9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 29, 2021

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India’s Nepal policy needs to change for ensuring long-lasting friendship

Source: The Indian Express

Gs2: India and its Neighbourhood Relations.

Synopsis: There is widespread disbelief against India in Nepal. But that needs to be addressed by winning back the people’s trust. This will strengthen India’s Nepal policy

Background

  • As of now, Nepal’s parliament has been dissolved once again and dates for fresh elections are announced. The current dissolution has been challenged in the court by five political parties.
  • It has to be remembered that the earlier dissolution of parliament was overruled by the Supreme Court as Unconstitutional.
  • In this context, we will discuss the prevailing Nepali’s scepticism about India and India’s Nepal policy measures to ensure long-lasting friendship between the two countries.

Prevailing Nepali’s scepticism on India

  • So far, India’s credentials have always been under Nepali’s suspect. Currently, political and public opinion in Nepal is convinced that Mr Oli is now India’s favourite.
  • Further, there are rumours spreading in Nepal that Mr Oli will promote the return of Nepal to its Hindu Rashtra status under the monarchy and keep the Chinese at distance.
  • Some rumours even claim that India is working to bring back the monarchy to Nepal.
  • Though the Indian government has maintained silence on the current political developments in Nepal, India needs to assess the political situation in Nepal to serve the interests of India best.

Suggestions to improve India’s Nepal policy

  • First, the monarchy in Nepal has always been against the interest of India. The monarchy has always tried to distance Nepal from India and promoted a nationalism that takes hostility to India as its main driver.
    • So, to win the Nepali’s people trust and also for its own interest, India should declare its unconditional support to Nepal’s republican democracy.
  • Second, India should remain fully engaged with Nepal at all levels and across the political spectrum. Through engagement, India should advocate policies rather than persons.
    • The absence of India’s engagement will provide space for China’s intervention. Further, India should avoid advocating support for individuals as it will create false apprehension over India’s credential.
  • Third, India’s engagement with Nepal must find an important place for Nepali citizens, especially the Madhesi population.
    • Currently, through a presidential ordinance, the Nepal government had reversed a constitutional provision that denied citizenship to children born of Nepali mothers who had foreign husbands. This was directly targeted at the Madhesi population.
    • Though this provision stands removed, it might be reintroduced after the political uncertainty is over. India should proactively support the demands of Madhesi population.
  • Finally, India needs to facilitate the people-to-people links including long-standing religious and cultural links, between our two countries.
    • The future of India’s Nepal policy lies in leveraging people-to-people links. No other country other than India has such an advantage.

The increasing prices of edible oil needs government intervention

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-3: marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Synopsis:

In the past year, the prices of edible oil increased significantly. There are many internal and external reasons behind the price rise. So, the government has to pay attention to the edible oil prices.

Introduction:

In India, Edible oil prices have risen sharply in recent months. According to the data from the Department of Consumer Affairs, the prices of six edible oils — groundnut oil, mustard oil, vanaspati, soya oil, sunflower oil and palm oil — have risen between 20% and 56% at all-India levels in the last one year.

India’s Demand of Edible Oil:

  • India’s production of oilseeds is too little to fulfil the domestic demand. Therefore, India is dependent on imports.
  • India is one of the largest importers of oilseed and edible oils in the world. About 56% of the domestic edible oil demand is met from imports.
  • The major sources of these imports are
    • Argentina and Brazil for soybean oil;
    • Indonesia and Malaysia palm oil; and
    • Ukraine and Argentina for sunflower oil.
  • Therefore, any increase in global prices of oilseeds and edible oil is bound to be transmitted into domestic prices.

Why are International Prices of Edible Oil rising?

  • Demand on making biofuel from Soybean oil: There has been a demand on making renewable fuel from soybean oil in the US, Brazil and other countries. This increased the demand for edible oil in these countries and increased prices globally.
  • Aggressive Buying by China: China uses soybean for extracting oil as also to prepare the animal feed. Hence, aggressive Chinese buying of soybean depleted inventories in the market. This in turn put upward pressure on prices.
  • Labour issues in Malaysia: Malaysia’s palm oil sector is dependent on migrant foreign workers. However, pandemic induced border closure meant the palm oil sector faced a severe labour shortage causing the output to fall.
  • Impact of La Niña on palm and soya producing areas
  • Imposition of Export duties on crude palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Suggestions to reduce prices of edible oil 

  •  Short Term Measures:
    • Lower Import Duties: India can lower the import duties on the edible oil prices. This can lower the prices immediately.
    • Subsidise Edible Oil: Government can subsidise edible oils and make them available to the poor under the Public Distribution System.
  • Long Term Measure: India needs to reduce its dependence on imports of edible oils. This can be feasible by incentivising farmers to diversify wheat and paddy crops to oilseeds.

Need for real-time data on public health

Source: The Indian Express

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

Synopsis: Having access to epidemiological real-time data on public health will help us to fight against the pandemic better by making informed choices.

Background

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of data to governments in decision-making.
  • However, India lacks real-time data on public health and the provision of health services.
  • This necessitates the need for data transparency and data sharing in India to make informed decision-making.
  • Hence, India needs to create a charter for standardizing digital health data.

How real-time data on public health can help fight against the Pandemic?

  • First, it will help in data analysis and modelling. For instance, the epidemiological concept of flattening the curve and its predictions are results of data analysis and modelling.
    • Epidemiology refers to the study of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases.
  • Second, it allows us to measure our preparedness, and shape our responses to identify, manage, and care for new cases.
  • Third, it will help to understand disease pathogenesis and severity. For example, Epidemic outbreak data like case data, medical and treatment data can be used to understand disease pathogenesis and severity.
  • Fourth, it helps us to understand the transmissibility or infectivity of the virus. For example, comparing genome surveillance data with the magnitude of fatalities or recovery will help us to understand the transmissibility or infectivity of the virus.
  • Fifth, it will help in predicting viral evolution and drug-treatment strategies. Surveillance through studying genome sequencing of the virus, along with epidemiological data allows us to identify the evolution of the virus after the rollout of vaccinations.

Challenges in generating real-time data on public health

  • One, standardisation of data collection is the biggest challenge due to many operational constraints.
    • Ensuring data availability and quality under operational constraints is critical. This can be addressed by reducing errors and enabling transparency.
  • Second, concerns of privacy and security while sharing personal health data.
    • A systemic infrastructure with built-in safeguards has to be built. This will provide security and ensure privacy.

Resolving bottlenecks in procuring Pfizer’s vaccine

Source-The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Synopsis – Pfizer has asked for certain conditions in order to supply 5 million doses to India between July and October this year.

Introduction

  • According to reports, Pfizer is ready to supply five crore doses of the mRNA vaccines [developed with the German company BioNTech] between July and October.
  • However, the company has requested certain protection from the Centre, as it has done with other 116 governments across the world, including the United States.
  • Therefore, to seal the deal, the pharmaceutical giant and the Indian government must quickly resolve their long-standing dispute over the protection.

Pre-conditions to supply Vaccine to India:

  • Pfizer said that it will supply vaccine only to the central government, not to individual states. The company also refused to send vaccines directly to local governments citing its policy of dealing only with the Central government of various countries.
  • The company has also asked for protection from the Government of India. Such as, slots for testing of their vaccines in CDL (Central Drugs Laboratory).
  • The company is also requesting that it should not be liable for compensation in case of an adverse event.

What needs to be done in order to increase procurement?

  1. Timely vaccination is the need of the hour to protect people against the coronavirus, thus the Centre needs to take charge of all procurement and negotiations with all vaccine suppliers, including domestic and foreign.
  2. The government has to consider the global situation in decision-making. Such as, around 14.7 crore doses of Pfizer vaccines have already been administered worldwide without any significant reports of adverse effects.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 29 May, 2021

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