9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 28th, 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.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Protection from data protection authority

Source: This post is based on the article “Protection from data protection authority” published in Business Standard on 27th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies. 

Relevance: Data protection and regulatory authority 

News: The Personal data protection bill was introduced in the parliament in 2019 and then referred to a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) which has recently submitted its report. 

Read the JPC’s recommendation here. 

What is Data protection authority (DPA)? 

The bill recommends setting up of a statutory regulatory authority (SRA) called Data protection authority. 

It is empowered to take steps to protect the interests of individuals, prevent the misuse of personal data, and ensure compliance with the Bill.  

Given that data is an integral part of our lives now, probably every Indian and every commercial activity would be in the DPA’s ambit.  

What are the powers given to DPA? 

DPA can draft regulations to carry out the provisions of the Bill. These will have force of law. This also means that most of the obligation and rights related to data protection will be based on these regulations and not on the parliamentary law.  

It has the power and the duty to promote good data protection practices and also facilitate their compliance  

Some chapters of the bill also have an all encompassing omnibus general clause which give wide powers to DPA. 

Judicial or quasi-judicial powers: DPA will have the powers of a civil court to call for information, as well as conduct inquiries on data fiduciaries. It can under extreme cases even deny the right of any entity to carry out the business of a data fiduciary. 

Note-Data fiduciary is the entity that controls the storage of the data and defines the permitted ways it can be processed . 

This can violate the Fundamental Right to do commerce through internet (Article 19). 

It can impose penalties for non-compliance. 

What are the apprehensions regarding its powers?  

Compromises the separation of power (part of basic structure of constitution)- It is empowered to legislate, implement the legislation(executive function), as well as adjudicate on disputes on the very legislation that it writes and enforces.  

The Supreme Court (in 2004) stated, in the context of the SEBI Act, that ‘Integration of powers by vesting legislative, executive & judicial powers in the same body, in future, may raise several public law concerns’. 

It will have full time permanent members who will have power to draft directions which are not subjected to the scrutiny which is applicable to regulations. 

What is the way forward?  

Public policy should strive to make a balance between regulation and fundamental principles of the Constitution. 

Example: India Bankruptcy Code, 2016 has a clause that requires the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) to “specify mechanisms for issuing regulations, including the conduct of public consultation processes before notification of any regulations”. 

Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) had recommended that there is need for internal and external checks and balances. 

India Israel ties no longer just a close friendship

Source: This post is based on the article “India Israel ties no longer just a close friendship” published in Times of India on 27th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests. 

Relevance: India Israel ties and their current status 

News: India and Israel are going to celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations in the year 2022. India has described its relationship with Israel as a multifaceted strategic partnership, which now includes negotiations on a free trade agreement as well. 

What are the various areas of cooperation b/w India and Israel? 

Technology: Israel is the Start-Up Nation and India is one of the world leader in technology so both the nations have a lot to gain from technological cooperation. 

Israel has also opened a consulate in Bengaluru, the hi-tech capital of India.  

Cooperation in green energy can further strengthen India and Israel’s positions as leaders in the global fight against climate change. To further cooperation in green energy Israel has also joined ISA (International solar alliance) 

Health: During the COVID pandemic, both the countries cooperated in research, and exchanged both assistance and medical equipment. Both countries also reached an agreement for mutual recognition of vaccine certificates. 

Geopolitical: India is one of Israel’s major partners in the Indo-Pacific region. 

It has many important interests in the Indo-Pacific, which include overcoming the global pandemic, fighting terrorism, expanding trade and addressing the threat posed by climate change. 

Human resources: There are a lot of Indian students who choose Israel for higher studies, they also influence relationship by being a bridge in the form of diaspora.

Agriculture: Israel has been a leader in sustainable agriculture practices, India can learn a lot of from cooperating with Israel on agriculture and water resources management. 

Defence: Israel has been one of the India’s top four arms supplier apart from US, Russia, France.  

The relation has been further strengthened by the launch of new QUAD economic forum between India, Israel, US, UAE.  

Opec+ should expect plenty of turbulence in the years ahead

Source: This post is based on the article “Opec+ should expect plenty of turbulence in the years ahead” published in Live Mint on 28th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Relevance:  OPEC+

News: The OPEC+ group of oil producers celebrated their fifth birthday in early December.

They first came together to face the threat posed by the US shale boom back in 2016. However, their future wasn’t much easier.

The group was on the verge of collapse in 2020, but it was saved by the covid pandemic. The pandemic forced the need for a coordinated response to oil-supply management in the face of an unprecedented slump in demand.

They need to continue to stick together, as the world’s need for oil will require changes in their production limits.

What are the current challenges before the OPEC+ countries?

First, the disastrous effect of the Pandemic has not eased yet. Further, there is a concern over the emergence of another new Coronavirus variant.

Second, the producer group faces the return of oversupply and a growing need to cut output once again. At the same time, it faces pressure from consumer countries, worried by soaring inflation, to keep the supply open.

Third, several OPEC+ members are already unable to meet their output targets, and a few other producers including Russia rapidly approaching full capacity. The group is struggling to add the output it would need to balance the market.

The problem of verbose policy documents – on National Electricity Policy

Source: This post is based on the article “The problem of verbose policy documents” published in Indian Express on 28th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues related to policy making

Relevance:  National Electricity Policy (NEP) and the Electricity Act 2003.

News: Recently, the government had indicated its intention to amend the EA 2003 and also the tariff policy.

Policy documents should be crisp and should be able to convey the direction we intend on taking. However, some of our policy documents are not in line with the above-said parameters. For instance, the documents of National Electricity Policy (NEP) and the Electricity Act 2003/ Tariff policy.

Both these documents run into pages and, on several occasions, speak of issues that strictly do not lie within their respective domains. Thus, depriving themselves of clarity and sharpness.

This is the appropriate time to revise various sections of the EA 2003 for having an integrated electricity policy that will have tariff as one of its constituents.

What are the issues pointed out by the author with respect to the EA 2003 Policy document?

First, there are unnecessary warnings and provisions related to competitive procurement of power by distribution companies. This distorts the policy statement and dilutes the basic intent of the EA 2003 competition.

Second, the policy makes the entire process very cumbersome, and it makes implementation difficult. Further, it is prone to litigation. For instance, the problematic provisions for the determination of hydro tariffs.

Thirdly, many sections in the act actually do not add any substance but aim at only educating the consumer. Though educating the consumer is important, but a different forum should be used for this purpose.

Fourthly, portions of the document speak of issues that have nothing to do with tariffs but relate to standards of performance, such as quality, continuity, and reliability of power supply.

What are the issues pointed out by the author with respect to the NEP Policy document?

The issue is, should the NTP and NEP continue as two separate policies? The answer is no because there is inter-mingling of objectives in both policy statements.

For instance, both policies speak of providing power at reasonable rates, ensuring the commercial viability of the sector, and protecting consumer interests.

Thus, it would be appropriate to subsume the TP into the NEP since tariff is one of the several issues which is a matter of electricity policy.

GS Paper 3

It’s not too late for India to gain a global edge with high-end chips

Source: This post is based on the article “It’s not too late for India to gain a global edge with high-end chips” published in
Livemint on 27th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.
Relevance: Semiconductor chip manufacturing

News: The opportunity in high-end semiconductor chip manufacturing is huge, but India must create an entire ecosystem that can deliver innovative products.

Must Read: Semiconductor chip manufacturing in India – Explained, pointwise

Moreover, India also needs to be wary of cheaper chip alternatives from Taiwan and China, especially considering the Chinese plans of controlling most of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing capacity within 4 years under its ‘Made in China 2025’.

How to counter Chinese plans of dominating world semiconductor manufacturing?

A two-step transition can be planned:

First, fund local fabless companies to design substitute chips that reduce dependence on China in 2-3 years, and then migrate to next-gen products.

Note: Fabless manufacturing is the design and sale of hardware devices and semiconductor chips while outsourcing their fabrication to a specialized manufacturer called a semiconductor foundry.
What are the future growth estimates for the semiconductor industry?

The industry is poised to touch $53 billion by 2025, propelled by technologies like 3D printing, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and blockchain, and with the rise of EVs, online games, cryptocurrencies and ever-increasing cloud use.

Considering this huge opportunity and the fact that this is a rapid obsolescence industry, it’s still not late for India.

Note: Semiconductor industry is a rapid obsolescence industry, as in whatever is produced gets obsolete in 4-5 years.
What is the way forward for India?

If India is eyeing the chips industry in view of future opportunities, then policy should focus more on creating a sustainable ecosystem of collaborative innovation, and not just on manufacturing. Following steps need to be taken:

Building an ecosystem: With economies short of supply and high on the demand, chip-makers will need to produce value-added offerings to be globally competitive. Building a robust ecosystem that aligns all stakeholders—from policymakers, scientists, businesses and media to landowners, suppliers, customers and producers of complementary products and services—will hold the key to that.

Here’s what the government can do to help create an innovation ecosystem:

One, increase sharply the number of high quality integrated-circuit (IC) software and system design engineers, as opposed to the currently dominant IC design and testing engineers.

Two, aid manufacturers in adapting to new processes that can save three months to market (the benchmark time is 19 months for a new design and 14 months for an upgrade).

Three, create an open and collaborative environment where foundry and other suppliers can share information on production, future technology and expansion with manufacturers

Four, ensure that the ecosystem has a vibrant group of complementors, beyond just suppliers and manufacturers.

Five, attract more players for application-specific IC/ASIC/ASSPs microprocessors, graphics ICs, and also software players for applications, programming, etc. Energy conservation efforts, for example, could go a long way.

Lastly, India must cultivate global media relationships that could help it position its emerging industry as a producer of differentiated products of high quality and value. China mustn’t get to corner the global market.

Public Funding: India needs to deploy public funds for tax incentives and to foster collaborative innovation among key stakeholders. The Shakti project at IIT Chennai, that resulted in the creation of India’s first-ever indigenous RISC-V microprocessor, is a good example.

Allocating funds to innovations, even if these are in their trial phase, is critical. Developed nations provide grants to private researchers for projects that can generate value for society or ecosystems. In contrast, India exhibits impatience by offering no more than 10 lakh to a startup.

Our expanding gig economy must treat workers fairly

Source: This post is based on the article “Our expanding gig economy must treat workers fairly” published in Livemint on 28th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Gig workers, Gig platforms and the Gig economy

News: 50 women partners of Urban Company’s (UC) salon and spa vertical are protesting against policy changes that will come into effect from January 2022. These, they claim, will affect their ability to earn and are therefore unfair labour practices.

UC, India’s largest home-services provider, has filed a lawsuit in Gurugram’s district court against the protests. The judgement in this case could have an impact on the future of employment in India’s gig economy.

Must Read: Gig workers and their challenges – Explained, pointwise
What is the potential of India’s Gig economy?

A joint report by the Boston Consulting Group and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in March 2021, pointed to the potential of India’s gig economy.

Gig economy in India has the ability to sustain up to 90 million jobs in India’s non-farm economy alone, besides adding 1.25% to the GDP.

What are some concerns/issues related to the Gig economy?

Platform businesses have to manage a workforce that they see as less committed, given its temporary engagement, and also consider it to be ‘less productive’.

– Exploitative rating system: Platform companies also appraise the performance of gig workers on a rating system based on customer feedback. While companies use this feedback to improve performance, gig employees often reject it. This is particularly true for service-dominated platform businesses, where close engagement between a service-provider and the recipient results in a high possibility of negative feedback from the customer.

– Enculturation of workforce: Sometimes the gig platforms expand into new cities and countries. This presents another challenge in terms of the enculturation of geographically-dispersed temporary workers.

– Contractors, not full-time employees: Platform companies like Uber and Amazon have frequently been questioned in the UK and European Union, wrt their stance on treating gig employees as ‘contractors’.  Being contractors, they are not given the attendant benefits such as minimum wages, holidays and pensions.

Recently, the U. K’s Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling by the employment tribunal by stating that the 25 drivers who had brought a case against Uber are indeed employees and not contractors.

What is the way forward?

Reforming the exploitative rating system: A better way to rate them can be to take the onus for any poor performance and then work to improve ratings by training and motivating workers. This would also ensure the loyalty of the gig workforce.

Tackling enculturation problems: For this, the companies will need to ‘imprint’ its cultural norms, so that even temporary workers come to possess shared values.

The cold truth about India’s income inequality

Source: This post is based on the article “The cold truth about India’s income inequality” published in The Hindu on 28th Dec 2021 

Syllabus: GS3- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. 

Relevance: Social and economic equality.  

News: Recent the World Inequality Report has shown that India has very high levels of inequality. It also shows that the gap between the people at the top and bottom of income scale is higher in India than the USA, UK, China.  

Read the detailed findings of the report here.   

What are the causes of this widely present inequality in India?  

Deregulation and liberalisation policies after 1980s have led to an increase in inequality, while the five-year plans which were inspired by the socialist principles reduced the same.  

While the top 1% has majorly profited from economic reforms, growth among low- and middle-income groups has been relatively slow due to which poverty has persisted. 

What has been the trajectory of inequality in India? 

The income of the bottom 50% in India grew at the rate of 2.2% per year between 1951 and 1981, but the growth rate has remained exactly the same over the past 40 years. 

This makes it clear that irrespective of the economic policy, the state of the bottom half of India barely changed. 

This has been caused by the social conditions and constraints in Indian society. 

How can we ensure economic progress? 

Global experience and studies by premier universities has shown that old social structures need to be demolished for economic progress. 

For example: secularisation only predicts future economic development when it is accompanied by a respect and tolerance for individual rights. 

Our neighbourhood is a good example where countries have suffered huge loss due to their support to archaic social structures.  

States like Tamil Nadu ,Kerala , Karnataka which made efforts in breaking the old social structures or adapting them with the needs of today, have seen more mobility and well-being. 

B.R. Ambedkar had issued a grim warning in 1949 that if social and economic inequality persists then for long then political democracy will cease to exist. 

Panel to explore withdrawal of AFSPA in Nagaland is a step in the right direction. Centre must build on it

Source: This post is based on the following articles

“Panel to explore withdrawal of AFSPA in Nagaland is a step in the right direction. Centre must build on it” published in the Indian Express on 28th December 2021.

“A progressive step: On setting of panel for AFSPA by Nagaland” published in The Hindu on 28th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

Relevance: Understanding the need of repealing AFSPA.

News: Recently, the Centre’s decided to constitute a panel to consider withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Nagaland. The panel will be headed by the Additional Secretary (Northeast) from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The AFSPA panel has to submit a report in 45 days. Earlier, the Nagaland Assembly passed a unanimous resolution for repealing the Act.

About the AFSPA
Must read: Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – Explained, pointwise
What is the present status of AFSPA?
Read here: Before criticising AFSPA, a full probe is necessary
About the AFSPA and Nagaland

Insurgency in Nagaland is as old as Independent India. The Army was entrusted with the task of securing peace against insurgents with bases across the international border in Myanmar.

The AFSPA was imposed to entrust the Army with the legal protection to secure peace against insurgents who have bases across the international border in Myanmar.

The 1997 ceasefire signed between the government and the NSCN-IM has enabled a conversation towards ending the insurgency. Subsequently, the 2015 Framework Agreement signed between the Centre and NSCN-IM raised hopes of a resolution, including on the question of Naga sovereignty.

Read more: How has the Naga peace process evolved?
What should be done?

The Centre should revive the spirit of dialogue and peace, as the onus is on the Centre to win back the people’s trust after the recent event. The government should take steps to end the vicious cycle of violence in the region.

Read more: Repealing AFSPA will not weaken, only strengthen Constitution

Transforming lives-The job creation potential of livestock transition

Source: This post is based on the article “Transforming lives-The job creation potential of livestock transition” published in Down to earth on 27th Dec 2021 

Syllabus: GS3- Economics of animal-rearing

Relevance: Harmful effects of livestock rearing. 

News: Around the world farmers are transitioning from livestock operations to plant-based operations.   

Why are farmers all over the world transitioning from livestock to plant based production? 

Demand for plant-based products is growing. 

Farmer specific issues-Animal farming usually has exploitative contracts, with poor working conditions, low income, high vulnerability to market forces and extreme stress.  

Industrialised livestock production is a dangerous business that poses a serious threat to human health and psychological well-being. For instance, new strains of bird and swine flu,  which have the potential to become zoonotic diseases, emerge each year posing a major threat to human health. 

Many of the workers at these plants were from racialised communities and already face multiple socio-economic challenges that were exacerbated by the spread of the virus.  

Environmental concerns-The livestock sector is projected to account for up to 81% of the 1.5oC emissions budget by 2050 if production continues unabated. To remain within environmental limits and planetary boundaries, researchers have shown that the global production of animal-sourced foods must be reduced by at least half. 

What are the advantages of a just livestock transition? 

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), transitioning to environmentally and socially sustainable economies can drive job creation, create better jobs, increase social justice and reduce poverty. 

What is the way forward?

Farmers should be guided to identify new market opportunities for plant-based operations and access guidance on making the transition away from livestock production financially viable.  

These measures should also be complemented by policies aimed at increasing plant-based food consumption to prevent emissions leakage and to enable an overall transition. 

The gaps in the plan to tackle plastic waste

Source: This post is based on the article “The gaps in the plan to tackle plastic waste” published in The Hindu on 28th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Environmental protection

Relevance: Waste management

News: Recently, the Environment Ministry published draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility. It is set to come into effect by the end of this year.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

EPR requires the manufacturer of a product, or the party that introduces the product into the community, to take responsibility for its life cycle. It mandates the FMCG company to account for the costs of collection and recycling of the packet.

What are the issues with the recently notified draft regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility?

The guidelines fall short in three areas i.e., people, plastics and processing

Disregards the contribution made by Waste pickers: The guidelines fails to mention waste pickers or outlining mechanisms for their incorporation under EPR, despite their significance.

It directs producers to set up a private, parallel plastic waste collection and recycling chain. This amounts to dispossessing waste pickers of their means of livelihood.

Issues in Plastic management norms: The EPR guidelines are limited to plastic packaging. Multi-layered and multi-material that includes plastic items like sanitary pads, chappals, etc, pose a huge waste management challenge today, but have been left out of the scope of EPR.

Issues in processing of waste: Despite the harmful impacts of end-of-life processing technologies, the draft regulations legitimise them to justify the continued production of multi-layered plastics. For instance, a number of gasification, pyrolysis and other chemical recycling projects have figured in accidents such as fires, explosions and financial losses.

Further, recycling processes like waste-to-energy, co-processing and incineration have been proven to release carbon dioxide, particulate matter, harmful dioxins and furans that have negative climate and health impacts.

How recycling of plastic packaging can be made more effective?

Plastic packaging can be roughly grouped into three categories.

First category plastics: Recyclable and effectively handled by the informal sector. Ex – PET and HDPE

Second category plastics: Technologically recyclable but not economically viable to recycle. Ex- LDPE and PP bags.

Third category plastics:  Technologically challenging to recycle. Ex – Multi-layered and multi-material plastics

In the First category plastics, the government need to support and strengthen the informal recycling chain by bridging gaps in adequate physical spaces, infrastructure, etc.

In the Second category plastics, the costs of recycling are prohibitively expensive relative to the market value of the output. So, there is a need to make it economically viable.

It can be done by increasing the market value for these plastics by increasing the demand for and use of recycled plastics in packaging.

In the third category plastics, the Plastic Waste Management Rules mandated the phase-out of these plastics. However, in 2018, this mandate was reversed which needs to be undone.

What is the way forward?

First, an effective EPR framework should address the issue of plastics and plastic waste management in tandem with the existing machinery. It should aim to minimise duplication and lead to a positive environmental impact, with monitoring mechanisms including penalties for non-compliance.

Second, the scope of plastics covered by the guidelines could be altered to exclude those plastics which are already efficiently recycled and to include other plastic and multi-material items.

Third, end-of-life processing technologies should be closely evaluated, based on their health and environmental impacts, and on the implications for continued production of low-quality and multi-layered plastics.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Why cloud seeding is no longer being seen as an option to clear Delhi’s air

Source: This post is based on the article “Why cloud seeding is no longer being seen as an option to clear Delhi’s air” published in TOI on 28th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

According to a document from the Central Pollution Control Board, weather conditions, such as low moisture levels in the capital during the winter, are unsupportive of cloud seeding and, thus, the project was not further taken up.

Why the decision to drop the idea of cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding technology was being pursued a few years back by government agencies with the help of different institutes, including IIT-Kanpur, to fight Delhi’s pollution problem. However, it has been discarded now due to the following weather limitations:

During winters, Delhi often receives northwesterly winds, which are cold and dry. Moreover, generally, the moisture in the air is too less during winter in northern India, which limits the scope of cloud seeding. The potential pre-existing clouds are needed to carry out the seeding process.

This limits the scope of cloud seeding during winter to bring rain and disperse the smoke.

What is the way forward?

However, some experts have stated that cloud seeding must not be turned down just because of the weather of Delhi and should be explored as a technological advancement on the lines of China.

Cloud seeding needs to be pursued as it has other applications:

India has several drought-hit areas like in Bundelkhand in UP and elsewhere in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The technology also has strategic applications, like for defence purposes. Over the past decade, many countries, especially China, have mastered it.

About Cloud Seeding

image (76)

It is a weather-modification technology to help create rain to achieved different goals, including improving the air quality.

Read here.

– Must Read: Cloud seeding: Impact and examples

What is 5G in telecom, and how will this tech work in India

Source: This post is based on the article What is 5G in telecom, and how will this tech work in India” published in The Indian express on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the news? 

Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has recently announced that India’s major metros will have 5G services from next year. 

What is 5G? 

Read about 5G here. 

India has been planning to start 5G services since 2018, but lack of flow of cash and adequate capital with at some of the telecom companies have been one of the roadblock. 

What has been the global progress on 5G? 

China and USA– Some of the companies have rolled out the commercial services for users. 

South Korean– Samsung is the leader in building the hardware for 5G networks.

Union Ministers attend the first ever ‘J&K Real Estate Summit- 2021-Unlocking Opportunities’

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Ministers attend the first ever ‘J&K Real Estate Summit- 2021-Unlocking Opportunities’published in PIB on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs attended the first ever ‘J&K Real Estate Summit- 2021-Unlocking Opportunities’.

What is the J & K Real Estate Summit- 2021-Unlocking Opportunities?

Organized by: Department of Housing & Urban Development Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

Aim: The summit is a push to attract real estate investments from across the country.

Key points

– Article 35A gave the J&K government the right to decide who qualifies as a permanent resident of the state, and only these individuals were allowed to acquire or own land and seek other special rights and privileges.

– However, this provision was abrogated in 2019, along with Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to the erstwhile state. Hence, these changes formally ended the protection of land rights.

– Now all the Central Laws, be that the Prevention of Corruption Act, RTI Act, CVC Act,  Real Estate Regulatory Authority Act (RERA) are now applicable to the UT of J&K like other states and UTs.

SC clarifies when dowry deaths may be presumed

Source: This post is based on the article SC clarifies when dowry deaths may be presumed published in The Hindu on 28th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court of India has interpreted Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (dowry death). 

Must read: Supreme Court Guidelines on Section 304-B
How has the Supreme Court interpreted Section 304-B?

The Supreme Court has laid down the following prerequisites to be followed for convicting the accused for offence punishable under section 304B IPC:

that the death of a woman must have been caused by burns or bodily injury or occurred otherwise than under normal circumstance;

that such a death must have occurred within a period of seven years of her marriage;

that the woman must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment at the hands of her husband, soon before her death (The expression“soon before her death” implies that the interval should not be much between the cruelty or harassment concerned and the death in question. In other words, there must be an existence of a proximate and live link between the effect of cruelty based on dowry demand and the death concerned).

that such cruelty or harassment must have been for or related to any demand for dowry.

However, these presumptions of dowry death are also rebuttable if the accused is able to demonstrate through evidence that the ingredients of Section 304B IPC have not been satisfied.

Centre declares Soya Meal as an Essential Commodity up to 30th June, 2022

Source: This post is based on the article Centre declares Soya Meal as an Essential Commodity up to 30th June, 2022published in PIB on 25th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

Government of India has declared Soya Meal as an Essential Commodity till 30th June, 2022 under the Essential Commodities Act 1955.

What is Soya Meal?

Soybean meal is the by-product of the extraction of soybean oil. It is the most important protein source used to feed farm animals. It is also used for human consumption in some countries.

What is the impact of declaring Soya Meal as an Essential Commodity?

This is expected to stop any unfair practices (like hoarding, black marketing etc) in the market having the potential to hike the prices of soya meal.

This will also enhance the availability of the commodity for consumers like poultry farms and cattle feed manufacturers.

What is the Essential Commodities Act 1955?

Essential Commodities Act,1955 was enacted to ensure the easy availability of essential commodities to consumers and to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

There is no specific definition of essential commodities in The EC Act. Section 2(A) of the act states that an “essential commodity” means a commodity specified in the “Schedule” of this Act.

The Act gives powers to the central government to add or remove a commodity in the “Schedule”. The Centre, if it is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in public interest, can notify an item as essential, in consultation with state governments.

By declaring a commodity as essential, the government can control the production, supply, and distribution of that commodity, and impose a stock limit.

Low grant sanctions, disbursement: India wants to promote FPOs but where are the funds?

Source: This post is based on the articleLow grant sanctions, disbursement: India wants to promote FPOs but where are the fundspublished in Down To Earth on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

State of India’s Livelihood (SOIL) Report 2021 has been released by Access Development Services, a national livelihoods support organisation.

Focus of the report: The report ​​analysed only farmer producer companies registered under The Companies Act, 2013 since they make up a large majority of the organisations started in recent years.The number of FPOs registered as cooperatives or societies is very small. 

Must read: What is a Farmers Producer Organization (FPO)?
What are the key findings of the report?

Farmer producer organisations (FPO) have received  just 1-5% of funding under central government schemes introduced to promote them in the last seven years

Central Government Schemes for FPOs and their performance:

Equity Grant Scheme: The Scheme is operated by the Small Farmers’ Agri Business Consortium (SFAC).

It aims to extend support to the equity base of Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) by providing matching equity grants up to a maximum of Rs 15 lakh in two tranches.

Performance: Over the past seven years, only 735 organisations have been given grants, which is just 5% of the total FPCs currently registered in the country. Maharashtra has received the highest number of grants sanctioned, followed by Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

Credit Guarantee Scheme: The scheme provides risk cover to banks that advance collateral-free loans to FPCs up to Rs 1 crore. Only about 1% of registered producer companies have been able to avail the benefits.

Central Sector Scheme of Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs): The scheme was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to form and promote 10,000 new FPOs till 2027-28.

Under the scheme, the formation and promotion of FPO is based on Produce Cluster Area approach and specialized commodity based approach. While adopting cluster based approach, formation of FPOs will be focussed on “One District One Product” for development of product specialization.

The scheme is being implemented by the SFAC, National Cooperative Development Corporation(NCDC), NABARD, NAFED among others. 

What are the suggestions given by the report?

There is a need to make it easier for FPOs to avail government programmes and schemes for providing equity grants and loans. This can be achieved either by reducing the threshold for eligibility or by supporting FPOs to reach the eligibility criteria.

Moreover, FPOs also need capacity building support to establish relations with customers, establish internal governance processes among other things

National Book Trust announces of 75 Selected Authors under the PM- YUVA Mentorship Scheme

Source: This post is based on the articleNational Book Trust announces 75 Selected Authors under the PM- YUVA Mentorship Schemepublished in PIB on 25th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

National Book Trust, India under Ministry of Education has announced the results of the All-India Contest organized on the Theme ‘National Movement of India’ under the PM-YUVA Mentorship Scheme.

What is the PM-YUVA Mentorship Scheme?

Aim: To create a pool of authors below the age of 30 years who are ready to express themselves and project India on any international platform, as well as it will help in projecting Indian culture and literature globally.

Implementing Agency: The National Book Trust under Ministry of Education will ensure phase-wise execution of the Scheme

Key Features of the Scheme

Under the scheme, 75 Authors were to be selected through an All India Contest at MyGov (Government of India’s Citizen Engagement Platform) for Scholarship cum Mentorship.

The selected authors will undergo six-months of Mentorship in which they would be provided research and editorial support under the guidance of eminent authors and the Editorial Team of National Book Trust. This will be done to develop their book proposals as full-fledged books to be published by the NBT.

During mentorship, the selected authors will also receive a scholarship of ₹50,000 per month for a period of six months. Further, a royalty of 10% will be payable to the authors on successful publications of their books.

Their published books will also be translated into other Indian languages to ensure the exchange of culture and literature between different states, thereby promoting Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.

PM Modi talks about ‘Kaavi’ Art on Mann Ki Baat, stresses ancient art’s preservation

Source: This post is based on the article PM Modi talks about ‘Kaavi’ Art on Mann Ki Baat, stresses ancient art’s preservationpublished in Hindustan Times on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

During his Mann Ki Baat address, the Prime Minister spoke about a dying form of art known as Kaavi Art. He has urged people to work towards preserving such ancient forms in the country.

What is Kaavi Art?

Kaavi is a form of wall art found in Konkan region, especially in temples of Goa, parts of coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The art was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled Goa until 1961. 

The art takes its name from Kaav in Konkani which refers to Indian red pigment which is the only color used in this painting. The red pigment is obtained from the laterite soil.

The painting is done on wet plaster in a manner similar to frescoes [Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid (wet) lime plaster].

The painting is done in bright red and white shades. It is usually done on the walls of temples and homes that depicts the ancient history of India.

Healthy States, Progressive India: NITI Aayog Releases Fourth Edition of State Health Index

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

– ‘NITI Aayog Releases Fourth Edition of State Health Indexpublished in PIB on 28th Dec 2021.

 ‘Kerala tops NITI’s health rankings, UP ranks worstpublished in Livemint on 28th Dec 2021.

– ‘Kerala tops NITI Aayog Health Index again’ published in The Hindu on 28th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has released the fourth edition of the State Health Index for 2019–20 with the title “Healthy States, Progressive India”.

What is the State Health Index?

Developed by: NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the World Bank since 2017.

Objective: To track progress on health outcomes and health systems performance, develop healthy competition and encourage cross-learning among states and UTs.  

Indicators: The index is a weighted composite score incorporating 24 indicators covering key aspects of health performance. The indicators are categorised into three domains: 

Health Outcomes: It includes parameters such as neonatal mortality rate, under-5 mortality rate, the sex ratio at birth.

Governance and Information: It includes parameters such as institutional deliveries, average occupancy of senior officers in key posts earmarked for health.

Key Inputs/Processes: It consists of the proportion of shortfall in health care providers to what is recommended, functional medical facilities, birth and death registration and tuberculosis treatment success rate.

Categorization: The states are classified into three categories (Larger States, Smaller States and UTs). In this round, all the states and UTs participated except West Bengal, and the UT of Ladakh was not included due to the non-availability of data.

Base Year: The index has been calculated as a weighted average of all the indicators in each state and union territory for a base year(2018-19) and a reference year (2019-20). 

Source of Data: The index uses existing data sources such as the Sample Registration System, Civil Registration System and Health Management Information Systems. However, the index does not incorporate the impact of Covid-19.

Significance of this index: The index will help drive state/UT’s efforts towards achievement of health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including those related to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and other health outcomes.

What are the key findings of the index?
Source: The Hindu

Among the larger states, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana emerged among the best three performers in terms of overall performance. 

Uttar Pradesh ranked at the bottom in Overall Performance. However, it ranked at the top in terms of Incremental Performance by registering the highest incremental change from the Base Year. 

Among the Smaller States, Mizoram emerged as the best performer in Overall Performance as well as Incremental Performance.

Among UTs, Delhi followed by Jammu and Kashmir showed the best incremental performance.

Moreover, the report has found that better performing States such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu performed comparatively better on the health outcomes domain but performed badly on key inputs and processes.

Bangladesh may become India’s fourth largest export destination in FY22

Source: This post is based on the articleBangladesh may become India’s fourth largest export destination in FY22published in Business Standard on 28th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

Bangladesh may become India’s fourth-largest export destination in the Financial year 2021-22.

India’s Exports to Bangladesh
Source: Business Standard

During April-October 2021, India’s exports to Bangladesh grew 81% over the same period last year.

This makes Bangladesh India’s fourth-largest export market behind the US, UAE and China.

The major items exported to Bangladesh by India include cotton, cereals, electricity and fuel, vehicle parts and machinery and mechanical appliances.

What is the reason for the increase in India’s exports to Bangladesh?

Bangladesh has been an economic miracle in South Asia with its unprecedented transformation over the past decade.

The growth in Bangladesh largely stems from its success as an exporter of garments, which account for around 80% of its total exports. Remittances from the overseas amount to over 6% of GDP.

Must read: Recent developments in India-Bangladesh relations-Explained, pointwise
What are the future prospects of India-Bangladesh Trade?

Firstly, India and Bangladesh are currently undertaking a joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement(CEPA).

Secondly, the India-Bangladesh CEO Forum which was launched in 2020 to provide policy-level inputs in various areas of trade and investment and facilitate exchanges among business communities is expected to meet soon to further deepen trade and economic ties.

Thirdly, during a recent virtual summit, Indian and Bangladesh PM’s emphasised the need to address issues of non-tariff barriers and trade facilitation. These include port restrictions, procedural bottlenecks and quarantine restrictions. 

Read more: Bangladesh – Model or Miracle?

New CAG report exposes wide gap between India’s groundwater management regulations & implementation

Source: This post is based on the articleNew CAG report exposes wide gap between India’s groundwater management regulations & implementationpublished in Down To Earth on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG) has conducted a performance audit of groundwater management and regulation to analyse the extent of groundwater scarcity in the country.

About the CAG Audit Report on Groundwater

The audit was conducted on the basis of five years of data (2013-2018) on groundwater management and regulation in India.

The main objectives of the CAG audit were to a) ascertain the implementation of groundwater regulations b) mechanism for managing groundwater c) targets and objectives on the schemes of groundwater management and appropriate steps taken to achieve the UN-SDG Target 6 that addresses water scarcity among other issues. 

Read more: Mapping groundwater sources by CSIR will help to utilise groundwater for drinking purposes: Union Minister
What are the key findings of the Audit Report?

Between 2004 and 2017, the stage of extraction of groundwater has increased from 58% to 63%.

Only 19 states/UTs have enacted legislation for the management of groundwater. Among them, the legislation was only partially implemented in four states while in six other states, its enactment was pending for various reasons.

There were deficiencies observed in schemes of some states such as delay in completion of schemes, groundwater level data not being analysed before recommending proposals for the construction of tube wells, delay in finalisation of the project on Ground Water Recharge action plan among others.

Among units granted license by the Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) in 15 states of India, 78% were extracting groundwater without no-objection certificates(NOC). 

There is a major threat in achieving SDG goal 6 (​​clean water and sanitation for all) as the implementation and management of policies is extremely weak. 

What are the suggestions given by the report?

There is an urgent need for a strong mechanism for the management of groundwater in India so that regulations are effectively and efficiently implemented. 

All the states shall adopt a model groundwater bill and try to regulate their own groundwater. 

Central Ground Water Authority(CGWA) shall work for advisory and policy-making whereas work related to NOC, inspections and others shall be done by respective state departments.

Proper tracking systems or audit activities are required from time to time on the schemes of groundwater management and regulation so that a true picture is available.

CGWB should take adequate steps to strengthen its organisation by increasing its manpower and taking advice from experts so that the country can achieve the SDG 6 target by the year 2030.

Read more: Conserving groundwater: Role of women crucial in bringing about significant change

Year End Review 2021 – Ministry of Power

Source: This post is based on the article Year End Review 2021 – Ministry of Power’ published in PIB on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Power has launched several initiatives and has undertaken several reforms in the power sector.

What are the reforms and initiatives implemented by the Ministry of Power?

Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020

Renewable Purchase Obligation(RPO)

Green Day Ahead Market (GDAM): It is a marketplace for trading of renewable power on a day-ahead basis. 

Renewable Energy Certificate(REC) Mechanism 

Green Term-Ahead Market(GTAM)

Pan India Real Time Market (RTM): It is an organized market platform to enable the buyers and sellers of pan-India to meet their energy requirements closer to real-time operation. Under this, Buyers/sellers have the option of placing buy/sell bids for each 15-minute time block.

Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS): The scheme was launched in 2014 with the following objectives: (i) Strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution networks in the urban areas; (ii) Metering of distribution transformers/feeders/consumers in the urban areas; (iii) IT enablement of distribution sector and strengthening of distribution network.

Reform Based Power Distribution Scheme

National Mission on use of Biomass in coal based power plants

SHAKTI (Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala (Coal) Transparently in India): It was launched in 2017 to provide coal linkages to the power plants which do not have linkage, thus helping the generators to get cheaper coal and thereby reduction in the cost of generation.

Energy Efficiency Enterprise (E3) Certifications Programme for Brick manufacturing Sector

Aiming for Sustainable Habitat: New Initiatives in Building Energy Efficiency 2021

Perform, Achieve and Trade(PAT) Scheme

Go Electric Campaign

State Energy Efficiency Index – 2020

Air pollution in parts of central-western India and north India increased during the pandemic in contrast to the general trend

Source: This post is based on the articleAir pollution in parts of central-western India and north India increased during the pandemic in contrast to the general trend published in PIB on 27th Dec 2021.

What is the News?

According to a study, reduction in economic activities during the pandemic-related lockdown had resulted in a decrease in air pollution in most parts of India but central-western and northern India recorded an increase in pollution. 

About the Study

The study was conducted by scientists at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).

Read more: ARIES Tracked “Supernova explosion” in Wolf–Rayet stars

Purpose: To understand the impact of reduction of economic activities during the pandemic-related lockdown on air pollution.

The study utilized the EUMETSAT and NASA satellite observations for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.

What are the key findings of the study?

​​Reduction of economic activities during the pandemic-related lockdown had resulted in a decrease in air pollution (toxic trace gases, — ozone, NO2, and carbon monoxide) in most parts of India.

However, some regions like western-central India, Northern India showed an increase in ozone and other toxic gases. This could have aggravated respiratory health risks around those regions during the pandemic.

Why did Ozone increase during the pandemic induced lockdown?

Ozone is not directly emitted by any source but is formed by photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and gases in the air under the influence of sunlight and heat.

A decrease in these gases could also lead to enhancement of ozone, depending upon the chemical environment.

Moreover, ozone concentrations are also altered via ambient meteorology and dynamics, including the downward transport of ozone-rich air from the stratosphere to the troposphere.

What is the significance of this study?

This study helped to identify the regions prone to higher air pollution exposure. Hence, it can help to identify areas at a greater health risk. 

Mains Answer Writing

Must Read Current Affairs Articles – January 25th, 2022

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 several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – January 25th, 2022

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Why the Personal Data Protection Bill is bad news for business

News: Personal Data Protection Bill seeks to regulate the use of data and to foster a privacy protection framework in the country. However, it fails to strike the balance between privacy rights and ease of doing business. Read here: Union Cabinet approves introduction of Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament What are the areas of concern… Continue reading Why the Personal Data Protection Bill is bad news for business

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Stemming water insecurity

News: Although water is a renewable source of energy, its scarcity is visible in many places owing to the mismanagement of water resources. What is the present status of water availability in India? NITI Aayog, states that nearly 600 million people are facing “high to extreme water stress“. The yearly per capita availability of water has dipped… Continue reading Stemming water insecurity

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A combative federalism

News: There has been friction between center and state over the lack of compensation cess. What is GST? It is a “consumption-based destination tax”, which means that the revenue will go to the state in which the goods/services are consumed. What are the steps that can be initiated by the state to cover the financial loss?… Continue reading A combative federalism

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A chance to support growth, fiscal consolidation

News: Recently, the National Statistical Office (NSO) released the first advance national accounts estimates for 2021-22.  What are the growth prospects for India? IMF and OECD forecasts have indicated growth rates at 8.5% and 8.1%, respectively, for 2022-23. However, these are optimistic as the base effects characterizing 2021-22 are limited. However, India may expect real… Continue reading A chance to support growth, fiscal consolidation

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Climate change for practical people

News: Due to lack of availability of data there is a reasonable chance that impact of climate change is not measured accurately and to confront the climate problem we need to think more strategically. What is current scenario of climate change? Climate scientists warn that an increase in the global average temperature of more than… Continue reading Climate change for practical people

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Poverty, Wellbeing, Hunger: Where Do We Stand?

News: Recently, there have been comments that hunger in India has increased, based on the GHI 2021 report that showed a decline in India’s ranking to 101 from 95 in 2020. This article examines the question – how best to measure poverty? It also stresses that poverty based on consumption is still important and there… Continue reading Poverty, Wellbeing, Hunger: Where Do We Stand?

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Can inequality be solved or is it a natural human state?

News: Recently, Oxfam revealed that India’s richest 10% had 45% of Indian wealth, while the bottom half had only 6%. This article says, even if inequality is a natural consequence, it is evil. There is no need to declare it as sacred. Also, money can never be the correct measure of inequality. Is inequality a… Continue reading Can inequality be solved or is it a natural human state?

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False dichotomy: On merit versus reservation

News: Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of extending reservation to OBCs in All India quota (AIQ) of seats in admission to undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses. What is All India Quota? It is a quota that has been implemented since 1986. It is envisaged as a domicile-free quota to access medical… Continue reading False dichotomy: On merit versus reservation

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Budgeting for the education emergency

News: Less resource allocation is seen in the education sector. What is the public resource allocation in the education sector? In the 2021-22 Budget, it was seen that the Centre’s allocation for the Education Department was slashed compared to the previous year. Delhi and eight major states reduced or just about maintained their budget allocation for… Continue reading Budgeting for the education emergency

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