9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 9th, 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 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

The need for a robust civil registration system

Source: This post is based on the article “The need for a robust civil registration system” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 1 Populations and associated issues

Relevance: Understanding the need for a civil registration system.

News: With Omicron, South Africa implemented a rapid surveillance mechanism that provided early alerts. India has also responded by setting up screening centres, ICU beds, etc. Despite no alarms, the threat remains so, all cautions should be observed.

How the mortality data can help in accessing pandemic situations?

Mortality data is important to guide patient care and the protection of the vulnerable population. But it is found that data is limited due to inadequate access to antemortem testing and causes that are attributed to mortality.

Hence, now it is being evaluated through the estimation of excess mortality. These estimates need reliable baselines, real-time data compilation and weekly updates. For South Africa, the national population register has served as a useful database.

For India, they are based on epidemiological models like month-wise death registrations. But they are hampered by uncertainty in baselines and delayed registrations. As per data, the excess mortality was estimated to be 2.8 to 5.2 million. But National Covid-19 surveillance program estimated deaths to be 4,30,000. This ten-fold variation is clearly not helpful.

What do the recent developments signify?

Many developments have created prospects of better estimates. The civil registration report for 2019 indicates high levels of registration completeness across India.

Prompt release of registered death by some states in 2021 indicates the efficient mechanism for data compilation.

What steps can be further adopted?

Capacity building: Local statistical capacity should be established at State registration offices for data quality evaluation, adjustments for data bias, and basic trend and forecast analysis.

Release of data: CRS data for 2020 and provisional data reports for 2021 should be released soon.

Standardize protocols: Standardize the data dissemination protocols by using a template for compilations of deaths tabulated by sex, broad age groups, a month of death occurrence, and district of usual residence. The CRS death reporting form should include all these details

These updated counts and CRS list will help in pandemic surveillance and help monitor the mortality impact of the current and future epidemics.

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

GS Paper 2

High LPG prices are scorching the air pollution fight

Source- This post is based on the article “High LPG prices are scorching the air pollution fight” published in The Hindu on 9th Dec 2021 

Syllabus– GS Paper 2 (Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States)  

News– How Removal of LPG subsidy and subsequent Price rise is affecting the air pollution and its wider acceptance in low income and rural households. 

As Per the India residential energy survey (IRES), LPG has now replaced biomass as the most common cooking fuel. Nearly 85 percent of Indian households have an LPG connection Compared to only 30 percent a decade back. This reversal of trends can be attributed to the success of Ujjwala, Consumption linked subsidies, and gradual strengthening of LPG distributorship. Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala yojana, the government distributed more than 80 million subsidized LPG connections. Recently Ujjwala 2.0 was launched to distribute 10 million free LPG connections which shows the government’s commitment and vision to promote clean cooking fuel. 

However, the battle is only won as around 30 percent of households still rely on biomass as their primary cooking fuel. If the removal of LPG subsidy is continued it can further worsen the situation. 

 

What we need to do as a country to move needle further and to sustain country momentum on clean cooking energy access and thereby cleaner fuel for all. 

  1. Reinstating LPG subsidies for low-income households -At the current refill prices, an average Indian household needs to spend at least 10 percent of monthly income on LPG to meet its all cooking needs. This becomes much more important when one factors the loss of livelihood and income due to pandemic. 
  2. Government can reduce the number of beneficiaries and thereby overall cost. It can be done by various methods such as fixing an income cap on who can get subsidy or giving subsidy to only those who got their connections through Ujjwala scheme. 
  3. Strengthening LPG supply chain – Around half of rural population has to travel faraway to procure LPG cylinder, urban slum pockets also face gaps in doorstep delivery. Plugging these loopholes is very important to boost timely availability of LPG for all households in all parts of country.  
  4. Creating a new market for locally available biomass– Government needs to pilot initiatives that prevent use of biomass in decentralized processing units that process that manufacture briquettes and pellets. Similarly, households can be incentivized to supply locally available biomass like stubble, dung cakes to compressed bio-gas plants (CBG) set up under SATAT(sustainable alternative towards affordable transportation) scheme. This would enhance local income and livelihood opportunities and also will promote regular LPG use. 

Women in the post-pandemic workplace

Source: This post is based on the article “Women in the post-pandemic workplace” published in Business Standard on 9th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS2  Women and associated issues.

Relevance: Understanding the reasons behind fewer women’s participation in the workplace.

News: Indian economy is sustained after the shocks of demonetization, GST, and now covid. These economic disruptions have a lot of impact on women’s employment status in the workplace.

What do the stats say about women participation in the workforce?

By 2019, India’s Female Labour Participation Rate (FLPR) had dropped to 20.3%, from the already low 26% in 2005. There is an argument that FLPR dropped owing to women entering higher education. But there is a need to look at whether women entered higher education because they wanted better jobs or because they could not get good jobs.

Read here: Low labour force participation (LlFP) of Indian women
Where does the problem lie?

Attitude: Work from home was expected to reduce gender bias and incorporate gender equality, and did not impact the productivity of women. But when men working from home didn’t see it fit to help women, it is unlikely that employers attitudes would see any change.

Less management attention on gender inclusion: The gender dimension has suffered most in the post-pandemic revival. A recent example of the CEO of better.com firing the entire diversity, equity and inclusion recruitment team is one such example.


Order those jabs: India needs plenty more vaccines & vax-makers need advance notice. GoI take heed

Source: This post is based on the article “Order those jabs: India needs plenty more vaccines & vax-makers need advance notice. GoI take heed” published in Times of India on 9th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Understanding the need for the continuation of the vaccination process.

News: Serum Institute is signalling that their Covishield production will be reduced by half as no new purchase orders are coming from the Government of India.

Why there is a need to continue the vaccination process?

Indian Medical Association has demanded a booster dose for healthcare workers, amid concerns of a drop in the immunity level.

-With new variants constantly emerging, there is a need to fasten the vaccination process.

-WHO already raised its concerns over rising infection rates in children in Europe. GoI should issue guidelines to vaccine companies on stocks to be reserved for children. So, to quickly cover children with the first dose.

Read more: One billion Covid Vaccines and beyond – Explained, pointwise

Low tobacco tax, poor health

Source: This post is based on the article “Low tobacco tax, poor health” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2021.

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

Relevance: To understand the need to increase the tax rate on tobacco-associated products.

News: The absence of an increase in tax on tobacco products post-GST has impacted revenue and could worsen public health

What is the status of tobacco consumption in India?

India is the second-largest consumer of tobacco in the world, with 28.6% of adults above 15 years and 8.5% of students aged 13-15 years use tobacco in some form or the other.

Read here: “World No Tobacco Day” and “Tobacco Consumption” in India
How is the government dealing with tobacco and associated products?

Since the introduction of GST, the government has not increased taxation of tobacco products to discourage their consumption. There was only a small increase in the National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD), which only increases the average price of cigarettes by about 5%. There is a 3% real decline in GST revenues from tobacco products in the past two financial years. This lack of increase in tax offers more benefits to tobacco-based industries and less to the government.

Before the GST, excise duty and VAT were regularly raised on tobacco products. Because of these policies, there was a reduction of 17.3% in tobacco use among adults in India between 2009-10 and 2016-17, as identified by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

How does the lack of tax increase impact health targets and government revenue?

Health: World Health Organization recommended a uniform tax burden of at least 75% for each tobacco product. But, the tax burden in India on bidis, cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco, on average, stands at 22%, 53%, and 64% in 2021. It might bring some current smokers to smoke more now and some non-smokers to start smoking. This might jeopardize India’s commitment to achieving 30% tobacco use prevalence reduction by 2025 as envisaged in the National Health Policy of 2017.

Revenue: Excise duty on tobacco is very low in India. The share of central excise duties including NCCD in the total tobacco taxes decreased from 54% to 8% for cigarettes, 17% to 1% for bidis, and 59% to 11% for smokeless tobacco products, on average, from 2017 (pre-GST) to 2021 (post-GST).

What should the government do?

Government should increase the excise tax of at least ₹1 per stick of bidis while aiming for a significant increase in the excise tax of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

An increase in taxation can affect the affordability of tobacco products, which further led to reduced tobacco use prevalence. It will further help India to achieve sustainable development goals.


Repealing AFSPA will not weaken, only strengthen Constitution

Source: This post is based on the article “Repealing AFSPA will not weaken, only strengthen Constitution” published in Indian Express on 9th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

Relevance: Understanding the requirement of repealing the AFSPA.

News: The death of 14 civilians in Nagaland by the security forces raised the long-pending demand for repealing the AFSPA in the region.

What is AFSPA? Why demand for repeal of AFSPA is justified?
Read here: Explained: AFSPA and the Northeast

The repeal of AFSPA is necessary not just for restoring constitutional sanity, but also as a way of acknowledging the acts conduct under this act.

How AFSPA is counterproductive for the army itself?

First, providing wide immunity can distort the choice of strategy in counter-insurgency operations. In the words of Rajesh Rajagopalan, it leads to “conventional war bias”, emphasizes kills and area domination rather than smarter tactical and political incorporation

Second, wider immunity can often reduce the professionalism of the forces rather than increase it.

Third, Operations conducted by the army are mostly carried out with less effective local knowledge. Also, even after 70 years, the army is not able to root out insurgency even after the enforcement of AFSPA.

What are the Supreme Court and various committee’s guidelines? 

Supreme Court laid down guidelines for the use of AFSPA in 1997. It ruled out that unprofessional conduct, crimes and atrocities by the security forces can be prosecuted.

Read moreRespect the recommendation of various committees on AFSPA

What should be done?

Accountability: In the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, the court ordered the probe for 1,528 extra-judicial killings in Manipur. But there have been no hearings in this case for three years. So, there is a need to bring more accountability.

AFSPA is not just a law. It creates a whole culture that creates a culture of fear, interdiction, humiliation and violence. To strengthen the constitutional values and ethos, it is time that government should think of repealing the AFSPA to bring stability to the region.


India-Russia Relations: Russia, a legacy relationship with limitations

Source: This post is based on the article “Russia, a legacy relationship with limitations” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding the recent developments in India Russia Relations.

News: Recently, 21st India – Russia Annual summit took place. The summit highlighted the “all-weather” partnership between India and Russia.

Must readRecent developments in India-Russia Relations – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges associated with India-Russia relations?

1. There is little organic, people-to-people content to the relationship, 2. India-Russia bilateral trade is around U.S.$10 billion, far lower than India’s trade with China and the United States and even with the U.S.’s trade with Russia, 3. Soviet-era cultural and people-to-people contacts have almost gone.

Read more: India-Russia summit recognised that each needs the other, and that the drift in bilateral ties needs to be arrested
About the dynamics of India-Russia Trade

The quadrilateral dynamics among India, China, the U.S. and Russia have different implications. The author explains the dynamics through primary and secondary antagonisms.

According to the author, China-U.S. antagonism is the first order relationship and the U.S.-Russia, China-Russia and Russia-India are the second-order relationships.

The second-order relationships are, to a great extent, a product of the primary antagonism. But, the second-tier relationships also have their own unique dynamics and implications. For instance, no matter what the state of global geopolitics is, there is a regional geopolitical rivalry between India and China.

How did US parallel rivalries with China and Russia have complicated matters for India?

Even though China remains its primary antagonism, the US has not yet succeeded in divorcing its less challenging second-order antagonism with Russia. This complicated matters further for India.

For instance, An aggressive China will push India towards the US, not towards Russia (in the long term).

Similarly, if Russia has to choose between China and India, it would choose China. Further, China will try to isolate India in the larger Asian region as it suits China’s larger game plan.

How the dynamics will favour India-Russia relations?

India’s desire for a robust relationship with Russia will be more appreciated by the U.S. due to the Chinese aggression against India and the U.S.’s systemic and first-order rivalry with China.

The rise of China becomes a concern for Russia, it could potentially open conversations with the US to create a balance vis-à-vis China that suits Indian interests.

How India can cooperate with Russia and get benefits?

First, Russia provides more direct opportunities for India in the Central Asian Region.

With the Americans gone from Afghanistan, India can openly cooperate with Russia, Iran (especially if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) renegotiations succeed), and engage with the Central Asian region.

Second, Cooperation in Indian Ocean Region: Russia has been expanding its influence, especially in the western Indian Ocean. So India could fulfil its significant interests in the Indian Ocean by engaging with Russia.

For achieving that, India needs a great deal of diplomatic agility to improve the relationship with Russia amidst high-stakes geopolitical contestations.


Don’t ignore context of NFHS data

Source: This post is based on the article “Don’t ignore context of NFHS data” published in Indian Express on 9th 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 issues with criticisms of NFHS.

News: The NFHS data evolved much from the Demographic and Health Survey and became a well-structured one.

Must read: NFHS-5 and its findings – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges associated with NFHS?
Read here: The nine lives of India’s National Family Health Survey
Why the challenges against NFHS are wrong?

According to the author, the criticisers did the same thing as Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story. Instead, the data sets have to be examined with respect to a group of indicators rather than only one indicator (Sex ratio) from the NFHS.

For instance, Data such as life expectancy of women, the incidence of institutional deliveries, total fertility rate, mothers who had an antenatal check-up should be examined.

Note: In The Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story published by Oxfam admitted that India at 1.1% had one of the lowest case fatality rates for Covid-19 as compared to richer countries like the US and France (1.8%) or Germany and Belgium (2.4%).

The report mentioned this is due to the demographic dividend, which is tilted more towards the younger population. The report criticised India’s low hospital beds to population ratio. But the report never acknowledged the state of infrastructure, medical providers’ excellent jobs, etc.

What are the parameters India showed improvements in NFHS?
Read hereUnion Health Ministry releases NFHS-5 Phase II Findings

GS Paper 3


RBI must tackle surplus liquidity on way to policy normalisation

Source: This post is based on the article “RBI must tackle surplus liquidity on way to policy normalisation” & “RBI’s peculiar path to policy normalization” & “Monetary Policy Committee fails to read the signals right… Again!” published in Indian Express, Livemint on 9th Dec 2021 respectively.

Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to Monetary policy committee of RBI

Relevance:  Monetary Policy Committee, Inflation, Growth.

News: Recently, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to maintain status quo on policy rates.

Some of the key decisions that were taken at the recent the Monetary Policy Committee meeting are –

The repo rate is maintained at 4% and the reverse repo rate at 3.35%.

Forecasts of FY22 GDP growth and CPI inflation are retained at 9.5% and 5.3%.

The RBI chose to maintain an accommodative policy stance, while many expected that RBI would move towards policy normalisation.

Why many experts were in support for a policy change?

Excess liquidity: Since the onset of the Covid-related lockdowns, RBI had injected an unprecedented amount of funds into banks and other intermediaries. This resulted in an excess liquidity in the financial system.

Inflationary pressure: Average inflation in the last fiscal was 6.2%, which is above RBI’s target range of 4-6%. Latest numbers (October 2021) show wholesale price inflation at 12.54%.

International trend: The world over, policymakers are realizing that the limits of easy monetary policy have been reached and further easing is not sustainable. For Instance,

Fed Tapering by the US Federal Reserve,

BRIC economies like Brazil, Russia and South Africa have done a course correction,

IMF caution: The International Monetary Fund has warned the “Emerging markets,” stating that, tightening by advanced economies can cause capital outflows and exchange rate pressures.

Why RBI’s decision to maintain accommodative policy stance is being criticised?

MPC’s rationale is weak: Growth is really weak, and it needs a lot of support. However, considering India’s economic recovery trends, MPC’s judgement seems to be unsound.

Conditions are improving: The prospects for economic activity are steadily improving, including for contact-intensive services that were hit hard by the pandemic.

The production of capital goods remained above the pre-pandemic level for the third month in a row during September.

Imports of capital goods increased by double digits during October for the eighth consecutive month

In such a scenario, where the growth prospects are promising, the decision by the MPC to support the growth by ignoring rising prices has been criticised.

What steps has RBI taken to control the excess liquidity in the system?

RBI has dynamically used multiple instruments to absorb the excess liquidity over the course of the year.

Firstly, Post the October MPC meeting, RBI had stopped buying bonds under the Govt Securities Asset Purchase (GSAP) and done negligible Open Market Operations (OMOs). It has restricted the addition of voluntary liquidity injection into the system.

Secondly, RBI has used the 14-day variable reverse repo rate (VRRR) auctions window to absorb almost all this liquidity surplus from banks.

Thirdly, RBI has again allowed banks the option to prepay the outstanding borrowings from the Targeted Long Term Repo Operations (TLTROs), thereby potentially extracting another Rs 70,000 crores.

Fourthly, RBI has tightened the amount that banks can borrow under its marginal standing facility to 2% of their net demand and time liabilities from 3% earlier.

What is the way forward?

Firstly, there is a likelihood of further increase in liquidity, largely through foreign currency funds inflow, particularly in FY23. So, there might be a need for other instruments to absorb these surpluses apart from VRRR auctions.

Secondly, RBI should shift to the tightening phase, with hikes in the repo rate followed by a change in stance from “accommodative” to “neutral”.


Real Cost of MSP For All Crops

Source: This post is based on the article “Real Cost of MSP For All Crops” published in TOI on 9th Dec 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – issues related to MSP

Relevance: Legalising MSP

News: Even as the central government has announced its withdrawal of the three farm laws, the demands for legalising MSP have grown stronger.

Why Legalising MSP is a bad idea?

Firstly, The expansion of MSP would impose trillions of rupees worth of additional burden on the taxpayer in the forthcoming decade.

With the current procurement already well in excess of storage capacity, the extension of MSP to all output can be done only in the form of a deficiency payment. However, deficiency payment need to be calculated on the basis of:

– Hectarage devoted by the farmer to the crop,

– Difference between the MSP announced & The market price of the MSP crop.

– Reasonable estimates of the average yield per hectare

This has the following implications

One, Farmers sell only a fraction of their output of these crops in the marketplace, keeping the rest for self-consumption.

Evidently, under full-MSP coverage, the deficiency payment would have to be made not just on the output the farmer sells in the market but also on the part kept for self-consumption. This imposes additional and irrational cost on the taxpayer.

Two, since legalising MSP will fully eliminate price uncertainty for all farmers, every farmer will try to increase their annual output . This increases supply, and would lead to a progressive decline in the market price and a corresponding increase in deficiency payment.

Add to this the fiscal burden of the extension of MSP to the entire output of the remaining 21 crops. With minuscule or no procurement currently, It will definitely result in the increase of deficiency payment over time.

Secondly, India’s MSP payments already violate the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on subsidies.

A temporary peace clause on public stockpiling for food security has so far protected India from retaliatory actions.

But the peace clause cannot provide a cover against the deficiency payments because

– Deficiency payments would have nothing to do with stockpiling for food security.

The extension of MSP to the numerous commodities are not even a part of the public distribution system.

For more info, kindly read these articles

– On legalising MSP: supporting farmers

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

– MSP is no silver bullet to boost farmers income


Open banking puts banks on notice-Digitise or perish

Source This post is based on the article “Open banking puts banks on notice-Digitise or perish” published in Livemint on 9 th Dec 2021 

Syllabus-GS Paper 3 (Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth). 

News– India has unveiled Account aggregator framework in september,2021 that can that could revolutionize investing and credit, giving millions of consumers greater access and control over their financial records and expanding the potential pool of customers for lenders and fintech companies. 

What is Account Aggregator (AA) framework? 

An AA is a new class of NBFC approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to manage consent for financial data sharing of users. It will allow lenders to conduct an easy and speedy assessment of the creditworthiness of the borrower. 

What advantages does account aggregator offer?  

1)Account aggregators can further ease credit processes-Digital access to data from credit bureaus, know your customer norms, and GST has significantly reduced the credit processing time for small business and consumers. But there is still some information like bank statements for which banks resort to hard copies. With the introduction of account aggregators, this data can be assessed digitally, which would further improve the Indian lending landscape. 

2) Opportunities for new lenders -All incumbent banks have lots of account related and behavioural data related to their customers which only few of them put to optimum use. Account aggregators framework ensures that such an asset is made available to new age lender which can put it to an optimum use and their digital capabilities will not be constrained due to their limited consumer base. 

What is open banking? 

Financial experts say opening the network to all customers, as has now been done, is the first step towards bringing open banking in India. Under open banking, banks allow access and control of customers personal and financial data to third-party service providers, which are typically tech startups and online financial service vendors. 

 How Banks can take benefit of this new opportunity(AA)? 

1)Banks should start building up their data analysis capacity and act by reaching out to customers with appropriate offerings.  

2)They should identify consumers who are dissatisfied with their services and try to earn their loyalty 

3) Banks should see their data holistically-Banks have customer data from websites ,branch visits, call centres, mobile apps. This data if properly captured and analyzed can tremendously benefit banks and provide them with a sustainable source of competitive advantage. 

4) Data privacy law – All countries that have enacted OB have data privacy laws, India also needs to enact one soon. This would provide customers confidence and also facilitate investment by various players in customer protection data system. Also, government needs to legally enable data sharing to the extent needed. 

Conclusion-Proper utilization of Account aggregator framework will help to harness the potential of Open banking. This has potential to give a fillip to credit processing and help us achieve our goals of financial inclusion. 


A window of opportunity

Source– This post is based on the article “A window of opportunity” published in Business standard on 8th Dec 2021. 

Syllabus– General studies paper 3 (Indian Economy and issues relating to planning) 

News– How we can leverage the advantages that are generating due to Strict COVID policy of China and other restrictions going parallel to it. 

Where we stand vis-a-vis China? 

China’s economy is over five times of India’s. it has a $14-trillion economy, to India’s $2.7-trillion economy. We are too dependent on China for everything from active pharmaceutical ingredients to smartphones. And China’s total R&D spending is 20 times that of India’s. 

How the current situation offers a chance to India of catching up? 

1) Even though China has fully vaccinated over 90 per cent of its total population (we are at 50 per cent of our adult population), it continues to follow a zero-covid policy. This self-isolation is having an impact on China’s economy — domestic travel is well below even last year’s level, domestic consumption is depressed, and increasingly draconian zero-Covid practices are having an impact. 

2)Further, new controls on China’s tech giants and increasingly anti-business rhetoric from top leaders of the country has generated concerns regarding ease of doing business in China. As a result, private equity investors from across the globe are all expressing concern about an excessive reliance on China. There is a widespread undercurrent of wanting to diversify away. 

3)China has an extractive institution model in political sphere (due to its authoritarian regime) and inclusive economic institutions but as the book why Nations fail argue ,this is not sustainable in the long run, and inclusive economic institutions can only survive if they are supported by inclusive political institutions and this may create some opportunities for India. 

Conclusion-As China struggles, a window of opportunity for India to catch up has opened. We must take full advantage, but that means being clear of what makes us unique as a country, where our strengths really lie, and how we can play to them. 


Covid impact on what we may call a relevant market

Source This post is based on the article “Covid impact on what we may call a relevant market” published in Livemint on 9 th Dec 2021. 

Syllabus– General studies Paper 3 (Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources). 

News All-India Mobile Retailers’ Association recently threatened to approach the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Chinese phone-maker Xiaomi’s alleged bias in favour of online marketplaces over offline retailers. 

Recently Supreme court allowed CCI to go ahead with an investigation against e-commerce players Flipkart and Amazon. 

In all these cases terms like Relevant market, dominant position occurs recurrently. India’s Competition Act, 2002 defines these terms. Though the act provides a definition of relevant market but question is whether our online and offline markets constitute a single relevant market. Rulings by Indian courts have not been consistent in this aspect. Even though courts increasingly favoured the view that online and offline markets fall in the same relevant market, there have been contrary views. 

Offline versus Online market ,advantages to the latter? 

1) Online retailers have significantly lower customer-reach costs than offline retailers. 

2)Offline retailers bear the costs of setting up a warehouse, transporting products there, and so on, while online retailers can serve customers across a large area with a single warehouse. 

3)Transportation costs of products are often passed on to end customers. Savings on these allow online retailers to sell customers the same products at lower prices. 

4)Internet retail services lower the transportation costs of customers, allow quick and convenient product searches, offer a variety of products in a range of price brackets, and provide detailed product information that is often not available at regular retail stores. 

Conclusion-COVID pandemic has altered shopping circumstances, attitudes and habits over the past 20 months or so, with an increased number of retail consumers now relying on online purchases for reasons that go beyond price differences ,it is imperative that the case for the definition of relevant market is settled. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: When can an individual get statutory bail?

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: When can an individual get statutory bail?published in The Hindu on 6th December 2021.

What is the News?

The National Investigation Agency(NIA) has approached the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court order granting statutory bail to advocate and activist Sudha Bharadwaj. 

What is Statutory Bail or Default Bail?

Click Here to read about Statutory Bail

What are the principles laid down on Statutory Bail?

Firstly, Default or statutory bail is an indefeasible right’, regardless of the nature of the crime.

Secondly, the stipulated period within which the charge sheet has to be filed begins from the day the accused is remanded for the first time. It includes days undergone in both police and judicial custody, but not days spent in house arrest.

Thirdly, the requirement for the grant of statutory bail is that the right should be claimed by the person in custody. If the charge sheet is not filed within the stipulated period, but there is no application for bail under Section 167(2), then there is no automatic bail. 

Time Period for Statutory Bail

For most offences, the police have 60 days to complete the investigation and file a final report before the court.

However, where the offence attracts a death sentence or life imprisonment, or a jail term of not less than 10 years, the period available is 90 days.

In other words, a magistrate cannot authorise a person’s judicial remand beyond the 60-or 90-day limit. At the end of this period, if the investigation is not complete, the court shall release the person “if he is prepared to furnish bail”.

Statutory Bail Provision for Special laws: The 60 or 90-day limit is only for ordinary penal law. Special enactments allow greater latitude to the police for completing the probe.

In the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, the period is 180 days. However, in cases involving substances in commercial quantity, the period may be extended up to one year.

In the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the default limit is 90 days only, which can be extended to another 90 days.

This extension in these cases can be granted only on a report by the Public Prosecutor indicating the progress made in the investigation and giving reasons to keep the accused in continued detention.

These provisions show that the extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.


General Bipin Rawat, India’s first CDS, was on a mission to modernise the military. The nation will miss him

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • General Bipin Rawat, India’s first CDS, was on a mission to modernise the military. The nation will miss him” published in Indian Express on 9th December 2021.
  • The straight-talking CDS who cared: General Bipin Rawat was always forthright. His job was tough. But he was on top of itpublished in TOI on 9th December 2021.
What is the News?

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others died after the Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Who was Bipin Rawat?

General Bipin Rawat is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned in 1978 into the Fifth Battalion of the Eleventh Gorkha Rifles of the Infantry.

General Rawat was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff in 2016. 

He was also the first Chief of Defence Staff appointed in 2019.

Major Operations during Bipin Rawat Tenure

General Rawat supervised a cross-border counter-insurgency operation in neighbouring Myanmar in 2015.

He was Vice Chief of Army Staff when India carried out a surgical strike across the Line of Control in September 2016, in retaliation against a terror strike on an army camp in Uri.

He was Army chief when India carried out airstrikes targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror training centre in Pakistan’s Balakot in 2019.

The stand-off with China at Doklam on the LAC also took place under his watch. 

What were the reforms CDS Rawat was planning to implement?

As CDS, General Rawat was drawing up plans for the modernisation of the military and making it an efficient fighting force. However, the Integrated Battle Commands into which he wanted to reorganise the Army did not materialise mainly due to costs.

He was also preoccupied with the challenge of “theaterisation” or “jointness” of the armed forces, envisaging five “integrated theatre commands” that would combine the tri-services instead of each force having several regional command.


Explained: The helicopter CDS General Bipin Rawat was in

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: The helicopter CDS General Bipin Rawat was in published in Indian Express on 9th December 2021.

What is the News?

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others died after the Mi-17V5 helicopter crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

What is a Mi-17V5 helicopter?

Source: MoneyControl

Mi-17V5 is a Russian-made helicopter which is produced by Kazan Helicopters.

It was inducted into the Indian Air Force on 17 February 2012.

Purpose: The Helicopter can carry equipment inside the cargo cabin or an external sling, drop tactical air assault teams and carry the wounded.

Speed: The helicopter can achieve a maximum speed of 250 km per hour.

Weight: The helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 13,000 kg. It can transport either 36 armed soldiers internally or 4,500 kg of load on a sling.

Features: It has a digital flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder onboard to monitor flight parameters and cockpit conversations respectively. The helicopter also has the capability to land on unprepared sites at night and in adverse weather conditions. 

Apart from India, this helicopter is also used by the air forces of nearly 60 countries, including Russia and Iraq, and is also part of the erstwhile Afghan Air Force.

According to the latest data, the Indian Air Force(IAF) currently has over 200 of these helicopters in service.


Three Indian companies among top 100 in arms sales globally

Source: This post is based on the article “Three Indian companies among top 100 in arms sales globallypublished in Indian Express on 8th December 2021.

What is the News?

Swedish think tank Stockholm Institute Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released a report titled “The SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing and military services companies, 2020”.

What are the key findings of the report?
Findings Related to India

India’s share of arms sales globally in 2020 was 1.2%. 

Three Indian companies are among the world’s top 100 for combined arms sales in 2020. The three were ranked among the top 100 in arms sales in 2019 as well.

These three companies are Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Indian Ordnance Factories, and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). 

Of these, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which comprised the Indian Ordnance Factories, has been dissolved and seven new Public Sector Undertakings were created in its place.

Moreover, domestic procurement had helped shield Indian companies against the negative economic consequences of the pandemic.

Note: In 2020, the Indian Government announced a phased ban on imports of more than a hundred different types of military equipment to support domestic companies and enhance self-reliance in arms production.

Other Key Findings

International arms sales have increased even as the global economy contracted by 3.1% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The USA has the high­est number of companies in the top 100 worldwide. U.S. companies accounted for 54% of the Top 100’s total arms sales in 2020.

Chinese firms accounted for 13% of the Global Arms sales in 2020 followed by the UK at 7.1 %. Russia and France were fourth and fifth with 5 % and 4.7 % respectively 


Scholarship scheme under AICTE to encourage girls students to pursue Technical Education

Source: This post is based on the article “Scholarship scheme under AICTE to encourage girls students to pursue Technical Educationpublished in PIB on 8th December 2021.

What is the News?

The Minister of State for Education has informed Rajya Sabha about the AICTE Pragati Scholarship Scheme.

What is Pragati Scholarship Scheme?

Launched by: All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2014-15

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Education

Aim: To provide assistance for the Advancement of Girls pursuing Technical Education. 

Criteria: Under the scheme, a sum of Rs. 50,000/- per annum is disbursed to selected girl students as per the following criteria.

  • Students admitted in AICTE approved institutions in 1st year of Degree/ Diploma level course or 2nd year of Degree/ Diploma level course through lateral entry.
  • Maximum two girls per family.
  • The total income of the family is less than Rs. 8 lakh per annum.
  • 10,000 scholarships per annum from 23 States/UTs 
  • All eligible girl students from the remaining 13 States/UTs (including North Eastern Region, Jammu & Kashmir etc.)
  • Reservation-7.5% for ST, 15% for SC, and 27% for OBC candidates/applicants.

Water Quality in lower stretches of the River Ganga found to be alarming: Study

Source: This post is based on the article “Water Quality in lower stretches of the River Ganga found to be alarming: Studypublished in PIB on 8th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

According to the findings of a study, Water Quality in the lower stretches of the River Ganga is in an alarming situation. 

About the study

A team of scientists has developed the Water Quality Index (WQI) of River Ganga.

Note: Water Quality Index (WQI) is considered as the most effective method of measuring water quality. 
What are the key findings of the study?

Rapid human pressure and anthropogenic activities has resulted in release of untreated municipal and industrial sewages along with other forms of pollutants in the River Ganga. 

Hence, as a result, there has been a marked increase in discharge of untreated municipal and industrial sewages in the lower stretch of River Ganges, due to intense population pressure on both sides of the river banks.

This will have severe consequences for many unique and biodiversity ecosystems such as the Sundarbans mangrove and endangered charismatic species such as the Gangetic Dolphin.

What is the significance of this study?

The findings from this study will be pivotal for long-term ecological health monitoring of the lower stretch of River Ganga, along with the integration of sensors and automation.


Launch of Hackathon “Sprint04: Market-Tech” under I-Sprint’21

Source: This post is based on the article “Launch of Hackathon “Sprint04: Market-Tech” under I-Sprint’21published in PIB on 8th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has launched the “Sprint04: Market-Tech” Hackathon.

​​IFSCA is organizing “InFinity Forum 2021”, its maiden flagship financial technology and global thought leadership event.

As part of this forum, IFSCA has organised a series of Hackathons cutting across the spectrum of banking, insurance, securities and fund management.

Sprint04: Market-Tech is one among these hackathons.

About Sprint04: Market-Tech

It is hosted by IFSCA and GIFT city in collaboration with National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE).

Focus: The hackathon is focussed on the Capital Market Segment. 

The problem statements for this Hackathon are (a) Solutions for promoting Retail Capital Market Products at GIFT IFSC, (b) Solutions for encouraging participation of banks, institutional investors, and retail investors in green finance products at GIFT-IFSC, (c) A solution based on Distributed Ledger Technology for tokenization and fractional ownership of physical assets and (d) Innovative Solutions on Web 3.0 focusing on capital markets.

Rewards: Direct-Entry into IFSCA Regulatory/Innovation Sandbox, Incentives and Prize Money of INR 20 lacs.

Note: Regulatory/Innovation Sandbox allows the FinTech entities to have facilities and flexibilities to experiment with innovative FinTech solutions in a live environment with a limited set of real customers for a limited time frame. 

RBI to have on-device wallets in UPI apps for small-ticket transactions

Source: This post is based on the article “RBI to have on-device wallets in UPI apps for small-ticket transactionspublished in Business Standard on 9th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

The Reserve Bank of India will soon launch UPI-based payment products for feature phones, and a new “on-device” wallet for small value UPI transactions.

Why RBI is launching UPI-based payment products for Feature Phones?

Feature phones are basic phones, which typically provide voice calling and text messaging functionalities.

Currently, there are no native UPI apps or features through which feature phone users can make UPI transactions. This is because UPI requires a smartphone with a working internet connection to send money.

The only way possible for featured phone users is through NUUP (National Unified USSD Platform). Here, users can dial *99# and make transactions through an interactive menu on their mobile phone. However, this method hasn’t picked up.

Hence, to make UPI transactions easier and more accessible to feature phone users, UPI-based payment products will be launched.

This move will increase digital penetration of financial services and help a large segment of people without access to smartphones or reliable internet services to transact digitally

Why RBI wants to launch an On-Device Wallet for small value UPI transactions?

RBI is also planning to launch an on-device wallet to help ease the flow of small value transactions through UPI. 

This is because 50% of the transactions through UPI were below Rs 200 and these transactions use up a lot of resources which often results in transaction failures. 

Hence, to simplify the process of small value transactions, an on-device wallet in the UPI app will be launched. The amount consumers can put in the wallet will be capped to around Rs 2000.

This is expected to work the same way as Paytm’s wallet, where you can add money from your bank account and transact through it.


Cabinet approves continuation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) beyond March 2021 till March 2024

Source:  This post is based on the article “Cabinet approves continuation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) beyond March 2021 till March 2024published in PIB on 8th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) beyond March 2021 and till March 2024. This will ensure that the remaining households with the overall target of 2.95 crore gets completed.

Further, the phasing out of Extra Budgetary resources (EBR) and provision of entire scheme funding through gross budgetary support (GBS) shall also be decided in consultation with the ministry of finance.

What is PMAY-G?

Some Key Features of the scheme:

– Provision of assistance for construction of toilets through SBM-G, MGNREGA or any other dedicated source of funding.

– Facilitating willing beneficiaries to avail loan from Financial Institutions for an amount of up to Rs 70,000.

– Earmarking for focus groups – 60% of the funds are earmarked for SC/ST and 15% for minorities. As far as possible, 5% of beneficiaries are to be from persons with benchmark disabilities.

– The progress of construction of houses at different stages of construction is monitored through geo-tagged photographs uploaded on AwaasSoft.  

AWAASSoft is a local language enabled workflow based transaction level Management Information System (MIS) designed to enable e-governance of Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY). The System has been prepared and deployed by NIC in collaboration with Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).

For more: Read here


Explained: What is ambergris, the floating gold?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What is ambergris, the floating gold?published in Indian Express on 9th Dec 2021.

What is the news?

The Crime Branch of Pune police has arrested two persons and seized 550 grams of ambergris, also known as ‘floating gold’

What is Ambergris?

Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

German physician Franz Schwediawer in 1783 called it “preternaturally hardened whale dung”. This excretion is so valuable it is referred to as floating gold.

However, Ambergris is produced only by an estimated 1% of sperm whales.

Formation: It is incorrectly referred to as ‘whale vomit’. This is because one of the theories about its formation suggests that it is produced in the gastrointestinal tract of some of the sperm whales for the passage of hard, sharp objects that are ingested when the whale eats large quantities of marine animals.

Uses: Ambergris is used to produce perfumes which have notes of musk. There are also records of it being used to flavor food, in alcoholic beverages and tobacco in some cultures in the past. Ancient Egyptians used it as incense. It is also believed to be used in some traditional medicines.

But it is rarely used for these purposes presently.

Protection to sperm whales

There is a ban on possession and trade of ambergris in countries like the USA, Australia and India. In several other countries, it is a tradable commodity but with limitations.

In the Indian context, the sperm whales are a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and possession or trade of its by-products, including Ambergris and its byproducts, is illegal under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 

Mains Answer Writing

Let The Land Heal

Source– The post is based on the article “Let the Land Heal” published in The Indian Express on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Agriculture and Environment Relevance– Unsustainable agriculture practices News– The article explains the issues related to excessive use of pesticides. It also suggests measures to reduce their use. What is the issue? There… Continue reading Let The Land Heal

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India-US ties: Depth & nuance

Source– The post is based on the article “India-US ties: Depth & nuance” published in the The Indian Express on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS3- International Relations Relevance– India and US relationship News– The article explains the relationship between India and the USA. How India-US relations have evolved historically? Following the nuclear tests of May… Continue reading India-US ties: Depth & nuance

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5G services to be rolled out today; how will your experience change?

Source: The post is based on an article “5G services to be rolled out today; how will your experience change?” published in The Indian Express on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Relevance: benefits of 5G News: The Prime Minister of India will launch 5G on 1st October and the sixth edition of India Mobile Congress in New Delhi. What… Continue reading 5G services to be rolled out today; how will your experience change?

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Swachh Bharat 2.0: Moving forward together

Source: The post is based on an article “Swachh Bharat 2.0: Moving forward together” published in The Indian Express on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Relevance: measures taken to improve sanitation News: The article highlights the importance of private sector in resolving the issue of Sanitation. The concept of sanitation in India has been around since the Indus Valley… Continue reading Swachh Bharat 2.0: Moving forward together

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Letting go of a chance to democratise telecom services

Source– The post is based on the article “Letting go of a chance to democratise telecom services” published in The Hindu on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS2- Indian Polity Relevance– Regulation of telecommunication services in India News-There is a need to resolve the issues with the new Telecommunication Bill, 2022. What are the issues with… Continue reading Letting go of a chance to democratise telecom services

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Vacation pe vacation: No major country has their top court going on long holidays. Neither should Supreme Court

Source: The post is based on an article “Vacation pe vacation: No major country has their top court going on long holidays. Neither should Supreme Court” published in The Times of India on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – Functioning of Supreme Court Relevance: concerns associated with vacation of courts News: The article discusses the issue of too many… Continue reading Vacation pe vacation: No major country has their top court going on long holidays. Neither should Supreme Court

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No discrimination – ON Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights

Source– The post is based on the article “No discrimination” published in The Hindu on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS1- Social empowerment. GS2- Vulnerable sections Relevance– Abortion rights of women News– The article explains the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights of unmarried women. It also explains the ruling by Delhi High Court on… Continue reading No discrimination – ON Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights

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As India ages, keeping an eye on the elderly

Source: The post is based on an article “As India ages, keeping an eye on the elderly” published in The Hindu on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – Population and associated Issues News: 1st October is celebrated as International Day for Older Persons by the United Nations. World Population Prospects 2022 report published by the UN Department of… Continue reading As India ages, keeping an eye on the elderly

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Punish vandals: Needed: smart law on property damaged in protests

Source: The post is based on the article “Punish vandals: Needed: smart law on property damaged in protests” published in The Times of India on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.. Relevance: About the damages to public and… Continue reading Punish vandals: Needed: smart law on property damaged in protests

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‘Lichens are a pioneer species which enable all life — conserving them is vital’

Source: The post is based on the article “‘Lichens are a pioneer species which enable all life — conserving them is vital’” published in The Times of India on 1st October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation. Relevance: About Lichens. News: At present most conservation work is focused on charismatic species, like tigers… Continue reading ‘Lichens are a pioneer species which enable all life — conserving them is vital’

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