9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 4th, 2021

Dear Friends,

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

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

  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Global food systems are not thinking about women. A UN report calls for action

Source: Down to earth 

Syllabus: GS -1 – women and associated issues

Synopsis: A recent ‘Action Track’ report of the United Nations has highlighted the vulnerability of women in obtaining equitable access to food. It calls for altering the unequal power structures for more inclusive decision-making in the society that would ensure better accessibility of food by women.


Apart from this UN report, various other reports and findings have highlighted the skewness of power structures in society that make women more vulnerable in comparison to their male counterparts. In this article, we will throw some light on such data, find the reasons behind such scenarios and provide a roadmap for improving the situation of women.

Evidence of inequitable access to Women:

  • Women farmers are disproportionately more affected by climate change and land degradation, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. They face high levels of obesity and are more susceptible to chronic disease.
  • Rural women were among the worst affected among the food insecure population of 821 million (as of 2017), according to an Oxfam report published in 2019.

Reasons behind inequitable access:

  • Patriarchal Mindset has made them subject to multiple kinds of discrimination. They have very little land rights, face difficulties in obtaining ownership, do not have access to credit, and are engaged in unpaid work.
    • This lack of agency reflects in their dietary patterns: They eat least, last, and least well. Women farmers who control resources generally have better-quality diets.
  • Migration is another factor that places a greater burden on women. The male spouse merely performs the economic activity in the new place, but females have to take care of domestic as well as a traditional livelihood (agriculture) in the village.
  • Epidemics also place a higher burden on women. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been gender-neutral:. More women have been at the receiving end of increased poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease prevalence as per a 2020 UN report.

Way Forward:

  • Robust Social Protection Systems like Dimitri Clubs and German dual training systems should be formulated in every country for women. They should help in upholding their livelihoods, build assets and create wealth for them.
    • Dimitra Clubs in the rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa have been drivers of women’s leadership for over a decade. 
      • These groups comprise women and men who shed light on the gender inequalities in households and communities.
      • They fight malnutrition by challenging dietary taboos, mobilize to meet environmental challenges, and establish a credit cooperative to avoid debt.
    • German dual training system is an institutional infrastructure that creates a path to jobs and better livelihoods. 
      • It integrates school-based learning with work-based practice. 
      • It provides theoretical training for aspiring farmers as well as short-term courses on specific skills.
  • The systems should adopt policies that eliminate barriers to access to fundamental services, ensuring, for example, the right to food, shelter, and health.
  • The UN stressed that inequitable systems and structures that enable and exacerbate inequalities in food systems, should be dismantled. Further,  governments, businesses, and organizations should be held accountable for ensuring equitable livelihoods.


Food, clothing, and shelter are basic rights that every individual requires for their survival. Recognizing this, prudent efforts should be made for ensuring equitable access of food to women as it would uphold their dignity and also help in achieving sustainable development goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 5 (Gender Equality) of the United Nations.

GS Paper 2

Why liberalism is withering on the vine

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS 2 – Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure


Liberal ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity cannot be optimised, except in small communities.


  • Liberalism is associated with mainly two popular theories. The first one is given by Adam Smith and focuses on economic liberalism. 
  • While the other one is drawn from the liberals of the French Revolution and focuses on social liberalism.

Assumption made by two theories:

  • The economic liberalism theory focuses on allowing an individual to work as per his/her self-interest. It calls for minimum state intervention in order to allow an individual to live his/her life as per own will. This freedom breeds liberalism.
  • The social liberalism theory focuses on inculcating the virtues of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. 
    • These ideals were built on the assumption that all institutions of the past (family, tribe, religion, caste, and the nationalistic state) were oppressive to the individual.
    • It called for maximising individual liberties in order to allow an individual to develop to its full potential.

Why did the two theories fail to attain liberalism?

  • The first theory failed to understand that Self-interest is certainly an important driver of growth, but without the restraints imposed by a recognition of the interests of the larger community, economic freedom will be in peril.
  • The two theories supported development of a big and powerful state, which is in direct contradiction with liberalism.
  • After the 2008 global financial crash, economists from both the Left and Right sides of the ideological spectrum were supporting more state intervention.
  • After this scenario, the only hope to save liberalism was to develop strong laws and institutions against the tyranny of the state. 
  • However, no law written by anyone and anywhere is devoid of influence from vested interests. This resulted in control of few over others and undermined liberalism.


  • Liberalism has been attained only in small or unusually monocultural societies like Japan, Israel, Denmark, South Korea etc. 
    • However, their continuing success depends on their being monocultural, which seems a bleak possibility considering the influx of immigrants into these societies.
  • Hence, between individual and state, there has to be a stronger role for the community for constraining rights with community-monitored responsibility. No true free society can be built solely on the basis of individual rights.
  • Raghuram Rajan in his book, The Third Pillar, says that without the third pillar of strong community bonds and capacity for action, one cannot help the poor neighbourhoods, riddled with crime and violence.
    • The powerful state can be restricted only if we empower communities to do part of the work of the state. And by community he doesn’t mean only those based on caste, religion, gender, tribe or linguistic affinity. 
    • Any group can constitute itself into a community, and work for its common and general interests, including providing for social security. 
    • In many European countries, voluntary church taxes can be deducted from the payroll with tax benefits. The Muslim zakat is another such idea of a voluntary tax.

Getting to Denmark requires the effective community size for autonomous self-regulation and social security to be small. Liberalism and universalism are not going to get us there because their stated goal is the destruction of inherited community identities.

Getting back in business in the Indo-Pacific

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations (IR)

Relevance: A visible shift in the USA’s Asian foreign policy towards the Indo-Pacific region will be very important for India.

Synopsis: Recent visits of the top US officials to various Asian nations indicate that the USA is trying to shift its foreign policy focus away from Afghanistan & Iraq to maritime Asia where COVID-19, climate change, and China are compelling challenges. An assessment of these visits and the key takeaways.


Visits to various Asian countries by three top US officials — Deputy Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State.

In East Asia and Oman

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman’s visit (July 19-27) covered Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and also China.

Underlying theme: Reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to working with allies and partners for the promotion of peace and prosperity and upholding a ‘rules-based order’, the code word critical of China’s behaviour.

Key points:

Southeast Asian dynamics

The visit by Secretary of Defense, Mr. Austin (July 23-30) covered three important ASEAN member-states — Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Underlying theme: Discussions reiterated the necessity for a U.S. military presence in the region.

Key points:

  • Mr. Austin aptly asserted, that Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law and sent out the key signal to Beijing stating that US won’t hesitate when its interests are threatened. Yet it doesn’t seek confrontation.
  • In a joint statement, Singapore and the U.S. agreed that America’s presence in the region is “vital for its peace, prosperity, and stability”.
  • Mr. Austin encouraged Vietnam to develop closer defence cooperation with the U.S.
  • The Philippines visit produced a notable result, as Manila agreed to full restoration of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which provides the legal foundation for the U.S. military presence in that country.
In South Asia and Kuwait

Secretary of State, Mr. Blinken, visited Delhi and Kuwait (July 26-29)

  • Visit to India: The India visit was more in the nature of a consultative dialogue, bringing out the expanding areas of convergence between the two nations. His repeated observation that the friendship with India is one of the closest that the U.S. has, was very important for India.
  • Blinken’s visit has already been covered in detail here and here
What do these visits signal?
  1. China policy and Indo-Pacific policy: First, that America’s China policy and the Rest of the Indo-Pacific policy will run in parallel, with inner consistency ensured by Mr. Biden.
  2. Relationship with China: Second, Washington maintains a tough attitude towards Beijing, but it desires to keep the doors open for dialogue. The relationship with China is marked by three characteristics — adversarial, competitive, and cooperative. It is likely to stay that way.
  3. Integrated deterrence: Third, the U.S. is willing to resist and counter China firmly, but with the full engagement of and contribution by the like-minded states of the region i.e. integrated deterrence


In short, the U.S. is back and is willing to lead — but the region will have to seriously step up too and participate actively to maintain peace and prosperity.

Terms to know

‘Improve social security for workers’

SourceThe Hindu

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

Relevance: This article analyzes the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour report on the impact of the pandemic on rising unemployment.


The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour highlighted many issues and provided suggestions for improving employment.

About the News

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour submitted a report on the impact of the pandemic on rising unemployment. The panel, which is chaired by Bhartruhari Mahtab, called on the government to improve social security measures for workers.

Key findings of the Committee:
  • The panel noted that like in most countries, in India too, the pandemic had made matter worse for women, the young, self-employed, migrants, and workers with low and medium skills.
  • The pandemic has devastated the labour market, denting the employment scenario and threatening the survival of millions of workers and their families.
  • The committee noted that the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data for years prior to the pandemic were available, and the real impact of COVID-19 would only be seen when the PLFS for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 are available.
    • Citing the PLFS, the report said 90% of workers were in the informal sector, which is 419 million of the 465 million workers.
Read more: Periodic Labour Force Survey and Unemployment in India- Explained, pointwise
  • The report mentioned that although no survey data is available yet on the impact of the second wave, it has undisputedly been more severe than the first.
  • The panel mentioned that offering another round of income support to the poor to compensate for loss of jobs/employment, would go a long way in mitigating their woes.
Read more: What India’s labour force survey actually says about employment
Issues mentioned by the committee:
  • The panel flagged the issue of lack of a study by the Labour Ministry to gauge the impact of its advisories on employers’ recruitment and termination policies.
  • The committee pulled up the Ministry for the delay in developing a national database of unorganised workers.
Read more: Supreme Court’s Directives for Migrants
Suggestions of the report:
  • In the backdrop of pre-existing high and rising unemployment, a comprehensive plan and roadmap are required to address the deteriorating condition of employment, much aggravated by the pandemic.
  • The panel recommended the strengthening of social security measures and the possibility of transferring money in the bank accounts of the informal workers during adverse conditions like COVID-19.
  • The report suggested that the government should strive to support a recovery that is robust, broad-based and women-centric and based on social dialogues with all the stakeholders concerned.
  • The panel said universal healthcare should be made a legal obligation of the government and the budgetary allocation for MGNREGA should be increased.
  • The panel also recommended an urban job guarantee scheme on the lines of the MGNREGA.
Read more: Migrant workers and their Social protection in India – Explained, pointwise

Providing horizontal quota: the Bihar way

SourceThe Hindu

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

Relevance: This article explains the recent horizontal reservation policy of the Bihar government and its advantages.


The Bihar government’s horizontal reservation for women should be extended to other states also.


The Bihar government recently announced 33% horizontal reservation for women in State engineering and medical colleges.

What is the vertical and horizontal reservation?

Vertical reservation:

The reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is referred to as the vertical reservation.

Horizontal reservation:

This refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries, such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.

  • The horizontal reservations do not add to the regular reservation limit. Instead, it will be distributed across all the vertical categories, including the non-reserved category.
  • For Instance, If an engineering college in Bihar has 100 reserved seats for STs, 33 of those seats (33% horizontal reservation) will have to be filled with ST women. So, the overall vertical reservation limit will be the same.

Note: Article 15(3) of the Constitution allows governments to make special provisions for women and children.

Why horizontal reservation of women has to be adopted?

This initiative should be welcomed and adopted across sectors, departments, and States for various benefits. Such as,

  • India’s female labour force participation (FLFP) rate is consistently declining and is worryingly low. World Bank data shows that the FLFP came down to 21% in 2019 from 31.79% in 2005.
    • As per the Bihar Economic Survey 2019-20, the State’s FLFP rate was abysmal compared to the all-India average. Only 6.4% and 3.9% of women were employed in the urban and rural areas of Bihar compared to the all-India figures of 20.4% and 24.6% respectively.
  • Evidence points out that increasing women’s participation in the workforce to the level of men boosts the economy. In light of this, it is important for other governments to make more and more jobs available for women.
Other such role model initiatives by the Bihar government:
  • In 2006, Bihar became the first State to reserve 50% seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions. This was later imitated by several other states such as Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh.
  • In 2006, a scheme called the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana was launched for Class 9 and 10 girl students. This was India’s first scaled-up conditional cash transfer programme for the secondary education of girls. The enrolment of girl students went up after this scheme.

The Bihar government should also extend the engineering and medical quota for women to all institutions of higher education, including private colleges and universities.

Terms to know:

Measures being proposed to curb resurgence of COVID wave

Source: Livemint

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


Various governments have adopted various strategies for handling the Covid pandemic. Is making vaccination compulsory the right strategy? 

Making Vaccine Compulsory in India – will not be a good choice because: 

  • There is a mismatch between the demand and supply of vaccines.  
  • If made compulsory for any group, would lead to diversion of doses to them and will lead to vaccine inequities 
  • Vaccines are not free for everyone in India, even not for private health care staff. So would be unethical to make it compulsory. 
  • If made compulsory for government health staff, where it is free, that would be discriminatory in nature 

Learnings from the past 

  • India undertook Family Planning Programme based on the forceful steps in the 1970s. But, it took India almost two decades to get back on track with family welfare activities and population control programme. 
Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise
  • Polio Programme – India successfully implemented the “Polio Elimination Programme” with a coverage of 99% or even higher. 
  • The reason behind achieving this success was effective communication & dialogues with communities and the involvement of various stakeholders. 
  • So, India should learn from these examples, not what the other countries are doing. 

Way Forward 

  • It is a must to have sufficient supplies of vaccines.
  • Ensuring timely vaccination, achieving high coverage, providing at least one dose to 70% of the population.
Read more: Universal vaccination in India : Challenges and way forward – Explained, Pointwise

Skills mission underperforms on training, placement goals

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Human Resources.


Given India’s young population and vast labour force, Skills India Mission was expected to give huge dividends. However, as per the recent data, the mission seems to be underperforming. 

About the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana(PMKVY)

The scheme has 2 components,  

  • Short term training STT – Focused on training, certification and placement  
  • Recognition of prior learning RPL – Orientation and certification based on existing talents. 

It is implemented through skills partners affiliated with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).  


  • PMKVY trained 6.59 Mn against the target of 7.62 Mn of these only 5.25 Mn were certified and 2.32 Mn were placed.  
  • Against a target of 70%, only 35% were placed.  
  • In Karnataka, 222378 people were trained and only 72881 were placed. This reflected poor performance at the state level also. 

 Monitoring mechanism of the Scheme 

  • The training process of the candidates, assessment, certification and placement is monitored in real-time. 
  • Training centres are put through processes like self-audit reporting, call validations and surprise visits.  

Way forward 

  • There is a need for effective appraisal of the schemes. 
  • Improve monitoring by involving district skill centres (DSC)  

Preventable abuse: SC calls out wrongful use of preventive detention. Such arrests must be made only in rare cases

Source: Times of India

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Indian Constitution –  Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.


The courts have made adverse remarks in the matter of preventive detention. This has raised the debate of fundamental rights and freedom as offered in the constitution. 

What is preventive detention? 

It means the detention of a person without trial and conviction by the court. It is a precautionary measure to prevent the person from committing any future offence which is also provided in Article 22 of the constitution.  

What is the current issue? 

Complaint against Telangana authorities who had detained the person for a year even after the person had been granted anticipatory bail in five cases. 

SC Observation in this matter 

  • SC instructed to detain the person only when he is a serious threat or likely to affect  public order 
  • In the recent case, police didn’t demand cancellation of anticipatory bail and kept the person in custody. 

What makes it Controversial? 

  • It gives power to the authorities to imprison a person without proper trial. 
  • There is no requirement to present the person before the magistrate within 24 hours of detention. 
  • Nearly 25% detenues were illiterate and 41% had sub-class 10 education.  

What is the Government’s justification? 

Several protests from history to the present day like the demand of statehood, reservation, labour & peasant issues, communal rights etc. have justified the need for Prevention detention to preserve the public order. 

What are the constitutional safeguards against preventive detention? 

  • Right to be informed on Grounds of arrest 
  • Right to consult & be defended by a lawyer 
  • Right to produce before the magistrate within 24 hours (excluding travel time) 
  • Right to be released after 24 hours unless magistrate authorizes further detention 


There is a need to use Preventive Detention only in Rarest of Rare cases. 

Even in these cases, Advisory boards should carefully vet the preventive detention. 

Terms to know: 


Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Moves in J&K have been under scrutiny, especially after scrapping article 370. Under such times comes the directive pertaining to jobs and security clearances in J&K. 

 Government Directives for Job in J&K 

  • The government directed the departments to deny security clearance for passport verification, government jobs to all those involved in law & order and stone-pelting cases 
  • Directives have been issued to CID special branch to collect all the digital evidence from state police & security forces for that purpose.

 Why is this directive Legal?—Under Sec 6(2) of the passport Act 1967, there are provisions to deny the passport on various grounds 

  • Engagement in activities threatening to integrity, sovereignty, security of the country 
  • Any person who is convicted in the preceding five years or against proceedings are pending before any criminal court. 
  • At the same time, the Act also provides the safeguards to approach the court for” No Objection” certificate to get a passport 

 What is the Government’s view? 

  • With the change in status of J&K to bring development and prosperity, it is now time to strengthen the grassroots democracy. 

Challenges due to this directive 

  • This move might alienate the people of J&K further.
  • Also, the move may create a wave of disaffection in the people against the Government. 

Way forward 

The government has to carefully manage the political process, which is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of local people. 

Terms to know: 

Poverty in India is on rise again

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.


During the 2000’s there was decline in poverty as was indicated by the Government data. However, now multiple data point to a rise in poverty and unemployment. 


  • Consumption expenditure survey (CES) is conducted and released every 5 years by NSO 
  • 2017-2018 data was not released, and the next set will be released in 2022. 
  • But based on the recent NSO’s PLFS (periodic labour force survey), the unemployment rate has reached a 45-year high and also the poverty levels.

Measurement of Poverty 

  • Prior to 2011, PLFS (periodic labour force survey) data was also used to estimate poverty. 
  • Household monthly per capita expenditure data was also collected based on Mixed Recall Period methodology. 
  • In 2011, the government decided to raise the poverty line as per the recommendations of the Tendulkar committee. 

Rise in poverty figures 

  • In absence of CES data, PLFS data can be used to estimate poverty. 
  • NSO’s CES data 2017 (leaked) showed that rural consumption had fallen by 8% and since over 65% of the population is rural, poverty is estimated to be increased. 
  • The absolute number of poor had risen from 217 Mn(2012) to 270 Mn(2019). (first time since history of CES) 

Reasons for increased poverty 

  • Demonetization and GST reforms struck a heavy blow to the unorganized sector & MSME. 
  • Household savings declined, Private investment fell from 31% to 28% 
  • Public expenditure was constrained by fiscal consolidation 
  • Exports fell, in absolute terms 
  • There was a rise in unemployment and real wages did not increase.

GS Paper 3

Building sites could be fined, shut under new dust rules

Source: Times of India 

Syllabus: GS 3 – Pollution and conservation.

Relevance: Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in India. Controlling pollution in Delhi will result in less pollution in surrounding regions as well.


All new large construction sites in Delhi may soon have to install at least three real-time air quality monitoring stations and adhere to strict dust management norms. 


  • Construction and road dust contribute to somewhere between 15% and 40% of PM 2.5 and PM10 emissions in Delhi.
  • In order to curb this problem, a Dust Management Committee has submitted a dust management plan to the Delhi government.
    • The committee comprises experts from IIT Delhi, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). 
    • It gave recommendations by drawing inspiration from dust management models of London and Paris.
  • Based on its recommendations, new dust management rules are about to get approved by the government.

About the New Rules:

  • It will apply to all construction sites with an area of more than 20,000 square meters.
  • The sites are required to obtain an environmental clearance and submit a fixed bank guarantee before starting their work.
    • While applying for the environmental clearance, each construction site will have to specify the exact location of the three air quality monitoring stations installed at the site.
    • A large display board showing the readings will also have to be put up at the site, with the data being relayed to a DPCC control room. 
  • It allows the issuance of warnings if the PM10 and PM2.5 levels at the site are more than 25% of the air quality readings at the nearest monitoring station.
  • A “cure period” of three hours will be given to take corrective measures after the first warning.
    • After 3 hours, a notice will be sent to the project proponent and a fine of either Rs 1 lakh, or 10% of the bank guarantee, will be invoked. 
    • If after 12 hours of the first warning, the situation does not improve, then a fine of Rs 3 lakh or 20% of the bank guarantee, whichever is higher, will be imposed. 
    • If after 24 hours of the first warning, no corrective action is taken, the site will be shut down.

Poultry industry seeks extension of loans, import of GM soybean

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Relevance: The recent demand from the poultry industry to permit the import of crushed genetically modified (GM) soy seeds again stirred the issue of GM crops in India.

What is the News?

The poultry industry is demanding that the Central government to permit the import of crushed genetically modified (GM) soy seeds for captive consumption of farmers.

Note: The import of GM soya bean seeds has not been approved in India.

The main fear is that import of GM soya bean will affect the Indian soya bean industry by contaminating non-GM varieties.

What is a GM Crop?

  • Genetically Modified(GM) Crop involves the editing of genes of a crop in such a way that it incorporates beneficial traits from another crop or organism.
  • This could mean changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease.
Read more: What are GM Crops?

GM Crops in India:

  • Bt cotton is the only GM crop that is allowed in India. It has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm.
  • Ht Bt Cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate.
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental and colleagues in the South Campus of the University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

Legal Position on GM Crops in India:

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for the commercial release of GM crops.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act, 1989.
Read more: GM Crops in India: Issues and Challenges

Benefits of GM Crop:

  • Genetic engineering can improve crop protection. Crops with better resistance to pests and diseases can be created.
  • Farmers can achieve high yield and thereby get more income.
  • Nutritional content can be improved.
  • Shelf life of foods can be extended.
  • Food with better taste and texture can be achieved.
  • Crops can be engineered to withstand extreme weather.

Reasons for Opposition to GM Crops:

  • Some GM crops have been engineered to create their own toxins against pests. This may harm non-targets such as farm animals that ingest them.
  • GM crops are modified to include antibiotics to kill germs and pests. And when people eat them, these antibiotic markers will persist in human body and will render actual antibiotic medications less effective over a period of time, leading to superbug threats.
  • Concerns about multinational agribusiness companies taking over farming from the hands of small farmers. Farmers are also reluctant because they will have limited rights to retain and reuse seeds.
  • People in general are wary of GM crops as they are engineered in a lab and do not occur in Nature.

Two is too few

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS3 – Awareness in the field of IT, space, computers, robotics etc

Relevance: Essentiality of Fair competition in the market

Synopsis: The telecom sector in India may soon see a duopoly soon. Since the Vodafone Idea is facing various issues to remain afloat creating circumstances for emergence of Duo Poly (Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel).

Issues with Telecom sector
  1. Declining Average Revenue per User (ARPU): ARPU decline is sharp and steady which is combined with falling profits due to predatory pricing.
  2. Limited spectrum availability: Available spectrum is less than 40% as compared to European Union and 50% as compared to China.
  3. Low Broadband penetration : According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), broadband penetration in India is only 7%
  4. Competition from over The Top Applications: Applications such as Whatsapp providing free chatting platform is affecting the revenues of telecom service providers
  5. Duties on telecom equipment – Nearly 85% of Indian Telecom equipments are imported, thus duties on such products affect expansion and investment.
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code ‘s provisions can be used to save Vodafone Idea.
  • Change in perspective: Telecom firms should not be viewed as just source of revenue. They are critical for empowering millions with better digital tools and ensuring easier access to public services
  • Government of India should play a facilitating role in fostering competition. The goal of Digital India requires competition to be sustained.
    • Government of India should lower at least some of the levies that are raised from telecom companies, finding a solution to lay down 5G technology without causing much pain to the providers and promise regulatory stability.
Way Forward

Emergence of a duopoly will hamper public interest. Hence, competition is necessary in such a critical sector. Markets with a regulatory structure that encourages competition have at least three to four large telecom service providers.

Terms to know:

How technology is Enabling smart farming?

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS3 – E-Technology in the aid of farmers

Relevance: Applications of technology in agriculture sector

Synopsis:  Millions of farmers in India, who often rely on luck or favorable weather for a decent harvest, could be benefitted with access to better technologies which are affordable.

Role of Technology in agriculture 

  1. Crop and Soil Monitoring – using censors or Internet of Things,  for example Understanding the level of soil moisture and predicting the right time to start sowing 
  2. Predictive agriculture analytics – Predicting the amount of fertilizers needed to maximize the farm yield using Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning Tools
  3. Real time Data Analytics – to build an efficient and smart supply chain
  4. Weather based advisories – using data analytics to provide accurate advice to the farmers.
  5. Pest and disease management – through use of Drone technology along with sensors enabled with AI
  6. Water Management – to use the water resources optimally technology is used to link irrigation facility with soil sensors
  7. Smart Supply Chain – Applications are developed  to solve the crop marketing and logistical issues, reducing the intervention of middle men, addressing price volatility, wastage, and unfair trade practices. Ex- eNAM
  8. Quality Assessment – Use of computer vision and deep learning tool can be used to provide monitoring and grading solutions which adds value to product. 

Exempting select PSUs from minimum free float norm reverses govt stance

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3 – Changes in Industrial Policy

Relevance: Changes to minimum public shareholding norms and consequent impact

Synopsis: Recently, the Department of Economic Affairs has amended the Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957 (SCRR).


Through a recent notification in the government gazette, the Department of Economic Affairs has amended the Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957 (SCRR).

  • The amendment states that the “Central government may, in the public interest, exempt any listed public sector company from any or all of the provisions of the rule” of increasing minimum public shareholding to 25%.
  • The current MPS of 25% came into effect in 2013. The 2019 Union budget proposed to raise this to 35%.
What is MPS?

Minimum public shareholding (MPS) is the minimum level of public holding (other than promoters) in a company to be maintained on a continuous basis.

Need for MPS
  • For bringing better public ownership of the PSUs.
  • Bring greater commercial and market orientation of the listed PSUs.
  • Adequate free float in a listed company is essential for providing sufficient liquidity in trading stocks thereby facilitating efficient price discovery and maintaining market integrity.
Rationale behind the move
  • The timeline for public sector companies, PSUs and public sector banks (PSBs), was extended multiple times closer to the deadline due to lack of efforts from such companies towards compliance.
  • The previous such extension granted them time till August 2, 2021 for compliance.
  • Of 1,705 listed private sector companies on the NSE, only 2 were non-compliant with MPS requirement as of June-end.
  • In contrast, during the same time, 27 of 77 public sector companies on the NSE had public shareholding less than 25 per cent. Of them, 11 companies have public shareholding of less than 10 per cent.
Possible Implications:
  • First, sections in the government and market participants feel the move would affect liquidity in PSU company stocks, dissuade institutional investors and may even have a bearing on the disinvestment programme.
    • Low free float is one of the reasons why PSU stocks command low valuation in the market.
    • This can be detrimental at a time the government is planning strategic sales in various PSUs including BPCL, Shipping Corporation, and Air India.
  • Second, the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (Sebi’s) rules requires companies to pay a structured fine for every day of non-compliance.
    • While private sector companies have to still comply with norms, the government has now created a carve out for PSUs.
  • Third, maintenance of minimum public float by listed companies helps attract higher foreign capital and increases India’s weight in international indices like MSCI and FTSE.
    • Government firms not adhering to these norms could be a drag on the inflow of foreign capital.

Instead of having various kinds of exemptions for PSUs, it may be worth considering having completely separate regulations governing listed PSUs as PSUs are audited by the CAG and are answerable to Parliament.

Terms to know:

  • SEBI
  • Securities Contract (Regulation) Rules, 1957 (SCRR),

Just Energy Transition

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3 – Energy Conservation

Relevance: Achieving a clean energy transition for India, which is just and inclusive.

Synopsis: A people-centric approach will help India build a clean and inclusive energy future and also provide a model for other countries and communities worldwide.

Current scenario in India
  • It is among the world’s top five countries in terms of renewable power capacity.
  • Its ambitious target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to 450 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 would help move it closer to achieving the country’s broader climate goals.
  • India is also showing global clean energy leadership through initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance, which has more than 70 member countries.
  • Adaptive strategy: Emerging and developing economies are starting from different baselines than advanced economies and they must adapt their pathways to ensure their transitions are inclusive.
  • Requirement of new jobs: New jobs would need to be found over time for people who work in the fossil fuel power plants that will close down.
  • We need a gender inclusive workforce: According to a 2019 study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), women account for nearly 32% of the renewable’s workforce globally but only around 11% of the rooftop solar workforce in India.
How India can achieve a just energy transition?
  • Credible severance packages and insurance cushions would make the transition easier to navigate.
    • Policymakers must keep special “transition funds” to help coal-dependent regions and to remodel economies and develop new industries.
  • Engaging the youth is critical to ensure that the energy transition is sustainable, inclusive and enduring.
    • It is the emerging generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that will provide the technical and social solutions of the future.
  • Energy subsidies must be rationalized and directed towards those who need them most.
    • This would help sustain the gains of the Saubhagya and Ujjwala
    • Fiscal resources freed up through subsidy reform should then be invested in clean energy solutions, especially in underdeveloped regions and marginalized communities.
  • The energy transition in rural India can be driven by dedicated policies to promote renewables, incentivise investment in decentralised low-carbon power sources like rooftop solar, and train and build the capacity of clean energy entrepreneurs.
    • Green construction could ensure millions of homes enjoy thermal comfort, and help make energy efficiency a core part of building designs.
Way forward

To achieve jobs, growth and sustainability, India must try to put people at the centre of its energy transformation.

A rupee wish for India@100

Source: Indian Express

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

Relevance: An ambitious goal for India’s 100th year of Independence in 2047.

Synopsis: Prosperity is possible and best accomplished by the goal of making the rupee a global reserve currency by 2047. Conditions are opportune. An analysis.

Characteristics of Reserve currency
  • A reserve currency has to serve as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account.
  • The main properties of a country having a reserve currency are – trust and lower real interest rates.
    • A real interest rate is one that has been adjusted for inflation, reflecting the real cost of funds to the borrower and the real yield to the lender.
Current situation

Official foreign exchange reserves of about $12 trillion across 150 countries are currently stored in eight currencies:

  • 55% in US dollars
  • 30% in euros.
  • 15% in six other currencies.
Positive Global environment

Global factors which indicate that India can target making rupee a global reserve currency.

  • Multipolar world: America now accounts for less than 25% of global GDP.
  • The need for diversification: Central bank reserves in dollars have fallen to 55% from 71% in 1999.
  • Demographics: 25% of the world’s new workers in the next 10 years will be Indian.
  • Strong economic factors: India has never defaulted and the 1991 reforms have been accelerated by big reforms like GST, IBC, inflation targeting, education, labour, and agriculture.
  • Central bank credibility: lower-for-longer creates a quantitative easing addiction.
  • Rest of the factors are: The UK’s secular decline, a global shift of economic gravity to Asia, and the challenges of trusting China.
What needs to be done?
  • First step should be towards full capital account convertibility, as suggested by the Tarapore Committee in 1997. A 2030 deadline for finishing the agenda could be an interim milestone.
  • Second, ask trading partners to start rupee invoicing, raising corporate rupee borrowing offshore and onshore, accelerating our CBDC plans, and taking our UPI payment technology to the world
  • Three, effective Fiscal, Monetary and Economic policy agenda.
    • Fiscal policy must raise our tax to GDP ratio, raise the share of direct taxes in total taxes, and keep our public debt to GDP ratio under 100 per cent.
    • Monetary policy must control inflation while moderating central bank balance sheet size.
    • Economic policy must try to achieve the following
      • Formalisation: 400 million workplace social security payers.
      • Urbanisation:250 cities with more than a million people.
      • Financialisation: 100 per cent credit to GDP ratio.
      • Industrialisation: less than 15 per cent farm employment.
      • Internationalisation: higher share of global trade and skilling.
    • Four, these goals must be complemented by reinforcing institutions that signal rule of law, cooperative federalism, press freedom, civil service effectiveness, and judicial independence.
Way forward

India needs bold reforms in the next 25 years. Becoming a global reserve currency is a wholesome goal because it indirectly aligns fiscal, monetary, and economic policy.

Terms to know:

  1. UPI
  2. Global reserve currency
  3. Tarapore Committee
  4. Tax to GDP ratio
  5. Capital Account Convertibility
  6. Inflation Targeting

Is net zero emission concept zeroing in on Climate change?

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 : Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Flaws with the net-zero concept

Synopsis: The world has seen a massive surge in voluntary commitment to achieve net-zero emission targets but there are inherent problems with the net-zero concept. Listing few such problems and a way forward.

What is net zero concept?

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount of GHG removed from the atmosphere. 

  • The present market based arrangements are based on Net zero concept which is more focused on Supply side mechanism rather than Demand side reduction which is leading to Net increase in emission rather than reduction in GHG. 
Issues with Net Zero Concept 
  1. More focussed on supply-side: Critiques argue that net zero concept exclusively relies on nature based solutions and technological solutions for carbon removal and sequestration. Thus it discourages solutions based on demand side reduction.
  2. Promotes dependence on costly tech solutions: Net zero also promotes strategy of “Burn Now Pay Latter strategy” which promotes our dependence on costly technological solution rather than affordable demand reduction strategies.
  3. Net zero strategy increases our vulnerability by postponing actual reduction.
  4. Fails to address the root cause of climate crisis and does not include ways to reduce the increasing demand of goods and services.
  5. Promotes the idea of Growthism which means economic growth ensures care for environment. 
  6. Benefits only the large corporations through creation of Multibillion Dollar market by introducing mechanism of Carbon Offset.
Way forward 
  1. Changing our lifestyles to reduce consumption demand: The ever-increasing demand for resources and energy-intensive lifestyles would make it next to impossible for technological fixes to reduce carbon emissions to maintain a balance towards the net-zero world.
  2. Reducing materialism: We need to spread the idea that acquiring more and more things doesn’t translate into well-being. Both are not interrelated after one has secured means of a good life.
  3. Balancing economic aspirations with environmental sustainability: Shift towards alternative economic model which balances environmental sustainability with economic growth.


A slow and sustained change in socio-cultural priorities and notions of good life, along with necessary infrastructural changes to support that, is the only way forward to realise a sustainable and just world for all.

Also Read: Leveraging traditional lo-tech innovations to fight climate change

Privacy checks can be built into software architecture

Source: Livemint

Syllabus: GS3 : Science and technology- development and their applications and effects in everyday life

Relevance: Protecting Right to Privacy and enabling digitization

Synopsis: India’s Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture (DEPA) is becoming an important tool to strengthen the privacy framework in India. It not only gives us better control over our data transfers, but also covers nearly all the modern principles of that are central to privacy.

Principles central to privacy laws

Central to privacy laws anywhere in the world is a set of principles that define how personal data can be collected and processed. These are:

  1. Notice and consent – provides for informed consent of Individuals before collecting or processing of his/her data
  2. Purpose limitation – to ensure that the purpose for which data is collected is described clearly 
  3. Data Minimization – to collect only a limited set of data that is required for fulfillment of specific purpose
  4. Retention limitation – to ensure that data is not retained for more than required to achieve the purpose
  5. Use limitation – to ensure that data is used for the purpose for which it has been collected.
Positives of DEPA

DEPA addresses three out of the five principles outlined above – Notice and consent clause, Purpose Limitation and data minimization. Let’s see how it does that.

  • Notice and consent clause principle: DEPA uses the MeITy electronic consent artefact to process data-transfer requests. What this means is that each time a data fiduciary makes a request for data, it has to provide information on what specific data it needs, the purpose to which that data will be put, and the duration for which it will be retained for the same. As a result, every data transfer request will provide users with due notice and can only be completed if consent is provided in relation to that specific request.
    • A consent artifact is simply a machine-readable electronic document that specifies the parameters and scope of data share that a user consents to in any data sharing transaction
  • Purpose Limitation and data minimization: Data-transfer requests under DEPA are based on pre-designed templates: data fiduciaries will have to choose from a set of such templates. These templates will be designed to cover a broad range of uses for which data might be requested, while still ensuring that only that much data as is necessary to fulfil those uses is requested.
    • By using consent templates, DEPA ensures that both the purpose limitation and data minimization principles are met.
Inadequacies of DEPA
  • No protection after data is collected: It doesn’t seem to be capable of protecting what happens to the data after it is collected. There is nothing to prevent a data fiduciary (digital companies) for using the data for the other purposes or retaining the data for longer than agreed time.
  • Incorporate technological safeguards: If DEPA is to be an end-to-end solution for privacy, we have to incorporate technological safeguards that address the issues of Use Limitation and Data Retention as well.
  • Use of innovative technologies: We need to use innovative technologies like Confidential Clean Room which restrict  access of data for the specific purpose and also helps in providing solution to the issue of Data retention.


India’s Data Empowerment and Protection Architecture offers a technological solution that embeds privacy principles directly into the technology architecture. Done right, this might well be the solution that regulators have been looking for.  

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Agro-Automatic Weather Stations provide exact weather forecast to farmers

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Earth Science has said that 200 Agro-Automatic Weather Stations(AWS) are being installed under Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa(GKMS) scheme.

About Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa(GKMS) Scheme:
  • Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa(GKMS) scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Earth Science.
  • Under the scheme, the India Meteorological Department(IMD) in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities/Indian Council of Agricultural Research are issuing crop and location-specific weather based agro advisories to the farmers.
  • These Agromet Advisories are prepared and communicated by the Agromet Field Units(AMFUs) located in the Krishi Vigyan Kendras(KVKs) to the farmers on every Tuesday and Friday.
    • Agriculture meteorology (Agromet) is a branch of meteorology that examines the effects and impacts of weather and climate on crops, rangeland, livestock, and various agricultural operations.
  • Moreover, IMD also monitors rainfall situations & weather aberrations and issues alerts & warnings to the farmers from time to time under the scheme.
Significance of this Scheme:
  • Agromet advisories help farmers to make decisions on day-to-day agricultural operations.
  • This can help further optimize the application of input resources at the farm level during deficient rainfall situations and extreme weather events to reduce monetary loss and maximize crop yield.
About Meghdoot App:
  • Meghdoot is a mobile app launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
  • Aim: It aims to help the farmers to get the weather information including alerts and related agromet advisories specific to their districts.

NITI Aayog and RMI Release a Report on Power Distribution Sector

Source: PIB

What is the News?

NITI Aayog and RMI have released a report titled “Turning Around the Power Distribution Sector”.

Purpose of the Report:
  • The report presents a review of reform efforts in the Indian and global power distribution sector. It extracts the learnings and best practices from policy experience that exists in the country.
Key Findings of the Report:

Power Distribution Sector in India:

  • Most power distribution companies (or discoms) in India incur losses every year—the total loss is estimated to be ₹ 90,000 crores in FY 2021.
  • Due to these accumulated losses, discoms are unable to pay for generators on time.
  • Reasons: Part of the reason for these losses is the tension between two different outlooks:
    1. Is electricity an essential public service whose provision at low rates is necessary for citizen welfare, or
    2. Is it a commodity to be bought and sold on the market like any other?
Read more: Problems with discoms need radical reforms 
Reforms suggested by the Report:
  • Discom Restructuring: Only 10% of India’s population is served by private distribution licensees. Hence, good Corporate Governance and higher private participation in distribution hold out the possibility of greater efficiency.
  • Regulatory Reforms: The state governments should promote autonomy, competence and transparency of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission(SERC).
  • Operational Reforms: The overall AT&C loss figure in India is as high as 24.54%. Many discoms need to improve their billing efficiency through better and smart metering.
  • Renewable Energy Integration Reforms: Discoms need to prepare to accommodate an increasing amount of renewable energy (RE), from generators as well as prosumers.
  • Managerial Reforms: Effective reforms such as easily accessible call centres, convenient bill payment facilities can help reduce customer dissatisfaction and increase revenue. Moreover, Performance incentives can also help align discom employees to the interests of the organisation.
Read more: Reform-based scheme: Discoms get till Dec 31

UN warns hunger is expected to rise in 23 global hotspots

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Program(WFP) has released a new report titled “Hunger Hotspots”.

About Hunger Hotspots Report:
  • The Hunger Hotspots Report is an early-warning analysis of countries and situations called hotspots where acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate over the coming months.
Key Findings of the Report:
  • Hunger is expected to rise in 23 global hotspot countries in the next three months.
  • The highest alerts for “catastrophic” situations are in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, southern Madagascar, Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria.
    • Note: India is not one of the Hotspot countries.
  • Overall, over 41 million people worldwide are at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions unless they receive immediate life and livelihood-saving assistance.
  • The primary reasons for an increase in hunger are conflict dynamics, economic shocks, the socio-economic impacts of COVID- 19, weather extremes and the diffusion of plant pests and animal diseases.

Note: The Global Food Crises Report released in May 2021 has already warned that 40.5 million people in 17 countries are facing acute food insecurity because of “economic shocks”.

No DNA test if there is no proof of adultery: Supreme Court

Source: TOI

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that DNA tests cannot be ordered to establish the legitimacy of a child born during the subsistence of a marriage if there is no primary evidence of adultery.

What was the case?
  • A man has petitioned the court to allow a DNA test of his child in a matrimonial dispute with his wife.
What did the Supreme Court say?
  • The Court referred to Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act which talks about the presumption of the legitimacy of a child.
  • The Apex Court said that the DNA test could not be straight away ordered to prove adultery.
  • There must be some primary evidence to prove the adultery allegation and only then the court can consider going for the scientific evidence of DNA testing.

Note: The act of adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than that person’s current spouse or partner.

Section 497 of IPC:
  • Section 497 of IPC says it is a punishable offense for a man to have sexual intercourse with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The man committing such an offence can be imprisoned for five years or more and can also be asked to pay a fine.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. The court said that the section was unconstitutional and is against Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) and Article 14 (Right to equality).

Burning wood, coal for cooking can cause blindness: Study

Source: Down To Earth

What is the News?

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Chinese Academy of Medical Science have conducted a study to understand the association between cooking with wood or coal and an increased risk of substantial eye diseases leading to blindness.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • Burning solid fuels such as coal and wood for cooking can cause damage to the eyes and cause blindness.
  • The very small particles released with the fumes can penetrate the eyes and cause physical interior damage.
  • Long-term use of solid fuels for cooking can heighten the risk of conjunctivitis and cataracts by 32% and 17%, respectively.
  • However, the risks were lower when participants switched from using solid to clean fuels (electricity or gas). The rates of these eye ailments were higher in rural residents than their urban counterparts.
  • Moreover, the significant long-term assessment also concluded that solid fuel use was not associated with glaucoma.

Need for study:

  • Close to half the world’s population is exposed to household air pollution stemming from cooking fuels. This includes 452 million in China and 846 million in India.


  • Previous studies have explored the connection between cooking with solid fuels and the risk of cataracts in women, but not men.
  • According to those reports, women cooking with biomass fuels were exposed to three times the levels of particulate matter (PM) 10 and PM 2.5 as those using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
  • However, these studies could not ascertain whether the burning of solid fuels is also behind major eye diseases like conjunctivitis, glaucoma, etc.

Governor’s pardon power overrides 433A: SC

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

Section 433A mandates that a prisoner’s sentence can be remitted only after 14 years of jail.

Recently, the Supreme Court has observed that the power of the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution to commute a sentence or to pardon will override the restrictions imposed under Section 433-A of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Supreme Court on Governor’s Pardoning Powers:

  • State Government has no power under the criminal procedure code to release a person sentenced to life imprisonment prior to undergoing a minimum 14 years jail term.
  • However, the Governor using his powers under Article 161 of the Constitution can remit the sentence of life imprisonment even prior to serving 14 years in prison.
  • Moreover, the Governor’s power to pardon overrides a provision in Section 433A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • But the Governor could exercise his remission powers under Article 161 only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers headed by the chief minister.

Pardoning Power of Governor:

  • Under Article 161, the Governor shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites, or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person. But the person should be convicted of any offence against any law which is under the executive power of the State.
  • Exceptions:
    • The Governor cannot pardon the death sentence (the President has the power to do so). But the Governor can suspend, remit or commute the death sentence.
    • The Governor cannot grant pardon, reprieve, respite, suspension, remission, or commutation in respect to punishment or sentence by a court-martial. However, the President can do so.

Kerala’s first road tunnel “Kuthiran Tunnel” opens on one side

Source: Livemint

What is the News?

Kuthiran Tunnel in Kerala has been opened on one end side. This move will help improve connectivity between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

About Kuthiran Tunnel:

  • The Kuthiran Tunnel is the first road tunnel in Kerala. It is located at Kuthiran in the Thrissur district of Kerala.
  • The tunnel is 1.6 km long and runs through the Peechi-Vazhani wildlife sanctuary. It is a twin-tube tunnel with three lanes in each tube.
  • The objective of this road tunnel is to improve connectivity between important ports and towns while protecting wildlife.
  • The tunnel is also a part of the Mannuthy-Wadakkanchery stretch of the National Highway in Kerala.

About Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary:

  • Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary headquartered in Peechi, Thrissur District of Kerala. It is the second-oldest sanctuary in Kerala.
  • The sanctuary was established in 1958. It consists of Palappilly- Nelliyampathy forests including the area of Chimmony Wildlife sanctuary.

Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas campaign for inclusive and holistic preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan(GPDP)

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The government of India has launched the People’s Plan Campaign titled ‘Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas’ campaign for inclusive and holistic preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan(GPDP).

About Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas Campaign:

  • Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas campaign has been launched by the Ministry of Panchayats Raj from 2nd October 2020 to 31st January 2021. It was also launched during 2018 and 2019.
  • Aim: To help Gram Panchayats(GPs) in the preparation of a convergent and holistic Gram Panchayat Development Plan(GPDP) through the identification of sectoral infrastructural gaps in respective areas.

Objectives of the Sabki Yojna Sabka Vikas Campaign: The objectives of the campaign includes:

  • Strengthening of elected representatives and Self Help Groups
  • Evidence-based assessment of progress made in 2020-21 and proposals for 2021-22 in all 29 subjects of XI Schedule
  • Public disclosure on Schemes, finances and
  • Preparation of inclusive, participatory and evidence based GPDP for 2021-22.

Significance of the campaign:

  • Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas is an effective strategy for ensuring the preparation of GPDP in a campaign mode. It also converges all resources available at the Panchayat level related to 29 subjects listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

About Gram Panchayat Development Plan(GPDP):

  • Under Article 243 G of the Constitution, Gram Panchayats have been mandated for the preparation of GPDP for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.
  • The GPDP planning process should be comprehensive and participatory by involving full convergence with the schemes of all related Central Ministries / Line Departments.

How e-RUPI can make welfare payments easier?

Source: Live Mint

What is the news?

Government of India recently launched e-RUPI which can make welfare payments easier and more efficient, and to an extent looks like the precursor of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Must Read: What is e-RUPI and how does it work?
What will e-RUPI be used for? 

The most immediate use of e-RUPI is for welfare payments and services related to health such as  

  • Drugs and nutritional support under ‘mother and child’ welfare schemes  
  • Tuberculosis eradication schemes.
  • Drugs and diagnostics under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
  • Fertilizer subsidies. 
  • e-RUPI connects the sponsors of the services with the beneficiaries and service providers in a digital manner without any physical interface or intermediary. 
  • It has been launched with the aim of ensuring that such payments are transferred to the beneficiary without any leakage or scope for corruption. 
Is e-RUPI a cryptocurrency? 

No. e-RUPI is not a cryptocurrency. A cryptocurrency is based on a blockchain and ownership is secured by private and public keys. e-RUPI doesn’t use this type of technology.

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is reportedly exploring a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for the country, but this is different from e-RUPI, which has been developed on the UPI.  
  • However, e-RUPI can be a step towards a CBDC.  

Terms to know:

Finance Panel for appointing HC judges as NCLT members to reduce litigation

Source: Business Standard

What is the News?

The Standing Committee on Finance of the Lok Sabha has recommended overhauling the entire IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) process.

Click Here to Read about Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Problems in the IBC Process:

Click here to read about the challenges with the IBC

Recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance:

  • Reduce delay in admitting new cases at NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal)
  • Do not allow fresh bids once the highest bidder is selected
  • Have a benchmark for haircuts
  • Impart better training to NCLT members
  • Fill up vacancies at NCLT
  • Allow flexible resolution plans, wherein multiple companies can take over the assets of the stressed company, instead of one bidder acquiring all the assets
  • An Institute of Resolution Professionals may be established just like the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) to oversee and regulate the functioning of RPs so that there are appropriate standards and fair self-regulation.

India seeks review of WTO e-transmissions moratorium

Source: Livemint

What is the news?

Ahead of Ministerial meeting 12 (MC-12) of WTO, India and South Africa are collaborating for joint effort for review of E-transmission moratorium imposed by WTO.

What is E-transmission moratorium?

In 1998, WTO member countries agreed to temporarily to keep custom duties on electronic downloads at Zero with periodic review.

  • The moratorium dates back to 1998 when ministers at the Second Ministerial Conference adopted the Declaration on Global Electronic Commerce, calling for the establishment of a work programme on e-commerce, which was adopted later that year.
  • The WTO Work Programme on electronic commerce defines electronic commerce” as the “production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means.”

The moratorium is extended every year.

Issues with the moratorium

India and other developing countries fear that moratorium imposed by WTO is hurting the sentiments of developing countries.

In March 2020, India and South Africa circulated a communication, outlining the implications the moratorium has on developing countries, including:

  • Tariff revenue losses: According to a UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2017 alone, the potential tariff revenue loss to developing countries due to the moratorium was $10 billion.
  • Impacts on industrialization
  • Impacts on the use of digital technologies like 3D printing in manufacturing
  • Losses of other duties and charges

The countries argue that the moratorium is “equivalent to developing countries giving the digitally advanced countries duty-free access to [their] markets.

Way forward

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of preserving policy space in trade agreements. In these times of crisis, it’s extremely important for developing countries to regulate their luxury imports of movies, music and video games. Removal of the moratorium will provide this policy space to governments.


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