9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 12th, 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.
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Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

China-Sri Lanka ties: Chinese Foreign Minister’s Sri Lanka visit highlighted Beijing’s relentless drive in Indian Ocean region, and India’s challenge

Source: This post is based on the article “Chinese Foreign Minister’s Sri Lanka visit highlighted Beijing’s relentless drive in Indian Ocean region, and India’s challenge” published in the Indian Express  on 12th January 2022.

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

Relevance: Understanding the motive of China foreign minister visit to Sri Lanka.

News: Chinese foreign minister visit to five-nation countries- 3 African nations, Sri Lanka and the Maldives signifies its constant effort for influence over Indian Ocean region.

What are the highlights of the Chinese foreign minister visit to Sri Lanka?
Read here: China-Sri Lanka ties: ‘No one should interfere in China-Lanka ties’
What does the Chinese proposal signify?

China is only a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, along with Russia, the US and several European countries. China is only an observer member in Indian Ocean Navies Symposium. China already pumped so much money in the Indian Ocean region but not a full member in any of the regional groupings representing the Indian Ocean region. So, China proposed a new forum in which it can represent and influence the Indian Ocean region.

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

Hate speech in the time of free speech

Source: This post is based on the article “Hate speech in the time of free speech” published in The Hindu on 12th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions.

Relevance: Understanding the issues in handling hate speech.

News: Over the last few years’ frequencies of hate speech has arisen in India.

What are the provisions for criminalising hate speech?

Black’s law dictionary defines hate speech as a speech that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, such as a particular race, especially in circumstances that are likely to provoke violence.

Indian penal code provides protection through various sections:

Section 153A – penalizes the promotion of enmity between different groups.

Section 153B– Punishes assertions prejudicial to national integration.

Section 505 –punishes rumours and news intended to promote communal enmity.

Section 295A –Criminalises insult to religious belief.

Various courts have also provided directions:

High Court of Karnataka in the case against hate speech Vs. the state of Karnataka gave the opinion that the Indian penal code makes hate speech illegal.

The Supreme Court in Pravasi Bhalai sangathan v Union of India (2014) described hate speech as an effort to marginalise individuals based on their membership in a group and that seeks to delegitimise group members in the eyes of the majority.

The Supreme Court upheld the view that the objective behind these provisions is to check communal and separatist tendencies and secure fraternity so as to ensure the dignity of the individual and unity of the nation.

Supreme Court in state of Karnataka V. Praveen Bhai Thogadia(2014) emphasized the need to sustain communal harmony. In Pravasi bhalai sangathan case, the Supreme Court underlined the impact of hate speech on the targeted group’s ability.

Madras High Court in G. Thirumurugan Gandhi v. State (2019) highlighted that hate speeches cause discord between classes. In Amish Devgan v. Union of India (2020), the Supreme Court held that hate speech has no redeeming or legitimate purpose other than hatred towards a particular group.

What are the challenges in controlling hate speeches?

There are uncertainties around the interpretation of hate speech, which have resulted in the adoption of varying standards. For example, The Madras High Court, in Maridhas v. State (2021), quashed an FIR alleging hate speech by holding that the ‘YouTuber’ is entitled to protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The court distinguished this case from the application of the ‘Who? What? Where? Test’ laid down in the Amish Devgan case.

On the contrary, the Madras High Court, in the case of Fr. P. George Ponnaiah v. Inspector of Police (2022), gave no relief to the petitioner.

Read here: Issue of Hate speech in India

Also, there is a lack of clear legislative guidance and the Supreme Court has been asked to review hate speech laws.

Read here: Supreme court must ensure hate speech guilty are punished
What are the various recommendations?

Law commission of India, in 267th report, recommended incorporation of 2 provisions:

Section 153C: to cover offence committed when any person uses threatening words which are intended to cause fear or hatred including violence on the grounds of race, caste, religion, sex, gender identity and other characteristics.

Section 505A: include provisions penalising causing of fear, alarm or provocation of violence.

Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, 18th report, recommended incorporation of provisions in the information technology act to deal with online hate speech.

What should be the way forward?

Specialised legislation to govern hate speech propagated via the internet especially social media should be framed.

Read here: Tackling Hate Speech

Inspiration can be taken from Australian federal law called criminal code amendment act 2019, which imposes liability upon internet service providers such persons are aware of any and if it is seen as offensive.

Read here: Need for social media Policies on hate and incitement

GS Paper 3


How real is the GST boost?

Source: This post is based on the article “How real is the GST boost?” published in Business Standard on 12th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 -Issues related to GSTRelevance:  Indirect tax revenues

News:  The government is delighted over the steady improvement in the collection of goods and services tax (GST) in recent months

GST collections have crossed the Rs 1-trillion mark for each of the last six months beginning July 2021.

The buoyancy in GST collections provides the much-needed revenue cushion to government finances and for preparing the next year’s Budget.

However, an analysis of GST tax collection over a three-year period reveals that the share of GST collections in GDP is not a cause for any excitement.

Because, from 6.22 per cent of GDP in 2018-19, it fell for two consecutive years to 6 per cent in 2019-20 and 5.75 per cent in 2020-21.

The ratio of GST to GDP is the true indicator of measuring how tax revenues have kept pace with the economy’s growth.

What are the other issues related to GST collection?

GST collections take place under four broad categories: Central GST (CGST), State GST (SGST), Integrated GST (IGST) and Compensation Cess. There is the need for specific administrative as well as policy interventions in each of these areas.

First, the issue of slower growth in SGST owing to the inefficient tax collection machinery that many states may be burdened with.

Second, the issue of lower growth rate in IGST collections on inter-state supplies. On the contrary, IGST for imports has increased.

Possible reasons for higher growth in IGST collections: Rise in India’s imports, higher tariffs, Ease of tax collection at ports.

Third, the issue of stagnation in the collection of compensation cess.


Extending GST compensation as a reform catalyst

Source: This post is based on the article “Extending GST compensation as a reform catalyst” published in The Hindu on 12th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – issues related to GST

Relevance:  GST reforms, GST cess compensation.

News: The agreement to pay compensation for the loss of revenue was for a period of five years, which will come to an end by June 2022.

However, the states are demanding to continue it for another five years. Because, it was hoped that the tax structure would stabilise in the first five years, however, the reform is still in transition.

GST compensation cess Background: Read here

Growing mistrust between States and Centre with respect to GST compensation: Read here

Why State’s demand to extend compensation needs to be accepted?

The GST structure has many issues that need to be reformed, and the cooperation of states is very significant. Hence, it will be difficult to reform the GST structure without extension of compensation to states for another five years.

Thus, it is necessary not only to reform GST but also to provide comfort to States to partake in the reform.

What are the core issues in the present GST regime?

First, the technology platform could not be strengthened for a long time due to which the initially planned returns could not be filed. This led to large-scale misuse of input tax credit using fake invoices.

The adverse impact on revenue collections due to this was compounded by the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Second, indirect taxes are the only major source of revenue for the States. Considering their increased spending commitments for public service delivery, states want to mitigate revenue uncertainty.

So, to address the issues in GST, the structure of GST needs significant changes.

What are the reforms needed in GST?

Firstly, almost 50% of the consumption items included in the consumer price index are in the exemption list. To broaden the base of the tax, a significant assessment of these items is required.

Secondly, it is necessary to bring petroleum products, real estate, alcohol for human consumption, and electricity into the GST fold.

Thirdly, the current Multiple rates GST structure complicates the tax system. For example, the present structure is too complicated with four main rates (5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%). This is in addition to special rates on precious and semi-precious stones and metals, and cess on ‘demerit’ and luxury items. It causes administrative and compliance problems, creates an inverted duty structure, and leads to classification disputes. Reforming the structure to unify the rates is imperative

What is the way forward?

The 15th Finance Commission had pointed out that the compensation scheme of applying 14% growth on the base year revenue provided for the first five years was far too generous.

The issue can be revisited and the rate of growth of reference revenue for calculating compensation can be linked to the growth of GSDP in States to ensure the comfort of minimum certainty on the revenue.

This will incentivise them to accomplish the reform in the true spirit of cooperative federalism.


Tackling India’s unemployment wave

Source: This post is based on the article “Tackling India’s unemployment wave” published in Indian Express on 12th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 -issues related to employment in India

Relevance:  Unemployment

News: Unemployment in India has undeniably reached a critical stage.

What are the available data that suggests India has undeniably reached a critical stage?

Unemployment rate: India’s unemployment rate has been increasing. It increased to 7.91 percent in December 2021 from 6.3 percent in 2018-2019. It is very critical as 10 million young Indians are entering the job market every year.

Unemployment rate (Urban vs rural): In urban areas, this has gone up to 9.30 percent in December 2021 from 8.09 percent in January 2021. In rural areas, it has gone up to 7.28 percent against 5.81 per cent.

Ruralisation: Between 2019-20 and December 2021, the manufacturing sector has lost 9.8 million jobs; by contrast, agricultural jobs jumped by 7.4 million. Workers are back in their villages, even though urban jobs provide better wages.

Decreasing quality of jobs:  9.5 million people have left the formal sector and have become jobless or part of the informal sector.

India’s Labour Force Participation (LPR) is low compared to other emerging countries: According to the World Bank, India’s LPR stood at 46 percent in 2020, while that of Brazil stood at 59 per cent.

Majority of the Youth’s (20 and 24 years) are unemployed: according to the NSSO, in 2019, when India had the highest unemployment rate in the last 45 years, 34% of youths remained unemployed. This severely affects India’s Demographic dividend.

Inverse relation between Education and Employment: An astonishing fact is that the more educated the people, the more unemployed they were. For instance, 63.4 per cent of graduates falling in the age bracket of 20-24 years were unemployed.

Gender divide: Unemployment among women is higher than men, both in urban as well as rural areas. For women, the average unemployment was 14.28 per cent and for men, it was 7.88 per cent.

LPR for women continues to decline over the years. This is happening even though more and more women are attending school and college in the country.

What are the reasons for decreasing LPR for Women?

The absorption of women in the workforce, as compared to men, is much less due to,

One, most women were involved in agricultural jobs in rural areas. The mechanisation of these jobs has had a huge impact on female labour force participation in the country.

Two, India’s manufacturing sector is not labour-intensive. This has made it difficult to compensate women who got displaced from agricultural jobs.

Three, women’s role as primary caregivers and ownership of domestic chores is a reason for the low participation of women in the workforce.

Four, the cultural norms and deep roots of patriarchy apparently limit women’s labour participation in India.

What are the factors hampering India’s employment generation potential?

Low private investments: The investment rate is declining since 2011. It has dropped from 34.3 percent then to 27 per cent in 2020.

Weak demand: One of the reasons why companies are reluctant to invest. This vicious circle is also fostered by growing inequalities, resulting in the shrinking of the middle class.

Access to credit: Since banks are affected by NPA’s and the ongoing inflation problem have led to increasing in interest rates. This in turn affects business aces to low interest rate capital.


Treating the planet well can aid progress

Source: This post is based on the article “Treating the planet well can aid progress” published in Live mint on 12th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance:  Planetary pressure-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI).

News: The 2020 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), titled “The Next Frontier – Human Development and the Anthropocene” proposed a planetary pressure-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI).

This adjustment has been worked out by factoring in per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emission (production) and per capita material footprint.

The purpose is to communicate the risk involved in continuing with existing practices of resource use and environmental management to the larger society. And the effect that environmental stress can perpetuate on development.

It helps to predict the nature of planetary pressure generated by the developed countries and indirectly indicates their responsibility in combating the situation.

How planetary pressure adjustment will affect country rankings?

The world average of HDI in 2019 came down from 0.737 to 0.683.

The global ranking of several countries will be altered, in both positive and negative sense. For instance, among 66 very high human development countries, 30 countries will record a fall in rank values.

Whereas, India will gain in global rankings by eight points (131st rank under HDI and 123rd rank under PHDI). Because its per capita carbon emission and material footprint are well below the global average.

However, India’s natural resource use is far from efficient and environmental problems are increasing.

The twin challenges of poverty alleviation and environmental safeguarding that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stated in the Stockholm conference in 1972 still remain unattended.

What are the present challenges faced by India regarding Human development?

India has 27.9% of people under the Multidimensional Poverty Index.

States like Kerala that have an exemplary achievement in human development lags on the environmental front.

India fares poorly in SDG goals 1(No poverty) and 2(Zero hunger). For instance, According to NITI Aayog (2020-21), India scored 60 (Performer grade, score 50-64) for no poverty and 47 (Aspirant grade, score 0-49) for zero hunger out of 100 points.

India’s score in SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) also warrant improvement.

However, one significant prospect for India is that there is now widespread awareness about the environment and several initiatives both at the level of the government and the community. For example, The Chipko movement (1973) in Uttarakhand and the Silent Valley movement (the late 1970s) in Kerala.

What is the way forward?

First, it is now well established that there are interdependencies of earth system processes, including social processes. It is now essential to consider people and the planet as being a part of an interconnected social-ecological system. Thus, an integrated perspective is necessary.

This can be addressed at the local level, for which India has constitutional provisions in the form of the 73rd and 74th Amendments.

Second, advances in earth system science and sustainability research along with enabling technology of remote sensing and geographic information system have helped to explain the impact of human activities at the ground level. They also provide insights into how to mitigate these impacts and improve life.

What is required is a reorientation of the planning process, adoption of a decentralised approach, a plan for proper institutional arrangements, and steps to enable political decisions.


Managing biomedical waste

Source: This post is based on the article “Managing biomedical waste” published in the Business Standard on 11th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environmental pollution and degradation.

Relevance: Understanding the impact of mishandling of biomedical waste.

News: Since the outbreak of Covid pandemic, there has been rise in the Safe handling and elimination of biomedical waste.

Read here: 23 states at additional Covid risk due to Biomedical waste
What are the challenges associated with biomedical waste?

– Mixing biomedical waste with household garbage led to infection, as most wastes were disposed of in the landfill sites.

– No proper management and waste disposal in hospitals and other covid designated medical centres.

– Littering of discarded Covid-related stuff, such as masks, face shields, etc alongside roads, hospitals, healthcare centres and other places.

Read here: Use app to monitor COVID-19 biomedical waste, SC to civic bodies
What are the government initiatives to handle biomedical waste?

The government introduced Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, which is regularly updated by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) because of the ongoing covid pandemic. Some of the latest CPCB guidelines are:

–  It requires the bio-waste to be packed in double-layered yellow bags and transported in specialised vehicles to the designated common biomedical waste treatment facilities for incineration, autoclaving or burning to generate energy.

– The CPCB has created a special mobile application, “Covid-19 BWM (Biomedical Waste Management) App”, to keep a tab on pandemic-related information, including the handling of infectious junk.

– CPCB provides training for handling perilous waste in infection-prevention methods, such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquettes, and other needed measures through video films and demonstrations.

What are the challenges associated with the government initiatives?

1) CPCB norms are not strictly followed. 2) Although mandatory, the required data is rarely uploaded by the concerned bio-waste handling agencies in the BWM App.

What should be the way forward?

Some healthcare experts suggested to bar-coded the yellow bags to track the source of the unsafe garbage and its movement to the waste treatment centres.  Also, the Delhi-based union of waste collectors and sweepers is demanding to provide safety gear and to be treated on par with other front line Covid-19 workers. They also demand separate isolation houses, as are lacking in spaces for home quarantine. So, the Government should work on these suggestions.

Also, the government should initiate a public awareness campaign about the safe handling of biomedical waste.


The pros and cons of big data used as economic signals

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Science and technology and economic growth  

Source: This post is created based on the article “The pros and cons of big data used as economic signals” published in Live Mint on 12th Jan, 2022.  

News: Big data is being used for various types of analysis like economic growth. However, there are certain pros and cons linked to this type of analysis.  

Google recently released some anonymized data for India, based on mobile phone locations of the users. As per the data, People are spending more time at home, rather than at work places or retail stores or parks. It means people are facing issue of restricted mobility once again.  

The new forms of data are very useful in tracking economic activities in a country, without waiting for structured government surveys and quarterly estimates. These structured surveys fail to understand a rapidly evolving situation.  

For example; mobility data can predict a change in economic activities. 

How mobility data is linked to economic activities? 

Economists at the Organisation For Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) observed a link between mobility trends and economic growth. They found out that impact of mobility indicators on economic growth has weakened with successive quarters during pandemic. There are two possible reasons for this. 

First, policymakers are restricting specific types of economic activity, instead of blanket ban on movement.  

Second, Org and employees have learned to adapt to newer forms of work and leisure. 

For example, in the second and third quarters of 2020, a 10% point change in mobility was associated with a 2.2% change in economic growth. While in 4th quarter, it only resulted in a 0.9% change in economic growth.  

Challenges associated with big data-based analysis 

However, there are challenges associated with big data-based analysis.  

For example, economists are using measurement of night lights past sundown as a proxy for economic activity. However, some research papers have observed that clouds interfere with the way data on night lights can be captured by satellites. Thus, during cloudy months, readings are low.  

Second, the data from e-way bills generated during goods movement is a very useful advance indication of economic activity. Such e-way bills are not generated for services. Thus, a shift of demand from goods to services must result in a low number of e-way bills. So, it does not mean a slowdown in economic activities.  

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

DRDO Flight Tests Final Deliverable Configuration of MPATGM

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

DRDO Flight Tests Final Deliverable Configuration of MPATGM published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

DRDO test-fires indigenous anti-tank missile” published in Business Standard on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully flight tested the Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM).

What is a Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM)?

MPATGM is an indigenously developed low weight Anti-Tank guided fire & forget missile.

Note: An anti-tank missile is a missile that is created to destroy vehicles that are heavily armored.

Range: MPATGM has already proven in earlier tests its ability to strike targets at its maximum range of 4,000 metres.

The missile was launched from a man portable launcher. It is also integrated with a thermal sight that allows it to be used in low-visibility conditions, even in complete darkness.

The missile has a miniaturized infrared imaging seeker and advanced avionics for on-board control and guidance.

What is the significance of this launch?

​​The MPATGM will now be built in India, eliminating the need to import large numbers of Spike ATGMs from Israel or Javelin ATGMs from the US, which was the earlier plan.


India, Korea agree to ‘impart fresh momentum’ to bilateral trade pact

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

India, Korea agree to ‘impart fresh momentum’ to bilateral trade pact published in Indian Express on 12th January 2022.

“Joint Press Communique India – Korea Trade Talks” published in PIB on11th January 2022.

What is the news?

South Korea’s Trade Minister met with the Indian Minister of Commerce & Industry.

What are the key highlights of the meeting?

Firstly, the two countries agreed to upgrade the existing CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) signed in 2009.

Secondly, they will try to achieve the target of USD 50 Billion before 2030 which was agreed at the summit meeting in 2018. 

Thirdly, they agreed to boost bilateral trade between India and Korea to achieve growth in a fair and balanced manner to the mutual advantage of both sides.

What are the issues in India-South Korea Trade?

India has a large trade deficit with South Korea and is aiming to address issues of market access and non-tariff barriers faced by Indian exporters.

India’s total exports to South Korea in FY21 were about $4.68 billion, against imports of $12.77 billion. Microphones and cameras are key imports from South Korea. Key exports to South Korea are aluminum and mineral fuels.


Explained: How scientists are using grime-eating bacteria to restore classical art

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: How scientists are using grime-eating bacteria to restore classical art published in Indian Express on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

Recently, a team of scientists has used helpful bacteria to clean the art work of Michelangelo in Italy.

How is the Artwork cleaned?

Art restorers have usually employed chemical agents and more recently laser techniques to remove dirt, oil, glue or pollutants from monuments, stoneworks and paintings.

But since 1980s, when researchers first used micro-organisms like Bacteria Desulfovibrio vulgaris to clean a marble monument at the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, the role of micro-organisms has been recognised in protecting the artistic heritage of humanity.

But aren’t microorganisms like Bacteria considered harmful for Art?

Bacteria and other tiny organisms have traditionally been viewed as a threat to art. 

But not all are harmful. Some specialized microbes can be set loose on artwork in an effort to clean and restore the original glory of these pieces of cultural heritage.

Moreover, these bacteria are not modified or genetically engineered. They are just common ones from natural environments that love to eat various proteins.

Can this method be used to fix the discoloration of Taj Mahal?

For this, we need to study the marble of Taj Mahal to understand if it is just dust and particulate carbon causing the dark color or if there is a biofilm formation (Biofilms are formed when communities of microorganisms adhere to a surface).

Moreover, a research paper in 2014 has said that calcifying bacteria could be used for remediation of stones and cultural heritage monuments, including the Taj Mahal.

The Archeological Survey of India is also learnt to be exploring the option of employing bio-restoration at the Taj.


Year End Review 2021- Ministry of Panchayati Raj

Source: This post is based on the articleYear End Review 2021- Ministry of Panchayati Rajpublished in PIB on 11th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) has taken several initiatives during the year 2021.

Initiatives by Panchayati Raj Ministry

SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas)

e-Gram Swaraj e-Financial Management System

Geo-tagging of assets

Finance Commission Grants to Rural Local Bodies: The Fifteenth Finance Commission (XV FC) has made allocations of grants to the Rural Local Bodies. The Grants are provided in two parts, namely, (i) a Basic (Untied) Grant (50%) and (ii) a Tied Grant (50 %). 

The basic grants are untied and can be used by RLBs for location-specific felt needs, except for salary or other establishment expenditure, the Tied Grants are earmarked for the national priority focus areas of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation.

The commission has also recommended ‘Health Grants’ for the award period 2021–2026 for the improvement of health services as a component of local body grants.

Social Audit Guidelines: Social Audit is an important mechanism by which the effective utilization of grants and their outcomes by RLBs can be monitored. Social Audit involves verifying the field realities with data in official documents and discussing the findings in a public platform such as Gram Sabha.

Making Gram Sabhas Vibrant: Article 243 of the Constitution defines Gram Sabha as composed of persons registered in the electoral rolls relating to the village. MoPR has initiated efforts towards Making Gram Sabhas Vibrant.

Organized  National Conference on PESA

National Panchayati Raj Day: The first National Panchayati Raj Day was celebrated in 2010. Since then, the National Panchayati Raj Day is celebrated on April 24 every year in India.


In first, US surgeons transplant pig heart into human patient

Source: This post is based on the article In first, US surgeons transplant pig heart into human patient published in Indian Express on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

A US man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.

Heart Transplant from a genetically-modified pig

This is the first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being. However, it’s too soon to know if the operation really will work.

The earlier attempts of animal-to-human transplants — or xenotransplantation have failed largely because patients bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ. In 1984, Baby Fae, a dying infant, lived 21 days with a baboon heart.

How was this animal to human transplantation different? This time, the surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that’s responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection.

Why was Pig chosen for Transplantation?

Pigs offered advantages over other animals for organ procurement — they are easier to raise, reach maturation faster and achieve adult human size in six months. 

Pig heart valves are routinely transplanted into humans, and some patients with diabetes have received pig pancreas cells. Pig skin has also been used as temporary grafts for burn patients.

What is the significance of this transplantation?

This marks a significant step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants.

Moreover, procedures like this will usher in a new era in medicine in the future, when replacement organs are no longer in short supply.

What are the ethical issues associated with animal to human transplantation?

Medical Implications: Animal to human transplantation brings with it huge risks for the patient. Even well-matched human donor organs can be rejected after they are transplanted – and with animal organs the danger is likely to be higher.

Animal Rights: The treatment has also re-sparked a debate over the use of pigs for human transplants, which many animal rights groups oppose.Activists say it is wrong to modify the genes of animals to make them more like humans.  


India’s tariff gap has widened over China over two years on the trot

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s tariff gap has widened over China over two years on the trot” published in the Business Standard on 11th January 2022.

What is the news?

India recently raised issues in WTO over China’s claims to easier norms as a developing country. China, on the other hand said there is no uniform definition of developing countries and it is still lagging behind  more developed nations of the world.

What are the difference in tariffs between China, India and US?

Average effectively applied tariff rate: According to World Bank, India’s average effectively applied tariff rate across all products was 10.2%, compared to 5.39% for China.

Per capita gross domestic product: China has gone up from $1,053.1 in 2001 to $10,434.8 in 2020. India’s has gone up from $451.6 to $1927.7 in the same period. On marking the China’s 20th year of its becoming a WTO member,WTO director said that global trade integration had helped drive China’s growth and development.

Share in export of goods and services: According to Business Standard analysis, China now has the world’s largest share in export of goods and services. It overtook the United States of America in 2017. It accounted for a 10.6% share in 2019 compared to 10.2% for the US. China’s 2020 share rose to 12.1.%, while US share was down to 9.5%.

Source: Business Standard

Labour force participation rate: China had a labour force participation rate of 76.66% in 2001 while India has 57.64%. China’s number for 2020 was 66.82% compared to India’s 46.29 %. According to paper entitled” ‘The impact of trade openness on labour force participation rate”, changes in labour force population accounts for about 27% of changes in the unemployment rate following a trade liberalization.

Similar trend has been visible in the female data. China was 70.33% compared to India’s 30.67 % in 2001. China’s number for 2019 was 60.57 %, while India was at 20.79%.


Government initiatives to tap green energy: Centre explodes plan to run ships fully on clean energy

Source: This post is based on the article “Centre explodes plan to run ships fully on clean energy” published in the Livemint on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Indian government is planning to introduce various measures/ strategies to use green energy and carbon emission-free fuels.

What are the various initiatives of the government to tap green energy?

Use of green energy to run ships: The government is planning to run ships 100% on green energy by adopting a hybrid energy model comprising a mix of solar, wind, hydrogen and seawater. This plan will help to lower operating costs for cargo ships as well as reduce carbon emissions.

The model will help India’s energy security, as it imports 85% of crude oil and 53% of its gas requirements. Also, tapping Eco-friendly fuel will allow the Indian Navy to be at sea for longer. This will also benefit the Indo-Pacific strategy as the USA seeks a greater role for the Indian navy.

Mandatory requirements: The government is also considering the other proposals for mandatory requirements for fertilizer plants and oil refineries to buy green hydrogen.

Read here: Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021- Explained

National Hydrogen Mission

Solar Hydrogen Programme: It was launched during the International Solar Alliance (ISA) assembly to produce emission-free fuel at $2 per kg, which is much lower than the current $5 per kg.

India’s commitment in the Glasgow summit: India has pledged to cut India’s total projected carbon emission by 1bn tonnes by 2030 and reduce the carbon intensity of the nation’s economy by less than 45% by the end of the decade and net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.

Also read: Glasgow climate meet. India doesn’t rule out ‘net zero’ commitment

Reduce carbon emissions: India is also working on a multi prolonged approach on reducing carbon emissions and pushing for electric mobility. Maharashtra becomes the 1st state that aims to deregister an Internal combustion engine (ICE) and not to register any ICE vehicles starting 2030. It will register only non-emission causing electric vehicles and those fuelled by other carbon emissions-free next-generation fuels like hydrogen starting 2030.

Read here: India’s electric vehicle push will lead to brighter, greener future

Henley Passport Index 2022: India’s passport rank improves to 83 from 90

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s passport rank improves to 83 from 90” published in The Hindu on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Henley Passport Index 2022 has been released.

What is the Henley Passport Index?

Released by: Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm since 2005.

Purpose: To rank 199 passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

Source of Data: The index is based on exclusive data provided by the International Air Transport Association(IATA).

What are the key findings of the Henley Passport Index 2022?

India’s ranking has improved this time. It now ranks at 83rd in the Index, climbing seven places from 90th rank in 2021.

India now has visa-free access to 60 destinations worldwide, with Oman and Armenia being the latest additions. India has added 35 more destinations since 2006.

Japan and Singapore have topped the index. The citizens of these countries can travel visa-free to 192 destinations.

In 2006, an individual could on average visit 57 countries visa-free. Currently, that number has risen to 107. However, this overall increase marks a growing disparity between countries in the global north and those in the global south with nationals from countries such as Sweden and the US able to visit more than 180 destinations visa-free while passport holders from Angola, Cameroon, and Laos can only enter about 50.


Naval Variant of Brahmos Missile: BrahMos advanced variant test fired

Source: This post is based on the articleBrahMos advanced variant test firedpublished in The Hindu on 11th January 2022.

What is the News?

Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) has successfully test-fired the naval variant of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile from INS Vishapatnam.

What is the Naval Variant of Brahmos Missile?

The Naval Variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has an extended range of 350 to 400 km. The missile can fly at 2.8 Mach speed which is almost three times the speed of sound.

What is Brahmos Missile?

BrahMos is a joint collaboration between India and Russia.

It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against the surface and sea-based targets. 

The range of the missile was originally capped at 290 km as per obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). 

Following India’s entry into the MTCR club in 2016, the range has been extended to 450 km and to 600 km.

What is INS Visakhapatnam?

INS Visakhapatnam is the first of four indigenously designed and built Project-15B class stealth guided-missile destroyers. It was commissioned in November 2021


Year-End- Review-2021- Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances

Source: This post is based on the article Year-End- Review-2021- Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances has taken several initiatives in the year 2021.

Several of them are

Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.

 Central Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism(CPGRAMS)

Good Governance Index 2021

District Good Governance Index (DGGI)

Good Governance Week: The government of India has launched a nationwide ‘Good Governance Week’ from 20th December to 26th December 2021 with the motto to redress and dispose of public grievances and improvise service delivery down to the village level

Note: 25th December is celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Civil Services Day: Every year, 21st April is celebrated as Civil Services Day. The date is chosen to commemorate the day when the first Home Minister of Independent India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel addressed the probationers of Administrative Services Officers in 1947 at Metcalf House, Delhi. He referred to civil servants as the ‘Steel Frame of India’.


Union Minister launches Artificial Intelligence-driven Start-Up by IIT alumni for water purification

Source:  This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches Artificial Intelligence-driven Start-Up by IIT alumni for water purification published in PIB on 11th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister has launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven water purification systems developed by Swajal Water Private Limited, a tech startup company founded by IIT alumni.

What is the Water Purification Systems launched by Swajal Water Private Limited, a tech Startup?

Water ATMS: It combines Internet of Things technology with solar energy to provide clean drinking water. It uses solar energy to pump water from rivers, wells, ponds or groundwater depending upon the location. The water will then be treated with appropriate technology to make it healthy & pure for drinking. With this innovation, the cost of purified water can be brought down to as low as 25 paise per litre.

Clairvoyant: It uses artificial intelligence to optimize water purification systems and predict future breakdowns. Thus, it allows to remotely manage, update and repair each system in real-time.

What is Heli-borne Survey Technology for Groundwater Management?

It has been developed by the Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Geophysical Research Institute(NGRI).

The technology maps groundwater sources in arid regions and thus helps utilize groundwater for drinking purposes.  

It provides a high-resolution 3D image for subsurfaces up to a depth of 500 meters below the ground level and maps potential groundwater sources.

Must read: Clean drinking water to all: Initiatives and challenges – Explained Pointwise

Year End Review- 2021 Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises

Source: This post is based on the articleYear End Review- 2021 Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises published in PIB on 11th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has undertaken several important initiatives during the year 2021.

Some of the important initiatives are

Credit Guarantee Scheme for Subordinated Debt(CGSSD) for MSMEs

Self Reliant India(SRI) Fund: It is a  Category-II Alternative Investment Fund registered with SEBI with Mother Fund / Daughter Fund structure. The fund is aimed at providing growth capital to the deserving and eligible units of the MSME sector. The total size of the fund is Rs. 50,000 Crore where Rs.10,000 Crore will come from the Government of India and Rs.40,000 Crore through Private Equity / Venture Capital funds.

Udyam Registration (UR) Portal: It provides a faceless, fully online, paperless and transparent MSME registration process fully integrated with Income Tax and GSTIN systems.

Inclusion of Retail & Wholesale Trade and Urban Street Vendors in MSME Category: Government has included retail, wholesale trades and urban Street Vendors as MSMEs. They are allowed to be registered on Udyam Registration Portal. Benefits to them are restricted to Priority Sector Lending only. 

SAMADHAAN Portal 

MSME Champions Scheme: The scheme aims to pick up clusters and enterprises and modernize their processes, reduce wastages, sharpen business competitiveness and facilitate their National and Global reach and excellence. There are 3 components under the scheme:

1. MSME-Sustainable (ZED): It aims to create awareness amongst MSMEs about Zero Defect Zero Effect(ZED) practices and motivate and incentivize them for ZED Certification.

2. MSME-Competitive (LEAN): It is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of MSME Sectors through the implementation of Lean Tools and Techniques. 

3. MSME-Innovative(for Incubation, IPR, Design and Digital MSME): It is a new concept for MSMEs with a combination of innovation in incubation, design intervention and protecting IPR in a single-mode approach.

Project on “Promoting Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency in MSMEs”: The project has been launched by the Ministry of MSME, United Nations Industrial Development Organization(UNIDO), Global Environment Fund (GEF). The project intends to develop and promote a market environment for MSMEs by introducing energy-efficient technologies and enhancing the use of identified technologies in the clusters. The programme focuses on ten clusters from seven sectors (Pulp & Paper, Textile, Food Processing, Pharma, Chemical & Dye, Foundry & Forging, Iron & Steel). The key executing partner for the project is Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL). 

Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP)

Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises(CGTMSE)

Cluster Development Programme: The scheme aims to form clusters of enterprises having similar activities. A cluster would be defined as a group of enterprises situated within an identifiable, contiguous and practical area that produce similar products or render similar services. 

SFURTI Scheme

Technology Center Systems Programme (TCSP): It was launched to create an innovative ecosystem for the MSMEs in the country.

Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESDP): The objective of the programme is to motivate youth representing different sections of the society including SC/ST/Women, differently-abled, Ex-servicemen and BPL persons to consider self-employment or entrepreneurship as one of the career options.

Coir Vikas Yojana: The scheme facilitates the development of domestic and export markets, skill development and training, empowerment of women, employment/entrepreneurship creation and development, enhanced raw material utilization, trade-related services, welfare activities for the coir workers.

International Cooperation (IC) Scheme


House can’t suspend member for more than 59 days, says Supreme Court

Source: This post is created based on the article “House can’t suspend member for more than 59 days, says Supreme Court” published in Indian Express on 12th January.  

News: This post is created based on the article “House can’t suspend member for more than 59 days, says Supreme Court”, published in Indian Express on 12th Jan, 2022.  

What is the News?  

Supreme Court (SC) is hearing the case of suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from Maharashtra Assembly for one year.  

What is Supreme Court’s ruling? 

SC has ruled that the suspension of MLAs for one year is prima facie unconstitutional. Because there is a constitutional bar to it.  

Under Article 190(4) of the Constitution, if a member of a House is absent from all meetings without its permission for a period of 60 days, the House may declare the seat vacant.  

SC further said that while the House has power to suspend a member, it cannot be for more than 59 days. Also, each constituency has an equal amount of right to be represented in the House, and none can represent these constituencies in the absence of the elected MLAs.  

 

Mains Answer Writing

[Download] 10 PM Weekly Compilation – November, 2022 – 3rd week

Hello, everyone. We are posting a Compilation of the 10 pm current affairs quiz – November 2022 – Third week  Click on the following link to download Download The 10 PM Daily Current Affairs Quiz is focused on the current affairs part of UPSC Prelims. The daily current affairs quiz consists of 10 questions based on the daily current affairs.… Continue reading [Download] 10 PM Weekly Compilation – November, 2022 – 3rd week

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The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?

Source– The post is based on the article “The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?” published in the Business Standard on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Indian economy Relevance: Economic policy News- The article explains the dilemmas faced by Indian policymakers while deciding the right policies for economic… Continue reading The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?

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Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants

Source: The post is based on the article “Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants” published in The Times of India on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment Relevance: impact of climate change. News: The article discusses the impact of climate change. What is the impact of climate change? Climate change causes climate refugees, i.e., people… Continue reading Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants

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Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction

Source: The post is based on an article “Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction” published in The Indian Express on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Agriculture Relevance: importance of millets News: The year 2023 will be celebrated as the International Year of Millets. The external affairs minister S. Jaishankar has put… Continue reading Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction

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The Constitution of India deserves better

Source– The post is based on the article “Constitution Day: A rare, enduring document” published in The India Express and “The Constitution of India deserves better” published in The Hindu on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS2- Indian Constitution Relevance: Making of Indian constitution News- The article explains the basic facts about evolution and present working… Continue reading The Constitution of India deserves better

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COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility

Source– The post is based on the article “COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility” published in The Hindu on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Environmental degradation Relevance: Climate change News- The article explains the issues related to the climate finance and Loss and Damage provisions. What is Loss and Damage agenda for developing countries? The… Continue reading COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility

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All India Open Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS | 4th December 2022

Dear Friends,   Prelims is the gateway to Mains Exam. Before appearing for the actual examination of UPSC CSE, it is necessary to appear in the mock test and get used to the real exam interface. One can only be a master of something when someone assesses his own strength and weakness and overcome this.… Continue reading All India Open Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS | 4th December 2022

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What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?” published in Indian Express on 24th November. What is the News? Certain services at Central Depositories Services India Ltd(CDSL) were disrupted due to a suspected cyber attack. What is CDSL? CDSL or Central Depositories Services India Ltd was founded in… Continue reading What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?

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China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028

Source: The post is based on the article “China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028” published in Business Standard on 26th November. What is the News? China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028 followed by the landing of astronauts there in the years… Continue reading China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028

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Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time

Source: The post is based on the article “Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time” published in PIB on 26th November. What is the News? The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of… Continue reading Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time

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