9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 21, 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.

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.

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Significance of Citizen-led Fact-Finding Missions

Source: Click Here  

Syllabus: GS 2 – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.


Citizen-led fact-finding missions play a significant role in a democracy. They provide an alternative opinion on things, empower citizens on critical issues and enrich the judicial process.


  • Recently, citizen-led fact-finding missions came in the news in a Delhi High Court case pertaining to the North East Delhi riots of 2020. 
    • The solicitor-general of India challenged five fact-finding reports conducted on the riots. 
    • He called such inquiries as examples of self-constituted parallel judicial systems that have no authority in the court of law.
  • However, these missions have been an integral part of Indian and world polity since colonial times.

Citizen-led fact-finding missions/inquiries in Colonial India:

  • The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 started as an extensive fact-finding exercise.
    • Gandhi carried out a detailed investigation with a team of volunteers to inquire into the plight of indigo planters. 
    • It was found that they were compelled to grow Indigo and charged with high taxes.
    • This exercise forced the Lieutenant Governor of Bihar to set up a formal inquiry committee with Gandhi as one of its members.
  • The Congress set up a Punjab sub-committee to inquire into the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. 
    • The leaders were disappointed with the work and political motivations of the Hunter Commission that was initially set up by the government to investigate the massacre.
  • A fact-finding exercise was undertaken to find out the authenticity of the Kanpur Cotton mills incident of 1924 in which 6 workers were killed and 58 injured. The inquiry exposed the collusion between the mill management and the police.

Significance of Citizen-led Fact-Finding Missions:

  • Rights Advocacy: It is a tool that helps to do rights advocacy. The process highlights the denial of rights to the target group and demands justice for them.  
  • Enrich the Judicial Process: It complements the judicial process by presenting to it an authentic view of facts. It often lays the groundwork for prosecution if a court of law finds their evidence admissible.
    • For instance, a group of lawyers from the Alternative Law Forum undertook a fact finding study on deaths of several workers in manholes in 2008. 
    • The group submitted a PIL and its report in Karnataka High Court. The court later instructed the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to procure manhole cleaning machines. It also issued orders for compensation to the victims’ families.
  • Breed Accountability: They help to highlight the lacunas of government institutions and personnel in fulfilling their duty.
    • For instance, the Andhra Pradesh Civil Rights Committee (APCRC) conducted an enquiry of Naxalite encounters in 1977. The report of the committee induced the government to institute a judicial enquiry under Justice Vashist Bhargava. 
  • Alternative Opinion: They provide citizens a medium to state their side of the story. It would be dangerous if official information was the only information available in the public domain.
    • For instance, people’s tribunals were set up in the wake of the 1992-93 Mumbai riots after the Babri Masjid demolition. They revealed shocking ground realities that were not recorded by the official enquiry committee.  

Thus, Citizen led fact-finding missions are cost-effective, rapidly mobilised, and encourage civic participation. Due to this, there has been a surge in their numbers in the last few decades. Fact-finding reports should be verified and criticized rather than dismissing them outrightly because these are self-constituted by the citizens.

Need of Global Rules to protect the Cyberspace

Source: Click Here 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Challenges to internal security through communication networks


The 21st century is going to be an era of data revolution wherein almost all the activities would be carried on in cyberspace. This calls for creating some global rules to protect cyberspace as their absence has failed to prevent cyberattacks even on powerful countries like the U.S.


  • The US created cyberspace as a free, open, decentralized, distributed, and self-governing platform.
  • In the current scenario, the domain has gained utmost importance as our critical systems like power, financial or military etc. are connected to it through data.
    • Further, the introduction of 5G technology and the Internet of Things would turn everything into a networked object. It would lead to an exponential expansion of data. 
  • This high usage of data would ease the governance process but would also make the system more prone to cyber-attacks.

Reasons behind Cyberattacks:

  • Economic Benefits: A cyberattack gives a hacker access to critical economic data that can be sold for millions in the grey market.
    • For instance, a Chinese attack on the weapon design system of the US allows it to develop a competitive advanced defence system. It enables the country to save millions of dollars and years of research and development.
  • Ideological Conflict: The free and decentralised structure of cyberspace goes against the ideology of authoritarian countries like Russia and China. This induces them to launch attacks on democratic countries like U.S and India. They have also built firewalls to protect their societies from freedom.
  • Geopolitical Interest: One country attacks another country’s data to serve its geopolitical interest in the region. The attack is aimed to cripple the governance structure in another country and induce it to act in a favourable way.
    • For instance, IP theft costs the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually and reduces US companies’ R&D investment and innovation. The reduced investment and rising losses diminish its geopolitical position.

Factors fueling Cyberattacks:

  • No Global Order: Countries have domestic laws and agencies to punish cyber offenders. However, it is difficult to punish if the attacker is located in another country as there are no global rules on cyberspace.
  • Low Entrance Threshold: It enables a curious person to learn and become a hacker. This allows him/her to get into infrastructure, financial or military systems without leaving a trace.
  • Synergy between State and Non-State Actors: Rogue states and well-organised digital terrorist groups use footloose hackers to invade diplomatic and strategic plans.
    • For instance, the October 2020 cyberattack shut down the electrical grid of Mumbai. The New York Times claimed this to be an attack carried out by China with the support of non-state actors.
  • Traceability: The advancement in technology has made the traceability of hackers very difficult.
    • For instance, the hacking group demanded ransom in bitcoins in the May 7 ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, one of America’s largest fuel suppliers. However, the countries can’t trace transactions in cryptocurrency.

Way Forward:

  • The countries should realise the inefficiencies of domestic laws and institutions in combating cyber attacks.
    • For instance, the US has a National Security Agency that conducts surveillance under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    • Similarly, it has a dedicated Cyber Command but still, it was unable to prevent the May 7 ransomware attack on the colonial pipeline.

Thus, the countries must work together to develop global law and technology to implement more aggressive measures against cyberattacks. The focus should be on developing foolproof encryption to protect the nation’s data.

Collaborative Governance Should be the future of Governance

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Role of Civil Services in a Democracy

Synopsis: Outdated nature of public bureaucracy has to be accounted for the ineffective response to the COVID-19 crisis in India. A new public governance model based on collaborative governance need to be institutionalised.

What are the issues with Weberian model of Bureaucracy?

The Weberian bureaucracy model that India follows suffers from the following challenges. It needs improvements to make Indian bureaucracy more efficient.

  • One, Weberian bureaucracy still prefers a generalist bureaucracy over a specialist.
  • Two, Weberian bureaucracy prefers leadership based on position over leadership of function.
    • Leadership of function is when a person has expert knowledge of a particular responsibility in a particular situation.
    • In leadership of function, every official involved in a particular role responds to the situation rather than relying on directions from above authority.

Implications of Weberian model of Bureaucracy

  • First, the rigid adherence to rules has resulted in the rejection of innovation.
  • Second, the hierarchical nature of work flow and cumbersome clearance processes even during the period of crisis results in delayed efforts.
  • Third, negligent of Specialist role results in policy failure and ineffective planning

What are the reforms suggested to address the issue?

  • The reform often suggested in India is new public management. It promotes privatisation and managerial techniques of the private sector as an effective tool to improve public service delivery and governance.
  • However, failure of private sector in public service delivery as witnessed during Covid19 and wide spread social inequality and regional variations in development had made this idea infeasible in India.

What is the Way forward?

  • The model of new public governance based on collaborative governance will be the most appropriate solution.
  • In this model, the public sector, private players and civil society, especially public service organisations (NGOs), work together for effective public service delivery
  • All agencies will be involved in policy formulation and implementation.
  • To institutionalise the model of new public governance, the behaviour of bureaucracy needs to change. It needs flexibility in hierarchy, a relook at the generalist versus specialist debate, and an openness to reforms such as lateral entry and collaboration with a network of social actors

All major revolutions with huge implications on public service delivery have come through the collaboration of public bureaucracy with so-called outsiders. These include the Green Revolution (M.S. Swaminathan), the White Revolution (Verghese Kurien), Aadhaar-enabled services (Nandan Nilekani) and the IT revolution (Sam Pitroda).

Concerns Associated with demolition of National Archives of India’s Building

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Synopsis: Many experts have raised their concerns on the demolition of the National Archives of India’s Annexe building. There is a need for public scrutiny and public consultation on this matter.


  • A part of the National Archives of India (NAI) complex, Annexe building, is planned to be demolished during the Central Vista redevelopment project.
  • The lack of clarity around the plans for preservation, transfer, and access of these national records is the cause of concern.

Significance of National Archives of India

  • The National record archives reportedly houses several public records, private papers, departmental records etc.
  • Archives are essential to the relationship between a state and its citizens. For instance, the production, storage, and use of information about the population is central to the work of governance.
  • The NAI has a broader, material relevance. For instance, people looking for land records, bureaucrats looking for an older government order, a lawyer seeking a legal precedent are dependent on NAI.
  • Finally, it supports Historical research. Thus, any changes to the National Archives of India (NAI) will impact the future of historical research.

What is the current issue?

  • Lack of Transparency: For example, the National Archives’ website does not have notification about the pending demolition, plans for the safe removal of materials etc.,
  • Lack of Public consultation: For instance, when the Federal Government of the United States decided to move the National Archive, there were extensive public consultations. No such measures were taken in India.
  • Lack of public access: The British Library is the only alternative repositories for archival resources for colonial India. If the NAI is inaccessible for an indefinite period, scholars who have the privilege of access to the British Library, will have exclusive rights to write about Indian history. It perpetuates differential access among students, researchers and scholars located in India and abroad.

Maratha Reservation Case Judgment and Federalism

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Synopsis:  Recently Supreme Court declared the reservation to the Maratha community in education and public employment as unconstitutional. This judgment is against federalism.

What were the reasons given by the Supreme Courts’ five-judge Bench?

  • One, the Maratha community did not constitute a socially and educationally backward class.
  • Two, the law is against Indra Sawhney judgment. In Indra Sawhney case the court has disallowed reservations made in excess of 50% of the total available positions.
  • Third, the State governments had no independent power to declare a group as a backward class.

What are the issues in the interpretation provided by the Supreme Courts’ five-judge Bench?

The reasoning that it violates Indra Sawhney judgment and State governments had no independent power to declare a group as a backward class is against the values of equality and federalism.

  • First, the cap of 50% on the reservation of  Indra Sawhney judgment does not come from the constitution. Articles 16(4) and 15(4) confer power on the government to make reservations, contains no such limitation.
    • Also, in State of Kerala vs N.M. Thomas (1975), the seven-judge bench held that reservation was inherent in the Constitution’s basic guarantee of equal treatment. This statement by the state high court contradicts the principle of capping reservation at 50%.
  • Second, the court’s interpretation that states do not have the power to declare groups as backward classes is misleading.
    • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act forms the basis of court’s ruling.
    • After the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, Article 342A, Article 366(26C) were introduced.
      • Article 342A stipulates that President may, notify groups of persons within a State deemed to be socially and educationally backward, after consultation with the state.
      • Further, Article 342A states that Central lists could be altered only by the Parliament.
      • Article 366(26C) defines  “socially and educationally backward classes” as such backward classes identified under Article 342A.
    • Based on the provision of Article 342A, a majority on the Bench had made  erroneous interpretation that, the Centre is empowered to identify socially and educationally backward classes similar to the preparation of the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and not the states.
    • However, the five-bench ruling of the supreme court has overlooked two essential factors,
      • One, the term “Central List” in Article 342A refers to the categorisation of groups as backward for the purposes of reservation of posts and seats under the Union government’s control only. It does not affect states power to categorise backward classes for promoting reservations in State’s domain.
      • Two, the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment had earlier clarified that Article 342 doesn’t take away the state’s right to include or remove classes from the List.

Way forward

  • The court’s decision in denying the right to recognize backward classes by states directly impede their ability to secure just social order.
  • Hence, the Parliament should amend the Constitution and grants to States an express power to determine backwardness.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 21 May, 2021

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