9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 10th, 2021
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- Pavlovian responses like travel restrictions won’t stop omicron
- A better NJAC: Politicians are right on the collegium. But can their solution rise above politics, that’s the question
- Suspension of 12 MPs for entire Winter Session is worrying
- School education: Children and schooling in the post covid 19 era
- India-Germany relations: After 16 years
- About the foreign aids: Imagine: The common good
GS Paper 3
- On Agri reforms: Setback for reforms
- PM-AASHA, price deficiency payment scheme: A fact check on its progress
- On corporatisation of banks: Companies Needn’t Own Banks
- The NFT promise is overhyped even for creative folks
- The mountains are calling and they need help
- Clean Energy from cold nuclear fusion is our Planet’s best hope
- Delhi Pollution-Looking at social. political facets of climate crisis can help in better adaptation
- Government shouldn’t rush to rein in fiscal deficit-NITI Aayog
- Nagaland’s people deserve neither AFSPA nor gun culture
- How waterways can help improve competitiveness
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Centre revises guidelines for procurement of coarse grain
- Panel flags poor fund utilisation in Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme
- Drone firms seek simpler rules, support for commercial ops
- Surging prices threaten to scupper India’s coming-of-age gas party
- Poor nations lag in removing unhealthy trans fat from food – WHO report
- World unprepared for future pandemics: Global Health Security Index 2021
- BEE Launches ‘Certification Course on Home Energy Audit’ Initiative
- Imports made up 86% of gold supply in 2016-20, says WGC
- Union Minister says, India’s maiden human space mission “Gaganyaan” will be launched in 2023
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: This post is based on the article “Across India, minorities are overrepresented in jails” published in the Indian Express on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 1 – Communalism, regionalism & secularism.
Relevance: Understanding the concerns raised from NCRB data on the minority community.
News: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports show that in almost all the states of the Indian Union, irrespective of the party holding office, religious minorities are over-represented in jail.
What do the NCRB Report data shows?
Muslims are (and were) over-represented among jail inmates in almost all the Hindu-majority states. For example, In Assam, Muslims, according to the 2011 census, are 34% of the population and they represent 43 to 47.5% of the “undertrials”. In Gujarat, Muslims are 10% of the population and since 2017, they have been about 25-27% of the “undertrials.
The only major state where Muslims have been under-represented among the “undertrials” is Bihar, where Muslims are 17% and they represent 15% of the undertrials.
Similarly, Hindus are overrepresented in states where they are in the minority. eg In J&K Hindus are 28.5% of the population and represent 34-39.5% of undertrials and 42.5-50.5% are convicts.
Why the situation is alarming?
In almost every state, the minorities are over-represented in jail and the majorities are under-represented, irrespective of the ideology of the ruling party. This is a clear indication of the communalisation of the police that tends to prevail.
This problem can be solved by the recruitment and promotion of policemen from minority communities.
GS Paper 2
Source– This post is based on the article “Pavlovian responses like travel restrictions won’t stop omicron” published in Live mint on 9th Dec 2021.
Syllabus– GS Paper 2 (Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests).
News– Discovery of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa, called Omicron, has led to countries once again restricting or entirely eliminating the freedom to travel.
Why these knee-jerk reactions like travel bans are not effective?
1) Virus is well on its way to becoming endemic at many places.
2) Also there appears no need to lock away one country when this virus is already on multiple continents. After the initial outbreak, travel restrictions have very little impact on virus spread.
3) Unlike 2020 we now have tests, vaccines and various tools, so we aren’t as helpless as we were then.
4) Travel restrictions bring with them hidden human and economic cost of de-connecting the world.
What are the steps that should be taken?
1) Implementing public health and social measures should be prioritized-Proven personal hygiene measures like hand washing, social distancing and mask-wearing should be religiously followed.
2) Using IT tools –Data-driven decisions, consistent set of health protocols, contact-tracing and screening measures can help governments to keep their borders open without compromising on public health.
3) Vaccines– Making COVID vaccines available to all. There exists a wide disparity between the developed and developing countries in this aspect. We should remember that no one is safe till everyone is safe.
A better NJAC: Politicians are right on the collegium. But can their solution rise above politics, that’s the question
Source: This post is based on the article “A better NJAC: Politicians are right on the collegium. But can their solution rise above politics, that’s the question” published in the Times of India on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.
Relevance: Understanding the need of NJAC.
News: A demand for introducing National Judicial Appointments Commission has been resurfaced in Lok Sabha.
What is National Judicial Appointments Commission?
|Read here: National Judicial Appointments Commission|
Why did the demand for NJAC arise?
Supporters of collegium cite executive overreach and suspicious government interest in judicial appointments in the 1970s. But after the first and second judges’ case, collegium itself has been mired by opaqueness, nepotism, and lack of accountability.
Also, the political class is not favoring the principle of “judges appointing judges”, the model which is not applicable anywhere in the world.
How to make NJAC more accountable?
First, In the earlier NJAC Act, the rule that any two commission members can veto a candidate seems to give the Government of India primacy. This veto power should be changed.
Second, the choice of civil society members in the earlier NJAC Act must pass the smell test. i.e., the coherence of both PM and LoP is needed to appoint civil society members.
Source: This post is based on the article “Suspension of 12 MPs for entire Winter Session is worrying” published in the Indian Express on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
Relevance: Understanding the conceptuality of suspension rules.
News: 12 Rajya Sabha MPs have been suspended for the remainder of the session for bringing disorder in the house.
What are the suspension rules of the Rajya Sabha?
|Read here: Suspension rules of RS|
Why the present suspension is a cause of concern?
Sub Rule 2 of Rule 256 clearly indicates that the matter of suspension cannot be adjourned to a later period. It has to be solved at that time(Session) only.
So, the present suspension of these MPs did not follow the procedure prescribed in Rule 256. Their suspension was invoked in the monsoon session and the winter session is a new session, so the suspension is not valid for this new session.
From the academic perspective, it can be said that rules under which members were suspended do not allow such suspension. But the House is supreme in these matters, and the chair has absolute powers to interpret the rules.
What should be done?
The courts have said that courts will intervene in the management of the house only when it does something patently unconstitutional.
So, the Parliament should learn that the solution to disruptions does not lie in suspension.
Source: This post is based on the article “Children and schooling in the post Covid-19 era” published in The Hindu on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to education.
Relevance: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on child education.
News: The pandemic has exposed the limits of the Nation’s capacity to look after the collective needs of children. It proved that society and state ignored the conditions under which family copes with the demand of childhood.
What was the impact of the Covid pandemic on children?
Right to education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan created infrastructure and systems for universalization of education. Various studies suggest that pandemics exposed fragile systems and structures of education. Even the provision of meals for young children was stopped. Teaching switched to online mode. All these deeply impacted the children
A survey by Vipla foundation revealed that the Majority of children from lower social-economic backgrounds could not access online teaching. For the ones that could access it, the reach of comprehension and progress were low.
|Read more: ASER Survey and issues in school education – Explained, pointwise|
What are the challenges faced by the recovery plan?
A committee was set up by Tamil Nadu under professor R Ramanujam highlighted various challenges:
-Online education has an addictive effect on young children. This would require De-addiction from the digital world and reconnecting to the physical world.
-Digital activism and its ideology have deeply penetrated the minds of children. This would require counselling of children, teachers and even family members.
-There has been a large-scale shift of children from private schools to government schools owing to economic reasons.
|Read more: The decline of the Budget school|
What should be the way forward?
Inspiration can be taken from the UNESCO report titled “no teacher, no class “. This report suggests that India is facing a shortfall of at least 1 million schoolteachers. So, the first step is to improve the terms of employment of teachers in both public and private schools and encourage the profession of teaching.
|Must read: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise|
Source: This post is based on the article “After 16 years” published in Business Standard on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: To understand the present condition of Germany and its importance to India.
News: Recently, Olaf Scholz has been sworn in as chancellor of Germany, ending the 16-year tenure of Angela Merkel.
About Germany’s political system
The political system of Germany is known for its continuity. The post-War German republic has had just nine chancellors, including Mr Scholz. For the past 40 years, just three individuals have occupied the chancellery.
What are the policies adopted during Angela Merkel’s term in Germany?
1. Germany emerged from the bruises of reunification, 2. Admitted Syrian refugees to the country, 3. Demonstrate strong and sustained growth in the economy when other countries are struggling with their economic models (Except China), 4. Not declared China as a systemic rival, like France, as their middle-sized enterprises rely on supply chains that are centred in China, 5. Phased-out nuclear power in Germany, which results in various challenges.
|Read more: Germany as a development actor in a post-Merkel area|
What are the consequences faced by Germany in phasing-out Nuclear power?
2. Depend more on renewables and natural gas, 2. Germany became the largest emitter of Carbon in Europe, 3. The country has the highest electricity prices in Europe, 3, Facing challenges in achieving green transition, 4. Impacted Germany’s foreign policy: German economy needs Russian natural gas. So, they are not condemning Russian actions against Ukraine.
|Read more: Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia|
Why does India need to pay attention to the New Chancellor’s actions in Germany?
Germany is India’s largest trade partner within Europe and a significant contributor to manufacturing FDI within India. So the new chancellor’s actions in trade, green finance, and supply chains will impact investment and growth in India.
|Read more: First of its kind program for lateral entry for women researchers in joint R&D projects between India and Germany launched|
Source: This post is based on the article “Imagine: The common good” published in Business Standard on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS-2 Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Relevance: To understand the rationale behind aid from developed countries and their impacts.
News: In recent years, Canada, Australia, and the UK have merged their independent aid ministries with their foreign ministries. Germany and other countries are also considering such a merger.
What are the reasons behind the merger?
1. Increase efficiency of aids, 2. Enhance cross-government coherence, 3. Aid will serve the national interest. For instance, countries like the US, France, and India, have always accepted that providing aids will strengthen their international objectives.
About the types of aid
Countries can frame aids on two types. 1. Framing aid for altruism (Aid without any self-interest of the donor), 2. Framing aid as an instrument to strengthen their country’s objectives.
On the other hand, some kinds of aid — humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, combating HIV— were framed beyond altruistic objectives.
What is the impact of framing aid to fulfil national objectives?
Small amounts of aids from donor countries for poverty reduction, improving the lives and livelihoods of people, etc. was not enough to alleviate the root cause such as the drivers of poverty, notable inequality within and outside the donee country. So consultants and researchers from the donor countries and donee countries demanded more altruistic grounds for aid.
|Note: Instead of the United Nations model of more equal and transparent funding to all, the developed countries prefer the World Bank model (quota system). In this, the donee countries had little say in decision-making.|
Does the merger of aid ministries with foreign ministries help in altruism?
The merger of ministries is motivated by parochial considerations and stuck with old notions of national interest. So, the mergers are mean-spirited and Hobbesian.
|Note: Hobbesian means following similar ideas of the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, especially the idea that humans naturally compete and fight for their own interests.|
What needs to be done?
The pandemic and crisis-ridden times highlight the abysmal global cooperation in the public interest and the need to direct resources towards more efficient ends. The following steps would be needed to achieve them.
First, promote multilateralism: Multilateral action would have considerably reduced the impact of the pandemic. So, it is in the national interest to promote multilateralism.
Second, Global public finance for global public goods: The successes of global disaster management initiatives and naval cooperation in combating piracy, force nations to work on global public finance for global public goods. It will generate adequate and universal access to global public goods.
Third, enhance global security through collective action: To create a globally agreed framework of human rights and global justice, nations have to invest in global security like they do in trade cooperation through the World Trade Organization and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
In conclusion, an enlightened mutually beneficial vision of national interest is the only credible alternative. Nations have to focus on this, not on aid that focuses on Altruism and philanthropy.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Setback for reforms” published in Business Standard on 10th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Agriculture sector
Relevance: Agri reforms in India
News: Farm groups have ended the protests against the three agricultural laws.
The Green Revolution policies have benefitted only those who grow wheat, rice, and sugar and in limited regions. These policies offered heavily subsidised inputs and an assured market and price for their products.
For the majority of the farmers growing other crops and dependent on the monopolistic licensed marketing system, it has been a case of diminishing returns. For instance, according to the data released by the statistics office, farm income growth for (2013-2019), the all-India average earning per household stood at Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000.
By repealing the laws, the government has missed a big opportunity to introduce meaningful reform in Indian agriculture to increase farm incomes.
Why repealing farm laws is a setback for reforms?
Price support schemes were introduced as a solution to increase farm incomes. However, this proved of limited value and have imposed heavy burdens on government finances.
Now, several states have started recognising that farmers urgently need marketing freedom to obtain better prices for their products and amended their marketing laws.
Had the farm laws been passed, it would have enabled this process on an all-India scale. However, such reforms will now have to wait.
What is the way forward?
First, the government should engage with farmers from across the country to find feasible ways to increase farm incomes.
Second, increasing the ambit of MSP could permanently damage the prospects of reform in the agriculture sector and must be avoided.
|For more articles on issues related to MSP, please go through the following:|
Source: This post is based on the article “PM-AASHA, price deficiency payment scheme: A fact check on its progress” published in Business Standard on 10th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Agriculture sector
Relevance: Agri reforms in India
News: After the repeal of farm laws, farm groups are demanding for a legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP).
As of now, various options are being suggested to meet the demand of protesting farmers. One of the schemes that has found repeated mentions in various commentaries is the price deficiency payment scheme (PDPS).
It was modelled on the lines of the Bhawantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) started by the Madhya Pradesh government a few years back.
What is PM-AASHA scheme?
– Read more here: https://blog.forumias.com/pm-aasha-an-analysis/
What are the significant provisions under PM-AASHA scheme?
Cap on procurement: Under PM-AASHA, procurement is done on request from the state government and purchases are capped at 25% of the total production of the crop in the state. This can be expanded up to 40% if the commodity is used for PDS or for any other state welfare scheme.
No tax: No state could levy any tax such as mandi tax on such procurement.
Cap on central expenditure: The central expenditure on all the three components of PM-AASHA is limited to 25% of the state’s total production of oilseeds and pulses.
The state would have to arrange funds from its own resources if it wants to procure or support over and above the mandated 25%.
Timely compensation: Another important guideline of PM-AASHA is that farmers, whether under PDPS or Price support scheme (PSS) or private sector pilot, will have to be paid their remuneration within a fixed time period.
For instance, in case of PSS, the purchase price should reach farmers within three days of receipt of their produce.
How the PM-AASHA Scheme has progressed so far?
Acc to the recent report of The Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), the PSS has made significant progress in terms of procurement of pulses and oilseeds by NAFED. However, PDPS and PPSS have not made much progress.
The commission pointed that absence of regular disposal mechanisms and market infrastructure unlike wheat and paddy for oilseeds and pulses as the main problem.
Recommendation: The commission recommended that PDPS and PPSS can be strengthened by addressing the procurement issues of oilseeds and pulses.
How was the experience with PDPS so far in Madhya Pradesh?
Since the beginning, the experience with the PDPS scheme in Madhya Pradesh is not favourable. The scheme is plagued with many issues such as,
Firstly, the method of calculation was complicated as well as the process of registration and the multiple paperwork involved.
Secondly, a large number of farmers did not register themselves on the portal, and they had to sell their produce at prices which were lower than the announced MSPs.
Thirdly, there were allegations that farmers were conspiring with traders to keep prices down to widen the differential between the actual price and MSP.
Fourthly, Madhya Pradesh farmers lost almost Rs 200 crore due to manipulation in the scheme as per a report by scroll.in, based on RTI responses.
Source: This post is based on the article “Companies Needn’t Own Banks” published in TOI on 10th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to banking sector
Relevance: Corporatisation of banks
News: Recently, RBI’s Internal Working Group (IWG) on ownership guidelines of private sector banks recommended that large corporates and industrial houses be allowed to be promoters of banks.
However, recent trends suggest that the financial system can meet the growing demand for credit for the next three to five years, without taking on the risk of issuing licences to industrial houses.
|Read more: https://blog.forumias.com/corporates-as-bankers-bane-or-boon-for-economy/|
Why it was proposed that large corporates and industrial houses be allowed to be promoters of banks?
Increased in demand for loans: Indian Economy needs new investments in the financial system to sustain its growth. If the economy has to grow in double digits every year in nominal terms (real growth plus inflation), demand for loans is likely to grow.
But the credit growth from PSBs has been poor compared to private banks. For instance, Private banks share of bank loans increased from 21% in 2010 to 36% in 2020, as the share of PSBs fell from 74% to 60%.
Considering, even if all current private banks grow at twice the nominal GDP growth and non-banks and bond markets show healthy growth, it will be difficult to meet economy’s future demand.
In this context, it was suggested that large corporates and industrial houses be allowed to be promoters of banks.
However, the potential capacity of India’s financial system has been boosted meaningfully in the last two years. This has forced a rethink.
What are the recent steps taken to boost India’s financial system?
Decision to privatise two PSBs: This can hopefully trigger better governance and performance in the remaining PSBs.
Setting up of the new development finance company with a lending target of Rs 5 trillion within three years (this is 3% of total outstanding private credit in FY21), will supplement financial capacity.
Surge in equity investments in technology-enabled financial firms (FinTech): Through better use of data and analytics, these firms identify lending opportunities, making the risk more manageable compared to risk-averse lenders like PSBs.
IWG’s suggestions helped to add equity capital in the system: For instance,
Increasing Promoters’ stake to 26%, higher than the 15% permitted earlier.
Non-promoter shareholding threshold being raised to 15% from 10% is a potential opportunity for getting more private equity investments into some of the smaller private banks.
Increasing bank base: Several existing licensed firms are also progressing from being payment banks to small finance banks, onward to becoming universal banks within few years.
Source: This post is based on the article “The NFT promise is overhyped even for creative folks” published in Livemint on 10th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology.
Relevance: Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
News: The NFT promise is overhyped.
Recently, a column titled ‘NFTs are overhyped but useful for a creative economy’ appeared in Mint.
The author of that article opines that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the allied technology can alleviate the work-monetization challenges.
Without NFTs, the artists and other independent content creators, are left at the mercy of online platforms.
But, the author of this article “The NFT promise is overhyped even for creative folks” has contradicting views. He has pointed out various flaws in the utility of NFTs himself.
What are the various flaws pointed out by the author?
NFTs are not plagiarism-proof. Because nothing stops counterfeits or piracy. For example, let’s say a web pirate downloads a Bhuvan Bam’s video from YouTube and circulates it on WhatsApp.
Now, BB stands to lose some ad revenue. This problem will persist even if he uploads all his videos as NFTs. While Bam may be the undisputed owner of the said video, he will not be protected from online piracy.
The argument that NFTs are a solution for independent creators seeking freedom from Big Tech is extremely weak.
Big techs earn a part of revenue generated by its users. Justifiably, they provide a range of services from streaming servers, seamless payment devices and subscriber management and more.
This is a simple function of demand and supply. So, there is nothing wrong in big tech charging content streamers.
The argument that NFTs will improve the gains of artist as it will helps creators to directly connect with their audience is false. Artists must still depend on their fame or social media clout, or spend time and effort to market their art to a prospective buyer.
NFTs need heavy upfront investments. In comparison, it takes a single free Gmail ID and about 30 seconds to set up a YouTube channel.
Finally, the adoption of NFTs has no bearing on sale prospects or prices. Mere listing of NFTs on marketplaces does not guarantee sales. The chance of an artist successfully selling NFTs at high prices still depends on the individual’s reputation and track record.
Source– This post is based on the article “The mountains are calling and they need help” published in Live mint on 9th Dec 2021.
Syllabus– GS Paper 3 (Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment) and GS Paper 1 (Geography Section), Essay Paper.
News – Plastic Pollution is increasing in the Mountains, especially Himalayas.
Mountains are most environmentally sensitive ecosystems, and are being impacted by the adversities of climate change and other environmental hazards such as increasing plastic waste, at a rapid rate. Waste Management in mountains is crucial for their sustainability.
Sources of Plastic waste –
- High tourist footfall.
- Plastic used in Packaging
- Presence of various manufacturing industries. Example– Pharmaceutical Industry in Himachal.
- Household waste
This problem requires Multi stakeholder approach as follows –
1)Administrative level– Following steps can be taken by civil administration for waste management.
2) Business Level/Corporate responsibility – Success of business relies on a healthy planet, they should strive to reduce the waste and emissions while simultaneously optimizing production measures through a comprehensive action plan.
3) Community Participation and Behavioural Change – Littering and not segregating waste at household level are two primary reasons which make waste management much more complex, high tourism footfall in hills makes it much more difficult. There is a need to foster partnerships among local non-profit organizations, trader associations and schools, providing bins at key locations, door to door awareness drives and sector-specific training modules.
Conclusion–True essence of sustainable development lies in fulfilling present needs without compromising the needs of future generations. We all have an obligation towards one another, our future generations and other species to sustain the planet and make it a better place, which would require a collaborative approach.
Source– This post is based on the article “Clean Energy from cold nuclear fusion is our Planet’s best hope” published in Livemint on 9 th Dec 2021.
Syllabus– GS Paper 3 (Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life)
Context–Author presents the view that although most technologies and tech products deplete our natural resources and contribute heavily to global warming and climate change. However, there is one tech that stands out and rather helps to save the planet that is –Cold Fusion.
What is Cold Fusion or Nuclear Fusion?
Nuclear fusion or cold fusion is not a new concept, scientists have known about it since Einstein’s times. It is an inexhaustible supply of energy, without pollution or global warming, and the phenomena that powers our Sun.
How is it different from Nuclear Fission
Fusion is not the same as fission. In fission, the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei, releasing the vast amounts of energy holding them together, thus powering nuclear reactors and thermonuclear bombs. In a fusion reaction, two light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. The process releases energy because the total mass of the resulting single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei. The leftover mass becomes energy.
Do we have working Nuclear Fusion models?
Physicists have since 1950s tried to generate energy through nuclear fusion but the problem is that the energy used to make this happen exceeded the energy released. Which defeats the purpose and making the process ‘hot’ and not ‘cold’ fusion. But recent attempts by both government and private sector have been encouraging and there have been definite progress if not complete success.
If any of these attempts succeed, it will give us unlimited clean fuel to power our planet forever, much like the sun has been doing. Cold fusion energy could be our best bet against climate disaster.
Source– This post is based on the article “Delhi Pollution-Looking at social. political facets of climate crisis can help in better adaptation” published in Down to earth on 9th Dec 2021.
Syllabus– GS Paper 3 (Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation).
News– Rising Pollution level is a health hazard and a violation of Article 21.
India is currently ranked the fifth-most polluted country in the Global Air Quality Index list. interventions dictated by policies, so far, have been binary in nature. This is primarily because we have been treating air pollution as a technological problem or as one that requires the actions of individuals alone, whilst ignoring its social and political facets. Political action becomes crucial given the silent and short–spanned, yet cyclical nature of air pollution. A shift from air pollution as a technological problem to a political one will enable parties to be held accountable on this front.
How transition of pollution from technological solutions to social and political solutions will happen?
1) Public Interest Litigation – They Provide an excellent path to hasten policy drafting and enable public participation.
2) Raising issue of pollution as a Violation of Article 21–Degrading levels of air in cities can be approached as a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 states “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law”. As supreme court has reiterated in various of its judgements that meaning of life under Article 21 does not merely mean “the physical act of breathing, it does not connote mere animal existence or continued drudgery through life”.
This becomes much more important in the light of the facts that fund for Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been halved and also many Environmental laws have been repealed those environmentalists deem important.
3) Public Participation – Huge public awakening is paramount to solve this crisis and this requires not just moral action but also a democratic one based on human rights.
What are some measures to Prevent further worsening of pollution?
- Switching to clean energy sources for cook stoves
- Measures to reduce road traffic by raising parking fees
- Levying congestion charges
- Creating vehicle-free zones and cycle paths
- Emphasizing on improving standards of industrial efficiency.
Source– This post is based on the article “Government shouldn’t rush to rein in fiscal deficit-NITI Aayog” published in Times of India on 10th Dec 2021.
Syllabus– GS Paper 3 – (Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, etc.)
News–NITI Aayog gas suggested that government should not rush to lower fiscal deficit. This would help economy and will provide a safety net to economy from new emerging variants. While the government has kept the fiscal deficit target for current financial year as 6.8 percent of GDP but it is targeting to lower it to 4.5 percent of GDP by year 2025-26.
What is Fiscal deficit and what has been its trend
A fiscal deficit is a shortfall in a government’s income compared with its spending. It is calculated as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).
Figure. Fiscal Deficit trends over the last Five years.
Finance Ministry has also been prodding ministries and public sector companies to spend more but several ministries have not performed adequately on this aspect.
What will be the effects of stepping up Capital expenditure?
Stepping up Capital expenditure will boost demand for raw materials and create jobs which will strengthen economic recovery.
Source: This post is based on the article “Nagaland’s people deserve neither AFSPA nor gun culture” published in the Indian Express on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism.
Relevance: Understanding the present situation in Nagaland.
News: The death of innocent civilians by security officers in Nagaland caused outrage of repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
What is AFSPA? What are the challenges associated with it?
|Read here: All about AFSPA|
Regional Disparity of AFSPA: There is also a question that why AFSPA is only applicable to North-East states and J&K alone when other Indian states also face instances of internal rebellion like left-wing extremism. The reason behind this is NE and J&K is still considered “alien” to the nation because of racial and cultural dissimilarities.
|Also read: Repealing AFSPA will not weaken, only strengthen Constitution|
What are the various groups in Nagaland, and how do they proceed?
Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs): They are Nagaland-based groups and speak exclusively for Nagaland.
NSCN (IM): The majority of their cadres belong to Nagas from Manipur. In the past, they mercilessly gunned down rival factions.
Nagaland Gaon Bura Association: It is the apex body of Nagas, which includes all the 16 recognized tribes and the NNPGs. It barred the NSCN (IM) from its group.
The NNPGs and the Gaon Bura Association of Nagaland doubt NSCN(IM)’s ability to bring lasting peace in Nagaland.
Further, their representatives do not demand a separate flag or constitution or sovereignty. They also understand that Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will not be reorganized. So, the group petitioned several requests to PM and Home Minister to solve the issues through peaceful means.
|Read more: Nagaland killings should prompt a broad rethink|
What is the present situation?
The Free movement regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar across the 1,643 km border allows movement up to 16 KM inside each other’s territory for trade and commerce. This is misused by militants to smuggle drugs and arms.
Also, the People of Nagaland feel being held hostage by the Center and NSCN(IM). The incidents of misuse of AFSPA alienate people from the center.
What should the government do?
To bring stability in Nagaland, the government should work on these issues.
Further, To strengthen the nation-building process, the government should think of repealing the AFSPA to bring stability to the J&K and NE region.
Source: This post is based on the article “How waterways can help improve competitiveness” published in Live Mint on 10th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: To understand the importance of Inland waterways and government actions to promote them.
News: Despite being cost-effective and environment-friendly, domestic waterways play a limited role in hinterland connectivity.
About inland waterways in India
India has an extensive network of inland waterways, but they are highly underutilized for freight transport.
The development of inland waterways has been effective in increasing the movement of cargo by about 13% in 2020-21, compared to 2019-20.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) says 25 of the 111 National Waterways (NWs) are fit for cargo and passenger traffic. Out of these 25, developmental activities are underway for 13.
|Must read: Inland Waterways in India- Issues and Challenges|
What are the benefits of Inland waterways?
According to Rail India Technical and Economic Service, an arm of the Indian Railways, inland water transport is significantly cost-efficient compared to rail and road transport, 2. Help in de-congestion of overcrowded rail and road networks,
Inland waterways and regional trade
-the addition of seven new ports of call on each side of India and Bangladesh will increase the accessibility of inland water transport modes for trade,
-Inland waterway mode has been agreed for inclusion in the trade treaty between India and Nepal.
-Stone exporters from Bhutan have identified inland waterways as an alternative mode of transportation. The IWAI supervised and executed the first such movement in July 2019.
|Read more: Connecting India by inland waterways|
Help the economy
India’s logistics cost as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be at around 14%, and the Centre’s aims to bring it down below 10%.
Inland waterways will help to lower transportation costs and time. This will have a spillover effect on manufacturing and export competitiveness, as the price of most items also depends on transportation costs.
How’s India developing inland waterways?
1. Introduced various schemes, programs and Bills such as Jal Marg Vikas Project, Interlinking of Rivers Programme, Sagarmala Project, Inland Vessels Bill, etc. 2. Ministry of ports, shipping, and waterways last year waived user charges for a period of three years, 3. The government came up with digital solutions such as a portal giving information on cargo and cruise movement and a portal for river navigation and infrastructure information
|Read more: Indian Vessels Bill, 2021|
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: This post is based on the article “Centre revises guidelines for procurement of coarse grain” published in Indian Express on 10th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Government of India has revised guidelines for procurement, allocation, distribution and disposal of coarse grains. It has allowed distribution of Jowar (Rabi) and Ragi for a longer period of 6-7 months respectively from the earlier 3 months.
What was the earlier procurement policy on Coarse Grains?
Earlier, states were allowed to procure coarse grains from farmers at minimum support price (MSP) under the central pool. But the whole quantity was to be distributed within three months from the end of the procurement period.
|Must Read: What is MSP?|
Due to this, several states were facing difficulties with respect to the distribution period.
What has changed now?
The distribution period of coarse grains such as Jowar and Ragi has been increased to 6 & 7 months respectively from the earlier period of 3 months.
This would increase procurement and consumption of these commodities, as the states would have more time to distribute these commodities in the Target Public Distribution System/ Other Welfare Schemes.
|Note: Government procures coarse grains mainly from Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.|
Source: This post is based on the article “Panel flags poor fund utilisation in Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme” published in Indian Express on 8th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Committee on Empowerment of Women has tabled its report titled “Empowerment of women through education with special reference to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme” in Lok Sabha.
|Must read: Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme|
What are the key findings of the report related to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme?
Nearly 80% of the funds allocated under the scheme have been used for advertising and not on sectoral interventions such as in health and education for women.
Out of the total funds allocated for the scheme since 2014-15, only 25% has been spent by the states, reflecting less than optimal performance of the scheme.
What are the suggestions given by the report?
The panel has urged the Ministry of Women and Child Development to ensure that the funds for the scheme are utilised properly.
It said that the government should focus on planned expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health.
Source: This post is based on the article “Drone firms seek simpler rules, support for commercial ops” published in Livemint on 10th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Drone Companies have urged the Government to simplify Drone policies and provide better support that would help them scale up manufacturing and take advantage of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.
The Government of India has announced the PLI Scheme for drone manufacturers, component makers and software companies. The scheme will run for over three years.
The scheme seeks to promote a competitive and self-sustaining drone manufacturing industry in India under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Under the scheme, the Government will offer a 20% bonus on value generated by each company in the drone space.
But for this, drone manufacturers will need to attain annual revenue of Rs 2 crore, while component makers have a target of Rs 50 lakh per year to match.
|Must Read: What is a drone?|
What are the drone companies saying on this scheme?
Several drone companies have raised concerns:
Firstly, the targets set by the PLI Scheme will largely facilitate players with already existing drones in the market.
Secondly, the scheme requires component manufacturers to establish that the drone components for which PLI is claimed are used solely in the manufacturing of a drone. However, the scheme does not provide for any certification mechanism for that.
What are the other challenges faced by the drone Industry?
Lack of talent/skill development: There is a lack of qualified drone pilots and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) engineers. The Drone Rules, 2021 address this challenge to an extent. But the Government should focus on attracting talent by offering cost-effective diploma or certification courses on pilot training at Remote Pilot Training Organisations.
Awareness of Drone Rules, 2021 to law enforcement, local authorities, and police: The lack of adequate information on liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 leads to challenges on the ground for drone pilots and companies. Hence, it was suggested that local authorities, law enforcement and police must be made aware of the provisions of the Drone Rules, 2021.
Source: This post is based on the article “Surging prices threaten to scupper India’s coming-of-age gas party” published in Business Standard on 9th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
India will need to review its plans of expanding the use of Liquefied natural gas(LNG) if the prices of LNG continue to stay at high levels.
What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a fossil energy source that formed deep beneath the earth’s surface. Natural gas contains different compounds. The largest component of natural gas is methane, a compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
What is Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)?
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state, at about -260° Fahrenheit, for shipping and storage.
The volume of natural gas in its liquid state is about 600 times smaller than its volume in its gaseous state. This process makes it possible to transport natural gas to places where pipelines do not reach.
Why are LNG Prices rising?
Supply Constraints: Global energy demand fell in 2020 when economies slipped into COVID-induced lockdowns. When growth returned this year, especially to Asian economies, demand shot up and energy producers struggled to meet the growing demand, pushing up prices.
Energy Geopolitics: As prices of LNG shot up amid growing worldwide demand and falling production in Europe, supplies from Russia via a pipeline that passes through Ukraine and Poland also reduced, which made the situation worse.
What are India’s plans for LNG?
India has a target of a 15% share for natural gas in India’s total energy mix by 2030. This is because environmental benefit from LNG is huge. There is no sulphur dioxide emission and nitrogenous emissions are reduced by 85%.
However, India needs to rethink its strategy if LNG prices remain high. Moreover, even if LNG becomes affordable, at best, India can manage to expand gas use to around 10% of its energy mix because of lack of adequate infrastructure and consumption.
Note: International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the share of gas in India’s energy mix at just 12% in 2040 with import dependency rising to 69% t of demand from 50% in 2019.
Source: This post is based on the article “Poor nations lag in removing unhealthy trans fat from food – WHO report” published in Reuters on 9th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The World Health Organization (WHO) released the third progress report on Global trans fat elimination, 2021.
What are Trans Fats?
Trans fat is an artificial compound that can be found in cakes, cookies, biscuits, packaged foods, cooking oils and spreads.
WHO estimates that consumption of these fats cause around 500,000 deaths per year due to coronary heart disease.
To eliminate Trans Fat, WHO has launched a REPLACE campaign: REPLACE stands for Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create awareness and Enforce. It is a WHO campaign to eliminate industrially-produced artificial trans-fats from the global food supply by 2023.
|Click Here to Read More about trans fats|
What is the progress made by the countries towards the elimination of Trans fats?
Richer countries are making progress in eliminating harmful trans fat from diets by 2022.
Countries such as Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and Ukraine are adopting best-practices to eliminate trans fat.India’s policy alone covers more than 1 billion people.
But poorer nations with the highest toll of heart disease due to the intake of such fats are lagging.
Further, International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) has also committed to phase out industrial trans fat from production by 2023.
|Note: IFBA was founded in 2008 by the CEOs of leading food and non-alcoholic beverage companies to empower consumers to eat balanced diets and live healthier lives|
What are the recommendations given the report?
WHO recommends that countries develop, implement and enforce best-practice policies, either through setting trans fat limits or banning partially hydrogenated oils (a major source of trans fat in food).
Additional recommended approaches include:
– Investing in monitoring and surveillance
– Advocating for regional or subregional regulations to expand the benefits of trans fat policies
– Leveraging existing best-practice policies which are being implemented by a number of countries
– Providing technical support to build regulatory capacities that will encourage best-practice policy development.
Source: This post is based on the article “World unprepared for future pandemics: Global Health Security Index 2021” published in Down To Earth on 10th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Global Health Security Index 2021 has been released.
About Global Health Security Index(GHS)
GHS is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries.
Published by: Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The report was developed with Economist Impact.
Aim: To spur measurable changes in national health security and improve the international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.
Indicators: The Index assesses countries across 6 categories, 37 indicators, and 171 questions. The six categories are:
First, Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens.
Second, Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting of epidemics of potential international concern.
Third, Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic.
Fourth, Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers.
Fifth, Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms.
Sixth, Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats
Scoring: The overall score (0–100) for each country is a weighted sum of the six categories, in which 100 represents the most favorable health security conditions and 0 represents the least favorable conditions.
What are the key findings of the index?
Global findings: The world’s overall performance on the Index score slipped to 38.9 (out of 100) in 2021 from a score of 40.2 in 2019.
In 2021, no country scored in the top tier of rankings and no country scored above 75.9.
Around 73% of countries did not have the ability to provide expedited approval for medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs, during a public health emergency.
Close to 79% of the countries assessed had not allocated national funds within the past three years to improve their capacity to address epidemic threats.
Further, around 65% of assessed countries had not published and implemented an overarching national public health emergency response plan for diseases with epidemic or pandemic potential.
Findings related to South Asia: In South Asia, India with a score of 42.8 (out of 100) has slipped by 0.8 points since 2019. But three neighbouring countries — Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — have improved their score.
Thus, based on these findings, the report concluded that the world remains completely unprepared for future epidemic and pandemic threats.
Source: This post is based on the article “BEE Launches ‘Certification Course on Home Energy Audit’ Initiative” published in PIB on 9th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE) has launched a ‘Certification Course on Home Energy Audit(HEA)’.
What is a Home Energy Audit(HEA)?
A Home Energy Audit(HEA) enables appropriate accounting, monitoring and analysis of energy use of various energy-consuming equipment and appliances in a house.
Based on this assessment, a technical report is given with feasible solutions for improving energy efficiency.
The audit would ultimately lead to a reduction in energy bills and the carbon footprint of the consumer.
What is the purpose of the Certification Course on HEA Initiative?
The Certification Course would enable:
-Creation of a pool of professionals to perform home energy audits based on the needs of the consumers,
-Domestic consumers to get Home Energy Audit carried out through respective State Designated Agency (SDA) Certified Home Energy Auditors,
-Create awareness on the importance and benefits of energy audit and energy efficiency and conservation among students from engineering/diploma colleges.
Significance of HEA initiative
The initiative will increase the employability of youth in the domain of energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and sustainability.
Source: This post is based on the article “Imports made up 86% of gold supply in 2016-20, says WGC” published in The Hindu on 10th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The World Gold Council (WGC) has released a report titled ‘Bullion Trade in India’.
What are the key findings of the report?
India’s Gold Imports
India is the world’s second-largest gold consumer. However, the country is heavily dependent on imports to fulfil this demand.
Over the five-year period 2016-2020, imports made up 86% of India’s gold supply. Higher gold imports can have a negative impact on the country’s balance of trade.
Gold Import Locations
In 2020, India imported 377 tonnes of gold bars and dore from over 30 countries, of which 55% came from just two countries — Switzerland (44%) and the UAE (11%).
|Read more: DRI seizes of 85.535 kg gold, apprehends 4 foreign nationals in Operation “Molten Metal”|
Increase in Gold Doré Imports
One important change that has taken place in India’s gold market is the growth in gold doré imports. The increase in doré imports reflects the government’s accommodative stance towards gold refining.
|Note: A doré bar is a semi-pure alloy of gold and silver. It is usually created at the site of a mine and then transported to a refinery for further purification.|
Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister says, India’s maiden human space mission “Gaganyaan” will be launched in 2023” published in PIB on 9th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Minister of Science & Technology has said that India’s maiden human space mission, “Gaganyaan” will be launched in 2023.
What is Gaganyaan Mission?
Gaganyaan is India’s first Human Space Flight Programme to be launched by the ISRO.
Aim: To demonstrate the capability to send humans to low earth orbit (LEO) onboard an Indian Launch Vehicle and bring them back to earth safely.
Launch Vehicle: GSLV MkIII
How is the Gaganyaan Mission planned to be launched?
Firstly, the test vehicle flight for the validation of Crew Escape System performance and the 1st Uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan(G1) are scheduled to be launched during the beginning of the 2nd half of 2022.
This will be followed by a second uncrewed mission at the end of 2022 carrying “Vyommitra”, a spacefaring human-robot developed by ISRO.
Finally, the first crewed Gaganyaan Mission will be launched in 2023.
|Read more: ISRO successfully conducts test of Vikas Engine for Gaganyaan Program|
Which countries are helping India in the Gaganyaan Mission?
Russia: It will be training the astronauts who will go onboard the Gaganyaan Mission. It will also provide equipment like a spacesuit, crew seat and Viewport.
France: France will be training medical support personnel for the mission. It will also be supplying fireproof carry bags made in France to shield equipment from shocks and radiation.
What is the significance of this mission?
With the launch, India will become the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission after the USA, Russia and China.
|Read more: The importance of Gaganyaan mission and its challenges|
Source– The post is based on the article “Weather modifications by China need more discussions on its ethics” published in the Down to Earth magazine on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Environment.GS1- Physical Geography Relevance– Weather modification by modern technology News– The article explains the scale of weather modification activities by China. It also discusses… Continue reading Weather modifications by China need more discussions on its ethics
Source– The post is based on the article “The seed of idea: How millets can help mitigate climate impacts on food” published in The Times of India on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Agriculture and climate change Relevance– Adaptation to climate change Context– The article explains the need for increasing millet production in context of… Continue reading The seed of idea: How millets can help mitigate climate impacts on food
Source: The post is based on an article “In 2022, We Get That 1885 Feeling” published in The Times of India on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Relevance: Telecommunication Bill 2022 and problems associated with it. News: The government has recently come up with a draft of Telecommunication Bill, 2022. The draft bills look similar to the colonial Telegraph… Continue reading In 2022, We Get That 1885 Feeling – on draft Telecommunication Bill, 2022
Source: The post is based on an article “The success of the novel PM SHRI schools scheme will depend on the quality of educators” published in The Indian Express on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to education Relevance: Goals of PM SHRI scheme and challenges with the Indian education… Continue reading The success of the novel PM SHRI schools scheme will depend on the quality of educators
Source: The post is based on the article “Why telling Russia to abandon war is in India’s interest” published in the Indian Express on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests. Relevance: Russian war and India’s defence capability. News: Russian President has taken a… Continue reading Why telling Russia to abandon war is in India’s interest
Source: The post is based on an article “Feroze Varun Gandhi writes: Why our urban spaces need to be reimagined” published in The Indian Express on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – Urbanization and associated issues News: A day’s heavy rainfall in Delhi has led to water-logged streets, crawling traffic, broken-down vehicles among others. There was also a… Continue reading Why our urban spaces need to be reimagined
Source– The post is based on the article “The Global South’s assertion in geopolitics” published in The Hindu on 24th September 2022. Syllabus: GS2- International Relations News– The article explains the changing international politics. It tells about the strategy of major powers in changing geopolitics. It also explains the global south strategy to maintain its… Continue reading The Global South’s assertion in geopolitics
SoIn Odisha’s Nayagarh, a data-driven solution to child marriageThe post is based on the article “In Odisha’s Nayagarh, a data-driven solution to child marriage” published in The Hindu on 24th September 2022 What is the News? Nayagarh, a small district in Odisha has adopted a unique initiative to eradicate child marriage by recording information on… Continue reading In Odisha’s Nayagarh, a data-driven solution to child marriage
Source: The post is based on the article “India achieves significant landmarks in reduction of Child Mortality” published in The Hindu on 24th September 2022 What is the News? Registrar General of India (RGI) has released the Sample Registration System (SRS) Statistical Report 2020. According to the report, India has witnessed a progressive reduction in… Continue reading India achieves significant landmarks in reduction of Child Mortality
Source: The post is based on the article “G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in the U.N. Security Council” published in The Hindu on 24th September 2022. What is the News? India’s External Affairs Minister met with his counterparts from Germany, Brazil and Japan under The Group of Four(G4) banner. What is the Group… Continue reading G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in the U.N. Security Council