9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 30th, 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.
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Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Explained: Shah Faesal will return to IAS; what are the rules for resignation and reinstatement of an officer?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Shah Faesal will return to IAS; what are the rules for resignation and reinstatement of an officer?” published in The Indian Express on 30th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Civil Services

Relevance: Rules regarding resignation and reinstatement of an IAS Officer

News: IAS officer Shah Faesal, who resigned in 2019, has been reinstated by the central government. What is the process by which an IAS officer can resign, or be put back in service? What rules govern these actions?

The first Kashmiri to top the Civil Services Examination (2010 batch), Faesal’s resignation, in January 2019, had not been accepted by the government pending investigation into some of his posts on social media.

What rules apply when an IAS officer chooses to resign?

A resignation is a formal intimation in writing by an officer of his/her intention or a proposal to leave the IAS, either immediately or at a specified date in the future.

Guidelines of the Department of Personnel, the cadre controlling department for the IAS, say that a resignation has to be clear and unconditional.

The resignation of an officer of any of the three All-India Services — IAS, the Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service — is governed by Rules 5(1) and 5(1)(A) of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958.

There are similar rules for resignation of officers belonging to the other central services as well.

Resignation vs VRS

Resignation from service is entirely different from accepting the government’s Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

Those who take VRS are entitled to pension, whereas those who resign are not.

To whom must the resignation of an IAS officer be submitted?

An officer serving in a cadre (state) must submit his/her resignation to the chief secretary of the state.

An officer who is on central deputation is required to submit his/her resignation to the secretary of the concerned Ministry or Department.

The Ministry/Department then forwards the officer’s resignation to the concerned state cadre, along with its comments or recommendations.

What happens after the resignation is submitted?

The state checks to see if any dues are outstanding against the officer, as well as the vigilance status of the officer or whether any cases of corruption etc. are pending against him/her. In case there is such a case, the resignation is normally rejected.

Before forwarding the resignation to the central government, the concerned state is supposed to send information on the issues of dues and vigilance status, along with its recommendation.

The government also checks whether the concerned officer had executed any bond to serve the government for a specified number of years on account of having received specialised training, a fellowship, or scholarship for studies.

The resignation of the officer is considered by the competent authority, i.e., the central government, only after the recommendation of the concerned cadre has been received. The competent authorities are:

Minister of State at the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) in respect of the IAS

The Minister for Home Affairs in respect of the IPS

The Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change in respect of the Forest Service.

Being the minister in charge of the DoPT, the Prime Minister himself takes decisions currently in respect of the IAS.

Is an officer allowed to withdraw a resignation that has already been submitted?

Rule 5(1A)(i) of the amended DCRB Rules says the central government may permit an officer to withdraw his/her resignation “in the public interest”.

An amendment in the Rules in 2011 states –

– that the period of absence from duty between the date on which the resignation became effective and the date on which the member is allowed to resume duty as a result of permission to withdraw the resignation is not more than ninety days”.

– Also, the request for withdrawal of resignation shall not be accepted by the Central Government where a member of the Service resigns from his/her service or post with a view to be associated with any political parties or any organisation.

Under what circumstances, the withdrawal of an officer’s resignation is accepted?

The guidelines say that if an officer who has submitted his/her resignation sends an intimation in writing withdrawing it before its acceptance by the competent authority, the resignation will be deemed to have been automatically withdrawn.


Calibrated, coordinated action is needed by Centre & states to address the issue of high fuel prices

Source: This post is based on the article “Calibrated, coordinated action is needed by Centre & states to address the issue of high fuel prices” published in The Indian Express on 30th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity – Centre-State relations

Relevance: Issues of rising fuel prices in the backdrop of Centre-State relations

Context: A few days ago, Prime Minister said that several Opposition-ruled states did not heed the Centre’s call to lower taxes on petrol and diesel.

While several chief ministers contradicted the PM, the situation is particularly challenging for both the Centre and states as revenue from fuel taxes accounts for a sizeable share of general government revenues.

What is the revenue contribution of fuel taxes to the Centre and the States?

As per the Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell,

– For Centre: The sector’s contribution to the Union government exchequer stood at Rs 4.55 lakh crore in 2020-21, up from Rs 1.72 lakh crore in 2014-15.

– For states: In the case of states, it rose from Rs 1.6 lakh crore to Rs 2.17 lakh crore over the same period.

States are likely to face a revenue shortfall this year as the collections through the GST compensation cess will possibly cease at the end of June. Thereby, lowering of sales tax/VAT on POL (petroleum oil lubricants) products will be fiscally challenging.

What is the way forward?

Since the revisions began in March, Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have raised prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 12 and Rs 10 per litre respectively.

The cumulative price of fuel includes an excise duty levy of Rs 27.9 and a VAT of Rs 17.13 which works out to around 43% of the retail selling price.

As these taxes are levied at both the central and state level, calibrated action will be required at both levels — even the monetary policy committee has in the past called for cuts at both levels.

Also, governments at both the central and state level could perhaps consider building in some counter-cyclicality in the taxes levied i.e. cut taxes when prices are high, maintain stability when prices fall. This would factor in concerns over both revenue and inflation.


What Does Junk Food Deserve? Stars, Or Warnings?

Source: This post is based on the article “What Does Junk Food Deserve? Stars, Or Warnings?” published in The Times of India on 30th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to Health

Relevance: Prevalence of obesity, rise in Non-communicable diseases and poor nutrition

Context: A triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, micronutrient malnutrition, as well as overweight and obesity – is rising in India. More nourishing freshly cooked home-foods or more natural foods are being replaced by cheaper preprocessed packaged alternatives with high levels of salt, sugar and fat. These products fill the stomach, but do not nourish and in fact promote ill health and disease.

Poor dietary choices combined with sedentary lifestyles is leading to rise in obesity and chronic ailments like diabetes.

India is the diabetic capital of the world, with the highest concentration of diabetics in any single country.

Therefore, India must heed countries that have already experienced this disastrous nutrition transition and taken appropriate countermeasures.

Is the Govt taking steps to address the problem?

Front of Packet Labelling (FOPL) was introduced in The Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Draft Regulations in 2019.

Subsequently, many studies and expert committees were commissioned by FSSAI to determine specifics to enable implementation.

What are the issues involved?

The form FOPL should take: Summary scores, guideline daily amount, traffic light labels and nutrition warning systems have been used in different countries.

FSSAI is favouring Health Star Ratings (HSRs) based on summary scores

– Nutrition Warning Labels (WLs) are being demanded by civil society organisations and experts.

HSRWLs
HSRs are summary indicators, indicating only the net result of various calculations.

They don’t allow consumers to distinguish the reason for a particular star rating (a food product high in salt might be star rated the same as one high in sugar, or as a relatively less processed food). This wouldn’t help a diabetic or hypertensive patient.

HSR would give stars from half to five for all foods alike: Even the unhealthiest food would get some golden star – a symbol of goodness, confusing the consumer.

WLs, in contrast, can point to higher than desirable levels of specific elements, each carrying its own pictorial warning.

 

 

Further, experts in countries using HSR for some years such as Australia warn of their ineffectiveness in influencing consumer behaviour.WLs, obviously, have a common-sense advantage over HSR and have significantly impacted consumer behaviour in countries like Chile.

Issue of thresholds: WHO has set certain standards to declare foods to be too high in sugar, salt and fat for different regions.

An FSSAI study found that 62.8 % of foods on shop shelves in India would fail for all three nutrients of concern, and 96% for one of WHO thresholds.

However, standards under consideration by FSSAI are 2-3 times higher for total sugar in foods and beverages and 1.8 times higher for salt, which is a basic flaw. Such dilution of standards would allow the majority of packaged food products to slip through the net.

Issues of making adoption of FOPL voluntary or mandatory: Countries like Australia follow the former, Chile the latter.

Most evidence points to industry failing to comply adequately with voluntary FOPL.

In Australia, only a quarter of products complied with HSR labelling many years after it was proposed.

India’s current plans seem to indicate that whatever form FOPL takes, it would become mandatory only by 2027, giving many years of leeway to the industry while NCD acceleration continues unabated.

Way forward

All evidence points to the need for mandatory FOPL warning systems without any dilution of WHO standard thresholds to raise consumer awareness and reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods.

In the face of what should be considered a public health emergency, this really needs to happen immediately and without any other consideration whatsoever.


Placing semicon diplomacy at the heart of India’s foreign policy

Source: The post is based on an article “Placing semicon diplomacy at the heart of India’s foreign policy” published in the Indian Express on 30th April 2022. 
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Atmanirbhar Bharat in semiconductor Sector and Semicon Diplomacy 

News: The PM of India made a clarion call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Consequently, the government announced the Semicon India programme for India’s drive for self-sufficiency in semiconductors. It aims to provide $10 bn fiscal support and other non-fiscal measures for the sector. 

How is semicon diplomacy relevant to India’s foreign policy? 

Semiconductor chips are the lifeblood of the modern information age. These semiconductor chips are the drivers for ICT development. 

The semiconductor is the cornerstone of all electronic products. They enable electronic products to compute and control actions. 

It can be a great example of peacetime global cooperation. This is because the manufacturing cycle of a semiconductor chip changes hands approx. 70 times across international borders. 

The global semiconductor market is projected to be $1.2 tn by 2030, India needs to be well-positioned to capture it. 

Placing semicon diplomacy at the heart of India’s foreign policy is essential, both strategically and economically 

Attaining self-sufficiency in semiconductor manufacturing can mean collective growth of India’s neighbourhood in the South Asian region. 

What are the issues in the global value chain of semiconductor products?

The semiconductor manufacturing capacities are concentrated in a few geographies like Taiwan, South Korea, East Asia and China. The concentration of capacities poses many challenges, leading several countries to be vulnerable to a few and prone to supply chain disruption. 

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in chip shortages. For example, automakers were hit hard. Now, the Russia-Ukraine Conflict has impacted the supply chain of the raw material resources for the semiconductor chipmakers.  

What are the opportunities for India? 

India has the opportunity to become an attractive alternative destination for semiconductor manufacturing.  

Companies are looking to diversify their global supply chain. They are looking for alternatives to their bases in China.  

The establishment of the value chain for semiconductors would ensure a multiplier effect on the entire Indian economy.  

Second most imported items after oil and petroleum products are electronics products. Therefore, domestic production would be saving forex and reducing the balance of payments, especially vis a vis China. 

India can go for self-reliance in the semiconductor sector. It will also encourage growth and prosperity of all, in the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. 

Way Forward 

The way ahead is conceptualising a semicon diplomacy action plan. It can be done by increasing multilateral and bilateral cooperation across the value chain of semiconductors which includes design, manufacturing, and packaging.  

Quad can play a very important role in semicon diplomacy. Australia can be an important supplier of raw material resources. The US and Japan support in the advanced semiconductor technology & capacity building of India. 

The semiconductor manufacturing and testing bases are heavily concentrated in East Asia, the Act East policy provides an opportunity to connect and strengthen ties with key players in the region.  

India can promote frequent technological exchanges between a regional bloc like ASEAN via tracks in forums like the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN regional forum will be beneficial. 

The recently announced Semicon India programme is a step in the right direction.

India needs to harness its strengths, such as the strong presence of global EMS players, diaspora, world-class design ecosystem, demographic dividend, and use it as a pedestal for global partnerships and outreach. 


Shitij Kapur on why India offers opportunities in educational partnerships

Source: The post is based on an article “Shitij Kapur on why India offers opportunities in educational partnerships” published in the Business Standard on 30th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations and Bilateral Relations

Relevance: India-UK Relation; Educational Partnership 

News: Recently, Britain formalised a symbolic “self-isolation” through Brexit in 2020. However, despite the economic shocks that were anticipated from both the COVID and the nation’s withdrawal from the European Union, Britain attracted more Indian students to its shores during a pandemic. 

What is the nature of the UK-India relations wrt education?

Britain’s institutions have ongoing ties with Indian universities such as the Ashoka University and O P Jindal. They work on student partnerships and research projects. 

Factors behind more outmigration of Indian students to the UK during COVID

First, the United Kingdom has managed to keep colleges more accessible to students than some other places. 

Secondly, the UK has continued to provide quality education without the impact of Covid-19. The quality of education has not been sacrificed due to Covid-19 

Third, the relaxations have been granted in postgraduate work visa rules 

Fourth, the UK government has made an announcement of a significant increase in spending on research budgets. 

What are the future prospects? 

The announcement of the National Education Policy (NEP), the designation of Institute of Eminence status to some universities would facilitate more international partnerships with the Indian Institutions.  

Recently, the Indian government introduced a common entrance exam for admissions to central universities in India. It will ensure a level of standardised assessment of the school outgoing students. 

The dual undergraduate degree is an attractive proposition. The world needs people who belong to more than one discipline. 


Decade Of Emerging Economies

Source: The post is based on an article “Decade of Emerging Economies” published in the Times of India on 30th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations 

Relevance: The US decline and upcoming opportunities for Indian Economy 

News: The US is witnessing decline in the global economic. Therefore, it is argued that the US economy is not going to comeback in the coming decade. In fact, it will be an era of the emerging world. For example, 7 out of 10 emerging stock markets are outperforming the US market. 

What are the past trends of rise and fall of the US economy? 

The US boom of the 1960s ended in the 1970s. The US boom of the 1990s ended in the dotcom bust. In the 2010s the US came back. In the 2010s almost all the emerging markets (except China) lost shares of both global GDP and global market. However, the US boom of the 2010s is showing signs of decline & it is unlikely that the US will revive once again. 

Why is it difficult for the US to regain its pre-eminence in the coming decade? 

The US pre-eminence is being threatened by the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. American declinists argue that the US is losing ground to China.  

Inflation is running well above the global average in the US.  

In response to the financial sanctions imposed by the US on Russia, many nations have started looking for ways to reduce dependence on the dollar, which is the foundation of the US financial power. 

The US debt has risen faster than most other countries. Th US debts rose from 17% to well over 50% of its GDP between 2010-2020. The debt has further risen to new heights due to the most generous stimulus package rolled out in the US in response to the coronavirus. Such heavy debts have often taken down the financial empires in the past. 

The US Federal Reserve’s move to push easy money in the economy has fuelled the rise of monopolies and a new generation of “zombie” companies. These firms do not boost the economy but dampen it. 

In the 2000s, almost every developing nation witnessed accelerated growth. It led to forecasts that the coming century will be an “Emerging Market Century”. Various economics in regions from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe (other than Taiwan, South Korea, or China) have gained strength.  

The factories are seeking cheaper labour or shorter shipping routes. The factories want to move out of China. They are looking for other countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia. 

There is a demand to build a greener global economy. It has resulted into greenflation (a rise in commodity prices driven by environmental pressures). This will lead to demand for new supplies into the global market. This will create new opportunities for major exporters such as Brazil, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.  

At present, the war between Ukraine and Russia will also increase the demand for materials from other commodity-producing nations. 

Every crisis creates compulsions for the emerging nations to adopt reforms to boost productivity and growth. For example, India has been privatising some of its state-owned enterprises, Indonesia has cut taxes and eased labour laws, and Saudi Arabia is loosening immigration barriers. 

The pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution in emerging economies than developed ones. The share of the digital economy has been increasing in the GDP in emerging economies. For instance, India is home to as many new technology companies today as is France or Germany. 

Today’s growth rates in the developing world are like the much higher growth rates that were recorded during the early post-World War II decades. 

At present, the developed economies are witnessing slowdown driven by declining population and productivity growth.  

Argument against 

China’s rising share of global GDP has come largely at the expense of Europe and Japan, not at the expense of the US. 

China is facing its own huge debt problem. It is also facing the challenge of an ageing population. Therefore, new winners may well be emerging economies outside of China.  


The one nation, one language fallacy

Source: The post is based on the article “The one nation, one language fallacy” published in the Indian Express on 30th April 2022, and the article “A step that would trigger language phonocide” published in The Hindu on 30th April 2022 

Syllabus: GS2 Provisions of the Constitution of India

Relevance: Official Language in India 

News: Recently, the Union Home Minister at the Parliamentary Official Language Committee urged the use of Hindu as the lingua franca, rather than English, in inter-State communication.

Background of demand for national language 

V.D. Savarkar articulated the slogan, ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’. He was first to advocate the idea of Hindi to be declared the national language.  

R.V. Dhulekar, a Constituent Assembly member, stated in the Assembly, “You may belong – to another nation but I belong to Indian nation, the Hindi Nation, the Hindu Nation, the Hindustani Nation.” 

Why should Hindi not be promoted as the official language? 

India is a multilingual society. Indians speak Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit and others.

Hindi is spoken by not more than 30% of the population. Therefore, it is neither a lingua franca (a pan-Indian language) nor a dominant language of the people of India.”.  

As per records, the 2011 Census presented Hindi as the ‘mother tongue’ of over 52 crore people. However, it subsumed nearly 61 other languages (like Bhojpuri) spoken in parts of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.  

There is a linguistic pluralism in Indian society. As per the 1961 Census, there were a total of 1,652 ‘mother tongues’ in India. Out of the total only 184 ‘mother tongues’ had more than 10,000 speakers.   

There are power dynamics and identity issues related to languages. Therefore, it may lead to language-based discrimination. For example, Kashmiri language suffers in its land of birth by the dominance of Urdu (the state language). In addition, many other South Asian languages are dominated by Hindi.  

The imposition of one language is based on the misinterpretation of the political map as cultural map and linguistic or the misinterpretation of the cultural maps as political map.  

What is wrong with the idea of one nation, one language?

There are problems with the romantic notion of “one nation, one language” which means imposition of One language over a large geographic zone of multi-lingual landmass

The imposition of one language over others leads to hatredness against the imposed language. For example,

a) Sri Lanka declared Sinhalese as the sole official language with the exclusion of Tamil. It led to the eruption of the demand for a separate Tamil nation

– b) the Eastern Pakistan (later Bangladesh) partitioned from Western Pakistan because the latter was imposing Urdu on the former. Urdu was being imposed to unify them as Urdu will mediate between the two distinct cultural zones in which the former was a Bengali speaking territory and the latter was a Punjabi speaking territory. 

In contrast, the nations that accommodated linguistic diversity prospered. For example,

– a) Singapore has a multi-ethnic population (Chinese, Malay and Indian). In contrast, Singapore opted for English as the official language. English language proficiency also made the city state a global business hub. Otherwise, the country would have fallen apart

– b) South Africa’s national anthem is a five-language lyrical composition. It has accommodative linguistic policy which helped it to become the emerging leader of the African continent

Way Forward 

India should have a robust language policy. Their policy should emphasise on the quality of language learning in public universities.

Instead of focusing on how many languages or which language should be taught, the focus should be on how to study language structurally and systematically in a multilingual landscape like South Asia. 

India should emulate the multi-linguistic accommodative policy of Singapore and South Africa; instead of the disastrous linguistic chauvinism of Pakistan or Sri Lanka.  

Imposition of Hindi as a lingua franca would initiate the phonocide of other Indian languages. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Atal New India Challenge 2.0 (ANIC 2.0) Launch

Source: The post is based on the article Atal New India Challenge 2.0 (ANIC 2.0) Launchpublished in PIB on 29th April 2022. 

What is the News?

Atal Innovation Mission has launched the phase 1 of the 2nd edition of the Atal New India Challenge (ANIC 2.0)

What is Atal New India Challenge?

Atal New India Challenge is a flagship program of Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog.

Aim: To seek, select, support and nurture technology-based innovations that solve sectoral challenges of national importance and societal relevance.

Goal: To support innovations in areas critical to India’s development and growth – Education, Health, Water and Sanitation, Housing, Energy, Mobility, and Space Application among others.

The challenge addresses the second Commercialization Valley of Death – supporting innovators scale over the risks associated with access to resources for testing, piloting and market creation.

Funding: The challenge supports selected start-ups through the commercialization stage over a course of 12 – 18 months with a funding of up to INR 1 crore along with other associated support from the AIM’s innovation ecosystem.

What does Valley of Death mean?

The Valley of death is an expression used by Venture Capitalists(VCs) to describe the critical initial phase of a startup company.

During this period, startup companies operate without any existing revenue, relying on their initial invested capital.

Surviving the Death Valley curve means beginning to generate sufficient revenue to become self-sustainable before the initial invested capital runs dry. This is a significant milestone for startup companies.


Qualcomm and MeitY’s Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) partner to support Indian semiconductor startups

Source:  The post is based on the article Qualcomm and MeitY’s Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) partner to support Indian semiconductor startupspublished in PIB on 29th April 2022. 

What is the News?

Qualcomm India has announced the launch of the Qualcomm Semiconductor Mentorship Program(‘QSMP’) 2022.

What is the Qualcomm Semiconductor Mentorship Program(QSMP) 2022?

Launched by: Qualcomm India in collaboration with C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing).

Aim: To support selected semiconductor startups by providing them mentorship, technical training and industry outreach. 

Under the program, Qualcomm India will shortlist up to 10 Indian semiconductor startups for QSMP 2022. 

Each shortlisted startup will be paired with a Qualcomm India leader for mentorship on product planning and development. The startup and the mentor will meet on a periodic basis either in person or through online meetings. 

Qualcomm India will also facilitate “Masterclass” workshops for the shortlisted startups on semiconductor design aspects such as design, testing, and verification packaging, as well as on non-technical topics such as pitches, IPR, marketing, government incentives/opportunities and scaling up teams.

What is C-DAC?

C-DAC is a premier Research and Development organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY).

Purpose: It is engaged in cutting edge technology areas for the design, development and deployment of products and solutions in the area of Electronics and Information Technology. 

CDAC has been entrusted with the responsibility to execute the Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme notified by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 


Heatwaves linked to man made Climate Change

Source: The post is based on the article “Heatwaves linked to man-made Climate Change” published in The Hindu on 30th April 2022. 

What is the News?

According to Scientists, India’s long spell of Heatwaves is significantly due to human-induced climate change.

What is Heatwave?

According to the Indian Meteorological Department(IMD), Heatwave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to the human body when exposed.

Quantitatively, Heatwave is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal. 

For instance, Heatwave will be declared if the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 °C or more for plains and at least 30 °C or more for Hilly regions.

How is Climate Change impacting Heatwaves and other conditions?

Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming: Accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere exacerbated temperatures in the oceans and the land and caused increased glacier melt, heightened sea level rise and led to changes in the biosphere.

– For instance, in Greenland warming waters around glaciers are heating even ice sheets, thereby accelerating warming.

Rising Sea Level: Sea levels are rising only three millimetres a year. But even this minor rise was responsible for driving greater numbers of extreme climate events such as floods that could devastate coastal regions, particularly in India.

Increased Carbon Dioxide Emissions: If carbon emissions remain unchecked, half the planet would be in severe drought by the century. Along with carbon dioxide emissions, pollution from biomass burning combined caused 1.5 million deaths annually in India.

What should India do to fight against the impact of Climate Change?

Provide Clean Cooking Fuel: India could cut its pollution by half just by providing clean cooking fuel to rural households in the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Prepare a 10-year Action Plan: India should prepare a 10-year plan to ensure that India’s poor who stood to be most affected by climate change were protected from heatwaves and wildfires.

Increase Forest Area: Nearly a third of emitted carbon dioxide didn’t make it to the atmosphere as they were absorbed back into the soil by forests and other vegetation thus slowing down temperature rise. Therefore, nature-based solutions such as increasing forest area would be valuable to India’s climate adaptation programmes.


RBI asks SEBI to act against agencies for loan rating gaps

Source: The post is based on the article “RBI asks SEBI to act against agencies for loan rating gaps” published in Livemint on 30th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) wants the Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) to widen its role and take action against rating agencies that are found deficient in rating loans.

What does SEBI regulate currently?

Currently, It is observed that the SEBI’s enforcement and punitive actions against rating agencies have lapses in rating bonds and debentures.

But the action against rating agencies that are found deficient in rating loans are outside SEBI’s regulatory ambit.

What are the issues with SEBI regulating rating agencies that rate loans?

Difficult to Rate Loans: It is easier to rate a bond default compared to rating bank loans.

In the case of bonds, there is an intermediary, i.e., the debenture trustee who ensures that even a one-day, one-rupee default is duly disclosed. Debenture trustees are regulated by SEBI.

But in the case of bank loans, there is no intermediary. Many times, the banks and borrowers would talk among themselves to delay the recognition of defaults. Further, SEBI Act does not recognise loans provided by banks as securities. Thus, they are outside SEBI’s regulatory purview.

Issuer not Cooperating(INC) Ratings: According to SEBI norms, rating agencies have to rate the bonds throughout their lifetime despite an INC tag.

However, rating agencies have observed that many borrowers chose not to share data and be categorized as INC. Not sharing the data prevents companies from being downgraded.

For smaller sized loans of up to ₹200 crores, banks don’t ask for ratings. So, for such borrowers, the INC tag is better than a rating downgrade.


New smart machine for making welding operations faster, energy-efficient and eco-friendly

Source: The post is based on the article New smart machine for making welding operations faster, energy-efficient and eco-friendlypublished in PIB on 29th April 2022. 

What is the News?

Researchers have developed a smart Internet of Things(IoT) integrated machine called “Magnetically Impelled Arc Butt Welding Equipment”.

What is Magnetically Impelled Arc Butt(MAIB) Welding Equipment?

It is an Internet of Things(IoT) integrated machine developed for welding ferrous tubes faster than conventional fusion welding or solid-state processes.

This machine has several benefits such as a) minimal energy consumption, b) automating the welding process to avoid human-induced errors and c) manufacturing products swiftly in an eco-friendly manner.

How does this machine work?

Magnetically Impelled Arc Butt(MIAB) welding involves striking of an arc between two coaxially placed tubes, followed by interaction of the axial component of arc current and the radial component of a magnetic field that causes a force called Lorentz force. 

This force acts on the arc and impels it around the joint line with an approximate linear speed of 200 m/s that uniformly heats the tube surfaces up to the highest temperature at which it is solid (solidus temperature). 

The softened tube edges (butt-ends) are then forced into penetration by forging to form a weld.


India and EU comprehensive free trade deal to be finalized by 2024

Source: The post is based on the article “India and EU comprehensive free trade deal to be finalized by 2024” published in Business Standard on 29th April 2022.

What is the News?

India and the European Union are set to hold an initial round of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement(FTA) in June with the aim of concluding an FTA by late 2023 or early 2024. 

Note: EU is the third-largest trading partner for India after the US and China.

India-EU Free Trade Agreement(FTA) Negotiations

India had initiated negotiations for an FTA with the EU in 2007, but the talks stalled in 2013 as both sides failed to reach an agreement on key issues including intellectual property rights, duties on automobiles and spirits, and the movement of professionals.

In May 2021, India and the EU decided to resume FTA negotiations. They are aiming to conclude an FTA by late 2023 or early 2024. 

For this, they have also decided to establish the Trade and Technology Council.

What is the Trade and Technology Council?

Established by: India and the European Union

Purpose: To allow India and the EU to address challenges in trade, trusted technology and security and deepening cooperation in these fields.

The council will also provide the political steer and necessary structure to operationalise political decisions, coordinate technical work and report to the political level to ensure implementation and follow-up in areas that are important for the sustainable progress of European and Indian economies.

Significance: The decision to set up such a council will be the first for India with any of its partners and the second for the EU, following the first one with the US.


Museum Grant Scheme: Andhra Pradesh Archaeology museum at Eluru to display 400 artifacts from early historic period

Source: The post is based on the article Andhra Pradesh: Archaeology museum at Eluru to display 400 artifacts from early historic periodpublished in The Hindu on 27th April 2022. 

What is the News?

The Ministry of Culture has granted Rs 3.75 crore under the ‘Upgradation of Museums Scheme’ as part of the Museums Grant Scheme for the Rs 5-crore project in Eluru town, Andhra Pradesh.

What is the Museum Grant Scheme?

Launched by: Ministry of Culture in 2013.

Aim: To strengthen and modernize the existing museums at the Regional, State and District levels.

– To develop at least 1 Central / State Government Museum located in the State Capital each year.

Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided to State Governments and Societies, Autonomous bodies, Local Bodies and Trusts registered under the Societies Act 1860 for setting up new Museums.

Components under the scheme

Establishment and Development of District and Regional Museums: Under this component, museums have been classified into two categories: 

Category-I: Government-owned State level Museums and renowned Museums with exquisite collections and Category-II: all other Museums.

The maximum amount of financial assistance provided under this Component is limited to Rs.10 crore.

Development of Museums in State Capitals: Financial assistance under this component is provided to existing renowned museums of the Central or State Government located in the Capital cities.

The maximum financial assistance under this component is limited to Rs. 15 Crore per museum.

Establishment and Development of Large-Scale Museums in Public-Private Partnership Mode: Under this component, it is proposed to establish large scale museums as joint ventures with State Governments and civil society in the Public-Private partnerships Mode.

The maximum financial assistance provided under this component is 40% of the project cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 20 Crore per museum.


Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 launches National Behaviour Change Communication Framework for Garbage Free Cities

Source: The post is based on the article Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 launches National Behaviour Change Communication Framework for Garbage Free Citiespublished in PIB on 29th April 2022. 

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘National Behaviour Change Communication Framework for Garbage Free Cities’.

What is the National Behaviour Change Communication Framework for Garbage Free Cities?

Launched by: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0.

Aim: To strengthen the ongoing Jan Andolan for ‘Garbage Free Cities’.

Purpose: The framework serves as a guiding document and blueprint for States and Cities to undertake large scale multimedia campaigns along with intensive and focused interpersonal communication campaigns. 

Focus Areas: The framework focuses on intensifying messaging around the key focus areas of source segregation, collection, transportation, and processing of waste, plastic waste management, and remediation of legacy dumpsites to truly transform the urban landscape of India.


Explained: Who are the Hattis of Himachal Pradesh, and why do they want ST status?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Who are the Hattis of Himachal Pradesh, and why do they want ST status?” published in Indian Express on 29th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Home Minister has assured the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh that the Centre would consider the request for inclusion of the Hatti community in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

What is the Hatti Community?

The Hatti community is largely concentrated in the Trans-Giri area of the Sirmaur district in Himachal Pradesh.

The community is named after their age-old professional practice of selling their homegrown crops at small markets called ‘Haat’ in nearby cities.

The Hattis is governed by a traditional council called Khumbli, which like the khaps of Haryana decides community matters. The Khumbli’s power has remained unchallenged despite the establishment of the Panchayati Raj system.

Why should Hatti Community be granted Scheduled Tribe(ST) Status?

Hatti community of Himachal Pradesh share social as well as cultural similarities with the Jaunsar community of the Jaunsar-Bawar area of Uttarakhand. 

This is because the Trans-Giri area and Jaunsar Bawar area, were part of the erstwhile Sirmaur princely state.

Incidentally, those who crossed over to the Jaunsar Bawar area which is now in Uttarakhand have enjoyed tribal status since 1967. However, the Hatti community of the Himachal weren’t accorded the ST status.

Hence, they are demanding that they should also be granted the Scheduled Tribe(ST) status.

Mains Answer Writing

ANNOUNCEMENT : ETHICS+ Classes 15th June by Ayush Sir | ForumIAS

Dear Friends, ForumIAS will be commencing with Classroom/ LIVE Online Classes for Ethics+ Module from 15th June, 2022.  The Ethics Paper is one of the key determinants of cracking the UPSC Civil Services Mains Examination or for that matter getting a top 100 Rank in the Final list. This paper has the potential of scores… Continue reading ANNOUNCEMENT : ETHICS+ Classes 15th June by Ayush Sir | ForumIAS

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Govt. reconstitutes Central Advisory Board on Archaeology

What is the News? The Government of India has reconstituted the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA). What is the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA)? Purpose: To strengthen contacts between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and those in the field of archaeological research. – To advise the Centre on matters relating to archaeology… Continue reading Govt. reconstitutes Central Advisory Board on Archaeology

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Government lifts “Export Prohibition” on Bamboo Charcoal for Higher Profitability of Bamboo Industry

What is the News? The Centre has lifted the “export prohibition” on bamboo charcoal to boost the utilization of raw bamboo and support the industry. Background Bamboo is largely used in making Agarbattis wherein up to 16% which is the upper layers of the bamboo is used for manufacturing while the remaining 84% of bamboo… Continue reading Government lifts “Export Prohibition” on Bamboo Charcoal for Higher Profitability of Bamboo Industry

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Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?

What is the News? The United States President is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)? In October 2021, the US administration announced the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework(IPEF). Pillars: The IPEF is built on four modules: 1) fair and resilient trade (including digital, labour, environmental… Continue reading Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?

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Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to maintain desired quality standards for implementation of ‘Rice Fortification’

What is the News? The government of India has issued a Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) to maintain desired quality standards for the implementation of ‘rice fortification’ to address malnutrition, anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies. What is Fortification? Food fortification is regarded as one of the top three priorities for developing countries as per the Copenhagen Consensus Statement,… Continue reading Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to maintain desired quality standards for implementation of ‘Rice Fortification’

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Scientists image mysterious rock zone 3,000 km beneath Earth’s surface

What is the News? Scientists have scanned a rock structure that is located 3,000 kilometres beneath Hawaii and is known to slow earthquake waves. What have the scientists found? Scientists have found a rock structure that is located 3,000 kilometres beneath Hawaii. This structure is known to slow earthquake waves. They found that the speed… Continue reading Scientists image mysterious rock zone 3,000 km beneath Earth’s surface

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India gets the highest annual FDI inflow of USD 83.57 billion in FY 21-22

What is the News? Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has released details of Foreign Direct Investment(FDI inflow) into India in FY 21-22. What are the key highlights from FDI  inflows into India in FY 21-22? FDI Inflow: India has reported the highest foreign direct investment(FDI inflow) to… Continue reading India gets the highest annual FDI inflow of USD 83.57 billion in FY 21-22

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Explained: Project WARDEC – India’s upcoming AI-powered wargame centre

What is the News? Army Training Command has signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with Gandhinagar-based Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) to develop a ‘Wargame Research and Development Centre(WARDEC) in New Delhi. What is WARDEC? WARDEC will be a first-of-its-kind simulation-based training center in India that will use artificial intelligence(AI) to design virtual reality wargames. Purpose: The… Continue reading Explained: Project WARDEC – India’s upcoming AI-powered wargame centre

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Jobs scheme will not offer a long-term solution to urban unemployment. Safety nets need to better conceived

Context: A few days ago, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister released a report on the state of inequality in India. The report, prepared by the Institute of Competitiveness, provides a detailed examination of the existing disparities in society. Some of the suggestions to tackle rising inequality in India included putting in place… Continue reading Jobs scheme will not offer a long-term solution to urban unemployment. Safety nets need to better conceived

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Let’s keep GST good and simple

Context: The Supreme Court ruled on May 19th that the recommendations of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council only have persuasive value, and cannot be binding on the Centre and states. It should be noted that the case – Union of India vs Mohit Minerals Pvt Ltd – was dealing with the levy of… Continue reading Let’s keep GST good and simple

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