9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 14th, 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

“Liberal economics creates illiberal societies”

Source– This post is based on the article “Liberal economics creates illiberal societies” published in The Hindu on 14th Jan 2022 

Syllabus– GS1- political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society. 

Relevance– Capitalism, Communism in the 21st century. 

News: Capitalism and the idea of liberal economics has been proved to be counterproductive for the equality and democratic values. 

It has given rise to nationalism and authoritarianism globally.  

How liberal economics leads to authoritarian regimes? 

Liberal economists are against “populist” policies of governments that subsidise the poor and adopt industrial strategies for self-reliance and jobs for their citizens. 

The liberal policies in the last 30 years reduced the taxes on incomes and wealth for the people at the top. This was justified on the basis of the idea that this will lead to growth and there will be enough to share through the trickle down effect. 

Although the pie has grown larger but the richest few have been taking the major advantages of that as shown by the various reports on inequality in the world. 

With every global crisis like the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis — the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. 

How is the ideology of liberal economics has harmed the world?  

Political Implications- This has led to weakening of democracy and secularism. 

Rise of Authoritarian governments – History shows that whenever hopelessness spreads in societies, they are fertile grounds for messianic saviours to form an authoritarian government  

The rise of populist leaders around the world has shown that people still get swayed by the idea of messianic saviors. Authoritarian governments are now being democratically elected.  

Economic implications-Capitalism has led to Inequities within economies and an unsustainability of economic growth. Economic despair is feeding the rise of authoritarianism, nationalism, and identity politics.    

Liberal economics supports Privatization but this makes governments struggle for resources to provide public goods. It gives another opportunity in the hands of top most to buy what they need, while this prevents those at the bottom to even have basic health and education facilities. This increases the gap between the haves and the have-nots. 

Why neither communism nor capitalism is the solution? 

Although Communism had lifted living standards, and the health and education of masses of poorer people faster than capitalism could, communism’s idea that there should be no private property was a failure. This deprived people of personal liberties.  

Capitalism’s idea of replacing all publicly owned enterprises with privately owned ones (and reducing taxes on wealth and high incomes) has not worked either. 

It has denied many of their basic human needs of health, education and social security, and equal opportunities for their children. The private property solution has also harmed the natural environment as businesses work on the profit motive and not on ecological motive. 

Due to this the ecological commons are harmed, and social equity suffers. 

What is the way forward? 

The extreme application of both Communism and capitalism has created negative consequences. 

Climate change and political chaos around the world are both warnings that capitalism needs reform 

A new form of “Gandhian” democratic socialism, powered by cooperative economic enterprises is the way forward. 

It will create wealth at the bottom, not only at the top, and save humanity and the planet. 

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

GS Paper 2

Shifting demand patterns must guide state excise policy design

Source: This post is based on the article “Shifting demand patterns must guide state excise policy design” published in the Live mint on 14th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2  -Government policies and interventions aimed at development in various sectors.

Relevance: Understanding the need for designing policies according to consumer demand.

News: Policymakers need to design their tax policies after studying the market trends and available data carefully.

How a change in the consumer sector can impact the market?

The Indian consumer is becoming from price-sensitive to quality conscious, due to growing urbanization, rising incomes, and availability of innovative products and technology. The younger to middle age demography is focusing on nutrition, brand value and is willing to experiment with products. For example, in the case of food and beverages, Indian customers are comfortable with international cuisines.

This has made India an attractive market for global manufacturers and retailers. Both central and state governments want to attract this foreign investment in manufacturing and maximize revenue collection. However, their policies are not in sync with the changing demand. An example of alcoholic beverages explains this issue.

What is the status of the alcohol beverage sector in India?

India is one of the fastest-growing markets for alcoholic beverages globally. Demand for Premium products including bottled imported spirits is increasing. This growth rate is driven by changes in consumer behavior.

According to the study, “Developing principles for Regulation of Alcoholic Beverages sector in India“, the attitude in India has changed towards the consumption of alcohol. Even drinking among women is now acceptable in many social interactions.

The studies show that the share of upper-middle-income consumers is driving premium product consumption, as the group is quality and brand conscious.

Why the data of consumer pattern change is useful for policymaking?

This data helps the state excise department to plan its revenue projections based on consumer demand.

Globally, various governments use data to guide consumers towards ‘quality liquor consumption’. For example, the Scottish government changed its duty structure to impose maximum taxes on low-priced products of liquor. These guided consumers towards premium liquor products.

A study ‘Tax design in the alcohol Market’ found that heavy drinkers tend to purchase the stronger types of alcohol. They suggested an alcohol tax system that increases the relative price of strong and cheap products to discourage their consumption.

What is the status of data-based tax design in India?

In India, judicious use of consumer data to design tax rates is rare. This has led to ad-hoc and non-aligned excise policies models and duties.

However, many states have taken measures in this direction. For Example, West Bengal has proposed a downward realignment of duties on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) to allow consumers access to better quality produce. The state also came up with a policy for non-alcoholic beer to promote the production of beer with an alcoholic strength not exceeding 0.5% v/v, which has no adverse impact on health

Thus, a current year revenue-centric ad-hoc model to design excise policy should be avoided. States need to frame policies with a focus on consumer demand, welfare, and health. Longitudinal data on consumer shopping and consumption can be used for this purpose.

Why India’s Health data needs a booster jab

Source: This post is based on the article “Why India’s Health data needs a booster jab” published in the Livemint  on 14th January 2022.

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

Relevance: Understanding the importance of transparency in data collection and dissemination.

News: India’s health data system is not functioning properly. It requires a complete overhaul.

About 16 years ago, HIV AIDS was threatening to become a pandemic. Then, no answers were available on the questions related to the prevalence of the disease, due to the unavailability of data. The situation, even today, has not improved much.

What are the challenges associated with the present data collection system?

Today data is collected from multiple sources like national sample survey Organisation, national family health survey, etc. but these systems are opaque, Open water tight compartments and interoperability is difficult. These data sets are not shared even between ministries and not open-sourced to analysts and commentators.

What are the challenges posed by lack of data during pandemic?

First, Health officials are unable to determine the spread of COVID-19 infections among various age groups and were not able to focus attention on the most vulnerable.

Read here: Need for real-time data on public health

Second, due to inaccurate death-related data, adequate policies could not be made. The correct numbers would have helped in managing supplies, mortuaries, and even cremation facilities. Reliable data would have lessened the pressure on the healthcare staff and frontline workers.

Good governance demands evidence-based policy-making which depends on the availability of data. For example, NFHS-3 showed poor nutritional outcomes, after which nutritional policies were evolved.

What are the issues with the policies linked to data collection and dissemination?

Transparency: The first problem is the transparency and confidence in releasing the information. For example,

The technology and the maker of Arogya Setu app have not been declared. National informatics Centre first denied having information about this.

The government has declared a policy of using open source software, yet the existing complicated architecture is inflexible and expensive.

The health management information system, started 13 years ago, collects an enormous amount of data, but uses only 10th of this to generate health indicators. The information for various parameters such as gender, age is often not available.

Errors and Irrelevancy in data: Also, error in data entry and surveys goes unchecked. Even if it is corrected, correction is done at the Central level only. There is also an issue of collecting lots of irrelevant data. There is also the problem of collecting data on multiple platforms or duplication of data. For example, various organisations place TB patients to be 10 million or 3 million.

Exclusion of Private sector: The private sector, which accounts for more than 70% of patient care, is not covered by a data policy.

What solutions can be adopted to improve health care services?

Data collection in health centers: Data collection at health centers should be broadened. For example, putting the weight of the child on the birth certificate and mentioning the cause of death on all death certificates would be handy in tracking child health and causes of mortality.

Private care and community-based health services: All stakeholders must be aware of the end purpose of the collection of data. For example, knowing that NREGA data will be used for granting budget, all stakeholders actively participated in Data collection for NREGA.

Openness: The data should not remain hidden behind firewalls and should be accessible and useful. The ownership of data should be decentralized, and state comments should be encouraged for data collection.

Inclusion of Private health providers: Private hospitals and diagnostic centres should be incentivised to share information. Private data aggregators could be used for this purpose.

Data policy: There is a need for a new data policy on the lines of Israel and UK with real-time data and dissemination of data.

Digital information security in the healthcare act needs to be strengthened to ensure the security of data. Technology like GPS tools can be used for data collection and immediate verification.

The rollout of the National Digital health Mission was a step in the right direction. It aims to improve efficiency effectiveness and transparency of health services delivery. This may enable an integrated digital database for healthcare in India. But this requires a transparent collection and dissemination of data.

Also read: Digital health mission in a click? Not yet

GS Paper 3

Space for dreams: On ISRO’s new chief

Source: This post is based on the article “Space for dreams: On ISRO’s new chief” published in the The Hindu on 14th January, 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Science and Technology – Institutions.

Relevance: Understanding the new ventures of ISRO under its new chairman.

News: S. Somanath has been appointed as the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

What are the upcoming programmes of ISRO?

Human space flight programe– Gaganayaan

Read here: Union Minister says, India’s maiden human space mission “Gaganyaan” will be launched in 2023

Aditya L1: The aim to take a space observatory to the Lagrangian point one (L-1) to study the Sun.

Read here: Objectives and importance of ISRO’S Aditya-L1 mission.

Privatization of ISRO: New chairman will work towards the privatization of ISRO. New Space India Limited (NSIL) has already been established in 2019 to commercially exploit the research and development work of the ISRO.

Read here: Functions of “NSIL | New Space India Limited”

Along with NSIL, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre came up in 2020. This was aimed up at channeling non- government private enterprises to watch space activities.

All these initiatives will enable greater participation of private industry into space and has a lot to contribute through technology transfers.

Propping up the property market – Issues facing Housing Sector

Source: This post is based on the article “Propping up the property market” published in the Business Standard on 14th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Changes in the Industrial policies

Relevance: Understanding the problems associated with the Indian housing sector.

News: Indian housing sector is struggling a lot due to stalled housing projects, which has led to a loss of output and jobs.

What are the problems associated with housing projects?

Fear psychosis among buyers: Customers today are reluctant to pay advances as they are not sure whether the project will complete or not. So, they are willing to pay only for projects that are completed or near completion. Also, they are willing to pay only when the builders have strong financial backing like corporate entities such as L&T, Godrej, and Adani.

Lack of advances: Builders are facing a financial crunch as they need advances in order to complete launched projects and to earn a decent return on their investment.

Disinterest of Banking sector: Banking sector can solve the finance problem. However, banks have been wary of taking exposures to developers even in the best of times.

What did the government do to address the problem?

The government introduced SWAMIH (Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing) scheme, to address this issue at affordable and mid-income housing projects. It set up a fund with a corpus of Rs 25,000 crore in which the government would contribute Rs 10,000 crore and the rest would come from LIC, SBI, and private insurers.

Read here: About SWAMIH fund

Although SWAMIH is a helpful initiative, it is limited in size. The problem of stalled projects has been worsened by the ongoing pandemic. According to a survey in 2021,1,73,740 housing units were stalled across six cities (excluding Mumbai). However, SWAMIH covered less than 10% of these stalled and delayed housing units.

Read here: 81 stressed housing projects approved under Special Window fund

What measures can be adopted to solve the housing problem?

Government can implement a Credit Guarantee Scheme for residential housing, on the lines of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) for small and medium enterprises. ECLGS was subject to stringent eligibility criteria to minimize risk. The similar following criteria can be adopted for CGS for housing.

1) Project must involve a certain minimum number of buyers.
2) Applicable to projects that have been delayed by over 12 months.
3) Must be for affordable and mid-income housing.
4) Project must be solvent, which means assets must exceed liabilities.
5) Bank must satisfy itself that there has been no diversion of funds.
6) Bank finance for projects that meet the above criteria should have a graded guarantee by the government, like 100% guarantee for projects that are 90% complete, 90% guarantee for projects that are 80% complete and so on.

CGS will provide a boost to the construction sector, which is a labor-intensive sector. It will provide jobs to people. The government will be able to ease the grievances of a large community of disaffected people with this scheme.

Time’s Running out-Is India ready to handle 34,600 tonnes of solar waste?

Source– This post is based on the article “Time’s Running out-Is India ready to handle 34,600 tonnes of solar waste?” published in Down to earth on 13th Jan 2022 

Syllabus– GS3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation. 

Relevance– Solar power, PV waste. 

News: India plans to generate about 280 GW of energy through solar power by 2030. While this may seem a climate smart move but it also leads to generation of huge amount of solar waste. 

A holistic approach to solar energy includes not only a green and clean perspective, but also resource and material management.  

Why India needs a solar waste management policy? 

Discarded solar panels generate solar waste which is usually then sold as scrap. According to some estimates it can increase by at least four-five-fold by the next decade.  

According to a report prepared by the National Solar Energy Federation of India, Country is expected to generate 34,600 Tonnes of cumulative solar waste by 2030. 

Although India has set ambitious solar power installation targets, it does not have a solar waste management policy. Even the latest electronic waste management regulations of 2016 do not deal with the issue. 

What are the challenges in the management of solar waste? 

Not seen as an immediate problem-Solar panels have a life of 20-25 years, so the problem of waste seems distant.  

However, this may become a major issue at the end of this decade, and solar waste will end up being the most prevalent form of waste in landfills.  

High recycling cost-Although the solar panels have valuable recoverable materials, which if recovered would be enough to power 630 GW with two billion solar panels.  

However, this option is not viable as the benefit from recycling is far less compared to the cost of it. Recycling a solar panel cost between $20 and $30 while sending it to a landfill costs $1-2. 

How are other countries handling the issue? 

Europe-Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive of the EU imposes responsibility for the disposal of waste on the manufacturers or distributors who introduce or install such equipment for the first time. 

Most of the EU member states have come up with directives for collecting, handling and management of PV waste. 

USA-While there are no country wide regulations in the United States, there are some states who have proactively defined policies to address end-of-life PV module management. 

Asia-Countries such as Japan and South Korea have already indicated their resolve to come up with dedicated legislation to address the PV waste problem.  

What is the way forward?             

Following approach may help to deal with the problem holistically- 

Strong e-waste or renewable energy waste laws: There is a need for introduction of EPR(Extended Producer’s Responsibility) for the manufacturer and developers to take responsibility for end-of-life the solar panel. India should also focus its attention on drafting comprehensive rules to deal with solar waste. 

Infrastructure: Good recycling infrastructure will help in reducing the cost of recycling. 

Power purchase agreement Between DISCOMS / government and project developers should include rules for environmental disposal and recycling of solar waste.  

It is imperative to ensure that the Solar panel waste does not reach landfills as it is harmful to the environment. It contains toxic metals and minerals that may seep in the ground. 

Recycling Industry should be incentivised to participate more through new business models, green certificates. 

Research and Development: Innovation in design may have an impact on the type of waste they generate. For example-New panels use less silicon and produce less waste during the manufacturing process. 

Inflation heresy mustn’t always be rejected out of hand

Source- This post is based on the article “Inflation heresy mustn’t always be rejected out of hand” published in Live mint on 14th Jan 2022 

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

Relevance– Inflation and ways to tackle it. 

News: Inflation has been on the rise in most part of the world. This has once again started the debate on the best way to restore price stability. 

What are various strategies to deal with Inflation? 

Old/orthodox method-This involves the reduction in spending and raising of interest rates. But this method often has side effects (such as bankruptcies and rising unemployment) and not always produced the desired results quickly enough.  

Lowering the interest rates -This has been followed by Turkey 

The inflation-producing effects of high interest rates is called the ‘Cavallo effect’. This idea suggests that inflation is associated with cost-push factors, such as high interest rates, which boost the cost of working capital and thus make the production cost higher. 

Although this theory has received some empirical support but as seen in Turkey’s case despite lowering interest rates, market rates have continued to rise. It indicates that the inflation in Turkey is the result of more fundamental problems in economy. 

Price controls or by clamping down on large firms with price-setting power-These measures have sometimes worked for example in Israel in 1980s, Latin America. 

Temporary wage-price controls can help coordinate price-setters to move to a low-inflation equilibrium. It is useful when high inflation is driven predominantly by expectations rather than ‘fundamentals’.  

Why single strategy is not perfect? 

Economics is not a science with fixed rules. Different countries face varying conditions which call for different policies.   

Economics works contextually and not universally. 

What is the way forward? 

Currently, Inflationary pressure is the result of transitory set of factors, like the pandemic-related reallocation of spending from services to goods, and supply-chain and other disruptions to production. 

Transitory inflation calls for a restrained response, whether through regulation or the central bank’s exercise of monetary policy. This should not rely heavily on any one method. 

A code for the committee of creditors

Source– This post is based on the article “A code for the committee of creditors” published in Business Standard on 13th Jan 2022. 

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

Relevance– Insolvency procedure. 

News: Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance in its report had argued for the need to have a professional code of conduct for the committee of creditors.  

After this Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) had issued a discussion paper proposing a code of conduct (code) for the Committee of Creditors (CoC) to ensure transparency in its functioning. 

Why there is need for a code of conduct for the CoC? 

Since CoCs are not regulated, there exists a regulatory gap. Several proceedings have also witnessed a variety of contraventions of provisions of the insolvency law by market players. 

IBBI has in the past tried options like directions to insolvency professionals to secure good conduct from players, filing of complaints in special court against the erring players, and filing of appeals. But these also had a limited impact.  

Who should bring this code? IBBI or RBI 

Since banks are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 

Some argue that if the code is prescribed by the IBBI, this will subject banks to regulations of both the IBBI and RBI, creating regulatory overlap. 

However, this is not true as any entity being governed by several regulators for its different activities per se is not regulatory overlap.  

For example- An initial public offering (IPO) by a firm, whether in the business of insurance, banking, or telecom, is regulated by SEBI; not by the regulator of the business concerned. 

What is the way forward? 

Successful implementation of the insolvency law requires all stakeholders follow the rules and are subject to regulatory discipline. 

Any contraventions should have quick consequences.  

Regulatory jurisdiction must rest with one regulator, be it the IBBI, RBI or SEBI. Only one of them should specify a code of conduct, monitor compliance and adjudicate contraventions against all market players. 

Also, it should be ensured that there is a uniform application of regulatory norms across the market and no sectoral differences exist. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Spectacular landscape changes detected in Gujarat’s Kachchh region due to major earthquakes in recent geological past

Source: This post is based on the articleSpectacular landscape changes detected in Gujarat’s Kachchh region due to major earthquakes in recent geological pastpublished in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

According to a study, major earthquake events in the last 30,000 years resulted in spectacular changes in the landscape of the Katrol Hill Fault in the Kachchh region in Gujarat.

Seismicity in Kachchh Region

Seismicity in the Kachchh region is highly complex as it is characterized by multiple seismic sources in the form of fault lines which release continuously accumulating tectonic stresses at intervals producing earthquakes. 

Real-time monitoring of earthquakes since the occurrence of 2001 Bhuj earthquake indicate that most of the faults in the region: Kachchh Mainland Fault (KMF), South Wagad Fault (SWF), Gedi Fault (GF), and Island Belt Fault (IBF) are seismically active.

However, seismic activity along faults like Katrol Hill Fault (KHF) is not apparent.

What is the study undertaken by the Geologists?

The study was undertaken to understand the seismic activity along Katrol Hill Fault (KHF) in the Kachchh region. 

The study was funded mainly under the FIST Programme of the Department of Science & Technology.

Note: Fund for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure (FIST) Programme was launched in the year 2000 to strengthen S&T infrastructure with adequate funding and associated flexibility.
What are the key findings of the study?

Katrol Hill Fault(KHF) has produced high magnitude seismic events during the past ~30,000 years. These seismic events resulted in spectacular changes in landscape, as evidenced by the disruption and reorganization of the channel of the Gunawari River in the fault zone. 

Hence, it can be a credible seismic source capable of generating surface rupture hazard in the Kachchh Basin.

What is the significance of the study?

The findings of this study necessitates a revised seismic hazard assessment and mitigation strategies in Kachchh Basin, owing to its close proximity to industrial corridors and major settlements, including Bhuj city.

Diksha Dagar, Yash Ghangas included in Target Olympic Podium Scheme

Source: This post is based on the articleDiksha Dagar, Yash Ghangas included in Target Olympic Podium Schemepublished in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

Haryana-based golfer Diksha Dagar and Judoka Yash Ghangas have been included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in the Core and Development groups respectively. 

Moreover, Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) has approved financial assistance for wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sunil Kumar for foreign exposure training.

What is the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS)?

The scheme was launched by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) in 2014.

Aim: To provide assistance to India’s top athletes so that they can win medals in the Olympics.

The assistance is provided through foreign training, international competition, equipment and coaching camp besides monthly stipend of Rs. 50,000/- for each athlete.

The scheme was revamped in 2018 to establish a technical support team for managing the TOPS athletes and providing holistic support.

What is the Mission Olympic Cell?

Mission Olympic Cell is a dedicated body created to assist the athletes who are selected under the TOP Scheme.

The MOC is under the Chairmanship of the Director General, Sports Authority.

The idea of the MOC is to debate, discuss and decide the processes and methods so that the athlete receives best assistance.

India and UK Launch Free Trade Agreement Negotiations

Source: This post is based on the article India and UK Launch Free Trade Agreement Negotiations published in PIB on 12th January 2022.

What is the news?

India and the United Kingdom (UK) have formally launched negotiations for an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

What will be the aim of the India-UK FTA?

The agreement aims to facilitate the target of doubling bilateral trade to $100 billion between India and the United Kingdom by 2030.

What will the India-UK FTA contain?

Initially, an interim FTA would be signed and subsequently a comprehensive deal by the end of the year would be signed.

The interim agreement will include tariff liberalisation in 60-65% of traded goods, while the final deal will include more than 90% of items.

This means that sensitive issues, such as allowing freer movement of skilled professionals from India, could be taken up during the final deal.

Moreover, Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on Pharma could also be signed, which could provide additional market access.

What is the significance of India-UK FTA?

Firstly, it is expected to increase our exports in Leather, Textile, Jewellery, Marine Products and processed Agri products.

Secondly, India is not part of any regional trade deal. Hence, FTAs like this will enable the country to achieve its ambitious merchandise export target of $1 trillion by FY28.

Rare delight as Black eagle seen in Delhi after three years

Source: This post is based on the article Rare delight as Black eagle seen in Delhi after three yearspublished in TOI on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

Black eagle was spotted in Delhi after three years. Experts have called this a rare phenomenon in the Aravallis.

What is Black Eagle?

Black eagle is a hunter and not a scavenging bird found in the hills of Eastern and Western Ghats and the Himalayan foothills.

The species is almost entirely black that can grow up to 81 cm. It has a grey-yellow beak with a black tip and yellow feet.

IUCN Status: Least Concern (LC)

What is the significance of spotting Black Eagle in Delhi?

Black Eagle was first sighted in Delhi in 2012. The last time it was seen here was in 2019 in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. Now, this time, it was spotted in Sanjay Van.

The spotting of Black Eagle in Delhi is a good sign for the ecology and a matter of research to conserve the Aravallis.

This is because Black eagle is a hunter. Spotting it in Aravallis means it is getting food and a conducive environment here.

About Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary

The sanctuary is located on Southern Ridge, the northern terminal of Aravalli Hills, one of the oldest mountain system of the world.

It is at the end of an important wildlife corridor that starts from Sariska National Park in Alwar, Rajasthan and passes through Mewat,Faridabad and Gurugram districts of Haryana.

Historical places around sanctuary are: Surajkund(Haryana), Tughlakabad & Adilabad Forests (N.Delhi), Chattarpur Temple.

Environmental crises pose biggest threats to global population over next decade: WEF Global Risks Report 2022

Source: This post is based on the articleEnvironmental crises pose biggest threats to global population over next decade: WEF Global Risks Report 2022 published in Down To Earth on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Global Risks Report 2022 has been released.

What is the Global Risks Report?

Global Risks Report is an annual report released by the World Economic Forum.

The report was based on a survey that tracks global risk perceptions among risk experts and world leaders in business, government and civil society. 

It examines risks across five categories: economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

What are the key findings of the report?

Biggest Threats: Climate action failure, extreme weather events and biodiversity loss were perceived as the biggest threats for the global population over the next decade.

Impact of Covid-19: The pandemic has compounded the threats of social cohesion erosion, livelihood crises and climate action failure the most. Apart from this, mental health deterioration, debt crises, cybersecurity failures, digital inequality and backlash against science were also exacerbated by the pandemic.

Economic Stagnation: The most serious challenge persisting from the pandemic is economic stagnation. The macroeconomic outlook remains weak, with the global economy expected to be 2.3% smaller by 2024 than it would have been without the pandemic. 

Global Economic Gap: The global economic gap will widen by 2024 when the developing countries will have fallen 5.5% below their pre-pandemic expected GDP growth and advanced economies would have surpassed the same by almost 0.9%.

Growing dependency on digital systems—intensified by the response to COVID-19—has fundamentally altered societies. At the same time, cybersecurity threats are growing and outpacing societies’ ability to effectively prevent or respond to them. 

Migration: Growing insecurity in the forms of economic hardship, worsening impacts of climate change and political persecution will force millions to leave their homes in search of a better future. 

Space Risk: ​​Humans have been exploring outer space for decades, recent years have witnessed an increase in private and public activity, both creating new opportunities and also signalling that outer space is an emerging realm of risk. The most immediate consequence of increased space activity is a higher risk of collision between near-Earth infrastructure and space objects.

India extends $900 mn aid to Sri Lanka

Source: This post is based on the article “India extends $900 mn aid to Sri Lankapublished in The Hindu on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

India has confirmed a $400 million currency swap with Sri Lanka while deferring another $500 million due for settlement to the Asian Clearing Union(ACU).

What is Currency Swap?

Click Here to read about it

Why has India signed the Currency Swap agreement with Sri Lanka?

The swap agreement was signed to help Sri Lanka overcome an unprecedented economic crisis.

Note: Currently, Sri Lanka is currently facing a severe dollar crunch that economists say might lead to a default on external debt and create a food shortage in the imports-reliant island nation.

Moreover, this agreement comes a week after the two countries signed a long-pending agreement on jointly developing the strategically located Trincomalee oil tank farm along the north-eastern coast of the island. 

What is Asian Clearing Union (ACU)?

Asian Clearing Union(ACU) was established in 1974 at the initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP).

Objective: To facilitate payments among member countries for eligible transactions on a multilateral basis, thereby economizing on the use of foreign exchange reserves and transfer costs, as well as promoting trade among the participating countries.

Members: The Central Banks and the Monetary Authorities of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are currently the members of the ACU.

Headquarters: Tehran, Iran.

Delhi’s forest cover lost for first time in a decade

Source: This post is based on the articleDelhi’s forest cover lost for first time in a decade published in TOI on 13th January 2022.

What is the news?

The Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’.

What is India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021?

It is a biennial report released by the Forest Survey of India(FSI).

Purpose: The report provides information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock, carbon stock in India’s forests, forest fire monitoring, forest cover in tiger reserve areas, above ground estimates of biomass using SAR data & climate change hotspots in Indian forests.

In the present ISFR 2021, FSI has included a new chapter related to the assessment of forest cover in the Tiger Reserves, Corridors and Lion conservation area of India. 

Data: The report is based on the data from Indian Remote Sensing satellite data (Resourcesat-II).

Categories of Forests: The report has listed four categories of forests and the state of forest survey is based on these. They are:

Very Dense Forest (with tree canopy density of 70 per cent or above)

– Moderately Dense Forest (tree canopy density of 40 per cent or above but less than 70 per cent)

– Open Forest (tree canopy density of 10 per cent or above but less than 40 per cent)

– Scrub (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent)

What are the findings of the report with respect to Delhi?

Loss of Forest Cover: For the first time, Delhi has lost the forest cover. It has lost 0.44 sq km of forest cover since 2019. On the other hand, most other states and Union territories have shown an increase in overall forest cover. 

Improvement in Quality of Forest: The forest cover has reduced slightly, but the quality of forest has improved. The moderately dense forests have increased, and open forest systems have thinned slightly. The thinning of the forest cover can be attributed to new infrastructure projects and authorized felling of trees.

Tree Cover: The tree cover (outside the forest area) in Delhi has increased. The tree cover in Delhi went up from 129 sq km in 2019 to 147 sq km in 2021, an all-time high since 2011.

Reasons for Shrinking Forest Cover: Land use change and diversion of forests for infrastructure development are the reasons for the city’s shrinking forest cover.

Significance of Forest Cover for Delhi: Forests serve as a city’s lungs. Delhi is overwhelmed by pollution and protecting its forests is non-negotiable. Authorities must find ways and means to ensure that the loss of forest cover is not only arrested, but more green cover added in the coming years.

Mains Answer Writing

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