9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 11th, 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:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- At WTO, China a developing country-Why many nations are raising concerns
- How India has approached customary international law
- Geopolitics of Eurasia: Understanding the Eurasian turmoil
- The sail that Indian diplomacy, statecraft need
- Bilateral Investment Treaties: A BIT to review
- Dealing with Sri Lanka
- India’s nuclear arsenal recently went up the sophistication curve
- What a waste: Reviving India’s sanitation systems
GS Paper 3
- Why most countries are unable to take a firm decision on crypto
- Weaponising ED, tax authorities to expand counterinsurgency security umbrella in Kashmir is a fraught move
- The difficulty in spending
- High costs, low use may derail the development of EV charging Infra
- Risks of three Cs: CVC curtailing CBI’s scope for bank probes is excellent. But PSBs still face perverse incentives
- The new fintech department of RBI has its work cut out
- Public sector banks: More sinned against than sinners
- No place for propaganda in PM’s security breach probe
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Key Initiatives and Achievements of Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) for the Year 2021
- Jallikattu banned in Vellore, nearby districts ahead of Pongal as COVID-19 cases see spike
- Year End review 2021 on highlight key Initiatives and achievements pertains to Department of Fisheries
- Sebi issues guidelines for operationalizing gold exchanges in India
- Year End Review of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
- Things to watch for as India, UK launch FTA talks
- China-Sri Lanka ties: ‘No one should interfere in China-Lanka ties’
- Digital Embossing Technology and NATMO: Visually challenged students will have access to user-friendly durable Braille maps using advanced technology
- Red Sanders falls back in IUCN’s ‘endangered’ category
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: This post is based on the article “Amendments that are unnecessary” published in The Hindu on 11th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 1 Population and associated issues.
Relevance: Understanding the need for a national database of registered births and deaths.
News: Government recently proposed creating a national database of registration system comprising births and deaths. This is proposed to be used to update every birth and death, and linked with other databases like the national population register, voter list and the Aadhaar database.
What is the current mechanism?
The current system is covered by the Registration of the births and deaths act, 1969(RBD Act). Under the RBD act, it is the responsibility of the states to register births and deaths. States have set up facilities for the same and a chief registrar is an executive authority for the implementation of the act. The registrar general of India is responsible for coordinating and unifying the implementation of the RBD Act.
This system enables citizens to easily obtain the required services, prevent fake registrations. It also includes some personal information like the child’s parents and the deceased.
What are the challenges in the newly proposed National Database of birth and death?
One should examine the need for each birth and death to be communicated to other databases. The population database may need the information instantaneously, but other databases like the voter’s list may need it only once in six months. For such databases, the information should not be collected from the birth and death databases.
There are other challenges like the address of the newborn may be different from the current or present address. This may require linkage with the Aadhaar number to verify across multiple databases. This can be done by amending section 8 of the act. However, this may be unnecessary as Aadhaar number can be included in the forms used for reporting births and deaths. And such directions have already been issued to the states.
Moreover, the information maintained for births and deaths by the states could still be manual in some cases. Also, extracting information from the state central level will lead to duplication of data without any value addition. Also, data maintained by various states may not follow the same structure.
|Also read: Centre wants to keep birth, death database|
There is a proposal that the national database would be used to update population register, passport database, Aadhaar database etc. These provisions are not required, as the law for each of these databases specifies the purposes for which the information can be used.
What should be done going forward?
The central government should prescribe standards for data items in the birth and death databases to be maintained by the state comments.
Activities relating to the registration of births and deaths have undergone huge changes due to computerization. However, the laws have not kept pace. There is a need for updating the laws to take care of present and future developments. The proposed law should address these concerns.
A bill for this purpose was introduced in Parliament in 2012 to amend the RBD act, but it lapsed. The Law commission examined the issue in its 270th report and called for amending the RBD act.
So the proposed amendment should take care of these concerns first.
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “At WTO, China a developing country-Why many nations are raising concerns” published in The Indian express on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: WTO, Developing country status.
News: China’s status as a ‘developing country’ at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has become a contentious issue.
A number of countries have raised concerns over the upper middle-income nation deriving benefits reserved for developing countries under WTO norms.
Moreover, concerns have been raised over the ‘least developed country’ (LDC) status, with Bangladesh potentially losing this tag after surpassing India in terms of GDP per capita.
|Must Read: India questions China’s developing country status on per capita basis|
What are the benefits associated with developing country status?
Certain WTO agreements give developing countries special rights through ‘special and differential treatment’ (S&DT).
It also allows other countries to offer preferential treatment.
How is a ‘developing country’ status decided?
WTO has not defined ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries and therefore member countries are free to announce whether they are ‘developed’ or ‘developing’.
Which all countries have objected to China’s developing country status?
Please refer here.
Why are so many countries objecting to China’s developing country status?
China’s per capita income has come to a level of upper middle-income country, according to the World Bank’s classification.
Apart from this it has been alleged of unfair trade practices such as preferential treatment for state enterprises, data restrictions and inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights.
How has China responded? What would be the impact of China losing this status?
China has in the past reacted quite negatively to such views by the countries, and has also maintained that it is the “world’s largest developing economy”.
For more: Read here.
However, it has recently indicated that it may be willing to forego many benefits of being a developing country.
For example: It may forego all exemptions available to developing countries in negotiations aimed at cutting fishing subsidies to curb overfishing.
If China in future decides to forego the developing country status, It would impact negotiations in future agreements.
What are LDCs, and what are the benefits of LDC classification?
WTO recognises Least developed countries (LDCs) relying on a classification by the UN. It is based on a criterion that is reviewed every three years.
LDCs are often exempted from certain provisions of WTO pacts.
Bangladesh, currently classified as an LDC, receives zero duty, zero quota access for almost all exports to the EU.
It is, however, set to lose its LDC status in 2026 as its per capita GDP has risen sharply, surpassing that of India in FY21.
Source: This post is based on the article “How India has approached customary international law” published in The Indian express on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS2-Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.
Relevance: International customary law.
News: Parliamentary committee on external affairs has presented a report titled “India and international law” in the Lok Sabha.
The report discusses how Indian courts have dealt with international law.
What is International customary law (CIL)?
CIL refers to international law norms derived from a custom. They are binding legal rules that have developed on global or region levels through continued practice.
What has been India’s stand towards CIL?
Committee observed that India follows the principle of “dualism”.
This means that international law does not automatically get incorporated into the domestic legal regime.
As per Article 253 of the Indian Constitution, an act of Parliament is necessary to transform international law into municipal law.
However, according to the analysis of the committee, the Supreme Court has digressed from the principle of dualism.
What has been the Supreme Court’s stand on CIL?
Supreme Court moved from the principle of dualism towards monism.
SC has been of the view that customary international law (CIL), unless contradictory to domestic law, is part of the Indian legal regime even if the parliament has not enacted a law for that.
In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India it held that CIL which is not contrary to the municipal law shall be deemed to have been incorporated in India’s domestic law.
This principle has been affirmed in subsequent decisions like in Research Foundation for Science v. Union of India. Here, the SC, relying on the Vellore Citizen case, declared that the precautionary principle, an environmental law concept, is part of CIL and thus part of Indian law.
What are the positives of this practice?
Most countries have been incorporating CIL as part of the domestic legal regime, so the Supreme court’s practice is in line with international practice.
It provides judiciary with an opportunity for making the law progressive, esp when the executive and the parliament for ideological or political persuasions fail to enact laws transforming a liberal international legal norm into domestic law.
What are the challenges that still remain?
CIL is sometimes very easily accepted as part of Indian law. For instance, the Supreme Court quite readily accepted the precautionary principle, but it is yet to get wide global acceptance.
However, SC hasn’t been consistent in incorporating CIL. Example: In the Mohamad Salimullah v. Union of India, the court refused to stop the deportation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar despite the principle of nonrefoulement being part of CIL.
It goes against the democratic practice and creates a democratic deficit.
As judicial incorporation of international law is the violation of separation of power and judiciary overtaking Parliament’s right. The committee argues that this could become a bone of contention between the judiciary and the other organs of the state.
What is the way forward?
India has indeed moved away from the principle of dualism towards monism by judicially incorporating not just CIL but also international treaties, including those treaties that India has not signed.
Recommendation for executive: However, the Committee recommends that the executive should try to fill in the vacuum in domestic legislation on customary international law and should develop adequate domestic law.
Recommendation for the Judiciary: Determination of whether a particular provision should be treated as a binding customary norm under international law requires the fulfilment of two conditions.
One that the state practices it and second of the opinio juris (belief that the custom is part of the law). The Supreme Court needs to conduct such an analysis before incorporating the CIL in domestic law.
Source: This post is based on the article “Understanding the Eurasian turmoil” published in the Indian Express on 11th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations.
Relevance: Understanding the geopolitical significance of Russia in Eurasia.
News: Protests in Kazakhstan and other areas like Belarus, Ukraine, Caucasus have the potential to reshape the geopolitics of Eurasia. Russia, with its geographic spread across Eurasia, is at the very centre of this restructuring.
What are the parameters involved in the geopolitics of Eurasia?
The internal political evolution of Eurasian state: post-Communist states have not been settled on a sustainable political path. In Central Europe and the Baltic States, the transition to liberal democracy appeared to be quick. While many other former Soviet republics drifted into the rule of strong men. Both models are under stress as democratic backsliding in Hungary and Poland challenges the norms of the European Union.
|Read here: Instability in Kazakhstan will resonate in regional geopolitics|
The weaknesses of economic globalisation: Despite being resource-rich and embracing economic globalisation, the leaders of Central Asian republics like Kazakhstan have ensured an inequitable society.
The limitations of regional institutions: The hope that regional institutes contributing to the stability of post-communist states have not been met. Even after joining the EU, the eastern and western halves of Europe are vastly different. Several issues related to the Rule of Law, migration, energy and geopolitics act as dividing factors. There is also resentment in the eastern half about the domination of the western half on EU policymaking.
Russia has launched the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation to re-establish its primacy in Eurasia, but not been successful yet. Russia joined SCO with China, to bring stability in the Central Asian region.
The constraints on powers to shape the post-Russian space: To lessen their dependency on Russia, many former members of the Soviet Union are engaging with all major powers to strengthen their strategic autonomy, which Nazarbayev called “multi-vector diplomacy”. But still, countries like Kazakhstan are dependent on Russia, when any crisis arises.
In Ukraine Conflict, Russia prefers to negotiate with the USA rather than the EU. In Kazakhstan, Russia has shown it remains the main security provider despite the considerable economic salience of China. Hence, major economic power such as the EU and China have been unable to shape the political and security dynamic in Eurasia.
|Read here: Why the Russia-West equation matters to India|
Russia is the strong actor in the region, it still needs to accommodate European security with the west including areas such as independence and neutrality and de-escalation of little confrontation in heart of Europe.
Source: This post is based on the article “The sail that Indian diplomacy, statecraft need” published in The Hindu on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – India- Eurasia relation
Relevance: India- Eurasia, Continental strategy, Maritime strategy.
News: Striking the right balance between continental and maritime security would be the best for India’s long-term security interests.
In this context, India’s decision to hosts the five Central Asia leaders at the Republic Day Parade holds significance for India’s continental security.
How India has progressed in terms of Maritime security?
More recently, India has taken many ambitious steps to correct the historic neglect of India’s maritime power and also as a response to the dramatic rise of China as a military power. For instance,
-National Maritime Strategy,
-Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) initiative for the Indian Ocean Region
-Initiatives relating to the Indo-Pacific and the Quad.
Why focusing only on Maritime security is not sufficient for India’s security interest?
Maritime security is important to keep sea lanes open for trade, commerce, and freedom of navigation.
It will aid in resisting Chinese territorial aggrandizement in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
It will also help littoral states resist Chinese bullying tactics in interstate relations.
However, maritime security alone is not sufficient for India to deter Chinese unilateral actions and the emergence of a unipolar Asia.
Because China’s rise is not merely in the maritime domain. It is expanding on the Eurasian continent. For example, Belt and Road Initiative projects in Central Asia and its dependency-creating investments, cyber and digital penetration across the Eurasian continent.
Hence, a continental strategy focusing on the Eurasian continent is necessary for India.
Why focusing on Eurasia is important for India?
For India’s continental strategy, the Central Asian region is an indispensable link as India id faced with Border and connectivity issues. For example,
A persistent two-front threat from Pakistan and China.
Increased militarisation of the borders with Pakistan and China
India has been subject for over five decades to a land embargo by Pakistan
Difficulties have arisen in operationalising an alternative route through the International North-South Transport Corridor on account of the U.S.’s hostile attitude towards Iran
With the recent Afghan developments, India’s physical connectivity challenges with Eurasia have worsened.
Why evolving an effective continental strategy focusing on Eurasia will be a complex and long-term exercise for India?
Eurasian continent is presented with many issues/challenges currently, so this will not be easy for India as we would need to work with different partners on different agendas. For example,
The assertive rise of China.
The withdrawal of forces of the United States/North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from Afghanistan.
The rise of Islamic fundamentalist forces
The changing dynamics of the historic stabilising role of Russia (most recently in Kazakhstan).
Interests in multilateral mechanisms of that region. For example, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union
Threat to Eurasian Security due to the ongoing rivalry between the U.S and Russia confrontation relating to Ukraine, Russian opposition to future NATO expansion, and new deployment of intermediate-range missiles.
What are the steps taken to bolster India’s relation with Central Asia?
In 2015, Mr. Modi visited all the five Central Asian states.
Recently, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also hosted their Central Asian counterparts in Delhi.
What is the way forward?
India needs to acquire strategic vision and deploy the necessary resources to pursue our continental interests without ignoring our interests in the maritime domain.
Further, India should push for our continental rights, namely that of transit and access, working with our partners in Central Asia, with Iran and Russia.
Need for more proactive engagement with economic and security agendas ranging from the SCO, Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Stabilising Afghanistan is also necessary.
India will need to define its own parameters of continental and maritime security consistent with its own interests.
Source: This post is based on the article “A BIT to review” published in The Hindu on 11th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
Relevance: Understanding India’s bilateral investment treaties.
News: Recently, the standing committee on external affairs presented its report on India and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). It is important as it comes a decade after India lost the first investment treaty claim in 2011 (White industries vs India).
|Note: In November 2011, an arbitral tribunal found the Republic of India guilty of violating the India-Australia bilateral investment treaty (BIT). It is the first known investment-treaty ruling against India.|
In this case, an Australian mining company, White Industries Ltd. complained that the Indian court failed to enforce an ICC award rendered in its favour in 2002 in a commercial arbitration between White and its local partner, Coal India Limited.
Why such changes were needed?
First, since the White industries case, foreign investors have sued India around 20 times. This made India the 10th most frequent respondent state globally in the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) claims from 1987 to 2019 (UNCTAD).
|Read more: Cairn Energy dispute and Government disputes with private entities – Explained, pointwise|
Second, India adopted a new model BIT in 2016 which was a significant departure from its previous treaty practice.
Third, India is in the process of negotiating new investment deals with countries like Australia and the UK.
|Read here: Need for a balanced approach on ‘Bilateral Investment Treaty’ for India|
What are the recommendations made by the standing committee on external affairs?
First, it showed its discontentment at the fact that India has signed very few investment treaties after the adoption of model BIT. It recommended that India should expedite the existing negotiations.
Second, the committee recognizes the potential of BITs in attracting foreign direct investment. The committee recommended that India should sign more BITs in core or priority sectors.
Third, the committee recommended fine-tuning of BIT. Model BIT should keep two things in mind. a) It should tighten the provisions to curtail the discretion of ISDS arbitral tribunals. b) It should strike a balance between goals of investment protection and state’s right to adopt regulatory measures for public welfare.
Fourth, the Committee recommended strengthening the capacity of government officials in the area of investment treaty arbitration.
What more should have been done?
Most of the ISDS claims against India are due to poor governance. For example, retro respective laws lead to the Vodafone issue, an element of agreements for imagined scams lead to Devas, and judicial delays lead to white industries cases.
Thus, the committee should have emphasized on greater regulatory synergy, policy stability and good governance.
Source: This post is created based on the article “Dealing with Sri Lanka” published in Business Standard on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – India and its neighborhood
News: Sri Lanka is facing a debt crisis and it has asked for assistance from China.
Sri Lanka is facing a debt crisis due to various factors, such as;
- Fitch Ratings has downgraded Sri Lanka’s debt to the leveljust above default.
- Country’sforeign debt had reached 42.6 per cent of gross domestic product. It has to pay off almost $5 billion in debt before October.
- ForeignCurrency reserve of Sri Lanka has reduced from $8 billion before the pandemic to a low of $1.2 billion. It has to ban the import of certain items to preserve Foreign Currency.
- High Inflation (11%), along with restriction on imports has led to shortage offooditems.
Why Sri Lanka has turned to China for assistance?
First, Closeness of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa family with China.
Second, China is fourth largest external creditor of Sri Lanka.
Third, People’s Bank of China’s $1.5-billion currency swap deal helped Sri Lanka in preserving its Foreign Exchange reserves.
Fourth, it is notable that the Hambantota port was famously handed over on a 99-year lease to a Chinese firm in 2017 under the debt restructuring agreement. However, China has shown sensitivity to the criticisms of its foreign infrastructure financing as a “debt-trap diplomacy”. So, Sri Lanka is expecting debt restructuring from China over its $1.5 billion debt, which is due this year.
Why India has not been asked for help?
On the other hand, India has not acted with the required speed and scale. For example, the RBI last year renewed a mere $400 million swap line to Sri Lanka, in comparison to its repeated request for at least a $1 billion swap line.
Delaying the request for assistance is likely to push Sri Lanka towards China, which has been more responsive with lesser efforts.
Source: This post has been created based on the article “What a waste: Reviving India’s sanitation systems” published in Down to Earth on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus : GS Paper 2- Social Issues – Issus related to sanitation
News: India often confuse toilets with sanitation; but they are mere repositories to receive waste.
Poor sanitation and water-related issues resulted in 1.04 million under-five child deaths in India. Also, poor sanitation costs India 5.2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually. In this regard, in the last decade, a massive push for sanitation, provided millions of the population with access to toilets.
However, much focus through big campaigns such as the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission (SBM) has been given to ‘before the flush’ levels in the process of sanitation.
The stage from emptying of toilets, safe reuse and disposal has not been given a proper attention. But toilets are mere repositories to receive waste; when we flush, the waste flows into a piped drain, which could be either connected or not, to a sewage treatment plant (STP).
Furthermore, sanitation systems of the country have been framed with the assumption that the human labour would be always available for the service.
What are the issues associated with sanitation program of India?
Issues linked to type of toilets
SBM claims that a majority of toilets in rural India are “twin pit leach pit” type, which are self-contained treatment plants. They do not require any additional grey water or faecal sludge management.
However, the report ‘From ODF to ODF Plus Rural Sanitation Strategy 2019-2029′ reveals that the country still has thousands of toilets with single-pits or septic tanks that require desludging from time to time.
Improper Sewage treatment facilities
78 per cent of sewage generated in India remains untreated and is unsafely disposed of in rivers, groundwater or lakes, contaminating 90 percent of all surface water.
Issues facing sanitation workers
At various steps across our sanitation value chain — from toilets to treatment plants — workers have to interact with faecal matter in extremely unsafe ways.
They are inadequately provided with safety equipment and are not socially accepted. Even during covid-19 pandemic, workers have been working unprotected, unappreciated and ignored.
What are solutions to the sanitation issue?
First, Faecal sludge and plastic waste require proper management.
Second, Interventions such as the use of mini-sewer jetting machines, manual robots to access tapered lanes and clear clogged sewer pipes will enable upskilling and rehabilitating of manual scavengers.
Source: This post is created based on the article “India’s nuclear arsenal recently went up the sophistication curve” published in Live Mint on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS Paper 2- International Relations, India and its neighborhood
News: India’s nuclear capabilities have been strengthened recently due to new weapons testing. It has ignited debates around its implications for the regional stability.
In the last months of 2021, India conducted 2 missile tests: 1) Shaurya hypersonic weapon test 2) Agni-P missile test. It has increased India’s sophisticated nuclear arsenal with greater diversity of delivery systems.
Hypersonic weapons such as Shaurya are likely to be highly effective in taking out enemy early radars, static military installations such as airbases and command and control (C&C) facilities.
Whereas, Agni-P missile capable of delivering multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) or multiple warheads against a single target.
Is it deteriorating strategic stability between India and Pakistan in the region?
Some analysts are taking it as a shift from India’s no-first-use policy. However, India has not officially shifted its policy from no-first use but country’s operational posture has undergone a shift in the form of higher readiness levels. For example, ‘canisterization’ of India’s missiles of short, medium and long ranges enables their more rapid deployment.
Some experts believe that it is leading to strategic instability in the region. Because India could launch a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear facilities in the heat of a crisis.
However, no-first-use policy, combined with a higher degree of operational readiness of its nuclear tipped-missile forces provides India with nuclear deterrence against its two nuclear adversaries, China and Pakistan.
How Pakistan’s policies are increasing the strategic instability?
First, Experts overlook the fact that Pakistan has a larger nuclear arsenal than India’s and it has also not adopted a no-first-use policy.
Second, Pakistan pursues an asymmetric escalation posture including development, deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and early use of atomic weapons. Which leaves India exposed to stand-off missile attacks.
Third, Pakistan presumes that the tactical and strategic use of atomic weapons can be kept separate, is the real reason behind the instability. This decoupling has been rejected by India because there can be no real distinction between counter value and counterforce strikes. Because Pakistan’s military installments are not that distant from civilian settlements.
As per Wikipedia, in military doctrine, Counter value is the targeting of an opponent’s assets that are of value but not actually a military threat, such as cities and civilian populations. Counterforce is the targeting of an opponent’s military forces and facilities.
What are other reasons that justifies India’s preparedness?
China has developed a significantly superior capabilities than India. It has deployed Dong-Feng (DF)-26 IRBMs in the Xinjiang region. India’s Shaurya hypersonic weapon is an equal response to it.
India’s counter-force strike options are more effective against China then Pakistan. It is because China’s military settlements are distant from civilians. However, China’s submarine-based nuclear capabilities give it an invulnerable second-strike capability.
Thus, India’s hypersonic and canisterized Agni SRBM and IRBM capabilities are steps in a right direction.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Why most countries are unable to take a firm decision on crypto” published in
TOI on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology
Relevance: Regulating Cryptocurrency
News: Regulators across the globe have come up with various definitions of cryptocurrencies. But there is no consensus, even among major economies, on how to treat decentralised virtual currencies.
Considering the systemic risks that Crypto poses, countries should look to establish robust regulatory frameworks on cryptocurrency and educate investors accordingly.
What are the problems that countries are facing in classification of Cryptos?
– Most countries are unable to formulate a policy on virtual currencies as there are no precedents apart from bans, and they have been largely ineffective.
– Further, lawmakers globally are also having difficulties in understanding the technical aspects of crypto.
– Moreover, Classifying crypto as a commodity can tackle market and compliance risks, but not illicit activities, financial stability, systemic and capital flight risks.
– Also, making laws on paper and expecting full compliance is infeasible for a technology that makes it easy to bypass controls.
|Must Read: Cryptocurrency regulation in India: Ban or regulation – Explained, pointwise|
What is the global situation wrt regulation of Cryptos?
– El Salvador – the only country to legally recognise Bitcoin
– Nine countries, including China, have completely banned Crypto
– Forty-two countries like Bangladesh have banned it ‘implicitly’, which means banks are prohibited from dealing in crypto directly or indirectly and crypto exchanges are barred too.
What is the way forward?
IMF and WEF have noted that though crypto can help make cross-border payments efficient and improve financial inclusion, its operational and systemic risks means that regulation needs to be on the global agenda.
A recent WEF report had listed four ways in which countries can deal with crypto:
– ‘Wait & see’ like Brazil
– a balanced approach like Singapore and the EU
– Comprehensive regulation like Switzerland and Japan
– Restrictive methods like Turkey and Nigeria
Weaponising ED, tax authorities to expand counterinsurgency security umbrella in Kashmir is a fraught move
Source: This post is based on the article “Weaponising ED, tax authorities to expand counterinsurgency security umbrella in Kashmir is a fraught move” published in The Indian Express on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Internal Security
Relevance: Kashmir Militancy, security architecture in India.
News: A new approach is being deployed against insurgency in Kashmir. Apart from security agencies, other organisations such as Enforcement Directorate (ED) are now being roped in to deal with the funding and financing of terror activities.
This new policy runs the risk of further alienation of the local population
What has been the recent shift in government’s approach towards Counter-insurgency operations?
Counter-insurgency operations are usually understood to target the weapon wielded organisations and their leaders, usually termed as militants.
Recently, Counter insurgency operations with a different approach have been in use to counter the militants.
Government agencies have now started to focus more towards “over-ground workers” rather than the militant ones.
The term over-ground worker may be used to refer anyone from any age group or any profession who are supporting the militants and providing them with the required resources to conduct their operations.
What are the advantages of this approach?
As this approach focusses more on breaking the financial, logistical or ideological networks of the militants. This will stop alienation of more young people and prevent them from taking up arms against the state.
As an intelligent crackdown on those who give these organisations money and shelter will save lives and will bring more stability and peace in the region, so this also has high probability of garnering community support.
What are the concerns regarding this approach?
There have been several arrests under laws such as the Unlawful Activities and Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Public Security Act over the last three years.
If there is not a set criterion or limit on who can be identified as an over-ground worker, this may lead to profiling or labelling of some innocent people with no such intention or track record. Government should ensure to that this does not happen.
This may result into alienation of the population and a simmering militancy.
What is the way forward?
Government should focus on bringing back “normalcy” and to enhance community outreach as much as possible.
Source: This post is based on the article “The difficulty in spending” published in Business standard on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning.
Relevance: Government spending, Fiscal deficit, Budget.
News: According to GDP accounting, Government consumption in the September 2021 quarter, was 17% lower than in September 2019.
If the government spending had instead grown at the pace seen pre-Covid, the overall GDP would have been 4% higher than in September 2019.
Why, a shortage of funds is not the reason for this lack of spending?
The Govt has unspent funds of Rs 4.7 trillion, or 2% of GDP, with the Reserve Bank of India.
Tax receipts have been much better than estimated.
State governments have been borrowing less than they were expected to for the last two years.
It is thus a problem of execution, a difficulty in spending, also visible in actual deficits turning out to be much lower than planned.
What is the situation wrt Fiscal Deficit?
Revised estimates (RE) for the fiscal deficit last year (FY21) were at 4.7% of GDP.
The estimates for this year suggest that a deficit ratio of close to 3%, and not far from the 2.5% to 3% levels seen pre-Covid.
This suggest that states are missing spending targets
Expenditure may fall short of the target by 1.5% of GDP, despite the extra spending on health and subsidy during the pandemic.
Although, States have a long history of missing expenditure targets, and of final deficits being lower than the RE, but the gap has widened substantially in the last two years.
Why revenue expenditure is important?
Higher deficits create a “crowding out” effect and thus push the interest rates up, but as the government spending has been low, the economy has not benefited from this.
The bulk of state spending continues to be revenue expenditure, with education, social welfare, pensions and interest adding up to nearly half of total spending and these sectors play a role as a growth catalyst in the economy.
Also, the expenditure (on roads, bridges, irrigation and water supply) has a multiplier effect.
What may be the underlying reasons for this lack of spending?
Economic volatility and lockdowns aggravated the economic challenges.
Remote work and the hours lost due to the ravages of the disease also has a negative impact.
What is the way forward?
In order to get the increased debt-to-GDP ratios to safer levels, it is important to grow the denominator (that is, the GDP).
This can be done through productive expenditure rather than try to shrink government spending to reduce the numerator, which is the fiscal deficit.
However, such high cash balances raise the risk of governments getting tempted into spending inefficiently.
This can cause economic distortions, or create permanent liabilities (like salary increases) that can consume a lot of fiscal space for many years.
The fiscal health of states varies widely, and they have to build a comprehensive plan on how to spend productively.
Source: This post is based on the article “High costs, low use may derail the development of EV charging Infra” published in Livemint on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: Infrastructure for Electric vehicles in India.
News: Electric vehicle (EV) industry may fall well short of its target of setting up a sufficient number of public charging stations in India this year.
What is the current status of charging infrastructure in India?
According to a report by Grant Thornton-Bharat and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India would need 4 lakh public charging stations to cater to an estimated total of two million EVs plying on the roads by 2026.
However, according to data disclosed in the Parliament, India currently has only 1,028 public EV charging stations — almost 30% of which are in Delhi alone.
So there is huge demand-supply gap in charging infrastructure in India.
What have been recent initiatives in this regard?
Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have set targets of 4,000 total EV charging stations by the end of 2022
Many Companies such as Tata Power, Ola have also set their targets.
Why has been this huge shortfall?
The previous efforts have been very slow as in the past two years, less than 1,000 public chargers compatible with all EVs have been installed.
Setting up EV charging stations doesn’t generate revenue.
Around 94% of passenger vehicles are charged at home (in India), so there is very low demand for a public charging station right now. Hence, the cost of setting up is very high, and use is very low.
Lack of organised parking spaces in India is also a big hindrance to setting up public chargers.
What is the way forward?
It is imperative to make public charging profitable.
There is need for faster charging.
Moreover, India cannot simply adopt an international model and will need its own set of regulations to suit the market.
Risks of three Cs: CVC curtailing CBI’s scope for bank probes is excellent. But PSBs still face perverse incentives
Source: This post is based on the article “Risks of three Cs: CVC curtailing CBI’s scope for bank probes is excellent. But PSBs still face perverse incentives” published in The Times of India on 11th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth.
Relevance: Understanding the reforms in the banking sector.
News: The Central Vigilance Commission has amended rules to minimise the possibility of CBI taking unilateral decisions on investigations into alleged bank frauds. Also, bankers have asked GoI to have a “sunset” period for investigations, subject to conditions.
What approach should Government adopt?
It should revisit its entire incentive structure that influences credit disbursal in public sector banks (PSBs). In the Union Budget 2021, the finance minister said the financial sector is one of four strategic sectors and public sector entities will continue to function in the financial sector.
If the government wishes to run commercial enterprises, it should keep two considerations in mind
First, That any commercial enterprise has to take risks. So, the banking sector should not be hamstrung by the regulatory burden of 3C’s CBI, CVC and CAG.
Second, Indian investigative agencies try to guess the motives behind the decisions taken by the banks. The culture of distrust has impacted the financial sector and economy. This has made PSBs risk-averse. This approach should be done away.
|Read here: Centre may continue to hold at least 26% stake in public sector banks|
What should be the way forward?
The ideal solution is that the government should exit the financial sector and stick to policymaking.
In the present situation, where PSB continues, there is a need to change the incentives for bankers. Also, CBI should develop greater domain expertise in financial matters to lower risks to India’s economy.
|Read here: Public sector banks and corporate governance|
Source: This post is based on the article “The new fintech department of RBI has its work cut out” published in Livemint on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Role and Functions of RBI
Relevance: New Fin tech Department
News: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) created a new department to supervise and regulate fintech.
Through the department, RBI plans to promote innovation in the sector and also identify the challenges and opportunities associated with it.
Fintech ecosystem has seen the entry of ‘Big Tech’ like Alibaba, as well as decentralized products and services based on blockchain technology.
In this context, the creation of a dedicated department within RBI for workflow allocation is much needed.
What should be the main role/functions of the newly created department?
RBI has been so conservative on banking-sector liberalization, despite our need to improve the provision of credit to spur investment.
Further it has failed to nudge banks to think of digitization. For instance, banks refusing to upgrade digital payment infrastructure to meet RBI norms on things like e-mandates for subscription payments.
The Fintech Department will need to shift this model in three distinct ways.
First, the department must take a hint from climate-change discussions and adopt a ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ ethos to regulate fintech.
-Rather than disallowing banking licences for new forms of financial intermediation, RBI should apply differential rules in cases where core policy objectives such as financial stability are secure.
-Further, RBI should not discriminate fintech businesses for providing Protectionism to the banking sector.
-Moreover, the Fintech Department should leverage ‘supervisory technologies’ to meet policy goals like consumer protection in fintech markets, while maintaining a light-touch regulatory approach.
-For instance, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the UK is experimenting with the use of ‘supervised learning’ techniques to predict the probability of mis-selling of financial products.
-Though RBI has embraced supervisory technologies, it needs to build real capacity through this new department.
Second, the department should recognize the interconnected nature of digital markets, and widen RBI’s consultation perimeter beyond regulated entities like banks.
For instance, RBI mandated banks to adopt card-on-file tokenization. Tokenization technology allows e-commerce providers or ‘merchants’ to process payments via payment services and banks, without storing debit or credit card data.
Since merchants have service agreements with fintech firms, they are well-placed to share market information with RBI to enable evidence-based decisions.
Also, merchants have an incentive to build last-mile readiness, since they have a direct interface with consumers, unlike banks.
Consumer awareness and digital financial literacy can be greatly increased by leveraging this interconnected stakeholder.
Third, the Fintech Department must work upon the new concepts of digital money. it should aim to define the contours of our future digital financial ecosystem. For instance, central bank digital currency (CBDC), crypto Assets.
Irrespective of RBI’s position on Cryptocurrency, the international society values Crypto assets. So, the Fintech Department should increase international coordination with regulators and agencies, such as the Financial Action Task Force, to understand the implications of cryptos.
Source: This post is based on the article “Public sector banks: More sinned against than sinners” published in Livemint on 11th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues related to privatisation of public sector banks.
Relevance: PSB’s role in social welfare
News: PSB’s have played a key role in the “new welfarism” model of the government. However, the immense effort undertaken by the PSB agencies has not been rewarded adequately.
In this context, a mere comparison of PSB’s with private sector banks is illogical. Because, three-fourths of the banking sector is burdened with social objectives in addition to commercial ones.
PSB’s can perform better if they were given real functional autonomy in their loan, recruitment, salary and reward decisions. For instance, their ratio of the CEO’s salary to that of an average employee is just 3, as against 67 in private-sector banks.
Hence, any measures taken for privatization of PSBs needs a wider debate in a country.
How PSB’s have played a key role in the “new welfarism” model?
Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) or National Mission for Financial Inclusion
JDY accounts are key to the successful distribution of various benefit schemes. (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme, cooking gas subsidy etc.,)
As of the end of 2021, there were a whopping 442 million beneficiary accounts, 295 million of them in rural branches and 147 million in urban centres. Their combined deposits have crossed ₹1.5 trillion.
It was mainly due to the tireless effort of mostly public sector bank (PSB) employees. out of the 442 million accounts, more than 97% were with PSBs or regional rural banks. Barely 12 million were with private banks.
The case of Demonetisation
In a small window of less than two months, more than ₹15 trillion in denominations of ₹500 and ₹1,000 had to be counted, verified and accepted, and exchanged for new notes. Again, much of this was accomplished by staff of PSBs in far-flung branches across the country.
The PSB’s also have to sell insurance policies such as Jeevan Jyoti (for life cover) and Suraksha (for accident cover), as also the Atal pension scheme, all of which are products from the government or Life Insurance Corp. These products are important for achieving financial inclusion. The key to success, of these products’ rests chiefly with PSBs.
Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS)
It was launched in the middle of the pandemic to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Even here, the networks and outreach of PSBs and their branches played a significant role.
Source: This post is based on the article “No place for propaganda in PM’s security breach probe” published in the Indian Express on 11th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Internal Security.
Relevance: Prime Minister security breach.
News: On January 5, the Prime Minister’s convoy was halted on an overbridge along the Moga Ferozepur highway for 20 minutes.
|Must read: Explained: How the Prime Minister’s security is planned|
Why is the event significant for PM’s Security?
PM was trapped on and overbridge in a sensitive state. The place is just 30 km away from the border with Pakistan. The places around these have also seen the dropping of arms by drones from Pakistan. This is also the place where Bhagat Singh was cremated in 1931. Three wars have also been fought around this place.
What lapses in PM’s Security are evident from the recent incident?
When farmers and protesters had blocked the motorway, it is the responsibility of state police to clear the motorway and use the force if required. However, the police were seen negotiating and persuading the protesters instead of clearing the way for the Prime Minister’s convoy.
An advance police party should have cleared the route, or the district SP and collector should have ordered the immediate clearance of the route.
It is also important that the Special Protection Group should have activated the emergency clearance protocols and moved the Prime Minister to the nearest safe house. So while SPG is accountable for proximate security, it is the Ferozpur SP and District collector that is accountable for the motor blockade.
What should be done going forward?
While political propaganda and various conspiracy theories make rounds, it is important that truth should come out and accountability should be fixed on the persons responsible for the mishap.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Key Initiatives and Achievements of Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) for the Year 2021
Source: This post is based on the article “Key Initiatives and Achievements of Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) for the Year 2021” published in PIB on 11th January 2022.
What is the news?
The Department of Animal husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has taken several initiatives in the year 2021.
Key initiatives launched by the Department
Rashtriya Gokul Mission: New Components under Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
– Accelerated Breed Improvement programme: Under the component, IVF technology and artificial insemination with sex sorted semen is being leveraged to produce female calves for the dairy farmers.
– Establishment of Breed Multiplication Farms: It aims to make available High Genetic Merit heifers or milch animals of cattle and buffaloes breeds to farmers.
– Gopal Ratna Award 2021: It was launched by the Department in 2021 and is one of the highest National Awards in the field of livestock and dairy sector. Objective of the award is to encourage all individual farmers, artificial insemination technicians and Dairy cooperative societies working in this sector.
Dairy Mark: It is a unified logo featuring the earlier respective logos BIS-ISI mark & NDDB-Quality Mark and Kamadhenu Cow, for ‘Product–Food Safety Management System–Process’ certification under one umbrella.
National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD): It is a Central Sector Scheme launched in 2014.It aims to enhance quality of milk and milk products and increase share of organized milk procurement. It has two components:
– Component ‘A’: It focuses towards creating/strengthening of infrastructure for quality milk testing equipment as well as primary chilling facilities.
– Component ‘B’ (Dairying Through Cooperatives): It provides financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as per project agreement already signed with them. The central Government share in this project is proposed to be funded through NPDD.
Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) Scheme:- It was launched in 2017.It aims to modernize the milk processing & chilling plants including value addition. The several components of DIDF are: Milk processing, Chilling and Value added Products plants, ICT infrastructure among others.
Livestock Health & Disease Control (LH&DC) Scheme: It was launched with the aim of reducing risk to animal health by prophylactic vaccination against diseases of animals, capacity building of Veterinary services, disease surveillance and strengthening veterinary infrastructure.
Livestock Census & Integrated Sample Survey Scheme: It aims to provide information on livestock population, species-wise and breed-wise along with age, sex-composition etc. up to household level in rural and urban areas. As per 20th Livestock Census report, the total Livestock Population and total poultry in the country is 536.76 million and 851.81 respectively, showing an increase of 4.8% and 16.8% respectively over Livestock Census-2012.
Source: This post is based on the article “Jallikattu banned in Vellore, nearby districts ahead of Pongal as COVID-19 cases see spike” published in The Hindu on 11th January 2022.
What is the news?
Jallikattu has been banned in Vellore and nearby districts in Tamil Nadu as there has been a steep rise in the daily cases of COVID-19.
What is Jallikattu?
Jallikattu is called Eru thazuval or embracing the bull. It is a bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu that has traditionally been part of the festival of Pongal.
An ancient reference to Jallikattu is found in a seal discovered at Mohenjodaro which is dated between 2,500 BC and 1,800 BC.The festival also finds a mention in the Sangam literature.
|Must Read: What is Jallikattu and why did SC ban it?|
Why are animal activists opposed to Jallikattu?
The practice of Jallikattu has long been contested, with animal rights concerned over issues of cruelty to animals and the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport that causes death and injuries to both the bulls and human participants.
What are the arguments in favour of Jallikattu?
Firstly, Jallikattu is Tamil pride, Tamil culture and the cultural heritage of the state of Tamil Nadu.
Secondly, Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.(Conservationists and peasants argue that Jallikattu is a way to protect these male animals which are otherwise used only for meat if not for ploughing).
What is the Supreme Court stand on Jallikattu?
In 2011, the Centre added bulls to the list of animals whose training and exhibition is prohibited.
In 2014, the Supreme Court banned the Jallikattu on a petition that cited the 2011 notification.
In 2017, Tamil Nadu government passed an amendment to the central government’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and allowing Jallikattu in the state; this was later ratified by the President.
In 2018, the Supreme Court referred the Jallikattu case to a Constitution Bench, where it is pending now.
Year End review 2021 on highlight key Initiatives and achievements pertains to Department of Fisheries
Source: This post is based on the article “Year End review 2021 on highlight key Initiatives and achievements pertains to Department of Fisheries” published in PIB on 11th January 2022.
What is the news?
The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has implemented several initiatives in the year 2021.
What are the initiatives launched by the Department of Fisheries in 2021?
Fisheries sector has been recognized as a ‘Sunrise Sector’ and has demonstrated an outstanding double-digit average annual growth of 10.87% since 2014-15.
India is the second-largest fish producing country in the world, accounting for 7.56% of global production.
The sector provides livelihood support to about 28 million people at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain.
Schemes and Programs
– Development of 5 Major Fishing harbours as hub of economic activities: Around five major fishing harbours – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Petuaghat will be developed as hubs of economic activity with world-class infrastructure and amenities, seamless and quality cold chain and Hygienic handling and reduce post-harvest losses.
– Sea Cage Culture: Sea cage culture involves growing fishes in the sea while being enclosed in a net cage which allows free flow of water. It is a production system consisting of a floating frame of varying dimensions and shape, net materials and mooring system, to hold and culture many fishes.
– World Fisheries Day (WFD): It is observed on the 21st November every year. It is celebrated to demonstrate solidarity with all fisherfolk, fish farmers and concerned stakeholders throughout the world. It was started in the year 1997 when “World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers” met at New Delhi.
Source: This post is based on the article “Sebi issues guidelines for operationalizing gold exchanges in India” published in Livemint on 11th January 2022
What is the news?
Government of India has notified the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Vault Managers) Regulations, 2021 to create Electronic Gold Receipts (EGRs).
What are Electronic Gold Receipts (EGRs)?
These are electronic receipts issued on the basis of a deposit of underlying physical gold. This would pave the way for the operationalization of a gold exchange in India.
What is Gold Exchange?
Gold Exchange would be a national platform for buying and selling EGRs issued against physical gold. Investors can trade in EGRs on stock exchanges and the proposed gold exchange.
The transaction in a gold exchange has been divided into three parts—conversion of physical gold into EGR, trading of EGR on a stock exchange and conversion of EGR into physical gold.
Regulated by: SEBI would regulate the entire ecosystem of the proposed gold exchange. It would be the sole regulator for the exchange, including for vaulting, assaying gold quality and fixing delivery standards.
What will be the key features of Gold Exchange?
Firstly, Stock exchanges can launch contracts of different denominations for trading and conversion of EGR into gold.
Secondly, SEBI has brought in fungibility and interoperability between vault managers for the ease of investors.
Thirdly, an EGR will not be linked with a unique bar reference number of the physical gold.
Fourthly, physical gold deposited at one location can be withdrawn from a different location of any vault manager.
What are the benefits of Gold Exchange?
Gold exchange is expected to offer a host of benefits for the value chain participants as well as for the entire gold market ecosystem such as efficient and transparent price discovery, investment liquidity, assurance in the quality of gold among others.
Source: This post is based on the article “Year End Review of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship” published in PIB on 11th January 2022.
What is the news?
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched several initiatives in 2021.
What are the initiatives launched by the MSDE in 2021?
India Skills: It is the country’s biggest skill competition. It is designed to demonstrate the highest standards of skilling and offers a platform to young people to showcase their talent at national and international levels. The competition is held every two years with the support of state governments and industry.
Skill Hub Initiative: It is a part of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna 3.0. It will be executed through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The objective of these hubs is to mainstream vocational education by sharing of infrastructure and developing well-defined pathways for students to continue with their chosen academic vocational pursuits.
National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBD): It is a premier organization of the MSDE. The major activities of the Institute include Training of Trainers, Management Development Programmes, Entrepreneurship-cum-Skill Development Programmes, Entrepreneurship Development Programmes and Cluster Intervention.
Oil Jeevika: It is the flagship livelihood initiative of Oil India Limited (Duliajan). Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, Guwahati has been entrusted with the assignment for implementing it. It is a community cluster based sustainable rural livelihood promotion project aimed at enhancing the livelihood of 400 villagers across 5 villages of Diyun under Changlang and Namsai District of Arunachal Pradesh.
Future Skills: A Committee has been constituted to facilitate the identification of Future Skills and Jobs requirements. The concept paper on Industry 4.0 has been prepared and is in the process of being finalized in consultation with the stakeholders.
Source: This post is based on the article “Things to watch for as India, UK launch FTA talks” published in Livemint on 11th January 2022.
What is the News?
India and the UK will start active consultation to finalize a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
|Must Read: What is a Free Trade Agreement(FTA)|
Why is the FTA with the UK important for India?
India-UK FTA will be critical for India at a time when the country has walked out of key FTAs such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP).
Moreover, India has rolled out an aggressive Atmanirbhar Bharat plan, which aims to make it an export powerhouse with $1 trillion exports by 2030. So fewer trade barriers with the UK could give a push to exporters.
|Read more: India, UK aim to launch FTA negotiations by November 1|
What does India-UK want in the FTA?
India: It wants enhanced mobility for its professionals and a reduced fee for work and tourism visas, safeguards for agriculture, better market access for vaccines, basmati rice, wool, yarn, instant coffee and tea premix among others.
UK: It wants the ease of doing business, removal of tariffs of up to 150% on whisky and 125% on British-made cars. Also, removal of barriers to trade in services, food and drink, healthcare and medical devices.
What are India’s views on Multilateral Trade?
India remains committed to trade multilateralism, with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its centre.
It has also renewed its efforts to strike bilateral trade deals with key countries. India believes exports could be further strengthened through an extensive set of preferential trade agreements.
Further, more FTAs will give Indian products more access to global markets and the opportunity that India missed by staying out from the RCEP.
What about India’s FTA with other countries?
India is close to finalizing one FTA with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Talks are at an advanced stage with Australia on an interim agreement.
India is also in negotiations with Israel and hopes to launch discussions with Canada on the same in two or three months.
Source: This post is based on the article “No one should interfere in China-Lanka ties” published in The Hindu on 11th January 2022.
What is the News? The Chinese Foreign Minister is on a visit to Sri Lanka. The visit marks the 70th anniversary of the historic Rubber-Rice Pact and the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Sri Lanka ties.
|Note: The Rubber-Rice Pact was signed in 1952 in the wake of the food crisis in Sri Lanka. Under the Pact, China supplied rice to Sri Lanka at lower than market prices and purchased rubber, which was the only exportable commodity of Sri Lanka at that time, at prices higher than international prices.|
What are the key highlights of the Chinese Foreign Minister visit on China-Sri Lanka ties?
Firstly, he said that no “third country” should “interfere” in China-Sri Lanka ties. This was in reference to India’s concerns over China’s strategic projects in Sri Lanka.
Secondly, he proposed a “Forum on the development of Indian Ocean island Countries” to build consensus and synergy, and promote common development.
Thirdly, the Sri Lankan President has urged China to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt and help the country cope with the economic strain. Currently, Sri Lanka is battling a severe economic crisis of a persisting dollar crunch, soaring living costs and a shortage of essentials in the import-reliant island nation.
Fourthly, he said that the two sides should make good use of “the two engines”, referring to the China-backed Colombo Port City in Colombo and the Hambantota Port on the island’s Southern Province. He also urged Sri Lanka to tap the opportunities of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP).
Digital Embossing Technology and NATMO: Visually challenged students will have access to user-friendly durable Braille maps using advanced technology
Source: This post is based on the article “Visually challenged students will have access to user-friendly durable Braille maps using advanced technology” published in PIB on 11th January 2022.
What is the News?
Visually challenged students from all over the country will have access soon to Braille Maps designed and developed using Digital Embossing Technology.
What is Digital Embossing Technology?
Digital embossing technology (DET) is a process that eliminates the need for printing plates, moulds, chemicals, and solvents besides releasing no pollutants or waste and reducing overall energy usage.
Introduced by: DET technology has been introduced, designed and implemented for the first time in India by National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO).
Significance: The maps produced using this technology are not only useful for high-speed production of the maps but can also produce Braille Maps that can be used by more people for years together.
|Read more: “DIKSHA Platform” -Visually challenged struggle with e-textbooks|
About National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation(NATMO)
NATMO was established in 1997. It is a subordinate department under the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.
Functions: a) Compilation of the National Atlas of India in Hindi, English and other regional languages b) Preparation of thematic maps based on socio-economic, physical, cultural, environmental, demographic and other issues c) Preparation of maps/atlases for visually impaired d) Digital mapping and training using Remote sensing, GPS and GIS technology e) Training and f) Research & Development.
Significance: NATMO has become popularized with the publication of Braille Atlas for Visually Impaired (India), edition 2017 in English Braille Script. It was developed with an indigenous manual embossing method. For this, it was also conferred the National Award on “Science & Technology Intervention for Physically Challenged”.
|Read more: For disabled citizens to have the police they deserve|
Source: This post is based on the article “Red Sanders falls back in IUCN’s ‘endangered’ category” published in Down To Earth on 11th January 2022.
What is the News?
Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) has again been listed in the ‘endangered’ category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
What is Red Sanders?
Red Sanders(Pterocarpus santalinus) is an Indian endemic tree species with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.
Where does it grow? Red Sanders is found in thorny scrub/dry deciduous forests. It is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh. Some contiguous patches in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka also see some wild growth.
Uses: Red Sanders is known for its therapeutic properties and is in high demand for its cosmetic and medicinal properties. It is also used to make furniture and demand a high value in the international market. Its popularity can be judged from the fact that a tonne of Red Sanders costs anything between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the international market.
Threats: a) Over the last three generations, Red Sanders has experienced a population decline of 50-80% b) Illegal smuggling c) Over Harvesting and Exploitation d) Cattle grazing and e) Invasive Species.
IUCN Status: Endangered (Earlier Near Threatened)
CITES: Appendix II
About the export of Red Sanders
Red Sanders is banned from international trade. However, in 2010, when the CITES was planning to suspend trade of red sanders obtained from India, the government submitted a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) report saying it must be allowed to export from cultivated sources.
So in 2012, India got an export quota on red sanders from CITES, under which the country could export 310 tonnes of red sanders obtained from “artificially propagated” sources (grown on farms) and 11,806 tonnes of wood from seized sources.
In 2019, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had revised its export policy to permit the export of red sander timber, if it is obtained from cultivated land.
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News: There is a need to take urgent steps to fix the Tenth Schedule if the system wants to get rid of open corruption. Read more: Explained: Anti-defection law, for independent legislators What are the challenges associated with the 10th schedule? Paragraph 3: It was omitted by 91st Amendment Act, 2003. This clause protected defectors as long… Continue reading Challenges associated with the 10th schedule: How to fix the anti-defection loophole
News: India’s political system has always risen to challenges facing the nation. After Independence, India’s democracy was faced with numerous challenges. However, it was able to self-correct and rise against all odds. Democracy functioned as a safety valve, managing and mediating pressures that emerged from our vast country. Having said that, contemporarily India’s democracy is… Continue reading The Case for Liberal Democracy
News: The idea of India emerges from the nationalist movement and its institutionalization in the republic. On the 72nd anniversary of republic day, India must relook at the direction of the Indian republic. How did the idea of New India emerge? Earlier conceptions of India drew from mythology and theology. The modern idea of India… Continue reading Evolution of New India: The ground rules of ‘the one land of many’
News: Recently, the Supreme Court has ruled that daughters will have equal rights to their father’s property even prior to the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) of 1956. How the judgement is a win for women’s right to inheritance? First, the daughter now can inherit property by inheritance and not by survivorship if… Continue reading Win for daughters: But more needed to ensure women’s property rights