9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 28th, 2022
Dear Friends We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Finding a way to share IAS officers
- Why Supreme Court’s order in Alapan Bandyopadhyay case is worrying
- India’s Ukraine ‘challenge’
GS Paper 3
- About India State of Forest Report 2021: Plantations, invasive species… what all India counts as ‘forest’
- Digital Services Act: No online targeting
- Devas: Dead But Biting
- Fiscal policy must take centre-stage for a broad revival
- Political economy of regulatory reform
- India’s economy and the challenge of informality
- Punjab assembly election 2022-Ignoring the ground water depletion problem
- Our broken system of environmental clearance
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Union Budget 2022-23 to be presented on 1st February, 2022 in Paperless form
- India ranks 85 in Transparency International’s corruption index
- Explained: Why artificial snow needs to be pumped to pull off Beijing Winter Olympics
- Union Minister releases a pictorial book on India’s Women Unsung Heroes of Freedom Struggle as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav
- Climate change will force transboundary fish stocks to move from habitats, migration paths: Report
- MoHUA-AFD Launch Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to Nurture the Evolving Ecosystem of Indian Waste Management Sector
- India-Central Asia Virtual Summit
- Explained: Fed move and Indian markets
- Explained: The America COMPETES Act, and how it could increase opportunities for Indians in the US
- Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission: Will it boost handling, disposal of bye-product
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “Finding a way to share IAS officers’ ” published in the Indian Express on 28th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.
Relevance: Understanding why the amendment is required in IAS cadre rules.
News: The Union Government proposal to amend IAS Cadre Rules has attracted the opposition of various states.
What are the present rules for the deputation of cadre officers?
|Read here: Deputation of Cadre Officers and the Proposed Amendments – Explained, pointwise|
Why there is a decline in the number of officers who opt for central deputation?
1) Inadequate recruitment, 2) Comparatively better service conditions in the states
Generally, of the total cadre strength of the states, about 25-30% used to be on central deputation. But presently, less than 10% are working in various central ministries. According to reports, in states like UP, Bihar, Odisha Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the number is between 8-15%.
What steps should both centre-state initiate to work in harmony?
Deputation of officers: Both centre and state should work in a coordinated manner while selecting the officers. If the centre wants a certain officer and the state is not ready to give it, the Centre should respect their views, even though they have the power under cadre rules to do so.
Improve the working conditions of officers: Officers who opt for central deputation have many concerns like education of their children, transport and the higher cost of living in Delhi. The centre should sort out these issues. It can provide for a deputation allowance for the period of deputation in Delhi.
Dispel fears of states: The Centre should dispel fears of states about the misuse of central power.
|Read here: A proposal that has stirred up questions of IAS control|
Source: This post is based on the article “Why Supreme Court’s order in Alapan Bandyopadhyay case is worrying’ ” published in the Indian Express on 28th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.
Relevance: Understanding tribunals and writ jurisdictions.
News: Recently Supreme Court set aside the Calcutta High Court ruling which cost the Central administrative channels decision in the Alapan Bandyopadhyay case.
What is the subject matter of the case?
Then West Bengal Chief Secretary did not attend a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. He was charge-sheeted by the Centre for this event. He approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Kolkata bench against the charge sheet and the case was admitted for hearing. The Centre then petitioned the CATs chairperson at Delhi to transfer the case out of Kolkata.
Mr Bandyopadhyay filed a writ petition in Kolkata High Court. The division bench ruled in the chief secretaries favour. However, Supreme Court has allowed the Centre’s appeal and ruled that Kolkata High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the Bandyopadhyay’s writ petition.
What is the scope of the High Court writ petition under article 226?
Article 226 confers upon high courts the power to issue writs against an authority.
In 1950, Article 226 limited the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue writs only to authorities resident within its territory.
In 1963, Clause 1A was inserted under Article 226 to allow for extraterritorial jurisdiction so that the High Court could issue writs to authorities resident outside its territory.
In 1966 Delhi High Court was established to address writs being issued against central authorities.
In 1977, Clause 1A was renumbered as Clause 2.
Thus, Article 226, Clause 1 and Clause 2, cumulatively determine the writ jurisdiction of the High Court.
How does CAT come under High Court jurisdiction?
CAT was set up under Article 323A by the administrative tribunals act 1985. Section 28 excludes the jurisdiction of all courts except the Supreme Court. In L Chandra Kumar case, it was ruled that the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under article 226 is part of the basic structure of the constitution and cannot be limited by statute.
What are the differences associated with the current ruling of the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court held that the CAT chairperson was a resident in Delhi, so Kolkata High Court jurisdiction does not apply. The jurisdiction cannot be equated to territory, as provided in Article 226 (2). This clause specifically provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction.
In fact, not a single case from L Chandra Kumar to Roger Matthew (2019), describe the extraterritorial jurisdiction of high courts.
Moreover, the judgement also creates different remedies against tribunals under Article 323A and 323B, and other tribunals and authorities. Not all tribunals have been created under Article 323A and 323B. While for other tribunals, a litigant can seek remedy under Article 226(1) and Article 226. But for tribunals under Article 323A and 323B, A litigant can seek remedy only under article 226 (2).
Writ remedies are constitutional safeguards for the citizens. But in this case, the Supreme Court seems to have curtailed it instead of expanding it.
Source: This post is based on the article “India’s Ukraine ‘challenge’” published in the Business Standard on 27th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests.
Relevance: Understanding the geo-political implications and how India should handle this.
News: The stand-off between Russia and Ukraine, China, and Taiwan has put several questions for India on how to respond to the development.
How did the change in USA policy lead to a change in Russia and China policy?
Russia and China seem to believe that the USA has diminished its economic and military capacity and has lost its will of power. They see the USA’s domestic issues, pandemic, chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as proof of American decline.
China seeks to utilize this opportunity to include Taiwan under it.
Russia seeks to assert its predominance in what it considers its near neighborhood-eastern European Central Asia
What will be the geopolitical impact of China and Russian actions?
Chinese reunification with Taiwan will alter the geopolitical landscape of Indo-Pacific. Quad will lose its relevance. It could lead to a Chinese lead Asian order.
|Read here: Taiwan-China conflict and India’s stand on it|
If the Russian invasion of Ukraine goes unpunished, it could weaken the credibility of the USA.
|Read here: Ukraine Conflict: Why India needs to pay attention Russian military build-up in Ukraine|
What is the way forward for India?
To shrink the power gap with China, India needs to increase its economic and military capabilities at a rapid and sustainable pace. Along with that, there is also a need for political leadership, that focuses on getting India back to a higher growth trajectory.
GS Paper 3
About India State of Forest Report 2021: Plantations, invasive species… what all India counts as ‘forest’
Source: This post is based on the article “Plantations, invasive species… what all India counts as ‘forest’” published in the Down to Earth on 28th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Environment.
Relevance: Understanding the changes required in conducting FSI report.
News: Forest Survey of India has recently released its reports which show an increase in forests by 2,261 square kilometres. But, various researchers and environmentalists do not agree with this claim.
What are the findings of the Forest Survey of India?
|Read here: India State of Forest Report 2021 – Explained, pointwise|
What are the arguments presented by the environmentalists?
Definition of forests: It was set by FSI in 2001. According to the definition, a mere 10% of a hectare of land which has trees, is regarded as a forest. This criterion should need to be looked at critically.
New parameters: In 2001, FSI adopted a fully digital analysis workflow, which changed its definition of a forest. According to the report, private tea gardens, coconut plantations in suburban areas, and offices were counted as ‘very dense’, ‘moderately dense’, and ‘open’ forests.
Environmentalists disagree with these parameters, as natural forests and plantations are two very different things. A forest is a web of relationships, where it harbours more biodiversity and provides more for livelihoods. While plantation is more of single species, where more timber is produced.
How there are discrepancies in the Forest Survey of India Report?
According to a paper published in 2002, there was a loss of over 14,000 hectares of forest between 1999 and 2001. But, FSI had claimed there was a gain of over 50,000 hectares in forest cover in the same period.
|Read here: About the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021: Counting trees properly|
How the survey should be conducted?
According to environmentalists, a survey:
– Should measure the quality of forests like which are the major kinds of forests, what’s theirs location and area represented by it.
– Should show the ecological, social, economic, and cultural state of forests.
– Should take into account threats to existing forests
– Should not only focus on trees alone to represent the status of forests. It’s a limited approach and looked more like a tool to show compliance with the Centre’s national and international climate goals.
Source: This post is based on the article ” No online targeting” published in the Business Standard on 27th January 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Data protection.
Relevance: Understanding the Digital Services Act.
News: The European Parliament has passed the Digital Services Act (DSA), which aim towards protecting the privacy of users.
What is the earlier Data Protection Rule EU had?
The EU already had the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which offers granular privacy protection to anybody (not only EU citizens). GDPR classified data about race, ethnicity, political opinions, religious beliefs, etc. An online platform cannot use such data for targeted advertisement. Dark patterns are prohibited. These refer to links that include users to affiliate websites or advertisements.
What does the Digital Services Act talk about?
It lays down the dos and don’ts about the removal of harmful, illegal content, facilitating sales of illegal products, targeted advertising, and the way interfaces are designed. It also makes it mandatory for large online platforms to do the risk assessment annually or semi-annually about the dissemination of illegal content, the malfunctioning of the given service, and any “actual and foreseeable negative effects on the protection of public health”.
New requirements have been added to tackle deep fakes. The act prohibits platforms that distort recipients’ ability to make free and informed decisions. It is against alleged practices which induce users to purchase goods that they do not want or reveal any personal information.
What are the conditions specified in the DSA act to protect users?
– Intermediaries should not make websites that make certain consent options more prominent.
– Use of targeting techniques that reveal the personal data of minors is prohibited.
– Deep fakes should be clearly labelled.
– Platforms must provide information as how the data will be monetized to recipients so that they can make informed consent.
– Platforms are prohibited from disabling users access to functionalities if they refuse to give consent.
Source: This post is based on the article “Devas: Dead But Biting” published in Times of India on 28th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Effects of Liberalization on the Economy
Relevance: Foreign investment and related challenges
News: India needs to amend law on investment treaties to protect its foreign assets and calm global investors.
What is the Devas issue?
What does the Supreme court verdict say?
SC has confirmed that Devas was created for fraudulent purposes. It neither had the technology nor IP rights when entering into the agreement with Antrix.
The court has also held that Devas did not obtain a license for the intended purpose, and Devas shareholders are guilty of this fraudulent conduct of business.
What will be the impact of SC’s judgment?
Devas’s domestic award pending challenge before the Delhi high court will now be set aside. However, foreign awards are enforced under the laws of the country where the assets of the debtor are situated.
The enforcement of foreign arbitral awards is codified in the 1958 UN Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). India has also ratified the convention but with the condition.
Why India needs to amend its investment treaties?
One, Indian courts have found BIT awards are not strictly commercial but arise from sovereign guarantees. This is what helps the BIT award holders to target Indian assets overseas.
For example, Devas’s foreign shareholders claim Indian assets abroad, citing their bilateral investment treaty (BIT) awards.
Two, a Canadian court recently ordered the seizure of Air India and Airports Authority of India funds. Similarly, French court ordered the freezing of Indian assets.
Three, according to government the Devas-Antrix deal was a fraud carried out under previous government, but this will not protect India’s foreign assets against BIT awards. Also, calling investment fraud post facto doesn’t go well with India’s efforts to attract foreign investments.
Four, the timing of the petition by Antrix and seeking findings of fraud after 10 years of termination of agreement raise questions. It will keep investors guessing if their investments will be called into question with a change in government.
Why interference of courts is not a viable option to resolve disputes?
First, interference of courts can be defended only on the basis of provisions of the convention, and enforcement of foreign awards can only be refused in very limited circumstances.
For example, when it is contrary to public policy or if the underlying dispute is incapable of settlement by arbitration under the laws of the country where enforcement is sought.
SC has called Devas case a fraud which is in conflict with the “public policy of any country”. But it may not help, as “public policy” varies from country to country.
Second, Indian law says that serious allegations of fraud cannot be settled through arbitration. However, it is not a universal law. For example, England has limited this exception to cases where the fraud relates directly to the arbitral agreement and not the transaction in general.
What is the way forward?
GoI should amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act to clarify that BIT awards shall be treated as commercial under Indian laws and be enforced in India.
Source: This post is based on the article “Fiscal policy must take centre-stage for a broad revival” published in Livemint on 28th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it
Relevance: Inequality in India, ways to reduce inequality
News: The third wave of the pandemic is receding but the impact of the pandemic on the economy may last longer. However, response of the government in dealing with the pandemic-induced disruptions can change the scenario.
This article discusses the need to reduce inequality and how fiscal measures can help in that.
Why inequality is central to any attempt at reviving the economy?
One, recent findings by the ICE360 Survey 2021, reveal a decline in income of the bottom 20% of the population by 53% between 2015-16 and 2020-21. However, there is an increase of 39% for the richest 20%.
Two, tax exemptions given to increase private investment have benefited better-off and widened the income divide. The recent data on increased tax collection is a reflection of inequality and consumption largely by the rich. It has given a false sense of economic recovery. On the other hand, rising incomes of the rich have failed to revive the ‘animal spirits’ of the economy.
Three, private consumption in the country is lagging even its 2018-19 level in real terms due to different burdens borne by different segments of the population. There is always more burden on the poor when there is a policy or natural shock to the economy.
Why fiscal policy should take center stage to deal with current slowdown?
First, the government has relied majorly on monetary policy rather than a fiscal route to revive the economy. But easy-money policies in the developed world are tightened sooner than expected. Hence, monetary policy in India is not enough to revive the economy.
Second, private investment has failed to revive, and consumption demand also continues to show signs of weakness. It shows that the current approach is the result of a flawed understanding of economic reality.
Third, policymakers have focused on investment-led growth financed by the savings of the rich, but the real challenge in India is increasing the consumption demand. Indian economy is a demand-constrained economy. Also, capacity utilization is less in India. Hence, an investment push is not enough to help.
What is the way forward?
First, since inflation will further reduce purchasing power, hence, budget needs to ensure that real incomes increase.
Third, there is a need to ensure a leakage-proof delivery of benefits provided to the country’s poor and vulnerable. For example, rural employment guarantee scheme, National Food Security Act provisions and various income-transfer initiatives.
Fourth, the fiscal health of the economy is expected to improve. That is why public expenditure needs to be expanded to ensure social protection and basic infrastructure.
Source: This post is based on the article “Political economy of regulatory reform” published in Business standard on 28th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Government Budgeting
Relevance: Regulatory reforms
News: This article discusses the status of implementation of regulatory reforms announced in the last seven budgets.
Why financial regulatory reforms are needed?
Financial regulatory reforms clarify the role and objectives of regulation, establish sound agency architecture and institutionalize sound governance and processes within a statutory regulatory authority (SRA).
For example, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) was announced in the 1991 budget speech.
Similarly, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Competition Commission of India were announced in budget speeches of 1993 and 1999. There is continuation of this practice in the post-2014 budgets.
How budget announcements have focused on reforming regulatory structure?
The first category of reforms attempts to bring structural changes in the regulatory architecture or a fundamental revision of the legislative framework. These are:
- Indian Finance Code– recommended by Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) led by Justice B N Srikrishna. Its objective is to strengthen and modernise the legislative regulatory framework for better governance and accountability.
- New monetary policy framework: recommended by many committees, including Raghuram Rajan, Percy Mistry and Urjit Patel committees to have a modern monetary policy framework to meet the challenge of an increasingly complex economy.
- Merger of the Forwards Markets Commission with SEBI: recommended by the FSLRC to strengthen regulation of commodity forward markets.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC): drafted by the T K Viswanathan committee to bring about legal certainty and speed and improve the ease of doing business.
- Creation of a public debt management agency (PDMA): recommended by the RBI in 2001 to deepen the Indian bond market and to bring it to the same level as the world-class equity market.
- Code on the resolution of financial firms: recommended by the FSLRC to provide a specialised resolution mechanism to deal with bankruptcy situations in banks, insurance companies and financial sector entities.
- Unified financial redress agency (FRA): recommended by the FSLRC to address grievances against all financial service providers.
The second category of reforms relates to the consumers.
First, the introduction of uniform KYC norms and inter-usability of the KYC records across the entire financial sector.
Second, the introduction of one single operating demat accounts so that consumers can access and transact all financial assets through this one account.
What is the implementation status of the above-mentioned reforms?
Creation of MPC, merger of FMC with SEBI, and the enactment of IBC, have been implemented. On IFC, there has not been much progress. However, in last year’s budget, it was proposed to consolidate the various securities markets related legislation into a rationalised single Securities Markets Code.
On KYC Identification Number, consumers today are where they were in 2014. The unified FRA is still under discussion.
What is the way forward?
First, technological and financial innovations are growing. Hence, there is a need for coherent financial regulatory architecture with an updated IFC and a unified FRA.
Second, the issue of regulatory independence and regulator versus government is now getting public attention. Hence, there is a need to continue to engage with the SRAs to work on announced reforms to bring about greater accountability.
Source: This post is based on the article “India’s economy and the challenge of informality” published in The Hindu on 28th Jan 2022.
Syllabus: GS3- Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it
Relevance: Informal economy and challenges related to it
News: This article says that fiscal policy efforts to formalize the economy are not enough in the case of India. There is a need for a coherent approach that focuses on the productivity of workers, efficiency, and overall economic growth.
What is the fiscal perspective of formalization?
One, according to international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the informal sector exists due to excessive state regulation. It drives genuine economic activity outside the regulatory ambit.
Second, it believes that simplifying registration processes, easing rules for business conduct, and lowering the standards of protection of formal sector workers will increase formality.
How the efforts in India are based on the fiscal perspective of formalisation?
First, small enterprises engaged in labour-intensive manufacturing were protected by providing fiscal concessions, and large-scale industries were regulated by licensing. Hence, the fiscal perspective has a long history in India. For example, tax reforms in the mid-1980s.
Second, the Government has made several efforts to formalise the economy. For example, Currency demonetisation, introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), digitalisation of financial transactions, etc
What is the impact of fiscal perspective?
One, it reduced efficiency and led to many labor-intensive industries getting distributed into the unorganised sectors.
Two, sub-contracting and outsourcing arrangements have increased. For example, the rise of power looms at the expense of mills in the organized sector.
Three, this has helped enterprises in staying out of tax nets even after getting benefited from the policy.
Why informality is not reducing even after steps taken by the government?
First, economic development is a movement of low-productivity informal sector workers to the formal. It is also known as structural transformation. India witnessed rapid economic growth over the last two decades but still, 90% of workers are informally employed and produce about half of GDP.
For example, East Asia rapidly industrialized in the mid-20th century by drawing labor from traditional agriculture.
Second, a well-regarded study, ‘Informality and Development’, argues that informality is a sign of underdevelopment. The finding suggests that informality decreases with economic growth. Hence, the existence of informal employment is due to a lack of adequate growth or continuation of underdevelopment.
Third, informality in India is many-layered. As per International Labour Organization’s and India’s definition, the share of formal workers in India stood at 9.7%. Also, PLFS data shows that 75% of informal workers are self-employed and casual wage workers. About half of informal workers are engaged in non-agriculture sectors.
Four, there are industries that are growing without paying taxes and there are numerous low productive informal establishments that work as household and self-employment units. These establishments are not identifiable, thus very difficult to be formalised.
Five, State Bank of India recently reported that the economy formalized rapidly during the pandemic year of 2020-21, but this was not due to structural transformation rather due to shock due to lockdown.
What is the way forward?
The economy will get formalised when informal enterprises, like household and self-employment units, become more productive through greater capital investment and increased education and skills are imparted to its workers.
Source– This post is based on the article “Punjab assembly election 2022-Ignoring the ground water depletion problem” published in Down to earth on 27th Jan 2022.
Syllabus– GS3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.
Relevance– Water conservation, decline in Ground water table in Punjab.
Election are around the corner and Punjab is one of the states going for the elections.
However, like every other election there is lack of concern and debate on some of the urgent issues of Punjab like the Ground water depletion.
What it is the magnitude of this problem?
Groundwater depletion in Punjab has been a growing concern. The groundwater level in most parts of the state has fallen to a dangerous level.
Why Punjab is facing severe Ground water depletion?
Government under the Second Five Year Plan (1956-1961) shifted the focus from agriculture to the industrial sector, leading to a severe shortage of food grains in India. Due to this country had to resort to import of food grains from the United States.
To overcome this crisis Government introduced ‘The New Agricultural Technology’. This technology was a package of high yielding variety seeds, assured irrigation, chemical fertilisers, and modern agricultural practices. The essence of this technology was commercial in nature. Government introduced it in Punjab on priority.
What was the effect of this new technology on Punjab’s Ground water levels?
Prior to the adoption of ‘The New Agricultural Technology’ in Punjab, irrigation was done with canals and wells and there was no serious problem with groundwater levels.
But after the introduction of this technology there was a huge increase in the number of tube wells. In 1961, the number of tube wells in Punjab was only 7,445. This has risen to around 1.5 million in 2021 mainly due to the adoption of this technology. This led to the continuous fall in the groundwater level in most of the development blocks of the state.
How this also negatively affects farmers?
Increasing debt– After the adoption of the ‘New Agricultural Technology’, irrigation was done with diesel engines, and mono block motors. But due to a continuous fall in groundwater level, the farmers were forced to bring in submersible motors, which is one of the reasons for their increasing debt.
This along with high cost of diesel (that goes into running these motors through tractors due to insufficient supply of electricity) have made agriculture a loss-making occupation.
What is the way forward?
Government should promote alternative crops suitable to state’s agro-climatic conditions by fixing remunerative prices for them.
The canal irrigation system should be streamlined and water in the rivers of Punjab distributed in accordance with ‘The Riparian Principle’.
Note- Under the riparian principle, all landowners whose properties adjoin a body of water have the right to make reasonable use of it as it flows through or over their properties.
Wastage and misuse of groundwater in industrial units and residential areas in cities and villages must be stopped immediately.
Farmers and all other citizens as well should be familiarized with water saving techniques.
Source– This post is based on the article “Our broken system of environmental clearance” published in Down to earth on 27th Jan 2022.
Syllabus– GS3-Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.
Relevance– Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Ranking of state agencies.
Environment Ministry’s move to rank state environmental impact assessment authorities based on their speed of environmental approval can have negative consequences for the environment.
What can be the negative consequences of this move?
How has the EIA regime in India has evolved?
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) started way back in 1994. Although building projects were brought into its ambit in 2000 but system was never upgraded to handle the huge volume of such projects. This has often led to delays and high transaction costs.
In the year 2006, Process was decentralized and the work was outsourced to states.
However, despite going through changes the quality of scrutiny has not improved and development projects are not more environmentally compliant.
What are the problems in India’s EIA regime?
The project proponent is expected to pay consultants to do the EIA which creates a conflict of interest.
The projects are rarely rejected, between July 2015 and August 2020, of the 3,100 projects submitted, only 3 per cent were not recommended. Even these have the option of coming back with more information and get the clearance.
There is not a proper follow up on clearances as monitoring is done by regional offices of Environment ministry which are many a times lacking manpower to do it.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Union Budget 2022-23 to be presented on 1st February, 2022 in Paperless form’ published in PIB on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
Union Budget 2022-23 is to be presented by the Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister on 1st February, 2022.
How will the Budget 2022-23 be presented?
The Union Budget of 2021-22 was delivered in paperless form for the first time. Similarly, Budget 2022-23 will also be presented in paperless form.
The Union Budget Mobile App was also launched in 2021-22 for hassle-free access to Budget documents by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public. The Union Budget 2022-23 would also be available on the Mobile App. The mobile app is bilingual (English & Hindi).
To maintain the secrecy of the Budget, there is a “lock-in” of the officials involved in making the Budget. These officers and staff will come in contact with their near and dear ones only after the Budget is presented.
To mark the final stage of the Union Budget making process, sweets were provided to the core staff instead of a customary Halwa ceremony every year in view of the prevailing pandemic situation.
Articles Related to Basics of Budget
Source: This post is based on the article ‘India ranks 85 in Transparency International’s corruption index’ published in Indian Express on 26th January 2022.
What is the News?
The Corruption Perception Index, 2021 has been released.
What is the Corruption Perception Index?
Released by: Transparency International annually since 1995.
Purpose: To rank 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people.
Scoring: The index uses a scale of 0 to 100 to rank Corruption Perception Index(CPI), where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
What are the key rankings of the Corruption Perception Index?
India’s rank improved by one place to 85 in 2021 from 86th in 2020. India was given a score of 40. Except Bhutan, all of India’s neighbors are ranked below it.
Top countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand each with a score of 88.
Relation between Human Rights and Corruption according to the index:
Corruption enables human rights abuses. Conversely, ensuring basic rights and freedoms means there is less space for corruption to go unchallenged.
The CPI 2021 shows that countries with well-protected civil and political liberties generally control corruption better. The fundamental freedoms of association and expression are crucial in the fight for a world free of corruption.
What should be done to reduce corruption?
a) Uphold the rights needed to hold power to account b) Restore and strengthen institutional checks on power c) Combat transnational forms of corruption and d) Uphold the right to information in government spending.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Why artificial snow needs to be pumped to pull off Beijing Winter Olympics’ published in Indian Express on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
A report released by Sport Ecology Group at Loughborough University and Save Our Winters has stated the dangers of artificial snow to be produced at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
What is Artificial Snow?
Snow that is injected with water to harden it and then treated with chemicals to keep the hardened snow in place, is a form of artificial snow that is recommended for winter competitions.
How is Artificial Snow produced?
At this Winter Olympics, TechnoAlpin machines have been used. These machines produce this snow by pumping out ice particles at the same time as a thin mist of water vapour. Both these particles are launched up to 60 metres in the air where they combine to become snow and then fall to the ground.
Why is Artificial Snow harmful according to the report?
Impact on Athletes: Athletes are at a greater risk when competing on artificial snow, as it tends to create a faster and harder surface, which can cause more severe injuries when falls occur.
Impact on Environment: High volumes of water and energy are required to create artificial snow. The region of Beijing is low on water. According to a Greenpeace study in 2018, China’s glaciers had melted by 82% and one-fifth of the ice cover had been lost since the 1950s. Hence, this is bound to have some impacts in a region where there is nearly no water.
Union Minister releases a pictorial book on India’s Women Unsung Heroes of Freedom Struggle as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Union Minister releases a pictorial book on India’s Women Unsung Heroes of Freedom Struggle as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ published in PIB on 28th January 2022.
What is the news?
Union Minister of State for Culture has released a pictorial book on India’s Women Unsung Heroes of Freedom Struggle as part of Azadi ka Mahotsav.The book has been released in partnership with Amar Chitra Katha.
Who are the Women Freedom Fighters mentioned in the Book?
|Women Freedom Fighters||Contribution to Freedom Movement|
|Rani Abakka||She was the Queen of Ullal, Karnataka. She fought and defeated the mighty Portuguese in the 16th century.|
|Velu Nachiyar||She was the Queen of Sivaganga and was the first Indian queen to wage war against the British East India Company.|
|Matangini Hazra||She was a brave freedom fighter from Bengal, who laid down her life while agitating against the British.|
|Gulab Kaur||She was a freedom fighter who abandoned her own hopes and dreams of a life abroad to fight for and mobilise the Indian people against the British Raj.|
|Chakali Ilamma||She was a revolutionary woman who fought against the injustice of zamindars during the Telangana rebellion in the mid-1940s.|
|Subhadra Kumari Chauhan||One of the greatest Hindi poets, who was also a prominent figure in the freedom movement.|
|Durgawati Devi||Brave woman who provided safe passage to Bhagat Singh after the killing of John Saunders and much more during her revolutionary days.|
|Sucheta Kripalani||A prominent freedom fighter who became the independent India’s first woman Chief Minister of UP Government.|
|Accamma Cherian||She is an inspirational leader of the freedom movement in Travancore, Kerala. She was given the name ‘Jhansi Rani of Tranvancore’ by Mahatma Gandhi.|
|Aruna Asaf Ali||She was an inspirational freedom fighter who is perhaps best remembered for hoisting the Indian National flag in Mumbai during the Quit India Movement in 1942.|
|Durgabai Deshmuk||She was a tireless worker for the emancipation of women in Andhra Pradesh and was also an eminent freedom fighter and member of the Constituent Assembly.|
|Rani Gaidinliu||Naga spiritual and political leader, she led an armed uprising against the British in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.|
|Usha Mehta||She was a freedom fighter from a very young age, who is remembered for organising an underground radio station during the Quit India Movement of 1942.|
|Parbati Giri||She was one of Odisha’s most prominent women freedom fighters who was called the Mother Teresa of Western Odisha for her work in the upliftment of her people.|
|Tarkeshwari Sinha||She was a prominent freedom fighter during the Quit India Movement, she went on to become an eminent politician in the early decades of independent India.|
|Snehlata Varma||She was a freedom fighter and tireless worker for the education and upliftment of women in Mewar, Rajasthan.|
|Tileshwari Baruah||She was one of India’s youngest martyrs, she was shot at the age of 12 by the British, during the Quit India Movement, when she and some freedom fighters tried to unfurl the Tricolour atop a police station.|
|Jhalkari Bai||She was a woman soldier who grew to become one of the key advisors to the Rani of Jhansi and a prominent figure in the First War of Indian Independence, 1857.|
|Padmaja Naidu||She was the daughter of Sarojini Naidu and a freedom fighter in her own right, who would later become Governor of West Bengal and a humanitarian after Independence.|
|Bishni Devi Shah||She inspired a large number of people in Uttarakhand to join the freedom movement.|
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Climate change will force transboundary fish stocks to move from habitats, migration paths: Report’ published in Down To Earth on 28th January 2022.
What is the news?
According to a report, Fish stocks that move across two or more exclusive economic zones (EEZ) would be greatly impacted by climate change.
What are the key findings of the report related to fish stocks?
By 2100, Climate change will force 45% of the fish stocks that cross through two or more exclusive economic zones to shift significantly from their historical habitats and migration paths.
By 2030, 23% of these transboundary fish stocks will have changed their historical habitat range.
Countries in tropical locations such as the Caribbean and South Asia will be hit first as water temperatures increase.
What will be the impact of these transboundary fish stocks shifting their historical habitats?
Reduced Catch Proportion of Fish: Changes in fish stock distribution will affect catches. By 2030, 85% of the world’s EEZs will have seen a change in the amount of their transboundary catch that exceeds normal yearly variation.
Conflicts between countries: Many countries that are highly dependent on fisheries for livelihood and food security would emerge as hotspots for transboundary shifts. This can lead to conflicts between countries, as many of the fisheries management agreements to regulate shared stocks were established in past decades.
What are the suggestions given by the report?
a) Crafting agreements that allow fishing fleets to fish in neighbouring countries waters while offering a share of the catch or profit b) Rebalancing and renegotiating many of the catch quota agreements that are already in place c) Action on mitigating climate change should help reduce projected shifts.
MoHUA-AFD Launch Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to Nurture the Evolving Ecosystem of Indian Waste Management Sector
Source: This post is based on the article ‘MoHUA-AFD Launch Swachhata Start-Up Challenge to Nurture the Evolving Ecosystem of Indian Waste Management Sector’ published in PIB on 27th January 2022.
What is the News?
The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs(MoHUA) in partnership with the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has launched the Swachhata Start-Up Challenge.
What is the Swachhata Start-Up Challenge?
– To provide an impetus to innovative start-ups to come forward and drive catalytic transformation in the sanitation and waste management sector.
– To promote an enabling environment for enterprise development under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 (SBM-U 2.0).
– To capitalize on the start-up movement by providing opportunities for entrepreneurship to young innovators to create socially impactful and market-ready business solutions.
Eligibility: The challenge is open to a) start-ups registered in India and b) French actors collaborating with an Indian start-up (as a joint venture).
Thematic Areas: The challenge is open across four thematic areas viz. (i) social inclusion, (ii) zero dump (solid waste management), (iii) plastic waste management and (iv) transparency through digital enablement.
Awards and Prizes:
– Top 10 startups to receive ₹25 lakhs along with one year of dedicated incubation support from French Tech, the French government’s initiative to promote start-ups.
– Eligible startups will get additional incentives which include up to ₹ 50 Lakhs follow-on investment from Villgro, the implementation partner of the Challenge and up to 100,000 USD worth of credits and technology support from technology partner Amazon Web Services, to each winner.
Source: This post is based on the articles:
‘India-Central Asia Virtual Summit’ published in PIB on 28th January 2022.
‘Central Asia meet forms Afghan group’ published in The Hindu on 28th January 2022.
‘Share concerns with Central Asia on Afghanistan, terrorism, says PM Modi’ published in TOI on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
The Prime Minister has hosted the India-Central Asia Summit in virtual format.
What is the India-Central Asia Summit?
It is the first of its kind engagement between India and the Central Asian countries at the level of leaders.
The summit was attended by the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Objectives of the Summit: a) To make it clear that cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity, b) To give an effective structure to our cooperation and c) To create an ambitious roadmap for our cooperation.
|Must read: India – Central Asia Relations – Explained, pointwise|
What are the key highlights of the India-Central Asia Summit?
Delhi Declaration: The leaders issued the Delhi Declaration at the end of the summit.
Institutionalise Summit Mechanism: The countries agreed to institutionalise the Summit mechanism by deciding to hold it every 2 years. An India-Central Asia Secretariat in New Delhi would also be set up to support the new mechanism.
Annual Meetings: There will be annual meetings of the Foreign, Trade and Cultural Ministers and Secretaries of Security (National Security Advisors).
Connectivity, Defence and Cultural Relations: They discussed further cooperation in areas of connectivity, defence and cultural contacts.
They agreed on a) Round-Table on Energy and Connectivity, b) Joint Working Groups at senior official level on Afghanistan and use of Chabahar Port, c) Showcasing of Buddhist exhibitions in Central Asian countries, d) Joint counter-terrorism exercises and e) Visit of 100 member youth delegation annually from Central Asian countries to India.
Trade: They discussed the possibilities of increasing Indian trade with the Central Asia region beyond the currently low levels of about $2 billion. Turkmenistan President stressed on the importance of the TAPI gas pipeline project that runs from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.
The situation in Afghanistan: They discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan. The leaders reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 passed in 2021 which unequivocally demanded that Afghan territory not be used for terrorist acts and called for concerted action against all terrorist groups, including those sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
|Read more: Recent developments in India-Central Asia relations|
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: Fed move and Indian markets’ published in Indian Express on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
The US Federal Reserve has announced that it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases and raise interest rates subsequently. Both these measures are aimed at taming inflation, currently at a four-decade high of around 7%.
This is likely to impact emerging market economies such as India.
How do US Fed actions impact India?
The outflow of Foreign Capital: When interest rates rise in the US, the gap between those and rates in countries such as India reduces, giving less incentive for foreign investors to pump money into overseas markets. This means foreign capital outflows can happen not only from equity but also from debt.
Impact on Rupee: FPIs pulling money out of the equity and bond markets could weaken the rupee even as the dollar gets stronger with the rate hikes.
Highest Cost of Fund Mobilization from Overseas Markets: The rise in rates also means a higher cost of funds, and fund mobilization in overseas markets will be costly. The increase in the cost of funds may not only increase the cost of capital expenditure for India Inc and increase the cost of developing infrastructure for the government but will also strain the profit margins of companies.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Explained: The America COMPETES Act, and how it could increase opportunities for Indians in the US’ published in Indian Express on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
The United States has unveiled the ambitious America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act, 2022.
What is the COMPETES Act, 2022?
Aim: a) To open up new vistas for talented individuals from across the world with a new start-up visa and b) To make the supply chains stronger and reinvigorate the innovation engine of the country’s economy to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come.
What are the key provisions of the COMPETES Act,2022?
Firstly, it allocated grants and loans to encourage semiconductor production in the US and to improve supply chain resilience and manufacturing.
Secondly, it proposes funding to address social and economic inequality, climate change and immigration. For example, it offers an exemption for STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) PhDs from the green card limit.
Thirdly, it has allocated USD 600 million a year to build manufacturing facilities to make the United States less dependent on solar components manufactured in Xinjiang, China.
Fourthly, it proposes a new category of visa called the “W” classification. This visa will be for non-immigrant entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a start-up entity, essential employees of a start-up entity and their spouses and children.
What is the significance of the COMPETES Act for India?
This Act would create more opportunities in the US for Indian talent and skilled workers. Usually, Indians and Indian companies corner the lion’s share of H-1B work permits issued every year. With this new category, Indian professionals will likely have a better shot at opportunities.
Source: This post is based on the article ‘Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission: Will it boost handling, disposal of bye-product’ published in Down To Earth on 28th January 2022.
What is the News?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its recent order has directed the constitution of a ‘Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission’.
What is Fly Ash?
Fly ash is an unwanted unburnt residue of coal combustion in a coal thermal power plant. It is emitted along with flue gases during the burning of coal in a furnace and collected using electrostatic precipitators.
The fly ash collected with the help of precipitators is converted into a wet slurry to minimise fugitive dust emissions. It is then transported to the scientifically designed ash ponds through slurry pipelines.
However, the gross under-utilisation of this by-product over the years has led to the accumulation of 1,670 million tonnes of fly ash.
|Read more: IIT Hyderabad scientists convert fly ash into waterproofing material|
What has the NGT done to overcome the underutilisation of Fly Ash?
The National Green Tribunal(NGT) has directed the constitution of a ‘Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission’.
Goals of the Commission: a) To coordinate and monitor issues relating to the handling and disposal of fly ash and associated issues, and b) To make the roadmaps and progress in fly ash utilisation available for all thermal power plants and their clusters.
Headed by: The Mission is to be jointly headed by the Secretaries of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and Union Ministry of Coal and Power. There will also be Chief Secretaries of concerned states on board.
Nodal Agency: The secretary of MoEF&CC will be the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.
What is the issue with the constitution of the Fly Ash Management Mission?
There are some overlaps and distinctions in the responsibilities allocated to the committees under the Fly Ash Notification, 2021 and the Fly Ash Management and Utilisation Mission.
The 2021 notification has made provision for the enforcement, monitoring, audit and reporting of the progress of fly ash utilisation and implementation of the clauses of the notification by coal thermal power plants and user agencies.
The notification holds the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) / Pollution Control Committees(PCC) responsible for monitoring the effective implementation of mandates under it.
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