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 2
- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana water-share war seems far from over
- Evaluating India’s options in Afghanistan
- Needed, a more unified Asian voice for Afghanistan
- India can act as a peace Agent in the Security Council
- Towards a lean tax department
- Needed: an anti-trafficking law
GS Paper 3
- What is prepackaged insolvency resolution & how does process work?
- Beyond corporate deleveraging
- How the factoring business can help small companies
- Theatre Commander under Chief of Defence Staff is not a good idea
- Climate change has raised tricky questions over policy responses
- Let’s make room for the river
- Stimulus ‘inadequate’, 25% of MSME loans may default: Panel
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Capacity Building Initiative on Making Water Sensitive Cities In Ganga Basin Launched
- Dholavira in Gujarat on UNESCO World Heritage list
- No landless farmers in new database
- James Webb Telescope in the centre of LGBT debate
- National Organ Transplant Programme(NOTP)
- Parliament passes landmark ‘Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021’
- What is Nauka, the module Russia is sending to the International Space Station?
- Government developed indigenous climate model to predict the impact of climate change on monsoon in the country
- Tap it for India: Puri’s tap water is safe to drink.
- Garib Nawaz Skill Development Centres
- SC refuses to ban begging, says ‘no one would like to beg if not for poverty’
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: Business Standard
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure
Relevance: Interstate water disputes are a threat to national unity. Therefore, their resolution is of utmost importance.
The Krishna-Godavari rivers may have their respective management boards now, but the tussle between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over water-sharing seems far from over.
- The Jal Shakti Ministry on July 15 issued a notification regarding the Krishna and Godavari river management boards.
- It calls for transferring the operation of all projects in the two river basins in Andhra and Telangana to the boards from October 14.
- The notification came seven years after the constitution of the river management boards under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
About the notification:
- The notification will enable the boards to limit states’ share of water as per their requirements.
- It brings 35 projects in the Krishna basin and 71 in the Godavari basin within the purview of the boards.
- To make sure the boards are unbiased, the Centre has made it clear that no person from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh shall be appointed chairman, member-secretary, members, and chief engineers.
- The boards will also advise the two-state governments on the release of water to mitigate disaster, drought, or flood.
Timeline of Dispute:
- The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 1969.
- Before the state was divided, the tribunal had said that Andhra Pradesh would get 45-thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) water from the total 80-tmc ft water that was to be diverted from Godavari to Krishna.
- The rest had to be shared between Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- Telangana now has a share in the water allocated to Andhra Pradesh.
- When states share a basin, there are issues. Rivers and the environment get zero due, and states are only interested in taking more water for political reasons.
- The boards need to have a clear framework to not just resolve disputes, but also take proactive measures to avoid environmental and climate disasters.
- Further, the boards have to ensure seamless data-sharing with respect to groundwater levels and telemetry.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations
Relevance: Future course of action for India vis-a-vis situation in Afghanistan
Synopsis: With the West done with Afghanistan, New Delhi needs to adopt a layered approach in finding a political solution. It has to work with Eurasian powers to protect its interests and stabilise Afghanistan.
- The U.S. is retreating from Afghanistan as part of a grand strategy to take on China in maritime Asia. It has failed to defeat the Taliban but has been successful in killing Osama Bin Laden and disrupting al-Qaeda networks.
- The Taliban is currently gaining more and more territory, which raises a crucial question in front of India regarding its future engagement in Afghanistan.
Evolution of Indo – Afghan relations
- Barring a brief period in the 1990s, India has historically enjoyed good ties with Afghanistan, which go back to the 1950 Treaty of Friendship.
- Indian interests and influence suffered when the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, captured Kabul in 1996. But India was back in action as soon as the Taliban were ousted from power after the U.S. invasion in 2001.
- India has made huge investments and commitments ever since, which run into over $3 billion. It has cultivated strong economic and defence ties with the Afghan government.
- Now, its again facing uncertainty in Afghanistan.
|Also Read: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained|
What can India do?
- Talking with the Taliban: It would allow New Delhi to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges. It will also explore the possibility of the Taliban’s autonomy from Pakistan.
- India should not overlook the deep ties between Pakistan’s security establishment and the Haqqani Network. It is a major faction within the Taliban that’s driving the successful campaigns on the battlefield.
- However there is no guarantee that India’s quest for engagement with the Taliban would produce a desirable outcome.
- Enhance support towards Afghan Government: New Delhi should also enhance aid to Afghanistan’s legitimate government and security forces as Taliban is quickly expanding its territories.
- India should urgently step up training Afghan forces and provide military hardware, intelligence and logistical and financial support. This would enable Kabul to continue its efforts to defend the cities.
- Regional Cooperation: It should work with other regional powers for long-term stability in the country. There is a convergence of interests between India and three key regional players in seeing a political settlement in Afghanistan.
- For China, whose Xinjiang province shares a border with Afghanistan, a jihadist-oriented Taliban regime would not serve its internal interests. India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.
- Russia, which fears that instability would spill over into the former Soviet Republics, has already moved to secure its Central Asian perimeter. Russia has cultivated links with the Taliban in recent years. India would need Russia’s support in any form of direct engagement with the Taliban.
- Iran: For the Shia theocratic Iran, a Sunni Deobandi Taliban with which it had almost gone to war in 1998, will continue to remain an ideological, sectarian and strategic challenge. Building strategic ties with Iran, irrespective of the U.S.’s policy towards the Islamic Republic, is essential for India’s Afghan bets.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Central Asia’s role in dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and how India can play its part.
Synopsis: In order to emerge as a key player in the post-US Afghanistan, India needs to collaborate actively with Central Asian republics.
India has been left out
Events of the past few years, and the decisions of the Troika (three powerful states of US, China and Russia) have kept India out of a leading role in Afghanistan.
- Pak role is recognized: Since 2019, the Troika has met with Pakistan (Troika plus) in order to discuss Afghanistan’s future, one in which the Taliban gains an important if not controlling role in Kabul.
- New formation on regional connectivity: The U.S. has announced a new, surprise formation of a “Quad” on regional connectivity — U.S.-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan that does not include India. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is conducting trial runs of truck convoys from Tashkent to Karachi and back.
Why India is not a part of the global Afghan reconciliation process?
India’s efforts to build on trade with Afghanistan, construction of various development projects, and educational and training opportunities for Afghan youth have been appreciated. But India’s efforts could not transform into something big enough to convince the world of it being a major player in Afghanistan. This happened due to various limitations:
- Hesitation to open talks with Taliban: New Delhi’s original hesitation in opening talks with the Taliban, which even Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had suggested, has cut India out of the current reconciliation process.
- Limited access to Afghanistan:
- End of dialogue with Pakistan: The end of any formal dialogue between India and Pakistan since 2016 and trade since 2019, have resulted in Pakistan blocking India’s over-land access to Afghanistan.
- A costly alternative: India’s alternative route through Chabahar, though operational, cannot be viable or cost-effective also long as U.S. sanctions on Iran are in place.
- Tensions with China: India’s boycott of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2017, and now tensions at the Line of Actual Control after the Chinese aggression in 2020, make another route to Afghanistan off-limits.
And without being a major player in Afghanistan, one cannot expect to be a part of the reconciliation process now.
India can hope to change this scenario by collaborating with the ‘Stans’ (five Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).
View of the Stans
Afghan Strategy of the Five Central Asian republics is based on following three parameters:
- Access through Afghanistan: Prosperity for these land-locked countries can only flow from access through Afghanistan to the closest ocean, i.e. the Indian Ocean.
- Guarantee of a safe passage by Taliban: All transit through Afghanistan depends on guarantees of safe passage from the Taliban, backed by the group’s mentors in Pakistan.
- Each of the “Stans” are now a part of China’s BRI, and tying their connectivity initiatives with Beijing’s will bring investment and a control over Pakistan to a degree.
India and Central Asian countries share some common concerns:
- Afghanistan overrun by the Taliban and under Pakistan’s thumb
- Battles at their borders
- Safe havens for jihadist terror groups inside Afghanistan
- the spill-over of radicalism into their own countries.
- Financial assistance: It is necessary for India to work with Central Asian republics, and other neighbors to ensure finances for the government in Kabul, particularly to ensure that the government structure does not collapse.
- Support against terror: As part of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), India must also step up its engagement with the Central Asian countries on fighting terror. India can support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in terms of air power.
Discussions with Taliban will be fruitless unless a less tactical and more strategic engagement with Pakistan is also envisaged. A more tightly knit South Asia, which is critical for peace and order in Afghanistan, can only transpire if India & Pakistan sort address their issues first.
Terms to know:
Syllabus: GS2 – IR: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: Understanding how India can act as an agent of peace amidst conflict.
Synopsis: India’s role as an agent of peace as it undertakes the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. A look at its ongoing efforts and how it plans to take forward its agenda of global peace.
On January 1 India returned to the United Nations Security Council for two years.
- It is scheduled to undertake the rotating Presidency of the UN Security Council on August 1. It will be the country’s first Presidency during its 2021-22 tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.
- India will again preside over the Council in December next year, the last month of its two-year tenure.
Conflicts have only increased during the pandemic, putting considerable pressure on UN resources even as the Council is deeply divided on major issues on its agenda.
In this light, India’s presidency could not have come at a better time. India can act as an agent of peace amidst an increasingly conflict-ridden world.
|Also Read: Way forward for India at UNSC|
- Helping the Afghan peace process: India’s chairing of the crucial Taliban Sanctions Committee will
continue to be a factor in giving direction to the Afghan peace process and preserving the gains of the last two decades, especially with respect to women and minority rights.
- Saving Africa from sanctions: On Africa, which dominates the agenda of the Council, India’s views have been sensitive to local priorities and needs. This is in line with India’s determination to ensure that the countries under sanctions get help to come out of them rather than be burdened with unrealistic benchmarks. India’s chairing of the Libya Sanctions Committee has come at a time when there is an active peace process being pursued.
- Role in the Middle East: In the Middle-East, India has made use of its strong and historical links to convey its views on Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. When tensions rose in Gaza, India took a well-considered and principled stand. On Syria, India stood firmly for humanitarian assistance throughout the country without discrimination, politicisation or any preconditions.
- Maritime matters: For India’s presidency in August, three main themes have been identified – maritime security, technology, and peacekeeping and counter-terrorism. A comprehensive approach to maritime security is necessary to safeguarding common prosperity. This encapsulates India’s vision of SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region.
- Protecting the protectors: India has upgraded peacekeeping hospitals in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Juba, South Sudan to combat Covid. Further, it has supplied vaccines to all peacekeepers. India has also pledged helicopter units for peacekeeping in Mali and the Sahel region. India will be sponsoring and collaborating actively with the UN to roll out UNITE AWARE technology software, initially in four UN peacekeeping missions. This would involve using modern technology to help the missions maintain situational awareness, carry out their mandates and protect themselves.
- Fighting terrorism: India has consistently flagged the issue of terrorism both inside the Council and outside. In fact, it has been at the forefront to conclude the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the UN General Assembly recently.
- Development cooperation: India’s cooperation with small states, especially during Covid, has been robust under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. UNDP has acknowledged the human-centric initiatives of India, including India’s concept of aspirational districts, as global models. India’s contribution to women-related issues has been substantial and India was recently elected to the prestigious UN Commission on the Status of Women.
- On climate action, there is acknowledgement of India’s strides in renewable energy, our ambitious climate goals for 2030, and our leadership of the International Solar Alliance.
Source: Business Standard
Syllabus: GS2 – Governance
Relevance: Filling of vacancies is not necessary always. Technology can ensure that a high operational efficiency is maintained even with a lean workforce.
Synopsis: Worries about vacant positions in the Income Tax (IT) department and their impact on tax collection may be misplaced in a world of technological disruptions.
As per news reports, almost 80% of the posts of chief commissioners in the income tax department have been lying vacant for several months. Some of the vacancies had not been filled for as long as about a year.
- Against 91 approved positions of chief commissioners, only 18 had been filled.
- The total number of vacancies at the level of commissioners and above was about 400.
Performance of IT department
If one looks at the following factors, it becomes clear that filling the vacancies is not needed.
No adverse impact on Direct tax collection
- Due to the pandemic in 2020-21, direct tax revenues collected saw a contraction of about 10% last year.
- In 2019-20, when there was no pandemic and the income tax department presumably did not suffer from large-scale vacancies, collections of direct taxes had dropped by close to 9% over those in 2018-19.
- Direct tax collections, net of refunds, in April-June 2021 were 43% higher than those in the same quarter of 2020.
Use of technology
The government has introduced technology in a big way to reduce the extent of physical interface with taxpayers.
- Faceless scrutiny and assessments can be completed much faster, with fewer people, with the use of technology.
- The preliminary processing of tax returns is already undertaken with the help of technology.
Also, globally, there has been a trend of reducing the number of officials employed by the direct taxes department.
Instead of filling vacancies finance ministry should refocus its energies appropriately on other aspects of tax collection and administration.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Relevance: Eliminating Human trafficking altogether is a moral and constitutional responsibility
Human trafficking is a crime in itself, but it is also the propeller of several other crimes
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and various civil society groups have campaigned for decades for a strong law to end this menace of human trafficking. In 2017, thousands of trafficking survivors marched a Bharat Yatra alongside students, governments, the judiciary, multifaith leaders, businesses and civil society to demand such a law.
COVID-19 and Trafficking:
COVID-19 has further intensified the need for the law. Traffickers are taking advantage of prolonged school closures and loss of family livelihood. BBA with government agencies has rescued almost 9,000 children from trafficking since the first lockdown. In comparison, about half this number of children were rescued during the same time period of 14 months preceding the pandemic.
About the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill:
The Government of India has proposed the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021. This Bill aims to tackle all aspects of trafficking including the social and economic causes of the crime, punishment to traffickers, and the protection and rehabilitation of survivors.
How essential is the legislation?
- Human trafficking is a crime in itself, but it is also the propeller of several other crimes. It creates a parallel black economy that fuels child labour, child marriage, prostitution, bonded labour, forced beggary, drug-related crimes, corruption, terrorism and other illicit businesses.
- Further, the architects of our Constitution established the severity of the crime of trafficking by making it the only offence punishable under the Constitution of India itself, besides untouchability.
- So, a strong anti-trafficking law is the moral and constitutional responsibility of our elected leaders, and a necessary step towards nation-building and economic progress.
Suggestions to end trafficking in India:
- To protect and rehabilitate the trafficked persons, the Bill has to include the necessary checks and balances against potential misuse of power by agencies, periodic reviews of the law, and adequate allocation of resources for effective implementation.
GS Paper 3
Source: Business Standard
GS -3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.
Synopsis: This article analyses the prepackaged insolvency resolution.
Read about – Pre-pack insolvency mechanism
What is the prepackaged insolvency resolution?
- Prepackaged resolution is a fast-track process that identifies a resolution plan before the process is admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal.
- It is an arrangement where the promoter of the stressed company proposes a resolution plan to the creditors before the company can be taken to bankruptcy proceedings.
- The purpose of this scheme is not just to have a timely and faster resolution mechanism, but also to give legal sanction to a plan agreed among banks, promoters and the buyer.
How does the process work?
- The scheme is currently available only for MSMEs and follows a debtor-in-possession model.
- The promoter of the MSME can propose a base resolution plan to the committee of creditors (CoC).
- If the plan is not acceptable, then the resolution professional would invite other applicants to propose a plan within 90 days.
- The CoC can go for the alternative resolution plan if it is significantly better than the base resolution plan proposed by the promoter.
- It can also ask the promoter to revise its plan.
How is it different from the corporate insolvency process?
- Under Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP), the company is managed by the resolution professional. Whereas a pre-pack process does not result in the change of the company’s management while the process is on. The management would continue to vest in the board of directors or the partners.
- Further, the deadlines have been moved up for the prepackaged scheme compared to CIRP.
- For instance, the corporate debtor has to submit the resolution plan within two days of the commencement of the prepackaged insolvency. Further, the entire process has to be completed within 120 days of the commencement date.
Eligibility for a pre-pack option?
- To be eligible for pre-pack, a company must not be undergoing a corporate insolvency resolution process.
- A pre-pack cannot be initiated within three years of closure of another prepack.
What are the benefits of the prepackaged scheme?
- Expected to involve fewer legal disputes and faster resolution than a CIRP.
- It Will prove to be a quicker, cost-effective insolvency resolution process
- Also, it will be least disruptive to the businesses, ensuring job preservation.
- Similar provisions for large corporate entities can help in resolving stress early and cut resolution time for corporations staring at default.
Source: Business Standard
Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment
Synopsis: Without higher exports, India would not be able to attain higher sustainable growth in the coming years.
Deleveraging process in India
- Indian companies are reducing debt on their books and increasing their cash balance. Firms are selling assets and avoiding investment at this stage, to be in a more stable position.
- The deleveraging process, however, is not limited to large companies.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s latest Financial Stability Report, for instance, showed that the debt-to-equity ratio for 1,360 listed private non-financial companies was reduced.
What does this imply?
- A reduction in overall corporate debt and an increase in the cash balance, suggest that firms are not willing to invest and are perhaps preparing for a prolonged period of uncertainty.
- Thus, private investment is likely to remain subdued in the foreseeable future, which will affect India’s growth prospects.
- This also suggests that firms would be distributing more dividends and banks will be lending more to the government.
Government resources are constrained
- Private consumption will remain weak, as most households suffered income loss because of the pandemic. Normally, under such circumstances, higher government expenditure is used to revive demand.
- As economists Sajjid Chinoy and Toshi Jain of JP Morgan showed in a recent paper, strong government expenditure was a key driver of economic growth in the years before Covid.
- Government consumption went up by an annual rate of 9 percent between 2014 and 2019 and increased to 11 percent since 2017.
- This resulted in a significant expansion in borrowing, and the pandemic further pushed up the fiscal deficit.
- Since the public debt has increased to about 90 percent of gross domestic product, the government’s ability to support growth with higher expenditure would remain limited.
- It could push capital expenditure by raising resources through aggressive disinvestment.
Exports are Key to Sustain Growth
- Since private consumption and investment, and government expenditure are likely to remain constrained, only higher exports could drive growth.
- They would also boost consumption and investment, like they did in the first decade of the century.
- Global trade is recovering well and has helped Indian exports in recent months.
- But sustainability could become an issue as higher exports are largely being driven by higher global commodities prices.
- The government must focus on increasing exports sustainably, which would require a serious re-evaluation of trade policy.
GS3: Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.
Relevance: Factoring will be one of the measures to revive MSMEs.
Synopsis: Recently, the Lok Sabha cleared the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill that aims to support this sector.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) persistently face payment delays from large clients. This hurdle will be tackled by factoring businesses.
What is factoring business?
- When MSME suppliers have to wait long for payments, they sell the purchase invoices to factoring businesses.
- These businesses buy the invoices at a discount so that MSMEs get their money quickly. Thus, factoring helps small firms to manage their working capital cycle.
- Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and firms need a license to be in the factoring business, but not banks and statutory corporations.
How it is done?
- Factoring is done manually as well as over the electronic exchange called Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS).
- RXIL, Invoicemart, and M1xchange are three such platforms for online factoring.
What does the new Act seek to achieve?
Benefits to small businesses:
- Firstly, due to pandemic MSMEs suffering from the stretched payment cycle.
- It has lengthened the payment wait for MSMEs. A vibrant factoring industry will make financing smooth for them.
- It will improve their ability to purchase from large producers, which will help in repairing the supply chain disrupted by the pandemic and mobility restrictions.
- More players in the factoring business are expected to improve competition and efficiency.
- Secondly, one difficulty MSMEs have in access to credit is the absence of physical assets against which lenders could give credit. A robust ecosystem of factoring in this context assumes significance.
Hence, the number of players, as well as the factoring transactions, is expected to go up once the changes take effect.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS3 – Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.
Relevance: Issues pertaining with reorganisation of operational assets of the three services into four theatre commands.
Synopsis: Forming a separate air defence command for the air defence of the entire nation seems an impractical idea considering our resource limitations.
The government is reportedly planning to re-organise the military into a theatre command under the chief of defence staff (CDS). The assets of the Air Force will be split into four and distributed among four operational theatres.
Naresh Chandra Committee
In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Committee suggested the creation of a CDS. It would take overall functions of the chairman, chiefs of committee as well as the responsibilities pertaining to centralized planning, induction, training, intelligence, and logistics.
Operations, according to the committee’s suggestion, would continue to be managed by the respective chiefs of staff. The CDS was to exercise operational control only of the Strategic Force Command and the Andaman Nicobar Command. The CDS secretariat would handle all responsibilities assigned to the CDS.
Sometime in 2016-17, this idea was modified to organise the operational assets of the three services into four theatre commands, all of which are now proposed to be brought under the CDS.
- Compromise mission effectiveness: Dilution of the combat assets of the Air Force might severely affect mission-effectiveness. The reorganisation project calls for careful study before it’s implemented.
- One should not expect the current level of efficiency to be maintained if the combat inventory of the Air Force is split into smaller units.
- Lack of in-depth understanding: A land theatre command, if given power over the air elements, may not have the confidence to launch an operation like Balakot mission. Because of the lack of in-depth understanding of the organizational complexity and the risks involved.
- Coping up with inc responsibility: It is extremely doubtful if the CDS can cope with the enhanced responsibilities that include operations. The idea was to reduce the responsibilities of the chiefs of staff by introducing the CDS who was to take only non-operational responsibilities.
- No evidence of advantages offered by theatre commands: There is no white paper on the advantages of the theatre commands or one listing the merits of the CDS being the operational head of the entire military operation. Joint planning is a must, but operations are best undertaken by individual services who know what other services are doing and when.
- Extensive training: The land theatre commander will now have to learn to utilise these assets on missions that are not in the “regular books” of land forces. This will now require extensive training, which AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control Systems) would need to participate in regularly. Will a theatre commander from the army be able to manage such tasks?
Why, a separate air defence command, is an impractical idea?
Forming a separate air defence command for the air defence of the entire nation seems an impractical idea considering our resource limitations.
- The current arrangement of a decentralised air defence organisation managed by Air Force geographical commands has functioned faultlessly.
- A majority of the combat element deployed for air defence can also perform offensive air defence (counter-air) missions. These could be switched to a striking role, or even a maritime role when required. The existing structures afford better flexibility.
|Also Read: Four theatre commands likely to be raised by year end|
We are trying to effect changes at a time the military is deployed actively. The Chinese have dug in hard, and we do not yet know their strategy and, importantly, the capability of their Air Force. Standard Air Force missions may not work. To divide the Air Force into four units at this moment is inadvisable. The Air Force is in the midst of absorbing new inductions and weapons. These are being deployed while training is in progress. In such a scenario, it is inadvisable to initiate organizational changes.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation.
Relevance: Mitigation of climate change and its effect is an important topic in the Environment.
The G20 environment ministers can speak of ambitious goals. But to succeed in mitigation measures towards Climate change, the world has to take some drastic steps.
About the G20 environment ministers meet:
In the recent G20 environment ministers meet, they said that all 20 countries would try to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above temperatures before the Industrial Revolution.
This is a more aggressive target than that of the Paris Agreement in 2015 when almost all countries in the world agreed to keep it below 2° Celsius.
The new G20 agreement comes just before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November. The sharp drop in economic activity in 2020 caused by the pandemic led to a parallel decrease in carbon dioxide emissions and a big increase in poverty, globally.
|Read more: Progress on Paris Climate Change Agreement: In India and the world|
Challenges in mitigating climate change:
- Large financial costs: At the very least, it will involve large financial costs. Most of the carbon pumped into the atmosphere has come from rich countries. Countries like India still have low carbon emissions per capita, as well as low carbon intensity for every unit of GDP.
- It is unfair to expect the global poor to share the burden of mitigation equally with the global rich, especially if it means sacrificing income growth.
- Another aspect of climate justice is also important. I.e. between current and future generations. Some argue that today’s generation should only minimally pass on costs to future generations for emissions that the latter were not responsible for.
- On the other hand, there are also others who say that generations to come will be richer than the current one and better able to afford the bill for a green shift.
- Challenges with subsidies for green technology promotion: The use of subsidies leads us to an old question about whether governments are good at picking technologies. For example,
- Big subsidies for solar power or one variant of electric vehicles might make it harder for other green options to attract investment.
- A carbon tax is simpler because it punishes polluters, but makes no distinction between green alternatives available right now and ones that can potentially emerge later.
Suggestions to mitigate climate change:
- Meeting the ambitions of generations: A lot depends on what economists call the discount rate, on how costs are shared between generations. A low rate will place a higher burden on the current generation. The governments have to decide on discount rates also.
- There are two contrasting ways in which incentives can be used to make the shift to a green economy as smooth as possible.
- Impose hard pollution quotas decided by a public agency. The government needs to avoid going back to license raj during executing quotas.
- Use policy levers to change relative prices, either by imposing high carbon taxes or by subsidizing alternatives, or some combination of the two.
- Investment by private: National action plans should be complemented with private sector commitments. That could well be an emerging issue in corporate governance. Individual cities or companies can also draw up their own strategies to reach net carbon neutrality by 2050, or even earlier.
- For instance, when the former US President pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, individual states, companies, and universities responded with voluntary pledges to cut their carbon footprints.
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 3 – Disaster and disaster management
Relevance: Mitigation of flood is an important topic in Disaster Management
The recent floods in Europe are a wake-up call for us to adopt the Dutch mantra, ‘live with water, build with nature’.
About the flood in Europe:
Recently, a month’s rain poured in just 24 hours in Germany and Belgium. This caused multiple rivers to burst their banks and flood parts of the two countries as well as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. These areas of Europe have not witnessed such heavy rainfall for more than a century.
The floods showed that climate change spares none. Even if a country has adequate resources and advanced infrastructure (physical as well as organisational), it can find no escape from extreme climatic events. It bore an uncanny resemblance to what Kerala experienced in August 2018.
How Climate change can cause floods?
- Experts say the more CO2 the world emits into the atmosphere, the warmer will be the air temperature. Warmer air holds more moisture and results in excess rainfall, which leads to flooding.
- Additionally, increasing temperatures at the poles result in slower movement of storms in the mid-latitudes. As a result, storms linger longer at a specific place.
- The combination of a slow-moving storm and the presence of surplus moisture in the atmosphere results in intense rainfall in one location within a short period of time.
- In 2018, Kerala, for example, witnessed 414 mm of rain in just three days. Rainfall for the period of August 1 to 19, 2018, in Kerala was 164% more than normal.
The Dutch example:
After two major floods in 1993 and 1995, the Dutch embarked on several projects to widen riverbanks and reshape the areas around rivers.
The Dutch have gone beyond their conventional dependence on dikes, dams, walls, and gates to protect themselves from floods. Their current disaster resilience mantra is to live with water, build with nature and make room for the river. They champion creating adequate space for rivers to overflow by protecting floodplains from human interference, deepening riverbeds, and creating alternate channels for excess water.
Due to these initiatives, Many towns were submerged in recent floods in the Netherlands. But there are no casualties.
Lessons for India from Floods in Europe:
The floods in Europe serve as a wake-up call to us in India to adopt pragmatic policies and practices that are nature friendly.
- Similarly, low-risk areas such as playgrounds, maidans, or agricultural fields should be earmarked to store excess rainwater.
- Fulfilling the recommendations of the United Nations Development Programme-World Bank-European Union’s Post Disaster Needs Assessment report prepared for Kerala after the 2018 floods. The important recommendations include,
- Increasing the drainage capacity of the rivers and canals of the State by creating more room for the water to flow.
- Removing obstructions and encroachments from existing water channels, the proper maintenance of such channels, and creating additional channels for water to flow.
- In the short term, strengthened disaster readiness, planning, and preparation will help us deal with sudden, intense rain and consequent floods.
Source: Indian Express
Relevance: A legislative group assessed the stimulus package for MSMEs by the Central government.
Synopsis: Concerned about the dire state of small businesses, the committee advised that the government announce a “bigger economic package aimed at increasing demand, investment, exports, and job creation to help the economy, particularly MSMEs.”
The stimulus package provided by the Central government is “inadequate,” according to a legislative group assessing the impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs. The measures were more of loan offerings and long-term, rather than improving cash flow to generate demand as a quick relief.
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry has advocated for soft loans to MSMEs at a low interest rate of 3-4 percent, liquidity assistance for small businesses, and the establishment of a National Electronic Employment Exchange, as well as a new employment policy.
What did the RBI committee found out and suggested after the impact of the pandemic on MSMEs?
According to the study, “it is predicted that over 25% of MSME loans may fail because some MSMEs are having difficulty obtaining working capital from banks,” the chambers told the Committee.
- Firstly, the committee, chaired by a Rajya Sabha MP, recommended that the Reserve Bank of India ease non-performing asset (NPA) classification rules for MSMEs and align them with the payment cycle.
- The RBI’s 90-day limit for classifying MSMEs’ overdue should be increased to 180 days so that MSMEs are not forced to shift their working capital to servicing loan-instalments and clearing debts at the expense of normal business operations.
- This adjustment in RBI criteria will save a substantial number of MSMEs from going bankrupt or closing down. The MSME sector accounts for over 30% of the country’s production and nearly half of its exports.
- Secondly, no comprehensive research has been done by the Ministry of MSME to determine the actual losses experienced by the MSME sector due to the government’s statewide lockdown.
- Thirdly, in addition to subsidised soft loans for MSMEs, the panel advised that traders and retailers be included in the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Plan (ECLGS) and that the existing subordinated debt scheme is restructured.
- Lastly, the group offered suggestions for promoting domestic production and reducing import dependency. The availability of soft loans to MSMEs at a low-interest rate with a long repayment term, easier land acquisition, and fewer compliance requirements, could aid in the development of import substitution in the country.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
What is the News?
A new capacity-building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’ has been launched.
About “Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin” Initiative:
- The initiative has been launched by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Aim of the Initiative:
- Capacity building and action research for promoting sustainable urban water management for improved river health in Ganga basin cities.
Key Focus Areas: The key focus areas of the programme will be:
- Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning
- Urban Water Efficiency and Conservation
- Decentralized Wastewater Treatment and Local Reuse
- Urban Groundwater Management and
- Urban Water Bodies / Lake Management.
Other Key Features of the Initiative:
- The initiative will engage with all 1300+ state/municipal functionaries and other sector players involved in promoting sustainable urban water management.
- The activities under the initiative include – developing Practitioner Guides, implementing model projects/interventions in select cities (as learning centres), and a help desk to support practitioners requiring technical guidance and support in implementing similar projects.
Significance of the Initiative:
- This initiative is part of the series of ongoing efforts by NMCG aimed at ensuring convergence of Namami Gange Mission with national flagship urban missions (AMRUT, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY, NULM) and other missions (Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, Jal Shakti Mission) at state /city level across Ganga basin states.
About Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning:
- Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning is an emerging urban development paradigm aimed to minimize hydrological impacts of urban development on the environment.
- The activities under this include:
- designing urban areas for optimum utilization of water (a precious resource),
- reduce the harm caused to our rivers and creeks and focus on the management of entire water systems (drinking water, stormwater run-off, waterway health, sewerage treatment, and recycling).
Source: The Hindu
What is the News?
The Harappan city of Dholavira, in present-day Gujarat, has been named the 40th Indian site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The site had been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014 and India had submitted its dossier in January 2020.
- Dholavira is an archaeological site of a Harappan-era city. It is located in the Kutch district, Gujarat.
- The site is one of the very few well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia, dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
- The site is the 6th largest of more than 1,000 Harappan sites discovered so far.
- The site was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
- The site was a commercial and manufacturing hub for about 1,500 years before its decline and eventual ruin in 1500 BC.
- The site is an exceptional example of a proto-historic Bronze Age urban settlement pertaining to the Harappan Civilization (early, mature, and late Harappan phases).
Note: Dholavira is the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the World Heritage tag.
Key Features of Dholavira:
- Dholavira was located on the island of Khadir when compared to other Harappan towns normally located near rivers and perennial sources of water.
- This allowed Dholavira to harness different mineral and raw material sources (copper, shell, agate-carnelian, steatite, lead, banded limestone, among others) and to facilitate internal as well as external trade to the Magan (modern Oman peninsula) and Mesopotamian regions.
Property: The city’s property comprises two parts: a walled city and a cemetery to the west of the city.
- The walled city consists of a fortified Castle with attached fortified Bailey and Ceremonial Ground, and a fortified Middle Town, and Lower Town. A series of reservoirs are also found to the east and south of the Citadel.
- The great majority of the burials in the Cemetery are memorial in nature. Unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.
Other Unique Features of Dholavira:
- Cascading series of water reservoirs
- outer fortification
- two multi-purpose grounds — one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace — nine gates with unique designs
- extensive use of stone as a building material
- an expansive water management system designed to store every drop of water available shows the creativity of the people to survive against the rapid geo-climatic transformations and
- the funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas
Source: The Hindu
What is the News?
The Government of India has announced plans to set up a National Farmer’s Database.
About National Farmers Database:
- Government of India aims to create a National Farmer’s Database using digitized land records to offer proactive and personalised services to farmers.
- The database will initially only include land owning farmers. The landless and tenant farmers will be excluded from the database.
- The database can be used by the Government for targeted service delivery with higher efficiency and in a focussed and time-bound manner.
- It will also be used to offer personalised services to farmers such as direct benefit transfer, soil and plant health advisories, weather advisories, irrigation facilities, market access information among others.
- The National Farmer’s database would serve as the core of the Agristack.
- AgriStack is a proposed collection of technologies and digital databases focusing on farmers and the agricultural sector.
- The database will create a unified platform for farmers to provide them end-to-end services across the agriculture food value chain.
- Under the program, each farmer will have a unique digital identification (farmers’ ID) which will be linked to their Aadhaar number.
- Data to be collected by AgriStack may include personal details, the profile of land held, production details, and financial details.
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
NASA is set to launch James Webb Space Telescope(JWST). But before it launches, NASA has to decide whether to rename the telescope. This is because James Webb after whom the telescope is named was alleged to have persecuted homosexuals when he had worked for the government.
About James Webb Telescope:
- James Webb Telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency(ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency.
- The telescope will complement and is considered the successor of the Hubble Space Telescope.
- The telescope will use infrared light, which cannot be perceived by the human eye, to study every phase in cosmic history.
- observe farther into the universe than ever before
- Search for the first stars and galaxies created after the big bang
- better understand how planets, stars, and galaxies are born and evolve over time
- explore distant worlds and study our solar system
- determine the potential for life on planets around other stars.
What is the News?
A National Level Tissue Bank(Biomaterial Centre) for storing tissues has been established at National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation(NOTTO), New Delhi, under National Organ Transplant Programme(NOTP).
About National Organ Transplant Programme(NOTP):
- National Organ Transplant Programme(NOTP) aims to promote organ donation and transplantation across all States/Union Territories (UTs).
- Implementing Agency: Directorate General of Health Services(DGHS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is implementing the National Organ Transplant Programme.
Objectives of the Programme:
- To organize a system of organ and tissue procurement & distribution for transplantation.
- To promote deceased organ and Tissue donation.
- Furthermore, to train required manpower.
- Also, to protect vulnerable poor from organ trafficking.
- Lastly, to monitor organ and tissue transplant services and bring about policy and programme corrections/ changes whenever needed.
Key Features of the Programme: The key activities under the programme include:
- Setting up of State Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisations (SOTTOs) in each State/UT.
- Setting up of National/ Regional/State Bio-material centres.
- Financial support for establishing new Organ Transplant/retrieval facilities and strengthening of existing Organ Transplant/retrieval facilities.
- Training to transplant experts including surgeons, physicians, transplant coordinators, etc.
- Financial support for the hiring of Transplant Coordinators to medical colleges and trauma centres.
- Post-transplant immune-suppressant drugs to Below Poverty Line (BPL) patients.
- National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation(NOTTO) has been set up as the apex center for all Indian activities of coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of organs and tissues and registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.
What is the News?
Parliament has passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021. The bill aims to replace the 90-year-old Lighthouse Act 1927.
- The administration and management of Lighthouse and Lightships in India is governed by Lighthouse Act 1927 for safe navigation.
- At the time of the enactment of the Lighthouse Act 1927, there were only 32 Lighthouses in then British India.
- Presently, there are 195 Lighthouses and a number of advanced radio and digital aids to navigation administered under the said Act.
- The new Act has been enacted to provide an appropriate statutory framework that reflects the modern role of marine aids in navigation. Further, to be in compliance with India’s obligations under International Conventions.
Key Features of the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021: The bill seeks to provide a framework for the development, maintenance, and management of aids to navigation in India. The key features include:
- Application: The Bill applies to the whole of India including various maritime zones including territorial waters, continental shelf, and exclusive economic zone.
- Aid to navigation: The Bill defines aid to navigation as a device, system or external to the vessels designed and operated to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation of vessels and vessel traffic.
- Director General of Aids to Navigation: The central government can appoint the Director General to advise the central government on matters related to aids to navigation, among others.
- Central Advisory Committee: The central government may appoint a Central Advisory Committee(CAC) having special knowledge of the sector.
- Management of Vessel Traffic: The central government will be responsible for the development, maintenance and management of all general aids to navigation and vessel traffic services.
- Levy of marine aids to navigation dues: The Central Government can prescribe rates for marine aids to navigation dues. These dues will be levied and collected for every ship arriving at or departing from any port in India. Proceeds thereof shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Heritage Lighthouse: The Central Government can designate any aid to navigation under its control as a “heritage lighthouse”. In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.
- Penalties: The Bill provides certain offences and penalties for intentionally causing obstruction of reduction or damage to any aid to navigation or vessel traffic services.
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
Russia has launched the Nauka module from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan using a Proton rocket.
About Nauka Module:
- Nauka is the Russian word for ‘Science’. It will serve as Russia’s main research facility on the International Space Station(ISS).
- The module will replace Pirs, a Russian module on the ISS used as a docking port for spacecraft and as a door for cosmonauts to go out on spacewalks.
- The module will bring to the ISS another oxygen generator, a spare bed, another toilet, and a robotic cargo crane built by the European Space Agency(ESA).
- On the ISS, Nauka will be attached to the critical Zvezda module, which provides all the space station’s life support systems and serves as the structural and functional center of the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) — the Russian part of ISS.
- Significance: The Nauka Module is the biggest space laboratory Russia has launched to date.
About International Space Station(ISS):
- The International Space Station(ISS) is a space station located in low Earth orbit.
- Participating agencies: It is a joint project between five space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada).
- Aim: To serve as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields.
Government developed indigenous climate model to predict the impact of climate change on monsoon in the country
What is the News?
The Ministry of Earth Sciences has developed an state-of-the-art Earth System Model(ESM) known as the IITM-ESM.
About the Earth System Model(ESM) named IITM-ESM:
- IITM-ESM is an indigenous climate model developed to predict the impact of climate change on the monsoon in the country.
- Developed by: The model has been developed at the Centre for Climate Change Research(CCCR), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology(IITM) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences(MoES).
- Components: IITM-ESM is a state-of-the-art climate model with components of the atmosphere, ocean including deep ocean circulation, Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice and ocean biogeochemistry.
- Purpose: The model can address key questions concerning the science of climate change including reliable projections of the global and regional climate, Indian monsoon, hydrological cycle, sea-level changes and tropical ocean-atmosphere processes in a changing climate.
- Significance: IITM-ESM is the first climate model from South Asia that has contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report(AR6) and participated in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project –Phase 6(CMIP6) experiments.
About Coupled Model Intercomparison Project(CMIP):
- CMIP is an international effort to improve climate models by comparing multiple model simulations to observations and to each other.
- These comparisons can help our understanding of past and future climate changes, and also lead to climate model improvements.
- The project falls under the direction of the Working Group on Coupled Modeling, an activity of the World Climate Research Program(WCRP).
About World Climate Research Program(WCRP):
- WCRP is an international programme that helps to coordinate global climate research.
- The Program was established in 1980 under the joint sponsorship of the World Meteorological Organization(WMO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU).
- The program has also been sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission(IOC) of UNESCO since 1993.
Source: Times of India
About the news:
In India, piped water isn’t universally available, and tap water isn’t potable in most of the country. Recently, Puri in Odisha has become the first Indian city to get 24×7 safe drinking water on tap.
Progress of tap connections in India:
UP, West Bengal and Rajasthan were the states that have the worst tap connections. But, ever since the formation of the Jal Shakti ministry, the Centre is pursuing tap connections in mission mode. Some states have seen major progress. In Bihar households with tap connections have increased from around 2% to 86%.
|Read more: Jal Jeevan Mission|
Why tap connections are important?
- Niti Aayog’s 2019 composite water management index noted India’s per person disease burden due to unsafe water and sanitation is 12 times higher than Sri Lanka’s and 40 times higher than China’s. The index also mentions that water-borne diseases like diarrhoea are a leading killer due to unsafe water and sanitation.
- Functional tap connections not only provide an increase in GDP but also protect millions from completely preventable diseases.
Terms to know:
About the news:
Recently, the Union Minister for Minority Affairs replied in the Parliament that a total number of 371 training centres under the Gharib Nawaz Employment Scheme were opened across the country.
Gharib Nawaz Employment Scheme:
It is a scheme to provide short term job oriented skill development courses to minorities’ youth in order to enable them for skill-based employment. It was launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2017.
- Implementing agency: Maulana Azad Education Foundation, an autonomous body under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, implements the scheme.
- The scheme is implemented as per the common norms of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSD&E) through the empanelled Program Implementation Agencies (PIAs).
- The PIA is mandated to place a minimum of 70% of trainees out of total trained trainees.
- The monthly stipend for maximum of three months and post placement support for maximum of two months after getting employment is also being paid to the beneficiaries directly into their account.
Source – Times Now News
What is the news?
The SC said that they won’t take an elitist stance plea to ban begging at public places amid COVID-19. It observed that no one would like to beg if not for poverty.
- The Supreme Court turned down a petition to restrain begging at traffic lights, markets, and public places in light of the precautionary measures for the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Further, the top court has also sought the assistance of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the case.
About the petition-
The petition demand to restrain vagabonds and the homeless from begging to avoid movement and spread of COVID cases. The COVID-19-affected beggars and homeless people are a danger to themselves and to others. For example- Many beggars and homeless individuals are unaware of social distancing measures and have nowhere to go if they become ill. The majority of them are unable to obtain proper medical treatment and care.
The petitioners said the government had to address the needs of this segment of society immediately in anticipation of a third COVID-19 wave.
However, The SC refuses to take an elitist stance to restrain beggars, vagabonds and the homeless from begging at traffic junctions, markets and public places.
- According to the court, a variety of socioeconomic issues prompted people to beg. Their poverty could not be alleviated by passing an order to remove them from the streets.
- Need for a wider social welfare policy – The SC issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government, seeking replies within two weeks on the petition’s request for beggars and vagabonds to be rehabilitated, vaccinated, and given shelter and food during the COVID-19 pandemic.