9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 8, 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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Indian Offshore Model will Dominate Global IT Sector

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS:3 – Industries and employment

Synopsis:

The Indian IT industry will dominate the global landscape due to various advantages associated with the offshore model

Introduction:

According to analysts, India is increasingly becoming an attractive market for tech companies from all over the world.

What is the offshore model or the Work from home model?

In simple terms, it is the relocation of a company’s business process to a country that is not in the same geographical region. For example, a company in the US might have the majority of its employees working in India or China due to various benefits.

Why is India becoming an attractive market for tech companies?

India is becoming an attractive IT market because:

  • Increase in Critical shortage of skilled manpower in countries such as the US and Europe
  • Pandemic-induced work-from-home has raised the openness of global tech buyers. They are allowing to work away from onshore (or the client’s location).
  • Markets are witnessing a 50% reduction in the onshore model and about 15% increase in the offshore model.

Advantages of Work from Home Model or Offshore Model:

  • Zero Commutation: When working remotely, a person doesn’t have to step out of their home. So it will reduce the time and fuel spent to and from the office commute.
  • Flexible Schedule: A person can choose to schedule tasks that would otherwise be left out. For example, when in office and build their working hours around their priorities, either for home or for learning something new.
  • Larger Skill Pool: Employers can extend their reach to hire a better skill pool across the globe, rather than just relying on persons available locally.
  • Saving on Office Space: Having a majority of all the workforce working remotely will help to cut costs significantly on office space and maintenance.

Limitations of Work from Home Model or Offshore Model:

  • Increased isolation: A person can become quite isolated if he/she spend the majority of the time by him/herself working independently.
  • Loss of Focus: Homes are comfortable, but they present their own challenges. Even with a strict schedule, it is difficult to not get involved with family work or responsibilities.
  • Lack of Accountability and Fall in Productivity: Work from Home makes it difficult for an organisation to chart the strengths and weaknesses of every individual while working remotely.

Significance of Rent Waiver in tackling Reverse Migration

Source: The Hindu

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

Synopsis:  State support for food and income along with rent waiver during the pandemic to workers and migrants can stop reverse migration.

 Why rent should be waived for Migrants during the Pandemic crisis?

  • One,  According to the findings by the RMKU and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) in Jaipur, on a survey of 500 domestic workers, rent formed the majority component of debt post lockdowns.
  • Two, it is one of the leading causes of mass reverse migration, according to the reports by the Stranded Workers Action Network.

Why the steps taken by the government to waive rent for migrants failed during the first covid wave?

Last year, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in an order stated that the landlords should not demand rent from the workers, including the migrants for a period of 1 month. However, this measure was largely a failure due to the following reasons.

  • One, lack of clarity. The order did not state clearly whether the rent to be waived or just deferred.
  • Two, no incentives for Landlords. Many landlords, especially the old-aged population rely on rent for their sustenance. Thus, lack of incentives from the government for the needy resulted in noncompliance.
  • Three, lack of enforceable mechanism. There was no regulation body created to monitor the enforcement of this order.

Solutions to address this issue?

  • First, a moratorium should be announced with a clearer enforcement mechanism, with a clear distinction between deferment and rent waivers.
  • Second, the state should provide compensation to Landlords for lost rent, at least a partial amount.
  • Third, direct cash transfer for rent support based on rental market conditions can be a part of the solution.
  • Fourth, limited waivers on utility expenses of workers. For example, partial waiver on electricity bills and penalties charged on non-payment.

Returning to their villages is not a willful choice for migrants, as villages are lacking employment, no skills for agricultural employment, and the absence of social ties. Yet, they are forced to take this painful journey due to a lack of livelihood options in urban areas. State support for basic food (PDS), shelter (Rent waiver), and direct cash transfer for basic sustenance can halt the reverse migration of migrants.


Critical Analysis of U.S Support to temporary Patent Waiver for Covid Vaccines

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Synopsis: Arguments, provided by MNC’s against Patent waiver on Covid technologies, are baseless. WTO should make efforts to bring consensus among nations for a temporary waiver.

Background

  • Last year, India and South Africa proposed in WTO for a waiver on patent protection for technologies needed to combat COVID-19.
  • While many low- and middle-income countries supported it, resistance came from the high-income countries (U.S., U.K, E U etc.,) and the Pharmaceuticals industry.
  • Currently, the United States president, Joe Biden, has decided to support the India-South Africa proposal.
  • However, the process may get delayed, despite U.S. intervention. Because, the WTO works on a consensus-based approach. i.e., The World Trade Organization resolves debates by consensus and not by voting.

Why the reasons, given for not accepting the Patent waiver proposal, are baseless?

Many arguments against providing a Patent waiver were put forward. However, all such reasons are found to be baseless.

  • First, critics argue that, the capacity for producing vaccines of assured quality and safety is limited to some laboratories. Further, it may be hazardous to permit manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to work with technologies that they cannot handle.
    • This argument is not valid, for many years multinational firms have subcontracted their patented pharmaceutical products to industries with low production costs in developing countries.
  • Second, Critics argue that there is no evidence that extra capacity exists for producing vaccines outside of firms undertaking them now.
    • But even this argument is not valid. For example,  The World Health Organization’s mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub has already drawn  interest from over 50 firms to produce the approved vaccines.
  • Third, critics argue that the time taken for their utilization by new firms will be too long to help combat the present pandemic.
    • Even this argument is baseless as nobody knows when the Pandemic will come to end. Further, combined with low vaccination rates and emerging Mutant variation in Covid virus makes it much more difficult to predict the end of the Pandemic.
  • Fourth, multinational pharmaceutical firms argue that Patent waiver will allow China to steal their technologies, now and in the future.
    • However, MNC’s forget to remember that the original genomic sequence openly shared by China, gave these firms a head starts in developing vaccines.
  • Fifth, the most common argument by all MNC’s is that innovation and investment by industry will have to be financially rewarded to incentivise them to develop new products.
    • But, even through compulsory licensing industry will be financially rewarded. Because royalties are paid to the original innovators and patent holders even if compulsory issues are issued bypassing patent restrictions.
    • Further, much of the foundational science that built the path for vaccine production came from public-funded universities and research institutes.

What are the other alternatives proposed for Patent waiver?

  • One, giving license to manufacturers in developing countries, while retaining patent rights. However, it will not guarantee equity in access to the products at affordable prices.
  • Two, supplying vaccines to developing countries through the COVAX facility. However, this mechanism has failed to deliver on its promise. For example, U.S. States have received more vaccines than the entire Africa has from COVAX.

What is the way forward?

  • First, considering the positive development from the U.S, developing countries must start issuing compulsory licences. Even, The Doha declaration on TRIPS permits their use in a public health emergency.
  • Second, High-income countries and multilateral agencies should provide financial and technical support to enable expansion of global production capacity.
  • Third, Efficacy and safety of their products can be assessed by credible regulatory agencies and the World Health Organization.

How India’s Diaspora in US helped India in COVID Crisis

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 2- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Synopsis – The Indian diaspora contributed to the US’s decision to allow raw materials for COVID-19 vaccines for India.

Introduction-

  • The US in a decision had denied India the raw material for vaccine preparation. It justified this decision with its America First policy.
  • The US was criticized for not doing enough to aid India, which had helped the US, when COVID was raging there.
  • However, after the collective outrage of the Indian diaspora or prominent members of the US political and corporate elite, the US government allowed India with raw material supply.

Other assistance announced by US
The diaspora has played an important role in ensuring that the US administration prioritizes India’s COVID crisis, and the following are the results of the diaspora outrage-

  • First, the US Defence Production Act’s provisions are being reconsidered – By approving the supply of filters required for the Covishield vaccine’s production.
  • Second, excess doses will be released to other countries the US is likely to give away 60 million surplus doses of AstraZeneca vaccine by June to other countries [subject to FDA clearance].
  • Third, a comprehensive plan has been prepared- The US government has prepared a detailed plan for supply of oxygen and associated equipment, besides setting up field hospitals with oxygen beds.
  • Four, The US government has also ramped up supplies of medicine [Commercial supplies of therapeutics] especially remdesivir.
  • Five, the US Development Corporation will fund the BioE [Indian vaccine firm] to expand its manufacturing potential. By the end of 2022, India and the other three QUAD partners will have generated and distributed at least one crore doses.

Way forward-

  • The reason behind the US response went from radio silence to rapid-fire in quick succession was the outrage from the Indian Diaspora.
  • In health-related cooperation, the US must recognize that assisting India helps the whole world. India-made vaccines would benefit people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  • Influential figures in the US should back India and South Africa’s IPR waiver proposal under the TRIPS agreement.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 8 May, 2021

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