9th October, 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions :-

1) With reference to S-400 Triumf Missile, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  2. It can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – Both 1 and 2

2) Artemis Programme. In news, is related to which of following organization?

  1. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  2. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization)
  3. ESA (European Space Agency)
  4. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency)

Answer – NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

3) Brasilia Declaration was sometime seen in news. The declaration is related to which of the following sector?

  1. Protection of women rights.
  2. Freedom from poverty and Hunger.
  3. Road Safety.
  4. Net-Zero emission target.

Answer – Road Safety

Prelims Specific News Items :-

1) High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People –

At a ceremony held between the French and Indian governments in New Delhi, India officially joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.

What is the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People?

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People was initiated at the “One Planet Summit” in Paris in January 2021. The coalition aims to promote an international agreement to protect at least 30 % of the of world’s land and ocean by 2030 (30×30 target).

The 30×30 target is a global target that aims to halt the accelerating loss of species and protect vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security.

HAC is co-chaired by Costa Rica and France, and by the United Kingdom as Ocean co-chair.

Members: At present, the group has more than 70 countries encouraging the adoption of the global goal to protect 30×30. The members of HAC currently include a mix of countries in the global north and south. These include European, Latin American, Africa and Asia countries are among the members.

India is the first BRICS country to join the HAC.

Why 30×30 target is needed?

Currently, an estimated 15% of the world’s land and 7% of the ocean are protected. In order to address both the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, there is growing scientific research that half of the planet must be kept in a natural state. Some research papers have suggested that the number should be even higher.

Despite this, experts agree that a scientifically credible and necessary interim goal is to achieve a minimum of 30% protection by 2030. So, to achieve this, the world needs to double the current land protections and more than quadruple current ocean protections.

2) Report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21 –

The report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21“, released by the Union Ministry of Education talks about the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the key findings of the report?

  • The report shows that 40% to 70% of school-going children in seven large states do not have access to digital devices. These states are– Assam (44.24%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Bihar (58.09%), Gujarat (40%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Madhya Pradesh (70%) and Uttarakhand (41.17%).
  • In absolute numbers, prepared on the basis of surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices.
  • The digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to the adequate availability of smartphones and television sets.
  • Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%.

3) UN report: Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021

The UN report: Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021 highlights yet another divide in the Indian society as 5 out of 6 multidimensionally poor are from lower tribes or castes.

What is the key focus of the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021?

  • The report provides estimates on multidimensional poverty for 109 developing countries.
  • Present multidimensional poverty estimates disaggregated by ethnicity and caste for 41 countries to identify who is – and how people are – being left behind.
  • The intrahousehold analysis of poverty with a gender focus.
  • It revealed how multidimensional poverty could amplify the impacts of COVID-19 shocks, hurting education, employment and livelihood.

What are the key findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021?

  • The report mentions that there are 1.3 billion multidimensionally poor people globally.
  • The top five countries with the largest number of people living in multidimensional poverty are India (381 million), Nigeria (93 million), Pakistan (83 million), Ethiopia (77 million) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (56million).
  • Women and Children: Almost two-thirds of global multidimensionally poor people – 836 million- live in households in which no female member has completed at least six years of schooling. These people live mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (363 million) and South Asia (350 million).
  • The report also found that half of global multidimensionally poor people are children.
  • Women-led houses: One in six multidimensionally poor people across 108 countries live in female-headed households.

About the Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • The report is developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2010 for UNDP’s Human Development Reports.

Read more: Human Development Index (HDI) and other Indices of UNDP

NITI Aayog is the nodal agency that has been assigned the responsibility of leveraging the monitoring mechanism of the Global MPI to drive reforms.

According to Global MPI 2020, India is 62nd among 107 countries with an MPI score of 0.123 and 27.91% headcount ratio, based on the NFHS 4 (2015/16) data.

Important news :-

1) After 68 years, Tatas win back Air India with ₹18,000 cr. Bid –

After 68 years, Air India is all set to return to the Tata fold. Tata Sons subsidiary Talace Pvt Ltd emerged as the winning bidder for the debt-laden national carrier after quoting an enterprise value of ₹18,000 crore. The government will take a hit of ₹28,844 crore.

The Tatas will own 100% stake in Air India, as also 100% in its international low-cost arm Air India Express and 50% in the ground handling joint venture, Air India SATS. Apart from 141 planes and access to a network of 173 destinations including 55 international ones, Tatas will also have the ownership of iconic brands like Air India, Indian Airlines and the Maharajah.

2) Palk Bay scheme to get a fillip: Murugan –

The Union Government is considering increasing the unit cost of deep-sea fishing vessels under the Palk Bay scheme to make it more attractive to fisherfolk, L. Murugan, Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Information and Broadcasting, said.

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2017, the Palk Bay scheme, being financed by the Union and the State Governments with beneficiary participation, envisaged the provision of 2,000 vessels in three years to the fishermen of the State and motivate them to abandon bottom trawling

What is Bottom Trawling Method –

Bottom trawling is a method of fishing that involves dragging heavy weighted nets across the sea floor, in an effort to catch fish. It’s a favoured method by commercial fishing companies because it can catch large quantities of product in one go.

Why is bottom trawling destructive?

  • The problem with bottom trawling as a fishing method is that it’s indiscriminate in what it catches. When dragging the large, weighted nets across the seafloor, everything that happens to be in the way gets swept up in the net too. For this reason bottom trawling has a large bycatch impact, with many non target species being fished in the process.
  • This has an impact on the biodiversity of the ocean, and also means many species are being fished to the brink simply as a consequence of commercial activities, not as the target of them.
  • In addition to the turtles, juvenile fish and invertebrates that get swept up in trawling nets, deep sea corals are hidden victims of trawling. 
  • Deep sea coral forests, thought to be some of the most biodiverse ecosystems with high degree of endemism (species found only there), can take centuries to form. But when a trawler runs over them again and again to catch fish, they’re destroyed, and so is the whole community that had formed around them.

3) Journalists from Philippines, Russia win Peace Nobel –

Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.

Free, independent and fact based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said Berit ReissAndersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, explaining why the prize went to two journalists.

“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time,” she said.

Ms. Ressa, the first Filipino to win the peace prize and the first woman to be honoured this year with an award by the Nobel committee, was convicted last year of libel and sentenced to jail in a decision seen as a major blow to press global freedom.

4) Some EU rules go against Constitution: Poland top court –

Poland’s top court on Thursday said that some EU treaty articles were “incompatible” with the Polish Constitution in a landmark ruling that could threaten the country’s EU funding and even put in question its membership of the bloc.

All About European Union –

  • The European Union is a unique economic and political union between 27 EU countries that together cover much of the continent.
  • The predecessor of the EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict.
  • The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • Since then, 22 other members joined and a huge single market (also known as the ‘internal’ market) has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential.
  • On 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union.
  • What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration. A name change from the European Economic Community (EEC) to the European Union (EU) in 1993 reflected this.
  • Passport controls have been abolished for travel within the Schengen Area. A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 member states which use the euro currency.

5) Google to ban climate denial ads –

Google will ban digital ads promoting false climate change claims from appearing next to other content, hoping to limit revenue for climate change deniers and stop the spread of misinformation on its platforms.

6) Goyal pushes for a reset of India-ASEAN FTA-

 Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has called for a renegotiation of the India-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA), to prevent its misuse by ‘third parties’ and remove trade restrictions as well as non-tariff barriers that he said had hurt Indian exports disproportionately since the pact was operationalised in 2010.

“It is unfortunate that in the recent past, we had to deal with several restrictive barriers on our exports in the ASEAN region, particularly in the agriculture and auto sectors,”

The focus needed to be on new rules to eliminate misuse ‘by third parties outside ASEAN.

7) ‘Aim to have 30% of 2030 car sales as EVs’ –

The government aims to have EV sales accounting for 30% of private cars, 70% for commercial vehicles and 80% for two and three wheelers by 2030 as there is an immediate need to decarbonise the transport sector, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said.

About FAME Scheme –

  • FAME Stands for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicle
  • FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
  • The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivising all vehicle segments.

Two phases of the scheme:

  • Phase I: started in 2015 and was completed on 31st March, 2019
  • Phase II: started from April, 2019, will be completed by 31st March, 2022

Objectives of FAME Scheme:

  • Encourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by way of offering upfront Incentive on purchase of Electric vehicles.
  • Establish a necessary charging Infrastructure for electric vehicles.
  • To address the issue of environmental pollution and fuel security.

Editorial of the day

1) Reflections on the ‘quasi-federal’ democracy –

Context – Despite a basic structure, Indian federalism needs institutional amendment to be democratically federal

Some fault lines

  • First, the tempestuous Parliament session, where the Rajya Sabha Chairperson broke down (in August 2021), unable to conduct proceedings despite the use of marshals; yet, the House passed a record number of Bills amidst a record number of adjournments.
  • Second, cross-border police firing by one constituent State against another, inflicting fatalities, which also resulted in retaliatory action in the form of an embargo on goods trade and travel links with its land-locked neighbour.

Such unfamiliar events of federal democracy are recurrent in India, except their present manifest intensity.

Key Challenges –

  • Rajni Kothari’s “one party dominance” model of the “Congress system” has now been replaced by the Bharatiya Janata Party;

Books by Rajni Kothari –

  • Politics in India
  • Caste in Indian Politics
  • Rethinking Democracy
  • Myrdall’s “soft state” is reincarnated in the Pegasus era with fake videos and new instruments of mass distraction and coercion.
  • Galbraith’s “functioning anarchy”, now has greater criminalisation in India’s democracy, which includes over 30% legislators with criminal records, and courtrooms turning into gang war zones; it is now more anarchic, but still functioning, bypassing any “Dangerous Decade” or a “1984”.
  • Federal theorist K.C. Wheare analyses India’s “centralized state with some federal features” as “quasi-federal”. He underscores the structural faultlines of Indian federalism not simply as operational. So, while many democratic distortions are amenable to mitigation by institutional professionalism, Indian federalism, to be democratically federal, needs institutional amendment despite being a “basic structure”. Wheare’s argument merits consideration.

Many deficits –

Democratic federalism presupposes institutions to ensure equality between and among the units and the Centre so that they coordinate with each other, and are subordinate to the sovereign constitution — their disputes adjudicated by an independent judiciary with impeccable professional and moral credibility. But India’s federal structure is constitutionally hamstrung by deficits on all these counts, and operationally impaired by the institutional dents in the overall democratic process. Like popular voting behaviour, institutional preferences are based either on ethnic or kinship network, or like anti-incumbency, as the perceived lesser evil, on individual role-models: T.N. Seshan for the Election Commission of India, J.F. Ribeiro for the police or Justices Chandrachud or Nariman for the judiciary.

The Indian Constitution itself has been amended 105 times in 70 years compared with 27 times in over 250 years in the United States.

Structural conflicts

The story is not different for the “all India services”, including the State cadres. What is operationally most distorted is the role of Governors: appointed by the Centre, it is political patronage, transforming this constitutional authority of a federal “link” to one of a central “agent” in the States. 

There is no federal chamber to politically resolve conflicts. The Rajya Sabha indirectly represents the States whose legislators elect it, but continue even after the electors are outvoted or dismissed; with no residential qualification, this House is a major source of political and financial patronage for all political parties, at the cost of the people of the State they “represent”.

The second chamber is not empowered to neutralise the demographic weight of the populous States with larger representation in the popular chamber; it cannot veto its legislations, unlike the U.S. Senate. It can only delay, which explains the disruptions. Joint sessions to resolve their differences are as predicable and comical as the “voice votes” in the Houses. India’s bicameral legislature, without ensuring a Federal Chamber, lives up to the usual criticism: “when the second chamber agrees with the first, it is superfluous, when it disagrees, it is pernicious”.

Lessons to learn

We might learn from the mistakes of neighbouring Sri Lanka and Pakistan rather than be condemned to relive them. India’s national security deserves a functional democratic federal alternative to its dysfunctional “quasi-federal” structure, which is neither federal nor democratic but a constitutional “basic structure”.

2) Infusing public health into Indian medical education  –

The larger medical curriculum has remained more or less stagnant since post-Independence.

Similarly, hardly any attempt has been made to reform the community medicine curriculum, from one that primarily provides technical inputs to technocratic health programmes — to one which can also take on the larger questions related to health policy and health systems, and inculcate critical thinking along lines that are divergent from clinical medicine.

Looking ahead

A middle ground can be struck by upgrading community medicine to ‘community medicine and public health’ both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This will involve revamping the community medicine curriculum through incorporation of or emphasising those areas of public health which are presently left out or under-emphasised, such as social health, health policy and health systems. 

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