9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 22nd, 2022

Dear Friends, We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

GS Paper 4

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Use international law, call out China’s violations

Source: This post is based on the article “Use international law, call out China’s violationspublished in The Hindu on 22nd February 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Relevance: Understanding the conflicts between India and China.

News: In the recent foreign affairs meeting of Quad, India’s External Affairs minister said that the situation at the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) has arisen due to the “disregard” by China of written agreements.

Read here: Why India-China Border disputes are unresolved?

What is the base of India-China agreements?

India-China LAC engagement is guided by a series of bilateral agreements that both have signed over the years.

1993 Agreement: It said that neither side shall use nor threaten to use force against the other by any means. It further enunciates that the India-China boundary question shall be resolved through peaceful and friendly consultations.

1936 Agreement: Article I of this agreement talks of confidence-building measures between the two sides and prohibits the use of military capability against the other side.

2005 and 2013 agreements: The prohibition on the use of force is also enshrined in Article I and Article VIII of these agreements.

Article 2(4) of the United Nations (UN) Charter also forbade states from using force in international relations with two exceptions self-defense under Article 51 and UN Security Council authorization under Chapter VII.

What are the violations done by China against India?

The Chinese aggression not only violates all the bilateral treaties between India-China, but also the UN Charter. Line of Actual Control (LAC) witnessed violent clashes in Galway valley in Ladakh. China also implemented a new border law that renames several places in Arunachal Pradesh and aims to set up boundary markers on all its land borders. There are also reports of a huge military build-up by China with heavy weaponry including missiles in the Eastern Ladakh Sector.

Read here: Explained china border law and India

The LAC transgressions and the new border law violate Article IX of the 2005 agreement that mandates both sides to “strictly respect and observe” the LAC. Placing armed forces along the LAC breaches another key tenet of both the 1993 and the 1996 agreements.

-Article III of the 1996 agreement specifically requires the two sides to reduce armaments such as combat tanks and vehicles, missiles, etc.

What are the other violations done by China globally?

– China denounced a 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in a maritime dispute between the two sides in the South China Sea.

– China exploited the WTO system to pursue its policy of mercantilism. It is accused of providing illegal subsidies, manipulating currency to make exports competitive, stealing intellectual property, and forcing companies to transfer technology.

–  American scholar  in his book, Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War, said that China secretly violates the obligations of nuclear nonproliferation treaty by providing nuclear technology to its allies, often through proxies.”

What should be the way forward for India?

India should develop strategies based on ethical lawfare by adding international laws in its diplomatic toolkit.

India should look to gather international support by using UN treaties, Right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN charter, enacting a national security law to impose restrictions or sanctions on those countries with whom India shares a land border.

Read here: Pragmatism, not jingoism will help India deal with China

India-US partnership for post-pandemic world

Source: This post is based on the article “India-US partnership for post-pandemic world” published in the Indian Express on 22nd February 2022.

Syllabus: GS-2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests.

Relevance: Understanding US India partnership in various fields.

News: There are ample opportunities in the post-pandemic works in which India and USA can work together.

The present geostrategic and geoeconomic situation demands greater economic cooperation between India and US. During the pandemic, both India and US cooperated to airlift hundreds of millions of free doses of vaccines to low-income countries.

What are the challenges caused by the pandemic times?

– Shrinking consumers’ buying power because of inflation and supply chain woes.

– workforce shortage, shipping delays, and in some cases, empty store shelves.

– Increase in prices of essential commodities like fuel, cooking oil, etc.

Read here: India and US Agrees to Resolve key Trade Issues

What should US and India do to strengthen their relations?

Both countries are aspiring to achieve $500 billion in bilateral trade in goods and services.

They should work together to increase supply, bring prices down, improve economic confidence, remove unnecessary trade barriers, secure the free world’s supply chain, and promoting investment across the corridor, etc.

India can also secure its border through a stronger defense partnership with the USA on the lines of India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement.

Read here: Deeper trade ties will benefit both India and US

Both countries can also make the free world’s supply chains more robust and resilient through closer cooperation across a range of sectors including defense, energy, healthcare, and agriculture.

Read here: deeper cooperation between the United States and India in trade can help India achieve a $5 trillion economic status

Address the challenges of doing ESG ratings at the onset

Source: This post is based on the article “Address the challenges of doing ESG ratings at the onset” published in Livemint on 22nd Feb 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Important Aspects of Governance.

Relevance: ESG rating and CRAs

News: Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has come out with a paper on how credit-rating agencies (CRAs) should go about ESG exercise.

The article says there is need of proper assessment before allowing CRAs to become ESG rating agencies.

How Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing is becoming the ‘next big thing’?

ESG compliance is becoming very important. The government is talking of issuing sovereign green bonds and the recipient of funds must be green-compliant. Foreign investors are keen to invest in ESG-complaint firms.

Is ESG exercise trivialized?

One, all companies claim that they are doing a lot for the environment. But while businesses say they have changed bulbs and use auto switch-on/off power devices, they make employees work beyond office hours, which consumes a lot of power with large servers running overtime.

Two, social responsibility is also unclear. During the pandemic, private companies with big reserves sacked employees or made them take pay cuts. Also, the top management corner more benefits in terms of increments.

Three, governance write-ups can also be questioned. It is well known that in some owner-driven businesses, even reputed directors are mere dummies. Also, typically members spend no more than 24 hours a year, earn ₹12 lakh upwards, and are not really interested. For instance, a recent episode of a stock exchange’s governance.

Why CRA cannot do the ESG rating job?

First, CRAs face problems with getting data from companies when they rate debt. The number of ‘Issuer not cooperating’ cases for surveillance has increased manifold. Once such firms procure a rating, their continued cooperation is not easy to obtain. For example, the recent announcement of entrusting CRAs to check the use of initial public offering (IPO) proceeds has drawn mixed reactions.

Second, there is an inherent conflict of interest. If a large company that pays a CRA, say, ₹5 crore in fees for a debt rating also asks for an ESG rating, then the risks of a compromised assessment cannot be ruled out.

Third, CRAs have little competence in evaluating environmental and social impacts. Some CRAs are talking of using artificial intelligence and machine learning for rating operations. It can be disastrous because algorithms will use annual-report data that can’t always be taken at face value. Hence, humans must decide ratings, not machines.

What is the way forward?

First, SEBI should mandate that ESG rating jobs be done by research institutions that specialize in ESG assessments.

Second, if CRAs have to be involved, it should be selective. Those CRAs should be specially qualified for the task. An external rating panel with experts in these fields should be compulsory until the system stabilizes.

India’s Ukraine dilemma

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine dilemma” published in Indian Express on 22nd February 2022.

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

Relevance: Understanding India’s position in Russia Ukraine crisis.

News: As Russian pressure increases over Ukraine, it is time that India changes its perspective towards central Europe.

Read here: Explained: What are India’s stakes in its ties with Ukraine and Russia?

What is the issue?

Russia has raised the tensions over Ukraine and set his demands of security guarantee from NATO. India has largely remained silent over the issue. This opens the doors for European accusations of diplomatic duplicity.

Read here: Ukraine Crisis and India: On Kyiv, Sit On The Fence

What are other examples of such accusations against India?

India did not speak against Russia in 1956 at the Soviet invasion of Hungary, while India denounced the Anglo-French attempt to seize the Suez Canal. Similar Indian is silenced over the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush Prague Spring, while India criticized the US invasion of Vietnam.

Even now, India criticizes Chinese aggression but is silent about Russian actions in Ukraine.

Why Central Europe must not be viewed only as the US and Russia’s sphere of influence? 

First, there are no takers for a broad sphere of Russian influence in Central Europe. Neither former Warsaw members nor Baltic or ex-Soviet states.

Second, Russian security concerns are legitimate, but they can best be addressed through political accommodation.

Third, few central European countries buy into the French argument of European sovereignty and strategic autonomy. They are more inclined towards the US-led NATO as a security guarantor.

Fourth, though these countries are keen on the US and EU security umbrella, they are not keen to adopt political values antithetical to their traditional values.

Fifth, central European countries are also working to develop regional institutions like Visegrád Four – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia and other institutions like the “Three seas initiative”.

Thus, any of India’s approaches must not be influenced by the views of NATO or Russia. It should lead to an independent appreciation of the geopolitics of Central Europe.

Online courses by autonomous colleges: UGC gets Bold

Source: This post is based on the article “UGC gets bold” published in Times of India on 22nd Feb 2022.   

Syllabus: GS2- Issues relating to the development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 

Relevance: Higher education, UGC. 

News: UGC (University Grants Commission) is planning to allow autonomous colleges that are under top-100 ranks in the NIRF subject rankings or having NAAC-grade higher than 3.26 to offer online degrees from the next academic session. 

What are the implications of this move? 

Quality education: Although many universities are offering online degrees but allowing prestigious colleges to run such courses will benefit a large number of students, if the colleges offer same quality online. 

This will definitely help those with lower grades who are seeking quality education, which is in short supply. 

Gross Enrolment Ratio: These online degrees could help India improve the gross enrolment ratio in higher education, which is a key metric in improving human capital. National Education Policy envisages to double India’s GER to 50%. 

Affordability: Nearly three in four young Indians don’t enrol for higher education due to economic pressure. Affordable online degrees with a measure of flexibility could offer a ray of hope to these people.  

Employability: One leading problem in Indian higher education sector is that the employability of many graduates is poor. Online education from a top college may help solve this problem, as it will be a better alternative than campus learning in a low-ranked institution.  

What is the way forward? 

Although UGC’s proposal is a positive development, but there is need for more investment in improving quality of online education.

Infrastructure also needs to be set up, including manpower for continuous assessment of a larger student intake.  

For the initiative to be successful, there is a need for a) ensuring availability of good internet speeds, b) creating engaging online content, c) enhancing National Testing Agency’s capacity to conduct online semester examinations. 

There will also be need for Public funding to support students who are economically weaker  and for infra upgrades. 

GS Paper 3

Manufacturing exports can gain from India’s empowerment push

Source: This post is based on the article “Manufacturing exports can gain from India’s empowerment push” published in Livemint on 22nd Feb 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Need of manufacturing growth

News: The recent released Budget 2022-23 carries forward the government’s vision of empowering Indians and enabling economic activity.

 This article discusses how manufacturing can help India in empowering people and increase the growth rate.

How manufacturing exports can help India’s empowerment push?

First, the weakening of manufacturing in many developed nations has caused social divisions and devastation of communities. That is why the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is extended to ensure higher economic growth and better living standards for people.

Second, manufacturing provides more room than services for less-skilled and less-educated individuals. For instance, the prospects are not bright for less skill-intensive services such as tourism, aviation, and tourism traffic, which are badly hit by COVID. Thailand which was mostly relied on tourism is dependent on merchandise exports to mitigate the shock.

Third, in India, the revival of manufacturing is essential for mass employment and income growth. Upgrading the sector’s expertise, increasing exports, and adding high value-added service exports are also mutually related.

What is the challenge in relying on service exports?

The Global Trade Update 2022 published by UNCTAD states, During Q4 2021, trade in goods increased by almost US$200 billion. During the same period, trade in services rose only by US$50 billion, a value just above pre-pandemic levels.

Also, India’s export of goods was up 25% in the fourth quarter of 2021, whereas export of services was up 7%. Further, growth in the export of engineering goods in April 2021-January 2022 was higher by nearly 38%.

What steps have been taken by the government to spur manufacturing growth?

One, the government has been pursuing formalization of the economy for enhancing incomes and offering workers wage security. For instance, the government is providing for the payment of employers’ provident fund contributions subject to conditions and limits.

Two, the rapidly rising enrollment in the E-Shram portal is a sign that the government aims to bring better access to many formal benefits available, credit facilities, etc., to millions of workers.

Three, the creation of physical and digital infrastructure and process reforms such as Gati Shakti will lower costs of logistics over time. It will enable goods made in the interiors to be shipped globally.

What is the way forward?

First, state governments should review the rules and laws to help entrepreneurs to focus on generating jobs and profits and aid economic growth. For instance, the Observer Research Foundation and Teamlease show that the majority of laws that attract criminal punishment are in the domain of states.

Second, the commercial sector has to recognize that making profits and increasing labor income are equally important. Hence, it has to improve the complexity and sophistication of India’s manufactured products.

Also, Indian businesses must utilize a low-tax regime, low real interest rates, and a regime determined to improve business conditions.

Method to the Make-in-India plan: Decoding our import tariff policy

Source: This post is based on the article “Method to the Make-in-India plan: Decoding our import tariff policy” published in Live mint on 22nd Feb 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Effects of Liberalization on the Economy

Relevance: Reforms in trade policy

News: According to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Tariff Profile for 2021, India has one of the highest average tariffs of 15% in the Asia-Pacific region.

This article discusses the need to align Make-in-India with trade policy.

How Make-in-India plan and trade policy is evolving?

First, the government wants to boost “Make in India”, reduce import dependence and promote exports to become the third-largest economy by 2047. For instance, Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes to scale up domestic manufacturing.

Second, many studies confirmed that higher import duties on raw materials/intermediate products than on finished medical devices are hampering domestic production. Hence, inverted duties are reduced in sectors like medical devices.

Third, the government has rationalized customs exemptions, imposed new tariffs, and reduced tariffs for certain products to resolve the issue of inverted duties. This has delivered positive results in electronics and India has started manufacturing smartphones.

Fourth, India’s previous trade agreements were mostly geostrategic, but now India is focusing on greater market access in key export destinations. For example, after withdrawing from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), India sealed a deal with the UAE.

Fifth, India is focusing on finalizing the early-harvest pact. For example, Australia shares similar concerns regarding over-dependence on China and UK. Also, India has relaunched trade talks with the EU.

What other countries are doing?

High tariffs are not uncommon in South Asia. The average MFN tariffs of Bhutan (22.1%), Bangladesh (14%), Nepal (12.2%), and Pakistan (12.1%) are all high, but these countries are yet to integrate well with global value chains.

Also, India’s free-trade agreement (FTA) partners like the Republic of Korea (ROK, 13.6%) and Thailand (10.2%) also have fairly high average autonomous tariffs. But both ROK and Thailand have been able to develop domestic manufacturing capabilities and integrate well with global supply chains through their trade agreements.

What does India need to learn from previous agreements?

India’s comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with ROK has been a key learning experience. For example, according to the United States Geological Survey (2020), India was the fifth-largest zinc miner, while ROK was not among the top 10.

But after its trade agreements with India, Australia, China, and the US, ROK became the world’s leading exporter of zinc in 2020. Also, India’s imports from ROK increased from 9.1% in 2010-11 to more than 50% in 2020-21. In 2010-11, India had a trade surplus with ROK but in 2020-21, it had a deficit.

The ROK used smart negotiations on rules-of-origin and focused on domestic value addition. India should learn to use high tariffs and trade agreements as a tool to boost exports.

What is the way forward?

First, before launching trade talks with a smart negotiator like the US, India should have a domestic policy regime in place for areas like data sharing.

Second, high tariffs should be used as a tool to facilitate investment in domestic manufacturing and to bargain for greater market access in trade deals through reciprocal tariff reductions and also in areas like regulatory compliance and mutual recognition of technical standards.

Questions on MGNREGA budget estimation

Source: This post is based on the article “Questions on MGNREGA budget estimation” published in The Hindu on 22nd   Feb 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Mobilisation of Resources and Employment

Relevance:  MGNREGA

News: The disappointing allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in the FY 2022-23 budget has created a buzz.

Government’s allocation for MGNREGA has been much lower than what State governments ask for and civil society actors had recommended.

For instance, The initial allocations in the past two FYs have been just about half of what was recommended by groups like the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) and NSM (NREGA Sangharsh Morcha).

Why is the government’s allocation so much lower than what State governments ask for and civil society actors recommend?

Firstly, the issue of underestimation of the projected person-days.

Projected persondays are the total days of work anticipated for the year. For instance, the projected persondays for Q4 in FY 2021-22 appeared to be strangely and significantly lower than that in Q3. Also, there seems to be no clarity on how this projection was arrived at.

Since budget allocations are based on projected persondays Underestimated projections will lead to inadequate allocation.

Secondly, the official MGNREGA daily wages also contribute to keeping the budget low.

According to the NREGA ‘At a Glance’ report, the average MGNREGA wages paid this year remain at a meagre ₹209 per day. Whereas, the expert committee (under the chairmanship of Anoop Satpathy) suggested a need-based national minimum wage of ₹375 per day as of July 2018. Even the PAEG recommended a minimum wage of ₹269 per day in its recently released pre-budget brief.

Even if we take the wage rate of ₹209 per day, the government’s estimated expenditure will be ₹1.19 lakh crore by the end of this FY. And yet, the government has allocated only ₹98,000 crores (₹73,000 crores in the initial budget plus ₹25,000 crores as supplementary grants) for the FY.

How it has impacted the MGNREGA Scheme?

First, the consistent shortage of funds has caused a situation endemic to MGNREGA. For example, deficits for State governments, long delays in wage payments, decline in the work provided in the last two-quarters of the FYs, and significant pending dues at the end of the FYs. Further, less than 5% of households active this year have completed 100 days of work.

Second, the Centre’s approach has eroded the very premise of employment guarantee as a legal right.

Any rural household can demand to work up to 100 days every year, and the government has to provide it. As and when the demand arises, the government must fulfill it. In this context, treating the budget allocation as a ‘ceiling’ to the work that can be provided erodes the core premise of the scheme.

What is the way forward?

Increasing the financial allocation: For FY 2022-23, PAEG had recommended a minimal allocation of ₹2.64 lakh crore, and NSM had recommended ₹3.64 lakh crore.

Provision for Supplementary Grants: MGNREGA funds must be regularly replenished by supplementary grants provided based on actual work demand in each State

Banks must refocus on their basic lending role

Source: This post is based on the article “Banks must refocus on their basic lending role” published in Live Mint on 22nd Feb 2022.   

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy and issues relating to planning. 

Relevance: Banking sector, corporate credit  

News: ABG Shipyard, a ship building and repairing company, is alleged to have committed a bank fraud.

Questions are also being raised as to why it took so long to conduct an audit report and for the report to point out mala fide use of funds and legal action to be initiated. 

What is the ABG Shipyard case? 

ABG, a shipbuilding and ship repair company, is alleged to have defrauded as many as 28 banks of almost ₹23,000 crore, which includes big lenders like ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank and State Bank of India. 

Large sums of money were reportedly borrowed between 2005 and 2010 and allegedly diverted over the years from 2012 to 2017 through multiple deals within the ABG group.  

Company is said to have used methods like investments in overseas subsidiaries, assets bought in the name of affiliates and a variety of related-party transactions to secure loans from multiple lenders. 

What are the causes that lead to such corporate scams in India? 

Our banking sector is still state-dominated and this sometimes lead to companies using their links to secure loans and critical factors like Credit risk are ignored by the banks. 

What has been the trend in corporate credit in shipping industry sector? 

Recently, there has been an increase in retail credit due to a low demand for credit from the corporate side.

This is because capacity utilization levels in the private sector overall have been low for a sustained period, curtailing business investment. 

Why sustained corporate credit growth is important for economic growth? 

A boost in corporate credit demand is crucial for economic growth.

Towards that end, the Government has been focussing on capital expenditure as seen in recent budget and also evident from its offer of production incentives for over a dozen fields. 

This will lead to a renewed investment by private enterprise in the second half of next fiscal year. If this happens many businesses will want to borrow from banks. 

What is the way forward?

Although, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been pushing for transparency in the related-party dealings of listed firms, but there is need for more checks and balances to prevent any such frauds in future. 

Making Green Hydrogen work

Source: This post is based on the article “Making Green Hydrogen work” published in Business Standard on 22nd Feb 2022  

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian economy: Industrial policy and growth

Relevance: Green hydrogen, Green hydrogen and ammonia policy. 

News: Recently, a new green hydrogen and green ammonia policy has been introduced that envisages building a prominent role for clean fuels in the country’s fossil fuel-dominated energy mix.   

What does the policy offer? 

The policy offers some concessions on interstate electricity transmission charges, which has the potential to halve the current costs of producing green hydrogen.  

Other important provisions deal with ease of doing business, grid connectivity, and single window clearances. The policy aims to meet the output target of 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 from nil now. 

What are some issues with the policy? 

The policy is tilted towards the supply side measures and has very little to no measures to create demand for the fuel. 

Policy also has missed focusing on electrolysers and fuel cells, which are used in producing and storing green hydrogen.  Fuel cell systems are used from electric vehicles to large-scale installations providing electricity directly to the grid and can serve as an alternative for batteries. 

If these measures are not subsequently incorporated, India may end up depending on imports again to meet hydrogen goals. 

Why is Hydrogen important for India?  

Hydrogen has application in refineries, steel-making, power generation, and transport, or to produce synthetic fuels such as methanol, diesel, and jet fuel.  

The investment potential in this area is significant. Global sales of hydrogen could be worth $600 billion, and the value chains of green hydrogen could become a $11.7-trillion investment opportunity by 2050. 

What is the way forward?

There is need for both supply and demand side measures as without demand, investments remain too risky for wide-scale production that could reduce costs, and without economies of scale the technology remains too costly. 

Therefore, incentives need to be provided for industries to buy green hydrogen, without which private sector participation may be limited. 

GS Paper 4

A red pen moment for corporate governance

Source: This post is based on the article “A red pen moment for corporate governance” published in The Hindu on 22nd February 2022.

Syllabus: GS 4 corporate governance.

Relevance: Understanding the loopholes in corporate governance.

News: A lapse in Corporate Governance was observed recently in the conduct of the former Managing Director of National Stock Exchange (NSE).

Read here: Corporate governance in India

What are the challenges in ensuring effective Corporate Governance?

Managerial Misconduct: There were several managerial misconducts at NSE. As in the recent case, the board did not include discussion of the chief strategic adviser’s  appointment in the minutes of meeting. It also allowed the former Managing Director’s resignation on liberal terms instead of taking action against her. Public interest directors failed to keep SEBI informed about on-goings at NSE.

Ineffective board members: Here the problem is structural. It involves two crucial factors a) the methodology of selection of board members b) absence of penalties when directors don’t live up to the mandate.

Board members are selected by top management. Board memberships are lucrative and carry attractive perks. So board members have an incentive in giving consent to what management wants. Challenging management may mean losing renewal and even provoking colleagues.

What steps can be undertaken to improve Corporate Governance?

Recruitment of independent directors: Top management should allow choosing not more than 50% of the independent direction. The rest of the members should be selected by other stakeholders like financial institutions, banks, small shareholders, etc.

Read here: SEBI’s new rules for Independent directors

Accountability: There is a need to make the board members accountable for the lapses in the system.  Regulators should penalize board members through various instruments like financial penalties, removal from board and permanent member from board membership. Apart from the board members, regulators should also be held accountable.

Independent audits: Audits of all the regulators should be done by a panel of eminent persons. The audit should evaluate the regulators’ performance in relation to their objectives.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

What is the news?

Legendary singer-composer Bappi Lahiri died due to obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a disorder in which a person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly in their sleep.

This occurs when muscles in the throat and upper airway relax intermittently during sleep and block the airway.

Symptoms: The most common symptoms of OSA are snoring, gasping for breath, abruptly waking up gasping or choking, having a dry mouth or sore throat, inability to concentrate during the daytime among others.

Complications: It can be life-threatening if left untreated. It can trigger chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease among others.

Vulnerable group: It usually happens in obese men and less commonly in women.


One of the most common treatments for OSA is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). CPAP is a mask or device that fits over the nose and mouth of a person suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It blows air into the airways to keep them open at night. 

Another alternative is using an oral appliance, a plastic insert that fits into the mouth and prevents the tongue and tissues from collapsing over the airway.

However, the only sure way to treat the condition is either losing weight or having surgery to remove excess tissue from the palate or throat.

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?” published in Indian Express on 22nd Feb 2022.


What is the news?

Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) are scheduled to participate in a bilateral exercise named Eastern Bridge-VI at Air Force Station Jodhpur. 

What is Exercise Eastern Bridge?

Conducted between: India and Oman.

Type: Bilateral air exercise

First edition: held in 2009.

This is the sixth edition of the exercise.

The exercise will provide an opportunity to enhance operational capability and interoperability between the two Air Forces.

What are the other bilateral exercises between India and Oman?

Naseem-al-Bahr: It is a bilateral biennial naval exercise between India and Oman.

AL NAGAH: It is a bilateral military exercise between India and Oman.

Source: This post is based on the articleEXERCISE EASTERN BRIDGE -VI AT AIR FORCE STATION JODHPUR published in PIB on 22nd Feb 2022.

Public order: A constitutional provision for curbing freedom

What is the news?

Karnataka High Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of the state government’s ban on students wearing a hijab in educational institutions.

In the last hearing, the arguments were based on whether the state can justify the ban on the ground that it violates ‘public order’.

What is Public Order?

Public order is one of the three grounds on which the state can restrict freedom of religion.

Public order is also one of the grounds to restrict free speech and other fundamental rights.

Note: Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to all persons the right to freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.

Who has powers to legislate on Public Order?

Public order is normally equated with public peace and safety. 

According to List 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the power to legislate on aspects of public order rests with the states.

How has public order been interpreted by courts?

The courts have broadly interpreted Public Order to mean something that affects the community at large and not a few individuals.

In Ram Manohar Lohia vs State of Bihar (1965), the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action.

Note: One has to imagine three concentric circles, the largest representing ‘law and order’, the next representing ‘public order’ and the smallest representing ‘security of State’.

How is the public order issue related to the Hijab Ban?

Karnataka’s government has issued an order under the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.

As per this, “public order” is one of the reasons for not allowing students to wear a headscarf in educational institutions, along with “unity” and “integrity.”

However, the petitioners have asked the state to show how wearing of a hijab by students could constitute a public order issue. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Public order: A constitutional provision for curbing freedom” published in Indian Express on 20th February 2022.

Govt extends capacity development scheme till March 2026

What is the news?

The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of the capacity development (CD) scheme till March 2026.

What is Capacity Development Scheme?

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation

Type: Central Sector Scheme

Aim: To augment infrastructural, technical as well as manpower resources for enabling availability of credible and timely official statistics.

Sub-Schemes: The scheme comprises two sub schemes:

Support for Statistical Strengthening (SSS): It aims to improve the statistical capacity and operations of State Statistical Systems for collecting, compiling and disseminating reliable official statistics.

Economic Census: It gives the complete count of all non-farm economic establishments located within the geographical boundary of India. Economic Census provides disaggregated information on various operational and structural variables of all such establishments of the country. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Govt extends capacity development scheme till March 2026” published in Live mint on 16th Feb 2022

Govt has decided to continue the Umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure & Management (BIM) from 2021-22 to 2025-26

What is the news?

Government has approved the continuation of the “Border Infrastructure and Management” (BIM) Scheme over the 15th Finance Commission Cycle from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

What is the Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) Scheme? 

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Home Affairs

Type: Central Sector Scheme

Aim: To strengthen the border infrastructure for improving border management, policing and guarding the borders.

The scheme will help in the creation of infrastructure such as construction of border fence, border floodlights, technological solutions, border roads and Border Outposts (BOPs) to secure the Indo-Pakistan, Indo-Bangladesh, Indo-China, Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Myanmar borders.

Source: This post is based on the articleGovt has decided to continue the Umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure & Management (BIM) from 2021-22 to 2025-26” published in PIB on 22nd February 2022.

Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy, 2022: India’s draft data policy unlocks govt data for all, mulls monetisation

What is the News?

The Government of India has released a  policy document called “Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy 2022”.

About the Draft India Data Accessibility & Use Policy, 2022

Aim: To enhance access, quality, and use of data in line with the current and emerging technology needs of the decade.

Salient features

Making Data Open: All data collected, generated, and stored by every government ministry and the department will be open and shareable barring certain exceptions.

Indian Data Office(IDO): It will be constituted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) to streamline and consolidate data access and share public data repositories across the government and other stakeholders.

Indian Data Council(IDC): It will comprise the IDO and data officers of five government departments. Its tasks will include defining frameworks for defining high-value datasets, finalizing data standards and metadata standards and reviewing the implementation of the policy.

Common Database: All central and state government bodies will have to compulsorily share data with each other to create a common “searchable database”.

The monetisation of Data: The datasets that have undergone value addition could be monetised by the government.

Stakeholders like start-ups, other enterprises, individuals and researchers will be able to access enriched data through data licensing, sharing and valuation within the frameworks of data security and privacy.

A data-sharing toolkit will be provided to ministries and departments to assess and manage risks associated with data sharing.

Guidelines will also be framed to decide how long datasets can be held by the Government.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s draft data policy unlocks govt data for all, mulls monetisation” published in Business Standard on 22nd February 2022.

About PMFBY: India’s facade of agricultural insurance

What is the News?

Since its launch in 2016, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has seen a consistent fall in acreage and the number of farmers covered.

What is Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(PMFBY)?

Click Here to read about it

Other Features of the Scheme:

This scheme was initially compulsory for loanee farmers but has been made voluntary for all since 2020. 

The scheme insures farmers against all non-preventable natural risks from pre-sowing to post-harvest. 

It is a yield index-based scheme and is mainly implemented on an area approach basis.

Claims are worked out on the basis of shortfall in actual yield vis-à-vis the threshold yield in the notified area. However, the premium is determined through bidding.

The premium is shared by the Union and state governments on a 50:50 basis and on a 90:10 basis in the case of northeastern states.

What are the issues with the PMFBY?

1) Low amount of Compensation, 2) States opting out of the scheme or delaying paying their share of premium, 3) Private insurers are not following the assessment by the government officials and rejecting many claims on the basis of their own assessment, 4) Corruption, 5) Disputes on the quality of yield data and 6) Human Resources Shortage.

What are the steps taken by the government to address issues with the PMFBY?

The government has made changes to the scheme twice. It has also set up a panel to suggest suitable working models for PMFBY. It is specifically studying Gujarat’s Beed Model of Crop Insurance.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s facade of agricultural insurancepublished in Down To Earth on 22nd February 2022.

How central agency is looking to strengthen network for monitoring groundwater situation

What is the News?

Central Ground Water Board(CGWB) is aiming to strengthen its existing network of hydrograph monitoring stations for a better assessment of the situation of groundwater in Delhi.

About the status of groundwater exploitation in India

India is home to 16% of the world’s population, but only holds 4% of the world’s freshwater resources. Not only is water scarce in India, but the extraction of groundwater has been on the rise for decades. 

Since the 1960s, the government’s support for the “green revolution” to ensure food security has increased the demand for groundwater for agriculture. 

Moreover, rapid rural electrification combined with the availability of modern pump technologies has led to an increase in the number of borewells to meet that demand. 

The Central Groundwater Board of India estimates that about 17% of groundwater blocks are overexploited (meaning the rate at which water is extracted exceeds the rate at which the aquifer is able to recharge).

The over-exploited areas are mostly concentrated in the north-western part of the country, including parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh.

What is the CGWB doing to monitor the situation of groundwater exploitation?

Major activities taken up by CGWB include a) macro/micro-level ground water management studies, b) monitoring of groundwater levels and water quality through piezometers, c) implementation of demonstrative schemes for artificial recharge and rainwater harvesting for recharge augmentation and d) Periodic assessment of replenishable groundwater resources of the country is carried out by the Board jointly with the concerned State Government agencies.

Source: This post is based on the article “How central agency is looking to strengthen network for monitoring groundwater situation” published in TOI on 22nd February 2022.

OpenSea phishing attack: All you need to know

What is the News?

Social media posts have alleged that non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea was hacked, compromising assets worth $200 million.

What is OpenSea?

OpenSea is a non-fungible token marketplace headquartered in New York City. 

What exactly happened with OpenSea?

There was a phishing attack that was targeted at users of OpenSea and not the marketplace, The targeted users were sent a phishing email in the name of OpenSea with a malicious payload (malware). 

Note: Phishing is a method in which users are contacted by email, telephone or text message by posing as a legitimate institution to lure into providing sensitive data such as personal information, banking and credit card details.

What are the identity issues with NFT?

The premise of NFT is to establish proof  of  ownership  of  a  digital  asset that  can be anything from property to artwork or music stored on a blockchain platform. 

When a digital asset is tokenized as NFT, a unique code is generated and stored on the blockchain network. This can be used to identify the creator as well as the future and past owners. 

However, in case of a scam or a data breach, identifying the attacker can be difficult as crypto wallets are built on the principle of anonymity and do not seek to know your customer details.

Is phishing the only way for NFTs to be stolen?

There are many other ways. For instance, attackers can target NFT communities on Discord or Telegram.

Also, attackers can pretend to be buyers or sellers and gain access to the target’s wallet during the transfer of ownership.

Source: This post is based on the article OpenSea phishing attack: All you need to knowpublished in Livemint on 22nd February 2022.

Wildfires will be more frequent, larger and intense due to climate change: UNEP

What is the News?

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its latest Annual Frontiers Report.

About Annual Frontiers Report

This is the fourth edition of the Frontiers Report. The first one was first published in 2016.

FocusThe report identifies three issues: 1) Urban noise pollution, 2) wildfires and 3) phenological shifts. The report urges the need for urgent attention to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

What are the key highlights from the report?
Noise Pollution

Unwanted, prolonged and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways or leisure activities, impair human health and well-being.

Noise pollution also threatens animals by altering the communication and behavior of various species including birds, insects and amphibians.

Recommendation: Urban planners must prioritize noise reduction by investing in urban infrastructure that creates positive soundscapes such as tree belts, green walls, and more green spaces in cities.

Phenological Shifts
Note: Phenology is the study of periodic events in biological life cycles and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation).

Plants and animals in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems use temperature, day length or rainfall as cues for when to bear fruit, migrate or transform in other ways. However, climate change is disrupting these natural rhythms.

Recommendation: Maintaining suitable habitats and ecological connectivity, strengthening the integrity of biological diversity and coordinating international efforts along migratory routes.


Between 2002 and 2016, an average of 423 million hectares of the Earth’s land surface – about the size of the European Union – burned, projecting that dangerous wildfires will likely become more frequent, intense and longer-lasting, including in areas previously unaffected by fires.

Recommendation: Greater investment in reducing wildfire risks; developing prevention and response management approaches; and refinancing remote sensing capabilities, such as satellites and radar.

Source: This post is based on the article “Wildfires will be more frequent, larger and intense due to climate change: UNEP” published in Down To Earth on 22nd February 2022.

Mains Answer Writing

Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions

Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster Management Relevance: Indonesia’s football stampede and concerns associated with it News: The crowd at Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium ran onto the pitch after their team lost. This led… Continue reading Lessons unlearnt: The deadly football tragedy in Indonesia raises serious questions

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FABS: The East Asian lesson for India

Source– The post is based on the article “FABS: The East Asian lesson for India” published in the mint on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Economy Relevance– Semiconductor manufacturing News– The article explains the experience of East Asian countries in promoting semiconductor manufacturing. Recently the central government has announced some changes in the production-linked incentive… Continue reading FABS: The East Asian lesson for India

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Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy

Source: The post is based on the article “Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – Functioning of Judiciary Relevance: benefits of live-streaming of SC hearing. News:  The Supreme Court has allowed the live streaming of the hearing of cases from 27th September 2022.… Continue reading Livestreaming Supreme Court proceedings: A step closer to a stronger democracy

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There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena

Source– The post is based on the article “There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS2- Polity Relevance– Political parties in India News– The article explains the procedure for allotting symbols in case of conflict between two rival… Continue reading There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena

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As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia

Source– The post is based on the article “As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS2- International Relations Relevance– India multilateral engagement News– The article explains the lessons India can learn from Indonesia on economic engagement. These will… Continue reading As India prepares to take over the G20 presidency, it can learn from Indonesia

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Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts

Source: The post is based on an article “Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts” published in The Times of India on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 – Art and Architecture Relevance: concerns associated with repatriation artefacts in India News:  There has been a demand to return the Kohinoor diamond to India after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.… Continue reading Kohinoor and other quarrels over stolen artefacts

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The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy

Source: The post is based on an article “The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 1 News:  The article discusses the change in the views of Gandhiji after returning to India from South Africa. Gandhi was greatly influenced by the writings of Leo Tolstoy and John Ruskin.He adopted… Continue reading The evolution of the Mahatma’s thought and philosophy

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India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test

Source: The post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test” published in the Business Standard on 4th October 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests. Relevance: Russian war and India’s stand. News: Recently, India abstained from a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning… Continue reading India’s Ukraine destiny: A foreign policy test

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Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths

Source: The post is based on the article “Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. What is the News? The SASTRA Ramanujan Prize for 2022 will be awarded to Yunqing Tang, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. About SASTRA… Continue reading Yunqing Tang bags SASTRA Ramanujan Prize 2022 for her contribution in maths

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MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

Source: The post is based on the article “MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022. What is the News? The government is now planning to bring convergence between the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi… Continue reading MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

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