9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 17th, 2021

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 
  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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Mains Oriented Articles


GS Paper 1

India’s water crisis: It is most acute for women

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS1 – Role of Women and Women’s Organization, Population and Associated Issues, Poverty and Developmental issues, Urbanization, their problems and their remedies

Relevance: Implications of water crisis on women

Synopsis: Water crisis affects women disproportionately compared to men. An analysis

Context

India has 16% of the world’s population, but possesses only 4% of the world’s freshwater resources. India is water-stressed due to changing weather patterns and repeated droughts. And the worst sufferers of this crisis are mostly women.

Extent of water stress in India
  • According to data from Central Ground Water Board, as many as 256 of 700 districts in India have reported ‘critical’ or ‘over-exploited’ groundwater levels, which means the water table has significantly dropped in these districts
  • India has become the world’s largest extractor of groundwater, accounting for 25% of the total.
  • 70% of our water sources are contaminated, and our major rivers are dying because of pollution.
Water crisis and women

This crisis of water puts women at a higher risk of vulnerability, since fetching water in India has been perceived as a woman’s job for centuries. They need to walk miles to collect water from the nearest source. Water crisis impacts women in the following ways:

  • Affecting their participation in education, occupation and labor force, since they need to spend more time on water collection.
  • Increasing marginalization since water crisis affects their access to toilets, leading to indignity and insecurity
  • Affects their labour force participation
  • Promoting polygamy– there are increasing instances of polygamy in drought prone regions which is termed as ‘water wives’
  • Reduces access to clean sanitation, better physical and mental health of women
  • Leads to social oppression as it creates social issues like a lower level of literacy in women since many girls drop out of school to collect water.
Way forward

It is important to make central and state policies dealing with the water crisis. More emphasis should be given to gender inequality rather than gender sensitization and gender roles associated with water need to be ended.


The big opportunity

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS – 1:  Population and associated issues.

Relevance: This article explains the advantages of the rising young population.

Synopsis:

A rising youth population in India can provide many benefits to India.

Introduction:

According to various international studies, the median age in India would be 28 years by 2022-23, in contrast to 37 in China and 45 in Western Europe. This is an enormous growth opportunity as India will have the highest number of people in the workforce.

Challenges due to Covid-19:

  1. As per an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study, the equivalent of five years or more of per capita income is likely to be lost by the end of 2021 due to Covid-19.
  2. The World Bank mentioned that the world would witness deep global recessions fuelled by lowered investments, displacement of human capital, and disintegration of global trade and supply chains.
  3. The effects of increased use of plastics and the generation of bio-medical wastes during the pandemic will cost, fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport industries, an additional $40 billion, according to a UN Environment Program report.
Read more: IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report: Findings and Suggestions – Explained, pointwise
Advantages of rising young population:
  1. India’s non-working population would be outnumbered by the working population, leading to a favourable demographic dividend. This will accelerate urbanisation and the growth of industries.
  2. The purchasing power of the populace will increase. It will open up a bigger domestic market, thus attracting more investment and increasing opportunities.
  3. The younger population will be more climate-conscious. This can simply be explained by younger generations seeing the real-time impact of climate change. Further, they will be more inclined to act towards a greener tomorrow.
    • This is also clear by a UN report on climate change. The report mention that close to half a million youth around the world have taken (or are taking) action against climate change through initiatives at their homes, schools, and communities.
    • This is the reason the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), 2021, puts only two G20 (or Group of Twenty) countries — India and U.K. — in the top 10.
Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise
Challenges with rising young population:

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have deepened the Inequality in India.

The dominance of the informal economy makes the government subsidies and employment schemes a difficult one for all benefactors to reap the benefits.

Suggestions:
  1. The need of the hour is for public-private partnership (PPP) models to bridge the skill gap.
  2. Education and skilling are also key components in enhancing the capabilities of the growing young population
  3. Labour-intensive sectors need to be better supported for further job creation.
  4. Government policies must ensure that they comprehensively cover all aspects aimed at increasing human development and standards of living.


GS Paper 2

Return of Taliban has implications for India

Source: Indian Express (Article 1)Article 2) and Times of India

Syllabus: GS – 2:  India and its neighborhood- relations.

Relevance: This article explains the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Synopsis:

Delhi must maintain vigil against a resurgence of cross-border terrorism that could quickly destabilize Kashmir and escalate the conflict between India and Pakistan.

Introduction

The rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the triumphant return of the Taliban will have a considerable impact around the world. The restoration of Taliban rule in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s support undoubtedly presents some very serious potential challenges for Indian security.

Read more: As Taliban makes a rapid military advance through Afghanistan, India too must brace itself for the consequences
How did the US and USSR intervention in Afghanistan shaped India’s history?

At the end of 1979, the Soviet Union launched a massive military invasion to protect a communist regime in Kabul. The US and Pakistan responded by unleashing a religious jihad. These Jihads compelled Russia to withdraw in 1989.

  1. The Pakistan army used the jihadi armies to gain control of Afghanistan and launched a proxy war against India, especially in the Punjab and Kashmir regions.
  2. The turbulence of the 1990s saw deepening conflicts between India and Pakistan. Both countries conducted nuclear weapon tests, and the Pak-backed Taliban rule was established in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, hosted by the Taliban, launched terror attacks against the US on September 11, 2001.

  1. The US retribution brought an end to Taliban rule and compelled Pakistan to reconsider its policies.
  2. Further, after 2001, there has also been a significant expansion of the India-US strategic partnership.

After the withdrawal of US forces under the Doha Agreement, Pakistan’s Afghan policy regained its prime.

The policy of the Taliban at present:

After capturing Kabul, the Taliban leaders are mentioning the following policy.

  • The foreigners will have all the right to leave.
  • Taliban will protect the lives and properties of Afghan people.
  • The Taliban have announced that there will be no witch hunt, and they will respect a peaceful transitional process of power.
  • Further, the Taliban will also respect the rights of women.
Read more: Afghan Peace Process and India – Explained, Pointwise
Challenges with Taliban in power:
  1. Taliban might renew the support for international terrorism.
  2. Pakistan might redirect the jihadi groups that fought with the Taliban towards India. Pakistan-based jihadi groups might turn their attention to Kashmir.
  3. Further, the Taliban will also face troubles in balancing their religious ideology with the imperatives of state interests.
Read more: India must directly engage with Taliban 2.0
Suggestions for India
Immediate initiatives
  1. India should securely evacuate Indian diplomatic personnel and other citizens from Afghanistan. This will require a major logistical effort.
  2. The government of India must also offer refuge to those Afghans who have worked with Indian initiatives and are desperate to avoid potential retribution from the Taliban
Diplomatic initiatives
  1. India must make all possible efforts to get the international community to hold the Taliban to its word on letting all foreigners leave with peace, protecting the lives of all Afghan citizens, and respecting international humanitarian law.
  2. India also chairs the Taliban Sanctions Committee of the UNSC. It will have an important role in framing the international response to the Taliban’s demands for the lifting of all sanctions against its leaders.
  3. Similarly, India should also make the international community provide humanitarian assistance to the large number of Afghan people displaced by fighting.
Domestic initiatives
  1. India must maintain vigil against a resurgence of cross-border terrorism that could quickly destabilize Kashmir and escalate the conflict between India and Pakistan.
Read more: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained, pointwise

Powerless MPs, MLAs: Lawmakers don’t question laws in part because anti-defection rules snuff out all dissent

Source: TOI

Syllabus: GS-2 Parliament and its functioning

 Relevance: This article discusses the disruptive functioning and degrading quality of the Parliament.

Synopsis: Anti-defection rule was passed with the right intent of checking dissent. However, it is now choking the freedom of speech and expression in Parliament.

Functioning of Parliament:

Laws badly drafted by bureaucrats escape lawmakers’ scrutiny. Rush job legislations are becoming a problem to the judiciary also as bills are not properly discussed by legislators or properly scrutinized by the house committees. There are also frequent disruptions in the functioning of the house.

For example:

  • During 1st Lok Sabha (LS), there was an average of 135 sittings a year, while 16th LS has averaged 66 sittings.
  • This problem is even bigger for State Legislative Assemblies.
    • According to PRS Legislative Research, UP, Bengal, Kolkata annually-averaged 24, 40, 53 assembly sittings and 100, 122 and 306 functional hours between 2017 and 2019 respectively
  • The more worrying thing is that state assemblies pass hugely consequential laws, for example, on inter-faith marriage that is subject to no legislative interrogation.
Read more: Functioning of Parliament: Challenges and way forward – Explained, pointwise

Reasons behind lack of discussion

The root cause of this problem is the 1985 Anti- defection law that obliges MP/MLA’s to obey the party whip. Governing party MPs and MLAs cannot question bills drafted by the executive, even if they want to.

This practice is very much different from the legislative functioning in the UK & the US. There, individual legislators have the discretion to dissent over the bills, policies of their party leadership & even can force change them. They played a meaningful role in contrast to India where the legislator’s role is reduced to a yes or no.

Way Forward

Dissent and defection are not the same. Adequate space should be provided for dissent in the parliament.


Our ADP model will unlock the power of data to improve lives

Source: LiveMint

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Relevance: To understand the Aspirational district programme (ADP)

Synopsis: ADP has been lauded for its result-driven approach. It becomes important to understand its features.

Introduction

  • United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) lauded India’s aspirational district program (ADP)
  • It is the world’s largest initiative in result based governance, reaching 250 Million people in 112 districts.
  • It led to significant improvements in health, nutrition and education.
  • Furthermore, it is based on an innovative 3C approach of competition, convergence and collaboration.
Read more: Aspirational District Programme – Achievements and Suggestions – Explained, Pointwise

Working of ADP

  • Every month districts are ranked based on the progress they have made on key indicators like health, education, agriculture etc. This allows accurate assessment of the scheme and policy.
    • Earlier there was a lag of 4-5 years of any data collected, and it becomes available.
  • Proliferation and adoption of technology have been game-changer. High-speed internet and mobile have changed the scenario.
  • Big data and AI can further transform the analysis and dissemination of data.

Possible areas of improvement

The government needs to focus on the quality of data. For instance, there is a need to overcome errors in data entry, lack of standardization, skewed incentives to inflate data etc.

Approach to data-driven governance:

ADP has provided a scalable template for the affordability of administrative data. But this can be improved by the following ways.

  • Since the ADP involves over 80 data points from 112 districts, it can tap the power of automation to check large volumes of data effectively.
  • The ADP also should also commission an independent third-party household survey to get household-level data and to cross-check the field level data.

Way forward

Result based governance will improve the government services. Further, they help the government to course-correct appropriate policies and programs.


Supreme Court remarks on tribunal law is latest flashpoint between legislature, judiciary

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2 Role and power of Parliament and Judiciary

Relevance: To understand the tussle between Judiciary and Parliament

Synopsis: Friction between Judiciary & government over interference in each other domain

There is a fresh tussle between the Judiciary and legislature over the powers and limitations of law-making on the recently passed Tribunal Reforms Act.

Tribunal Reforms Act 2021:

  • It sought the abolishment of at least seven appellate tribunals under various statutes.
  • The bill also revived provisions of tenures, age criteria, and search cum selection committee for tribunal appointments.
  • These provisions were earlier struck down by SC judgement in Madras Bar Association vs Union of India as it interferes with the independence of the Judiciary.

Reasons for dissent

  • Under the amendment, there is minimum age criteria of 50 years/ 4year tenure for the appointment of advocates as members of tribunals. The Supreme Court(SC) found this capping as arbitrary
  • Government, on the other hand, says it will bring a specialized talent pool of advocates to pick from.
  • The judiciary feels its powers are being curtailed, and Parliament wonders whether the judiciary should interfere to this extent.

Other cases relate to Tribunals

Roger Mathew vs Union of India: SC struck down an amendment to the 2017 Finance Act, passed as a money Bill. The amendment altered the structure and functioning of various tribunals. In it, the bench directed the government to formulate fresh norms on the appointment of tribunal members.

Madras Bar Association in 2010 & 2015: Both the cases challenged various provisions relating to the establishment of the National Company Law Tribunal. In these judgements, SC had interpreted provisions relating to the appointment of members to align with the independence of the judiciary.

Way forward:

There is a need to attain the right balance as per the constitution and for the welfare of the people.


Nutrition Security should be part of our covid response

Source: LiveMint

Syllabus: GS2 – Health & associated challenges with that

Relevance: To study the nutritional status of India

Synopsis: The nutrition scenario is not looking good in India. The pandemic has further worsened it. There is an urgent need for policymakers to focus on nutrition.

Findings of India’s 2015-16 Health Survey:

  • One in every three children in India is stunted.
  • More than 50% of adolescent girls and pregnant women are anaemic.
  • Almost 80% of mothers do not receive full antenatal care during their pregnancy

This was the situation when all government-run health and nutrition programmes were fully functional and easily accessible. Now, the situation has much more worsened during the corona times. Pandemic has had a negative impact on people:

  • There is a decline in uptake of health services like antenatal checkups, counselling, consumption of micronutrient supplements among pregnant women
  • There is a decrease in dietary diversity due to food insecurity led to adverse consequences on maternal and child nutrition
  • There is a reduction in food intake among 90% of the households
  • Disruption in the supply of Mid-Day Meals because of the closing of schools.
  • Loss of jobs has made the houses more vulnerable as now they struggle for basic food

How to address the nutrition crisis?

  1. Food and Nutrition Security: It is crucial to address the “hidden hunger” problem, especially among vulnerable communities like pregnant & lactating women, children’s etc while making policies of food security programmes in accordance with current needs.
    • Pandemic emphasized the need for local nutritious food & community-based initiatives to tackle the problem of food and nutrition insecurity. Poshan Matka Initiative in MP and promotion of Nutrition Gardens in UP is a step in this direction
  2. Micro Nutrient supplementation: Various initiatives have been done by many state governments like distribution of iron and folic acid, calcium tablets to pregnant & adolescent girls, Vitamin A supplementation to children to address the nutritional requirements & immunity problems.
  3. Food Fortification: It is the process of deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply. Various states like MP, Kerala, and Odisha have introduced fortified staples & rice in their social safety net programmes. The centre should also adopt fortified staples nationwide in their safety net programmes

Way forward

  • We must realize that nutrition cannot wait.
  • Policymakers should look beyond calorie intake and focus on nutrition.

Terms to know


Case for third party funding

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Arbitration and associated process

Relevance: To study the arbitration methods.

Synopsis: Third-party funding in Arbitration should be explored, with sufficient caution, to expedite access to justice.

Third-Party Funding in Arbitration/Litigation Funding

  • It is the process in which someone who is not involved in an arbitration provides funds to a party to that arbitration in exchange for an agreed return.
  • This practice is widely used in commercial arbitration, as this process improves access to justice by providing advance funding & support for the expensive, lengthy litigation process.
  • Historically, this form of funding was prohibited under doctrines of maintenance & champerty

Present Scenario

  • Now, the rules have been relaxed in various jurisdictions including the UK, the US, Canada and Australia as more focus is on access to justice.
  • In India, “non-lawyer third-party funding” is lawfully admissible, i.e. where there is no personal interest of the participating advocate.
  • The practice of 3rd party funding must become prevalent in India as it will not only open access to the court system but also businesses to manage their litigation position in a better way.

The debate around third party funding

  • The main area of concern is the disclosure of the type of funding.
  • We can learn from Hong Kong Inspirational Arbitration Centre Rules. The rules stipulate that when a funding agreement is concluded, the funded party must notify the other party. After that, the arbitral tribunal or emergency arbitrator in writing of the fact that a financing agreement has been concluded, along with the identity of 3rd party sponsor.

Way forward

  • We have seen organizations come up like the Indian Association for Litigation finance. So, India should explore third-party funding, keeping in view it increases access to justice

GS Paper 3

The message from the IPCC report

Source: The Hindu, Livemint

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment

Relevance: Fighting the climate-change crisis

Synopsis: In light of the recent IPCC 6th Assessment Report, measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change and the ways to prevent further damage to our environment are discussed.

What needs to be done?
  • Focusing on definite cumulative emission targets, keeping equity and historical responsibility in view
  • Immediate emission reductions by the developed countries with phase-out dates for all fossil fuels
  • Massive investment in new technologies and their deployment
  • A serious push to the mobilization of adequate climate finance
  • Put all energy use on the electricity grid, and then decarbonize the sources. This means that nuclear and renewable sources of energy will have to rise dramatically, while the internal combustion engine gives way to the electrical motors for transportation.
India’s options

The IPCC report’s warnings for India are particularly dire. Hence, for India, faster carbon reduction is no longer an option. Moreover, the impact of global warming will fall disproportionately on the less well-off in India. But an accelerated path to carbon neutrality requires significant investments. The only way forward is the following:

  • A combination of restraint and efficiency on one hand, combined with low-cost green innovation on the other
  • Immediate steps in terms of adaptation and resilience to extreme weather events—heatwaves and pluvial floods, for instance.
  • Afforestation, switching to electric vehicles and renewable energy must accelerate

EVs are the future but a premature transition through bad policy is undesirable

Source: TOI

Syllabus: GS3 – Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth

Relevance: India’s Electric Vehicle (EV) policy

Synopsis: An EV policy that is biased towards a premature transition to EVs can have unintended consequences. A look at the consequences and a way forward.

Background

Around 81% of the 18.6 million vehicles sold in 2020 were two-wheelers. Hence, the transition from an industry dominated by vehicles run through internal combustion engines to EVs, will be in sync with India’s climate change goal.

But, the inherent enthusiasm for EVs should not lead to unsound policy changes.

Must Read: Global Electric Vehicles Outlook 2021
Govt support

To quicken the transition to EVs, GoI provides a subsidy to lower the cost of ownership, and some states top up with yet another subsidy. This supportive policy environment has encouraged both traditional manufacturers and newer ones such as Ola Electric to enter the EV market.

Impact of unsound policy changes

In 2019, Niti Aayog proposed all two-wheelers running on combustion engines be banned by 2025. Such unsound policy prescriptions need to be analyzed in terms of the following two consequences:

  • Combustion engines subsidize EVs as fuel taxes have emerged as one of the biggest sources of revenue for government, and one that supported the budgets in a pandemic. Revenue stability matters, as governments perform many indispensable functions.
  • Strategic issues: Separately, there are strategic issues to consider. China dominates both processing and manufacturing of Lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, mineral ores and concentrates for them are found in just a few countries, with China again having a key position.

Thus, a policy which pushes for a premature transition to EVs can have unintended consequences.

Way forward

For now, India’s subsidized EVs should focus on competing with combustion engine vehicles, which have consistently met escalating tailpipe emission standards.

Note: Tailpipe emission standards specify the maximum amount of pollutants allowed in exhaust gases discharged from an internal combustion engine of a vehicle.


Wheat, rice lost in transit in last 4 years could have fed 82.30 million Indians for a month

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 – Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints

Relevance: Issues with Public Distribution System (PDS)

Synopsis: Findings and recommendations of the Standing Committee report on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (2020-2021) on India’s food storage and transit infrastructure, and the Decentralized Procurement Scheme (DCP).

Findings

On Transit and storage infra

  1. Wastage and pilferage loss: In the last four years, about 4 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice has been wasted as transit and pilferage losses, revealed a Standing Committee report. The subsidized food, if distributed properly would have been enough to feed 82.30 million people for a month.
  2. Huge amount of transit losses: The transit losses amounted to more than Rs 1000 crore in just the last four years (till October 2020).
  3. Pending cases: The committee questioned the actions taken against the officials responsible for transit losses and the cases that are still pending.

The findings above show the dismal state of India’s food storage and transit infrastructure.

On DCP Scheme

  • Only 23 states have implemented the Decentralized Procurement Scheme (DCP) so far — 15 to procure rice and eight to procure wheat — despite the scheme being in place for 23 years.
Must Read: What is the Decentralized Procurement (DCP) scheme?
Recommendations

On Transit and storage infra

  • The committee recommended Food Security of India (FSI) to prepare new standards, guidelines and checklists to mitigate the losses and make officials, workers more aware.
  • It also asked for a framework to deal with the pending cases of corruption, excise duty and related matters.

It suggested stricter steps to circumvent negligence and corruption in the distribution process of subsidized food grains by FSI.

On DCP scheme

  • The scheme is not yet mandatory for states, but the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should encourage them to implement it. The scheme will not only help reduce the cost of distribution, but also aid distribution of grains on minimum support price, the committee said.
  • The Centre should help states implement the system by delivering basic services within a dedicated time frame, the committee added.
  • The committee has requested that the central government speak with state governments to make them better understand the challenges associated with the scheme and try to resolve them.
Must Read: Food security in India and its challenges – Explained
Steps already taken

On Transit and storage infra

Govt responded to committee’s findings by stating that several steps have already been taken, like

  • Farmers are now provided the minimum support price online. Agencies are also being paid through the e-payment system.
  • The quality of cereals has always been questionable. Thus, quality-related parameters are being made public.
  • Regular inspections: The procurement process is being regularly inspected and action is being taken against those who are found guilty.
  • Tagging of produce: The produce is tagged at every step of the process — from the mills to the depot. Some sensitive districts have been identified for special monitoring.
  • CCTV cameras are also installed in all the godowns. In addition, committees have been formed to redress the grievances of the contractors.
  • Distribution monitoring: Several steps have also been taken to monitor the distribution. For example, selling in the open market is done only through e-auction. Stock quality is checked by joint sampling.
Future steps

On Transit and storage infra

  • Monitoring of transportation system: The transportation system will be closely monitored to check transit loss, especially in routes where damages often occur, the ministry informed.
  • Consignment squad: An independent consignment squad will be formed to look after loading and unloading at railway stations.

Bad loans: Prevention is better than cure

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Issues related to banking sector in India

Synopsis: In managing the bad loan problem, IBC should be the last resort for banks.

Context

The Standing Committee of Parliament attached to the Ministry of Finance has taken stock of The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and made suggestions for improvement.

Different models of insolvency resolution

There are two models for resolution of firm insolvency.

  1. One is the credit-in-possession model, which is the model in the UK, where control over stressed assets passes to creditors.
  2. The other is the debtor-in-possession model, which is the model in the US, where the debtor remains in control.

In India, creditors decide the future of an insolvent firm with the help of an administrator called the Resolution Professional (RP). The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is the adjudicating authority.

Issues with insolvency process and suggestions 
  • Resolution Professional (RP): It turns out that the RP is a weak link in the chain. The Parliamentary Committee made critical observations on RPs. The regulatory authorities have pursued disciplinary actions against 123 RPs in a total of 203 inspections carried out so far.
    • Suggestion: The Committee wants a self-regulatory body to oversee professional standards for RPs akin to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.
  • Issues with NCLT: As for the NCLT, its processes are plagued by delays. There are delays of over 180 days in 71% of cases. One reason for that is, as in the judiciary, several positions on the NCLT bench remain unfilled. The NCLT is 34 members short of the sanctioned strength of 62 members. The longer the insolvency process takes, the lower will be the value that creditors will realize. Bidders will factor in the delays in the price they quote. Banks will end up losing as a result.
    • Suggestion: The Committee wants cases to be admitted within 30 days.
  • The Committee is concerned about the large haircuts (A haircut refers to the lower-than-market value placed on an asset being used as collateral for a loan) banks have taken in some cases
    • Suggestion: Setting up a benchmark or threshold haircut to be set.
Suggestions/Measures
  • It is more important to get the estimate of liquidation value right and to get as many parties to bid as possible. For this, it may be useful to create an Office of Independent Evaluation at the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) similar to the one that obtains at the International Monetary Fund.
  • Revisit Clause 29 (A) (c): This clause bars promoters from bidding even if they are not wilful defaulters. It needs to be revisited. Where loans have gone bad for reasons beyond the control of promoters, it is worth giving them the opportunity to take part in the auction process under the IBC.
  • Extend pre-pack to corporations: The Committee suggests that the “pre-pack” format offered to micro, small and medium enterprises be extended to corporations.
    • In “pre-pack”, banks and the firm agree to a resolution before the case is referred to the NCLT. If banks and the firm can agree on a resolution, why go through the IBC process. The normal IBC process should be a last resort.
  • Improve risk management by banks: Lastly, risk management at banks needs to improve. It requires, among other things, considerable improvement in bank governance. The composition of boards, the selection of independent directors, compensation for independent directors (at public sector banks), the accountability of boards and other issues must be addressed. The RBI must press ahead with its recent efforts to overhaul board governance.

Terms to know:


Why funding sports is an Olympian hurdle?

Source: Live Mint

Syllabus: GS3 – Sports Infrastructure

Relevance: Issues related to Development of Sports in India

Synopsis: India’s spending on sports other than cricket is rising steadily, but still a lot needs to be done to bridge the gap.

Issues with sports dev in India

1]. Insufficient Financial support from Government

  1. The Union budget outlay on sports is classified under two broad categories. The first is ‘encouragement and awards to sportspersons’, which includes support to sports federations, awards and incentives.
  2. The second is the ‘Khelo India’ scheme, which aims to build a culture of sports in India from the grassroots, and upwards via infrastructure, competition, and opportunities.

However, the actual spend under both these initiatives has been lower than the budgeted amount in recent years.

As a result, India spends less on sports. For instance, Australia’s sports budget in 2020-21 was around ₹1,850 crore. India, with a population of about 50 times Australia, spent 14% less.

2]. Poor Private support

  • Small contribution: The corporate sector’s support to build Indian sport is significantly small compared to the government. CSR has been the main route for private sector investments in sports in India. Classified as corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, private sector investments in Indian sports account for about ₹250-300 crore in a year.
  • Lack of long-term commitment: What’s lacking in private support are funding instances where the vision is big and is matched by a funding commitment over several years. For example, in 2018-19, there were only 13 instances of a corporate making a sports grant of above ₹5 crore.
  • Issues with PPP model: The PPP model for sports development also remains constrained due to the lack of a standardized model and a lack of incentives for states to integrate PPP into their sports policies, according to a 2016 report co-authored by consultancy KPMG and the industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

3]. Governance Issues in Sporting Federations:

The sporting entities in India have a legacy of fiefdoms, opaqueness, corruption and a lack of compliance, which has even resulted in bans from the international agencies. In addition, these federations have struggled to raise finances

4]. Lack of Institutional design for sports development

As per the Indian Constitution, sports come under the ambit of states, and there is no law governing sporting activities for the entire country.

  • To address this issue, the Union ministry of youth affairs and sports notified the National Sports Development Code in 2011, which specified the principles for good governance of all national sports federations (NSFs).
  • However, there is a lack of clarity over whether these principles are binding on various sporting bodies and institutions.
Must Read: Target Olympic Podium Scheme 
Learnings from the UK
  • India can draw lessons from models that other countries like U.K have adopted. Following a dismal show in the 1996 Olympics, where it finished 36, Britain has over the years transformed its sports landscape.
  • Sports management was professionalized, and UK Sport, a government agency, was set up as a singular entity to enhance its Olympic medal count. In 2019-20, it spent about ₹1,500 crore).
Reforms needed

According to the KPMG report, the following interventions will be crucial.

  1. Private sector organizations and non-profits will have to be incentivized to participate in sports development through a combination of monetary and tax incentives.
  2. Since sports is a high-risk career, it is imperative that adequate financial security is provided to athletes to enable a more lucrative career.
  3. Further, sporting federations should be governed by former sports persons with a proven ability to lead sporting bodies, rather than politicians or bureaucrats.
  4. Lastly, the PPP route should be utilized to develop world-class sporting infrastructure. In the US, sports are well integrated with the education system, with college sports competitions being popular as well as rigorous.

Conclusion

The shining performance of India’s sportspersons in Tokyo, shows that there is no dearth of talent in India. However, to identify, groom and nurture promising prospects for world-beating athletes will require concerted effort, investment and cooperation among all key stakeholders of the sports industry in India.


Start up and Stand Tall (On India’s start-up ecosystem)

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3- Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Demographic dividend and role of start-ups in Indian economy

Synopsis: India@75 is on the height of change and, it needs a golden era of global entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation for India@100.

Context

While India has historically and culturally been an entrepreneurially-driven nation, the last decade-and-a-half has witnessed a significant change in the landscape — from the founding of new startups, to global investor interest, to the advances made in infrastructure and policies.

India’s unique position in the world
  1. First, India has 62% of the population in the working age group. And the ability of the young generation to take risks, move fast, and disrupt things without fear, has become the biggest asset today.
    • Indians likely to have an estimated 850 million internet users by 2030 and, it has the opportunity to be a global game-changer.
  2. Second, in 2021 alone, Indian startups have raised $20 billion in funding. The startup economy has brought new business opportunities, innovation, tech-centric approaches and job creation across sectors. It paves the way for innovation and expanding global footprint.
  3. Third, according to Nasscom, India has 50-plus strong “Unicorn club” in 2021, the country now finds itself at the epicentre of entrepreneurship.
    • unicorn refers to any startup that reaches the valuation of $1 Billion.
Must Read: An ambitious goal for India’s 100th year of Independence
Growth of start-up ecosystem in India

Today, India is home to more than 40,000 startups and is building a robust tech and internet infrastructure. The steady rise of Indian IT companies in the 2000s, a large talent pool of a skilled workforce, increased expendable income, and rising capital inflows have all contributed to this.

  • Indian startups are also taking big strides in building synergies and partnerships with global entities.
  • Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian startups have rapidly innovated to provide indigenous, tech-enabled solutions to combat challenges.
  • One of the paradigm shifts has been systemic shift to online education and remote learning at scale.
What more can be done?
  • Education, reskilling, and upskilling of our workforce is crucial.
  • Apart from policy-level decisions, India’s corporate sector should cultivate entrepreneurialism, and create partnerships to build impactful technology solutions, sustainable and resource-efficient growth.
  • Focus on developing solutions that allow businesses in key sectors to meet goals of national importance.

Conclusion:

The collective efforts of the public and private sectors to improve physical and digital connectivity will help unlock the untapped potential of rural and semi-urban India to truly lead Industry 4.0.


Reserves: The RARE model in India

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS3 – Effects of Liberalization on the Economy

Relevance: Foreign Exchange reserves in India and issues related to it

Synopsis: India should do away with the prevailing RARE model of reserves in a phased manner.

Context

The foreign exchange reserves in India are close to $620 billion. Recently, a parliamentary panel and the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari observed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is possibly holding excessive reserves.

RARE model

RARE stands for Reserves for Atmanirbharta, Ratings, and Exchange rate stability. However, the first two of the three objectives are not explicit; only the third is.

Reasons behind huge forex reserve by RBI

RBI maintains a huge forex reserve under the RARE model.

  1. First, to supplement the policy of Atmanirbharta. There has been an emphasis on atmanirbharta (self-reliance). It is about pushing exports and discouraging imports. This policy is keeping the current account deficit in check.
    • But given the large capital inflows, there is a need for the RBI to absorb the extra dollar inflow and increase its reserves. And, purchases of foreign currencies by the RBI keep the rupee on an average at a low level.
  2. Second, to achieve decent international ratings: The fiscal situation in India is quite weak, which is why the international ratings of the Indian sovereign are consistently very low. In fact, if the RBI was not holding a very large amount of reserves, the ratings could have been lower still.
  3. Third, to maintain exchange rate stability. If the dollar fluctuates significantly, the RBI can buy or sell dollars to ensure stability. Large reserves can avoid a collapse in the external value of the rupee.
Why India needs to relook RARE model?
  • Sustaining the rupee at a low level for long may not end well. In Japan, the policy of low yen was brought to an abrupt end through the Plaza Accord with the US in 1985. Hence, we need to be careful with any important “disequilibrium” price. India is already on the US list of possible currency manipulators.
  • India now has flexible exchange rates and inflation targeting. Flexible exchange rates facilitate adjustment, and inflation targeting prevents prices and the exchange rate from going out of control.
  • In order to be able to settle our obligations in the future, we should have adequate assets, not huge amount of liquid assets in form of huge forex.
Measures
  • There is need to raise the tax-GDP ratio and provide for a tax on sudden and large capital flows that can cause negative externalities.
  • India can buy additional credit in normal times. The availability of credit line on reasonable terms has improved over time. So, there is no pressing need for large reserves.

Terms to know


Beating plastic pollution (On plastic waste management rules)

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Issue of Plastic waste management

Synopsis: Effective implementation of New Plastic Waste Management Amendment rules offers a solution to address plastic pollution

Context

Central government on 12th of August notified The Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules which acknowledges the gravity of pollution caused by plastic articles of everyday use.

The decisions follow recommendations made by an expert group constituted by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals two years ago.

The Plastic Waste Rules 

Some major provision of the new rules:

  • The manufacture, sale and use of some single-use goods made with plastic, polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene, such as earbuds, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping and packing films, is prohibited from July 1 next year
  • Carry bags must be at least 75 microns thick from September 30th, 2021, and 120 microns from December 31 next year, compared to 50 microns at present.

Note: For detailed provisions of the new rules, please read the article below

Must Read: Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021
Extent of plastic pollution in India
  • India has generated 34 lakh tonnes of plastic waste in 2019-20, of which only 60% has been recycled
  • 6 of the top 100 global producers of polymers which produces large quantity of plastic waste are based in India.
  • According to CPCB report, 22 states in India have announced ban on single use plastic but, it had little impact on outcomes
Issues with plastic waste mgmt
  • With regard to policy- India’s policies on environment are divergent, they are intentionally good but poor on outcomes
  • With regard to implementation by state- lack of strong will from state governments to replace municipal contracts
  • With regard to recycling– because of lack of segregation, considerable amounts of plastic waste cannot be recycled
  • Patchy regulation- This led to prohibition on movement of plastic waste to other states which have recycling capacity.

Conclusion: The international view is changing, and support for a UN Plastic Treaty is growing. The majority of G7 countries  are supportive of cleaning up the oceans through a charter in the interests of human wellbeing and environmental integrity. Now that the Centre has adopted a broad ban, further pollution must end.

Also read: Plastic pollution in India

India’s climate mitigation plans face a threat as Earth warms

Source: Business standard

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Implications of climate change on the renewable energy sector in India.

Synopsis: Threats posed by climate to India’s renewable energy sector and possible solutions.

Context

India recently renewed its target for renewable energy installation to 450 GW by 2040 from earlier 175 GW by 2022.

But this plan is threatened by climate change, since weather extremes in India is hurting the sustainability of solar and wind projects. This calls for additional investment in projects for mitigation and forecasting technologies.

Threats to renewable energy sector 

Climate change is threatening renewable energy sector in the following ways:

  • Decline in wind speed: The average wind speed in the five key wind power generation states: Maharashtra, Madhya Pra­d­esh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Kar­nataka, has declined. Due to back-to-back cyclones and changing monsoon patterns combined with heavy rains impacted the wind speed. This led to 40% reduction in wind energy production.
  • Changing weather patterns also brought more cloudy days, affecting solar power generation. Major solar energy producing states such as  Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka saw solar power generation fall 7-15% over last year.

Recently published 6th assessment report by IPCC has warned that such trends may likely continue.

Suggestions/measures
  • Investing in digital solutions which help monitor weather changes, and plan generation accordingly. They enhance performance optimization and predictive maintenance, thus improves efficiency
  • Investing in taller wind turbines and more efficient generators to tackle the lack of windy sites and sporadic wind movements.

Conclusion

India’s focus for climate mitigation is based on renewable energy capacity addition, whereas climate extremes are impacting generation. Thus, there is need for the government to realign the focus, keeping in mind the challenges of climate change.

Must Read: IPCC 6th Assessment report

Palm oil and environmental, social challenges in India: The road ahead

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: importance of palm oil for India

Synopsis: Oil palm is a valuable economic crop and a source of employment across developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Importance of palm oil and various challenges associated with its production. A brief look.

Context

Oil palm is a valuable economic crop and a source of employment across developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It allows small landholders to participate in the cash economy and helps improve living standards of the local community.

However, it leads to various environmental and social challenges such as deforestation, conversion of peat land into plantation, violation of labour rights etc.

Palm oil consumption in India
  • India consumes 10% of the total global production of palm oil and is a net importer of palm oil. India produces less than 0.7 million tonnes of palm oil annually, while it imports around 7.4 million tonnes
  • Demand for palm oil is driven by high consumption due to its various advantages in food industry in India
  • Since domestic production is not sufficient to meet the demand, India imports around 9 million tonnes of palm oil annually
  • Most palm oil imports in India originate from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, accounting for over 90% of total imported volumes in 2019 and 2020
  • According to FAO’s State of Food Security And Nutrition in the World report, 194.4 million people are still undernourished in India and palm oil provides a cheap solution to address the issue
Benefits of palm oil cultivation
  • Food security and nutrition– Global production and demand for palm oil are increasing rapidly. The cultivation of palm oil is more advantageous than other vegetable crops like soy, sunflower and mustard, with 4-10 times the output per unit of land. This makes its cultivation critical to global food security and nutrition
  • Low prices and neutral taste– which enhances oil accessibility to people below poverty lines
  • Versatile nature– it can be easily blended with mustard, coconut, groundnut and sesame, oil which are locally produced and traditionally used vegetable oils in Indian cooking
  • Raw material for Indian bakery industry, which is projected to reach $12 billion by 2024.
Issues with Palm oil

Because of its damaging effect on environment such as deforestation and peatland destruction, there is need for a sustainable supply chain.

The deforestation risk associated with palm and its ecological footprint is not realized given negligible media attention and the absence of on-product labelling

What needs to be done?
  • Responsible production– Palm oil can be produced responsibly without damaging the environment. As the largest importer, India needs to drive the demand for sustainable palm oil.
  • The signing of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement paves the way for the creation of one of the world’s largest FTAs, and it can be used to set a high bar for the import of high-deforestation risk palm oil into India.
Must Read: State of Food Security And Nutrition in the World report

India must push for women’s rights in land ownership

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 3 – Land reforms in India.

Relevance: To understand the pattern of women’s ownership of land.

Synopsis: Despite enabling laws, women’s land ownership are still lagging. This needs concerted social efforts and more vocal claims by women.

What is the challenge?

  • Despite 15 years of the passing of the Hindu Succession Amendment Act (HSAA 2005), the access of women to the property is still poor.
  • Literature shows women’s land ownership would improve their well-being, improve children’s health and education, reduce domestic violence etc.

What does the law say?

  • HSA 1956 had given substantial rights, but there were two major inequalities:
    1. Inheritance of agricultural land devolved according to land reform laws was gender unequal.
    2. Daughters were excluded from coparcenary rights (joint heirship) in the family property.
      • While Kerala abolished joint property, states like AP, TN amended HSA to recognize unmarried daughters as coparceners.
  • But the discriminatory clause for agricultural land still remained.

What is the status on the ground?

  • The first challenge was with respect to the data of gendered ownership, as it was not easily accessible, neither by NSSO survey nor by agricultural surveys.
  • There were also issues of people citing incorrect data.

Results from ICRISAT’s longitudinal data (2009-2014)

  • Women were found to own land in only 16% of the sampled 1,114 rural landowning households.
  • Women constituted only 14% of all landowners and owned only 11% of the land, with an average area of 1.24 ha relative to 1.66 ha for men.
  • Most of the landowning women had acquired land through their marital families, typically as widows and not as daughters through parents.
  • Very few women were co-owners in joint family property, and over half the owners of both genders were aged 50 or more.
  • The state-wise variance was also observed, as female landowners constituted 32% of all landowners in Telangana but only 6% in Odisha.

Factors leading to lower ownership of land by female

  • Fathers fear losing control over land if given to married daughters.
  • Daughters fear damaging family relations if they claim their shares.
  • Policymakers fear land fragmentation.

Way forward

  • India urgently needs more gender-disaggregated data on land ownership, and innovative policies to increase women’s actual ownership.
  • Women should raise their claims more vocally.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme

Source: PIB

What is the News?

In order to boost domestic defence and aerospace manufacturing, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched the Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS).

About Defence Testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS):
  1. Launched by: Ministry of Defence in 2020.
  2. Aim: To create a state-of-the-art testing infrastructure in partnership with the private industry. 
Key Features of the Scheme:
  1. Target: The scheme aims to set up 6-8 Greenfield Defence Testing Infrastructure facilities that are required for defence and aerospace-related production.
    • A greenfield project is one that is not constrained by prior work. It is constructed on unused land where there is no need to remodel or demolish an existing structure.
  2. Funding: The projects under the scheme will be provided with up to 75% Government funding in the form of ‘Grant-in-Aid’.
    • The remaining 25% of the project cost will have to be borne by the Special Purpose Vehicle(SPV). The SPV constituents will be the Indian private entities and state governments.
  3. Duration of the Scheme: Five Years.

Union Agriculture Minister inaugurated the world’s second-largest refurbished gene bank

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has inaugurated the world’s second-largest refurbished state-of-the-art National Gene Bank at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), Pusa, New Delhi.

About National Gene Bank:
  1. National Gene Bank was established in 1996. It aims to preserve the seeds of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations in the form of seeds, genomic resources, pollen etc.
  2. Hosted By: National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi.
  3. Capacity: Presently, the Gene Bank is protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are Indian germplasm and the rest have been imported from other countries.
    • Germplasm is a live information source for all the genes present in the respective plant. It can be conserved for long periods and regenerated whenever it is required in the future.
About National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources(NBPGR):
  1. The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources(NBPGR) was established in 1977 by renaming the National Bureau of Plant Introduction as NBPGR.
  2. Parent Institute: It is one of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Institutes.
  3. Mandate: To act as the nodal institute at the national level for acquisition, management and genomics-based profiling of indigenous and exotic plant genetic resources (PGR). The PGR is collected for food and agriculture and to carry out related research and human resources development for sustainable growth of agriculture.
  4. Headquarters: New Delhi.
  5. Significance: NBPGR is meeting the need of in-situ and ex-situ germplasm conservation through Delhi Headquarters and 10 regional stations in the country.

Jal Jeevan Mission starts to monitor tap water supply

Source: Business Standard

What is the News?

Jal Jeevan Mission has launched into its next phase of measuring and monitoring water supply.

Click here to read about Jal Jeevan Mission

Achievements of the mission:

JJM

  1. In 2019, 7% of the rural households had tap water connections, which is increased to 41% in the last two years. 
  2. Goa, Telangana, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry are among states that claim to have achieved 100% tap connections in rural areas.

Features of Next Phase of Jal Jeevan Mission:

  1. Sensor-Based Systems: The mission is expanding the coverage of its sensor-based systems to 100 villages across nine states. This would help in understanding water consumption patterns and also devise the pricing strategy at a later stage. 
  2. Training of Women: Jal Shakti Ministry is training five women in each village to test water quality and upload the data online. The test is done through a simple and easy-to-use kit, and it provides indicative results. If there is an indication of contamination, then the team of women can flag it and the government would look further into the matter.  
  3. Smart Water Supply Measurement: Government has shortlisted four start-ups for developing the smart water supply measurement and monitoring system. The start-ups took part in a grand challenge organised by ministries of Jal Shakti and electronics and information technology 
  4. Contamination of Water: In order to address fluoride and arsenic contamination of water in some states, including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, the Jal Shakti Ministry has asked the state governments to instal community water purification systems. All States are expected to have these plants by December 2021.

Scientists develop non-invasive bio-nanocarrier visceral leishmaniasis therapy

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Indian researchers have developed a non-invasive, easy to administer, cost-effective, and patient compliant potential therapeutic strategy against Visceral Leishmaniasis.

About Leishmaniasis:
  1. The leishmaniases are a group of diseases caused by protozoan parasites. These parasites are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female phlebotomine sandfly, a tiny – 2–3 mm long – insect vector.
  2. Types: There are three main forms of this disease: 
    • Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL)
    • Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, and 
    • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL)
  3. CL is the most common form, VL is the most severe form and MCL is the most disabling form of the disease.
About Visceral Leishmaniasis(VL):
  1. Visceral Leishmaniasis(VL) is also known as kala-azar. The disease is characterized by irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia.
  2. It is a neglected tropical disease that affects millions annually, making it the second most common parasitic killer after malaria.
  3. If the disease is not treated, the fatality rate in developing countries can be as high as 100% within 2 years.
Treatment of VL:
  1. The conventional treatment therapy of VL mainly involves painful intravenous administration. This imposes many treatment complications, including prolonged hospitalization, high cost, and high risk of infection. 
  2. On the other hand, Oral drug delivery brings forth massive advantages that can help overcome these barriers. But with oral routes have potential high renal toxic side effects.
    • To overcome this, scientists have developed a method based on nano carrier-based oral drugs coated with Vitamin B12. This method can mitigate challenges and drug-associated toxicity.

Cave lion cub found in Siberian permafrost is 28,000 years old

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

Scientists have found two perfectly frozen cave lion cubs which lived 28,000 years ago. The lion cubs were found in Siberia’s Permafrost in Russia and have been nicknamed Boris and Sparta.

About Cave Lion:

  1. Cave Lions (Panthera spelaea) are also known as European cave lions and Eurasian cave lions. They are an ancient big cat species that have been extinct for thousands of years.
  2. They belong to the genus of the prehistoric lions that originated during the Pleistocene epoch in what is now Europe.
  3. Furthermore, they are thought to be one of the largest species of the lion to have ever lived. Scientists believe that cave lions were as much as 10% larger than modern lions.
  4. Diet Behaviour: The Cave Lions were major predators, hunting ice age deer, bison, and other animals. These lions also were ambush predators, laying in wait and erupting out of the brush to tackle their prey with impressive speed, agility, and strength.
    • However, like all cats, the Cave Lion could only chase prey over a short distance.
Significance of these Findings:
  1. Findings like these in Russia’s vast Siberian region have started happening more and more.
  2. This is because climate change is warming the Arctic at a faster pace than the rest of the world and has defrosted the ground in some areas long locked in permafrost.

PM announces rice fortification plan to tackle malnutrition

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has announced that rice distributed under various government schemes such as the public distribution system (PDS) and mid-day meal (MDM) will be fortified by 2024.

Read more: Food Fortification of India
Why Rice Fortification?
  1. India is one of the largest producers of rice. India also accounts for 22 percent of the world’s rice production. Further, India is also a leading consumer, with a per capita rice consumption of 6.8 kg/month.
  2. However, in India. every second woman is anaemic, and every third child is stunted. 
  3. India ranks 94 out of 107 countries and is in the ‘serious hunger’ category on the Global Hunger Index (GHI).
  4. Hence, rice fortification has been found as a cost-effective strategy to tackle the problem of micronutrient malnutrition (shortage of essential vitamins or minerals) especially among women and children.

Note: Seven countries have mandated rice fortification – USA, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Solomon Islands.

How will the rice be fortified?
  1. According to the norms of the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India, 1 kg of fortified rice must contain iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 mg) and vitamin B-12 (0.75-1.25 mg). In addition, rice may also be fortified with micronutrients singly or in combination.

India to recalibrate air quality norms next year

Source: Times of India

What is the news?

India is likely to have new national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) in 2022, which will consist of more pollutants including ultra fine particulate matter of less than PM2.5.

CPCB has awarded the work of updating NAAQS to the IIT Kanpur led team of experts. The team will recommend the revised standards by fine-tuning and broadening the pollutants’ base.

About NAAQS

India’s first NAAQS was adopted in 1982 and revised twice in 1994 and 2009. It includes 8 major pollutants

  1. PM2.5
  2. PM10
  3. Sulphur dioxide
  4. Nitrogen dioxide
  5. Carbon monoxide
  6. Benzene
  7. Ammonia
  8. Ozone

Note: Please note that there is no Carbon Di-oxide (CO2) in the above list of pollutants.

Tasks before expert panel
  • expanding the scope of measurement of air pollution
  • determining frequency of measurement
  • effects of air pollutants on human health and vegetation
  • review of air quality index (AQI)
  • use of various technologies for monitoring

Terms to know:


In Karur, a conservation dilemma regarding the slender loris

Source: Down to Earth

What is the news?

The district forest officer (DFO) of Karur district has recently submitted a proposal for implementing a species recovery programme to protect and improve the population of the endangered slender loris.

Threats to the species

Since there is great demand for keeping these animal as pets, they are illegally smuggled. Habitat loss, electrocution of live wires and road accidents are other threats that have caused its populations to destabilise.

Photo: Wikipedia

About Slender loris:
  • Slender loris (Loris tardigradus) is secretive and has nocturnal habits. It usually travels from the canopy of one tree to another.
  • Commonly found in the tropical scrub and deciduous forests as well as the dense hedgerow plantations bordering farmlands of Southern India and Sri Lanka.
  • It has been listed as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • It is under Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, to provide the highest level of legal protection
  • They are usually solitary, but sometimes found in pairs
  • It is believed that these animals have some medicinal properties, they are captured and sold.
  • Habitat loss, electrocution of live wires and road accidents are other threats that have caused its populations to dwindle

 

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