9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 30, 2021

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Good evening dear reader

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.
Happy Learning!

List of 9 PM articles


  1. Issues related to R&D in India
  2. Lessons for India from one year of COVID Pandemic
  3. India’s Sovereign Ratings don’t reflect its fundamentals
  4. Importance of Abiding by the Parliamentary Processes

Issues related to R&D in India

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 3

Synopsis: Chief Economic Adviser said that the private sector in India needs to increase the spending for the country to scale up growth.

Introduction 

According to Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy V Subramanian, the private sector in the country needs to increase spending from 37 percent to 68 percent. So that India could scale up and match the level of the top 10 economies in terms of the expenditure on R&D.

Issues related to R&D in India

  1. The country’s gross expenditure on R&D for 2020-21 stood at 0.65 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It was less than one-third of the funds spent by the top 10 economies of the world. The top 10 economies of the world spent between 1.5 to 3 percent of GDP on R&D.
  2. More than half of the total expenditure on R&D was done by the government in India. Still, India’s gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) is very low.
  3. According to the survey, the number of patent and trademark applications filed by Indian start-ups has increased over the past 5 financial years but there is a lack of consistent approvals.
    • For example; startups in India filed 1,100 applications for patents between April and October, but none were approved. They filed more than 3,500 applications for trademark recognition. But none of them was granted approval between April and October 2020.

What needs to be done?

Private investment in R&D needs to be boosted. There should be a focus on innovation in various sectors.

  • Firstly, India needs to improve its standing in the total number of patent applications filed in the country.
  • Secondly, a major push on R&D by the business sector is required. India’s local companies should increase their share in total patents to a level equal to our status as the fifth-largest economy in the current US dollar. 

Lessons for India from one year of COVID Pandemic

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 3

Synopsis: One year has been passed when the first confirmed case was reported in India. What are the lessons that India should learn from this Pandemic?

Introduction 

India’s first confirmed case of Sars-CoV-2 was reported exactly a year ago. Experts with the help of a modeling-based study predicted that the country could have hundreds of millions of cases and a few million deaths by July 2020.

What were the challenges faced by people during the pandemic?

There was a sudden decrease in economic activities, low job opportunities, slowing of the economy. Impacts further worsened due to lockdowns.

  • One of the most disturbing visuals that came from the pandemic was the migrants walking back to their villages on the highways.
  • People who tested positive for the virus and the frontline workers were discriminated against in society. 
  • An excessive amount of unreliable information i.e. “infodemic” became a major obstacle in effective response to the pandemic.

What were the steps taken to deal with the pandemic?

Pandemic highlighted the need for strengthening the Indian health system and boosting public health services.

  1. Firstly, COVID-19 specific services which include testing, contact tracing and treatment facilities were scaled up. 
  2. Secondly, in order to achieve self-sufficiency, the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, and ventilators were increased in India. 
  3. Thirdly, researchers and scientists worked together to develop new testing kits, to conduct clinical trials on treatment procedures and vaccines. 
  4. Fourthly, two SARS CoV-2 vaccines were approved in India and vaccination started at the beginning of 2021. The COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in India are being used in other countries as well.

What are the lessons learnt from the pandemic?

India has reported nearly 10.7 million confirmed cases and 1,53,000 deaths in the last year. Five lessons which should be learnt are mentioned below: 

  • First, the pandemic has widened the inequalities in the society as the poor and vulnerable sections were the worst affected.  The government should urgently increase investment in strengthening health systems to address inequities and reduce poverty.
    • This will prepare the country for future pandemics and help in accelerating economic growth. 
  • Second, Stronger health infrastructure is possible by interventions in various areas, such as:
    • Governance and leadership.
    • Health financing and health information system.
    • Providing services and delivery.
    • Health infrastructure and workforce.
    • Medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines.
  • Third, the hospital-dominated medical care system needs to be changed to a more inclusive health system for the lower section. 
    • Community clinics could be set up along with a strengthened primary healthcare system in both rural and urban areas.
  • Fourth, states and the union government should spend more on health care and public health services. Laboratories and disease surveillance systems should be well-developed. The provision of mental health services via teleconsultation can be effectively used.
  • Fifth, sustain the three-way partnership between policymakers, technical experts, and community members which have been formed for pandemic response. 
    • This would help in ensuring that health policies are informed, effectively implemented, and services widely used by the community. People’s participation and community engagement was important and need to be continued post the pandemic.

Way forward 

  • These learnings should be used to create a stronger healthcare system in India, which will provide accessible, available, affordable, and quality healthcare services to each and every citizen of this country.

India’s Sovereign Ratings don’t reflect its fundamentals

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3-Indian economy Planning and development

Synopsis: The Economic Survey 2020-21 concludes that the sovereign credit ratings are biased, and they do not reflect the Indian economy’s fundamentals.

Background:

  • Currently, India’s sovereign rating is rated under a very low investment grade.
  • Though it will not have impact on market performance, rupee value against the dollar, or on G-Sec yield. But it can impact the FPI inflow into equity and debt instruments.

On what basis the economic survey has made this remark?

  • As per the survey, it is for the first time in history that India, which is the fifth-largest economy in the world, has been rated as low in the investment-grade (BBB-/Baa3).
  • Historically, the fifth-largest economies have been mostly rated AAA. It reflects the economic size and its ability to repay debt. China and India are the only exceptions to this rule.

What is the solution to address this issue?

  • The economic survey suggested reworking the sovereign credit rating methodology to make it more transparent and less subjective.
  • It also called for co-operation among developing economies to address this bias and subjectivity, inherent in sovereign credit rating methodology.

What are the other factors affecting investment according to the Economic survey?

  • The Economic survey pointed out the issue of over-regulation in the Indian economy. The survey suggested simplification of regulatory processes along with transparent decision-making processes.
  • The survey also highlighted the problem of asymmetric information between the regulator and the banks which was noticed during the forbearance regime. (short-term relief for borrowers to postpone loan payments-witnessed during the Pandemic)
      • The survey suggested conducting an Asset Quality Review exercise immediately after the forbearance is withdrawn.

India’s willingness to pay debts is demonstrated often through its zero sovereign default history. So, the current sovereign ratings are not a representation of India’s growth and commitments.


Importance of Abiding by the Parliamentary Processes

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2-Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Synopsis: Following the Democratic Parliamentary Process is more important than enforcing the will of the majority.

Background

  1. Nearly 20 Opposition parties boycotted the recent (2021) President’s address to a joint sitting of Parliament.
  2. Further, the Opposition is planning to move a joint motion demanding a repeal of the three Farm laws in the coming Budget session of Parliament.
  3. The boycott is indicative of the worsening relationship between the government and the Opposition.
  4. The last time the Opposition boycotted the President’s Address was in November 2019 during the celebration of the Constitution Day.
  5. Regarding the Farm Bill, the President said that the government will keep the Farm Bills on hold as per a Supreme Court directive. But the speech had no indication of reconsideration of the laws.

What is the way forward?

  1. The government should follow the democratic route of getting Parliamentary approval for Ordinances. Because democratic processes are more important than enforcing the will of the majority.
  2. The Ordinances promulgated during the pandemic time should be put in front of Parliament for detailed discussion.
  3. Though, the government has advantages over the Opposition, in terms of the numerical strength in Parliament. But a democracy cannot be run, alone by the executive, without any accountability. Parliament and opposition functions as a check on the powers of the executive.

The government needs to hold the high standards that India has set for itself as a democracy. Hence, Discussion, Debate, Deliberative Dialogue should be the way forward.


Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Jan 30, 2021

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