DAILY MAINS NEWSLETTER FOR UPSC | 27 MAR 2021 | RaghukulCS

Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

27 MARCH 2021

Index

Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name

Source

1

Dormant Parliament, fading business

 The Hindu

2

Pandemic is an opportunity to re-imagine TB care

Indian Express

3

Proceed with caution: What to consider before India takes ‘net-zero’ pledge

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

The Mumbai hospital fire shows that India needs to make public safety an absolute value

Syllabus –

 GS3- Disaster Management

Analysis: –

  • The firefighters keep reminding people that fire is a good servant but a bad master, and the blaze that engulfed a private COVID-19 hospital in Mumbai’s Bhandup area on Thursday night comes as a reminder of how true that axiom is.
  • At least nine people died as flames and smoke spread through the facility housed in a mall.
  • Coming soon after the fire that snuffed out the lives of infants in Bhandara, again in Maharashtra, the tragedy focuses attention on the failure to make fire safety a systemic imperative in public buildings.
  • There is no clarity on where the inferno originated, and whether the hospital housed in a commercial building under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ for COVID-19 patients was equipped for the purpose.
  • The majority of patients were evacuated and admitted to other hospitals.
  • A solatium for the families of the victims has been announced by the State government, and predictable promises to investigate the incident have been made.
  • These steps, though welcome, do little to change the image of decrepitude that marks policies on public safety in the country, and the generally ineffectual nature of inspections and certifications.
  • Fire may be an accident, but the idea of protocols is to prevent it from having a devastating effect on lives and property.
  • It should be pointed out that after a fire in Rajkot last November, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the incident and issued directions, one of which was to task an officer with fire safety for each COVID-19 hospital.
  • States have only themselves to blame, if their officers ignore such guidelines, and avoidable fires claim lives.

Poll bond sale can go ahead: SC

Syllabus – 

GS2- Elections

Analysis: –

  • The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the sale of electoral bonds prior to the Assembly elections in crucial States such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, said the scheme began in 2018 and continued in 2019 and 2020 without “any impediments”.
  • Chief Justice Bobde, who read out the judgment, said the court found no reason to stall the sale of the electoral bonds now.
  • The judgment came on an urgent application moved by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, to stay the sale of the bonds scheduled between April 1 and 10

40% of RTI rejections did notcite valid reason, says analysis

Syllabus – 

GS2- Governance; Bills

Analysis: –

  • The Centre has only rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information (RTI) requests in 2019- 20, the lowest ever rate, according to the Central Information Commission’s annual report.
  • However, almost 40% of these rejections did not include any valid reason, as they did not invoke one of the permissible exemption clauses in the RTI Act, according to an analysis of report data by RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak.
  • This includes 90% of rejections by the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Public authorities under the Central government received 13.7 lakh RTI requests in 2019-20, out of which 58,634 were rejected for various reasons.
  • Rejection rates have fallen since the 13.9% rate in 2005-06, and have been steadily trending downwards since the 8.4% spike in 2014-15.

40% of RTI rejections did notcite valid reason, says analysis

Syllabus – 

GS2- Governance; Bills

Analysis: –

  • The Centre has only rejected 4.3% of all Right to Information (RTI) requests in 2019- 20, the lowest ever rate, according to the Central Information Commission’s annual report.
  • However, almost 40% of these rejections did not include any valid reason, as they did not invoke one of the permissible exemption clauses in the RTI Act, according to an analysis of report data by RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak.
  • This includes 90% of rejections by the Prime Minister’s Office.
  • Public authorities under the Central government received 13.7 lakh RTI requests in 2019-20, out of which 58,634 were rejected for various reasons.
  • Rejection rates have fallen since the 13.9% rate in 2005-06, and have been steadily trending downwards since the 8.4% spike in 2014-15.

Mains Analysis

Dormant Parliament, fading business

Why in News: –

The Budget session of Parliament came to an end two weeks before schedule on Thursday. Despite this, the Lok Sabha recorded 114 per cent productivity during the session.

Syllabus: 

GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
  • The Government decided to cut short the session, which was supposed to conclude on April 8, due to the upcoming assembly elections in five states.
  • The Budget session of 2020 was curtailed ahead of the lockdown imposed following the novel coronavirus pandemic, a short 18-day monsoon session ended after 10 days as several Members of Parliament and Parliament staff got affected by COVID-19, and the winter session was cancelled.

Budget session of Parliament:

  • A total of 17 bills were introduced in Lok Sabha and 18 bills were passed in the Lok Sabha during the session.
  • This includes the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill and the Insurance (Amendment) Bill among others.
  • Almost 600 matters of urgent public importance were also raised by the Members of Parliament
  • The fiscal year 2020-21 saw the Lok Sabha sitting for 34 days (and the Rajya Sabha for 33), the lowest ever.
  • The casualty was proper legislative scrutiny of proposed legislation as well as government functioning and finances.

Parliamentry sessions: –

  • The president from time to time summons each House of Parliament to meet. But, the maximum gap between two sessions of Parliament cannot be more than six months.
  • In other words, the Parliament should meet at least twice a year. There are usually

There are three sessions in a year:

  • The Budget Session (February to May);
  • The Monsoon Session (July to September); and
  • The Winter Session (November to December).
  • A ‘session’ of Parliament is the period spanning between the first sitting of a House and its prorogation (or dissolution in the case of the Lok Sabha.
  •  During a session, the House meets every day to transact business. The period spanning between the prorogation of a House and its reassembly in a new session is called ‘recess’.

No Bill scrutiny:

  • An important development this session has been the absence of careful scrutiny of Bills. During the session, 13 Bills were introduced, and not even one of them was referred to a parliamentary committee for examination.
  • In all, 13 Bills were introduced in this session, and eight of them were passed within the session.
  • This quick work should be read as a sign of abdication by Parliament of its duty to scrutinise Bills, rather than as a sign of efficiency.

The missing Deputy Speaker:

  • A striking feature of the current Lok Sabha is the absence of a Deputy Speaker. Article 93 of the Constitution states that “The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker”
  • Usually, the Deputy Speaker is elected within a couple of months of the formation of a new Lok Sabha, with the exception in the 1998-99 period, when it took 269 days to do so.
  • By the time of the next session of Parliament, two years would have elapsed without the election of a Deputy Speaker.
  • The issue showed up starkly this session when the Speaker was hospitalised. Some functions of the Speaker such as delivering the valedictory speech were carried out by a senior member.

Parliamentary scrutiny is key:

  • Parliament has the central role in our democracy as the representative body that checks the work of the government.
  •  It is also expected to examine all legislative proposals in detail, understand their nuances and implications of the provisions, and decide on the appropriate way forward.
  • In order to fulfil its constitutional mandate, it is imperative that Parliament functions effectively.
  • This will require making and following processes such as creating a system of research support to Members of Parliament, providing sufficient time for MPs to examine issues, and requiring that all Bills and budgets are examined by committees and public feedback is taken.
  • In sum, Parliament needs to ensure sufficient scrutiny over the proposals and actions of the government.

Question: –

It is necessary to uphold the quality of legislation, and by extension, the quality of governance in the country. Discuss.

Pandemic is an opportunity to re-imagine TB care

Why in News: –

A novel virus SARS-CoV-2, which had only just been described, overtook an ancient bacteria, tuberculosis or TB, as the leading infectious cause of death.

Syllabus: 

GS-2: Health; Government Policies & Interventions
  • Every crisis it is said, is an opportunity in disguise, and telemedicine helped us reach out to our most difficult XDR-TB patients.
  • Masks have become the new norm, and our TB patients are thus less destigmatised and less likely to transmit infection in crowded communities.

Tb Estimates: –

  • Provisional data compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) from 84 countries indicates that an estimated 1.4 million fewer people received care for tuberculosis (TB) in 2020 than in 2019 – a reduction of 21% from 2019.
  • In the group of 10 high-burden countries with the largest reported shortfalls compared with 2019, the overall shortfall was 28%. With many people with TB unable to access care, WHO estimates that half a million more people may have died from TB in 2020 alone.
  • TB remains one of the world’s top infectious killers.
  • Mortality from COVID-19 exceeded the daily toll of 5,000 deaths from TB.
  • Suddenly the 10 million or so deaths annually from TB paled into insignificance when compared to the 85 million annual mortality from COVID-19.

Covid-19 and TB: –

  • One as old as human civilisation, and the other unknown till a year ago.
  • It is now clear that patients with TB are more prone to COVID and if they do contract the disease their need for hospitalisation and ICU is higher, so is the mortality rate of such patients, whose lungs are already weak.
  • The huge TB patient population of India is thus a vulnerable one, and if patients with latent TB are also at higher risk from TB, as some experts feel they are, then the alarm should be ringing as 40 per cent of all Indians are believed to be latently infected.
  • These airborne diseases affect the same population.
  • Perhaps it is no coincidence that diabetes, overcrowding, poverty and air pollution are amongst the most common bio-social determinants of not just TB, but also COVID-19.
  • It is projected that the COVID pandemic has already pushed an additional 100 million below the poverty line: A population which will then be more vulnerable to the ravages of TB as well.

Challenges:

  • TB is a disease that is very unforgiving of irregularities in follow up or treatment and we are only now seeing large rebounds in the numbers of patients, many of whom have developed drug resistant (MDR or XDR) TB due to irregular visits to DOTS centres.
  • The world’s largest and longest lockdown spelt misery for this country’s huge TB population.
  • Suddenly patients found it impossible to access TB services and large numbers of them dropped off the radar.
  • TB notifications declined dramatically which means these patients “disappeared” without access to diagnosis or treatment for the many months of the lockdown.
  • The path to successful TB diagnosis and cure is a long and winding road at the best of times, with nine months to two years of uninterrupted treatment being the norm.
  • The hurdles posed by COVID proved insurmountable and sadly many patients gave up the race.
  • Scared to leave their houses, lacking the transport to reach TB centres, the woes of these patients multiplied with drug stock-outs and shortages of TB.
  • Economic and nutrition packages that had been promised to poorer TB patients also took a hit as did services for the HIV-affected.
  • All these directly and indirectly added another level of complexity to the suffering of our Indian TB patients.
  • Sadly, the collateral damage from COVID on TB is long lasting and runs deep.
  • It threatens to set back by many years the fragile recent gains made by India’s National TB programme (NTP).

Way Forward: –

  • This crisis is, therefore, also an opportunity to reimagine TB care.
  • To reinvest in our underfunded and overburdened paradigms of TB care, which are already beginning to look dated and uninspired.
  • Investing and fast-tracking the TB drug and vaccine pipeline is a need of an hour.
  • It is scandalous that TB has a single vaccine which is a century old whilst 12 COVID vaccines, discovered at breath-taking scientific speed, are already in deployment across the globe with over 70 in Phase 3 trials and 175 in pre-clinical stages.
  • Ensure effective infection prevention and control measures, to protect the health and safety of health workers, staff, and patients.
  • Scale up simultaneous testing for TB and COVID-19, taking into consideration similarity of symptoms (cough, fever and difficulty breathing), and based on exposure or presence of risk factors.
  • Promote access to people-cantered prevention and care services.
  • Stand against stigma and discrimination and promote the human rights of the most vulnerable.
  • Build and strengthen community, youth and civil society engagement to close gaps in care.

Questions: –

Critically evaluate the interconnection between Tb and Covid-19? Explain how Covid-19 provides an opportunity to reimagine TB care.

Proceed with caution: What to consider before India takes ‘net-zero’ pledge

Why in News: –

Climate change is of great significance for India, both because of its potentially enormous impacts on the country and because India can play a decisive part in the global effort to address it.

Syllabus: 

GS 3: Environmental Pollution & Degradation; Conservation
  • India is now rightly recognised for having come of age and becoming a major global power. But coming of age also brings with it the ability to take a stand, and resist being buffeted by the winds of shifting political agendas.
  • Successive Indian governments have taken differing approaches to this in climate negotiations, but one of the enduring and entirely legitimate planks of our position has been a focus on equity and fairness.

 

What is NET ZERO?

  • The “net zero” idea is inspired by an IPCC report that calls for global net emissions – GHG emissions minus removal of GHGs through various means, considered at a global aggregate level — to reach zero by mid-century.
  • This, in turn, builds on a clause in the Paris Climate Agreement, calling for a balance between sources and sinks of emissions by the second half of the century.
  • It is worth underscoring that none of this implies that each country has to reach net-zero by 2050. In fact, such an interpretation flies in the face of equity and fairness.
  • This emergent trend of net-zero announcements is commendable in that it signals a progressive direction of travel and has the apparent merit of presenting a simple and singular benchmark for assessing whether countries are playing their part in addressing the climate challenge.
  • Yet, there are hidden complexities in this formulation.
  • The use of “net” zero potentially allows countries to keep emitting today while relying on yet-to-be-developed and costly technologies to absorb emissions tomorrow.
  • Its focus on long-term targets displaces attention from meaningful short-term actions that are credible and accountable.
  • The Paris Agreement, while urging global peaking as soon as possible, explicitly recognises that “peaking will take longer for developing countries” and that this balance is to be achieved “on the basis of equity” and in the context of “sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty”.
  • It does not advocate undifferentiated uptake of net-zero targets across developed and developing countries, as currently being advocated by many, in particular the US and the UK (the latter is the host of the next climate conference).
  • Rather, the emphasis in the agreement on equity, sustainable development and poverty eradication suggests a thoughtful balancing of responsibilities between developed and developing countries

Indian Efforts:

  • In particular, India will need to decide whether to join a growing number of countries (over 120 at last count) that have pledged to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050.
  • India has to play its part in mitigating GHG emissions and contributing to the global effort to meet the Paris Agreement’s “well below 2 degrees Celsius” and aspirational “1.5 degrees Celsius” temperature limit.
  • Our first nationally determined contribution (NDC) submitted under the Paris Agreement has been rated by observers as compatible with a 2 degrees Celsius trajectory, and we are ahead of schedule in meeting our contribution.
  • A mid-century net-zero target from India would signal that it does not need the benefit of the caveats that it negotiated into the Paris Agreement and that it is ready to abandon its long-standing position that developed countries should take the lead.
  • There is definite scope for improvement — both in terms of the specificity, strength and stringency of our contribution and consistency in the domestic mitigation measures we take to fulfill these.
  • Our next contribution must represent a meaningful progression on our first. However, we need to think long and hard about a mid-century net-zero target for India for multiple reasons.

 

Impact: –

  • The crisis calls for India to enhance its mitigation actions. But it is not clear that enhancing mitigation action can definitively deliver net-zero emissions by 2050, given that our emissions are still rising, and our development needs are considerable.
  • One cannot rule out the possibility that a not fully thought-through mid-century net-zero target would compromise sustainable development.
  • Moreover, such a major shift in our negotiating position will have implications for the future, including our ability to leverage additional finance and technology to help shift to low-carbon development pathways.
  • Our 2 degrees Celsius compatible NDC, bolstered by the Prime Minister’s announcement in 2019 that we would achieve 450 GW of renewables by 2030, could be strengthened.
  • Building on this track record suggests an alternate and equally, if not more, compelling, way to indicate climate ambition in the future than uncritically taking on a net-zero target.
  • Given the massive shifts underway in India’s energy system, we would benefit from taking stock of our actions and focusing on near-term transitions.
  • This will allow us to meet and even over-comply with our 2030 target while also ensuring concomitant developmental benefits, such as developing a vibrant renewable industry.

 

Way Forward:

  • India can start putting in place the policies and institutions necessary to move in the right direction for the longer-term and also better understand, through modelling and other studies, the implications of net-zero scenarios before making a net-zero pledge.
  • It would also be in India’s interest to link any future pledge to the achievement of near-term action by industrialised countries.
  • That would be fair and consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and also enhance the feasibility of our own actions through, for example, increasing availability and reducing costs of new mitigation technologies.
  • While we, like others, have a responsibility to the international community, we also have a responsibility to our citizens to be deliberate and thoughtful about a decision as consequential as India’s climate pledge.

Question: –

Explain how India can continue to contribute meaningfully to greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, consistent with equity and fairness in the emergent trend of net-zero announcements.

Started From 14 Mar 2021

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