9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 13th, 2022

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

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

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Reaping India’s demographic dividend

Source: This post is based on the article “Reaping India’s demographic dividend” published in The Hindu on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS1-Population and associated issues. 

Relevance: Demographic dividend. 

News: India is in the middle of a demographic transition. This is evident from its declining fertility rate which currently is 2.0, median age of 29 years, and a falling dependency ratio (expected to decrease from 65% to 54% in the coming decade).  

This provides a window of opportunity towards faster economic growth.  

Must Read: What is Demographic dividend and how it’s beneficial to a society?
What are the challenges in realising its true potential? 

The demographic transition can turn into a demographic disaster without proper policies. 

The increase in the working-age population may lead to rising unemployment, fuelling economic and social risks. 

Has India reaped any benefits from demographic dividend till now?  

Although India has already begun to get the dividend, but the benefit to the GDP from demographic transition has been lower than its peers in Asia and is already declining. 

Hence, there is an urgency to take appropriate policy measures. 

How can India achieve the true potential of its demographic dividend? 

Benefits arising out of a demographic dividend are not automatic. Following steps need to be taken:

Need to undertake an updated National Transfer Accounts (NTA) assessment: India’s per capita consumption pattern is way lower than that of other Asian countries. A child in India consumes around 60% of the consumption by an adult aged between 20 and 64, while the same ratio in China is 85%. 

India needs to update its NTA data, prepare state-specific NTAs on the basis of which they can be ranked. 

India needs to Invest more in children and adolescents-India ranks poorly in Asia in terms of private and public human capital spending. There is need to spend on nutrition, learning during early childhood, help students transition from secondary education to universal skiling and entrepreneurship. 

Health investments– The public spending on health in India has remained flat at around 1% of GDP. Evidence suggests that better health facilitates improved economic production. 

Making reproductive healthcare services accessible -We need to provide universal access to high-quality primary education and basic healthcare. 

National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) shows that there is an unmet need for family planning in India at 9.4% which is very high as compared to 3.3% in China and 6.6% in South Korea. This needs to be bridged. 

Education– It works as an enabler to bridge gender differentials.  

In India, boys are more likely to be enrolled in secondary and tertiary school than girls. In the Philippines, China and Thailand, it is the reverse. 

Need to increase female workforce participation in the economy-As of 2019, 20.3% of women were working or looking for work, down from 34.1% in 2003-04.  

Increase in female workforce participation will likely delay the age of marriage for women and make her participate in the economy more productively, as also exercise her rights and choices. 

India needs to address the diversity between States-While India is a young country, the status and pace of population ageing vary among States.  

Southern States are advanced in demographic transition and already have a higher percentage of older people while the north-central region is the reservoir of India’s workforce. However, this also offers a lot of opportunities to states to work with each other. 

New governance model which can enable policy coordination between States on various emerging population issues such as migration, ageing, skiling, female workforce participation and urbanisation.  

India can learn from other countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. 

They have already reaped the benefit of their demographic dividend to achieve incredible economic growth by adopting forward-looking policies. 

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

Origins of the species – On human evolution

Source: This post is created based on the article ”Origins of the species” published in Business Standard on 13th January 2022.  

Syllabus: GS paper 1 – Ancient Indian History  

News: The understanding of the Human evolution has evolved much more compared to early 20th century due to contributions of Leaky family. 

The article highlights the contributions made by British-Kenyan Leaky family to the understanding of origins of Homo sapiens. 

Until about the middle of the 20th century, it was a common belief that Homo sapiens evolved around 50,000-60,000 years ago in Eurasia. However, due to the work of Leakey family and a few others from 1940s onwards it was revealed that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago. They evolved from one of the various branches of pre-sapiens hominids and hominids branched out from chimpanzee line between 5 and 7 million years ago.  

What are the other major findings regarding human evolution from Leaky family? 

From the post-1940 work of Leaky family in this area, several conclusions can be drawn:  

First, the origins of man (including various species of hominids) stretch back six million years or more. 

Second, our understanding of man’s origin is still work in progress, due to the quite fragmentary nature of fossil records.  

Third, the Homo sapiens 300,000-year long history is a short time span compared to the longevity of various other species, including several lines of hominids.  

Fourth, the explosive growth of Homo sapiens in recent centuries has come at the expense of thousands of other species. 

Lastly, Homo sapiens is the deadliest species, even for itself. Its actions are resulting into the way towards the Sixth Extinction 

GS Paper 2

A quest for social consensus against hate speech

Source: This post is based on the article “A quest for social consensus against hate speech” published in The Hindu on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS2 – Fundamental Rights  

Relevance: Tackling Hate speech, Legal and social angle. 

News: Supreme Court of India has recently agreed to hear petitions that were asking for legal action to be taken against the organisers of, and speakers at, the ‘Haridwar Dharm Sansad’, held in Uttarakhand.  

What happened in the above-mentioned event? 

Read here. 

Why some petitioners have sought the intervention of apex court in the case? 

Despite the fact that FIRs have been registered in the event, no arrests had been made. 

While in some cases like that of ‘Dharm Sansad’ in Chhattisgarh where there was no confirmation whether the accused had delivered hate speech or not, the State police has made arrests. 

Why there is lack of immediate action on such events?

Due to involvement of factors like political angle and ideological divides, there is lack of uniformity in tackling such incidents. 

However, the main reason is the absence of any legal or social consensus around what constitutes “hate speech”.

How hate speech is detrimental to society? 

Indirect and subconscious damage to hate speech to the psyche of society: Hate speech is not simply restricted to direct calls to violence.  

It also strengthens existing prejudices and entrenches already existing discrimination. 

For example: Anti-Semitism (discrimination against Jews) in Europe took its most extreme form in frequent pogroms and — ultimately — the Holocaust. However, it also on a daily basis, inculcated in society a “cultural common sense” about the Jewish people. 

This “cultural common sense” was based on stereotypes and social prejudice, and justified ongoing discrimination, social and economic boycotts, and ghettoization. 

This in the end leads to continued subordination of a section of society, which then can be accomplished without direct calls to violence. 

No society can survive for long when incitement to violence is normalised, and enjoys legal backing. 

Hate speech promotes inequality and subordination, and in its extreme form leads to violence. 

What are the challenges in tackling hate speech? 

Absence of sound legal definition of hate speech: Legal provisions that deal with hate speech and Supreme court judgements on the issue – Read here 

Although SC in various judgements has defined hate speech as speech that targets people based on their identity, and calls for violence or discrimination against people because of their identity, however there is need for more clarity on it. 

Problem in Identification of Hate speech due to its ambiguous nature-Due to its very nature, it’s very difficult to identify what constitutes as hate speech and what not. 

People who are involved in delivering hate speech do it under the disguise of self-defence rather than calls to violence or deliver it in an ambiguous manner. Example– A number of visual and verbal cues were used that everyone knew referred to the Jewish community, to the point where it was no longer necessary to take the community by name. 

Indirect hate speech of this kind is known as a “dog-whistle”. 

While it may escape the attention of an external observer, both the speaker and the listener know what — and who — is being referred to. 

What is the way forward? 

Requirement of social consensus to overcome the subjective nature of hate speech 

It is very difficult to succinctly define hate speech, it will inevitably reflect individual judgement. Therefore, there is need for social consensus about what kind of speech is nothing but hate speech.  

Social consensus helps to distinguish cases of hate speech from other forms of confrontational or agitational speech. 

For example: In Europe, Holocaust denial is an offence and is enforced with a degree of success. 

This is because there is a pre-existing social consensus about the moral abhorrence of the Holocaust and the determination not to see it repeated.  

Consistent legal implementation and daily conversations within the society will help to achieve this social consensus. 

SC has a very appropriate opportunity to start this process. 

Act now, recast the selection process of ECs

Source: This post is based on the article “Act now, recast the selection process of ECs” published in The Hindu on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS2- Appointment to various Constitutional posts. 

Relevance: Election commission. 

News: Recently, several instances have cast some doubt on the independence and the impartiality of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

For instance: The meeting of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and his Election Commissioner attending an informal meeting with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister

Why these instances have called the impartiality and Independence of EC into question? 

ECI is a constitutionally mandated body that should maintain its distance from the Executive, in perception and reality.  

What have been the other such recent instances? 

Read here. 

What is the current practice of appointment of EC and CEC? 

Appointment of Election Commissioners falls within the purview of Article 324(2) of the Constitution.  

Although the Constitution provided the ‘subject to’ clause in which Parliament has power to decide the appointment procedure for ECs, but Parliament has so far not enacted any changes to the appointment process.   

Why the current practice of appointment has been called in question? 

Various committees like Justice Tarkunde Committee(1975), Dinesh Goswami committee (1990), Law Commission(2015) have recommended that Election Commissioners be appointed on the advice of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice of India. 

2nd Administrative Reforms Commission additionally recommended that the Law Minister and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha should also be included in such a Collegium. 

Several petitions in SC have called the current practice into question: They argue that the current practice of appointment violates Articles 14, 324(2), and democracy as a basic feature of the Constitution.  

The Election Commission is not only responsible for conducting free and fair elections, but it also has quasi-judicial functions, so the Executive cannot be a sole participant in the appointment process. This also gives the ruling party unlimited power to choose someone whose loyalty to it is ensured. 

The current process also lacks transparency. This issue was also highlighted by a Supreme Court bench comprising the then CJI. It observed that “The Election Commissioners supervise and hold elections across the Country, and this is the significance of their office, and their selection has to be made in the most transparent manner.”   

What can be a better alternative method of appointment? 

A multi-institutional, bipartisan committee for the selection of Election Commissioners can enhance the perceived and actual independence of the ECI.  

Such a procedure is already followed with regard to other constitutional and statutory authorities such as the Chief Information Commissioner, the Lokpal, the Central Vigilance Commissioner, and the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. 

Changes in the appointment process for Election Commissioners can strengthen the ECI’s independence, neutrality and transparency. Parliament can enact the law for the same.   

How the Seventh Schedule affects delivery of public goods

Source: This post is based on the article “How the Seventh Schedule affects delivery of public goods” published in Indian Express on 13th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – issues related to 7th schedule of the Indian constitution

Relevance:  Reforming the 7th Schedule

News:  There is a significant need to reform the 7th Schedule to deliver more powers to local bodies. The 7th  Schedule should also incorporate a local body list apart from the Union list, Central list & the concurrent list.

Why Seventh Schedule need to be reformed?

Obsolete: The principles of 7th schedule were taken from the Government of India Act of 1935 and today’s Seventh Schedule is identical to the one in 1950.

Greater centralisation: Items have moved from the state list to the concurrent list and from the concurrent list to the union list. Rather than progressing towards decentralization of power.

Optimum delivery of services: Every public good is optimally delivered at a certain level of government. Delivery becomes suboptimal both above that level and below that level. Most public goods people will think of are efficiently delivered at the local government level, not Union or state level. Most public goods are efficiently delivered at the local government level, not Union or state level.

Effective delivery of services: Citizens increasingly demand efficient delivery of such public goods. But without delegation of funds, functions, and functionaries, presently left to the discretion of state governments, local governments are unable to respond.

What are the reasons for the greater centralisation of Power?

State’s ineffectiveness in implementation of laws

For instance, states have been reluctant in implementing the 2006 Supreme Court ruling in the Prakash Singh case. This may be the reason why states frequently ask for Central police forces to enforce law and order.

This is similar to state highways being converted to national highways so that they are taken care of better.

What are the supportive arguments to bring reforms in the 7th schedule?

Constituent Assembly debates: B Das (former chief minister of Odisha) stated the need for having general principles involved in the selection of Items under Union, Concurrent, and State lists. Such principles will help us to understand the lists much better. However, it was not accepted.

Recently, the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy brought out a report on how the Seventh Schedule might be cleaned up. N K Singh, Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission, has also often made this point.

Rajamannar Committee was set up by a state government to address the issue of greater centralisation.

However, the 1983 Sarkaria Commission and the 2002 National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution avoided this issue.

GS Paper 3

Cutting corporate debt

Source: This post is based on the article Cutting corporate debt” published in Business standard on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS3-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning. 

Relevance: Deleveraging of Companies.  

News: Indian companies are deleveraging i.e. that is there is reduction in their borrowed debt.

This trend is likely to continue, specially in the present pandemic situation. 

What are the indicators of deleveraging by Indian companies?

The debt-to-equity ratio of listed firms dropped to a six-year low of 0.59 in 2020-21, compared to 0.73 in the previous year.

Reserve Bank of India’s recent report on the banking sector has also revealed that non-financial private firms have been net savers over the last three years.  

What can be the reasons for this? 

Improvement in corporate and banking sector: As compared to the situation until a few years ago, the state of both the corporate and the banking sector has improved. The impact of pandemic-related disruption has been considerably lower than anticipated for both corporations and the banking system. In fact, earnings have improved for large corporations over the last few quarters.

Deleveraging process in the corporate sector is also being helped by buoyancy in the stock market, which has enabled firms to raise record money from the market. 

A buoyant market is the one which is witnessing a lot of trading activity and where prices of stocks are gradually increasing over time.
What can be disadvantages of this? 

While this points towards strengthening of the corporate balance sheet, but it also reflects the unwillingness of investors to invest and highlights the underlying weakness in the economy. 

This may impact the asset quality in the banking sector once the pandemic-related support extended to borrowers begins to be removed. 

This may also lead to sustained lower demand for credit. Especially when the credit demand is expected to remain low due to relatively low level of industrial capacity utilisation and weak underlying demand in the economy. 

Although Banks have been focusing on retail lending, but that too has limits as large number of households have suffered income losses

Trust deficit: On tech platforms and news publishers

Source: This post is created based on the article “Trust deficit: On tech platforms and news publishers” published in The Hindu on 13th Jan. 2022.  

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Industries and industrial policies 

News: CCI has launched a probe against Google, following allegations by the country’s digital news publishers.  

Read – CCI’s Google probe 

In the recent years, many countries such as Australia and France have tried to correct the balance between the big tech companies and traditional journalism industry.  

What is the case in India? 

In India, the complaint has been made by India’s Digital News Publishers Association against Google. It has alleged that Google abuses its dominant position by not providing a fair share of the advertising monies and by not providing adequate information.  

Further the association has complaint that Google does not pay for the news snippets that appear in search. Also, the terms of engagement are “unilaterally and arbitrarily”, which are dictated by Google without any consultation.  

What are the implications associated with this Issue? 

Lately, news media industry in India is struggling to survive. Whereas big tech platforms are becoming more and more powerful.  

Sustainability of journalism in the digital era is very important, especially in a democracy. When journalistic efforts do not get a fair value, they end up sacrificing quality to gain more users and in a quest for more emotional engagement.  

Rooftop solar: Why India is now considered to be a laggard globally

Source: This post is created based on the article “Rooftop solar: Why India is now considered to be a laggard globally” published in DTE on 13th Jan. 2022. 

Syllabus: GS Paper 3- energy- Solar energy  

News: Rooftop solar installation in India is lagging behind the target.  

As a part of nationwide revamped target in 2014 for renewable energy installations, at least 40 gigawatt was earmarked for rooftop solar by 2022. However, only 6.11 GW (15 per cent of the target) was achieved as of November 2021.  

Even the urbanized, high-income cities like Delhi could achieve only 20 per cent of the target.  

At the national level, the MNRE had allocated a subsidy for capacity of about 3,000 MW RTS to various states, but so far, 699 MW (23 per cent) has been installed. 

What are the Issues facing Rooftop Solar (RFS)? 

Regulatory framework: The growth of the RTS segment is highly dependent on the regulatory framework. Absence or withdrawal of state-level policy support for the RTS segment has been a major issue.  

Net Metering: Net metering regulations are one of the major obstacles facing the sector. Net metering allows surplus power produced by RTS systems to be fed back into the grid. Discoms compensate consumers for this surplus power.  

Price of RTS Panels: The prices of residential RTS panels are frozen for as long as 18 months. It is the most critical flaw in the MNRE Phase II subsidy scheme. solar panels and other input costs are highly volatile. A one-price-fits-all approach fails to account for the disparities within a market. 

Rols of Discoms: Discom’s overarching role in the RTS framework is also a problem. It has a role in subsidizing the installation of RFS 

What are the suggestions? 

Direct benefit transfer must be applied, instead of transferring benefits to first discoms and then discoms transferring it to consumers. 

The RTS needs easy financing, unrestricted net metering, and an easy regulatory process. 

There must be fair competition in telecom sector

Source: This post is based on the article “There must be fair competition in telecom sector” published in Indian Express on 13th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3- issues related to Telecom Sector in India

Relevance:  Telecom sector issues

News: The board of Vodafone Idea (Vi) has approved the conversion of part of their liability owed to the government into equity.

Accordingly, Rs 16,000 crore of the interest on the deferred spectrum and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) liabilities will now be converted to government equity. This makes the government as the single-largest stakeholder, owning 35.8 percent of the entity.

The government proposed this relief package to save the Telecom operator from exiting and to protect competition in a market.

In this context, this article will discuss the issues troubling the Telecom sector in India.

What are the issues affecting the Telecom sector in India?

Read more here: Vodafone Idea issue and the telecom sector in India – Explained, Pointwise

Litigation issues: leading to drain on resources. For example, retrospective taxation issue related to Vodafone-Hutch offshore deal.

Access to government is unequal: Instances of inequity have impacted the competition in the sector. For example, allowing “back door entry” into the mobile sector in 2003, Spectrum assignment through “first come first served” (FCFS) method, allowing Jio’s aggressive strategies in 2016.

Bureaucratic inertia: it results in decisions that favour one over the other operator not because there is bad intent, but because the system is such that the status quo is the dominant response.

Other reasons: Intense price war, Unreasonable definition of AGR, An extractive spectrum auction regime and, the development in technology, are impacting the revenue streams of operators.

Telecom is not the domain of government: After the implementation of this relief package, India will own stakes in two out of four major telecom operators in the country, namely BSNL (100 per cent) and Vi (35.8 per cent).

Excluding China, no other country in the world has wholly-owned government entities in the telecom sector. Telecom, almost everywhere, is the domain of private enterprise. In France and Germany, the government has diluted its stakes in erstwhile public sector entities to a minimum. Even, the Chinese government has been encouraging private sector participation to boost competition in a market.

What is the way forward?

The current telecom licensing policy, prohibit any company/legal person either directly or through its associates from having substantial equity holding (defined as equity of 10 percent or more) in more than one licencee company in the same area for the same service.

Accordingly, in order to comply, the government may have to dilute its share or explore the option of merging BSNL and Vi.

In this regard, the government should explore the option of merging BSNL and Vi as it is attractive for multiple reasons.

-Both BSNL and Vi can share their infrastructure.

-It can help revive Vi.

-Merger between these two entities can ensure fair competition within the sector.

Watch out for an official central bank digital rupee on its way in

Source: This post is based on the article “Watch out for an official central bank digital rupee on its way in” published in Livemint on 13th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues related to Crypto currencies

Relevance:  central bank digital currency

News:  The likelihood of launching a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in India is a credible possibility.

What are the challenges to introducing CDBC in India?

India has at least 500 million people with no access to a smartphone (Statistica reports the use of 845 million phones in 2021).

Large numbers have neither an Aadhaar nor PAN card, or even if they do, are not in the habit of using phones except for making calls.

Many of our senior citizens have already been robbed by online scamsters

How introducing CBDC will benefit Indian economy? Read here: Introducing National Digital Currency in India – Explained, Pointwise 

Everything you want to know about CBDC

What are the areas/sectors that will be disrupted if CBDC is introduced in India?

The first is that it may lead to failure, decline, or stagnation of the entire financial system.

Payment banks will need to close down, as savers will have to maintain accounts with RBI anyway. The UPI system would be redundant. Even commercial banks will see people move money out of savings deposits and probably opt for term deposits at higher rates. ATMs will have to shut down, for sure.

The other major challenge for our central bank will be technology disruptions. Hackers would be a threat, technical failures at banks will become a routine

Establishing India’s Apple

Source: This post is based on the article “Establishing India’s Apple” published in The Hindu on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology- developments. 

Relevance: Innovation. 

News: U.S. tech company Apple has reached the $3 trillion-mark in market capitalisation. This now makes it wealthier than most countries. 

How can India advance towards creating such companies? 

This will require India to establish ecosystems that are innovation driven. Following are some key steps to achieve this:

1) Sustained public funding to build world-class research and development infrastructure and hiring the best faculty in our university system. The initial funding to build large research infrastructures needs to come from the public exchequer. Then it can be financed by private investors, like angel investors and venture capitalists.  

Equally important is encouraging and providing the faculty towards critical thinking. 

2) Ecosystems can be build by connecting institutions nearby. This will lead to facilitating easy access to tools and equipment for each others’ students and faculty, creating an open, inclusive atmosphere, and encompassing each other’s strengths. 

There should be availability of excellent tech transfer offices, access to legal counsel and law firms. 

3) Tech transfer offices and incubators play a vital role in commercialising technologies. Their part is to make sure that the universities are incentivised while providing a physical space with technical and legal help for individual faculty-driven innovations to get commercialised 

4) Proper legal frameworks are needed for university-driven innovation to mature. After consultations and modifications, Parliament needs to pass the Protection and Utilization of Public Funded Intellectual Property Bill (PUPFIP), 2008 . 

This will help remove the universities’ lack of clarity on intellectual property rights to commercialise inventions from government-funded research programmes. 

5) It is essential to broaden the reach to cover all streams within the liberal arts apart from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field which will lead this innovation revolution. 

Curricula need to get away from focusing exclusively on awarding degrees and also focus on vocational training towards developing students’ skills for a specific task.  

Re-skilling and upskilling with digital interventions

Source: This post is based on the article “Re-skilling and upskilling with digital interventions” published in Livemint on 13th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – issues related to employment

Relevance:  Re-skilling and upskilling the labour force

News: In a world where technology advances with every passing day, employees need to keep updating their domain knowledge to keep their work performance up to the mark.

The responsibility to help them reshape their skills thus falls on the shoulders of every organization.

Why it is imperative to re-skill and upskill employees?

Here are a few reasons that have made the re-skilling and upskilling of employees vital, and the steps that could be taken to pursue this goal.

Firstly, to ensure a smooth transition of the shift in the division of labour among humans and machines. It is necessary to acknowledge and address the need to shape people’s skills for the future, starting today.

For instance, as per the Future of Jobs report of the World Economic Forum, as many as 75 million jobs may have been displaced by the end of 2022, by a shift in the division of labor among humans and machines. But it might also lead to the creation of 133 million jobs simultaneously.

Secondly, it is crucial for everyone to adapt to future technology, i.e., Artificial Intelligence (AI). With its huge potential to carry out complex calculations at lightning speed and conduct the research and analysis that is required to run a business, AI casts doubt on the jobs of millions of earners.

AI does more than just eliminate manual labor. It uses data and statistical tools to allow innovative forms of administration and equips employees in ways that can raise their productivity.

What can be done to re-skill and upskill employees?

Every organization needs to build learning & development (L&D) model:  It will help employees remain relevant to trends and thus benefit them greatly in the long run.

Under the L&D model, Productive training sessions must be conducted that would help everyone in the workforce to visualize their own career paths while simultaneously reforming their skills accordingly. These sessions can also be used to increase their technical knowledge and create awareness of updates.

Learning essential facts related to technology should be made a new normal in this digital age: Employees must develop the habit of seeking any information related to their own field, especially in the context of digital growth.

Instead of viewing automated technology as a threat to their livelihood, employees need to focus on how it will benefit them: it is the responsibility of human resource (HR) leaders to help them communicate and strategize their path ahead. Seniors need to be assisted in this transition.

The need for an open mindset: The workforce should hence be positively reinforced to take an open-minded approach towards change, as it will help reduce friction in the face of a sharp transition. An open mindset could prove to be a valuable asset in upskilling employees for future endeavors.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Writ petition not maintainable against proceedings by banks: SC

Source: This post is based on the articleWrit petition not maintainable against proceedings by banks: SC published in Business Standard on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Supreme Court has observed that a writ petition by borrowers challenging proceedings under SARFAESI Act initiated by Bank/Asset Reconstruction Companies is not maintainable.

What was the case about?

A writ petition was filed in the Karnataka High Court by borrowers challenging proceedings under SARFAESI Act initiated by Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC).

Admitting the petition, the High Court granted an interim stay on proceedings.Challenging this, the ARC filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

What did the Supreme Court say?

The Supreme Court dismissed the interim stay provided by the High Court.

The court said that if proceedings are initiated under the SARFAESI Act and if the borrower is aggrieved by any of the actions of the bank/ARC, borrower has to avail the remedy under the SARFAESI Act and no writ petition would lie or is maintainable or entertainable.

This is because the activity of the bank/ARC (of lending the money to the borrowers) cannot be said to be performing a public function which is normally expected to be performed by the State authorities.

POWERGRID and Africa50 in Joint Development Agreement, to pioneer Africa’s first transmission PPP project in Kenya

Source: This post is based on the articlePOWERGRID and Africa50 in Joint Development Agreement, to pioneer Africa’s first transmission PPP project in Kenyapublished in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) has signed a Joint Development Agreement with Africa50 to develop the Kenya Transmission Project.

What is the Kenya Transmission Project?

The Project aims to develop power transmission lines in Kenya under a public-private partnership framework.

Under the project, POWERGRID will provide technical and operational know-how to the project, while Africa50 will bring its project development and finance expertise and will act as a bridge between the Kenyan government and private investors.

Once completed, the project will be the first Independent Power Transmission (IPT) in Kenya and will set a reference point in Africa as the first financing of transmission lines on a PPP basis.

What is Africa50?

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s economic growth by developing and investing in bankable infrastructure projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact. 

Currently, Africa50 has 31 shareholders comprising 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib.

PM inaugurates 11 new medical colleges and a new campus of CICT in Tamil Nadu

Source: This post is based on the article PM inaugurates 11 new medical colleges and a new campus of CICT in Tamil Nadupublished in PIB on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Prime Minister has inaugurated 11 new medical colleges and a new campus of Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) in Tamil Nadu.

Improvement of Medical Infrastructure in India

In the last seven years, the number of medical colleges has gone up to 596, an increase of 54%

Medical Undergraduate and Postgraduate seats have gone up by about 80% since 2014.

The number of AIIMS has gone up to 22 from 7 in 2014.

About Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT)

It is an autonomous Institute of higher research functioning under the Ministry of education, Government of India.

Purpose: To carry out higher research on Classical Tamil at international levels not to be found elsewhere globally. 

The institute is engaged in the task of developing Tamil through various programmes of its own. 

The institute is also responsible for the Kural Peedam Award. It is a lifetime achievement presidential award given to eminent scholars of classical Tamil.

Located in: Chennai

Union Minister proposed a Common Single Application for all Scientific Fellowship, Grants and Scholarships

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister proposed a Common Single Application for all Scientific Fellowship, Grants and Scholarships published in PIB on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Union Minister of State Science & Technology and Minister of State Earth Sciences has proposed a Common Single Application for all Scientific Fellowships, Grants and Scholarships.

What is the need of a Common Single Application for all Scientific Fellowships, Grants and Scholarships?

Currently, there are a number of schemes under the Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) providing scholarship/fellowship to students, researchers at different levels.

However, all these departments have separate advertisements and interview/selection processes. Thus, students/researchers have to apply at different portals in different formats and face multiple exams or interviews, which leads to hardship among students. 

This situation is not only time-consuming for students, but also a lot of time and resources are deployed in the process of selection to disbursement of grants by the funding agencies.

That’s why, a Common Single Application Interface has been proposed.

How will the proposed Common Single Application Interface work?

Common Single Application will be a single web interface to facilitate all scholarship and fellowships in the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

The students will not need to submit multiple applications at different portals as all departments will converge all scholarship and fellowship schemes at a single portal. 

This streamlining will not only save cost and time but will provide a level playing field to all the students and help them achieve “Ease of Science Education.” 

Moreover, this will also make the schemes student-centric and simplify all the grant processes.

DBT-BIRAC supported start-ups InnAccel and NIRAMAI have received World Bank Group and the Consumer Technology Association’s Global Women’s HealthTech Awards

Source: This post is based on the articleDBT-BIRAC supported start-ups InnAccel and NIRAMAI have received World Bank Group and the Consumer Technology Association’s Global Women’s HealthTech Awardspublished in PIB on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The two Startups namely NIRAMAI Health Analytics and InnAccel Technologies have received the Global Women’s Health Tech Awards. These two startups have received support from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and BIRAC.

What are the Global Women’s Health Tech Awards?

Launched by: The Award was launched in August,2021 by World Bank and the Consumer Technology Association(CTA). 

Aim: To recognize innovative startups that leverage tech to improve women’s health and safety in emerging markets.

Categories: The awards were given under three categories: reproductive health and pregnancy, general women’s and adolescent health, and women safety and security.

Why was the award given to startups NIRAMAI Health Analytics and InnAccel Technologies?

NIRAMAI Health Analytics: It has developed a software-based medical device that detects early-stage breast cancer in a simple and private way for women of all age groups, addressing a critical unmet need in cancer screening.

The solution developed is a low cost, accurate, automated, portable, contactless, radiation-free and painless cancer screening tool with no known side effects. 

InnAccel Technologies Limited: It has developed a device named Fetal Lite. It is a next generation, AI-powered, fetal heart rate (FHR) monitor, based on fetal ECG signal extraction technology for mothers in labor or post 37 weeks of gestation.

Union Minister launches Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar 2021 – 2022

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar 2021 – 2022 published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Minister of State for Education has virtually launched Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar (SVP) 2021 – 2022.

What is Swachh Vidyalaya Puraskar(SVP)?

The SVP awards were instituted in 2016-17 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Ministry of Education).

Aim: To recognize, inspire and celebrate excellence in sanitation and hygiene practice in Schools.

Coverage: The award is open to all categories of schools. i.e. Government, Government aided and Private schools in both rural and urban areas.

Categories: The schools will be assessed through an online portal & mobile app in 6 sub-categories: a) Water b) Sanitation c) Handwashing with soap d) Operation and Maintenance e) Behaviour Change and Capacity Building and f) newly added category on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response.

Application: The schools have been given sufficient time till March 2022 to apply for the awards so that they can do so at an appropriate and safe time.

Read more: ASER Survey and issues in school education – Explained, pointwise


Schools shall be awarded at the District, State and National level based on an internationally recognized five-star rating system. Also, every school will get a certificate of participation showing the category-wise scores and overall rating of the school. 

At the National level, 40 schools will be selected for awards this year under the overall category. Also, 6 sub-category wise awards have also been introduced for the first time.

Read more: New education policy follows Mahatma Gandhi’s “Nai Talim” in terms of mother tongue: Vice President

Prime Minister inaugurates MSME Technology Center at Puducherry

Source: This post is based on the article Prime Minister inaugurates MSME Technology Center at Puducherry published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

On the occasion of National Youth Day, the Prime Minister has inaugurated an MSME Technology Center at Puducherry.

What are Technology Centers?

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) has established Technology Centers(TCs) across the country. 

These centers have been set up under the flagship Technology Center Systems Program.

Purpose of these Centers: To support existing and prospective MSMEs by developing production facilities, manpower, providing consultancy and developing a competitive edge through the adoption of best practices.

Read more: Union Minister for MSME launched Special Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme (SCLCSS) for Services Sector
What is the Technology Center Systems Program?

It has been launched by the Ministry of MSME with support in funds from the World Bank.

Objective: To improve the competitiveness of MSMEs by a) facilitating improved access to manufacturing technology b) improving further the availability and employability of skilled workers and c) establishing a strong focus on providing business & technical advisory services.

Components: a) Establishment of Technology Centers (TCs) b) Engaging the services of world class Technology Partners(TPs) to strengthen TCs c) Engaging the services of reputed Cluster Network Manager who will establish linkages amongst key stakeholders including MSMEs, academia, large industry players and d) Establish a National Portal for creating a vibrant, interactive and self-sustainable technology platform to meet various needs of MSMEs.

Read more: Union Minister for MSME Narayan Rane launches “SAMBHAV” National Level Awareness Programme, 2021

Pakistan’s National Security Policy: Pakistan security policy seeks 100 years of peace with India, but with caveat

Source: This post is based on the article Pakistan security policy seeks 100 years of peace with India, but with caveatpublished in TOI on 13th January 2022.

What is the News?

Pakistan will be releasing its First new National Security Policy covering a period between 2022 and 2026.

What is the focus of Pakistan’s National Security Policy with respect to India?

Firstly, the policy focuses on economic diplomacy in the immediate neighbourhood and doesn’t advocate any conclusive measures in ties with any particular country.

Secondly, the policy seeks peace with India without any hostility for the next 100 years.

Thirdly, the policy leaves the door open for trade and business ties with India without a final settlement of the Kashmir dispute provided there is progress in the talks 

Read more: Sir Creek Issue:India-Pakistan
What is the significance of Pakistan’s National Security Policy on India-Pakistan Relations?

Pakistan had downgraded ties with India and stalled trade after India had revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019. They have said that it would be impossible to normalize ties with India if it doesn’t reconsider its decision on Jammu and Kashmir special status.

On the other hand, India has repeatedly stated that Pakistan should first stop supporting cross-border terrorism to normalise ties. Hence, this policy could become a breakthrough point in India-Pakistan relations.

Read more: Suggestions to Improve India-Pakistan Relations

National Youth Festival(NYF): Modi exhorts youth to adopt motto of ‘compete & conquer’

Source: This post is based on the articleModi exhorts youth to adopt motto of compete & conquer published in The Hindu on 13th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has inaugurated the 25th National Youth Festival(NYF) hosted by the Union Territory of Puducherry.

What is the National Youth Festival(NYF)?

National Youth Festival is an annual gathering of youth with various activities including competitive ones. 

The festival has been conducted since the year 1995. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

Objective: To provide a platform to bring the youth of the country together in an attempt to provide them with the opportunity to showcase their talents in various activities.

Organized by: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in collaboration with one of the State Governments.

Read more: Major teachings of Swami Vivekananda and its relevance
What are the key highlights of the PM’s address?

Firstly, he has issued a call to the country’s youth to adopt the motto of “compete and conquer” as their guiding principle in life.

Secondly, he said that the evolution of the start-up ecosystem that had grown to over 50,000 units reflected the “can-do” spirit of the youth of today.

Thirdly, the sense of social responsibility is shown by the youngsters(in the 15-18 age group) in volunteering for COVID-19 vaccination has led to coverage in excess of 2 crore children in a short span of time.

Fourthly, he quoted Sri Aurobindo words, that “a brave, frank, clean hearted, courageous and aspiring youth is the only foundation on which the future nation can be built”.

Fifthly, he also said that the nation’s youth were not only a “demographic dividend” but “drivers of development” and proponents of democratic values.

Lastly, he gave a call to the youth to espouse a “vocal for local” motto as a fitting tribute to the great sons that the country had produced.

Piezoelectric effect: Special electro-active nanoparticles developed for potential applications in touch & acoustic sensor

Source: This post is based on the article Special electro-active nanoparticles developed for potential applications in touch & acoustic sensor published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the News?

Indian scientists have for the first time proposed an efficient way to induce a property called piezoelectric delta phase in polymer nanoparticles.

What is the Piezoelectric Effect?

Piezoelectric Effect is the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress. 

One of the unique characteristics of the piezoelectric effect is that it is reversible, meaning that materials exhibiting the direct piezoelectric effect (the generation of electricity when stress is applied) also exhibit the converse piezoelectric effect (the generation of stress when an electric field is applied).

The piezoelectric effect is very useful within many applications that involve the production and detection of sound, generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, microbalances, and ultra-fine focusing of optical assemblies. It also has its use, acting as the ignition source for cigarette lighters.

Read more: Indian scientists discover materials that self-repair mechanical damages
What is the study conducted by scientists?

There is a delta phase of a piezoelectric effect called delta polymer (PVDF) which is so far less studied due to processing difficulties.

Indian scientists have now made a device that achieved delta-phase in PVDF nanoparticles at the lowest possible electric field to date. This device exhibits a superior piezoelectric response.

This work would open up possibilities for the use of nanotechnology in this field. It will also make it useful for applications in touch Sensors, acoustic sensors and piezoelectric nanogenerators.


Mains Answer Writing

Must Read Current Affairs Articles – January 24th, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – January 24th, 2022

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Rainfall changes could impact global manufacturing, services sectors

What is the News? According to a study, an increase in the number of rainy days leads to a downfall in economic output.  What is the study about? The study was conducted to look at how rainfall patterns hurt the economy. The group compared daily rainfall data with subnational economic output from 77 countries between… Continue reading Rainfall changes could impact global manufacturing, services sectors

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New Model for Asset Monetisation: People can soon invest in infra projects: Gadkari

What is the News? The Union government is awaiting approval of the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for the New Model for Asset Monetisation. What is the New Model for Asset Monetisation planned by the Government? Currently, most of the pension funds and foreign investors are investing in infrastructure projects.  But under this new… Continue reading New Model for Asset Monetisation: People can soon invest in infra projects: Gadkari

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Negotiating pitfalls: Are there basic lacunae in India’s practices?

News: India’s tactics of negotiations has not worked the way China’s tactics have worked. Hence, India needs to prepare ground by negotiating better deals.  What is China’s tactic in negotiations?  First, it accepts some principle but do nothing in practice or make a commitment with no intention of honoring. Second, it tries to provoke a… Continue reading Negotiating pitfalls: Are there basic lacunae in India’s practices?

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Why India needs a single agency to guard its borders

News: The unending threats to Indian borders and recent developments call for a comprehensive review of border management to ensure the all-weather security. What are the current developments in border areas? One, China is trying to take over territory. For example, Doklam and Galwan crisis. The recent China’s Land Border Law (LBL) will enhance its… Continue reading Why India needs a single agency to guard its borders

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Setting sail for a powerful India-German partnership

News: German navy frigate Bayern recently arrived in Mumbai after visiting Japan, Australia and other countries. This move is for strengthening the relationships between India and Germany. Bayern has also participated in NATO missions and operation Atlanta in the past. Read here: India-Germany relations: After 16 years About Indo-Pacific region It is home to around 65% of… Continue reading Setting sail for a powerful India-German partnership

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How the Quad can help climate action

News: After the pandemic world is cautiously opening up with increasing vaccination and businesses getting back on track. The QUAD is harnessing its energy to addressing the pandemic. Significance of QUAD The Quad was born in response to a natural calamity, the tsunami of 2004. It is unified in saving the planet from environmental degradation with… Continue reading How the Quad can help climate action

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Challenges associated with the 10th schedule: How to fix the anti-defection loophole

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

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The Case for Liberal Democracy

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

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Evolution of New India: The ground rules of ‘the one land of many’

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’

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