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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Brief – 4 February 2016

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Brief of newspaper articles for the day bearing
relevance to Civil Services preparation

What is 9 PM brief?


GS PAPER 2


[1]. DBT regime may evolve into social security reforms

The Hindu

Context:

Govt planning various ways to implement DBT successfully.

What is DBT?

It is a system through which welfare scheme benefits, subsidies,etc will get transferred directly to the bank a/cs of the beneficiaries(poor people). It was launched in 2013. It is believed that DBT will plug leakages, reduce corruption and will ensure benefits reach the targeted people completely and on time.

What has happened?

Govt has planned to – create a unified national database of beneficiaries

  • this database will include all details of the beneficiary household
  • this database can be updated in real time
  • thus it can automatically trigger new benefits
  • this database will have all details of beneficiary

Why JAM not enough?

JAM is not enough to link beneficiaries to these benefits as it has several operational issues. Like Aadhar does not have any household data and is a portable identity so it cannot be linked to a taluka/tehsil. Hence, a unified database such as the one being planned by Govt now is necessary. But JAM will still play the key role in DBT.

What is JAM?

It is a trinity of the following-
Jan Dhan Yojana – opening bank a/c for all
Aadhar – it is a card with a 12 digit unique identification no. that will serve as a proof of identity and address
Mobile no. – with more than 800 million subscribers this can an effective way of providing remittances
JAM was given impetus to be used to identify and link beneficiaries to their benefits.

Other Plans:
Create a network of 2 million cash points such as kirana stores, chemists and grameen dak sevaks in 6 lakh villages by March 2017. This is being done so that the rural poor can easily get benefits in cash form.

 

[2]. Time to debate Governors’ powers

The Hindu

Context: Imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh

Issues:

Hasty decision – even before a mandatory floor test could establish conclusively that the congress govt of Nabam Tuki had lost its majority, president’s rule was imposed.
After sending letter to governor of Arunachal Pradesh asking why he recommended president’s rule in the state, Supreme Court acknowledged its mistake as a Governor is not answerable to any court for the exercise of his office powers.
Supreme Court ordered the Centre to release all documents necessary to prepare a defence by Tuki against the Governor’s report.
Governor accused Tuki of instigating Nyishi tribe and funding public protest to ouster him. He claims to have been threatened and abused.

Opinion:

The writer feels that –
This hasty imposition of President’s rule is contrary to the PM’s promise of cooperative federalism

  • Governors are acting as agents of the centre
  • Governors are exploiting their power
  • There is a history of governments of every party to use governors to dismiss opposition-run states
  • History of clash between governors and chief ministers
  • Governors must create a harmonious relationship between centre and state

In the annual Governor’s conference, the President must discuss the constitutional properties that should guide a governor’s actions.

What is Art. 356?

It is one of the Emergency provisions provided by the constitution. According to it, the president on the advise of the governor or on his own accord can dissolve the state govt. and it’s council of ministers thereby imposing presidents rule. It is supposed to be used when there is political unrest in a state.

[3]. Defending the diaspora

The Hindu

Context: Indians around the world as of June, 2015, amounts to 11 million NRIs and 17 million PIOs. Largest population resides in Gulf, US, UK, South East Asia and Nepal.

Long Standing Strategy: 

Indian government treated NRIs and ethnic Indians holding citizenship of those countries (PIOs) differently. The government prime concern was NRIs.

The ethnic Indians were encouraged to be loyal upstanding citizens of the country in which they hold citizenship. We encouraged ethic Indians to absorb themselves into the life of their respective countries as it is felt that any step to to help them maintain emotional or cultural links with India prevents them from giving whole hearted loyalty to the country in which they are citizen.

This is the reason why Indian diaspora is successful in integrating into societies around the world. They might retain custom and faith but they bat for the interest of their country in which they are citizens.

Shift in the policy:

The policy began to shift in 1990s, with India starting to look east and west due to economic adversity and opportunity. Some of the steps in this direction were:

  1. Long term visas under PIO card scheme.
  2. Recognition in form of awards
  3. Indian diaspora conferences etc.

Risks Involved: 

The Limit: The government has to identify the extent to which its engagement with NRIs and their interest is not seen as intrusion by the host countries.

If government interferes to speak on behalf of ethnic Indians who are not Indian citizen then it will encounter resistance. Example: 2007 Malaysian retaliation to Indian government support against the problems faced by Indian minorities.

Sovereign states have relinquished their rights to intercede on behalf of their religious and ethnic kins in other sovereign states

Questioning loyalty: The reputation of PIOs being loyal to respective countries will be questioned. Such suspicion can be detrimental to their interests.

Future Course:

External intelligence establishments need to be reoriented towards gathering and analysing information relating to threats that diaspora population might face. Diaspora security will require more military strength and policy measures to use private aircrafts during emergencies. If we plan to widen the scope of our commitment then we need to invest in our capacity to carry out the same.

[4]. Illusion of equity in the classroom

The Hindu (This is an important topic even from the view point of Essay Paper)

Context: 5 years of Right to Education act.

Certain Facts:

  1. Kerala became the first State to achieve 100 per cent primary education
  2. In Uttar Pradesh, only 12 out of 75 districts have admitted students from disadvantaged groups to private schools

The Act: mandates that schools reserve 25 per cent seats for disadvantaged  students. India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 aims to provide quality equitable education.

The Harsh Reality:

  1. Discrimination leading to drop out of students from schools.
  2. Overcrowding of schools.
  3. Poor quality of elementary education.

What is equitable quality education?

Distributive justice and quality should be the parameters of universalising education. Distributive justice deals with inclusion of marginalised community and disadvantaged group in the mainstream education while quality deals with what is being taught in the schools.

Need for quality equitable education?

We live in a society where it is market driven, education if inadequate restricts the scope of opportunities for a student and result in dimnish outcomes.

Performance of RTE:

It is yet to early decide that but the statistics we have are not overwhelming. They are a serious cause of concern.The census 2011 shows the alarming data and pity state of education and literacy among disadvantaged class.

Census 2011 data:  SCs and STs – average literacy rate for people aged above 15 is 9 and 17.5% less than the national average respectively.

The female literacy rate is 19.5 per cent less than that of males.

This difference increases to 23 per cent and 23.5 per cent among the SCs and STs, respectively, indicating the double discrimination faced by Dalit and Adivasi women.

The dropout rates among SCs and STs are significantly higher than the national average and more girls discontinue schooling than boys.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 and The National University of Educational Planning and Administration’s 2011-12 report:

  • Enrolment in private schools has increased from 18.7 per cent in 2006 to 30.8 per cent in 2014.
  • Only about 16 per cent of students from SCs and STs attend private schools
  • The average Indian household spends five times more money on each child annually if s/he is enrolled in a private school compared to a government school.
  • Private schools fare only marginally better in terms of imparting quality education compared to government schools
  • Our education system has fared poorly on both equity and quality parameters.

Education and Constitutional Provisions: 

Article 39 – directs the state to frame policies that distribute the “ownership and control of the material resources of the community” such that it serves the “common good”, and “provide opportunities and facilities that enable children to develop in a healthy manner in conditions of freedom and dignity”.

Article 37 – commands that they shall be “fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws”.

Initially, universal elementary education was a Directive Principle under Article 45. The fact that it was made a fundamental right vide the 86th Amendment does not jettison the egalitarian perspective that placed it in the same scheme as other Directive Principles, particularly those under Article 39.

Kothari Commission:

The Kothari Commission recommended a common school system (CSS) to “bring the different social classes and groups together and thus promote the emergence of an egalitarian and integrated society”.

It lamented that “instead of doing so, education itself is tending to increase social segregation and to perpetuate and widen class distinctions”.

This results in the “anaemic and incomplete” education of both the rich and poor as it forecloses sharing of perspectives. The CSS was adopted by both the 1968 and 1986 national policies on education.

While the interventions from ‘Operation Blackboard’ to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan brought universalisation and quality to the forefront, the CSS was somehow relegated to the background.

The road ahead:

The mandate of the act is to provide a common place where children sit, eat and live together for at least eight years of their lives across caste, class and gender divides in order that it narrows down such divisions in our society.

Four caveats could be issued here.

  • One, in conceiving ‘disadvantaged groups’, we must also include children of sex workers, transgendered groups, disabled persons and minorities.
  • Two, equality also means the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Three, the government must not abdicate its responsibility to make its schools inclusive. If Dalit children sit separately and clean toilets and girls perform stereotypical gender roles, then we have only engrafted inequality and entrenched hierarchies.
  • Four, education itself needs to celebrate the diverse ways in which knowledge is transferred and acquired.

[5]. Coming to grips with female foeticide

The Hindu

Context: A proposal for pre-natal sex determination is in the discussion stage. This mandatory registration of gender of unborn child is to enable proper monitoring of his/her birth.

The Idea: Establish the sex of foetus when pregnancy is detected. Tell mother about it and register the fact in public records. Ensuring deliveries happen only in institutions.

Controversy: 

  1. It lacks the awareness of social realities.
  2. It might expose women to undue psychological and social pressure to abort female foetus .
  3. Such intrusion by the state into a women’s biological space is unwelcome.

Enforcement Challenges: 

  1. Under the Preconception and Prenatal diagnostics technique (PCPNDT) Act disclosure of foetal status is a punishable crime.
  2. The existing law has produced varied results in states according to the level of its enforcement which inturn is reflected in the sex ratio.

Conclusion:

Need for the hour is investing in changing the socio-cultural environment rather than scrapping the ban.

[6]. Battle with may corners

The Indian Express

Context: malnutrition in India

Indicators:

Malnutrition can technically mean both over nutrition and under nutrition. But the specific indicators are –
Underweight , stunting (lack of proper growth esp height) and wasted (low weight for height).
These indicators are measured in two units –
Moderate – two standard deviations below median weight
Severe – three standard deviations below median weight

Sustainable Development Goals :

Aset of targets to be achieved globally by 2030. It’s an intergovernmental initiative by UN. Target 2.1 and 2.2 sets the target to end hunger and malnutrition. By 2025, following targets to be achieved –
40% reduction in under 5 stunted children
30% reduction in low birth weight
Reduction and maintenance of childhood wasting to less than 5%
Increasing exclusive breast feeding in first 6months to atleast 50%
50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age

Statistics in India:

India could not achieve the Millenium Development goal target – reduction of underweight children below 3 years to 26% by 2015 – India could only achieve 33% by 2015. The prevalence of underweight children below 3 years is significant in most of the states.
Rapid Survey on Children (RSoC), Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) and all other such surveys only lead to a data clutter. Time lags in data surveys also poses a problem.
Surveys directed against malnutrition are not helping that is why NNM was started.
These surveys need to be broadened with specific focus on troubled districts with counterparts at the district, block and anganwadi levels.

National Nutrition Mission (NNM):

Information, education and communication campaign against malnutrition
Multi sectoral nutrition programme

[7]. India, Thailand firm up maritime cooperation

The Hindu

Context: India, Thailand collaboration is necessary to ensure freedom of navigation and connectivity in South East Asia region. Strengthening bilateral engagement in areas of security and defense will promote regional economic integration and connectivity.

Concerns: Freedom of navigation in the region is affected due to growing maritime disputes between China and several other South Asian countries. India wants the dispute to be settled peacefully.

Other Engagements: 

India will participate in Cobra Gold, 2016 – a multilateral amphibious exercise and operation Maitri – counter insurgency operation.

India – Thailand:

India, Thailand held a point task force – to deepen maritime and defense cooperation covering issues like – ocean safety, disaster management and anti terror drills.

India and Thailand will hold naval exercises in Andaman Sea. Both sides have agreed to fast track the ongoing trilateral land corridor project connection along with Myanmar.


GS PAPER 3


[1]. Indian firm develop Zika vaccine candidate / Sexually transmitted Zika infection case confirmed in US

The Hindu | The Hindu

Context: Spread of new disease through Zika virus which has been already categorised as  global emergency.

Vaccine Development: Bharat Biotech (Indian pharma company). The vaccine is in advanced stage of development and will soon be ready for clinical trials on Animal. The firm before had developed the vaccination for Chikungunya.

Considering the nature of disease and quantum of it spread the company is now planning to seek Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help in expediting regulatory clearances.

In an another news: A person in Texas has been infected with the Zika virus after having sex with an ill person who had returned from South America. It’s the first case of the virus being transmitted in the U.S. during the current outbreak of Zika, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas. Though the carrier is mosquito in rare case it can’t be ruled out that the virus can spread through bodily fluid.

[2]. After You

The Indian Express 

Context: Bimonthly monetary policy review by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The benchmark rate of interest (repo rate) has been left unchanged.

The event was seen as no show as there was nothing new / change declared. But according to the author, the no show was very important.

Importance of RBI decision not to change the policy rate: 

  1. RBI has decide to wait for fiscal policy action which will be presented in Union Budget on February 29, 2016 to guide it’s monetary policy accordingly. A fiscal policy that will boost growth with controlled spending will provide legroom for monetary policy in supporting growth. This will also help RBI to target inflation at 5%. Any decision as of now to fuel growth by cutting interest rates can be counter productive.
  2. The second point is transmission of interest rate cut in promoting investment. It has been found that interest has a role of 2 to 3% of the total production cost. Rather poor financial state of corporate sector and banks are more responsible for lack of investment and hence stalled projects. This is why earlier rate cut by 125 basis point has shown poor transmission in promoting investments.

Conclusion:

Hence, it is said the RBI is justified in holding back its monetary policy review and should first watch the viable fiscal framework that government presents and then move forward in complementing to that.

 


By: ForumIAS Editorial Team


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