9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 11th, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Recalibrating the India-US relationship
- Being multilingual: Democratic pressure has made political parties introduce English in schools
- Court must settle challenge to the electoral bonds scheme quickly. The sanctity of elections is at stake
- Why the regulation of sanctions matters?
- Getting serious about supporting the care economy
- Why central services cannot be exempted from reservation for disabled
- Rethink the Bill
- India’s role in a disordered world
- Social media has a serious disinformation problem. But it can be fixed.
- A trade deal that will create jobs
GS Paper 3
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- RBI proposes to make card-less cash withdrawal facility available across all banks, ATM networks using UPI
- Centre extends ₹40 crore relief to Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Committee upto 2025-26
- FAO: Food prices record high due to Ukraine war disruptions
- First ever NTCA meeting outside National Capital held at Arunachal Pradesh
- Good while it lasted – I: 6th mass extinction underway, courtesy humans
- Researchers identified over 5,500 new viruses in the ocean, including a missing link in viral evolution
- Explained: What Imran Khan’s ouster as Pakistan PM means for India
- Microbots: ‘Micro-swimmers’ may soon help with drug delivery
- Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System and Pinaka Area Denial Munition Rocket Systems successfully flight-tested by DRDO & Indian Army
- Bengaluru joins global network of silk cities
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “Recalibrating the India-US relationship” published in The Times of India on 11th Apr 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Indo-US bilateral relations in the wake of Russia – Ukraine conflict
Context: The Russia-Ukraine conflict caught India unprepared, like in the case of Chinese incursions in Eastern Ladakh two years ago. It has also put it into an uncomfortable defensive posture.
Has India’s position changed on Russia-Ukraine conflict?
India’s position on the war has shifted considerably in the past couple of months as Russia’s actions and its unjustified war became more and more tough to defend in the civilised world.
Its latest abstention in the UN, was essentially a vote against Russia.
India’s deep unhappiness and opposition to the Russian action was conveyed in clear language to Sergey Lavrov last week.
How will India-US relationship will be affected?
Despite US President describing India as being “somewhat shaky”, at its core Indian and US interests remain as aligned as before.
For all of India’s Russia “support”, there is a growing realisation that Russia has driven itself into becoming China’s junior partner for the foreseeable future. China won’t dump Russia because they share the same adversary, the US.
What is the way forward?
Nevertheless, it should be a matter of considerable concern that India pays the highest price when the US shoots down its enemies (Iran, Russia sanctions), or scoots from them (Afghanistan). Not only in economic and GDP terms, but in strategic areas as well. Somebody in the establishment needs to do a serious risk assessment of India’s international exposure, mapping out crises coming down the road.
India and the US need to dig deep into possibly the most important relationship –
– A good start would be to give India entry into the AUKUS technology partnership.
India and US should both understand that China is the real challenge.
Source: This post is based on the article “Being multilingual: Democratic pressure has made political parties introduce English in schools” published in The Times of India on 10th Apr 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to development of Education
Relevance: Issue of medium of instruction in Schools
Context: Political debates about language convey a different picture while if we approach the subject from the other end, that of voters communicating their preferences, and the picture is quite different.
What is the situation wrt preference of medium of instruction in schools in India?
The demand from parents has led to a sharp rise in the proportion of English medium schools in India. More than a quarter of schoolchildren are now enrolled in English medium, making it the largest after Hindi medium.
– The Chennai Corporation has now extended spoken English classes in schools run by it from just a handful to the entire list.
– Karnataka plans to introduce spoken English sessions in primary classes in its proposed model government school.
Political system and state governments are now experimenting with bilingual textbooks in government-run schools.
– Telangana, Maharashtra and Karnataka are among states where textbooks have content printed in both regional language and English to get children acquainted with key terms in both languages.
Why English needs to be promoted in schools in India?
Historical circumstances have given India a national advantage by equipping a sizeable number of people with a knowledge of English, among other languages. It’s translated into big economic gains, and it’s something China is trying to replicate in its education system.
English is the most important lingua franca of the world right now.
What is the way forward?
The issue should not be framed as one language or another. The pragmatic choice is the learning of more than one language.
It’s a sensible choice, as being multilingual confers many advantages, and the country has moved in that direction.
The task ahead is to find more effective ways of helping children learn more languages.
Court must settle challenge to the electoral bonds scheme quickly. The sanctity of elections is at stake
Source: This post is based on the article “Court must settle challenge to the electoral bonds scheme quickly. The sanctity of elections is at stake” published in The Indian Express on 11th Apr 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues arising out of design and implementation of policies
Relevance: Electoral reforms
News: Chief Justice of India N V Ramana has assured petitioners that the Supreme Court will take up for hearing a pending plea challenging the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018. No date or any timeline has been specified, though.
Two NGOs — Common Cause and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) — have challenged the scheme, alleging that it is “distorting democracy”.
What was the situation prior to the introduction of electoral bonds in India?
The electoral bonds scheme was first mentioned in 2017 when then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented it as a way to reform electoral funding in the country.
Until then, most political parties used to bypass scrutiny of their finances by claiming that they received most of their donations in cash.
Further, since cash amounts less than Rs 20,000 were exempted from scrutiny, parties routinely claimed that most of the donations they received were in cash and in amounts less than Rs 20,000. This led to channelisation of black money into political parties.
To read in detail about Electoral bonds – Click here
Source: The post is based on an article “Why the regulation of sanctions matters?” published in the Hindu on 11th April 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – international relations, Important International Institutions
Relevance: International Trade Agreements
News: Recently, the western countries have mulled to increase the height of their economic sanctions on Russia. This has been because a series of suspected war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha has been discovered.
There are apprehensions that Russia may undertake new offensive measures in coming period. In this regard, the sanction regime has come into limelight.
What are the impacts of the sanctions?
A sanction can be defined as “a measure of coercion of an economic nature as opposed to diplomatic or military coercion”. Such measures may include complete or partial embargoes like trade, travel, financial transactions, freezing financial assets etc.
These measures can have a huge impact on human rights and populations of the target country. In addition, the sanctions also lead to serious medium-term impact on the very countries which issued because of the globalised economy.
Who can impose sanctions?
The sanction can be individual sanction (For example, the US sanctions) or collective sanction (For example, by the UN or the European Union).
(A) The UNSC Collective sanctions can be taken while adhering to a strict procedure mentioned below:
(1) First the “existence of any threat to peace, breach of the peace, and an act of aggression’ needs to be determined” (Article 39).
(2) Second, complete or partial interruption of economic relations can be undertaken under sanctions. They can be related to rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication. It may include the severance of diplomatic relations. However, the “use of armed force” is not allowed under these measures (Article 41)
Since 1966, the UNSC has adopted 30 regimes of sanctions. At present, 14 are operational. They are administered by a sanctions committee chaired by a non-permanent member of the UNSC. In addition, the EU has imposed 30 sanctions regimes so far.
(B) The individual sanctions: The International trade agreements such as GATT, GATS, and TRIPS along with a number of bilateral investment treaties allow economic sanctions for security reasons.
What are the issues with the individual sanctions?
Hence, unilateral individual sanctions have no legal basis in a treaty. They goes out of the jurisdiction as they are clearly extraterritorial in nature.
These unilateral sanctions are called “countermeasures” in the language of the International Law Commission.
The sanctions affect private actors and also lead to significant economic harm and disruption in supply chains.
The individual sanctions are narrower in scope. They cannot be imposed in cases other than security concern. In WTO disputes ‘Russia – Measures Concerning Traffic in Transit’ (DS 512) and ‘Saudi Arabia – Protection of IPRs’ (DS567), it was declared that these measures are partially justiciable.
In fact, these sanctions have been declared ambiguous and illegal by the international tribunal (here ICJ). For example, The US sanctions in the Nicaragua case, and the U.K. sanctions in the Bank Mellat case as it incurred a lot of damage to an Iranian bank.
There is a need to regulate and monitor the use of this political tool for economic warfare.
The UN has appointed a Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.
The individual sanctions must at least a case be properly notified and basic legal due process should be followed.
Source: The post is based on an article “Getting serious about supporting the care economy” published in The Hindu on 11th April 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to Inclusive Growth
Relevance: Care economy
News: Recently, the World has celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day. This year, to commemorate International Women’s Day, the ILO brought out its new report titled, ‘Care at work: investing in care leave and services for a more gender-equal world of work”.
What is Care economy?
It includes care work, which encompasses direct activities such as feeding a baby or nursing an ill partner, and indirect activities such as cooking and cleaning work. The care work may be paid (such as domestic workers and anganwadis in India) or unpaid in nature.
Importance of focusing on care services
It is worth mentioning that care work is vital for human well-being and economies across the world.
The care services have the potential to create an additional 300 million jobs globally. Most of these jobs will be for women. The focus on care services can ensure female labour force participation.
The importance of care work is now widely acknowledged. It has been covered in various international commitments such as the SDGs and the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Centenary Declaration.
What are the issues in care work?
Unpaid care work: It is linked to labour market inequalities. It has not received adequate attention in policy formulation.
Paid care workers: These also struggle to access rights and entitlements as workers.
At present, the care economy has grown a lot. But the investment in the sector has not taken the same pace.
Maternity leave is a universal human and labour right. It remains unfulfilled across countries.
What are achievements and issues in the story of the care economy in India?
Good measures taken so far in India
India offers 26 weeks of maternity leave. It is more than against the ILO’s standard mandate of 14 weeks.
Indian laws mandates the factories and other establishments to provide the crèche facility.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act and the minimum wage legislations have been made applicable to domestic workers in India.
The maternity leave in India is restricted to a tiny proportion of women workers. It is limited to formally employed women. However, 89% of employed women are in informal employment.
The paternity leave is not provided in many countries, including India. It further exacerbates gender inequity.
In India, access to quality and affordable childcare, elderly care and care for people with disabilities services is a challenge.
Care workers like childcare and anganwadi workers have not been recognised as professional work in India. Therefore, they do not have requisite access to workers’ rights and entitlements
The domestic workers do not have access to decent work. They do not have social or health protection measures. The fact that 26 lakhs of the 39 lakh domestic workers in India are female worsens the situation
India spends less than 1% of its GDP on the care economy;
There government need to increased percentage of spending on care economy in India.
The government need to develop a strategy and action plan for improved care policies and decent working conditions for care workers. It should frame them while consulting employers’, workers’ organisations and the relevant stakeholders in the sector.
The decision makers can adopt a 5R framework proposed by the ILO. It refers to Recognition, Reduction, and Redistribution of unpaid care work, promotes Rewarding care workers with more and decent work, and enables their Representation in social dialogue and collective bargaining.
The domestic workers should have rights and access to fair wages, and good working conditions. They should have access to social protection, among other benefits.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) should take a lead to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes to promote decent work for all women and men. It is the only tripartite UN agency that brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member States.
The paternity leave should be recognised. It acts as an enabler for both mothers and fathers to better balance work and family responsibilities throughout their lives.
The right steps to improve the care economy can lead to child development, aging in dignity and independent living and also generate more and better employment opportunities, especially for women.
Source: The post is based on an article “Why central services cannot be exempted from reservation for disabled” published in the Indian Express on 11th April 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Social Sector; Welfare Schemes for the Vulnerable Section of the Population
Relevance: Person with Disabilities (PWDs)
News: Recently, the Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (Department) issued a notification.
It exempts all categories of posts in the IPS, the Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Police Service, the Indian Railway Protection Force Service, and the posts of combatant nature in the paramilitary force from the mandated 4% reservation for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Is the government competent to exempt the person with disabilities from particular posts?
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 [RPwD Act] empowers the central government of India to exempt people with disabilities from seeking reservation for certain posts.
What are the issues in the new rules?
First, the classification between combat and non-combat posts implies that the PwD are capable of occupying only non-combat posts in the central forces. In fact, no justification for such a classification has been issued so far.
Second, The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has identified a range of ministerial/civilian posts which are suitable for reservation for the disabled. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released Draft Accessibility standards which states that the police staff on civil duty could be persons with disabilities. Therefore, the proposed exemption goes against the government’s own position.
Third, the proposed exemption appears to be a colourable exercise of power. This is because the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has to be consulted before grant of any exemption as per the RPwD Act,
Fourth, the office of the chief commissioner has been lying vacant for many years
Currently, SC in the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled v. Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities and Ors. Case) has the opportunity to address some of the important issues related to PWDs.
Every disabled person is different. The Court should recognise that the disabled have the right to exist and work in the world just like their able-bodied counterparts.
The SC judgment can ensure non-discrimination guarantee contained in the RPWD Act.
Source: The post is based on an article “Rethink the bill” published in the Business Standard on 10th April 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions
Relevance: Criminal Justice Reform
News: Recently, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 was passed by Parliament. The act has replaced the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920.
How is the passed bill an intrusive and dangerous piece of legislation?
It will lead to forcible collection of personal data, including biometric and genetic data. Therefore, it may violate the right to privacy (Article 19).
It violates Article 20 which envisages the right to silence and avoid self-incrimination
The act enables forcible and intrusive measures such as scans of the iris and retina. Therefore, it violates the “bodily integrity and dignity” envisaged in Article 21.
It may lead to violation of the basic structure of the Constitution laid down in Kesavananda Bharati vs Union of India.
The term “measurement” in the passed bill has been vaguely defined.
It allows any police officer of the rank of head constable and above to take the measurements. They have discretionary power to collect data. Further, In case of refusals to allow collection of data, it could amount to interference in the execution of duty by a public official.
It is applicable to criminal undertrials including those accused of minor offences, and the preventive detention (often applied to political detainees and civil rights activists).
The definition of purpose for which collected data will be used has been vaguely defined in the bill i.e., the purpose is for “investigation and prosecution of crime. It violates the concept of “purpose limitation”. Therefore, it is prone to misuse.
The draft was not published for public comments and feedback. It was not reviewed by a Standing Parliamentary Committee. The Bill was passed without consultation.
There are no safeguards to limit the scope of this Act. Reasons include: (1) The personal data protection law and (2) The DNA Technology Regulation Bill (To govern the collection, use and storage of DNA) has not been enacted in India so far.
The amendment should be made to limit use of personal data only for a defined, and specific purpose.
The President can return it to reflect associated issues with the govt or the act can be challenged in the Supreme Court.
Source: This post is created based on the article “India’s role in a disordered world” published on 11/April/2022 in The Hindu.
Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations
Context: Institutes of global governance are weakening. For instance, the climate crisis is unresolved, vaccines were hoarded by rich countries, and the World Trade Organization is struggling.
How did the institutes of global governance emerge?
After World War II, new institutions of global governance were established – the United Nations and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, the victors retained their veto power within the United Nations Security Council and also control the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO.
The developed non-communist powers, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Japan, West Germany, and Canada, formed the G7 in 1976. The European Union was invited to attend in 1977. Russia joined in 1998 – its inclusion was a signal of cooperation between East and West. However, it was thrown out in 2014 after the invasion of Crimea.
After the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was formed in 1999 with the aim to ensure financial stability. Russia is a member, but Western nations want to throw Russia out now. Meanwhile, India will be the chair of G20 from December 2022.
Have the institutions fulfilled their stated goals?
Inequalities have only risen. Countries such as the U.S., are also demanding more “socialism” and less unbounded capitalism.
Free market capitalism is not ideologically compatible with a genuine democracy. All western electoral systems began with the right to vote limited to property owners only. Universal adult franchise is a new phenomenon.
What are the tensions between capitalist and democratic institutions?
Capitalist institutions want to be unfettered by democratic regulations to make it easier to do business. Whereas, Democratic institutions want to rein in the competitive animal spirits, to make it more compassionate.
The simultaneous imposition of free markets and elections has invariably increased inequalities, social tensions, and sectarian conflicts. For example – Iraq and Afghanistan.
What is the need for redistribution of power?
Power accumulated in societies by the principle of “cumulative causation”. Those who already have more power, will not only use the power to improve the world but to also ensure that they remain in power. Those who have power will resist losing it. For instance – anti-colonial movements leading to violence.
Global governance needs to become genuinely democratic. Countries must be given freedom to evolve their own democracies and economies and not to be dictated by others. Instances of sanctions by global dictators should end. Calling on democratic country like India, to take their side, must also end.
Source: This post is created based on the article “Social media has a serious disinformation problem. But it can be fixed.” published on 11/April/2022 in The Indian Express.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues arising out of policy design and their implementation.
Context: Social media platforms have effectively supplanted traditional information networks in India.
What are the benefits of social media?
Democratizing access to information, fostering community, increasing citizen participation and reducing the distance between ordinary people and decision-makers.
Why are there instances of misinformation on social media?
Social media platforms have adopted design choices that have led to a proliferation of misinformation. The consequent free flow of disinformation, hate and targeted intimidation has led to real-world harm and degradation of democracy in India: Mainstreamed anti-minority hate, polarized communities, and difficulty in establishing truth. This organized misinformation (disinformation) has a political and/or commercial agenda.
How to combat misinformation?
Understanding that it is a political problem: Content distribution and moderation are interventions in the political process. Hence, there is a need for a comprehensive transparency law to enforce relevant disclosures by social media platforms.
Three approaches to distribution that can be adopted by platforms: Constrain distribution to organic reach (chronological feed); take editorial responsibility for amplified content; or amplify only credible sources (irrespective of ideological affiliation).
What are the effects of social media on politics?
The notable effects of social media on our politics are:
First, social media has led to a dislocation of politics with people more focused on online engagement while real surroundings are ignored.
Second, serious engagement has been supplanted by “hot takes” and memes.
Meaningful politics is rooted in local organization, discussion and negotiation. Social media’s structure and manner of use are choices that we must make as a polity after deliberation instead of accepting them.
Source: This post is created based on the article “A trade deal that will create jobs” published on 10/April/2022 in Times of India.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests.
News: India and Australia have recently signed a trade agreement called the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement or IndAusECTA.
What does this mean?
This deal will eliminate tariffs on more than 85% of Australian goods entering India and almost all of Indian goods entering Australia.
Australian exports to India of sheep meat, wool, coal, alumina, metallic ores, including manganese, copper, nickel and critical minerals will be tariff free.
Likewise, for Indian exports to Australia of jewellery, cosmetics, bed linen, clothing, paints, automotive parts and furniture.
Australia will get access to the fast and rapidly growing Indian market, while Indian companies will enjoy cheap supply of energy, raw material and intermediate goods.
In India, this will create at least 1 million jobs in labour-intensive sectors like textiles, leather and pharmaceuticals.
India’s concern about its agriculture and dairy sectors are also respected.
Will it also open the door to movement of people?
Through IndAusECTA, Australia will help more Indians gain education and experience. Australia will increase post-study work visa durations for Indian graduates.
It will ensure that Australia’s service providers remain competitive compared to India’s future trading partners. Australia will also eliminate double taxation on IT firms.
A strong and prosperous Indo-Pacific is in the world’s interest. IndAusECTA is our unity ticket for a better future together.
GS Paper 3
Source: The post is based on an article “Red lines got blurred in our triage of mega risks” published in the Live Mint on 10th April 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy
Relevance: Issues and challenges to Indian Economy
News: For last two years, India has been witnessing the fiscal and monetary expansion measures. Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has adopted a monetary policy. It aims to prioritize price-control or inflation in India.
What is the meaning of shifting of red lines in the article?
It refers to a situation when the policymakers push limits beyond economic, geo and domestic politics during uncertain times.
Why red lines have shifted and become blurred in India in last two years?
In India, the ultra-loose policies have been adopted for providing relief amid pandemic.
The central banks have lent money at negative real rates of interest for long periods. In addition, the lending charges have been below inflation.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also kept its repo rate at 4% for nearly two years.
What measures have been taken by the RBI?
The RBI has given a new window for banks. Now, banks can deposit excess funds at 3.75%, without any collateral bonds.
What are the challenges in the coming period?
The retail inflation has increased. In fact, the price may flare up to an adverse level. The cautious steps need to be taken to sponge up liquidity.
In the global theatre of geopolitics. The red line seems to be highly shifting in nature. The world has witnessed a number of geopolitical conflicts in last one decade. For example, Syrian civil war, Russian’ annexation of Crimea, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 2022.
In terms of politics, there has been a majoritarian shift in the domestic Indian politics. For example, after the 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque, the disputed Ayodhya site has been awarded for a Ram temple in 2019, and the citizenship act has created a lot of issues. So, it may impact the national bond and unity.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
RBI proposes to make card-less cash withdrawal facility available across all banks, ATM networks using UPI
Source: This post is based on the article “RBI proposes to make card-less cash withdrawal facility available across all banks, ATM networks using UPI” published in AIR on 8th April 2022.
What is the News?
Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has proposed to make cardless cash withdrawal facilities available at all ATMs, irrespective of banks, through the Unified Payment Interface(UPI).
What is a cardless cash withdrawal facility?
The cardless cash withdrawal facility does not require bank customers to use their debit or credit cards while withdrawing cash from ATMs.
What are the current ways of cardless cash withdrawals at ATMs?
Under the current cardless cash withdrawal facility, individuals can withdraw cash without using any debit card at Automated teller machines(ATMs).
The cardless withdrawal request can be initiated for a minimum of ₹100 per transaction and up to a maximum of ₹10,000 per day or ₹25,000 per month for a beneficiary, while the limits are subject to change as per regulatory guidelines.
Currently, few banks allow their users to withdraw cash from their ATMs without a card. However, it is a long-drawn process. Users have to install apps of their respective banks and first select the option of cardless cash withdrawal on the app, followed by adding beneficiary details and the withdrawal amount.
How will cash withdrawals via UPI work?
RBI did not disclose specific details on how the process will work.
But according to experts, ATMs will show an option to withdraw cash using UPI. Upon selecting that option, a user would have to add the amount they wish to withdraw, following which a QR code would be generated on the ATM machine.
The user would then have to scan that code on their UPI app and enter their pin following which the ATM will dispense cash.
What are the benefits and concerns of a cardless cash withdrawal facility?
Benefits: It would enhance the ease of cash transactions. Moreover, the absence of a need for a card to initiate cash withdrawal transactions would help in containing frauds like card skimming, card cloning, etc.
Concerns: As of now, there are more than 900 million debit cards in the country, and experts have cautioned that allowing cash withdrawals through UPI could negatively impact debit card usage. However, the RBI has assured that the issuance of debit cards would not stop due to the move, since they have other uses beyond cash withdrawals.
Source: This post is based on the article “Centre extends ₹40 crore relief to Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Committee upto 2025-26” published in The Hindu on 6th April 2022.
What is the News?
The Union government has extended the scheme to provide Rs.40 crore grants-in-aid to the Dalai Lama’s Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) for another five years, up to the fiscal year 2025-26.
Scheme to provide grants-in-aid to the Central Tibetan Relief Committee(CTRC)
Launched in: 2015
Purpose: To provide an annual grant of Rs.8 crore to CTRC to meet the administrative expenses of Settlement Offices and social welfare expenses for Tibetan refugees staying in Tibetan settlements spread across 12 States/UTs in the country.
What is the Central Tibetan Relief Committee(CTRC)?
Type: It was formed and registered as a Charitable Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
Objective: To coordinate Individual, Voluntary Agencies and the Indian Government’s efforts to rehabilitate and settle Tibetan Refugees.
Members: It includes members from each of the 53 Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
All the CTRC activities are carried out with consent and support from the Board of Directors and approval from TPiE(Tibetan Parliament in Exile).
What is the Tibetan Parliament in Exile(TPiE)?
TPiE is the unicameral and highest legislative organ of the Central Tibetan Administration, the government-in-exile of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
Based in: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
Tibetans in India
Tibetan refugees began pouring into India in the wake of the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959.
The Indian government decided to give them asylum as well as assistance towards temporary settlement.
More than one lakh Tibetan refugees are currently settled in India. The major concentration of the Tibetan refugees are in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir.
Source: This post is based on the article “FAO: Food prices record high due to Ukraine war disruptions” published in Indian Express on 11th April 2022.
What is the News?
Food and Agriculture Organization’s(FAO) World food price Index averaged 159.3 points in March 2022 breaking an earlier record of 137.6 points scaled 11 years ago in February 2011.
What is the World Food Price Index?
Released by: Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) since 1996.
Aim: To help in monitoring the developments in the global agricultural commodity markets.
Purpose: The index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities.
Commodities: It consists of the average of five commodity group price indices. Such as cereal, vegetables, dairy, meat and sugar. Also, these five indices is given weightage based on the average export shares.
Base Year: 2014-16.
Why is the World Food Price index at an all-time high?
The World Food Price Index has shown huge volatility in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and now the Russia-Ukraine war.
The index had crashed to a four-year low in 2020 due to demand destruction triggered by pandemic-induced lockdowns across countries.
But as demand returned with governments lifting economic activity and movement restrictions, supply chain disruptions came to the fore. These disruptions worsened after the port closures in the Black Sea and Azov Sea, plus Russian banks being cut off from the international payments system.
|Read more: Agricultural Exports- India’s potential, initiatives, challenges and solutions|
What about India and Food prices?
India is at a comfortable level of wheat and rice stocks – way above the required minimum buffer norms. Hence, this should provide some insulation against soaring international food prices.
Further, high global prices have enabled India’s agricultural exports to grow by 19.9% and reach a historic high of $50.21 billion in 2021-22.
But the downside to this is that farmers are also paying much more for diesel, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals whose prices have also gone up alongside international commodity prices.
|Must read: India’s Agriculture Exports touch a historic high of USD 50 billion|
Source: This post is based on the article “First ever NTCA meeting outside National Capital held at Arunachal Pradesh” published in PIB on 9th April 2022.
What is the News?
The 20th Meeting of National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) was held in Pakke tiger reserve in Arunachal Pradesh under the chairmanship of the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
Note: This is the first time in history that the NTCA meeting happened outside Delhi.
What are the key highlights from the 20th NTCA meeting?
Appreciated the Air Gun Surrender Abhiyaan: It is an Arunachal Pradesh government initiative inviting people to voluntarily surrender their air pistols to stop the indiscriminate killing of birds in Arunachal Pradesh.
Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) for Tiger Reintroduction and Supplementation in Wild
India harbours about 70% of the world’s tiger population in the wild. The tigers occupy different landscapes in the country. Some landscapes have rich and viable populations in accordance with the habitat and prey base. There are some habitats that are under-occupied in various regions but have the potential to support a better tiger population.
– In this backdrop, NTCA has prepared a Standard Operating Protocol(SOP) to deal with the reintroduction and supplementation of Tigers in the Wild.
Introduced Forest Fire Audit Protocol for Tiger Reserves
Forest Fires play a crucial role in maintaining the dynamics of forests. Fire can play a vital role in healthy forests, recycling nutrients, helping tree species regenerate, removing invasive weeds and pathogens and maintaining habitat for some wildlife.
In order to help the tiger reserve managers to assess their fire preparedness and manage the complete life cycle of forest fires, the NTCA has prepared a Forest Fire Audit Protocol for Tiger Reserves.
Released the technical manual of Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of Tiger Reserves in India
MEE is the assessment of how well-protected areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves, community reserves and tiger reserves are being managed and their effectiveness in conserving target flora and fauna.
The MEE exercise in tiger reserves was initiated in 2006 and four cycles have been completed. A need was felt to revisit and review the MEE process. Accordingly, a committee was constituted by NTCA to revisit and review the MEE criteria for the 5th cycle of the MEE exercise.
Based on the suggestions made by the committee, the technical manual on the MEE of Tiger Reserves in India is being released by NTCA.
Source: This post is based on the article “Good while it lasted – I: 6th mass extinction underway, courtesy humans” published in Down To Earth on 11th April 2022.
What is the News?
The sixth mass extinction is underway and the earth is losing species at an unprecedented rate. Hence, this marks the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch.
Note: Anthropocene Epoch is an unofficial unit of geologic time, used to describe the most recent period in Earth’s history when the human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems.
What is Mass Extinction?
A mass extinction is a short period of geological time in which a high percentage of biodiversity, or distinct species—bacteria, fungi, plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates—dies out.
The planet has experienced five previous mass extinction events. Experts now believe that humans are in the midst of sixth mass extinction.
What is causing the sixth mass extinction?
Unlike previous extinction events caused by natural phenomena, the sixth mass extinction is driven by human activity. That’s why this extinction is also referred to as the Anthropocene extinction.
What do various reports say about the rate of extinction of species?
Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: It is the first such report by IPBES. Its assessment says that 1 million animal and plant species face extinction, and thousands of these would become extinct within decades. Since 1900, the number of native species in most of the land-based habitats has declined by 20%.
Assessment of the state of invertebrates: This study has found that Earth could already have lost between 7.5 and 13% of the two million known species on Earth—a staggering 150,000 to 260,000 species
Living Planet Report 2020: It was released by World Wildlife Fund(WWF). It says the Asia Pacific region lost 45% of its vertebrate population in four-and-half decades, while the average global loss is 68%.
– The report points out five major reasons behind the biodiversity loss across the planet: 1) Changes in land and sea use (habitat loss and degradation), 2) Overexploitation of species, 3) Invasive species and disease, 4) Pollution and 5) Climate change.
Researchers identified over 5,500 new viruses in the ocean, including a missing link in viral evolution
Source: This post is based on the article “Researchers identified over 5,500 new viruses in the ocean, including a missing link in viral evolution” published in Down To Earth on 8th April 2022.
What is the News?
Researchers have identified more than 5,000 new RNA virus species in the world’s oceans.
What are RNA Viruses?
An RNA virus is a virus that has ribonucleic acid (RNA) as its genetic material. This means they carry their genetic information in RNA, rather than DNA. They also evolve at much quicker rates than DNA viruses do.
RNA viruses are best known for the diseases they cause in people, ranging from the common cold to COVID-19. They also infect plants and animals.
Besides causing diseases, RNA viruses also play a vital role in ecosystems because they can infect a wide array of organisms, including microbes that influence environments and food webs at the chemical level.
However, RNA Viruses have been relatively unstudied when compared to DNA Viruses.
What did the researchers do?
Researchers analyzed tens of thousands of water samples from around the globe, hunting for RNA viruses, or viruses that use RNA as their genetic material.
Note: Unlike humans and other organisms composed of cells, viruses lack unique short stretches of DNA that could act as what researchers call a genetic barcode. Without this bar code, trying to distinguish different species of the virus is challenging.
What did the researchers find out?
Researchers identified a total of 5,504 new marine RNA viruses and doubled the number of known RNA virus phyla from five to 10.
What is the significance of these findings?
These new RNA sequences will help scientists better understand not only the evolutionary history of RNA viruses, but also the evolution of early life on Earth.
Moreover, mapping out where in the world these RNA viruses live can help clarify how they affect the organisms driving many of the ecological processes that run our planet.
Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What Imran Khan’s ouster as Pakistan PM means for India” published in Indian Express on 11th April 2022.
What is the News?
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has been ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote.
What are the key takeaways from this?
Pakistan Democracy: Pakistan’s flawed democracy is still seen as a “guided democracy”. No elected Prime Minister there has ever completed his or her five-year term.
However, this is the first time a sitting PM in Pakistan has been voted out, this has been a normal occurrence in India. This suggests democracy in Pakistan is gradually finding its feet, albeit with some help from the military establishment.
Pakistan Army still in Control: Known to be the Pakistan Army’s candidate, Imran Khan’s government was widely referred to as a “hybrid regime”. His ouster is a clear signal that the Pakistan Army is in “complete control”. It has shown that the power to change the prime minister still lies in Rawalpindi — the Pakistan Army’s headquarters.
How will this impact India-Pakistan relations?
The next Prime Minister might be Shehbaz Sharif. This is important for India, as the Sharif family has always been very positive about improving relations with India.
Moreover, at present, there are some green shoots in the otherwise troublesome India-Pakistan ties:
– First, the ceasefire, as agreed upon in February 2021 has largely been adhered to. This builds confidence that the understanding at the higher political-military level as well as the ground level has been observed, and they are broadly in sync.
– Second, the situation in Afghanistan, and India’s humanitarian help such as the transportation of wheat via Pakistan have shown that there is scope for cooperation for “limited purposes”.
Hence, from India’s perspective, the power shift in Pakistan signals the possibility of an improvement of ties, amid potential challenges and difficulties.
Source: This post is based on the article “‘Micro-swimmers’ may soon help with drug delivery” published in The Hindu on 10th April 2022.
What is the News?
Researchers have found that it is possible to use light as a fuel to move microbots in real-body conditions for intelligent drug delivery.
What have the researchers developed?
Researchers have developed a microbot made from the two-dimensional compound poly (heptazine imide) carbon nitride (aka PHI carbon nitride).
These microbots are like miniaturized humans. They range from 1-to 10 micrometres (a micrometre is one-millionth of a meter) in size and can self-propel when energized by shining light.
How do these microbots swim?
The PHI carbon nitride microparticles are photocatalytic. This means that, just like in a solar cell, the incident light is converted into electrons and holes.
These charges drive reactions in the surrounding liquid. This reaction combined with the particle’s electric ﬁeld makes the microbots (micro swimmers) swim.
Hence, as long as there is light, electrons and holes are produced on the surface of the swimmers, which in turn react to form ions and an electric ﬁeld around the swimmer. These ions move around the particle and cause ﬂuid to ﬂow around the particle. So this ﬂuid ﬂow causes the microbots to swim.
What is the significance of this development?
This development has shown that it is possible to have microrobots streaming through blood or through other fluids in the human body, which are driven by light and can carry drugs to cancer cells and drop off the medication on the spot.
Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System and Pinaka Area Denial Munition Rocket Systems successfully flight-tested by DRDO & Indian Army
Source: This post is based on the article “Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System and Pinaka Area Denial Munition Rocket Systems successfully flight-tested by DRDO & Indian Army” published in PIB on 9th April 2022.
What is the News?
Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) and the Indian Army have successfully flight-tested Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System (EPRS) and Pinaka Area Denial Munition (ADM) rocket systems.
What is the Pinaka Mk-I (Enhanced) Rocket System(EPRS)?
Developed by: Pune-based DRDO laboratories – Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL).
EPRS is the upgraded version of the Pinaka variant that has been in service with the Indian Army for the last decades.
Purpose: It is a long-range artillery system used for attacking the enemy before close battles.
Range: It can destroy targets at distances up to 45 km.
What are Pinaka Area Denial Munition (ADM) rocket systems?
Developed by: Designed by Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and manufactured by the industry partners under technology transfer.
Purpose: ADMs are a category of ammunition used to prohibit the adversary from occupying or passing through a particular area.
Source: This post is based on the article “Bengaluru joins global network of silk cities” published in The Hindu on 11th April 2022.
What is the News?
Bengaluru has become the first Indian city to become a member of the Global Silk City Network.
What is the Global Silk City Network?
Global Silk City Network helps artisans and craftsmen to exchange knowledge, build trade relations and understand various craftsmanship techniques.
Currently, 13 best silk-producing cities and nine countries are members of this network.
Why was Bengaluru included in the Global Silk City Network?
There are historical reasons why Bengaluru has been included in the Silky City Network. The International Sericultural Commission was held at Lyon in the 1950s and came to Bengaluru in 2013.
Also, Bengaluru is the Silicon Valley of India and Lyon has a big cluster of innovation and IT.
Which other Indian Cities are in line to join the Global Silk City Network?
West Bengal’s Murshidabad district — known to produce fine silk over the past 300 years — may join the Global Silk City Network in future.
The history of silk weaving in Murshidabad goes back to the early eighteenth century during the Mughal rule, when the Nawab of Bengal, Murshid Quli Khan, shifted his capital from Dhaka to a town on the east of the Bhagirathi river and named it Murshidabad.
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