9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 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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India Needs an Effective Vaccine Policy

Source: The Hindu  

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

SynopsisThe surge in Covid-19 cases coupled with a limited supply of vaccines warrants the adoption of an effective vaccine policy by the country. The policy should prioritize groups, address hesitancy and formulate a more equitable distribution plan.


  • The second wave of Covid-19 has shown that the virus is not going away in a short time. It may strike the country multiple times in the coming years.
  • In this scenario, the best possible way is to vaccinate the population in order to build effective immunity against the virus and reduce the death tolls. However, there are multiple concerns that demand changes to make vaccination policy effective. 

Concerns regarding vaccine policy:

  • Limited Supply of Vaccines: The country is facing a shortage of vaccines due to production constraints and import resistances.
    • Technicalities of vaccine production make it likely that indigenous manufacturers will require 3 to 6 months to increase capacity significantly. 
      • For instance, the novel mRNA vaccine candidate (HGCO19) can’t be developed by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. without support from HDT Biotech corporation, U.S.
    • Similarly, the import of vaccines can be enhanced only after August 2021. It is when wealthy nations would have made substantial progress in the immunization of their populations.
  • Vaccine Hesitancy: People are showing unwillingness to vaccinate themselves as they doubt the efficacy of vaccines. 
    • One of the reasons is the halt in the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield) by some countries due to concerns over blood clots, etc. It contributed to doubts about the safety of vaccines in India.
  • Target Groups: The limited supply has created a challenge of choosing amongst the multiple groups for vaccination. India needs to choose between the most vulnerable (elders, comorbidities patients) and the most valuable (working population). The former will reduce the death toll and the latter would be more beneficial for economic revival.
  • Distribution Concerns: The current policy has allowed vaccination for all adults however it does not tell the order of distribution. 
    • The state governments are now compelled to bear all the costs of vaccination. This may give an advantage to wealthier states over poor states.
    • Further, it allows market forces to decide on vaccine access for a substantial part of the population and calls for using technology (Co win portal) to get vaccinated. 
    • This has allowed the least vulnerable to get vaccinated early as they possess more resources.

Way Forward:

  • The central government should pioneer in both – enhancing the supply and formulating a policy to ensure equitable access to vaccines.
    • It should avoid transferring expenses to State governments and shouldn’t allow the private sector to decide vaccine access.
  • The country should take the help of behavioral scientists to combat vaccine hesitancy and ensure that the population is vaccinated.
  • The target groups must be selected on the basis of vulnerability. However, if this is impractical, then some combination of the vulnerable and working population should be chosen. This should be worked out using data and the basis of the decision should be made public.

VIP Security Cover to West Bengal MLAs – Associated Issues

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary


The Ministry of Home Affairs recently extended security cover to all 77 BJP MLAs in the West Bengal assembly. It appears to be a politically motivated and unprecedented move. It should be reconsidered as it is suffering from multiple issues. 


  • The BJP MLAs were facing a threat of persecution post the West Bengal assembly verdict. The party lost the elections and became the opposition party by winning only 77 seats in 294 member assembly.
  • The MHA has ordered a security cover of X- category security to 61 MLAs while the remaining 16 will get or are already enjoying a higher cover.  

About Security Cover:

  • There are six kinds of central security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus, and SPG. 
  • The Special Protection Group protects only the Prime Minister while the other type of securities can be provided to anyone based on the Centre’s assessment.
  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are the two forces tasked with providing security to VIPs.

How is a security cover provided?

  • An MHA committee decides regarding the security cover. 
  • It comprises officials from the Home Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau, Delhi Police, and senior officials of the Central Armed Police Forces.
  • The Intelligence Bureau prepares the list of persons under threat and the degree of threat. Whereas the committee decides on the force to be deployed depending upon the place where the person is located.
  • The threat perception of every person is discussed one by one and not collectively for any group.

Issues in the recent decision:

  1. First, it appears to be a politically motivated decision as threat perception for each person was not discussed.
  2. Second, the degree of threat was not large enough to provide such a big security cover. For instance, such blanket covers were given in the past in the case of the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir elections. These regions were witnessing militant unrest at that time.
  3. Third, such actions deteriorate Centre-State relations as law and order is a state subject. Further, the order also questions the integrity of West Bengal police officers of being aligned to a particular political party.
  4. Fourth, the forces are already over deployed in the protection of VIPs. In 2019, 66,043 police and CAPF personnel were deployed to protect 19,467 Ministers, MPs, judges, and bureaucrats. Although the sanctioned strength was 43,556 personnel as per the Data on Police Organisations.
  5. Fifth, constant deployment impacts the training schedule of CAPF personnel. After the initial eight-week training for VIP protection, the forces have to take a periodic two-week refresher training for improving their skills.

Thus, there is a need to charge a fee for the security personnel deployed to protect legislators and other prominent persons. This would curb the tendency of unnecessarily demanding security personnel around themselves.

Future of India – Pakistan Trade Relations

Source: Click Here 

Syllabus: GS 2 –  India and its neighbourhood- relations 


The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of Pakistan put forward a proposal to import sugar, cotton, and cotton yarn from India. Although the proposal was rejected by Pakistan’s government, it is definitely an indication of improving the future course of India-Pakistan trade relations.


  • The two countries are undergoing restrictive trade since 2019. The Pulwama Terror attack in Kashmir and cross-border airstrikes in 2019 induced India to impose trade restrictions. It withdrew the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status of Pakistan and imposed a customs duty hike of 200% on imports.
  • Similarly, Pakistan imposed a complete ban on trade when India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Pakistani ECC’s recent proposal of importing Indian goods shows a softness in attitude. Thus, it would help in improving the future course of trade relations. 

Factors indicating future improvement in India-Pakistan Trade Relations:

  • First, the past precedent shows that trade restrictions are lifted after some time for mutual benefit. 
    • For instance, the protocol on resumption of trade was invoked in 1974 after a suspension of nine years due to the 1965 war. The trade was started in essential items like agricultural commodities and expanded over the years.
  • Second, Pakistan deviated from the complete ban within a month of suspension. It lifted the ban on the import of medicines and raw materials from India. The aim was to avert any crises and ensure that there is no shortage of essential drugs.
    • Similarly, now its own Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) is suggesting to import sugar, cotton, and cotton yarn from India.
  • Third, Indian trade data shows that despite a ban from Pakistan’s side, the trade has been ongoing. During 2020-21 (April-February), the recorded bilateral trade was $280 million. Out of this, India exported goods worth $278 million and imported goods worth $2 million.
    • The biggest component of export (77%) were vaccines and pharmaceutical products. After this, the second position was occupied by sugar at 15%. 
  • Fourth, there exists a significant cost of refraining from the trade. A healthy trade allows both countries to stabilize domestic prices and take care of seasonal shortages in the home country.
    • Further, a severe restriction allows the trader to shift to informal channels of trade that reduce the potential tax revenue of the government. 

Way Forward:

  • The countries should cooperate on creating a positive list for trade as the first step towards normalisation.
  • Business organisations on both sides can create a strong lobby. This could be used to build momentum in opening channels and influence the shaping of the India-Pakistan trade policy.

Analysing the Social security code 2020 for Informal Workforce

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis: Critical analysis of the social security code 2020  reveals that it is short of providing universal social security for informal workers.


  • Informal workers constitute 91% of the workforce. The Pandemic had pushed them into severe poverty and debt burden due to loss of livelihoods.
  • Social security arrangements could have saved them from the misery. Such as
    • Free basic curative care in public clinics and hospitals,
    • The elderly had old-age pensions,
    • Disability insurance or life insurance,
    • Minimum income guarantee
  • However, an unprepared government had made them helpless.
  • Even the social security code 2020 passed in parliament in September 2020 is short of providing universal social security for informal workers.

What are the Issues in Social security code 2020?

  1. First, it is just a merger of existing social security laws and does little to provide universal social security for informal workers.
    • The SS Code 2020 amalgamates and rationalizes the provisions of eight existing central labour laws.
    • Even in the new scheme the employee’s provident fund, employees state insurance (ESI), maternity benefit, gratuity still remain only for organised sector workers.
    • Only a subtle change has been done to include informal workers within the ambit of social security administration. For example,
      • In employees’ state insurance, the existing employee threshold has been withdrawn. Now the central government can extend ESI benefits to any organisation irrespective of the number of workers employed.
  2. Second, the SS 2020 scheme takes little consideration to solve the existing hurdles for informal workers in accessing Social security schemes. For instance,
    • The legal framework, as proposed in the Code and Rules, implies that the basic onus lies on informal workers registering as beneficiaries. It makes registration a prerequisite for universal coverage to avail social security.
    • However, it has failed to understand the underlying problem faced by the informal workers while making registration.
      • One, most informal workers lack digital literacy and connectivity. Hence, providing them the option for Online registration will make the Social security scheme a failure.
      • Two, most informal workers are footloose casual workers (26% of all workers) and self-employed (46% of all). This makes it difficult for them to furnish all documentary papers required as part of the registration process.
      • Further, furnishing proof of livelihood and income details in the absence of tangible employer-employee relations is also very difficult.
      • Three, Similar provisions are already there in existing social security schemes run by State governments under the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.
      • Yet, many informal workers are outside the ambit of any social security because of the failure to address their concerns.
    • Third, unorganised workers are spread across the length and breadth of India. However, the code does not address the need for inter-State arrangements and cooperation for providing social security net.
    • Fourth, Under the SS Code, the provision of maternity benefits has not been made universal. Maternity benefit is presently applicable for establishments employing 10 workers or more. The definition of ‘Establishment’ in the proposed code did not include the unorganised sector. Hence, women engaged in the unorganised sector would remain outside the purview of maternity benefit.
    • Fifth, The SS Code maintains that the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme will remain applicable, as before, to every establishment in which 20 or more employees are employed.
    • Thus, for informal sector workers, access to employees’ provident fund remains unfulfilled in the new code.
    • Sixth, although payment of gratuity was expanded in the new Code, it still remains inaccessible for a vast majority of informal workers.

The code fails to recognise that India is aging without social security. The demographic dividend of the young workforce that could support the aging will also end in 15 years. Hence, it’s a priority for India to institutionalize a Universal social security arrangement for all including the informal workforce by removing the above-mentioned challenges.


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

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