DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS MAINS UPSC |09 Nov 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS  MAINS UPSC |09 Nov 2020| RaghukulCS

Editorial Analysis


Editorial – 1

Title of the editorial: Walk the talk (The Hindu) | Mixed signals (The Indian Express) [Two editorials combined]

Topic in syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth,
development and employment. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how regulatory certainty & Predictability of policy is important to attract global investors.

Basics:

  • FDI: A foreign direct investment is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country. foreign direct investment includes “mergers and acquisitions, building new facilities, reinvesting profits earned from overseas operations, and intra company loans”.
  • Fiscal Deficit: It is the difference between the total income of the government (total taxes and non-debt capital receipts) and its total expenditure. A fiscal deficit situation occurs when the government’s expenditure exceeds its income.

Introduction:

  • Last week, speaking at the virtual Global Investors Roundtable, Prime Minister said that his government will do “whatever it takes to make India the engine of global growth resurgence”.
  • He urged global investors to invest in India, stating that “if you want returns with reliability, India is the place to be.”
  • He also underscored the country’s planned $1.5 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline and other public works projects as an immense opportunity for trust fund managers looking to reap the ‘best’ and ‘safest’ returns over a longer term for their principals.

What is the current condition of the economy?

  • As the RBI noted in its latest monetary policy report last month, investment, already in contraction mode since the July-­September quarter in 2019.
  • Fixed investment, which almost halved in the first quarter of the current fiscal, continues to face an uncertain outlook.
  • The government’s ability to apportion more funds for growth-­spurring capital projects is hamstrung by a widening fiscal deficit.

How the recent FDI inflow is not showing the true picture?

  • PM cited a 13% increase in FDI flows in the first five months of the financial year as reflective of the global investor community’s confidence.
  • With almost three­-fourths of the $27 billion of FDI equity inflows in that period being accounted for by stake acquisitions in a single large telecom company. (a bulk of this investment is unlikely to manifest as new job-­creating factories or businesses.)

How inconsistent government policies are?

  • Onion was recently excluded from the list of essential items in the amended essential commodities act. Yet the decision to block exports, and impose stock limits, in line with past practices, which many had hoped would fall out of favour after the recent reforms, signals a gap between intent and action.
  • There is also the confusion over the government’s stated aim of atmanirbharta. The confusion is apparent in the chasm between statements and action — at one level, the government talks about integrating with global supply chains, yet at the other it continues to erect tariff barriers.
  • The signals emanating from the government — reversing the decades-long policy of trade liberalisation — indicate that atmanirbharta may be descending into the failed policy of import substitution.
  • Last week enacted an ordinance to retrospectively amend the arbitration law, ostensibly to deal with contracts that may be underpinned by ‘fraud or corruption’.
  • The rule changes in wholesale and online trade are another example of shifting goal posts.

What must be done? (The way forward)

  • Assurance of stability must be buttressed by actions that dispel investors’ concerns over policy flip­-flops.
  • At this critical juncture, what is needed is predictability of policies, and stability of regime.

Editorial – 2

Title of the editorial: Plate to Plough: The good food fix

Written by: Howarth Bouis, Ashok Gulati – Bouis is a World Food Laureate for his work on bio-fortification and Gulati is Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture at ICRIER.

Topic in syllabus: Issues relating to poverty and hunger (GS-2), Agriculture (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how agriculture can help in improving the nutrition in India.

Basics:

Hidden hunger: Hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals. Hidden hunger occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements, so the food is deficient in micronutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development.

Bio fortification: It is the process by which the nutrient density of food crops is increased through conventional plant breeding, and/or improved agronomic practices and/or modern biotechnology without sacrificing any characteristic that is preferred by consumers.

Introduction:

  • On October 16, World Food Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a commemorative coin of Rs 75 and dedicated 17 bio-fortified varieties of eight crops to the nation to celebrate the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 75 years ago, in 1945.
  • On this date in 1945 for the first time, nations organised to raise levels of nutrition and improve production and distribution of food and agricultural products.”

What is the issue?

  • A primary objective of agriculture is to produce food that provides enough minerals and vitamins that sustain healthy human beings. This is often forgotten in our efforts to improve agricultural productivity and raise farm incomes.
  • Today, almost 2 billion women and children in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at risk for vitamin A, iron, and zinc deficiencies.
  • Which leads to more sickness, increased number of deaths and lower cognitive ability.
  • It results into reduce economic growth.
  • The highest numbers of women and children suffering from this “hidden hunger” live in South Asia, especially India.

What is the reason behind malnutrition in India?

  • The primary underlying cause for mineral and vitamin deficiency is low-quality diet.
  • The poor desire of people to buy nutritious food.
  • Because they cannot afford to purchase sufficient quantities of vegetables, fruits, pulses, and animal products, which, gram for gram, contain relatively high amounts of bio-available minerals and vitamins.
  • As a result, poor people satisfy their hunger by consuming large amounts of food staples, which only changes at higher levels of incomes.

How to address the problem of low intake of minerals and vitamins through agriculture?

  • There are two broad strategies: (we have to work on at least one)
    • Improve the densities of minerals and vitamins in the high amounts of food staples that the poor already consume.
    • Increase their consumption of nutritious non-staple foods. (This strategy fundamentally depends on raising incomes and lowering the real prices of non-staple foods.)
  • Within the sub-strategy of focusing on food staples, is to increase densities of nutritious components and decrease the densities of undesirable compounds. (One way to do this is through “bio-fortification.”)
  • These bio-fortified staples need to be closely linked to India’s food-based welfare programmes including the public distribution system (PDS) the mid-day meal and anganwadis and should become an integral part of the National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyan).
  • Recent evidence demonstrates that nitrogenous fertilisers increase the densities of proteins, minerals and vitamins in staple foods. Adding zinc and/or iodine to fertilisers and foliar sprays will also increase the zinc and iodine density in grains.
  • Turning now to vegetables, fruits, pulses, animal products — foods already dense in minerals and vitamins — the fundamental strategy should be to increase the supply of key foods that can contribute importantly to nutrient intakes.
  • The primary objective is to lower the real prices of these key food items.
  • Investing in an efficient milk value chain in India was an incredibly “nutrition-smart” agricultural activity that benefitted millions throughout India. A similar push is needed today for fruits and vegetables, and pulses. [Important example to use]

Conclusion:

  • Agricultural policymakers typically focus on increasing productivity and farmers’ incomes. But investing in improved nutrition through agriculture has extremely high economic payoffs.

Editorial – 3

Title of the editorial: COVID­19, climate and carbon neutrality

Written by: Jairam Ramesh- He is an MP (Rajya Sabha) and aformer Union Minister

Topic in syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, Climate change (GS-3)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about how the pandemic, climate change & humans’ actions are interconnected. It also suggests the need of scientific drive towards the issue.

Basics:

  • Carbon neutrality: It refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal or simply eliminating carbon dioxide emissions altogether. It also means that carbon emissions are equal to absorptions in carbon sinks.
  • Carbon sink: A carbon sink is any reservoir, natural or otherwise, that accumulates and stores some carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period and thereby lowers the concentration of CO 2 from the atmosphere. Globally, the two most important carbon sinks are vegetation and the ocean.
  • Carbon sequestration: It is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.

Introduction:

  • History is divided into two periods: Before the Common Era or BCE and Common Era or CE. But given our experience this year, BCE could well stand for Before the COVID­19 Epidemic and CE for the COVID­19 Epidemic. To say that 2020 has been cataclysmic is to state the obvious and actually make an understatement. Our lives have been turned upside down.

What future strategies COVID-19 demand?

  • COVID­19 is undoubtedly a public health catastrophe and certainly calls for enhanced investments in research and development that impinges directly on public health.
  • COVID­19 also reinforces the need to pay far greater attention to the biosciences that underpin agriculture, health and the environment that are going to be profoundly impacted by the current pandemic.
  • A recent report of the Ministry of Earth Sciences called ‘Assessment of climate change over the Indian region’ points to the need for making our future science and technology strategy in different areas anchored in an understanding of the impacts of climate change caused by continued emissions of greenhouse gases.

What is the reason?

  • Evidence has accumulated that loss of biodiversity and ever-­increasing human incursions into the natural world have contributed heavily to the outbreak and spread of epidemic diseases.
  • There is also now robust scientific evidence to show, for instance, how air pollution exacerbates the impacts of COVID­19.
  • Our environmental problems — such as air pollution, water pollution, chemical contamination, deforestation, waste generation and accumulation, land degradation and excessive use of pesticides — all have profound public health consequences both in terms of morbidity and mortality and hence demand urgent actions.

What are the intricacies in our scientific understanding?

  • The scientific understanding is essential for what may be a solution at one point of time but becomes a problem at another point and may even become a threat in a different context.
  • Take the example of hydrofluorocarbons, that were at one time seen as the panacea to fix the depletion of the ozone layer. The depletion of the ozone layer has been fixed more or less, but HFCs are a potent threat from a climate change perspective since their global warming potential is a thousand times that of carbon dioxide.

Need of India to think about carbon neutrality:

  • Many countries committed to achieve the carbon neutrality nearby 2050.
  • India too has to begin thinking very seriously about its level of ambition in this regard, especially since this will have public health consequences as well.
  • We cannot always hide behind the fact that our per capita emissions will continue to be low — that is obvious given the continued increase in the denominator.
  • At the Paris climate change conference in December 2015, we committed to having 40% of our electricity ­generating capacity from non­-fossil fuel sources by the year 2030.
  • At Paris in December 2015, we made a commitment on carbon sequestration through forests.
  • Carbon neutrality, on the other hand, is a far bolder and worthwhile goal, the attainment of which has to be consciously engineered.

The way forward:

  • The post ­COVID­19 world is an opportunity for us to switch gears and make a radical departure from the past to make economic growth ecologically sustainable.
  • India can and should show to the world how the measurement of economic growth can take place while taking into account both ecological pluses and minuses.
  • We should make efforts to ensure that the ‘G’ in GDP is not ‘Gross’ but ‘Green’.
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