Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 22nd September 2021

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1.  Dravidam 2.0 as a time to reflect, for action (Lead)

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Indian Society & Social Justice
Sub Theme: Impact of poor education on employment | Workforce | Labour Force | UPSC

Context: This Article mentions about the structural change taking place in the society of Tamil Nadu as it has a large industrial workforce and it created new opportunities particularly for lower castes, Dalits and women. However, from UPSC perspective, let us go through some of the important highlights & challenges w.r.t changes taking place in the socio-economic fabric for the rest of India including the state of Tamil Nadu.

Key Highlights

Conversion of Caste Labour into Wage Labour – Industrial Transformation somewhat broke the occupational basis of caste by converting caste labour into wage labour, but it did not create enough decent jobs, with casual jobs being the predominant option outside agriculture.

Relation between Poor Education & Labour Force in Informal Sector – According to the latest Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS)-2018-19, 62% of workers are in the informal sector and 82% of the workforce is not covered by any social security. Even among those with regular jobs and stable incomes, 75.2% do not have a written contract. This informality and resultant wage inequality are arguably a product of poor quality of education that the states have built over years.

·         The National Statistical Office (NSO) has published Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report. The report captures the employment related data for the period July 2019-June 2020.

  • Labour Force: It includes all the people who are presently employed or are searching for jobs. Around 52 Crores in India which includes 48 Crores (Employed) and 3 Crores (Unemployed)
  • Workforce: It includes all the people who are presently employed.
  • Unemployment Rate= (Labour Force – Work Force)/Labour Force * 100
  • Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) = Percentage of population which is part of Labour force in a country.
  • LFPR can be measured in two ways:

a) Percentage of total population i.e. (Labour Force/ Total Population) * 100

b) Percentage of Working age Population i.e. (Labour Force/ Working age Population) * 100

  • Worker Population Ratio (WPR): Percentage of employed persons in the population.

Performance Grading Index (PGI) 2019-20 – It aims to propel states and UTs to undertake multi-pronged interventions that will that will bring about the much-desired optimal education outcomes. Learning outcomes determine who goes to what college, this in turn reflects in labour market outcomes. The challenge is to focus on improving learning outcomes and arresting disparities in quality of education.

Increased Enrolment in Higher Education does not always increase employment creation – This is an outcome of mushrooming private colleges among which some lack necessary infrastructure, qualified teaching staff. This disadvantages students from these colleges when they compete for employment, leading to poor returns on their investments in education. It has also been noticed that many of the private engineering and medical colleges across India do not meet the prescriptions of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or National Medical Commission respectively.

Violence Against Dalits due to their economic prosperity – relative socio-economic and political rise of Dalits have a correlation with the rise in the violence against them. Often, this violence is physical in nature and targets the property of Dalits, which is a symbol of their material progress.

Violence against women despite their rise in the society – quantitative increase in the participation of women in the modern economy has been accompanied by pervasive violence against them in social life. As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-2015-16, domestic violence against women is 45%.


2.  No link between AUKUS and QUAD

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relations
Sub Theme: AUKUS | FIVE EYES | Indo-Pacific | India-France | UPSC

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, in a show of solidarity with France that has protested against the U.S.-U.K.-Australia tripartite security alliance (AUKUS) that effectively killed Paris-Canberra cooperation on submarines. It is in this backdrop of developments, Prime Minister Modi will visit Washington for QUAD Summit and also will also deliver key address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.


  • The “AUKUS” security partnership allows United States, United Kingdom and Australia to strengthen their intelligence and military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in a bid to counter growing Chinese assertiveness.
  • The main component of the pact is the acquisition by Canberra of nuclear-powered submarines built by the US and UK. Australia already had a contract with France for 12 diesel-powered submarines.

India’s Stand. 

  • Maintaining its ideals of strategic autonomy, Indian government has said that there is “no link” between his meetings and the newly announced Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) alliance.
  • Distancing itself from the new partnership, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said that the Quad meeting would deal with issues such as the pandemic, new and emerging technologies, climate change, infrastructure, maritime security, education, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, while AUKUS was a “security alliance”.

Nations taking stock of China’s Belligerence

  • Rapid accretion in China’s economic and military capacities, but more particularly its belligerence, has led to a tectonic shift in regional security paradigms.
  • This has motivated players like United Kingdom and France to increase their presence and dominance in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Several countries in the Indo-Pacific including India have been obliged to review their defence preparedness in response to China’s rising military power and its adverse impact on regional stability.

Nations Arming themselves

  • JAPAN – Defence White Paper for the first time highlighted the urgent need to take stock of developments around Taiwan. This is a clear acknowledgement that Japan’s own security is linked to stability in the Taiwan Strait where muscle-flexing by China is the new norm.
  • AUSTRALIA – allocation of fund for defence in the budget has seen enhanced outlays for the ninth straight year. For the financial year 2020-2021, it touched USD$34.84 billion representing a 4.1% hike over the previous year.
  • AUKUS WILL ARM AUSTRALIA WITH NUCLEAR SUBMARINE – The AUKUS pact will facilitate the transfer of nuclear submarine propulsion and manufacturing technologies to Australia, the first instance of a non-nuclear nation acquiring such capability.  Australia operating such advanced platforms adds a new dimension to the evolving maritime security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
  • OPPORTUNITY FOR UK – AUKUS provides a fresh opportunity to the United Kingdom to reinsert itself more directly into the Indo-Pacific. It is already a member of the Five Eyes (FVEY), an intelligence-sharing alliance built on Anglo-Saxon solidarity (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.).

Benefit for India – Strengthening India-France Bilateral Relationship

  • France’s momentary pique at the cancellation of the contract by Australia should soon subside. As a major Indo-Pacific power, France is an important part of the regional security calculus.
  • The setback ‘down under’ may spur France to focus afresh on partners such as India, which must strike a balance between continuing imports and implementing the all-important Atmanirbhar Bharat in defence manufacturing.
  • The areas of defence & security cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the principal pillars of India-France Strategic Partnership. India and France also have a robust economic partnership.
  • Apart from these, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation such as maritime security in the Indo Pacific region, counter terrorism, climate change, renewable energy and sustainable growth and development among others.

3.  Changing the agri exports basket

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains – GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: Diversify Agricultural Basket  for Export| Food Processing Sector – Challenges | UPSC

Need for Boosting Agri-Exports

The Government has come up with the vision of Doubling Farmers’ income by the end of 2022. To help realise this vision, we need to provide expanded Market access to our farmers. In this regard, the agriculture exports policy, 2018 had emphasized on “Bake in India” i.e. a renewed focus on value addition and on processed agricultural products.

Present Status of Agri-Exports

Since LPG reforms in 1991, India has remained consistently a net exporter of Agri-products, touching almost Rs 2.7 lakh crore exports in 2018-19. However, there are number of problems:

  1. Lower share of Global Exports: In spite of being one of the largest producers of Food grains and Fruits and vegetables, India’s share in global export of Agri-commodities stand at merely 2% (9th Rank). The exports are much lower than countries such as Thailand and Indonesia which have much smaller agricultural land.
  2. Lack of Diversified Export basket: India’s export basket is basically dominated by Basmati Rice and Marine Products.
  1. Low Value addition: Majority of its exports are low value, raw or semi-processed.

These problems with our Agri-exports have not only affected export earnings, but also affected farmers due to lower prices in the domestic market.

Agricultural Exports Policy 2018

Broad Objectives and Targets of this Policy Include:

  • Double agricultural exports from present ~US$ 30+ Billion to ~US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years
  • Diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
  • Promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
  • Provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
  • Strive to double India’s share in world Agri-exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.

Food Processing Sector – Major Challenges

  • Supply chain infra gap – lack of primary processing, storage and distribution facilities.
  • Inadequate link between production and processing.
  • Supply chain institutional gaps – procurement dependence on APMC markets.
  • Seasonability of operations and low capacity utilisation.
  • Inadequate focus on quality and safety standards.
  • Lack of product development and innovation.

The government need to address the following concerns

  • Need to diversify export basket to include secondary and tertiary processed food
  • Address non-tariff measures – sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, environmental concerns, pre-shipment inspection and other formalities
  • Address prohibition of import of meat- and dairy based-products in most of the developed countries
  • Address withdrawal of the Generalised System of Preference by the U.S. for import of processed food from India.
  • Export shipments to the U.S. requiring an additional health certificate must be addressed.

Way Forward

  • The Centre’s policy should be in the direction of nurturing food processing companies, ensuring low cost of production and global food quality standards, and creating a supportive environment to promote export of processed food. Developed countries have fixed higher standards for import of food items.
  • Reputed Indian brands should be encouraged to export processed foods globally as they can comply with the global standard of codex. Indian companies should focus on cost competitiveness, global food quality standards, technology, and tap the global processed food export market.
  • India has competitive advantages in various agricultural commodities which can be passed onto processed foods. It has the potential to become a global leader in the food processing sector.


4. Kasturirangan to lead syllabus panel

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Indian Society & Social Justice
Sub Theme: National Curriculum Framework | Chairman K. Kasturirangan | UPSC

Context: The Centre has started the process to revise school textbooks by appointing former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Kasturirangan as the head of a 12-member steering committee responsible for developing a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

  • Kasturirangan also chaired the drafting committee for the National Education Policy, 2020 which recommended the development of a new NCF.
  • The steering committee has been given a tenure of three years to complete its task.
  • The framework is meant to be a guiding document for the development of textbooks, syllabi and teaching practices in schools across the country.
  • The subsequent revision of textbooks by the National Council of Educational Research and Training will draw from the new NCF.
  • The steering committee will develop four such frameworks, one each to guide the curriculum of school education, teacher education, early childhood education and adult education.

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