9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 2nd, 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

BSF DG’s remark on demographic change to justify a wider berth in border areas is flawed, disturbing

Source: This post is based on the article “BSF DG’s remark on demographic change to justify a wider berth in border areas is flawed, disturbing” published in Indian Express on 2nd Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – issues related to federalism

Relevance: Border Security Force (BSF), Federal issue

News: Recently, the centre decided to extend the jurisdiction of the BSF to 50 km from 15 km in border states of Assam, Punjab and West Bengal.

It was stated that the reason for extending the jurisdiction of BSF was to secure the three border states from the inflow of narcotics and weapon, infiltration by terrorists.

However, the recent remark by the director general of BSF denoting “demographic change” as one probable reason for such change is flawed and disturbing.

What was the remark made by the director general of BSF?

He stated that “the demographic balance has been upset in border states like West Bengal and Assam over a period of time” and this has led to increase in agitations and revolts in certain states.

The inference is, deploying BSF in these states will help to control agitations and revolts.

Why the BSF DG’s statement raises concerns?

First, it undermines the local police and the state government: The state police are trained and equipped to carry out the tasks such as search, seizure and arrest in case of revolts and undemocratic agitation.

In this regard, the central government’s decision to deploy (BSF), overrides objections by state governments, to engage the civilian population.

Second, it weaponises the idea of demographic change: The recent protests against the NRC and CAA were against the framing of Indian citizenship in communal terms. Now, the DGs remark in the same communal lines is disturbing.

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

Why National Security Advisor’s advice to IPS probationers is worrying

Source: This post is based on the article “Why National Security Advisor’s advice to IPS probationers is worrying” published in Indian Express on 2nd Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Role of Civil Services in a Democracy.

Relevance: Civil services, Civil society, Legislature

News: Recently, the National Security Adviser addressed the IPS probationers at the passing-out parade at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad

While addressing the IPS probationers, he made few statements.

One, “People cannot feel safe and secure if law enforcers are weak, corrupt and partisan

Two, the implementation of laws is more important than their legislation.

Three, “The substance of democracy does not lie in the ballot box. It lies in the laws made by the people who are elected through those ballot boxes”.

Four, wars are no longer an effective instrument for achieving political or military objectives. But it is the civil society that can be subverted to hurt the interest of a nation. So, police should focus on protecting the people.

The focus in this statement was on those people in India who were determined upon subverting the nation.

What are the issues on the statements made by NSA?

Firstly, it failed to recognise that civil society and human rights are fundamentally linked: Excessive Protection of the state against civil societies will affect human rights. With states becoming more aggressive, the need is to protect civil society from the state. For instance, a majoritarian state can pass a range of laws affecting the individual rights and liberty. Only if, civil societies are given due protection, it can resist against the aggression of the state.

Secondly, the statement that implementation of laws “is more important than their legislation” cannot be justified always. For instance, forced birth control measures during emergency. Further, India ranks 142 out of 180 in the Global Law index due to the “draconian and colonial laws that still exist like UAPA, sedition etc. In this context, implementing these laws with full commitment will be disastrous to society.

What is the way forward?

First, while protecting the state, the constitutional right of citizens to protest should not be breached.

Second, the more stringent a penal provision, the more strictly it must be interpreted.


On POCSO Act: Errors of judgment

Source: This post is based on the article “Errors of judgment” published in The Hindu on 02nd December 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Relevance: To understand the concerns with Allahabad High Court’s recent Judgment on POCSO Act.

News: The Allahabad High Court recently held that oral sex with a minor is not a case of ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’ under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

About Section 5 and 6 of the POCSO Act

Section 5(m) of the Act clearly lays down that “whoever commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below twelve years” is said to commit “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”.

Section 6 prescribes punishment with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but may extend to imprisonment for life.

Read moreThe POCSO Act and associated issues
Why the Allahabad High Court verdict is controversial?

According to R.K. Vij, a senior IPS officer of Chhattisgarh, the High Court overlooked Section 5(m) of POCSO and convicted the accused of ‘penetrative sexual assault’ with lesser punishment. Further, he mentions the judgment has the following issues with the judgment.

Firstly, there is no ambiguity about the language used in Section 5 of the Act. Recently, the Supreme Court, while dismissing the requirement of skin-to-skin physical contact in cases of sexual assault, held that where the language of a statute was clear. So, there was no reason for the Court to deviate from the law and award lesser punishment.

Read more: The significance of Supreme Court’s recent POCSO decision

Secondly, the POCSO Act does not provide any discretion in awarding punishment of imprisonment. So, the Court was mandated to adhere to the statutory provisions. Hence, the Court cannot award lesser punishment than the minimum 10 years as prescribed in Section 6 of POCSO.

Note: Earlier, the Courts had discretion under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the IPC to award lesser punishment. But the SC in the State of Rajasthan v. Vinod Kumar case (2012) set aside the High Court order which reduced sentences less than the minimum without recording ‘adequate and special reasons’. 

Thirdly, earlier the Supreme Court has held that recording of reasons by a judge is an exercise of judicial accountability and transparency. This makes the decision available for further scrutiny. But, the High Court did not deliberate on the reasons for not considering the offence as being of aggravated nature.

Fourthly, it was not even a case where the provision of minimum punishment of 10 years imprisonment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault was under challenge. When there is no such scrutiny, the Court fell into error by not considering the offence under the applicable relevant sections.

What should be done?

Since, monitoring the implementation of the Act is the responsibility of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the State government. So they must challenge the High Court ruling.


Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students

Source: This post is based on the article “Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students” published in Livemint on 2nd December 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the importance of National Education policy.

News: On the recommendations of the Kothari Commission, the first National Education Policy was released in 1968. The government has again introduced the National Education Policy 2020, which aims to transform the basic architecture culture and approach of Indian education.

Also read: National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Implementation Plan for School Education
How can the National Education Policy address the learning challenges post covid?

First, NEP’s comprehensive and systematic response to tackle problems of basic literacy and numeracy can help students overcome challenges created by the covid pandemic. With proper on-the-ground implementation and policies commitment to transforming the care and education of children, use can be made of the ‘Foundational stages’.

Second, As envisaged by the national curriculum framework, there is a need to re-configure and cut down the syllabus to the essentials to meet the learning goals and recover the learning loss. This will help to move children away from rote learning.

Third, there is a need to completely redesign the approach to education in 9 to 12 classes, including how board examinations are conducted.

Fourth, school complexes should be restructured for better outcomes. They should be transformed into communities of schools, teachers and learners. This should be taken up urgently by the states.

Fifth, NEP’s thrust to empower teachers and grant autonomy to institutions will enable institutions to be adaptive and flexible.


Are crime against women keep them out of the job market

Source: This post is based on the article “Are crime against women keep them out of the job market” published in Livemint on 2nd December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to women.

Relevance: Understanding the reasons, keeping women out of the job market.

News: India’s trend of a Female Labour participation rate (FLPR) is a puzzle for researchers.

About the status of Female Labour Participation Rate?

India’s FLPR is declining, and it is below the global average of 45%. FLPR has fallen from 31.2% in 2011-12 to 24.5% in 2018-19. The number of working women groups grew by a quarter, but the number of women in jobs declined by 10 million.

Also, India’s rank 140 in the 2021 global gender gap index, worsened as compared to the 98th rank in 2006.

Read here: Low labour force participation (LlFP) of Indian women
What is the linkage between education and Female Labour Participation Rate?

After the enactment of the Right to Education, India attained gender parity in primary education. There is an increase in the number of women pursuing higher education. But the FLPR is declining and the unemployment rate of women is increasing.

What are the factors behind the decline in the Female Labour Participation Rate?

1) Domestic responsibilities and burden of unpaid care.  2) Lack of safety and mobility  3) Interplay of social norms and identities. 4) Occupational segregation and limited opportunities to enter non-traditional sectors with inadequate supportive infrastructure such as piped water, cooking fuel

In addition to these, crimes against women and girls (CaW&G) is the most important barrier to women’s participation.

What is the impact of crime against women in women’s participation?

According to National Crime Records Bureau data, crimes deter women from stepping out to work. This is evident as at the national level FLFPR declined by 8% and CaW&G more than tripled to 57.9%.

State-level analysis shows that there is a negative correlation between FLFPR and crime against women. Data from Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh and Sikkim show that Low crime against women has led to high FLFPR. States like Bihar, Delhi, Assam and Tripura which have a high crime against women showed low FLFPR.

What should be the way forward?

India needs a comprehensive mechanism that involves states, institutions, communities and households to address CaW&G.

For that, adopting a ‘SAFETY’ framework—focused on Services, Attitudes, Focus on community, Empowerment of women, Transport and other infrastructure, and Youth interventions—can be the first step.


CJI’s remarks on a different accountability yardstick for judges is worrying

Source: This post is based on the article “CJI’s remarks on a different accountability yardstick for judges is worrying” published in the Indian Express on 2nd December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: Understanding the role of Supreme Court.

News: Chief Justice of India in his speech from Constitution Day (26th November), talked about the role of judiciary and executive in providing justice to people.

What is the CJI’s viewpoint?
Read here: Judicial Intervention to nudge exec, not usurp its role: CJI
What were the changes done by the Supreme Court?

According to the author, SC has given itself powers in the following critical areas:

Appointment of the judges: SC, in the second judge’s case, diluted Article 124 dealing with the appointment of judges. The constitution says that the president may appoint judges in consultation with judges of the supreme court or High Court. But in practice, a collegium consisting of the chief justice and four other judges gives recommendations to the president and the word consultation has been interpreted as concurrence.

Striking laws: SC has acquired the power to strike down laws and amendments which have been passed by parliament even by an overwhelming majority in the name of basic structure doctrine.

Basic Structure: NJAC, which was approved by parliament and 20 of the states, was struck down by the supreme court. Judges selecting judges was declared to be part of the basic structure by the supreme court.

What should be the way forward?

The Supreme Court is definitely supreme, but this position comes along with great responsibility. The Supreme Court must be cognizant of its boundaries and act within the bounds of the constitution.

GS Paper 3


Law for national security: Vital point on rights is sidestepped in the way SC’s Pegasus case is framed

Source: This post is based on the article “Law for national security: Vital point on rights is sidestepped in the way SC’s Pegasus case is framed” published in TOI on 2nd Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Challenges to internal security

Relevance: Understanding the implications of Pegasus spyware case, right to privacy, SC’s judgement in Pegasus case

News: A month back, Supreme Court had appointed an independent expert technical committee to examine allegations that the government used an Israeli spyware, Pegasus, to snoop on its own citizens. This decision of SC received near-universal acclaim, reaffirming its institutional credibility.

But, the constitutional court could have done more in terms of the outcome of the case.

Must Read: SC’s judgement on Pegasus spyware case – Explained, pointwise
Where the SC’s judgement fell short of the desired outcome?

Critical question not answered: The court had to determine whether the possible purchase and use of the Pegasus by official agencies violated the fundamental right to personal liberty and privacy of citizens. Usually, in such cases, SC declares whether the government either violated or did not violate fundamental rights. Yet in this case, the basic determination transformed into a question of whether the committee would be set up by the court itself or the government.

Committee was not required: A fact-finding committee may be a necessity in complex governance questions. But, in cases such as Pegasus, where certain individuals came to court claiming a remedy for a violation of their rights, it was not a technical determination. It simply required a yes-or-no answer.

But, why was SC pushed to act in this case?

A major reason is the absence of a national security law that regulates surveillance for lawful purposes through a sensible procedure.

What does a lack of a national security law indicates?

The lack of such a law means three things –

Firstly, that surveillance happens through decisions of bureaucrats and diktat. This approach is inefficient for anyone doing intelligence work.

Secondly, when a violation of privacy is alleged, the court is left with a question of balancing the right to privacy with the requirements of national security. If courts are left with such wide discretion, intelligence gathering will be contingent on the subjective views of various judges. In the absence of a law, outcomes are bound to be dictated by pro-security or pro-liberty inclinations of judges.

Thirdly, the absence of a national security law, creates a culture of fear and apprehension. Intelligence gathering must be done through a procedure established by law. This will ensure responsible investigations and enjoy the confidence of the public too.


A cautionary tale for banking in Reliance Capital’s collapse

Source: This post is based on the article “A cautionary tale for banking in Reliance Capital’s collapse” published in Live mint on 2nd Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to banking sector

Relevance: Corporatisation of banks

News:  Recently, the RBI said that it had superseded the board of a financier controlled by Anil Ambani, appointed an administrator, and would soon be sending the firm to the bankruptcy tribunal.

The Reliance Capital saga shows why RBI remains reluctant to allow big business groups into the banking sector, as recommended by its internal working group.

What lessons does the failure of Reliance Capital episode teaches us with respect to corporatisation of banks?

One, collapse of a bank would significantly affect savings and current account customers. Ultimately, it can cause a loss of trust in the Indian banking system, pushing them towards riskier assets like Bitcoin.

Two, the issue of connected lending. It will take far greater supervisory skills to stay on top of ‘connected lending’ between banks and the non-bank business interests of controlling shareholders, especially if they happen to be politically influential.


4G, 5G or 6G, all need wireless backhaul

Source: This post is based on the article “4G, 5G or 6G, all need wireless backhaul” published in Business standard on 2nd Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

Relevance: 5G technology, Telecom sector

News: The recent Parliamentary Committee report titled, “India’s Preparedness for 5G” states that while 59 countries had deployed 5G, India had not done so.

In this regard, the Parliamentary Committee has highlighted the issues/challenges that are hampering India’s transition towards 5G technology.

What are the issues/challenges highlighted by the Parliamentary Committee?

– Inadequate spectrum, with only 50 MHz per operator, half the global average. For 4G, average spectrum per operator was even less, at a quarter of the global average.

Exorbitant spectrum prices

Insufficient development of 5G use cases

Low fibre network availability

Deficient backhaul capacity

What are the solutions to address the above challenges?

To increase accessibility, there is a need to increase investments in wireless backhaul (backhaul generally refers to the side of the network that communicates with the global Internet). India has many urban and rural sites where fibre is not feasible, because of factors such as congestion, distance, limited commercial potential etc. Wireless backhaul can fill in where fibre is not accessible or affordable.

To overcome the issue of inadequate spectrum, India should start using the E and V bands for backhaul, similar to other countries like Japan and South Korea. Also, wireless V and E bands are now reasonable alternatives for distances of about 1 km, and 3-4 km or more.

To improve coverage, reduce costs, and for faster deployment, India can consider an active network sharing model. For instance, A McKinsey report in 2018 cited network sharing had reduced the total cost of ownership by 30%, while improving network quality.

India should plan for a mix of technologies going forward as 4G continues to evolve over the next decade. Policies that result in full 4G coverage of good quality is the need of the hour.

To ensure better outcomes, coordination across government departments and consultation with industry as stipulated in National telecom Policy needs to be adhered.


How reforms are building momentum for ‘India’s century’

Source: This post is based on the article “How reforms are building momentum for ‘India’s century” published in the Indian Express on 2 Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 –Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

Relevance: Understanding the reforms taken to uplift the economy in the short and longer-term.

News: The repeal of the three farm laws is seen through different lenses. Some see it as a sign of stepping back from progressive laws, while others see it as something in the interest of farmers.

Despite taking back some progressive steps, to reform certain sectors like agriculture, due to lack of political consensus, many positive steps have been taken by the government for structural improvements in the economy.

What are the steps taken for the economy’s structural shift?

Reforming banking sector:

-Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code(IBC)-Since its enactment in 2016, it helped recover Rs 2.5 trillion from corporate defaulters, yielding a recovery rate of 36% as of June 2021.

-Government recapitalized banks and empowered debt recovery tribunals(DRT). A dedicated Stressed   Asset Management Vertical was formed.

Reforming infrastructure:

Asset Monetisation Program for revenue generation, Productivity Linked Incentive(PLI) Scheme to boost 14 sectors, was launched. Recently, work has started on Asia’s biggest airport in UP.

National Infrastructure Pipeline(NIP) envisages infrastructure investment of Rs 111 lakh crore over 5     years(FY 2020-25). This huge cost is expected to be met through asset recycling and monetisation and by creating a ‘development finance institution’.

Reforming PSU’s: Air India’s privatization and others lined up.

What factors are driving the economy’s uplift?

Lesser covid restrictions-Corporates resume capital expenditure across sectors. Core sectors and  IT, pharma, are taking the lead in investments.

Government push for PSU’s to buy more in order to create a demand and supply cycle. Also, the reduced corporate tax rates with the elimination of many compliances, have made reforms easier.

On the Monetary front– The low-interest rates, an accommodative monetary policy has instilled confidence among corporates to invest more.

The quick resolution of commercial disputes by making mediation the preferred route rather than judicial litigation.

What is the significance of these reforms?

The reforms in the infrastructure sector are vital for overall economic growth and recovery.

-Due to its backward linkages, infrastructure reform creates core sector demand. It creates employment too.

These reforms would pave the way for a ‘digital economy’, and green economy, which will help India to rise over the next decade.


On Union government accounts – Growth spending

Source: This post is based on the article “Growth spending” published in Business Standard on 2nd December 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

Relevance: To get an idea of the new Q2 economic data of the fiscal year 2021-22.

News: Union government accounts for Q2 of 2021-22 were released.

What does the report say?

It showed that the government has a comparatively better fiscal position due to better revenue collection. Total revenue receipts were over 70% of the budget estimate.

Higher nominal growth, will also expand the economy and help contain the fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP.

GDP in real terms, though increased, is still not at par with the pre-pandemic level. Similarly, Private consumption is still lower.

What are the challenges ahead in the way of fiscal consolidation?

-Overall expenditure is less than the last fiscal year. Similarly, the capital expenditure is also less and reached only 45.7% of the budgeted amount. For the economic recovery, the government needs to push the capital expenditure up.

Additional expenditures will push up the fiscal deficit, such as

-Food subsidy bill increased due to the extended distribution of free food grains till March 2022.

-As the rural job guarantee programme funds(MGNREGA) have been exhausted, the government needs to significantly increase its allocation.

-Also, the government has to fund additional fertiliser subsidies and pay arrears for export incentives.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Climate disasters displace more people than conflicts now

What is the News?

The “World Migration Report 2022” has been published.

More about the report:

It is a biennial report published by the “International Organization for Migration” (IOM) of the UN.

The report quoted the regular data collation by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

The 2022 report on global migration focuses on migration caused by climate change induced factors, like extreme disasters and weather events.

What are the findings of the report?

More people are now being displaced by disasters due to the changing climate compared to conflicts. It has reversed a historical trend. The data is provided just for displacements due to sudden onset disasters and displacement due to slow onset disasters and inter-country displacement are not included in it.

In 2020, 30.7 million new displacements were triggered by disasters in 145 countries and territories. The figure in 2020 has increased despite covid induced containment measures.

-Around 76% of the new displacement in the world was caused by disasters in 2020.

-The Philippines experienced the highest absolute number of new disaster displacements in 2020.

-Most of the new displacement is due to climate-related events: storms (most displacements), floods, extreme temperatures, and drought.

Projected displacements

According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, droughts could lead to the migration of 22 million more in Africa, 12 million in South America, and 10 million in Asia by 2059 (in comparison to the 2000-2015 period).

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate disasters displace more people than conflicts now” published in Down To Earth on 2nd December 2021.


Lok Sabha passes Bill to regulate assisted reproductive technology

What is the News?

Lok Sabha has passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021.

What is Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021?

Aim: To regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and banks, prevent misuse of the technology and promote the ethical practice of the services.

Note: Assisted reproductive technology(ART) includes medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. Examples of ART services include gamete (sperm or oocyte) donation, in-vitro-fertilisation (fertilising an egg in the lab) and gestational surrogacy (the child is not biologically related to the surrogate mother).

What are the key provisions of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021?

Regulation of ART Clinics: The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Registry of Clinics and Banks, which will act as a central database for details of all the clinics and banks in the country. The Registry will grant registration to ART clinics which will be valid for five years and can be renewed for a further five years. Registration may be cancelled or suspended if the entity contravenes the provisions of the Bill. 

National and State Boards: The Bill also provides for the establishment of National and State Boards for Surrogacy for the regulation of ART services. The National Board shall advise the Central Government on policy matters relating to assisted reproductive technology.

Rules for ART service providers: ART procedures can only be carried out with the written informed consent of both the person seeking ART services as well as the gamete donor. 

Rights of a Child Born through ART: The Bill provides that the child born through assisted reproductive technology shall be deemed to be a biological child of the commissioning couple and the said child shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges available to a natural child only from the commissioning couple under any law for the time being in force.

Offences: Offences under the bill include clinics offering sex selection, abandoning or exploiting children born through ART, the selling, buying, or importing of human embryos and exploiting the couple or donors concerned in any form. Proposed jail terms for violations range from five to 12 years, and fines from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.

What are the issues with the Bill?

Firstly, the Bill doesn’t include lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people (LGBTQ) or single men for exercising the right of ART. 

Secondly, the Government should consider supporting poor childless parents to take ART’s help.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • Lok Sabha passes Bill to regulate assisted reproductive technologypublished in Indian Express on 2nd December, 2021.
  • “Bill to regulate IVF clinics passed in Lok Sabha” published in The Hindu on 2nd December, 2021.

India joins G20’s Troika with Indonesia and Italy

What is the News?

India has joined the G20 ‘Troika’.

What is Troika?

Troika refers to the top grouping within the G20 that consists of the current, previous and incoming presidencies.

Currently, Troika consists of Indonesia, Italy, and India – the current, previous and incoming G20 Presidencies respectively.

G20 Presidency

Indonesia has assumed the G20 Presidency from Italy and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit in October 2022 under the overall theme of “Recover Together Recover Stronger”. 

India will assume the G20 Presidency on December 1, 2022, from Indonesia and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in India in 2023.

Click Here to read about G20 Grouping and its Relevance

Source: This post is based on the articleIndia joins G20’s Troika with Indonesia and Italypublished in The Hindu on 2nd December, 2021.


Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticism

What is the News?

University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to central universities to take appropriate measures for conducting the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses from the 2022-23 academic session.

What is the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET)?

CUCET was launched in the year 2010 to conduct Common Entrance Test for Central Universities.

Currently, 12 central universities hold CUCET with the assistance of the National Testing Agency(NTA).

What are the changes that will be made now?

From the 2022-23 academic session, a common entrance test is likely to be conducted by the National Testing Agency(NTA) across all central universities in India for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

This marks a departure from the current predominant pattern of screening based on class 12 marks.

The test will cover sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, and is likely to be held at least twice every year.

However, the test does not have under its ambit engineering and medical courses that are offered by some of the central universities.

What is the rationale behind a Common Entrance Test?

The National Education Policy,2020 envisages that a common entrance will test the conceptual understanding and ability to apply knowledge, and will aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams.

Moreover, this decision of a common entrance test for all universities comes at a time when unrealistic cutoffs for admission to premier institutions like Delhi University have underlined the need for alternatives. The UGC hopes that CUCET will create a level playing field.

What is the criticism against this decision?

Common entrance tests will not be an improvement to unrealistic cutoffs. This is because children come from very different socio-economic backgrounds and to expect them to sit together and tackle a centrally-set paper will not be fair. 

Source: This post is based on the article Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticismpublished in Indian Express on 1st December 2021.


SC pushes for council on judicial infrastructure

What is the News?

The Chief Justice of India has proposed the establishment of the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation to uniformly improve judicial facilities and access to justice.

What is the status of the Judicial Infrastructure in India?

An all-India survey was conducted by the Chief Justice of India’s office to know the status of the Judicial Infrastructure in Trial Courts.

According to the survey, only 27% of courtrooms in the subordinate judiciary have computers on judges’ dias while there are still 10% of courts that do not have access to proper internet facilities.

Moreover, 22% of trial court complexes do not have any toilet facilities for women, while 16% don’t have such a facility for men either.

Furthermore, there are 620 court complexes that still operate from rented premises and only 54% of the total complexes have basic medical facilities.

What is the reason behind judicial infrastructure lag?

To develop judicial infrastructure, funds are extended by the central government and states under the Centrally-Sponsored Scheme for Development of Judiciary Infrastructure which began in 1993.

Under the scheme, the ratio of fund sharing between the Centre and state is 60:40 for all states except those in the Northeast and the Himalayan region where it is 90:10.

However, states do not come forward with their share of funds and consequently, money allocated under the scheme is often left unspent with them and lapses.

What is the solution, then?

CJI has proposed the establishment of the National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation(NJIC). It will be the nodal agency for infrastructural developments.

Both the central and state governments will contribute their share of funds outlined in the centrally-sponsored scheme to the NJIC which will then release the finances to the high courts according to their requirement.

Source: This post is based on the article “SC pushes for council on judicial infrastructurepublished in The Hindu on 2nd December 2021.


NEIA SCHEME

What is the News?

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has informed the Lok Sabha about the National Export Insurance Account(NEIA) Trust.

What is the National Export Insurance Account(NEIA) Trust?

NEIA Trust was set up in 2006 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Aim: To ensure the availability of credit risk cover for projects and other high-value exports, which are desirable from the point of view of national interest but which Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) is unable to underwrite due to capacity constraints.

What types of export transactions are eligible for inclusion under NEIA?

The following types of export transactions are eligible for inclusion under NEIA: 

  • Only such medium and long-term export projects which are viable and for which reinsurance is not available.
  • Exports to countries that are not likely to be covered on purely commercial considerations or are beyond country-exposure limits of ECGC or countries currently facing economic/political difficulties, but where Indian presence is required.
  • Transactions involving investments by Indian companies in overseas markets can be covered for the protection of their investments against expropriation risks and limited recourse covers (insolvency risks).

Note: Expropriation is the act of a government claiming privately owned property against the wishes of the owners, ostensibly to be used for the benefit of the overall public.

Source: This post is based on the articleNEIA SCHEMEpublished in PIB on 1st December, 2021.


‘1,160 elephants killed in a decade’

What is the News?

A document accessed from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC) has provided the data on the death of Elephants.

What is the data provided by the document?

Source: The Hindu

Around 1,160 elephants were killed in the country for reasons other than natural causes in the 10 years up to December 31,2020.

Electrocution claimed the most of the lives of Elephants.This was followed by Train Hits, Poaching and Poisoning.

Karnataka and Odisha reported the highest number of Elephant deaths due to electrocution.

Among elephant casualties due to train hits, Assam stood first followed by West Bengal.

Odisha stood first in the highest number of Elephant deaths due to poaching.

On the other hand, Assam reported the highest number of elephant deaths due to poisoning.

Elephants Population and Conservation measures

India had a total of 29,964 wild elephants as per an estimate done in 2017. 

The southern region comprising Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra accounted for the highest population — 14,612 elephants.

A Permanent Coordination Committee has also been constituted between the Ministry of Railways and the MoEFCC for preventing elephant deaths due to train hits.

Source: This post is based on the article 1,160 elephants killed in a decadepublished in Indian Express on 1st December 2021.


Child Protection Services Scheme

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development has informed Rajya Sabha about the Child Protection Services Scheme.

What is the Child Protection Services Scheme?

It is a centrally sponsored scheme under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Under the scheme, support is provided to States and UT Governments for delivering services for children in need and difficult circumstances. 

The Child Care Institutions(CCIs) established under the scheme, support inter-alia age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counselling etc. and equally covers rural and urban children.

What is the Children Population in India according to the census?

As per census 2011, there are 472 million children below the age of 18 years and comprise 39% of the total population in India.

Source: This post is based on the articleChild Protection Services Schemepublished in PIB on 1st December 2021.


Set up a council for all forms of media: Parliamentary panel

What is the News?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology has submitted two reports titled “Ethical Standards In Media Coverage” and “Suspension Of Telecom Services/Internet And Its Impact” to the Parliament.

What are the recommendations given by the Ethical Standards In Media Coverage report?

Setup a Media Council: A ‘Media Council’ should be set up with statutory powers to enforce its powers to check “irregularities” in print, electronic and digital media platforms. This is because existing regulatory bodies like the Press Council of India(PCI) and News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority(NBDSA) have limited efficacy because they do not have the powers to enforce their decisions.

Restructure the Press Council of India(PCI) to cover all types of Media. Currently, PCI covers only print media.

Fake News: The panel expressed concern over the circulation of widespread fake news on social media and digital news platforms. However, it appreciated the establishment of Fact Check Units at 17 regional offices of the Press Information Bureau.

What are the recommendations given by the Suspension Of Telecom Services/Internet And Its Impact report?

There should be no blanket ban on Internet services in situations of unrest or law and order crisis.

Instead, the Department of Telecom can explore the option of banning selective services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram.

The selective banning can help control the spread of misinformation during the unrest and can allow financial services, health, education and various other services to continue to operate for business as usual.

Moreover, a thorough study should be commissioned by the government to assess the impact of the internet shutdown on the economy and find out its effectiveness.

Note: According to ​​the Cellular Operators Association of India, telecom operators lose Rs 2.45 crore per hour in every Circle Area where there is a shutdown or throttling.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • Set up a council for all forms of media: Parliamentary panel” published in TOI on 1st December 2021.
  • Avoid blanket internet ban, says Parliament panel” published in TOI on 1st December 2021.

India-ITU Joint Cyberdrill 2021 commences

What is the News?

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched the India-ITU Joint Cyberdrill 2021.

What is India-ITU Joint Cyberdrill 2021?

The ITU aims to improve the cybersecurity readiness, protection and incident response capabilities of Member States by conducting CyberDrills at the national and regional levels.

India-ITU Cyberdrill is intended for Indian entities, especially critical network infrastructure operators.

At this drill, cyber-attacks, information security incidents and other disruptions will be simulated to test an organization’s cyber capabilities.

This drill will help spread awareness among various public sector departments and agencies of India so that their strategies can be validated for response mechanisms, prevention recovery and business continuity.

What are the other facts mentioned in the article?

Sydney Dialogue: It is an initiative of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It is an annual summit of cyber and critical technologies to discuss the fallout of the digital domain on the law and order situation in the world.

Global Cybersecurity Index(GCI): It is released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It measures the commitment of countries to cybersecurity at a global level. India has secured the 10th rank in this index.

Source: This post is based on the article India-ITU Joint Cyberdrill 2021 commencespublished in PIB on 2nd December 2021.


Funds for malnutrition scheme under-utilised: data

What is the News?

The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has released data on the progress of the Poshan Abhiyan Scheme.

What does the data say on Poshan Abhiyan?

The funds released under the Poshan Abhiyan Programme which is aimed at curbing malnutrition in the country stand severely under-utilised.

Out of the 36 states and UTs, no state or UT has completely used its funds for Poshan Abhiyan.

States such as West Bengal have not utilised any money allocated under Poshan Abhiyan. Uttar Pradesh has utilised less than half of the funds allocated.

Malnutrition in Children

According to Census 2011, there are over 46 crore children in the country.

Among them, over ​​33 lakh children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the Severely Malnourished Category(SAM) with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topping the list.

Note: WHO defines SAM by very low weight-for-height or a mid-upper arm circumference less than 115 mm, or by the presence of nutritional oedema. 

Source: This post is based on the article Funds for malnutrition scheme under-utilised: datapublished in Indian Express on 2nd December 2021.


Sudha Bharadwaj bail: how HC spelt out limitations of sessions court

Source: This post is based on the article “Sudha Bharadwaj bail: how HC spelt out limitations of sessions court” published in Indian Express on 2nd December 2021.

What is the news?

Bombay High Court granted bail to lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case.

What was the High Court’s observation regarding the bail?

HC affirmed that sessions court had no power to extend arrest under UAPA. The court stated that under the National Investigation Agency Act, a special court is to be designated and the sessions court had no jurisdiction to extend the detention beyond 90 days. So a default bail should have been automatically granted to the accused.

What is default bail?

A Code of criminal procedure sets deadlines for investigative agencies to complete investigations during which the accused can be kept in custody. If the agency fails to meet these deadlines, then the accused becomes entitled to default or regular bail.

Under section 167 CrPC, the maximum period of detention is 90 days. However, under UAPA, courts can extend the custody up to 180 days.

In the Elgar Parishad case, the legal question was whether the sessions court had the legal jurisdiction to extend the custody, if not the matter should have been handled by a special judge.

Who is the special judge under the law?

Before 2008, under UAPA, the jurisdiction to try offences punishable with maximum imprisonment of more than 7 years is vested with the sessions court. For offences punishable with maximum imprisonment of not more than seven years is vested with the magistrate.

In 2008, The NIA act was passed and UAPA was amended. Now, all scheduled offences are to be tried exclusively by a special court under the NIA act. If there is no designated special court, then the sessions court, which is the highest court to try criminal offences, will have this jurisdiction. Thus, the extension of arrest orders for the accused becomes questionable.

Why was the extension challenged?

In Bikramjit Singh versus the State of Punjab case, 2020, the Supreme Court held that only a special court had jurisdiction to extend detention up to 180 days under UAPA.

Since the Maharashtra government had designated a special court in Pune at that time, the sessions court had no jurisdiction to extend the custody.


World Health Assembly agrees for global treaty to ‘strengthen pandemic prevention’

Source: This post is based on the article “World Health Assembly agrees for global treaty to ‘strengthen pandemic prevention’” published in DTE on 2nd Dec 2021.

What is the news?

The World Health Assembly (WHA) took the historic decision to form a global treaty to “strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response” in its recent session.

The decision came at a time when the global COVID-19 situation has once again become wary with the detection of the Omicron variant last week, the fifth variant of concern.

Read more: What the Omicron variant means for India
About the WHA decision

The decision was arrived upon after five meetings and “findings from several bodies.” The decision was made in a special assembly, the second such since WHO’s inception in 1948.

The Assembly termed this move as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to better prepare the global healthcare system in the face of future pandemics or other health emergencies.

Who will be responsible for drafting the treaty?

An Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) will be responsible for drafting and negotiating a treaty under Article 19 of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Constitution.

Note: The launch of putting together this accord is the second such initiative taken under Article 19. The first initiative was the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into effect in 2005.

The INB will hold its first meeting on March 1, 2022, to decide on timelines and working ways.

The INB will also hold public hearings and “deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023, and submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.”

About the World Health Assembly and Article 19

It is a forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states.

Article 19 of the WHO constitution mentions, “the Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt conventions or agreements with respect to any matter within the competence of the Organization”. A two-thirds vote of the Health Assembly shall be required for the adoption of such conventions or agreements.

Read here: World Health Assembly(WHA)


Nairobi Declaration set to fast track disaster risk reduction work

Source: This post is based on the article “Nairobi Declaration set to fast track disaster risk reduction work” published in DTE on 2nd Dec 2021.

What is the news?

The Nairobi Declaration was adopted by African nations in November. It underlined the need to deliver commitments on the Programme of Action (PoA) for implementing the Sendai Framework in Africa.

About the Nairobi Declaration

The declaration was adopted at the Eighth Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, on November.

The declaration included the action plans under the PoA, to implement Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), 2015-2030.

Nairobi declaration will contribute to the Global Platform for DRR scheduled to be held in May 2022, in Indonesia.

Note: Tunis declaration was adopted at the Africa Arab Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Tunis in 2018. Under it, 25 African countries have adopted DRR strategies and action plans aligned with the Sendai Framework. 
About Eighth Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction(DRR)

Theme: Towards Disaster Risk-Informed Development for a Resilient Africa in a COVID-19 Transformed World

Organised by: United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

About Sendai Framework

The Sendai framework provides for a clear policy pathway in guiding countries and communities to substantially reduce the effects of shocks caused by natural and human-induced hazards by 2030 compared to 2005-2015.

It was the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda that provided member states with concrete actions to protect development gains from the risk of disaster.

Read more: About Sendai Framework and its targets


The story of India’s falling fertility rate, in five charts

Source: This post is based on the article “The story of India’s falling fertility rate, in five charts” published in Livemint on 2nd Dec 2021.

What is the news?

According to the latest round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2019-21), India’s Total Fertility Rates (TFR) has reached 2.0 at the national level. Achievement of TFR is a significant feat for the country’s family-planning programme.

Must read: NFHS-5 and its findings – Explained, pointwise
About the data on NFHS-5 on population
Source: Livemint

Urban-Rural Gap: Rural areas have always had far greater fertility rates than urban areas. But that gap seems to be closing. For the first time, rural India has finally reached the replacement-level mark (2.1) in 2019-21 NFHS. Urban India had reached the mark in the 2005-06 survey.

Fertility Age: The trend of marrying late is more common in cities. As women marry later, fertility has been declining across younger age groups. The biggest change was noted in the 15-19 age group, with a marked decline in teenage pregnancies over the years.

The mean age of fertility also inched up from 26.5 years in 2011 to 28.4 years in 2018. Detailed NFHS data that would have age-wise fertility trends is not out yet.

Laggard states: Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Manipur remain the only states with fertility rates above the replacement level and the national average.

Source: Livemint

Underlying Roadblocks: India’s declining fertility is not a consequence of any top-down policy or coercive sanctions, but a sign of increasing prosperity. The laggard states still have to progress on a slew of indicators such as women literacy, marriage age and family planning, which directly or indirectly impact fertility.

Gender Roles: Data shows that even in 2021, one in three married women aged 15-49 does not resort to family planning. The burden of contraception still largely falls on women. As many as 38% of married women rely on female sterilization to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Source: Livemint

In comparison, male sterilization is a rarity and has significantly declined since 2005-06, from 1% to 0.3%. The use of condoms is low at 9.5%, seeing a modest rise from 5.6% in the last five years.

This suggests that more male health workers have to be deployed as “ambassadors of change to promote family planning uptake among men”.

Read more: With India’s demographic transition, come challenges

Mains Answer Writing

[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #197 : TCA Anant Board, PSIR Optional

Date of Interview: 4th  May, 22 Board: TCA Anant Optional: PSIR College: University of Delhi Experience- Everything happened so quickly that it was hardly an “experience”. Yes, I’m talking about the PT only! Utility of Mocks- Very crucial part of preparation. Many direct questions. To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman You’re… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #197 : TCA Anant Board, PSIR Optional

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[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #196 : M Sathiyavathy Board, Mathematics Optional, Swimming, Sports, Music Hobbies

Date of Interview: 2nd May, Afternoon session Board: M Sathiyavathy Ma’am Optional: Mathematics Background: Engineering Physics from IIT Delhi Hobbies: Swimming, playing Badminton, listening to Rock Music To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Experience of Interview : Overall a good interaction especially with M-4. Very cordial board. Questions asked from DAF &… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #196 : M Sathiyavathy Board, Mathematics Optional, Swimming, Sports, Music Hobbies

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – May 20, 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 – May 20, 2022

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PM inaugurates country’s first 5G testbed

What is the News? The Prime Minister has inaugurated India’s first 5G testbed facility. What is a 5G Testbed? The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras. Purpose: It will enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence… Continue reading PM inaugurates country’s first 5G testbed

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DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast

What is the News? The Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) and Indian Navy have successfully conducted the maiden flight test of an indigenously-developed Naval anti-ship missile. What is the Naval anti-ship missile? Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) for the Indian Navy. Features: The missile has a weight of 380 kg and a range… Continue reading DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast

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The State of Inequality in India Report released

What is the News? The State of Inequality in India Report has been released. What is the State of Inequality in India Report? Released by: Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister(EAC-PM) and written by the Institute for Competitiveness. Purpose: The report presents a holistic analysis of the depth and nature of inequality in India.… Continue reading The State of Inequality in India Report released

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India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF

What is the News? UNICEF has released a report titled “Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency”. What is Severe Wasting? Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It is the most visible and lethal type of malnutrition. It affects over 45 million children under age 5.  Severe wasting is also known as severe acute malnutrition… Continue reading India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF

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Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim

What is the News? After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. What is Radio Frequency Identification(RFID)? RFID is a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers. In this, radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of… Continue reading Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim

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Lessons for today from India’s 2006 wheat crisis

News: India faced a wheat crisis in 2006. The present article lists out the reasons that caused it and lessons that can be learnt. The author is this article was appointed as the Secretary of Food and Public Distribution during that time. What was the situation in 2006 and the reasons behind it? – Centre… Continue reading Lessons for today from India’s 2006 wheat crisis

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The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought 

News: Recently, the Droughts in Numbers, 2022 report was presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).   What is the Drought in Numbers Report?  The report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and the manner in which they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.  … Continue reading The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought 

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