We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- 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:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- 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.
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- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- Disregarding Parliament
- Setting new house rules
- Criminalising welfare issues
- Steps to sustain the big success that our DBT Mission has been
- The hacking of Indian democracy
- Making a case for Indo-Abrahamic accord
GS Paper 3
- MSME liquidity line set to widen as more NBFCs start ‘factoring’
- Catching up on chip
- Banks withdraw funds from coal-fuelled projects in Asia
- Climate crisis: Way forward for dairy giants in India
- Climate emergency: Tipping points are already here, scientists warn
- What India’s labour force survey actually says about employment
- Three strategic ways to grant supply chains resilience
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Preventive detention only to forestall public disorder: SC
- Ozone levels exceeding permitted levels: study
- New frog species discovered in Western Ghats, named after former DU vice-chancellor
- Parakram Diwas to commemorate 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
- Tribal Affairs Minister inaugurates ‘Virtual Training of Trainers Programme on Forest Rights Act, 2006’
- Revaluation of Minority Commission
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Why a shrinking population is terrible for a modern economy
Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Population and associated issues.
Relevance: This article explains the challenges associated with a shrinking population.
A shrinking population is a bigger worry than a heavy welfare burden
The US population was shrinking. From the fertility rate of 3.2 in 1956, the fertility rate reached 1.6 in 2020. But the shrinking population has many challenges associated with it. For instance, the domestic business investment in the US also followed this decreasing trend.
Challenges with the shrinking population:
- The problem of ageing: There will be ever fewer workers to pay the benefits of an ever-larger pool of retirees.
- Impact on the economy: The economy will face many issues with the shrinking population. Such as,
- The economy will not have a growing supply of new workers
- New private investment has a harder time generating consistent positive real returns
- The real return on ordinary physical investment fall so does the interest rate necessary to keep the economy humming.
|Read more: China’s shift from “one-child policy” to “three-child policy”|
A shrinking population and the example of Japan:
Japan faced all the economic hurdles of a shrinking population. Japan had no post-war baby boom.
- Despite a technologically advanced and export-oriented economy, the Bank of Japan’s major policy rate fell steadily from 6% in 1991 to just 0.5% in 1995.
- Japan also experienced an enormous property bubble in the late 1980s. This is because when businesses cannot generate enough profitable investment to match the savings rate of an older population. This resulted in huge investments in land.
- Japan experienced an infamous ‘lost decade’, during which neither huge government spending nor persistently low-interest rates could fully revive the economy.
These are the similar trend the US is also experiencing post -2008 crisis.
|Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise|
Challenges in increasing the population:
- An increased government spending on child care and other support for young families would offer only a modest boost in population growth.
- Meanwhile, the ideas that offer the greatest potential for population growth, such as comprehensive immigration reform, are the least politically feasible.
Terms to know:
GS Paper 2
Source: Business Standard, Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business
Parliamentary Standing committees must not be hijacked by politics. They are an integral part of the Indian Parliamentary system and perform an enormous amount of good work.
- The head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has written a letter to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
- He urged him to take action against officials of the Union government who refused to appear before the committee.
What’s the issue?
- The committee was required to examine a number of issues, including the allegations of phone tampering and tapping associated with the Israeli Pegasus software.
- The officials from three Union ministries (electronics and information technology, communications, and home affairs) had been summoned for the same. However, all of them declared at the last minute that they would not be able to attend.
- These refusals arrived within a few minutes of each other and showed a coordinated refusal by the summoned officials. Hence, officials should be duly punished for breaching their responsibilities.
Indian Scenario Versus Global Scenario:
- In most other democracies, surveillance and other intelligence operations by the executive branch are held in check only by in-camera supervision by a subset of legislators from all parties. This is a system that works well.
- There is no formal structure for such supervision in India. There is a structure that expects, if the relevant committee asks for information, it must be either provided or the relevant official must provide explanations for secrecy in person.
Impact of Coordinated Refusals:
- It undermines the functioning of Parliamentary standing committees and enables the executive to escape from accountability.
- It is a violation of Parliamentary privilege and an attack on Constitutional foundations.
Terms to Know:
Setting new house rules
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business
The legislative body’s role must be strengthened and deepened so that disruption of proceedings ceases to be an option.
- Disruption is replacing discussion as the foundation of our legislative functioning. In this regard, the government is considering curtailing the monsoon session of Parliament.
- All sessions since last year have been cut short. The first two were because of Covid, this year’s budget session because of campaigning in state elections, and the ongoing session on account of disruptions.
Reasons behind disorderly conduct by MPs:
- First, dissatisfaction in MPs because of inadequate time for airing their grievances.
- Second, an unresponsive attitude of the government and the retaliatory posture of the treasury benches.
- Third, political parties not adhering to parliamentary norms and disciplining their members.
- Lastly, the absence of prompt action against disrupting MPs under the legislature’s rules.
Steps to ensure disciplinary conduct:
- The Lok Sabha has had a simple code of conduct for its MPs since 1952. Earlier, the rules required MPs not to interrupt the speech of others, maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hissing or by making commentaries during debates.
- Newer forms of protest led to the updating of these rules in 1989. Accordingly, members should not shout slogans, display placards, tear away documents in protest, play cassettes or tape recorders in the House.
- A new rule empowers the Lok Sabha Speaker to suspend MPs obstructing the Houses’ business automatically.
However, these rules are not duly implemented.
Why are such steps not duly implemented?
- The government exercises considerable control over the legislature. It decides when Parliament should meet, for how long, and plays a significant role in determining what issues the House should discuss.
- Successive governments have shied away from increasing the working days of Parliament. When a contentious issue crops up, the government dithers on debating it.
- This induces opposition MPs to violate the conduct rules and disrupt the proceedings of Parliament. Since they have the support of their parties in breaking the rules, the threat of suspension from the House does not deter them.
- The two suggestions of the 2001 All-party conference – enforcement of a code of conduct for MPs and MLAs and an increase in the sitting days of legislatures, should be duly implemented.
- The conference deduced that Parliament should meet for at least 110 days every year and larger state legislative assemblies for 90 days.
- Further, opposition parties should have the opportunity to debate and highlight important issues. Currently, government business takes priority, and private members discuss their topics post-lunch on a Friday.
- The country can introduce the concept of opposition days, as done in the U.K and Canada.
- In the United Kingdom, where Parliament meets over 100 days a year, opposition parties get 20 days. On these days, they decide the agenda for discussion in Parliament.
- Usually, decisions of the House passed on opposition days are not binding on the government and are an opportunity for the opposing parties to focus national attention on issues that it deems crucial.
Criminalising welfare issues
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Mechanisms, laws and institutions constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.
Relevance: This article explains why the government should avoid criminalising welfare measures
Before the legislature adopts coercive legal measures, a welfare response should be considered
Recently, the Supreme Court turned down a petition to restrain begging at traffic lights, markets, and public places in light of the precautionary measures for the Covid-19 pandemic.
In doing this, the court rightly observed that being compelled to beg was a socio-economic issue that could not be remedied by directions of the kind originally sought. It required a welfare response from the state.
This order points to the largely ignored nexus between coercive measures and welfare issues.
|Read more: SC refuses to ban begging, says ‘no one would like to beg if not for poverty’|
Suggestions to improve State’s action towards welfare activities
- During the decisions about criminalisation, the state should consider whether the issue might be better suited to a welfare response. For instance,
- Harsh Mander & Anr. v. Union of India (2018) case: In this, the court held the criminalisation of beggary under the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 as unconstitutional. During that, the court noted that the criminalisation of beggary served only to invisibilise beggars without doing anything to address the structural deprivations that drove people to beg.
- Similarly, the criminalisation of triple talaq by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, does nothing to address the structural gender inequality, social stigma, poor employment options, and lack of state support which actually cause the deprivations associated with divorce (and not just with triple talaq).
- Socio-economic marginalisation and poverty may frequently make people susceptible to exploitation, whether through poorly paid/unpaid labour, trafficking and sex work, or indeed, begging. The government has to create alternative, well-paying and dignified employment, to remove socio-economic marginalisation and poverty altogether.
- Focusing on the welfare aspect of exploitative practices also sheds light on structural forms of impoverishment.
- In Suhail Rashid Bhat v. State of Jammu & Kashmir and Others (2019) case: The court held that begging is evidence of the failure of the Government as well as the society at large to protect its citizens from the debilitating effects of extreme poverty. The court also held that it is a failure to ensure the right to life ensured under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
Terms to know:
Steps to sustain the big success that our DBT Mission has been
Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Relevance: This article explains DBT Mission’s achievement, challenges and solutions.
It is not much discussed, but the success of the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) Mission is indisputable.
Over the last 18 months, while, there have been very few silver linings in government actions. One of them has been a demonstration of the effect of the JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana-Aadhaar-Mobile phone) trinity in keeping millions of Indians away from starvation. The success of the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) Mission is indisputable.
How DBT Mission improved the government’s welfare transfers?
- Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi admitted that the ordinary citizen received only 15 paise of every rupee that the government tried transferring to him/her. This situation is changed drastically after the intervention of DBT.
- Increased government welfare transfers: Between the benefits transferred in cash and kind, government welfare transfers amounted to ₹5.52 trillion in 2020-21, compared with a mere ₹7,367 crores in 2013-14.
Challenges faced by the DBT Mission:
- The DBT process has many layers of authorities involved, but the point of contact with the beneficiary for cash withdrawal is the most critical. However, surveys reveal that a quarter of these agents are operating with losses. But agent viability and service quality are central to financial inclusion.
- The issue of agent viability and service quality is not a direct responsibility of the DBT Mission. It falls under the department of financial services in the ministry of finance.
- A long-standing issue has been the inadequate compensation paid by the government to the banking channel for DBTs.
- Different payment mechanisms are currently in use between the Union and state governments. Whereas the Union government uses the NPCI channel, states use NEFT and RTGS. This makes it difficult for banks to receive DBT commissions.
Suggestions to improve the DBT Mission:
- The government has to differentiate commission charges for agents specific to the location. They should be higher for rural areas where economic activity is low.
- The government can enrol and permit more women as banking business correspondents. This will also help in women empowerment in rural areas.
- The governments (central and state) has to keep the eligibility criteria and enrolment process simple for benefits schemes. For instance, the enrolment of beneficiaries through the UMANG app based on eligibility parameters can also be done through banking correspondents and not limited only to common services centres, as is the case currently.
- Many of the operational challenges that DBT faces can be mitigated by putting an effective customer grievance redressal mechanism in place.
India has begun spectacularly with the DBT Mission. But the DBT Mission is not a project with a well-defined beginning and endpoint. It’s a continuous one. So, the government has to institute the required processes and mechanisms, identify glitches and rectify them in time.
Terms to know:
The hacking of Indian democracy
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS2- Fundamental Rights
Relevance: Understanding various dimensions of the fall out of the Pegasus revelations.
Synopsis: International treaties, rules, and reports on the issue of right to privacy & the way forward in the Pegasus case.
The Pegasus revelations reflect an attack on Indian democracy and Indian citizens. National security is important, but it can have an impact on human rights and civil liberties. The use of surveillance has serious implications for privacy. But at first look the list of people targeted shows that national security is a pretext to suppress political and societal dissent, raising doubts about the functioning of democracy in India.
Undermining the rule of law
The government has a constitutional duty to protect the fundamental and human rights of its citizens, irrespective of who they are. Even if the government is not involved in the surveillance, it has miserably failed in discharging this duty. There is clear evidence that the rule of law has been undermined.
This also reflects extremely poor governance.
Relevant international treaties & reports
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 12 provides that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, also signed by India, in Article 17 states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
- The annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in 2014 made fundamental observations and recommendations on “digital communications technologies”. It said, these powerful technologies offer the promise of improved enjoyment of human rights, but they also have enhanced the capacity of Governments, enterprises and individuals to conduct surveillance, interception and data collection.
- On Judicial involvement: Judicial involvement that meets the international standards can be helpful. But, at the same time, judicial involvement in oversight should not be viewed as a panacea. It recommended an independent oversight body to keep checks.
- On providing of user data by companies: Report stated that when a state requires that an information and communications technology company provide user data, it can only supply it in respect of legitimate reasons.
- The General Assembly Resolution 68/167: The General Assembly adopted Resolution 68/167 affirming that rights held by people offline must also be protected online and called upon all states to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in digital communication.
An inquiry at the highest level under the supervision of the judiciary is the optimal way forward in the Pegasus aftermath. If this does not take place, India will cease to call itself a democracy.
Making a case for Indo-Abrahamic accord
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations (IR)
Relevance: Emergence of a new geo-political order in West Asia is providing an opportunity for India to increase its role in the region.
Synopsis: Turkish president’s excessive ambitions, alienation of Israel and moderate Arabs, growing conflict with Greece and alignment with Pakistan presents India with opportunity to widen outreach to west of the Subcontinent.
Emerging geo-political situation in West Asia
The reshaping of West Asia’s geo-political situation is marked by an alienation of Turkey and is driven by the following events:
Turkey and Pakistan’s cooperation
- Turkish president is making assertive claims for the leadership of the Islamic world. Also,
- Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to overthrow the current political order in the region, has deeply angered the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Thus, fighting the Brotherhood and balancing Turkey have become existential challenges for them.
- Hostility towards India: Efforts since the end of the Cold War at normalising relations between Delhi and Ankara have also broken down, thanks to Erdogan’s hostility towards India.
- Erdogan has been supporting Pakistan’s case on Kashmir after India changed the territorial status quo of the state in August 2019.
- At Pakistan’s behest, Erdogan is also blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Pakistan’s alignment with Turkey is growing resulting in its alienation from its traditionally strong supporters in the Arab Gulf — the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Greece and UAE closer now
The discovery of new hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, the renewed territorial disputes between Turkey and Greece, and the Turkish quest for regional dominance has drawn Greece and the UAE closer.
Increased coop b/w India & Greece
Greece is looking towards India to enhance bilateral security cooperation. India’s external affairs minister was in Athens at the end of June and the two sides have begun defence exchanges.
French counter to Turkey
Greece’s European partners like France, which have a big stake in the Mediterranean as well as the Arab Gulf, have taken an active interest in countering Turkey’s regional ambitions.
Amidst the reshaping of geo-political order in West Asia, India’s relations with the UAE and Israel have gained a political depth and strategic character under present Indian government. This trilateral relationship can be the launchpad for a wider regional coalition.
So, can this growing convergence of interest between India, UAE and Israel be formalized under an official coalition i.e. an Indo-Abrahamic accord?
Areas of cooperation
There are many areas like defence, aerospace and digital innovation where the three countries can pool their resources and coordinate development policies.
Coordination with Saudi Arabia will certainly remain a high priority for the three nations.
Meanwhile, others like Greece are eager for greater cooperation with the coalition.
Why Egypt’s support is critical?
For India to play a greater role in West Asia and to formalize the emerging trilateral partnership will require Egypt’s support. India’s engagement with West Asia in the 1950s was centered on a close partnership with Egypt.
- The Nasser & Nehru relationship: The legendary special relationship between Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdel Nasser was instrumental in promoting Afro-Asian unity and founding the Non-Aligned Movement. Nehru and Nasser visualised a strategic partnership and sought to build a joint fighter aircraft and develop a jet engine.
Present Indian government can rebuild the strategic partnership jointly with el-Sisi who is calling for the construction of a “New Republic” in Egypt.
The opportunities for India to the west of the Subcontinent are as significant as those that have recently emerged in the east. Much in the manner that the “Indo-Pacific” has transformed the way India thinks about the east, the notion of a “Greater Middle East” can provide a huge boost to India’s engagement with the extended neighborhood to the west.
Terms to know:
GS Paper 3
MSME liquidity line set to widen as more NBFCs start ‘factoring’
Source: Indian Express
Gs3: Issues related to Growth and development of MSME sector
Synopsis: Factoring law amendments have been cleared in both Houses of Parliament in the current session. This will enable nearly 9,000 NBFCs to participate in the factoring market instead of just seven now.
Read here: https://blog.forumias.com/how-the-factoring-business-can-help-small-companies/
Benefits to small businesses: new Points
It will significantly boost funding availability for MSMEs, lower interest costs, and improve cash management.
- The recent changes will enable the participation of nearly 9,000 NBFCs in the factoring market, compared to just 7 as of now. Improved participation by NBFCs in the factoring market will enhance liquidity for MSMEs and lower their interest costs.
- Now, all NBFCs are allowed to do factoring business, irrespective of the proportion of income from factoring. This, therefore, brings liquidity into the factoring business, which was deprived of it as only large banks and few NBFCs could participate in it previously.
- NBFCs’ lending to MSMEs is typically based on the balance sheet strength, leading to high lending interest rates. But in the case of funding against receivables (or factoring), the NBFC is taking a risk on the customer of the MSME who is larger corporate, leading to lower (nearly halving) interest costs, he said.
Terms to know:
Catching up on chip
Source: Business Standard
Gs3: issues related to ICT and Electronic Industry .
Synopsis: India needs to secure semiconductor chips to lead the race in the emerging ICT technologies
- The global semiconductor industry has become the arena for the most bitter technology battle between the US and China.
- Taiwanese semiconductor players are caught squarely in the middle.
- As per few observers, China’s recent aggression to assert sovereignty over Taiwan is guided partially by its need to secure cutting-edge chip fabrication facilities.
- The ripples of this war are also being felt in Europe, Japan, and South Korea.
- The Indian government, unfortunately, has largely ignored what is going on, though it affects every country that hopes to be a strong manufacturing and digital innovation hub.
Significance of Semiconductor Chips
- Chips are at the heart of every product and device from automobiles to aircraft, and from motor cars to mobile phones. Its importance is only going to increase in the coming years.
- Securing access in advance to the latest and most powerful chips will determine the winner in the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, NFT mining, 5G, etc.,
Implications for India
- The consequences of the technological war between the US and China could lead to more chip shortages in the next few years.
- It could also drive up chip prices because manufacturing in the US, EU, or Japan is far more expensive than doing so in Taiwan or China.
- India has so far not managed to attract any player into setting up a new generation fab foundry in the country, though it has been trying. The main problem has been that fabs require enormous investments running into billions, stable electricity, and lots of water.
Thus, all the developments mentioned above would have a huge implication for India.
- One option for it is to invest in existing fab companies in the US and South Korea. Another could be long-term contracts with fab foundries outside of Taiwan.
- The US is offering billions in incentives to ensure that the latest generation chip fabrication facilities are set up within its borders. Like the US, India too can offer incentives to attract semiconductor fabrication industries.
Securing Chip industries is a necessity for India if it has ambitions of becoming a big global hub for manufacturing and technology innovation in the future.
Terms to know:
Banks withdraw funds from coal-fuelled projects in Asia
GS3: Infrastructure- Energy
Synopsis: Banks are cutting off funding for new coal-fuelled power plants in poorer Asian countries to hasten the shift toward cleaner energy sources.
Recent push for green financing:
Most key financiers, in Japan and South Korea as well as in China, have signaled disinterest towards overseas coal projects. For instance,
- China’s environment and commerce ministries advised some of the country’s biggest overseas lenders against investing in coal.
- China’s embassy in Bangladesh said that it would no longer consider projects with high pollution and high energy consumption.
- In Japan, JICA, has put no-coal pledges in their lending and bond-issuance policies. All of Japan’s biggest banks now have similar no-new-coal pledges.
- State-owned Korea’s Kepco, said that it would stop investing in new coal projects overseas and will either eliminate or convert to natural gas.
- UK asset manager, Legal & General Investment Management, sold its shares in ICBC and Kepco because it wasn’t satisfied with the companies’ approaches to coal.
Possible Implications of such move:
- First, the pullback could force poorer countries to curtail coal expansion plans and accelerate transitions to energy sources such as solar and wind.
- Second, it won’t affect most projects inside China and India. Both countries have big pools of domestic funding. China alone accounts for more than half of the roughly 480 gigawatts of coal-plant capacity in construction or planning stages worldwide, as per Global Energy Monitor.
- Third, China and India are building new coal-power capacity at a significantly slower pace than a few years ago. The countries’ investment in terms of gigawatt capacity was 80% less in 2020 than in 2015, according to International Energy Agency data.
- Fourth, the consumption of coal will still be around for a long time. The developing world has an enormous fleet of existing coal-burning facilities that will use coal for decades to come.
- Fifth, the price of solar and other renewable energies has plummeted, while the cost of financing coal projects has risen.
The world of 2021 is barely recognizable from five years ago when it comes to the degree and the intensity of finance campaigning and the results that are being got from it.
Climate crisis: Way forward for dairy giants in India
Source: Down To Earth
GS3: Food Processing and Related Industries in India
Synopsis: Activists and experts are advocating plant-based alternatives to dairy food.
Significance of Dairy sector:
- Harvesting animals for dairy and animal-based products in India is a major source of livelihood for 150 million dairy farmers.
- The products are a source of nutrition and food security for a significant population as well.
- The dairy sector accounts for 2 per cent of the national gross domestic product.
- Besides the holy significance of the cow in Hindu tradition guided by age-old traditional wisdom, turmeric milk, desi ghee and cow urine have been considered a panacea for several diseases.
- Milk, ghee, paneer and milk-based sweets and products have been an inseparable part of the Indian palate.
Need of plant-based alternative to dairy sector:
- First, harmful consequences of animal harvesting on climate. Agriculture contributes approximately 16 per cent of India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Methane from ruminant belching and animal waste contributes about 75 percent of the total GHG emissions.
- Second, India is increasingly becoming water-stressed due to exploding human and cattle population growth. A typical crossbred cow consumes about 1,100 liters/day. Multinational companies such as Nestle SA and Danone SA have also been accused of promoting the water-intensive dairy industry in Punjab and the neighboring states.
- Third, animal exploitation is the leading cause of zoonotic diseases. Evidence suggests that the adoption of plant-based diets and lifestyles, referred to as veganism, may result in a decrease in the threat of zoonotic diseases.
- Fourth, the appalling conditions in cattle rearing have been widely condemned.
- Such as artificial insemination, widespread use of growth hormones to boost milk production, injecting oxytocin into milch cattle, the slaughter of male calves, abandoning cattle that are sterile, and selling livestock to slaughterhouses and tanneries.
- First, with livelihoods of 150 million at stake, policymakers will need to identify alternative employment opportunities for the displaced masses. Large-scale social forestry could be an answer to address this, with positive consequences for the planet.
- Second, PETA implored Amul to introduce vegan alternatives due to ecological and health benefits of plant-based food, including milk.
- However, Amul recently launched an advertising campaign challenging PETA’s claims that plant-based alternatives are the way forward to create a sustainable food system.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notified that the word ‘milk’ cannot be used for plant-based dairy alternatives.
- Also, questions have been raised about lab-produced plant-based milk for human consumption.
- Amul and its supporters argue that PETA’s moves may be a ploy for multinational companies to promote synthetic milk and genetically modified seeds through a misinformation campaign.
Terms to know:
Climate emergency: Tipping points are already here, scientists warn
Source: Down to earth
Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment
The tipping points of a Climate Emergency are already visible on Earth. The countries should acknowledge them and take urgent action towards decarbonization of the global economy and restoration of nature.
- In 2019, more than 11,000 scientist signatories talked about the need for declaring a climate emergency. They emphasized that conservation endeavors have to be scaled up immensely to avoid unprecedented suffering due to the climate crisis.
- Now, as many as 18 of the 31 vital signs/variables that the researchers tracked have reached the new most dangerous levels, according to the paper published on July 28, 2021, in the journal Bioscience.
Factors pointing towards the onset of Climate Emergency:
- Ruminant world livestock numbers soared past 4 billion for the first time and exceeded the mass of all humans and wild animals combined. This rise in numbers means a rise in deforestation as forests are cut to make way for agricultural land and livestock ranches.
- Annual forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon reached a 12-year-high, with 1.11 million hectares destroyed between 2019 and 2020. Forest degradation due to fires, drought, logging, and fragmentation has transformed the region to act as a carbon source rather than a carbon sink.
- The global emissions-weighted average price per tonne of carbon dioxide has remained too low ($15.49 as of 2020). This will need to increase several times to be highly effective in curbing fossil fuel use, according to the new study.
- An alarming rise in extreme weather events is being witnessed every year, the authors noted.
- The year 2019 was categorized by the World Meteorological Organization as the conclusion of a decade of exceptional global heat and high-impact weather.
- From tropical cyclones to floods, heavy rainfall, and droughts — 2020 saw it all. The most dramatic was the record-breaking Atlantic Hurricane Season that concluded on November 30.
- In India, the annual mean land surface air temperature was above normal in 2020, This made 2020 the eighth-warmest year on record since 1901.
- Fossil fuel energy usage has decreased since 2019, along with carbon dioxide emissions, likely because of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the projected estimates in 2021 show all of these variables rising again.
- Even though solar and wind power consumption increased by 57 percent between 2018 and 2021, this is 19 times lower than fossil fuel consumption, the report showed.
What should be done?
- Countries should acknowledge the evidence of approaching a Climate Emergency.
- A greater focus should be placed on six areas:
- Fossil fuel elimination and shift to renewables
- Slashing black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons
- Restoring biodiversity
- Switching to plant-based diets, reducing food waste, and improving cropping practices
- Switching to ecological economics and a circular economy
- Lowering fertility rates
Terms to know:
What India’s labour force survey actually says about employment
Sources: Livemint, The Indian Express and The Hindu
Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Relevance: This article explains the recent PLFS survey and associated issues
The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) has indirectly revealed deeply entrenched problems related to the quality of jobs being generated in the country
The third annual round of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data was conducted during July 2019-June 2020 and the Quarterly Bulletin [July 2020 – September 2020] was released recently.
The PLFS captures key indicators of the labour market such as the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR), Worker-Population Ratio (WPR), and Unemployment Rate (UR).
|Read more: Periodic Labour Force Survey and Unemployment in India- Explained, pointwise|
Key findings of the Quarterly Bulletin of PLFS:
|Key indicators||As per the recent Quarterly Bulletin [July 2020 – September 2020]||Corresponding period a year ago|
|Unemployment rate||13.3 percent||8.4 percent|
|Labour Force Participation Rate||37 percent||36.8 percent|
|Female unemployment rate||15.8 percent||9.7 percent|
|Workforce Participation Rate||32.1 percent||28.4 percent|
About the significance of the recent PLFS:
- The recent PLFS showed two surprising trends. One, India’s unemployment rate (UER) has declined over the survey period. Two, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) had increased.
- The results are surprising because they correspond to a period when India’s GDP growth rate is decelerated sharply.
Reason for high jobs during low economic activity:
- The PLFS categorises the workforce into self-employed, regular wage/salaried workers and casual labourers. Of all the worker categories, only the proportion of unpaid family workers has gone up significantly in the last three years.
- Almost the entire rise in the workforce was accommodated by agriculture. Agriculture continues to perform the function of a sink — absorbing the workforce that cannot find remunerative employment elsewhere.
- Eight states, including populous ones like Uttar Pradesh, have more than 70% of people reporting themselves as self-employed, following the current weekly status (CWS) approach.
- Increase in women participation: The story of the declining unemployment rate can largely be explained by a movement of women from domestic work to agriculture and other petty production activities as unpaid family helpers.
- Increase in the Service sector: The proportion of the urban workforce dependent on services has gone up from 69.3% to 71.8% over 2017-18 to 2019-20. This is due to a high increase in low-paid service sector jobs.
- The data also suggests an unsurprising correlation between employment and consumption.
|Read more: Causes of Unemployment and solutions|
Challenges exposed by the PLFS
- The data also suggests an unsurprising correlation between employment and consumption. The employment among those consuming the least being the lowest. This suggests extreme inequity in employment, leading to consumption inequities.
- 60% of our population is not available to our labour force, and only 38.2% of our population is employed. This is in stark with data from China. In China, 66.8% of its labour force actively employed or seeking employment and 63.5% of its population employed in 2020.
The PLFS survey 2019-20 has revealed deeply entrenched issues pertaining to the quality of employment being generated in India.
There is no official data on poverty after 2011-12 or on-farm income after 2013, and no recent data on migrant workers. So, Minor tweaks in future PLFS surveys can fill such data gaps.
Terms to know:
Three strategic ways to grant supply chains resilience
Syllabus: GS3 – Economy
Relevance: Building supply chain resilience
Synopsis: Companies need to ensure resilience of their input supply chains to protect themselves from any turbulence during global shocks like COVID and natural calamities hitting the clusters of input suppliers.
Automobile and electronics makers worldwide have had to reduce output because a severe drought in Taiwan hit the island’s production of semiconductors. This and other global supply-chain disruptions, many of them caused by the covid pandemic, have prompted advanced economies to take steps to mitigate the potential impact.
- The current global semiconductor shortage also illustrates how geographic clustering of input suppliers can cause supply-chain disruptions on a global scale.
Before moving forward, lets understand the meaning of the term – ‘supply chain’.
What is a supply chain?
The supply chain includes all the activities, people, organizations, information, and resources required to move a product from inception to the customer. For eg: This is how a supply chain in consumer goods space would look like –
- Raw materials -> Production -> Packaging -> Shipping -> Warehousing -> Delivery -> Retailing.
Each stage of a supply chain is essentially a different industry, for example, raw material extraction and manufacturing.
Hence, supply chain is an entire system of producing and delivering a product or service, from the very beginning stage of sourcing the raw materials to the final delivery of the product or service to end-users.
Impact of supply-chain bottlenecks
Supply-chain bottlenecks can have a significant economic effect. For eg:
- Germany: Germany, for example, imports 8% of its intermediate products from low-wage countries. Problems with input deliveries recently led Germany’s Ifo Institute to lower its forecast for German gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year by almost half a percentage point to 3.3%.
- USA: The US relies on low-wage countries for 4.6% of its inputs. In June, a task force presented its assessment of America’s supply-chain vulnerabilities across four key products: semiconductors and advanced packaging, large batteries of the sort used in electric vehicles (EVs), critical minerals and materials, and pharmaceuticals.
The question is – Do firms really need state help to protect themselves from supply-chain troubles?
Ways to strengthen supply-chain resilience
There are three ways advanced-economy firms can make their input supplies more resilient, and only one of them requires government involvement.
1]. Re-shoring production from developing countries: One option is to re-shore production from developing countries. COVID-crisis, by increasing the relative costs of supply chains, has accelerated a re-shoring trend that began with the 2008-09 global financial crisis. Supply chains have become more expensive. The price of containers used to ship goods from Asia to the West have risen eightfold.
- Re-shoring means to transfer a business operation that was moved overseas back to the country from which it was originally relocated.
2]. Creation of large inventories: A second way for firms to insure against supply-chain shocks is to create large inventories.
3]. Diversification of input sources: Companies can dual-source or even triple-source inputs, relying on suppliers from different continents to counter the risk. But this diversification strategy has its limits. For example, a highly specialized supplier that invests in research and development for a specific input is not easily replaceable.
- Heavy regional concentrations of suppliers also make diversification difficult. Most producers of chips, battery cells, rare earth materials and pharma ingredients are based in Asia.
Governments can play a useful role by helping provide firms with more potential alternative suppliers.
It can provide incentives to firms to move into sectors with high vulnerability to supply disruptions.
Doing this the governments in the EU and US can ensure that a sufficient number of suppliers are available in both Europe and North America to hedge against the risk of disruption.
The world has recently experienced a cascade of supply-chain disruptions, and will likely suffer from more global pandemics and extreme weather in the future.
Business leaders and policymakers must think about how to minimize the effects of such shocks on production networks and the global economy and when government should step in.
|Also Read: What is supply chain resilience?|
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Preventive detention only to forestall public disorder: SC
Source: The Hindu
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has ruled that the provision for preventive detention cannot be invoked over apprehension of law and order problems. Furthermore, it said a person can be detained only in cases where public order is directly affected.
What was the case?
- The judgment came on an appeal filed by the wife of a man placed under preventive detention under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, shortly after he was granted bail in a cheating case.
- The man was alleged to have cheated people by claiming he is a High Court advocate and convinced them to invest money, promising good returns from the stock market.
- Hence, the detention order stated that he was engaged in a white-collar offense and his free movement would hinder public order.
What did the Supreme Court say?
- The detention of an individual under preventive detention law should be based on apprehensions that the concerned person is a threat to “public order” affecting the community at large. Mere ‘law and order’ problems such as indulging in cheating or criminal breach of trust would not be sufficient.
- The state should not arbitrarily use preventive detention to deal with all “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by ordinary law.
- In all such cases, the court must ask one question in deciding its legality, i.e. was the ordinary law of the land sufficient to deal with the situation? If the answer is in the affirmative, the detention order will be illegal.
- Moreover, preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law). It must be read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question.
Hence, the court canceled the preventive detention order and said that the State should have contested the bail order in a higher court rather than slapping an executive order of preventive detention on him on the ground that, if set free, he would cheat more people.
Terms to know:
Ozone levels exceeding permitted levels: study
Source: The Hindu
What is the News?
A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study has found that ozone levels are exceeding the permitted levels even during winter in Delhi-NCR. It is making the smog more “toxic”.
Key Findings of the Study:
- Ozone is becoming more widespread in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) across all seasons. It is contrary to the notion that ozone is a summer phenomenon and is produced photochemically from the interaction between gases in the presence of sunlight.
- Increasing Ozone Standards: The number of days not meeting the ozone standards has begun to increase. The city-wide average largely remains within the standard. But the ‘good’ category days have fallen to 115 days in 2020 which is 24 days less than in 2019 in Delhi.
- Pandemic effect: Despite the pandemic and lockdowns, more days and locations witnessed a higher and longer duration of ozone spells.
- Night-time ozone is higher during the pandemic lockdown and night curfews: Ozone generally disintegrates after sunset. It is because, in the absence of sunlight, NOx further reacts with ozone to neutralize it. But elevated ozone levels have been noticed during nighttime.
- Ozone is a gas composed of three atoms of oxygen. Ozone occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. It can be good or bad, depending on where it is found.
- The stratospheric ozone also called Good Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere. There, it forms a protective layer that shields us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
- On the other hand, Ozone at ground level is a harmful air pollutant, because of its effects on people and the environment, and it is the main ingredient in “smog”.
New frog species discovered in Western Ghats, named after former DU vice-chancellor
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
A team of Delhi University researchers has discovered a new frog species in the Western Ghats and has named it “Minervarya Pentali”.
About Minervarya Pentali:
- Minervarya Pentali is a new frog species from the genus Minervarya. It is also among the smallest known Minervarya frogs.
- The species was discovered from the Western Ghats. The species is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.
- The species has been named after former DU Vice-Chancellor and plant geneticist Deepak Pental.
- Minervarya is a genus of frogs in the family Dicroglossidae. The identity and taxonomic status of all known members of this genus are from Peninsular India.
Parakram Diwas to commemorate 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
What is the News?
The government has declared 23rd January as Parakram Diwas to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
- The government has also instituted Subhash Chandra Bose Aapda Prabandhan Puraskaar to recognise the excellent work done by the individuals and institutions in the field of disaster management.
About Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose:
- Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897, in Cuttack, Orissa. He was affectionately called Netaji.
- In England, he appeared for the Indian Civil Service competitive examination in 1920 and came out fourth in the order of merit.
- However, Bose was deeply disturbed by the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre and left his Civil Services’ apprenticeship midway to return to India in 1921.
Contribution to Indian Freedom Movement:
- After returning to India, Netaji joined the Indian National Congress. He started working under Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das whom he later acknowledged as his political guru.
- Netaji along with Jawaharlal Nehru opposed the Motilal Nehru Report, which spoke for dominion status for India. They asserted that they would be satisfied with nothing short of complete independence for India.
- In 1938, Subhas Chandra Bose was elected President of the Haripura Congress Session.
- In 1939 at the Tripuri Session, Netaji again won the presidential elections against Gandhi’s candidate Pattabhi Sitaramayya. But due to ideological differences with Gandhi, Bose resigned and left congress.
- He then founded a new party named ‘the Forward Bloc’. The purpose was to consolidate the political left and major support base in his home state, Bengal.
Indian National Army:
- In 1941, Bose reached Germany via Afghanistan. On the maxim that “an enemy’s enemy is a friend”, he sought the cooperation of Germany and Japan against the British Empire.
- In 1943, he arrived in Singapore. Here he took over the reins of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia from Rash Behari Bose and organized the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) composed mainly of Indian prisoners of war.
- Azad Hind Fauj then proceeded towards India to liberate it from British rule.
- However, the defeat of Japan and Germany in the Second World War forced INA to retreat, and it could not achieve its objective.
Tribal Affairs Minister inaugurates ‘Virtual Training of Trainers Programme on Forest Rights Act, 2006’
What is the News?
The Minister of Tribal Affairs has inaugurated a ‘Three day National level Virtual Training of Trainers Programme on Forest Rights Act, 2006,’ as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav/Parv.
About National level Virtual Training of Trainers Programme
This Programme on Forest Rights Act will help in enhancing the knowledge base of the Forest Rights Act and ensuring the development of the tribal community.
The themes designed in the program will help in understanding Community Rights, Community Forest Resources, empowering the right holders for forest governance.
About Forest Rights Act, 2006:
- The Forest Rights Act is also known as Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
- The act recognizes the rights of the Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes(FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(OTFD), on the forest resources.
Objectives of the Act:
- To undo the historical injustice that occurred to the forest-dwelling communities
- To ensure land tenure, livelihood, and food security of the forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers
- To strengthen the conservation regime of the forests by including the responsibilities and authority of Forest Rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity, and maintenance of ecological balance.
Rights: The Act identifies four types of rights:
- Title rights: It gives Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes(FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers(OTFD) the right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
- Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family, and no new lands will be granted.
- Use rights: Right of extracting Minor Forest Produce, grazing areas among others.
- Relief and development rights: To rehabilitate in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
- Forest management rights: It includes the right to protect forests and wildlife.
Revaluation of Minority Commission
About National Commission of Minorities(NCM):
- National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is a statutory body set up in 1993 under the National Commission for Minorities(NCM) Act, 1992.
- Section 2 of the NCM Act stipulates that ‘Minority’ for the purposes of the Act means a community notified as such by the Central Government.
- Initially, five religious communities namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians(Parsis) were notified as minority communities. In 2014, Jains were also notified as another minority community.
- The Commission consists of: Chairperson, Vice- Chairperson, and five Members.
- Hence, a total of 7 persons are to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability, and integrity.
- Each Member holds office for a period of three years from the date of assumption of office.
Functions of NCM:
- evaluate the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States;
- monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
- make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments;
- look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities
- recommend measures for the removal of problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities;
- conduct studies, research, and analysis on the issues relating to the socio-economic and educational development of minorities;
- suggest appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments;
- make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to minorities and in particular difficulties confronted by them; and
- any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.