9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 3, 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.

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.
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Guidelines of National Building Code to Ensure Fire Safety in Public buildings

Source: The Hindu

Gs3: Disaster and Disaster Management (Fire accidents)

Synopsis:  Effective regulations to manage fire risks in public buildings like Guidelines of National Building Code are available. However, lack of enforcement by states has led to fire disasters in India.

 Background:

  • Fire accident in Public building has been a recurrent event in India. For instance,
    • Fire accidents in hospitals at Bharuch in Gujarat, Virar (Mumbai), and Mumbra near Thane, have killed at least 37 people.
  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 330 people have died in commercial building fires in 2019.
  • When fire accidents in residential or dwelling buildings are included, the fatality rate is very high at 6,329.
  • Some common causes are:
    1. Electrical failures
    2. failure of the state to ensure adherence to safety laws
    3. Lack of modern tech to ensure safety in public buildings.

What are the legal provisions available to ensure fire safety compliance in public buildings?

  • First, the National Building Code of India deals with Fire and life safety. It is published by the Bureau of Indian Standards as a recommendatory document. However, the Home Ministry asked States to incorporate it into their local building bylaws. It makes the recommendations a “mandatory requirement”.
  • Guidelines under NBC
    1. One, it provides specifications and guidelines for design and materials that reduce the threat of destructive fires. For example,
      • It specifies fire resistance materials to be used in exterior walls, interior bearing walls, floor, roof, fire check doors, fire enclosure exits, etc.,
    2. Two, The Code, classifies all the existing and new buildings by nature of use. For example; residential, educational, institutional, assembly (like cinemas and auditoria), Industrial, etc.,
    3. It recommends the location of buildings by type of use in specific zones. This is to ensure that industrial and hazardous structures do not coexist with residential, institutional, office, and business buildings.
    4. Three, the code prescribes the Technologies to be incorporated into buildings to alert in case of a fire and also to fight. Examples are, automatic fire detection and alarm system, automatic sprinklers and water sprays, fireman’s lift, fire barriers, etc.,
    5. Four, It provides exemptions for various buildings in case of practical difficulty. A local head, fire services may consider exemptions from the Code.
    6. Despite, the existence of fire safety rules in every state, the provisions of the Code are ignored in practice.
  • Second, Fire Safety Committees were constituted. They conduct periodical audits on fire installation, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and other electrical equipment in the Union government’s hospitals.
  • Third, Health Ministry has also imposed a third-party accreditation for fire safety. It has also formed strict guidelines for a mandatory fire response plan in every hospital.
  • Fourth, The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also provided mandatory requirements for fire safety in public buildings, including hospitals.
    • Such as, maintaining minimum open safety space, protected exit mechanisms, dedicated staircases, and crucial drills to carry out evacuations.
  • Fifth, the Supreme Court has directed all States to carry out fire safety audits of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals.

How far National Building Code is adequately implemented by the estates?

  • Evidence shows that States lack the manpower to inspect and ensure compliance with safety codes, including NBC. For instance,
    • According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report (2010 to 2015), in Maharashtra, a joint physical inspection by an audit of 53 government buildings revealed that only fire extinguishers were installed in 11 of 53 buildings, and the remaining 42 buildings were not equipped with any of the fire-fighting installations.
  • Further, Tamil Nadu and Kerala though have broader regulations, no reference is found for compliance with the National Building code.

Way forward

Making heavy fire liability insurance compulsory for all public buildings, will ensure protection to occupants and visitors and bring about external inspection of safety.


CBSE’s New Assessment System for Class 10 Students

Source: Indian Express

GS-2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Synopsis: CBSE has canceled the board examinations for 10th class students. CBSE’s new assessment system will be the new system based on objective criteria to assess their academic performance.

How marks are awarded for students as per CBSE’s new assessment system?

The basic break-up of marks provided by the board is as follows;

  1. Internal Assessment – 20 marks
  2. Periodic/Unit Test – 10 marks
  3. Half Yearly/Mid-Term Examination – 30 marks
  4. Pre-Board Examinations – 40 marks

However, there is no uniformity between schools regarding the number of tests conducted and the mode of examination. For instance,

  • One or more schools have not conducted the above three categories of tests/exams.
  • Also, some schools have resorted to Online exams while others have conducted exams Offline.
  • Further, there are possibilities that some students might have not appeared in some of the examinations conducted by schools.

How are these irregularities bridged by the assessment process?

  • The board proposes the formation of ‘Result Committees’ in every school. They are required to prepare a criterion of 80 marks through a ‘rationale document’.
  • It will be used to assess students belonging to schools where all tests have not been conducted or where students have not appeared for the assessment.
  • The committees will consist of the principal, five teachers from mathematics, social sciences, science, and two languages, and two teachers from neighboring schools as external members.

How objectivity is ensured in the assessment process?

  • To achieve objectivity, the board prescribes a system of internal moderation by all schools based on the historical performance of a school.
    1. One, the best performance of a school in the last three years’ board examinations is taken as the ‘reference year’
    2. Two, subject-wise marks assessed by the school for 2021 should be within a range of 2 marks obtained by the school in the reference year.
    3. Three, the overall average marks for the school assessed in 2021, for all 5 main subjects, should not exceed the overall average marks obtained by the school in the reference year.
  • This system of assessment will provide a reliable, unbiased, and fair reference standard based on the school’s own past performance.

Options available for students who do cannot achieve the qualifying marks?

  1. The board proposes the policy of awarding grace marks to those who do not meet the qualifying criteria.
  2. Students who are not able to meet the criterion after grace marks will be placed in the “Essential Repeat” or “Compartment” category.
  3. Students placed in the Compartment” category are required to write the compartment exam held by the school.
  4. It will be an objective type online or offline exam based on sample question papers provided by the CBSE.
  5. Students will be allowed to continue in class XI till the compartment results are released.

Natural Gas Can be India’s Alternative Road to Clean Energy

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 3

Synopsis: India should not solely focus on the end goal of decarbonisation. First it must try to ‘green’ its fossil fuel energy bag by increasing the share of natural gas.

Introduction 

  • Policymakers, climate diplomats, academicians, corporates, and NGOs are currently focussed on the concept of net-zero carbon emissions. Also, they are looking for the suitable target year for achieving it. 
  • However, the book “The Next Stop: Natural Gas and India’s journey towards a Clean Energy Future” suggests that India must first green its fossil fuel energy bag. This can be done by increasing the share of natural gas. 
  • This is a practical view because increasing natural gas will avoid negative impacts that shutting down coal mines might produce. 
  • Also, It allows the government to meet its aim of giving affordable energy to everyone without harming the environment. It can be done through executive order. 

What policy changes in the natural gas supply chain are required to green its fossil fuel energy bag?

To explain the scale of the answers, here are four key policy suggestions:

  1. Firstly, the experts must highlight the significance of natural gas. They must identify its usefulness. It is a competitive fuel and is amply available in and within the Asian/ME subcontinent. It has multiple uses, and it is the greenest of all fossil fuels.
  2. Secondly, the authorities must correct the present deterrent policy biases. The taxation system is regressive. The tax rates increase as the gas flows from one zone to another. This means that consumers situated at a distance from the source of gas pay a higher price than those closer to the source. Gas is not under GST.
    • The price of natural gas is complex as there are multiple price formulae. 
      • One for gas produced from domestic fields by the public sector companies.
      • One for gas produced by private companies.
      • Furthermore, one for production from deep waters offshore under high temperature etc. 
  3. Thirdly, the authorities should refurbish the arrangement of the industry. The Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) is engaged in the production, transportation, and marketing of gas. This allows GAIL to influence its rights of the gas pipelines. 
    • They deny their competitors access to the market. Assured and common access to all marketers is required.  
    • Most countries have separated the production/import and marketing interests from transportation. GAIL’s business activities should be limited to pipeline construction and transportation.
  4. Lastly, an institutional apparatus should be created to allow better coordination between the central and state governments. The Center and state have clashed over issues like land attainment, pipeline routing; and royalty payments. This is why India has not yet made a national pipeline grid.
    • Center-state alterations have also delayed the construction of import facilities and the creation of gas markets. The Centre and state should resolve these issues through an integrated decision-making process.

Conclusion

  • Every participant will come to COP26 later this year with hard evidence to back their longer-term commitments. Participants must also focus on other important alternatives to net-zero. 

US forces in Afghanistan Starts their Final Phase of Withdrawal

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus Topic – GS- 2, Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Synopsis: The US President has formally started the final phase of withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan. The President has also set September 11 as the deadline for withdrawal.

Why are US forces in Afghanistan?

  • On 11 September 2001, attacks in the United States killed nearly 3,000 people.
  • Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda was identified as the man responsible.
  • The Taliban ran Afghanistan at that time. They protected Bin Laden and refused to hand him over. So, a month after 9/11, the US launched airstrikes against Afghanistan.
  • As other countries joined the war, the Taliban was removed from power. But the Taliban didn’t disappear and its influence regrew after some time.
  • Since then, the US and its allies have struggled to stop Afghanistan’s government from collapsing. Further, they also fail to end the deadly attacks by the Taliban.
  • Also, it is estimated that the US has spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan in the past two decades.

U.S. troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan:

  • In February 2020, the United States and the Taliban had signed a peace agreement titled the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan. The main provisions of this agreement are,
    • Troops Withdrawal: The US will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Further, the NATO or coalition troop numbers will also be brought down simultaneously. At last, all the troops will be out of Afghanistan within 14 months.
    • Taliban: Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups including al-Qaeda to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
    • Sanctions Removal: In turn, the US and UN sanctions on the Taliban leaders will be removed.
  • The 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops is scheduled. By 11 September 2021, all the US troops will be removed from Afghanistan.
  • However, the Taliban has accused the US of breaching the deal. In the peace agreement, the US had said it would have all troops out by May 1, 2021.

Way Forward:

  • The withdrawal of US troops has started against a backdrop of fierce clashes between the Taliban and government forces.
  • There is no interim peace agreement is reached between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
  • Hence, it is expected that Afghanistan’s security forces will come under increasing pressure from the Taliban after the withdrawal.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 3 May, 2021

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