9 PM Daily Brief – September 10th, 2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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9 PM for Mains examination


  1. India-China Border Conflict
  2. India-China border standoff in Ladakh
  3. Idea of block chain based voting


  1. The twisted track of Bt cotton

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.India-China Border Conflict

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations

Context: The ongoing border crisis with China calls for a strategic shift from punitive retaliation to prevention.

Various factors involved for such incursions:

  • It was a clear mismanagement of the warning-intelligence system.
  • Indian intelligence services did not collect sufficient data of Chinese intentions and early moves.
  • The problem also lay in the Army’s concepts for defending the country’s borders.
  • Chinese incursion was not conventional:
    • The Army expected that any Chinese bid to capture Indian territory would come as a major conventional invasion, as it did in 1962.
  • China’s ‘grey zone’ tactics of quick land grabs: China opted for quick land grab looks increasingly permanent, like an attempt to change the border without triggering war.
  • Miscalculation:Indian army thought China would make its point like earlier stand offs with a temporary transgression and retreat after talks.
  • Army was not prepared for the type of security threat China presents:
    • The Army’s prevailing doctrine is designed to deter and defend against major conventional invasions.
    • Organisation of Army:what equipment it operates, and where it is deployed. The Army expects to win wars, against Pakistan or China, by launching its own punitive offensives after an enemy attack, to either destroy enemy forces or seize enemy land.
    • The Army’s response includes large formations, with planning and command decisions made at the Corps headquarters or higher.
  • Improper response: Indian side was instructed not to respond aggressively to avoid war.

Way forward:

  • Focus on prevention: unconventional threats should be prevented instead of trying to reverse them.
  • Need to change fundamental shiftin the Army’s doctrinal thinking.
    • For instance, from strategies revolving around punishing the adversary to strategies that prevent its adventurism in the first place.
  • Increased investment in wide-area surveillance to detect and track adversary moves.
  • Well-devolved command authority to respond to enemy aggression.
  • Rehearsed procedures for an immediate local responsewithout higher commanders’ approval.
  • Capacity building and quick decision making: local commanders must have the authority to take anticipatory action.
    • For instance, in chusul Indian special forces troops took position on previously unoccupied heights south of Pangong Tso.

India needs to learn the right lessons and be alert to similar tactics in other regions, like the Indian Ocean.

2.India-China border standoff in Ladakh

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2 – India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Context –With the recent shift by China from Line of Actual Control (LAC) to Claim Line, a new national debate on demarcating the border is needed.

Border dispute

Treaty of Amritsar – In 1846, the British granted Kashmir to Gulab Singh without specifying its eastern boundary in Aksai Chin.

  • According to Article 2 of the Treaty, the boundary was to be “defined by a separate engagement after survey”.
  • 1st survey- The Johnson- Ardagh Line surveyed in 1865, ran along the Kunlun Mountain, included Aksai Chin in Kashmir and it was not communicated to China.
  • 2nd survey- The McCartney-MacDonald Lineran closer to the Karakoram Range, treating the Indus watershed as the border. The later survey, officially sent by the British to China in 1899, was not followed up, and the border remained ‘undefined’.
  • The dispute continues to be which watershed defines the actual boundary.

1960’s Indo- China border talk- Between Jawaharlal Nehru and Chou-en-lai.

  • India’s view– Delimitation can take place by definition of high mountain areas and watershed.
  • China’s view-
  1. China does not recognize the McMohan line but they were willing to take a realistic view with Burma and India.
  2. China would accept India’s control over today’s Arunachal Pradesh, which meant its de facto recognition of India’s jurisdiction up to the McMahon Line, if India accepted China’s control over Aksai Chin.

The missteps by both countries have resulted in the current stalemate-

  1. Unacquainted experts– Two civilizational states establishing their identity were ill-advised by poorly informed experts.
  • India issued new maps in 1954 removing the ‘un-demarcated territory’ tag.
  • China in 1957 also showed Aksai Chin with the only traffic artery between Tibet and Xinjiang in its new map.
  • A cartographic ambiguity was converted into clashing sovereignty, with unwarranted inherent notions of ‘concession’ and ‘aggression’.
  1. Missing element of negotiation– In 1960, the history and tradition of the area were to be examined by a joint expert group which could not produce an agreed report as earlier maps considered basin boundaries, and not who had exercised control over territory.
  2. Strong military presence– Militaries remain tasked with defending borders where ‘grey areas’ and maximum restraint in ‘face to face’ situations despite mutually acceptable adjustments to their respective position.
  • Infrastructure development increases the potential for armed action.

Way forward

Boundaries can be defined by natural features such as rivers, watersheds and prominent landmarks or artificially by latitude and longitude reference. The government should audit the past, explain colonial ambiguity, establish the Himalayan watershed as border, and take a giant step for the $5-trillion economy.

3.Idea of block chain based voting

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Governance

Context: The election commission of India is considering the idea of further digitising India’s electoral infrastructure.

Advent and rise of new applications

  • The election commission held an online conference in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (“TNeGA”) and IIT Madras,
  • It explored the possibility of using block chain technology for the purpose of enabling remote elections.
  • A block chainis a distributed record book of information which is replicated across various knobs on a “peer-to-peer” network for the purpose of ensuring integrity and verifiability of data stored on the record book.
  • Block chain record books have traditionally been used as supporting structures for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • ‘Remote voting’ would appear to benefit internal migrants and seasonal workers, who account for roughly 51 million of the population (Census 2011), and who have, faced considerable difficulties in exercising their democratic right of voting.
  • This process might be useful for some remotely stationed members of the Indian armed forces.

Key issues and security concerns

  • Electors would still have to physically reach a designated venue in order to cast their vote.
  • Block chain solutions rely heavily on the proper implementation of cryptographic protocols. Any shortcoming could lead to possibly unmasking of the identity and voting preferences of electorsor allow an individual to cast a vote as someone else.
  • For instance, a Russian media outlet reported that it was possible to access and decrypts the votes stored on the block chain due to a flaw in cryptographic implementation.
  • An attacker may be able to clone the biometric traitsrequired for verifying as another individual and cast a vote on their behalf.
  • Software backdoors placed on an individual systemcould allow attackers to collect and presume voting choices of individuals.
  • Prone to targeted Denial-of-Service attacks: An attacker would be in a position to block traffic from the system and can effectively prevent or can delay the registration of votes.
  • Digitised systemsmay also stand to exclude and disenfranchise certain individuals due to flaws in interdependent platforms, flaws in system design and general failures caused by external factors.

Solutions to the problem

  • Solution to ballot portability: Political engagement could possibly be improved by improving other existing methods such as postal ballots or proxy voting.
  • Another proposed solution to this issue includes the creation of a ‘One Nation, One Voter ID’ system which will allow citizens to vote out of their home state.

Obsession with techno-solutionism

  • This optimism for technological solutionsposes a threat and could stand to hinder free and fair elections in the future, if carried out with poor management.
  • Any solution to electoral problems must be software independent and fault tolerable, where failure or tampering of one method would not affect the integrity or transparency of the overall process.

Way forward

  • Use of a new block chain system could maybe only be justified for lower level elections, and not for something as significant and politically binding as the general election.

4.The twisted track of Bt cotton  

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3- Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country

Context- The benefits of Bt cotton have been modest and short-lived.

History of Cotton

  • Origin-Cotton fabric from around 3,000 BCE has been excavated from the ruins of Mohenjo-daro, and archaeological findings in Mehrgarh, Pakistan, show that cotton was used in the subcontinent as far back as 5,000 BCE.
  • Domination in world trade-Indian cotton fabrics dominated the world trade during the succeeding millennia and were exported to many places, including Greece, Rome, Persia, Egypt, Assyria and parts of Asia.

Indigenous Varieties that have been lost

  • Desi cotton-Much of the cotton cultivated until the 20th century was of the indigenous ‘desi’ variety, Gossypium arboreum.
  • Hybrid cotton-From the 1990s, hybrid varieties of hirsutum were promoted. These hybrids cannot resist a variety of local pests and require more fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Damage due to infestation-Cotton suffers from plenty of infestation from moth pests (Lepidopteran) such as the Pink Bollworm (PBW) and sap-sucking (Hemipteran) pests such as aphids and mealy bugs.
  • Man- made resistant pests-The increasing use of synthetic pyrethroids (group of man-made pesticides) to control pests and the rising acreage under the American long-duration cotton led to the emergence of resistant pests. Resistant Pink and even American Bollworm (ABW), a minor pest in the past, began increasing, leading to a growing use of a variety of pesticides.
  • BT Cotton-In 2002 genetically modified (GM) cotton, the plant containing the pesticide gene from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), has been grown in India. This pesticide ought to protect the plant from bollworm. Thus, increasing yields and reducing insecticide spraying on the cotton plant.

Thus, with the increasing pressure to buy hybrid seeds, the indigenous varieties have lost out over the years. Rising debts and reducing yields, coupled with increasing insect resistance, worsened the plight of cotton farmers.

The use of BT cotton-

  1. Maharashtra- Yields climbed in the decade after 2000, with no change in the rate of increase when Bt cotton was introduced.
  2. Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan- Yield increase in inappropriate with the spread of Bt cotton.
  3. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh-
  • There are no correlation between the adoption of the variety and increase in yields. For instance- Gujarat’s surge in cotton yields was 138% in 2003, even as Bt cotton was used only for 5% of land under cotton.
  • However, in Gujarat due to improvement in irrigation rise in cotton yields was observed as from 98 kg/ ha in 2003 to 224 kg/ha in 2013.

Thus, there is a strong correlation between the rise in use of fertilizers in individual states and yields, and this bias increases when it is combined with improvements in irrigation.

Challenges in evaluating  Bt cotton yield

Way Forward

India should yield ‘desi’ varieties as they resist many pests and don’t present the problems faced with hybrids. With the pure- line cotton varieties, high density planting and short season plants, cotton yields can be good and stand a better chance at withstanding the vagaries of climate change. Also government should make policies regarding backing for resources, infrastructure and seeds to scale up ‘desi’ varieties.


9 PM for Preliminary examination

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