9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 23rd, 2021

Dear Friends
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Better co-ordination

Source: This post is based on the article “Better co-ordination” published in Business Standard on 22 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: To understand some areas of cooperation between India and the USA.

News: United States Trade Representative is in India to further the agenda of the US-India Trade Policy Forum to be held after the four-year interregnum.

While the bilateral relationship has shown considerable progress in the past years, the economic agenda has always been a stumbling block. In other cases like, US-China or US-EU relationship, there is a clear give and take across sectors.

What are Issues in India-US relations that are likely to be discussed?

India’s digital policies, including data localization and taxation of US-based tech multinational companies.

Trade-related regulatory barriers, tariffs, and recent export promotion policies from the Indian government, as well as the vexed interlinkage between environmental factors and trading relations.

How should Indian officials respond?

A whole-of-government approach has to be taken. Each official should be briefed on the entire set of outstanding issues and possible ways forward, not just related to their ministry or portfolio.

-Response of Indian officials should be based on feedback from other departments and updated input from relevant stakeholders in the corporate world and Parliament.

There should be ongoing coordination during the visit, and to build on the progress already made in previous meetings during the visit.


Why China is acquiring foreign military bases

Source: This post is based on the article “Why China is acquiring foreign military bases” published in The Indian Express on 23rd Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – India and its neighborhood relations

Relevance: Understanding China’s growing military presence around the world

News: USA recently convinced UAE to stop China from secretly constructing a military facility at an Abu Dhabi port. China’s growing interest in acquiring foreign military bases has been reported for more than a decade.

Beijing opened its first foreign military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa in 2017. It is said to be building its second foreign military base at Ream, Cambodia.

Must Read: Keeping a close eye on China’s nuclear capabilities

Through acquiring foreign military bases, China is trying to assert its primacy in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region while pushing out the US and India. A permanent naval presence in the Indian Ocean will profoundly alter India’s security environment.

Which countries is China targeting for its foreign military bases?

The recent US annual report on Chinese military power cites several countries that People’s Liberation Army is targeting for military bases.

In Bay of Bengal: Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka are candidates from the Bay of Bengal

To the West of India: Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, and the UAE.

Pakistan is likely to emerge as the most important vehicle for Chinese naval power projection in the Indian Ocean, with significant implications for India’s military planning.

What are the reasons behind China’s pursuit of acquiring foreign military bases?

Background: In the past, Communist China claimed that it had no interest in projecting power to distant seas or foreign military bases. China also actively campaigned against the foreign military presence in Asia. As a defensive power in the second half of the 20th century, China’s priority was to fight off external threats to its sovereignty and consolidate its communist revolution.

This policy changed as China rose rapidly to become a great power in the 21st century.

– Due to its vast globalized economy and growing reliance on foreign markets and resources, a need was felt within the Chinese security establishment to secure its regional and global interests.

– In the 1970s, China valued the US role in containing Soviet social-imperialism and latent Japanese militarism. Today, China wants to establish primacy in Asia and its waters by expanding its military reach and is trying to push America out of Asia once again.

Hence, China started establishing foreign bases.

What are the features of the Chinese strategy of establishing foreign military bases?

Dual-use facilities: China’s focus was on building dual-use facilities rather than explicit military bases on foreign soil.

Construction of ports & BRI: China’s dual-use approach benefited immensely from its expansive foreign port construction and the more recent Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure across the Indo-Pacific.

Cultivating special relationships with the political elites, as well as strengthening ties with the military establishments in a potential host country.

Arms transfer, and military diplomacy, are also an integral part of China’s pursuit of foreign bases.

What are the similarities and differences b/w Chinese and Indian positions on foreign military bases?
SimilaritiesDifferences
In the second half of the 20th century, India, like China, opposed foreign military bases in Asia and the Indian Ocean.China opposed foreign bases due to their direct security implications. Its rejection was political and contextual.

India’s opposition was based on an ideological principle of its non-aligned foreign policy

In the 21st century, like China, India also began to recognize the need for military access to strategic locations in the Indo-Pacific.

Delhi’s efforts included negotiating arrangements with friendly states in the Indian Ocean, as well as developing deeper strategic partnerships with the US and its regional allies.

But India is still a long way from matching the speed and intensity of Chinese military diplomacy in its near and extended neighbouhood.


Database of unorganised workers is a welcome step towards creating a robust social security architecture

Source: This post is based on the article “Database of unorganised workers is a welcome step towards creating a robust social security architecture” published in Indian express on 23rd November 2021.Syllabus: GS2 – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors.

Relevance: Welfare measures for unorganized workers

News: Launching of e-Shram portal, a database of unorganized workers, is a welcome and long-overdue step towards creating a social security structure for this part of the labor force.

The absence of credible data on the migrant workforce, during the economic distress induced by COVID-19, resulted in problems in extending policy support for this section.

Moreover, there is a lack of credible data for the entire unorganized labor, which accounts for roughly 90% of the entire labor force in the country.

To address this gap, the government has launched the e-Shram portal. The portal facilitates the identification and registration of the unorganized workers.

Reportedly, the database will also be linked to Unnati (the proposed labor matching platform).

What are the important findings revealed by the e-Shram portal data?

The e-Shram portal data gives vital information on the unorganized labor force, such as,

– Number of registered unorganised workers: a fifth of the estimated unorganised workers in the country are now registered on the database.

– Caste based data on unorganised workers: 40.5% of unorganised workers belong to the OBC category, 27.4% are from the general category, 23.7% are Scheduled Castes, while 8.3% are Scheduled Tribes.

– Sector based data on unorganised workers: Maximum registrations have been in the agriculture sector (53.6 per cent), followed by construction (12.2 per cent), and domestic and household workers (8.71 per cent).

What is the way forward?

Merely creating a database of workers is not enough, but identifying them, registering them, is a step towards including them in social security schemes. For this to happen, the following steps need to be taken:

First, the information gathered on workers, especially on migrants, will need to be regularly updated. The states of origin and destination will need to do this and keep track of circular migration.

Second, workers unwilling to register in e-Shram portal need to be incentivised.

Third, eligibility criteria for schemes that depend on information that is not collected by the e-Shram portal will also need to be integrated.

Fourth, the issue of portability of benefits, extended at both the central and state level, need to be addressed.


Dynamism in India US ties

Source: This post is based on the article ” Dynamism in India US ties” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding India-US relations.

News: Recently, a congressional delegation (CODEL) led by U.S. Senator John Cornyn visited Indo-Pacific Command countries which also included India in its list. It interacted with the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister, and representatives of the Dalai Lama in India.

Both sides are committed to “increasing convergence of strategic interests” between India and the U.S. and to “further enhance cooperation on contemporary global issues such as terrorism, climate change and to promote global peace and stability.”

What was the outcome of the CODEL meet?

– It recognizes the importance of the Indo-Pacific and the increasing China’s threat to these countries and to India.

-It favored India to get a presidential waiver under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act for procuring S400 missiles from Russia.

Significance of CODEL visit for India 

The statements of CODEL cannot be undermined. U.S. Congress plays an important role in determining the foreign policy of the US.

Read more: The sanctions clouds over India US Ties

What are the drawbacks in India-US relations?

India had 8 Parliamentary Friendship Groups including Japan, Russia, China, and the European Union, but the USA is absent from that group. There is no institutional communication or interaction between MPs in India and members of the U.S. Congress.

What is the way forward?

In the words of Dr. McDermott (former Congressman) “legislative interactions inject dynamism in bilateral relations”.

Given the robust India-US ties, There is a need for ministers on both sides to engage with each other. This was asserted when The joint statement at the end of the 2+2 dialogue in 2019 called for the establishment of India USA parliamentary exchange to facilitate reciprocal visits.

Also read: What is India-US 2+2 dialogue?

Sanitation workers’ safety and welfare must be urgently addressed

Source: This post is based on the article “Sanitation workers’ safety and welfare must be urgently addressed” published in the Indian Express on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Relevance: Understanding the issue of manual scavengers.

News: Covid pandemic highlighted the urgency of addressing the issues related to manual scavengers.

Sanitation work in India is tied to caste-based occupational roles. It is majorly performed by people from scheduled caste and schedule Tribes.

What is the status of manual scavenging in India?

Presently, the government does not directly employ manual scavengers, but the work is outsourced to private providers. It is these private providers that employ manual scavengers.

The sixth Economic Census, 2013 reported around 1.7 lakh businesses underwater supply, sewerage, waste management, and 82% of these are in the private sector which reportedly employs manual scavengers.

A manual scavenging survey by the Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment found 66, 692 manual scavengers till October 2020.

Read here: The Plight of Manual Scavengers in India

What steps have been taken by the government?

The government enacted the Prohibition of the Employment of Manual Scavengers Act 2013 which prohibited any form of employment of manual scavengers.

The Swatch Bharat Mission led to the construction of toilets with on-site sanitation systems like septic tanks and pits.

Atal Mission for rejuvenation and urban transformation, which focuses on 500 cities has led to the development of infrastructure such as sewerage networks, sewerage treatment plants.

Latest, National Sample Survey, 2019 showed that more than 65% of households in India have toilets with septic tanks.

Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment has taken up rehabilitation of sanitation workers under revised self-employment scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation is building capacity at the local government level, providing mechanized desludging trucks and financial assistance to sanitation workers.

What is the way forward?

Given that so many plans have failed to yield results, there is a need for strict monitoring of the implementation of the act.

The government has proposed a new initiative of national action for the mechanized Sanitation ecosystem. The plan will provide monitoring of sanitation services, including the activities of private sanitation service organizations. These could pave the way for eradicating manual scavenging and ensuring the welfare of all consultation workers.


JPC retains exemption clause, adopts personal data Bill

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

Platforms as publishers, penalties, checking electronic hardware may figure in draft data Bill” published in the Indian Express on 23rd November 2021.

JPC retains exemption clause, adopts personal data Bill” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

Falling short” published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions.

Relevance: Understanding the data protection bill.

News: Joint Committee of Parliament (JCP)  on the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 has submitted its report in the Parliament.

Also Read:  The draft personal data protection bill, 2018

What are the key recommendations?

Inclusion of non-personal data: It proposed to include non-personal data along with personal data and also that Data Protection Authority (DPA) should handle this. Any further policy/legal framework on non-personal data in the future should be made part of this legislation and not separate legislation.

Data collection by electronic hardware: Hardware manufacturers that collect data through digital devices are not under scrutiny in the earlier legislation. JCP suggested incorporating new clauses and allowing DPA to frame regulations towards data handling by hardware manufacturers and related entities.

Stricter regulations for social media platforms: JCP recommended that all social media platforms, which did not act as intermediaries, should be treated as publishers and be held accountable for the content they host. It also recommended setting up a statutory media regulatory for the regulation of content on such platforms.

However, The committee grants some exceptions to data fiduciaries below a certain threshold, not to hamper the growth of firms that are classified under MSMEs.

current affairs
Source: The Hindu

Definition: JCP recommended that the definition of harm should also include psychological manipulation which impairs the autonomy of a person.

What are the controversies surrounding the Personal Data Protection Bill?

Under the bill Clause 35, it allowed exemption to any agency under the Union Government in the name of “public order”, “sovereignty”, “friendly relations with foreign states” and “security of the state” from all or any provisions of the law.

Many members argued for removing public order as a ground for an exception given under clause 35. This would create two parallel universes where the private sector is strictly regulated, and the government sector has a lot of exemptions.

Read here: Issue of privacy and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019

Members proposed many alternatives like:
-Having judicial or Parliamentary oversight for granting such exemptions
-Providing the order of exemption in writing
-Allowing only partial exemptions to select agencies

However, the report did not accept these recommendations. It called for a balance of privacy and national security. It cited the exemptions as reasonable and in conformity with Article 19 and the Puttaswamy (2017) judgement.

What did the dissenting members propose?

They argued that the bill did not provide adequate safeguards to protect the right to privacy.

Read here: Need for a robust Personal Data Protection Bill

The significance of Supreme Court’s recent POCSO decision

Source: This post is based on the article “The significance of Supreme Court’s recent POCSO decision” published in Indian Express on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Relevance: To understand the reason behind the recent Supreme Court Judgment on POCSO Act.

News: In the Attorney General of India v. Satish case, the Supreme Court has set aside the controversial judgment of the Bombay HC which held that ‘skin-to-skin’ contact is necessary for an act to be classified as sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences(POCSO) Act.

About the Bombay HC judgment

Two judgments of the Bombay High Court provide an interpretation of “sexual assault” under Section 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).

Note: Section 7 of POCSO Act mandates that “whoever with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault”.

Satish v State of Maharashtra case: The Bombay HC cited  “no direct physical contact, i.e. skin-to-skin contact, with sexual intent without penetration.”  Thus Satish was acquitted for sexual assault and convicted instead for outraging a woman’s modesty and wrongful confinement.

State of Maharashtra v. Libnus case: The accused was acquitted for aggravated penetrative sexual assault, and instead convicted for the lesser offences of sexual harassment under both the POCSO Act and the IPC.

Read hereSexual intent, not skin-to-skin contact, key: SC

About the POCSO Act

The Act provides a mandatory minimum punishment of three years.

-For an act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration, the punishment may extend to five years, and a fine.

-For Aggravated penetrative sexual assault, the minimum punishment is five years imprisonment, which may extend to seven years, and a fine.

Read hereThe POCSO Act and associated issues

Why the Bombay High Court verdict is controversial?

Read here: Error corrected: Regarding POCSO Act

-The emphasis of Section 7 is to outlaw behaviour driven by sexual intent. So, the HC judgment legitimises “an entire range of unacceptable behaviour which undermines a child’s dignity and autonomy, through unwanted intrusions.”

Why SC ruling is essential and how to move ahead?

Much needed interpretation of Section 7:  Research studies based on judgments of special courts have revealed similar interpretations of Bombay High Court is prevalent in courts. For instance, taking children by force and tearing their clothes have been considered as falling outside the ambit of “physical contact” under Section 7.

So, the SC interpretation will serve as a precedent for the scores of cases before special courts involving physical contact with sexual intent.

Research on high minimum mandatory sentences: Both SC and HC noticed high minimum mandatory sentences under POCSO Act. There is a need for research on the impact of high minimum mandatory sentences on judicial appreciation of evidence and outcomes, as well as the participation of victims and their families during the trial.

GS Paper 3


Reforming the fertilizer sector

Source: This post is based on the article “Reforming the fertilizer sector” published in The Hindu on 23 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3-Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

Relevance: To understand the fertilizer subsidies given in India, its issues, and the way forward.

News: A heavy increase in fertilizer subsidy bill is seen.

A brief background of fertilizer policy since 1991 reforms:

After years of unchanged prices, the budget of 1991 raised the issue prices of fertilizers by 40% on average. This rise was rolled down to 30% in a few months, with exemption to small and marginal farmers from the price increase. Due to opposition, the increase in Urea price was further rolled back to 17% over the pre-reform price.

-It resulted in a big shift in the composition of fertilizers used in the country in favor of urea and thus Nitrogen(N).

The government started Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS)  in 2010 to address the growing imbalance in fertilizer use, which was skewed towards urea (N). However, only non-nitrogenous fertilizers P and K (phosphorus and potassium) were included in NBS; urea was left out.

What is the need for reforms in the fertilizer sector?

Firstly, It is putting a huge and unsustainable burden of rising fertilizer subsidy bills on the government exchequer. Fertilizer subsidy has doubled in a short period of three years between 2017-18 to 2021-22. At present, taxpayers bear 78% of the cost of urea and farmers pay only 22%.

Secondly, to promote the efficient use of fertilizers through the balanced use of N, P, and K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).

Thirdly, to reduce water and air pollution caused by the overuse of urea.

What are the challenges faced in reforming the sector?

A huge amount of fertilizer is imported into India due to limited domestic production capacity. Further, the international prices of fertilizers are volatile due to:

-Sharp upsurge in international energy prices, with which fertilizer prices are directly related.

Supply constraints in major producing countries due to robust domestic demand, production cuts, and
export restrictions.

Cartels of major global energy producers have a strong influence on prices.

What is the way forward?

In order to address the multiple goals of fertilizer policy, we need to simultaneously work on four key policy
areas.

Firstly, we need to be self-reliant and not depend on the import of fertilizers.

Secondly,  we need to extend the NBS model to urea and allow for price rationalization of urea compared to non-nitrogenous fertilizers and prices of crops.

-Distribution of price change over both price and subsidy based on some rational formula rather than just on subsidy.

Thirdly, We need to shift towards non-chemical fertilizers like organic and biofertilizers and bring parity in prices and subsidies given to chemical fertilizers with organic and biofertilizers.

-This also provides the scope to use large biomass of crop that goes waste and enhance the value of livestock by-products.

Finally, India should pay attention to improving fertilizer efficiency through need-based use rather than
using excess fertilizer in the field.

What are the steps already taken by the government?

For being self-reliant, five urea plants are being revived in the public sector. To increase the efficiency of fertilizer use, the recently developed Nano urea by IFFCO shows promising results in reducing the usage of urea.


Time to rethink Indian levies on motor vehicles

Source: This post is based on the article “Time to rethink Indian levies on motor vehicles” published in Livemint on 23 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Relevance: To understand the system of differential taxation based on car length and its impact.

News:

How different cars are taxed in India?

GST is levied at 28%, the top slab, with an add-on cess of 1% on small cars(less than 4m length) and 17-22% extra on those longer than 4 meters. While the exhaust-free Electric Vehicles attract a GST rate of just 5%.

What is the rationale behind such a differential taxation system?

The majority of the cars attracting a higher rate of GST are ‘luxury’ cars.

A low tax rate makes it possible for EV-makers to reduce prices enough to compete with fossil-fuel-based cars. It will also hasten the process of transition to EVs.

What are the issues associated with this differential taxation system?

Excessive protection to EVs will not help in becoming globally competitive. ‘Made in India’ EVs need to be cost-competitive on their own by innovation and competition, then only will have a good chance at global success.

As low tax on smaller cars led to more demand for smaller cars, and therefore larger vehicles, that make up the bulk of foreign markets, are unable to find economies of scale.

What is needed to be done?

A similar level of the lower burden of tax on all cars will push automakers to work harder on all cost-heads under their control.

It may also be time to explore the idea of road pricing for arterial routes (important routes in a system of roads) in big cities to decongest traffic. Satellite-linked technology can enable this system to implement differential rates.

-Charges could generally vary by traffic density, with vehicles in a hurry billed extra for the use of a speedy express lane and EVs can be given these facilities for free to encourage their use.


Another Supply Chain Crisis?

Source: This post is based on the article “Another Supply Chain Crisis?” published in Times Of India on 22 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Relevance: To understand the potential supply chain crisis due to covid-19 impact in china.

News: US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell recently said that Americans should be prepared for the global supply chain to remain in crisis through 2022.

Covid-induced supply chain disruption highlighted the loopholes of total dependence on one country for vital products, and diversification will take a few years to implement.

What is the risk to the global supply chain?

If China’s ‘zero- Covid strategy’ fails after the Winter Olympics in February, there is going to be a major crisis. Delta variant could further the crisis.

-if it experiences a devastating Covid wave, the Chinese government will be forced to clamp down on exports of critical products, to fulfill the demand of its own population.

Lean manufacturing processes and just-in-time delivery mean a factory closure in one Asian country can unleash a global crisis.

How much is the dependence of the world on China for products?

According to the United Nations, China accounts for 28.7% of global manufacturing output. China is India’s largest trading partner; bilateral trade was at $92.68 billion in 2019.

A major chunk of electronic components, auto parts, consumer durables, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and key starting materials (KSM) required to manufacture lifesaving drugs are imported from China.

In case of any disruption, global healthcare would be severely affected. For example, 80% of heparin(used to prevent blood clotting) comes from China. Without heparin, critical care will suffer, virtually paralyzing the entire global healthcare delivery system.

What needs to be done by India?

It is important for every Indian industrial body to create a checklist of vulnerable items and secure supply till the end of 2022.

Most countries cannot be self-reliant due to small aging populations, which means a small consumer base
or a lack of a talented workforce. It is time for India to enhance its status by becoming a global manufacturing hub.


Climate justice must drive climate action

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate justice must drive climate action” published in Business Standard on 22nd Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Understanding the shortcomings of the present climate process and ways to improve it.

News: Big emitters must reconsider their stated net-zero date and specify a credible action plan.

Important elements of a disaster response

There are four elements in the response to any disaster that are important —

The credibility of the warning

A shared sense of emergency

A social and political norm of joint responsibility

A higher authority capable of enforcing restraint and liability on those most responsible for the risk

The biggest natural disaster of our times is – climate change.

How have UNFCCC & IPCC fared in terms of the four elements of response wrt climate change?

Credibility of warning: Each of the five assessments by IPCC and early indications of the sixth assessment have strengthened the scientific consensus on the facts and the projections. The IPCC reports have certainly raised awareness not just in scientific circles, but also among the public, particularly young people. Doubts about their reliability are now limited to fringe groups.

Shared sense of emergency: As most drastic consequences of the climate change will be witnessed in the future, so decision-making at global scale is still limited to short-term considerations. This absence of a sense of emergency can be seen in the casual and indifferent declarations of net-zero emissions decades ahead.

Must Read: Glasgow Climate Pact – Explained, pointwise

Joint responsibility: This is reflected in the principle of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR). But here also the problem is that the principles of climate justice that should govern the differentiation of responsibility have never been framed.  Differentiation by capacity (as per a nation’s capacity) is now more widely accepted even in rich countries. However, unless the issue of differentiation by culpability (as per a nation’s responsibility/liability) is adequately resolved, countries will hold back on their commitments.

Higher authority: This is entirely missing in the global climate response process. Presently, we rely on the voluntary acceptance of liability by those responsible for the greater part of the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

What are the implications?

The climate process is now driven largely by narrow national interests. The past is ignored altogether in the process.

Emergence of a three-part power structure in the climate negotiations:

– The first part includes the two big emitters, China and the US, whose participation is a pre-condition for an effective agreement. This G-2 dimension is now clearly evident in the separate agreement that these two countries presented before and during the 2015 Paris COP meeting and the 2021 Glasgow COP meeting.

– The second part consists of 18-20 countries, each one of which accounts for 1% or more of the global carbon emissions

– The third part consists of about 180 countries that are at the receiving end of what the big players decide.

What is the way forward?

As per Nitin Desai (Business Standard),

– Climate dharma: A consensus on the principles of climate justice that would define each country’s and each individual’s duty is needed.

– Carbon-saving technologies may also help

– Most big emitters should bring forward their net-zero target dates and specify a credible action plan from now onwards at the 2022 COP meeting.

– An independent national mechanism in every country for ensuring credibility and accountability


Explained: In perspective, farm distress and the demand for guaranteed MSP

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: In perspective, farm distress and the demand for guaranteed MSP” published in The Indian Express and “Modi’s farm misadventure is a huge setback for urbanization” published in Live mint on 23rd November 2021.Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to agriculture sector

Relevance: Agri reforms

News: Despite the announcement by the PM to repeal the three farm laws, farmers have said their protest will continue. They have written to the PM with their six remaining demands.

One of the main demands by farmers is that, MSP should be made a legal entitlement of all farmers for all agricultural produce. However, a legally mandated MSP regime is likely to be neither feasible nor sustainable in the long run. A guaranteed MSP can have a few unintended consequences.

Hence, a balanced approach would be to address the issues hampering the growth of agriculture and doubling the incomes of farmers in India.

What is the status of MSP in India?

MSPs are the prices at which, the government promises to procure agricultural produce from farmers.

At present, the government announces MSPs for 23 crops, but procurement happens only for a few among them. Also, procurement varies quite a lot across states.

Till now, the Government is not legally mandated by law to procure under MSP. The government can by its discretion choose, not to procure.

Must Read: What is MSP?
What are the issues/challenges in a legally mandated MSP regime?

A legal mandate for MSP would force the government to purchase all the produce that any farmer wants to sell at the declared MSP. It would also have to procure from all states, and all crops for which MSPs are announced. This will have the following unintended outcomes:

– High cost to the exchequer

– Loss of food grains due to rotting in mandis.

– Increase food inflation.

– Encouragement to unsustainable cultivation of water intensive crops, rice and wheat. This will indirectly contribute to stubble burning.

– It will increase the capacity of buffer stocks. Already, grain stocks lying with the government are more than twice its buffer requirement.

What are the issues that are hampering the growth of agriculture in India?

Holdings are fragmented and have become uneconomical.

Lack of focus towards crop diversification

Public investments compared to subsidies are very less.

Declining productivity.

Disguised labor force

Low income (Farmers earns an average of ₹27 a day)

Lack of growth in non-farm sector jobs, limiting diversification of agriculture.

What is the way forward?          

Instead of bypassing the market by using MSPs, the government should make efforts to enable farmers to participate in the market.

Ramp up investment in the agriculture sector: Provide better irrigation facilities, easier access to credit, timely access to power, and ramping up warehouse capacity and extension services, including post-harvest marketing. This will increase farmers’ bargaining ability and choices before them.

Boosting India’s industrial and services sectors: Agriculture accounts for just 17% of India’s GDP while employing 55% of its population. Industry and service sectors can potentially take up the excess labor that is presently engaged in unremunerative farm activities. Rapid growth of industries and services for the next couple of decades could help alleviate India’s farm distress.

Direct cash transfers to the rural poor: In the short term, providing direct cash transfers to the rural poor can alleviate distress. $100 billion in annual subsidies for food, farming and village unemployment should be slowly replaced by a basic income.

Replicating the success of AMUL in agriculture: Supporting producers’ organizations that capture more of the farm-to-fork value chain would mean better prices for farmers.


Non-farm jobs and social mores hold India’s key to farm reforms

Source: This post is based on the article “Non-farm jobs and social mores hold India’s key to farm reforms” published in Live mint on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Agriculture sector

Relevance: Necessary pre-conditions for success of Agri reforms.

News: Recently, government repealed three farm laws.

Agri reforms in India are necessary to unlock the true potential of agriculture and the agro-processing industry, and for the efficient allocation of private and government resources.

However, the success of any attempt to reform the agriculture sector in India would depend to a large extent on the state of its economy’s non-farm sectors, as well as societal culture.

Further, other preconditions for successful farm reforms, such as improved irrigation and an agriculture insurance market that functions better, are also needed.

What has been the impact of High agri income in Punjab and Haryana?

Decline in employment of adults and women: Data shows that, in Punjab and Haryana, due to high agricultural incomes, there is a drastic decline in agricultural employment among adults and women.

– Because of high agricultural incomes, young men (aged 20-29 years) could afford to remain unemployed or in education in Punjab and Haryana.

– Similarly, as per data, the number of women employed in agriculture have declined over the years. Meanwhile, there has been no increase in women participation in non-farm work. This means with high agri incomes, more women have retreated to their homes, i.e. they are no longer working.

Why decent employment opportunities in non-farm sector are necessary for successful Agri reforms?

Now, in the above context, if price guarantees for rice and wheat are rolled back, this would make a price decline of rice and wheat inevitable due to their excess supply in the market. If this were to happen, farmers would be unable to sustain their current income levels and lifestyle.

This will force farmers in these states to find alternative sources of income that includes, women and younger adults in farmer families taking up paid work.

But with decline of non-farm sectors, avenue to absorb youth is very less. Further, women returning to paid work will be seen as a decrease in societal status.

This is why rich farmers in Haryana and Punjab are forced to maintain the status quo with respect to agri reforms.

Hence, reviving high-paying jobs in non-farm sectors becomes an important precondition for Agri reforms in India.


‘Andaman & Nicobar Is Key To Act East Policy’

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Andaman & Nicobar Is Key To Act East Policy’” published in Times of India on 23rd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Security challenges and their management in border areas.

Relevance: To understand the strategic significance of Andaman & Nicobar and Andaman & Nicobar Command.

News: Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) is the country’s only integrated military command till now in India. So, It is crucial for India’s military outpost to counter China’s expanding footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

About Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC)

The ANC was set up in 2001. Over 20 years, the ANC evolved into

-A Quad-service integrated theatre command of the army, navy, air force and coast guard.

-Better integration, training, and a common approach to operations, logistics and sustenance.

-Enhanced ANC’s communications, networking and maritime domain awareness along with huge infrastructure development.

-The creation of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has greatly empowered ANC and the HQ Integrated Defence Staff with better control, continuity and clarity in multiservice and multi-domain operations.

All these made the A&N Islands from the initial outpost a so-called springboard to a veritable hub of activities in the region.

Why Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) is significant?

India’s central role and peninsular orientation in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) lends itself to supporting net maritime security in the region.

Over the years, the efforts of development have been towards Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). The IOR offer tremendous scope for cooperation by everyone.

IOR region is witnessing more regular transit movements to and from the Gulfs of Aden and Oman.

So the A&N Islands provide an additional strategic outreach towards India’s interests in the IOR. The ANC’s infrastructure and military assets provide for the defence of India’s islands and the protection of Indian interests in the IOR. So, the ANC has been a pivot in India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies.

Recent initiatives in the A&N Region

The Niti Aayog, as well as the Island Development Agency, have announced numerous initiatives for further development of the A&N Islands.

In 2020, the government launched submarine optical fibre cable project in A&N Islands to provide digital connectivity.

The airport at Port Blair will also become an international airport with regional connectivity by 2022.

All these will give a fillip to tourism at the islands and in future make the island an important transshipment hub for Indian mainland.

What the country should learn from ANC?

The establishment of ANC saved precious government resources and operational benefits in the form of shorter decision cycles. The same approach of ANC should be followed by government in establishing other integrated theatre commands for the nation.

Must Read: Integrated Theatre commands in India – Explained, pointwise

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

South Asian countries plan SOS system for hydrological mangement of Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin

Source: This post is based on the article “South Asian countries plan SOS system for hydrological mangement of Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin” published in The Indian Express on 22nd Nov 2021.

What is the news?

A two-day meet on the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basins recently begun in New Delhi.

It was jointly organised by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Hydrological experts from the Central Water Commission (CWC) and scientists from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China are attending the meet.

What is the significance of the meet?

The meeting is being held towards the development of a Hydrological SOS system by India and its neighboring countries sharing the trans-boundary Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basins.

During the two-day meet, the international experts will prepare a concept plan for the proposed Hydromet SOS.

About Hydromet SOS

It will be a trans-boundary, round-the-year, early warning system to share data on reservoirs, rivers and dam waters. It will cover major flood plains caused by trans-boundary flowing rivers.

Objective: to mitigate water hazards like floods, droughts, mudslides and accelerated erosion.

Need: Trans-boundary rivers originating outside India cause massive flooding in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh during the monsoon season. For instance: the unregulated left bank rivers of the Ganga–Ghandak, Kosi and Ghaghra and the Brahmaputra, pose serious flooding threats every year in India.

According to CWC reports, India has suffered an annual loss of Rs 6,000 crore every year between 1953 and 2000.

In October 2019, the South Asian Flash Flood Warning system was launched by India. This system has been sending warnings six hours ahead of likely flash flooding. The IMD’s hydrometeorological division sends alerts and advisories for India, Nepal, Sri lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin. Bangladesh represents the... | Download Scientific Diagram
About GBM basin

The GBM river basin system cuts across five countries – India, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.


Launch of national scheme soon for rehabilitation of beggars

Source: This post is based on the article Launch of national scheme soon for rehabilitation of beggarspublished by TOI on 23rd Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is preparing to soon roll out a National Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Beggars.

It’ll be based on the idea of dealing with beggary as a social problem and not looking at it as a criminal act

About National Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Beggars

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had launched a pilot project on the Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of Begging.

The pilot project was launched in 10 cities namely Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna and Ahmedabad. 

The projects are being implemented by State Governments/UTs/Local Urban Bodies and Voluntary Organizations.

Several comprehensive measures taken under this project include survey and identification of beggars, mobilization, basic hygiene and medical facilities, providing basic documentation, counselling, rehabilitation etc

Based on this pilot project, the Government is planning to launch a National Scheme for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Beggars.

This scheme will be part of the SMILE Scheme (Support for Marginalized Individuals for Livelihood and Enterprise).It will also include a separate scheme for welfare of transgender persons.


UNESCO-ABU Peace Media Awards 2021 – Doordarshan and All India Radio win Big

Source: This post is based on the article UNESCO-ABU Peace Media Awards 2021 – Doordarshan and All India Radio win Big published in PIB on 23rd November 2021.

What is the News?

Doordarshan and All India Radio has got multiple awards at the recently held ABU – UNESCO Peace Media Awards 2021 at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

What are the UNESCO-ABU Peace Media Awards 2021?

The awards were given by UNESCO in collaboration with Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) under the ‘Together for Peace’ (T4P) initiative.

Aim: To highlight and promote the crucial role of independent, ethical journalism and citizens’ media literacy for building positive peace in human minds.

Note: Positive peace is not just the absence of conflicts and war, but striving for equitable and fair societies having respectful and sustainable relations with the environment.

The awards honor innovative and creative content, which informs and educates audiences on best practices of building positive peace to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the Together for Peace (T4P) initiative?

It is an initiative of UNESCO in collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Thailand’s Ministry of Education.

Aim: To build and sustain ‘positive peace’ in the Asia Pacific region. 


Union Minister launches India’s first Virtual Science Lab for children under CSIR Jigyasa programme

Source:  This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches India’s first Virtual Science Lab for children under CSIR Jigyasa programmepublished by PIB on 22nd Nov 2021.

What is the News?

Union Minister of Science & Technology has launched India’s first Virtual Science Lab for children under CSIR Jigyasa programme.

Click Here to read about Jigyasa Programme
What is a Virtual Science Lab for children under CSIR Jigyasa programme?

Aim: To provide quality research exposure and innovative pedagogy for school students to drive their scientific curiosity based on an online interactive medium.

Target Age Group: Students of the standard VI to XII (11-18 years) who would like to explore science using different activities, experienced researchers and faculties on the subjects of Science, Mathematics, Biology and IT.

Facilities that will be provided by Virtual Lab: Virtual tour of CSIR laboratories, interaction with scientists to clear doubts, Access content in regional languages; Project based support; Simulation Experiments; Science based webinars; Student Entrepreneurship etc.

Significance: CSIR Virtual lab will enable curiosity driven research based concepts, encourage higher order thinking skills, promote entrepreneurship and develop passion about science.


Number of countries veering towards authoritarianism on rise: report

Source:  This post is based on the article Number of countries veering towards authoritarianism on rise: report published in The Hindu on 23rd November 2021.

What is the News?

The Global State of Democracy Report 2021 has been released by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

About Global State of Democracy Report 2021 

Aim: To review the state of democracy around the world over the course of 2020 and 2021, with democratic trends since 2015 used as contextual reference. 

Types of Regimes: The reports refer to three main regime types: Democracies (which includes those backsliding), Hybrid and Authoritarian regimes.

Hybrid and authoritarian regimes are both classified as non-democratic. 

Note: Backsliding democracies are those that have experienced gradual but significant weakening of Checks on Government and Civil Liberties, such as Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly over time. 
What are the key findings of the report?

The number of countries moving towards authoritarianism in 2020 was higher than that of countries going towards democracy.

More countries than ever before are suffering from “democratic erosion” (decline in democratic quality). Around 70% of the global population now live either in non-democratic regimes or in democratically backsliding countries.

Democratically elected Governments, including established democracies, are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics. This democratic backsliding has often enjoyed significant popular support

Countries such as India and Brazil have been classified as some of the most worrying examples of Backsliding democracies. India has remained in the category of a mid-level performing democracy since 2000.

The United States was added to the list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time, on account of the visible deterioration of its democratic credentials.

The year 2020 was the worst on record, in terms of the number of countries affected by deepening autocratisation.

Many democracies had proved to be resilient to the pandemic. Countries around the world learned to hold elections in exceedingly difficult conditions

What is the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance(IDEA)?

IDEA is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. 

In 2003, IDEA was granted United Nations Observer Status.

The organization is currently chaired by Australia and includes India as a member-state.

Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden


Union Minister of Home Affairs performed Bhoomi Pujan of Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum in Manipur

Source: This post is based on the following articles 

  • Union Minister of Home Affairs performed Bhoomi Pujan of Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum in Manipur published in PIB on 23rd November 2021.
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah lays foundation stone for tribal freedom fighters museum in Manipur” published in PIB on 23rd Nov.2021.
What is the News?

Union Minister of Home Affairs has laid the foundation stone for setting up of the Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum at Luangkao village in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.

Who was Rani Gaidinliu?

Rani Gaidinliu was born on January 26, 1915, in the present-day Tamenglong district of Manipur. She belonged to the Rongmei Naga tribe.

Heraka Movement

At the age of 13, Rani Gaidinliu joined the Heraka Religious movement of her cousin Haipou Jadonang.

Heraka was a socio-religious movement that arose in the 1920s in the Zeliangrong territory. It was started by Jadonang to resist the infiltration of Christian missionaries as well as the reforms imposed by the British government.

However, in 1931, Jadonang was arrested by the British and was hanged for opposing colonial rule. To ensure the movement does not die down, Gaidinliu took up the movement.

She openly rebelled against British rule by telling the Zeliangrong people not to pay taxes. She also received donations from the local Nagas, many of whom also joined her as volunteers. 

She was then arrested in 1932 and was sentenced to life imprisonment by the British rulers. Between 1932 and 1947, the Naga freedom fighter was kept at several prisons across the Northeast.

Acknowledging her role in the struggle against the British, Jawaharlal Nehru called her the “Daughter of the Hills” and gave her the title “Rani” or queen.

Post-independence 

In independent India, Gaidinliu was against the Naga National Council(NNC) demand for sovereignty and independence of Naga territory from India. She, in fact, demanded a separate Zeliangrong area within the Union of India.

Since she faced opposition from other Naga leaders for her demand, she was forced to go underground in 1960. She later reached an understanding with the Government of India and dismantled the underground movement.

She was awarded with the Tamra Patra — an award bestowed upon distinguished individuals for their contribution to the Indian freedom struggle — in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan in 1982.

In 1993, Rani Gaidinliu passed away.The government of India issued a postal stamp in her honour in 1996, and a commemorative coin in 2015.

The Indian Coast Guard commissioned a Fast Patrol Vessel “ICGS Rani Gaidinliu” in 2016.


Union Minister flags off first ever All India Survey on Domestic Workers

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister flags off first ever All India Survey on Domestic Workers” published by PIB on 22nd Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Labour and Employment has flagged off the first-ever All India Survey on Domestic workers.

What is the All-India Survey on Domestic Workers(DW)?

Conducted by: Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment

Aim: To estimate the proportion of domestic workers at the national level and in the States; the proportion of domestic workers who live-in/live-out, workers engaged in informal employment and migrant/non-migrant; wages of such workers and other socio-economic factors.

Parameters: The Survey would collect information on the following broad parameters:

  • Household Characteristics such as house size, Religion, Social Group, Usual Monthly Consumption Expenditure.
  • Demographic Characteristics such as Name, Age, Relation to Head, Marital Status, General Education Level, Usual Principal Activity Status.
  • Information on Domestic Workers(DWs) such as their Age of entry, Social Group, Migrant status, Vocational Training/Education, number of days worked among others.
  • Information on employers is also collected such as their preferences of DW regarding gender and marital status, mode of payment of wages, mode of engagement, medical support given to DWs etc.

Significance of the survey: The survey will help the government understand significant issues on certain special and vulnerable segments of labour and will guide effective policymaking.


 

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