9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 4th, 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

Reaping the demographic dividend

Source: The post is based on the article “Reaping the demographic dividend” published in The Hindu on 4th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 – Population and associated issues.

Relevance: About the recent UNPD report on population.

News: World Population Prospects 2022 forecasts that the world’s population will touch eight billion this year and rise to 9.8 billion in 2050.

Must read: The UN World Population Prospects Report and Population Issues in India – Explained, pointwise
About China’s population policy

A long-time critic of China’s population policy believes that without the one-child policy, China’s population would have naturally risen and peaked at 1.6 billion in 2040. This would allow them to reap a much longer “demographic dividend.

At the present policy by 2050, China will have only 1.3 billion people, of whom 500 million will be past the age of 60.

Must read: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise
About the demographic dividend in India

In contrast, India’s population would have peaked at 1.7 billion, of whom only 330 million will be 60 years or older. India is getting a demographic dividend that will last nearly 30 years.

Deloitte’s Deloitte Insights (in 2017) expects “India’s potential workforce to rise from 885 million to “1.08 billion people over the next two decades from today.” The insights contends that “the next 50 years will be an Indian summer that redraws the face of global economic power.”

McKinsey & Company’s report, ‘India at Turning Point’ (in 2020) suggested how India can “create $2.5 trillion of economic value in 2030 and support 112 million jobs, or about 30% of the non-farm workforce in 2030.” These include digitisation and automation, shifting supply chains, urbanisation, rising incomes and demographic shifts, and a greater focus on sustainability, health, and safety are accelerating.

Read more: India in 2023: The challenge and opportunity of being the most populous country
How do India and China reap their demographic dividends?

India today is compared to China, the only country it can be reasonably compared to. The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution in China fuelled China’s growth for decades.

The IT technologies in India have matured exponentially. Now the IR can revolutionise learning and transform Indian society at an astonishingly low cost.

India does not have a Hukou system which in China attaches rural folk to rural parts creating a deep divide between urban China. But the Hukou system disincentivises migration to urban areas. For instance, only about 36% of China’s overall population is urban.

Read more: Elderly population in India – Explained, pointwise
What India should do to reap its demographic dividend?

The major challenges in reaping demographic dividend are a) India’s bad infrastructure, b) poorly skilled workforce that will impede growth. Hence, India should focus on both.

India needs to invest massively in quality schools and higher education as well as healthcare.

India must seize the moment and not be incremental in its approach.

GS Paper 2


About One Belt One Road: Bring back the dhow route

Source: The post is based on the article “Bring back the dhow route” published in The Hindu on 4th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Relevance: About the One Belt One Road initiative.

News: China’s interests in the Indian Ocean grew in the context of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. The OBOR constitutes massive geopolitical projects that aims to promote economic cooperation and connectivity between Asia, West Asia, Africa, and Europe.

But recently, a Chinese military vessel been scheduled to the Sri Lankan Port of Hambantota. This is because the Sri Lankan government is heavily in debt and distress partly due to the mega infrastructure of the Hambantota port and many other such projects under OBOR.

About the past trade routes

Indian Ocean trade routes since the old times include countries in the Arabian Gulf, East Africa, the Indian Peninsula, Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and other small island states. From the ports and harbours on Bahr Faris (Arabian Gulf) and down to the Swahili Coast on the west to the ports and harbours on the far east to Malacca.

For centuries, Indian Ocean navigators, shipowners and merchants were the custodians of all trade routes that crisscrossed the Indian Ocean.

Ibn Battuta in his book The Rihla talks of his travels in the Maldives and all throughout the Indian Ocean trading ports.

In the last one thousand years, many emerging powers have frequently attempted to capture and centralise these trade routes.

The Portuguese rule immensely improved the boat-building capabilities of the Indian Ocean port cities, but they took away the trade from the local families.

The British colonial rule consolidated cargo in several bigger port cities. Britain’s advocacy of free trade also gave an opportunity for the local traders to freely trade within the Indian Ocean states.

Read more: Explained | What is the status of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia?
What is the status of OBOR in reviving trade routes?

The recent Chinese attempts to consolidate the Indian Ocean trade routes under OBOR are yet to materialise. But the host countries of the Belt and Road ports have gone or are going bankrupt, defaulting on their sovereign debt. For instance, Pakistan stands on the brink of sovereign default.

Robust small units with more flexibility and agility can produce more inclusive and sustainable returns. Attempts to restructure the debt of the Indian Ocean countries and proceed with the same mega infrastructure programmes might not be the future vision of the Indian Ocean states.

So, in one form or another, the Indian Ocean states still maintain their maritime heritage. Revitalising regional trade networks will maintain peace and stability in the Indian Ocean.

Read more: Explained | The G7 plan to counter the Belt and Road initiative

Why the President of India is also Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

Source: The post is based on the article “Why the President of India is also Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces” published in the Indian Express on 4th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Relevance: About the President as a supreme commander.

News: The recent debate in Parliament provoked the question “Why did the founding fathers vest this supreme command on the President despite India being a parliamentary democracy, not an executive presidency?”

What is the constitutional status of the President as a supreme commander?

Article 53 of the Constitution states that the executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President of India.

Article 53(2) mentions “Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, the supreme command of the Defence Forces of the Union shall be vested in the President and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law”.

Article 74 states that the president shall exercise his functions only on the aid and advice of the council of ministers headed by the prime minister.

Read more: The process of electing India’s President
Debates on Constituent Assembly on President as a Supreme Commander

KM Munshi in the Constituent Assembly once argued that “The strongest government and the most elastic executive has been found to be in England and that is because the executive powers vest in the Cabinet supported by a majority of the lower house”.

He also said that the cabinet advises the head of the state namely the king or the President. “The King or the President is thus placed above the party. He is made really the symbol of the impartial dignity of the Constitution.”

However, in the Constituent Assembly, there is absolutely no discussion on vesting the supreme command of the defence forces in the president. It almost seems that the Constitution framers had taken it as a given that the supreme command of the armed forces would be vested in the presidency.

Similarly, the term “defence forces of the Union” is nowhere defined in the Constitution.

Read more: The President is not a mere rubber stamp
Who is the Supreme Commander in other countries?

According to British practice where the supreme command of the armed forces is vested in the monarch.

In both the American and French constitutional schemes, the supreme command of the armed forces vests in the president. However, both these countries have an executive presidency.

China had an interesting institution dating back to 1925 called the Central Military Commission. But, the present form of China made the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party as the president of the republic and chairperson of the Central Military Commission.

In Pakistan, Article 243-1A, as amended by the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Act 2010, states: “the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces shall vest in the President.” However, that has not stopped Pakistan from being convulsed by a series of coups.

Read more: Being Truly Presidential

Hence, it is evident that rather than any deliberate plan or design the President of India ended up becoming the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces for the simple reason that the members of the Constituent Assembly decided to follow British precedent.


Sober liquor policy: Delhi shows why all states need smart alcohol regulation and 100% private retail trade

Source: The post is based on the article “Sober liquor policy: Delhi shows why all states need smart alcohol regulation and 100% private retail trade” published in The Times of India on 4th August 2022.

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

Relevance: About alcohol regulation in India.

News: A new retail liquor trade policy introduced in Delhi in 2021 saw state’s withdrawal from the retail trade. This resulted in e-commerce-like discounts, litigations and allegations of corruption. So, less than a year after the new policy, the Delhi government will switch back to the old state-dominated retail trade.

Must read: Prohibition of Liquor: Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise
About India’s unique alcohol market

India’s alcohol market is characterised by two features. First, demand for alcohol seems impermeable to economic downturns. Second, alcohol catalyses moralising in India. These two features lead to alcohol’s unique political economy. These include,

1) It’s highly taxed and along with fuel makes up about 24% of the state’s own tax base. State taxes on alcohol raise around Rs 2.25 lakh crore a year. India’s vast welfare system is funded partly by taxes on alcohol, 2) States make the retail trade vulnerable to nationalisation. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, private retailers have been pushed out two decades ago, 3) There is corruption through licensing and regulatory distortions to favour handpicked manufacturers, 4) Prohibition is the most extreme form of distortion. Gujarat’s hooch tragedy showed that the ban merely drives demand underground.

Read more: Death by hooch – India needs a more honest discussion on the risks and benefits of prohibition
What should be done to regulate alcohol?

Reforms in Alcohol regulation are pending long due. Manufacturers and retailers need a stable and transparent policy like any other industry. A stable policy will have a positive spin-off on agriculture, a key raw material supplier.

India also needs a straight regulatory system and 100% private retail for alcohol.


Infrastructure Finance Secretariat (IFS): Getting set to make an impact

Source: This post is created based on the article “IFS: Getting set to make an impact”, published in Business Standard on 4th August 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2, Government departments and organisations

News: Government is setting up Infrastructure Finance Secretariat (IFS).

The 2 divisions of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA); 1) the Infrastructure Policy and Planning Division, and 2) the Infrastructure Support and Development Division, are now moved under a new set-up called Infrastructure Finance Secretariat (IFS).

IFS will have three sections: Infrastructure financing, sectoral studies, and capacity building.

If the IFS function as an extended arm of DEA, what was the need to set it up?

First, DEA has many times recommended having an institution like the 3P India, which was announced in Arun Jaitley’s budget speech in July 2014.

3P India was supposed to be an experts-led independent institution to revitalise the broken public-private partnership ecosystem.

The Kelkar Committee in 2015 in its report titled “Revisiting and Revitalising PPP Model of Infrastructure Development”, also strongly endorsed the setting up of 3P India.

Second, its mechanism will not be based on the bureaucratic model. It would have a mechanism for contractual hiring terms for experts. It would also attract professionals deputed from multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Third, The IFS is expected to harmonising policies and formats related to infrastructure financing and development. At present, the matter of infrastructure has the involvement of 16 line ministries at the center, along with the NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Finance plus individual efforts of 30-plus states and Union Territories.

Fourth, financial and operating playing field has changed substantially in the first two decades of this century. Now, Investment policy supports Greenfield projects through state funding and monetization and brownfield assets through private capital. Technical platforms like Gati Shakti and new financial institutions — namely, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, have been set up. Now, IFS was needed to bring coherency in the functioning of every aspect.

Fifth, urban local bodies and village panchayats require capacity building to fulfill the obligation of ownership and operations and maintenance of utilities like Nal-Se-Jal. Capacity building is one of the priority mandates of the IFS.

Sixth, IFS will be one-stop to engage with various stakeholders like regulators, project bidders, asset owners, asset operators and investors.

What more can be done?

IFS could draw upon the learnings from similar organisations in other countries. For example, the National Infrastructure Commission of the United Kingdom was set up in October 2015.

In UK, the NIC functions as a think-tank focused on the long-term infrastructure priorities of the country. Thus, it provides advice and recommendations to the government on infrastructure challenges and strategy.

GS Paper 3


That pulses are not prioritised speaks of perverse policies that encourage crops requiring more water and chemical fertilisers

Source: The post is based on the article “That pulses are not prioritised speaks of perverse policies that encourage crops requiring more water and chemical fertilisers” published in the Indian Express on 4th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Major crop-cropping patterns in various parts of the country.

Relevance: About the reducing pulse cultivation in India.

News: Pulses are referred to as “orphan crops”. India is facing reducing pulse cultivation.

What is the reason for reducing pulse cultivation?

Pulses cultivation has reduced because

1) They are mostly grown in marginal lands prone to moisture stress,

2) Farmers switch to more high-yielding crops when they have access to irrigation. For instance, the surplus rainfall in much of the South Peninsula, Central and Northwest India led to falling in kharif pulses crops arhar (pigeon- by 13.5%). But rising for moong (green gram) and urad (black gram). This is because these are of shorter duration (60-90 days), unlike arhar which takes 160-180 days.

3) Farmers, especially in the two major pulses-growing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, have basically diverted arhar area to soyabean and cotton.

Soyabean is trading roughly 50% above its minimum support price (MSP). Also, its yields are more or less the same as arhar with hardly 90-100 days’ maturity time. Bountiful rains have given an added boost to cotton.

4) The lack of price certainty and a better than normal monsoon have resulted in pulses acreage going up mainly in Rajasthan and MP. Even there, farmers have opted for moong, urad and other short-duration pulses. As this can be harvested early to enable planting of their main rabi winter-spring crop of wheat or mustard.

Read more: India’s pulses problem: We need real reform
What are the benefits of Pulses?

a) Pulses are a valuable protein source for many Indians whose diets are vegetarian and cereal-based, b) Pulses harbour bacteria that naturally “fix” atmospheric nitrogen and their extensive root systems keep the soil porous and well-aerated.

Read more: A new public stocking policy centred on pulses, edible oils and vegetables is needed to manage unseasonal price hikes
What should be done to improve pulses cultivation?

Pulses should become a commercial crop rather than a crop of last resort. This requires 1) Assured MSP, 2) A stable import policy, 3) Breeding of varieties that are of shorter duration and amenable to mechanical harvesting, 4) Policies that encourage farmers to grow crops requiring less water and chemical fertilisers.

Read more: Diversification of Food Basket Through Pulses

Letting jobless growth worsen is way too risky

Source: This post is created based on the article “Letting jobless growth worsen is way too risky”, published in Live Mint on 4th August, 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3, Indian Economy, Employment and development

Context: In an emerging country, like India, the path to productivity and growth must lead workers away from farms towards jobs in factories and offices. However, India had limited success in this transition.

Some estimates say India need to create 90 million jobs by 2030 to absorb new entrants to the workforce.

As per Periodic Labour Force Survey, the proportion of Indians employed in agriculture was falling for decades, but this process flattened some years ago and reversed by the Covid crisis. That farms support around 43% of our workforce.

What are the factors hindering worker’s movement from farm to factories in India?

First, in the absence of a robust manufacturing sector, those who move out of farming mostly find themselves in low-paying construction work and informal services.

Second, in contrast to Bangladesh, we have not had an export boom of low-skill, labour-intensive products. India’s economic growth has been largely services led in contrast. A leap from the primary to the tertiary sector can’t absorb workers in the volumes we need.

Third, India’s growth elasticity of employment is on decline. It is a measure of how output expansion generates jobs. A 10% growth in gross domestic product is associated with only a 1% rise in employment.

Fourth, government has made efforts; like production-linked incentive schemes and efforts to grab the business flite from China. However, the efforts are hindered by legacy issues of poor infrastructure, complex and variable rules, skill deficiencies, hidden costs and more.

Lastly, K-shaped recovery from the covid pandemic has only worsened inequality.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

SERB-SURE scheme launched to augment research capabilities in state universities and colleges

Source: The post is based on the articleNew scheme launched to augment research capabilities in state universities and collegespublished in PIB on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has launched a new scheme titled “State University Research Excellence(SERB-SURE)”.

What is the State University Research Excellence(SERB-SURE) Scheme?

Launched by: Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB)

Aim: To augment the research capabilities in a structured way to create a robust R&D ecosystem in state and private universities and colleges, including self-financed institutions working within these universities.

Features: The scheme provides research support to active researchers belonging to state and private universities and colleges. This includes self-financed institutions working within universities, across India to undertake research and development in frontier areas of science, engineering, and quantitative social science.

Significance of the scheme: The scheme will help bring the university system, which was so far mostly limited to teaching, into mainstream research and enable the young faculty there to participate in cutting-edge research.

– The scheme will also provide much-needed research opportunities to the faculties of state universities, 45% of which are located in rural areas. 


Lok Sabha passes Central Universities (Amendment), Bill 2022

Source: The post is based on the article “Lok Sabha passes Central Universities (Amendment), Bill 2022published in PIB on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

Lok Sabha has passed the Central Universities (Amendment)Bill 2022.

What is the purpose of the Central Universities (Amendment)Bill 2022?

The Bill amends the Central Universities Act, 2009, which provides for establishing central universities in various states. Key features of the Bill include:

Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya:  The Bill seeks to convert the National Rail and Transportation Institute, Vadodara (a deemed university) to the Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya, which will be a central university.  

– The National Rail and Transportation Institute was declared a deemed university under the University Grants Commission Act, 1956. The Vishwavidyalaya will be sponsored and funded by the central government through the Ministry of Railways.  

Scope of education: The Bill provides that Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya will take measures to provide quality teaching, research, and skill development in disciplines related to transportation, technology, and management. If required, the University may also establish centres in India and abroad. 


Financial inclusion index inches up, all sub-indices rise: RBI

Source: The post is based on the article “Financial inclusion index inches up, all sub-indices rise: RBI” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has released the Financial Inclusion Index(FI-Index) for the year ending March 31, 2022.

What is the Financial Inclusion Index?

Released by: Reserve Bank of India(RBI).

Aim: To capture the extent of financial inclusion across the country.

Parameters: The index comprises three broad parameters — access (35% weightage), usage (45%) and quality (20%). Each of these parameters will consist of various dimensions, which are computed based on 97 indicators.

– The quality parameter includes aspects such as financial literacy, consumer protection, and inequalities and deficiencies in services.

Scores: The index captures information on various aspects of financial inclusion in a single value ranging between 0 and 100 where 0 represents complete financial exclusion and 100 indicates full financial inclusion.

Base Year: The index has been constructed without any “base year”. It reflects the cumulative efforts of all stakeholders.

What are the key findings of the index?

The extent of financial inclusion across the country has increased to 56.4 in March 2022 showing growth across parameters.

The index stood at 53.9 in March 2021. It was at 43.4 for the period ending March 2017. This shows rapid improvement in the reach of financial services over the past five years.


In several states, digital tools gap in government schools

Source: The post is based on the article “In several states, digital tools gap in government schools” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

According to Unified District Information System for Education Plus 2020-21 data, in at least 10 states in India, less than 10% of schools are equipped with Information and Communication Technology(ICT) tools.

What is ICT?

ICT stands for Information and Communications Technology.

These are tools that handle information and produce, store, and disseminate information.

ICT comprises both old and new tools. Old tools include radio, TV, and Telephone. New tools comprise computers, satellites, the Internet, and wireless technology.

What is the digital divide?

The digital divide encompasses the technical and financial ability to utilize available technology, along with access (or a lack of access) to the internet.

Digital divides exist between developed and developing countries, urban and rural populations, young and educated versus older and less educated individuals, and men and women.

What are the various ICT initiatives of the Ministry of Education?

SWAYAM

DIKSHA

National Digital Library (NDL): It is a project to develop a framework for a virtual repository of learning resources with a single-window search facility. 

E-Yantra: e-Yantra is a project for enabling effective education across engineering colleges in India on embedded systems and Robotics. 

Digital learning Initiatives by CBSE: SARANSH is a tool for comprehensive self-review and analysis for CBSE-affiliated schools and parents. It enables them to analyze students’ performance in order to take remedial measures. 


Parliament passes the National Anti-Doping Bill 2022

Source: The post is based on the articleParliament passes the National Anti-Doping Bill 2022published in PIB on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

Parliament has passed the National Anti-Doping Bill 2022.

Note: Doping basically means athletes taking illegal substances to make their performance better. Although doping enhances performance, there are health risks involved in taking them and they’re banned by sports governing bodies.

What are the key provisions of the National Anti-Doping Bill 2022?

Prohibits Doping: The Bill prohibits athletes, athlete support personnel, and other persons from engaging in doping in sports.

– Violation of anti-doping rules may result in disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points and prizes, ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, and financial sanctions.

Statutory backing for NADA: Currently, anti-doping rules are implemented by the National Anti-Doping Agency(NADA) which was established as a society.

– The Bill provides for constituting NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government. Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations.

National Board for Anti-Doping in Sports: The board will be established to make recommendations to the government on anti-doping regulations and compliance with international commitments on anti-doping. The Board will oversee the activities of NADA and issue directions to it.  

– The Board will constitute a National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel for determining the consequences of anti-doping rule violations. Further, the Board will constitute a National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel.


Explained | Understanding the provisions for foreign visits of State government Ministers

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | Understanding the provisions for foreign visits of State government Ministers” published in The Hindu on 4th August 2022.

What is the News?

Delhi State Transport Minister has moved the Delhi High Court with a plea to set aside the need for travel clearances by the Centre for private foreign visits of State government Ministers. 

He has also asked for the framing of appropriate guidelines with respect to the clearances for official foreign tours of Chief Ministers and other State government members.

Under which provisions are approvals required?

In 1982, the Cabinet Secretariat issued an office memorandum titled ‘Guidelines regarding foreign travel of Ministers of State government and Union Territories and State government officials’.

– The guidelines stated that foreign visits by members of the State governments in their official capacity would require clearances from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Ministry of Home Affairs, Finance Ministry and Central Administrative Ministry.

In 2004, another circular was issued which stated that Chief Ministers required further approval from the Prime Minister’s Office before an official visit. 

In 2010, yet another office memorandum made political clearances mandatory before private visits of Ministers in State governments. This memorandum was reiterated in 2015.

On what grounds has the petition been filed?

The petition seeks a quashing of the 2010 and 2015 office memoranda on the following grounds:

Firstly, the need for political clearances from the MEA for personal foreign visits of State government Ministers violates their right to privacy and dignity of their constitutional office.

Secondly, the use of gross delay to effectively deny clearances for official foreign visits is an arbitrary non-exercise of power and 

Thirdly, the manner of implementation of the relevant office memoranda on clearances for official visits suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and unchannelled discretion.

Lastly, the travel clearance Office Memoranda is against national interest and good governance and impinges upon the right to travel abroad as guaranteed under Article 21.


Cabinet nod for climate pledges

Source: The post is based on the articleCabinet nod for climate pledgespublished in The Hindu on 4th August 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved India’s updated climate pledge to the Paris Agreement. However, the ​​approved pledges were fewer than those the Prime Minister committed in Glasgow.

What is a Climate pledge to the Paris Agreement?

According to the 2015 Paris Agreement, each nation must set its own climate goals, which must be gradually modified every few years with increasingly challenging ones. 

In 2015, just before the Paris Agreement was finalized, India submitted its first pledge also known as NDC (Nationally Determined Commitments). It had three primary targets:

– A minimum of 40% of all energy generation must come from non-fossil renewable sources, down from 2005 levels.

– A reduction of 33% to 35% in emissions intensity (or emissions per unit of GDP)

– Increasing the amount of forest cover would add 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to the global carbon sink.

Commitments made at Glasgow: In 2021, the Indian Prime Minister announced the following new five-point set of targets at COP 26 in Glasgow.

Must read: India announces new climate targets at COP26 – Explained, pointwise
Which of these above targets announced at Glasgow has been included in updated NDCs?
Source: Indian Express

Only two of these targets have been made official and put in the updated NDC. These are:

– India will now reduce its emission intensity by at least 45%, instead of just 33 to 35%, from 2005 levels by 2030.

– It would also ensure that at least 50% of its total electricity generation, not just 40%, would come from renewable sources by 2030.

 

 


Supreme Court calls for a panel to look into freebies issue

Source: The post is based on the article “Supreme Court calls for a panel to look into freebies issue” published in The Hindu on 4th August 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has suggested setting up a specialised body composed of persons who can dispassionately examine the problem of Freebies.

What are Freebies?

The literal meaning of freebie is something that is given free of charge or cost. Political parties are outdoing each other in promising free electricity and water supply, laptops, cycles, electronic appliances, etc.These are called ‘freebies’.

However, it is necessary to distinguish freebies from public/merit goods, expenditure which brings economic benefits such as the public distribution system, employment guarantee schemes, and states’ support for education and health.

What is the negative impact of freebies?

Freebies potentially undermine credit culture, distort prices through cross-subsidisation eroding incentives for private investment and disincentivising work at the current wage rate leading to a drop in labour force participation.

RBI Study on Freebies

According to the RBI, State governments have announced over Rs 1 trillion in welfare schemes and subsidies.

For instance, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal are among the state governments with the largest welfare scheme announcements in their respective Budgets this year. They collectively account for over Rs 67,000 crore worth of schemes in 2022-23.

Supreme Court on Freebies
Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has said that the freebies were paving the way for an “economic disaster” besides “distorting the informed decision of voters”.

Hence, it has suggested setting up a specialised body composed of persons who can dispassionately examine the problem of Freebies. The political parties can suggest the composition of the body.

The proposed body could examine ways to resolve the issue of freebies and file a report before the Centre or the Election Commission. 


India’s trade deficit surges to over $31 bn – what is trade deficit, is it bad?

Source: The post is based on the article “India’s trade deficit surges to over $31 bn – what is trade deficit, is it bad?” published in Indian Express on 3rd August 2022.

What is the News?

India’s trade deficit widened to a record $31.02 billion in July due to contracting merchandise exports and a rise in imports. This is a three-times increase from the $10.63 billion trade deficit reported in July last year.

What is the trade deficit?

Simply put, a Trade Deficit or negative balance of trade(BOT) is the gap between exports and imports. 

When money spent on imports exceeds that spent on exports in a country, a trade deficit occurs. The opposite of a trade deficit is trade surplus.

What causes a trade deficit?

There are multiple factors that can be responsible. One of them is some goods not being produced domestically. In that case, they have to be imported. This leads to an imbalance in their trade.

A weak currency can also be a cause as it makes trade expensive.

Is a trade deficit bad for a country’s economy?

Firstly, it can decrease a country’s GDP.

Secondly, it can decrease the local currency’s value.

Thirdly, it can impact the job market and lead to an increase in unemployment. For instance, if more mobiles are imported and less produced locally, then there will be fewer local jobs in that sector.


NASA robots work together for the first time on International Space Station

Source: The post is based on the article “NASA robots work together for the first time on International Space Station” published in Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

For the first time ever, two Astrobee robots have begun working independently on the International Space Station, side by side with humans.

What is Astrobee?

Astrobee is NASA’s new free-flying robotic system.

Purpose: The robots are designed to complete tasks such as taking inventory, documenting experiments conducted by astronauts with their built-in cameras or working together to move cargo throughout the station.

– It also consists of a system that serves as a research platform that can be outfitted and programmed to conduct microgravity experiments.Thus, it will help to learn more about how robotics can benefit astronauts in space.

Three Flying Robots of Astrobee: The three free-flying robots are named Honey, Queen, and Bumble. The robots are shaped like cubes 12.5 inches wide.

– The three robots propel themselves using electric fans that allow them to fly through the microgravity environment of the International Space Station.

– They “look around” and navigate their surroundings using cameras and sensors.

– When they are running low on charge, they can automatically return to their docking station to begin recharging.

Based on: The Astrobee robots are built on the knowledge acquired from operating SPHERES (Synchronised Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellite) robots which have been operating on the International Space Station for over a decade. Once fully commissioned, the Astrobee system will take over for SPHERES as the space station’s robotic test facility.


Concern in Delhi over not being part of US-led Minerals Security Partnership

Why in the News?

India is exploring the possibilities of joining the Minerals Security Partnership.

About Minerals Security Partnership

Minerals Security Partnership is an ambitious new US-led partnership to secure supply chains of critical minerals, aimed at reducing dependency on China.

Members: US, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the European Commission.

The new grouping could focus on the supply chains of minerals such as Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium and also the 17 “rare earth” minerals.

Significance of joining MSP for India

Given the push of India towards Electric Vehicles, it needs to secure the supply of critical minerals.

China has created a processing infrastructure in rare earth minerals and has acquired mines in Africa for elements such as cobalt.

Few Facts about rare Earth elements

Rare earth comprises seventeen elements and are classified as light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).

Some REs are available in India such as Lanthanum, Cerium, Neodymium, Praseodymium, and Samarium.

While others such as Dysprosium, Terbium, Europium that are classified as HREE are not available in Indian deposits in extractable quantity.


Mains Answer Writing

The fragility of the Northeast’s integration

Source: The post is based on an article “The fragility of the Northeast’s integration” published in the “The Hindu” on 16th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 Regionalism Relevance: North-Eastern States News: In recent years, the North-eastern states governments like Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are ruled by the same political party which is ruling… Continue reading The fragility of the Northeast’s integration

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The shackles of 1861 need to go

Source: The post is based on an article “The shackles of 1861 need to go” published in The Hindu on 16th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate. Relevance: Police Reforms News: Recently, a book titled “The Struggle for Police Reforms in India: Ruler’s Police to People’s Police” authored by a former… Continue reading The shackles of 1861 need to go

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Towards an India where women lead

Source: The post is based on an article “Towards an India where women lead” published in the Indian Express on 16th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India. Relevance: Gender Disparities; Prejudices and Discrimination News: Recently, the 2022 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index was released, which confirmed a… Continue reading Towards an India where women lead

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Diplomacy for Viksit Bharat

Source: The post is based on an article “Diplomacy for Viksit Bharat” published in the Indian Express on 16th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 International relations; Bilateral relations Multilateral relations etc. Relevance: Foreign Policy News: The Prime Minister of India has outlined a new ambition to make India a developed country, “Viksit Bharat”, by 2047.… Continue reading Diplomacy for Viksit Bharat

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To Be Developed

Source: The post is based on the article “To be developed” published in The Times of India on 16th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment. Relevance: Economic Growth News:  The Prime Minister of India’s 75th Year Independence Day speech has set an… Continue reading To Be Developed

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Explained: Women heroes of India’s freedom struggle, mentioned by PM in his I-Day speech

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Women heroes of India’s freedom struggle, mentioned by PM in his I-Day speech” published in Indian Express on 16th August 2022. What is the News? During 75th Independence Day anniversary speech, the Prime Minister hailed “nari shakti”, and urged people to pledge to not do anything… Continue reading Explained: Women heroes of India’s freedom struggle, mentioned by PM in his I-Day speech

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75 Ramsar Sites in 75th Year of Independence

Source: The post is based on the article “75 Ramsar Sites in 75th Year of Independence ” published in PIB on 14th August 2022. What is the News? India has added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make a total 75 Ramsar sites. The 11 new sites include Four (4) sites in… Continue reading 75 Ramsar Sites in 75th Year of Independence

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Explained: Why has Johnson and Johnson decided to discontinue its talc-based baby powder?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why has Johnson and Johnson decided to discontinue its talc-based baby powder?” published in Indian Express on 16th August 2022. What is the News? Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson(J&J) has announced that it will discontinue the sale of its talc-based baby powder globally by 2023. This… Continue reading Explained: Why has Johnson and Johnson decided to discontinue its talc-based baby powder?

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Yuan Wang 5: Why is the visit of a Chinese vessel to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port controversial?

Source: The post is based on the article “Why is the visit of a Chinese vessel to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port controversial?” published in The Hindu on 16th August 2022. What is the News? Sri Lanka has approved the arrival of a Chinese satellite-tracking vessel named “Yuan Wang 5” to its southern Chinese-funded Hambantota port.… Continue reading Yuan Wang 5: Why is the visit of a Chinese vessel to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port controversial?

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Explained: What is DigiYatra, the contactless passenger processing system for airports

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is DigiYatra, the contactless passenger processing system for airports” published in Indian Express on 16th August 2022. What is the News? The Delhi International Airport Ltd(DIAL) run by GMR has announced the soft launch of the Centre’s DigiYatra initiative, rolling out the beta version of… Continue reading Explained: What is DigiYatra, the contactless passenger processing system for airports

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