9 PM Daily Brief – October15th,2020

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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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  1. Declining Role of Parliament in India
  2. NGO’s Improving education system
  3. Civil society gears up for big funds squeeze


  1. The Domestic Market Economy Mirage
  2. PLI – analysis and global value chain
  3. Domestic Innovation and Manufacturing of vaccines

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  1. Cloud over the functioning of our apex legislature

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 2- Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Context- Under present government, Lok sabha and Rajya sabha have ceased to be key places for debate.

What are the current issues and relevance in Indian democracy?

  1. Fewer Bills Referred – To strengthen the lawmaking process, it is important that all Bills are examined by Standing Committees before passage. This ensures thorough scrutiny of the law. The government has shown extreme reluctance to refer Bills to Select Committees of the Houses or Joint Parliamentary Committees.
    • The 14th and 15th Lok Sabha saw 60 percent and 71 percent of bills referred to committees. This number has dipped sharply to just 27 percent in the 16th Lok Sabha.
    • The last Bill referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee was The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, in 2015.
    • Some of the most momentous Acts of Parliament in recent years such as the radical overhaul of Article 370 were not processed by any House committee.
  2. Centre’s willfulness– The government used its majority in both the Houses of Parliament and steamrolled the Bills (with hardly any discussion), amid the predictable din and noise that a fragmented Opposition could mount.
    • Ordinance route– The average number of ordinances jumped from six a year under Manmohan Singh to 11 a year under Modi.
    • Cancel Question Hour – The Opposition isn’t given a chance to hold the government accountable. Slash Zero Hour time by half, from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, to deprive the Opposition of raising issues of importance. Misuse a constitutional tool such as an ordinance to mock Parliament, in a way it hasn’t been done in 70 years.
    • Money bill scam– several key pieces of legislation have been passed as Money Bills, despite the fact that they did not fit this category. The Aadhar Bill is a case in point. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha certified that it was a Money Bill and all the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha were rejected.
  3. Obviates the risk of contradiction– Prime Minister Modi who prefers to communicate directly with the people, either on the radio or via social media, which obviate the risk of contradiction, and questioning by the receiver.
  • PM Modi on an average has spoken 3.6 times a year in Parliament i.e. 22 times in times in six years. In contrast, Atal ji spoke 77 times in six year and Manmohan singh spoke 48 times in parliament during his 10 years in office.
  1. Speaker’s traditional non-partisan role- Very few Speakers, with exceptions such as G.V. Mavalankar, P.A. Sangma and Somnath Chatterjee, have taken cudgels with their party leaders to uphold the autonomy of the House.

Way forward-

  • The need of the hour is for greater and effective utilization of Parliamentary Committees to strengthen Parliament as a deliberative body which can ensure effective oversight. The government must make amends and restore the democratic majesty of Parliament.
  • The recent survey showed that, people wants to get rid of election and parliaments and have expert make decision on behalf of them.

2.NGO’s Improving education system

Source – The Hindu

Syllabus – GS 2- Development processes and the development industry —the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Context – A strong programme for capacity building of NGO workers engaged in educational improvement becomes an urgent need.

What is the role of NGO’s in elementary education in India?

  • NGO’S are intensively engaged in the task of improving elementary education.
  • There are more than 12 lakh NGO workers engaged in direct teaching in classrooms, demonstrating various activities and methods to teachers, conducting teacher workshops and so on.
  • NGO workers are supposed to be more effective than regular employees in the government system.

Therefore, these workers must have some idea of what education quality happen to be and are required to adequately prepare for this difficult task.

What are the provisions in the India Constitution related to education?

The four documents providing during a framework of principles, guidelines and legal stipulation to deal with such question are-

  1. National Curriculum Framework 2005.
  2. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
  3. National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education 2009.
  4. National Education Policy 2020.

Provisions in the India Constitution related to improving education system are-

  • Regarding Pedagogy- the RTE, in Section 29(e), recommends that learning through activities, discovery and exploration in a child friendly and child-centered manner.
  • Regarding Curriculum- NEP 2020, paragraph 4.23 says that certain subjects, skills, and capacities should be learned by all students to become good, successful, innovative, adaptable, and productive human beings in today’s rapidly changing world.
  • The NCFTE (page 23), says that the need teachers who promote values of peace, democratic way of life, equality, justice, liberty, fraternity, secularism and zeal for social reconstruction.

What are the concerns in current education system?

  1. Quality of education– The quality of education or school in today’s society is based on a high score in the board examinations rather than actual meaningful learning.
  2. Carelessness- NGOs do not seem to be paying adequate attention to the programme such as capacity building of their workers nor do universities and teacher education colleges seem to be offering any short term and/or distance learning courses for this sector.
  3. These NGO workers have a significant part in the CPDT, for example, in annual in-service training and pedagogy improvement workshops. People should be asking themselves whether these workers are adequately prepared for this difficult task or not.

Way forward-

  • If government wants to implement NEP 2020 and really want to see improvement in the quality of education available to the children then it required to pay very close attention to capacity building of this vast workforce engaged in the field.
  • Without adequate preparation, the assumption that the mere appointment of a person in an NGO and being placed in the field will automatically develop the capabilities of these workers is incorrect.

3. Civil society gears up for big funds squeeze

Source: Live Mint

Syllabus: GS2: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Context: New norms on foreign donations and covid-19 could end up shrinking the money pool for philanthropy and CSR.

What are the changes over the years?

  • The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Act was first brought in by the Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency in 1976.
  • Its aim was to protect the ‘sovereignty’ of India from ‘foreign hands’ at a time when global powers were engaged in a cold war.
  • The law prohibited political parties, electoral candidates and even cartoonists from accepting foreign contributions.
  • In 2010, government made the renewal of registrations mandatory every five years and placed a 50% limit on administrative expenses.

What the Key changes in FCRA, 2010?

  • Prohibition to accept foreign contribution: These include: election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature, and political parties.
  • Transfer of foreign contribution:
    • Under the Act, foreign contribution cannot be transferred to any other person unless such person is also registered to accept foreign contribution.
    • FCRA registered organisations are barred from transferring foreign donations to smaller non-profits (a practice known as sub-granting) who often find it difficult to access donors on their own.
  • Aadhaar for registration: The Act states that a person may accept foreign contribution if they have obtained a certificate of registration from central government or obtained prior permission from the government to accept foreign contribution. The bill makes Aadhaar mandatory for registration.
  • Restriction in utilisation of foreign contribution: The Bill gives government powers to stop utilisation of foreign funds by an organisation through a “summary enquiry”.
  • Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes: The bill decreases administrative expenses through foreign funds by an organisation to 20% from 50% earlier.
  • More power to government: FCRA registration can be suspended now after a summary enquiry and the period of suspension can extend up to a year (from 180 days earlier).

What are the various concerns associated with the amendments?

  • Reduce availability of funds: The crunch is also because a chunk of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds which NGOs depend on went to the PM-Cares fund.
  • Reduce a number of philanthropic initiatives: Civil society organisations will be overburdened as they are already affected by COVID-19. For Example, cancellation of FCRA registration (in 2015) forced the environmental rights watchdog Greenpeace to halt its India operations
  • Affect COVID-19 relief activities: the FCRA amendments could squeeze the once-vibrant not-for-profit sector of funds.
  • Reduce accountability: the changes will push NGOs to become mere government contractors rather than raise questions on policy matters or defend the rights of tribal communities
  • Reduce political empowerment of people: The FCRA amendments will halt the emergence of local leadership from marginalised communities. For example, crowdfunding platforms like Our Democracy have raised funds for committed individuals helping them contest elections.

Read also:-  Daily Current Affair

4.The Domestic Market Economy Mirage

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Context: The debate in India has focused on domestic-demand led growth but the rapid and sustained economic growth requires export dynamism.

What is India’s Past experience with growth models?

  • Pre-1991, a 3.5 per cent growth rate was associated with export growth of about 4.5 per cent.
  • India’s GDP growth of over 6 per cent after 1991 was associated with real export growth of about 11 per cent.
  • There is no known model of domestic demand/consumption-led growth that has delivered quick, sustained, and high (say 6 plus) rates of economic growth for developing countries.

What is needed to rely on domestic demand led growth?

  • Policies needed to increase more public spending.
  • Tax cuts to boost private consumption and private investment.
  • Reforms in financial sector to boost private investment.

What are the challenges with domestic demand led growth?

  • Limited fiscal space: The fiscal space for spending will be severely limited both because of high levels of deficits and indebtedness.
  • Slow growth: Only growth can rehabilitate balance sheets but stressing balance sheets further cannot realistically revive growth.
  • Fall in consumption: Consumption growth will be limited by the fact that household debt has grown rapidly in the last few years. Consumption now can grow only if incomes grow.
  • Rise in debt: Post-COVID, India’s debt is expected to rise from about 70 per cent of GDP to about 85-90 per cent and deficits are likely to be in the double-digit range.
  • Persistent inflation: India’s interest rates are not at zero and are unlikely to be so because of persistent inflation.
  • high cost of borrowing: India’s borrowing is still considered risky and the favourable interest rate-growth differential that supports expansionary policy in the advanced countries is absent in India.
  • Poor condition of financial sector: Given the limited progress in fixing the financial system, prospects for investment remain weak.
  • Small market: India’s market is too small to sustain any kind of serious import substitution strategy.

What is the Way forward?

  • Take advantage of unskilled labours: In China’s wages are rising as it has become richer, it has vacated about $140 billion in exports in unskilled-labour intensive sectors, including apparel, clothing, leather and footwear.
  • Attract investments: investors moving away from China as they seek to hedge against supply chain disruptions because of trade actions against China.
  • Openness: China and Vietnam at the time of their export boom in textiles and clothing suggests that exports were highly dependent on imports (between 40 and 45 per cent). In contrast, India’s import share is about 16 per cent. Achieving Chinese and Vietnamese levels of success will therefore require greater imports and openness.
  • Eliminate unnecessary tariffs: for instance, long-standing tariff on man-made yarn because man-made fibre-based exports (not cotton-based apparel) are the most dynamic segment of world exports.
  • Enhance competitiveness globally: If domestic producers are competitive internationally, they will be competitive domestically and domestic consumers and firms will also benefit.

    5. PLI – analysis and global value chain

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-3- Economy

Context: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said it had approved 16 firms in the mobile manufacturing sector for the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to transform India into a major mobile manufacturing hub.

What is PMP?

  • The PMP (phased manufacturing programme) was implemented with an aim to improve value addition in the country and PLI comes on the back of it.
  • The PMP incentivised the manufacture of low value accessories initially, and then moved on to the manufacture of higher value components.

What is the status of imports in India?

  • Analysis of factory-level production data from the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) shows that value addition for surveyed firms ranged from 1.6% to 17.4%, with most of the firms being below 10%. More than 85% of the inputs were imported for the majority of the surveyed firms in 2017-18.
  • UN data for India, China, Vietnam, Korea and Singapore (2017-2019), show that except for India,all countries exported more mobile phone parts than imports.
  • India’s imports of mobile phone parts were 25 times the exports in 2019.
  • The PMP policy increased the value of domestic production while improvement in local value addition remains a work-in-progress.

Why should we focus on value of production?

  • The new PLI policy offers an incentive subject to brinks of incremental investment and sales of manufactured goods; these thresholds vary for foreign and domestic mobile firms.
  • Focus remains on increasing value of domestic production, and not local value addition. If implemented, an additional capacity of 60 crore mobile phones per year may be onstream at the end of the PLI.

Why the shift from China is unlikely?

  • India produced around 29 crore units of mobile phones for the year 2018-19; 94% of these were sold in the domestic market and the rest was exported. This means that much of the production and sales under the PLI policy will have to be for the export market.
  • A study by Ernst & Young for the India Cellular & Electronics Association showed that if the cost of production of a mobile phone is say 100 then the effective cost of manufacturing mobile phone in China is 79.55, Vietnam is 89.05, and India is(including PLI), 92.51.
  • It may be early to expect a major chunk of mobile manufacturing to shift from China to India as incentives under the PLI policy may not turn out to be a game-changing move.
  • The PLI policy does not strengthen our current export competitiveness in mobile phones; and markets with higher average selling price have lower volumes.

Why is it difficult for domestic firms?

  • Domestic firms have been nearly wiped out from the Indian market and thus their ability to take advantage of the PLI policy and grab a large domestic market share seems difficult.
  • Domestic firms may have the route of exporting cheaper mobile phones to other low-income countries but their performance has not been promising.
  • For example, among the chosen domestic firms, Lava International reported exports of ₹324 crore in 2018, while Optiemus Electronics exported ₹83 crore in 2018 and ₹4 lakh in 2019.

Why is supply chain colocation important?

  • The six component firms that have been given approval under the ‘specified electronic components segment’ do not complete the mobile manufacturing ecosystem.
  • For example, literature shows that when Samsung set up shop in Vietnam, it relied heavily on its Korean suppliers which co-located with it to produce in-between inputs, so much so that 63 among Samsung’s 67 suppliers then were foreign.
  • Even though Samsung is invested hugely in India, it has not co-located its supply chain in the country.

Way forward

  • Foreign firms chosen under the PLI policy should be encouraged to co-locate their supply ecosystems in the country as the assemblers and component manufacturers move together.

6. Domestic Innovation and Manufacturing of vaccines

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS -3- Science & Technology/ Innovation

Context:  Long-term partnerships and increased R&D investments are required as they determine scientific tools which will help during health emergencies.

How will we overcome the pandemic or any other health emergency?

  • Collaboration at a global level is going to be the foundation of a strategy that can potentially end this pandemic. Scientists, experts and countries must work together to come up with unique and innovative solutions to help end this crisis.
  • Scientists worldwide are now working together to develop a potential vaccine against COVID-19 and globally; 42 vaccines are in various phases of clinical trials already.
  • In India, there are over three vaccine candidates at advanced stages of development:
    • The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or ChAdOx1 is in Phase 3 human trial which is supported by the Serum Institute of India.
    • Indigenous vaccines like COVAXIN (developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR) and ZyCoV-D (developed by Zydus Cadila) are in Phase 2/3 trials.
  • India is one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world in terms of volume. Also, vaccines developed in India are much more affordable than the other vaccines in the market.
    • For instance, the indigenous rotavirus vaccines developed by India cost less than a dollar.
  • Affordable prices ensure that more people around the globe have access to these life-saving tools. Approximately 70 per cent of vaccines for low and middle income countries are manufactured in India and delivered through partnerships with UNICEF and Gavi.
  • Partnerships; such as the Grand Challenges India are also playing a crucial role in quickening research, developing new tools, and driving continued progress in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Partnerships earlier have led to innovations like the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN), which is an indigenously developed technology and was developed in partnership with UNDP. It has revolutionised vaccine distribution and supply.

Way forward

  • It took several failures and multiple near-perfect solutions to finally build these innovations and practices that could ease the whole country’s vaccine distribution process. The same principle can be applied to vaccines.
  • Long-term partnerships and increased R&D investments are required as they determine scientific tools which will help during health emergencies.

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