9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 1st, 2021

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

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

GS Paper 2

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Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Omicron’s lesson: We’re not covid-safe until everyone is

Source: This post is based on the article “Omicron’s lesson: We’re not covid-safe until everyone is” published in The Hindu on 1st Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2- Issues Relating to Development and Management of Health.

Relevance: Omicron, vaccine equity.

News: The emergence of Omicron has evoked fresh demands for booster shots.

Rich countries continue to stockpile and administer booster shots, while people in many low and low-middle income countries wait for their first jab.

However, the emergence of new variants from low-vaccination-coverage regions essentially means that covid could be a never-ending battle.

The only way this pandemic can and should be fought is with global solidarity and vaccine equity. The idea of booster shots seems to be irrational.

Why the idea of booster shots is irrational?

Vaccine inequity: Omicron has emerged from Africa, a continent that has just 7% of its total population fully vaccinated. It is this vaccine inequity that weakens our global fight against the pandemic.

Therefore, a decision to introduce booster shots would further divert supplies from the neediest and widen vaccine inequity.

What steps should India take?

Focus on full-vaccination coverage: Though India has more vaccine supply than demand, India should not start providing booster shots. Rather, India should try to achieve full-vaccination coverage of those at the highest i.e. those aged 60-plus and 45-59 with co-morbidities.

Epidemiological and vaccine effectiveness studies should be commissioned: This will help to generate evidence that could guide decisions.

For instance, there are evidences that a booster dose of a vaccine on a different platform could be a better approach. The UK, which used the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for its primary schedule, has chosen mRNA vaccines for booster shots.

These mRNA vaccines are not yet available in India. So, India should revive negotiations with mRNA-jab makers, to keep such vaccines as an option in case of a health emergency.

Investment in vaccine research and development (R&D): The periodic emergence of new variants is a signal that future vaccines should be developed that are able to tackle multiple strains. In this context, adequate investment in vaccine R&D and domestic & international collaborations can help India tackle the new variants better in the future.

What is the way forward?

Increasing the vaccine accessibility and affordability is the key to control the emergence of new variants. It can be done by

First, granting voluntary licensing and transfer of technology. This can increase dose production at a larger scale.

In this context, India and South Africa’s proposal at the WTO for a temporary waiver of intellectual-property protection for covid vaccines needs to be favourably considered.

Second, COVAX-abundant nations should share a fixed portion of their stock with a global pool.

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

It’s time for a paradigm shift in how we treat illnesses

Source: This post is based on the article “It’s time for a paradigm shift in how we treat illnesses” published in Livemint on 1st Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues Relating to Development and Management of Health.

Relevance:  Antibiotics vs. phage therapy

News: Antibiotics have become our preferred method of treatment nowadays.

This has made treatments more standardised with no customised treatment for individuals irrespective of their genetic diversity.

But, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has resulted in the emergence of antibiotic resistance, a worldwide health concern. Hence, we need to push for a better alternative medicine for the treatment of diseases.

In this context, restarting the research into phage therapy can help us to design customised treatment for every individual and every disease.

What is phage therapy?

It is a treatment protocol that involved the administration of specific bacteriophage viruses to persons suffering from identified bacterial diseases.

It has been proved successful against a range of diseases, from bubonic plague to cholera and dysentery.

However, owing to the advantages of Antibiotics over Phage therapy, the research in to latter has been restricted to a few countries.

What are the advantages of Antibiotics over Phage therapy?

Firstly, unlike bacteriophages that are specific, antibiotics are effective across a broad spectrum of infections, making them easy to administer even if the exact pathogen has not been identified.

Secondly, antibiotics are used for a wide range of purposes, from curing disease to speeding up the growth of livestock

What are the issues/concerns associated with the antibiotics?

Over-reliance on them has given rise to the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance. For instance, the World Health Organization had established a global action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Recently, FAO has also launched an Action Plan on AMR (2021-2025)

A report by the US Center for Disease Control suggests that in the US alone, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year, resulting in more than 35,000 deaths

In India, antibiotic resistance has led to the rise of superbugs, diseases seemingly resistant to multiple drugs.

Why Phage therapy can be renewed now?

First, given the targeted effectiveness of bacteriophages, these treatments have relatively fewer side effects and almost always result in a cure.

Second, with advances in genetic sequencing, it is now easier than ever before to identify infection-causing pathogens.

Third, advances in genetic sequencing have also made it possible for us to harvest phages from cured patients, giving us a relatively unlimited supply of therapeutic material.

What are the issues with shifting to phage therapy?

It will require us to completely overhaul our current thinking about pharmaceuticals. For example, Massive centralized facilities should be replaced by decentralized repositories of bacteriophages.

Because a virus that is effective against one strain of a disease in Europe could well be ineffective against another strain of the same illness in India. So, phage therapy needs to be developed locally.

This will also require re-training of medical professionals to focus on accurately diagnosing specific pathogens.

On regulation of social media: Social Media Beware

Source: This post is based on the article “Social Media Beware” published in Times of India on 01 Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2- e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

Relevance: To understand the two-sided use of social media platforms.

News: Australian PM has announced new laws to help clean up social media.

What is the new Australian law?

It is expected to tackle trollers on social media who go around hurting people without consequences.

The new law will vest liability with the person making the comment.

In case the troller cannot be identified, the social media provider will be deemed to be the publisher of the comment. It would be made to pay any payouts arising from defamatory comments on its platform.

Significance: This is a major change in the “unprecedented liability shield” whereby social media platforms have largely escaped the legal implications of content published there.

Why do countries need such laws?

Social media companies spend resources to fact-check and moderate speech, however, it is extremely unevenly spread across different countries.

Inadequate efforts: Whatever attempts taken by platforms to identify and suspend anonymous perpetrators, whether via algorithmic or human monitors, it is inadequate to solve the problem.

Therefore, countries have begun to look to other paths for tackling the hate and misinformation.

What is the benefit & challenges of anonymity offered by social media platforms?

Benefit: It has given voice to various marginalised communities, and to dissidents in repressive regimes.

Challenges: In India, anonymous bullying and harassment is too common on Twitter. Be it journalists or women, threat of life and rape to women is common and ever-present.

The constant contempt and attempt to malice the dignity of someone often serves political parties.

What is the stand of India on it and the way forward?

India’s intermediary rules refer to voluntary verification of social media users. However, if companies do not tackle the issue, India must look at other options, like mandatory verification.

The case for a new constitution order

Source: This post is based on the article “The case for a new constitution order” published in Business Standard on 30th November 2021.

Subject: GS2 Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Relevance: Understanding functioning of the constitution in India.

News: There is deep unrest amongst various sections of our society about how our constitution is functioning. This was evident when farmers refused to accept laws framed by the legislature and declined to listen to Supreme Court when they were asked to present their case.

What do constitutional amendments suggest?

The USA has made only 27 amendments to its constitution. India has witnessed 105 amendments in the last 72 years. In India, one can easily witness people taking to the streets and dictating framing and repeal of laws.

What are the challenges faced by the Indian constitution?

There is an imbalance of power between various organs of the state, including the executive, legislature and judiciary.

Judiciary has excess power as it can overturn laws, even if they don’t violate constitutional provisions.

The executive has excess power over the legislature by virtue of anti-defection laws.

The Centre has excessive economic power compared to states. Similarly, the States have excessive power compared to local bodies.

As a result, the bottom of the pyramid is weakening.

What is the impact of this imbalance?

Because of the imbalances, every organ can stop the other organ from functioning.
Judiciary has the power to appoint judges. After SC overturned NJAC, the executive has taken power to delay the appointments. Judiciary can even make laws under Article 142, but it can not implement them without the backing of the state.

The legislature can make laws but cannot implement them if there is excessive social pressure or street mobs.

Also, sometimes even that top court has been unable to decide many constitutional cases from Sabrimala review to article 370 to CAA.

How can we address these challenges?

First, The concurrent list should be done away with and these powers should be devolved to states.

Second, third list, a list for local bodies should be created, and it should not be subservient to state bodies.

Third, The power between state and judiciary needs to be rebalanced.

Fourth, the Higher judiciary needs to be bifurcated into courts of appeal and constitutional court. The power to adjudicate on PIL’s must be exercised sparingly, and that too by constitutional courts only.

Thus, India needs to look beyond a piecemeal approach, formulate an all-inclusive committee that should take comprehensive reform of the constitution.

Small grant but a big opportunity for local bodies

Source: This post is based on the article “Small grant but a big opportunity for local bodies” published in The Hindu on 1st December 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Understanding primary health care systems.

News: 15th Finance commission recommended a health grant of 70,000 crore which is to be released over the next 5 years. Out of this nearly 8000 crore was released to urban and rural local bodies. This would be 2.3% of the total health expenditure. This has the potential of having a huge impact on health services in India.

Read here: Critical Analysis of 15th Finance Commission Recommendations for Local Bodies
What were the reasons for failure in the past?

In 1992, with 73rd and 74th Amendment Act, primary health care was transferred to PRI’s and ULB’s (Urban Local Bodies). But this negatively impacted the ULB’s. The government funding for ULB’s was not channelled through State health departments. ULB’s failed to raise their own resources. This was due to lack of finances, lack of clarity of responsibility and having different spending priorities. All this resulted in a financial crunch.

Read here: Local Self Government

National Rural Health Mission (NRHM, 2005) although partly reduced the issue of RLBs (Rural Local Bodies) not spending on health. But National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) had a meagre annual financial allocation that never crossed ₹1,000 crores.

Hence, in 2017-18, 25 years after the Constitutional Amendments, the ULBs and RLBs are only contributing 1.3% and 1% of the annual total health expenditure in India.

What are the obstacles faced by Urban India in improving the health system?

Urban India, which holds half the population of rural India, has just one-sixth of primary health centre’s as compared to rural India. It faces regular outbreaks of diseases like chikungunya and dengue. Covid-19 pandemic exposed the weak testing and hospital infrastructure of Urban India. There is a lack of coordination and jurisdiction issues between various agencies.

Given these circumstances, 15th FC’s increased grant for NUHM is a welcome step.

What steps are needed to revive the health infrastructure?

– Sensitize the key stakeholders in local bodies, e.g. PRI representatives.
– Raise awareness amongst citizens about the responsibility of local bodies in health care.
– Civil society organizations should raise awareness, develop local dashboards etc.
– Local bodies should augment the FC grants by raising their own resources.
– Institutionalize coordination mechanism amongst various agencies.
– State governments should open up various types of community clinics in rural and urban areas.

What should be the way forward?

While India health system needs funding, it needs to be complemented by various agencies, elected representatives and civil society to ensure that the coveted goal of health for all can be met.

Iran-Pak Rivalry In Afghanistan Works For India

Source: This post is based on the article “Iran-Pak Rivalry In Afghanistan Works For India” published in the Times of India on 1st December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding the importance of Iran for India in the Afghanistan context.

News: Indian concerns about the repercussions of ISI activities in Afghanistan holds little importance owing to the different interests of the regional powers. Iran, in this context, is important for India as both countries want to resist Pakistan’s domination in Afghanistan.

Why there is a conflict between Iran and Pakistan?

Both countries chose their intelligence agency to destabilize each other. Pakistan’s ISI used jihadi outfits like Jundullah and Jaish al-Adl to destabilize Iran, whereas the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) supports Baloch insurgents in Pakistan.

About the past relations between Iran and Afghanistan?

After the ISI-backed Taliban overthrew President Burhanuddin Rabbani’s ‘national unity’ government in1996, Iran supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban.

US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, holds a significant opportunity for Iran to regain its influence in the region. However, the deterioration of the US-Iran relationship led the IRGC to support the anti-US insurgency.

Thus, Iran started hosting a liaison office between the Taliban and IRGC. IRGC.

What is Iran’s stand today?

Iran is concerned about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Reports of the Influence of ISI and the lack of formation of an inclusive government have further heightened the concerns. The absence of Persian-speaking minority groups and exclusion of IRGC-backed senior commanders from leadership roles is of grave concern to Iran.

Iran’s pressure worked to some extent, and the Taliban announced the expansion of the interim government and included IRGC-backed commanders and the selection of ethnic Hazara as deputy minister of health.

How engagement with Iran is beneficial for India?

With India and Iran both wanting to stop the dominance of Pakistan, India must engage with Iran to secure a favorable balance in its neighborhood.

Narco-terrorism: Afghanistan, the rise of a narco-terrorist state

Source: This post is based on the article “Afghanistan, the rise of a narco-terrorist state” published in The Hindu on 1st December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding the increasing threat of narco-terrorism on the Indian state.

News: According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production in Afghanistan has crossed 6,000 tonnes for the 5th consecutive year. It led to an increase in the production of opiates by 8%.

What were the reasons behind the increase in opium production in Afghanistan?

Source of income: Taliban is involved in promoting its production, taxation and smuggling either into Pakistan or Iran. According to United Nations, Taliban earned more than $400 million between 2018-19 from the drug trade. Another report from the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) estimated that the Taliban derive up to 60% of their annual revenue from illicit narcotics.

Strengthening relations with Terrorist groups like the Organization of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Hezbollah and others.

No alternate livelihood programme: Punitive policies were advocated by the international community, which sought the use of force to destroy standing opium crops without adequately compensating the farmers or leaving them without alternative livelihoods.

All this results in flourishing the narco-infrastructure in Afghanistan and developing a symbiotic nexus and indigenous facilities to produce methamphetamine pills.

What is the cause of concern for India?

There has been an increase in the cases of smuggling and seizures of large consignments of drugs in India. The huge recoveries of heroin, 3,000 kg in September alone signifies that. So, the instability in Afghanistan has initiated narcotic smuggling waves, if unchecked, have the potential of destabilizing India’s security.

What policies should the Indian government adapt to counter the threat of narco-terrorism?

India should look for alliances in Central, West, and South Asia to prevent the economic collapse of the Afghan state and in preventing humanitarian crises.

Read here: Allow unimpeded aid into Afghanistan, say NSAs in Delhi Declaration

Government should engage with Afghan society including all stakeholders like political leaders, business groups and others who are looking for assistance in having a legitimate, representative and inclusive leadership in their country.

Protect, don’t pander: On suppression of free speech

Source: This post is based on the article “Protect, don’t pander: On suppression of free speech” published in The Hindu on 1st December 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Fundamental Rights.

Relevance: Understanding the importance of Freedom of speech.

News: Bangalore’s show of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui has been cancelled owing to the fear that it would create law and order problems and disrupt peace and harmony. Police even arrested the local organizers and those selling tickets for the show which had nothing to do with the content of his performance .

A similar case has occurred where a Tamil writer declared his own “death” in a literary sense after being silenced by conservative and religious groups

What was the issue?

Munawar was unjustly arrested in Indore earlier after a complaint that he was about to denigrate Hindu gods in a planned show. He spent 37 days in jail before the Supreme Court granted him bail. Further, many of his shows got cancelled in  Raipur, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara for the same reason.

What should be done to protect the Freedom of speech?

The state functionaries like police advise people to exercise caution instead of protecting their right to free speech. That practice needs to be reversed.

Also read: An updated analysis on Freedom of Speech and Expression

The supreme court in Rangarajan vs Jagjivan Ram case ruled that suppressing freedom of speech in response to the threat of protest or demonstration would be violating the concept of rule of law.

GS Paper 3

On Cryptocurrency regulation – Arguments against regulating Cryptocurrencies are very weak

Source: This post is based on the following articles

Arguments against regulating Cryptocurrencies are very weak” published in Livemint and “Controlling the Crypto genie” published in The Hindu, on 1st Dec 2021

Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology

Relevance: Regulation of Cryptocurrencies

News: Despite all the arguments being put forward for non-regulation of Cryptocurrency, government should push forward and regulate it.

Why Cryptocurrencies need to be regulated?

– Self-regulation is not the solution: Once one exchange puts out a misleading advertisement, making false claims of higher returns,  rival exchanges are left with no choice but to match such claims. Hence, we need proper regulation.

Must Read: Crypto Assets: To ban or not to ban?

– Any Investment sector requires regulation: Instead of competing with fiat money, as intended by its founders, Crypto has  emerged as an avenue for investment and any form of investment needs to be regulated.

– Possibility of a regulation being bypassed is no reason to not regulate any sector: Another argument being made is that crypto investors don’t need Crypto platforms as they can move to peer-to-peer exchanges (P2P) exchanges located outside India.

A regulated market will certainly keep illegal activities supported via Crypto transactions to under control to some extent.

Most of the common investors will comply with the rules and substantial money will be gained from taxes.

How Crypto can be regulated in India?

In The Future of Money, Eswar S. Prasad talks about three different approaches that countries have taken to regulate cryptos:

– Banning: Countries like China have banned cryptos entirely.

– Passive intolerance: Then there are countries which have adopted passive intolerance. This involves not banning cryptocurrencies but discouraging their use by financial institutions and, in many cases, not clarifying the legal status of such currencies. South Korea has taken this approach.

– Regulatory framework: The third and the most practical approach would involve not limiting investors from investing in cryptos and at the same time creating a framework in which to regulate them and any related to financial products.

Must Read: How to regulate Cryptocurrencies in India?
What is the way forward?

First, Crypto exchanges can be mandated to deduct a certain amount of tax when anyone sells tokens to make a capital gain. This will help maintain an accounting trail to check whether the right amount of tax was paid.

Second, the government needs to clearly specify the tax that needs to be paid on capital gains made by investing in cryptos.

Third, the use of the word ‘currency’ while talking about cryptos is something that needs to be outlawed because it misleads people, given that the word and the government are intricately related.

Fourth, it should be conveyed clearly to everyone that cryptos are not legal tender.

For more, read the following articles:

Must Read: Cryptocurrency in India: Ban or regulation?

Rumblings of the coming central bank digital currency

Source: This post is based on the article “Rumblings of the coming central bank digital currency” published in Livemint on 1st Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology, Indian Economy

Relevance: Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

News: A senior RBI official has said that the pilot launch of a new central bank currency could happen as early as the first quarter of next financial year.

A lot of the ongoing debate on an Indian CBDC is focused on what RBI should do, and far less attention is paid to the equally important question of how households will respond.

Private demand for a CBDC must be studied in due depth for a useful understanding of its economic policy implications.

A survey of central banks earlier this year by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) showed that 14% of the surveyed institutions had launched pilot projects on CBDCs, while 60% were experimenting with the technology.
What is the demand and supply side of a CBDC?

Supply side entails questions like, whether it would initially be open for retail or wholesale payments, for domestic or international payments, and how it can be made interoperable with the existing payments system, to data protection concerns.

Must Read: Everything to want to know about CBDC

Demand side: There are three sets of issues worth highlighting when it comes to understanding the potential demand for CBDCs from the private sector (households and businesses) –

– A sudden movement of financial savings: In India, household have 17.3 trillion of bank deposits, and 2.4 trillion of cash. There will be a minimal impact in case cash is converted into CBDC holdings, since one type of central bank money is being converted to another. However, a sudden movement of savings from bank deposits to a CBDC could create financial instability, especially during times of economic stress.

Must Read: Inside RBI’s digital currency dream

– Design of CBDC and interest rates involved: One of the major factors affecting demand side behaviour will be the interest rate offered on CBDC holdings. Zero interest rates on these holdings will in effect mean that they are no different from cash, and people will then hold the CBDC only for payments. Also, the ease of using the CBDC, through existing digital wallets or the United Payments Interface, will be an important determinant of household behaviour, esp. switching b/w the CBDC, cash and bank deposits.

– Macroeconomic factors: Estimates show that demand for a CBDC will be sensitive to macroeconomic factors such as household income, income distribution, the share of household funding of the banking system etc. Most of the estimates available right now are for rich economies, so more work needs to be done on this in the Indian context.

Must Read: The merits of an RBI digital currency outweigh risks

Note: You can read even more about CBDC in the following articles:

Introducing India’s National Digital Currency – Explained, pointwise

RBI for widening scope of ‘bank note’ to include digital currency

What a digital currency from RBI must get right?

On legalising MSP: Supporting farmers

Source: This post is based on the article “Supporting farmers” published in Business Standard on 1st Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to MSP

Relevance: Legalising minimum support price  and its challenges

News: Farmers are now protesting for a legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP)

In terms of policy intervention, it is well accepted that incomes in the farm sector have fallen behind, compared to other sectors of the economy, and farmers need to be fairly compensated.

But a legal price guarantee is not the solution. There are a number of valid reasons why it should not be accepted.

Why MSP should not be legalised?

Market distortion: Guaranteed MSP will incentivise farmers to grow only those crops and neglect others. This will create an imbalance in the market. As a result, there will be a large surplus of some crops and a shortage of others.

Affect small farmers the most: it has been suggested that private traders be mandated not to buy below the MSP declared by the government. This will kill private trade in agriculture, and small farmers will be left with unsold surpluses.

What is the way forward?

The government needs to find less distorting means to compensate farmers. In this context, Income transfer could be a better option.

The already existing cash transfer scheme for farmers, can be modified to account for the level of landholding.

Further, government need to find ways to bring tenant farmers and agricultural labourers into the net.

Finally, the government would need to engage more widely with all stakeholders  to be able to make the right policy interventions.

Must Read: Legalising MSP: Challenges and way forward – Explained, pointwise

India’s informal economy has not shrunk

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s informal economy has not shrunk” published in The Hindu on 1st Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to formalisation of the workforce

Relevance:  Formalisation vs informalisation

News: SBI Research study claimed that there is greater formalisation of the economy

According to a recent State Bank of India (SBI) Research report, the informal economy in India has been shrinking since 2018.

The report claims that the share of the informal sector is just 15-20% in 2021 compared to 52.4% in 2018.

According to the report, Formalisation, has taken place through the gross value-added (GVA) route, consumption through increased digital payments, and the employment route.

However, the report’s claim is unfounded.

What is the definition for informal enterprises?

According to ILO, informal enterprises are defined as,

Household enterprises not constituted as separate legal entities independently of the households or household members that own them, and for which no complete accounts are available and those without social security.

Why the report’s claim is unfounded?

Firstly, The SBI study adopts multiple definitions of formality (digitisation, registration in GST, cashless payments), which are not used by anyone.

Secondly, The SBI study confuses the shrinking of the informal sector’s share of the GDP due to demonetisation and COVID-19’s impact on the economy with formalisation.

Thirdly, the formal sector has been treated as a homogenous entity in the study. In reality, there are various layers within the formal sector. Not all workers engaged in the formal sector are ‘formal’. There has been large-scale informalisation of the formal sector over the last three decades through contractualisation and outsourcing of labour. As a result, the proportion of non-permanent, casual and contract workers increased in the organised sector from 1999-00 to 2011-12.

Fourthly, registration under miscellaneous laws does not imply that they have become formal. For instance, registration under acts like local municipal acts or tax laws does not indicate formalisation.

Read more here:

– High cost of India’s illusive quest for formalization

– An estimate of a big formal shift that stretches credulity too far

– Big claims of rapid economic formalization are suspect

India’s electric vehicle push will lead to brighter, greener future

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s electric vehicle push will lead to brighter, greener future” published in the Indian Express on 1 Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Relevance: Understanding the need for a transportation revolution in India.

News: Decarbonisation of global economy, including India’s, entails decarbonisation of the transport sector. Moreover, it is in line with the India’s climate change commitments, will help boost manufacturing sector and also help ensure energy security.

India supports the global “EV30@30” campaign, which aims for at least 30% of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.

It requires a transportation revolution, having many components like better ‘walkability’, public transportation, railways, roads and better cars (likely to be electric).

Why India needs to transit towards electric mobility?

Huge car market: India is the 5th largest car market in the world and has the potential to be in top three in near future.

Expensive fuel: These cars are running on expensive imported fuel. India imports over 80% of its overall crude oil needs.

Vehicular emissions: The vehicular emission released is huge, causing health and environmental issues.

Crowded cities: It crowds up already overcrowded cities, suffering from infrastructure bottlenecks.

Opportunities in battery manufacturing: With rising levels of per capita income, there has been a tremendous demand for consumer electronics in the areas of mobile phones, UPS, laptops, power banks etc. requiring advanced chemistry batteries. This makes manufacturing of advanced batteries one of the largest economic opportunities of the 21st century.

Must Read: Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges India is facing in transitioning to electric mobility?

The absence of a manufacturing base for batteries in India, leading to sole reliance on imports to meet rising demand. It is estimated that by 2030, India’s cumulative demand for batteries would be approximately 900-1100 GWh.

– High Import bill– India imported more than $1 billion worth of lithium-ion cells in 2021.

What are the likely benefits?

Transitioning to EVs has multiple benefits:

It would help India to fulfil its global commitments like Paris goal, to reduce carbon emissions in order to limit global warming.

It is likely to contribute in improving the overall energy security situation of India.

Using EVs would help India save foreign exchange.

The would develop a complete domestic supply chain and attract FDI (foreign direct investment) in the country.

It is expected to play an important role in the local EV manufacturing industry for job creation. The battery manufacturing unit would make India’s EV path sustainable.

Through several grid support services, EVs are expected to maintain secure and stable grid operation. Also it would help in higher renewable energy penetration.

What steps have been taken by the government?

Government remodelled Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME II) scheme to tackle the demand side.

It introduced production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) for the supplier side.

Also the government launched PLI scheme for Auto and Automotive Components for manufacturers of electric vehicles.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: What’s in Uttarakhand’s Char Dham Act, and why it is being withdrawn

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What’s in Uttarakhand’s Char Dham Act, and why it is being withdrawn” published in Indian Express on 01 Dec 2021.

What is the News?

Uttarakhand CM has announced the withdrawal of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act, which was made an act in 2019.

The decision will lead to the abolition of Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board, which has been facing protests from priests and other stakeholders of four shrines.

What is the Char Dham Act?

The act was aimed at bringing the Char Dham of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and 49 other temples under the purview of a proposed shrine board.

As per the Act, the CM is the Chairman, whereas the minister for religious affairs is the vice-chairman of the board.

The shrine board was constituted as the highest governing body for the management of the temples. Its power ranges from policy formulation to execution and budgetary powers including management of jewellery and properties vested in the temples, among others.

What is the controversy?

Before the constitution of the Board, the “Shri Badrinath-Shri Kedarnath Act, 1939” was in place for the management of two shrines Badrinath, Kedarnath and Shri Badrinath- Shri Kedarnath Mandir Samiti for 45 temples.

All the decisions related to utilization of the donations, funds and development works in and around these temples were taken by that committee and the government did not intervene. But through the Devasthanam board, the government tried to take control over the financial and policy decisions, which is not taken well by stakeholders.

In case of Gangotri and Yamunotri, management of the shrines was in the control of local trusts and the government was not getting any share from the donations made by devotees.

Now it was set to change with the new act.

What is the step taken by Government?

Uttarakhand’s government first constituted a committee to look into the matter and later, after receiving committee’s report, announced to withdraw the Act.

Explained: Barbados – the world’s newest republic

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: Barbados – the world’s newest republic published in Indian Express on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

Nearly 400 years after the country became a British colony, Barbados has become the world’s newest republic. 

This was done after Barbados removed Queen Elizabeth II as the head of the state in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles.

What is the history of Barbados as a British Colony?
Source: BBC

Barbados first became an English colony when a ship arrived at the Caribbean in 1625. 

On November 30, 1966, Barbados gained its independence. With Elizabeth II as Queen of Barbados. 

Now it will become the world’s newest republic. However, it will continue to be one of the 54 Commonwealth nations.

Note: Commonwealth of Nations is a loose association of former British colonies and current dependencies, along with some countries that have no historical ties to Britain.

How will the transition of Barbados to a republic take place?

There are no plans to change the flags, coat of arms, national pledge or national anthem. 

However, the terms “royal” and “crown” would be dropped from all official references. Hence, Royal Barbados Police Force will become Barbados Police Force and crown lands would become state lands.

Moreover, the country would continue to celebrate Independence Day on November 30 but not just in remembrance of removing Queen Elizabeth II as the head but also in the memory of the country’s first president.

Note: Barbados will not be the first former British colony in the Caribbean to become a republic. Guyana took that step in 1970, less than four years after gaining independence from Britain. Trinidad and Tobago followed suit in 1976 and Dominica in 1978.

NITI Aayog organises knowledge sharing workshop on Natural Farming

Source: This post is based on the articleNITI Aayog organises knowledge-sharing workshop on Natural Farmingpublished in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

Niti Aayog has organized a knowledge-sharing workshop on Natural Farming.

What is Natural Farming?

Natural Farming can be defined as “chemical-free farming and livestock-based”.

It is a diversified farming system that integrates crops, trees and livestock, allowing the optimum use of functional biodiversity. 

Natural Farming has many indigenous forms in India, the most popular one is practised in Andhra Pradesh called Zero Budget Natural Farming(ZBNF).

What are the components of Natural Farming?
Source: NITI Aayog

What are the benefits of Natural Farming? a) Improves Yield b) Increased Farmers Income c) Minimize the cost of production d) Ensure better Health as less use of fertilizers and pesticides, reduces the incidence of non-communicable diseases e) Employment Generation f) Eliminate the application of chemical inputs f) Environment Conservation g) Reduce Water Consumption h) Rejuvenate Soil Health and i) resilience to the crops against weather extremities.

What is the scheme to promote Natural Farming?

Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati(BPKP): BPKP is a sub-mission under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana(PKVY) which falls within the umbrella of the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture(NMSA).

Aim: To promote traditional indigenous practices, which give freedom to farmers from externally purchased inputs. 

Focus: It focuses on on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching; use of cow dung–urine formulations; and exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs either directly or indirectly.

Skill India launches a programme to upskill Street Food Vendors, making them eligible for e-cart license

Source: This post is based on the article Skill India launches a programme to upskill Street Food Vendors, making them eligible for e-cart licensepublished in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship(MSDE) has launched a programme to upskill street vendors.

What is the programme to upskill the street vendors?

The programme will be implemented under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) component of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 3.0.

Objective: To provide relevant skills to the Street Food Vendors leading towards better services to consumers, more opportunities to vendors for revenue generation, awareness on regulations and stipulated rules in return providing better services to the local bodies.

Pilot Phase: In the pilot phase, the programme will be implemented to skill the street vendors of East Delhi Municipal Corporation(EDMC).

Implemented by:  Tourism and Hospitality Sector Skill Council(THSSC) and training partners of National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC).

Training under the programme: Under the initiative, the Street Food Vendors will be educated on health and safety standards, safety provisions under COVID-19 protocols, effective communication techniques with staff and customers, new-age skills such as digital literacy, financial literacy, digital payments and e-selling. The vendors will also be supported with loans under the Mudra Scheme.

What is the need for Skilling Street Vendors?

India has 55 Lakh Street Food Vendors. Their contribution to the informal economy is 14%, which is not a small number. This highlights the important role played by them in India’s economy.

However, the upliftment of street vendors lacked special attention and focus. Hence, the initiatives like SVANidhi and RPL training for Street Food Vendors have been launched to upskill the street vendors.

Union Ministry of Electronics & IT, Govt of Andhra Pradesh and NASSCOM launch ‘Centre of Excellence of IoT and AI’ in Visakhapatnam

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Ministry of Electronics & IT, Govt of Andhra Pradesh and NASSCOM launch ‘Centre of Excellence of IoT and AI’ in Visakhapatnampublished in PIB on 1st December 2021.

What is the News?

National Association of Software and Services Companies(NASSCOM) in a joint partnership with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) and the Government of Andhra Pradesh has inaugurated the ‘Centre of Excellence on IoT and AI’.

What is the Centre of Excellence on IoT and AI?

The Center of Excellence on IoT and AI is located at Andhra University Campus, Visakhapatnam.


To solve real-world challenges by promoting innovation in emerging technologies like the Internet of things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence(AI), robotics among others.

To promote entrepreneurship by providing an incubation facility for peer-to-peer learning and the benefit of an industrial environment.

What are the Nine Sunrise Technologies?

The 9 technologies which are going to be the sunrise technologies for world events are: 1) Artificial Intelligence & Machine learning 2) Robotic Process Automation 3) Edge computing which is an extension to Cloud computing 4) Quantum computing 5) Virtual reality and Augmented Reality 6) Blockchain 7) IoT 8) 5G and 9) cyber security. 

The mystery behind the high abundance of Lithium in some evolved stars traced

Source: This post is based on the articleThe mystery behind the high abundance of Lithium in some evolved stars tracedpublished in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

Scientists have found out the reason behind the high abundance of Lithium in some evolved stars.

Note: Lithium is found in trace amounts on Earth. It is also a key component of rechargeable batteries.

What did the Astronomers know so far about Lithium in Stars?

Astronomers have known that a class of stars have an anomalous amount of Lithium on their surface. 

The reason and processes behind the high abundance of Lithium have remained a puzzle, since the models of how stars evolve predict the Lithium must have been destroyed in the hot plasma of the star.

What did the scientists find out in their study?

Scientists have found that the production of lithium is related to the burning of helium in the core of these stars.

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) – Quarterly Bulletin (January-March 2021)

Source: This post is based on the articlePeriodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) – Quarterly Bulletin (January-March 2021)published in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

The National Statistical Office (NSO) has released the quarterly bulletin of Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for January-March 2021.

What is the Periodic Labour Force Survey(PLFS)?

The National Statistical Office(NSO) has launched Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in April 2017. 

Objectives of PLFS: The objective of PLFS is primarily twofold:

  • To estimate the key employment and unemployment indicators (viz. Worker Population Ratio(WPR), Labour Force Participation Rate(LFPR), Unemployment Rate(UER)) in the short time interval of three months for the urban areas only in the ‘Current Weekly Status’ (CWS).
  • To estimate employment and unemployment indicators in both ‘Usual Status’ (ps+ss) and CWS in both rural and urban areas annually.

Click Here to read about LFPR, WPR and UER

What are the key findings of the survey?
Unemployment Rate
Source: Business Standard

The unemployment rate in urban areas of the country for people of all ages has fallen to 9.4% in January-March,2021. This was the lowest since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March 2020 but was higher than the pre-pandemic levels of 9.1%.

Among males, the unemployment rate in urban areas was 8.7% in January-March 2021. It was 9.5% in October-December 2020. 

Among females, the unemployment rate was 11.8%  in January-March 2021. It was 13.1% in October-December 2020.

Labour force participation rate(LFPR)

LFPR in urban areas for persons of 15 years of age and above was 47.5% in the January-March quarter of 2021, down from 48.1% in the same period a year ago. It was 47.3%  in October-December 2020.

Working Population Ratio(WPR)

WPR in urban areas for persons of age 15 years and above stood at 43.1% in January-March 2021 down from 43.7% in the same period a year ago. It was 42.4% in October-December 2020.

Mains Answer Writing

[Answered] Bring out the application of and implications associated with geoengineering to reduce the impacts of global warming.

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Write some application of geoengineering in reducing the impacts of global warming. Also write some implications associated with geoengineering. Conclusion: Write a way forward. Geoengineering is an umbrella term for various experimental technologies designed to deliberately alter the climate system to reduce the impacts of global warming. They are slowly but… Continue reading [Answered] Bring out the application of and implications associated with geoengineering to reduce the impacts of global warming.

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[Answered] What are the reasons behind instances of bird hits on aircrafts? What precautionary and remedial measures can be taken to prevent mishappening due to such incidents?

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Write some reasons behind instances of bird hits on aircrafts. Also write some precautionary and remedial measures can be taken to prevent mishappening due to such incidents. Conclusion: Write a way forward. The event of an airborne animal (usually a bird or a bat) hitting an airplane in flight is referred… Continue reading [Answered] What are the reasons behind instances of bird hits on aircrafts? What precautionary and remedial measures can be taken to prevent mishappening due to such incidents?

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How can you make a westward-flowing river flow east: Activists on Bedti-Varada interlinking

What is the News? Environmental groups in Karnataka have criticized the Bedti-Varada Interlinking Project in Karnataka calling it unscientific and a waste of public money. What is the Bedti-Varda Interlinking Project? The Bedti-Varada project was envisaged in 1992 to supply drinking water. The plan aims to link the Bedti, a river flowing west into the Arabian… Continue reading How can you make a westward-flowing river flow east: Activists on Bedti-Varada interlinking

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Union Minister approves Draft GSR Notification to introduce Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program)

What is the News? The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved the Draft GSR Notification to introduce Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). What is Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program)? Bharat NCAP will serve as an automobile safety performance assessment programme for vehicles sold in the Indian market. Under the programme,… Continue reading Union Minister approves Draft GSR Notification to introduce Bharat NCAP (New Car Assessment Program)

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Biodiversity loss to raise India’s bankruptcy risk 29%

What is the News? According to a study by British economists, loss of biodiversity will downgrade the Sovereign credit ratings of several countries including India increasing their bankruptcy risk. What are Sovereign credit ratings? Sovereign credit ratings are an independent assessment that determines the creditworthiness of a country. It can give investors insights into the… Continue reading Biodiversity loss to raise India’s bankruptcy risk 29%

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BIS formulates performance standards for Electric Vehicle Batteries

What is the News? The Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) has published the “Performance standards for electric vehicle batteries” Why have Performance standards for electric vehicle batteries been issued? Electric vehicles operate on an electric motor and rechargeable batteries. Most electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries because of their high power-to-weight ratio. However, recent fire incidents with… Continue reading BIS formulates performance standards for Electric Vehicle Batteries

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VL-SRSAM missile system successfully test-fired

What is the News? Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM) was successfully flight-tested by the Defence Research & Development Organization(DRDO) and the Indian Navy from an Indian Naval Ship at Integrated Test Range(ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha. What is VL-SRSAM? VL-SRSAM is a ship-borne weapon system developed by the Defence… Continue reading VL-SRSAM missile system successfully test-fired

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Brainstorming Workshop on National Air Quality Resource Framework of India(NARFI)

What is the News? Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt. of India inaugurated a Brainstorming Workshop to kick start an ambitious National Mission on “National Air Quality Resource Framework of India (NARFI)”. What is the National Air Quality Resource Framework of India (NARFI)? Developed by: The National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru with the support… Continue reading Brainstorming Workshop on National Air Quality Resource Framework of India(NARFI)

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Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry: A first: norms to protect rights of kids working on OTT platforms

What is the news? Recently, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has published a draft “Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry”. The guidelines increase the scope of the guidelines to cover social media and OTT platforms for the first time. What is the need for the draft “Guidelines… Continue reading Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry: A first: norms to protect rights of kids working on OTT platforms

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need to formulate a structured gaming law for online gaming

News: Due to evolving technologies, online gaming has swiftly emerged as the most engaging form of entertainment in India. About the Online gaming industry The online gaming including e-sports, online casual games and real money gaming. The industry has been growing at a rate of about 35% in 2019-20, outpacing OTT, television, and social media… Continue reading need to formulate a structured gaming law for online gaming

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