9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 15th, 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

How women cadets benefit the army

Source: This post is based on the article “How women cadets benefit the army” published in the Indian Express on 15th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 Role of women and women’s organization.

Relevance: Understanding the importance of women’s inclusion in the Indian Army.

News: Army chief general MM Naravane, while reviewing the army parade at NDA hailed the SC decision as a major step towards gender equality in the army.

What is the status of women in the Indian Army?

The first batch of women officers was introduced in nonmedical roles via the Short Service Commission in 1992. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed women to compete for the seats and subsequent permanent commission in the Indian army in any corps they desire.

Read here: SC allowing women to sit for NDA test is a welcome push for a substantive gender reset in the armed forces

Women were inducted as permanent commissioned officers in the legal and education corps since 2008 and as permanent commissioned officers in eight more non-combative corps in 2020. But still, the count of women forces in the Indian army is significantly low i.e. 3% as compared to 6% in the US, 15% in France, and 10% in both Russia and the UK.

Also read: Arms and the Women
How entry of women can help Army?

As more men gravitate towards the corporate world, entry of women can address the shortage of officers, which stands at 7476 officers as reported by the Minister of State for Defence.

What are the Supreme directives on women’s position in Army?

Recently, SC ruled that women officers should get command positions on par with male officers. It dismissed the military earlier objections that hiring women would lead to operational, practical and cultural problems and said this move is discriminatory.

Read here: Gender parity in the Indian Army
ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

GS Paper 2

On Pak’s National Security Policy document: Pakistan gets serious

Source: This post is based on the article “Pakistan gets serious” published in Livemint on 15th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – India and its neighbouring countries

Relevance: India – Pak relation

News: Pakistani National Security Division’s latest National Security Policy document released recently.

There are five key takeaways for India. By this, it can be inferred that Pakistan has started looking inwards (domestic issues).

Must Read: Pakistan’s National Security Policy: Pakistan security policy seeks 100 years of peace with India, but with caveat
What are the five key takeaways?

First, there is no demand for the reversal of the August 4, 2019, changes made by India in the status of Jammu & Kashmir.

Second, there is a clear emphasis on the economy as the main bedrock of national security. Pakistan’s economy is severely impacted by high inflation and Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis. Recently, Pakistan resorted to IMF for a bailout. Further, the threat from sectarian strife and internal separatist movements has forced Pakistan to look inwards.

Third, the policy document emphasises more on neighbouring countries (Afghanistan, China, India, Iran) with no specific reference to western countries is a significant policy shift.

Fourth, with respect to US, the frustration with them is evident. Pakistan says that it does not like the current reality where its ties with the US are purely located in counter-terrorism cooperation.

Finally, with respect to India, the document expresses that the current “Hindutva politics” in India is a threat to its security.


If Siachen is back on Indo-Pak agenda, it is good news

Source: This post is based on the article “If Siachen is back on Indo-Pak agenda, it is good news” published in Livemint on 15th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – India and its neighbouring countries

Relevance: India – Pak relation

News: Recently, the Indian Army Chief, General Naravane, in his press conference reportedly made a reference to the possibility of “demilitarisation of the glacial region” in Siachen.

He said that Pakistan would have to first authenticate respective troop positions along the 110-km long actual ground position line (AGPL) in the Siachen-Saltoro Ridge region for any talks on demilitarisation to take place.

The army chief’s remarks are significant because it is a departure from the uncompromising position that has been current in the recent past.

What is the historical background of the Siachen glacier issue?

Ceasefire Agreement: India and Pakistan signed a Ceasefire Agreement in 1949 after their first armed conflict over Jammu and Kashmir soon after their independence in 1947.

The ceasefire line was drawn up to a point known as NJ 9842 on the map. Beyond this, the agreement stated, the line would run “north to the glaciers” leaving an un-demarcated zone right up to the border with China.

This formulation was repeated in the agreement on the Line of Control in 1972, which followed the Simla Agreement of 1971 in the aftermath of the Bangladesh War.

This was an act of omission on India’s part. The line beyond NJ 9842 was not demarcated on maps in 1972.

Operation Meghdoot: In the later years of the 1970s, this issue came to the front, when official US maps began to show the LoC as extending right up to the Karakoram Pass on the India-China boundary.

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News
Source: Tribune

It implied that the Siachen glacier fell under the actual jurisdiction of Pakistan. The Chinese followed suit.

As a result, roughly 2,300 sq km of territory in this glacier zone came to be shown as under Pakistani control.

In response to this encroachment, the Indian Army launched what came to be known as Operation Meghdoot, in 1984, to occupy the Siachen-Saltoro ridge.

Pakistani attempts to dislodge the Indian troops from the heights did not succeed, though they did occupy and fortify the lower reaches on their side.

What were the steps taken to resolve the issues wrt AGL delineation?

Rajiv Gandhi – Benazir Bhutto Meeting: In December 1988, it was agreed that the two sides would hold talks to resolve the Siachen issue through mutual troop withdrawal.

However, there was no final outcome because Pakistan did not agree to map the actual ground positions of the two-armed forces from where they would withdraw.

Bilateral defence secretaries-level talks under the Narasimha Rao government: An agreement in principle was reached in 1992, when Pakistan reportedly agreed to the Indian proposal. However, later, PM Narasimha Rao took a decision to defer its actual signing to a later date, but then this did not happen.

Foreign secretary-level negotiations,2006: The following resolutions were agreed:

There would be a formal agreement on mutual but phased withdrawal and joint monitoring of the demilitarised zone.

There would be an annex which would record the current locations of the forces deployed by the two sides and the locations to which they would withdraw.

There would be a schedule of withdrawals in different phases.

However, the proposed agreement was dropped again due to opposition from both sides.


Explained: For how long can an MLA be suspended?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: For how long can an MLA be suspended?” published in The Indian Express on 15th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – issues related to Legislative assemblies

Relevance: Parliamentary privileges, suspension of MLA’s

News: 12 Maharashtra BJP MLAs have gone to Supreme Court against their year-long suspension from the Assembly.

What is the background of this issue?

The leader of Opposition in Maharashtra objected to an attempt by a state minister to table a resolution demanding that the Centre release data on Other Backward Classes (OBCs), so that seats could be reserved for them in local bodies in Maharashtra.

This created a huge row between the ruling party and the opposition party. Subsequently, Maharashtra Parliamentary Affairs Minister moved a resolution to suspend 12 BJP MLAs.

Following this incident, the suspended MLAs filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court last year against the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the State of Maharashtra and asked for the suspension to be quashed.

What is the argument laid down by the suspended MLAs?

According to them, suspension is “grossly arbitrary and disproportionate”. Because they were not given access to video of the proceedings of the House, and it was not clear how they had been identified in the large crowd. Therefore, it amounts to

Denial of the principles of natural justice

Violation of laid-down procedure.

Violation of their fundamental right to equality (Article 14)

Also, it was against Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules (53): Because, the power to suspend can only be exercised by the Speaker, and it cannot be put to vote in a resolution as was done in this case.

What has Maharashtra said in its defence?

It denies any violation of Article 14: The secretary of the state’s Parliamentary Affairs Department has pointed to the “undisciplined and unbecoming behaviour” of the 12 MLAs. It has also pointed the apology made by Leader of Opposition.

Within Legislative competence: The state has also referred to Article 194 on the powers and privileges of the House, and argued that any member who transgresses the legislative privileges can be suspended through the inherent powers of the House.

It has denied that the power to suspend a member can be exercised only through Rule 53 of the Assembly.

Invoked separation of power principle: It has stated that, under Article 212, courts do not have jurisdiction to inquire into the proceedings of the legislature.

For Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue of suspension, click here

 

What are the rules on the length of suspension of a Member of Parliament?

Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha (Rules 373, 374, and 374A):  It provides for the withdrawal of a member whose conduct is “grossly disorderly”, and suspension of one who abuses the rules of the House or wilfully obstructs its business.

Maximum suspension:

– Lok Sabha: it is for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less.

– Rajya Sabha: under Rules 255 and 256, maximum suspension does not exceed the remainder of the session.

– State legislative assemblies and councils: Prescribe a maximum suspension not exceeding the remainder of the session.


Govt needs to plug loopholes, minimise irregularities, in implementation of NREGA in times when it is most needed

Source: This post is based on the article “Govt needs to plug loopholes, minimise irregularities, in implementation of NREGA in times when it is most needed” published in the Indian Express on 15th January 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: Understanding the lacunae in the implementation of MGNREGA.

News: Social audit has been conducted in Jharkhand for the implementation of the MGNREGA scheme where so many loopholes were visible. This questions the effective implementation of the MGNREGA scheme.

What is the importance of MGNREGA?

MGNREGA played a critical role in alleviating economic hardship as migrations increased and non-farm employment opportunities declined. In 2020–21, 11.19 core individuals worked under the scheme, where the count is 7.88 crore in 2019-20.

In the current financial year, 9.52 crore individuals have benefited from it. Apart from the budget allocation, additional allocations have been also made to meet the rising demands. The government has increased schemes allocation to 1.1 lakh Crore in 2020–21. So discrepancies coming up in the implementation of MGNREGA like in Jharkhand are a cause of concern.

Also read: MGNREGA: Issues and Significance – Explained, pointwise
What are the irregularities found in the Jharkhand audit?

The social audit unit (SAU) of the Rural Development Department of Jharkhand has documented several instances of irregularities. For example:

-Workers were listed on the records but were missing from work sites.

-Beneficiaries had struck deals with contractors, allowing their names to be used on muster rolls in exchange for a cut.

-Instances of delays in payment, no attendance recorded in master rules, no material supply despite payments, wage payment done without work and work not found on the ground.

What should be the way forward?

Audits serve a great purpose in identifying the gaps in the social security architecture. It provides the direction to strengthen systems and processes, especially during these stressful times. States should adopt measures to ensure that irregularities are minimised and effective implementation of schemes should be ensured.


In 2022, India should keep an eye on Indo-Pacific

Source: This post is based on the article “In 2022, India should keep an eye on Indo-Pacific” published in the Indian Express  on 15th January 2022.

Subject: GS-2 Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding Indo-Pacific and QUAD.

News: The year 2020 was transformational not just because of a pandemic, but because of massive geopolitical changes surrounding the Indo-Pacific. The region is central to emerging geopolitics and nine countries are the key players: the USA, China, Japan, India, Germany, UK, Russia, Australia and France.

How USA and China impact the Indo-Pacific region?

The most important relationship is that of the USA and China. China’s aggressive South East policy, aggression towards Taiwan and human rights violations in Xinjiang, subjugation of Hong Kong’s citizenry and assertive economic outreach and Indo Pacific will impact US-China relations.

Read here: Chinese Threat to Hong Kong’ Democracy

The Trump era was marked by hostility. On the other hand, President Joe Biden is building coalitions and alliances against China. While President Xi Jing ping has adopted a confrontational approach, as seen in repeated incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone and PLA’s adventures in eastern Ladakh.

What is the role of various groupings in Indo-Pacific?

Quad is the most important group for strategic partners, The USA, India, Japan and Australia. Military groupings like an AUKUS (Australia, UK, US) have also emerged.

European Union announced its Indo-Pacific strategy, which is aimed at increasing its economic and security profile in the region. The policy needs to be more strategic and less mercantilist, more candid and assertive with China, and more cooperative with partners like India.

ASEAN is facing Chinese pressure and aggression. Its unity is under stress. President Biden’s meeting with ASEAN members can help in bringing a sense of security.

BRICS – given India China’s hostility, a visit of the Indian Prime Minister to China is an unlikely prospect to solve any purpose.

G7 – to be held in Germany will have to assess the progress made by the “build back better world “initiative.

G20-to be held in Indonesia will test the depth of Indonesian diplomacy.

What more can be done by Japan?

Japan needs to announce a bold national security strategy. It should double its defence budget. It should make an effort to amend article 9 and expand military cooperation with the USA.

What should be India’s strategy on India-Pacific?

First, it should strengthen the Quad and fulfil its commitment to deliver 1 billion vaccine doses to Indo-Pacific nations.

Second, it should strengthen its relationship with Russia.

Third, enhance its cooperation with key Southeast Asian partners like Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

Fourth, Higher engagement towards Indian Ocean island states. This can be done through a clear economic and trade agenda and incentivizing corporate India to make inroads in this region.

While India has done well in fulfilling its humanitarian duties during the pandemic, it should learn to convert these into economic and strategic opportunities in 2022.


GS Paper 3

The controversy over inclusion of the mm wave band in 5G auctions

Source: This post is based on the article “The controversy over inclusion of the mm wave band in 5G auctions” published in The Hindu on 14th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology- developments 

Relevance: 5G, mm wave band. 

News: Telecom regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had asked for Industry’s view on various contours of 5G roll out in India. This plan of TRAI also included the idea of adding millimetre (mm) wave band of 24.25-28.5GHz in the auction of 5G spectrum. 

Satcom Industry association-India (SIA) which represents the interests of the communication satellite ecosystem in India has voiced concerns over inclusion of millimetre (mm) wave in 5G auction. 

Read more about 5G here. 
What is the mm Wave band? 

This is a particular segment of radio frequency spectrum that ranges from 24-100 GHz. 

It has short wavelength and is very appropriate to deliver at high speed and lower latencies. The current available networks work optimally well on the shorter wavelengths, but they don’t work well on the parameter of speed, which is needed for 5G. 

So for 5G to work at its full potential, and speed up the mm wave band is very essential. 

What are the concerns voiced by the SIA regarding its inclusion in 5G spectrum action? 

According to SIA, this particular band has been reserved for the satellite based broadband services as per ITU (International telecommunication union)’s directive. The 5G roadmap of European Union also follows this directive.   

If excess spectrum is provided, it could pose a downside risk of bands going unsold or underutilised.  

Also the mm wave band is very critical for the satellite communication industry, and it is very essential to ensure that 5G operations do not interfere with their current operations.  

How can this negatively impact the satellite communication Industry? 

Recently, internet is being provided by the satellite based communication service providers apart from the fibre optic based systems.  

So the satellite communication industry is trying to keep the mobile telephony companies out of their competition for the band.  

The Industry body also noted that the 330 MHz spectrum in the 3.3-3.67 GHz band is enough to satisfy India’s mid-band 5G needs while ensuring a competitive auction. 


Wishlist for the budget

Source: This post is based on the article “Wishlist for the budget” published in Times of India on 15th Jan 2022 

Syllabus: GS3- Government Budgeting. 

Relevance: Budget and reforms. 

News: Every budget offers an opportunity in the hands of the government to initiate a lot of reforms. 

What should the upcoming budget focus upon? 

Simplify the tax calculations: Instead of layers of taxation, there should be one simple tax rate. 

Prime land, long leases: This will lead to increase in revenue, government here will sell land on prime locations at long leases (of 99 years or 999 years). This will help the public, it will cut commutes, make the cities more efficient, and raise money. 

Indian Special Administrative Region: One of the existing Indian cities can be converted into a world-class, fully liberal, governed-by-different-laws city like Dubai or Singapore. 

For this, government will need to legally carve out a territory to do business and have some flexible laws, best suited to it. 

Government should lower GST on tourism and transportation, this will give the industry a much-needed boost. 

Minimum wage: India should have a minimum wage for labour. Domestic help, for instance, can be hired at any salary, with no holidays all year around. That isn’t dignified and creates huge scope for exploitation.  

Dignity of people along with economic growth is what makes a country truly developed, not just rich. 

What should be an ideal budget like? 

A truly liberalised, economy is one where the budget day shouldn’t matter as much.  

No one day of the year should impact the economy or lives of 1. 4 billion people. Budget announcement should be just a means with the government to collect and spend its money.


As cryptocurrency becomes mainstream, its carbon footprint can’t be ignored

Source: This post is based on the article “As cryptocurrency becomes mainstream, its carbon footprint can’t be ignored” published in Down to Earth on 14th Jan 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 –  Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Environmental concerns associated with Cryptocurrency

News: Cryptocurrency has expanded rapidly. With its increased popularity, problems of environmental sustainability have emerged. These are related to the digital mining of Cryptocurrency, esp Bitcoin, as it creates a massive carbon footprint due to the staggering amount of energy it requires.

Note: In 2019, the global cryptocurrency market was approximately $793 million. It’s now expected to reach nearly $5.2 billion by 2026.
What are the events that indicate increased adoption of Cryptocurrency?

Goldman Sachs started trading Bitcoin futures (agreeing to transact the coin at a predetermined future date and price).

Tesla invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin. PayPal announced in March 2021 that it would allow its U.S. customers to use cryptocurrency to pay its millions of online merchants.

In September, El Salvador became the first country to make bitcoin legal tender.

Big-name brands like AT&T, Home Depot, Microsoft, Starbucks and Whole Foods now accept bitcoin payments

What is the global carbon footprint of the Bitcoin?

As per Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index from Digiconomist, an online tool, the carbon footprint of Bitcoin, is equivalent to that of New Zealand, with both emitting nearly 37 megatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

Bitcoin’s total annual power consumption to be around 204.50 terawatt-hours, equivalent to the power consumption of Thailand.

How is Cryptocurrency contributing to carbon emissions?

Transactions in Bitcoin are tracked through a public ledger consisting of a network of computers around the world: the blockchain.

Mining allows this validation to take place, which is an energy-intensive process.

In May 2021, at least half of China’s significant share of bitcoin mining was located in the coal-rich province of Xinjiang,

Mining is a process in which computational puzzles are solved in order to verify transactions between users, which are then added to the blockchain.

Minting of digital artworks as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) is also done through Ethereum Blockchain, through a process called proof-of-work (PoW), which establishes its unique identity.

The carbon footprint of a single Ethereum transaction as of December 2021 was 102.38 kilograms of CO2

The electrical energy footprint of a single Ethereum transaction is about the same amount as the power that an average US household uses in 8.09 days.

Why the environmental challenges wrt Cryptocurrencies are likely to increase?

There is only a limited supply of Bitcoin available. So, as more bitcoin is mined, the complex maths problems needed for transactions get harder to solve, demanding more energy in turn.

Incentives attached to mining: In terms of Bitcoin, each time a miner solves the complex hashing algorithm required to produce bitcoin (the “PoW”), they receive a small amount of the cryptocurrency itself. This means that as the price of Bitcoin continues to rise, so will the incentive to mine the cryptocurrency.

Is the criticism around Bitcoin energy usage right?

It’s important that any valid criticism of Bitcoin considers the broader perspective around energy usage.

Bitcoin’s energy transparency places it in a better position than other, more opaque energy-consuming industries such as the banking industry. As per reports, the energy consumption of Bitcoin is less than half that produced by the banking and gold industries.

Unlike traditional currency or gold, Bitcoin is not solely a store of value, and not solely a medium of exchange. This makes Bitcoin’s relative energy consumption productive in comparison to comparative sectors, given its robust potential uses.

Also, there is often an assumption that the energy used by miners is either stolen from more productive use cases or results in increased energy consumption. But because of inefficiencies in the energy market, bitcoin miners are incentivized to utilize non-rival energy that may otherwise be wasted or underutilized, as this electricity tends to be the cheapest.

For instance:  El Salvador, has announced the use of geothermal energy to power its bitcoin mining.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Eye on China, Philippines to buy Brahmos in $375m deal

Source: This post is based on the article “Eye on China, Philippines to buy Brahmos in $375m deal ” published in Times of India on 15th Jan 2022 

What is the news? 

India has recently closed a deal worth more than 2000 crore for export of Brahmos missile to the Philippines. 

What is Brahmos? 

– Read here. 

Why is the deal significant? 

It is strategically significant in the backdrop of China’s expansionism and strong arm tactics with its neighbours in the South China Sea.

India has over time supported freedom of navigation and overflight for all in the South China Sea in accordance with UNCLOS. 

This will give further impetus to India’s Act east policy. Over the years India has been trying to strengthen its ties with ASEAN countries through combat exercises, exchanges, training and now weapon supplies. 

It will help India in becoming a major exporter of arms from being one of the world’s top arms importer as other countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia and South Africa have also shown interest in acquiring Brahmos. 


Outrage in Nepal over India’s plan to widen the road to Lipulekh

Source: This post is based on the article “Outrage in Nepal over India’s plan to widen the road to Lipulekh” published in Times of India on 15th Jan 2022 

What is the news? 

India has very recently proposed to widen the road that leads up to the Lipulekh area in Uttarakhand.  

Although there have been no official statements from Nepal, but the issue has  caused a lot of resentment in the Nepal politics. Various parties have spoken against India’s project publicly.  

What is the issue all about? 

Nepal has been recently laying its claim on Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and kalapani area. However these areas have been under India’s administrative control. 

Read more on this here. 

What has been India’s Stand? 

Indian government has maintained that the road only follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar yatra. And the same road has been made better for the ease of travellers.  

These areas have been under India’s administrative control since a long time. 

Must Read: Kalapani dispute – Explained

India getting warmer, hotter: 2021 fifth warmest year since 1901, says IMD

Source: This post is based on the article “India getting warmer, hotter: 2021 fifth warmest year since 1901, says IMD” published in the Business Standard on  15th January 2022.

What is the news?

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has recently released its report on India’s climate.

What are the IMD’s findings?

-2021 has been the fifth-warmest year since 1901, and the decade 2012-2021, was the warmest on record. 11 of the 15 warmest years on record were between 2007 and 2021.

It also found that India’s averaged annual mean temperature from 1901-2021 showed an increasing trend, particularly in the case of maximum temperatures. In 2021, the annual mean land surface air temperature was 0.44 degrees Celsius above the long period average (LPA- based on temperatures between 1981 and 2010).

LPA: Long Period Average (LPA) is the average rainfall received over a 50-year period between 1951 and 2001. This average comes to 89 cm of rainfall.
What are the effects of rising average temperature?

It has a cascading effect on extreme weather events, crop patterns, and urban disaster management.

chart

Heavy rainfall and flood-related incidents: It claimed over 750 lives with 215 in Maharashtra, 143 in Uttarakhand, 55 in Himachal Pradesh, 53 in Kerala and 46 in Andhra Pradesh.

Weather events: In 2021 alone, extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, floods, landslides, lightning, etc have been experienced in many parts of the country and 1750 lives were lost due to it. Among the casualties, Maharashtra topped the list with 340 deaths.

In 2020, around 1565 lives were lost due to extreme weather events, while the number was around 1560 in 2019.

Thunderstorms and lightning: It caused more than 780 deaths. Also, events like snowfall, cold waves, dust storms, etc have affected different parts of the country, leading to loss of life and livestock, injuries, and damage to crops and property.


Unnat Bharat Abhiyan: UGC launches Training of Master Trainers in Community Based Participatory Research

Source: This post is based on the article UGC launches Training of Master Trainers in Community Based Participatory Researchpublished in PIB on 14th January 2022.

What is the News?

University Grants Commission (UGC) has launched the Training of Master’s Trainers program in Community-based Participatory Research under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0.

What is Unnat Bharat Abhiyan?

It was launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education.

Mission: To enable higher educational institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable growth.

Objectives

To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) in identifying development issues in rural areas and finding sustainable solutions for the same.

Identify & select existing innovative technologies, enable customisation of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by the people. 

To allow HEIs to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government programmes.

Coordinating Institute: Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT, Delhi) has been designated as the National Coordinating Institute (NCI) for the UBA scheme.

What is Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0?

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 was launched in 2018. It is the upgraded version of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 1.0. The scheme is extended to all educational institutes.

Moreover, UBA 1.0 was the Invitation Mode in which Participating Institutions were invited to be a part of UBA. Whereas UBA 2.0 is the Challenge Mode of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.


Baricitinib and Sotrovimab: Explained: How two drugs newly recommended by WHO work against Covid

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: How two drugs newly recommended by WHO work against Covid published in Indian Express on 15th January 2022

What is the News?

The World Health Organisation(WH0) has recommended two drugs, baricitinib and sotrovimab, for treatment of Covid-19.

What is Baricitinib?

It is part of a class of drugs called Janus kinase(JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system. It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Now, it has been strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids. 

What is Sotrovimab?

It has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline with US partner Vir Biotechnology Inc. It is a monoclonal antibody drug that binds to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, thereby preventing the virus from attaching to and entering human cells. 

It has been recommended for treating mild or moderate Covid-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation. 

These include patients who are older, are immunocompromised, have underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension and obesity and are unvaccinated.


ONDC: Govt’s e-comm net in talks with companies

Source: This post is based on the articles

–  “ONDC: Govt’s e-comm net in talks with companiespublished in TOI on 15th January 2022.

–  “Govt to pilot-launch e-commerce network in two cities in April published in Business Standard on 15th January 2022.

What is the News?

The government has said that a small-scale implementation of the Open Network for Digital Commerce(ONDC) will be rolled out across two cities to see how the technology-enabled infrastructure works before it is officially launched.

What is ONDC?

ONDC is basically a Unified Payments Interface(UPI) equivalent but for the e-commerce space. It aims to promote open networks for all aspects of the exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks.

Through this, consumers can potentially discover any seller, product or service by using any ONDC compatible application or platform, thus increasing freedom of choice for consumers.

The platform will also help in reducing the cost of doing business, benefit small, traditional retailers while curbing digital monopolies. 

How is the ONDC idea being taken forward?

Those developing ONDC have started making presentations to e-commerce players and logistics companies, who would be the main actors. 

The pitch to them is that the e-commerce players can focus on the buyers or consumers, without having to focus on sellers. With more sellers, from kiranas to other retailers and service providers on board, the e-tailers will be able to use the platform to increase choice, transparency and trust of consumers.

The sellers can also enter into arrangements with delivery partners and logistics players to move away from platforms such as Amazon or Flipkart and sell directly to consumers through the platform.

What are the steps that have been taken to develop ONDC?

The government has set up a nine-member advisory council to suggest the steps. 

One of the steps that have already been taken, which is the registration of a non-profit private organization called ONDC Ltd. This has been registered with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.


GIS-based automated water connection and online booking of community halls in full swing under e-Chhawani in cantonments

Source: This post is based on the articleGIS-based automated water connection and online booking of community halls in full swing under e-Chhawani in cantonments published in The Hindu on 13th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Defence Minister has launched a GIS-based automated water connection and online booking of community halls under e-Chhawani Portal.

What is a GIS-based automated water connection?

The Geographical Information Systems(GIS) based automatic water supply system is the first of its kind in the country to automate the granting of the water connection to the residents of cantonments.

The system allows citizens to identify the location of water supply connections on cantonment maps. The system automatically determines the nearest water pipeline and checks the feasibility of providing a connection from the water pipeline.

The applicant can make instant payment of water connection charges after which the system automatically generates the water connection sanction letter.

What is automated community hall booking?

It is an online system that facilitates residents of cantonments to book community halls online without any physical application and intervention of cantonment officials.


FVTPL Account: Banks may get a new investment category

Source:  This post is based on the article Banks may get a new investment categorypublished in Livemint on 15th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Reserve Bank of India proposed a new investment category for banks—fair value through profit and loss(FVTPL) account. This is a part of its initiatives to align lenders investment portfolio regulations with the global accounting standards.

What is the Investment Portfolio of Banks currently?

Currently, the Investment Portfolios of Banks at present are classified under three categories: held to maturity(HTM), held for trading(HFT) and available for sale(AFS).

What are the changes proposed by RBI in these three categories?

New Category (FVTPL Account)

RBI has proposed a new investment category for banks—fair value through profit and loss (FVTPL) account. The existing held-for-trading (HFT) category will now come under the FVTPL category.

Note: HFT category was for debt securities purchased by banks with the intent of selling them within a short period of time. 

FVTPL will be the residual category where all investments that do not qualify for inclusion in HTM or AFS shall be categorized. This category can have investments such as securitisation receipts (SRs), mutual funds, alternate investment funds, equity shares, derivatives (including those undertaken for hedging), among others.

Definition of Held to maturity(HTM)

RBI said debt instruments with fixed or determinable payments and fixed maturity, with the intent of holding till maturity, shall now be classified as HTM. Corporate bonds have also been allowed to be held under HTM, which was not the case earlier.

Definition of AFS

Debt instruments held by a bank till maturity or sold before maturity would be eligible for AFS. Equity instruments will also be classified under AFS.

Other points mentioned in the Article
Indian Accounting Standards(Ind AS) 

RBI had asked banks to adopt the Indian Accounting Standards(Ind AS) from 1 April 2018. But the RBI had deferred its implementation several times as the banks were not prepared to make the transition.

Ind AS is on a par with the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) under which banks are required to undertake early recognition of provisions for loss on loans and off-balance sheet exposures based on an expected credit loss (ECL) model. 

Currently, Indian banks follow the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which requires banks to recognize mark-to-market losses.


Year-End- Review-2021- Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare

Source: This post is based on the article Year-End- Review-2021- Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfarepublished in PIB on 14th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has taken several initiatives in the year 2021.

Several of them are

Jeevan Pramaan: It was launched in 2014. It is an online system for submission of life certificate “Jeevan Pramaan”. Through this platform, a pensioner can give an online Life Certificate, anytime and from anywhere by attaching a biometric device to his PC/Mobile or using services of a Common Service Centre(CSC) or any nearest bank branch.

Policy Reforms in Pensions

A divorced daughter, in whose case a decree of divorce was issued after the death of her parents, will be eligible for family pension if the divorce petition was filed before the death of the parents.

If a person (e.g. Spouse) eligible to receive family pension is charged with the offence of murdering a Government servant /pensioner, family pension shall not be paid to that person till the conclusion of the criminal proceedings but shall be paid to other eligible members of the family (e.g. Child).

Children/siblings suffering from a disability will be considered dependent on the Government servant/pensioner and shall accordingly be eligible for family pension if their income is less than the entitled family pension plus dearness relief.

Bhavishya: It is an online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System. The system provides for online tracking of pension sanctions and payment processes.

Centralised Pensioners Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPENGRAMS): It is an online web-enabled system for the speedy redressal of grievances related to pension by various Central Government Ministries/ Departments/Organisations.  

National Pension System (NPS)


Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT): Year-End Review 2021

Source: This post is based on the articleDepartment of Personnel & Training (DOPT): Year-End Review 2021published in PIB on 14th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has taken several initiatives in the year 2021.

Several of them are

National Recruitment Agency

Lateral Entry: To achieve the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as to augment the availability of manpower at the levels of Joint Secretary, Director and Deputy Secretary, Lateral Entry was initiated in 2018.

National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (Mission Karamyogi)

iGoT Digital Learning Platform: iGOT means Integrated Government Online Training, which is the e-learning platform for civil servants dispersed across the country.

Capacity Building Commission: As part of Mission Karmayogi, Capacity Building Commission was constituted in April 2021 to drive standardisation and harmonisation across the Indian civil services landscape. The core purpose of the Commission is to build credibility and shape a uniform approach to capacity building on a collaborative and co-sharing basis.

e-Human Resource Management System (e-HRMS): It was introduced by DoPT to facilitate a digital work­ing environment and streamline Human Resource services for Government employees.

Common Mid-Career Training Programme: It was launched in October 2021, with a structured curriculum and design. It brings in officers from All India Service(AIS) and different Central Services for common learning at a critical point in their careers where they are poised to take up leadership positions and thus help break departmental and organisational silos. 


Union Minister says India has taken a lead in Asian Continent to provide Weather and Climate services to South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle East countries

Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister says India has taken a lead in Asian Continent to provide Weather and Climate services to South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle East countries published in PIB on 13th January 2022.

What is the News?

Union Minister of State for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences has said that India has taken a lead in Asian Continent to provide Weather and Climate services to South Asian, South-East Asian and Middle East countries.

What were the initiatives launched by the Minister?

Four Doppler Weather Radars launched

Four Doppler Weather Radars have been launched at Leh, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai for better research and operational analysis. With this, the number of radars in the IMD network has reached up to 33.

Doppler Weather Radar

Doppler weather radar is an instrument that sends pulses of electromagnetic energy into the atmosphere to find precipitation, determine its motion and intensity, and identify the precipitation type such as rain, snow or hail.

When the electromagnetic pulse strikes an object such as a raindrop or a snowflake, the wave reflects back to the radar with data that can be analysed by meteorologists. Meteorologists can use this information to determine specific areas where dangerous weather conditions exist. 

Other informations mentioned in the Article

The government has approved the continuation of Atmospheric and Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems and Services (ACROSS) Scheme.

India is providing weather forecasting services to countries like Nepal and Bangladesh in fighting severe climatic disasters. 

Ministry of Earth Sciences is planning to deploy and use Drone-based Observation Technology in a big way for strengthening the localised forecasting, besides adopting the High-Resolution Models.


Consumer Affairs Minister suggests 5-point reform agenda for FCI

Source: This post is based on the articleConsumer Affairs Minister suggests 5-point reform agenda for FCIpublished in Indian Express on 14th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has suggested a five-point reform agenda for the Food Corporation of India(FCI) on the occasion of the 58th Foundation Day of the FCI.

What is the five-point reform agenda suggested by the Food Minister for FCI?

Change the public perception of FCI from being inefficient & corrupt to dynamic, inclusive & honest. 

Focus on integrating end-to-end tech solutions right from procurement to delivery to achieve operational efficiency & leakage free distribution — reduce PDS response time, beneficiary tracking etc. 

Establish a grievance redressal mechanism to react rapidly to farmer/Farmer Producer Organisation in distress. Reaching out to farmers through “Jan Jagrukta” programmes at the grass-root level to spread awareness. 

Plan for modern infrastructure & logistics. Upgrade warehouses to international standards. Improve storage capacity for the growing need – Power backup, CCTV, robust network facility. 

Adopt the best Global practises making India a ‘Food hub


CBSE announces holding of 27th edition of National Conference of Sahodaya School Complexes

Source: This post is based on the articleCBSE announces holding of 27th edition of National Conference of Sahodaya School Complexes published in AIR on 14th January 2022.

What is the News?

The Central Board of School Education(CBSE) has announced the holding of the 27th edition of the National Conference of Sahodaya School Complex.

What is the Sahodaya School Complex Concept?

Sahodaya School Complex is a concept literally meaning ‘rising together’.

This concept was first mooted by the Education Commission,1966. The National Policy on Education,1966 also reiterated in strong words the need for promoting school complexes for meeting the quality of education.

Further, the Sahodaya concept was then concretised and developed by the Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE) in 1986 to facilitate the synergy of ideas among the schools of CBSE for excellence in education. 

Under this concept, groups of neighbourhood schools voluntarily come together to share their innovative practices in all aspects of school education including curriculum design, evaluation, and pedagogy and also providing support services for teachers and students.


Mains Answer Writing

Explained: The concern over 5G and flight safety

News: Air India and several other airlines have cancelled flights to the US. They are worried that the 5G roll-out there may affect aircraft and passenger safety, a concern raised by Boeing and Airbus in the past. Read more about the issue here; https://blog.forumias.com/why-5g-roll-outs-are-disrupting-flights-to-the-us/ How do flight radar altimeters help in safe flight operations? For… Continue reading Explained: The concern over 5G and flight safety

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Should the government loosen its purse strings?

News: Experts discuss the perceived threats due to inflation and suggests what governments fiscal policy can do to contain inflation Some analysts believe that the government must limit its spending to prevent price rise from getting out of control. (Retail inflation is close to 6%, the wholesale inflation rate is in double digits). Other analysts,… Continue reading Should the government loosen its purse strings?

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Say’s Law works: Supply does create its own demand

News: Supply-based interventions can help in increasing demand and thereby have a positive impact on the economy. That is why they are a popular public-policy choice. What is “Says law”? It says supply creates its own demand. However, John M. Keynes has refuted “Say’s Law”. According to Keynes, say’s law was the only major tenet… Continue reading Say’s Law works: Supply does create its own demand

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Amazon’s legal entanglement in India offers a cautionary tale

News: Amazon’s legal dispute throws light on uncertainties, quality of legal and regulatory protection that investors face in India. What is Amazon’s legal dispute? Recently, Amazon was fined by the Indian competition watchdog. Its capital infusion in Future Coupons during 2019 was put in suspension. The Competition Commission said it was denied an opportunity to… Continue reading Amazon’s legal entanglement in India offers a cautionary tale

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About the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021: Counting trees properly

News: The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). What is the Indian state of Forest Report 2021? ISFR 2021 shows an increase of 154 0 km² of Forest area.  They also contain data on growing stocks, carbon stock, forest cover etc. The assessment is… Continue reading About the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021: Counting trees properly

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YEAR END REVIEW 2021: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)

What is the news? The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MeitY in 2021 Common Services Centers (CSCs) e-District Mission Mode Project (MMP): e-District is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) that aims at electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen centric services at the district… Continue reading YEAR END REVIEW 2021: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY)

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Year-End Review of Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI)

What is the News? The Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI) has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MoFPI in 2021 National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) Act 2021: It was passed in 2021 to declare NIFTEM and IIFPT as Institutions of National Importance (INI). The INI status will enable… Continue reading Year-End Review of Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MoFPI)

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Year End Review – 2021 of Ministry of Defence

What is the news? The Ministry of Defence has launched several initiatives in the year 2021. Initiatives by MoD in 2021 Missiles: Brahmos, Tejas, Astra, Arjun Main Battle Tank, Shakti, Indigenous Aircraft Carrier(IAC) ‘Vikrant’, INS Visakhapatnam,  INS Vela, Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo(SMART), Agni-P, Vertically Launched Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM), Akash Prime, Pinaka-ER,… Continue reading Year End Review – 2021 of Ministry of Defence

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Centre may reduce the moisture content limit for wheat, paddy. Why this will hurt farmers

What is the news? Government of India’s recent draft proposal proposes to change the moisture content limit for wheat and paddy. This has made farmers worried ahead of the rabi procurement season that begins April 2022.  What is Moisture Content? Moisture content (MC) is the weight of water contained in paddy or wheat expressed in… Continue reading Centre may reduce the moisture content limit for wheat, paddy. Why this will hurt farmers

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70% indigenous BrahMos cruise missile test-fired

What is the news? An improved version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha. What is Brahmos Missile? Click Here to read about it How was this Brahmos missile test different from earlier? Firstly, the BrahMos that was originally built… Continue reading 70% indigenous BrahMos cruise missile test-fired

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