9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 16th, 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 2
- The speaker who stifled debate
- About globalization: Mixed signals
- India-Bangladesh relations: Making Of Shonar Bangla
- A false conflation between duties and rights
- Fixing idealism in humanities education in India
GS Paper 3
- IMF cues could help the world align crypto rules
- Plant protection authority sets right its potato blunder
- On waste management: Zero the way to go
- Surplus liquidity in the system: How it came and how it may go
- Protecting gig workers
- Why does the Log4Shell vulnerability have tech firms worried?
- Household biomass burning- The invisible polluter
- “Zero the way to go”
- “Plant protection authority sets right its potato blunder”
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Cabinet approves an incentive scheme for promotion of RuPay Debit Cards and low-value BHIM-UPI transactions (P2M)
- Cabinet approves Treaty between India and Poland concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
- India’s first and one of world’s largest Green Hydrogen Microgrid Projects to be set up at Simhadri
- IIT-K develops first-of-its-kind soil testing device
- Cabinet approves Programme for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem in India
- UNESCO inscribes ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Explained: What is the Sixth Schedule, and can Ladakh be included under it?
- Cabinet clears push to raise marriage age of women from 18 to 21
- Supreme Court cautions against ‘indiscriminate’ use of money laundering law
- Cabinet clears draft Bill for linking Aadhaar & voter ID
- CCEA nod to extension of irrigation scheme
- Why ‘veg’ is ‘non-veg’: what Delhi High Court said
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “The speaker who stifled debate” published in The Hindu On 16th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, the conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Relevance: Understanding the duties of the speaker.
News: The Agriculture Minister has introduced the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 in Parliament. While demanding discussions the Minister stated that the debate would have no tangible results.
What is the issue?
The farm laws repeal bill was submitted for consideration in the parliament. But the speaker ruling that the discussion will be allowed only when the house is in order. This goes against the spirit of democracy.
The acts needed discussion of various points. Like, all India Kisan sabha pointed out that the acts did not include provisions to prevent profiteering and monopoly for corporates.
|Read more: Make House rules more stringent to ensure smooth functioning : Speaker Om Birla|
Why the move of repealing laws without discussion is not good?
Debate holds special significance as it has the capability to influence public opinion. According to Ivor Jennings, “It is not the control of the Government by the House but the fact that its dislikes are often a representation of electoral dislikes that makes debate important.”
So, repealing the law without holding a proper debate is undermining the system. In the words of Erskine May, Speaker may adjourn the House or suspend the sittings. He cannot stipulate good behavior as a condition for debate.
What powers does the speaker hold?
The speaker can adjourn the house or suspend any sitting. Also, he has the power to quell disorderly behavior. But according to Rule 374A, only the house, holds the final power and can overrule the decision of the speaker.
|Read more: How can we guarantee the Speaker’s impartiality?|
What do the Rules of Procedure of the house say?
Rule 362(1): says that if a motion has been put unless it appears to be an abuse of rules of the house, the speaker shall put the motion.
Rule 363(1): says that whenever a debate extends beyond a limit, the speaker may fix a time limit for the conclusion of the discussion at any stage of the bill. It is the “sense of the House”, not the Speaker’s opinion, which governs.
Source: This post is based on the article “Mixed signals” published in The Hindu on 16th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 International relations and trade.
Relevance: Understanding India’s stand on globalization.
News: Pandemic imperatives require diversification of supplies, but protectionism is not an answer.
How does India’s quest for globalization shaping?
The covid experience suggests the need for shorter supply chains with more national capacities. The External Affairs Minister (EAM) remarked that India has emerged as a reliable alternative to a resilient supply chain. This was evident when India provided reliable vaccine supplies in wake of covid.
In this, India is also aided by global sentiments not being in favor of China. For instance, China was recently accused of weaponizing trade by Australia.
|Read more: An opportunity for India to revive Multilateralism|
What is India’s stand on globalization?
EAM termed the notion of foreign companies operating on terms suitable to them as unsustainable. He also addressed the concerns about access to the Indian market and the issue of protectionism. The campaign of Atma Nirbhar Bharat does not entail protectionism. Instead, it will help India to negotiate with partners like the UAE, Canada and EU and others about their concerns.
|Read more: Let us revitalize multilateralism: The future of the world is at stake|
What should be the way forward?
Though WTO has failed in addressing the challenges of globalization, protectionism is still not the answer. Thus, India will refrain from protectionism and embrace globalization but ensure that India’s concerns are addressed.
|Read more: A crisis of multilateralism and Asia’s rising stake in it|
Source: This post is based on the following articles“Idea of Bangladesh needs to be celebrated, for its social-economic successes, its relegation of religious nationalism” published in Indian Express on 16th December 2021.
“Making Of Shonar Bangla” published in TOI on 16th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 India and Neighbourhood relations.
Relevance: To understand the success of Bangladesh liberation movement and India’s part in it.
News: Bangladesh was the first new country to be created after World War II. Today (December 16, 2021) Bangladesh will achieve an important milestone – 50 years of independence.
|Must read: Recent developments in India-Bangladesh relations-Explained, pointwise|
Why did East Pakistan demanded a separate country?
Jinnah believed that religion is the most irrefutable instrument for nation-building. In erstwhile East Pakistan, he accused those who are promoting Bengali as an official language alongside Urdu as “enemies” who wanted to weaken Pakistan and enable the re-entry of East Pakistan into India.
He described Urdu as the language that had been nurtured by Muslims of the subcontinent, and is nearest to the languages used in other Islamic countries”.
Jinnah failed to grasp that East Pakistan was predominantly Muslim, but more than that, it was Bengali. East Pakistan rejected religious nationalism and demanded empowerment through fair political representation and access to the country’s resources.
About the status of India while liberating Bangladesh
At the Bangladesh liberation, India faced the following challenges, 1. Struggling with poverty and drought, 2. The economy was in an uncertain condition, 3. Armed forces were still coming to grips with an inconclusive war with Pakistan in 1965, 4. National morale was yet to recover from the defeat of the India China War in 1962.
How did India help East Pakistan?
Various arms and agencies of the government, as well as the political class, came together under the leadership of Indira Gandhi. India’s intervention in the liberation took place in stages over several months, each step timed to achieve the maximum result.
The military intervention, which began on December 3 took less than two weeks to achieve its objectives. It remains the shortest war in history.
About the achievements of Bangladesh in past 50 years
1. The country has a stable 6% economic growth rate for over a decade, 2. Steep declines in infant and child mortality, Fertility rate, etc. 3. Gender parity in access to education; and 4. A global leader in disaster risk management, 5. Second-largest garment exporting hub in the world.
Bangladesh achieved these by 1. NGO movement of Bangladesh: Under it, non-state actors organised people in the rural areas, 2. Agricultural reforms ensured farmers take advantage of markets, 3. Government initiative to grant all garment exporters exclusive access to imported inputs duty-free, 4. New industrial policy to remove “licence raj.
|Read more: Pending Issues in India Bangladesh relations|
What should India do now to boost India-Bangladesh relations?
1. Need to ensure a whole-of-government approach along with the framing of strategic objectives like it did in 1971, 2. India has to avoid communally divisive rhetoric in domestic and foreign policy also, 3. India has to fulfil its past promises to boost its relations by sharing the Teesta waters.
|Read more: Improper Comments on Bangladesh will impact India Bangladesh ties|
There is goodwill for India for what it did 50 years ago. So, India must safeguard this precious asset, and make it grow.
Source: This post is based on the article “A false conflation between duties and rights” published in The Hindu on 16th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Relevance: Understanding balance between rights and obligations.
News: The question of rights(FR) blending with duties requires careful consideration. The duties here mean the ideals that were written into the constitution as Fundamental Duties (FD), Article 51A.
About the opinions of blending FR and FD
One opinion is that the blending should create a balance between fundamental duties and rights.
Another view is that citizens should converge fundamental duties and rights. It is clear that when a person holds rights, s/he is owed an obligation by the duty holder, but the government’s view is different.
|Read here: Difference between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties|
How is the Government proposal different?
The government position proposes that rights ought to be made conditional on the performance of extraneous obligations.
What was the view held by the constituent assembly?
The emphasis on dignity was important, and it guaranteed basic human rights like equality, autonomy, liberty, and others. The idea of contingent rights was considered repugnant.
But rights were not made absolute, and part III of the constitution also contained limitations of the rights. Any curtailment of rights would thus need legislative sanction and should be reasonable as per the constitution.
How did fundamental duties evolve?
They were not present in the original form of the constitution. They were added after the Swaran Singh Committee recommendations through the 42nd constitutional amendment and Article 51A.
It encouraged citizens to cherish noble ideas, uphold and protect the sovereignty of India among other provisions.
|Read here: Explained: What Fundamental Duties mean|
How should a balance between rights and duties establish?
To balance them, one should discuss the nature of duties that rights create. For example, the right to freedom of expression requires the state to work towards creating an equal society where each person can express herself freely.
Source: This post is based on the article “Fixing idealism in humanities education in India” published in Indian Express on 16th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.
Relevance: Understanding the need for bringing changes in our education sector.
News: Chief Justice of India expressed his view of bringing more focus on humanities in education and not on professional studies.
Why idealism in humanities is required?
Today in college, leaders and even corporates are focusing on social justice. They are concerned about issues like equity, diversity, and social change. But this might lead to polarization instead of social justice.
For example, in America, the linking of idealism and ambition in education has been a failure. Everyone Schools, parents, professors, etc seems to be in conflict with each other on topics of social justice. For eg: Democrats lost elections in Virginia(USA) because of the feeling that the party demonised parents concerned about a new “social justice”-oriented curriculum in schools as racists and even terrorists.
The lesson that can be learned is that the kind of social justice taught in America has failed in promoting equality and promoted division along the class lines.
What is the problem with the Indian system?
In Indian society, polarization has divided it into left and right silos. This is being institutionalized into permanent divisions along lines of class and education.
Indian humanities education needs to look beyond caste, class and gender. At present, education is influenced by Christian theological ideas of moral self-formation or western ideologies. Instead, it has to be indigenous.
What changes need to be changed?
CJI while delivering his speech spoke out in his mother tongue Telugu. He recalled the three important principle values – matrubhumi, matrubhasha and matrudesam. He said that children should look beyond the physical classroom. They should learn from the lessons all around.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “IMF cues could help the world align crypto rules” published in Livemint on 16th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology
Relevance: Regulation of Cryptocurrency
News: A recent blog published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for coordinated regulatory frameworks designed to mitigate crypto risks, on the lines of what India already suggested.
The blog post warns of the impact that unregulated proliferation of crypto tokens could have on financial stability, especially in emerging markets.
Key points of the blog post are discussed in this article.
What are the issues that need to be tackled by the regulators?
– Crypto valuation
– Investor protection
– Safety of crypto exchanges and wallets
– Worries of opacity and mendacity (fraud) on reserves held by some crypto issuers to back their stablecoins.
– Flight of capital induced by outward remittances
What is the way forward?
The blog recommends,
– Crypto assets be regulated separately from digital tokens that serve as a medium of exchange.
– Licensing of crypto-asset service providers involved in their storage, transfer, etc
– Systemized custody of assets
– Distinction based on function: Cryptos that are held as investments could be overseen by the country’s market regulator i.e. SEBI, and those used for payments by its monetary authority, i.e. the RBI.
– Synchronised global effort: As the internet is borderless, so a global effort is needed to keep cryptos under adequate watch. For efficacy, common principles of supervision need to be implemented.
Given the IMF’s pre-eminent role as a policy advisor and regulator of sorts for the global economy, it is best suited to take leadership of a coordinated global approach to crypto governance.
|Must Read: Cryptocurrency in India: Ban or regulation? – Explained, pointwise|
Source– This post is based on the article “Plant protection authority sets right its potato blunder” published in Down to earth on 15th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Agriculture.
Relevance: Understanding the PepsiCo-potato case, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001, Farmers rights.
News: Recently, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Authority revoked the registration of PepsiCo’s potato variety FL 2027. It was used in the manufacture of its Lay’s chips.
This means that farmers can cultivate this variety freely without the threat of penal action for violating intellectual property rights (IPR).
What is the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act?
It was enacted in 2001 to comply with the World Trade Organization’s requirements on laws to protect IPRs (Intellectual property rights) in agriculture.
Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Authority has been established under the act to grant Intellectual Property Rights to plant breeders, researchers and farmers who have developed plant varieties (new and existing).
To remove the apprehensions of the farming community in India regarding the Act, the authority included a chapter that made the rights of farmers’ paramount over those of breeders. This chapter also promised to protect the traditional practice of reusing and sharing seeds.
How is Indian law different from global practice?
Developed countries follow the framework laid out by the International Union for Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV), called the UPOV convention.
This convention protects breeders’ rights and bars farmers from reusing saved seeds or exchanging them with other cultivators. India has not joined UPOV till date.
|Must Read: What is the PepsiCo-potato case?|
Why PepsiCo registered FL-2027 as an extant variety instead of a new one?
Extant variety = variety of common knowledge
This was done to exploit a loophole in the Indian law.
Whereas the UPOV focuses only on registration of the newly bred varieties that meet specified standards, the Indian law even allows registration of the varieties that were once publicly available and were used freely by the farming community.
Recently, Corporate entities and public institutions are registering more and more existing varieties to take leverage of this loophole.
Syllabus: GS3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
News: Although India’s waste management policy has evolved to suit the changing needs but there are still some gaps.
Waste must become a resource that can be reworked, reused and upcycled. This will minimise the use of materials in our world and mitigate environmental damage.
What is the relation b/w the nature of waste with a country’s development status?
Nature of waste changes as societies get richer and urbanize
Firstly, instead of biodegradable (wet) waste, households generate more plastic, paper, metal and other non-biodegradable (dry) waste.
Secondly, the quantity of waste generated on per capita basis also increases.
How India’s waste management policy has evolved?
Waste management in the 2000s revolved around collecting waste and dumping it outside the cities in landfills. This led to heaps of waste in the outskirts of every major/minor city of the country.
Current policy initiatives like Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0 focus on source segregation, processing of and on its minimization.
Only inert waste, which is not suitable for either dry or wet waste treatment, can be sent to landfill sites. And this should not be more than 20% of the total waste.
Note: Inert waste is the waste which is neither chemically nor biologically reactive and will not decompose or only very slowly. Example: Sand and concrete.
Therefore, the premise of the guidelines is that cities must become zero-landfill i.e. they must recover and reprocess all waste.
What should be the focus of future initiatives?
1) Focus on segregation– Segregation is very essential to ensure that waste sent for incineration and energy generation is of high quality. It also results in optimal working of waste to energy (WtE) plants.
2) Reclaiming landfill sites -This valuable land can be greened and put to suitable use, which will also help avert environmental disasters. Cities must also stop sending new waste to these landfills, otherwise they will get filled up again even while being remediated.
3) Detailed strategies to reuse the material which will be biomined from these sites.
Biomining is the technique of extracting metals from ores and other solid materials typically using prokaryotes, fungi or plants.
4) The practice of circular economy needs to be followed wherein the focus is on material recovery and reuse.
Circular economy is “a model of production and consumption, which involves reusing, repairing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible”.
5) Informal processing of waste– Majority of waste processing happens through informal channels such as ragpickers. This should be formalised.
6) Plastic waste specially packaging waste has grown exponentially. This needs to be properly phased out. Although government has decided to phase put some of single use plastic, but this is not enough.
Source: This post is based on the article “Surplus liquidity in the system: How it came and how it may go” published in Livemint on 16th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Roles and Responsibilities of RBI
Relevance: Quantitative easing, Inflation
News: RBI has pushed excess liquidity into the system. Now, exiting this surplus liquidity scenario of ₹8 trillion will be a challenge.
What are the reasons behind surplus liquidity in the system?
To stimulate growth, various tools were used by RBI during pre-Covid and Post Covid phase to push excess liquidity into the system. For instance,
– LTRO (long term repo operations)
– OMO (open market operations)
– TLTRO (targeted long-term repo operations)
– GSAP (government securities acquisition programme)
– RBI’s low repo rate
– A low CRR (cash reserve ratio)
As a consequence, liquidity increased. Almost ₹6-8 trillion of surplus liquidity resides in RBI’s reverse repo window. But deployment avenues were limited for a variety of reasons.
|Must Read: Monetary Policy – Basics Simplified|
Why excess liquidity was not utilized?
First, demand was not strong, with low-capacity utilization rates in most sectors (60-69%) holding back investment.
Second, private investment in infrastructure hasn’t yet taken off.
Third, while MSMEs borrowed on the back of the guarantee, the funds were used to repay loans and maintain business rather than for growth.
Fourth, banks were too picky in terms of new customers, as they had just about come to get bad loans off their books.
Finally, the precondition on loan performance as of 1 March 2020 meant that stressed units did not qualify.
Why exiting the surplus liquidity is a challenge for RBI now?
While the RBI has stopped buying GSAP, it does not address the issue of surplus liquidity. Further, it is difficult for RBI to manipulate the reverse repo window tools as of now.
Banks are trying to stop deposits by keeping interest rates low. Although this can ensure that surpluses don’t increase, it doesn’t reduce them either.
Financial markets have not quite reacted positively to surpluses, as government bond yields remain high in relative terms.
What needs to be done to drain excess liquidity?
First, bank credit demand must pick up, with the economy’s investment cycle turning around.
Second, Centre should be borrowing more so that banks automatically channel their surpluses back.
Third, RBI should be going in for some OMO sales to reverse its GSAP effort, so that these securities return to banks.
Source: This post is based on the article “Protecting gig workers” published in the Business Standard on 16th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to gig workers and platform workers
Relevance: Gig workers, Platform workers, Code on Social Security
News: The Supreme Court recently made a significant intervention by admitting a public interest litigation from the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers. PIL seeks to classify gig workers as wageworkers entitled to social security and other employment benefits
Meanwhile, the Code on Social Security, which covered unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers for the first time, is awaiting implementation.
Gig or contract employment is set to expand exponentially. According to the Boston Consulting Group, India’s gig economy could increase to 90 million jobs in the next eight to 10 years from about 24 million today.
Hence, ensuring their welfare will determine the health of India’s prosperous gig economy.
In this context, the code on social security has some provisions to address the issues related to the gig workers and platform workers.
|Must Read: Social security for gig workers is essential|
How the Code on Social Security aims to protect the interest of the gig workers and platform workers?
Firstly, it mandates the Centre to set up a social security fund for this category of workers in addition to separate funds by the states. Funds for such schemes are to involve contributions from the Centre, state and the aggregators
Secondly, it also recommends a National Social Security Board, with representation by the Centre and state governments, aggregators and platforms, to monitor, and recommend welfare schemes for such workers.
What are the issues that needs to be addressed in the Code?
First, the code should define the employee-gig worker relationship. For example, the EU law determines this relationship in terms of levels of aggregator supervision.
This could be a tricky exercise in India since there are many categories of self-employed workers who typically divide their time between multiple employers. For example, food delivery agents or cab aggregators.
Second, there is a need to balance the benefits to gig workers against the cost advantages that platforms and aggregators derive from their low-cost business models.
Third, the bigger concern is the absence of redress for gig workers in the Code. Labour courts exist, but they are expensive for ordinary workers to access. Instead, a responsive appeal institution needs to be created.
Source: This post is based on the article “Why does the Log4j vulnerability have tech firms worried?” & “Why Log4Shell is the worst security issue in a decade” published in the Indian Express and Livemint on 16th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Cybersecurity
Relevance: Log4Shell vulnerability
News: A new vulnerability named Log4Shell is being touted as one of the worst cybersecurity flaws to have been discovered.
What is the Log4Shell vulnerability?
The Log4Shell vulnerability is a flaw in one of the most widely used server software. It is a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability, which means attackers can use it to remotely execute arbitrary code on a server and steal data.
It is a vulnerability in a logging library that is used by almost every big company in the world, including Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., Google LLC, and more.
Logging libraries allow developers to monitor their applications and catch bugs. The vulnerability has been given a 10/10, the highest severity rating for such vulnerabilities. However, Log4Shell doesn’t affect users directly.
Why it is a serious issue?
Firstly, its exploitation could allow hackers to control Java-based web servers and launch what are called ‘remote code execution’ (RCE) attacks.
Secondly, since this library is present everywhere across applications, the vulnerability could allow the attacker full control of the affected server.
Thirdly, successful exploitation of this vulnerability could lead to disclosure of sensitive information, addition or modification of data, or Denial of Service (DoS).
Is the vulnerability being exploited by hackers?
Security firm Checkpoint Research said it had documented 846,000 attacks on corporations in the first 72 hours of the “outbreak”.
And 41% of corporate networks in India had faced an attempted exploit.
Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems Inc. say their programs and applications have been affected.
In the future, serious threat actors will try to exploit this vulnerability to attack a whole range of high value targets such as banks, state security and critical infrastructure.
How does one protect against Log4Shell?
For Minecraft players: They have to ensure that they are on the newest client of the game that consists of a fix for the issue.
For corporations: A patch was issued for the vulnerability on 13th December, and technology teams will have to ensure that this is incorporated in their systems.
Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.
News: Biomass burning despite being a major polluter does not receive the attention it needs. An analysis by think tank Centre for policy research (CPR) also shows that even in parliamentary debates on pollution, household biomass burning is discussed much less than stubble burning.
Why biomass burning by households should be considered a major polluter?
Causes bulk of air pollution: Biomass burning by households (indoor air pollution) for cooking and heating needs in winters is responsible for up to 40% air pollution in the NCR.
Various databases show that indoor pollution has a 27 to 49% share in India’s total annual PM2.5 emissions.
Health implications: Household air pollution causes 36% of all deaths due to air pollution. Women, children and the elderly who stay longer at home are at greater risk.
Why biomass burning gets lesser attention than stubble burning?
Household sources are less visible and have existed forever thus are paid less attention than crop burning which gets much media and public attention for a short period every year.
Why there is energy poverty in India despite govt schemes like PM Ujjwala?
Energy poverty is defined as a lower penetration and usage of clean cooking fuel.
Energy poverty in India:
– According to National Family Health Survey (2019-21) nearly 41% households in India, mainly in rural areas and poorer eastern states, still don’t use clean fuel for cooking.
Reasons for energy poverty:
– States which have poor coverage of clean cooking fuel see greater contribution of domestic biomass towards PM2.5 emissions.
– Ease of availability of solid fuel: In winters, space heating in poorer households remains dependent on biomass. As firewood is easily available, it also gets used for other purposes like cooking.
What is the way forward?
The first step is to acknowledge that access alone cannot ensure clean fuel use, as a survey of urban slums by the CEEW found. – Analysis showed that nearly 88% of households surveyed in energy-poor states reported having an LPG connection, but only 55% exclusively used it for cooking.
We need more awareness about the health implications and behavioural change towards sustainable heating methods such as LPG or electricity.
This further shows that air pollution is not just an environmental problem but is linked to larger developmental challenges. Beijing curbed 17% of its pollution by transitioning to clean energy in residential spaces. India can, too
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Cabinet approves an incentive scheme for promotion of RuPay Debit Cards and low-value BHIM-UPI transactions (P2M)
Source– This post is based on the article “Cabinet approves an incentive scheme for promotion of Rupay debit cards and low value BHIM-UPI transactions (P2M)” published in PIB on 15th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Cabinet has approved an incentive scheme for promotion of Rupay debit cards and low value BHIM-UPI transactions (Person to Merchant) of up to 2000 rupees in the country.
This scheme currently has a validity of one year.
What is the scheme?
Under the scheme, the government will reimburse transaction charges levied on digital payments made by persons to the merchant (P2M) as part of the merchant discount rate (MDR).
The approved scheme will cover reimbursement on digital transactions of up to ₹2,000, using Rupay debit cards and BHIM-UPI.
Benefits of scheme
1) It will facilitate banks in building robust digital payment ecosystem and promoting RuPay Debit card and BHIM-UPI digital transactions. This will further promote digital payments in the country.
2) The unbanked and marginalized population which is currently outside the formal banking and financial system will be able to access digital payments.
3) It will lead to research and development and innovation in fintech space.
Cabinet approves Treaty between India and Poland concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters
Source: This post is based on the article “Cabinet approves Treaty between India and Poland concerning Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters” published in PIB on 15th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Union Cabinet has approved the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Government of the Republic of India and the Republic of Poland.
The Treaty aims to enhance effectiveness of both the countries in investigation and prosecution of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
What is Mutual Legal Assistance?
Mutual Legal Assistance is a mechanism whereby countries cooperate with one another in order to provide and obtain formal assistance in prevention, suppression, investigation and prosecution of crime.
This ensures that the criminals do not escape or sabotage the due process of law for want of evidence available in different countries.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is the Central Authority of India for dealing with requests of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The Central Authority transmits and receives all requests for assistance either directly or through diplomatic channels.
The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) in criminal matters are the bilateral treaties entered between the countries for providing international cooperation and assistance.
What is Letters Rogatory (LR)?
The term ‘Letters Rogatory’ is derived from the Latin term rogatorius. Letters Rogatory are the letters of request sent by the Court of one country to the Court of another country for obtaining assistance in investigation or prosecution of a criminal matter.
Difference between Mutual Legal Assistance and Letter Rogatory(LR)
Source: This post is based on the article “India’s first and one of world’s largest Green Hydrogen Microgrid Projects to be set up at Simhadri” published in PIB on 15th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
NTPC Ltd has awarded a project of “Standalone Fuel-Cell based Micro-grid with hydrogen production using an electrolyser in NTPC Guest House at its Simhadri plant in Andhra Pradesh.
About Green Hydrogen Microgrid Project
It is India’s first Green Hydrogen based Energy Storage Project.
Under this project, hydrogen would be produced using the advanced 240 kW Solid Oxide Electrolyser by taking input power from the nearby Floating Solar project.
The hydrogen produced during sunshine hours would be stored at high pressure and would be electrified using a 50 kW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell.
The system would work in standalone mode from 5 pm to 7 am.
|Must read: Green Hydrogen: Potential, Issues and Solutions|
What is the significance of this project?
Firstly, it is a unique project for India and would open doors for decarbonising the far-off regions of the country like Ladakh, J&K etc, which as of now are dependent on diesel generators.
Secondly, the project is in-line with the vision of the Prime Minister for becoming carbon-neutral by 2070 and making Ladakh a carbon-neutral territory.
|Must Read: Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) – Explained, pointwise|
Source: This post is based on the article “IIT-K develops first-of-its-kind soil testing device” published in TOI on 15th Dec, 2021.
What is the news?
IIT Kanpur has developed a Portable Soil Testing Device named ‘Bhu Parikshak’.
What is Bhu Parikshak?
Bhu Parikshak is a portable soil testing device that can detect soil health in just 90 seconds through an embedded mobile application.
The device is based on Near Infrared Spectroscopy technology that can provide real time soil analysis reports on smartphones.
The device can detect six important soil parameters namely -Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Organic Carbon, Clay contents and Cation Exchange Capacity. It also recommends the required dose of fertilizers for the field and crops.
How it works?
The portable and wireless soil testing device requires a mere 5 grams of dry soil sample for detecting macronutrients present in the soil.
After the analysis, the results appear on the screen in the form of a soil health report, which is accessible on BhuParikshak cloud service with unique ID. The report also comes with a recommended dose of fertilizers.
Cabinet approves Programme for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem in India
Source: This post is based on the following articles,
– “Cabinet approves Programme for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem in India” published in PIB on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Union Cabinet approves ₹76,000-crore push for semiconductor makers” published in The Hindu on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Union Cabinet approves ₹76,000-crore push for semiconductor makers” published in PIB on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Govt’s Rs 76,000-cr plan to woo chip makers, create semiconductor ecosystem” published in Business Standard on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Union Cabinet has approved a scheme to boost semiconductor and display manufacturing in the country.
About Scheme for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem
Aim: To provide attractive incentive support to companies that are engaged in Silicon Semiconductor Fabs (Fabrication plants), Display Fabs, Compound Semiconductors / Silicon Photonics / Sensors (including MEMS) Fabs, Semiconductor Packaging (ATMP / OSAT), Semiconductor Design.
Components of the Mission
– Semiconductor Fabs and Display Fabs: Under this, the Government shall extend fiscal support of up to 50% of project cost to eligible applicants. Govt will also work closely with the State Govts to establish High-Tech Clusters with requisite infrastructure for setting up at least two greenfield Semiconductor Fabs and two Display Fabs in the country.
– Semi-conductor Laboratory (SCL): Under this, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will take requisite steps for modernization and commercialization of Semi-conductor Laboratory (SCL). MeitY will explore the possibility for the Joint Venture of SCL with a commercial fab partner to modernize the brownfield fab facility.
– Compound semiconductor units (which make chips that are used in mobile chargers, electric vehicles, and telecom radios) and ATMP facilities: Under this, the government will offer fiscal support of up to 30% of capital expenditure to the approved units. The government expects over 15 such units to come up in this space.
– Semiconductor Design Companies or Design Linked Incentive (DLI) Scheme: Under this, Government shall extend product design linked incentive of up to 50% of eligible expenditure and product deployment linked incentive of 6% – 4% on net sales for five years.
– India Semiconductor Mission: The Mission will be led by global experts in semiconductor and display industry.It will act as the nodal agency for efficient and smooth implementation of the schemes on Semiconductors and Display ecosystem.
– Chips to Startup Programme: Under this, the Government will create a talent pool of 85000 high-skilled engineers, which will help India in becoming a semiconductor hub. Semiconductor designers would be given the opportunity to launch start-ups.
What is the significance of this scheme?
Firstly, with the approval of this scheme, the Govt of India has announced incentives for every part of the supply chain including electronic components, sub-assemblies, and finished goods.
Secondly, the scheme will propel innovation and build domestic capacities to ensure the digital sovereignty of India. It will also create highly skilled employment opportunities to harness the demographic dividend of the country.
UNESCO inscribes ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Source: This post is based on the article “UNESCO inscribes ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” published in PIB on 15th Dec,2021.
What is the news?
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
With the inscription of Durga Puja, India now has 14 intangible cultural heritage elements on the prestigious UNESCO Representative List of ICH of Humanity.
|Must Read: UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity|
What is the Durga Puja Festival?
Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in September or October, most notably in Kolkata, West Bengal.
The festival marks the ten-day worship of the Hindu mother-goddess Durga.
In the months preceding the festival, small artisanal workshops sculpt images of Durga using unfired clay pulled from the Ganga River.
The worship of the goddess then begins on the inaugural day of Mahalaya when eyes are painted onto the clay images to bring the goddess to life.
It ends on the tenth day, when the images are immersed in the river from where the clay came. Thus, the festival has also come to signify ‘home-coming’ or a seasonal return to one’s roots.
The festival is also characterized by large-scale installations of Goddess Durga in ‘pandals’ and pavilions where people get together. Folk music, culinary, craft and performing arts traditions are also part of the celebration.
What is the significance of Durga Puja festival?
Durga Puja is seen as the best instance of the public performance of religion and art, and as a thriving ground for collaborative artists and designers.
During the festival, the divisions of class, religion and ethnicities also collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations.
Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What is the Sixth Schedule, and can Ladakh be included under it?” published in Indian Express on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Recently, an MP from Ladakh demanded that the region be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to safeguard the land, employment, and cultural identity of the local population.
What is the Sixth Schedule?
The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions — Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) — that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.
The Sixth Schedule applies to the Northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram (three Councils each), and Tripura (one Council).
|Read more: About the Sixth Schedule|
Why does Ladakh want to be part of the Sixth Schedule?
Buddhist-dominated Leh district had long demanded UT status because it felt neglected by the erstwhile J&K state government, which was under Article 370. After the abrogation of Article 370, the centre granted UT status to Ladakh. The administration of the region is now completely in the hands of bureaucrats (Earlier there were four MLAs from the region).
The UT has two Hill councils in Leh and Kargil, but neither is under the Sixth Schedule. Their powers are limited to the collection of some local taxes such as parking fees and allotment and use of land vested by the Centre.
So, they demand in Lok Sabha to amend the Ladakh Hill Development Council Act, and define “what will be the role and responsibility of the central government, the UT administration and the Lieutenant Governor”.
Why Ladakh’s inclusion into the 6th schedule is difficult?
The Constitution is very clear that the Sixth Schedule is for the Northeast. But for tribal areas in the rest of the country, there is the Fifth Schedule.
So far, No region outside the Northeast has been included in the Sixth Schedule. Even Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which are totally tribal, are also not in the Sixth Schedule.
About the government decision to protect Ladakh
In 2019, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes recommended the inclusion of Ladakh under the Sixth Schedule as it was predominantly tribal (more than 97%) and have a distinct cultural heritage that needed preservation.
In January 2021, the MHA announced that a committee under G Kishan Reddy would be formed to address “the issues related to the language of Ladakh, the culture of Ladakh and conservation of land in Ladakh”. The committee is yet to submit its report.
Source: This post is based on the article “Supreme Court cautions against ‘indiscriminate’ use of money laundering law” published in Indian Express on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
What was the issue?
The Court was hearing two cases by petitioners who had been named as accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering(PMLA) Act.
What did the Supreme Court say?
The Supreme Court has cautioned ED against slapping the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act indiscriminately even for minor offences and said it cannot be used as a weapon to put people behind the bars.
Further, the court said that the PMLA Act was enacted to catch big fish and not for minor offences involving Rs 10,000 or Rs 100. Hence, it should be used reasonably.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources. It is frequently a component of other, much more serious, crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery or extortion.
Few Important Provisions of PMLA Act
Section 45 of the PMLA Act makes it difficult for the court to grant bail/anticipatory bail to the accused once the anti-money laundering law was slapped on the person.
Section 4 says that the offences under PMLA Act are to be treated as cognizable and non-bailable.
Source: This post is based on the following articles
– “Linking Aadhaar with voter ID among poll reforms cleared by Cabinet” published in Indian Express on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Cabinet clears draft Bill for linking Aadhaar & voter ID” published in TOI on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Cabinet has approved some key electoral reforms. These reforms will be reflected in amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Aadhaar Act, 2016.
What are the key electoral reforms approved by the Cabinet?
Linking Aadhaar with electoral roll
Linking of the Aadhaar Card with the Voter ID will be allowed on a voluntary basis. This will help remove duplication and strengthen the sanctity of the electoral rolls.
Moreover, this is being done in accordance with the Supreme Court’s right to privacy judgement and a test of proportionality.
Note: In 2015, EC had launched the National Electoral Law Purification and Authentication Programme to link Aadhaar with the Voter ID. But this initiative was halted following the Supreme Court’s directive that using Aadhaar would not be mandatory to avail of welfare schemes.
Voting by Special Procedure Gender Neutral
Currently, an Army man’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer’s husband is not allowed.
Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act refers to such a wife being ordinarily residing with that person for allowing enrolment as a service voter. The Act will now be amended to replace the word “wife” with “spouse”.
Increasing the attempts to register in the electoral rolls
From January 1, 2022, those voters turning 18 will have the opportunity to register at four different times of the year, each with different cut-off dates. Under the current law, they may only do this once a year.
Expanding Powers of EC during Elections
The Election Commission will have all the powers required to take over any premises for the conduct of elections. This will expand the EC’s powers beyond polling stations and the storage of ballot boxes.
Source: This post is based on the following articles
– “CCEA nod to extension of irrigation scheme” published in Indian Express on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Govt extends PMKSY till FY26 with an outlay of ₹93,068 crore” published in Livemint on 16th Dec 2021.
– “Cabinet approves implementation of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana for 2021-26” published in PIB on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) for 2021-26.
What is Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana(PMKSY)?
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) was launched in 2015.
Aim: To enhance physical access of water on farms and expand cultivable areas under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency, introduce sustainable water conservation practices among others.
What are the components of PMKSY?
– Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme(AIBP): It is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. It aims to provide financial support to irrigation projects.
Under the programme, central funding of 90% of the water component for two national projects, namely the Renukaji Dam Project in Himachal Pradesh and Lakhwar Multipurpose Project in Uttarakhand.
– Har Khet Ko Pani(HKKP): It is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. It aims for the enhancement of physical access to the farm and the expansion of cultivable areas under assured irrigation. It consists of four subcomponents namely: Command Area Development (CAD), Surface Minor Irrigation(SMI), Repair, Renovation and Restoration(RRR) of Water Bodies and Ground Water Development component.
– Per Drop More Crop: It is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. It focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at the farm level through Micro Irrigation technologies, viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems.
– Watershed Development: It is being implemented by the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development. It focuses on the development of rainfed areas towards soil and water conservation, regeneration of groundwater, arresting run-off and promoting extension activities related to water harvesting and management.
|Read more: Describe the role of micro-irrigation in increasing the water-use efficiency.|
Source: This post is based on the article “Why ‘veg’ is ‘non-veg’: what Delhi High Court said” published in Indian Express on 16th December 2021.
What is the news?
Delhi High Court has directed the food safety regulator to ensure that food business operators make full disclosures on all that goes into any food.
What is the case?
Ram Gaua Raksha Dal, a non-government Trust, filed a petition in the court to label all products, including non-consumables like crockery, wearable items, etc on the basis of the ingredients used. For food items, the petition sought to label not only the ingredients but also the items used in the manufacturing process.
What is the Delhi High Court verdict?
Under the verdict, operators now have to strictly comply with Regulation 2.2.2(4) of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011. They have to disclose every detail like whether products originate from plant or animal sources, or are manufactured in a laboratory and what percentage derived from them.
The court said, use of non-vegetarian ingredients, even in “a minuscule percentage would render such food articles non-vegetarian and would offend the religious and cultural sensibilities/ sentiments of strict vegetarians. Thus, interfering in people’s right to freely profess, practice and propagate their religion and belief.
What are the labelling requirements under the 2011 Regulations?
Definition: It defines non-vegetarian food which contains whole or part of any animal including birds, freshwater or marine animals or eggs or products of any animal origin excluding milk or milk products.
Labelling: All non-vegetarian food should be labelled with a brown colour-filled circle inside a square with a brown outline. Where egg is the only non-vegetarian ingredient, a declaration to this effect in addition to the said symbol”. Vegetarian food must be labelled with a “green colour filled circle inside the square with a green outline.
Declaration of ingredients: Manufacturers must disclose which types of edible vegetable oil, edible vegetable fat, animal fat or oil, fish, poultry meat, or cheese, etc. has been used in the product.
What is the problem with the labelling?
The court noticed that some food operators are misusing the act, as it does not specifically oblige them to disclose the source from which the ingredients are sourced.
Example: Chemical disodium inosinate, a food additive found in instant noodles and potato chips, which is commercially manufactured from meat or fish. But operators only disclose the codes of the ingredients. Due to this, many food articles, which have ingredients sourced from animals, are passed off as vegetarian by affixing the green dot.
Source: This post is based on the article “Cabinet clears push to raise marriage age of women from 18 to 21” published in Indian Express on 16th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Cabinet has passed a proposal to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years — the same as men.
What is the minimum age of marriage currently?
For Hindus, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men, respectively.
For the new age of marriage to be implemented, these laws are expected to be amended.
|Read more: Elopements most prosecuted under child marriage law: study|
Why has the government decided to re-examine the age of marriage for women?
The government has taken this decision based on the recommendations of the Committee headed by Jaya Jaitly.
What are the recommendations given by the Jaya Jaitly committee?
The committee has recommended the age of marriage for women be increased to 21 years for reasons such as:
Gender Neutrality: Increasing the age of marriage for women will bring the age of marriage for both men and women at par.
Impact on Health: Early marriage and consequent early pregnancies have impacts on the nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing, impact on Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.
Impact on Education: Early marriage cuts off women from access to education and livelihood.
NFHS Data: National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has revealed that child marriage has come down marginally from 27% in 2015-16 to 23% in 2019-20 in the country. But the government has been pushing to bring this down further.
|Read more: We need a multi-pronged approach to end child marriage|
What are the other recommendations given by the Jaya Jaitly committee?
1. Increase access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas, 2. Skill and business training for women, 3. Undertake Awareness campaigns on a massive scale to ensure social acceptance of increasing the age of marriage.
What are the arguments against the raising of marriage?
Increasing the age of marriage for women would result in
1. Pushing a large portion of the population into illegal marriages, 2. Law would end up being coercive, 3. Negatively impact marginalized communities such as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, making them law-breakers, 4. The decrease in child marriages has not been because of the existing law but because of an increase in girls’ education and employment opportunities.
|Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise|
Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management Relevance: Indonesia’s football stampede and concerns associated with it News: The crowd at Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium ran onto the pitch after their team lost. This led… Continue reading Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions
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Source: The post is based on an article “Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts” published in The Times of India on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – Art and Architecture Relevance: concerns associated with repatriation artefacts in India News: There has been a demand to return the Kohinoor diamond to India after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.… Continue reading Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts
Source: The post is based on an article “The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 News: The article discusses the change in the views of Gandhiji after returning to India from South Africa. Gandhi was greatly influenced by the writings of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin.He adopted… Continue reading The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy
Source: The post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test” published in the Business Standard on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests. Relevance: Russian war and India’s stand. News: Recently, India abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning… Continue reading India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test
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