9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 25th, 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

On India’s population, let the data speak

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS paper 1 – Population and associated issues

Relevance: Population control measures have to be rational and focus on the welfare-based approach

Synopsis:

Focusing on the education and empowerment of women can help states to achieve desired fertility rates.

Introduction

The recently released empirical data from the National Family Health Survey 2019-20 (NFHS-5) for 22 states and Union territories provides that except for three states — Bihar, Manipur and Meghalaya —the fertility rates have gone below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.

Read more: The Power of Population for Economies
Key findings of the NFHS-5 data:
  • In all the seven Northeastern states, the fertility rates range from 1.1 in Sikkim to 1.9 in Assam, except Manipur (2.2) and Meghalaya (2.9).
  • The TFR in the Union territories of Lakshwadeep and Jammu & Kashmir, which have sizeable Muslim populations, have gone substantially below the replacement level with 1.4 children per woman.
  • Among populous states
    • The TFR has gone down to 1.6 children in West Bengal.
    • It is only 1.7 each in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
    • Even in Bihar, where the TFR is 3, there is a relative decline in fertility from 3.4 in NFHS-4 (2015-16).
About NFHS – 4
  1. In NFHS-4 itself, as many as 23 states and Union Territories, including all the states in the south region, showed fertility below the replacement level.
  2. In Uttar Pradesh, too, there is a declining trend in TFR from 3.8 in NFHS-3 (2005-06) to 2.7 in NFHS-4 (2015-16).
  3. The NFHS-4 (2015-16) shows interesting linkages of fertility with education and economic well-being.
    • For example, women with no schooling have an average of 3.1 children, compared with 1.7 children for women with 12 or more years of schooling.

Read more:

Outcomes from the NFHS report:

Fertility rates are reflective of the progress in respective states on schooling, income levels, decline in neonatal and infant mortality rates and increase in the contraceptive prevalence rate. States with relatively higher TFR like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh need to work on these fronts.

Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise

Terms to know:


Kabul Echoes In Lucknow

Source: Times of India

Syllabus: GS 1: Communalism, regionalism & secularism

Synopsis: India needs to reject Islamophobia and has to assert liberal democracy in every aspect of life.

Introduction:

Recently, India witnessed widespread Islamophobia. This is evident from the instances like Cattle slaughter rules, the love jihad law and vigilante attacks on interfaith couples, anti-conversion campaigns, etc.

This is because the religious majoritarianism in India has resulted in excess use of religious mobilisation in politics. For instance, the present Lok Sabha has only 5% Muslim MPs, 90% are Hindu. As a secular country, India needs to reject Islamophobia and start to asserting liberal democracy in every aspect of life.

Taliban and Islamophobia:
  • Two members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board praised the Taliban for “showing courage” and “creating history”.
  • During the monsoon session of the Uttar Pradesh assembly, UP Chief Minister has said that all those “shamelessly supporting Taliban should be exposed”.
  • Further, A sedition case has been filed against an MP for allegedly referring to Taliban members as “freedom fighters”.
Read more regarding the recent developments in Afghanistan:
  1. The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan
  2. Return of Taliban has implications for India
  3. New Delhi’s Af-Pak: Old friends versus old foes: Should India accept Taliban, betray Afghans or support resistance movements like Saleh’s?
  4. History over Geography
Religion in the eyes of founding fathers:

India’s founders drafted a Constitution in which religion was viewed as an entirely private individual choice, not the basis of law or governance or politics.

Gandhi was intensely spiritual and mobilised people by calls to a higher moral and spiritual cause. His prayer meetings were consistently non-denominational and held outdoors.

What India needs to do?

India should not go back into medieval religious wars.

For modern 21st century India, there can be only one holy book, the Constitution of India, not Sharia law or the Manusmriti.

The return of the Taliban is an occasion for India to strongly assert modern democratic values at all levels of society.

Terms to know


GS Paper 2

Why India needs an NHS-like healthcare model?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Relevance: Understanding issues in the Indian health sector

Synopsis: India’s health care sector is plagued with various issues which have been exposed during Covid crisis. Let’s have a brief look at issues affecting Indian health sector.

Context

The Health ministry has claimed in Parliament that only Punjab has reported four “suspected” deaths during the second Covid-19 wave due to lack of oxygen, which is against the ground reality.

Even before the pandemic, similarly horrific healthcare tragedies occurred every single year like in 2017, 800 children died in Jharkhand of suspected encephalitis. In 2015, 18 patients died in a Chennai hospital, due to power failure after the floods. In 2014, 13 women died after illegal sterilisation at an overcrowded government health camp in Chhattisgarh.

Issues affecting the Health Sector
  • Vacancy and absenteeism– According to Niti Aayog database, in the worst state of Bihar in 2017-18, positions for 60% of midwives, 50% of staff nurses, 34% of medical officers and 60% of specialist doctors were vacant. Those on the job, despite being handsomely paid, are chronically overworked.
  • Public Expenditure on health– Even after the pandemic, the Indian government continues to budget less than 1% of GDP for healthcare, one of the lowest in the world. In contrast, China invests around 3%, Britain 7% and the United States 17% of GDP.
  • High out of pocket of expenditure– 62% of health expenses in India are paid for by patients themselves. It is one of the main reason for families falling into poverty, especially during the pandemic.
Global best practices
  • Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)– Britain’s legendary health network cures 15 million patients with chronic ailments, at a fraction of the cost spent by the US. The NHS funded by direct taxes is also the fifth-largest employer in the world, after McDonald’s and Walmart. One of every 20 British workers is employed as doctor, nurse, catering and technical personnel.

A surfeit of sero surveys

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Relevance: This article explains the advantages and disadvantages associated with Sero surveys

Synopsis: 

Though Sero Surveys are useful in detecting the prevalence of antibodies, frequent surveys are expensive and futile

Introduction:

A sero surveillance ascertains the prevalence of past infectious disease in a population; In Covid cases, it helps to detect whether anti-bodies to SARS-CoV2 are present in a population or not.  

The antibodies are like evidence in a crime scene, and the virus is like a criminal.

Read more: Explained: ICMR’s fourth serosurvey and its findings

Benefits of sero surveys: 

  1. For public health authorities, sero surveys provide a variety of use at different phases of the pandemic for policy formulation, effective control of pandemic, etc.
  2. Independent sero surveillance data can expose the level of data suppression. So, the media and epidemiologists use them to show the under-reporting of cases and deaths due to Covid-19. 
  3. Sero surveys can ascertain the details about community transmission. For instance, they can explain whether community transmission has taken place or not.  
  4. Sero surveys can explain how far or close the community to attain to herd immunity. 

Drawbacks of the Sero survey: 

  1. Sero surveillance is expansive (costs around ₹25lakh for a city of 5000 people) and not a good investment for a country still grappling with the pandemic. 
  2. Frequent surveys can result in poor use of staff time, technology and stuff. Further, it will also divert the government attention from core activities (screening and testing). 
  3. Those surveys are no more useful than our COVID-19-appropriate behaviour and vaccinations to control the pandemic.

Fourth evacuation from Kabul since 1992 & The legal challenges in recognising the Taliban

Source: The Hindu(Article 1, Article2, Article 3, Article 4, and Article 5) and The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS paper 2 – India and Neighbourhood relations

Relevance: This article explains the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Synopsis:

After the rise of the Taliban, Countries around the globe are in dilemma over recognizing the Taliban.

Introduction

Recognition of governments under international law is vital for several reasons. It is important to know who is the governing authority, who has the responsibility for carrying out domestic and international legal obligations, etc.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has triggered a new debate in international law on the issue of recognising an entity that claims to be the new government of a state.

Regardless of the issue with recognition, India decided to pull out all its diplomats from Afghanistan. This is the fourth time, India has had to perform such an evacuation.

About the previous evacuations:
  1. In 1993, India decided to close the mission in Kabul after a rocket attack on the Chancery building killed an Indian security guard.
  2. In 1996, after opening the Embassy for about a year, India decided to close it again, when the Taliban entered Kabul and brutally murdered former President Najibullah and his brother.
    • During the 1996-2001 period, India had actively supported the Northern Alliance.
    • The ‘Northern Alliance’ was a united military front that came in formation in late 1996 after the Taliban took over Kabul. They fought a war with the Taliban in 2001 and ended the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan.
How the situation is different from now and then?
  1. This time, the U.S., Russia, China, and other countries have not shunned the Taliban. Instead, they appeared to legitimize them by signing a deal with them, inviting Taliban delegations to their capitals, and holding talks with them in Doha.
  2. Further, India also made huge investments in Afghan like never before. In the past 20 years, India has built considerable interests, including major infrastructure projects and ongoing development projects.
What are the criteria to recognize the government?
  1. Theory of effectiveness
    1. According to this principle, a government can be recognized when it effectively controls the state it claims to govern.
    2. In broader terms, it also includes control over the state’s territory, population, national institutions, the banking and monetary system, etc.
    3. Under this doctrine, it is not important how the new government occupied office (whether through civil war, revolution, or a military coup).
    4. According to this test, the Taliban can be recognised as a government.
  2. Theory of democratic legitimacy
    1. According to this doctrine, recognition of a government also depends on whether it is the legitimate representative of the people it claims to govern.
    2. Governments that capture power through non-democratic means are not considered as a government under this theory.
    3. Since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent spread of democracy and awareness about human rights in the world gave an impetus to this doctrine in the last three decades.
    4. For instance,
      • Many countries recognised Yemen’s Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi government in exile since 2015 on the ground that the rebellious separatists acquired power in Yemen through illegal means.
      • Similarly, the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela is not recognised by several countries due to the alleged lack of democratic legitimacy.
    5. According to this test, the Taliban can not be recognized as a government.

Nevertheless, there is no binding legal obligation on countries to withhold recognition of the Taliban on the ground that it does not enjoy democratic legitimacy.

Suggestions for India

A more open, liberalised visa policy, and swift processing of the newly launched special “e-Emergency X-Misc” visas would reassure both Afghans and the international community that India’s exit from Afghanistan is not permanent.

India should adopt a clear policy that it will deal with the Taliban simply because it is the de facto government, not because it is a legitimate one. This principle should be followed for bilateral relations and also for multilateral dealings, such as within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

Read more regarding the recent developments in Afghanistan: 
  1. The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan
  2. Return of Taliban has implications for India
  3. New Delhi’s Af-Pak: Old friends versus old foes: Should India accept Taliban, betray Afghans or support resistance movements like Saleh’s?
  4. History over Geography

GS Paper 3

Don’t let the new e-commerce rules ruin innovation

Source: Livemint

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

Relevance: Implications of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

Synopsis: Small internet outlets have flourished lately, but may find their operations hampered by compliance burden under the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.. A brief look at some problematic provisions.

Background
Reason behind increase in online businesses in India
  • The internet has made it easier for anyone to monetize their passion than ever before. Anyone can post a product online and dozens of people will be willing to buy it.  This removed much of the pain once associated with starting a new business.
  • In India, the proliferation of digital platforms means, every element of the commercial workflow is readily available as a disaggregated service that anyone who cares to use can access. This has made it possible for small businesses to take advantage of the web without the help of platforms like Shopify.

For example: Most home-food businesses use Instagram as their menu, displaying their dishes on the app as a series of images or short videos to select from. Others use Instagram Stories or WhatsApp Blasters to announce spot sales.

  • Unlike elsewhere in the world where small businesses need to sign up to large digital platforms, in India they can assemble the services they need into customized digital workflows tailored to meet the unique requirements of their businesses. This allows them to set up fully functional stores at a fraction of the cost that platforms like Shopify charge.
    • A digital workflow is the automation of a company’s processes and the internal steps needed to get its business done.
How the draft ecom rules can create problems?

The draft ecom rules apply to all entities that “own, operate or manage digital or electronic facilities or platforms for electronic commerce”, which implies that services such as those described above would fall within its ambit—as they make “digital or electronic facilities” for electronic commerce available to small home chefs and micro businesses. This can cause the following problems:

  • Increased compliance burden: What this means is that all these services will have to appoint nodal and grievance officers in much the same way as big e-commerce players do. While all these compliances make sense in the context of large marketplace websites that display the goods of multiple sellers on their website, they are counterproductive when applied to digital services that offer commercial workflows to help small businesses manage their orders, payments and deliveries.
  • Cost of compliance: The cost of putting in place these processes will shut down these services, leaving the small businesses that rely on them without the technical support they need to sustain their operations.

Explore unconventional sources of edible oil

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS3 – Major Crops: Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country

Relevance: Analysis of New Edible Oil mission

Synopsis: The new edible oil mission launched by Central government offers both advantages and some issues. A brief look.

Context

In the backdrop of previous failed attempts to increase domestic oil seeds production, the government has recently set up Rs.11000 crore New Edible Oil Mission.

Why previous attempt failed?

The previous policies, most often, tended to over-protect consumer interests, disregarding those of the producers. Due to this, the supply deficit continued to soar, making India the world’s largest importer of cooking oils.

The need for a new mission

Today, the country meets its 70% requirement of oils through shipments from abroad. These imports, in value terms, are now next only to those of petroleum products, which is creating a huge import burden.

Must Read: Why attempts to boost oil palm farming may work?
Activities under the mission
  • Boost oilseed output–  mission would boost oilseeds output by providing the growers the needed inputs, technology, and know how
  • High yield and pest resistant varieties– Mini-kits of seeds of new high-yielding and disease- and pest-tolerant strains of various oilseed crops, including groundnut and soybean, are planned to be distributed to the farmers under the mission
  • Area expansion– Over 600,000 hectares of additional area is sought to be planted with oilseed crops in this season
Issues with the mission
  • Disturbing geology and ecosystem– The stress on encouraging oil palm cultivation in Northeastern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, seems technically correct since the agro-ecological conditions in these areas are conducive to cultivating oil palm. However, it is been promoted by clearing forest hence disturbing geology and ecosystem
  • Neglect of unconventional sources such as rice bran and cottonseeds. These products are available in abundance and are going almost untapped at present. The proposed oilseed mission should include these unconventional sources
  • Lack of assurance of remunerative returns and competition from cheap imports are not taken into account.

Climate change, a catalyst for Arctic cooperation

Source: The Hindu

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

Relevance: Importance of Arctic region for global climate

Synopsis: Apart from the geopolitical and strategic importance of the Arctic region, it is important for the global community to view it through ecological lenses.

Context

Along with the growing security concerns in the Arctic region, the region is also witnessing an unprecedented transformation due to climate change.

Arctic countries

There are eight countries that have direct access to the Arctic resources, i.e., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. In 2013, six Observers joined the Council, including China, Japan, India, Italy, South Korea, and Singapore.

Security concerns in the region
  • In 2007, Russian explorers planted their flag on the seabed 4,200 m (13,779ft) below the North Pole stating Moscow’s claims in the Arctic. This move was certainly viewed as provocative by other Arctic States.
  • The regional tension increased after the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014. Consequently, relations between the U.S. and Russia reached their lowest point again
  • Russia’s intention to re-establish the military might of its Northern Fleet also creates the security concerns and features prominently in the Norwegian foreign policy.
Must Read: India’s draft Arctic policy

Impact of climate change

  • There are increasing instances of extreme heat in North America, wildfire in Russian Siberia due to environmental transformation in the region
  • According to The World Climate and Security Report 2020, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, or the IMCCS, ‘the Arctic is warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the planet with consecutive record-breaking warm years since 2014′
Way forward

Given the significance of the region, the Arctic will continue to draw increased attention.

  • Apart from pursuing national interests, participating nations should also be concerned about the future developments in the region and their larger implications for humanity.
  • All the Arctic actors should have a long-term vision and strategic goals as compared to immediate short-term gains.

Instead of creating a potential battleground that is reminiscent of the Cold War, the parties concerned should utilize their expertise to achieve shared goals

Terms to know:


The digital future of our country is distinctly being re-imagined

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life

Relevance: Impact of Digital India

Synopsis: The Digital India mission has made a positive impact on India’s socio-economic development in past few decades. It also led to transformation of lives and livelihoods that at the grassroot levels.

Platformization is the key

At the core of India’s transformation into Digital India—India’s ‘platformization’ story, that is, how the country has built one of the world’s most robust and comprehensive digital public-good platforms as the foundation of Digital India.

  • A digital public-good platform creates enormous value by enabling seamless transactions, promoting innovation and generating efficiency and transparency for users.
  • India’s 20-plus public digital platforms have successfully built scale across multiple citizen services and also helped create a vibrant tech startup ecosystem that is making good use of this digital infrastructure.
  • The rise of public digital platforms also represents a productive engagement between the government and Indian industry to work together in tackling crucial socio-economic challenges.
Examples of various digital platforms
  • Use of UPI (unified payment interface) for making payments
  • Booking a vaccination slot using Cowin platform
  • Aadhaar ecosystem has attained 1.3 billion registrations and how a unique identity has become the foundation for digital transformation across sectors
  • FastTag, which became mandatory earlier this year and enables online toll collection, has already facilitated 192 million transactions
  • Umang app, which offers a one-stop platform for multiple government services, has witnessed a cumulative 1.7 billion transactions
  • MyGov Chatbot as India’s response to the covid crisis
  • eSanjeevani, which has so far enabled 9 million telemedicine consultations
  • The upcoming National Digital Health Mission: Universal Health Initiative, for example, can also be a game-changer for healthcare services in the country.
Potential of digitisation 

From enabling farmers to sell their produce through e-commerce platforms, to facilitating education and healthcare in the remotest parts of our nation, digitalization offers enormous transformative opportunities for India.

  • Open digital ecosystems today have the potential to unlock opportunities worth $700 billion for India by 2030, as per a report by BCG.
  • The environmental, societal and governance (ECG) impact across sectors like healthcare, talent, urban governance, agriculture, law and justice, education and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can create new value of $500 billion-plus, and over $200 billion in savings for the country.
Reasons behind success of Digital India
  • Affordability through low-cost development
  • Interoperability with an API-driven backend
  • Mobile-first suitability even for the country’s non-smartphone segment
  • Multi-lingual interfaces to increase access to common people
  • Leveraging of offline infrastructure of Common Service Centres in remote areas

Conclusion

India has made a tremendous leap to become a robust digital economy, and the future of our country will be defined by how well we can integrate digital solutions across platforms. We must strive towards developing a seamless, transparent, and inclusive digital ecosystem that is driven by India’s world-class innovation capabilities.

Terms to know


The lure of 10 million jobs a year (On agri sector)

Source: Down to Earth

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

Relevance: issues with creation of employment opportunities in farm sector

Synopsis: There is a question over capacity of Agriculture sector to absorb more workforce in India. As per the latest data of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) increasing number of people are joining agriculture for employment, in a shift from non-farm sectors like manufacturing and other informal jobs

Context

The CMIE analysis says that the share of the agriculture sector in total employment has increased to 45.6% in 2019-20, from 42.5% in 2018-19.

According to the report, the economic collapse due to the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to huge losses in jobs in non-agricultural informal sectors.

Migrating people from farm to non-farm sectors has been the key strategy of India to provide livelihoods to the largely informal workforce. So, this report comes as a shocker.

What does this indicate?

It is a sign of distress in the labour market where non-agricultural sectors are unable to provide employment and labour is forced to shift to agriculture, i.e. an involuntary reverse migration from “factories to farms”.

It’s also a problem because the sector has an average wage of Rs 291 per day

Can agriculture still create jobs?
  • In 1999, the govt set up a Task Force on Employment Opportunities under Montek Singh Ahluwalia to suggest ways to achieve 10 million jobs a year. Ahluwalia submitted the report in 2001. It gave the verdict that in the future, agriculture would not be a job creator anymore.
  • In 2002, another task force, called the Special Group on Targeting Ten Million Employment Opportunities per year, was set up. It concluded that the agricultural sector was a ‘gold mine’, with the potential to create at least 11 million jobs over five years. It emphasised horticulture, floriculture, agroforestry, minor irrigation and watersheds among others as labour-intensive, high-value areas. These are the same ways that the present govt is focusing on doubling farmers’ income.

Conclusion

The debate over farm vs non-farm needs a fresh look. Jobless growth is happening, but the farm sector has beaten this trend in recent years. It shows that agriculture might not have lost all its potential. It just needs a new political deal to revive.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Immune cells isolated in sea corals, anemones for the 1st time

Source: Down To Earth 

About the news:

A new study has identified for the first time that specialised immune cells (phagocytic cells) exist in certain varieties of sea corals and anemones. These cells help understand how the organisms protect themselves from viruses and bacteria in the marine ecosystem.

Key findings of the study:
  • The newly discovered phagocytic cells were identified in cauliflower coral and starlet sea anemone.  
  • At least three percent of the total cell population of these organisms are phagocytic that fight infections.
What is phagocytosis? 
  • Immune cells ingest and destroy foreign and damaged cells through a process called phagocytosis. 
  • The phagocyte may be a free-living one-celled organism, such as an amoeba, or one of the body cells, such as a white blood cell.
  • In some forms of animal life, such as amoebas and sponges, phagocytosis is a means of feeding.
  • In higher animals, phagocytosis is chiefly a defensive reaction against infection and invasion of the body by foreign substances (antigens).
Sea anemones:

Sea anemones are the marine, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria. They are sometimes called the ‘flowers of the sea’.

They are found from the tidal zone of all oceans to depths of more than 10,000 metres.


Modi, Putin discuss Afghanistan; India flags terror concern at BRICS, UNHRC

Source: The Hindu and Indian Express

About the news:

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed charting out a “coordinated” strategy in Afghanistan.

Similarly, National Security Advisers (NSA) from the five BRICS countries met virtually to discuss developments in Afghanistan with a focus on combating terrorism.

India also expressed its opinion at the 31st special session of the UN Human Rights Council meeting held in Geneva.

Key takeaways from the discussion:
  1. India and Russia agreed to set up a “permanent bilateral channel for consultations” on the issues arising from the Taliban takeover.
  2. Both the countries agreed on particular areas of concern. Such as, ensuring regional security, countering radicalisation and spread of “terrorist ideology”, and the proliferation of drugs as a consequence of the developments.
  3. The two sides also noted the “importance of coordinated effortsfor the establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan, ensuring security in the region as a whole
Key takeaways from the virtual meeting of NSA’s of BRICS Countries:
  1. The meeting reviewed the regional and global political and security scenario, with particular reference to current developments in Afghanistan, Iran, West Asia and the Gulf, and emerging threats to national security, such as cybersecurity.
  2. The representatives “adopted and recommended the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan” for consideration by the upcoming BRICS Summit.
    • India is the chair for the next month’s BRICS Summit.
India at the UNHRC Meeting

The 31st special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan was held in Geneva. During the meeting, India explained the following observations regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan.

  1. Stability in Afghanistan is linked to the peace and security of the region. So, India hopes that “the situation in Afghanistan does not pose a challenge to its neighbours and its territory is not used by terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), to threaten any other country”.
  2. India also mentioned that Afghanistan “should ensure the safety and security of all Afghan nationals, UN personnel and diplomatic staff members, and observe human rights and international humanitarian law in all circumstances”.
  3. India “stands ready to assist our friends from Afghanistan in fulfilling their aspirations”.
Significance of UNHRC meeting
  1. India did not name or condemn the hardline movement in its statement at the UNHRC.
  2. This is the clearest that the Indian government has so far been mentioned its position ever since the Taliban started ruling Afghanistan.
Read more regarding the recent developments in Afghanistan: 
  1. The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan
  2. Return of Taliban has implications for India
  3. New Delhi’s Af-Pak: Old friends versus old foes: Should India accept Taliban, betray Afghans or support resistance movements like Saleh’s?
  4. History over Geography

Terms to know:


NMCG hosts Session on ‘Integrated River Basin Management: Stakeholder Engagement’ on Day 2 of Stockholm World Water Week, 2021

Source: PIB 

About the news:

The National Mission for Clean Ganga(NMCG) recently hosted a Meet & Mingle session on ‘Integrated River Basin Management(IRBM): Stakeholder Engagement on the Stockholm World Water Week 2021.

About the World Water week:

World Water Week is the leading annual global event for concretely addressing the planet’s major water issues. The world water week is hosted and conducted by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

  • For 2021, World Water Week is being held entirely online.
  • The theme for 2021 is Building Resilience Faster.

What is Integrated River Basin Management?

Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) emphasis on cross-disciplinary coordination of water, land and related resources in a river basin, watershed or catchment to achieve long-term sustainability.

IRBM highlights the importance of ecosystem function in the long term and reminds us that integration of policies, decisions and costs are necessary across a multitude of sectors.

Why does India need IRBM in the Ganga basin?

River Ganga is the largest river basin in India and have recognition of being an international basin.  A large section of the Indian population is living in the River Ganga Basin and directly connects with human life in various ways.

But the basin faces multi-faceted issues related to ecology, environment, economy, food security and so on. So India needs an IRBM for the Ganga basin.

Efforts by the government:

The NMCG has developed the Ganga River Basin Management Plan in a consortium with IITs. 

  • The plan covers the issue of pollution and suggested solutions, with a focus on retaining the water quality and quantity.
  • The other challenges related to Environmental flow, wetland conservation and development, wildlife protection and so on are key elements covered under the GRBMP
  • The GRBMP is being implemented by NMCG in a sustainable manner by involvement with Public-Private Partnerships.

Key points from the NMCG session:

  • The session mentioned that India should focus on the importance of stakeholder engagement including fisheries, agriculture, forestry, and others with aim of successful implementation of IRBM in the Ganga River Basin.  
  • There is a need to learn from international experiences and understand the characteristics and challenges faced. 
  • The current structure having Ganga Praharis and Ganga Mitra at village levels and state level need to be escalated at different scales and regions. 
  • Adopt a bottom-up approach by empowering the district level government bodies and start initiatives including small rivers as they contribute to Ganga River Basin Management. 
  • Develop basin wise data collection system, budget-wise approaches to support IRBM implementation and data development on small streams. 

‘Economic criterion not sole basis for creamy layer’

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

In Pichhra Varg Kalyan Mahasabha Haryana v. State of Haryana) case, the Supreme Court has stated that economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for identifying sections of backward communities as ‘creamy layer’.

What was the case?

  1. A petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the two notifications issued by the Haryana Government under the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act of 2016.
  2. The notification sub-classified backward classes solely on an economic basis, while fixing the criteria for the creamy layer. It said that backward community members who earn above ₹6 lakh annually would be treated as ‘creamy layer’.

Supreme Court Judgement:

  1. The Supreme Court has struck down the notifications issued by the Haryana government.
  2. The court said that the notifications violated the law declared in the Indra Sawhney judgment by identifying creamy layers only on the basis of income.
  3. The court mentioned that apart from the economic criterion, social, educational and other factors must also be taken into account before defining a “creamy layer” among the backward classes.
    • Example: The ‘creamy layer’ would include persons from backward classes who occupied posts in higher services like IAS, IPS and had reached a higher level of social advancement and economic status and therefore are not entitled to be treated as backward.
  4. However, the court clarified that admissions already made using these notifications will not be disturbed.

Parents with adopted child moving abroad have to intimate Indian diplomatic missions: New rule

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued the Adoption (First Amendment) Regulations, 2021.

About Adoption (First Amendment) Regulations, 2021:

  1. The Regulations amends the Adoption Regulations, 2017.
  2. The amendment has been notified in accordance with the relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

What was the need for these regulations?

  1. Currently, Indian missions abroad have a role in inter-country adoption of Indian children limited to children adopted by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) or foreign parents. 
  2. The Missions had a duty to ensure protection against neglect, maltreatment, exploitation or abuse of these children. 
  3. But a grey area got left out in the case of Indian children adopted by parents in India, but who ended up moving abroad later. These adopted children were out of the purview of Indian authorities and also not falling under the purview of Indian Missions abroad.

Key Provisions of Regulations:

  1. Indian diplomatic missions abroad will now be in charge of safeguarding adopted children whose parents move overseas with the child within two years of adoption.
  2. The adoptive parents will also have to intimate the Indian diplomatic missions concerned in the country of departure and arrival, at least two weeks in advance through written communication with their full contact details at the new place and thereafter

Eligibility Criteria for Prospective adoptive parents under Adoption Regulations, 2017:

  1. The prospective adoptive parents shall be physically, mentally and emotionally stable, financially capable and shall not have any life-threatening medical condition.
  2. Any prospective adoptive parent, irrespective of his marital status and whether or not he has a biological son or daughter, can adopt a child subject to the following, namely:-
    • The consent of both the spouses for the adoption shall be required, in case of a married couple;
    • A single female can adopt a child of any gender;
    • A single male shall not be eligible to adopt a girl child;
  3. No child shall be given in adoption to a couple unless they have at least two years of a stable marital relationship.
  4. The minimum age difference between the child and either of the prospective adoptive parents shall not be less than twenty-five years. The age criteria shall not be applicable in the case of relative adoptions and adoption by step-parent.
  5. Couples with three or more children shall not be considered for adoption, except in the case of special needs children

What is the procedure to arrest a cabinet minister in India?

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

Union minister Narayan Rane was arrested over his statement on the Maharashtra Chief Minister. The arrest was called unconstitutional and was against the rules and procedures relevant to arresting ministers and Rajya Sabha members.

Procedure to Arrest a Cabinet Minister:

When Parliament is not in Session:
  • If Parliament is not in session, a cabinet minister can be arrested by a law enforcement agency in case of a criminal case registered against him. 
  • As per Section 22 A of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Rajya Sabha, the Police, Judge or Magistrate would have to intimate the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha about the reason for the arrest, the place of detention or imprisonment in an appropriate form.
  • The Chairman is expected to inform the Council if it is sitting about the arrest. If the council is not sitting, he/she is expected to publish it in the bulletin for the information of the members.
When Parliament is in Session:
  1. Members of both the houses of the Parliament enjoy some immunity from arrests when the parliament is in session.
  2. Under Section 135 of the Civil Procedural Code, in civil cases, they have freedom from arrest during the continuance of the House and 40 days before its commencement and 40 days after its conclusion. 
  3. The privilege of freedom from arrest does not extend to criminal offences or cases of detention under preventive detention.

Govt launches the booklet on one-year achievement and some major initiatives of NEP- 2020

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Union Education and Skill Development Minister and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has jointly launched the booklet on One-year New Education Policy (NEP) – 2020.

Initiatives launched during the event:
About Priya:
  • Priya is an accessibility booklet developed by the NCERT and Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Purpose: The booklet will sensitize the students on accessibility-related issues for Divyangs (persons with disabilities)
  • Moreover, special emphasis has been laid to make the booklet simple, interesting and interactive to create awareness on accessibility in children right from their formative years.
About Virtual School of NIOS:
  1. Virtual School is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country that will allow millions of eligible students outside the school system to complete their studies without physically attending a brick-and-mortar school.
  2. Implementation: The virtual school will be implemented via the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). It will be entirely digital in nature.
  3. Coverage: The students in Classes 9 to 12 will have options to join a virtual school. The classes will be conducted virtually but will be activity-based, textbook-based and experiential in nature.
  4. The virtual school will also offer certifications to enhance student employability, and may be offered access to job boards and job portals for career-related issues.
About National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR):
  1. NDEAR is meant to enable a common set of principles and approaches to be followed in building, using and re-using technology for education.
  2. Ministry: NDEAR is under the aegis of the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY).
Other Terms mentioned in the Article:
  1. Samagra Shiksha Scheme
  2. NIPUN Bharat Mission:
  3. DIKSHA Platform
  4. SAFAL and Vidya Pravesh scheme

India’s evacuation mission from Afghanistan named “Operation Devi Shakti”

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

India has given a name to its operation to evacuate its citizens from war-torn Afghanistan.It has called the operation as ‘Operation Devi Shakti’.

About Operation Devi Shakti:
  • Under this Operation, Indians and foreign nationals are being evacuated from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the nation.
Earlier Evacuation Operations of India:
  1. Operation Raahat: It was launched by the Indian Armed Forces, to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals of 41 countries from Yemen during the 2015 Yemen Crisis. 
  2. Operation Maitri: It was a rescue and relief operation in Nepal carried out by the government of India and Indian armed forces in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. 
  3. Operation Safe Homecoming: It was an operation launched by the Indian government in 2011 to evacuate its citizens, fleeing from the Libyan Civil War.
  4. Operation Sukoon: It was an operation carried out by the Indian Navy to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals from the conflict zone during the 2006 Lebanon War. 

First batch of Multi-Mode Hand Grenades handed over to Indian Army

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Defence Minister has handed over the first batch of indigenous Multimode Hand Grenades (MMHG) to the Indian Army.

About Multimode Hand Grenades(MMHG):
  1. The Multimode Hand Grenades(MMHG) has been designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratories and produced by Economic Explosives Ltd in Nagpur.
  2. The MMHG grenades will replace Grenade No. 36 of World War I vintage design that is still in service.
Key Features of MMHG:
  1. The grenade offers multiple advantages to soldiers in terms of safety and penetration attack as compared to the vintage hand grenades.
  2. The grenade operates in a dual mode. In the offensive mode, the grenade does not have a fragment sleeve and is used for low-intensity attacks. This mode is used when the soldier targets the attack within five metres from the point of burst.
  3. The defensive mode is used when the soldier is in shelter and the enemy is in an open area.
  4. Moreover, the grenade has a minimum shelf life of 15 years from manufacturing under normal storage conditions, proving that it is stable and can be used for a long time.

Steps Taken by Government of India to Transform Defence Sector:

  1. Setting up of Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; 
  2. Formulation of draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020; 
  3. Allocating 64% of its modernisation funds under capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for procurement from domestic companies; 
  4. Notifying two Positive Indigenisation Lists of over 200 defence items to promote self-reliance & defence exports; 
  5. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB); 
  6. Increasing FDI limit from 49 to 74%  under automatic route and beyond 74% through government route and 
  7. Giving top priority to the ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ category for capital procurement.

Gennova’s mRNA vaccine gets clearance for Phase 2/3 clinical trials

Source: PIB

What is the News?

India’s first mRNA vaccine against coronavirus named “HGCO19” has been found to be safe and has been given the go-ahead from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to move into Phase II and III of clinical trials.

About HGCO19 Vaccine:
  1. The HGCO19 is India’s first mRNA vaccine candidate. It is being developed by Pune-based biotechnology company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.
  2. The development program of this vaccine was partly funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India under Ind CEPI.
  3. Later on, the DBT further supported the program under the Mission COVID Suraksha.
About mRNA Vaccines:
  1. Vaccines work by training our bodies to recognize invading viruses. 
  2. Traditional vaccines perform this task by introducing a dead, inactive or modified portion of a virus into our body so that our immune system can learn to recognize and fight this foreign invader.
  3. On the other hand, mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine. They don’t use live viruses to trigger an immune response. Instead, they supply mRNA that instructs our cells to make a version of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that will trigger an immune response. Once triggered, the body will make antibodies. These antibodies will help to fight the infection if the real virus enters the body in the future.
Benefits of mRNA Vaccines:
  1. Firstly, the underlying technology behind mRNA vaccines is adaptable, allowing for quick updates as new viral mutations (variants) evolve or whole new viruses are discovered.
  2. Secondly, mRNA vaccines are quicker and more reliably manufactured than traditional vaccines.
Disadvantages of mRNA Vaccines:
  1. Firstly, mRNA Vaccines are not as stable at high temperatures, making packaging and distribution difficult. 
  2. Secondly, although clinical trials and early studies of these vaccines in real-world use have shown largely positive results, the long-term effects are still unknown.

CSIR-CMERI ‘Collaborative Model with the Market’ for establishing Industry-Academia Linkage

Source: PIB

What is the News?

CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute(CMERI) has launched a ‘Collaborative Model with the Markets’ for establishing Industry-Academia Linkage.

Background:
  1. India aspires to be a ‘Global Manufacturing Powerhouse’ of the Future. It also aims to be a ‘Zero-Defect’ Manufacturing Economy where there is a minimum tolerance for deviation from precision parameters. 
  2. The primary challenge for the Indian Manufacturing Sector is enhancing the Cost-Effectiveness of Technologies without compromising the Quality parameters. 
  3. However, there is an absence of a Linkage between a Sustained Innovative Mind-set and the Indian Manufacturing Sector. 
  4. Hence, to promote the Industry-Academia Linkage, a Collaborative Model with the Market has been launched.
What is the purpose of the “Collaborative Model with the Market”?
  • Under this model, numerous State-of-the-Art and cutting-edge Technology Facilities of CSIR-CMERI will be shared with the MSMEs and Start-Ups to partner them through their growth process.
  • This will help in achieving Manufacturing Excellence as it will substantially reduce deviation from established parameters. It will also set the benchmarks of the Future for a Comprehensive Manufacturing Model.

NITI Aayog and World Resources Institute India Jointly Launch ‘Forum for Decarbonizing Transport’

Source: PIB

What is the News?

NITI Aayog and World Resources Institute(WRI), India jointly launched the ‘Forum for Decarbonizing Transport’ in India as part of the NDC-Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) project.

About Forum for Decarbonizing Transport:
  1. The forum will be a one-stop platform for initiating dialogues between the stakeholders and partners that will help in achieving specific results in reducing emissions from the transport sector.
  2. It will work in close coordination with all the stakeholders to formulate strategies and develop appropriate business models to accelerate electric mobility in India.
Significance of this Forum:
  1. In India, transport is the third most CO2 emitting sector with road transport contributing to more than 90% of total CO2 emissions.
  2. The Indian government through its various policies is promoting decarbonization of transport with a major focus on electric mobility. 
  3. Hence, a coordinated effort like this forum will help enable investment, encourage adoption, and ensure fair operation in the EV industry.

About the NDC-Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) project:

  1. NDC-TIA is a joint programme of seven organisations that will engage China, India, and Vietnam in promoting a comprehensive approach to decarbonizing transport in their respective countries.
  2. Supported by: It is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
  3. NITI Aayog is the implementing partner for the India component of the project.

 

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