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.
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Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
- Why UP’s proposed population control bill is bad as policy and politics
- Clean energy: How AI can help spot the copper we need
GS Paper 2
- How OPEC+ deal to withdraw output cut impacts India
- Co-operation ministry: Harbinger of hope?
- One in three couldn’t afford food year-round in 2020
- A more humane police force
- The crisis ahead, from learning loss to resumption
- Making India a sporting nation
GS Paper 3
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- MoEF to table Bill for panel on NCR air pollution; Bill on air quality commission drops clause on jail term.
- How does the moon ‘wobble’ affect rising tides?
- Health above faith
- Illegal Construction on Bank of River Ganga
- Government to set up a world-class ‘Indian Institute of Heritage’ at Noida
- Government sets up Dairy Investment Accelerator to promote and facilitate investments in the Dairy sector
- Explained: What is the Monkey B virus that caused the first human death in China?
- Explained: What are zero-click attacks, and how do you get the better of them?
- Explained: In new policy, what owners can or can’t do with their vintage vehicles
- Government eases stocking norms for pulses importers, wholesalers
- Scientists develop novel 3D robotic motion phantom that can reproduce human lung motion
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Why UP’s proposed population control bill is bad as policy and politics
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 1 – Population and associated issues
Relevance: UP’s Population control policies have to be rational and focus on the welfare-based approach
UP’s population control measures should tackle the socio-economic issues in the UP rather than seeking a stringent approach towards population control.
A new draft Bill prepared by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Law Commission seeks to control the population by introducing a two-child policy.
|Read more: Sudden interest in ‘population control’ in Assam and UP points to political bad faith|
Challenges with UP’s Population control policies:
- Unlike in the past, the population is growing not because couples have more children, but because we have many more young couples today.
- The argument that controlling the population will increase the natural resource base is also faulty. The rich consume far more natural resources and contribute much more to greenhouse gas emissions than the poor.
- The law discriminates against the youth. As the draft bill did not cover, all couples with three or more children, who have completed their reproductive lives, will not fall under the ambit of the law. So, all older persons are automatically exempt, younger couples will be at risk of population control.
|Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise|
Clean energy: How AI can help spot the copper we need
Source: Down To Earth
Syllabus: GS 1 – Distribution of key natural resources across the world
Relevance: Artificial Intelligence can help discover copper deposits
Artificial Intelligence can help discover copper deposits formed along with ancient mountain ranges over the past 80 million years.
About Copper resources:
The global need for copper, however, could increase by 350 per cent by 2050, according to a 2016 study published in journal Science Direct. The study also underlined that the current reserves could deplete between 2035 and 2045, as wind and solar energy gains more traction and more people shift to electric vehicles.
So, the world is going to need massive quantities of copper
Applications of Copper:
- Copper is an excellent conductor of thermal and electrical energy; the power systems that utilise copper generate and transmit energy with high efficiency and with minimum environmental impacts. The use of copper in energy systems helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- It can also be recycled completely many times over without any loss in performance.
- Copper is a highly efficient mineral used in renewable energy systems to generate power from solar, hydroelectric, thermal and wind energy.
Formation of Copper resources:
The hot magmatic fluid inside the mantle has copper, which, after millions of years of further plate movement, moves closer to the surface and can be extracted.
Generally, copper deposits are locked up in remote locations, including the volcanic mountain chains such as the Andes and the Rocky Mountains.
When tectonic plates converge, one plate slides beneath the other and descends into the Earth’s mantle at rates of 2-8 centimeters a year (subduction). The process creates a variety of magmatic rocks (formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava) and copper deposits along the edge of the continent.
How AI can help locate Copper resources?
GPlates software is software that uses machine learning to understand the link between copper deposits and the evolution of the subduction zone.
Artificial intelligence measures how fast the tectonic plates are moving towards each other, how far the plate is from the subduction zone, how much copper there is in the crust, etc.
Terms to know:
GS Paper 2
How OPEC+ deal to withdraw output cut impacts India
Source: Indian Express
GS-2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests
Relevance – High global oil price contributes to increasing inflation level in India. Therefore, the decision of the OPEC+ meeting is important for India.
Synopsis: OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and its allies led by Russia have agreed to gradually withdraw Covid-related production cuts by September 2022.
- OPEC and its allies led by Russia have agreed to gradually withdraw Covid-related production cuts by September 2022.
- OPEC+ will increase overall production by 4,00,000 barrels per day every month. It will go on till the remaining portion of the group’s 10 million barrels per day production cut announced in April 2020 is completely reversed.
- The decision also ends a standoff between the UAE and other OPEC+ countries on tying an extension of the supply agreement to increases in production.
Read more – OPEC’s output pact proposal: How will decision affect India?
Why this move?
- The OPEC+ group of countries entered into a two-year agreement in April 2020.
- It entailed steep cuts in crude oil production to deal with a sharp fall in the price of crude oil as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- However, crude oil prices have recovered to above the pre-Covid-19 levels.
- The current price of Brent Crude is about 39 percent higher than the price of crude at the beginning of the year.
How OPEC+ deadlock was impacting India?
- India has already seen a 21.7 percent increase in the price of petrol and diesel since the beginning of the year. Petrol is currently retailing at Rs 101.8 per litre in the national capital and diesel is retailing at Rs 89.87 per litre.
- The price of Brent Crude had risen to over $77 per barrel earlier in July over a potential deadlock in OPEC+ negotiations on production levels.
- Furthermore, this announcement of an increase in production levels may not result in price reduction because of the increased mobility restrictions due to the pandemic.
Terms to know:
Co-operation ministry: Harbinger of hope?
Source: Business Standard
GS-2: Development Processes and the Development Industry — the Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Relevance – How the new Ministry of Co-operation can make a significant positive impact on the ground
- On July 6, the Government of India announced the creation of a new Ministry of Co-operation.
- Over 300 million people are members of around 800,000 co-operatives in India today.
Read more – Ministry of Cooperation
Need for the rejuvenated cooperative sector?
- Co-operatives have suffered a serious decline over the years, with their share in institutional credit reduced to a mere 10 percent today.
- The unholy trinity of moneylender-trader-landlords made a comeback in the rural credit market after the 1990s, when profitability norms were strictly enforced on public sector banks (PSBs).
- Thus, a reformed and rejuvenated cooperative sector is required to break the monopoly of moneylenders. A Cooperation ministry will take care of this task effectively.
What can the new ministry do to help?
Firstly, recommendations of 2005 Task Force on Revival of Rural Co-operative Credit Institutions, led by the eminent economist, A Vaidyanathan should be key to reforms. It recommended that the reform of co-operatives should make member-centric, democratic, self-governing, and financially well-managed institutions.
The Center should make financial support provided by the Centre conditional on the reforms undertaken by the states to professionalise and democratise the functioning of the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS). PACS is the foundation of the rural cooperative credit structure. PAC’s reform must involve
- Audit and clean-up of balance sheets,
- Installing sound accounting and monitoring systems to enable them to remain competitive and transparent,
- Technological upgrade
- Capacity building of personnel of hundreds of thousands of PACS.
In the years since the Vaidyanathan report, a major positive development has been the growth of robust and powerful SHGs and SHG Federations. Learning from their successes and failures could be very useful while implementing solutions for co-operatives.
The role of the states must be one that supports, facilitates, and strengthens civil society action in partnership with the most vulnerable. Very often, state action, in the guise of supporting the poor, has ended up seriously harming their cause. For instance, many farmers’ movements have lobbied for repeated loan melas and loan waivers, which have only ended up undermining institutions like PSBs and PACS. That, in turn, leads to an unhealthy factor for shutting them down, as their balance sheets erode.
Also Read – Cooperation and competition
Terms to know:
One in three couldn’t afford food year-round in 2020
Source: Down to Earth
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.
Relevance – The issue of health and hunger is one of the most fundamental issues. All aspects related to it must be considered to ensure a healthy life for the population.
The Covid 19 pandemic has raised poverty and decreased income levels across the globe. This has excluded almost 3 billion people from accessing a healthy diet.
- The pandemic has brutally impacted the lives of common masses as incomes are decreasing while food prices are on the rise.
- The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report has tried to estimate the impact of pandemic on intake of a healthy diet by masses.
What is a healthy diet?
- A healthy diet contains a balanced, diverse and appropriate selection of foods eaten over a period of time.
- It protects against malnutrition in all its forms, including non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Key Findings of the report:
- The FAO report has quoted a study done in 63 low- and middle-income countries covering a population of 3.5 billion on changes in the income of people. It has extrapolated its impact on choice of diets.
- The study found a significant dip in people’s affordability for healthy food due to a loss in income. It suggests that the pandemic led to an additional 141 million people being unable to afford a healthy diet in the countries studied.
- The number of people unable to afford even half the cost of a healthy diet was also estimated to have risen from 43 per cent to 50 per cent.
- This has resulted in healthy diets being out of reach of the world’s three billion people.
- The primary reason for this is the loss of income. But food price rise has made the situation more acute.
- By the end of 2020, global consumer food prices were the highest in six years. In the first four months of 2021, they continued to rise.
- FAO’s analysis shows that the cost of a healthy diet was 60 per cent more than a diet that just meets “requirements for essential nutrients”.
- It was almost five times as much as a diet that just meets “the minimum dietary energy needs through a starchy staple”.
- Around 2.37 billion people couldn’t access adequate food in 2020. An increase of 320 million people in comparison to the 2019 figure. Or, one in three people in the world couldn’t access adequate food in 2020.
- The overall decline in food intake has also increased hunger levels in 2020. In comparison to 2019, there were an additional 161 million people who faced hunger. Thus, the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating hunger by 2030 seems an impossible task.
- Undernourishment due to the pandemic has impacted children the most.
- According to FAO, in 2020, 149 million children (under five years of age) will grow up stunted or too short for their age. Some 45 million children have been wasted, or do not have the right weight for their height.
A more humane police force
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Police reforms
Relevance: A healthy Police system is necessary to ensure a feeling of safety and security among the masses.
Our country needs a more humane and sensitive police force that works for the welfare of the citizens. This requires harmonizing the working environment of police personnel along with the fulfillment of their psychological needs.
- In 2015 (April – November), 25,357 cases were registered under the police category. This included 111 deaths in police custody, 330 cases of custodial torture, and 24,916 in others.
- These numbers were shared by the former Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, in the Lok Sabha in response to a question.
Comparing the data with other countries:
- There were 700 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations in Australia from 1989-90 to 2010-11. Similarly, in the U.K., there were 1542 deaths in police custody or following contact with the police (1990 to 2015).
- This shows a greater magnitude of police brutality on Indian citizens, which instills fear in the mind of the masses towards the police force.
Reason behind police brutality:
- In the Indian police force, the lower ranks of police personnel are often verbally abused by their superiors. Many are not considered as individuals, are not shown compassion by the senior ranks, and work in inhuman conditions.
- Their relationship with their superior officers is stressful and sycophantic. There is no concept of welfare, and this manifests in their improper behavior with the citizenry.
- Further, some international case studies like Milgrim’s experiment have shown that people obey to do harm if they are coerced by their superiors.
- Several committees have made several recommendations on the issue of reforms for a healthy police system.
- The Supreme Court of India was forced to intervene as neither the Central government nor the State governments acted upon those recommendations.
- It is clear that the problem is with the political apparatus considering the history of the Police Act.
- The Police Act of 1861 was legislated right after the revolt of 1857 to bring efficiency in the administration of police and to prevent any future revolts. This meant that the police were to always comply with those in power.
- Thus, political will is desired for bringing about any major reform in the Indian police force, which should also focus on the psychological aspect of policing.
Terms to know:
The crisis ahead, from learning loss to resumption
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
Relevance – School education needs drastic reforms to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on education.
If school education revert to business as usual, India has to be prepared to confront a disaster in educational outcomes
Schools have been closed for 16 months now, with no clarity on or a timeline for their resumption as yet. The country has promoted online classes and e-connectivity as the solution.
- The majority of the states focus on secondary and higher secondary education. However, due to a lack of connectivity as well as a lack of access to e-devices, only a fraction of children in this age group have had online education of any kind.
- When it comes to children in the primary and upper primary classes, even such access has been limited to a minuscule fraction.
Challenges in education during and after the pandemic:
- Challenges in online education:
- The quality of online education — it is largely abysmal. As most studies show, the percentage of teachers in the country capable of handling digital platforms for pedagogic purposes is very small.
- The educational material provided by them has also been mere reproduction of what is used in a physical classroom. Hence, the teaching-learning processes have by and large been poor.
- When schools reopen, Indian schools revert to business as usual, this will create certain challenges. Such as,
- With a reduced syllabus, and no change whatsoever in the overall curriculum or pedagogy, and racing through the syllabus to “catch up”. Children who cannot keep up would simply be left behind.
- Children from the poorest sections will be the ones who are affected the most, by having to race in accelerated learning programmes with no support at home. This will create an alienation of already marginalised students.
Various studies on education during the pandemic:
- A study in the Netherlands has found that most learning losses occurred “among students from disadvantaged homes”. Researchers have also termed this as nutrition loss and learning loss.
- A large multi-State study in the United States records that the pandemic “has also prompted some students to leave the public school system altogether”.
- According to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation in India, 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year across all classes; the figure is 82% when it comes to mathematical ability.
|Read more: E-classes leading to learning gaps in higher education: Survey|
Suggestions to improve education and global examples:
- ‘One way of addressing the learning crisis might be to repeat the entire academic year. For instance, The government in Kenya has recently decided to do just this. Some countries, such as the Philippines, allow extended time for classes on resumption, both in the duration of school hours and more calendar days of interaction.
- To reduce and synthesize the curriculum so that students are able to focus on a few subjects and learn them well’. For example, this is followed, for instance, by the State of Ontario in Canada.
- Introducing the concept of One-to-one tutoring for the most disadvantaged learners. For example, the National Tutoring Programme of the UK and a similar programme in Ghana were done this.
- In Italy, university students are volunteering to conduct one-on-one classes for middle school children from poor immigrant backgrounds
Making India a sporting nation
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS2 – Government policy
Relevance: Improving India’s performance in Olympics
Synopsis: Factors behind India’s sporting performance in Olympics, why it lags and steps to improve it.
Factors governing performance
There are many factors which are important in determining the performance of a nation in various sports.
- Beyond a threshold level, the average standard of living in a nation and the country’s population size may be important determinants for its performance at the Olympics.
- Genetic factors are also no less important. This is clear from the following examples:
- Height matters: The U.S., Australia and the Netherlands are powerhouses in swimming, but not China. Perhaps, taller people have an advantage in swimming or basketball but height is not important in shooting or gymnastics.
- China excels in shooting along with the U.S. and Germany.
- East Asian nations do better at table tennis than Western nations.
- Russia, East European nations and Central Asian countries do well in amateur boxing whereas China and Central Asians countries do better in weightlifting and wrestling.
- Mobilization of resources for athletes and sportspersons also impacts their performance by giving them an edge over the others. Such infrastructure makes the U.S. the superpower in athletics and gymnastics, Germany in equestrian, and the U.K. in diving, sailing and cycling. For poor nations, creating such infrastructure is a luxury.
GDP vs performance in sports
The size of total GDP is hardly important in countries like India where a sizable segment is fighting hunger. A person of poor health can never be a good sportsperson. In countries where there are high levels of stunted growth, malnutrition and anaemia, we cannot expect good athletes. Thus, South Asian countries and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t fit in the econometric models built on total GDP.
Why smaller countries win more medals than India?
- India is moderately good but not good enough: Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Singapore and Malaysia may stand below India in the medal’s tally at the Asian Games, but are ahead of it at the Olympics. This is primarily because India is moderately good at many sports but not good enough to be the best at any of them. In contrast, Jamaica does well at the Olympics in sprinting and Kenya gets medals in long-distance running. They perform better than India though they are not great sporting nations.
- India needs to concentrate more on sports where the physical build of an average Indian will not stand as a disadvantage.
- One state, One sport policy: States need to be integrated in a bigger way in India’s sports policy.People of different States have different food habits and build. We should develop training infrastructure for different sports in different parts of the country depending on the inclination of people of that area and their habits and build.
GS Paper 3
Experts seek reassessment of Power Finance Corp’s annual discoms rating
Source: Down To Earth
Syllabus – GS- Paper 3 – Economy – Energy-related issues
Relevance – Healthy condition of discoms is necessary for ensuring proper electricity supply.
Synopsis: Energy experts have urged a reassessment of the Integrated Ratings for State Power Distribution Utilities being carried out on an annual basis since 2012 by the Power Finance Corp Ltd(PFCL).
- Recently, the Integrated Ratings for State Power Distribution Utilities has been released. It rated the creditworthiness of electricity distribution companies or discoms by calculating whether money lent to them can be recovered promptly or not.
- The report has found that just five of the 41 distribution companies in the country are profiting / will be profitable and worthy of trust for the repayment of a loan.
- These five distribution companies are supplying electricity to people in Gujarat (four of the five companies) and the southern parts of Haryana.
What are the problems with the ratings?
- Firstly, the ratings have not led to, much reforms on the ground. Despite being rated poor, loans and finances have been arranged and weak discoms have survived a decade.
- Example: Tamil Nadu electricity distribution company always fares poorly in the exercise. But it has been arranging loans to support its existence.
- Secondly, the ratings should be such where all stakeholders can understand the true picture. This is not happening because the underlying data is not being released which would have allowed people to make their own analysis.
Financial Position of State Power Distribution Companies: The financial position of State distribution companies has deteriorated. The cumulative losses of discoms stand at Rs 38,000 crore in the financial year 2020. Some key reasons for this include:
- Free electricity distribution policies by the states to residents and farmers, with no reimbursement to discoms
- State politicians’ pressure on the electricity regulatory commissions to not hike electricity tariffs to customers
- Electricity thefts
- Technical losses.
- Three committees headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, V K Shunglu and B K Chaturvedi, have been formed since 2001 to chart a profitable way forward for discoms.
- The key recommendation has been to make the activity a business by improving operational and financial efficacy, and not treat distribution business as a public welfare measure.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
MoEF to table Bill for panel on NCR air pollution; Bill on air quality commission drops clause on jail term.
Source – The Indian Express
- During the Monsoon Session, MoEF [Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change ] plans to introduce the Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas Bill in Parliament.
- MoEF had earlier brought in an ordinance regarding the Commission twice, first in October 2020 and again in April.
- Subsequently, the MoEF brought ordinance with modifications due to the farmers’ protest. Farmers had raised concerns of stiff penalties and imprisonment for stubble burning
Key changes in the Commission for Air Quality Management
- Decriminalized the act of stubble burning
- Withdrawn the clause for possible jail time
However, those who are discovered to be participating in stubble burning, including farmers, will be charged an environmental compensation fee.
About the ordinance-
- It provides for the constitution of a Commission for better coordination, research, identification, and resolution of air quality problems in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas.
- Further, it abolishes the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority [EPCA], which had proven effective with the passage of time.
- It will establish guidelines for air pollution control, such as allowable amounts of emissions and pollution discharge.
- The commission will be responsible for finding offenders, monitoring companies and industries, as well as any other polluting unit in the region, and having the authority to shut them down.
- The Commission will also have the authority to overturn orders made by state governments that may violate environmental standards.
The ordinance is a great step forward because it was developed after extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including farmers’ groups, small businesses, and the public.
How does the moon ‘wobble’ affect rising tides?
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 3 – Science and Technology
Scientists are estimating that moon wobble would bring high tides in some coastlines of the world in the next decade. This may cause severe flooding, threaten coastal communities and lead to submergence of the coastal landscape.
- The phenomenon of moon wobble is expected to enhance flooding on Earth in the middle of the next decade.
- The assumption is based on a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
About the study:
- It aims to untangle all of those variables that are needed for improving predictions about the future of floods.
- It found that our oceans are rising because of climate change. They’re getting awfully close to the brim in coastal communities due to decades of sea-level rise caused by rising temperatures.
- It warned that the moon wobble would heighten high tides in the middle of the 2030s, but it also showed that this prediction does not apply uniformly to every coastline everywhere.
About Moon wobble:
- It is a regular oscillation that humans have known about for centuries.
- It is one of many factors that can either exacerbate rising sea levels or counteract them, alongside other variables like weather and geography.
Why does the moon wobble?
- The moon revolves around the Earth about once a month, and that orbit is a little tilted. To be more precise, the moon’s orbital plane around the Earth is at an approximate 5-degree incline to the Earth’s orbital plane around the sun.
- Because of that, the path of the moon’s orbit seems to fluctuate over time, completing a full cycle — sometimes referred to as a nodal cycle — every 18.6 years.
Effect of moon wobble:
- High tides on this planet are caused mostly by the pull of the moon’s gravity on a spinning Earth. On most beaches, you would see two high tides every 24 hours.
- At certain points along the cycle, the moon’s gravitational pull comes from such an angle that one of the day’s two high tides is a little higher, at the expense of the other.
- During its most rapid upward phase, it acts to enhance the effective sea level, and during its most rapid downward phase, like we’re in now, it acts to suppress the effective sea level.
- As per the study, the wobble could cause high tide levels at a beach to oscillate by 1 or 2 inches over the course of its long cycle, thereby raising the baseline.
- The more your baseline is raised, the smaller the weather event you need to cause a flooding event.
- High-tide flooding related to climate change is expected to break records with increasing frequency over the next decade.
- It’s important to prepare for the mid-2030s, as it is the point where the switch flips and the natural cycle of the moon starts to amplify the rate of sea-level rise.
Health above faith
Source: The Hindu
What is the news?
Recently, the Supreme Court canceled the annual Kanwar Yatra and held that the health of the public and their right to life are paramount.
What is Kanwar Yatra?
- It is a pilgrimage organised in the Hindu calendar month of Shravana (Saavan).
- In which Kanwarias, devotees of Shiva, make a pilgrimage to collect water from the Ganga or other holy rivers.
- The water is used by the pilgrims to worship Shiva lingas at shrines of importance.
- The yatra was not held last year due to COVID-19. This year, it was scheduled to start on July 25.
Supreme Court observations:
- The court held that the health of the public and their right to life are paramount. “All other sentiments, albeit religious, are subservient to this most basic fundamental right”. The court also held that there really is none when it comes to choosing between religious rights and the right to life and safety.
- The court also observed that Kumbh Mela earlier this year was seen as responsible for a surge in infections in the run-up to the disastrous second wave that overpowered the country’s health system for weeks.
Illegal Construction on Bank of River Ganga
The National Green Tribunal(NGT) in its judgment on M.C. Mehta vs Union of India and ors. Case offered an interim measure to restrict illegal construction on the Bank of River Ganga.
NGT Guidelines for plain areas
- The judgment held that an interim measure of at least 100 m from the middle of the river would be treated and dealt with as an ‘Eco-sensitive and prohibited zone’.
- No activity whether permanent or temporary in nature will be permitted to be carried on in this zone, including camping.
- The area up to 200 meters shall be the prohibited area in the plain terrain and more than 200 meters and less than 500 meters would be treated as the regulatory zone.
- The regulatory activity shall be notified by the State and till that time there shall be no construction activity permitted in that area.
NGT Guidelines for hilly areas
- The area falling within 50 meters from the edge of the river in the hilly terrain, no construction would be permitted, nor any other activity carried out, and it shall be treated as ‘Eco-sensitive and prohibited zone’.
- Beyond 50 meters and up to 100 meters in the hilly terrain shall be treated as Prohibitory Zone.
- The area beyond 100 meters and less than 300 meters would be treated as the regulatory zone in the hilly terrain.
Government to set up a world-class ‘Indian Institute of Heritage’ at Noida
What is the News?
The Government of India has decided to set up the ‘Indian Institute of Heritage’ at Noida, Gautam Buddha Nagar.
About Indian Institute of Heritage(IIH):
- Indian Institute of Heritage is a proposed institute to be set up by the Ministry of Culture.
- The institute would be a world-class university that would focus on the conservation and research in India’s rich tangible heritage.
- It would also offer research, development, and knowledge associated with a heritage that contributes to the cultural, scientific, and economic life of India.
- The institute will have the status of a ‘deemed university’. Certificate and diploma courses currently run by various institutions like IGNCA and National Archives of India and others are to be brought under IIH.
Significance of this Institute:
- The institute would be a standalone Institution of its type in the country.
- It would have a major impact on higher education and research in the field related to rich Indian heritage and its conservation, leading to Masters and Ph.D courses in these fields.
Government sets up Dairy Investment Accelerator to promote and facilitate investments in the Dairy sector
What is the News?
The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying(DAHD) has set up a Dairy Investment Accelerator under its Investment Facilitation Cell.
About Dairy Investment Accelerator: Dairy Investment Accelerator is a cross-functional team constituted to serve as the interface with investors. It shall provide support across the investment cycle by:
- Offering specific inputs for evaluation of investment opportunities
- Addressing queries about the application to govt. schemes
- Connecting with strategic partners
- Providing on-ground assistance with state departments & relevant authorities.
Other Functions of Dairy Investment Accelerator:
- Dairy Investment Accelerator will also organize a series of events with global & local industry participants to facilitate direct interactions with government officials and connect with other players in the Dairy Industry.
- Moreover, it would also generate awareness among investors about the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund (AHIDF).
India’s Dairy Sector:
- India is the largest milk producer, contributing 23% of global milk production.
- Annual milk production in the country has grown by 6.4% (CAGR) in the past 5 years.
- Dairy is also the single largest agricultural commodity, contributing 5% of the national economy and employing 80 million farmers directly.
- Moreover, the Dairy sector has also seen substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) constituting about 40% of FDIs in the Indian food sector.
Explained: What is the Monkey B virus that caused the first human death in China?
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
China has reported the first human infection case with Monkey B virus(BV) after a Beijing-based veterinarian was confirmed with the same a month after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March.
About Monkey B virus(BV):
- Monkey B Virus(BV) is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic (endemic) found in macaque monkeys.
- Alphaherpesviruses are pathogens that invade the nervous systems of their mammalian hosts.
- The virus was first identified in 1932. It is also the only identified old-world-monkey herpesvirus that displays severe pathogenicity in humans.
How is it transmitted?
- The virus can be transmitted via direct contact and the exchange of bodily secretions of monkeys. It has a fatality rate of 70% to 80%.
- The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, especially in a moist state.
- Human infections occur when an infected monkey bites or scratches them; they get fluid or tissue from an infected monkey on broken skin, in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Exposure to an infected monkey’s brain, spinal cord, or skull.
- Initial symptoms of the virus include — fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and rash-itchy wounds, among others. These initial symptoms usually develop around 1-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.
- In the later stage, the virus can lead to the loss of muscle coordination and neurological damage.
Are there any cases of human-to-human transmission?
- Till date, only one case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.
- The virus might pose a potential threat to laboratory workers, veterinarians, and others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens.
- Currently, there are no vaccines that can protect against Monkey B virus infection.
Explained: What are zero-click attacks, and how do you get the better of them?
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
Pegasus spyware has evolved from its earlier spear-phishing methods using text links or messages to ‘zero-click’ attacks which do not require any action from the phone’s user. It is the worrying aspect of spyware.
About Zero-click Attack:
- A Zero-Click attack helps spyware like Pegasus gain control over a device without human interaction or human error.
- So all awareness about how to avoid a phishing attack or which links not to click is pointless if the target is the system itself.
- Most of these attacks exploit software that receives data even before it can determine whether what is coming in is trustworthy or not, like an email client.
Difference between Zero Click Attacks and Spear Phishing:
- Zero-click attacks occur only when an attacker is able to take over a device remotely after successfully exploiting vulnerabilities in the software and hardware of the phone.
- On the other hand, spear phishing is a social engineering attack where a hacker sends a fraudulent message which is designed to trick a victim into revealing confidential information or infect their device with malicious software.
Can zero-click attacks be prevented?
- Zero-click attacks are hard to detect given their nature and hence even harder to prevent. Detection becomes even harder in encrypted environments, where there is no visibility on the data packets being sent or received.
- One of the things users can do is to ensure all operating systems and software are up-to-date so that they would have the patches for at least vulnerabilities that have been spotted.
Explained: In new policy, what owners can or can’t do with their vintage vehicles
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
The Government of India has released the Draft Vintage cars Policy. The policy aims to not only regulate vintage cars and two-wheelers with strict dos and don’ts but also preserve and promote the heritage of vintage vehicles.
What are Vintage Vehicles?
- Currently, the Central Motor Vehicle Rules(CMVR), 1989 do not define what vintage vehicles are.
- The new policy defines vintage vehicles as any vehicle, four- or two-wheeler which is more than 50 years old from the date of first registration after the first sale, including any vehicle imported into India.
- This will be subject to the condition that such vehicles should be maintained in their original form and should not have undergone any substantial overhaul.
How can vintage vehicles be used?
- The policy seeks to mandate that vintage vehicles cannot be used for commercial purposes or put to regular use. This means you cannot use your vintage vehicle to, say, commute to work.
- Other than that, the owners can use their vintage cars in any way they wish — such as an exhibition, or a ride from time to time.
Registration of Vintage Vehicles:
- Old Vintage vehicles which already carry their registration numbers will continue to do so.
- For new ones, like imported vintage vehicles or old Indian cars over 50 years old seeking to enter the vintage category, a new numbering system will come into effect.
- These vehicles will carry a registration plate displaying the state code in two letters followed by VA for vintage, then a two-letter series, and finally a four-digit series between 0001 and 9999.
- The registration certificate will be valid for 10 years and renewable thereafter.
- Sale and purchase of vehicles registered as vintage are permissible. But the buyer and seller have to inform their respective State Transport Authorities.
Will the upcoming vehicle scrappage policy apply to these vehicles?
- No. Vintage vehicles are protected from the scrappage policy. If a vehicle is more than 15 years old but within 50 years, the owner can continue to keep it by passing fitness tests every five years.
Government eases stocking norms for pulses importers, wholesalers
What is the News?
Government of India has eased stock holding limits on pulses after traders protested by staying away from the buying-selling activities in mandis across the country.
- The Department of Consumer Affairs had issued the Removal of Licensing Requirements, Stock Limits, and Movement Restrictions on Specified Foodstuffs (Amendment) Order, 2021.
- The order was issued in exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act,1955.
- The order had imposed stock holding limits on all pulses barring moong or green gram for a period up to October 31, 2021.
- If the stocks of entities exceed the prescribed limits, it has to be declared on the online portal of the Department of Consumer Affairs
Why was this order issued?
- There was a sustained increase in the price (inflation) of pulses in March-April,2021.
- Hence, this decision was needed to prevent hoarding and check price rise.
What has been done now?
- The Government of India has exempted importers of pulses from stock limits and also relaxed the norms for wholesalers and millers.
- These relaxations have been made in view of softening of prices of all the key varieties of pulses.
- However, stock limits will now be applicable only on tur, urad, gram and masoor till October 31.
- Moreover, all millers and importers will have to continue to declare their stocks on the web portal of the consumer affairs ministry.
Note: This order was totally in variance with the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.However, since the implementation of the act has been stayed by the Supreme Court.This allowed the government to reintroduce stock holding limits under Essential Commodities Act,1955.
Scientists develop novel 3D robotic motion phantom that can reproduce human lung motion
What is the News?
A group of Indian scientists has developed a novel and cheap three-dimensional (3D) robotic motion phantom that can reproduce human lung motion. This will help to deliver focused radiation in cancer patients.
What was the need for 3D robotic motion phantom?
- Breathing motion is a problem for delivering focused radiation dose to the cancer tumour attached to the upper abdomen and thoracic regions.
- The motion exposes an area larger than the tumour to radiation during cancer treatment, thus affecting tissues surrounding the targeted tumour.
- Hence, focused radiation for a patient could be customised by simulating the lung movement of the particular patient and then orienting the delivery of the radiation so that it can be effective with minimal dosage.
- However, before this is done on a human, its effectiveness needs to be checked on a robotic phantom that has been developed now.
What will a 3D robotic motion phantom do?
- The 3-D robotic motion phantom can reproduce the human lung motions during breathing.
- The phantom not only emulates the human lung motion as a patient is breathing, but can also be used to check if the radiation is being correctly focussed on a moving target.
- This can help the doctors in easily treating cancer patients as it will ensure that the focused radiation is targeted correctly in the upper abdomen or thoracic region.
Significance of this development:
- This is the first time in India that this type of advanced manufacturing has been developed.
- Moreover, the robotic phantoms developed are more affordable than other imported products available in the market.