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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 12 December 2020

Democracy’s Sanctity | ToI

  • In a speech to mark the foundation stone ceremony of the new Parliament building, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted how India has proved those naysayers wrong who had doubted whether democracy would be successful here.
  • It is dialogue that has been at the heart of this success, always serving to resolve differences.
  • Parliament – where the nation’s elected representatives sit, deliberate, debate and pass laws – embodies this central attribute of democracy.
  • As the new Parliament building rises, the government should also undertake steps to make democracy more meaningful.
  • The passage of far reaching instruments like Aadhaar Act and electoral bonds as money bills and generally enacting laws without adequate scrutiny short circuits necessary public debate.
  • The failure to convene Parliament’s winter session is a missed opportunity to take MPs into confidence on the pandemic and economic crisis trajectories, vaccine delivery plans and economic revival packages.
  • In recent days, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson and Jacinda Ardern helming parliamentary democracies like India’s have made powerful use of the parliamentary forum to communicate on such issues.
  • Indeed any compromises on the new farm laws would also be much better made in Parliament than bypassing it again.

Connecting more people

  • The Central government’s move to enable public wi-fi data service through small retail data offices can get many more people connected.
  • Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM WANI) scheme approved by the Union Cabinet
  • Aim: Bringing broadband Internet to remote locations at minimum investment, and giving subscribers the option of making small, need-based payments to use it
  • Potentially, Internet access will connect a new wave of users not just to commercial and entertainment options, but also to education, telehealth and agriculture extension, and bring greater accountability to government by boosting transparency and interactivity.
  • The government is hoping that by cutting through layers of bureaucracy and eliminating licences and fees, it can make it easy even for a tea shop owner to register online as a service provider, opening up new income avenues.

A 10% rise in net penetration led to a 1.4% increase in GDP.

  • A rapid scale-up of Internet in rural India will be transformative, given the low level of penetration — 27.57 subscribers per 100 population in 2019 - and wi-fi linked to broadband fibre service is the fastest route to achieving that.
  • It opens up opportunities for community organisations, libraries, educational institutions, panchayats and small entrepreneurs to tap into a whole new ecosystem, purchasing bandwidth from a public data office aggregator to serve local consumers.
  • What the citizen expects is robust service, protection of data integrity, transparency on commercial use of data, and security against cyberattacks.
  • The government must also ensure true unbundling of hardware, software, apps and payment gateways in the WANI system, as advocated by TRAI, to prevent monopolies.
  • Executed properly, the public data offices (PDOs) of PM WANI can do what the PCOs did for phone calls.

Pointing the finger at parliamentary scrutiny

  • The new Farm Bills passed by Parliament in the last monsoon session have evoked a scale of protest unforeseen by the government.
  • The country seems to be heading toward a serious confrontation between the government and the agitating farmers.
  • Farmers have made it clear that they want these laws to be repealed and if necessary, fresh laws to be enacted after discussions with the farmers and other stakeholders.
  • This indicates a serious lapse in the management of the legislative work in Parliament.
  • Parliament is the supreme law-making body which has put in place a large machinery of committees to scrutinise the Bills which are brought before it by the government as a part of its legislative programme.
  • Rules of the Houses leave it to the Speaker or the Chairman to refer the Bills to the Standing Committees for a detailed scrutiny thereof.
  • After such scrutiny is completed, the committees send their reports containing their recommendations on improvements to be made in the Bills to the Houses.
  • While undertaking such scrutiny, the committees invite various stakeholders to place their views before them.
  • Only after elaborate consultation do the committees formulate their views and recommendations.
  • Under any circumstances, the Bills which come back to the Houses after the scrutiny by the committees will be in a much better shape in terms of their content.
  • That is the reason why the Rules of the Houses provide for reference of the Bills to the committees.
  • Although, technically, the reference to the committees is within the discretion of the Speaker or the Chairman, the intendment of the Rules is that all important Bills should go before the committees for a detailed examination.
  • The Presiding Officers are required to exercise their independent judgment in the matter and decide the issue.
  • They need to keep in mind the fact that the Bills which the government brings before the Houses often have serious shortcomings.
  • Improving the pieces of legislation through detailed scrutiny by Parliament through its committees is historically an ancient practice.
  • It is interesting to note that the Central Legislative Assembly which was the Parliament of British India, had set up three committees: Committee on Petitions relating to Bills, Select Committee of Amendments of standing orders and Select Committee on Bills.
  • The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Bill was introduced in 1999 in the Lok Sabha and was immediately referred to a joint committee of both Houses.
  • The Seeds Bill, 2004 was referred to the Standing Committee on Agriculture.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill
  • This is only a sample of Bills referred to Parliamentary Committees for detailed study.
  • Our Parliamentary Committees have a tradition of working in a non-party manner.
  • To make these systems gradually non-functional and irrelevant is to invite disaster.

What to expect when the vaccine rolls out | HT

  • With Pfizer/BioNtech becoming the first company to get its vaccine approved for public use in the United Kingdom (UK), the wait for a post-Covid world seems to have got shorter.
  • Who would’ve thought that vaccine generation which had till date been a decades’ long process would get abridged to a period of a year?
  • Given the magnitude of this feat, it is only fitting to earmark 2020 in golden letters in the legacy of science.
  • However, does vaccine inception guarantee its distribution to one and all?
  • While the vulnerability and essentiality clauses of the selection criteria call for prioritising front line workers and senior citizens as the first beneficiaries of the inoculation drive and with politicians and bureaucrats in the mix, ordinary citizens will ultimately bear the brunt.
  • Indians are very shrewd when it comes to making connections for claiming benefits.
  • This will manifest in the form of those having political connections and resources getting an upper hand in the vaccination drive.
  • By 2021, it has been estimated that 800 million Indians would have to be inoculated to meet the requirement of the herd immunity objective.
  • Nonetheless, with no clear public vaccine rollout plan in place, it remains to be seen who all will make the cut.
  • Vaccines are our best bet against the virus, but not much is known about their capability to break the chain of transmission or indeed the efficacy of each vaccine.
  • When the news of an officer-bearer contracting Covid-19 after being injected with Covaxin made the rounds recently, the question of vaccine efficacy was raised again.
  • Given this, it would not be wise to let our guards down at such a critical stage.
  • 3S principle - social distancing, shielding through masks and sanitising.
  • With Pfizer requiring temperatures as low as minus 70 degree Celsius for storage, its distribution in India will be problematic.
  • With the Centre and states bolstering cold chain infrastructure, it is the administration that remains.
  • Our Universal Immunisation Programme and Pulse Polio have won wide appreciation.
  • With lakhs of centres across the country, the polio vaccine can be stored at minus 20 degree Celsius.
  • Through our learning curve developed under these programmes and utilising support from Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), ASHA workers and ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwives), a network of professionals can be established to ensure that the vaccination reaches every beneficiary.
  • Besides, Electronic Vaccination Intelligence Network (e-Vin)) transformed into Co-VIN will provide a schedule of all beneficiaries along with the dates allotted to them for vaccination, their vaccine centres as well as who administered the vaccine to whom.
  • The objective is to ensure real-time monitoring of the beneficiaries to determine any adverse effects of the jab.
  • If we are able to execute this plan well, then last mile connectivity issues will no longer be an arduous task.
  • Another point that must be considered is long the vaccine-induced immunity will last?
  • This is so because antibodies developed against the transmissible virus wane after a period of time.
  • What if a new strain develops before achieving the target?
  • With the government facing a fiscal crunch, it needs to be examined whether the vaccine will be subsidised and, if so, whether the recipient will be a person from the below poverty line cardholder category or whether everyone can avail of it.
  • Finally, can the vaccine emancipate us from the reign of protective equipment, face masks and sanitisers?
  • Let us wait for things to become clearer.

NEWS

  • PM Modi reiterates, Government is committed to empowerment of each and every citizen of the country
  • New Delhi says, Chinese action along LAC in last six months is in violation of bilateral agreements and protocols
  • PM to address Global Climate Summit today on fifth anniversary of landmark Paris Climate Agreement
  • India and Uzbekistan sign nine agreements to strengthen strategic partnership
  • National COVID-19 recovery rate improves to 94.84%
  • Commerce Minister pitches for removal of non-tariff barriers for expansion of business with Sweden and EU
  • Ministers of PNG, Coal and Chemical & Fertilizers meet to review progress of coal gasification and urea manufacturing projects
  • Textiles Minister Smriti Zubin Irani says, Indian textile industry is competitive with best in world
  • Over one lakh 63 thousand GST registrations cancelled in October and November
  • PM to deliver inaugural address at FICCI’s 93rd Annual General Meeting and Annual Convention
  • India says, Chinese action along LAC in last 6 months is in violation of bilateral agreements
  • 5th round of FOCs between India and Cyprus take place through virtual mode
  • India and Nepal decide to open flights under bilateral bubble arrangement
    • Air bubble arrangement will follow medical protocols as is being done with other countries which includes RT PCR test report of 72 hours prior to travel.
  • Top coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden warns Americans not to have any Christmas parties