9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – July 27th, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Seeking to destroy India’s civil society
- To jail or not to jail isn’t such a difficult decision
- Why Burmese Generals Should Worry New Delhi
GS Paper 3
- GDP growth and formal employment: Whose GDP is it anyway?
- Integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks: A path to global connectivity
- The tipping point on service charges
- Power tariff revisions and the state of DISCOMs
- Lessons from a tax cut
- Monkeypox & Human Folly
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Russia to opt out of International Space Station after 2024
- India Designates 5 New Ramsar Sites
- Rural and indigenous/tribal games have been identified under ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’ component of Khelo India Scheme
- India seen overtaking China as biggest importer of seaborne Russian crude
- ECGC introduces new scheme providing enhanced export credit risk insurance cover up to 90% for small exporters
- Ministry of New and Renewable Energy implements Suryamitra Skill Development Programme to boost Green Jobs in the country
- Rural Technology Action Group(RuTAG)
- MIST Submarine Cable System: Panel moots separate corridor for submarine cable system in Chennai
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “Seeking to destroy India’s civil society” published in The Hindu on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Relevance: About recent restrictions on civil society organisations.
News: There is a suspicion that the government is attacking non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society.
Why do civil society organisations need to be regulated?
Minority rights were deemed essential for the consolidation of the Indian state where citizens needed to feel a sense of belonging. The Constitution and law sought to protect minority communities and mandated equal rights and protection from the state to persons of all faiths and identities.
Civil society organisations need to be regulated for defending those values. The Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA), and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), are used in conjunction with a range of other measures such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for regulating Civil society organisations.
|Read more: On FCRA & NGOs: Killing the license|
What are the recent restrictions placed on CSOs by the government?
2010 amendment of FCRA: The FCRA amended in 2010 gave substantial discretionary powers to the state to deal with NGOs. NGOs now needed to renew their licences every five years.
More than 20,000 civil society organisations that lost their registration between 2011 and May 2022. More than 16,000 NGOs were denied registration between 2015 and 2022.
2020 amendment of FCRA: This amendment forced NGOs to spend less on administrative costs. Finally, all NGOs were required to operate their foreign accounts through the State Bank of India’s branch located on Parliament Street in New Delhi.
|Read more: Govt. curbs funding for 10 climate change, child labour NGOs|
Application of PMLA: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) of the Department of Revenue has wide-ranging powers to search and arrest citizens under the PMLA. This provision was used by the government to curb the activities of NGOs and political dissenters.
Other restrictions: a) In 2020, the government announced that the tax-free status of domestic donations would be reviewed every five years, b) The government grants were largely discontinued.
|Read more: Impact of New FCRA Rules on Relief Work of NGOs – Explained, Pointwise|
Social values can be saved if democratic politics protects those values. Excessive control over NGOs restricts the pluralistic nature of Indian society that is at the heart of India’s democracy.
Source: The post is based on the article “To jail or not to sail isn’t such a difficult decision” published in the Live Mint on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India
Relevance: Fundamental Rights: Right to personal liberty
News: Recently, The Supreme court of India granted bail to a fact-checker. He was arrested for tweeting a still from a 1983 Hindi film.
The fact-checker was trapped in a loop of multiple cases which were lodged against him in two states. Therefore, he was subjected to rounds of arrest, bail pleas, and dock hearings.
What are the key takeaways from the Supreme Court’s ruling in this regard?
“The machinery of criminal justice was being relentlessly employed” against the accused. Thus, the process of criminal justice has itself become the punishment for the accused.
An arrest is not meant to be and must not be used as a punitive tool because it results in the loss of personal liberty.
When the power to arrest is exercised by the law agencies without application of mind and without due regard to the law, it amounts to an abuse of power.
Issues in the Indian Criminal Justice System
(1) Mindless arrests and jails have become one of the features of criminal justice in the country.
(2) Over 75% of Indian prisoners are under-trials, locked up for months and years in the prisons without their case coming to trial.
(3) Further, two-thirds of those locked up as under-trials belong to marginalized castes and tribes.
(4) Many lack the means to access legal aid, take on the maze, or even put-up bail money.
(5) Despite the top judiciary’s vocal activism, the lower judiciary’s rulings continue to violate the personal liberty of the citizen accused in cases.
(6) In harsh anti-terror laws, the judiciary at all levels has appeared hesitant to grant bail.
What are the suggestions for reforms by the judiciary?
(1) Fair trials and respect for personal liberty should be the cornerstones of democracy.
(2) The Judges must pay heed to the first principles of criminal procedure when it comes to arrests, i.e., “bail, not jail”. They must not be put behind bars for long stints if they pose no danger of influencing the probe, or escape.
(3) A comprehensive law on bail which recognizes a right to bail must be framed. Such law should be modeled on similar legislation in the UK.
Source: The post is based on an article “Why Burmese Generals should worry New Delhi?” published in the Times of India on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations: Bilateral Relations
Relevance: India-Myanmar Relations
Context: Recently, four pro-democracy activists were executed in Myanmar. These were few of the political prisoners in military-ruled Myanmar. The article discusses, are there any repercussions of happenings in Myanmar on India?
After the coup in Myanmar, 2,100 people have been killed, 1 million displaced, 8,000 put in custody and 114 sentenced to death.
As per the report, at least 382 children have been killed or maimed and over 1,400 children have been arrested since the military takeover.
The UN Human Rights Chief has condemned the executions and called for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.
India-Myanmar Relations – The Northeast-Myanmar connect
(A) The Northeast region of India shares a 1,642 km border with Myanmar. Therefore, the entire region has long been known as the “Indo-Burma Border”.
(B) Historical links between the Northeast and Myanmar have existed for centuries.
(1) Myanmar took over parts of the former Kingdom of Manipur during a period of history called “Chahi Taret Khuntakpa” or “Seven Years Devastation” between 1819 and 1826.
(2) Myanmar was part of British India till 1935.
(3) The McMahon Line was drawn by the British separated families and communities.
(C) Till today there are many Manipuri villages in Myanmar and several indigenous communities straddle both sides of the border.
Repercussions of the current military takeover of Myanmar for India
A large number of people have been displaced from Myanmar to Mizoram and Manipur. There are around 70,000 Burmese refugees in Mizoram and more than 30,000 in Manipur, including 16 Burmese lawmakers.
There are over 100 refugee camps in Mizoram for this incoming population.
Unlike Mizoram, Manipur has not established refugee camps and has even arrested several Burmese refugees.
What should be done?
(1) The Government of India (GOI) must provide a cross-border assistance program to address the displacement crisis in western Myanmar bordering Northeast India.
(2) Immediate and flexible assistance should be provided for the refugees, particularly for displaced women and children.
(3) In the spirit of Act East policy, the GOI should go for long-term cross-border programs to address the humanitarian crisis and rising xenophobia in Mizoram and Manipur.
(4) The Indo-Burma region is of immense geo-strategic importance. Therefore, the GOI should support Myanmar democracy leaders who espouse democracy and rule of law in Myanmar. India is already hosting the Tibetan government in exile. This would be of great strategic value for peace building on India’s eastern borders.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Whose GDP is it anyway?” published in The Hindu on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
Relevance: About GDP growth and formal employment.
News: The Government will release the first quarter’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth numbers within a few days. The debate on GDP growth and formal employment generation might once again erupt.
What is the relation between GDP growth and formal employment in India?
Based on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data (Employment in public and organised private sectors’),
a) It is calculated that between 1980 and 1990, every one percentage point of GDP growth (nominal) generated roughly two lakh new jobs in the formal sector.
b) In the subsequent decade from 1990 to 2000, every one percentage point of GDP growth yielded roughly one lakh new formal sector jobs, half of the previous decade.
c) In the next decade between 2000 and 2010, one percentage point of GDP growth generated only 52,000 new jobs.
d) The RBI stopped publishing this data from 2011-12.
This shows that the correlation between formal sector jobs and GDP growth has weakened considerably.
|Read more: India’s GDP Growth for FY2021-22 – Explained, pointwise|
What is the relation between GDP growth and formal employment around the world?
The above phenomenon is not unique to India. For instance, a) The U.S. today produces fewer new jobs for every percentage point of GDP growth than it did in the 1990s. b) China produces one-third the number of new jobs today than it did in the 1990s for every percentage of its GDP growth.
What is the significance of findings on GDP growth and formal employment?
The single most important demand of people in India is jobs, specifically, a high-quality formal sector job that ensures the dignity of work, good income and job security.
The GDP growth matters to the average Indian only if it can generate good quality jobs and incomes for them. But the findings on GDP growth and formal employment shows,
Firstly, the GDP is a simple metric that is a good indicator of economic progress which can be compared across nations. So, focussing on GDP growth at all costs can be counter-productive.
For instance, Sri Lanka’s mass uprising and people’s revolution can partly be explained due to the structural break between headline GDP growth and economic prosperity for the people.
Secondly, there is a condition that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund projected ‘fastest’ growing economies are unable to provide prosperity and social mobility for their people.
This may partly be reflected by the voters’ sense of deception over economic gains. This resulted in Electoral outcomes in favour of extreme positions in mature democracies such as the U.S., the U.K., and Germany.
Thirdly, a statistical aphorism ‘Everything that counts cannot be counted and everything that can be counted does not count’ summarises the GDP growth paradox faced by many democracies.
|Read more: Periodic Labour Force Survey and Unemployment in India- Explained, pointwise|
What is the recommendation of ‘commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress’?
Formed in: 2008, by the then President of France/
Commission members: Nobel Laureate economists Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and others.
Aim: To develop a more comprehensive measurement framework of economic and social performance as an alternative to the excessive reliance on GDP.
Major recommendation: expand the dashboard of multiple indicators unique for each country.
Hence, India should overhaul its economic performance measurement framework to reflect what truly matters to the common person.
Source: This post is based on the article “A path to global connectivity” published in The Hindu on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Awareness in the fields of IT and Space.
Relevance: About integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks.
News: As terrestrial 5G mobile networks are being rolled out across countries, there is an interest in integrating Non-Terrestrial Networks, such as low latency Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite networks (SatNets).
Wireless communications through LEO satellites over long distances are proven to be 1.47 times faster than communication over the same distance through terrestrial optic fibre.
What is the present status of SatNets?
Starlink operated by SpaceX, and OneWeb promoted by Bharti Global, have launched about 2,500 and 648 LEO satellites respectively at an altitude of about 1,200 km with the objective of promoting global broadband connectivity.
There are other players such as Reliance Jio in a joint venture with Luxembourg-based SES and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.
Why does integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks is essential?
Recent research on Starlink and OneWeb suggests that the standalone LEO SatNets have a distinct cost advantage only if the density is less than 0.1 person per square km compared to terrestrial broadband networks. Hence it is to the advantage of LEO SatNet providers to integrate their networks with terrestrial 5G networks to improve the cost economies.
|Must read: Space Economy in India – Explained, pointwise|
How SatNets are integrating with terrestrial 5G networks?
Satellites and terrestrial networks have always been considered two independent ecosystems, and their standardisation efforts also are independent of each other.
But now standard-setting organisations such as the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) started integrating SatNets in the standardisation process.
What are the applications of integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks?
There are three main use cases, 1) Service continuity: Integration will provide a seamless transition between terrestrial networks and SatNets in case of public safety, disaster management and emergency situations; 2) Service ubiquity: Integration can provide 5G services in unserved and underserved areas of the world; 3) Service scalability: This utilises the unique capabilities of SatNets in multicasting and broadcasting similar content over a large geographical area. The LEO SatNets can provide service not only to stationary but also to in-motion users.
|Read more: [Yojana January Summary] India as a Space Power – Explained, pointwise|
What are the challenges faced while integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks?
These include 1) Frequencies allocated for satellite broadband, 2) The methodology of allocation, 3) The relatively higher cost of consumer equipment, 4) The placement and interconnections of SatNets with terrestrial public landline/mobile networks at the ground stations, and 5) Increased cost of the user terminal and access charges to the end users.
How does the government is promoting integrating SatNets with terrestrial 5G networks?
National Digital Communications Policy 2018: The policy indicated a number of areas including a) The development of an ecosystem for local manufacturing of satellite communication systems and b) Promoting the participation of private players for the strengthening of satellite communication infrastructure in the country.
New Space India Limited (NSIL): This aims to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilisation of the space assets.
Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe): It is intended to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure and to promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.
The proposed revisions to Satellite Communications Policy will provide the required fillip to LEO SatNets to become an integral part of the communication infrastructure of the country.
|Read more: Indian Space Association (ISpA) – Explained, pointwise|
Source: This post is based on the article “The tipping point on service charges” published in the Indian Express on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Relevance: About recent restrictions on service charge.
News: Recently, the Delhi High Court stayed the operation of guidelines issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), which prohibited hotels and restaurants from adding a component of service charge to their bills.
About the guidelines of CCPA
|Read here: Service Charge: The new guidelines to prevent unfair trade practices|
Does the Delhi High Court stay apply throughout India?
Under Article 226 of the Constitution, the application of an order passed by the Delhi HC ought to only be confined to the national capital territory (NCT) of Delhi.
However, according to the Supreme Court ruling in the Kusum Ingots and Alloys Ltd. v. Union of India (2004) case, any order passed by a high court on the constitutionality of central legislation will have effect throughout the country.
As the Consumer Protection Act was enacted by the Parliament, the HC order clears the way for hotels and restaurants across the country to restore their practice of levying a service charge.
What are the recommendations of the various committees on service charges?
The practice of levying a service charge has been followed by the hospitality industry since Independence.
Hotel Standards and Rate Structure Committee: The committee was formed under the chairmanship of Dewan Chaman Lal in 1958. The committee recognised the service charge and recommended the following,
a) There be a uniform charge of 10% on the customer’s bill throughout India, b) Condemned the practice of solicitation of tips, calling it injurious to the dignity of the worker and causing harassment to the customer, c) Demand for the introduction of comprehensive legislation to provide a minimum-wage structure, uniform rate of service charge and the utilisation and allocation of the service charge for the benefit of the staff, and d) A portion of the service charge so collected may be utilised to provide benefits such as provident funds, pensions and life insurance.
Wage Board: It was constituted by the Delhi Chief Commissioner in 1964. The major recommendations were, a) Accepted the practice of levying a service charge ranging between 5-10% on a customer’s bills, b) Asked the apportionment of the service charge collected, of which 45% was to be allocated for the staff working at the establishment.
Further, the levying of service charges has been upheld by various decisions of the Supreme Court as well as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
|Read more: Barring restaurants from levying service charge is unfair, reeks of discrimination|
What are the issues associated with prohibiting service charges?
Prohibiting hotels and restaurants from levying service charges would lead to inequitable distribution of tips. As the tips are only likely to be pocketed by the staff who come into contact with the customer, leaving the back-end workers high and dry.
Note: In Wenger & Company and others vs. Their Workmen case,1963, the Supreme Court observed that the practice of tipping is a nuisance for the customer and an excuse by the management to justify low wages.
What are the challenges faced by the workers in hotels and restaurants?
a) Despite various recommendations, there is no legislative framework regulating the imposition and apportionment of service charges in India, b) The sector is largely unorganised and most workers barely get their basic pay, let alone any other benefits.
What should be done?
In the absence of formal legislation regulating the concept, the issue relating to the application of service charges might be at the risk of being viewed from the lens of the consumer and not the worker. Hence, the government should frame comprehensive legislation.
Source: The post is based on an article “Power tariff revisions and the state of DISCOMS” published in The Hindu on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure: Energy
Relevance: Power Sector Reforms
News: According to Niti Aayog’s report 2021, most power DISCOMs in the country incur losses every year. The total loss was estimated to be ₹90,000 crores in the financial year 2021. The case of Tamil Nadu is an example of what is happening in the distribution sector in the country.
On July 13, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) filed a general retail power tariff revision petition with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission. The petition proposes to hike power tariffs by 10% to 35%.
Why has the tariff revision petition been filed by TANGEDCO?
(1) TANGEDCO is facing mounting losses, outstanding loans, and the consequent increase in interest burden.
(2) Even after joining the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) Scheme, it could not reduce the gap between the Average Cost of Supply (ACS) and the Average Revenue Realised (ARR) to nil by 2018-19. It was stipulated by the scheme. On the contrary, Comptroller and Auditor-General report suggest, that the gap rose to ₹1.07 per unit in 2019-20 against ₹0.6 per unit in 2015-16.
(3) Recently, the Central government has withheld the release of funds that were meant under the Special Liquidity loan scheme and the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), for lack of reforms.
(4) Further, the RBI issued a guideline to commercial banks that if lending is to be provided to any State-owned power utility including DISCOMs, the entity should have filed a tariff revision petition by November 30 every year.
(5) If the proposal comes into effect, expected in September, the hike will be after a gap of eight years.
What are the measures taken by the government so far?
The Central government has announced a Liquidity Infusion Scheme (Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan) to help the DISCOMs. Under this scheme, loans of ₹1,35,497 crore have been sanctioned.
Where do other States stand on power tariffs?
Despite the Centre’s prescription for annual or periodical revision of retail power tariff, States are reluctant to do so. The tariffs are often used as a tool by the political parties for their political agenda.
In Andhra Pradesh, the recent power tariff hike has taken place after a gap of two decades.
In 2022, the Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission rejected the proposal for a 9.9% hike.
In Punjab, instead of hiking the tariff, the domestic consumers have been given free electricity up to 300 units each month.
Do States provide subsidies to sectors like agriculture?
Yes., the State governments provide free or heavily subsidised power supply to the agricultural sector.
For example, Tamil Nadu has been implementing a free power supply for the sector since the mid-1980s. The electricity meters were not installed for a long time. Now, the meters have been installed for agricultural pump sets, but these meters are used for an assessment of consumption and not for billing.
What should be done?
This is to be noted that the freebies on electricity tariffs are not sustainable in the long run.
The reforms are required in the power tariffs. The lessons can be learnt from the success stories. For example,
(1) There can be segregation of feeders as an option to arrive at the accurate consumption of the farm sector. the consumption of farm sector is not measured due to the absence of meters. Gujarat is cited as a success story in this regard
(2) In Manipur, prepaid meters have been installed, and the power supply has been improved. It resulted in improved billing and collection efficiency as well as lower commercial losses.
(3) The Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission has provided an incentive package. An incentive equal to 5% of energy charges is given on installation for the use of energy-saving devices such as ISI energy-efficient motors for pump sets etc.
Source: The post is based on an article “Lessons from a tax cut” published in the Business Standard on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 The Union Budgeting
Relevance: Corporate Tax Collection; Ease of Doing Business
News: In 2019, the government reduced the corporation tax rate to revive growth in the Indian Economy. The article analyses the results of tax reduction.
History of Corporate tax rate reforms in India
(A) 1990s Period
(1) In 1991, the corporation tax rate was raised from 40% to 45% because of revenue concerns. However, the tax was brought back to 40 percent in the year 1994.
(2) In 1997, the surcharges were abolished and tax was reduced from 40% to 35%.
(B) 2000s Period
(1) From 2000 onwards, the surcharges were reintroduced. Also, the corporate tax was raised to almost 36-38% for the next five years.
(2) In 2005, the corporation tax rate was reduced to 30%. However, the actual rate was about 33% along with the surcharge.
In Budget 2015-16, the Union Finance minister promised that the corporation tax rate would be reduced to 25% in a period of four years along with a phase-out of exemptions.
Since then, the corporate tax rate has been reduced by almost 10 percentage points. While exemptions and concessions were phased out.
On 1st October 2019, the corporation tax rate was lowered to 17 percent, including surcharge and cess, from 29 percent. The Minimum Alternate Tax rate also was brought down from 21-22 percent to 17 percent.
Initially, the government had estimated that Rs 1.45 trillion in revenue will be foregone due to the cut in the tax rates. But subsequently, the government stated that some of this loss could be recovered through increased buoyancy.
How has the tax reduction impacted the government’s tax collections?
As per data for 2019-20, almost 16% of companies (accounted for about 62% of the total income), opted for the new scheme of lower tax rates and gave up exemptions and concessions. Therefore, total corporation tax collections in 2019-20 declined by about 16% to Rs 5.57 trillion, compared to Rs 6.63 trillion in 2018-19.
However, the latest provisional unaudited numbers with the Controller General of Accounts for 2021-22 show a changing situation now.
Corporation tax collections rose to Rs 7.12 trillion. But in terms of their share in GDP, corporation tax collections in 2021-22 were still at 3%. It was marginally lower than the 3.5% seen in 2018-19.
What should be done?
A stable tax regime having tax cuts with fewer exemptions results in revenue buoyancy. This happens due to improvement in compliance and wider coverage.
Therefore, the corporation tax revenues collection might improve in the year ahead. There would be overall collections buoyancy due to dispersion of tax liability to a larger number of companies in different income levels, if present trend continues.
Source: The post is based on an article “Monkeypox & Human Folly” published in the Times of India on 27th July 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Disaster Management
News: Recently, over 16,000 cases of Monkeypox were reported from 75 countries. Therefore, the WHO has declared Monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
The WHO declared it PHEIC despite non-recommendation by an expert committee constituted by the WHO to study it. For example, 9 members voted against and 6 voted for the declaration.
What were the arguments of members who voted against the declaration of a PHEIC?
Don’t stigmatise gay men: Most of the recent spurt of cases involved human-to-human transmission. This was mainly found among males who have sex with males (MSM). Therefore, such a declaration would precipitate panic and create a stigma against this vulnerable population by labeling it as a gay disease.
Why was monkeypox declared as a PHEIC despite a weak vote?
The declaration was an indication of the challenges that may mount up. It was an alert to governments to prepare a health system response that combines prevention, surveillance, treatment, and risk communication.
Apart from the MSM-related transmission, there were other cases of human-to-human transmission. For example, in the US and Europe, a few children have been infected through household contact.
There can be zoonotic transmissions in the present age of globalization. The virus responsible for monkeypox has been found in several mammals like squirrels, mice, rats, rabbits, American prairie dogs, and of course, monkeys. In fact, Squirrels is a more frequent source of zoonotic transmission than a monkey. For example, the 2003 outbreak of monkeypox in six US was due to mammals (mostly rodents) imported from the West African nation of Ghana.
What public health measures should be taken by the government of India?
(1) The health systems need to be on alert. There should be effective surveillance, testing, isolation of cases, and risk communication to the public.
(2) Smallpox vaccine can be used. It is effective in providing up to 85% cross-protection. It should be considered for unvaccinated persons. Persons at high risk of infection or severe disease should be prioritized first. Further, persons who are below 45yr of age who would not have received the smallpox vaccine, after it was eradicated should be vaccinated.
(3) The government should do domestic production and stockpiling of tecovirimat, an antiviral drug developed for smallpox treatment.
(4) Stigma and discrimination of any kind against MSM person should be avoided. India can use extensive experience from the HIV-AIDS programme.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Russia to opt out of International Space Station after 2024” published in The Hindu on 27th July 2022
What is the News?
Russia has announced that it has decided to quit the International Space Station “after 2024”.
What is the International Space Station(ISS)?
International Space Station(ISS) is a space station located in low Earth orbit. It is a joint project between five space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada).
ISS has been in orbit around Earth since 1998 and has been used to conduct thousands of scientific experiments.
It is approved to operate until 2024, but the US wants to extend that for six more years till 2030.
However, Russia has decided to quit ISS by 2030 as relations have soured since Russia invaded Ukraine and Russia had previously threatened to quit the project because of Western sanctions against it.
What will be the impact of Russia leaving the ISS?
ISS is designed in a way that makes the partners dependent on each other.
For instance, the US side of the ISS provides the power; the Russian side provides the propulsion and keeps the platform from falling to Earth.
If that propulsive capability is withdrawn, the US and its other partners will need to devise other means of periodically boosting the station higher in the sky.
Source: The post is based on the article “India Designates 5 New Ramsar Sites” published in PIB on 26th July 2022
What is the News?
India has added five more Ramsar Sites or Wetlands of International Importance. With this, the number of Ramsar Sites in India has increased from 49 to 54.
Which are these five new Ramsar Sites?
Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest: It is a freshwater marsh located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It is the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city and among the few and last remaining natural wetlands of South India.
Karikili Bird Sanctuary: It is located in the Kancheepuram District of Tamil Nadu. The sanctuary is about 75 km from Chennai, south of Chengalpattu.
Pichavaram Mangrove: It is located in a village near Chidambaram in the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in India with littoral and swamp forest habitats, located between the estuaries of the Vellar and Kollidam rivers. Trees here are permanently rooted under a few feets of water.
Pala wetland: It is the largest natural wetland in Mizoram. The low-lying marshy areas within the wetland provide excellent habitat for the sambar deer, wild boars and barking deer. It’s also a habitat for the endangered Hoolock gibbon and Phayre’s leaf monkey. The wetland is also revered by the local Mara people.
Sakhya Sagar Lake: It is an integral part of the beautiful ecology of the Madhav National Park in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh. It was created from the Manier river in 1918.
|Must read: What are Ramsar Sites, and what is the significance of this listing?|
India’s Ramsar Sites
India’s Ramsar sites are spread over 11,000 sq km — around 10% of the total wetland area in the country — across 18 States.
No other South Asian country has as many Ramsar Sites as India.
The National Wetland Inventory and Assessment compiled by the ISRO estimates India’s wetlands to span around 1,52,600 square kilometres which is 4.63% of the total geographical area of the country.
A little over two-fifths are inland natural wetlands and about a quarter are coastal wetlands.
What are the benefits of being designated as a Ramsar Site?
Being designated a Ramsar site does not necessarily invite extra international funds but States — and the Centre — must ensure that these tracts of land are conserved and spared from man-made encroachment.
Acquiring this label also helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.
Rural and indigenous/tribal games have been identified under ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’ component of Khelo India Scheme
Source: The post is based on the article “Rural and indigenous/tribal games have been identified under ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’ component of Khelo India Scheme” published in PIB on 26th July 2022
What is the News?
Union Minister of Sports has informed that a number of rural and indigenous/tribal games have been identified under the ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’ component of Khelo India Scheme.
What steps have been taken by the Government of India to promote indigenous games?
There are a number of indigenous sports being played in different States as per their culture and tradition.
Sports is a state subject. The responsibility to promote indigenous sports in the country and conduct special training programmes rests primarily with the respective State/Union Territory Governments.
The Union Government supplements their efforts. For instance, the Sports Ministry runs a Central Sector Scheme, namely, the Khelo India Scheme. One of the components of the scheme is the ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’.
This component is specifically dedicated to the development and promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games in the country.
Indigenous games of Mallakhamb, Kalaripayattu, Gatka, Thang-Ta, Yogasana and Silambam have been identified for promotion under this component.
Grants are sanctioned for infrastructure development, equipment support, the appointment of coaches, training of coaches and scholarships under this Component.
Source: The post is based on the article “India seen overtaking China as biggest importer of seaborne Russian crude” published in Business Standard on 27th July 2022.
What is the News?
India is understood to have overtaken China as the top destination for seaborne Russian crude oil this month. This is the first time Indian imports of seaborne Russian crude have exceeded those from China.
Note: Russian crude oil travelling through pipelines is not included in this study. However, it is estimated to be only around 10 to 20% of all crude oil flowing out of Russia.
Why has India ramped up Russian oil imports?
Russia has emerged as one of India’s top three crude oil suppliers since the war broke out.
The invasion unleashed sanctions by the United States and Europe, prompting Russia to offer discounts of around $30 a barrel on the Urals.
Hence, India has taken advantage of discounted prices to ramp up oil imports from Russia at a time when global oil prices are rising.
ECGC introduces new scheme providing enhanced export credit risk insurance cover up to 90% for small exporters
Source: The post is based on the article “ECGC introduces new scheme providing enhanced export credit risk insurance cover up to 90% for small exporters” published in PIB on 26th July 2022.
What is the News?
Export Credit Guarantee Corporation(ECGC) has introduced a new scheme to provide enhanced export credit risk insurance cover to the extent of 90% to support small exporters.
About the Scheme to provide enhanced export credit risk insurance cover
Launched by: ECGC under the Export Credit Insurance for Banks Whole Turnover Packaging Credit and Post Shipment(ECIB- WTPC & PS).
Objective: To provide small exporters with enhanced export credit risk insurance coverage of up to 90%.
Eligibility: The enhanced insurance cover will be available for manufacturers and exporters availing fund-based export credit working capital with a limit of up to Rs 20 crore (Packaging Credit and Post Shipment limit per exporter/exporter-group), excluding the gems, jewellery and diamond sector and merchant exporters.
What is the significance of the scheme?
The scheme is expected to benefit a number of small-scale exporters availing of export credit with banks which hold the ECGC WT-ECIB covers.
This will also enable the small exporters to explore new markets/new buyers and diversify their existing product portfolio competitively.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy implements Suryamitra Skill Development Programme to boost Green Jobs in the country
Source: The post is based on the article “Ministry of New and Renewable Energy implements Suryamitra Skill Development Programme to boost Green Jobs in the country” published in PIB on 26th July 2022
What is the News?
The Minister for New and Renewable Energy has informed Lok Sabha about the Suryamitra Skill Development Programme.
What is the Suryamitra Skill Development Programme?
Nodal Ministry: Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
Aim: To train the youth of age above 18 years as solar PV technicians for installation, operation and maintenance of solar power projects.
Implemented by: National Institute of Solar Energy(NISE) since 2015-16.
Significance of the scheme: The impact assessment report for Suryamitra training programme reported that more than 90% of the trainees have reported improvement in technical know-how, improved performance in the sector and 88% of trainees reported an increase in job opportunities.
What is the National Institute of Solar Energy(NISE)?
NISE is an autonomous specialized institute under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Aim: It is mandated for research and development, solar component testing and certification, capacity building and development of solar products and applications.
Located at: Gurugram, Haryana
Source: The post is based on the article “Rural Technology Action Group(RuTAG)” published in PIB on 26th July 2022
What is the News?
Union Minister of State for Panchayati Raj has informed Lok Sabha about the achievements of the Rural Technology Action Group(RuTAG).
What is Rural Technology Action Group(RuTAG)?
It is a mission conceptualized by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) in 2003-04.
Aim: To provide a higher level of science and technology intervention and support for the development and dissemination of appropriate technologies for rural areas.
RuTAG is centered in 7 IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, and Roorkee) at present.
Technology Interventions: The technology interventions of RuTAG are essentially demand-driven and could be for technology upgradation, hi-tech delivery, technology training and demonstration or through any other innovative method and have a focus on problems associated with marginal communities in rural areas.
Note: RuTAG acts as a synergizing and catalyzing mechanism for rural technology development and delivery and not a major funding mechanism.
Source: The post is based on the article “Panel moots separate corridor for submarine cable system in Chennai” published in The Hindu on 25th July 2022.
What is the News?
The Expert Appraisal Committee under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has recommended Coastal Regulatory Zone(CRZ) clearance for the Myanmar/ Malaysia- India- Singapore Transit (MIST) Submarine Cable System.
What is MIST Submarine Cable System?
MIST is an 8,100 Km long international submarine cable communication network.
It will traverse undersea to connect India with countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
It will provide secure, reliable, robust and affordable telecom facilities in Asia with the main trunk route being from Tuas in Singapore to Mumbai in India.
What is the significance of this project?
Firstly, it will boost telecom connectivity between India and other Asian countries, namely Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
Secondly, it will have a minimal footprint on Mumbai’s coastal environment.
Thirdly, it would also help avoid conflict with various stakeholders considering the increasing number of international cable landing on the Chennai coast
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RPF undertakes month long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers
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Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal
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Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister
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