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
- 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 1
GS Paper 2
- Constitutional crisis in Uttarakhand – Explained
- A ride to safety
- Shaping a trilateral as Rome looks to the Indo-Pacific
- Our children need education. How much longer can schools remain shut?
- Judges are arbiters, not lawmakers
GS Paper 3
The Times of india
- Courts, protect media: IT rules attack media’s core freedom. Judges should see legal challenges to rules in that light
- Banker’s Trust: Has crony capitalism hijacked bad loan resolution?
- WhatsApp’s tactical retreat
- Game changer: Making sense of open source software in digital economy
Down To Earth
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- A proposed elephant reserve in Chhattisgarh and its reduced area
- Rail Cargo movement between India and Nepal gets a big boost
- PLI schemes evoke mixed response: IT, mobile steal a march on other sectors
- KVIC Secures Trademark Registrations in Bhutan, UAE & Mexico
- The genome of a Salt-secreting Mangrove Species Decoded by DBT-ILS
- Joint Communication signed to secure rights of forest dwellers
- GIS Enabled Land Bank gaining popularity
- Rare superluminous supernova shining with borrowed energy source spotted
- SAMVEDAN 2021: IIT Madras and Sony India team up to host national level hackathon
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: The Hindu
GS1: Population and Associated Issues
Relevance: This article explains the challenges in reaping the benefit of demographic dividend.
Synopsis: India needs to focus on safeguarding young people’s well-being because India’s welfare is dependent on them.
- World Population Day is marked on July 11 every year to focus attention on the importance of population-related issues.
- It was first observed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1989.
- It aims to promote sustainable ways to safeguard each life.
- As per UNDP report and the Lancet, India will stabilize its population 12 years earlier than expected.
Therefore, India has lesser time to leverage the ‘demographic dividend’.
Why India needs to focus on demographic dividend?
- Firstly, India’s ‘demographic dividend’ represents the potential for economic growth. However, transforming this potential into reality requires adolescents and youth to be healthy and well-educated.
- At 253 million, India’s adolescent population is among the largest.
- The median age of the population is less than 30 years.
- Secondly, India’s underfunded education system is inadequately equipped to provide the skills to young people.
- According to the World Bank, public expenditure on education constituted 4.4% of GDP in 2019 and only 3.4% of GDP in 2020.
- India stands 62nd in terms of public expenditure per student, and fares badly in quality of education measures such as student-teacher ratios.
- Thirdly, COVID-19 has worsened the state of education. School closures have a serious impact on the lives and mental well-being of children.
- In India, more than 32 crore students have been affected by the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.
- Of these, about 15.8 crores are female. Many of those who have dropped out are unlikely to go back to school.
- Fourth, the impact of the pandemic on adolescents has been severe, especially the mental well-being.
- 17% of young people likely to be suffered from anxiety and depression.
- Lastly, increased poverty levels during the pandemic may result in early marriages of girls in India and gender violence.
- Child marriage as a strategy to address household poverty has been noted in India in general.
- Adolescent girls are at high risk, given their vulnerability to abuse and trafficking, especially if primary caregivers fall ill or die.
What needs to be done?
- Allow a decentralised approach where district-level officials may reopen schools in a phased manner based on local COVID-19 transmission rates.
- In Odisha, for example, community schools have re-opened in some areas.
- Prioritising the vaccination of teachers and school support staff with a mix of online and offline
- Collaborative actions and better inter-sectoral collaboration by key ministries, government agencies, and civil society are needed.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must collaborate with the Education Ministry to disseminate key information to help adolescents safeguard their health and ability to learn.
- Teachers can work as volunteers to collaborate with frontline health workers to distribute sanitary napkins to girls.
- The Health and Education Ministries should strengthen outreach via existing helplines and by enabling conversations on critical issues regarding reproductive and sexual health.
- Improved nutrition benefits learning.
- It provides an incentive for parents to send their children to school on the assurance of one nutritious meal.
- Need to learn from East Asia’s economic miracle of 1965-1990.
- East Asian countries developed social, economic, and political institutions and policies that allowed them to realise the growth potential created by the transition.
That is why India needs to generate a virtuous cycle with healthier and educated young adults contributing to secure India’s future.
GS Paper 2
Source: Live mint
Gs2: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.
Relevance: The article explains the benefits of Bangladesh’s economic growth for India.
Synopsis: The rapid Economic growth of Bangladesh has many advantages for India.
- Bangladesh jumped four places to become India’s fifth-largest export destination in the year 2021.
- While India’s exports to many of its traditional markets shrank because of the pandemic, its exports to Bangladesh reported an increase.
- Exports to Bangladesh grew 11% in the previous fiscal year even as India’s overall exports contracted 7% because of the pandemic, according to government data.
- While the US ($51.6 billion) remained India’s top export destination, China ($21.2 billion) became the second-biggest export market, surpassing the United Arab Emirates ($16.7 billion).
- However, Bangladesh overtook other countries such as Singapore ($8.7 billion), the UK ($8.2 billion), Germany ($8.1 billion), and the Netherlands ($6.5 billion) to reach the 5th position.
- In FY21, India’s top export items to Bangladesh were cotton and cotton yarn ($1.5 billion), electricity ($517 million), fuel ($496 million), rice ($354 million), and corn ($328 million).
What are the Potential benefits for India owing to the rise of Bangladesh?
An expert from Centre for Policy Research, said the rise of Bangladesh as a sub-regional economic power is unambiguously good for India.
- Export Market: its growing middle-class provides a big market for Indian agriculture and manufactured goods, as well as for services. For instance,
- Bangladesh depends heavily on its ready made garments sector, as it accounts for 45% of its manufacturing GDP and 85% of its exports. Whereas, India has for several years been a major supplier of cotton and cotton fabric for Bangladesh’s ready made garment industry.
- Medical Tourism: Bangladesh is already the biggest source of medical tourism to India.
- Source of FDI: Significantly, its increasingly ambitious private sector can be a major source of foreign direct investment in India’s North-East, and India’s northeastern states.
India should also pay special attention to help Bangladeshi firms access India’s vast market.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
The pandemic resulted in school closures across the country. Children were then educated using the digital medium, however, it failed to generate positive outcomes like classroom learning. Therefore, the government should now focus on the gradual and cautious reopening of schools in the country.
- Schools have remained closed since March 2020 in order to protect the children from the pandemic.
- There has been sporadic opening of schools for older children, but the government hasn’t shown any willingness to reopen for the remaining lot.
Need to reopen the schools:
- First, there are multiple issues with virtual learning:
- It has reduced the “collaborative magic of the classroom into little more than an instructional video”.
- Teachers try their best, but have limited ability to teach fundamental concepts and enforce discipline; young students have limited ability to learn.
- Concerns around screen-time have reduced school hours by one-third for our young children.
- More importantly, behavioral changes such as impatience and aggression are emerging. Older children are developing depression.
- The physical development of children is hindered as they are unable to play sports.
- Second, there is a digital infrastructure deficit across the country. According to Save the Children, during the first wave in 2020, three out of every four children had no internet access and four out of five children reported obstacles to learning.
- Third, many parents can’t assist their children given their lack of digital literacy.
- Fourth, many children have been deprived of mid-day meals, thereby increasing the burden on already struggling families. There are reports of children being forced into child labour and marriage as well.
- Fifth, the rationale behind school closure was safety, but the opening of other indoor spaces has already exposed the children to the virus. Even if children stay home, they are exposed if adults go out.
- Lastly, according to the Asian Development Bank, every year of schooling lost causes a 9.7% reduction in potential earnings.
- The estimated present value of learning losses due to prolonged school closures in developing Asia (including India) is $1.25 trillion or 5.4 per cent of the region’s 2020 GDP.
- The Lancet COVID-19 Commission India Task Force has recently recommended reopening of schools with adequate safeguards as Covid-19 cases decrease. Safety of children must be balanced with physical and mental development.
- Further, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics stated that it was highly unlikely that the third wave will predominantly or exclusively affect children.
- The focus should be placed on rapid vaccination of school staff, as widespread vaccination of adults helps protect unvaccinated children.
- According to a recent Israeli study, for every 20 % increase in the share of vaccinated (16-50 years), the share of unvaccinated under 16 years who tested Covid positive decreased by half.
- Our elected leadership must consult experts to formulate a roadmap for safe reopening of schools. For instance, a hybrid model could be adopted for restoring connections between teachers and students and improving the efficacy of virtual classes.
- Schools will need to implement measures such as sanitisation, frequent testing, ventilation, reduction in class sizes and staggered drop-off and pick-up.
The above will involve considerable effort and cost, and it may entail start-stop openings and closures. However, with appropriate safeguards, this will reinstate children and teachers in the classroom and parents in the workforce.
Terms to know:
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Separation of powers between various organs of the government
Relevance: Separation of power is a part of the basic structure of the constitution. It should be strictly adhered to.
The pandemic era witnessed judicial intervention in the domain of executive and legislature, thereby undermined the separation of powers. Judges must realize that they are arbiters, not lawmakers, and should not encroach on the functions of the executive and legislature.
- In the wake of the coronavirus’s second wave hitting its peak, there have been some very interesting observations from the higher judiciary.
- The judiciary has been encroaching on the domain of executive/legislature, thereby undermining the separation of powers.
Instances of Judicial intervention:
- On April 24, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court observed that it will “hang any person” who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals in Delhi.
- A bench of the Madras High Court said on April 27 that the Election Commission is singularly responsible for the second wave. It should probably be tried on murder charges for its failure to ensure adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
- On June 1, the Delhi HC directed the government to prioritize younger people over older ones when it came to administering Amphotericin-B, a drug used to treat mucormycosis.
- The court observed that the young are the “future of the country” and need to be saved, while the elderly have “lived their life”.
Problems associated with Judicial intervention:
- First, it undermines the spirit of the constitution by violating the doctrine of separation of powers.
- Second, it disrespects people’s sovereignty, as the legislature is elected by the people. Further, any lacunae in functioning can be duly checked by people in the next elections rather than by the unelected judiciary.
- Third, the intervention also disregards former judgments of the apex court.
- Census Commissioner & others v. R Krishnamurthi Case: The Supreme Court (SC) held that it is not within the domain of the court to legislate.
- The courts have the jurisdiction to declare the law as unconstitutional, but not to plunge into policy-making by adding something to policy by way of issuing a writ of mandamus.
- Union of India v. Indian Radiological & Imaging Association: It was held that the wisdom of the legislature in adopting the policy cannot be substituted by the court in the exercise of the power of judicial review.
- Fourth, persistent intervention creates distrust between organs of government and impedes smooth governance.
- Courts didn’t intervene in policy formulation nor took upon themselves the task of arranging oxygen, medicines, and vaccines in any other country owing to the trust of the legislative/executive organ.
- There is a need for judges of superior courts to exercise restraint over their powers of judicial review.
- Further, the judiciary should focus on curtailing the rising pendency of cases. This would be a more useful and purposive use of the courts’ time than to encroach into the arena of the Executive/Legislature.
Source: Business Standard
Relevance: Understanding issues involved with central planning
Synopsis: Regulation in India has often tilted towards central planning. There is too much control vested with regulators in India, RBI’s recent decision to ban the storage of customer card data is just one such example.
Market economy vs central planning
- In a market economy, decisions about the design of products and processes are made by private people under the influence of customer preferences and competition in markets. Whereas under central planning, the government chooses such technical details.
- In a market economy, it is the market that decides who wins. Under central planning, the winning technology, the winning product category, or the winning firms are those backed and blessed by the government.
The philosophy of control is the core idea behind central planning.
RBI’s response to data leaks
Leaks of personal data from online websites have been in the news. RBI’s response to these leaks has been to put out a regulation, effectively banning the storage of customer card data by payment aggregators (PAs), payment gateways (PGs), and merchants.
- This ban is excessive, has not emerged out of a cost-benefit analysis, and has followed a weak public consultation process.
RBI’s response indicates that the above-mentioned philosophy of control inherent to central planning is still widespread in India.
Problems with RBI’s move
- Disruption to consumers: Individuals have been storing card details on merchant websites to make regular payments, without having to enter their card details each time they visit the website. The new RBI regulation disrupts this service. Now, additional time will be spent on supplying information every month for millions of transactions.
- It forces costs upon firms in technology development and tilts consumer preference towards certain payment technologies.
- There is a possible risk of technological choices being substantially shaped by the RBI, of a government that picks winners.
- The regulation does not demonstrate how it meets the proportionality test laid down by the Supreme Court (SC) in the case of Internet Mobile Association of India v. Reserve Bank of India (2018) for delegated legislation.
Issues with regulating bodies
Problem of democratic legitimacy: When unelected officials (in regulating bodies) write law, there is the problem of democratic legitimacy.
- Consultation: The first pillar of due process, through which democratic legitimacy is achieved, is consultation. The public consultation process of the RBI has been lacking. The discussion paper released by the RBI in September 2019 did not offer a complete ban as a potential policy choice. The document announcing the ban did not show the alternatives to the ban, which were considered by the regulator. RBI should publish the results of the consultation process.
- Possessing and displaying technical expertise is the second pillar through which regulators achieve democratic legitimacy. A proper cost-benefit analysis should be done. Alternative tools which are least coercive should be the first choice.
Under conditions of low state capacity, regulations in India have often tilted towards central planning and control, where enforcement has been selective and weak. An emerging Indian jurisprudence has started questioning the working of regulators and the checks and balances surrounding the powers of officials in regulatory agencies.
Terms to know:
Syllabus: GS2 – Polity
Relevance: Understanding the recent constitutional crisis in Uttarakhand
Synopsis: Uttarakhand Chief Minister resigned recently. Various constitutional issues involved and the probable future course of action by Election Commission of India
Citing “constitutional crisis”, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat recently submitted his resignation to Governor due to uncertainty over his election to the state assembly within the stipulated six-month constitutional deadline.
According to Article 164 of the Constitution and Section 151A of the Representation of the People Act 1951, UK Chief Minister had six months — till 10th September — to become a member of the Uttarakhand Assembly in order to continue in the post. He took over as chief minister on 10th March 2021.
The term of the Uttarakhand Assembly will end in less than a year, in March 2022, which has complicated the constitutional crisis in the state. It is leading to speculations on whether the Election Commission (EC) can hold by-polls in such a situation.
- Article 164(4) of the Constitution allows a non-legislator to occupy a post in the council of ministers, including the office of the chief minister, only for six months. If he doesn’t get elected within this period, the Constitution says he “ceases to be a minister”.
- Section 151-A of the Representation of the People Act 1951 states that a “a bye-election for filling any vacancy…shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy”. However, there are two exceptions in this section.
- Exception 1: A by-poll need not be held, if the remainder of the term of a member in relation to a vacancy is less than one year;
- Exception 2: A by-poll need not be held the Election Commission in consultation with the Central Government certifies that it is difficult to hold the by-election within the said period.
Can ECI hold by-polls (elections) in this case?
The Uttarakhand Assembly term ends in March 2022, leaving general elections in the state less than a year away. This makes the exception to Section 151A applicable to this situation, leaving it up to the EC to take a call.
Opinion of the experts
It is completely at the discretion of the Election Commission of India.
- As per constitutional experts, in such a situation, when the remainder of the member’s term is less than a year, the elections “need not be held”. As per section 151-A of the RP Act, as stated above, it is not mandatory to hold the elections (by-polls) if less than one year is left whereas in general cases, it is mandatory to be held within six months.
Opinion of the court
Courts have in the past set aside such decisions by the poll body, citing the short term that this leaves incoming candidates with.
- In a 2019 judgment, the Bombay High Court had accepted the position that the application of the exception under Section 151A makes the power of the ECI to hold such elections to fill a vacancy as “discretionary”. In other words, it is not mandatory for the bypolls to be held for filling a casual vacancy within six months if the exception under Section 151A applies.
It is to be noted that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has held bye-election in appropriate cases in the past, even when the vacancy was available for less than a year, or even less than six months.
Has the EC ever certified that an election cannot be held?
For filling vacant seats, the EC could cite the less-than-one-year rule and club the bypolls with the Assembly elections. In the past, this has been done, including in Jammu and Kashmir. However, in situations concerning the Chief Minister’s election, the EC has traditionally preferred to hold a bypoll.
- Impact: If the EC and the Centre decide that holding a bypoll can be avoided given the Covid situation, it could set a precedent for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who lost her Assembly election from Nandigram and needs to be elected within six months.
|Also Read: Representation of People Act|
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
Relevance: Teachers and their health are essential for the development of education in India.
Synopsis: Teachers has to be included in the vaccination campaigns as a front line worker.
Teachers during the pandemic:
This unprecedented health crisis has also severely impacted the gains made in the education sector over the last few years.
Throughout this pandemic, the exceptional effort undertaken by teachers must be highlighted. Such as using the resources available to them, Indian teachers mobilised as one and have remained on the front-lines of education to ensure continuity of learning.
Recognising teachers as front line workers:
As the country steps up the national vaccination campaign, there is an urgent need to better recognise teachers as front-line workers and prioritise them in the vaccination campaign.
While this has already been done by many State governments, the model should be replicated nationwide.
Need to recognise teachers as front line workers:
- Including teachers will speed up the reopening of schools and facilitate ‘in person’ learning for students.
- The continued commitment of teachers to their students and their critical role in contributing to the achievement of the 2030 targets under Sustainable Development Goal 4 (quality education).
- Teachers have also helped in communicating measures that prevent the spread of the virus and providing assistance to ensure the mental well-being of all children. An accelerated vaccination process will enable them to stand fully ready when schools reopen.
About the UNESCO-UBER Collaboration:
Transport facilities and distances affect mass vaccination campaigns. Keeping this limitation in mind and to support the process of swift vaccination for teachers, the ride-sharing company Uber and UNESCO are coming together to offer a ‘Free rides for teachers’ vaccination’ campaign. This will provide teachers safe travel to the vaccination centres while offsetting the costs of travelling long distances.
The initiative offers 1,00,000 rides to 25,000 teachers to and from vaccination centres to get the two vaccine doses. The offer will be implemented in Chennai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.
Similar such global collaborations:
- Last year, UNESCO launched the Global Education Coalition (GEC), a platform for collaboration to protect the right to education during the pandemic and beyond.
- The coalition brings together more than 175 members from the UN family, civil society, academia, and the private sector focusing on three key issues, namely connectivity, teachers, and gender to ensure continuous access to education for all.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
Relevance: India-Italy-Japan trilateral and Indo-Pacific are important topics in International Relations
Synopsis: India-Italy-Japan trilateral cooperation has the potential to improve Indo-Pacific.
India in Indo-Pacific:
One of the signs of India’s growing centrality in the Indo-Pacific strategic architecture is its burgeoning engagement with key western nations.
The growth of India’s weight in Indo-Pacific affairs came after India recognised that complex regional geopolitical problems cannot be addressed adequately by rigid and structured traditional alliance frameworks. So India is engaging in new alliances such as Quad.
Italy’s outreach in Indo – Pacific:
Even countries that have been lackadaisical in their regional outreach have also begun to approach the Indo-Pacific with a new seriousness and have been reaching out to India.
- Recently, Italy has become more vocal on the risks emanating from China’s strategic competitive initiatives. For instance, the Italian Prime Minister described Chinese competitive practices as “unfair” and invited the European Union (EU) to be franker and more courageous in confronting Beijing on its violations of human rights.
- Italy has also begun to signal its intention to enter the Indo-Pacific geography. It has done so by seeking to join India and Japan in a trilateral partnership.
- This initiative comes after years of Rome’s relative absence from the geopolitical affairs of the region.
- Recently, the India-Italy-Japan trilateral was organised by the Italian embassies in India and Japan. During that, they reiterated the responsibility of keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open, and working for the welfare of its inhabitants falls on like-minded countries within and beyond the region.
Advantages of India-Italy-Japan collaboration:
- A strategic trilateral between India, Italy, and Japan has, in the medium to long term, a lot of potentials. Their compatible economic systems can create a virtuous and mutually beneficial contribution to the reorganization of the global supply chains.
- At the multilateral level, the three countries share the same values and the same rules-based world view.
- At the security level, the well-defined India-Japan Indo-Pacific partnership can easily be complemented by Italy. It is already present in the western Indian Ocean where it is engaged in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
Suggestions to improve the Indo-Pacific region:
- The Italian government must formulate a clear Indo-Pacific strategy. It must indicate its objectives and, above all, the means and initiatives it is willing to implement on its own and in cooperation with its partners. Further, robust India-Italy strategic ties can be the first step towards the realisation of this goal.
- The India, Italy, and Japan trilateral initiative can, and should, be a forum to foster and consolidate a strategic relationship between these three countries, and specifically expand India-Italy bilateral relations.
- Italy and Japan maintain a historically strong relationship. Similarly, India and Japan are strategic pillars of the free and open Indo-Pacific. So, trilateral cooperation can be the right forum for India and Italy to learn more from each other’s practices and consolidate a strategic dialogue.
- To consolidate trilateral cooperation, the three countries need to define a common economic and strategic agenda.
GS Paper 3
Source: Business Standard
GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.
Relevance: Insolvency resolution is one of the parameters of promoting ease of doing business in India.
Synopsis: Challenges associated with bad loan resolution in India.
- Kingfisher owed around Rs 9,000 crore to the banking system.
- Recently, the State Bank of India-led consortium received Rs 5,824.5 crore by selling shares of a Kingfisher’s group, that were attached under the anti-money laundering law.
- With this, the banks have recovered at least 70 percent of their exposure to the airline.
- Apart from kingfisher, Videocon Industries Ltd and its group companies, Siva Industries and Holdings Ltd who have defaulted are also subjected to the same process.
- Lenders to Videocon Industries Ltd and its group companies will get just Rs 2,962.02 crore, out of their total claim of Rs 64,838.63 crore.
- Similarly, lenders have entertained a one-time settlement proposal of Siva Industries and Holdings Ltd for Rs 318 crore. A minuscule percentage of the company’s total dues of Rs 4,863 crore.
What are the challenges involved in the recovery of bad assets?
- One, it would be difficult for banks to seize and sell the assets of the group companies, in the absence of a personal guarantee. Also, the corporate guarantee from the promoter was missing, while seeking loans.
- Two, the quantum of recovery will always depend on the profile of the defaulting company and the nature of its business. For instance, there will be aggressive bidding and high recovery for companies that have value but not for all.
- In a recent case of Essar Steel Ltd, the lenders got back 82.91 percent (Rs 41,018 crore) of their Rs 49,473 crore claims.
- Whereas in the case of Synergies Dooray Automotive Ltd, the creditors got back just 6 percent (Rs 54 crore) of the total debt of (Rs 972 crore).
- Further, going by the data of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, 2,653 cases have been closed. Only 348 cases of the closed cases have been resolved. The average realization by the lenders was 45.96 percent of their claims until March 2020.
- Three, insolvency is a time taking process in India, and the recovery rate is very poor compared to other countries.
- A World Bank estimate says that in India, it used to take an average of 4.3 years to resolve insolvency and recovery was 25.7 cents for every dollar.
- Whereas in Japan, it takes six months to settle a case and the recovery rate is close to 93 percent.
- Four, apart from logistical issues that delay the process, banks often give too long a rope to defaulters and this leads to the erosion in the enterprise value of the company.
- Five, the Indian insolvency law lacks the scope for the preservation of assets. In the absence of this, the value of incomplete projects gets eroded fast.
- Ideally, lenders should invest and complete the project to extract maximum value from the bidders.
- But the fear of investigating agencies stops them from lending fresh to such companies.
- As a result of this, often a defaulting company loses the tag as a going concern and is sold at its scrap value.
If bankers move fast, try to preserve the enterprise value of the defaulting companies, and the promoters accept business failures as a reality, the recovery rate will improve.
Source – Business Standard
Syllabus – GS 3 – Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
Synopsis –Need of Personal Data Protection law to safeguard citizens’ right to privacy.
- However, The Personal Data Protection Bill has been pending for more than 3 years and the absence of the legislation causes huge concern.
What was WhatsApp new Terms of Service [ToS] –
Under the new conditions, corporate accounts will be able to exchange private, personal data and information from those who engage with them.
Concerns related to Whatsapp new TOS-
- Violates the right to privacy – The revised ToS violates the right to privacy provided by the Constitution, as well as a 2016 pledge by WhatsApp to provide users with an opt-out from data sharing.
- It will share users’ personal information and data with Facebook, primarily to boost ad-related income sources.
- Sharing of Metadata – WhatsApp may share one’s metadata, which is effectively anything other than the conversation’s actual content.
- This means, the new policy virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity.
- At the moment, there is no government control or regulatory supervision of this level of visibility into a person’s private and personal actions.
Effect of WhatsApp’s new ToS in other countries-
- In EU- This ToS is not applicable to EU users since it breaches the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the World’s most advanced and comprehensive data privacy law.
- In US- This ToS cannot be applied as it violates privacy and data protection laws.
Steps taken by India in order to formulate legislation-
- In 2017, the union government formed the committee [led by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice BN Srikrishna] to deliberate on a data protection framework.
- In July 2018, the committee proposed a Personal Data Protection Bill with multiple protection levels and consent required before each step of data collection and processing. However, that proposal was never presented to Parliament.
- In Dec 2019, the redrafted version presented in parliament, which was criticized as Orwellian due to broad monitoring and data-gathering powers granted to government agencies. That draft bill has not been passed into law, and no Bill has been presented since 2019.
Legislation on data protection should be formulated which safeguards the rights provided to the Citizens, protect individual privacy, ensure autonomy, allow data flow for a growing data ecosystem.
Source: Down to Earth
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment
Relevance: Ways to tackle marine plastic pollution.
Synopsis: Plastic waste contributes to pollution on a major scale. Some solid steps are required to handle it.
The extensive use of plastic in India has reached a critical point, which should concern everyone.
- The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Annual Report on Implementing the Plastic Garbage Rules, 2016, is the only regular estimate of the quantum of plastic waste generated in India.
- According to it, the waste generated in 2018-19 was 3,360,043 ton per year (roughly 9,200 ton per day).
- Plastic waste contributes about 5-6% of total solid waste generated in India.
- According to a 2017 science breakthroughs study, only 9% of all plastic waste has ever been recycled.
- Approximately 12% of plastic waste has been burnt, while the remaining 79% has accumulated in landfills.
Plastic waste is blocking our sewers, threatening marine life, and generating health risks for residents in landfills or the natural environment.
Marine plastic pollution
Financial cost: The financial costs of marine plastic pollution are significant as well.
- According to conservative forecasts made in March 2020, the direct harm to the blue economy of the ASEAN Nations will be $2.1 billion per year (considering only Shipping, fisheries and aquaculture and maritime tourism sectors)
- According to the World Economic Forum report, 2016, under a “business-as-usual” scenario, this $2.1 billion per year estimate is likely to rise, as plastics production is expected to triple between now and 2050.
Social costs: Enormous social costs accompany these economic costs.
- Residents of coastal regions suffer from the harmful health impacts of plastic pollution and waste brought in by the tides, and are deeply linked to the fishing and tourism industry for their livelihoods.
Therefore, we must begin finding solutions to prevent plastics and other waste from polluting our oceans and clean them up.
- Designing a product: Identifying plastic items that can be replaced with non-plastic, recyclable, or biodegradable materials is the first step. Find alternatives to single-use plastics and reusable design goods by working with product designers.
- Pricing: Plastics are inexpensive because they are made with substantially subsidized oil. There are few economic incentives to employ recycled plastics. Price structures that promote alternative materials or reused and recycled plastics are necessary.
- Technologies and Innovation: Developing tools and technology to assist governments and organizations in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities.
- ‘Closing the loop’ project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, assists cities in developing more inventive policy solutions to tackle the problem.
- A similar approach can be adopted in India.
- Promoting a plastic-free workplace: All catering operations should be prohibited from using single-use plastics. To encourage workers and clients to improve their habits, all single-use goods can be replaced with reusable items or more sustainable single-use alternatives.
- Producer responsibility: Extended responsibility can be applied in the retail (packaging) sector, where producers are responsible for collecting and recycling products that they launch into the market.
- Municipal and community actions: Beach and river clean-ups, public awareness campaigns explaining how people’s actions contribute to marine plastic pollution (or how they may solve it), and disposable plastic bag bans and levies.
- Multi-stakeholder collaboration: Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation, and oversight of policies. This includes participation from industrial firms, non-governmental organizations, and volunteer organizations. Instead of acting in isolation, all these stakeholders must collaborate and synchronize with one another.
Solving the problem of marine plastic involves a change in production and consumption habits, which would help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The central UN SDGs that deal with marine plastics are SDG 12 and SDG 14.
Source: The Business Standard
Syllabus: GS 3 – Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers
Relevance: Open source software can provide many advantages to the government.
Synopsis: Open source software has many advantages and can save huge public money.
CoWIN is the digital platform for the Covid-19 vaccination drive. Earlier this month, the government said that India would allow CoWIN to be an open-source for all countries to access, adapt and use, thereby becoming one of many countries that have open-sourced their government projects.
What is open source?
Red Hat, the world’s leading open-source software solutions company, explains open source as “a term that originally referred to open source software (OSS). Open-source software is code that is designed to be publicly accessible — anyone can see, modify, and distribute the code as they see fit.
- Open-source software is developed in a decentralised and collaborative way, relying on peer review and community production.
What does Open Sourcing a software mean?
Open-sourcing a software means that people can look at the code and suggest improvements or issues, and also use the code under a licence to develop similar products. In other words, they would be “free from royalty”.
Advantages of Open-source Software:
- Cost savings: A study in 2015 said that the use of free and open-source software (FOSS) could lead to estimated savings of about Rs 8,254 crore in Indian schools, and about Rs 51.20 crore in police departments in the country. Further, it also promotes a do-it-yourself attitude towards technology among officials.
- OSS is often cheaper, more flexible, and has more longevity than its proprietary peers because it is developed by communities rather than a single author or company.
- Software and bugs go hand-in-hand. Proprietary software does what is called ‘blackbox’ testing. In open-source, the code is open, which makes it possible for many more people to look at the code, and they can do a much better job than blackbox testing
OSS and government:
- In 2009, the French Police said that it had saved millions of dollars by migrating to an open-source operating system.
- The United States, in 2016, introduced the Federal Source Code Policy, whose main requirement was that any new custom source code developed “by or for the Federal Government” has to be made available for sharing and re-use by all federal agencies.
- More recently, as the Covid-19 pandemic spread last year, the government of Singapore was the first to open-source its Bluetooth contact tracing app (TraceTogether).
India and OSS:
- India has had an open-source policy since 2015. Many of India’s large projects, including Aadhaar, the Goods and Services Tax Network, and Unified Payment Interface, have all used open-source technology to build the projects in question, but the code has never been opened for the larger community to examine.
- India’s contact tracing app Aarogya Setu’s Android version was also open-sourced last year.
Challenges with OSS in Government projects:
- The right capacity, and right understanding of what open source is not known to all officials.
- In open-source, the government is open for scrutiny, co-creation. This might create mistrust on how the technology is being deployed. For instance, open-sourced Aarogya Setu app faced heavy criticism from the community because the source code did not match the actual app code, and was not updated.
- Opening up the entire code of an application or platform will make it vulnerable to attacks.
Courts, protect media: IT rules attack media’s core freedom. Judges should see legal challenges to rules in that light
Source: Times of India
Syllabus: GS paper 3: Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges
Relevance: New IT rules are aimed at regulating media and address the Challenges to internal security.
Synopsis: New IT rules that apply indiscriminately to all digital content are facing a slew of legal challenges from news agencies.
News agencies and the IT Rules:
Recently, in a petition brought by the National Broadcasters Association, the Kerala HC shielded broadcasters from coercive action. The Digital News Publishers Association has also challenged the constitutionality of these rules in the Madras HC. This is due to the following reasons,
- Digital news and current affairs publishers are correctly questioning why the news media is treated on a par with social media and OTT platforms.
- Further, there was no consultation with the news media before these rules were made.
- These rules will bring in surveillance of news outlets and fear of government diktats. That’s unacceptable and anti-democratic.
|Read More: New IT Rules for Social Media and its challenges – Explained, Pointwise|
Why including news agencies under IT rules is unnecessary?
- Unlike social media platforms, the news is already regulated by the Press Council, the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and the National Broadcasting Standards Authority. Therefore, additional rules were unnecessary in the first place.
- The IT Act, which deals with digital intermediaries, does not even apply to news publishers. Nor does it deal with any content regulation except in cases of cyberterrorism, sexually explicit and obscene material, child pornography. Therefore, IT rules, as subordinate legislation, cannot roam widely beyond the scope of the parent act.
- The rules seem like an attempt to intimidate the news media into self-censorship, apart from vesting government with overreaching powers over news content.
In the past, the SC has strongly protected media rights with its interpretation of Article 19(a) as part of the fundamental right to free speech and expression. All courts must demonstrate a robust commitment to media independence.
Terms to know:
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
The proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh has been in the pipeline for 20 years. However, the reserve has become the subject of yet another controversy.
About Lemru Elephant Reserve:
- Lemru Elephant Reserve was approved by Chhattisgarh Government in 2005 and got central approval in 2007.
- Lemru is one of the two elephant reserves being planned to prevent human-elephant conflict and to provide a permanent habitat for the elephants.
- The other is the Badalkhol Tamorpingla Elephant Reserve, which was approved by the Chhattisgarh Government in 2011. Tamorpingla wildlife sanctuary already exists in the state, but no work on this elephant reserve has begun yet.
What is the issue?
- Chhattisgarh Government is planning to decrease the area of the proposed reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.
- This is because the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
- Of 22 coal blocks in the area, seven have already been allotted with mines. Hence, increasing the reserve area would have made several coal mines become unusable.
- However, the government has said the decision to reduce the area is because of requests from villagers and public representatives. But villages have already given their consent to the acquisition of their land.
Note: Chhattisgarh has two national parks, three tiger reserves, eight sanctuaries, and one biosphere reserve covering 8.36% of its geographical area and 18.92% of its total forest area.
What is the News?
India and Nepal have signed a Letter of Exchange(LoE) to revise the 2004 India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement(RSA).
What does the revised agreement contain?
- The revised agreement allows all authorized cargo train operators to utilize the Indian railway network to carry Nepal’s container and other freight – both bilateral between Indian and Nepal or third country from Indian ports to Nepal.
- The authorized cargo train operators include public and private container trains Operators, automobile freight train operators, special freight train operators, or any other operator authorized by Indian Railways.
Significance of this revised agreement:
- Firstly, it will allow market forces (such as consumers and buyers) to come up in the rail freight segment in Nepal and is likely to increase efficiency and cost- competitiveness.
- Secondly, it will reduce transportation costs for automobiles and certain other products whose carriage takes place in special wagons and will boost rail cargo movement between the two countries.
- Thirdly, the agreement is another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity under the “Neighbourhood First”
About Rail Services Agreement (RSA),2004:
- The Rail Services Agreement was signed in 2004 between the Ministry of Railways, Government of India and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Nepal for introduction of freight train services between Birgunj (Nepal) via Raxaul (India).
- The agreement guides the movement between India and Nepal by rail.
- The Agreement shall be reviewed every five years and may be modified (through Letters of Exchange) by the Contracting Parties by mutual consent.
- Earlier Amendments: In the past, there have been amendments to RSA through LoE on three occasions.
- First such amendment was in 2004.
- Second LoE was signed in 2008 at the time of introduction of bilateral cargo between the two countries which required introduction of new customs procedures.
- Third LoE was signed in 2016 enabling rail transit traffic to/from Visakhapatnam Port in addition to existing provision of rail transportation through Kolkata/Haldia Port.
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
The production-linked incentive(PLI) schemes for several sectors have received a good response. However, the scheme is struggling across most other sectors where it has been rolled out.
About PLI Scheme:
- The scheme aims to invite foreign investors to set up their manufacturing units in India. Similarly, it also aims to promote the local manufacturers to expand their manufacturing.
- Features: Under the Scheme, companies will get incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
- Implementation: The scheme is implemented by the concerned ministries/departments.
- Sectors: PLI Scheme has been approved for various sectors such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals, IT hardware, mobile phones, telecom equipment, white goods, chemical cells, and textiles, etc.
Performance of the Scheme:
- The PLI Scheme has received the maximum number of applications for sectors such as food, mobile, electronic components manufacturing, IT hardware as well as telecom equipment manufacturing.
- On the other hand, sectors such as medical devices, textiles, automobile component manufacturing are struggling to find participants for the PLI scheme.
- The reason for low interest in these sectors is that most companies either do not meet the qualification norms for the PLI scheme or feel that the return on investment is low compared to the incentives announced.
- Example: Investors in the steel sector are not very keen on applying under the scheme as they feel that the period of 5 years is too less to set up new units and start production from them or even expand old units.
- In the case of PLI for automobile and automobile component manufacturing, most Indian companies do not meet the qualification norms and have avoided even applying for the scheme.
Terms to know:
What is the News?
Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC) has recently secured trademark registrations in three countries – Bhutan, UAE and Mexico.
How many countries has KVIC obtained Trademark Registration?
- So far, KVIC has Trademark registrations for the word mark “KHADI” in 6 countries namely Germany, UK, Australia, Russia, China and EU.
- However, with trademark registrations in Bhutan, UAE and Mexico, the number of such countries has gone up to nine.
- In these countries, KVIC has got registrations in various classes such as Khadi fabric, Khadi readymade garments and village industry products like Khadi soaps, Khadi cosmetics, Khadi incense sticks among others.
What is a Trademark?
- A Trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.
- A Trademark Registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner or licensed to another party for use in return for payment.
- The term of trademark registration can vary, but is usually ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of additional fees.
- The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body formed in 1957 under Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act,1956.
- Nodal Ministry: It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.
- Mandate: The KVIC is charged with the planning, promotion, organisation and implementation of programs for the development of Khadi and other village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies.
What is the News?
Scientists have completed the genome sequencing of one of the highly salt-tolerant mangrove species, named Avicennia marina.
Note: Genome sequencing is a process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome.
About Avicennia marina:
- Avicennia marina is also called Banhi in Odia. It is one of the most prominent mangroves species found in all mangrove formations in India.
- Features: It is a salt-secreting and extraordinarily salt-tolerant mangrove species that grows optimally in 75% seawater and tolerates >250% seawater.
- Significance: It is among the rare plant species which can excrete 40% of the salt through the salt glands in the leaves, besides its extraordinary capacity to exclude salt entry to the roots.
Significance of Genome Sequencing of this mangrove species:
- Agriculture productivity globally is affected due to abiotic stress factors such as limited water availability and salinisation of soil and water.
- The non-availability of water is a significant challenge to crop production in dry-land areas, accounting for 40% of the world’s total land area.
- Salinity is prevalent in 900 million hectares globally and is estimated to cause an annual loss of $27 billion. An estimated 6.73 million ha in India is affected by salinity.
- Hence, the genomic sequencing of Avicennia marina will help researchers in developing drought and salinity tolerant crop varieties of the coastal region of the country.
What are Mangroves?
- Mangroves are a unique group of species found in marshy intertidal estuaries regions and survive a high degree of salinity through several adaptive mechanisms.
- Mangroves are important resources for the coastal region and are of great ecological and economic value.
- They form a link between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, protect shorelines and provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms.
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has signed a Joint Communication to secure the rights of traditional forest dwellers and to ensure proper implementation of the Forest Rights Act,2006.
Why was this Joint Communication signed?
- The Government of India had enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act,2006 commonly known as the Forest Rights Act(FRA).
- The Act recognizes the forest rights in Forest land for Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes(FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD) who have been residing in such forests for generations.
- There are 13 types of rights that have been given in the Act. Despite this, only one of these rights — distribution of pattas to forest dwellers — has actually been implemented.
- Hence, the joint communication is being signed to effectively implement the Forest Rights Act,2006, and also protect the interests of both forest and its dwellers.
What does the Joint Communication contain? The Joint Communication has issued several directions which include:
- Firstly, State forest departments will carry out verification of claims for forest rights, mapping of forest lands involved, authentication of records, joint field inspections among others.
- Secondly, State forest departments will undertake projects for value chain addition including capacity building of primary collectors, new harvesting methods, storage, processing, and marketing of Non-Timber Forest Products(NTFP).
- Thirdly, a nodal agency to be designated for specific non-timber forest products as supply chain platforms in collaboration with TRIFED, Ministry of Ayush, Van Dhan Kendras among others.
- Lastly, State tribal welfare departments along with forest departments will work out strategies to extend MGNREGA and NRLM to forest dwellers as well as initiate skill development programs and give impetus to agro-forestry and horticulture projects.
What is the News?
According to the Ministry of Commerce, the India industrial land bank system has been integrated with industry-based GIS systems of 17 states so far and will achieve pan-India integration by December 2021.
About India industrial Land Bank System:
- India Industrial Land Bank System(IILBS) was launched by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2020.
- Purpose: The system is a Geographic Information System(GIS) based portal. It is a one-stop repository of all industrial infrastructure-related information such as infrastructure connectivity, natural resources, terrain, plot-level information on vacant plots, line of activity, and contact details.
- Currently, the land bank system has about 4,000 industrial parks mapped across an area of 5.5 lakh hectares of land, serving as a decision support system for investors scouting for land remotely.
What is the Geographic Information System(GIS)?
- GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.
- GIS can show many kinds of data on one map such as streets, buildings, and vegetation.
- This enables people to more easily see, analyze and understand patterns and relationships.
What is the News?
Indian researchers have spotted a rare superluminous supernova that shines with the energy borrowed from an exotic type of neutron star with an ultra-powerful magnetic field.
What are Superluminous Supernova?
- A super-luminous supernova is a type of stellar explosion with a luminosity 10 or more times higher than that of standard supernovae.
- A supernova is the explosion of a star. It is the largest explosion that takes place in space.
- Superluminous supernova is generally rare because they originate from very massive stars (minimum mass limit is more than 25 times that of the Sun) and the number distribution of such massive stars in our galaxy or in nearby galaxies is small.
How did Indian Scientists observe the Superluminous Supernova?
- Indian Scientists used Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT-3.6m) along with two other Indian telescopes: Sampurnanand Telescope-1.04m and Himalayan Chandra Telescope-2.0m to observe Superluminous Supernova.
- They discovered that the outer layers of the Supernovae had been peeled off and the core was shining with a borrowed energy source.
Significance of this discovery:
- The study of such Super luminous Supernovae can help probe the mysteries of the early universe.
About 104cm Sampurnanand Telescope:
- The 104-cm Sampurnanand Telescope is located at ARIES in Nainital, Uttarakhand.
- It is one of the main observing facilities in the optical domain. It was installed in 1972 by Carl Zeiss, Germany.
- Different scientific programs such as the study of star clusters, young star-forming regions, supernovae, and X-ray sources were carried out with this observing facility.
About 2-m Himalayan Chandra Telescope(HCT):
- The 2-m Himalayan Chandra Telescope(HCT) is located at the Indian Astronomical Observatory(IAO) in Ladakh.
- The telescope is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore.
- Purpose: The telescope is being used for scanning the night sky in search of stellar explosions, comets, asteroids, and exoplanets.
What is the News?
IIT Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation(IITM-PTF) in collaboration with Sony India has organized a national-level hackathon named ‘SAMVEDAN 2021 – Sensing Solutions for Bharat’.
About SAMVEDAN 2021:
- SAMVEDAN 2021 aims to inspire citizens to use the Internet of Things(IoT) Sensor Board in order to solve India-specific problems of societal interest.
- The grand challenge competition is open to all the Indian nationals.
- IIT Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation(IITM-PTF) is a Technology Innovation Hub(TIH).
- It is supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-CPS).
- NM-ICPS was launched in 2018 by the Department of Science & Technology for a period of five years.
- Aim: To create a seamless ecosystem for CPS by coordinating and integrating nationwide efforts encompassing knowledge generation, human resource development, research, technology, innovation, and commercialization.
- Under this, Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), Application Innovation Hubs(AIH) and Technology Translation Research Parks(TTRP) have been established.
- These hubs connect the Academics, Industry, Central Ministries, and State Government in developing solutions at reputed academic, R&D and other organizations across the country in a hub and spoke model.
About Cyber-Physical Systems(CPS):
- Cyber-Physical Systems(CPS) are a new class of engineered systems that integrate computation and physical processes in a dynamic environment.
- It encompasses technology areas of Cybernetics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) among others.
- The potential applications are a) Driverless cars that communicate securely with each other on smart roads, b) Sensors in the home to detect changing health conditions among others.