9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – July 1st, 2021

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 
  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 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Election no guarantee against tyranny, says CJI

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity

Relevance: Points can be used in an essay.

Synopsis: Elections are not a guarantee that the government will not turn tyrannical. A vibrant public discourse, criticism, and protests prove much more effective.

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI)’s views on what constitutes a robust and resilient democracy and other equally important issues, like rule of law.
Key points:
On the issue of independence of the judiciary

The judiciary cannot be controlled, directly or indirectly, by the legislature or the executive, or else the rule of law would cease to exist.

  • At the same time, judges should not be influenced by public opinion either, which usually gets amplified through social media platforms. Media trials, therefore, cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases.
  • However, this doesn’t mean that judges and the judiciary need to completely disassociate from what is going on because at the end of the day they have to decide questions that pertain to social issues.
On rule of law

CJI elucidated four principles of the rule of law.

Clear and accessible laws: The first principle of rule of law states that laws must be clear and accessible. When laws are expected to be obeyed, the people at least ought to know what the laws are. There cannot, therefore, be secretive laws, as laws are for society.

Equality before law: The second principle relates to the idea of “equality before the law”. Laws are to be applied on an equal basis in a non-arbitrary fashion. An important aspect of “equality before the law” is having equal “access to justice”.

Right to participate in the creation and refinement of laws: Members of the society have the right to participate in the creation and refinement of laws that regulate their behaviors. The very essence of a democracy is that its citizenry has a role to play, whether directly or indirectly, in the laws that govern them. In India, it is done through elections.

Strong and independent judiciary: The last principle of rule of law enshrines the principle that the judiciary is the primary organ that is tasked with ensuring that the laws which are enacted are in line with the Constitution. This is one of the main functions of the judiciary, that of judicial review of laws. The Supreme Court has held this function to be a part of the basic structure of the Constitution

  • In the end, CJI quoted, Maha Kavi Gurajada Appa Rao, a great poet, and reformist of the 19th / 20th Century. He said: “Desamamte Matti Kadoi, Desamamte Manushuloi”. Gurajada gave a universal definition to the concept of nation.
    • He said, “a nation is not merely a territory. A nation is essentially its people. Only when its people progress, the Nation progresses”.
On a strong democracy

The mere right to change the ruler, once every few years, by itself need not be a guarantee against tyranny.

  • Elections, day-to-day political discourses, criticisms, and voicing of protests are integral to the democratic process.
Also Read: Does India have a rule of law?

Small doses

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Relevance: The government relief package focus on reviving the Indian Economy.

Synopsis: The first relief package for the second COVID-19 wave falls short of expectations

Few major highlights of relief package:

Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for COVID affected sectors

Additional fund for Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme

Extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) – Free food grains from May to November 2021 and Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana till 31st March 2022

Financial support to more than 11,000 Registered Tourists/ Guides/ Travel and Tourism Stakeholders and Free one-month Tourist Visa to first 5 lakh tourists

Advantages of relief measures:

Health projects in the hinterland: Additional spending to ramp up paediatric healthcare, with guarantees for ₹50,000 crore low-interest loans for health projects, will improve health care facilities in the hinterland. It is also critical to cope with future pandemic waves.

Challenges with the relief measures:

  • Free visas: Free visas are a good idea, but are unlikely to gain results till India has a firmer grip on the pandemic by providing vaccines for all, including for those under 18.
  • Weak demand is a bigger concern for the industry this year as high inflation. But the direct stimulus to demand is not enough for industries in the government relief measures.
  • High fuel prices are not taken care of. If the government lowered the fuel process, then this would dampen inflation, empower RBI to lend greater support to grow, and leave a little more money in people’s hands to spend.

Significance of India and France’s successive presidencies at UN Security Council

Source: Click Here

Relevance: India and France can achieve their goals by cooperating in UN Security Council.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate


The India-France bilateral strategic partnership would act as a multilateral force for good in the UN security council. Their successive presidencies in July and August will help in reforming and expanding the council. 


  • France and India will be at the forefront of UN endeavors as they chair the Security Council in July and August respectively.
    • The council bears the primary responsibility for international peace and security. 
  • The trust between the two countries and result-oriented diplomatic practice will help forge consensus and deliver concrete outcomes at the Security Council.

Significance of Successive presidencies:

First, it would promote reformed multilateralism across the world. Defending the rules-based, multilateral system against the many crises of the 21st century is our common priority of both countries.

    • The crisis includes terrorism, climate change, pandemics, etc.

Second, it would help in the expansion of the security council thereby making it more representative.

    • France favours the expansion of the council in both categories of membership, permanent and non-permanent. It supports the candidatures of India and the three other G4 members (Germany, Japan, Brazil) for permanent seats. 
    • Further, it also desires an enhanced presence of Africa among the permanent members as well as the non-permanent members. Thus, an expanded council could have up to 25 members.

Third, it can also help in passing a resolution on responsible use of the veto by the permanent members.

    • France had earlier proposed a collective and voluntary agreement among the current permanent members of the Security Council. 
    • It states that members would refrain from using the veto in case of mass atrocities, such as crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes on a large scale. Currently, 105 countries (excluding India) support the resolution.

Fourth, it offers a welcome opportunity to work proactively over key issues on the Security Council agenda. This includes: 

    • Deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in conflict areas,
    • Rigorous implementation of arms embargoes,
    • Strengthening of the humanitarian space as well as the modernization of peacekeeping missions.

Location no bar

Source – The Indian Express

Relevance: One Nation One Ration Card system would reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

Syllabus – GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States

Synopsis – The Supreme Court order government to ensure quick and effective rollout of One Nation One Ration Card system.

Introduction –

The Supreme Court set a July 31 deadline for states to adopt the One Nation One Ration Card system and the Centre government to build a nationwide database of unorganized workers. The court also chastised the Centre for taking so long to build such a database, calling it unpardonable. The court’s verdict came in a suo motu case filed on May 26 of last year, which concerned the welfare of migrant workers affected by the Covid-19

One Nation One ration Card System [ONORC]-

Under the scheme, the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act can access the subsidized food grains from any of the fair price shops across the country, not necessarily where the ration card is registered. To date, 32 states and union territories have joined the ONORC, bringing the total number of NFSA beneficiaries to 69 million.

However, appropriate implementation will only occur once the following considerations have been taken into account.

  • Migrant portal – Setting up a portal to register migrant and unorganized workers, as they will get the benefit of the welfare programs only once they have been registered.
  • Stock management– Food grain allocations across states will need to be more flexible in order to account for seasonal fluctuation in migration numbers.
    • To achieve successful inventory and stock management, the information technology infrastructure must be strong.
  • Regular updation and a dynamic database system are needed so that migrant workers should be able to avail their entitlement irrespective of where they reside in the country.
  • Use of ePOS [Electronic Point of Sale] at all the fair price shops as ONORC system identifies a beneficiary through biometric authentication on ePos devices at fair price shops.
  • It is necessary to give facilities for linking ration cards with Aadhar cards throughout India in order to tackle the issue of ration card updation of household member data.

Way forward-

The government should implement ONORC as soon as possible and create a dynamic database for real-time information on migration across the country so that so that poor citizens and migrant workers get ration at the place of their work or where their ration cards are not registered.

How police can serve citizens better

Source: Indian Express

Relevance: Modernisation of police is a long pending demand and also a need of the hour.

GS2: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Synopsis: There is a need to enhance the efficiency of Police using technology.


  • Even though the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) earmarked about Rs 20,000 crore for the modernisation of police (2017-2020), for schemes such as crime and criminal tracing networks and systems (CCTNS), police wireless and e-prisons, there is a lack of prioritization of technology.
  • Also, Supreme Court-mandated police reforms of 2006 are not implemented fully in all states.

Implications of inefficient Police:

  • Firstly, delays in settlement of criminal, labour and civil disputes.
    • The economic cost is reflected in the reluctance of foreign companies to set up manufacturing and commercial ventures in India.
  • Secondly, the social implications can be seen from the report, “Crime in India 2019”, published by the National Crime Records Bureau.
    • As per the report, 25,023 cases of assault on women, 11,966 rape cases and 4,197 “dowry deaths” have been pending trial for five to 10 years.
  • Other issues:
    • Police leaders do not understand the difficulties that citizens face at the police station level.
    • Citizens fail to hold police accountable for the non-use of technology.

Why is there a need for technology to enhance the efficiency of police?

  • Overburdened police: Along with prevention and detection of crime and maintenance of law and order, police stations in India undertake numerous daily tasks.
    • for example, providing verifications and no objection certificates of different kinds to citizens. They supply crucial documents too.
    • The Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) had identified 45 such tasks in 2017.
  • Ease of business: the procedures are non-transparent and timelines are often blurred which encourages corrupt practices.
    • For instance, in Maharashtra, where a former home minister and top police officers, including former Mumbai’s former commissioner, are facing allegations of extortion.
  • Time-bound delivery of services: The India Justice Report (IJR) 2020 has studied the e-portals of various state police organisations that provide citizen-centric services.
    • Punjab, Himachal, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh seem to be doing well.
    • But, despite the push for digitisation, no state offers complete services.
    • Users face numerous problems of accessibility to these services.
  • Ease of use: the language of e-portals needs attention.
    • IPJ 2020 found that “most sites were available in English or Hindi, but not necessarily in the state language”.

Way forward:

  • E-governance: it can reduce the burden of police officers.
    • User-friendly citizens portals for obtaining passports and driving licences have been game-changers.
  • Improvement in investigation and prosecution: all criminal trials must be completed within a year.
  • More Investment: The IJR 2020 audit confirms that states need to invest more resources to upgrade their e-portals for providing basic services to the citizens.
  • States can take up a crucial service delivery mechanisms.
    • a large number of young technology enthusiastic police officers can lead cost-effective initiatives.
    • for instance, in Pune Police Commissionerate, an additional commissioner, an engineer from BITS Pilani, initiated “technology for citizens”

To transform India maximum information and services through portals have to be provided within specified timelines. An efficient and well-oiled criminal justice system not only helps citizens but helps a country politically, socially and economically.

What pushing delimitation does to talks on peace and statehood in J&K

Source: Indian Express

Relevance: Present developments will be helpful in achieving peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

GS2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Synopsis: The Centre is making serious efforts to restore democracy in J&K but there is no clarity over statehood for J & K.


The Gupkar alliance is in news since 2020, Home Minister tweeted, the Congress and the Gupkar Gang want to take J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil. Also, he stated that the Gupkar Gang is going global. They want foreign forces to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

However, now this alliance is part of a dialogue. Gupkar alliance is an electoral alliance between the several regional political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. On the other hand, Congress has insisted that statehood must first be restored and elections to the assembly held thereafter.

Why Gupkar alliance is part of the peace process now?

  • Firstly, many experts say that the government has been nudged into reaching out since guns are silent along the Indo-Pak border.
  • Secondly, the government’s back-channel diplomacy is part of a larger game plan.
    • To bringing back democracy in J&K.
    • To send a message to the world that the abrogation of Article 370 was not intended to throttle democracy but to ensure peace in a region.
  • Thirdly, the government is trying to send a message that it is willing to have a dialogue even with those who were outcasted since the abrogation of Article 370.

What could be the possible suggestion by for J & K?

  • First, Delhi model of an assembly with almost absolute powers in the hands of a lieutenant-governor.
    • However, it is unlikely that the leaders of the Gupkar Alliance would want to be subjected to the near-absolute will of the lieutenant governor.
    • And, when elections are held and all parties in the Gupkar Alliance participate in that process, the outcome will be an uneasy relationship between the lieutenant governor and the assembly.
  • Second, to delimit constituencies and hold elections to the assembly.
    • Based on the census of 2011, this exercise will re-determine not just the boundaries of the constituencies but also the number of seats in the assembly, which are likely to increase pursuant to delimitation.
    • This exercise will generate some hostility.
    • While the rest of India will wait till 2026 for delimitation, this exercise in J&K will be regarded as an exception.

What are the key challenges that lie ahead?

  • Delimitation can sour the dialogue process: If the delimitation process takes place in a non-transparent manner to ensure that the ruling party’s political presence has greater chances of success, the confidence sought to be built will be eroded.
  • No clarity on statehood: The Prime Minister’s statement that the issue of statehood will be considered later without any timeline is an indication of the pitfalls.
    • Successful election and participation of Gupkar alliance will legitimize the restoration of democratic processes in J&K.
  • However, it is highly unlikely that statehood will be restored any time soon.

 That is why the road for statehood is not easy. Since the people of India were largely in favour of the abrogation of Article 370. Hence, The Supreme Court too is not likely to set aside the abrogation.

Explained: ‘Union’ or ‘central’ government?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2
Relevance: Understanding of subtle differences between often used terms is what will make your preparation meaningful and worthy. You can use this knowledge in essay and in your GS answers too.

Synopsis: In Tamil Nadu, a controversy erupted recently over the new DMK government referring to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the ‘union government’ (ondriya arasu) instead of ‘central government'(madhiya arasu).

Rationale given by Tamil Nadu govt

As per the Tamil Nadu govt, the word ondriyam (union) stands for the principles of federalism.

  • The word signifies federal principles underlined in the Constitution which describes India as a “union of states”.
Also Read: Union govt has a unifying effect
Centre vs Union – Does it matter?

The question in the ‘Union or Centre’ debate is about the nature of the Indian state. While it often said what’s in a name but usage of the word ‘Union’ does have a kind of unifying effect, while the word ‘Centre’ does have centralistic overtones. Also we need to consider the following ground realities:

  • Nature of Indian state is federal with a unitary bias: In the Government of India Act, 1935, provinces had more power and the Viceroy had only the minimum. But the Indian constitution changed this equation, and the federal government was made more powerful. Presently, the actual power is vested with the Union of India in all respects. So, the debate over using Centre or Union is of no consequence.
  • Language issue: There’s a language issue too. More than 70 years after Independence, there is no authorized Tamil translation of the Constitution of India. Hence, Tamil Nadu has seen consistent efforts to present words in a better form of Tamil, especially after the DMK came to power in the mid-1960s.
What is the constitutional position on the issue?
  • Under Article 1 of our, Constitution India is clearly described as a Union of States. Article 1 mentions that India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
  • While submitting the draft Constitution in 1948, Dr B R Ambedkar, chairman of the drafting committee, had said that the committee had used the world ‘Union’ because (a) the Indian federation was not the result of an agreement by the units, and (b) the component units had no freedom to secede from the federation.

Two big gaps in our vaccination programme that need attention

Source: Live Mint

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health

Synopsis: India’s Capacity to vaccinate has been constrained by many factors. India needs to address those factors to improve its fight against the Pandemic.


India’s vaccination programme has been hampered by a short supply of vaccines and this has dominated the public discourse.

However, there are two other equally important matters that have been given insufficient attention

  • First, the capacity of our health system to vaccinate people.
  • Second, public demand for vaccination, including the issue of vaccine hesitancy.

Issues in increasing Vaccination capacity

One, given the vaccine shortage, state governments responsible for vaccination have been preoccupied with procuring doses rather than focusing on their capacity to vaccinate on-demand

Two, the matter of capacity is currently plagued by oversimplification and lack of nuance.

Issues that determine our effective capacity.

  • First, the capacity of India’s Subcentres.
    • The public health system’s facility closest to villages is called a ‘subcentre’. It is an extension of a PHC, or primary health centre.
    • Each subcentre is supposed to serve a population of 5,000. India has over 150,000 subcentres.
    • Though PHC is the first point of in-patient care and access to a doctor for most people, subcentres hold the key to any vaccination programme. Because
      • One, they are closest to habitations and designed to be staffed with people trained to give intramuscular injections, among other things.
      • Two, the capacity can only be determined by details at the sub-centre level. That is the actual presence of trained personnel, refrigeration facilities at the PHC and sufficiency of ice boxes for distribution to subcentres, etc.,
    • Second, the data entry requirements for Covid are a very much needed task. However, poor internet connectivity across the country increases the cycle time for data entry. They deprive health personnel of significant time, reducing capacity.
    • Third, Problems with the basic operating model in many places. India follows a ‘people-to-vaccine model’. where people are expected to come to Subcentres. An alternate model, a ‘vaccine-to-people model’, where the subcentre staff go to villages or mohallas and hold vaccination camps can increase capacity.
    • Fourth, Public demand for vaccination needs to be increased by nudging people to give up ‘Vaccine hesitancy’.

GS Paper 3

Govt charts course for usage of new-age fuel

Source: Livemint  

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

Relevance: Green Hydrogen has the potential to become a major source of energy. It will be helpful in dealing with climate change.


The government plans to implement the Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation (GHCO) in fertilizer production and petroleum refining. This would reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels for producing hydrogen and enable a smooth transition towards green hydrogen.


  • A draft note prepared for the Union cabinet said that fertilizer plants and oil refineries may have to mandatorily use green hydrogen in their operations.
  • The aim is to cut the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and promote the generation of clean energy. 
    • Currently, Around 54% or 3.6 mmt of India’s annual hydrogen consumption of 6.7 mmt is utilized in petroleum refining and the rest in fertilizer production. 
    • This is, however, ‘grey’ hydrogen produced from fossil fuels such as natural gas or naphtha.
    • India’s total hydrogen demand is expected to touch 11.7 million metric tonnes (mmt) by 2029-30 from the current 6.7 mmt.

About Green Hydrogen:

  • Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer that may be powered by electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. 
  • Hydrogen can be used for both fuel cell and internal combustion engines. It is also being leveraged for applications in sectors such as chemicals, iron, steel, transport, heating and power.

What does the draft cabinet note say?

  • The government plans to implement the Green Hydrogen Consumption Obligation (GHCO) in fertilizer production and petroleum refining. This would be similar to what was done with renewable purchase obligations (RPO). 
    • RPOs require electricity distribution companies to buy a fixed amount of renewable energy to cut reliance on fossil fuels. 
  • GHCO is proposed to be raised from 0.15% in 2023-24 to 0.25% in 2024-25 and 0.5% in 2025-26. 
  • Subsequently, it may be raised to 1.5%, 3.5% and 6.5% in 2026-27, 2027-28 and 2028-29, respectively, with the 10% mark targeted for 2029-30.
  • The proposal involves leveraging the country’s large landmass and low solar and wind tariffs to produce low-cost green hydrogen.

Way Ahead:

  • The mandatory adoption would help in reducing the current cost of green hydrogen produced by electrolysis. It would reduce the cost to Rs. 160 per kg by 2029-30 while its current price is Rs. 350/kg.
  • The government is also aiming to extend the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen.
  • Indian companies, including Reliance Industries Ltd, have been gearing up to leverage opportunities presented by the transition to cleaner energy. 
    • RIL has announced plans to build an electrolyzer giga factory and a fuel cell giga factory as part of its pivot towards clean energy.

GST at four: A dive into the milestones and the unfinished agenda

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS paper 3- Mobilization of resources

Relevance: GST has completed 4 years, since its implementation.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) marked a new chapter in India’s taxation. It has completed four years. Following are the major highlights of its journey, till now.

Revenue collection: Before April, the monthly collection of GST was ₹ 95,000 crore on average. However, the collection has crossed ₹ 1.4 trillion in April.

GST Council: It is a working model of cooperative federalism between the Centre and states on the matters of GST. It has 2 central government members, 28 members representing states, and 3 members representing union territories with (proposed) legislature.

However, it’s 2 central government members command 33 percent of the total vote. All states together account for 67 percent of the vote. 75 percent of votes are needed to pass a resolution. Thus, the GST council has become a new ground of political tussle.

Rate rationalisation: GST was originally aimed as a simplified tax structure with a lesser number of tax slabs. However, this aim has not been achieved properly.

The 15th Finance Commission recommended merging the 12 percent and 18 percent slabs and rationalising GST into a three-rate structure, complemented by the 5 percent merit rate and 28- 30 percent de-merit rate.

The weighted average rate of GST in India has gradually reduced, from 14.4 percent during the beginning of GST implementation (May 2017) to as low as 11.6 percent in September 2019. These decisions are taken for the political benefit, not a rational basis.

Patent waiver talks falter on developed nations’ hurdles

Source: Times of India

Syllabus: GS-3: Issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Relevance: One of the hindrances to the wide-scale production of vaccines is Intellectual property rights and the TRIPS agreement.


After showing some promise, the patent waiver talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) have hit a hurdle due to a split between the developed and developing countries.

What developing countries want, and what is the EU proposing?

India and South Africa have suggested that their proposal for Covid drugs, vaccines and aids should be the basis for “line by line negotiations”. This is backed by 60 developing and poor countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the African group.

But the European Union has rejected several arguments put forward by the developing countries. Instead, the EU wants its proposal to be taken up on an equal footing.

About EU’s proposal:

The EU’s proposal calls for the following things.

  • Limiting export restrictions on vaccines,
  • Supporting the expansion of production of vaccines,
  • Facilitating the use of current compulsory licensing provisions in the TRIPS Agreement,
  • The EU also wants to clarify that the requirement to negotiate with the right holder of the vaccine patent does not apply in urgent situations such as a pandemic.

Other contentions regarding waiver:

  • The US has agreed to negotiations on the waiver, wants the waiver to be limited to vaccines. On the other hand, India and South Africa want it to include everything from pulse oximeters and masks to medicines and vaccines.
  • Apart from the US and EU, Switzerland, the UK & Japan along with Brazil, Mexico & Colombia also have concerns about the India-South Africa proposal.

Vaccine waiver

Source: TOI

Why India and South Africa demanding such proposals?

  • The WHO resolution includes medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistance products, cell and gene-based therapies, health products and technologies, which are critical for the prevention, treatment and containment of Covid-19. So, including vaccines alone is not enough to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Early conclusion of talks is essential for the poor countries to get quick access to drugs and vaccines and can combat coronavirus before it mutates further.

Order & stability in power supply

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc

Relevance: Solar energy is essential for achieving energy security in India.


India’s solar energy price reduction needs other reforms from the government to enhance India’s solar capacity.

About Japanese investment in solar energy:

In 2015, Japan’s SoftBank Group announced the intention to invest $20 billion in India in solar projects through SB Energy (SBE). It seemed ideal for India. With abundant sunshine and a big potential market, the logic for large solar projects was always compelling.

Further, India had about 4 GW of rural and rooftop projects. But this rooftop electricity is priced 50 per cent higher than power from coal.

Solar power cost trajectory in India:

The Indian government has raised the solar target for 2022 from 20 GW to 100 GW. Prices fell since 2015. This is due to cheap solar modules from China, and increasing competition. All this led to the cost of Solar power became half that of coal. This means solar energy is a slower-payback infrastructure.

Challenges in solar energy:

  • The preponderance of coal will continue because the current annual tendering capacity is 6-8 GW. This means higher costs and carbon footprint until the government is able to accommodate larger-scale investor interest.
  • India’s markets in electricity are roiled by low and unstable prices and uneven service quality. To bring out order and stability to electricity markets, India needs investors with significant capital willing to invest.

How to improve India’s solar energy?

  • India needs investors like SoftBank, with the capacity and willingness to invest in slower-payback infrastructure. So, India needs to nurture serious investors willing to invest in electricity and other infrastructure.
  • India has to develop integrated, stable services at reasonable prices. That might not necessarily be the least cost in the interests of efficacy. This is what India need to drive the economy in a sustained manner, to provide its foundation and fuel with its growth.
  • Government policies and regulations need to be configured towards overarching objectives that are aligned or at least not contradictory.
    • Various streams within and across sectors must be integrated to converge towards objectives. Such as fuel sources and electricity generation
    • But, this will require Central and state governments to evolve integrated plans and develop interdepartmental coordination processes to steer the energy sector.
  • A prerequisite to energy security is resolving the financial problems of state distribution companies, including payment discipline.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Cabinet approves BharatNet implementation through Public Private Partnership Model

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Union Cabinet has accorded approval for the revised implementation strategy of BharatNet through Public-Private Partnership(PPP) mode in 16 States of the country.

BharatNet Project:

  • BharatNet Project was originally launched in 2011 as the National Optical Fibre Network(NOFN) and renamed as Bharat-Net in 2015.

What is the revised implementation strategy of BharatNet?

The revised BharatNet Project will be implemented through Public-Private Partnership(PPP) model with a total cost of ₹29,430 crores. Of this, the Government will provide the viability gap fund of ₹19,041 crores.

    • Viability Gap Fund means a grant to support projects that are economically justified but not financially viable.

Aim: The project which initially aims to connect all the gram panchayats of the country through optic fiber for providing broadband services; it will now have two new components:

    • The first will be that BharatNet will now extend up to all inhabited villages beyond the gram panchayats (GPs) in the 16 states.
    • Second, the project will also now include the creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance, and utilization of BharatNet by the private sector partner who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process.

Coverage: The 16 States covered under the project are: Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Moreover, the project will be divided into nine packages, each corresponding to one or more telecom circles, and no private investor will be awarded more than four packages to avoid monopoly.

Expected Benefits of the Project:

  • Use of innovative technology by the Private Sector Provider for the consumers;
  • Competitive tariffs for services;
  • Bridge the rural-urban divide of digital access and accelerate the achievement of Digital India.
  • Expected to increase direct and indirect employment and income generation.

Accredited investors: All you need to know about this new category

Source: Livemint

What is the News?

Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) has come up with a framework for creating so-called accredited investors.

What are Accredited Investors?

  • Accredited Investors are those investors who may be considered to be well-informed or well-advised about investment products.

Eligibility to become Accredited Investor: Anyone is eligible to become an accredited investor provided the person satisfies at least one of three conditions:

  • One, the investor has a net worth of ₹7.5crore, with at least half of it in financial assets.
  • Two, the investor has an annual income greater than ₹2 crores.
  • Three, the individual has an annual income greater than ₹1 crore and net worth greater than ₹5 crores, with at least half this amount in financial assets.

Note: For trusts and body corporates, the net worth threshold is ₹50 crore.

Benefits of becoming an accredited investor:

  • Accredited investors get relaxation in the minimum amount to be invested in the Alternative Investment Funds(AIF) Regulations and Portfolio Managers(PMS) Regulations.
  • Investment advisory fees can be set mutually without any regulatory caps.

SERB launches Fund for Industrial Research Engagement (FIRE) Initiative

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Science and Engineering Research Board p(SERB) in collaboration with Intel India has launched the Fund for Industrial Research Engagement(FIRE) Program.

About Fund for Industrial Research Engagement(FIRE) Program:

  • The FIRE program is a joint government and industry initiative with an aim to promote innovative technology solutions and strengthen academic research through collaboration with key research and development(R&D) organizations in India.

Key Features of the FIRE Program:

  • The program intends to select highly impactful research projects in every cycle (typically once or twice a year) which have breakthrough potential at a national or global level.
  • These projects will be in the space of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML), platform systems, circuits & architecture, Internet of Things (IoT), security, and so on from edge to cloud.
  • Moreover, the selected projects will get support with funding, mentoring and industry connect.

About Science and Engineering Board(SERB):

  • SERB is a statutory body established in 2009. It functions under the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • Functions: It was set up for promoting basic research in science and engineering.It also provides financial assistance to scientists, academic institutions, Research and Development laboratories, industrial concerns, and other agencies for such research.
  • Chaired by: It is chaired by the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Science and Technology. Further, it has other senior government officials and eminent scientists as members.

Black carbon could lead to premature mortality: Study

Source: PIB

What is the News?

According to a study, Black Carbon has a significant adverse effect on human health and leads to premature mortality.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • The Indo-Gangetic plain has a high burden of black carbon with serious implications for regional climate and human health.
  • A 10-point increase in air pollution from black carbon led to an average 5% increase in mortality.
  • On the other hand, a similar rise in PM 2.5 led to an average 1% increase in mortality. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) were both associated with a 2.3% and 1.3% increase in mortality.

About Black Carbon (BC):

  • Black carbon(BC) is a short-lived climate pollutant. It is the second-largest contributor to warming the planet after carbon dioxide(CO2).
  • Black carbon is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass.
  • Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires.
  • Black carbon can have significant direct and indirect impacts on the climate as it influences cloud formation and atmospheric heat absorption processes.

Other types of Carbon:

  • Blue Carbon: It refers to coastal, aquatic and marine carbon sinks held by vegetation, marine organisms, and sediments.
  • Green Carbon: It is the carbon that is stored in terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, pastures, and soils.
  • Brown Carbon: It is a light-absorbing particle in the Earth’s atmosphere that has the unique characteristics of both cooling the planet’s surface and warming its atmosphere.

Atal Innovation Mission concludes first fintech cohort of ‘AIM-iLEAP’

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Atal Innovation Mission has concluded its first fintech cohort of AIM-iLEAP- an initiative to back tech start-ups with much-needed access to industry, markets and investors.

About AIM-iLEAP Initiative:

  • AIM-iLEAP (Innovative leadership for entrepreneurial agility and profitability) initiative was organised by Atal Innovation Mission(AIM) in partnership with Startup Réseau and Visa.
  • The objective of the initiative is to invite technology start-ups across a broad range of functions and have them present their solutions to the corporate leadership and innovation team for enabling market access and industry partnerships.
  • On the other hand, individual and institutional investors participating in this program shall consider investing in the curated set of AIM supported start-ups.

About Atal innovation mission(AIM):

  • AIM was set up by NITI Aayog in 2016 to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by creating institutions and programs that enhance innovation in schools, colleges, and entrepreneurs in general.

Cabinet approves Rs. 3.03 lakh crores reform-based power distribution scheme

Source: PIB 

What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved a Reforms-based and Results-linked, Revamped Power Distribution Sector Scheme.

About Reform Based Power Distribution Scheme:

Aim: To improve the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of DISCOMs/ Power Departments excluding Private Sector DISCOMs by providing conditional financial assistance for strengthening of supply infrastructure.

Objectives of the Scheme:

  • Reduction of AT&C losses to pan-India levels of 12-15% by 2024-25.
  • Reduction of ACS-ARR gap to zero by 2024-25.
  • Developing Institutional Capabilities for Modern DISCOMs
  • Improvement in the quality, reliability, and affordability of power supply to consumers through a financially sustainable and operationally efficient Distribution Sector.

Duration and Implementation of the Scheme:

  • Nodal Agencies: Power Finance Corporation(PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation(REC) have been nominated as the nodal agencies for the implementation of the scheme.
  • Duration: The Scheme would be available till the year 2025-26.

Other Features of the Scheme:

  • Assistance: The financial assistance under the Scheme will be based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon achievement of basic minimum benchmarks by the DISCOM.
  • Approach: Implementation of the Scheme would be based on the action plan worked out for each state rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
  • Merging of Scheme: The central schemes, Integrated Power Development Scheme(IPDS), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) will be merged under this scheme.
  • Focus: The Scheme has a major focus on improving electricity supply for the farmers and for providing daytime electricity to them through solarization of agricultural feeders.
  • Consumer Empowerment: The scheme also enables consumer empowerment by way of prepaid Smart metering to be implemented in Public-Private-Partnership(PPP) mode.
  • Technology: Artificial Intelligence would be used to analyze data generated to enable DISCOMs to make informed decisions.
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