9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 3rd, 2022

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

A translation revolution for an inclusive, prosperous India

Source: The post is based on an article “A translation revolution for an inclusive, prosperous India” published in the Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 Indian Art and Culture

Relevance: The National Language Translation Missions

News: Recently, the Artificial Intelligence for Bharat (AI4Bharat) Centre at IIT Madras was established with support from Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, and Microsoft.  It aims to bring Indian languages, to parity with respect to English in AI technologies, with open-source contributions in datasets, models, and apps.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has launched the National Language Translation Mission. Under the mission, the government launched Bhashini platform, which is a language translation ecosystem based on the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The platform would align central ministries, state governments, big tech companies, start-ups, publishers, universities, NGOs, and citizens.

Some developments related to the translation revolution in India

Around 100+ models of language translation have been uploaded into Bhashini’s Universal Language Contribution API(ULCA), and the Bhasha Daan (Creating datasets by crowdsourcing).

Some models created include IndicBERT (a language model in 12 languages), IndicTrans (translation model used by India’s Supreme Court), IndicXlit (transliteration model in 20 languages), IndicWav2Vec (speech-recognition model), and IndicBART (language generation model).

What is the significance of the translation revolution in India?

India is rich in linguistic diversity. For Example, there are 22 official languages, newspapers in 35 languages, and 1,200 languages spoken in India. This diversity is a treasure chest of Indian knowledge which remains locked so far.

The Indian national movement’s operating units were organized around language rather than British administration units like Madras Presidency, United Provinces, Bombay Presidency, etc. These units contributed to Indian Independence.

The translation revolution will expand the global knowledge base, unlock Indian treasures for every Indian, and raise the share of the internet in Indian languages.

It would provide a better and more effective communication medium for Indian society. For example, it would enable a webinar being held in the Hindi language that could be heard live by a participant in Tamil.  Further, a book published in the English language could simultaneously be available in 22 Indian languages.

What are the challenges of the translation revolution?

As per Vladimir Nabokov’s 1941 essay, there are three sources of evil in translation — ignorance, laziness, and prejudice.

There are limitations of translation by software based on uniquely human skills and emotions.

What should be done?

(1) It should be ensured that the translation technology should assist the translators, not replace them.

(2) It should be understood that languages are not a collection of words but living, breathing organisms holding the connections of a culture. For example, Himachal Pradesh’s 16 languages have 200 words for snow.

(3) While focusing on language translation between Indian languages, the government should not forget English as a link language, scale tool, and software vehicle. The reasons for the inclusion of English are:

(a) In 1919, Gandhiji wrote an article in Young India suggesting that real education was impossible through a foreign medium.

(b) B R Ambedkar supported the adoption of English in the Constituent Assembly debates because it was equidistant from all communities and would blunt traditional advantages.

(c) English is a vocational skill that creates labor mobility, wage premiums and resumes signaling.

(d) The translation to English can raise the viability of regional publishers, regional language writers, and regional language translators. For example, Geetanjali Shree has won the Booker Prize for her English translation of the Hindi novel, Ret Samadhi

GS Paper 2


Making sense of the ‘freebies’ issue

Source: The post is based on the article “Making sense of the ‘freebies’ issue” published in The Hindu on 3rd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: India’s subsidy burden.

News: Recently, Prime Minister warned youth not to get carried away by the ‘revari culture’, where votes are sought by promising ‘freebies’.

In another instance, while hearing a PIL, the Chief Justice of India remarked that ‘freebies’ were a serious issue and asked the Central government to take a stand on the need to control the announcement of ‘freebies’ by political parties during election campaigns.

The Court also suggested that the Finance Commission could be involved to look into the matter and propose solutions.

What are freebies?

In general, Freebies are a waste of resources and place a burden on already stressed fiscal resources. For instance, free distribution of goods such as televisions and gold chains. Ironically the definition also includes free or subsidised rations under the Public Distribution System (PDS), cooked meals under the mid-day meal scheme, Work payments under MGNREGA also come under freebies.

Read here: PM’s ‘revdi’ remark: We need to disentangle good subsidies from bad
Foodgrain distribution

Pre-Pandemic: In the mid-2000s, state governments started expanding coverage and reducing the prices of PDS products. Lower prices in the PDS became electoral issues in the southern States.  This ultimately led to the National Food Security Act being passed by Parliament unanimously in 2013. The NFSA expanded the coverage of the PDS to about two-thirds of the population.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been studies which showed the poverty-reducing effect of the PDS. Subsidised foodgrains distributed under the PDS not only contribute to ensuring basic food security but also act as an implicit income transfer allowing the poor to afford commodities that they otherwise could not.

The products under PDS are procured at minimum support prices (MSPs) from farmers. It is one of the main instruments of support to farmers.

During Pandemic: The Prime Minister has repeatedly campaigned about the Government implementing the ‘world’s largest food security programme’ by distributing free foodgrain, through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to around 80 crore ration cardholders.

The scheme kept many away from the brink of starvation during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: From freebies to welfare
What is the performance of other schemes?

MGNREGA has been another scheme which has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic and earlier. At a time when there are few employment opportunities, working under MGNREGA can guarantee some assured wages.

Similarly, mid-day meals in schools have been proven to contribute to increased enrolment and retention in schools and addressing classroom hunger.

Schemes such as old age, single women and disabled pensions, community kitchens in urban areas, free uniforms and textbooks for children in government schools, and free health-care services play a critical role in providing social security and access to basic entitlements.

Why these should not be considered freebies?

Calling the above schemes ‘freebies’ will make a view that the poor are unproductive and dependent on charity. Hence, it is important to recognise that most welfare schemes contribute to improving human development outcomes, which also results in higher economic growth in future.

How rich is getting freebies?

Around ₹1 lakh crore is the revenue forgone annually as a result of ‘major tax incentives for corporate tax payers’. Corporate tax rates have been reducing and Budget documents show that in 2019-20, the effective tax rate (tax-to-profit ratio) declined as profits increased.

The freebies that the rich get all the time through low tax rates and exemptions are considered ‘incentives’ instead of freebies. Hence, the government need to view both rich and poor alike in democratic India.


Efficacy of RTI Act is threatened by opacity, opposition from bureaucracy and lawmakers

Source: This post is created based on the article “Efficacy of RTI Act is threatened by opacity, opposition from bureaucracy and lawmakers” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Governance – Transparency – RTI

News: The Right to Information Act (RTI) is set to complete 17 years in the upcoming months. Sarthak Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) 2021 report’s findings highlight the issues associated with the Act.

SNS 2021 report states that Information Commissions are acting as a major bottleneck in the effective implementation of the RTI Law.

What are the associated issues with Information Commissions?

  1. Huge vacancies
  2. Poor choice of commissioners,
  3. Untrained staff and a non-cooperative set of public information officers (PIOs)
  4. Increasing opacity in the working of the commissions.
  5. In many cases, PIOs have been found non-compliant with the orders of even commissioners. For example, in Madhya Pradesh, an arrest warrant was issued against one PIO after the violations of 38 summons for appearing in a hearing and non-compliance with the commissioner’s orders.
  6. Any serious RTI query or query, which involves more than one department, requires the intervention of high officials. However, it is found that even in such cases, junior rank PIOs attend the hearing and face the consequences of any issues in that case.
  7. Many commissioners have been seen openly expressing their political inclinations. It creates a sense of bias among the petitioners.
  8. RTI Act clearly states that the final appeal lies with the information commissions. However, appeal against the commission’s orders are masked as writ petitions. Supreme Court, in the case, DDA vs Skipper Construction (P) Ltd highlighted this issue. SC stated

“High Courts must resist the temptation to exercise their writ jurisdiction in order to correct errors made by the SICs/CICs. If the High Court quashes a CIC/SIC order, it must categorically find that the order was without jurisdiction or palpably erroneous.”

What are the issues arising due to the inefficiency of Information Commissions?

A huge backlog of second appeals. As on June 30, 2021, 2.56 lakh appeals were pending with 26 information commissions in the country.

Lengthy wait time for hearings.

Hesitancy in posting penalties for non-compliance.

Inexperience and unprofessionalism of PIOs is life-threatening to the whistle-blowers. In India, 99 RTI activists have lost their lives, 180 assaulted and 187 were threatened since 2006, as per the reports of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

What should be done?

First, a code of conduct must be evolved for the central and state information commissioners to keep them away from any political influence.

Second, raising awareness for RTI among the people.

Third, a strong political system is a must for the RTI regime to flourish.


Costs of delayed justice

Source: The post is based on an article “Costs of delayed justice” published in the Business Standard on 2nd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2, Functioning of the Indian Judiciary

Relevance: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Indian Judiciary

News: Recently, The Prime Minister of India spoke at the first all-India legal district services authorities meeting in Delhi.

PM’s Remarks about the issues in the Indian Judicial System

He referred to the poor state of affairs of the under-trial prisoners languishing in Indian jails.

He referred to the inhuman conditions of overcrowded Indian jails, an issue which was also raised by indebted businessman Vijay Mallya in a British court.

Other issues

Although, the Supreme Court had mandated the release of under-trial prisoners who had been incarcerated for 10 years without being convicted. But, most of the states have not made any significant progress in this direction.

There is a severe shortage of judges in Indian courts. The vacancies range between 20 and 40% at the high court and subordinate court levels. This happens due to the slow pace of judicial appointments at all levels.

The shortage of judges has led to delayed justice for millions of Indians. For example, about 47mn cases are pending across different levels of the system.

As per the PRS Legislative, if no new cases were filed, at the current disposal rate it would take high courts and subordinate courts three years each to dispose of the cases.

In addition, the legal aid provided by the state is of poor quality. It has distorted Indians’ access to justice. For example, most prefer to hire private lawyers to fight cases.

As per a 2016 study, the litigants attending the lower courts incur the loss of over Rs 1,300 per day in their wages and businesses.

India’s low ranking on the World Bank’s Global Ease of Doing Business survey, refers to the failure of the Indian judicial system to enforce contracts.

The Way Forward

The Prime Minister has said that justice delivery is as critical as access to justice.

The PM argued for “ease of justice” alongside ease of doing business and ease of living.

GS Paper 3


Recalling India’s Antarctica activities

Source: The post is based on the article “Recalling India’s Antarctica activities” published in The Hindu on 3rd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Relevance: India’s Antarctic policy

News: Parliament has recently passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022.

What are the salient provisions of the Antarctic Bill, 2022?
Read here: The Indian Antarctic Bill and its various provisions
How did India shape the Antarctic treaty?

In February 1956, Jawaharlal Nehru and V.K. Krishna Menon began India’s Antarctic policy. India became the first country in the world to request for an item on the agenda of the eleventh United Nations General Assembly entitled “The Question of Antarctica.” The agenda aims to ensure that the vast areas and its resources were used entirely for peaceful purposes and for the general welfare.

After the Nehru-Menon initiative, twelve countries who believed that they had a direct stake in Antarctica started discussions among themselves and on December 1, 1959, the Antarctica Treaty was signed in Washington DC. Many countries such as the USSR and India were neither involved nor invited.

Subsequently, Antarctica faded from the Indian geopolitical gaze.

Read more: Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s
How did India get membership in the Antarctic treaty?

Later, Indira Gandhi appointed noted marine biologist Syed Zahoor Qasim as secretary of the newly-created Department of Environment in April 1981. Later a separate Department of Ocean Development was also created.

First Antarctic expedition: On January 9, 1982, India claimed that India’s first Antarctic expedition(Operation Gangotri) has reached its destination. No other Asian country, including China, had a presence there.

A well-known British science magazine New Scientist reported India’s expedition under the headline ‘Indians quietly invade Antarctica’. India’s expedition was due to a) Antarctica’s mineral wealth, b) To gain greater knowledge of the Indian Ocean and the monsoons, c) To research about life in ice-bound regions and marine biodiversity.

Second Antarctic expedition: A second expedition led by one of India’s top geologists V.K. Raina landed in Antarctica on December 10, 1982.

With two expeditions successfully completed within a span of 11 months, India finally became a member of the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and China followed in 1985. Today the Treaty has 46 members and has a Convention on Marine Living Resources and a Protocol on Environmental Protection as well.

Read more: Need and significance of The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022
About India’s later Antarctic missions

a) In 1984, India’s first Antarctic team started wintering there and a few months afterwards unmanned Antarctic research base Dakshin Gangotri was established.

b) Since then, India has set up two manned research stations in Antarctica — Maitri in 1988 and Bharati in 2012. Forty expeditions to the continent have taken place.

c) The Antarctic Bill provides a detailed legal framework for India’s Antarctic activities that are consistent with its international treaty obligations.

What should be done to increase India’s Antarctic activities?

1) India has been chartering polar research ships from countries like Russia and Norway while China has two of its own. A decision was taken in 2014 for India to have its own research ship with ice-breaking and other advanced technological capabilities but it remains unimplemented. Hence, the issue of a polar research vessel needs to be addressed immediately.

2) India should revamp the old Maitri research station.


Digital India is well positioned to make the most of globalization

Source: The post is based on the article “Digital India is well positioned to make the most of globalization” published in the Live Mint on 3rd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment; Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

News: According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, internet traffic/ information flows in 2022 will exceed all the internet traffic up to 2016, in this globalized world.

About the Globalization

Jeffrey D. Sachs, in his book The Ages of Globalization, presents seven distinct ages of globalization since pre-historical times. These were driven by the interplay of geography, technology, and institutions.

Economic progress and globalization have undergone three industrial revolutions, and Industrialization 4.0 is currently underway.

(1) First Industrial Revolution: It started in the 19th century with the use of steam and coal which resulted in mechanization, which contributed to lowering the cost of transport across the world.

(2) Second IR: This time the use of electricity and railroads started. It complemented the mass production. Thus, trade and commerce expanded manifold.

(3) Third phase: It was marked by the advent of computers and the emergence of low-cost manufacturing and global supply chains.

(4) Fourth revolution: The present age of globalization, known as Digital Globalization, commenced in 2000. It is described as the Digital Age.

It rides on digital technology, which is set to disrupt almost every industry in every country. Digital economies, in turn, run on the new fuel known as data. Data is a new resource or new oil of the 21st century.

How digitization is changing the economics of globalization?

The digital platforms are driving down the cost of cross-border communications and transactions.

It enabled small businesses and entrepreneurs like MSMEs, around the world, to participate in global trade through Global Value Chains (GVCs).

Issues and Challenges in the digital globalization

This age of digital globalization is characterized by large imbalances, digital divides between haves and have-nots, and other development challenges.

(1) There are technical and infrastructural challenges that prevent developing countries from using the digital economy as a potential growth engine.

(2) More than 20% of the population in the developing world does not have access to a mobile broadband network. Further, the internet speeds are about 8 times lower in these developing countries.

(3) According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Digital Economy Report, 2021, there is a huge digital divide in terms of digital readiness between various countries. For example, the US and China are front-runners in harnessing data. They have 50% of the world’s hyper-scale data centers, the world’s highest rates of 5G adoption, 70% of the world’s top artificial intelligence (AI) researchers, and 94% of all funding for AI start-ups.

(4) Both the US and China make up about 90% of the market capitalization of the world’s largest digital platforms. Further, these platforms increasingly control all stages of global data value chains.

(5) Most developing countries will find it difficult to transform their economies through digitization. These countries risk being left on the periphery of an evolving globalization paradigm.

(6) There is a challenge in regulating data/information flows and setting up rules so that all participants prosper.

Measures Taken for Digital India to transform India into a digitally empowered economy:

(1) We have a stable and secure digital infrastructure provided by Aadhaar, CERT-In, etc;

(2) The government digitally delivers government services through the Agrimarket App, Bhim, Digital AIIMS, etc.; and

(3) The government has launched schemes for universal digital literacy, accessible digital resources, and collaborative digital platforms for participative governance to help narrow the digital divide in India.


Time for a global treaty on uber-deadly weapons

Source: The Post is based on an article “Time for a global treaty on uber-deadly weapons” published in the Live Mint on 2nd August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Internal and External Security

Relevance: The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022.

News: Recently, The Ministry of External Affairs introduced the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022. In a global context, this is a pre-emptive move in relation to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

Features in the bill

The bill bars the financing of WMDs and their delivery vehicles. Further, it empowers the government to freeze and seize the financial assets and resources of those engaged in this illicit activity.

The new provisions cover all holdings that are either owned or controlled, wholly or jointly, directly or indirectly by offenders, and also any other things which are held by others on their behalf.

The Centre can take action via any authority that it has assigned this task to execute the order.

What was the need for such a law for WMD in India?

There are enough nuclear bombs on the planet earth which are sufficient to kill all life on earth many times over. There may be an accidental launch of a nuclear missile tipped with a fissile warhead.

The risk of terrorists armed with nuclear, chemical, or biological devices or even aircraft filled with jet fuel has increased. For example, ‘the 9/11 Terror Attack ’was suffered by the US in 2001.

The US invaded Iraq based on its anxiety over the presence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Thus, the presence of WMDs, can lead to state conflicts.

During the Soviet-US Cold War, the mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine was an assurance of peace in the world. However, the role of the non-state actors who are mostly state-sponsored has increased

Other Measures Taken to tackle such threat

Global efforts to minimize terror threats include stopping money from being sneaked into the development of weapons that can kill at scale.

Recently, India has aligned its policy with the advice of the Financial Action Task Force. India has amended its 2005 ban on making WMDs to outlaw the funding of such activity as well.

What should be done?

To help secure the world, India should propose a global treaty that commits every state to ‘no first use’ of WMDs, in line with New Delhi’s no first use nuclear doctrine.

Further, All the countries holding WMD ensure that non-state actors mustn’t get access to nukes and other mass killers.

Our WMD law may seem unlikely to be invoked, given the scant evidence available of such further, India’s WMD law, should not be misapplied to the subjects. Here, judiciary can play a vital role


5G power for India and Bharat

Source: The post is based on an article “5G power for India and Bharat” published in the Business Standard on 2nd August 2022.

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

Relevance: Communication Networks; 5G etc.

News: Recently, the government carried out the 5G spectrum auction. Also, the Union Cabinet approved a mega revival package for state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL)

What are the arguments against the revival of the BSNL?

The PSU has been losing market share to the private sector and piling up losses over the years. Therefore, the 5G auction and BSNL revival package create a confusing picture in the telecom industry at present.

What are the arguments in favor of the revival of the BSNL?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data explains that India needs both BSNL and next-generation services, like 5G.

5G will enable the telecom industry to put India on the global map in multiple spheres, ranging from healthcare to education and consumer business. Whereas, BSNL will serve rural India despite the private sector making definite inroads into the hinterland.

Some reasons of evidence that support the demand for the revival of the BSNL in India are:

In wireline or fixed phone service

(1) At the all-India level, BSNL is the leading operator in wireline with 7.59 million subscribers, followed by Bharti Airtel.

(2) At the rural-India level, BSNL’s share in the total rural market share in wireline is 23.72%, followed by Reliance Jio’s rural market share in wireline at 1.24%.

In wireless or mobile services

(1) In India’s wireless market, BSNL still possesses 7.06% of India’s rural wireless market share.

Tele-density

It is the number of telephone connections for every 100 individuals living within the area. According to TRAI’s quarterly data, as of March 31, 2022, India’s rural teledensity is at 58.07% There are some 15 circles, where rural teledensity is more than 50%. For example, Kerala leads with a rural teledensity of 211.4%, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 104.48%, Andhra Pradesh at 78.56%, and so on.

What should be done?

These figures suggest that rural India holds the power in telecom. Therefore, it needs both BSNL and 5G. 5G is a tool whose time has come to empower citizens with ultra-high-speed data in both India and Bharat.

The 5G Technology may provide better communication facilities, downloading speed of light, etc.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Ministry of Culture organized “TirangaUtsav” to celebrate the contribution of Pingali Venkayya to the nation on the occasion of his 146th Birth Anniversary

Source: The post is based on the articleMinistry of Culture organized “TirangaUtsav” to celebrate the contribution of Pingali Venkayya to the nation on the occasion of his 146th Birth Anniversary published in PIB on 2nd August 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Culture organized “TirangaUtsav” to celebrate the contributions of Pingali Venkayya to the nation on the occasion of his 146th Birth Anniversary.

The commemorative Postal Stamp in the honor of Pingali Venkayya was also released during the event.

Who was Pingali Venkayya?

Pingali Venkayya was a freedom fighter, designer of India’s National Flag and a follower of Gandhian principles.

He was born on 2nd August 1876 into a Telugu Brahmin family in Bhatlapenumarru, Madras Presidency, British India (today’s Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh).

He was also known as Patti Venkayya because of his research into Cambodia Cotton. Patti means ‘cotton’, which was very important for Machilipatnam, a former port city that became famous for its Kalamkari handloom weaves.

Contribution to National Flag

Venkayya designed several models of national flag starting from the one designed in 1921 which was approved by Mahatma Gandhi at a Congress meeting in Vijayawada. 

This version consisted of two red and green bands; the two bands represented the two major religious communities — the Hindus and the Muslims. The flag also had a charkha which represented Swaraj. On the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, Venkayya added a white band which represented peace. 

In 1931, concerns were raised about the religious aspect of the flag. Keeping that in mind, a Flag Committee was set up. The committee replaced the red with saffron and changed the order of the colours with saffron on top followed by white and then green. The charkha was placed on the white band in the middle.

The colours now stood for qualities and not communities; the saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace and green for faith and strength. The charkha stood for the welfare of the masses.

Post-Independence, a national flag committee under President Rajendra Prasad replaced the charkha with the Ashok Chakra.


Flagging terror threat, India pledges support to Maldives

Source: The post is based on the article “Flagging terror threat, India pledges support to Maldives” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

Maldives President is on a visit to India. During his visit, both the countries reviewed bilateral ties and signed several agreements.

What are the key highlights from the Maldives President’s visit?

Counterterrorism: To counter the threat of transnational crime, terrorism and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean region, India will give 24 vehicles and one naval boat to the Maldives Security Force and help train the Maldives security personnel.

Greater Male Connectivity Project: Both countries welcomed the launch of the Greater Male Connectivity Project, a $500 million project funded by India. The project includes a 6.74 km bridge and the causeway linking the capital Male with the neighbouring islands. 

Agreements: Both countries signed six agreements to expand cooperation in a range of areas, including cybersecurity, capacity building, housing, disaster management and infrastructure development in the Maldives.


Aridity Anomaly Outlook(AAO) Index: Some 85% districts in India now face arid conditions

Source: The post is based on the article “Aridity Anomaly Outlook(AAO) Index: Some 85% districts in India now face arid conditions” published in Down To Earth on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) has released the Aridity Anomaly Outlook(AAO) Index. 

What is the Aridity Anomaly Outlook(AAO) Index?

Developed by: India Meteorological Department (IMD)

Purpose: The index monitors agricultural drought, a situation when rainfall and soil moisture are inadequate to support healthy crop growth till maturity, causing crop stress.

– An anomaly from the normal value signifies a water shortage in these districts that could directly impact agricultural activity.

The index is computed for weekly or two-week periods. For each period, the actual aridity for the period is compared to the normal aridity for that period.

– Negative values indicate a surplus of moisture while positive values indicate moisture stress.

Parameters used: Actual evapotranspiration and calculated potential evapotranspiration which requires temperature, wind and solar radiation values.

Note: Actual evapotranspiration is the quantity of water that is actually removed from a surface due to the processes of evaporation and transpiration.

— Potential evapotranspiration is the maximum attainable or achievable evapotranspiration for a given crop due to evaporation and transpiration.

Significance of this index: Impacts of drought on agriculture, especially in the tropics where defined wet and dry seasons are part of the climate regime.

Both winter and summer cropping seasons can also be assessed using this method.

What are the key findings of the index?

At least 85% of districts face arid conditions across India.

Some 196 districts are in the grip of a ‘severe’ degree of dryness and 65 of these are in Uttar Pradesh (highest).

Bihar had the second-highest number of districts (33) experiencing arid conditions. The state also has a high rainfall deficit of 45%.


Biodegradable biopolymer nanocomposite that detects relative humidity can monitor packed food freshness

Source: The post is based on the article Biodegradable biopolymer nanocomposite that detects relative humidity can monitor packed food freshnesspublished in PIB on 2nd August 2022.

What is the News?

Scientists have developed a biodegradable, biopolymer nanocomposite that can detect relative humidity and can find applications as smart packaging materials, especially for the food industry. 

Background

The food industry has an increasing need for non-toxic, biodegradable, low-cost and environmentally friendly materials for use as packaging materials to replace petroleum-based materials like plastics. 

Besides, it also needs smart and active packaging materials to detect and report food quality in a real-time fashion. Such smart and active packaging systems respond to signals while interacting with the food packaging environment.

Perishable packed foods are easily damaged by the change in relative humidity.

What has been developed by scientists?

Scientists have developed a smart biodegradable biopolymer nanocomposite which can detect relative humidity. 

In this, two biopolymers, Guar Gum (a variety of beans obtained from plants) and Alginate (obtained from brown algae) were blended with carbon dots (nanomaterial) to make a nanocomposite film that was successfully used to detect relative humidity. 

This fabricated nanocomposite film is an excellent smart sensor based on the fluorescence ‘on-off’ mechanisms against humidity. 

Hence, this development can find application as smart packaging materials, especially for the food industry. 


Explained: All about Hellfire R9X – the drone missile with razor-sharp blades used to kill al-Zawahiri

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: All about Hellfire R9X – the drone missile with razor-sharp blades used to kill al-Zawahiri” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

The US military used its ‘secret weapon’ — the Hellfire R9X missile – to kill Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

What is Hellfire R9X Missile?

Hellfire R9X missile is also known as AGM-114 R9X or Ninja Missile.

It is a US-origin missile known to cause minimum collateral damage while engaging individual targets.

The weapon does not carry a warhead and instead deploys razor-sharp blades at the terminal stage of its attack trajectory.

This helps it to break through even thick steel sheets and cut down the target using the kinetic energy of its propulsion without causing any damage to the persons in the general vicinity or to the structure of the building.

The blades pop out of the missile and cut down the intended target without causing the massive damage to the surroundings which would be the case with a missile carrying an explosive warhead.


Explained | The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022” published in The Hindu on 2nd August 2022.

What is the News?

To meet India’s commitment to exceeding its Paris Agreement climate targets, the Government of India plans to table the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

The Bill proposes to amend the Energy Conservation Act 2001 last amended in 2010.

What is the Energy Conservation Act 2001?

Energy Conservation Act, 2001 was enacted to provide for efficient use of energy and its conservation and for matters connected therewith.

Key Provisions of the Act

Norms for energy efficiency: The Act empowers the Centre to specify norms and standards of energy efficiency for appliances, industrial equipment and buildings with a connected load over 100 kiloWatts (kW) or a contractual demand of more than 15 kilovolt-amperes (kVA).

BEE: The Act established the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE). The 2010 amendment extended the tenure of the Director General of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency from three to five years. This Bureau can specify qualifications required for energy auditors who monitor and review the power consumption of various industries.

Energy Saving Certificates: The Centre can issue energy savings certificates to those industries which consume less than their maximum allotted energy. However, this certificate can be sold to customers who consume higher than their maximum allowed energy threshold – providing for a framework for energy trading.

The Act allows the Centre to prohibit the manufacture, sale, purchase or import of any particular equipment unless it conforms to specified norms issued six months/ one year before.

Penalty: In case of any violations under this Act, each offence shall attract a penalty of Rs ten lakh with an additional penalty of Rs 10,000 for each day the offence continues.

Appeals: Any appeals against any such order passed by the Central or state government will be heard by the appellate tribunal already established under the Electricity Act, 2003.

What are the proposed changes to the act?

The Ministry of Power has proposed the following changes to the act:

1. Defining the minimum share of renewable energy to be consumed by industrial units or any establishment. This consumption may be done directly from a renewable energy source or indirectly via the power grid.

2. Incentivising efforts to use clean energy by issuing carbon saving certificates.

3. Strengthening institutions set up originally under the Act, such as the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

4. Facilitating the promotion of green Hydrogen as an alternative to the fossil fuels used by industries.

5. Considering additional incentives like carbon credits for the use of clean energy to lure the private sector to climate action.

6. Including larger residential buildings under energy conservation standards to promote sustainable habitats. Currently, only large industries and their buildings come under the ambit of the Act.


Aid for Trade at a Glance 2022 report: India got highest aid for trade from developed countries in 2020

Source: The post is based on the article “India got highest aid for trade from developed countries in 2020” published in Business Standard on 2nd August 2022.

What is the News?

The World Trade Organization(WTO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) have released a report titled Aid for Trade at a Glance 2022 report.

What are the key findings of the report?
Aid for Trade at a Glance
Source: Business Standard

According to the report, India received the largest amount of funding from developed countries in 2020 under the WTO’s Aid for Trade programme. Bangladesh was the second-largest recipient of aid.

Why is this report being disputed?

Trade experts have disputed this report. They have said that funds disbursed to India under ‘aid for trade’ may not be an accurate depiction of what India has actually received (as aid). 

This is because India is a part of a few bilateral cooperation agendas but that does not translate into aid from developed nations. The report may have included such bilateral arrangements as aid.

What is the Aid for Trade programme?

Launched by: World Trade Organization(WTO) 

Aim: To help developing countries and particularly the least developed countries trade. 

The programme consists of official development support to build supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure to enable such countries to participate in international trade.

Note: Aid for Trade is included in Sustainable Development Goal 8 concerning “decent work and economic growth”, which is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. 


IAF to participate in multilateral exercise ‘Pitch Black’ in Australia

Source: The post is based on the article “IAF to participate in multilateral exercise ‘Pitch Black’ in Australia” published in Indian Express on 1st August 2022.

What is the News?

Indian Air Force(IAF) will be participating in Exercise Pitch Black.

What is Exercise Pitch Black?

Exercise Pitch Black is a biennial exercise hosted by the Australian Air Force.

Aim: To practice Offensive Counter Air(OCA) and Defensive Counter Air(DCA) combat in a simulated war environment.

Participating countries: The participating countries are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, U.K and U.S.

Other Exercises between India and Australia

AUSINDEX: It is a biennial bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy(RAN). The first edition of the exercise took place in 2015.


Mains Answer Writing

The Issue of Jobless Growth in India – Explained, pointwise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance

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

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

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

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‘Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep’

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

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Explained: Electricity Bill – promise, problems

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

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