9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 26th, 2022

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. 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:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. 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.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

States vs Centre on selection of Vice-Chancellors: rules, friction

Source: This post is based on the article “States vs Centre on selection of Vice-Chancellors: rules, friction” published in The Indian Express on 26th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to the Federal Structure

Relevance: Tussle between the state govt and the Governor, Appointments of Vice Chancellors (VCs)

News: The Tamil Nadu Assembly recently passed two Bills that seek to transfer the Governor’s power in appointing Vice-Chancellors of 13 state universities to the state government.

As per the state govt, the Bills were required as the Governor was disregarding the state government’s opinion on the appointments of VCs, an argument also made by states such as Maharashtra and West Bengal in the past.

A look at the rules guiding the appointments of VCs across states reveal wide variations, leaving the field open for dispute, particularly in cases where there are sharp political differences between the state and the Centre, which appoints the Governors.

What are the highlights of the two Bills?

Appointment of VCs

– Proposed system: The Bills passed in Tamil Nadu stress that “every appointment of the Vice-Chancellor shall be made by the Government from out of a panel of three names” recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.

– Present system: Currently, the Governor, in his capacity as the Chancellor of state universities, has the power to pick a VC from the shortlisted names.

Removal of VCs

The Bills also seek to empower the state government to have the final word on the removal of VCs, if needed.

Removal will be carried out based on inquiries by a retired High Court judge or a bureaucrat who has served at least as a Chief Secretary, according to one of the Bills.

Are other states trying to curtail the Governor’s role in appointing VCs?

Yes.

Maharashtra: In December 2021, the Maharashtra Assembly passed a Bill amending the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016.

Under the original Act, the Maharashtra government had no say in appointment of VCs.

If the changes take effect, the Governor will be given two names to choose from by the state government, following a panel’s suggestions.

West Bengal: In 2019, the West Bengal government, took away the Governor’s authority in appointing VCs to state universities. It has also hinted at removing the Governor as the Chancellor of the universities.

Kerala: In Left-ruled Kerala, the Governor alleged that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of Kannur University was done against his wishes. The government in Odisha has also tried to bring appointments to state universities under its control. But it has been challenged by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

What is at the root of the differences?

In some states, the elected governments have repeatedly accused the Governors of acting at the behest of the Centre on various subjects, including education.

The regulations, which differ from state to state, are often open to interpretation and disputes are routine.

What is the UGC’s role in this?

Education comes under the Concurrent List, but entry 66 of the Union List gives the Centre substantial authority over higher education.

The UGC plays that standard-setting role, even in the case of appointments in universities and colleges.

According to the UGC Regulations, 2018, the “Visitor/Chancellor” — mostly the Governor in states — shall appoint the VC out of the panel of names recommended by search-cum-selection committees. Higher educational institutions, particularly those that get UGC funds, are mandated to follow its regulations.

These are usually followed without friction in the case of central universities, but are sometimes resisted by the states in the case of state universities.

What are SC’s observations?

Recently, setting aside the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat’s SP University by the state government, the Supreme Court made some key observations.

As per SC

any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto.


How Indonesia’s ban on palm oil exports will hurt us

Source: This post is based on the article “How Indonesia’s ban on palm oil exports will hurt us” published in the Livemint on 26th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations – Effects of policies and politics of developing and developed countries on India’s interests

Relevance: Palm oil crisis in Indonesia

Context: The abrupt ban on palm oil exports by Indonesia, its biggest exporter, is expected to impact household economics globally.

Palm oil is among the world’s most-used cooking oils, and India’s dependence on Indonesia is expected to deal a supply-side shock.

Must Read: Explained: Indonesia’s palm oil crisis, and its implications for India
How will this ban affect India?

The export ban could lead to an increase in food inflation, as India is the largest importer of palm oil from Indonesia.

The commodity accounts for nearly 40% share of India’s overall edible oil consumption basket.

So, edible oil prices could surge as much as 100-200% in India if the government fails to find a new source of palm oil.

Cooking oil prices are already at record levels as the Ukraine war disrupted shipments of sunflower oil. Prior to the war, the Black Sea region made up over 75% of global sunflower oil exports.

Impact on packaged good firms: Since palm oil and its derivatives are used in the production of several household goods, the impact of the ban could eat into the margins of Indian packaged consumer goods players.

What is the solution to this problem?

Mitigating the impact of the ban: Palm oil prices rose by nearly 5% over the weekend after the announcement of the export ban by Indonesia. Finding an immediate solution is going to be a challenge. Even if India manages to find an alternative source, prices will be high.

The industry expects India to engage with Indonesia on an urgent basis, before the ban comes into effect on 28 April.

Besides, the Centre is likely to negotiate with other oil-supplying nations in Latin America and Canada.

Finding another exporting country:

India is most likely to turn to Malaysia, the second-biggest palm oil exporter, to plug the gap. But Malaysia is also facing a labour shortage owing to the pandemic which has resulted in a production shortfall.

India could also explore importing from Thailand and Africa—they produce three million tonnes each.


Retire judges later: Constitutional court judges are being pensioned off too early. Their services are badly needed

Source: This post is based on the article “Retire judges later: Constitutional court judges are being pensioned off too early. Their services are badly needed” published in The Times of India on 25th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity – Judiciary

Relevance: Early retirement age of the judges and the need to fill the vacancies in the judiciary

Context: With seven Supreme Court judges retiring this year and over a third of sanctioned high court judges posts lying vacant, Parliament should urgently consider increasing the retirement ages of SC and HC judges from 65 and 62 respectively.

Scarce judicial resources are constantly expended in finding suitable candidates for these top constitutional positions. And with replacements rarely happening concurrently, the pendency burden grows faster.

What is the scale of the problem?

The vacancy problem is more pronounced in High Courts (HCs) where 45% of pending 59 lakh cases are awaiting disposal for over five years.

While the overall vacancy position is 35% in HCs, in big HCs like Allahabad, Calcutta and Patna nearly 50% sanctioned posts lie vacant.

The bizarrely different retirement ages for SC-HC judges may be a colonial legacy, but the UK has progressively increased retirement age for judicial office holders to 75.

Even Article 224A’s option of allowing reappointment of retired HC judges hasn’t been exercised.

What are the benefits of increasing the retirement age of the judges?

Pendency of cases can be dealt effectively if judges retire late, thereby helping crores of citizens awaiting justice in civil and criminal matters.

Judicial independence: Many judges secure positions as judicial members of tribunals and commissions post-retirement. But this strong desire for post-retirement jobs weakens judicial independence vis-à-vis central and state executives. If judges serve till 70 there’s minimal incentive to seek post-retirement avenues.

Attracting the best minds: A higher retirement age can also attract the best minds to the vocation.

– HC collegiums face great difficulty attracting noted lawyers because of the low retirement age of 62 and delayed appointments.


On EU’s Digital Services Act: Responsible content

Source: The post is based on an article “Responsible Content” published in the Business Standard on 25th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Governance; GS III Science and Technology in everyday life. 

Relevance: Digital Governance 

News: Recently, the European Union (EU) has approved landmark legislation known as the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) 

What are the issues with social media platforms? 

They are being used for spreading disinformation and hate speech to influence elections, racist violence etc.  

The major problem lies in revenue models of the social media platforms. They depend on engagement.  

What are the features of the act? 

The Act makes social media businesses more responsible for content disseminated and amplified on their platforms. In fact, it gives social media users protection against hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful content.  

It specifies fines of up to 6% of annual global revenues, or outright bans, for non-compliance. This sort of substantial penalties could force platforms to review their business models.  

The government can ask platforms to take down content that may be deemed illegal. For example, stuff promoting terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech, and commercial scams.  

The social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter would have to create tools that would allow the users to flag such content in “easy, effective ways”. Marketplaces like Amazon would have to create tools to allow users to flag products.  

Platforms can review content before deciding upon deletion, and must carry out annual reviews and risk assessments of content. 

It bans advertisements targeted at minors, as well as advertisements specifically based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.  

It bans the deceptive techniques used to nudge people into online commitments. For example, signing up by default for online services.  

The companies should do content-moderation while focussing to maximise user-engagement. They should not use algorithms designed to flood the individual’s timeline with a content of poor quality.  

Way Forward 

The new act can help the EU and its nations to safeguards free speech. They rank very high on the Democracy Index 

The DSA can be used as a model legislation in the US, Canada, and other democracies.  


The goal of an energy-secure South Asia

Source: The post is based on an article “The goal of an energy-secure South Asia” published in The Hindu on 26th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations

Relevance: India & Its Neighbourhood Relations 

Context: The electricity generation in South Asia has risen exponentially. Recently, Bhutan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have achieved 100% electrification in the last two years.

However, the status of electrification in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is 94.4%, 97.7% and 73.91% respectively.  

What are the divergences in the electricity policies of South Asian countries? 

There are geographical differences between these countries. They call for a different approach depending on resources.  

India relies heavily on coal (55% of its electricity production), Nepal relies on hydropower (99.9%), Bangladesh relies on natural gas (75%), and Sri Lanka relies on oil. 

What is the importance of electrification, especially with reference to the SDGs? 

It leads to economic growth.

For example, a 0.46% increase in energy consumption leads to a 1% increase in GDP per capita.

Electrification based on renewable energy can lead to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) by all the countries. For example, Bangladesh electrification story justifies various SDGs 

It promotes SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).

It also promotes SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”). For example, Bangladesh is achieving it by engaging more than 1,00,000 female as solar entrepreneurs 

It can help secure SDG 9 (build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation). For example, India’s INDCs pledge.  

It fulfils SDG 4, or “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. This is done by increasing access to online education through energy. 

It fulfils SDG 1 (no poverty”) as more people will be employed.

Also, fulfilling SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”) by increasing access to tech-based health solutions. 

What are the challenges in fulfilment of the objectives? 

The electricity generation, transmission, distribution, rural electrification, research and development, environmental issues, energy conservation and human resource training are the areas of concern. 

South Asia’s regional geopolitics is determined by the conflation of identity, politics, and international borders. These problems may thwart transnational energy projects.  

Pakistan is still struggling to reduce power shortage negatively impacting its economy.  

The electricity pricing varies from country to country in South Asia. For example, Bhutan has the cheapest electricity price while India has the highest. 

What measures need to be taken?

Regional cooperation is required. For example, the first-ever Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) benefits such as poverty reduction, energy efficiency and improved quality of life were realised when there was India-Bhutan hydro trade in 2010. 

The SAARC regional energy cooperation framework in 2014 should be revived. In fact, India hosts the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The region is moving towards green growth and energy.  

Other bilateral and multilateral energy trade agreements such as the India-Nepal petroleum pipeline deal, the India-Bhutan hydroelectric joint venture, the Myanmar-Bangladesh-India gas pipeline, the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) framework for energy cooperation, and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline should be promoted 

Instead of a regional security approach, the energy trade should be perceived through the lens of conflict resolution and peace building 

The current participation in cross-border power projects should be extended to all the South Asian countries, from present Bhutan and India or Nepal and India.  

The transmission and distribution frameworks, new green energy corridors etc. in the South Asia should be reinforced.  

The resilient energy frameworks such as better building-design practices, climate-proof infrastructure, a flexible monitory framework, and an integrated resource plan should be promoted.  

Apart from the government, the Public-private partnership should be promoted. It can be a harbinger in meeting the energy transition challenges for the world’s most populous region. 

Way forward

India should take a lead in South Asia, especially in adapting to renewable power.


India, Europe and the Russian complication

Source: The post is based on an article “India, Europe and the Russian complication” published in the Indian Express on 26th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Multilateral Relations

Relevance: India-the European Union Relations 

News: Recently, Emmanuel Macron was re-elected as the President of France. This comes amid the geopolitical waves being witnessed in Europe. The Ukraine war has persuaded Delhi to recalibrate its great power relations. For the first time since independence, India’s interests are now aligning with those of Europe as both can help reshape Eurasia as well as the Indo-Pacific. 

What are the challenges in India’s relationship with the Europe? 

India’s Russian connection had complicated Indian relations with Europe since early 20th Century. The Russian revolution of 1917 inspired large sections of the Indian national movement. During the Cold War, India-Russia partnership dominated India’s international relations.

In 2022, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has compelled Europe to embark on a costly effort to disconnect from Russia.  It presents a major near-term problem of balancing between Russia and Europe.  

What are the implications of the French Presidential election result? 

The elected French President is known to have laid a strong foundation for India’s strategic partnership with France.  

Under the banner of Emmanuel Macron, the role of French in the present geopolitics will remain the same. The outcomes of the election have sent a sigh of relief across Europe and America. It means the present Europe seems to be remained united against Russian aggression in coming days 

What are the factors that facilitate transformation of India’s ties with Europe? 

India and the EU have talked of a strategic partnership for two decades. Although, the partnership has struggled to realise it.  

The Ukraine invasion has put Delhi in acute strategic discomfort in the relationship between Russia and the West. India cannot sacrifice its growing ties to the West at the cost of historic relations with Russia. Russia is a declining economic weight. Russia’ growing international isolation begins to simplify India’s choices. Delhi has insisted that its silence is not an endorsement of Russian aggression. Therefore, Delhi is intensifying its engagement with Brussels.  

China adds a new imperative to India’s partnership with Europe. China has emerged as a great power. It now presents a generational challenge for Indian policymakers. Now, Moscow & Beijing have announced a partnership “without limits”. Therefore, the Chinese long-term political ambitions have been exposed after the declaration of Beijing’s geopolitical alliance with Moscow. Therefore, Europe can emerge as an important partner in letting India cope with the China challenge.  

The US is another factor in the India-EU relationship. The Ukraine crisis has underlined the US’s centrality in securing Europe against Russia.

– In Asia, the US also act as a critical factor in shaping peace and security amid Chinese assertion. Therefore, the US wants a strong European Union in Europe and Delhi would become a credible provider of regional security in Asia. The US wants India and Europe to build stronger ties with each other. 

Way Forward 

Both India and Europe are trying to reduce reliance on Russia. And over the longer term, a diminished Russia is bound to become less of a complicating factor in India’s engagement with Europe. 


Free India from the grip of regulations and compliances

Source: The post is based on an article “Free India from the grip of regulations and compliances” published in the Live Mint on 26th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Relevance: India’s Regulatory and Compliance regime 

News: Recently, a report titled as “Jailed for Doing Business” was released by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) which referred to the laws and regulations regime in India – first ‘Impediments to Growth’. In addition, India’s Prime Minister used the occasion of the 15th Civil Services Day to point towards excellence in public administration  

What are the findings of the report? 

The findings have been divided into seven broad categories ranging from labour, finance and taxation, environment, health and safety to secretarial, commercial, industry-specific and general areas.  

India’s growth has been thwarted by stringent regulatory and compliance regime in India. There are around 69,233 unique compliances, of which 26,134 provisions can attract imprisonment for non-compliance. 

Therefore, starting and exiting a business is very difficult in India.  There is an excessive criminalization of India’s employer compliance which has led to breeding of corruption, blunts formal employment and poisons justice.” 

State-wise Pattern: Gujarat (1,469), Punjab (1,273), Maharashtra (1,210), Karnataka (1,175) and Tamil Nadu (1,043) have highest number of compliances with imprisonment clauses. 

The problem is worsened by the complicated administrative system. It adds to the regulatory woes.  

Measures Taken to simplify regulatory regime so far 

The Union government of India has abolished nearly 1,500 laws between the period from 2014 to 2019. 

The government should undertake broad-based policy reforms. There is a requirement for rationalizing business rules and regulations. It should include restrained approach on criminal penalties.  

The initiatives for deregulations and restructuring of the country’s compliance mechanism can improve the general business environment in India 

The reforms will safeguard the dignity of wealth-creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders in India. 

The Prime Minister has made a clarion call to all the civil servants in the central as well as various states governments to kick off a comprehensive reform process. These reforms can take India to new heights of prosperity and well-being. 

GS Paper 3


On Gati Shakti Mission: Plugging the infra gaps

Source: This post is based on the article “Plugging the infra gaps” published in the Business Standard on 25th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure

Relevance: On Gati Shakti’s potential, its benefits and challenges in its implementation

Context: Ever since it was announced by the prime minister in October 2021, the Gati Shakti mission has been billed as one of the most transformational projects in the country.

Successfully planning and executing large scale infrastructure projects in India have always been a nightmare, leading to significant cost and time overruns.

Gati Shakti is a much-needed step in offering an integrated solution, say its advocates.

However, not everyone believes the Gati Shakti mission is a radical solution. The author of this article sheds light on this particular aspect.

What is Gati Shakti?

Gati Shakti uses geospatial technology, based on data sourced from different ministries and agencies, to map the entire terrain—and provide a “one view” to the planning and execution agencies.

It also offers an opportunity to bridge the coordination gap between ministries and plug bottlenecks.

What do the critics of the Gati Shakti Mission say?

As per them,

the Big Data project might at best make a peripheral contribution to the challenges of infrastructure development.

Bureaucracy will hold back data sharing —and evade the attempt to build transparency and break silos.

Also, the portal has generated considerable interest among the private sector, particularly in the logistics and infrastructure space. But it remains to be seen whether the private sector will step up and be inspired to participate in infrastructure projects.

What are some potential benefits of the mission?

The benefits are pretty obvious.

Increased efficiency: Instead of taking six months just to decide on the route for a high speed expressway, the Gati Shakti project will allow for a more integrated solution in a matter of weeks. That way, the transportation of goods can be speeded up, leading to more efficiency and productivity in the real economy.

For example: The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) on the western line, stretching from the JNPT port in Mumbai to Dadri in UP, is a prime example.

Concor, the listed entity owned by the Railways, built assets along this corridor. But much of it is unutilised becau­se there are no proper transportation linkages with the regional economic hubs like Kandla, denting Concor’s return on equity.

The Gati Shakti portal might now offer the dedicated freight corridor project some alternative routes to bypass wildlife corridors or mining hubs in the eastern stretch, instead of the shortest route picked earlier.

Fixing the lack of interconnections: There are multiple agencies and ministries involved in the planning process, each with their own processes and ways of working. So, for instance, a new port is often built without adequate focus on rail or road linkages.

Gati Shakti attempts to fix this lack of interconnections by bringing all the different ministries on a co­mmon platform, identifying these gaps and fixing accountability for each ministry for delivery and outcomes.

Also, the cabinet secretary himself chairs the meeting of the empowered group of secretaries from the key ministries to review the progress. The Prime Minister’s office (PMO) also has visibility to the progress.

What are the challenges that need to be addressed?

Gati Shakti poses an enormous challenge to the government’s existing ways of working — and its ability to use data for decision-making.

Moreover, it remains to be seen whether ministries can be persuaded to upload information on all these critical projects, especially the ones that are lagging behind, on the platform.


Niti Aayog’s battery swapping policy provides direction, but lacks a constructive roadmap

Source: This post is based on the article “Niti Aayog’s battery swapping policy provides direction, but lacks a constructive roadmap” published in DTE on 25th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Energy and Infrastructure

Relevance: Electric Vehicles and associated policies in India

Context: The Niti Aayog released the first draft of the Battery Swapping Policy 2022 on April 21, 2022, to improve interoperability and push for faster adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in the two-wheeler and three-wheeler segment.

Why the battery swapping segment if significant?

This segment has competitive prices compared to others. Further, it also constitutes about two-thirds of vehicles registered and can thus play a critical role in faster adoption of EVs.

What are the advantages offered by battery swapping?

Battery swapping standards aim to de-link charging and battery usage to reduce charging downtime immensely and increase vehicle operations.

The scope relies on smaller vehicles with smaller battery packs that can be easy to swap. Other advantages include time, space and cost efficiency.

What are the different aspects under the policy?

Institutional framework

The government will be setting up a nodal agency to ensure a roll-out of services. This will integrate the role of different state-level agencies in delegating, coordination and network distribution.

Adoption is envisaged in two phases: Phase I will focus around metropolitan cities with a population greater than four million and Phase II will focus on other major cities.

Technical aspects

Interoperability definitely has been the key word in battery operations. The policy rightly targets to bring technical uniformity to make this practical.

It prescribes batteries using Advanced Chemistry Cells with performance equivalent or higher than Faster Adoption and Manufacture of (Hybrid and) Electric Vehicles or FAME II specifications. Batteries will have a unique identification number for effective battery cycle monitoring.

The policy also mandates state authorities to facilitate documentation within five days of application through a single window clearance portal. This will bring huge momentum to otherwise slow processes of setting up capital infrastructure and land allotment.

The tariff regime for Battery Charging Stations (BCS) and Battery Swapping Stations (BSS) will be applicable under existing or future time-of-day tariff regimes as stipulated by the appropriate commission.

The policy also allows an individual or entity to set up a BSS at any given location for at least two EV original equipment manufacturers (OEM). This is to enhance the network of energy providers.

It also prescribes only certified agnostic swapping stations to be set up according to Section 3 of the Union Ministry of Petroleum standards on charging infrastructure.

Data sharing aims for transparent communication and non-restrictive data sharing guidelines.

Financial aspects

The policy encourages industry collaboration and has not mandated strict technical operation requirements for interoperability.

It proposes utilisation of prevailing demand side incentives under eligibility criteria based on performance as prescribed under Fame II to ensure superior EVs on road.

Technical and operational requirements will be key for providing subsidy to battery providers in the swapping ecosystem. It suggests an appropriate subsidy multiplier to battery providers to account for overall battery requirements.

Bringing cost parity has been a popular demand. Hence, the policy asks for a decision on the reduction of differential tax rates on Lithium-ion batteries and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). According to the current Goods and Services Tax regime, taxes on batteries and EVSE are 18% and 5% respectively.

Safety aspects

Additionally, it prescribes rigorous testing protocols to avoid breakdown or unwanted risk from temperature increase.

The policy, by and large, shows direction. But due to nascent market dynamics, it lacks a constructive fixed roadmap for setting up of Battery as a Service or BaaS infrastructure.


Rethinking innovation in defence

Source: The post is based on an article “Rethinking innovation in defence” published in the Business Standard on 26th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy; Developments in Science and Technology 

Relevance: Defence R&D  

News: Recently, a report was released by the Parliamentary Standing Committee which draws a comparison of India’s defence sector spending on research and development with the US and other countries.  

What are the findings of the report? 

According to the report, India spends too little on research and development (R&D) in the defence sector. 

The US spends 40% of world spending on defence, China spends 13%, followed by India at 4%.  

Russia, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France and Japan come next at 2.5-3% of world spending each.  

What are the real issues in India’s defence R&D sector? 

Lack of spending: India spending does not match with the US and China’s spending in either defence or defence R&D.

For example, the US is a $23-trillion economy and India is a $3 trillion economy. But the US spends 30 times more than Indian spending, 

India spends a reasonable amount on defence R&D (except for the US and China). India’s R&D problem is not about the amount, the problem is where do we spend on R&D in defence 

In India, there is little difference between who funds and who does R&D. The public funds are used for R&D in public institutes only. And the Private funds are used for R&D in private industry only.

For example, In India, 63% of India’s national R&D is funded by the Union government. 7% happens in the public higher education system and 56% is done in the government’s own autonomous laboratories like DRDR, Department of Space and the Department of Atomic Energy. 

Delays in project completion: Consequentially, India’s two largest projects, the main battle tank (Arjun) and the light combat aircraft (Tejas) have not been completed even after 40 years.

In fact, the local productions aren’t India’s main defence choice. In fact, India imports the majority of the defence requirements. This adversely impacts India’s strategic autonomy, which forms the bedrock of our foreign policy.  

Way Forward 

India should adopt the US model. It should stop distinguishing between funding and doing R&D. The government should provide funds for defence R&D across private industry, public and private universities, and public research institutes.  

In the UB 2022-23, 25% of DRDO funding has been “set aside” for higher education and private industry. It would lead to more innovation in the defence industry. The firms and universities should be allowed to bid for funding in a competitive process. They can compete for bid to develop particular defence items or research particular topics, with the R&D funding coming from this budget.  

A scheme, called iDEX, funds defence innovation in start-ups.  This measure must be effectively implemented. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

At $76.6 billion, India is third highest military spender in world, says report

Source: This post is based on the article “At $76.6 billion, India is third-highest military spender in world, says report” published in The Hindu on 26th April 2022.

What is the News?

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI) has released a report on global military spending in 2021.

What are the key findings of the report?
Source: Businesstoday

Largest Military Spenders: The five largest military spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia. These countries together account for 62% of expenditure.

Military Expenditure: The total global military expenditure increased by 0.7% in real terms in 2021 to reach an all-time high of $2.1 trillion.

India: India was the third-highest military spender in the world behind the US and China.

India’s military spending amounting to $76.6 billion in 2021 grew by 0.9% from 2020 and by 33% from 2012. 

Reason for increase in India’s military spending: Amid ongoing tensions and border disputes with China and Pakistan that occasionally spill over into armed clashes. Similarly, India has prioritized the modernisation of its armed forces and self-reliance in arms production

– For instance, in a push to strengthen the indigenous arms industry, 64% of capital outlays in India’s defence budget for 2021 were earmarked for acquisitions of domestically produced arms.


All you need to know about protected cultivation, or vertical farming

Source: This post is based on the article “All you need to know about protected cultivation, or vertical farming” published in Indian Express on 24th April 2022.

What is the News?

According to experts, all crops grown via vertical farming methods are usually over 95 percent water efficient.

Background and Concept of Vertical Farming

In 1915, Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term “vertical farming” and wrote a book titled “Vertical Farming”. 

In the 1980s, Åke Olsson, a Swedish ecological farmer, invented a spiral-shaped rail system for growing plants and suggested vertical farming as a means for producing vegetables in cities.

The modern concept of vertical farming was proposed in 1999 by Professor Dickson Despommier. 

What is Vertical Farming?

Instead of horizontally on the ground like traditional farming, vertical farming grows crops in vertical, stacked layers without putting too much impact on land and water resources which are scarce. 

Vertical farming systems like aeroponics and hydroponics come under the broad umbrella ambit of ‘protected cultivation’ where one can control and regulate multiple variables like water, soil, temperature, humidity and so on.

What are the different types of Vertical Farming?

Hydroponics: It involves growing plants in nutrient solutions that are free of soil. The plant roots are submerged in the nutrient solution which is frequently monitored and circulated to ensure that the correct chemical composition is maintained.

Aeroponics: In this, plants are grown in an environment where air with very little water or mist and without soil is used.

In this system, the plant roots are suspended in the air. So, the roots are nourished by misting the root zones with a nutrient solution on a continual basis by using a fine sprayer to ensure that the roots get sufficient oxygen.

Aquaponics: The term aquaponics is coined by combining two words: aquaculture, which refers to fish farming, and hydroponics—the technique of growing plants without soil, to create symbiotic relationships between the plants and the fish. 

In this system, fish are grown in indoor ponds producing nutrient-rich waste that is used as a feed source for the plants in the vertical farm. The plants, in turn, filter and purify the wastewater, which is recycled to the fishponds.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Vertical Farming?

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Why are blue stragglers stars different from the norm

Source: This post is based on the article “Why are blue stragglers stars different from the norm” published in The Hindu on 22nd April 2022.

What is the News?

Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru has conducted a study on Blue Stragglers to understand their aberrant behaviour.

For this, the researchers used the UVIT instrument (Ultra Violet Imaging Telescope) of ASTROSAT, India’s first science observatory in space.

What are Blue Stragglers?
Source: The Hindu

Blue Straggler Stars are hot, blue, massive stars and seem to have a different trajectory of evolution from the norm.

Why are they called Blue Stragglers?

There are a few stars that, when they are expected to start expanding in size and cooling down, do just the opposite. They grow brighter and hotter as indicated by their blue color. Thus, standing out from the cooler red stars in their vicinity in the color-magnitude diagram.

– Since they lag their peers in evolution, they are called stragglers more specifically, blue stragglers, because of their hot, blue color.

First Discovered by: Blue stragglers were first discovered by Allan Sandage in 1953 while performing photometry of the stars.

Why are blue stragglers more massive and energetic than expected according to the study?

Blue Stragglers are more massive and energetic than expected may be due to the following reasons: 

First Possibility: They do not belong to the family of stars in the cluster and hence are not expected to have the group properties. But if they actually belong, the evasive behaviour is due to these stars gaining mass from a binary companion.

Second Possibility: The straggler draws matter from the giant companion and grows more massive, hot and blue, and the red giant ends up as a normal or smaller white dwarf.

Third possibility: The straggler draws matter from a companion star, but that there is a third star that facilitates this process.


A newly discovered episodically accreting young star could help probe this rare group in more details

Source: This post is based on the article A newly discovered episodically accreting young star could help probe this rare group in more detailspublished in PIB on 25th April 2022.

What is the News?

Indian astronomers from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) as part of an international research have discovered Gaia 20eae.

What is Gaia 20eae?

Gaia 20eae is an extremely rare group of young stars that exhibit episodic accretion.

What are Episodic Accreting young stars?

Episodically accreting young stars are young, low-mass stars that have not initiated hydrogen fusion in their core and are fuelled by gravitational contraction and deuterium fusion (pre-main-sequence phase of the star). 

These pre-main-sequence stars are surrounded by a disc from which it steadily feeds on the matter from the disc-shaped region of gas and dust surrounding the star to gain mass. This process is known as mass accretion from the circumstellar disc of the star. 

On occasions their feeding rate increases. This is known as the periods of enhanced mass accretion from their circumstellar disc. During such episodes, the brightness of the star increases by 4-6 magnitudes in the optical bands. 

So far 25 such rare groups of stars have been discovered.

Significance of this discovery: This discovery could help probe into this group of Episodic Accreting young stars and their formation mechanism in greater detail. 


The quarrel over kuril Islands

Source: This post is based on the article “The quarrel over kuril Islands” published in The Hindu on 26th April 2022.

What is the News?

Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook for 2022 described the Kuril Islands (which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia as the South Kurils) as being under Russia’s “illegal occupation”. 

This is the first time in about two decades that Japan has used this phrase to describe the dispute over the Kuril Islands.

What is the Kuril Islands Dispute?
Source: The Hindu

Click Here to read about it

Have there been attempts made to resolve the Kuril Islands Dispute?

Since 1991, there have been many attempts to resolve the dispute and sign a peace treaty. The most recent attempt was under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when joint economic development of the disputed islands was explored. 

In fact, both countries had agreed to have bilateral negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.

Russia was even willing to give back two islands, the Shikotan Island and the Habomai islets. But the offer was rejected by Japan as the two islands constituted only 7% of the land in question.

Why has Japan raised the Kuril Islands dispute now?

Japan has raised the Kuril Islands dispute due to the following reasons: 

Firstly, Japan has probably been spurred by its fears of a Russia-China alliance as Japan itself has territorial disputes and an uneasy history with China.

Secondly, Japan might have felt that this is a good opportunity to further isolate Russia and paint it as a “habitual offender” of international law.

Finally, Japan might have been prompted to take this position as it feels that the invasion of Ukraine proves that getting back the Kuril Islands is a lost cause.


Children In Street Situation(CISS): SC seeks steps for Children on Streets

Source:  This post is based on the article “SC seeks steps for Children on Streets” published in The Hindu on 26th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has directed the States and Union Territories(UTs) that have not yet framed their own policies to rehabilitate children in street situation(CISS) to immediately implement the Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situation 2.0

What is Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situation 2.0?

Prepared by: National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights(NCPCR) in collaboration with Save the Children, a non-profit organization.

Aim: To strengthen the processes and interventions that work towards the welfare of children on the streets and their families.

Categories: The street children have been divided into three broad categories: 1) those who are living on the streets all alone and with no support, 2) those who spend most of their time on the streets but go home to a slum at night and 3) those whose entire families live on the streets.

Challenges Faced by Street Children: 1) Missing care and protection of responsible adults, 2) Forced to work to eat every day, 3) Work in risky occupations on the streets, 4) Poor health and illness due to poor living condition, 5) Exposure to drug and substance abuse, 6) Low level of access to medical care or education and 7) Lack of Identity to link with Social Security Schemes.

Key Guidelines: The core principle adopted in the procedure is looking at the child in the context of the family since family is the first resort for a child.

It also focuses on providing social protection to children with and without families

Further, it also talks about an individual care plan for street children and families strengthening with schemes.


Fulfilling CoP26 promises can limit global warming to 2°C: Study

Source: This post is based on the article “Fulfilling CoP26 promises can limit global warming to 2°C: Study” published in Down To Earth on 25th April 2022.

What is the News?

According to a study, Global warming can be limited to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels if all the conditional and unconditional pledges to the Paris Agreement are implemented in full and on time.

What is the study about?

The study has analyzed 154 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and 76 long-term low-emission development strategies submitted by countries.

NDCs are the pledges made by countries that are Parties to the Paris Agreement and typically have a target date of 2030. 

Low-emission development strategies are long-term plans that countries are invited to submit and can be dated to 2050 or beyond — they typically contain the Net Zero plans of countries that have a net-zero emissions target. 

What did the study find out?

The study has found that climate pledges made by the countries if they are all implemented in full and on time – could limit global warming to just below 2 degrees C hotter than pre-industrial time. 

What will be the impact of 2 degrees Celsius Global Warming? 

New Delhi-based think-tank Center for Science and Environment(CSE) had pointed out that the impacts of 2 degrees Celsius of warming will be catastrophic compared to a 1.5C world and would lead to irreversible planetary changes such as:  

1) Sea-level rise will be around 0.1 meters greater than a 1.5C world; 2) Coral reefs would face extinction; 3) climate-induced extinction rates for plants and animals would increase by 50%. 

These effects will be felt most by the developing world.


Union Agriculture Minister to inaugurate ‘Kisan Bhagidari Prathmikta Hamari’ Campaign

Source: This post is based on the article Union Agriculture Minister to inaugurate ‘Kisan Bhagidari Prathmikta Hamari’ Campaignpublished in PIB on 25th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched the ‘Kisan Bhagidari Prathmikta Hamari’ Campaign under ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

What is the Kisan Bhagidari Prathmikta Hamari Campaign?

Organized by: Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in association with other Ministries.

Aim: To organize activities for creating awareness and publicity among a large number of farmers across the country about the schemes and programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and other allied Ministries.

Activities to be organized under the campaign

Krishi Mela: At each Krishi Vigyan Kendra, the Department of Agriculture Research and Education will be organizing Krishi Mela and a natural farming-based field exhibition.

Discourse on agroecological practices: The Ministry of Rural Development along with the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) will be organizing discourses on livestock and agro-ecological practices.

One District One Product webinar: The Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Ministry of Commerce will be organizing a webinar on One District One Product(ODOP) during the campaign.


India Patents report: Indian companies filed 1.38 lakh tech patents during 2015-22

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian companies filed 1.38 lakh tech patents during 2015-22” published in Hindu Businessline on 25th April 2022.

What is the News?

The National Association of Software and Services Companies(NASSCOM) has released the India Patents report.

The focus of the report: The report is one among a series of Nasscom’s Emerging Technology-focused reports that aim to understand how Indian technology companies are creating IP assets in their largest market.

What are the key findings of the report?

Patents filed by Indian Companies: Indian companies have filed 1.38 lakh tech patents in India from 2015 to 2021.

The US as a key market: The US remains a key export market for India. Over 9,500 patents were filed by India domiciled companies in the US between 2015-2021, an increase of around 47% over 2015 and 2019. 

Role of Start-ups: Start-ups have been key contributors in terms of technology innovation. Over 60% of the technology patents were filed by Indian companies and start-ups while 16.7%  of the tech patents were filed by Individual inventors/Academia-Research.

Emerging Technologies: Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to lead in terms of total patents filed under various emerging technology domains. Machine Learning patents grew by over 2X maintaining its lead in AI.


NASA’s Hubble discovers farthest star detected till date: Earendel

Source: This post is based on the article “NASA’s Hubble discovers farthest star detected till date: Earendel” published in Indian Express on 31st March 2022.

What is the News?

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the farthest star ever seen to date. They have nicknamed that star as “Earendel”.

What is Earendel?

Earender is the most distant star discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The star has been officially called WHL0137-LS, but it has been nicknamed “Earendel”, which means “morning star” in Old English.

The star is more than 12.9 billion light-years away and likely existed within the first billion years after the beginning of the universe.

This discovery of the most distant star was made possible by a phenomenon known as ‘gravitational lensing’.

What is Gravitational Lensing?

A gravitational lens can occur when a huge amount of matter, like a cluster of galaxies, creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from distant galaxies that are behind it but in the same line of sight. 

The effect is like looking through a giant magnifying glass. 

Significance: This effect allows researchers to study the details of early galaxies too far away to be seen with current technology and telescopes.

First Predicted by: This effect was predicted to exist by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in the early 20th century.

Mains Answer Writing

[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #182 : Smita Nagraj Board, Sociology Optional, Trekking, Camping Hobbies

Date of Interview: 2nd May, Forenoon Board: Smita Nagraj Optional: Sociology Background: IIT Roorkee Hobbies: Fingerstyle Guitar, Trekking and Camping To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page I was the third person to go. The waiting room had a very informal and comforting vibe, with snacks, newspaper and other stuff. We were provided… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #182 : Smita Nagraj Board, Sociology Optional, Trekking, Camping Hobbies

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[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #181 : Smita Nagraj Board, Gujarat Home State, PSIR Optional

Date of Interview: 27th April 2022 Board: Smita Nagraj Optional: PSIR Home State: Gujarat Background: BE Mechanical Hobby: interaction with children 1st to go in forenoon session To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman Ahmedabad iim logo issue. What is it? And what it’s status today? Siddi sayaid zali.. Have you seen… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #181 : Smita Nagraj Board, Gujarat Home State, PSIR Optional

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Indian Economy Current Affairs Compilation – 2022 | UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material | Part -2

Dear Friends, This post is 2nd part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered all of the Indian Economy Current Affairs of September, October 2021, and April 2022 months. To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC Prelims 2022– Click here Monetary policies Standing Deposit Facility(SDF) News… Continue reading Indian Economy Current Affairs Compilation – 2022 | UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material | Part -2

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 16, 2022

Good Morning Friends, Following are answers to Mains Marathon questions, we posted yesterday. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. Every morning, we post 2 questions are based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant to the… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 16, 2022

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UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material| Science and Tech Current Affairs | Defence technologies – Part 2

Dear Friends, This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered the Science and tech current affairs of the Defence technologies section. This post covers the current affairs of September, October 2021 and April 2022 months. Science and Tech Current Affairs 2021-22 Defence… Continue reading UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material| Science and Tech Current Affairs | Defence technologies – Part 2

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[Answered] What is India’s Project 75-I? Discuss the significance of the project and also highlight the challenges it is facing in building submarines domestically.

Introduction: Explain Project-75I. Body: Write down significance of the project. Also write some challenges in developing submarines domestically. Conclusion: Provide a brief way forward. Project 75-I, approved in 2007 is part of the Indian Navy’s 30-year Plan for indigenous submarine construction. Project 75-I envisages indigenous construction of 6 modern conventional (non-nuclear or diesel-electric) submarines with… Continue reading [Answered] What is India’s Project 75-I? Discuss the significance of the project and also highlight the challenges it is facing in building submarines domestically.

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[Answered] Road safety is a universal concern, only megacities of India witnesses thousands of accidents annually. In this regard, suggest some remedial measures with special focus on the Delhi model.

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Write some measures to reduce road accidents including some points of road safety measures of Delhi. Conclusion: Write some suggestions. Globally, road accidents account for 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries. According to World Bank report, India has 1% of the world’s vehicles but accounts for 11% of all road… Continue reading [Answered] Road safety is a universal concern, only megacities of India witnesses thousands of accidents annually. In this regard, suggest some remedial measures with special focus on the Delhi model.

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Important Species in news | Current Affairs Compilation for Prelims 2022 | Part 2

Dear Friends, This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered the all Important Environmental initiatives in news. This post covers the current affairs of September, October 2021 and April 2022 months. To Read Other Current Affairs Compilations for Prelims 2022– Click… Continue reading Important Species in news | Current Affairs Compilation for Prelims 2022 | Part 2

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UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material| Science and Tech Current Affairs | Space technology – Part 2

Dear Friends, This post is a part of our current affairs series for the UPSC IAS Prelims 2022. In this post, we have covered the Science and tech current affairs of the Space technology section. This post covers the current affairs of September, October 2021 and April 2022 months. Science and Tech Current Affairs 2021-22… Continue reading UPSC IAS Prelims 2022 Material| Science and Tech Current Affairs | Space technology – Part 2

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[Answered] Uniform Civil Code can be the real unifying force in India; however, India’s complex diversity makes the execution and applicability of the UCC difficult. Elaborate.

Introduction: contextual introduction. Body: Write some points explaining how UCC will be a unifying force in India. Write some issues in its execution. Conclusion: Write way forward. The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs. It would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to… Continue reading [Answered] Uniform Civil Code can be the real unifying force in India; however, India’s complex diversity makes the execution and applicability of the UCC difficult. Elaborate.

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