioners of border districts. In that, they mentioned facilitating the entry of refugees and migrants.
  • Further, the Mizoram government mentioned giving medical care, relief and rehabilitation, and security to the refugees.

Indian government stand on Mizoram:

  • The central government expressed displeasure to the Mizoram government. However, the Mizoram government revoked the SOPs later.
  • The North East Division of the MHA issued a letter to chief secretaries of India-Myanmar border states and Director General of Assam Rifles. In that, the MHA directed few important suggestions like,
  1. Not to allow refugees from Myanmar and take appropriate action as per law.
  2. The state governments have no powers to grant ‘refugee’ status to any foreigner.

Mizoram’s response to Central government:

The Mizoram government mentions that they share close ethnic ties with the people of Myanmar. Further, they also clarified a few important things to the central government. Such as they don’t want to provide full-time citizenship or employment to the refugees. Instead, they want to provide refugee status until Myanmar returns to normalcy.


The Issue of Public trust on ECI or Election Commission

Source: Indian Express

GS-2: Powers, Functions, and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

Synopsis: The public trust gained by the ECI (Election Commission of India) over the years is reducing. It is due to an increasing doubt over the fairness of the polls.

Background

  • Recently, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE), released the second part of its report “An Inquiry into India’s Election System.
  • CCE is chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur.
  • The report examines the critical aspects of conducting elections. Such as,
      • The integrity and inclusiveness of the electoral rolls.
      • Criminalisation in politics.
      • The use of financial power.
      • Compliance with the model code of conduct.
      • The role of media in conducting elections etc.,

What are the important revelations made in the report?

  • Since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, “grave doubts” have been raised around the fairness of the polls.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has failed to perform its duties. The report has stated reasons, such as
      • Exclusion of marginalized groups from voters’ lists.
      • The opacity of electoral bonds.
      • The power of big money in winning elections.
  • It has warned that India is becoming an “electoral autocracy

How India’s Election commission has built trust over the years?

Eminent bureaucrats such as Sukumar Sen, TN Seshan, and James Michael Lyngdoh worked for fair and accountable election machinery. Their work yielded citizen’s trust over the election process.

  • First, Sukumar Sen, India’s first Chief Election Commissioner. He was remembered for successfully conducting the first general elections despite many barriers such as scope, scale, logistics, and social issues. For example, elections need to be conducted for 176 million citizens, nearly 85 per cent of whom were illiterate.
  • Second, TN Seshan the 10th Election Commissioner. He was instrumental in implementing the model code of conduct to curb muscle and monetary power in elections. He enforced strict mechanisms to ensure fairness in the election process. For example,
    • Contestants were required to submit full accounts of their expenses for scrutiny. Those, who didn’t abide by polling rules, were arrested.
    • Also, officials who were biased towards candidates were promptly suspended.
    • He also prohibited election propaganda based on religion and caste-based hatred. For example, he canceled the Punjab elections in 1991.
  • Third, Lyngdoh presided over the Election commission during 2001 to 2004, the period marked by the 2002 Gujarat riots. After the dissolution of Gujarat assembly after the Gujarat riots, there was immense pressure from the political parties to hold elections earlier than intended. However, Lyngdoh insisted that polls could not be held as the state had not yet recovered from the violence of the riots.

Why the public trust on Election commission is eroding now?

  • First, ECI remains toothless against electoral offenses. For example,
      • During the 2019 elections, the Election commission gave “clean chits” to politicians, despite provocative political statements during campaigning.
      • The EC in a return reply to the supreme court stated that its powers to punish candidates for hate and religious speeches during the election campaign is limited.
  • Second, lack of transparency and accountability. For example, the earlier CECs used to proactively engage with the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) to discuss its reports. But currently, there has been no response from the EC.

 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 22, 2021

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