9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 31st, 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 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The many ways of helping Sri Lanka

Source: The post is based on the article “The many ways of helping Sri Lanka” published in the “The Hindu” on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations, Bilateral Relations

Relevance: India-Sri Lanka Relations

News: Recently, Sri Lanka’s economy has been hit by one of the worst economic crises in its history. In this context, India has tried to help out Sri Lanka in a number of ways

India’s Assistance so far and Sri Lanka’s Public Perception of India’s response to the country’s economic crisis

Till now, the Indian government has provided assistance of nearly $4 billion to its neighbor. The support is greatly valued by the various sections of Sri Lankan society like

(1) A Sinhalese farmer said that he has received a normal yield this time thanks to “the supply of chemical fertilizers from India.”

(2) A veteran Sri Lankan government official pointed out that even “certain fringe groups,” which are widely known for their anti-India rhetoric, have stayed silent when the rest of Sri Lankan society was “tremendously appreciative” of what India did.

Scope of more engagement

(1) In Sri Lanka, agriculture and allied activities are the priority areas where India can make a difference.

(a) In Sri Lanka, a considerable quantity of milk powder, dairy products, and other such products are imported. India’s National Dairy Development Board of India can help Sri Lanka in attaining self-sufficiency in dairy production. This would help it to save precious foreign exchange.

(b) Likewise, the poultry sector, which is also in a state of crisis, deserves special treatment. In this, India can help with veterinary medicines, and domestic production of maize used as feed. In this area, Indian agricultural universities can share their knowledge to increase both production and productivity.

(c) Further, agricultural machinery is another area where Sri Lanka needs a helping hand.

(2) Sri Lanka has faced problems on the energy front, which exploded into a major political crisis. Therefore, India’s participation in energy projects will be desirable.

(3) Sri Lanka’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have not achieved their potential for various reasons, one of which is the low adoption of technology, among others. India can help through its programs like the ‘Digital MSME’ and ‘RAMP’ (Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance) which can provide leads to the MSME sector.

(4) India can establish smart classrooms and modern computer labs in Tamilian areas. Indian universities can set up satellite campuses in Sri Lanka and so on.

(5) On the cultural front, India can arrange for greater numbers of Buddhist monks to visit places of religious importance here.

(6) The Indian government could extend liberal loans, share technical expertise or knowledge, as well as help Sri Lankans upgrade their skills in different areas of economic activity.

What should be the future course of action?

India must ensure that the proposed development program is equitably distributed in coverage. For example, The Northern and Eastern Provinces, where the Tamil and Muslim ethnic minorities live, and which were badly hit by the civil war, should be more focused on.

Sri Lanka’s political class and civil society should facilitate the success of the program. They should prevent the anti-India rhetoric of a few groups, which may go against these programs.

Drop the phone checking, draft surveillance curbing orders

Source: The post is based on an article “Drop the phone checking, draft surveillance curbing orders” published in the “The Hindu” on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India; GS 3 Indian Security

Relevance: Surveillance and Intelligence Reforms in India

News: Recently, the Supreme Court has looked into the findings of the apex court-appointed committee which probed into the allegations raised in the Pegasus Case.

There are allegations that the personal communication devices of a range of people in India, including journalists, civil society activists, and politicians, were targeted illegally using Israeli-made spyware.

Surveillance-related issues in India 

There are allegations that the Centre and the States operate like a police state when it comes to surveillance. Further, there are allegations that the corporate houses are also involved in surveillance or snooping on activists and competitors at will and collect huge dossiers on “persons of interest”.

There is a lack of checks and balances in the legal framework related to surveillance and intelligence gathering in India. For example, the law allows police officers to authorize interception (rather than the Court).

Various technologies are being used in India for surveillance. For example, facial recognition technology (like “PacketShaper software”). Surveillance software called “FinFisher” has also been used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The UN General Assembly “Report of the Special Rapporteur” 2013 mentioned that the Indian Government will install a centralized monitoring system. It will route all communications to the central security agencies. This was meant to bypass the service provider and also to take surveillance out of the realm of judicial authorization. It will also eliminate the accountability on the part of the Central government.

In 2013, The Guardian placed India at 5th rank among countries where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered. For instance, the Delhi police issued a tender inviting a technology company to supply Internet monitoring equipment in 2014.

In 2018, the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee submitted a report to the Government which said that much intelligence gathering in India does not happen under the remit of the law. Further, there is little meaningful oversight over surveillance in India.

What are the issues with state surveillance?

As per the European Court of Human Rights, “a secret surveillance system can undermine or even destroy democracy under the cloak of defending it”.

International legal regime for surveillance -Check and Balances

In 1978, the US Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Consequently, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was established.

In1986, the Wiretap Act was enacted in the US to prohibit private agencies from engaging in surveillance. Further, the government must apply to a Federal Court to seek permission to do surveillance.

The Patriot Act 2001 (or Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) was enacted to counter international terrorism in the US. The act required court approval.

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission, 2005 established the office of the privacy commissioner. The office had dedicated inspectors to investigate complaints.

The United Nations contributed to the development of a legal framework evolving the “no secret” rules. The governments cannot do surveillance only in the name of the “national interest”.

As per the Venice Commission Report, 2015, independent control and oversight are necessary over the executive, parliamentary oversight, judicial review, and oversight of expert bodies.

The UN Good Practices on Oversight Institutions requires the setting up of a civilian, independent institution that can carry out an investigation and have unhindered access to information. Further, individuals are empowered to complain to a court.

Focus on nutrition: PM’s appeal in ‘Mann Ki Baat

Source: The post is based on an article “Focus on nutrition: PM’s appeal in ‘Mann Ki Baat’” published in The Business Standard on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2

Context: This article discusses the issues associated with malnutrition and its mitigation strategies.

Prime Minister has recently pleaded to make malnutrition eradication a people’s movement. He stressed on the use of technology for creating awareness

What steps have been taken by the government to address malnutrition?

India has made noticeable progress in alleviating starvation but malnutrition is still prevalent. It is evident from the high occurrence of anemia and obesity.

The government has also made some sensible moves to utilize anganwadis for this purpose by equipping them with mobile devices and extending their services to adolescent girls.

What are the reasons for existing malnutrition?

The country’s vast public-distribution network has failed to deliver to its potential.

Its focus is on supplying primarily the belly-filling cereals rather than the whole range of food items to take care of the nutritional needs.

Another cause of malnutrition is consumption of cheaper cereals rather than the nutritious coarse grains like millets.

What are the findings of the UN report?

The United Nations (UN) report titled “State of Food Security and Nutrition 2022” has indicated that:

Even though the number of undernourished people in India has declined, the number of anaemic children and women including overweight people is still high.

The Fifth National Family Health Survey had shown that over half the children and women were anaemic. The incidence of obesity was on the rise among both men and women.

What should be the further course of action?

The prime minister stressed on increasing the consumption of millets.

A recent study points out that regular consumption of millets can improve hemoglobin levels and reduce anemia-causing iron deficiency.

The ultimate objective should be to make millet products part of the modern food platters to combat malnutrition in a cost-effective manner.

Is Devas Ruling A Pyrrhic Win?

Source: The post is based on an article Is Devas Ruling A Pyrrhic Win? published in The Times of India on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International issues

Context: The articles discuss the issues related to arbitration awards and various steps taken by the government.

What is the history associated with Devas arbitration award?

Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia entered into a transaction for leasing of S-Band spectrum in 2005, and which came to be cancelled by Antrix following the “2G scam”.

Devas sued and secured an award in an India seated ICC arbitration (domestic award) of over Rs 10,000 crore.

CBI initiated an investigation into the transaction and filed an FIR alleging that the transaction has been made to defraud the state of its resources.

Antrix filed a petition before the National Company Law Tribunal for winding up of Devas on grounds of fraud.

This petition was filed with the authorisation of GoI. The petition was allowed and upheld by the apex court. SC said the entire transaction was in conflict with the public policy of any country.

What steps have been taken by Delhi High Court?

Delhi HC has set aside the ICC award.

It will lead to an automatic stop on all seizure orders passed by foreign courts in pursuance of enforcement proceedings initiated by Devas.

However, Devas shareholders initiated another BIT arbitration against GoI, which is yet to be concluded.

Thus, setting aside the ICC will not be sufficient. The BIT awards were passed in separate and independent proceedings, and are not automatically void by the setting aside of the ICC award.

What lies ahead?

The seizure proceedings in enforcement of two Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) awards may not become void like ICC award.

A BIT is a reciprocal sovereign-to-sovereign guarantee that protects investors and investments of one country in the territory of the other.

Devas’s shareholders may allege that setting aside of the ICC award will deprive them of their rights to the money.

GoI can argue that the outcome of a judicial proceeding is not same as to state action and therefore it is not acceptable to treaty arbitration.

It will also lead to India’s image of going against treaty claims.

India’s reluctance to return to negotiation in the matter also negates the positive steps the present dispensation had taken in settling the retrospective taxation disputes with Cairn and others.

GS Paper 3

Floods and foes

Source: The post is based on articles “Floods and foes” published in the “The Hindu”

Floods in Pakistan bear similarities to those in India. It’s time for a collaborative mechanism to deal with extreme weather events” published in the Indian Express on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Disaster Management; GS 2 International Relations

Relevance: Flood Management and India-Pakistan Relations

News: In recent days, Pakistan has been hit by the worst natural disaster(flood). The Prime Minister of India has expressed condolences to the victims of the flooding in India’s neighborhood.

Implications of flooding in Pakistan

As per the official statements, due to flooding, one-third of Pakistan is underwater, more than 1,100 people have died, and over 33 million people have been affected. Homes, roads, and infrastructure have been damaged, amounting to a loss of about $10 billion.

Further, standing crops have been affected. There are fears of disease as well as food shortages.

What are the causes behind Pakistan’s Flood 2022?

Pakistan experienced a monsoon in 2022, which is unusually wet, called “monsoon on steroids” by UN Secretary-General.

It is an imprint of a global-warming-induced extreme weather event.

In several parts of Pakistan, river embankments have not been repaired for years. Therefore, rivers caused havoc in surrounding places.

Pakistan’s city drainage systems have not received adequate attention from the country’s planners.

Global Response to Pakistan’s Flood, 2022

Various countries such as the U.K., the U.S., China, the UAE, Qatar, and Turkey have already dispatched aid to Pakistan, and many others have promised help.

The IMF announced a $1.1 billion bailout tranche, as part of ongoing negotiations with Pakistan.

Significance for India-Pakistan Relations

There are indications that India will join the growing number of countries and international bodies that have responded to Pakistan’s appeal for help to deal with the ravages of the worst floods.

The Pakistan Finance Minister has proposed to lift the trade ban imposed on India after the Jammu-Kashmir reorganization in 2019. This would enable the import of Indian vegetables and essential commodities.

In the past, both sides have provided assistance to each other in times of humanitarian crisis. For example, Pakistan extended help after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, India did likewise when large swathes of Pakistan were flooded in 2010, and both cooperated during the Kashmir earthquake of 2005.

Similarities between India’s floods and Pakistan’s flood experiences

The same southwest monsoon that brings the bulk of India’s annual rainfall causes rain in Pakistan as well. Both countries are the victims of weather vagaries.

The two countries have shared colonial legacies in both urban planning and flood management.

Further, both countries receive water from the melting glaciers in the Himalayas, which do not respect borders.

What should be the course of action?

South Asia’s ecological continuities make the case for regional cooperation on climate-related matters. Therefore, India and Pakistan must come together during negotiations at the UNFCCC. The Subcontinent could learn from ASEAN’s initiative to draft a State of Climate Report on the eve of COP-26 last year, which promotes cooperation and collaboration in the region.

There should be data sharing mechanisms on rainfall, river flows, as well as flood alert systems.

There can be a common renewable energy-dominated electricity grid, which could substantially reduce the climate vulnerability of people in South Asia.

Both India and Pakistan must seize the moment (flood 2022) to help those stranded in the flooding in Pakistan. India considers itself the “first responder” in the neighborhood. India has helped Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Afghanistan during a such humanitarian crises.

An intellectual property regime must boost innovation

Source: The post is based on an article “An intellectual property regime must boost innovation” published in the Live Mint on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Intellectual Property Rights

News: Two weeks ago, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India released a report on the current status of India’s Intellectual Property (IP) regime.

Patents were designed to offer inventors a monopoly over their inventions for a limited duration so that they had time to recover their investments in research and development (R&D) and make some profit to boot.

The Findings of the report

The number of patents filed in the country has increased from only 39,400 patents filed in 2010-11 to as many as 66,440 in 2021-22, over the past decade.

There has also been a steady increase in patents filed by Indian residents, accounting for nearly 44% of all patents filed last year.

All this has resulted in India rising from 81st in the Global Innovation Index in 2016 to 46th last year.

What are the causes behind the innovation boost in India?

The government has undertaken a series of reforms that have been implemented over the past few years.

There has been a progressive simplification of procedures, the electronic delivery of certificates, and expedited examination for certain categories of applicants.

What are the issues that are still causing problems in innovation boost in India?

(1) Despite these reforms, India lags far behind countries that set global benchmarks in innovation. For example, the total number of patents filed in India last year was less than 5% of those filed in China and 10% of those filed in the US.

(2) India lags in patents granted, with just under 27,000 in 2020 compared to 530,000 obtained in China and 350,000 in the US.

(3) The time taken to process a patent application is problematic, i.e., on average 58 months are taken to process the patent application in India as compared to 20 months in China and 23 in the US.

(4) Problems in Digital Innovation

India’s patent system was designed before the age of digital innovation, and the duration of this monopoly was set at a generous 20 years.

Such a long period makes sense for more traditional inventions, but it is disproportionately long in the digital context. It does not encourage digital inventors to innovate and invent new ways to remain competitive. Instead, they rely on patent protection over a period of 20 years to stay ahead in the market.

What are the underlying causes behind various issues that plague the innovation ecosystem in India?

India’s patent office is poorly staffed. Around 860 people are working in the Indian patent office, 13,704 examiners and controllers are working in the Chinese office, and, 8132 employees are working in the US Patent offices.

What are the recommendations in the report?

(1) The report has recommended the addition of 2,000 more staff at India’s patent office over the next two years to address this.

(2) Various procedural reforms, like the introduction of fixed timelines at various stages in the patent process, must be introduced to improve the efficiency of the patent application process.

(3) The onerous compliance obligations, such as the requirement to submit information on the prosecution of foreign patent applications even though this information can be easily accessed from the PCT portal, must be eliminated.

(4) The utility model patents for minor innovations must be introduced. This would allow for a less stringent process. The innovations emerge from projects under the country’s Atal Innovation Mission.

Other reforms required -Not mentioned in the report

(1) Reforms in Judiciary and Enforcement Machinery: This would ensure that patent holders can easily enforce their patents once granted.

(2) Different periods of protection: This should be awarded based on the nature of the innovation which is sought to be protected. For example, Drugs and pharmaceuticals could continue to enjoy 20 years of protection, while patents for digital innovation could be limited to 5 years or less.

Killer on the road: Road fatalities are going up because users don’t take basic precautions and road design is poor

Source: The post is based on an article Killer on the road: Road fatalities are going up because users don’t take basic precautions and road design is poor published in The Times of India on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure

Context: This article discusses about the issues associated with road accidents and ways to reduce it.

What is the current situation of road accidents?

2021 marked the highest ever road accidents and numbers are expected to increase in the coming years.

Two-wheelers accounted for 44.5% of deaths, up from 35% in 2018, and pedestrian deaths have doubled to 12% of deaths since 2018.

What does the data say?

NCRB report blames over-speeding for 60% deaths and dangerous/careless driving for 26% deaths.

Union Ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) data shows that 70% of two-wheeler travellers killed in 2020 weren’t wearing helmets. 84% of car travellers who died weren’t wearing seatbelts.

What has led to such accidents?

The predictable and uniform design of medians, intersections, lanes, shoulders, and pedestrian paths are absent in most urban centers.

Most highways still lack enough safe crossing facilities for motorists and pedestrians while illegal openings in medians are big concerns.

Techniques like rumble strips aren’t employed adequately.

How road accidents can be minimized?

The Motor Vehicles Act amended in 2019 has made seat belts and helmets compulsory but there is lack of enforcement.

A study from IIT Delhi has suggested that more focus should be made on street and highway design and enforcement rather than the current overwhelming focus on motor vehicle safety.

Supertech buildings’ demolition is a cinematic distraction from nexus between state and builders

Source: The post is based on an article Supertech buildings’ demolition is a cinematic distraction from nexus between state and builders published in The Indian Express on 31stAugust 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Industries and industrial policies

Context: This article discusses about the nexus between state and private players in real estate and issues associated with urban areas.

The recently-demolished Supertech buildings in Noida shows the new relations between land, private real estate players and the state.

How the relationship between private companies and state has changed?

The market for land during the 20th century in NCR rose due to the actions of the government.

The Delhi Improvements Trust and the Delhi Development Authority had a land monopoly in the post-independence decades. Their actions led to huge inflation in land prices which prevented people from buying land in Delhi.

The government’s actions as a land monopolist in the Delhi region led private players to look beyond its boundaries.

Areas in Haryana and UP that bordered Delhi emerged as important nodes of urbanization.

The private house market started growing from the mid-1980s, with the availability of new sources of home loans and the expansion of the middle class.

Since the 1980s, a new urbanisation in India came up. It helped in forming new relationships between government mechanisms and private players. It helped in alteration of the approved lands.

As land values increased, it became profitable to convince government regulatory authorities to allow changes in the plans that were actually approved.

What are the issues arising out of the nexus between private players and state?

The approved plans can easily be altered and those plans are approved that benefit all parties.

This requires collaboration between different levels of government, politicians, real estate companies, land surveyors and brokers of different kinds.

The complex system of land measurement and planning procedures made it almost impossible to institute mechanisms of transparency.

There is an increase in the state-real estate complex where it is has become difficult to calculate where the state ends and private interests begin. This is the Indian version of the military-industrial complex.

What are the issues associated with the urban areas?

Demolishing can lead to depriving rights of urban dwellers and cruelty towards them.

The problems of urban areas require a different approach rather than simply demolishing.

There are many illegal lands or structures but with the time they become legalized.

The encroachment of forest lands by powerful people degrades the urban environment.

This all happens due to the peculiar relations between governments and land markets and sometimes our own participation in it.

A bad idea: Separating ‘E’ from ESG

Source: The post is based on an article A bad idea: Separating ‘E’ from ESG published in The Business Standard on 31st August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Industries and industrial policies 

Context: The article discusses the importance of social and governance for any entity and what stand can India take in the future.

What are the importance of social(S) and governance (G) in ESG?

The S and G pillars are as important as E(Environment) in assessing corporate performance from stakeholders’ perspective.

Corporations that violate human rights, infringe labor rights or have gender-insensitive policies should be disapproved and they can’t be idolized.

Impact investments can’t ignore a corporate’s performance under these two pillars.

Even the Conference of Parties’ (COPs’) negotiations under the UNFCCC framework give due consideration to Social and Economic factors, besides Environmental.

What are the issues associated with COPs meetings?

The developing countries have struggled to put up a united front to keep the social and economic dimensions relevant in these discussions.

They have failed to meet their commitments on providing finances and technology transfer to developing countries.

There are clear signs of developed countries sliding back on their own emission commitments made in climate change negotiations.

The ongoing Russia- Ukraine war and its impact on the global availability of fossil fuels and their prices have forced many countries to rework their energy policies.

What are the different stands taken by developed countries?

The developed countries mostly try to push their agenda due to their larger presence in the international forums.

ESG is an important subject of discussion in international forums like Financial Stability Board (FSB). These forums are dominated by the developed countries and their decisions prevail.

What is required from India in the G20 meetings?

Indian officials attending meetings of these forums need to be careful. They should not end up supporting ideas that go beyond what has been agreed during the climate change negotiations.

India will assume the presidency of G20 by the end of this year.

There is likely to be a lot of pressure from the developed member countries on India to commit more on such issues that are of interest for the developed countries.

We must safeguard our domestic policy space in these negotiations.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained | Challenging the Special Marriage Act 1954

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | Challenging the Special Marriage Act, 1954” published in The Hindu on 31st August 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has dismissed a writ petition challenging provisions of the Special Marriage Act (SMA),1954. The provision requires couples to give a notice declaring their intent to marry 30 days before their marriage.

What is the Special Marriage Act,1954?

Special Marriage Act,1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to validate and register inter-religious and inter-caste marriages in India.

No religious formalities are needed to be carried out under the Act. 

This Act applies not only to Indian citizens who belong to different castes and religions, but also to Indian nationals who live abroad.

What are the provisions challenged under the Act?

Section 5: It requires couples marrying under it to give a notice to the Marriage Officer 30 days before the date of marriage. 

Section 6: It requires such a notice to be then entered into the Marriage Notice Book maintained by the Marriage Officer, which can be inspected by “any person desirous of inspecting the same”.

– These notices have to be also affixed at a “conspicuous place” or place where it is visible to everyone, in the office of the Marriage Officer so that anyone can raise an objection to the marriage. 

Section 7: It provides the process and grounds for making an objection.

Section 8: It specifies the inquiry procedure to be followed after an objection has been submitted.

Why have these provisions challenged by the petitioner?

The petitioner has called these provisions violative of the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

– This is because these provisions require couples to give a notice of 30 days before the date of marriage, inviting objections from the public. 

– This seriously damages one’s right to have control over her/his personal information and its accessibility.

– Also, these public notices have been used by anti-social elements to harass couples getting married.

These provisions are also violative of Article 14 on prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste and sex as well as Article 15 on right to equality as these requirements are absent in personal law.

Nearly 60% of fake money seized in 2021 were of ₹2,000 denomination: NCRB

Source: The post is based on the article “Nearly 60% of fake money seized in 2021 were of ₹2,000 denomination: NCRB” published in The Hindu on 31st August 2022.

What is the News?

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released a report titled “Crime in India 2021 report”.

What does this report say about fake money circulation?

Source: The Hindu

Fake Money: Nearly 60% of all fake money seized in the year 2021 was of ₹2,000 denomination.

– Most of the fake Rs 2,000 notes were recovered in Tamil Nadu, followed by Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Increase in the seizure of fake money: In 2016, the Government introduced new ₹2,000 and ₹500 currency notes after the old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes were scrapped by them.

– One of the primary objectives of this was to curb the circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN).

– However, since 2016 there has been an increase in the seizure of fake money.

What are the steps taken by the government to curb fake currency?

Counterfeiting currency notes is an offense under the Indian Penal Code,1860. Further, the production, smuggling, or circulation of High-Quality Fake Indian paper currency, coins, or any other material has been made a terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted a Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell in the National Investigation Agency(NIA) to conduct a focussed investigation of terror funding and fake currency cases. 

FICN Coordination Group(FCORD) has been formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). It shares intelligence/information amongst the different security agencies of the States/centers to counter the problem of circulation of fake currency notes in the country.

Training programs are conducted for the officers of Bangladesh and Nepal Police to develop their competence in the areas of detection, investigation, and effective prosecution of cases relating to fake currency.

EAC-PM Releases the Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100

Source: The post is based on the article EAC-PM Releases the Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100published in PIB on 30th August 2022.

What is the News?

Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister(EAC-PM) has released the ‘Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100’ Report.

What is the Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100 Report?

Prepared by: EAC-PM in collaboration with the Institute for Competitiveness and Michael E. Porter and Dr. Christian Ketels from Harvard Business School.

Purpose: To guide the path of India to become a higher-income economy by 2047, when the country will mark its 100th year of Independence.

What are the key suggestions given by the report?

Productivity: The report puts forth the idea of productivity as a driver of sustained prosperity. It emphasizes that a nation is able to provide firms to be more productive and for individuals to be able to participate in the value generated through their productivity. 

4S Principles: The report shows the way for India to become a high-income country through sector-specific and region-specific policies based on the ‘4S’ principles.

– In the 4S principles, the first one talks about prosperity to be matched by ‘social’ progress. The second states that growth needs to be ‘shared‘ across all regions. The third is to be environmentally ‘sustainable‘ and the fourth is to be ‘solid‘ in the face of external shocks.

Areas of Action: The report suggests several areas of action such as improving labor productivity and enhancing labor mobilization, developing key Performance Indicators(KPIs) and roadmaps for different industries, boosting the creation of competitive job opportunities, and improving policy implementation.

Delhi Police first force to make forensic probe mandatory

Source: The post is based on the article “Delhi Police first force to make forensic probe mandatory” published in The Hindu on 31st August 2022.

What is the News?

Delhi Police has become the first police force in the country to make collection of forensic evidence mandatory in crimes punishable by more than six years.

Why has forensic evidence been made mandatory by the Delhi police?

To boost the conviction rate and integrate the criminal justice system with forensic science investigation.

How will this work?

According to the guidelines, apart from the Delhi Police’s own mobile crime vans in the districts, a forensic mobile van shall be allotted to each district. It will provide scientific and forensic assistance on the spot to the Investigating Officers(IOs) whenever any such need arises. 

Each van shall be fully equipped with scientific tools and a sufficient number of forensic assistants.

These forensic mobile vans shall not be under the administrative control of the city police. They shall be independent entities responsible to the court of law.

Note: The recently released NCRB report showed a 40% increase in crimes against women in Delhi, the highest among all metropolitan cities in the country.

Greening Initiatives of India’s Coal Sector

Source: The post is based on the article Greening Initiatives of India’s Coal Sectorpublished in PIB on 30th August 2022.

What is the News?

The Coal Ministry has been taking various greening initiatives to support India’s targets against climate change.

What are the greening initiatives of India’s Coal Sector?

The coal industry is aiming to promote a sustainable model of development. To fulfill this aim, coal production will be coupled with the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources, care for society, and measures to protect our forests and wildlife.

Initiatives taken

To achieve this, the Ministry of Coal has set an ambitious goal for coal companies to bring more than 2,400 hectares of the area in and around coalfields under green cover with the planting of more than 50 lakh saplings for the year 2022-23.

The identified areas include reclaimed mined-out areas of coal companies and areas outside of leasehold – amenable for plantation and made available by State Government agencies.

Significance: The above-stated greening initiatives of the coal sector will support India’s NDC commitment to creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

MGNREGA, NCRB, insurance data point to unabated strain at middle and lower ends of income distribution

Source: The post is based on the articleMGNREGA, NCRB, insurance data point to unabated strain at middle and lower ends of income distributionpublished in Indian Express on 31st August 2022.

What is the News?

After contracting in 2020-21, the Indian economy is expected to recover sharply in 2021-22. This year, the Reserve Bank of India expects the Indian economy to grow at 7.2%. It will make India one of the fastest-growing economies in the world during this period.

However, beyond growth numbers, there are still indicators of the unabated pain stemming from the pandemic and the continuing distress in parts of the economy.

What are the indicators that show that there is still distress in the Indian Economy?

MGNREGA data: In 2019-20, the year prior to the pandemic, 7.88 crore individuals worked under the MGNREGA Scheme. In 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic, this number rose to 11.19 crore. 

– This year, 6.29 crore individuals have already worked under the scheme, as compared to 6.21 crore in the entire year of 2014-15. 

– This growing reliance on MGNREGA likely indicates that other, more remunerative employment opportunities remain limited.

NCRB data: According to the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) report, there has been a rise in suicides by daily wage earners. Also, in 2021, daily wage earners accounted for a fourth of suicides in the country. This points to the economic distress at the lower end of the income distribution scale.

Sales of Vehicles: As per CRISIL, sales of two-wheelers were lower than their 2019-20 levels by almost a quarter. Similarly, sales of cars priced below Rs 10 lakh grew by a mere 7% in 2021-22, while those priced above Rs 10 lakh grew by 38%.

What is the significance of this data?

The bigger picture that emerges from this data is one of pain at the lower and middle levels of the income distribution. 

Hence, policymakers must be mindful of the highly uneven nature of the recovery and take measures to address the distress of the most vulnerable.

Explained: What is the UN High Seas Treaty, why have countries failed to agree on it?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is the UN High Seas Treaty, why have countries failed to agree on it?” published in Indian Express on 30th August 2022.

What is the News?

Negotiations, involving 168 countries including the European Union on a UN High Seas treaty for protecting oceans, failed.

What is the UN High Seas Treaty?

The UN High Seas Treaty is also referred to as the ‘Paris Agreement for the Ocean’.

Purpose: The proposed treaty aims to deal with the ocean existing beyond the Exclusive Economic Zones(EEZ). Waters beyond EEZ are known as open seas or high seas. 

The treaty was to be negotiated under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 which governs the rights of countries regarding marine resources. 

Some aspects of negotiations under the treaty include: establishing marine protected areas to put limits on certain activities, environmental impact assessments or clearances for the sustainability of works, financial support to countries, and sharing other scientific knowledge. 

How are the world’s oceans regulated as of now?

Some treaties along with the UNCLOS regulate the conduct of actors on the high seas. But a treaty dedicated to protecting ocean health does not exist as of now

Conversely, every country has the right to access open seas, resulting in large-scale drilling and trawling operations for catching fish and other animals for commercial purposes.

What are the risks involved if countries fail to reach an agreement?

According to NASA, 90% of global warming is occurring in the ocean. The effects of ocean warming include sea level rise due to thermal expansion, coral bleaching, accelerated melting of Earth’s major ice sheets, intensified hurricanes, and changes in ocean health and biochemistry.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, excessive fishing has increased manifold over the years, and a third of species such as sharks and rays are at risk of extinction.

Despite acknowledging these threats, members failed to agree on how to deal with these threats.

Why are countries failing to negotiate a High Seas treaty?

Firstly, the pandemic resulted in many delays, and the negotiations were not held on many issues.

Secondly, a High Ambition Coalition came about and put the focus on ‘30×30’ goals – protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. The coalition has more than 100 countries including India, the US, and the UK. This coalition is creating pressure on the leaders to include these goals in any treaty concerning the conservation of the high seas.

Thirdly, the negotiating parties have not agreed on the legal nature of this treaty. Many institutions, such as the IUCN, are demanding this treaty to be legally binding in order to become more effective.

Lastly, the treaty is facing resistance from countries that engage in deep sea mining of minerals or are heavily invested in fishing.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: symptoms, treatment and prevention, explained

Source: The post is based on the article “Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: symptoms, treatment and prevention, explained” published in Indian Express on 31st August 2022.

What is the News?

There has been a spike in cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease(HFMD) in Mumbai. As per data provided by the state’s public health department, Maharashtra has reported 250 cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

What is Hand, foot, and mouth disease(HFMD)?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease(HFMD) is a highly contagious infection. It is common in children under the age of 5, but anyone can get it. 

Caused by: It is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, which belongs to a group of viruses called nonpolio enteroviruses.

Transmission: These viruses can spread from person to person through direct contact with unwashed hands or surfaces contaminated with feces. It can also be transmitted through contact with a person’s saliva, stool, or respiratory secretions.

Symptoms: Symptoms usually include fever, mouth sores, and skin rash. The rash is commonly found on the hands and feet.

Treatment: The illness is usually not serious. Children are mostly treated with anti-allergic medicines and ointments. The lesions usually disappear in five to six days.

Prevention: Frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with people who have hand-foot-and-mouth disease may help lower a child’s risk of infection.


Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions

Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management Relevance: Indonesia’s football stampede and concerns associated with it News: The crowd at Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium ran onto the pitch after their team lost. This led… Continue reading Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions

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FABS: The East Asian lesson for India

Source– The post is based on the article “FABS: The East Asian lesson for India” published in the mint on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Economy Relevance– Semiconductor manufacturing News– The article explains the experience of East Asian countries in promoting semiconductor manufacturing. Recently the central government has announced some changes in the production-linked incentive… Continue reading FABS: The East Asian lesson for India

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Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy

Source: The post is based on the article “Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – Functioning of Judiciary Relevance: benefits of live-streaming of SC hearing. News:  The Supreme Court has allowed the live streaming of the hearing of cases from 27th September 2022.… Continue reading Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy

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There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena

Source– The post is based on the article “There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS2- Polity Relevance– Political parties in India News– The article explains the procedure for allotting symbols in case of conflict between two rival… Continue reading There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena

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As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia

Source– The post is based on the article “As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS2- International Relations Relevance– India multilateral engagement News– The article explains the lessons India can learn from Indonesia on economic engagement. These will… Continue reading As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia

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Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts

Source: The post is based on an article “Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts” published in The Times of India on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – Art and Architecture Relevance: concerns associated with repatriation artefacts in India News:  There has been a demand to return the Kohinoor diamond to India after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.… Continue reading Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts

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The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy

Source: The post is based on an article “The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 News:  The article discusses the change in the views of Gandhiji after returning to India from South Africa. Gandhi was greatly influenced by the writings of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin.He adopted… Continue reading The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy

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India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test

Source: The post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test” published in the Business Standard on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests. Relevance: Russian war and India’s stand. News: Recently, India abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning… Continue reading India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test

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Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths

Source: The post is based on the article “Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. What is the News? The SASTRA Ramanujan Prize for 2022 will be awarded to Yunqing Tang, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. About SASTRA… Continue reading Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths

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MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

Source: The post is based on the article “MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. What is the News? The government is now planning to bring convergence between the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi… Continue reading MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

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