9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 30th, 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:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- How to protect India’s film heritage
- Great Power Politics is back with a twist
- Joint development of oil tank farm by India, Lanka could alter dynamic of Delhi-Beijing rivalry
- A whiff of trouble in the Nord Stream pipeline
- Questions still on how far labour codes will change gig workers’ lot
- The efficiency myth of Aadhaar linking
- Wrong medicine-Quota case delayed PG intake in medical institutes. Courts intervene too much
GS Paper 3
- Maximising the boost-on mixing the COVID vaccines
- Banks have fared better than expected in pandemic, but there are also signs of stress building up
- On India’s Employment Situation – India’s most abundant resource remains tragically underutilized
- Trading on a buffer-Can India afford to commercialize its fuel reserves
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- How many Indians? Census suspense beyond population size
- CSIR shares Technology Know-How of ‘Vehicle mounted Drain Cleaning System’ to a Gujarat company MANIAR & CO.
- Plea seeks GI tag for Arunachal Apatani textile product
- Air pollutants & meteorological variables influence pollen concentration: study
- Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog releases ‘Innovations For You’ & ‘The Ingenious Tinkerers’
- Belgaum Border Dispute: Explained: Latest flashpoint in Belagavi border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka
- Indian Army Establishes Quantum Laboratory at Mhow (MP)
- Natural farming: ICAR to research on, demonstrate and promote natural farming
- Positive Indigenisation list: More defence systems to be locally manufactured
- ‘Sankalp Smarak’ dedicated to the nation by CINCAN
- Department of Biotechnology Mission COVID Suraksha Supported Biological E Limited Novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate – CORBEVAXTM receives DCGI approval for Emergency Use Authorization
- Year End Review-2021: Ministry of Women and Child Development
- Year End Review: Ministry of Development of North-East Region
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “How to protect India’s film heritage” published in The Indian Express on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation
Relevance: The importance of publicly-funded cultural institutions in India
News: The Govt has decided to merge four publicly-funded institutions with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). Scholars are questioning this treatment, which is based on a misconception that cinema is either an object of information or broadcasting.
These cultural institutions have been known to perform better without the shackles of centralised power or unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.
Their ROCE (Return on the Capital Employed) is the intangibility of their artistic creations.
In this context, it would be interesting to try and understand the history of the four so-called media units of the central government — Films Division, Children’s Film Society of India, National Film Archive of India and Directorate of Film Festivals.
|Must Read: Centre’s push to merge film archive and other film bodies will serve their original mandates|
What is the contribution and importance of these publicly-funded cultural institutions?
National Film Archive of India (NFAI)
It was established in 1964. Had the NFAI been established a decade earlier, perhaps its vaults would have possessed the prints of India’s first talkie film (Alam Ara) and much more.
Moreover, NFAI organises regular screenings of rare films from its collection in its campus auditorium in Pune (open to the public on nominal membership basis).
This only indicates how important it is to empower the archiving exercises at the national level.
Films Division was established in 1948. It is not only a production unit but also a repository of India’s history on analogue and digital media since independence.
Most of India’s leading filmmakers, besides many younger filmmakers and artists, have made films for the FD, making the nation’s cultural and audio-visual heritage rich. These need to be freely disseminated among people by preserving them carefully and compassionately.
Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), organized by FD, for documentary, short and animation films, has groomed many young filmmakers in India.
Children’s Film Society of India
There are a number of national and international award-winners, providing engagement to young minds in CFSI’s library.
Over half a century ago, FD and CFSI made a wonderful range of fiction and non-fiction animation and puppet films for inculcating good civic sense, too.
Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF)
It was founded in 1973. Besides organising the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and events abroad, it also takes care of several other films-related events, including the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards.
What is the way forward?
All these bodies under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting function individually as well as in coordination, each carrying its own history, recording the many national ups and downs as public services with no monetary or profit objective.
– Federally, archival activities need to be prioritised, empowering the film archiving body as an independent, less bureaucratically burdened body without over-centralisation.
– India should have as many archival facilities as the number of states and Union Territories. This will ensure that poor students from far-off villages who wish to pursue research can have easier access to NFAI’s collection of films, & its books and viewing materials.
– An umbrella Chalachitra Academy: The only state that has one is Kerala which effectively and efficiently manages all film-related activities under the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy. Such an umbrella academy would help retain the cultural ethos of a nation under an over-centralised framework.
Source: This post is based on the article “Great power politics is back with a twist” published in Business Standard on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.
Relevance: Changing global order
News: Great power politics between US and China is shaping every dimension of the global order
China’s rise has shaken the status quo in the global political order. As a rising power, it is challenging the foundation of the US-led global order. This has led to the US-China strategic competition.
Covid-19 has merely accelerated the trends that were already visible. As a result, the stage is set for a period of unrest.
How US-China strategic competition is shaping global politics?
First, the range of issues across which this competition is likely to be played out has expanded. From human rights to technology, from supply chains to defense. This contestation is now putting pressure not only on the other nations but also on the important institutions that shaped the present global order.
Second, the Indo-Pacific has become the center of contestation. The absence of any regional institutional architecture has led to the development of institutions such as the Quad and the Aukus.
Third, the middle powers, too, are actively engaging in this, by shaping the normative and institutional space as well as by pushing back against the Chinese aggression.
Fourthly, the call to strengthen democracy has become more pronounced, in the wake of the rise of authoritarian systems like China and Russia. The US President’s “Summit for Democracy” was aimed at generating a greater sense of solidarity among fellow democracies and preventing their “backward slide” around the globe.
What is the way forward for India?
The US-China competition is shaping every dimension of the global order, for instance, climate change and sustainable development, infrastructure and connectivity, trade partnerships, technological developments.
Indian foreign and security policies will have to contend with these shifts much like other nations.
Also, if India could make the right choices, this inflection point in global politics offers India an opportunity to emerge as a “leading power”.
Source: This post is based on the article “Joint development of oil tank farm by India, Lanka could alter dynamic of Delhi-Beijing rivalry” published in Indian Express on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 – India and its Neighborhood- Relations.
Relevance: India – Srilanka relation
News: Sri Lanka’s energy minister has said the India-Lanka development of the strategic Trincomalee oil tank farm will be finalised in January.
What are the reasons for the recent economic crisis in Srilanka?
The Easter killings of 2019: it dealt a hammer blow to the country’s tourism industry, its main economic activity and source of revenue.
Dwindling foreign exchange earnings: it has led to restriction on imports, which in turn has led to shortages of food essentials.
High Retail inflation: it has led to skyrocketing of food prices.
An overnight switch to organic farming by government: it has threatened Sri Lanka’s main export, the paddy and tea.
High External debt. In 2022, the country reportedly had to pay some $4.5 bn to service its sovereign bonds. Nearly half of Sri Lanka’s external debt is owed to international capital markets, and slightly below a quarter to international banks.
Lack of support from IMF: Sri Lanka has exited the IMF programme in 2019 because of the tough conditions, and is reluctant to approach the Fund again.
How India is supporting Srilanka ? : Read here : https://blog.forumias.com/india-finalises-cooperation-plan-to-revive-covid-hit-sri-lanka-economy/
Source: This post is based on the article “A whiff of trouble in the Nord Stream pipeline” published in The Hindu on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests
Relevance: Nord Stream 2 project
News: The Ukrainian authority has called the Nord Stream 2 project a ‘dangerous geopolitical weapon’.
There is also strong opposition from the United States and most of the European countries (except for Austria, Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands).
What was meant to be an ordinary energy project has transformed itself into a powerful geopolitical tool, available to every stakeholder involved.
Why the Nord Stream 2 project is important for Germany?
It provides energy security for Germany
According to data from 2015, Germany has only around 10% of its natural gas resources from its own gas fields.
Moreover, Germany has set out a plan to shut down its nuclear and coal power plants, with the objective of gradually moving towards renewable sources of energy.
Furthermore, there is an energy crisis in Europe, whereby wholesale energy prices have more than doubled in 2021, and there is a limited supply of fossil fuels altogether
Diversify the sources: Apart from Nord Stream 2 project, Germany has plans to build its first LNG terminal to receive gas from Qatar, the U.S., and others.
What are the concerns raised w.r.t the Nord Stream 2 project?
Once operational, the project would render more leverage and bargaining power to Russia while dealing with Europe and its energy market.
The Trump administration feared that the pipeline would give Russia more influence over Europe’s energy supply and reduce its own share in the European market for American liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Some political experts view: They opine that Russia is trying to use Nord Stream 2 as a political weapon to put pressure on European security and ‘undermine the democratic resilience of European institutions.
Europe’s Concern: Russia has been blamed for the EU’s energy crisis. They opine that Russia had intentionally decreased its gas supplies to Europe, aiming to speed up the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline by European Union (EU) market regulators.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed these concerns, saying that ‘Nordstream 2 is purely a commercial project.
Why the development of Nord Stream 2 project got delayed?
The project has undergone a series of sanctions and controversies. For instance, at the end of 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on any EU company that was involved in completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
However, In July 2021, the U.S. and Germany reached an agreement to allow the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Earlier in May 2021, the Joe Biden administration decided to issue a national security waiver for the Nord Stream 2 AG. The main reason was apparently to restore trust and close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany.
What are the latest challenges hampering the development of Nord Stream 2 project?
Bureaucratic hurdle: Recently, Germany’s network regulator suspended the certification procedure for Nord Stream 2. It reasoned that it would only be possible to certify an operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if that operator was organised in a legal form under German law.
Geopolitical: Amidst fears of Russia’s invasion into Ukrainian territories, some EU leaders have called for stronger actions toward the controversial pipeline from Germany, in the event of further military escalation.
Source: This post is based on the article “Questions still on how far labour codes will change gig workers’ lot” published in Business Standard on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS2- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Relevance: Social security, Gig workers.
News: Although companies claim that they take care of the social security needs of their workforce, but the various surveys suggest a different trend.
For example – Uber, incidentally, has scored a zero in the Fairwork India Ratings 2021 on the working conditions of app-based gig workers, as have Ola and Porter.
Covid-19 disrupted earnings, cab aggregators extended no help to the drivers – not even the bare minimum to pay their vehicle loan EMIs.
What are the challenges faced by gig workers?
Almost every Gig worker faces the twin issue of tough working conditions and absence of social security.
From the four new labour codes, only one (Code on Social Security) includes gig workers. More on the code here.
|Note: Gig workers are people who perform work or participate in a work arrangement and earn from such activities “outside the traditional employer-employee relationship”|
Companies or aggregators are making use of legal means (Example-different wordings in contracts that would change nature of the clause) to stay away from the responsibility of providing social security to gig workers.
Lack of suitable insurance products and early pay loan/credit specifically customised for the gig economy.
|Must Read: Protecting the gig workers | The tug of war within the gig economy | Our expanding gig economy must treat workers fairly|
What are the implementation bottlenecks for the code?
Absence of data: Government has, till now, no idea about the number of gig workers. It has very recently operationalised the e-shram portal to register all unorganised sector workers, including gig/platform workers.
Although not the perfect solution, but Code on social security may help a lot in providing gig workers better social security benefits.
Source: This post is based on the article ”The efficiency myth of Aadhaar linking” published in The Hindu on 30th December 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Relevance: To understand the challenges in the Aadhaar project.
Cash transfers in many welfare programmes, such as payment of MGNREGA wages, are done using the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System (APBS).
|Read more: Linking Aadhaar with electoral rolls – Explained, pointwise|
What are the claims made by the central government on the Aadhaar system?
The Union Government has repeatedly made claims on savings in welfare programmes due to Aadhaar. For instance, the Government continues to claim that “the estimated cumulative savings/benefits due to Aadhaar in MGNREGA till March 2021 is Rs 33,475 crores”.
The government claims that the “Savings are in terms of increasing the efficiency and reducing the delay in payments etc.”
What are the challenges associated with the Aadhaar project?
No clear methodology: A Right to Information has been filed seeking the methodology used to arrive at such savings. The government replied, for DBT Mission, “on the assumption that 10% of the wages in the year could be saved.”
Wage payment delays are persistent: An analysis of more than 18 lakh wage invoices for the first half of 2021-22 by LibTech India demonstrated that 71% of the payments were delayed (called stage 2 delays) beyond the mandated period by the Union Government.
Inefficiency in the Aadhaar system: A recently completed study of nearly 3,000 MGNREGA workers by Anjor Bhaskar and Preeti Singh shows that 57% of job cards of genuine workers were deleted in a quest to show 100% linking of Aadhaar with job cards.
Opacity surrounding APBS: The most common reason for payment failures through the APBS is called “Inactive Aadhaar.” This happens due to an error in software mapping failure with the centralised National Payments Corporation of India, the clearinghouse for APBS.
Miscredited funds: There are several cases of misdirected payments in APBS when the Aadhaar number of one person gets linked to somebody else’s bank account. These are very hard to detect, as these will appear as successful transactions on the dashboard.
Challenges in grievance redressal: As per UIDAI, its functions include “setting up of facilitation centres and grievance redressal mechanism for redressal of grievances of individuals.” However, no such mechanisms exist.
|Read more: Inefficiencies in the Aadhaar project|
What can be done?
1. The government has to emphasise the need for a push towards constitutional propriety and accountability for technologies,
2. It is time to overhaul the nomenclature for recipients of welfare measures. Instead of calling them “beneficiaries” people should be referred to as “rights holders”,
3. Conducting pilot or independent cost-benefit analysis along with user experience of the recipients or from field-level bureaucrats.
Source: This post is based on the article “Wrong medicine-Quota case delayed PG intake in medical institutes. Courts intervene too much” published in Business standard on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS2- Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.
Relevance: Legal and administrative proceedings causing delay in NEET-PG counselling.
News: Widespread protests by resident doctors over delayed NEET-PG counselling come just when healthcare defences need to be strengthened against a feared Omicron surge.
The current fiasco is an example as to how legal disputes can trigger disruptions elsewhere.
It would be better if issues like income ceiling for EWS/OBC categories are policy decisions best left to governments.
Why the NEET PG counselling got delayed?
After the Centre introduced of OBC and EWS reservation in all-India quota seats and fixed a Rs 8 lakh creamy layer limit for both categories, the Supreme Court took up petitions challenging these policies.
Judicial and administrative proceedings have caused the inordinate delay in counselling over and above the pandemic.
What are the implications of the delay?
This delay is overburdening the resident doctors and leading to other challenges related to career, academic progression and work-life balance.
Further, coming March, the next NEET-PG examinations are due, leading to a situation where PG institutes will have to admit two batches in quick succession. This will put an unwarranted strain on medical education too.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Maximising the boost-on mixing the COVID vaccines” published in The Hindu on 30th Dec 2021
Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Relevance: Vaccines development, Public health.
News: India currently has three available vaccines and recently two more along with a drug have been approved for emergency use authorization.
Despite this wide range of vaccine availability, India has been extremely dependent on just one vaccine COVISHEID.
This may become a cause of concern specially with the directives that focus on precaution doses(/booster shots).
What are the newly approved drugs by India?
Corbevax (by Biological-E) and Covovax are protein sub-unit vaccine . Serum Institute of India will manufacture both of them. Both, however, differ in their manufacturing process.
Molnupiravir is a drug for those with mild and moderate disease and easily administered as a pill.
|Must Read: What is Molnupiravir, the COVID-19 pill approved by India?|
What are the advantages of having more number of approved drugs?
In the uncertain scenario of the pandemic, having more vaccines is a good precautionary step. Example: Emergence of new variant Omicron.
This will help in application of booster shot specially as India has a large population.
Governments new directives say that “precaution doses”, which are third doses of the vaccines an individual has already been inoculated with, will be available for health-care and frontline workers and those above 60 with comorbidities.
What studies say about mixing up the vaccines?
One study in Uttar Pradesh on mixing Covaxin and Covishield showed that antibody levels were higher than two doses of either vaccine.
|More about vaccine mixing, its benefits and concerns: Read here|
What is the way forward?
India’s top medical institutions must immediately test the feasibility of mixing all available vaccines so that people have the option of an informed choice.
Till then, It is also important to ensure that the currently available vaccines and treatments are not hoarded or indiscriminately used which can have potential side effects.
Source: This post is based on the article “Banks have fared better than expected in pandemic, but there are also signs of stress building up” published in The Indian express on 30th Dec 2021
Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources
Relevance: Indian economy’s recovery in the post pandemic phase.
News: According to the RBI’s Report on Trends and Progress of Banking in India, 2020-21, Indian banking system has performed better than the expectation during the pandemic. But, it is still far from full recovery and there are still impending threats.
How has banking sector performed during the pandemic?
The asset quality of banks has improved over the past year.
Banks gross non-performing assets (GNPAs), which had begun to decline before the pandemic are still declining.
Banks have seen an improvement over the past year in capital buffers and provision coverage ratios.
Why still there are concerns?
Report also cautions that the banks may well caution about a rise in bad loans over the coming year as the pandemic is still not over and there still are evolving risks.
Currently, banks are getting support through lot of monetary and fiscal measures, but banks need to prepare themselves for the post withdrawal phase.
The improvement is predominantly due to write-offs (banks wrote off Rs 2.08 lakh crore of bad loans), and policy measures taken by the central bank to lessen the fallout from the pandemic.
SMA-2 (special mention accounts where the principal or the interest payment was overdue for 61-90 days) have risen, signalling impending stress.
Stress is also building up in the MSME category.
Bad loans may increase in the coming months. As per the financial stability report, GNPAs could rise to 8.1% by September 2022 under the baseline scenario.
What is the way forward?
Banks may thus need “higher capital infusion” to meet credit requirements and deal with the challenges.
Source: This post is based on the article “India’s most abundant resource remains tragically underutilized” published in Livemint on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 -Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
Relevance: Employment, Human capital
News: In a world of ageing affluent societies, with big mismatches of labour demand and supply across the developed and developing world, India can convert its largest and youngest labour force into an advantage.The American economy is actually overheating despite Omicron. Its labour market is not only hot, but it is also going through what has been dubbed “the great resignation”. Since April, on average, more than 4 million people have quit their jobs every month in the US. There are about 10 million unfilled vacancies across various sectors.
But the situation in India’s labour market is quite the opposite. Despite an expanding workforce, the pace of job creation is woefully inadequate.
What are the issues in India’s labour market?
Declining Labour force participation(LPR) in India
According to the monthly survey of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy(CMIE), the LPR is down to 40%. This means 60% of able-bodied adults between 18 and 60 years of age are not even looking for work.
The LPR for women is barely 21%, and down to single digits in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
India’s LPR is lower even compared to its neighbors, with Bangladesh at 53%, Pakistan at 48%, and Nepal at 74%.
Poor pace of Job creation: overall job growth during the past few years has been low, given the demands of the country’s demographic bulge.
Demand for MGNREGA has increased: This is another indicator of distress in India’s labor market. During the last fiscal year, demand for these state-assured jobs was up by 42%, with work provided to 112 million people.
India’s major exports, like software, can employ only a few million people with high skills, compared to nearly 500 million, looking for jobs.
There has been a stagnation in rural wages.
India’s urban unemployment rate is increasing: it has reached 9.3% in the first quarter of 2021, as per data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey of the National Statistical Office.
The government also has around 2 million unfilled vacancies at various levels. But these jobs are not opening up anytime soon on account of fiscal constraints.
All this means that income will be distributed in a skewed manner, a problem confirmed by increasing inequality, as was reported by the recent World Inequality Report.
What needs to be done?
First, need to focus on labor-intensive exports and capitalize on the current boom in Western economies like America.
Second, need to focus on growth led by labor-intensive exports. Even though industrial jobs are vulnerable to being eliminated by automation, there is a sufficient window still open for job creation that will support livelihoods. Bangladesh’s relentless focus on apparel exports has proved the risk of automation wrong, now it has per capita income more than India’s.
Third, the real drivers of job growth outside agriculture such as construction, textiles and apparel, footwear, tourism, retail, and increasingly logistics need to be focused to improve job creation.
Source: This post is based on the article “Trading on a buffer-Can India afford to commercialize its fuel reserves” published in Business Standard on 30th Dec 2021.
Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy.
Relevance: Strategic reserves, energy security.
News: Govt earlier this year allowed the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve (ISPRL), which runs the SPRs, to lease 30% of capacity and trade another 20%.
The decision to commercialise half of India’s paltry SPRs is ill-conceived.
What is a Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)?
SPR initiative was launched in 1998 as India to bolster energy security of India as it had little foreign exchange available to import oil.
The SPR inventory acts as a supply buffer in the event of unexpected disruptions or surges in demand.
Read more here.
Why is government deciding to commercialize SPR?
India’s decision to commercialise SPRs came after it filled the reserves cheaply in early 2020, averaging $19 a barrel.
State oil companies, which were forced to honour term purchase contracts for crude, diverted fuel to underground caverns.
Government will earn around $900 million with this.
|Must Read: Govt approves two more new strategic oil reserves of capacity|
What are the associated challenges?
India is surrounded by hostile neighbours and is dependent on imported crude thus cannot afford to commercialise its energy security.
India still has very high crude oil demand which is only going to increase in future-It consumes around 4 million barrels a day of fuel, but its reserves can just about meet nine days of demand.
Even developed nations such as the US, Japan and South Korea commercialised the reserves decades after building it to a position of strength in line with the IEA’s guidelines.
– IEA mandates 90 days of the previous year’s net oil imports in storage (India is an associate member and this requirement is not binding).
– The IEA forbids trading and typically allows release of stocks only during emergencies or supply shocks.
SPR is not for commercialisation as it can serve as India’s first line of defence during a calamity or conflict.
Further, the SPR inventory acts as a supply buffer in the event of unexpected disruptions or surges in demand. Specially for net importers like India, Japan, Korea.
How is China’s policy on SPRs different from India’s?
China has built around 500 million barrels of SPRs in a little over a decade and filled more than half the capacity, according to analyst estimates.
India has a tenth of what China has despite planning a decade earlier, reflecting the priority Beijing gives to energy security.
What is the way forward?
India should build capacity fast and grow stocks to a comfortable level before considering trade.
Specially in light of the fact that India is poised to face the fastest growth in oil demand in the next couple of decades, and its dependency on overseas crude is going to climb to over 90% by 2040 as per IEA.
South Korea has one of the best SPR models. It has a storage capacity of around 300 mb with nearly half coming from SPRs.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: This post is based on the article “How many Indians? Census suspense beyond population size” published in Business Standard on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Is the country getting older; how is the labour force faring: important questions about demographics await answers.
Why population data of a region is significant?
Population data, especially for districts and blocks, is essential for policymaking. Lawmakers and bureaucrats use population size to determine the share of states and districts in welfare schemes.
Infrastructure, investments in electricity, water, health and education are based on the requirements of a region, which can be accurately estimated only if the latest population of that region is known.
A big factor in deciding the priorities in budgetary spending of central and state governments is the share of rural and urban population.
The official keeper of national population data, the Registrar General of India (RGI), delayed its data collection for Census 2021 due to the difficulties posed by the second wave of Covid-19.
With the absence of critical data on population, what do we know about India’s population and demography today?
India’s population ranges between 1.36 billion and 1.38 billion.
As per Sample Registration System under the RGI, from 2012 to 2018,
– The share of the working age population in the country rose from 62.6% to 66%.
– The share of children in the working age population has declined.
– India’s median age has increased from close to 25 years in 2011, to 29 years in 2020.
As per Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS),
– Unemployment rate for all ages in the country stood at 4.8% in 2019-20.
– However, in the 15-29 age group, it stood at a massive 15%.
– New entrants to the working age population, faced higher joblessness than experienced adults in the last decade.
Population: People above 60 years of age, seem to have grown fastest in the urbanised and industrialised Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal and the Northeast.
According to UN projections, India’s population will peak at 1.717 billion in 2069 if demographic parameters remain unchanged from current levels.
Projections show a fast-changing demography of India, with the population bulge moving smoothly through the working age population.
Urbanisation: If we go by the available projections of population, urbanisation has accelerated in some states. Nearly seven in ten residents of Kerala are urban now, and the same goes for Goa.
CSIR shares Technology Know-How of ‘Vehicle mounted Drain Cleaning System’ to a Gujarat company MANIAR & CO.
Source: This post is based on the article “CSIR shares Technology Know-How of ‘Vehicle mounted Drain Cleaning System’ to a Gujarat company MANIAR & CO.” published in PIB on 28th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
CSIR-CMERI has handed over the Non-Exclusive rights for Technology Know-How of the indigenously developed ‘Vehicle mounted Drain Cleaning System’ to MANIAR & CO.
About Vehicle mounted Drain Cleaning System
The Vehicle Mounted Drain Cleaning System is a Mechanized Scavenging System consisting of 3 modules namely – (i) Recycled Slurry Water Unit (ii) Closed Loop Feed Back System (iii) Post Cleaning Inspection System.
What are the benefits of the system?
It will resolve the huge challenge associated with eradication of manual scavenging from India.
The adoption of the technology across the nation will help create regional manufacturing hubs which consequently will help drastically improve the employment scenario and economic prospects across the Nation.
The pricing of the technology is much cost-effective when compared to the existing Technologies and even more so relative to the imported variants.
It holds the potential to be the ‘Game-Changer’ in the domain of Waste Management and help realise the Vision of the Prime Minister of India of a ‘Zero-Landfill India’.
Source: This post is based on the article “Plea seeks GI tag for Arunachal Apatani textile product” published in The Hindu on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
An application seeking Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the Arunachal Pradesh Apatani textile product has been filed by a firm, Zeet Zeero Producer Company Limited.
Getting a GI tag for a product indicates that it originates from a particular territory in India and has unique characteristics or quality.
About Apatani tribe
The Apatani weave comes from the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh living at Ziro, the headquarters of lower Subansiri district. The woven fabric of this tribe is known for its geometric and zigzag patterns, and also for its angular designs.
According to the application filed, the Apatani community weaves its own textiles for various occasions, including rituals and cultural festivals.
The tribe predominantly weaves shawls known as jig-jiro and jilan or jackets called supuntarii. They use different leaves and plant resources for organic dying the cotton yarns in their traditional ways. And only women folk are engaged in weaving.
The traditional handloom of this tribe is a type of loin loom, which is called Chichin, and is similar to the traditional handloom of the Nyishi tribe. It is portable, easy to install and operated by a single weaver, especially the female member of the community.
|Must Read: Growing locally: On significance of GI Tags|
UNESCO has proposed the Apatani valley for inclusion as a World Heritage Site for its “extremely high productivity” and “unique” way of preserving the ecology.
They strongly believe in paganism evident from the fact that they don’t use animals for agriculture.
The Apatani tribe origins can be traced back to Mudo Suppung, modern day Tibet. They are said to have migrated from there and nested in the Ziro plateau of the Eastern Himalayas.
Religion: The most followed religion by the tribe is Donyi polo, the faith of praying to the sun (Ayo Danyii) and the moon i.e. Atho Pulo. They refer to Abotani as the founder of the Apatani people. They hold a strong belief in the powers of the sun and the moon, and also have knowledge of herbal medicines to cure most of their ailments.
An Apatani woman can be recognised by their insane body modifications that include accommodating bamboo plugs known as Yapping Hullo by stretching their noses and earlobes.
Festivals: The two most important festivals celebrated are the Dree festival, which is celebrated in the Ziro plateau under the lower Subansari district, and the annual Myoko festival.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Air pollutants & meteorological variables influence pollen concentration: study’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
Scientists have found that air pollutants influence pollen concentration, and different types of pollen have a unique response to weather conditions.
What is Pollen, and why it’s harmful?
Pollen is a fine yellowish powder that is transported from plant to plant by the wind, by birds, by insects or by other animals. The transportation of these pollen helps in fertilisation of plants.
At times these remain suspended in the air and form part of the air we breathe. When inhaled by humans, they put a strain on the upper respiratory system.
They cause widespread upper respiratory tract and naso-bronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.
|Must Read: Chandigarh’s first Pollen Calendar|
What is the study conducted by researchers on Airborne Pollen?
Chandigarh’s researchers studied the influence of meteorology and air pollutants on the airborne pollen in Chandigarh.
They also explored the relationships of temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed, direction, and ambient air pollutants mainly particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to the airborne pollen.
What are the findings of the study?
Each pollen type studied had a unique response to weather conditions and air pollutants. The majority of pollen types were reported in the spring and autumn flowering period.
Distinct peaks of airborne pollen were observed during favourable weather conditions like moderate temperature, low humidity and low precipitation.
Moderate temperature plays a significant role in flowering, inflorescence, maturation, pollen release and dispersal.
In contrast, pollen grains were eliminated from the atmosphere during precipitation and high relative humidity.
What is the significance of this study?
The study could help to improve the understanding of complex interactions between airborne pollen, air pollutants, and climatic variables.
It would also help in formulating suitable mitigation policies and minimizing the burden of pollinosis in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region. This region has been identified as a hotspot of air pollution, specifically during October and November months.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog releases ‘Innovations For You’ & ‘The Ingenious Tinkerers’ published in PIB on 29h Dec 2021.
What is the News?
Atal Innovation Mission(AIM), NITI Aayog has released the second edition of – ‘Innovations for You’ and ‘The Ingenious Tinkerers’.
What are “Innovations for You”?
It is a compilation of successful innovations by the entrepreneurial minds of India, solving problems of the present for the future.
The current edition is focused on agriculture, featuring 70 startups supported by Atal Incubation Centres(AICs).
What are “The Ingenious Tinkerers”?
It is a compilation of the top innovations created by young student innovators who participated in the Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) Marathon.
Note: ATL Marathon invites school students to address a problem that they see or face on a day-to-day basis.
The current edition features 41 innovations.
Belgaum Border Dispute: Explained: Latest flashpoint in Belagavi border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Latest flashpoint in Belagavi border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka’ published in Indian Express on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The decades-old dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over the Belagavi or as Maharashtra likes to call it the Belgaum district, is back in the headlines.
Note: Currently, Belgaum or Belagavi is part of Karnataka but is claimed by Maharashtra.
What is Belgaum Border Dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra?
At the time of Independence, the region of Belagavi (the Belgaum) was part of the Bombay presidency.
However, the region was integrated with the state of Mysore (now Karnataka) during the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.
What is the basis of Maharashtra’s claim on Belgaum?
The essential claim of pro-Marathi groups is that Belagavi is a largely Marathi-speaking region with many parts being exclusively Marathi speaking and that the region should be a part of Maharashtra.
Moreover, Maharashtra also points out the historical fact that the revenue records in these Marathi-speaking areas are also kept in Marathi.
What is Karnataka’s position on this?
Karnataka has argued that the settlement of boundaries as per the States Reorganisation Act is final. The boundary of the State was neither tentative nor flexible.
Hence, the State argues that the issue would reopen border issues that have not been contemplated under the Act and that such a demand should not be permitted.
What were the steps taken to resolve the Belgaum Dispute?
Four-Man Committee: In 1960, both States agreed to set up a four-man committee with two representatives from each State. However, the committee could not arrive at a unanimous decision.
Mahajan Commission: The government of India formed the Mahajan Commission under former chief justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in 1966. The Commission in its report granted 264 villages in the disputed region to Maharashtra and 247 villages to Karnataka. However, the commission ruled that the Belgaum should continue in Karnataka. While Maharashtra rejected the report, Karnataka demanded the status quo.
Supreme Court: In 2006, the Maharashtra government filed a petition in the Supreme Court, staking claim over Belgaum city. The Supreme Court held that the issue should be resolved through mutual negotiation and that linguistic criteria should not be considered as it may create more practical problems. The case is still being heard by the Supreme Court.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Indian Army Establishes Quantum Laboratory at Mhow (MP)’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Indian Army has established the Quantum Lab and a Centre for Artificial Intelligence(AI) at Military College of Telecommunication Engineering, Mhow(MP).
About Quantum Lab
The lab has been established by the Indian Army with the support of the National Security Council Secretariat(NSCS).
Purpose: To conduct research and training in the Quantum Technology field.
Significance: The research undertaken by the Indian Army in the field of Quantum Technology will help leapfrog into next-generation communication and transform the current system of cryptography in the Indian Armed Forces to Post Quantum Cryptography(PQC).
|Note: Post-quantum cryptography typically refers to public-key cryptography methods that are designed to be resistant to quantum computer-based attacks.|
What is Public Key Cryptography?
Public-key cryptography also called asymmetric cryptography is communication where people exchange messages that can only be read by one another.
In public-key cryptography, each user has a pair of cryptographic keys: a public key and a private key
The private key is kept secret, while the public key may be widely distributed and used by other users.
Incoming messages are encrypted with the recipient’s public key and can only be decrypted with their corresponding private key.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘ICAR to research on, demonstrate and promote natural farming’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has issued a notification to all ICAR institutes and vice-chancellors of agriculture universities to take initiatives for the promotion of natural farming in India.
|Must Read: What is Natural Farming?|
What are the steps taken by ICAR to promote Natural Farming?
ICAR will develop a curriculum in consultation with agriculture universities to include zero-budget natural farming in the syllabus at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Research, demonstration and training on natural farming shall be carried out mandatorily by the concerned ICAR institutes, State Agriculture Universities(SAUs) and Central Agriculture Universities(CAUs).
Further, CAUs, ICAR institutes and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of the Country shall earmark a dedicated portion of the available land for natural farming and demonstrate technology among the farmers and other stakeholders.
Other News Covered in the Article
Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture
In March 2021, the committee asked the Centre to launch a scheme for procurement of cattle dung from farmers while citing the Godhan Nyay Yojana — Chhattisgarh government’s cow dung procurement scheme.
The procurement of cattle dung directly from the farmers will not only augment their income and provide employment opportunities, but also address the problem of stray cattle and promote organic farming in the country, as the country has a vast cattle population.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘More defence systems to be locally manufactured’ published in The Hindu on 30th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Ministry of Defence has notified a third positive indigenisation list that will be substituted in the next three years.
What is a Positive Indigenisation list?
The positive indigenisation list essentially means that the Armed Forces—Army, Navy, and Air Force—will only procure the listed items from domestic manufacturers. The manufacturers could be private sector players or Defense Public Sector Undertakings(DPSUs).
What does the third Positive Indigenisation list contain?
The list contains 2,500 subsystems and components that have been localised and another 351 imported items to be substituted in the next three years.
The curbs on the import of 351 items which includes components such as a missile approach warning sensor, shells, propellants, electrical parts, missile containers, a torpedo tube launcher and a gunfire control system will start over the next three years.
What are the other measures undertaken to boost Domestic Defense manufacturing?
In May 2020, the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit under the automatic route in the defence sector was hiked from 49% to 74%.
In October 2021 the government dissolved the four-decade-old Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and amalgamated 41 factories under seven new state-owned companies to manufacture defence hardware ranging from munitions to heavy weapons and vehicles.
India has inaugurated two defence industrial corridors, one in Tamil Nadu and the other in Uttar Pradesh, to boost the flagship “Make in India” programme that in turn would attract investment as well as encourage employment generation.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘‘Sankalp Smarak’ dedicated to the nation by CINCAN’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command(CINCAN) has inaugurated Sankalp Smarak at Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
What is Sankalp Smarak?
Sankalp Smarak is a monument dedicated to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
It is a tribute not only to the resolve of the soldiers of the Indian National Army and their innumerable sacrifices but also reminds us of the values enshrined by Netaji himself.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose & Andaman and Nicobar Islands
During World War II (1942–45), Japan had conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the British and handed it over to Netaji and his army, the Azad Hind Fauj.
Netaji then arrived at Andaman and Nicobar Island on 29th December 1943 and declared the island free from British rule, much before India got its Independence in 1947.
On the next day, i.e. 30 December 1943, Netaji hoisted the national flag for the first time on Indian soil, at Port Blair.
During his visit, he also visited the Cellular Jail and met the freedom fighters lodged there.
Before his departure, he renamed Andaman as Shaheed (“Martyrs”) Island, and Nicobar as Swaraj (“Freedom”) Island.
What is the significance of Netaji’s visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands?
Firstly, Netaji’s visit to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the Head of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army marked a symbolic fulfilment of his promise that the Indian National Army would stand on Indian soil by the end of 1943.
Secondly, this historic visit also marked a declaration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the “first liberated territory of India”.
Department of Biotechnology Mission COVID Suraksha Supported Biological E Limited Novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate – CORBEVAXTM receives DCGI approval for Emergency Use Authorization
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Department of Biotechnology Mission COVID Suraksha Supported Biological E Limited Novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate – CORBEVAXTM receives DCGI approval for Emergency Use Authorization’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Corbevax Vaccine for Covid-19.
What is Corbevax Vaccine?
Corbevax is India’s first indigenously developed Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) protein subunit vaccine.
Manufactured by: It is manufactured by Hyderabad-based Biological E. It was supported by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) from pre-clinical stage through Phase III clinical studies.
What is the vaccine made up of?
It is a protein subunit vaccine, which means that instead of the whole virus, it uses fragments of it to trigger an immune response.
In this case, the vaccine contains a harmless Spike protein. Once the immune system recognises the protein, it produces antibodies to fight a real infection when it happens.
Efficacy: The Phase III trials have demonstrated the vaccine to be safe, well tolerated and highly immunogenic.
Dose: It is a 2-dose vaccine administered intramuscularly and can be stored at 2ºC to 8ºC.
What is Receptor Binding Domain (RBD)?
A receptor-binding domain (RBD) is a key part of a virus, located on its ‘spike’ domain that allows it to dock to body receptors to gain entry into cells and lead to infection. These are also the primary targets in the prevention and treatment of viral infections, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Year End Review-2021: Ministry of Women and Child Development’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the news?
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has undertaken various measures through initiatives, schemes, legislations to ensure development, care and protection of Women and Children.
The key initiatives of the Ministry of Women and Child Development during the Year 2021 are:
Age of Marriage of Women: The Bill on Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2021 has been introduced in Lok Sabha for raising the age of marriage of women from 18 years to 21 years.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: The scheme is being implemented across India and covering 640 districts (as per Census 2011) across the country.The success of the scheme is reflected in the improvement of Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) by 19 points at National level, from 918 in 2014-15 to 937 in 2020-21.
Expansion of Childline: Childline 1098 is a 24-hour a day free emergency phone service for rescuing and assisting children in need of aid.This year, Childline has also started Childline Services at Bus Stands and presently is available at 9 Bus Stands, in addition to its presence in railway stations.
National Conference on Women Winning against TB: It was organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development along with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.It discussed various policy interventions like battling of TB stigma, ensuring that women actively seek and complete TB care along with adequate nutritional support.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Year End Review: Ministry of Development of North-East Region’ published in PIB on 29th Dec 2021.
What is the News?
The Ministry of Development of North-East Region (MDoNER) has taken several initiatives to ensure development of the North East region.
Some of these initiatives are:
National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm(NMEO-OP): It is a centrally sponsored scheme with a special focus on NE Region and A&N islands.Under this, 50% of the new cultivation is targeted for NE Region.
Monitoring and Geo-Tagging of projects in NE Region: ISRO is monitoring and Geo-tagging projects in all the 8 NE States funded by MDoNER or North Eastern Council(NEC). This is the first of its kind in the whole country, where there is an institutionalised involvement of ISRO in mapping and sharing of data for developmental projects.
Protection of Culture and Tradition of North East: The Government of India has set up North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC) at Dimapur an eastern Zonal cultural (EZCC) at Kolkata (Autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture) to protect and promote the rich and diverse traditions and culture of NE Region.
North Eastern Council: Several schemes undertaken by it are:
Rural Economic and Livelihood Project: It is being implemented by North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Society (NERCRMS), a registered society under the aegis of North Eastern Council.
North Eastern State Roads Investment Programme (NESRIP): It was launched in 2011. The scheme envisaged construction/up-gradation of total 433.425 km long roads in 6 North Eastern States of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura. Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing loan assistance for the programme.
North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS): It was launched during the Financial Year 2015-16. Under this, NEC undertakes up gradation of roads which are : a) important and strategic interstate roads which were not properly maintained by either of the two States b) roads in socio-politically neglected pockets of NE region c) roads required for security or strategic viewpoint, not covered in any other programmes; and d) roads necessary from the viewpoint of market access.
News: Air India and several other airlines have cancelled flights to the US. They are worried that the 5G roll-out there may affect aircraft and passenger safety, a concern raised by Boeing and Airbus in the past. Read more about the issue here; https://blog.forumias.com/why-5g-roll-outs-are-disrupting-flights-to-the-us/ How do flight radar altimeters help in safe flight operations? For… Continue reading Explained: The concern over 5G and flight safety
News: Experts discuss the perceived threats due to inflation and suggests what governments fiscal policy can do to contain inflation Some analysts believe that the government must limit its spending to prevent price rise from getting out of control. (Retail inflation is close to 6%, the wholesale inflation rate is in double digits). Other analysts,… Continue reading Should the government loosen its purse strings?
News: Supply-based interventions can help in increasing demand and thereby have a positive impact on the economy. That is why they are a popular public-policy choice. What is “Says law”? It says supply creates its own demand. However, John M. Keynes has refuted “Say’s Law”. According to Keynes, say’s law was the only major tenet… Continue reading Say’s Law works: Supply does create its own demand
News: Amazon’s legal dispute throws light on uncertainties, quality of legal and regulatory protection that investors face in India. What is Amazon’s legal dispute? Recently, Amazon was fined by the Indian competition watchdog. Its capital infusion in Future Coupons during 2019 was put in suspension. The Competition Commission said it was denied an opportunity to… Continue reading Amazon’s legal entanglement in India offers a cautionary tale
News: The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). What is the Indian state of Forest Report 2021? ISFR 2021 shows an increase of 154 0 km² of Forest area. They also contain data on growing stocks, carbon stock, forest cover etc. The assessment is… Continue reading About the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021: Counting trees properly
What is the news? The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MeitY in 2021 Common Services Centers (CSCs) e-District Mission Mode Project (MMP): e-District is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) that aims at electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen centric services at the district… Continue reading YEAR END REVIEW 2021: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)
What is the News? The Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI) has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MoFPI in 2021 National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) Act 2021: It was passed in 2021 to declare NIFTEM and IIFPT as Institutions of National Importance (INI). The INI status will enable… Continue reading Year-End Review of Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI)
What is the news? The Ministry of Defence has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MoD in 2021 Missiles: Brahmos, Tejas, Astra, Arjun Main Battle Tank, Shakti, Indigenous Aircraft Carrier(IAC) ‘Vikrant’, INS Visakhapatnam, INS Vela, Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo(SMART), Agni-P, Vertically Launched Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM), Akash Prime, Pinaka-ER,… Continue reading Year End Review – 2021 of Ministry of Defence
What is the news? Government of India’s recent draft proposal proposes to change the moisture content limit for wheat and paddy. This has made farmers worried ahead of the rabi procurement season that begins April 2022. What is Moisture Content? Moisture content (MC) is the weight of water contained in paddy or wheat expressed in… Continue reading Centre may reduce the moisture content limit for wheat, paddy. Why this will hurt farmers
What is the news? An improved version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha. What is Brahmos Missile? Click Here to read about it How was this Brahmos missile test different from earlier? Firstly, the BrahMos that was originally built… Continue reading 70% indigenous BrahMos cruise missile test-fired