Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

02 June 2021 - Wednesday


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



COVID diplomacy 2.0, a different order of tasks

The Hindu


Diminishing prospects

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

India tops ransomware attacks globally with 68% entities impacted: Sophos

Syllabus–GS: Cyber Security

Analysis: –

  • About 67 per cent of Indian organisations whose data was encrypted paid a ransom to get back their data–a slight increase on the previous year when 66 per cent paid a ransom.
  • In fact, Indian entities were the most likely to pay a ransom of all countries surveyed: the global average was just under a third (32 per cent).
  • These were the findings of the global survey ‘The State of Ransomware 2021’ conducted by cybersecurity firm Sophos.
  • The survey findings further stated that the total cost of recovery from a ransomware attack has more than doubled in a year, increasing from $761,106 in 2020 to $1.85 million in 2021 globally.
  • In comparison, the survey found that in India, the approximate recovery cost from the impact of a ransomware attack tripled in the last year, up from $1.1 million in 2020, to $3.38 million in 2021.
  • The average ransom payment in India was $76,619. However, paying up often doesn’t pay off: Indian organizations that paid the ransom got back, on average, 75 per cent of their data (compared to a global average of 65 per cent) and only 4 per cent got all their data back.
  • Adding his thoughts, Sunil Sharma, managing director–sales, Sophos India and SAARC, said, “While the proportion of organisations hit by ransomware has declined compared to the previous year, Indian organizations are still far more likely to be hit than those in any other country surveyed.
  • This could be due to the high level of domestic ransomware in India, as seen by SophosLabs, leading to a situation where Indian adversaries are targeting Indian organisations.”
  • Additionally, the findings revealed that of the organizations in India not hit by ransomware in the last 12 months, the overwhelming majority (86 per cent) expect to become a target. The top reason given for this (57 per cent) is that ransomware attacks are getting increasingly hard to stop due to their sophistication.

Demand for MGNREGA work slumps 26% in May amid Covid-19 pandemic

Syllabus – GS 2: Government Policy

Analysis: –

  • Around 27.6 million households have sought work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) this month to date.
  • This is nearly 26 per cent less than last year, given several states are still busy reining in the Covid-19 contagion.
  • Several civil society workers said the push seen last year in expanding the scheme has largely been missing this year.
  • In Rajasthan, for example, there was a complete halt in MGNREGA work from May 10 due to the lockdown.
  • In Uttar Pradesh (UP), activists said work demand went down since gram sabhas had not been constituted due to panchayat polls.
  • Said UP coordinator of National Alliance for People’s Movements Suresh Rathod, “The scheme suffered in May due to delay in the constitution of gram sabhas.”
  • Experts said the demand for MGNREGA work has also been lower in May, compared with last year, as there wasn’t any national lockdown in the second wave of Covid and several industries, which were completely closed during the first wave, were allowed to function in the second.

Mains Analysis

COVID diplomacy 2.0, a different order of tasks

Why in News?

Indian diplomacy will have to handle the fallout of the vaccine collapse and bio-research regulations

Syllabus— GS 2: International Relations


Recent Diplomatic Developments: –

  • In thepast month, the focus for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Missions abroad has shifted.
  • While the focus in 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, was on coordinating exports of COVID-19 medicines, flights to repatriate Indians abroad (the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’) after the lockdown, and then exporting vaccines worldwide (‘Vaccine Maitri’), after the second wave, Covid Diplomacy 2.0 has a different order of tasks, both in the immediate and the long term.
  • After the second wave, Covid Diplomacy 2.0 has a different order of tasks, both in the immediate and the long term.

The Health Crisis

  • The immediate imperative was to deal with oxygen and medicine shortages.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs has had to deal with internal health concerns while galvanising help from abroad for others.
  • Remdesivir and favipiravir were brought from the United States and Russia, and later requesting black fungus medication, and the previous ones have been dropped from the medical protocol.
  • Ministry of External Affairs has completed the task of bringing in supplies in a timely manner, and with success.

Issues of Vaccine Shortages

  • The shortage of vaccines in the country has arisen from three factors:
  • the failure of the Government to plan and place procurement orders in time;
  • the failure of the two India-based companies to produce vaccine doses they had committed to
  • MEA’s focus on exporting, not importing, vaccines between January and April this year.
  • With the company’s manufacturing AstraZeneca and Sputnik-V stretched as far as future production is concerned, and Chinese vaccines a non-starter given bilateral tensions, it is clear that the government is looking to the U.S. to make up the shortfall.

There are various ways to do it they are:

  • requesting the U.S. to share a substantial portion of its stockpile of AstraZeneca doses and to release more vaccine ingredients which are restricted for exports
  • to buy more stock outright from the three U.S. manufacturers, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and
  • to encourage production in India of these vaccines.
  • The U.S. government is holding up its AstraZeneca exports until its own United States Food and Drug Administration approves them; it has released a small amount (20 million doses) of vaccine ingredients and components.
  • Buying vaccines directly will need negotiations as the U.S. companies seem set on getting both an indemnity waiver from India as well as Emergency Use Authorisation prior to supplying them.
  • The Government may also need to make shift from its publicly announced policy that States in India will need to negotiate purchases directly, as the U.S. manufacturers want centralised orders, with payments up-front.

Patents, diplomatic fallout

  • The promise of patent waivers, from India’s joint proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) won’t reap early benefits, despite support from world leaders such as the U.S., Russia and China.
  • As many countries are still holding out on the idea of freeing up intellectual property rights on vaccines for three years.
  • The third big challenge for Indian diplomacy is to manage the fallout of the vaccine collapse.
  • All vaccine exports were stopped as soon as cases in India began to soar, global agencies depending on India for vaccines have been left in the lurch by the Government’s failure to balance its vaccine budget.
  • Worst sufferer is as Bhutan and its vaccine drive which depended entirely on India’s promise of vaccines for its whole population.
  • India’s neighbours has now sought help from China and the U.S. to complete their vaccination drives.
  • Making amends and regaining trust for India’s vaccine and pharmacy exports in the future is going to be a challenge left to the MEA and its missions in several capitals.

Tracing virus pathways

  • To gain understanding of what caused COVID-19,India, as one of the worst pandemic-hit countries, must be at the forefront of demanding accountability.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) studied “pathways of emergence” of SARS-CoV2 in Wuhan, listed four possibilities: direct zoonotic transmission, an intermediate host, cold chain or transmission through food, or a laboratory incident.
  • World are now calling for more research and transparency from China, particularly over the activities at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

On regulations

  • India, must call for a more definitive answer and also raise its voice for a stronger convention to regulate any research that could lead, by accident or design, to something as diabolical as the current pandemic.
  • It is necessary to revamp the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, to institute an implementation body to assess treaty compliance, and build safer standards for the future.

Way Forward: –

  • With its seat at the UN Security Council as non-permanent member and its position on WHO’s Executive Board, India could seek to regain the footing it has lost over the past few months of COVID-19 mismanagement, by taking a lead role in ensuring the world is protected from the next such pandemic.

Question: –

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words on Buddha Purnima, that in times to come the planet will remember events as either “pre-Covid or post-Covid” could not hold truer than for India’s diplomatic structure worldwide. Discuss.

Diminishing Prospects

Why in News?

The GDP numbers, like the Covid numbers, have become the object of regular anxiety and contention. With both, there are now questions on what exactly we are measuring.

Syllabus—GS3: Resource Mobilization & Growth related

Background: –

  • Recently released GDP numbers like COVID numbers have become the object of regular anxiety & contention.
  • Though the estimated GDP growth contraction of 7.3 is relatively good but the undeniable fact is the Indian economy has been among the worst performers in the South Asian region.

The Big Picture:

  • For the 1st time in decades, India is experiencing the prospect of slower growth, rising poverty & a shrinking middle class.
  • Instead of moving into brackets of a high-middle-income country, India is predicted to slip further down the global ladder.
    • In the first decade of the 21st century,
    • India was looking at an average of 7-8% growth,
    • Steep drops in headcount poverty numbers,
    • An expanding middle class.
  • But all gains of the 21st century are disappearing.

The Fundamental Triad Crisis:

  • Growth has slowed down & the volatility of Indian economy performance made it very difficult for the next 5-10 years projections.
  • On the poverty front, though the studies showed India had lifted nearly 270 million people out of poverty.
  • But State of Working India reports 2020 estimated that COVID-induced lockdown had pushed 230 million back into poverty.
  • The Pew Research center Report suggested that the Indian middle class had shrunk by 32 million people in 2020.
  • The latest CMIE unemployment numbers are concerning.
  • Even when labour force participation has not increased, the unemployment rate has crossed 7%.
  • Jean Dreze said that it is unlikely nutrition levels, employment wages would recover soon & household savings continues to be a following downward trend.
  • It is remarkable fact that the fundamental triad has been kept out of public consciousness.
  • Even though the poor in India was always invisible but today the degree of economic obfuscation is such that the influential middle class has also become invisible.

The visible glitter:

  • Even India has been under economic pressure, but the Sensex is rising fuelled by global free money.
  • The start-up unicorns may consider as a testament to entrepreneurial dynamism & ingenuity, but the idea of bringing them the backbone of a thriving economy is overhyped.
  • Because there might be limited to progress on the distribution of private-public goods.

Way Forward:

  • Even when the battle against COVID continues, there needs to some measures to overcome the economic crisis.
  • India’s health investment is in catastrophe management mode, today it requires huge investment in the health sector.
  • The govt has to continue the free food grain program & credit facilities services of various kinds.
  • Govt needs to economically support the small businesses & people who lose employment due to COVID.
  • At this juncture, India needs a major fiscal stimulus to support consumption.
  • Govt needs to undertake effective regulatory reforms & privatization.
  • The most serious measure is to reconsideration of tax policy.
  • Mainly, the need is to tax the super-rich who have made extraordinary gains over the last two years.
  • India needs a range of investments in health, education & infra which requires a new social contract for the Indian economy.

Question: –

A million-plus COVID deaths & prospects of long-term economic stagnation kept India in completely uncharted territory. The very foundation of India’s future depends on the drastic change in national priorities. Discuss.

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