9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 1st, 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

Hail the rise of digital humanities

Source: The post is based on an article “Hail the rise of digital humanities” published in the Business Standard on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 Indian Art and Culture

News: Recently, the Jadavpur University has launched the Bichitra project, a digital humanities project. In this project, digital versions of manuscripts and printed books and journals related to Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali with English transcription have been gathered for study.

About the Digital Humanities

In this, the “digital world” and “humanities” are combined together to produce anything meaningful.

Nowadays, the digital humanists have developed new methods, such as computer-based statistical analysis, search and retrieval, topic modelling, and data visualisation for use in their researches.

Some Applications 

A key element in spurring growth in digital humanities is the collection and digitisation of large datasets that will enable researchers to experiment.

(1) At the University of California, Berkeley, researchers are using mathematical techniques and machine learning-based tools to unravel which author contributed what to the Hebrew Bible, a composite text compiled over hundreds of years.

(2) in the University College London, researchers are using similar mathematical techniques, text- and sentiment-mining techniques on digitized newspapers and available periodicals. It is to unravel the history of mentalities, long-term developments, and turning points in public debates.

(3) Further, mathematical methods are being used in news headlines, social media posts, and smart stock market traders on Wall Street and other financial markets to extract emotions.

Importance of the digital humanities

The Digital humanities techniques are applied to archives and collections that are so large that any human researcher or research group cannot comfortably handle them.

These methods enable ambitious projects with large interdisciplinary teams to work on difficult or complex projects.

Digital humanists are transforming the idea of what a humanities research project can be. These techniques are giving humanists, new ways of seeing past and present cultures.

Some Developments in the field of digital humanities

In the Western Countries

Major Western universities have started setting up digital humanities departments and research centers. For Example, the Digital Humanities Centre at Berkeley; Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Humanities and Literature Research Initiative; the University of Cambridge’s new M Phil in digital humanities, and Oxford University’s M.Sc. in digital scholarship.

In India

Ashoka University has initiated foundation courses in digital humanities and seminars for exploring critical thinking and opportunities for interdisciplinary majors.

IIT Jodhpur, Mumbai University, and Jadavpur University are offering post-graduate diplomas in digital humanities.

The Centre for Internet and Governance in India, Bangalore, is also playing a pioneering role in spreading the word.

What are the challenges in the adoption of the digital humanities in India?

In India, even relatively minor updates of curricula are greeted with temper tantrums by the teachers concerned, even at the IIM level. In part, this arises because such changes require professors and lecturers in their late 50s and early 60s to unlearn and relearn new concepts. For example, it happened when the Internet and the World Wide Web started to make their presence in the 2000-2010 period.

The Indian tech companies may convert the still nascent concepts in digital humanities into learn-by-rote formulae. It will further block any Indian participation in this new intellectual revolution that is underway.

GS Paper 2

International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC): Bringing Eurasia closer

Source: This post is based on the article “Bringing Eurasia closer” published in The Hindu on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: About the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

News: Recently, two 40-ft containers of wood laminate sheets from Russia’s Astrakhan port crossed the Caspian Sea and eventually reach Nhava Shiva port in Mumbai. The journey signalled the launch of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

What is INSTC?

It is a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor that combines road, rail and maritime routes connecting Russia and India via Central Asia and Iran. The corridor is expected to consolidate the emerging Eurasian Free Trade Area.

The legal framework for the INSTC is provided by a trilateral agreement signed by India, Iran and Russia at the Euro-Asian Conference on Transport in 2000.

Read here: “INSTC | International North-South Corridor”
What is the significance of INSTC?

1) The INSTC is expected to reduce freight costs by 30% and the journey time by 40% in comparison with the conventional deep sea route via the Suez Canal, This is significant as a container ship was stuck in the Suez last year, halting maritime traffic between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, 2) INSTC can shape a north-south transport corridor that can complement the east-west axis of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Read more: India and Central Asia
What is the significance of INSTC to India?

1) India can now bypass Pakistan to access Afghanistan, central Asia and beyond, 2) The infrastructure will allow India’s access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, 3) A special economic zone around Chabahar will offer Indian companies the opportunity to set up a range of industries; for example, NALCO proposes to set up an aluminium smelter.

Read more: India – Central Asia Relations – Explained, pointwise
What does India’s engagement in INSTC and Quad signify?

India’s founding role in both the INSTC and the Quad exemplifies its departure from non-alignment to multi-alignment.

The INSTC offers a platform for India to closely collaborate with Russia, Iran and Central Asian republics. INSTC’s major players Russia and Iran are subject to sanctions by Western governments.

On the other hand, Quad members of the U.S., Japan and Australia aim to create and safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Overall, the INSTC is a laudable initiative as a transcontinental multi-modal corridor that aims to bring Eurasia closer together. Further, India’s membership in INSTC consolidates India’s multi-alignment strategy.

Read more: Quad Leaders’ Summit – Explained, pointwise

Representation, all the way up

Source: The post is based on the article “Representation, all the way up” published in the “The Hindu” on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein.

Relevance: Local Self Government; Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs)

News: Recently, Droupadi Murmu, an Adivasi woman from a humble background, was sworn in as the 15th President of India. It has become possible due to various constitutional reforms after independence. The article highlights some major reforms and analyses them.

The 73rd and 74th Amendments towards democratic decentralisation has played a key role in diversifying representation in politics.

Merits of the Constitutional Reform

The reforms mandated the creation of rural and urban local governments with functions, funds, and functionaries. It enabled them to function as “institutions of self-government” at the local level across the country. These reforms were aimed to meet the stated ends of economic development and social justice. 

These amendments signaled a realisation of a long-held vision of Mahatma Gandhi and his followers to make the village the core unit of governance.

These reforms have provided Intersectional reservation, which refers to reservation for SC Women, ST Women and OBC Women. It mandates the reservation of seats to members belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and STs, in the elected councils of Panchayats and Municipalities. Further, a minimum of one-third of seats have to be reserved for women.

Such reservation has succeeded in broadening the representative character of the Indian state by increasing the total number of elected representatives and diversifying its constituents.

In fact, some states have gone beyond the Constitutional mandate by increasing women’s reservations from 33% to 50% and introducing reservations for OBCs.

Issues in the local-self-governance

Despite 30 years of these constitutional reforms, the local governments have still not become powerful “units of self-government”. The reasons include:

(1) There are issues in the design and the implementation of the Constitutional Amendments.

(2) The expansion of the reservation to other social bases has been relatively ignored in academic and policy debates.

(3) The judiciary has been quite sceptical about diversifying representation in local governments, like OBC reservation in local government elections.

The Judiciary has upheld various amendments that prescribed educational qualifications for contesting local body elections on the ground that it is for the “better administration of the panchayats”.

(4) Some believe that reservations in local governments do not substantially benefit the marginalised groups. For example, women are sometimes proxies for their husbands in reserved constituencies.

What should be done?

Empirical studies have shown that women-led panchayats invest more in public goods, prioritize infrastructure more relevant for women, and increase women’s involvement in village affairs.

The SC has given direction that diversifying reservations to OBC should be justified by “empirical findings” of backwardness.

Central bank autonomy and its crypto plot twist

Source: The post is based on an article “Central bank autonomy and its crypto lot twist” published in the Live Mint on 31st July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues and Challenges pertaining to the growth and development of the Indian Economy

News: At present, there are arguments that the Central banks should have functional autonomy to target their aim of country’s financial stability and development.

Situations at present – The loss of autonomy of the central banks in India 

Nowadays, the liberty of the central banks is bounded under the legal mandate. For example, in 2016, the Reserve Bank of India was given a mandate to keep inflation within in particular range. Therefore, there is a special panel to decide the monetary rate policy, in which the government’s appointees also play important role.

Further, the RBI-Centre relations went through a rocky patch around the time of demonetization.

Last year, RBI’s target band was renewed till the end of 2025-26. However, there are elections in 2024 which might impact it.

What are the arguments for more autonomy to central banks?

First, we can look at the example of the US. US Federal Reserve has autonomy in decision making. It is not forced to make price stability, its top priority and can take the decisions on the basis of long-term benefit to the economy.

Second, separation of powers based on expertise is seen to maximize public welfare. It is being followed in many other countries as well.

Third, at present, most of the economies are the crypto disruption. Central banks must make serious policy efforts the strengthen their currencies.

What are the arguments against more autonomy to the Central bank?

One, all policies in a democracy must stay accountable to people via elected governments; and

Second, since monetary and fiscal policies do not work in isolation. They work in tandem, especially in times of crisis. Therefore, the bank’s relations with the government or treasury mustn’t go awry.

GS Paper 3

India’s ‘wheat waiver’ WTO demand is risk-fraught

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s ‘wheat waiver’ WTO demand is risk-fraught” published in The Hindu on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Effects of liberalization on the economy 

Relevance: About the public stockholding (PSH) of food.

News: Recently, India demanded World Trade Organization (WTO) to find a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding (PSH) of food to protect India’s food security (PSH policy).

About India’s PSH Policy and WTO rules

India’s PSH policy is based on procuring food from farmers at an administered price (minimum support price or MSP – generally higher than the market price).

The PSH policy serves the twin objectives 1) Offering remunerative prices to farmers and 2) Providing subsidised food to the underprivileged.

However, under WTO law, such price support-based procurement from farmers is considered as a trade-distorting subsidy. Currently, India has temporary relief due to a ‘peace clause’ that bars countries from raising legal challenges against these subsidies.

India’s concern is that WTO should have the policy space to hold public food stocks using the MSP. However, there is no mention of price support in the Geneva declaration.

Read more: 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO – Explained, pointwise
Can the country export public stock holding food grains?

WTO law also prohibits countries from exporting foodgrain procured at subsidised prices. This is because, a) Gives an unfair advantage in global agricultural trade, b) A country will sell foodgrain in the international market at a very low price. This will depress the global prices and have an adverse impact on the agricultural trade of other countries.

Accordingly, in paragraph 4 of the 2013 WTO decision on PSH for food security purposes, countries procuring food for food-security purposes shall ensure that such procured food does not “distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other Members”.

This is also reflected in paragraph 10 of the Geneva ministerial food security declaration. The declaration states that countries may release surplus food stocks into the international market in accordance with WTO law. The WTO may agree to a temporary waiver to allow the export of wheat from public stockholdings given the ongoing food crisis in some countries.

Read more: The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (Agreement) at the WTO Ministerial meeting
Status of PSH on recent WTO ministerial meeting

India’s demand for a permanent solution to the PSH policy has acquired a new dimension in the recent WTO meeting. . The Russia-Ukraine war has unleashed a food crisis in many countries.

India insists that it should also be allowed to export food, especially wheat, from the pool of foodgrain procured under the MSP.

Read more: Indian interests at the WTO Ministerial Conference
What should India do to protect India’s PSH policy?

1) India should revisit its stand on asking for a waiver for wheat exports from its public stockholding. To help the food crisis in other countries, India can strengthen its commitment to the United Nations World Food Programme.

2) India should focus on its core agenda of pushing for a permanent solution for its PSH programme to attain the goal of food security, 3) India can lift the ban imposed on private traders to export wheat.

Financial health of airline sector is the real cause for concern, not overblown safety issues

Source: The post is based on the article “Financial health of airline sector is the real cause for concern, not overblown safety issues” published in the Indian Express on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: To understand aviation safety in India.

News: The recent incidents of airlines developing technical glitches have received widespread public scrutiny, raising concerns about the safety of Indian carriers. But this is not the real problem in aviation safety.

What is the performance of Indian aircrafts on safety parameters?

As per International Air Traffic Association (IATA) records, there was only one accident in every 9.9 lakh flights in 2021 as opposed to one in every 6.3 lakh flight in 2020, globally.

India’s air safety indicators are significantly ahead of the global average. In 2019, there were just 0.82 accidents per million flights as compared to the global average of 3.02.

The improvement in India’s performance can be noted in the fact that accidents per million flights were 2.8 in 2014.

Why does the recent issues are not significant for aviation safety?

Quality of human resources: This includes the critical facets of training pilots, ground crew and engineers helped in improving India’s progress.

Minimum Equipment List (MEL): The incidents of airlines’ Minimum Equipment List (MEL) have been repeatedly highlighted for the faltering safety standards. However, simply having a MEL by an airline does not translate into a compromise of safety margins.

The categories of MELs are defined by the manufacturer and duly approved by the regulator — the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Note: Oversight over Indian carriers is not just maintained by the DGCA but also by the IATA and EASA.

The incidents of windshield fissures or crack: An aircraft windshield comprises multiple layers and houses a heating system. The movement of aircraft can cause certain stresses which might lead to cracks in the windshield. This is a fairly common occurrence that can take place due to adverse weather conditions.

Similarly, bird hits can also occur at any time as this is not a controllable factor.

Read more: Air pocket: Show cause to SpiceJet overdue. DGCA has to be more proactive on safety
What are the challenges faced while ensuring aviation safety?

a) Robustness of aircraft maintenance:  To ensure proper maintenance an aircraft must have the requisite bandwidth and repository of spare parts. In the backdrop of the Ukraine-Russia war, titanium is in short supply.

Note: 60% of Titanium comes from Russia. It is a a major component of aircraft spares and engines.

b) Multiple low-cost airline operators: These airlines attract a greater portion of the market share, and keep ticket prices low enough to attract customers while managing operations as well as staff salaries. This poses a grave challenge to the sustenance of airlines.

c) Financial health of the sector: Apart from spares shortage, the sector is facing shipping disruptions and high fuel prices. A huge monotony of systems in every airline makes flights expensive.

Multiple taxes further push up costs even while competition between airlines creates immense pressure on the balance sheets. All this creates a situation of high operating costs for the entire aviation industry.

Read more: Safety in the sky – The DGCA should have no tolerance for laxity among airlines seeking to cut corners
What should be done to improve India’s aviation sector?

The regulator must seriously consider the issues regarding the shortage of spare parts owing to delayed payments to vendors. The DGCA should also take steps to improve the financial health of airlines.

PMLA verdict, an erosion of constitutional buffers

Source: This post is based on the article “PMLA verdict, an erosion of constitutional buffers” published in The Hindu on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Money-laundering and its prevention.

Relevance: About the issues surrounding PMLA.

News:  The Supreme Court in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary and Ors versus Union of India case upheld the provisions of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act).

What was the case about?
Read here: Supreme Court upholds powers of arrest, raids, seizure under PMLA
What are the significant provisions of PMLA?
Read here: Prevention of Money Laundering Act(PMLA) 

Section 3 of the Act says, “Whosoever directly or indirectly attempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming it as untainted property shall be guilty of the offence of money-laundering.”

The term “proceeds of crime” is separately defined to mean property that is obtained out of the commission of a crime “relating to a scheduled offence”. The schedule offence contains an array of breaches under 30 different statutes including the Arms Act, 1959 and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, etc.

Nikesh Tarachand Shah vs Union of India case: The court declared the classification of offences under the PMLA into two categories as unconstitutional. The Court found the classification between offences unreasonable and the conditions themselves too disproportionate.

The Parliament deleted the classification. Later the court upheld it.

What are the basic precepts of justice violated by PMLA?

Some basic precepts of justice and fairness are inherent to India’s criminal justice system. These precepts are, a) A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, b) A person detained on suspicion of having committed an offence would be entitled to bail pending trial, c) A criminal law ought not to be retroactive, d) A person accused of an offence must be informed of the charges made against him; and e) A suspect has a privilege against incriminating herself.

But the PMLA violated all these precepts.

Read more: Narrow view – SC verdict on PMLA fails to protect personal liberty from draconian provisions
What are the concerns associated with the PMLA?
Read here: Supreme Court examines allegations of rampant misuse of PMLA

The other concerns are,

PMLA is not a penal statute: The offence under the PMLA is separately prosecutable, unless the proceeds of crime related to a “scheduled offence” no case can be made out under the statute. In other words, if a person is ultimately acquitted or discharged in a case concerning the predicate offence, the charge under the PMLA can no longer be maintained.

Violative of K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India case: The recent verdict fails to protect personal liberty(Right to privacy) from draconian provisions.

Read more: How Enforcement Directorate (ED) became so powerful?

Sowing the ‘AI’ seed for intelligent farming

Source: The post is based on an article “Sowing the ‘AI’ seed for intelligent farming” published in The Times of India on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – E-technology in the aid of farmers.

Relevance: Application of the Artificial Intelligence in the Agriculture Sector

News: The Telangana government has promoted the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its agricultural innovation program

John McCarthy, American computer scientist, first introduced the world to the term “artificial intelligence” at the 1955 Dartmouth Conference.

Why do we need AI in the agricultural sector?

India is expected to surpass China by 2023 to become the world’s most populated country. Therefore, there would be immense pressure to feed such a huge population base.

According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), by 2030, the demand for pulses, cereals, rice, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and milk will be more than twice, in India, of what it was in 2000. While the Demand for food grains is expected to jump by more than 85%.

According to NITI Aayog, AI has the potential to add $1 trillion to India’s economy by 2035. And, as per some experts and academicians, a significant amount of this would be in the agriculture sector.

Application of the AI in agriculture

(1) It can help in efficient and cost-effective resource and yield management in the agricultural sector.

(2) AI, cloud computing, satellite imagery, and advanced analytics, in combination, can create an ecosystem for smart agriculture.

(3) It can be useful in prediction analysis. It will ensure the highest possible yields based on the seasonal forecast models. For example, it can enable farmers to extract and analyze information such as weather, temperature, water consumption, or soil conditions through data collected directly from their fields.

(4) It has the potential to address supply-demand mismatch in real-time. For example, a supply-demand engine or predictor that can map supply and demand can reduce this issue significantly.

(5) Artificial intelligence can help in precision farming by determining whether pesticides and weedicides should be used by detecting and targeting weeds in the identified buffer zone. This can lead to higher yields and reduced use of pesticides and weedicides.

(6) AI-based natural language translation facilitates the issuance and spread of Agri-advisories, weather forecasts, and early warnings for droughts in multiple vernacular languages.

(7) The use of image recognition using AI approaches for plant identification, pest infestation, and disease diagnosis is also becoming prevalent.

What are the challenges in the AI application to the agricultural sector?

(1) The lack of proper infrastructure and know how, faith in conventional styles of functioning, lack of awareness and scarcity of farmer capital,

(2) The fragmentation of land could also prove to be a hurdle for large-scale implementation of new technologies.

Measures Taken for the application of AI in agriculture

The ICAR is looking at cyber agro-physical systems to make Indian farming a viable, self-sustaining, and internationally competitive enterprises.

The NITI Aayog identifies agriculture as one of the focus areas as part of its national strategy for AI.

Several states are serious about AI in agriculture. For instance, (1) Karnataka has partnered with a leading MNC for agricultural produce, price-related information, and intelligence using predictive modeling, (2) Uttar Pradesh is collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Tata Trust to set up the Indian agritech incubation network at IIT-Kanpur (3) Maharashtra has launched the Maha AgriTech project that is aimed at utilizing and promoting the application of satellites and drones to solve various agrarian problems.

What should be done?

It is high time that collaborative Agri-data stacks are created and MSME and large corporations invest in this space.

There is a need for the right mix of participation from public and private institutions. For example, Data coming in from the government side is not accurate, not updated frequently, and is noisy. Therefore, the private sector has incentives to make data accurate as they are making decisions based on it.

How IAF’s hero became a villain

Source: The post is based on an article “How IAFs Hero became A Villain” published in The Times of India on 1st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Internal and External Security; Various Security Forces and their mandate

News: Recently, a fatal accident involving India’s MiG-21 aircraft took place, which is part of the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet.

What are the reasons behind frequent MiG-21 aircraft crashes in India?

(1) Although India has also inducted newer aircraft to complement the MiG-21 fleet, it still forms the backbone of IAF. It has been part of the IAF since the 1960s. Over the next six decades, the fleet of MiG-21 has been subjected to adaptation and evolution to fill in capability gaps. For example, its role has shifted from a pure air defence fighter to a strike aircraft, multi-role fighter, and even as a lead-in trainer for young pilots transitioning from basic jet trainers to fighters.

(2) The use of MiG in training became a major cause of accidents. Therefore, it was tagged as the “Flying Coffin”. It was because MiG-21 was too big or complex for rookie pilots under training.

(3) Once the Hawk Jet Trainer was inducted in 2007, the accidents notably reduced,

What are the reasons that MiG-21 continued to be functional in the Indian Air Force (IAF)?

(1) There have been delays in the delivery of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), and when delivered to IAF, it was with a lesser no. of specifications, than required. Thus, IAF upgraded the MiG-21s and kept the squadron numbers from plummeting.

(2) Any modern-day air force attempts to develop a Hi-Lo mix in its fighter inventory. The ‘Hi’ component refers to expensive and more capable aircraft, and the low component refers to the aircraft used to acquire the quality that lies embedded in quantity. For example, the US has the F-22/F-16, the Chinese have developed the J-20/ J-10 and Pakistan is working on the J-10/JF-17 mix.

(3) For modern-day combat, the IAF requires Rafale to serve the hi-end of the spectrum. However, even if the LCA is inducted in large numbers, IAF would still need heavier fighter aircraft to fulfill the capability.

(4) India is facing a two-front war scenario. Therefore, the situation necessitates larger numbers of aircraft in the IAF fleet.

The problem of MiG crashes does not lie in MiG-21 or anything else, but it is the result of India’s broken procurement process. Therefore, the policymakers must fix the procurement process.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: What is Google Street View and why has it launched in India now?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Google Street View and why has it launched in India now?” published in Indian Express on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

Google Street View has been launched in ten cities in India under the Guidelines of the National Geospatial Policy(NGP), 2021.

What is Google Street View?

Google Street View is an immersive 360-degree view of a location captured using special cameras mounted on vehicles or on backpacks by data collectors moving around the city streets. 

The images are then patched together to create a 360-degree view which users can swipe through to get a detailed view of the location. 

How has Street View been launched in India?

The National Geospatial Policy,2021 lets Indian companies collect map data and license it to others. 

After this, Google tied up with Tech Mahindra and Mumbai-based Genesys International to enable Street View for 10 Indian cities initially. This is the first time Google is working with partner data to enable this feature. In India, the data will be collected and owned by these partners.

Are there any limitations on Street View in India?

Street View in India is not allowed for restricted areas like government properties, defence establishments and military areas. This means in a place like Delhi, the cantonment area will be out of bounds for Street View.

What are the issues with Google Street view?

1) Over the years a lot of privacy and other issues have been raised regarding Street View. These include showing people’s faces and other identifiable aspects, like car number plates and house numbers, These pieces of information are being misused in different ways.

2) Security concerns about this kind of view being available, especially for sensitive locations.

3) Google has had issues with the local authorities in countries like Austria, Australia and Germany, though it has come back in most of these locations.

Explained| What is the technology powering hybrid electric vehicles?

Source: The post is based on the article Explained| What is the technology powering hybrid electric vehicles?published in The Hindu on 1st August 2022.

What is the News?

Recently, automakers Maruti Suzuki, Toyota and Honda have launched Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) in India offering car buyers more choices in the nascent electric vehicle market.

What are Hybrid Electric Vehicles(HEVs)?

Hybrid Electric Vehicles(HEVs) are powered by an Internal Combustion Engine(ICE) in combination with one or more electric motors that use energy stored in batteries. 

The powertrain of the HEV is more complex than a regular ICE-powered car as it has EV components and a conventional ICE. 

What are the different types of HEV?

Full HEV: They have larger batteries and more powerful electric motors which can power the vehicle for short distances and at low speeds. These vehicles cost more than mild hybrids but provide better fuel economy benefits.

Mild HEV: It cannot drive using only the electric motor and uses the battery at traffic lights or in stop-and-go traffic to support the ICE. 

Micro HEV: They do not offer electric torque assistance as they lack an electric motor, but they have an idle stop-start system and energy management functions.

Plug-in-HEVs: They are just like full HEVs, but they can be charged using a wall outlet, as they have an onboard charger and a charging port. PHEVs generally use the electric motor until the battery is almost drained and then automatically switch to the ICE. 

Note: PHEVs accounted for about 23% of 1.95 million global Electric Vehicle (EV) shipments in the first quarter of 2022.

What are the advantages of using Hybrid Technology?

Fuel efficiency is a major factor for most people considering buying a car. Most vehicles with hybrid technology offer better fuel efficiency, more power, and minimum emissions. 

Moreover, with the increase in total power and torque, HEVs can deliver instant torque and provide high torque even at low speeds.

Note: Torque is a rotating or twisting force produced by an engine’s crankshaft. In simpler terms, torque can be defined as an engine’s ‘pulling force’ and helps a vehicle with initial acceleration. 

What are the challenges of Hybrid Technology?

One of the major challenges for HEVs is the high vehicle cost. Battery, a vital component of an HEV, increases the cost of the vehicle, making it pricier than vehicles powered only by an ICE. 

Joint exercise “Ex Vinbax 2022” with the Vietnamese people’s army to commence

Source: The post is based on the article “Joint exercise “Ex Vinbax 2022” with the Vietnamese people’s army to commence” published in PIB on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

The 3rd Edition of Vietnam India Bilateral Army Exercise “Ex VINBAX 2022” is scheduled to be conducted at Chandimandir,Haryana.

About Exercise VINBAX 2022

It is a bilateral military exercise between India and Vietnam.

Purpose: The exercise is commonly defined as the India and Vietnam army’s collaboration, which helps reinforce the India-Vietnam defence and security cooperation and endorses India-Vietnam relations.

Theme of the exercise: “E​​mployment and deployment of an Engineer Company and a Medical Team as part of United Nations Contingent for Peacekeeping Operations”. 

About India-Vietnam defence relations

India and Vietnam signed a protocol on defence cooperation in 1994. The partnership was thereafter elevated to a strategic level in 2007.

A pact on boosting bilateral defence cooperation was also signed in 2009.

The strategic partnership was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2016 and defence cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership. 

Vietnam is also an important partner in India’s Act East policy and the Indo-Pacific vision.

Explained: Why have Africa, Asia seen so many dangerous viruses emerge recently?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why have Africa, Asia seen so many dangerous viruses emerge recently?” published in Indian Express on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

Monkeypox, coronavirus, zika and ebola are names that have become all too familiar over the last few years. Many of these diseases were first reported in either Asia or Africa.

How are viruses discovered?

Many viruses simply exist in nature without causing harm to life around them. Many that live in animals do not get detected for a long time until they come in contact with humans through animals. These are zoonotic diseases — and Covid-19, monkeypox and ebola as well as older diseases like the plague or rabies are examples.

Hence, the discovery of new viruses is often linked to outbreaks of diseases.

Where are the most viruses found?

According to World Health Organization’s Disease Outbreak News, the majority of cases were reported in Asian and/or African countries. 

For instance, there was a 63% increase in the number of zoonotic outbreaks in Africa between 2012 and 2022 compared to 2001 and 2011.

Why are viruses being found in Asia and Africa so often?

Greater Human-Animal Interaction: Humans in these continents have a greater chance of coming in contact with animals more often in their many densely populated regions, thus increasing the risk of the spread of diseases.

Part of Transformation: This is part of the transformative change that many countries are undergoing in these regions. For instance, countries like the UK to an extent went through a similar experience when they underwent industrialisation in the 18th and 19th centuries and faced diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Rapid Urbanization: In Africa, infections originating in animals and then jumping to humans have been happening for centuries, but the risk of mass infections and deaths has been relatively limited in Africa. Poor transport infrastructure acted as a natural barrier.

– However, now due to rapid growth in urbanization and infrastructure development, as well as the clearing of biodiversity-rich areas has led to more interactions among species in the last few decades.

Dense forests and the culture of consuming wildlife: Asia has its own set of contributing factors: the dense forests and the culture of consuming wildlife — both for food and as traditional medicine. Wet markets where live animals are packed together and displayed for sale have particularly come under focus due to the belief that Covid-19 could have jumped from multiple species kept together.

PM launches Power Sector’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme

Source: The post is based on the article PM launches Power Sector’s Revamped Distribution Sector Schemepublished in PIB on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has participated in the Grand Finale marking the culmination of ‘Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047’.

He also launched the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme and National Solar rooftop portal. He also laid the foundation stone of various green energy projects of NTPC.

What is Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047?

It is organized as part of the ongoing ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

Purpose: It showcases the transformation in the power sector achieved in the last eight years. It aims to empower citizens by improving their awareness and participation in various power-related initiatives, schemes and programmes of government.

What is Revamped Based Power Distribution Sector Scheme?

Click Here to read

What is the National Solar Rooftop Portal?

The portal will have the following features:

Firstly, it will enable online tracking of the process of installation of rooftop solar plants starting from registering the applications to release of subsidies in residential consumers’ (‘beneficiaries’) bank account after installation and inspection of the plant.

Secondly, it will make it easier for a residential consumer to apply and get the solar rooftop solar installed. The consumers will have the choice to select any vendor registered with the local distribution company, solar modules of equality and efficiency, solar inverter and other balance of plants and equipment. 

What are the green energy projects launched?

Ramagundam floating solar project in Telangana: It is located in Telangana. It is India’s largest floating solar PV project with 4.5 lakh ‘Made in India’ solar PV modules. 

Kayamkulam floating solar project in Kerala: It is the second-largest floating solar PV project consisting of 3 lakh ‘Made in India’ solar PV panels floating on water.

Nokh Solar Project in Rajasthan: It is India’s largest Domestic Content Requirement based Solar project with 1000 MWp at a single location, deploying high-wattage bifacial PV Modules with a tracker system.

Green Hydrogen Mobility Project in Leh: It is a pilot project and aims for five Fuel Cell Buses to be run in and around Leh. This pilot project would be the first deployment of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles for public use in India.

Kawas Green Hydrogen Blending with Natural Gas project in Gujarat: It will be India’s first Green Hydrogen Blending Project helping in reducing the usage of natural gas.

Explained: India’s unique jobs crisis

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: India’s unique jobs crisispublished in Indian Express on 1st August 2022.

What is the News?

There are fewer people employed in agriculture today, but the transformation has been weak. Those moving out of farms are working more in construction sites and the informal economy than in factories.

The decline in the agriculture workforce in India
agriculture workforce
Source: Indian Express

In 1993-94, agriculture accounted for close to 62% of the country’s employed labour force. 

Between 1993-94 and 2018-19, agriculture’s share in India’s workforce came down from 61.9% to 41.4%. In other words, roughly a third in 25 years. 

Still, this isn’t significant because compared with the average for other countries in the same income bracket – India’s farm sector should be employing 33-34% of the total workforce.

Is this a structural transformation?

The movement of workforce from agriculture that India has witnessed over the past three decades or more does not qualify as what economists call “structural transformation”. 

Such transformation would involve the transfer of labour from farming to sectors – particularly manufacturing and modern services – where productivity, value-addition and average incomes are higher.

However, the share of manufacturing (and mining) in total employment has actually fallen along with that of agriculture. The surplus labour pulled out from the farms is being largely absorbed in construction and services.

Hence, simply put, the structural transformation process in India has been weak and deficient.

What is the impact of this weak structural transformation?

Weak structural transformation and persistence of informality explain the tendency, especially by rural families for pursuing multiple livelihoods. 

Many of them cling on to their small plots of land even while earning incomes wholly or predominantly from non-farm sources. 

What was the impact of Covid-19 on the agriculture workforce?

There has been a reversal of the trend in the last two years which has seen the share of those employed in agriculture rise to 44-45%. This has primarily to do with the Covid-induced economic disruptions. 

However, surveys have called this reverse migration of people back to the farms as a temporary phase.

Depletion in Groundwater Levels

Source: The post is based on the article Depletion in Groundwater Levelspublished in PIB on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

According to the analysis done by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Groundwater levels in some parts of the country are declining.

What is the status of Groundwater levels in India?

CGWB has found that between 2011 and 2020, about 70% of wells have registered a rise in water level whereas about 30% of the wells monitored have registered a decline in groundwater level mostly in the range of 0–2 m.

Reasons for Groundwater Depletion: Continuous withdrawal is necessitated by increased demand for freshwater for various uses, unpredictability in rainfall, increased population, industrialization & urbanization etc.

Note: Water being a State subject, sustainable groundwater management including initiating suitable action for effective rainwater harvesting, increasing water use efficiency etc falls under the state’s mandate.

What are the steps taken to tackle the depletion of Groundwater in India?

Atal Bhujal Yojana

Mission Amrit Sarovar

Guidelines for groundwater regulation: The guidelines advise States for reviewing the free/subsidized electricity policy to farmers (wherever applicable), bringing suitable water pricing policy and work towards crop rotation/diversification/other initiatives to reduce over-dependence on groundwater.

Jal Shakti Abhiyan(JSA)

National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme(NAQUIM)

States Initiatives: A number of states have done notable work in the field of water conservation /harvesting such as 1) Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan in Rajasthan, 2) Jalyukt Shiba in Maharashtra, 3) Sujalam Sufalam Abhiyan in Gujarat, 4) Mission Kakatiya in Telangana, 5) Neeru Chettu in Andhra Pradesh, 6) Jal Jeevan Hariyali in Bihar, 7) Jal Hi Jeevan in Haryana and 8) Kudimaramath scheme in Tamil Nadu etc.

Royal Army of Oman Contingent for Joint Exercise Al NAJAH-IV Arrive in India

Source: The post is based on the articleRoyal Army of Oman Contingent for Joint Exercise Al NAJAH-IV Arrive in Indiapublished in PIB on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

The 4th Edition of India Oman Joint Military Exercise ‘AL NAJAH-IV’ is scheduled to take place at the Foreign Training Node of Mahajan Field Firing Ranges (Rajasthan).

What is Exercise AL NAJAH-IV?

It is a joint military exercise between India and Oman.

Aim: To enhance the level of defence co-operation between the Indian Army and the Royal Army of Oman.

Other exercises between India and Oman:

Exercise Naseem-Al-Bahr(sea breeze): It is a naval exercise between the Indian Navy and Oman.

Exercise Eastern Bridge: It is an Air Force exercise held between India and Oman.

American bullfrog and Brown tree snake: Invasive frog, snake cost world economy $16 billion

Source: The post is based on the article “Invasive frog, snake cost world economy $16 billion” published in The Hindu on 31st July 2022.

What is the News?

According to a study, two invasive species namely the American bullfrog and the brown tree snake cost the world economy an estimated $16 billion between 1986 and 2020 by causing problems such as crop failure and triggered costly power failures.

How are American Bullfrog and Brown Tree Snake impacting the world economy?

Brown Tree Snake or Boiga Irregularis: It is an invasive species that has multiplied uncontrollably on Pacific islands including Guam and the Marianna Islands, where it was introduced by U.S. troops in World War II.

– The snakes have at times been so abundant that they caused power outages by crawling on electrical equipment.

American bullfrog: It is a highly invasive species that had the greatest impact in Europe.

– A female bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs at one time compared to native frogs which only lay 2,000 to 5,000 eggs. They can eat nearly anything, including other bullfrogs.

– In Europe, exploding numbers of American bullfrogs have required ambitious and costly management programmes. To prevent the spread of them, officials have been forced to install expensive frog-proof fencing around known breeding sites.

UN declares access to clean, healthy environment as universal human right

Source: The post is based on the article “UN declares access to clean, healthy environment as universal human right” published in Down To Earth on 29th July 2022.

What is the News?

The United Nations(UN) has passed a resolution declaring every person on the planet has the Right to live in a clean, healthy environment.

About Resolution on Right to a clean and healthy environment

This resolution has been passed by over 160 UN member nations including India.

It is not a legally binding resolution.

The resolution recognizes the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right essential for the full enjoyment of all human rights and among others.

It calls upon states and international organizations to adopt policies and scale up efforts to ensure a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all.

What is the significance of this resolution?

The Right to a clean and healthy environment is not included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. So, this is a historic resolution that will change the very nature of international human rights law.

The resolution will also empower people, especially those in vulnerable situations including environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women and indigenous people.

What are the issues with this resolution?

The words ‘clean’, ‘healthy’ and ‘sustainable’ lack an internationally agreed definition.

The resolution text also fails to refer to the foundational principle of equity in international environmental law.

Mains Answer Writing

The Issue of Jobless Growth in India – Explained, pointwise

For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE → Introduction India’s GDP has grown at the annual rate of 7-8% in the last decade. However, this growth hasn’t translated into creation of more employment opportunities for the labour force. No other major economy has been expanding as fast as India lately. But beyond the headlines lies the grim reality of… Continue reading The Issue of Jobless Growth in India – Explained, pointwise

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Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications

Source: The post is based on the article “Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications” published in The Hindu on 6th August 2022. What is the News? Indian Army has conducted a major pan-India Exercise codenamed ‘Skylight’. What is Exercise Skylight? Conducted by: Indian Army Aim: To test the operational… Continue reading Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications

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RPF undertakes month long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers

Source: The post is based on the article “RPF undertakes month-long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers” published in PIB on 6th August 2022. What is the News? Railway Protection Force(RPF) has launched a Pan-India Operation under the code name “Operation Yatri Suraksha”. What is Operation Yatri Suraksha? Launched… Continue reading RPF undertakes month long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers

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Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks

Source: The post is based on the article “Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks” published in Business Standard on 10th August 2022. What is the News? The Centre has asked the Indian Banks Association(IBA) to prepare a viability plan for Regional Rural Banks(RRBs) similar to the Enhanced Access and Service… Continue reading Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks

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Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws report: Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors” published in The Hindu on 9th August 2022. What is the News? The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has tabled its report in both Houses of Parliament titled ‘Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws’. What are the… Continue reading Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws report: Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors

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Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal

Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal” published in PIB on 9th August 2022. What is the News? The Union Cooperation Minister has launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e-Marketplace(GeM) portal. What is the Government e-Marketplace(GeM)… Continue reading Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal

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Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance

Source: The post is based on the article “Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance” published in Indian Express on 9th August 2022. What is the News? Scientists have discovered over 4,300 dinosaur footprints in Hebei province of Zhangjiakou in northern China. About Dinosaur Footprints in China  This is the largest number of… Continue reading Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance

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Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister

Source: The post is based on the article “Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister” published in The Hindu on 8th August 2022. What is the News? The Union Finance Minister has informed the Lok Sabha about the Counterfeit Currency in the Banking System. What… Continue reading Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister

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‘Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep’

Source: The post is based on the article “Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep” published in Down to Earth on 8th August 2022. What is the News? The National Institute of Ocean Technology, an autonomous institute under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is establishing an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion(OTEC) plant… Continue reading ‘Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep’

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Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems” published in Indian Express on 10th August 2022. What is the News? The government has tabled the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the Lok Sabha soon after which it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on energy for wider consultation… Continue reading Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems

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