DAILY MAINS CURRENT AFFAIRS (UPSC) |08 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

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DAILY MAINS CURRENT AFFAIRS (UPSC) |08 Dec 2020| RaghukulCS

UPSC Online Editorial Analysis


1) Editorial (The Indian Express)

Title: The great global climate reset

Written by: C. Raja Mohan (director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore)

Topic in the syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment. (GS-3) | Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora. (GS-2)

Analysis about: This article talks about why it is important for India to deal with a new phase in the global politics of environment, when two rivals China and US share goals on environment.

Introduction:

  • China’s vigorous pursuit of “ecological civilisation” under President Xi Jinping and president-elect Joe Biden’s promise to put climate issues at the heart of US domestic and foreign policies are set to transform the terms of the global discourse on environment. At least some goalposts of the climate debate that we have known are likely to move, and quite soon.

How is China’s changed stance towards environmental issues?

  • China has crafted a new template of “coercive environmentalism”.
  • Until the early 21st century, China was the prime example of putting growth and development above considerations of ecological sustainability.
  • This has dramatically changed in recent years as China moved decisively in addressing many challenges of climate change.
  • President Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, had identified the construction of a “harmonious society” as a major objective of the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Resolving the tension between development and environment was very much part of building a harmonious society in China.
  • Xi’s vigorous mobilisation of state power to enforce new environmental norms in the last few years has helped China shed the image of being the “bad boy” on climate issues.

What is the reaction of the world on this new approach of China?

  • China’s ecological activism has been hailed or derided as the model for “authoritarian environmentalism”.
  • For proponents, Xi’s coercive strategy has been more effective than the “liberal environmentalism” of democracies that find it hard to generate political consensus on the necessity for action or the nature of it.
  • But the Chinese model of coercive environmentalism is finding an echo among some Western environmentalists.
  • They believe planetary survival must be the foremost objective of the moment and all other considerations must be subordinated to it.

How US is looking towards environmental issues?

  • Modernising liberal environmentalism is indeed the essence of president-elect Biden’s commitment to integrating the climate question with the domestic policy agenda.
  • Biden plans to enforce environmental regulations that were either diluted or discarded by the Donald Trump administration and enhance the incentives for polluters to compensate for their violation of norms.
  • “Climate justice” is another important objective of Biden’s domestic environmental policy.
  • It is based on the recognition that pollution and other ecological problems have a greater impact on the poor and minorities.

How environment is playing lead role in influencing global world order?

  • For Xi and Biden, gaining the leadership of the global movement for mitigating climate change is a strategic mission.
  • Washington and Beijing understand that climate politics is in the end about rearranging the global order.
  • Europe, which is relieved to see the US return to climate activism, is all set to support such initiatives.
  • Xi has signalled China’s willingness to undertake additional commitments on carbon emissions than the ones made at Paris and an eagerness to work with Biden on climate change.
  • At a moment of deepening conflict with the US, cooperation on climate change offers an important lever for Beijing in engaging Washington.

What will be the impact of the policies and ambitions of these two nations regarding environment on rest of the world?

  • The urgency of addressing climate change is likely to intensify in the immediate term with the election of Biden as US President and the prospect of cooperation on climate change between Washington and Beijing.
  • The new direction of Chinese and US policies (in partnership with Europe and Japan) will inevitably put pressure on other states to reorganise their energy production and consumption, restructure economies, adopt new technologies, and manage the internal political backlash against the costs that are likely to be distributed unevenly among nations and the class hierarchies within them.

How India is responding to these changes in world order on environmental issues?

  • Delhi is probably better prepared than in the past when India was widely seen as part of the problem on climate issues.
  • Delhi is no longer defensive on climate change and is actively engaged in shaping the international debate.
  • In underlining climate change as an important area of engagement with Biden, Delhi has signalled its readiness to deal with a new phase in the global politics of environment.

The way forward for India:

  • Diplomacy can only win time and space for India’s internal adjustment to the new imperatives.
  • Delhi’s real test on climate change is on building a new domestic consensus that can address the economic and political costs associated with an internal adjustment to the prospect of a great global reset.

2) Editorial (The Hindu)

Title: A ‘duet’ for India’s urban women

Written by: Jean Drèze (Visiting Professor at theDepartment of Economics, RanchiUniversity)

Topic in the syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3) | Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated Issues (GS-1)

Analysis about: This article talks about how public works could provide valuable support to the urban poor, especially if women get most of the jobs.

Introduction:

  • The COVID­-19 crisis has drawn attention to the insecurities that haunt the lives of the urban poor. Generally, they are less insecure than the rural poor, partly because fallback work is easier to find in urban areas — if only pulling a rickshaw or selling snacks.
  • Still, the urban poor are exposed to serious contingencies, both individual (such as illness and underemployment) and collective (lockdowns, floods, cyclones, financial crises and so on).

To solve the problem Writer talks about his idea of an urban employment scheme called Decentralised Urban Employment and Training (DUET) – it would work as follows:

  • The government, State or Union, would issue “job stamps”, each standing for one day of work at the minimum wage.
  • The job stamps would be liberally distributed to approved public institutions.
  • These institutions would be free to use the stamps to hire labour.
  • Wages, paid by the government, would go directly to the workers’ accounts against job stamps certified by the employer.
  • To work well, DUET would have to include some skilled workers (masons, carpenters, electricians
    and such). That would widen the range of possible jobs.

What will be the advantages of this scheme?

  • It will activate a multiplicity of potential employers.
  • It will avoid the need for special staff.
  • It will facilitate productive work.
  • It would also ensure that workers have a secure entitlement to minimum wages.
  • Many States have a chronic problem of dismal maintenance of public premises — DUET could provide a first line of defence against it.
  • It would also help to impart a training component in the scheme — workers could learn skills “on the job”, as they work alongside skilled workers.

How DUET can be helpful for women?

  • Giving priority to women will help.
  • To facilitate women’s involvement, most of the work could be organised on a part­ time basis, say
    four hours a day.
  • A part­ time employment option would be attractive for many poor women in urban areas.
  • Full­time employment tends to be very difficult for them, especially if they have young children.
  • It would give them some economic independence and bargaining power within the family, and help them to acquire new skills.
  • The economic dependence of women on men is one of the prime roots of gender inequality and female oppression in India.
  • It would reinforce the self-­ targeting feature of DUET, because women in relatively well­ off households are unlikely to go (or be allowed to go) for casual labour at the minimum wage.
  • It would promote women’s general participation in the labour force.

Why women’s participation in the workforce is important for India?

  • India has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the world.
  • According to National Sample Survey data for 2019, only 20% of urban women in the age group
    of 15­59 years spend time in “employment and related activities” on an average day.
  • This is a loss not only for women, who live at the mercy of men, but also for society as a whole, insofar as it stifles the productive and creative potential of almost half of the adult population.

How it is beneficial for the system?

  • Giving priority to women (and putting them in charge) may help to prevent corruption.
  • If wages are paid directly to the workers’ accounts, siphoning DUET funds off would require
    collusion with workers, real or dummy.
  • Women may be more reluctant than men to participate in a scam, if only out of fear.

What is the challenge?

  • In the DUET scheme, the use of job stamps relies on a sense of responsibility among the heads of public institutions, not their self-interest.

The way forward:

  • There is, thus, a need for better social protection in urban areas.
  • Universalising the Public Distribution System in urban slums would be a step forward (and it can be done under the National Food Security Act), but foodgrain rations do not take people very far.
  • Employment based support is one way of doing more. It has two major advantages: self-­targeting, and the possibility of generating valuable assets or services.

3) Editorial (The Hindu)

Title: Investing in India’s youth

Written by: Eric Falt (Director, UNESCO New Delhiand UNESCO Representative to Bangladesh,Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and SriLanka)

Topic in the syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This article emphasises on Investing in the skills development sector for India’s youth.

Introduction:

  • With the largest youth population in the world, India faces the difficult task of educating every citizen to become a productive member of society.
  • Over 320 million learners have been affected and more than 5 million young people are likely to have lost their jobs. Proactive measures need to be taken to resolve this situation.

Why vocational education is important?

  • Evidence shows that many people develop 21st century skills on the job, or from courses that focus on practical application of skills.
  • This indicates that vocational education can be a route for many to gain specific skillsets and knowledge which they can directly apply in their jobs. Such education formats are referred to as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
  • Research is now proving that TVET graduates for entry level jobs can get paid as much as university graduates, and for some jobs can even surpass them.
  • Students from vocational streams typically take less time to find jobs as compared to university graduates.

Ambitious target of India:

  • The National Skill Development Policy was launched in 2009 and revamped in 2015, recognising the challenge of skilling with speed and high standards. The Skill India Mission was launched soon after, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his vision for making India the “skill capital” of the world.
  • The new National Education Policy (NEP) aims to provide vocational education to 50% of all learners by 2025.

What is the issue?

  • One of the biggest challenges for expanding the reach of TVET­ related courses has been the lack of aspiration and stigma attached to jobs such as carpentry and tailoring.

Some solutions:

  • Information campaigns involving youth role models, would go a long way in improving the image of
    vocational education.
  • High­ quality research based on careful data ­gathering and analytics can add value to all aspects of
    TVET planning and delivery but is especially useful for creating evidence behind the value of vocational education.
  • Proving the business case of apprenticeship to employers can push them to hire more apprentices.
  • Considering that many employers are unable to find skilled candidates for jobs, promoting skills
    development and hiring skilled workers can make the economy stronger.
  • For the vision of the NEP to be fulfilled, a robust coordination mechanism for inter­-ministerial cooperation is necessary for bringing the skills development and vocational education systems together.

Conclusion:

  • UNESCO, through its policy instruments, is committed to supporting the Indian government in capitalising on the country’s demographic dividend.
  • In these difficult times, TVET is certainly a key tool to help get the economy, and people’s lives, back on track.

3) Editorial (The Hindu)

Title: Transparency is vital

Topic in the syllabus: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life. (GS-3)

Analysis about: This article says Safety and efficacy data must be known before emergency­ use authorisation for vaccines.

Introduction:

  • A day after Pfizer sought the Indian regulator’s nod for emergency­ use authorisation for its mRNA vaccine, the Pune ­based Serum Institute of India has approached the regulator for a similar nod
    for its vaccine, Covishield, developed by Oxford University.

What are the concerns?

  • The unprecedented speed in taking the vaccine from the development stage to approval process in less than a year is remarkable, and perhaps necessitated by the toll the virus has taken on lives and livelihoods.
  • But this is not without cause for concern at a time when governments are putting pressure on regulatory bodies to fast­ track the entire process.
  • Lack of transparency about vaccine safety and efficacy does no good in gaining people’s confidence and willingness to get vaccinated.

Issues related to India?

  • U.S. FDA has clearly spelt out at least 50% efficacy and stipulated a median follow ­up duration of at least two months after completion of the full vaccination regimen to assess a vaccine’s benefit ­risk profile for emergency­ use approval, no such conditions have been mentioned by the Indian regulatory agency.
  • A survey by the London ­based Vaccine Confidence Project revealed that though the intent to get vaccinated was 87% in India, 34% respondents were worried about side­ effects while 16% were concerned about fast ­moving trials.
  • Vaccine hesitancy is also a big problem in India.

The way forward:

  • While the Indian government is aware of vaccine hesitancy among a certain section of people, the concerns are best addressed when all stakeholders are transparent at every stage and not by merely sharing guidelines regarding vaccine safety with the States.
  • It is important that those seeking emergency ­use authorisation share the safety and efficacy data immediately.

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