9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – April 5th, 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 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Protect the film archive. This can’t be done by handing it to a corporation

Source: The post is based on the article, “Protect the film archive. This can’t be done by handling it to a corporation” published in the Indian Express on 5th Apr 22. 

Syllabus: GS1 Indian Art and Culture

Relevance: National Film Archives 

News: Recently, the government has merged the Films Division, Children’s Film Society, International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Directorate of Film Festivals, and National Film Archive of India (NFAI) with the NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India). 

What are the achievements of the NFAI? 

Contributed to the growth of our film culture. It has gathered a certain amount of expertise and special experience. These worked with experts in the respective fields. 

The NFAI’s functioned to preserve our film heritage. It was one of the largest reserves of cinema films in the world. It used to archive the original prints of films in various languages from all over India. 

The NFAI was a member of the international federation of film archives. It shared, exchanged, and standardised modern methods of archiving and restoration. 

What are the issues with the merger? 

The government has the duty and commitment to preserve and nurture our cultural heritage. This merger with a corporate body will violate the government’s commitment. 

These institutions have different characters and functions. They are being brought under a single institution known as NFDC. The NFDC does not have special knowledge or experience in any of these areas.  

Any corporation works on the basis of business. Thus, how NFDC, a company would maintain a film archive when it is a known fact that it is an expensive affair. 

The government has proposed digitisation of films in the archive. It will act as an alternative model to optical film preservation. There are questions like for how long digital format will last and how secure it is for preservation. 

The culture of preservation of cinema in optical film format is a strong movement. It ensures long-time preservation. It ensures longevity in preservation. 

GS Paper 2

Better early than late

Source: This post is based on the article “Better early than late” published in The Hindu on 4th April 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to health

Relevance: Regarding the Autism Spectrum Disorder

News: Early intervention programme that prevents disabling conditions in newborn children, is better than one that tries to mitigate the effects once disability has set in.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives others and socialises with them, causing problems in social interaction and communication. It also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behaviour.

The term ‘spectrum’ in Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to the range of symptoms and severity.

What is early intervention?

The set of services towards identification, assessment and a multipronged therapeutic approach to disabling conditions in the 0-3 age group is referred to as early intervention.

While physical disabilities are evident from birth, intellectual disabilities take time to manifest. Autism Spectrum Disorder leads the list.

Why early intervention is more effective?

Early intervention programmes take advantage of neural plasticity or the ability of the brain to mould itself to stimuli.

The greatest changes as a result of intervention are observed in the ages 0-3. This is not to say that programmes beyond this age are not effective, but they take more effort and time.

What are the challenges to early intervention?

The three big challenges to early intervention are:

parental ignorance

An unwillingness to accept facts

Social stigma attached to seeking specialised services.

What is the way forward?

The child should be assessed by a team comprising an occupational therapist, special educator, speech therapist and physiotherapist. A plan of action should be put in place. Communication within the team is of critical importance in helping the child. The child should receive a combination of therapy and special education for one to two hours every day.

Parents need to be educated on home plans and in dealing with the condition and behaviour of the child. Sometimes, the extended family also needs to be counselled on how to provide the right environment to nurture the child.

Children who have been part of early intervention programmes show remarkable progress, and the process of their integration with the mainstream is faster.

Lessons from the implosion of Sri Lanka’s tiny economy?

Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons from the implosion of Sri Lanka’s tiny economy?“ published in the Live Mint on 5th Apr 22. 

Syllabus: GS2 – International relations

Relevance: Lessons from Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. 

News: Recently, Sri Lanka’s entire cabinet resigned over inability to handle the ongoing country’s worsening economic crisis. It is undergoing a state of emergency due to a deteriorating food and fuel crisis. 

What were the reasons behind Sri Lanka’s economic crisis? 

In 2019, the newly-elected government of Sri Lanka has been accused of announcing a series of populist measures like tax cuts, 50% reduction in value added tax, eliminating capital gains tax etc. 

Tourism, remittances and the apparel export are the top three foreign-exchange earners for Sri Lanka’s economy.

Inward remittances dropped before the Pandemic.

– Tourism revenues fell down due to the pandemic.

In addition, the apparel exports too have been hit during the pandemic.

Its tea export which is a crucial forex earner was also hit due to decline in the production. It happened due to a ban on the use of chemical fertilizers. 

Sri Lanka depends upon the import of crude oil for transportation and energy. But, the prices of crude oil have been spiked by the Ukraine war.

In addition, there is an inflation of more than 19%.

Sri Lanka is facing both domestic and foreign debts. As a result, it has twin deficits – fiscal and the current account deficit. It is burdened by the Chinese debt. China has invested in Sri Lanka as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. 

What steps are being taken by Sri Lanka to overcome the crisis? 

Sri Lanka is trying to raise forex by floating sovereign dollar bonds. But it may turn ugly. If Sri Lank borrows someone else’s currency, it will not have the freedom to either repudiate or print its own currency out of a debt hole. 

India has provided emergency aid via food and fuel shipments.  

What lessons can be learnt by India? 

Sri Lanka’s crisis was in the making from much earlier than the pandemic or Ukraine war. Populist measures proved to be a major cause of it.

India is also witnessing a lot of populists welfarism at the state level and the Centre level.  

The state of finances of certain states of India, such as Punjab, Bengal, Delhi, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is going to face a lot of challenges. For example, they are providing a lot of freebies from their respective budgets like free electricity, free water, etc.

In fact, the states of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan may shift their pension regime. They may shift away from the National Pension Scheme of 2005. 

The fiscal burden of the central government is also likely to increase. The major causes behind this could be One Rank One Pension scheme, new extension to free rations scheme among others.  

Push the policy needle forward on migrant support

Source: This post is created based on the article “Push the policy needle forward on migrant support” published on 5th April 2022 in The Hindu.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare Schemes for vulnerable sections of the population

Context: After the migrant crisis of 2020, migrants became a focus of large scale relief efforts by governments and civil society. The Government ramped up the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) project, announced the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) scheme, set up the e-Shram portal and began to draft a migration policy.

Present status of migrants

Surveys have found that the incomes of migrant households continue to be lower than pre-pandemic levels. Migrants are finding less work and are eating less. A cohesive migrant policy guidance remains elusive. Efforts are fragmented.

This is not sustainable as a third of the nation’s workforce is mobile. Migrants fuel critical sectors such as  manufacturing, construction, hospitality, logistics and commercial agriculture.

What are the reasons behind policy ignorance faced by migrant issue?

First, migration is a highly politicised phenomenon: The “Destination States” experience a tension between economic needs, which require migrant labour, and political needs, which promote nativist policies. The ‘Sending States’ are motivated to serve their ‘own people’ because they vote in their source villages. This causes fragmented policy based on State-specific political calculations.

Second, migrants as a category get overlooked by two larger categories: the unorganized worker and the urban poor. This pushes the timeline for addressing the migrant issue far out. It is no longer an urgent priority.

Third, migration policy absence of reliable data results in failure to capture the actual scale and the frequency of internal migration in India.

Many states have initiated data projects that can track migrants. For example, Maharashtra’s Migration Tracking System (MTS), focusing on women and children. Chhattisgarh’s State Migrant Workers Policy is premised on registering migrant workers at source and tracking them through phone-based outreach systems.

What can be done?

In this scenario of fragmentation, Centre needs to play a proactive role by offering policy guidance and a platform for inter-State coordination. The NITI Aayog’s Draft Policy on Migrant Workers is a positive step forward in articulating policy priorities and indicating suitable institutional frameworks.

The road to Ukraine peace runs through Delhi

Source: This post is created based on the article “The road to Ukraine peace runs through Delhi” published in 5th April 2022 in The Hindu.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International relations: Effect of policies and policies of developed nations on India’s interests.

Context: Nearly 40 days ago, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. Despite peace talks, direct negotiations between the conflicting parties have failed to make much progress. India can play an important role in its resolution.

Mediation as a conflict resolution tool that can assist the parties in identifying their hidden ‘interests’. It is a flexible conflict resolution tool facilitated by a neutral third party. Due to its potential, the Article 33 of the UN Charter recognises the promise of mediation for a peaceful resolution of international disputes.

The best known example of mediation is the U.S. President Jimmy Carter who mediated peace between Israel and Egypt (known as Camp David Accords of 1978). It resulted in 44 years of peace.

A neutral third party can act as a ‘go-between’ (shuttle diplomacy) to gather more information and help parties identify their hidden interests.

Why mediation can be an effective tool?

Mediation as a tool would help focus on number one priority. i.e., the safety of the Ukrainian people through a complete ceasefire. Russia will also be obliged to participate as opting for mediation is the only way left for Russia to save face and escape the sanctions that have cripples its economy.

For the West, going ahead with mediation presents itself as an opportunity to include Russia in the security infrastructure of Europe (like it did with East Germany after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989).

India’s role as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia 

Recent visits from various foreign dignitaries show that the world expects India to play a more active role in the Ukrainian crisis.

It can be India’s golden chance to establish itself as a global power. It is in India’s long-term interest in countering the China threat. The U.S. and its allies need India as a strategic partner to balance the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific.

For now, India is right in not taking sides. India must step up and live up to its claim of being a ‘Vishwa-Guru’ (or world leader).

GS Paper 3

The carbon cost of data

Source: This post is based on the article “The carbon cost of data” published in The Business Standard on 5th Apr 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology, Environment and conservation

Relevance: Environmental concerns related to cloud industry

News: Environmental scientists are beginning to worry about the harmful effects of data on climate. The impact is not exactly due to the data, but the servers, data farms and other hardware required for creating, storing and processing data for the increasingly digital life.

How the pace of generation of data has picked up?

Impact of the internet: The world has been steadily getting interconnected and digitalised since the world-wide-web came into being.

Evolution of digital tech: The rapid evolution of the Cloud, high speed Wi-Fi, and internet of things, and the development of digital goods, have increased the quantity of data being generated, stored and analysed exponentially.

Impact of the pandemic: The trajectory of digitalisation moved up even more sharply when the pandemic struck. Companies were forced to increase their digital footprint. They also moved a lot of their operations to the cloud — which meant moving applications and data to huge server farms.

How cloud industry poses a threat to the environment?

Server farms consume a lot of electricity.

Power required to run the servers themselves

Air conditioning systems needed to run them also consume a lot of energy.

Data farms generate enormous heat, and need very powerful air conditioning systems to maintain optimum temperature.

Water consumption: Studies have shown that data centres tend to use up water resources and heat the cities where they are located, despite all the air conditioning.

As Cloud servers need to offer zero downtime, they work with built-in redundancies, which increase their energy requirements.

Then, the buildings themselves are considered large emitters — especially older buildings. Older data farms are often in older generation buildings and that contributes to energy requirements too.

It is estimated that the cloud industry consumes more power than many nation states. And it is a bigger emitter than the global aviation industry.

What are the factors on which the carbon footprint of the cloud industry depends?

Power source: The carbon footprint depends on the power source being used, and also the amount of air conditioning needed.

Many data firms still primarily depend on thermal or gas-fired power stations, though many new ones are being built to utilise mostly renewable power.

Type of silicon chips: The kind of silicon chips used has a role too in the power consumption. Older, more power-guzzling chips have a worse carbon footprint than those that are new and more energy efficient.

Temperature, age and efficiency of the building: Variables like how cold is the geographical area where the server farm is placed as well as the age and energy efficiency of the building all matter in the actual energy being consumed.

Why the environmental concerns are likely to increase in the future?

Increased pace of digitalisation: This means more data is being generated and captured than ever before.

Web 3.0: When Web 3.0 replaces the current Web 2.0, the consumption of data will increase further. This is simply because the blockchain technology on which Web 3.0 is being built consumes huge quantities of energy.

Need for data localisation to increase: Much of the data today is stored in cross-border servers, but as privacy concerns grow, the need for data to be stored locally is also likely to increase. This will lead to a huge spike in server farms being built around the world.

What are the efforts being made to reduce the footprint?

Companies have built data centres in cold regions but, in general, it has not proved very practical.

Tried building submerged data centres in the sea to ensure they remain cool without the need for air conditioners. But the ecology of the sea changes when the data centres are placed underwater. It adversely affects marine life.

What is the way forward?

Building more energy efficient chips

Use green software

Making data centre operations more energy efficient while also using renewable sources, rather than thermal-fuelled electricity.

Unlocking the potential of green hydrogen

Source: The post is based on an article “Unlocking the potential of green hydrogen” published in the Indian Express on 5th April 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure, Energy Sector 

Relevance: Green Hydrogen Economy 

News: The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has increased the prices of crude oil, natural gas and fertilizers, highlighting India’s vulnerability to geopolitical sanctions.

Therefore, the Union Transport Minister’s statement on hydrogen-powered cars in Parliament has brought the green hydrogen economy into focus. 

Moreover, hydrogen is an important industrial gas. It is used on a large scale in petroleum refining, steel, and fertiliser production. And India already has a large and growing capacity base in all these industries.  

What are the probs with renewable energy (RE) tech?

RE generation is done intermittently. It is because electricity cannot be stored using battery technology at a grid scale. For example, Europe’s renewable generation fell in the last months of 2021.

The financial viability of green power is questionable in India. For example, it is proposed to replace coal-based power which is the cheapest form of energy. In addition, the DISCOMs, the buyer of RE, are not financially sound. 

EV (electric vehicle) technologies have limitations. Much of India’s oil is burnt in heavy trucks (not cars and two-wheelers) which are difficult to run on lithium batteries. 

Electric vehicles require large quantities of critical minerals (like lithium and cobalt). India does not have their domestic reserves. Therefore, India will have to import them, which is prone to supply chains disruptions.  

What are the challenges of creating and distributing hydrogen at a national level? 

It requires creation of large-scale refuelling network infrastructure if green hydrogen is used as the transportation fuel.  

What are the ways to catalyse a hydrogen economy in India? 

Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles (in form of forklifts, cranes, trucks, tractors etc.) can be promoted in some specified gated areas like Airports, ports and warehouses. It will create demand that will allow manufacturers to bring vehicles that can use hydrogen fuel cells into the market. 

Promoting hydrogen blended with natural gas: Many gas-fired power generation plants are operating at a very low-capacity due to the high price of natural gas. Therefore, the hydrogen blended with natural gas can be promoted in these plants. 

It can be blended with compressed natural gas (CNG). It can then be used as a fuel for vehicles in Delhi, Mumbai and some other cities. This will partly counter the need for imported natural gas 

The government needs to boost private sector participation. For example, start-ups can be promoted in this sector. They should be linked with angel investors, venture capital and private equity backers.  

Also, India needs some specialist players to execute projects as well as finance them.  The CNG networks in Mumbai and Delhi were created by MGL and IGL, and Petronet LNG was set up for creating India’s first LNG terminal.

Establishing specialised companies with a clear focus has helped projects get off the ground. This approach can be repeated for green hydrogen. However, government participation in such a company must be capped at 50%.

Criminal Procedure bill will not make Indians safer

Source: The post is based on an article “Criminal procedure bill will not make Indians safer” published in the Indian Express on 5th Apr 22. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Internal Security 

Relevance: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill 2022

News: Recently, the government has introduced the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill in the Lok Sabha. It seeks to replace the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 which regulates how the police can gather data from convicted or suspected criminals.

The bill has generated a lot of controversy.

What are the issues with the bill? 

Read here

What has been proposed in the bill? 

It expands the type of data collected by the police from basic fingerprint and footprint impressions to a range of other samples, including iris and retina scans, behavioural attributes, and “biological samples”.  

It mandates the National Crime Records Bureau to collect that data and keep it for 75 years.  

Read here

What is the rationale behind the bill? 

The government has asserted that the present prisoner identification law is a century old law. It is inadequate for the present day. The technological and scientific advancements have transformed crime and law enforcement since 1920.  

What are the issues in particular which make this bill disturbing?  

It will give the police free hand to collect personal data of anyone, say, detained protestors. It can be used against them at a later date.  

The national data protection legislation has not been enacted for years. For example, the Justice Srikrishna Commission (2018) released its report in 2018. The first Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) that was drafted based on it has a number of weaknesses. It allowed the Centre to exempt any of its agencies from the provisions supposed to protect privacy in the name of security. The proposed “Data Protection Authority” could not act as an independent regulator”.  

Read here

Way Forward 

The Parliament may refer the Bill to a standing committee. Efforts should be made to increase the accountability framework in the Bill. 

India already has the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and System (CCTNS) which has played a significant role in modernising Indian policing.  

India’s zinc-trade deficit with Korea tells why we need industry input on deals

Source: The post is based on an article “India-zinc trade deficit with Korea tells why we need industry input on deals” published in the Live Mint on 5th Apr 22. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy, Impact of liberalization on Indian Economy 

Relevance: India’s Free Trade Agreements and External Sector, India – South Korea relations

News: India aspires to be the 3rd largest economy in the world by the year 2047. The government is working hard to make India self-reliant and play a bigger role in the global economy.

In this context, Indian industry has been requesting the government to look into the existing trade pacts, especially India-South Korea CEPA that includes provisions which are threatening domestic industry.  

What was the trade position before signing of the CEPA between India and South Korea? 

When the India-Korea CEPA was signed, India used to export a sizeable quantity of zinc to the Republic of Korea (RoK). Korea had low production and India had weaker domestic demand.  

The RoK increased its manufacturing capabilities, over time it enhanced its smelting capabilities. It also has lower logistical costs. In addition, it was also helped by the “smart free trade agreement negotiations. Therefore, RoK has been able to supply zinc at highly competitive prices to India.  

India’s import of zinc and zinc alloys products from South Korea increased manifold since 2013-14. It happened because the duty was phased down to zero for the Republic of Korea (South Korea).  

In 2020, the RoK became the leading exporter of zinc. It accounted for around10.5% of global exports, despite having no mines. 

What are the issues in the Indian Zinc Industry and CEPA b/w India and Korea?  

It is facing tough competition from low-cost imports from the RoK.

India has a lot of domestic manufacturing capabilities. For example, India was the 5th largest country for zinc mining (with 5.67% share) in 2019, after China, Peru, Australia and the US. In India, 100% of the value addition can be done within the country.

Increased negative trade balance with the RoK. It has adversely impacted several downstream industries.  

The India-Korea trade pact has resulted in a large and growing trade deficit in zinc products. It happened because India overlooked imports from South Korea as a threat to domestic market while signing the pact. 

A large deficit between India and South Korea occurred due to the Rules-of-Origin (RoO) in the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).  

Way Forward 

There is a need to re-examine the India-Korea CEPA. It needs to talk about the existing product-specific RoO for zinc. India also needs to discuss a change in tariff subheading (CTSH) and other aspects in the trade pact. 

India needs to take lessons from the India-Korea zinc-metal trade case history, and be cautious in its new trade deals with Australia, the UK, Canada and the European Union(EU). 

India needs to have a regular engagement with domestic industry before signing trade agreements with other countries. 

Back the greenback: Grumblings about dollar dominance aren’t new

Source: This post is created based on the article “Back the greenback: Grumblings about dollar dominance aren’t new” published in 5th April 2022 in Times of India.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economy

Context: Western powers have slapped sanctions on Russia. These sanctions sting because of the US dollar’s dominance across the global economy and finance.

How important is dollar in present global trade?

More than half the global trade is invoiced in dollars and nearly two-thirds of the foreign exchange reserves and global debt are held in dollars.

Exchange rates between pairs of currencies are set via their parity with the dollar. The sentiment on Wall Street and the decisions of the US Federal Reserve affect markets and economies around the world.

What are the other factors against the dollar dominated economy?

The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 reinforced the bitterness against the dominance of the dollar in global finance and galvanized the search for an alternate reserve currency. The campaign lost its momentum later.

Chinese renminbi as an alternative

This has been a prospect after China started dominating global trade. It became more noticeable after the IMF included the renminbi in the SDR basket of currencies in 2016.

Many experts doubts the capabilities of renminbi in challenging the dollar. The renminbi’s exchange rate is not market determined, China imposes controls on capital flows in and out of its economy. Its financial regulation standards are not transparent and predictable. China is also an authoritarian regime with a dubious reputation for transparency and rule of law.

What does the future hold?

The sanctions could encourage the emergence of small currency blocs based on trade between separate groups of countries. It is also possible that cryptocurrencies will start displacing dollar as a medium of exchange.

But as a safe haven asset, the dollar remains unrivaled no matter the geopolitics.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Competition Commission of India Revises Long Form for Merger & Acquisitions

Source: This post is based on the articleCompetition Commission of India Revises Long Form for Merger & Acquisitionspublished in PIB on 4th April 2022.

What is the News?

Competition Commission of India(CCI) has revamped the content and format of information regarding parties to a Combination. They need to file with the CCI when their post-merger market share exceeds a specified threshold.

According to the revised format, parties to a Combination need to file a report to the CCI when the combined market share is more than 15% in the case of a horizontal overlap and over 25% in the case of a vertically related market.

What is Combination?

Put simply, a Combination is a merger, acquisition, or amalgamation between two or more enterprises or businesses.

The Competition law puts the responsibility on the government to control such mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations so that there is fair competition in the market.

Types: There are three types of Combinations:

Horizontal combinations: It is formed between the enterprises that operate at the same level of the production process and there are substitute goods available for the same. 

– Sometimes such a combination can be bad in law as it reduces the competition in the market and which leads to “high pricing power of one power” of one combination. This is bad for the consumers because they are forced to buy the goods at a higher price value. 

Vertical combinations: It is a non-horizontal combination, wherein the firms are in different levels of supply and distribution of a product. 

– The formation of vertical combinations leads to a pro-competitive environment in the market which further results in process control, more market share and establishing a better supply chain.  

Conglomerate combinations: It involves enterprises or firms that are unrelated in their business fields, and they form a merger or combination. For example: If one company is involved in the production of goods, while another company provides services for the same. Then they tend to collaborate with each other for making better profit standing in the market.

Reviving butterflies in Delhi: Project on to create links via urban clusters for habitat connect

Source: This post is based on the article “Reviving butterflies in Delhi: Project on to create links via urban clusters for habitat connect ” published in TOI on 5th April 2022.

What is the News?

Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) has started working on a project to build butterfly corridors to revive the diminishing species in New Delhi.

Butterfly Habitats Project in Delhi
Source: TOI

Started by: The Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) in 2018.

Aim: The project is focused on creating butterfly habitats and planting host plants for the free movement of butterflies.

Why Butterfly habitats? As the major green patches in Delhi are disconnected due to a number of urban clusters, the BNHS is working on providing communicable routes to the butterflies through several micro-habitats.

For instance, Asola and Jahanpanah forests are the major green patches but between them lies the urban clusters. To overcome the problem, BNHS is creating butterfly habitats in these clusters through public initiatives.

What is the significance of Butterflies in the ecosystem?

Important Part of Ecosystem/food chain: Butterflies are an important component of a food chain, as predators and prey.Adult butterflies and caterpillars are an important source of food for other animals such as bats and birds. Along with nectar, butterflies eat a variety of plants.

Cross-Pollination: Apart from flies and bees, butterflies play an important role in pollination.

Important Indicators: Nearly 90% of the world’s butterfly species are found in the tropics, and their extreme sensitivity to climate change makes them good indicators of environmental health.

India, Turkmenistan sign 4 MoUs for cooperation, agree to expand bilateral trade

Source: This post is based on the article “India, Turkmenistan sign 4 MoUs for cooperation, agree to expand bilateral trade” published in Indian Express on 2nd April 2022.

What is the News?

The Indian President is on a visit to Turkmenistan. This is the first-ever visit of the President of India to independent Turkmenistan.

What are the key highlights from the India-Turkmenistan meet?

Agreements: The two countries signed four agreements, including in financial intelligence and disaster management, and agreed to expand bilateral trade and energy cooperation to further strengthen the multifaceted partnership.

INSTC: President of Turkmenistan conveyed his readiness to join the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). He proposed that the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway line could be a linked corridor of the INSTC to streamline the movement of goods between Turkmenistan and India and beyond.

India proposed that the Chabahar port built by India in Iran could be used to improve trade between India and Central Asia.

TAPI Pipeline: India suggested that issues related to the security of the Turkmenistan -Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline may be addressed in Technical and Expert level meetings.

UNSC: India thanked Turkmenistan for its support to India’s permanent membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council as well as for India’s initiatives as a non-permanent member of UNSC for the period of 2021-22.

What is the importance of Turkmenistan for India?

​​Turkmenistan is an important partner for India in the India-Central Asia Summit framework, the first of which India hosted virtually in January 2022.

Turkmenistan possesses very large reserves of natural gas.

Turkmenistan is also strategically placed in Central Asia, and connectivity is something on which India feels a partnership with Turkmenistan will pay dividends. 

The India-Australia Trade Agreement

Source: This post is based on the article “The India-Australia Trade Agreementpublished in The Hindu on 5th April 2022.

What is the News?

India and Australia have signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA). The landmark bilateral trade pact is the second trade agreement India has signed this year, after inking a similar deal with the United Arab Emirates.

What are the main provisions of the India-Australia ECTA?

Indian Agriculture: Under this, Australia will get the opportunity to export certain varieties of agricultural produce like potatoes, lentils, and meat products with some caveats. However, bovine meat is not part of the agreement. Australia may also send machineries that are required for food processing. 

Wine Sector: India may open up to a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including Australian beer. Australian wines costing over $5 may face lower import duties in the Indian market. 

Labour Intensive Sectors: Australia will provide ‘preferential access’ to “all the labour-intensive sectors” of export items from India such as gems and jewellery, textiles, leather, footwear, furniture, food, engineering products, medical devices and automobiles. India will also allow Australia to export raw materials under preferential terms, like coal and mineral ores.

Services Sector: Australia has offered wide-ranging commitments in around 135 sub-sectors and Most Favoured Nation in 120 sub-sectors which cover key areas of the Indian services sector like IT, ITES, business services, health, education and audiovisual services. 

– Indian chefs and yoga teachers will get specific entry quotas into Australia, while Indian students in Australia will be able to secure work visas for periods ranging from 18 months to four years on a ‘reciprocal’ basis. 

Pharmaceutical sector: India and Australia have agreed to enable fast track approval for patented, generic and biosimilar medicines. 

Dispute Settlement: India and Australia have agreed to hold consultations — and make “every effort” to find a solution — in case of disputes that may emerge in the course of trade in goods or services. They have also recognised that in case they have to resort to international arbitration, they may opt for an organization (i.e, World Trade Organization) where both are members.

Read more: Signing of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between India and Australia

The partial rollback of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

Source: This post is based on the articleThe partial rollback of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Actpublished in The Hindu on 5th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced the reduction of “disturbed areas” under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland with effect from April 1,2022. 

This decision was based on the recommendations of a committee that was constituted to study the possibility of withdrawing the AFSPA from areas in Nagaland in the wake of public anger against a botched ambush by an elite unit of the Army that led to the killing of 13 civilians.

What is AFSPA?

The British colonial government had on August 15, 1942, promulgated the Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance to suppress the Quit India movement.

After independence, the act was the foundation for the “Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958. This Act was replaced by the AFSPA for wider application. A similar Act specific to Jammu and Kashmir was enacted in 1990.

How is the AFSPA imposed?

Section 3 of the AFSPA empowers the Governor of a State and the administrator of a Union Territory (UT) to declare an area “disturbed” and issue an official notification in The Gazette of India to give the Centre the authority to deploy the “armed forces in aid of the civil power”. 

What is Disturbed Area?

A government considers an area “disturbed” if it perceives a threat to “public peace and tranquillity, by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. 

Once declared “disturbed”, a region has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of three months according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

Powers under AFSPA: The armed forces have the following powers in the disturbed area:

– Arrest and search any premises without a warrant 

– protection from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction. 

– Can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if armed forces feel a person is in contravention of the law.

How is the AFSPA Act being viewed?

The AFSPA has often been under the scanner for giving the armed forces personnel the  “license to kill”. 

Rights groups have called the Act as a tool of state for abuse, oppression and discrimination, while the United Nations has often pointed out that it has no place in Indian democracy.

Read more: Time to bid goodbye to AFSPA

Facial Recognition System(FRS) is to be implemented in phased manner

Source: This post is based on the article Facial Recognition System(FRS) is to be implemented in a phased mannerpublished in PIB on 4th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Minister of Civil Aviation has informed Lok Sabha that Facial Recognition System(FRS) is to be implemented in a phased manner.

What is a Facial Recognition System(FRS)?

The facial recognition system is part of the Digi Yatra initiative of the government for providing passengers with a seamless and hassle-free experience at airports. 

It is to be implemented in a phased manner. The first phase is planned at Kolkata, Varanasi, Pune, Vijayawada, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad Airports by March 2023

What is the Digi Yatra Initiative?

Launched by: Ministry of Civil Aviation

Aim: To provide a contactless, seamless and paperless handling of passengers at airports from the entry gate of the terminal to the boarding point. 

Digi Yatra Enrollment Process: Under this, passengers can get a Digi Yatra ID by sharing minimum details like name, e-mail ID, Mobile number and details of one approved Identity proof (Aadhar is not mandatory).

This DigiYatra ID will be shared by passengers while booking tickets. Airlines will share the passenger data and DigiYatraID with the departure airport.

There would be one-time verification at the departure airport while travelling for the first time using the ID. After successful verification, facial recognition biometrics would be captured and stored in the Digi Yatra ID.

From the next time, while travelling, passengers will be automatically processed based on facial recognition systems at checkpoints like; Entry point check, Entry into Security Check, and Aircraft Boarding.

Benefits: a) Passengers need not show a boarding pass or ID at multiple checkpoints, b) Minimum human intervention and less queuing time, c) The security is enhanced as only bona fide passengers will be allowed entry at every checkpoint and d) Airport operators will have real-time information on Passenger load and resource planning becomes better.

India’s trade deficit widens 87.5% to record $192 billion

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s trade deficit widens 87.5% to record $192 billion” published in Livemint on 5th April 2022.

What is the News?

According to Government data, India’s trade deficit has increased by 87.5% to a record  $192 billion in 2021-22 from $102 billion in the previous financial year.

India’s Merchandise Trade Deficit
Source: TOI

India’s Merchandise exports for 2021-22 were at a record high of $418 billion. Similarly, imports also increased by 43.18% to $610 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $192 billion. 

With this, India’s merchandise trade crossed the $1 trillion milestones in FY22.

Why has the trade deficit increased?

The trade deficit has increased primarily on account of the sharp increase in petroleum imports due to the surge in global crude oil prices.

Note: The trade deficit for non-oil non-gold-jewellery items stood at $55 billion in 2021-22 Hence, they account for only around one-quarter of the total merchandise trade deficit.

What are the concerns going forward?

The rising economic uncertainty amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict could deteriorate the trade deficit further and widen the current account deficit as international oil prices remain volatile. 

Besides, supply-side disruptions, including the rise in freight costs, could hurt exports.

Union Minister launches a major futuristic PPP mode initiative for ‘Clean Energy’ with the full launch of “Mission Integrated Biorefineries” to accelerate Clean Energy solutions through Public-Private Alliances

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister launches a major futuristic PPP mode initiative for ‘Clean Energy’ with the full launch of “Mission Integrated Biorefineries” to accelerate Clean Energy solutions through Public-Private Alliancepublished in PIB on 4th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Science and Technology has announced the launch of the Integrated Biorefineries Mission.

What is the Integrated Biorefineries Mission?

Launched under Mission Innovation

Co-Led by: India and Netherlands

Aim: Develop and demonstrate innovative solutions to accelerate the commercialization of integrated biorefineries, with a target of replacing 10% of fossil-based fuels, chemicals and materials with bio-based alternatives by 2030. 

The mission is a PPP (Public Private Participation) mode initiative that unites countries, international organizations, the corporate sector, academic institutions and civil society to accelerate innovation for renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials for a low-carbon future.

Other Countries Involved in the Mission: The other countries involved are Brazil and Canada as core members and the European Commission and the United Kingdom as supporting members.

What are the other initiatives mentioned in the article?

Hydrogen Valley Platform: It is a global initiative to optimize the hydrogen demand and supply by onsite generation and utilization. The platform utilizes renewable resources effectively, and water in excess areas with geographical identity.

Note: DST has committed to facilitate the delivery of three clean hydrogen valleys in India by 2030.

National Funding Opportunity on Sustainable Aviation Fuels: It aims to support and conduct RD&D (Research, Development & Demonstration) to foster technological innovations in advanced biofuels for aviation applications. 

Three Material Acceleration Platforms(MAP): It has been set up by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). These platforms would leverage emerging capabilities in next-generation computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and robotics to accelerate the pace of materials discovery up to 10 times faster.

Broadcast Seva Portal launched for ease of doing business in broadcast

Source: This post is based on the article Broadcast Seva Portal launched for ease of doing business in broadcast” published in Indian Express on 5th April 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has launched the “Broadcast Seva Portal”.

What is Broadcast Seva Portal?

Launched by: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(I&B).

Purpose: It is an online portal aimed at improving the ease of doing business in the broadcast industry.

Features: The portal can be used by broadcasters for speedy filing and processing of applications, various kinds of licences, permissions, registrations,  tracking applications, calculating fees and executing payments.

Significance of the Portal: The portal will reduce the turnaround time of applications and at the same time will help applicants track their progress. 

It will also reduce the human interface that was required earlier and thus add to the capacity building of the Ministry and will be a major step towards ease of doing business.

Explained | Arctic sea ice peaked on February 25 this year. Why Is that important?

Source: This post is based on the article Explained | Arctic sea ice peaked on February 25 this year. Why Is that important?published in The Hindu on 1st April 2022.

What is the News?

Arctic sea ice has appeared to have hit its annual maximum extent on February 25, 2022, after growing through the fall and winter. According to National Snow and Ice Data Centre(NSIDC), this year’s Arctic sea ice wintertime extent is the 10th-lowest in the satellite record.

Note: NSIDC is a United States information and referral centre in support of polar and cryospheric research. 

What is Sea Ice?

Sea ice is essentially frozen ocean water. All stages of winter sea ice – formation, growth and melting – occur in the ocean, unlike icebergs, glaciers and ice shelves that originate on land.

Why is polar sea ice important?

Polar sea ice is important to maintain global temperatures. This is because sea ice reflects 80% of the sunlight that strikes its surface, thus keeping the polar regions cool.

Once the ice melts in the summer, the dark surface of the ocean is exposed, and it absorbs 90% of the sunlight that falls on it. This causes a rise in the temperature of the polar region. 

Moreover, small temperature changes at the poles can lead to greater warming over time, making polar regions extremely sensitive to climate change. The loss of sea ice can accelerate global warming.

What is happening to the Arctic Sea Ice?

Sea ice waxes and wanes with the seasons every year.

In the Arctic, it reaches its maximum extent around March after growing through the colder months and shrinks to its minimum extent in September after melting through the warmer months. In the Southern Hemisphere, Antarctic sea ice follows an opposite cycle.

According to NASA, the maximum extents of the sea ice in the Arctic have declined at a pace of about 13% per decade since 1979 – when satellites began reliably tracking the data. 

This is in sync with human global warming activities like the emission of carbon dioxide, deforestation and so on.

Mains Answer Writing

Must Read Current Affairs Articles – October 1, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers The Hindu newspaper. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites requiring a paid subscription beyond a… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – October 1, 2022

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Convergent growth

Source– The post is based on the article “Convergent growth” published in the Business Standard on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy Relevance– Challenges to growth of Indian economy News– The article explains the historical reason for disparity in growth and development performance between Indian states. It also tells about the steps needed to… Continue reading Convergent growth

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Chief of Defence Staff

Source– The post is based on the articles “Evolving Chair” published in The Hindu and the “The Chief task” published in The Indian Express on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Security challenges Relevance– Reformation of armed forces News– The article explains the new vision of the Indian government for transformation of armed focus and bringing… Continue reading Chief of Defence Staff

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Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits

Source: The post is based on an article “Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits” published in Live Mint on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Relevance: measures taken by the RBI to tackle falling rupee News: RBI has taken a decision recently to let domestic exim traders facilitate and settle invoicing and payments for international trade in rupees.… Continue reading Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits

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How much should India prop up the rupee?

Source: The post is based on an article “How much should India prop up the rupee?” published in The Hindu on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy – Growth and development Relevance: concerns associated with declining rupee and widening CAD. News:  The rupee weakened against the dollar recording a low at Rs 81 per dollar in the… Continue reading How much should India prop up the rupee?

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How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India

Source: The post is based on an article “How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India” published in The Indian Express on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Relevance: problems associated with the employment of women News: Urban cities are the hope of social and economic independence for young girls. However, the murder of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari… Continue reading How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India

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After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act

Source: The post is based on an article “After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act” published in The Hindu on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Relevance: concerns associated with corruption and measures to tackle them News:  Bengaluru’s floods have gone but they have left difficulties for the people. Difficulties such as flying of the dust in… Continue reading After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act

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Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome

Source: The post is based on the article “Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome” published in The Times of India on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: India and its neighbourhood- relations. Relevance: About India-China relations. News: The troop disengagement process in eastern Ladakh remains incomplete and China continues to… Continue reading Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome

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Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors

Source: The post is based on the article “Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors” published in the Business Standard on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Awareness in the fields of Space. Relevance: About DART Mission. News: NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft has collided with the asteroid Dimorphous. What is the DART… Continue reading Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors

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The right corporate culture would end moonlighting

Source: The post is based on the article “The right corporate culture would end moonlighting” published in the Livemint on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Indian economy and employment. Relevance: About Moonlighting. News: Wipro has sacked 300 employees it found guilty of working for its competitors. This triggered the ‘moonlighting’ debate. What is moonlighting? Read here: What is moonlighting… Continue reading The right corporate culture would end moonlighting

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