9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 21st, 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.
- For previous editions of 9 PM Brief – Click Here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- On India’s Data Policy – The promise and peril of big data in India’s policy space
- Why WHO’s Pandemic treaty is a smokescreen
- Courting the stans: India’s outreach to central Asia is vital to counter the China-Pakistan axis
- Exam-conducting bodies must support candidates with disabilities
- Summit for Democracy: What constitutes democracy is for actual democracy to define
- Fiscal Federalism: The sustained attack on federalism
- Raising marriage age won’t lead to women’s empowerment
- Why the Russia-West equation matters to India
GS Paper 3
- Why bugs should be a bigger part of the human food chain
- India’s FTA ambitions in perspective
- What rising inequality mean
- An over-engineered social stock exchange?
- Blue sky thinking-Net zero aviation is more than a flight of fantasy
- Gati Shakti: A much-needed fast track to development
- Delink the good, bad and ugly of online gaming for apt regulation
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Lok Sabha passes Bill to link electoral rolls with Aadhaar
- Biological Diversity Bill referred to Joint Committee of Parliament
- Coal demand to peak in India by 2030, will back up renewables: NITI report
- Reintroduced gharials thriving in Beas reserve: experts
- As per 1st round of All-India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey (AQEES), employment increased by 29% in nine selected sectors of economy compared to 6th Economic Census (2013-14)
- Himalayan glaciers are melting at a furious rate, shows study
- Killer robots: Humans again fail to decide future of killer robots
- Explained: Revisiting definition of EWS
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
On India’s Data Policy – The promise and peril of big data in India’s policy space
Source: This post is based on the article “The promise and peril of big data in India’s policy space” published in Livemint on 21st Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2- Issues related to Data Governance in India
Relevance: Need of effective open data policy.
News: Even years after India initiated an ‘open data’ policy, openness, of public datasets, is still very rare. Unlike in the West, the statistical ecosystem in India is not such that administrative datasets can be scrutinized by independent researchers and then deployed for policymaking.
What are the issues/ challenges in using administrative data for policymaking?
Firstly, the issue of the opaqueness of government departments on data.
Three years before, the ‘long walk home’ of migrant workers during the pandemic, a study in India’s pre-budget Economic Survey, claimed that the actual number of migrant workers may be roughly double that of census estimates. This study was based on a dataset of unreserved passenger traffic between every pair of railway stations in India.
Thus, the study argued that social security benefits should be portable across states to provide protection to such workers.
However, prominent academics raised questions about the study, arguing that its estimates could not be taken seriously.
If the government had released the raw data behind this study, researchers could have verified the calculations of the study. It would have resulted in attention towards interstate migrants even before the pandemic.
Even our Census can easily miss out on short-term and circular migration flows. Because it is conducted only once in ten years.
Secondly, lack of respect for basic data norms. For instance, during the EPFO data-mining exercise, lack of respect for basic data norms has made it unusable.
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)maintains the digitized records of employees receiving provident fund benefits in this country. This data is a valuable resource to track the movement of people in and out of formal jobs across different sectors.
To obtain valuable information from this EPFO data, the Niti Aayog invited two economists. However, this was against the basic data norms.
In most mature democracies, a public agency would either have published the entire dataset for everyone to use or have invited researchers through a transparent process to mine the dataset for research.
The issue got strengthened when the ‘selected’ researchers suppressed the issue of the incompleteness of EPFO records, in their published version of the study.
As a result, the findings from EPFO data and data itself became questionable in the eyes of serious researchers.
Thirdly, the issue of using unverified administrative data sets without public scrutiny. For instance, the untested MCA-21 data, was used to calculate India’s gross domestic product (GDP) 2014-15, despite being warned by an independent expert. This created a big controversy.
If the government had opened up the MCA-21 dataset, suspicions could have been avoided in the early stages.
What are the reasons for the occurrence of such issues?
India’s data facilitator National Statistical Commission (NSC) is severely under-equipped to perform such a role. It also lacks statutory backing, and independent funding has disenfranchised the National Statistical Commission.
What is the way forward?
An empowered statistical regulator should be set up in place of NSC. It would make sure that clear norms for data sharing and accessibility are in force.
Many of India’s big administrative datasets are flawed. Simply opening up these databases for public scrutiny will ensure that errors and inconsistencies are quickly identified. Transparency will lead to accuracy and raise public confidence.
Why WHO’s Pandemic treaty is a smokescreen
Source: This post is based on the article “Why WHO’s Pandemic treaty is a smokescreen” published in Times of India on 21st Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: WHO, TRIPS waiver for COVID vaccines and other treatment.
News: A Special session of the World Health Assembly was held recently to negotiate the pandemic treaty. The proposal for a new pandemic treaty is mainly championed by the European Union.
Read more about this treaty here.
What is the current mechanism to deal with any International health emergencies?
Currently, Global public health responses are guided by International Health Regulations (IHR).
IHR was adopted in 1969 and revised in 2005 following the SARS outbreak, there has been recognition of the fact that it needs further revision and that’s why this new treaty is being negotiated.
Why this treaty is not a sufficient step to fight present or future pandemics?
Treaty only provides recommendations for tackling a particular issue while ignoring that the countries specially in the south require resources and capacities to reach the public health targets.
There is no focus on bridging these deficiencies or capacity inequities. That rich countries have given out far more booster shots in four months than poor countries have given out doses all year, reflects this capacity inequity b/w global North and the South.
Any global effort must ensure distributed capacities so that countries and regions in the south have sovereignty over essential medicines, materials, manufacturing and supply chains.
How has the North responded to this capacity inequity?
There is clear lack of political will on the part of developed countries to share essential technology and manufacturing know-how and waive intellectual property barriers. An example of this is that WHO mRNA vaccine tech transfer hub in South Africa has been stunted by the refusal of the US and Germany
They have been unable to convince their corporations to share public funded technology and IP with this initiative.
What is a TRIPS waiver and how will it help to counter this inequity?
Read about TRIPS here.
Rich countries support the free market ideology but have been largely restricting the TRIPS waiver.
What India can do to advance the cause for TRIPS waiver?
India can show leadership by sharing its technical know-how and manufacturing capacities.
It must also resolve inconsistencies that exist in its policy positions between various ministries, while also simultaneously supporting the TRIPS waiver.
What is the way forward?
Public health interests should be placed before corporate interests.
There is need for consistent efforts to address deficiencies in global solidarity and improve access to essential lifesaving technologies.
Courting the stans: India’s outreach to central Asia is vital to counter the China-Pakistan axis
Source: This post is based on the following articles:
“Meeting between India and Central Asian Republics underscores shared concerns on Afghanistan” published in the Indian Express on 21st December 2021.
“Courting the stans: India’s outreach to central Asia is vital to counter the China-Pakistan axis” published in the Times of India on 21st December 2021.
“A strategic bulwark: On third India-Central Asia Dialogue” published in The Hindu on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: Understanding importance of good Central Asia- India relations
News: Recently, a third India- Central Asia dialogue has been held. Regional Security Dialogue” with his Central Asian Republic (CAR) counterparts was also held recently to discuss Afghanistan.
What were the key highlights of the 3rd India- Central Asia dialogue?
Improving connectivity: Discussions have been held on India’s $1 billion Line of Credit for projects in Central Asia. Further, India’s connectivity initiatives are based on principles of transparency and respect for sovereignty. The formulation is used by India to oppose China’s opaque Belt and Road projects that have already seen countries fall into debt traps and sign away strategic assets.
|Read here: India-Central Asia Dialogue: Six nations call for ‘immediate’ aid for Afghans|
How does instability in Afghanistan impacts CAR?
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan share land borders with Afghanistan, so instability directly affects these regions. Ethnic Tajik, Turk and Uzbek are significant minorities in Afghanistan and are the first to be impacted by the Taliban’s exclusionary ideology. Also, CARs fears the increase in rising of radical Islam, terrorism and drugs into their own territories.
|Read here: What are Central Asian initiatives to resolve the Afghan crisis?|
Why does the Central Asian Republics are important for India?
CAR has massive natural resources like gas, uranium, etc. This can fuel India’s next phase of industrialization. Also, linking Iran’s Chabahar port with the International North-South Transport Corridor can give India direct access to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
|Read here: India quest for a road to Central Asia|
What are the roadblocks in prospering India- Central Asian Republics (CAR) relations?
-Russian continues to influence in CAR region and their government.
-China’s Belt and Road Initiative and $100 billion trade have made it a central figure in the region.
-The U.S. has also been seeking a foothold in the region, especially after Afghanistan.
-India’s land connectivity to Central Asia is hampered by Pakistan. The alternative route, via Iran’s Chabahar, has also received a setback after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The development of the Indian-managed Shahid Beheshti terminal continues to suffer due to the threat of American sanctions.
|Read here: India and Central Asia|
What policies should India adopt?
If India wants to counter the China-Pakistan axis and ‘Great Game’ rivalries that are playing out in the region, it should redouble its efforts towards Central Asia. It should reclaim its shared history with countries that are an important market, a source for energy, and also a bulwark against the threats of extremism and radicalization.
Exam-conducting bodies must support candidates with disabilities
Source: This post is based on the article “Exam-conducting bodies must support candidates with disabilities” published in the Indian Express on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
Relevance: Understanding the rights of disabled people.
News: Recently, a student who suffered from dysgraphia (a disorder that causes impaired handwriting), has not been allocated a 1-hour compensatory time who appeared for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate medical courses.
What are the arguments presented by the National Testing Agency?
National Testing Agency, said that the candidate failed to furnish a disability certificate in the format prescribed in the NTA’s information bulletin for the examination. The NTA stated that the appellant’s case would be considered on the certificate being furnished.
When the candidate tried to obtain this certificate, the appellant was told that the prescribed certificate had to be produced for seeking reservation at the time of admission to a medical college, not at the time of the examination.
What is the court observation?
Bombay High Court: It dismissed the petition due to the candidate’s failure to produce the prescribed certificate
Supreme Court: It held that the prescribed certificate had to be produced at the admission stage, not at the examination stage, contrary to claims by the NTA. It further held that the appellant’s invigilators lacked adequate training, owing to which, the appellant had been wrongfully deprived of compensatory time, by virtue of a “tragedy of errors”.
SC said that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD Act) recognizes the principle of inclusive education for children and adults with disabilities, which in this case has been violated. Also, compensatory time is a legal entitlement of the disabled as per the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. NTA failed to discharge its positive duty to protect the appellant’s right to inclusive education.
|Also read: Disability rights over time|
What is the SC judgment?
It said that accepting the NTA’s argument would result in the RPwD Act being reduced to a dead letter. It provides two weeks’ time to NTA to devise and report a suitable compensatory mechanism for the appellant.
The judgment will help to bring systemic reforms in the NTA, and other exam-conducting bodies, so that in the future disabled people’s rights will not get violated.
Summit for Democracy: What constitutes democracy is for actual democracy to define
Source: This post is based on the article “What constitutes democracy is for actual democracy to define” published in the Livemint on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: Understanding the broader aspect of democracy.
News: USA President hosted the “Summit for Democracy“. There are 100-plus countries that participated in the summit to build a wide-ranging alliance against autocracies.
|Read more: About the Summit for democracy|
Why China and Russia are against the Summit for Democracy?
Both countries criticized the summit as they believe it exhibits a “Cold War Mentality” that would inflame “ideological confrontation and rift in the world”.
In retaliation, China hosted its own International Forum of Democracy, where it claims China as true democracy as it integrates process-oriented democracy with result-oriented democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy. It further released a white paper titled China: Democracy that works” which says there is no fixed model of democracy as China itself manifests democracy in various forms.
|Read here: Defining democracy: Biden’s summit is a good context for democracies to remind themselves what the system means|
What are the reasons for conflicts between the USA and China?
Former US President, Bill Clinton believed that economic freedom can eventually bring political changes in China. But, being the world’s largest economy in purchasing parity terms, 2nd largest at market exchange rates, and the world’s largest trading union, democracy is nowhere to be found in China. Instead, China started using its global economic influence for geopolitical ends, as reflected in trade coercion of Australia since 2000 and recently in Lithuania.
USA blamed China for drawing policies that are disadvantaged to the USA and other foreign companies in sectors that seemed strategic. To control China’s distorted trade policies, the US urged its business community to not see themselves as mere bystanders in US-China strategic engagement, but to be mindful of how the activities can affect USA National Security and fundamental values.
|Read here: U.S. imposes sanctions against China|
What is India’s view of democracy?
At the summit, the Indian PM talking about democracy in India said that democracy can deliver, democracy has delivered and democracy will continue to deliver.
|Read here: Why India will be scrutinised at Summit for Democracy|
Fiscal Federalism: The sustained attack on federalism
Source: This post is based on the article “The sustained attack on federalism” published in The Hindu on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
Relevance: Understanding issues of Indian federalism.
News: A Muslim league member from Kerala in the constituent assembly, highlighted that concentrating all powers in the centre will lead to totalitarianism.
What recent measures suggest a concentration of power by the Centre?
1. Increasing monitory share of states in centrally sponsored schemes, 2. The terms of reference of 15th finance commission, 3. Imposition of demonetization without adequate consultation with the states, 4. The institutionalization of goods and services tax and the subsequent delay in transfer of GST compensation, 5. one nation one ration etc.
Other policies or measures like the banking regulation act 2020, the government of national capital territory amendment act, 2021, draft electricity bill 2020, Dam safety Bill 2019 etc have also concentrated power in the hands of the Centre.
What is the impact of the fiscal situation of the state?
A large share of non-divisible pool taxes in form of cess in petrol tax and creating the Agriculture Infrastructure Development Cess has resulted in a situation where union government continues to get exclusive benefits of tax collection. This share has jumped from 12.67% in 2019- 2020 to 23.46% in 2020–2021.
When the union government proposed borrowing as an option, states had to accept the proposal, but now they are forced into a debt situation. CAG found that the union government in 2018-19 wrongly treated 47, 272 crores of GST compensation cess in the consolidated fund of India. As per 2021-22 budget estimates, the state’s share of unit tax has been reduced to 30% against the mandated 41% as prescribed by the 15th finance commission.
|Read here: Critique of Indian Fiscal Federalism during COVID 19|
States were seeking non-tax avenues to generate funds. Union government issued a clarification that funding to chief ministers disaster relief funds will not be considered as CSR expenditure. This is in opposition to the case with PM – CARES. This was followed by the suspension of MPLAD funds. All these demands resulted in demands for increasing borrowing limits under FRBM from 3 to 5%.
What steps should be taken to resolve this situation?
-It is time for the constitution of a committee like the Rajamannar committee to study centre-state relations.
-As recommended by NCRCW, the state should demand the creation of an institutional framework to mandate and facilitate consultation between unions and the states in areas of legislation under concurrent lists.
-Chief ministers should try to create forums for regular engagement rather than just during times of crisis. For example, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac rallied finance ministers from different states during the initial stages of discussion on the terms of reference of the 15th finance commission. This would be crucial for a discussion on which demands like the extension of GST compensation to 2027 and the inclusion of cess in the divisible pool of taxes.
|Read here: Oxygen for fiscal federalism|
Federal flexibility will play a crucial role in shaping the future of democracy. Even come and needs to invest resources towards facilitating effective consultation with states in lawmaking and administration.
Raising marriage age won’t lead to women’s empowerment
Source: This post is based on the article ”Raising marriage age won’t lead to women’s empowerment” published in Indian Express on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS-2, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors, and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Relevance: To understand the challenges in raising the legal age for marriage.
News: Recently, the Union Cabinet has passed a proposal raising the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years — the same as men.
|Read here: Recommendations given by the Jaya Jaitly committee|
Why India should raise the legal age of marriage for women?
1. India is usually near the bottom of the international rankings on gender indicators. 2. India also has the largest absolute number of girls who marry below the age of 18.
Why raising the legal age of marriage for women does not lead to women’s empowerment?
Against Global consensus: Globally, the age of 18 is widely regarded as the age of adulthood. It is also viewed as an upper limit in terms of the physical and reproductive maturity of women, as well as the age of majority by child rights conventions to which India is a signatory. Thus, the proposed move will restrict the rights of already adult women.
Laws are meant to set minimum levels: The minimum age is a floor age, not a standard or desirable norm. Raising the age would create a debate on the minimum age at marriage vs the right age at marriage. This is an issue for legal experts to debate.
Raising the age will not ensure healthy mothers and children: If poor women remain poor and malnourished, raising their age of marriage will not ensure healthy motherhood. For example, National Family Health Survey (IV) data reveals that levels of anaemia show no change even at ages of marriage up to 25 years.
So, raising the age will punish the poorest sections of the population, since women from better-off groups tend to marry at higher ages.
Report of the multi-country study by World Bank: In 2017, World Bank estimated that “savings” of no less than $5 trillion would accrue if marriage before the age of 18 was eliminated. The savings are due to reductions in fertility and consequent reductions in public health investments due to fewer births.
The same study saw no significant gains from raised age of marriage for women’s decision-making, for lowering the levels of violence they face or helping them find employment.
What are the complex problems that need attention?
NFHS-4 shows that only 6.6% were marrying below the age of 15. In other words, the problem in India today is no longer child marriage but late adolescent marriage. But that too is declining according to the NFHS and Census report.
Educational attainments have improved enormously in recent years. But all major data sets mention that the decline in early marriages has been accompanied by a fall in women’s employment rates. In other words, the proportion of women not in paid work increases at higher ages of marriage.
What should be done to improve women’s empowerment?
|Must read: Raising the legal age of marriage for women – Explained, pointwise|
Why the Russia-West equation matters to India
Source: This post is based on the article ”Why the Russia-West equation matters to India” published in Indian Express on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: To understand the present status of Russia-West relations and India’s role in it.
News: Russia’s geopolitics have always impacted India’s international relations. Its present tussle with the west and US on Ukraine will also have great consequences for India.
India-Russia’s historic connection and its present status
The Great Game of the 19th century between the British Raj and imperial Russia, the Soviet support for revolutionary movements in Asia, the Russian role in World War II, Moscow’s extended Cold War with the West, and post-Soviet Russia’s turbulent ties with the US and Europe have all deeply influenced India’s national choices.
The 1917 Revolution, the Soviet model of economic development, and Russian geopolitics had a profound impact on 20th century India’s worldview.
Why Russia-West relations matter to India?
The Soviet Union has collapsed thirty years ago in December 1991. The breakup of the Soviet Union put an end to the global power structure that emerged after the Second World War.
After 1991, along with India, Russia also roped in China to build a new coalition (RIC). The coalition aims to promote a multipolar world that would limit the dangers of American hyperpower.
The upswing in India’s ties with America(since 2000), has coincided with a steady downturn in the relations between Russia and the US. This began to complicate India’s great power politics.
For instance, India’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile and the threat of US’s Sanctions is a classic example.
|Read more: Recent developments in India-Russia Relations – Explained, pointwise|
What is the present status of Russia-West relations?
The continuous escalation of tensions between Russia and the West culminated in the last few weeks in Ukraine-at the heart of Europe. The US and Russian presidents have been in touch to defuse the crisis.
Last week, Russia presented several proposals for a new European security architecture. The proposals demand to annul its promise to make Ukraine and Georgia — two former Soviet Republics — members of the military alliance. Russia is also proposing an agreement on reducing provocative military activity on its borders.
The US with its extraordinary military resources can’t afford to fight in both Asia (with China) and Europe (with Russia). But the US, Belgium and other border countries of Russia see the Russian framework as a gambit of tough negotiations on European security. On the other hand, France and Germany support a reset in relations with Russia.
|Read more: For an honest broker: On Russia and India-China ties|
How India should take part in Russia-West relations?
India knew that Russia’s international policies have been driven more by national interest and geopolitics, not by their past ideologies. India also knew that stabilising the Asian balance of power will be difficult without a measure of US-Russian cooperation in Europe.
Further, reconciliation of Russia-West relations will make it a lot easier for India to manage its own security challenges. So, India should welcome and support any mutually acceptable security order in Europe.
GS Paper 3
Why bugs should be a bigger part of the human food chain
Source: This post is based on the article “Why bugs should be a bigger part of the human food chain” published in Livemint on 21st Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues related to Food & environmental security
Relevance: Insect proteins, Environmental sustainability
News: Recently, the EU (European Union) approved the use of insects for human consumption.
The decision paves the way for an alternative protein source that can play a critical role in food & nutritional security. Further, the Insect protein Industry has huge economic and environmental potential.
How insect proteins can ensure sustainability in our food system?
Currently, the animal feed industry relies heavily on water and carbon-intensive farming of grains. Globally, animal farms consume more than a third of the world’s total grain production.
But the cost of agrochemical inputs is increasing, and freshwater resources are becoming increasingly unreliable.
In this context, Insect proteins become a valuable indirect food source as feedstock for poultry, farmed fish, pork, and beef which are currently dependent on environmentally costly soy and corn feeds.
Insect-based animal feeds could be this industry’s best solution for building climate resilience, while also helping us manage a food waste crisis.
How insect proteins are environmentally beneficial?
Consider the case of Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL). These infant bugs serve as high-quality chicken and fish feed.
However, it requires 1,000 times less land per unit of protein produced compared to soy production, between 50 and 100 times less water, and zero agrochemical inputs.
A notable advantage of BSFL is that they are fed with food waste. It can play a significant role in keeping the organic waste out of landfills and reclaiming those nutrients, so they can re-enter the food chain.
Moreover, the larvae produce a valuable fertilizer rich with nitrogen and microorganisms as a by-product. It is capable of restoring soil quality and enhancing its carbon storage capacity.
What are the present Challenges to the insect proteins Industry?
The issue of cost: While a unit of poultry feed costs several hundred dollars and fish feed costs about $1,000, insect feeds can cost more than $2,000. As the industry scales up, these costs are expected to rapidly decline.
What more needs to be done?
Need to focus on reforms in three key areas.
-Increasing the varieties of bugs that can be farmed.
-Expanding the uses for these insect proteins. Now permitted only in certain pet foods and limited poultry and aquaculture applications.
-Enabling insect farmers to utilize post-consumer food waste.
India’s FTA ambitions in perspective
Source: This post is based on the article “India’s FTA ambitions in perspective” published in Business Standard on 21st Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 – issues related to India’s FTA policy.
Relevance: FTA’s, Regional trade blocs.
News: Recently, India’s commerce secretary, stated that trade will find a specific focus in the forthcoming Budget and that India’s FTAs will be “very deep”.
The statement appears to be in line with recent global developments. For example, The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the EU-Vietnam FTA, and the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
China and Taiwan, request for membership to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The UK has initiated its negotiations for membership to the CPTPP earlier this year.
However, to make FTA negotiations successful, India needs to address some of the following issues that are hampering India’s FTA with other regional trade blocs.
What are the issues hampering India’s FTA with other regional trade blocs?
Firstly, issues related to labor laws and investor protection provisions impact India’s ability to negotiate deep-trade agreements.
Deep trade agreements have been designed over the last two decades to facilitate complex global value chains and the underlying trade-investment-services linkages.
The predominant focus in these agreements is linked to investor protection, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and labour standards.
India has found it difficult to negotiate these issues in its earlier free trade agreements. For instance, issues related to labour laws led to the suspension of the FTA negotiations with the EU in 2013 and pushed these negotiations to 2023.
Furthermore, India’s 2016 template for a model investment treaty, may make it difficult for India to negotiate the investor protection provisions. Because it is more state-friendly and includes some burdensome provisions for the foreign investor.
Secondly, a protectionist tariff structure, if not corrected, could remain a hurdle at the preliminary stage of FTA negotiations.
India’s tariff structure has been relatively higher than the average MFN tariffs in the manufacturing sector. For example,
As per World Bank data, the applied, weighted mean tariff rate for manufactured products in India increased from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 6.6 percent in 2019. Whereas it decreased in the case of Vietnam from 5.6 percent to 1.4 percent over the same period.
Thirdly, India’s proposed FTAs with Israel, the UAE, Australia, and the UK will not be effective. India should aspire to participate in any of the three major regional hubs. (North America (NA), Europe, and East Asia).
Because FTAs with these hubs will facilitate deeper integration and value chain consolidation. For instance,
The EU, whose evolution has resulted in progressively deeper economic integration, has shown the highest levels of intra-regional GVC (Global Value Chain) activity. Later accession of the Central and Eastern European economies to the EU, resulted in their integration in the EU production networks.
Similarly, the China-ASEAN FTA helped intensify regional value chain trade in the sector.
Further, India’s inability to participate in any regional GVC hub through a regional FTA is hampering India’s investment flows.
What rising inequality means
Source: This post is based on the article “What rising inequality means” published in The Hindu on 21th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Relevance: Inequality in India and world, its causes and impacts
News: COVID Pandemic has exposed the inequality present globally.
The middle 40% has 40% of the share in income. This distribution shows the tendency of a rising middle class with lower disparity in income. But it also shows that the status of the poor is worsening day by day.
The menace of inequality needs to be controlled as it has led to an increase in the number of billionaires in the world while billions don’t have the means for a decent life.
Education and similar such domains have the capacity to break the cycle of inequality.
|Must Read: Rising inequality in India – Explained, pointwise|
What is the actual reason for this inequality?
Inequality is actually a result of poor redistributive policies and lack of discouragement of accumulation by governments.
The Kuznets theory presents the view that the average level of income is indicative of inequality. But this seems to be false as high-income countries such as the U.S. have higher levels of inequality as against countries such as Sweden, which have moderate levels of inequality.
Also, Inequality is sometimes understood to be an outcome of rising levels of income in the post-liberalization era. But this preposition also appears to be false as the rise in inequalities in the U.S. and India is higher against a moderate rise in China.
What are the implications of rising inequality?
Rising inequality leads to rich nations but poor countries. As inequality rises, resources gradually move into private hands and governments become poor and resource deficient. This may result in the following outcomes:
Firstly, Governments will have a limited capacity to act on measures required to tackle inequality.
Secondly, distributional fairness of wealth will be compromised due to private interests.
An over-engineered social stock exchange?
Source: This post is based on the article “An over-engineered social stock exchange?” published in Business Standard on 21st Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Regulatory bodies in India and their functioning.
Relevance: social stock exchange
News: Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in its recent board meeting approved the creation of a social stock exchange.
SEBI has announced the setting up of Social Stock Exchange, on the basis of proposals from the working group under Ishaat Hussain, and a technical advisory committee under Harsh Kumar Bhanwala.
What are the advantages of setting up a Social Stock Exchange(SSE)?
Firstly, according to SEBI working group, SSEs will facilitate developing a set of procedures, that act as a filter to select only those entities that are creating measurable social impact and reporting such impact.
Secondly, setting up an SSE will bridge the funding gap for the social sector players. For instance, the NGOs operating in diverse sectors. It will enable entities that are listed on the SSE to access donations to help them meet their objectives through predefined instruments.
Will the exchange take off?
International experience shows that only just three of the seven exchanges that were set up, still survive (Canada, Singapore, and Jamaica).
However, Social stock exchanges will take off in India because India’s social sector is very deep. For instance, Rs. 246 billion spent by companies on corporate social responsibility in FY20. Further, there are lakhs of NGO’s operating in very diversified sectors. So,
Will regulation of social stock exchanges hamper its functioning?
Pushing for registration will bring greater transparency to their operations without the burden of a full listing, while giving them much-needed visibility.
For instance, donators can be sure of how efficiently the entity is spending money. Moreover, Registered entities will disclose their governance structures and processes, financial parameters and publish their impact studies on an ongoing basis.
What is the way forward?
NGO Darpan, a database maintained by the Niti Aayog, has self-declared data for over 129,000 NGOs.
SEBI should take things forward by collecting the data from NGO Darpan, validating it, and evaluating it with an evaluation framework across well-defined governance and financial parameters.
Blue sky thinking-Net zero aviation is more than a flight of fantasy
Source: This post is based on the article “Blue sky thinking-Net zero aviation is more than a flight of fantasy” published in Down to earth on 20th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: Emissions from aviation sector and efforts to reach net-zero target.
News: Emissions from aviation industry have almost doubled since 2000 and reached one billion ton in 2018.
To reduce emissions from aviation sector and make it net-zero will require a huge collaborative effort between industry, government and consumers.
What has been the efforts by the aviation sector towards the net-zero goal?
The aviation sector’s progress in cutting emissions has been very slow.
At the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, the industry put forth a plan known as the Carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation.
But the drawback of the scheme is that it is based on carbon offsetting, which means even its implementation will not lead to absolute emission reduction from aviation sector.
It will only encourage another actor to reduce emissions on its behalf at lowest cost.
Although on a positive note the scheme does encourage alternative cleaner fuels.
Why governments have failed to lower emissions from aviation sector?
1) Pollution from aviation is not counted in the emissions of any country, leaving little incentive for governments to act.
2) Aviation involves multiple stakeholders which makes introducing changes difficult.
What is the way forward?
1) Enhance production and deployment of new aviation fuels and technologies: Jet fuel can be replaced with alternatives such as sustainable fuels or electric or hydrogen propulsion.
2) Update regulatory and certification processes for new types of aircraft– Electric and hybrid aircraft have been a latest development in this regard but are yet to become a commercially viable option.
They are powered by hydrogen or a battery/ any sustainable fuel.
They not only reduce carbon emissions but also reduce non-CO₂ climate impacts such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), soot particles, oxidized Sulphur species, and water vapour.
They also have lower maintenance costs.
3) Fuel demand can be reduced through efficiencies in route and air traffic management.
4) Greener airport and infrastructure will significantly help lower emissions.
5) Experts like Pilots and aerospace engineers can be consulted while designing policies.
Gati Shakti: A much-needed fast track to development
Source: This post is based on the article ”Gati Shakti: A much-needed fast track to development” published in Indian Express on 21st December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: To understand the various Infrastructure projects and the need for Gati Shakti.
News: Gati shakti master plan would help India to converge its infrastructure spending.
|Must read: PM Gati Shakti – National Infrastructure Master Plan – Explained, pointwise|
What is the Gati shakti master plan?
|Read here: PM launches Gati Shakti- National Master Plan for infrastructure development|
What are the past initiatives to boost infrastructure?
Some of the mega initiatives include the Sagarmala and Bharatmala projects, the establishment of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, revisiting Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models on the lines of the Kelkar Committee recommendations, etc.
Other initiatives include Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC), the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC), and others.
|Read more: How India’s Gati Shakti Plan can have an impact beyond its borders|
What are the challenges faced by Infrastructure projects despite various measures?
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019, India was ranked 70th. On utility infrastructure, India’s rank was 103rd which was inferior to many countries like China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
This is because the infrastructure sector is facing the following challenges,
1. Increase in the supply-demand gap, 2. Inadequate investment, 3. Increasing dependence on the private sector, 4. An underdeveloped financial sector, 5. The infrastructure sector falls under various ministries and departments which have their own priorities, and above all 6. Lack of synergy among different infrastructure sectors, ministries and departments.
All these issues pose challenges to India’s dream to be a five trillion economy with an enhanced share of manufacturing in GDP.
|Read more: Gati Shakti can spur behavioural changes for superior governance|
How Gati Shakti will resolve the challenges faced by the infrastructure sector?
Gati Shakti will help in realising the goal of the proposed national logistics policy. The Draft National Logistics Policy (2019) aims to reduce the logistics cost from 13-14% to 10%.
|Read more: Gati Shakti: Connecting the silos|
Delink the good, bad and ugly of online gaming for apt regulation
Source: This post is based on the article “Delink the good, bad and ugly of online gaming for apt regulation” published in Livemint on 20th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Relevance: Presence of Gaming Industry in India, Steps by government to regulate it
News: Recently, a parliamentarian urged the government to come up with a comprehensive framework to regulate online gaming.
The need to regulate online gaming industry is clear as India is home to over 275 gaming companies, more than 15,000 game developers, and around 300 million gamers.
But the issues of illegal betting and gambling should not be mixed up with online gaming. They need to be delinked from each other.
How illegal betting and gambling is carried out in India?
Offshore gambling websites: Most of the betting in India is done on cricket matches, through websites like Betaway, Bet365 and DafaBet. These websites are headquartered in tax havens like Malta, Cyprus and Gibraltar but are accessible to Indian users.
Third party wallets: In India, third-party wallets like Skrill and Neteller are used to funnel money into gambling sites. Users deposit money from their bank accounts into these prepaid wallets, which can be used to make payments anonymously.
What is the game of skill versus chance debate?
Various High courts have legitimized gaming formats like fantasy sports etc as online games of skill.
Rulings like Varun Gumber vs Chandigarh (Punjab & Haryana High Court), Gurdeep Singh Sachar vs Union of India (Bombay High Court) and Avinash Mehrotra vs Rajasthan (Supreme Court) – have found fantasy sports of a predominant format to be games of skill.
In the Junglee Games case, the Madras High Court ruled that games like Poker and Rummy are games of skill.
|Fantasy sport is a type of game, often played using the Internet, where participants assemble imaginary or virtual teams composed of proxies of real players of a professional sport.|
How can the Govt address the issue?
Firstly, the centre can take steps to block sites under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act. Stringent measures are also required to prevent illegal services being advertised or promoted through direct or surrogate means online.
– Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules, 2021 prohibits intermediaries from posting or hosting content that encourages gambling or money laundering. But rules to penalize such advertisements need to be extended to the entire online ecosystem.
Second, since the blocking of illegal websites lies in the Centre’s jurisdiction, states may follow the Maharashtra Police’s model to deal with digital piracy.
|The Maharashtra Cyber Digital Crime United (MCDCU), formed in 2017, works with media and entertainment businesses to identify and take down websites engaged in the dissemination of pirated content.|
States can undertake a similar exercise against illegal betting websites, with support from the gaming industry.
Moreover, consumer interest groups should be brought in into anti-gambling efforts, to spread awareness and provide forums to report illegal platforms.
Finally, the Centre should formulate an overarching regulatory framework for online games of skill. India must move beyond skill-versus-chance debates to keep up with the global gaming industry.
Advanced jurisdictions have mostly taken a hands-off approach towards skill-based games.
The UK exempts skill games from licensing requirements that apply to games of chance.
Likewise, the US’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act carves out a safe harbour for fantasy sports.
What is the way forward?
A legal codification of judicial rulings, along with a nuanced classification of different types of online games, could enable targeted and risk-based rule-making.
Such a framework will offer clarity and separate skill-based games from gambling.
Online games represent the best of both Digital India and Make in India, they need a proper legislation for Industry to function smoothly.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Lok Sabha passes Bill to link electoral rolls with Aadhaar
Source: This post is based on the following articles:
– ‘Lok Sabha passes Bill to link electoral rolls with Aadhaar’ published in The Hindu on 21st Dec 2021.
– ‘Lok Sabha clears Bill to link voter ID, Aadhaar amid protests’ published in Business Standard on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Lok Sabha has passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.The Bill seeks to amend certain sections of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951.
What are the key provisions of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021?
Linking Aadhaar Card to Voter ID: The Bill allows electoral registration officers to seek Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters for the purpose of establishing the identity.
Further, it also seeks to allow the electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar number from persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of a) authentication of entries in electoral roll and b) to identify registration of name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency.
Allowed to furnish other documents: No application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for inability of an individual to furnish Aadhaar number. Such people will be allowed to furnish other alternative documents as may be prescribed.
Four Qualifying Dates to Register as Voters: The Bill allows four “qualifying” dates (1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year) for eligible people to register as voters.
As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. This was causing problems, as people who turn 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters. Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year to register as voters.
|Click Here to read other provisions of the Bill|
What are the arguments against the Bill?
Firstly, the Bill is beyond the legislative competence of the government. The Aadhaar Act does not allow for the linking of Aadhaar with the electoral roll. It is an act which is for the targeted delivery of financial and other subsidy benefits and services.
Secondly, the linking of voter ID with Aadhaar violates the fundamental right of privacy defined by the Supreme Court in Puttaswamy case.
What are the arguments in support of the Bill?
Firstly, the bill has a provision whereby the person may voluntarily provide an Aadhaar number. No application will be rejected because the Aadhaar number has not been provided.
Secondly, Aadhaar linking with electoral rolls will solve one of the major problems in electoral database management, which is multiple enrolments of the same person at different places.
Biological Diversity Bill referred to Joint Committee of Parliament
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Biological Diversity Bill referred to Joint Committee of Parliament’ published in Indian Express on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Environment Minister has referred the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
What are the key provisions of the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021?
– Click Here to read provisions of the Bill
Other Important Provisions:
– It streamlines the process of Patenting for Indian researchers to encourage patenting. For this, regional patents centres will be opened across the country.
– It allows for foreign investment in research in biodiversity. However, this investment will necessarily have to be made through Indian companies involved in biodiversity research. For foreign entities, the approval from the National Biodiversity Authority is necessary.
– It gives the option of marketability of the research outcome which will encourage more research including the research collaboration with other countries.
|Must Read: Role of National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being on India’s Biodiversity|
What are the criticisms against the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021?
Firstly, the Bill has been introduced without seeking public comments as required under the pre-legislative consultation policy.
Secondly, the Bill aims at opening up biodiversity resources to companies looking to make a profit.
Thirdly, the bill has not only diluted the penalty provision by replacing imprisonment with fines in the proposed legislation, but also replaced the judge (court) with a joint secretary-level officer to determine the penalties.
Fourthly, the Bill exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act. However, it is practically impossible to detect which plants are cultivated and which are from the wild.
Coal demand to peak in India by 2030, will back up renewables: NITI report
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Coal demand to peak in India by 2030, will back up renewables: NITI report’ published in Business Standard on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the news?
NITI Aayog has released a report on India’s Coal Sector.
International Energy Agency (IEA)’s annual coal 2021 report findings are also listed in the article.
What are the key findings of the NITI Aayog’s report?
– Coal will remain India’s mainstay energy source, and the country will shape global demand this decade. The demand for coal will be led by usage from the electricity sector.
– Coal-based thermal power generation will grow in absolute terms for the next decade. However, its share in the total power generation mix of the country will decline to a 50-55% (from current 72%) in the next 10 years. This would be due to increasing share of renewable energy.
|Note: Metallurgical coal or coking coal is a grade of coal that can be used to produce good-quality coke. Coke is an essential fuel and reactant in the blast furnace process for primary steelmaking.|
– India is unlikely to achieve its target of 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind capacity by 2022. Due to current “surplus capacity” in the system, and their distressed financial situation, the distribution utilities are reluctant to sign fresh power purchase agreements.
– Govt should also be very cautious of adding new coal capacity beyond 2030 as it risks locking in resources.
– India must enhance investments in the deployment of clean coal technologies throughout the coal value chain. Government power utilities must show the way by investing in the deployment of advanced clean coal technologies.
What are the findings of the IEA’s coal report?
– The iron and steel sector will continue to use coal, as there are not many technologies to replace it immediately.
– India’s push to domestic coal mining through both Coal India and auction of coal blocks to private companies will increase as it plateaus in other parts of the world, including China.
– India is also set to overtake China as the world’s largest metallurgical coal importer.
Reintroduced gharials thriving in Beas reserve: experts
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Reintroduced gharials thriving in Beas reserve: experts’ published in The Hindu on 19th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Critically Endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) has been successfully reintroduced in the Beas River of Punjab where it had become extinct half a century ago.
|Click Here to read about Gharials|
About Gharial Reintroduction in Beas River
The gharial reintroduction in the Beas Conservation Reserve is an ambitious programme of the Punjab government. The reptiles were commonly sighted in the Beas River till the 1960s, but later became extinct.
Now, as part of the programme, 94 gharials have been released in the reserve since 2017.
Why did Gharials go extinct in Beas River?
Gharials may have gone extinct due to a) change in the hydrology due to construction of dams and barrages b) significantly reduced water flow c) rapid land-use change of floodplains and d) rampant overfishing led slowly into the extinction of the gharial from the Beas.
What is the Beas Conservation Reserve?
Beas Conservation Reserve is located in Punjab. It spreads over a 185-km stretch of the Beas river.
The reserve has been notified as a Ramsar Site in January, 2020.
The reserve hosts the only known population in India of the endangered Indus River dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor).
Further, threatened species in the reserve include the endangered masheer (Tor putitora) and hog deer (Axis porcinus) as well as the vulnerable smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata).
As per 1st round of All-India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey (AQEES), employment increased by 29% in nine selected sectors of economy compared to 6th Economic Census (2013-14)
Source: This post is based on the article ‘As per 1st round of All-India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey (AQEES), employment increased by 29% in nine selected sectors of economy compared to 6th Economic Census (2013-14)’ published in PIB on 20th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Government has released the results of the first round of the Quarterly Employment Survey for the period April to June 2021.
Note: QES is part of the All-India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey (AQEES).
What is the All-India Quarterly Establishment Based Employment Survey (AQEES)?
Released by: Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour and Employment
Purpose: To provide frequent (quarterly) updates about the employment and related variables of establishments, in both organised and unorganised segments, of nine selected sectors. These sectors altogether account for a majority of the total employment in the non-farm establishments.
Nine Selected Sectors: Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation and Restaurant, IT/ BPO and Financial Services.
Components: There are two components under AQEES,
Quarterly Employment Survey(QES): It compiles relevant data from about 12,000 establishments selected through a sampling design to represent each of the nine sectors within each state/ Union Territory, as also each size-class (range of the number of workers) within each sector-State/ UT.
Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES): It covers the unorganised segment (with less than 10 workers) through a sample survey.
|Read more: What India’s labour force survey actually says about employment|
What are the key highlights of QES 2021?
It shows a 29% increase in employment in nine sectors during the peak Covid-19 months of April-June 2021 over a base of 2013-14 (Sixth Economic Census – EC).
The most impressive growth of 152% has been recorded in the IT/BPO sector.
Nearly 90% of the establishments have been estimated to work with less than 100 workers.
There has been a decline in the share of female workers. From 31% in the 6th EC (2013) to 29% in QES (2021) data.
Out of the 9 sectors, 7 sectors saw growth in employment while only 2 sectors (Trade, and Accomodation & Restaurants) saw a decline in employment figures.
|Read more: Labour Ministry launches Software Applications for five All India Surveys|
Himalayan glaciers are melting at a furious rate, shows study
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Himalayan glaciers are melting at a furious rate, shows study’ published in Livemint on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the News?
According to a report, Glaciers across the Himalayas are melting at an extraordinary rate.
What are the key findings of the report?
The massive ice sheets in the Himalayan region have shrunk 10 times faster in the past four decades than during the previous seven centuries.
Himalayan glaciers have lost about 40% of their area in the last several hundred years.
|Read more: Change in course of Himalayan glacier can help to understand the glacial-tectonic interaction|
What is the reason for this Himalayan Glacier melting?
The researchers didn’t pinpoint a reason but noted that regional climate factors such as shifts in the South Asian monsoon may have played a role.
Moreover, there is also a scientific consensus that ice loss from glaciers and polar ice sheets is the result of rising global temperatures caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.
|Read more: [Yojana October Summary] The Himalayan Floods – Explained, pointwise|
What will be the impact of Himalayan Glaciers melting?
Himalayan mountains are referred to as the third pole because they hold the world’s third-largest amount of glacier ice following Antarctica and the Arctic.
However, the impact of ice loss in the Himalayan region could be especially stark. This is because meltwater from the glaciers in the region feeds major rivers that support India’s vast northern agricultural belt.
As the glaciers continue to shrink, the availability of water for irrigation and drinking water could drop steeply and floods, avalanches could become more common.
In addition to floods, rising sea levels can cause soil erosion and jeopardize the structural integrity of roads and bridges, as well as power plants and other critically important industrial facilities located in coastal areas.
|Read more: Launch of the Resource Book on Springshed Management in the Indian Himalayan Region by NITI Aayog|
Killer robots: Humans again fail to decide future of killer robots
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Humans again fail to decide future of killer robots’ published in Livemint on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the News?
A report from a UN panel has said that the first autonomous drone attack may have already happened in Libya. Yet, a UN conference in Geneva failed to regulate the use of killer robots on the battlefield.
What are Killer Robots?
Killer Robots are fully autonomous weapons that would be able to select and engage targets without meaningful human control.
The idea of killer robots has been explored widely in science fiction movies including Terminator, Blade Runner, and Robocop.
Collectively, these weapons fall under Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems(LAWS) which can include bombs, dog-like robots, and more that can use AI and other digital technologies to make decisions on the battlefield. It doesn’t include drones, which are manned remotely by pilots.
|Read more: Killer robots aren’t science fiction. A push to ban them is growing|
Why is there a law needed to control the use of Killer Robots?
Firstly, allowing robots to make life-or-death decisions is inhumane and shouldn’t be allowed.
Secondly, killer robots raise the concern of algorithmic bias. Data sets are typically flawed and tend to disfavour traditionally disadvantaged groups.
Thirdly, killer robots also present challenges for compliance with international humanitarian law’s proportionality principle, which prohibits attacks in which expected civilian harm is excessive in comparison to anticipated military advantage.
Fourthly, it could also reduce the threshold for war.
What are India’s views on a new law on Killer Robots?
India, Russia, and the United States have said that the existing international humanitarian law is sufficient and opposed negotiation of a new legally binding instrument on killer robots.
Explained: Revisiting definition of EWS
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Revisiting definition of EWS’ published in Indian Express on 21st Dec 2021.
What is the News?
A three member-committee set up to examine the income criteria for determining the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is expected to submit its report to the Centre.
|Must read: 103rd constitutional amendment present a more difficult judicial examination than usual|
What is the current income criteria fixed for EWS?
EWS reservation was granted based on the recommendations of a commission headed by Major General (retd) SR Sinho.
The current criteria fixed for EWS is:
|Read more: Supreme Court sets aside Madras High Court remarks on EWS quota|
Why has the Supreme Court called the income ceiling limit arbitrary?
The Supreme Court observed that the present income ceiling fixed for EWS is the same as that for OBCs for quotas for people outside of government.
This is arbitrary because of two reasons:
– Firstly, the Income criterion in respect of the OBC category is aimed at the exclusion of a creamy layer from the OBC category while in the case of the EWS category, it is aimed at the inclusion of the poor.
– Secondly, the OBC category is socially and educationally backward and therefore has additional impediments to overcome as compared to those belonging to the general category. In these circumstances, it would be arbitrary to provide the same income limit both for the OBC and EWS categories.
Moreover, the court also questioned on what basis has the asset exception been arrived at and was there any exercise undertaken for that purpose. It also asked the reason why the residential flat criterion does not differentiate between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.
|Read more: Questionable criterion: On EWS quota income limit|
What has the Central Government done after this?
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has announced the formation of a committee to revisit the criteria for determining the economically weaker sections in terms of the provisions of the explanation to Article 15 of the Constitution.
Must Read Current Affairs Articles – March 31st, 2023
About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers The Hindu newspaper. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites requiring a paid subscription beyond a certain… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – March 31st, 2023
SMART PDS scheme: A bold initiative in digitisation
Source- The post is based on the article “SMART PDS scheme: A bold initiative in digitisation” published in “The Indian Express” on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS2- Government policies and interventions Relevance– Use of digital technology for welfare schemes News– The article explains the initiatives by the government to digitise the food grain distribution. What… Continue reading SMART PDS scheme: A bold initiative in digitisation
What is an IMF bailout, when is it provided to a country, and what are the lending conditions?
Source: The post is based on the article “What is an IMF bailout, when is it provided to a country, and what are the lending conditions?” published in Indian Express on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board approved a nearly $3 billion bailout plan for Sri Lanka… Continue reading What is an IMF bailout, when is it provided to a country, and what are the lending conditions?
CSE-DTE release 2023 State of India’s Environment report
Source: The post is based on the article “CSE-DTE release 2023 State of India’s Environment report?” published in Down To Earth on 29th March 2023 What is the News? Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and DTE (Down to Earth) magazine has released State of India’s Environment report 2023. The report is an annual publication… Continue reading CSE-DTE release 2023 State of India’s Environment report
State budgets may be too optimistic about their capital expenditure
Source: The post is based on the article “State budgets may be too optimistic about their capital expenditure” published in The Indian Express on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS 3 – Budgeting Relevance: analysis of states’ budget. News: Many states have come with their state budget. The article discusses the trend emerging out of the budget of… Continue reading State budgets may be too optimistic about their capital expenditure
Civil society organizations require wholesome support
Source: The post is based on an article “Civil society organizations require wholesome support” published in Live Mint on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance – Non-Governmental Organisations Relevance: concerns associated with CSOs News: Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and other kinds of not-for-profit organizations are working for societal… Continue reading Civil society organizations require wholesome support
India needs public policy education
Source- The post is based on the article “India needs public policy education” published in “The Hindu” on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS2- Governance Relevance– Reforms in administration News– The article explains the importance of public policy education. What are issues with public management education in India? Lack of institutions– Most executives in government require… Continue reading India needs public policy education
India’s DPIs, catching the next wave
Source- The post is based on the article “India’s DPIs, catching the next wave” published in “The Hindu” on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS2- e-governance Relevance– Digital India News– The article explains India’s digital public infrastructure. What are some facts about India’s digital public infrastructure? India’s digital public infrastructure or India Stack is a partnership… Continue reading India’s DPIs, catching the next wave
A hardhanded response that strikes at the root of rights
Source- The post is based on the article “A hardhanded response that strikes at the root of rights” published in “The Hindu” on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS2- Polity Relevance– Issues related to right of workers News– An estimated 19 lakh government and semi government employees have been on strike demanding that the government return… Continue reading A hardhanded response that strikes at the root of rights
Great Nicobar project will not evict tribes, says Centre
Source: The post is based on the article “Great Nicobar project will not evict tribes, says Centre” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has said that displacement of tribal people will not be allowed to make room for the ₹72,000 crore Great Nicobar island… Continue reading Great Nicobar project will not evict tribes, says Centre
2 years after Finance panel suggested, Centre ‘evaluating’ 26 proposals for new cities
Source: The post is based on the article “2 years after Finance panel suggested, Centre ‘evaluating’ 26 proposals for new cities” published in Indian Express on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry is currently evaluating 26 proposals from 21 states for the creation of new cities in… Continue reading 2 years after Finance panel suggested, Centre ‘evaluating’ 26 proposals for new cities
Haryana: India’s first cloned desi Gir female calf, Ganga produced at NDR
Source: The post is based on the article “Haryana: India’s first cloned desi Gir female calf, Ganga produced at NDRI” published in Economic Times on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The National Dairy Research Institute, based in Haryana’s Karnal, has produced the first-ever clone of a calf belonging to the indigenous Gir cow… Continue reading Haryana: India’s first cloned desi Gir female calf, Ganga produced at NDR
Centre lays down policy on cattle dehorning and castration as per animal cruelty Act
Source: The post is based on the article “Centre lays down policy on cattle dehorning & castration 63 years after implementation of animal cruelty Act” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The Central Government has notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Animal Husbandry Practices and Procedures) Rules, 2023.… Continue reading Centre lays down policy on cattle dehorning and castration as per animal cruelty Act
How to manage India’s solar PV waste problem?
Source: The post is based on the article “How to manage India’s solar PV waste problem?” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? There has been a continuous push from policymakers in India to transition to a circular economy and to enable effective waste management. But waste management in the… Continue reading How to manage India’s solar PV waste problem?
Human life, above all: On the Rajasthan Right to Health Act and the stance of doctors
Source: The post is based on the article “Human life, above all: On the Rajasthan Right to Health Act and the stance of doctors” published in The Hindu on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health. Relevance: About Rajasthan Right to Health Act, 2022. News: The… Continue reading Human life, above all: On the Rajasthan Right to Health Act and the stance of doctors
Neighbours, Big & Small – Bhutan to Bangladesh, New Delhi must prepare to compete with China in the development space
Source: The post is based on the article “Neighbours, Big & Small – Bhutan to Bangladesh, New Delhi must prepare to compete with China in the development space” published in The Times of India on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 2: India and its neighbourhood- relations. Relevance: About Indian neighbours’ policy. News: Recently, Bhutan has said that… Continue reading Neighbours, Big & Small – Bhutan to Bangladesh, New Delhi must prepare to compete with China in the development space
Import substitution can set climate action back
Source: The post is based on the article “Import substitution can set climate action back” published in the Livemint on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 3: Energy. Relevance: About India’s solar panel producers. News: India has set a target of 500GW of carbon-free capacity by 2030 (The present capacity is 122GW). The government is using public funds to… Continue reading Import substitution can set climate action back
Institutions of Eminence, mired in red tape
Source: The post is based on the article “Institutions of Eminence, mired in red tape” published in the Indian Express on 30th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education. Relevance: About challenges faced by the IOE scheme. News: Even after six years, the Institutions of Eminence (IOE)… Continue reading Institutions of Eminence, mired in red tape
SFG : Winners dont quit, Quitters do not win!
Photo by Joshua Golde on Unsplash Dear Friends, We will now be moving to the second month of Select Focus Group for Prelims 2023. There is both good news and bad. The good news is we have done core subjects like Polity, Economy, Modern History! The bad news is that the subjects which actually determine… Continue reading SFG : Winners dont quit, Quitters do not win!
All India Ranklist of GS & CSAT Simulator-1 Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS
Dear Friends, Thank you for attempting the All India GS or CSAT Simulator Test-1 for Prelims 2023 on 26th March 2023. We hope these tests would have helped you to understand your level of preparation. This is to inform you that the All India Rank of GS Simulator-1 Test has been announced and it can be checked on visiting the below link: https://go.forumias.com/gssimulator-1-ranklist Please Note: The students… Continue reading All India Ranklist of GS & CSAT Simulator-1 Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS
Must Read Current Affairs Articles – March 30th, 2023
About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers The Hindu newspaper. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites requiring a paid subscription beyond a certain… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – March 30th, 2023
RIP Sasha: India’s dream of its own cheetah population rests on her companions
Source: The post is based on the article “RIP Sasha: India’s dream of its own cheetah population rests on her companions” published in the Indian Express on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 3: Environment and Bio-diversity Conservation. Relevance: About Sasha’s death on India’s cheetah reintroduction project. News: Sasha, one of the eight Namibian cheetahs translocated to Kuno National Park… Continue reading RIP Sasha: India’s dream of its own cheetah population rests on her companions
GDPs Without Borders – That even Japan is open now to immigration shows what mistakes other aging, rich countries are making
Source: The post is based on the article “GDPs Without Borders – That even Japan is open now to immigration shows what mistakes other aging, rich countries are making” published in The Times of India on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 3: Employment. Relevance: About global worker shortages and the role of the immigrant workforce. News: The… Continue reading GDPs Without Borders – That even Japan is open now to immigration shows what mistakes other aging, rich countries are making
Suspect moves: On changes to reservation policy in Karnataka
Source: The post is based on the article “Suspect moves: On changes to reservation policy in Karnataka” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 2: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections. Relevance: About the recent reservation policy of Karnataka. News: The Karnataka government decided to scrap… Continue reading Suspect moves: On changes to reservation policy in Karnataka
India urges G20 to find ways to shrink widening trade finance gap
Source: The post is based on the article “India urges G20 to find ways to shrink widening trade finance gap” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023. What is the News? Under India’s Presidency, the first G20 Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) meeting has been conducted. In this, India highlighted the widening trade finance gap. As… Continue reading India urges G20 to find ways to shrink widening trade finance gap
NCPCR writes to States to introduce concessions for children with Type 1 diabetes in schools
Source: The post is based on the article “NCPCR writes to States to introduce concessions for children with Type 1 diabetes in schools” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) has written to the Chairman/Secretary Education Boards of all States and Union Territories… Continue reading NCPCR writes to States to introduce concessions for children with Type 1 diabetes in schools
Panel to look at ways to boost multilateral banks
Source: The post is based on the article “Panel to look at ways to boost multilateral banks” published in TOI on 29th March 2023 What is the News? A nine-member G20 expert panel has been set up to suggest ways to strengthen multilateral development banks (MDBs) like the World Bank. About the G20 expert group… Continue reading Panel to look at ways to boost multilateral banks
India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, stability: Defence Minister
Source: The post is based on the article “India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, stability: Defence Minister” published in PIB on 29th March 2023 What is the News? At the first edition of the India-Africa Army Chiefs’ Conclave, Defence Minister said that India will continue to work with African… Continue reading India will continue to work with African nations to promote regional security, stability: Defence Minister
What does Muslim personal law say on inheritance?
Source: The post is based on the article “What does Muslim personal law say on inheritance?” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? A Muslim couple from Kerala has recently decided to get their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act (SMA), almost 30 years after getting married according to… Continue reading What does Muslim personal law say on inheritance?
China ramping up bailout loans to BRI countries: Report
Source: The post is based on the article “China ramping up bailout loans to BRI countries: Report” published in TOI on 29th March 2023 What is the News? For the past decade, China has lent massive amounts of loans to countries across Asia, Africa and Europe, growing its global influence through infrastructure mega projects and… Continue reading China ramping up bailout loans to BRI countries: Report
India to estimate TB burden using own system
Source: The post is based on the article “India to estimate TB burden using own system” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023 What is the News? India has become the first country in the world to have developed a country-level mathematical model to estimate the prevalence of TB cases. What is the model… Continue reading India to estimate TB burden using own system
Understanding the street dogs-human conflict
Source– The post is based on the article “Understanding the street dogs-human conflict” published in “The Hindu” on 28th March 2023. Syllabus: GS3- Environment – Man- Animal Conflicts Relevance– Issues related to stray animals News– There is growing Intolerance against dogs and conflicts between humans and animals are increasing. What are the reasons behind growing… Continue reading Understanding the street dogs-human conflict
Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain
Source– The post is based on the article “Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain” published in “The Indian Express” on 28th March 2023. Syllabus: GS2- Issues related to development and management of health News- The article deals with challenges faced by the healthcare sector in India. What are the achievements of… Continue reading Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain
A disturbing example of the normalisation of lawfare
Source– The post is based on the article “A disturbing example of the normalisation of lawfare” published in “The Hindu” on 25th March 2023. Syllabus: GS3- Polity – Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business Relevance– Issues related to disqualification of representatives News– Recently, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the membership of Lok Sabha… Continue reading A disturbing example of the normalisation of lawfare
Understanding the street dogs-human conflict
Source– The post is based on the article “Understanding the street dogs-human conflict” published in “The Hindu” on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology. GS2- E-governance Relevance– Issues related to regulation of digital space News– The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill 2022 was proposed recently. It provides a framework to safeguard citizens’… Continue reading Understanding the street dogs-human conflict
Blended finance can fill investment gaps to meet SDGs
Source: This post is created based on the article “Blended finance can fill investment gaps to meet SDGs”, published in Live Mint on 29th March 2023. Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3 – Indian Economy – Finance instruments Context: Blended finance can help to meet SDGs by filling investment. During covid-19, several producers of raw materials… Continue reading Blended finance can fill investment gaps to meet SDGs
The entry of foreign firms should herald more legal sector reforms
Source: The post is based on the article “The entry of foreign firms should herald more legal sector reforms” published in Live Mint on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors Relevance: measures needed to bring legal reforms News: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has… Continue reading The entry of foreign firms should herald more legal sector reforms
Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain
Source: The post is based on the article “Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain” published in The Indian Express on 29th March 2023. Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues Related to Healthcare Relevance: challenges with healthcare News: The article discusses the progress made in healthcare and associated challenges. What are some of the progresses… Continue reading Healthcare in India has made great progress, but challenges remain
Execution of death penalty in India – Explained pointwise
For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE → Introduction The constitutionality of death by hanging as a mode of execution has been challenged in India’s Supreme Court. The petitioner has claimed that hanging is “cruel and barbarous” and there is a need for a more “humane, quick, and decent alternative.” The court has asked the government to provide data on… Continue reading Execution of death penalty in India – Explained pointwise
What is ‘Statutory bail’? Is it a fundamental right or a statutory right?
What is ‘Statutory bail’? Ordinarily, after the arrest of the accused, the statutory period for the State to complete investigation and file a charge sheet is a maximum of 90 days in offences punishable with life imprisonment or death. However, under some laws, like UAPA, this period can be extended up to 180 days. As… Continue reading What is ‘Statutory bail’? Is it a fundamental right or a statutory right?
Medium selection form for Test Series students of ForumIAS
Dear Friends, If you are a Hindi Medium student and wants to attempt your test in Hindi, then please provide your details in below mentioned form: https://go.forumias.com/hindi Please Note: For students who do not opt for Hindi Medium by submitting their details in above mentioned form for Test Writing, by default they will… Continue reading Medium selection form for Test Series students of ForumIAS
Ace the 68th BPSC Mains Exam with ForumIAS
Dear Friends, Congratulations to all those candidates who have been declared successful in 68th BPSC Prelims exam. However, such candidates will have to face the most crucial stage i.e. BPSC Mains exam. ForumIAS has come up with the result-oriented programs to ace the 68th BPSC Mains exam. The programs are as follows: Mains 500+ Crash… Continue reading Ace the 68th BPSC Mains Exam with ForumIAS
Golden fist: On the victory for Indian women boxers
Source: The post is based on the article “Golden fist: On the victory for Indian women boxers” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre. Relevance: About Indian women boxers. News: Indian women boxers collected four gold medals in the recent Delhi… Continue reading Golden fist: On the victory for Indian women boxers
Centre has been lifting AFSPA in the Northeast incrementally. This must continue
Source: The post is based on the article “Centre has been lifting AFSPA in the Northeast incrementally. This must continue” published in the Indian Express on 28th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 3: Security challenges and their management in border areas. Relevance: About removal of disturbed area tags and insurgencies from North East. News: The Centre has… Continue reading Centre has been lifting AFSPA in the Northeast incrementally. This must continue
Waste Is Winning – Cities’ effluent management is way behind target and a health hazard. Eco-friendly, inexpensive solutions exist
Source: The post is based on the article “Waste Is Winning – Cities’ effluent management is way behind target and a health hazard. Eco-friendly, inexpensive solutions exist” published in The Times of India on 28th March 2023. Syllabus: GS – 3: Pollution. Relevance: About sewage treatment in India. News: Recently, nodal pollution body, Central Pollution Control Board… Continue reading Waste Is Winning – Cities’ effluent management is way behind target and a health hazard. Eco-friendly, inexpensive solutions exist
Explained | How do you screen for autism and assess its severity?
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | How do you screen for autism and assess its severity?” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023. What is the News? This article talks about Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD). What is Autism? Autism – also referred to as autism spectrum disorder constitutes a diverse group… Continue reading Explained | How do you screen for autism and assess its severity?
Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear brunt of heatwaves: study
Source: The post is based on the article “Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear the brunt of heatwaves: study” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023. What is the News? Centre for Policy Research(CPR) has released a report titled ‘How is India Adapting to Heatwaves?’. What is the purpose of the… Continue reading Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear brunt of heatwaves: study
Cheetah Sasha dies due to kidney ailment in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park
Source: The post is based on the article “Cheetah Sasha dies due to kidney ailment in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023. What is the News? Sasha, one of the eight Namibian cheetahs translocated to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh has died due to kidney infection. What… Continue reading Cheetah Sasha dies due to kidney ailment in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park
Parliamentary panel calls for notification of e-commerce policy to address sector’s ‘strategy vacuum’
Source: The post is based on the article “Parliamentary panel calls for notification of e-commerce policy to address sector’s ‘strategy vacuum” published in The Hindu on 27th March 2023. What is the News? The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce has released a report titled ‘Promotion and Regulation of E-Commerce in India’. What are the key… Continue reading Parliamentary panel calls for notification of e-commerce policy to address sector’s ‘strategy vacuum’
Punjab and Haryana High Court seeks ChatGPT’s response in a bail plea case
Source: The post is based on the article “Punjab and Haryana High Court seeks ChatGPT’s response in a bail plea case” published in The Hindu on 28th March 2023. What is the News? Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a response from ChatGPT to assess worldwide views on bail when the assault was done… Continue reading Punjab and Haryana High Court seeks ChatGPT’s response in a bail plea case