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The Hindu Analysis Free PDF Download

Date: 04 August 2021

Watch out! | Pioneer

  • Researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology in Hyderabad and Kanpur predict the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may hit the country as early as this month.
  • They soften the punch, claiming the wave might be much smaller, peaking in October and at its worst reporting 150,000 infections a day.
  • Compared to the second wave that saw over four lakh new cases a day, the predicted surge of the third wave would certainly be smaller.
  • The issue is whether the country needs a preventive lockdown in August, and what would be the economic implications of such a decision.
  • Educational institutions are on the verge of re-opening in most States while, in some others, they have been functional for nearly a fortnight.
  • The urban, semi-urban and rural commercial and industrial enterprises are back to normal.
  • There is general confidence in the country after the fourth sero survey claimed that antibodies are present in over two-thirds of the population.
  • Add to that the number of recovered people who have antibodies and only 40 crore people are said to be susceptible.
  • Even if at a slow pace, the number of fully vaccinated people is going up.
  • However, a sense of complacency is also there, with a casual approach to following the safety protocols.
  • In the last two months, it appears to have organised itself, sprucing up medical infrastructure and otherwise preparing to face a fresh wave.
  • The Government needs to take a few decisions right away.
  1. At what point would the restrictions be re-imposed, before or after the fresh wave hits the country?
  2. Can the decision on restrictions be deferred till experts confirm whether the vaccination and the presence of antibodies have blunted the impact of fresh infections?
  3. With schools about to re-open and the children under 18 not vaccinated at all, would not they be most susceptible to the third wave?
  • The wave prediction exercise can continue but not at the cost of not knowing how to come out of the predicament.

Two is too few | ToI

  • A decade ago, India’s telecom market was hypercompetitive.
  • An occasional crib was that there were too many mobile service providers.
  • Now, the situation has reversed; we may soon see a duopoly for all practical purposes.
  • It’s come about as KM Birla, one of the promoters of Vodafone Idea, has asked GoI for support to stay afloat.
  • VI has a market share of about 24%, the third largest after Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
  • Vodafone’s problem is twofold. It’s making losses and existing promoters, including Vodafone Group, have shown no inclination to invest more.
  • The two public sector companies, BSNL and MTNL, collectively have around 10% share, and are for all practical purposes non-players.
  • Reportedly, potential investors want some government guarantees, including an administered floor price above the cost of services.
  • A return to administered pricing is not in public interest.
  • It is not just antithetical in a market-based sector like telecom, it also tends to encourage rent-seeking.
  • On the question of a more direct GoI intervention, giving a fresh moratorium on spectrum payments will help Vodafone. But that has to be given to all players.
  • The best solution is to use the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
  • IBC also ensures that banks that have lent to Vodafone won’t suddenly have to declare piles of bad loans.
  • The broader point is the need for a competitive telecom market.
  • About 97% of internet access is through wireless and the 4G network covers 98% of the population.
  • Markets with a regulatory structure that encourages competition have at least three to four large telecom service providers.
  • GoI can play a facilitating role in fostering competition. Telecom firms should not be viewed as just sources of revenue.
  • They are intrinsic to the success of India’s many ambitions, including empowering millions with better digital tools and ensuring easier access to public services.
  • Therefore, GoI should lower at least some of the many levies that are raised from telecom companies, figure out a way to get to 5G without causing more pain to all stakeholders, and promise regulatory stability.
  • If these conditions are met, given Indian telecom’s vast potential, another player may just get interested.

A confident exit from Afghanistan | TH

  • The U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan represents a fundamental shift in its strategic objectives.
  • It is time for it to move on and focus on more important strategic priorities such as “threats from China, an aggressive Russia, North Korea, and Iran — as well as zoonotic pandemics”.
  • By exiting Afghanistan, the U.S. has left the problem of containing what remains of the Taliban’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism to its concerned neighbours.
  • The most aggrieved by this exit will be the Afghans who, after enduring 20 years of conflict, were looking forward to better times, but are instead being abandoned by the U.S.
  • This is what happened to the South Vietnamese when the U.S. withdrew from the Vietnam war in 1973.
  • At the start of the big U.S. engagement in Vietnam following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress in August 1964, which authorised the President to deploy armed forces in Southeast Asia, there was a real fear among Americans that revolutionary communism, spearheaded by the Soviet Union and China, would take over one country after another in Asia and that Vietnam would be one more country to fall if not checked.
  • In her 2005 paper, ‘Nixon, Kissinger, and the “Soviet Card” in the U.S. Opening to China, 1971-1974,’ Evelyn Goh, citing declassified documents, wrote about how the U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, in his first secret trip to Beijing in July 1971, assured Premier Zhou Enlai that the U.S. government “would gradually withdraw U.S. troops as the war in Vietnam ended and as relations with China improved”.
  • Following up on Kissinger’s secret visit to China, Nixon went there in 1972 on his much publicised ‘the week that changed the world’ tour paving the way for a ‘safe’ U.S. exit from Vietnam in 1973. This was no small victory for Nixon.
  • With China almost wholly on his side, the U.S.’s principal enemy, the Soviet Union, stood alone.
  • This practically eliminated American fears of communism overrunning the world.
  • Something similar has happened in Afghanistan.
  • With the kind of surveillance that the U.S. and its allies are able to mount on countries and individuals today, it is unlikely that the Taliban will, even if they wrest control of Afghanistan, be in a position to nurture another terrorist like Osama Bin Laden, as they have been accused of doing.
  • It is this confidence, not frustration, that has enabled Mr. Biden to announce American military disengagement in Afghanistan.

Count the distress | Ind Exp

  • The results of the latest annual report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey are surprising and instructive.
  • The PLFS, conducted by the National Statistical Office, collects data on several metrics to present a comprehensive picture of employment in India, but, given its methodology, the data comes out with a considerable lag.
  • This report pertains to the 12 months between July 2019 and June 2020. As such, it provides a glimpse into the state of unemployment both before the Covid pandemic and immediately after it.
  • The first thing to note is that the unemployment rate in India and its trend differ considerably depending on whether one chooses to use the “usual status” (unemployment over the past year) method or the “current weekly status (CWS)” (unemployment over the past week) method.
  • According to the former, the unemployment rate declined — even as India’s economic growth rate was fast decelerating in this period — while the latter method suggests that unemployment levels remained close to an almost five-decade high.
  • A similar divergence was seen in the other key metric — the labour force participation rate (essentially the percentage of people in the economy seeking work).
  • India has one of the lowest LFPRs among comparable economies — almost 20 percentage points lower than the global average.
  • If one looks at the CWS method, which is closer to the global norm, the official data suggests that the unemployment rate was close to 9 per cent while the unemployment rate among the youth (15 to 29 years of age) was 20 per cent, and this was the situation before the Covid disruption.
  • In essence, it shows the extent of distress in the economy immediately before Covid.
  • That, in turn, should put the news of economic recovery in perspective.
  • Even if the economy were to regain the pre-Covid levels in terms of GDP, the extent of economic distress (in terms of unemployment) may not ease to a similar extent.
  • There is another reason why the unemployment rate may not fall commensurate with the rise in GDP.
  • As can be seen in other large economies such as the US and China — both of which have recovered better (in terms of absolute GDP and GDP growth rate) from the Covid shock than most others — bringing down the unemployment rate may not be easy.
  • That’s because the pandemic has fundamentally altered aspects of every economy’s functioning, often in ways that are not yet understood.
  • The US, for example, has witnessed a growing mismatch between the skills that companies want and what workers offer.
  • That is what explains the anomaly wherein both wage rate and unemployment rate are up in the US.
  • Similarly, youth unemployment in China has stayed up, threatening consumer demand.
  • Policymakers in India, too, need to be watchful.
  • Growth alone is not enough if it comes without wellbeing (employment).
  • If not addressed, high levels of unemployment will create both economic and social hurdles for growth.

NEWS

  • Parliament passes Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021
  • Lok Sabha passes Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021
  • Centre to implement Deep Ocean Mission at total budget of Rs 4,077 crore for 5 years
  • India's cumulative COVID vaccine coverage crosses 48 crore milestone
  • Tourism activities re-open in Andaman & Nicobar Islands after three months
  • Nitin Gadkari calls for quick roll-out of flex-fuel vehicles
  • Sports Minister Anurag Thakur launches theme song for Tokyo Paralympics
  • Kiren Rijiju to attend 8th meeting of Ministers of Justice of SCO on August 6
  • BRICS is a statement of global rebalancing that underlines its essential diversity and pluralism: External Affairs Minister Jaishankar
  • Bangladesh receives third consignment of AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan, set to ramp up vaccination in the country
  • China says, Aman Nagsen’s death is case of ‘homicide’, suspect is another foreign student at university, motive behind the crime not yet clear
  • COVID restrictions extended in Bangladesh till August 10
  • China starts vaccination campaign for teenagers aged 12-17 years in a bid to curb fresh COVID outbreak
  • Civilians asked to evacuate besieged city of Lashkar Gah as Afghan violence escalates

Q.) The Prime Minister of which country made a public apology on behalf of the goverment to its Pacific community for the infamous “dawn raids” carried out by officers in the 1970s, to arrest and deport individuals who had overstayed their work visas?

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Singapore
  4. Malaysia

Q.) PM Modi launched ____ a person and purpose-specific cashless and contactless instrument for digital payment?

  1. e-INDIAPAY
  2. e-PAY
  3. e-RUPI
  4. e-DIGIPAY