9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – July 28th, 2022

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
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    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

A future free of hepatitis

Source: This post is based on the article “A future free of hepatitis” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: About the elimination of hepatitis.

News: On World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the need to make hepatitis care available, affordable and accessible to all without discrimination. This is crucial to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, a global target.

Note: Elimination would translate to a 90% reduction in incidence and a 65% reduction in mortality by 2030, compared to the corresponding figures of 2015.

Why the world should focus on eliminating hepatitis?

Firstly, Hepatitis is the only communicable disease where mortality is showing an increasing trend. About 95% of all hepatitis-related deaths are due to cirrhosis and liver cancers caused by the hepatitis B and C virus. Southeast Asia has 20% of the global morbidity burden of hepatitis.

Secondly, viral hepatitis is preventable. Clean food and good personal hygiene, along with access to safe water and sanitation, can protect us from hepatitis A and E. Measures to prevent hepatitis B and C need to focus on full coverage with hepatitis B immunisation.

Thus, the world can prevent 4.5 million premature deaths in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 globally.

Thirdly, a world free of hepatitis is practical and feasible. The world at present has the tools to diagnose, treat, prevent and therefore eliminate chronic viral hepatitis.

Read more: WHO says Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal & Thailand achieve Hepatitis B control
What are the various initiatives taken around the world to eliminate hepatitis?

The Southeast Asia region has launched an Action Plan for viral hepatitis 2016–2021. Nine countries have achieved more than 90% coverage of the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine. Four countries have achieved the hepatitis B control target of less than 1% seroprevalence among children over five years of age.

An integrated Regional Action Plan for viral hepatitis, HIV and STIs 2022–2026 is being developed by WHO. This will ensure effective and efficient utilisation of limited resources and will guide countries to adopt a person-centred approach rather than a disease-specific one.

Must read: Explained: The discovery of Hepatitis C virus that helped three scientists win the Medicine Nobel
What are the challenges in eliminating hepatitis?

a) Access to diagnose and treat hepatitis is out of reach for communities as they are usually available at centralised/specialised hospitals, b) People continue to die because of late diagnosis or lack of appropriate treatment, In the Southeast Asia region, only about 10% of people with hepatitis know their status; and of them, only 5% are on treatment.

Read more: Action plan for free treatment of hepatitis patients launched
What should be done to eliminate hepatitis?

To eliminate hepatitis by 2030, the world in 2025 must reduce new infections of hepatitis B and C by half, reduce deaths from liver cancer by 40%, and ensure that 60% of people living with hepatitis B and C are diagnosed. This can be done by,

a) Enhanced political commitment across all countries of the region, b) Ensuring sustained domestic funding for hepatitis, c) Improving access to drugs and diagnostics by reducing prices, d) Developing communication strategies to increase awareness; e) Innovate service delivery to maximise the people-centred service delivery options across HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs, and f) decentralising hepatitis care to peripheral health facilities, community-based venues and locations beyond hospital sites to improve patients’ access to diagnose and treat Hepatitis.

The poor state of India’s fiscal federalism

Source: This post is based on the article “The poor state of India’s fiscal federalism” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.

Relevance: About India’s fiscal federalism.

News: A degree of centralisation in fiscal power was required to address the concerns of socio-economic and regional disparities after the Independence. This asymmetric fiscal federalism was accelerated and mutually reinforced in recent times.

About India’s fiscal federalism

India was a ‘holding together federalism’ in contrast to the ‘coming together federalism,’ in which smaller independent entities come together to form a federation (as in the United States of America).

B.R. Ambedkar in Constituent Assembly said “In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. These conflicts demanded attention: fail to do so, and those denied will blow up the structure of political democracy.”

Anticipating this threat of centralisation, the Tamil Nadu government, constituted a committee under Justice P.V. Rajamannar in 1969, the first of its kind by a State government. The committee looked at Centre-State fiscal relations and recommended more transfers and taxation powers for regional governments.

Read more: Fiscal Federalism: The sustained attack on federalism
What is the present structure of India’s fiscal federalism?

India’s fiscal transfer worked through two pillars, the Planning Commission and the Finance Commission. Ever since the abolition of the Planning Commission, the Finance Commission became the major means of fiscal transfer.

The finance commission broadened its scope of sharing all taxes since 2000 from its original design of just two taxes – income tax and Union excise duties.

Read more: The implications of ‘Mohit Minerals’ judgment on the fiscal federalism of India
What is the status of state’s revenues and expenditures?

The ability of States to finance current expenditures from their own revenues has declined from 69% in 1955-56 to less than 38% in 2019-20. They still spend 60% of the expenditure in the country — 85% on education and 82% on health.

The expenditure of the States has been increasing, but their revenues did not. States cannot raise tax revenue because of curtailed indirect tax rights (under GST). Their revenue has been stagnant at 6% of GDP in the past decade.

What are the recent instances that hamper fiscal federalism?

1) States lost their capacity to generate revenue by surrendering their rights after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, 2) The Fourteenth Finance Commission increased share of devolution from 32% to 42%. But, the increasing non-divisive pool in the Centre’s gross tax revenues and reduction in the divisible pool of resources hampers the revenue, 3) States are forced to pay differential interest — about 10% against 7% — by the Union for market borrowings.

4) The issue of centrally sponsored schemes: State’s expenditure pattern was distorted by the Union’s intrusion, mainly through its centrally sponsored schemes(CSSs). This is because,

a) There are 131 centrally sponsored schemes. States are required to share a part of the cost. b) CSSs are driven by the one-size-fits-all approach and are given precedence over State schemes. Thus undermining the electorally mandated democratic politics of States, c) The schemes conceived by States have proved to be beneficial to the people and have contributed to social development, and d) Many  State schemes are adopted at the national level, For instance, the employment guarantee in Maharashtra, the noon meals in Tamil Nadu, local governance in Karnataka and Kerala, and school education in Himachal Pradesh.

Read more: The new era of fiscal federalism could strengthen national unity
What are the impacts of the centralisation of fiscal policy?

Heavy centralisation made India, one of the lowest tax bases built on a regressive indirect taxation system in the world. India has simply failed to tax the following,

a) Agriculture income, b) Reduced corporate tax to boost the economy, c) India does not have any wealth tax, d) Indirect tax still accounts for about 56% of total taxes.

Overall, India’s fiscal federalism driven by political centralisation has deepened socio-economic inequality and has not altered inter-state disparities either.

Death by hooch – India needs a more honest discussion on the risks and benefits of prohibition

Source: This post is based on the article “Death by hooch – India needs a more honest discussion on the risks and benefits of prohibition” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Relevance: About the challenges associated with the prohibition of alcohol.

News: Gujarat is one of the four States in India that prohibits alcohol. The recent hooch tragedy in Gujarat claimed over 40 lives and brings again the contentious question of prohibition. The victims consumed poisonous methyl alcohol.

Note: The Gujarat High Court is considering five petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949 on grounds that it violates fundamental rights including privacy.

What are the impacts of the prohibition of alcohol.?

This shows the a) Complicity of the administration in protecting the black market for alcohol after prohibition, b) a vast network of illegal manufacturing and sale of liquor could exist without the patronage of the police and politicians, c) Though prohibition is listed among the Directive Principles of state policy in the Constitution, no State has been able to achieve it with any enduring effectiveness, and d) The prohibition laws give sweeping and intrusive powers to the police. In Gujarat, for example, police used them against political protesters.

Must read: Prohibition of Liquor: Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise
What should be done?

Several political parties in India carry a moral burden to discourage or bar alcohol consumption. Rather than clinging to dogmas and impossible goals of social reform through coercive law, there must be a more honest discussion on prohibition.

From freebies to welfare

Source: This post is based on the article “From freebies to welfare” published in the Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

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

Relevance: India’s subsidy burden.

News: Recently, the Prime Minister has called for an end to this free “revdi” (freebies) culture. A recent report of the RBI on states’ finances also highlighted the dangerous condition of states’ finances and enhanced debt stress on account of these flawed policies.

What are the various types of subsidies given by the government?
Read here: PM’s ‘revdi’ remark: We need to disentangle good subsidies from bad
Why does India need to eliminate freebies?

Upset India’s quest for sustainable development: Subsidies are being promised in one form or the other by way of free electricity. This a) Deteriorates the health of state distribution companies and seriously undercuts their financial viability, b) Make discoms inability to actively encourage solar power, c) India’s orderly and socially-cohesive transition to an era of non-fossil fuel energy critically depends on the health of state electricity boards. This is hampered by the freebie culture.

The Delhi government’s decision to make the electricity subsidy optional was largely due to rising costs.

In Punjab, as pointed out by the RBI, the free power promised undercuts its ability to move to a more sustainable pattern of growth.

Not ensure access to basic facilities:  The government seeks to address the challenge of inequity by ensuring access to a wide range of basic facilities such as access to banking, electricity, housing, insurance, water and clean cooking fuel, etc. Eliminating freebies will help the government to provide access to these facilities.

Irreversible empowerment from other programs: Benefits under various welfare schemes such as PM Awas Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission have provided irreversible empowerment and self-reliance. For instance, a house built under the PM Awas Yojana is a lifelong asset for the beneficiary household that cannot be taken back by any government.

Use of technology in direct transfer benefits: Identification of beneficiaries through the SECC and prioritisation based on deprivation criteria has enabled the government to assist those who need it the most. But the universal subsidies or freebies often end up ignoring the poor and transferring public resources to the affluent.

Weakening effect of freebies: The future of manufacturing and employment gets hampered by the freebies. Freebies lower the quality and competitiveness of the manufacturing sector by detracting from efficient and competitive infrastructure.

Aristotle said, “the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” The PM’s recent remarks about the perils of freebie culture should serve as a timely reminder to those promising fiscally imprudent and unsustainable subsidies. The freebie culture is not a road to prosperity, but a quick ticket to fiscal disaster.

IPEF versus RCEP

Source: The post is based on an article “IPEF versus RCEP” published in the Business Standard on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations: Regional Grouping etc.

Relevance: Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and Regional Economic Cooperation Partnership (RCEP)

News: In recent months, The US announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) at the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) Summit meeting in Tokyo.

About the IPEF

Members: It includes the four QUAD countries, South Korea, New Zealand, Fiji and seven out of the 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

About the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

India participated in multiple rounds of RCEP discussions but chose to opt out of this grouping.

Issues with the IPEF

The major ASEAN economies may continue to maintain close economic ties with China while simultaneously establishing ties with the US, as they have done in the past.

The major ASEAN economies may be averse to the IPEF because it can dilute the centrality in South-East Asia.

What were the reasons which compelled India to join the IPEF?

(1) At present global organizations like the G20 may not achieve anything of systemic significance for India. This is because the ongoing Ukraine war has created a rift between the US and West-Europe with both Russia-China.

(2) India is facing an ongoing military stalemate with China on the Indo-Sino Border.

(3) There are other matters of continuing concern for China.  Since the 1950s, China has been making comparisons between its one-party communist China with the plurality of democratic India despite the latter’s much smaller economy.

(4) India has given shelter to “His Holiness the Dalai Lama” in India.

What should be done?

India should learn from Japan. It has taken practical steps. It has become a member of RCEP and IPEF, keeping its trading interests in mind. India too should have been a member of RCEP.

Plurilateral groupings that are trade-related or strategic can be useful.

However, multi-country formations cannot overcome failures in implementing sound policies relating to a nation’s economy or defence. Therefore, reforms should be taken in this regard.

Draft Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022: The making of the digital pharmacist

Source: The post is based on an article “Draft Drugs, medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022: The making of the digital pharmacist” published in the Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Relevance: Draft Drugs, medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022

News: Recently, the Union Health Ministry has announced the Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022, for seeking public comments and objections, within a period of 45 days.

About the bill

The bill is proposed to replace the 1940 Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The primary objective is to ensure that the medical products sold in a country are safe, effective and conform to prescribed quality standards.

It proposes a greater focus on quality of medical devices,

It is proposed to establish a statutory Medical Device Technical Advisory Board. The board will have experts from the fields of atomic energy, science and technology, electronics, and related fields like biomedical technology to guide the process.

What are the advantages of online sale of medical products?

(1) Like all online shopping, the consumer gets the advantage of discounts and the comfort of shopping from home.

(2) In normal times, e-commerce can address three uniquely disadvantages prevalent in Indian market

First, it can meet climatic conditions, which require medicines to be stored at below 30 degrees Celsius and 70% relative humidity, which is unattainable in most parts of India.

Second, it can mandate the back-end brick and mortar store to have good storage conditions for drug supply.

Third, further, e-commerce is useful to encrypt all transactions otherwise impossible to track.

(3) The e-commerce could be fulfilling a legal requirement: (a) providing a bill to the consumer and retaining one copy bearing the batch numbers and expiry dates of the drugs, and (b) it can abate the present practice of accessing prescription drugs over-the-counter as these drugs require a doctor’s prescription.

(4) In the case of e-commerce, registration of a pharmacy can require enrolment with the central and state drug control organisations.

(5) This would enforce the practice of uploading a prescription from a registered medical practitioner.

What are the disadvantages of online sale of medical products?

(1) It could encourage overuse or incomplete use of drugs, increase dependency on habit-forming medicine, like sleep-inducing drugs or self-medication with products for weight loss, male enhancement, even treating mental illness.

What more is required to be done?

There is the need to stop the continued mismanagement of the wholesale and retail drugs trade in India. For example, the Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk, Delhi is Asia’s biggest drug wholesale market. It is also classified as the hub of unqualified practitioner at the other end of the spectrum.

However, the Rule 64 (2) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945 mandates that a wholesale drug licence can be given to a qualified pharmacist or one who has passed the matriculation examination or its equivalent or a graduate with one year’s experience in dealing with drug sale. But the eligibility criteria continue despite recommendation for deletion from the health ministry’s Drugs Consultative Committee headed by the Drugs Controller General (India) and subsequently by the Drugs Technical Advisory Committee headed by the Director General of Health Services.

The sale of substandard, even counterfeit, drugs remain widespread in India, particularly, in smaller towns and villages. The drug wholesale hubs or small pharmacies sell counterfeit and spurious drugs to the poor patients.

India at Commonwealth Games: Sports governance needs to change

Source: The post is based on an article “India at Commonwealth Games: Sports governance needs to change” published in the Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.
Relevance: Sports Development in India

News: Recently, the Indian contingent for the commonwealth games (CWG) has landed in the United Kingdom (UK)

Some developments in Indian Sport’s Sector

In India. sports have become commercial. India’s sporting accomplishments have grown quicker and medals have come at a faster clip than the rate at which the institutional setup for sport has evolved.

The government spends a lot of money on training people abroad and hiring foreign coaches. Therefore, Indian teams and individuals spend time training and acclimatising in Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

Issues with Indian sports industry

In the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games (CWG), India’s performance is shadowed by the performance of other countries like China.

In comparison to China, India’s economic growth does not strongly correlate with India’s sports performance. India’s sports market has not kept pace with the rapid economic growth of India. For example, the market has failed even when India registered an economic growth of over 9% during 2004-09. The institutions were unable to keep pace with a rapidly growing economy.

The national sports agencies still operate in the 20th-century mode. The associated mindset is that there should be lifetime employment in the federations. Therefore, they are run like fiefdoms. This has been brought to the fore by judicial intervention in several cases involving national federations. For example, the courts appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) ran the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for six years before handing it over to an elected board.

There are several sports in India that are subject to the same monopolistic attitude and conduct of federations. These federations are run by bureaucrats rather than by people who know the game.

What should be done?

Institutions that govern the market in India should become much more friendly and facilitate the efficient functioning of markets.

The Indian institutions managing sports need to change their culture that supports sport is critical to move to the next level. Former sports persons can take charge of guiding, mentoring and even running federations if not completely,

India should become a training hub for sportspersons from different parts of the world. For example, in cricket, India can become the sought-after destination for training global talent.

GS Paper 3

Lion’s future, cheetah’s past

Source: This post is created based on the article “Lion’s future, cheetah’s past” published in Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3, Biodiversity conservation

News: Four male and four female African cheetahs will be imported from Namibia in August, to establish the cheetah into its “historical range”.

Cheetahs will be kept in enclosures to get them acquainted with each other and make them habitual of hunting Indian prey species before their release.

After that, they will be released in a phased manner and monitored.

If this process is successful, a few other smaller cheetah reserves will be created in Rajasthan and elsewhere in MP, with the help of fresh supplies from Africa.

What are the challenges associated with Cheetah conservation plan?

The project’s Population Viability Analysis has shown a “high probability of long-term cheetah persistence” or probability of long-term existence in a few conditions, like;

  1. If the Cheetah populations exceed 50 individuals, or
  2. When smaller populations are managed as an (inter-connected) meta-population.

The solution lies in the South African model. The periodical translocation of individual animals from one fenced-off reserve to another was helpful in maintaining genetic diversity.

However, even with this model, there are many issues that require attention.

What are the concerns linked to the Plan?

Habitat connectivity: In India, there is not much natural connectivity for cheetahs to travel from one habitat to another. Without habitat connectivity, meta-populations cannot be self-sufficient (genetically viable) to perform their ecological roles.

Human interventions: The conservation model that required human intervention for the survival of cheetahs will reduce protected areas to glorified open zoos.

Unclear objectives: The cheetah project also promises to benefit endangered grassland species like endangered Indian wolves and the near-extinct Great Indian Bustard (GIB). However, it is not clear how it will happen. Wolves would have to compete with Cheetahs for prey, and GIB is potential prey for the cheetah.

The Lions vs Cheetahs debate: In April 2013, the Supreme Court (SC) set a six-month deadline for shifting lions to Kuno from Gir. In 2018, in the same case, SC dismissed the contempt case against the government, after its reassurance of following orders.

It is not done yet, instead, an exotic species of Cheetah has been reintroduced in the same area. The objectives of reviving grassland ecosystem services through Cheetahs could have been achieved by Lions.

Furthermore, the government’s draft 25-year plan for Project Lion focuses on assisted natural dispersal with no scope for relocation outside Gujarat.

India’s conservation priority should be saving what can still be saved. The longing to relive the cheetah’s past should not jeopardize the lion’s future.

Hitting the mark on defence exports

Source: The post is based on an article “Hitting the mark on defence exports” published in the Business Standard on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

Relevance: Defence Sector and Defence Export

News: Recently, the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation Seminar Swavlamban was organized in New Delhi. Prime Minister (PM) reiterated the government’s will to move out of India’s addiction to defence imports and turn it into an exporter of military equipment.

In 2020, the PM has set the five-year defence exports target of Rs 35,000 crore.

To fulfil the target, the MoD may launch 75 items in the fields of unmanned systems, robotics, intelligent surveillance and more to propel India. The government

Approximately half and one-fourth of India’s defence exports between 2017 and 2021, were to Myanmar and Sri Lanka, respectively.

During FY21, the US became India’s biggest customer in terms of defence export.

Other major regions to which Indian exports were headed were South-East Asia, West Asia and Africa.

Status of India’s defence export

The defence exports are hitting an all-time high of Rs 13,000 crore during FY21-22. Further, the share of the private sector accounts for 70% of the exports.

The items exported comprises advanced light helicopters, missiles, offshore patrol vessels, surveillance systems, personnel protective gear, and various types of radars.

What are the drivers of Indian defence exports?

First, the government has taken various steps like simplified industrial licensing, easing of export restrictions, and issuance of no-objection certificates (NOC).

Second, in the post-2014 period, a separate defence export strategy was prepared. It focussed on export promotion or facilitation and export regulation.

Third, the Ministry of External Affairs has supported the creation of lines of credit (LOC) for countries to import Indian defence products. In the Indian missions abroad, the defence attaches were established, authorised to encourage Indian exports.

Fourth, the Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 pushed for exports. It mandates public sector undertakings to derive at least 25% of their revenue from exports, including success fee by 2025.

Sixth, the Defence Expo and Aero India are organized to exhibit India’s defence production capacity.

Seventh, the Department of Defence Production focus on time-bound export clearances.

What are the factors retarding the growth of Indian defence exports?

There are various factors which have long hampered the indigenous manufacturing in India and may make it difficult to achieve the target of Rs 35,000 crore.

First set of issues: like absence of critical technologies, the long gestation period involved in creating a capital and technology-intensive production base, conducting business operations is difficult due to stringent labour laws and compliance burden, inadequate funding of defence research and development (R&D), and the lack of engineering and research skills.

Second set of issues: like poor designing capacity in core technologies, insufficient finance of R&D, and the incapability to produce critical subsystems and components.

Third set of issues: there is an adverse skill gap at present, due to weak industry-academia interface.

What should be done?

India should tap the right opportunities by smartly utilising our existing competitive advantages.

There are various prevailing cost advantages in various lines of indigenous defence production.

India can explore export opportunities in the African countries like Algeria, Morocco and Angola; and the West Asian countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

India should explore defence markets in the Indian Ocean Region and work upon the Neighbourhood First policy. This can be enabled through lines of credit to India’s neighbours like Maldives, Bangladesh and Myanmar

Basket of items to start from: Initially focus on exports of items such as the BrahMos cruise missile, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher, the advanced light helicopter Dhruv and the Akash air-defence system. Further, India should move towards providing end-to-end defence solutions in the long-run.

Saving Mother Nature from ourselves

Source: The post is based on an article “Saving mother nature from ourselves” published in the Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Ecology and Environment

Relevance: Biodiversity Conservation

News: Recently, World Nature Conservation Day was celebrated on July 28. It seeks to highlight the need to work for a healthy planet by preserving our environment and protecting our natural resources.

Why do we need preserve and protect the environment?

The global biodiversity is under all-round threat due to human’s exploitation of natural resources continues unchecked. For example, the exploitation has led to a situation where about 25% of species face the threat of extinction.

(1) There has been climate change which has led to irreversible changes in ecosystems around. It has led to disruption in ecological balance.

(2) There are sudden changes in weather patterns causing heat waves, ocean warming, diminishing amounts of snow and ice, melting glaciers, forest fires and floods.

(3) There is conversion of forests to agricultural land, overgrazing, poor forest management, invasive infrastructure development including the ill-planned expansion of urban settlements, mining and oil exploitation, anthropogenic forest fires and pollution, have impacted forest biological diversity.

The loss of the earth’s original forest cover is as high as 45 per cent over the last 8,000 years.  As per the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about 13mn hectares of the world’s forests are lost due to deforestation each year.

What should be the scope of conservation?

The idea of conservation encompasses various facets of nature including flora and fauna, energy resources, soil, water and air.

The protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures are the key drivers of biodiversity conservation.

Indian Perspective on Conservation and ecological balance

Nature forms the cornerstone of the cosmic vision of Indian civilization. The Vedas, Upanishads, etc. have taught us the worship of the divine in the elements like in rivers, mountains, lakes, animals, birds, flora, as also stars and planets.

Indian scriptures mention worship of fire, water and air as agni, jal and vayu, the sun as Surya deva, earth as Bhu devi, etc.

The Prithvi Sukta in Atharva Veda serves to remind us of our relationship with nature: mata bhumih putroham prithiyah (The earth is my mother and I am her son).

What are the conservation measures take so far?

Global Level

The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement have set goals and targets for transition to low-emission economies.

Indian Level

India is a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People which was initiated at the “One Planet Summit” in 2021. Therefore, India is committed to work proactively to protect at least 30% of our lands, waters and oceans, and adhere to its commitment of 30×30 by 2030.

A 75-day-long awareness campaign, “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, was launched. It has to cover 75 beaches across the country.

The Indian government has banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items with low utility and high littering potential from July 1, 2022.

In their joint report, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Economics for Land Degradation Initiative have urged the G-20 nations to step up to their roles as powerful leaders against climate change.

What should be done?

Conservation is the only hope for protecting the future of the planet, and the future of the succeeding generations. It can contribute to sustainable livelihoods, climate change mitigation, food and water security and reduces the threat of natural disasters.

There is a need to go back to our roots. This will help us achieve the targets of the post-2020 of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and realise the 2050 vision of “living in harmony with nature”.

The decisive actions must be taken with respect to energy, industry, land, transport and urban planning.

The saying, vruksho rakshati rakshitah (protect trees and they will protect you), should be our guiding mantra.

The climate targets and sustainable development targets should be integrated into national policies and decision-making frameworks at the local levels.

If mankind has to survive, we have to recognise the role of protection and conservation to maintain the pristine nature of biodiverse ecosystems.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Blue Economic Policy

Source: The post is based on the articleBlue Economic Policypublished in PIB on 27th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Earth Sciences is finalizing the National Policy on Blue Economy for the country.

What is the Blue Economy?

Blue economy essentially refers to the multitude of ocean resources available in the country that can be harnessed to aid the production of goods and services because of its linkages with economic growth, environmental sustainability, and national security. 

How significant is India’s Blue Economy?

Vast Coastline: With a coastline of nearly 7.5 thousand kilometres, India has a unique maritime position. Nine of its 28 states are coastal states and the nation’s geography includes 1,382 islands. There are nearly 199 ports, including 12 major ports that handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo each year.

Huge Living and Non-living Resources: India’s Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2 million square kilometres has huge living and non-living resources with significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas.

Coastal Communities: The coastal economy sustains over 4 million fisherfolk and coastal communities.

What is the purpose of the Draft Blue Economic Policy?

​​Focus of the policy: The policy envisages the optimal utilization of all sectors of the maritime domain, (living, non-living resources, tourism, ocean energy, etc.) for sustainable development of coastal areas.

Thematic Areas: The policy focuses on seven thematic areas such as 1) national accounting framework for the blue economy and ocean governance, 2) coastal marine spatial planning and tourism, 3) marine fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing, 4) manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, services, and skill development, 5) logistics, infrastructure and shipping including transhipment, 6) coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy and 7) security, strategic dimensions, and international engagement.

National Blue Economy Advisory Council(BEAC): The policy also proposes this council. It will comprise Secretaries of relevant Ministries/ Deptts. as members. It would also include Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries of the Coastal States and representatives from industry. 

Rare flight of Antarctic’s Light-mantled Albatross to T.N. coast intrigues researchers

Source: The post is based on the article Rare flight of Antarctic’s Light-mantled Albatross to T.N. coast intrigues researcherspublished in The Hindu on 26th July 2022.

What is the News?

Researchers have recorded the sighting of a light-mantled albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) in Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram. 

Where was the Light-mantled Albatross spotted?

Light-mantled Albatross was spotted on Anthoniyarpuram Beach. This spot is part of the Palk Bay and near the Gulf of Mannar, an ‘Important Bird Area’ on India’s southeast coast.

This is the first time that the bird – a native of Antarctica — was being spotted on the Asian continent.

Why was it spotted here?

As the nearest recorded site of the bird is around 5,000 km away from Rameswaram, the researchers feel a change in atmospheric pressure could have been among the reasons for the Albatross to land on an Indian shore.

What is the Light-mantled Albatross?
Light-mantled Albatross
Source: The Hindu

Scientific Name: Phoebetria palpebrate

Other Names: Grey-mantled albatross or the light-mantled sooty albatross.

Native to: Antarctic seas.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Characteristics: They maintain a circumpolar distribution in the Southern Ocean mainly south of the sub-Antarctic convergence.

Population: Light-mantled Albatross has a worldwide population of 21,600 breeding pairs, according to an estimate in 1998.

National Family Planning Summit: India has achieved replacement level fertility: Union Minister

Source: The post is based on the article “India has achieved replacement level fertility: Union Minister” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare has addressed the National Family Planning Summit, 2022.

The Minister also unveiled the India Family Planning 2030 vision document. The document focuses on strategies to overcome teenage childbearing, lack of male participation in awareness programmes, migration and lack of access to contraceptives.

What is the National Family Planning Summit, 2022?

Organized by: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Theme: “Sustaining efforts, Steering Partnerships, Shaping Vision in Family Planning – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas & Sabka Vikas”.

What are the key highlights from the Minister’s address to the summit?

Firstly, India was the first country in the world to have launched a National Programme for Family Planning in 1952.

Secondly, India has achieved replacement level fertility with as many as 31 states/ UTs having achieved a Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 or less.

Note: Replacement level fertility represents the level at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, thus leading to zero population growth if the level sustained over a sufficiently long period

Thirdly, modern contraceptive usage in India has increased substantially to 56.5% (NFHS 5).

Fourthly, Mission Parivar Vikas(MPV) 2016 has given further impetus to the National Family Planning Program. Under the scheme, innovative strategies like the distribution of Nayi Pehel kits, Saas Bahu Sammelan and Saarthi vans are helping to reach out to the community and initiate dialogues on Family Planning, healthy birth spacing and the importance of small families. 

What should be the strategy of India in Family Planning?

Firstly, although India has achieved replacement level fertility, there is still a significant population in the reproductive age group who must remain at the centre of our intervention efforts. 

Secondly, India’s focus has traditionally been on the supply side, i.e. the providers and delivery systems. Now the time is to focus on the demand side which includes family, community and society.

Lastly, the pool of family planning service providers should assume a significant role in enhancing our capacity to deliver our commitment under FP2030, through knowledge, skills and innovative services.

Supreme Court upholds powers of arrest, raids, seizure under PMLA

Source: The post is based on the articleSupreme Court upholds powers of arrest, raids, seizure under PMLA published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has upheld the validity of several key provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act(PMLA) which gives the Enforcement Directorate wider powers of arrest, seizure and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

What was the case about?

A number of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the amendments that were introduced to the PMLA Act by way of Finance Acts. 

The petitioners claimed that these amendments would violate personal liberty, procedures of law and the constitutional mandate. They claimed that the process itself was the punishment.

What was the court verdict?

The Supreme Court has upheld the amendments made to the PMLA Act. These amendments give ED wider powers of arrest, seizure and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

What are the key provisions upheld by the Supreme Court?
Source: The Hindu

EDs Power of Arrest: The petitioners had argued that the ED could arrest a person even without informing him of the charges. This power was violative of the right to ‘due process’ enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. 

– However, the court rejected the notion that the ED has been given blanket powers of arrest, search of person and property and seizure. The court said there were in-built safeguards” within the Act, including the recording of reasons in writing while effecting an arrest.

On not providing ECIR to the accused: SC held that it was not mandatory for the ED to provide a copy of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) to the accused. The court was of the view that it is enough if the ED disclosed the grounds of arrest at the time of the arrest.

– Note: ECIR is an ED document which is widely seen as similar to the police first information report (FIR).

Twin Conditions of Bail: The court ​​upheld the stringent twin bail conditions required under the law for granting bail to an accused. The two conditions require a court to hear the public prosecutor against the bail plea and reach a satisfaction that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is not guilty of the offense and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

– However, the court said undertrials could seek bail under Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure if they had already spent one-half of the term of punishment in jail for the offence prescribed in law. But, again, this is not an “absolute right” and would depend from case to case.

Issue of the burden of proof rests heavily on the shoulders of the accused: The court upheld this provision and said that this provision did not suffer from the “vice of arbitrariness or unreasonableness”.

Introduction of the amendments through Money Bills: The SC held that this issue would be separately examined by a larger Bench of the apex court.

Cabinet approves revival package of BSNL amounting to Rs 1.64 Lakh Cr.

Source: The post is based on the article “Cabinet approves revival package of BSNL amounting to Rs 1.64 Lakh Cr.published in PIB on 27th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved the revival package of BSNL amounting to Rs 1.64 Lakh Crore.

What are the key aspects of BSNL’s revival package? 
Upgrading BSNL Services

Administrative allotment of Spectrum: To improve existing services and provide 4G services, BSNL will be allotted Spectrum in the 900/1800 MHz band. With this, BSNL will be able to compete in the market and provide high-speed data using their vast network including in rural areas.

Financial support for capex: Government will fund capital expenditure to BSNL for the deployment of indigenous 4G stack by the operator.

Viability gap funding for rural wireline operations: Despite the commercial non-viability, BSNL has been providing wireline services in rural/remote areas to meet the social objectives of the Government. The government will provide funds to BSNL as viability gap funding for commercially unviable rural wire-line operations done during 2014-15 to 2019-20.

De-stressing the BSNL balance sheet

Debt structuring: Government will provide a sovereign guarantee to BSNL and MTNL For raising long-term loans. This will help restructure existing debt and de-stressing the balance sheets.

Financial support for AGR dues: To further improve the balance sheet, Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) Dues of BSNL will be settled by conversion into equity. 

Augmenting BSNL Fiber Network

Merger of BBNL and BSNL: To facilitate wider utilization of infrastructure laid under BharatNet, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd(BBNL) will be merged with BSNL. The infrastructure created under BharatNet will continue to be a national asset, accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to all the Telecom Service Providers

Centre to amend Warehousing Act

Source: The post is based on the article “Centre to amend Warehousing Act” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Food and Public Distribution Ministry has suggested major amendments to the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act of 2007.

What is the Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2007?

The Warehousing (Development and Regulation) Act, 2007 came into force in 2010.

The Government constituted Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) under the Act to ensure scientific storage by prescribing infrastructural and procedural standards. 

Captive warehouses such as those of the Food Corporation of India are excluded from the ambit of the Act. 

What are the proposed amendments to the Act?

Compulsory registration of warehouses: At present, the registration of warehouses with the WDRA is optional. After the proposed amendment, registration of all third-party warehouses throughout the country will be undertaken in a phased manner. The Central government will have powers to exempt any class of warehouses from registration with the Authority. 

Doing away with Jail Term: Government has proposed doing away with up to three years imprisonment for various offences but suggested a significant increase in the penalty from the current ₹1 lakh for various offences.

No accreditation agencies: The proposed amendments aim to do away with accreditation agencies as the process was time-consuming, prone to malpractices and led to complaints.

— After the proposed amendments, the application for registration of warehouses will be submitted directly to the WDRA and a new system of online applications which will be contactless and faceless will be implemented and the average registration time will be reduced. 

Composition of WRDA: At present, WRDA is composed of a chairperson and two full-time members. After the amendment, three ex-officio part-time members will be added to the Authority including joint secretaries in the Food and Economic Affairs departments and the Executive Director of the SEBI.

– The amendment will also give WRDA the powers to investigate, take enforcement action, impose monetary penalties, recover monetary penalties and adjudication.

GI Tag for Alibaug’s White Onion brings cheer to farmers

Source: The post is based on the article “GI Tag for Alibaug’s White Onion brings cheer to farmers” published in Hindu Business Line on 26th July 2022.

What is the News?

The ​​White Onion of Alibaug in Maharashtra’s Raigad district has received a ‘Geographical Indication’, giving it a unique identity and wider markets.

What is unique about Alibaug’s White Onion?

Alibaug is a coastal town in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The soil of Alibaug taluka has low sulphur content.

Due to this, onions here have low pungency, sweet taste, ‘no tear’ factor, low pyruvic acid, high protein, fat and fibre content, besides high antioxidant compounds (quercetin). 

It boosts immunity, helps with insomnia, blood cleaning, blood pressure and heat-related ailments. 

What is a GI Tag?

Click Here to read

Forest Rights Act: well begun, and now Odisha is ready for the home run

Source: The post is based on the article “Forest Rights Act: well begun, and now Odisha is ready for the home run” published in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

Odisha is one of the few states in the country which is nearer to completely implementing the provisions of the Forest Rights Act,2006.

It is the first State in the country to make budgetary provisions for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act in 2021-22. 

What is the Forest Rights Act,2006?
Forests Rights Act
Source: The Hindu

The Forest Rights Act (FRA),2006 recognizes the rights of the forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources on which these communities were dependent for a variety of needs, including livelihood, habitation and other socio-cultural needs. 

Individual Rights: The Act recognizes the Rights of Self-cultivation and habitation which are usually regarded as Individual rights.

Community Rights: It also recognizes community Rights such as Grazing, Fishing and access to Water bodies in forests, Habitat Rights for PVTGs, community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge or recognition of traditional customary rights.

– It also provides rights to the allocation of forest land for developmental purposes to fulfil the basic infrastructural needs of the community. 

Protection from Eviction: In conjunction with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Settlement Act, 2013 FRA protects the tribal population from eviction without rehabilitation and settlement.

Gram Sabha: The Act further enjoins upon the Gram Sabha and rights holders the responsibility of conservation and protection of biodiversity, wildlife, forests as well as to stop any destructive practices affecting these resources or cultural and natural heritage of the tribals. 

– The Gram Sabha is also a highly empowered body under the Act, enabling the tribal population to have a decisive say in the determination of local policies and schemes impacting them.

Thousands of villages set to get 4G coverage

Source: The post is based on the article “Thousands of villages set to get 4G coveragepublished in The Hindu on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved a project for the saturation of 4G mobile services in the uncovered villages across the country.

What is the 4G saturation project across uncovered villages?

Under this project, 4G mobile services will be provided in 24,680 uncovered villages in remote and difficult areas.

The project has a provision to include 20% additional villages on account of rehabilitation, new settlements, withdrawal of services by existing operators etc.  

In addition to this, 6,279 villages having only 2G or 3G connectivity will be upgraded to 4G under this project.

Who will execute this project?

The project will be executed by BSNL using Atmanirbhar Bharat’s 4G technology stack and will be funded through Universal Service Obligation Fund. 

What is the significance of this project?

The project is a significant step toward the vision of the Government to provide mobile connectivity in rural areas. It will promote the delivery of various e-governance services, banking services, telemedicine, and tele-education through mobile broadband and generate employment in rural areas.

Explained: What is cryptojacking, the cyber attack carried out by crypto miners?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is cryptojacking, the cyber attack carried out by crypto miners?” published in Indian Express on 28th July 2022.

What is the News?

According to a report, Cryptojacking attacks on computer systems have gone up by 30% to 66.7 million in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of last year.

What is Cryptojacking? 

Cryptojacking is a cyber attack wherein a computing device is hijacked and controlled by the attacker and its resources are used to illicitly mine cryptocurrency. 

In most cases, the malicious programme is installed when the user clicks on an unsafe link, or visits an infected website — and unknowingly provides access to their Internet-connected device.

What is the reason behind cryptojacking? 

Coin mining is a legitimate, competitive process used to release new crypto coins into circulation or to verify new transactions. It involves solving complex computational problems to generate blocks of verified transactions that get added to the blockchain. The reward for the first miner who successfully manages to update the crypto ledger through this route is crypto coins.

But the race to crack this crypto code needs considerable computing power involving state-of-the-art hardware and electrical power to keep the systems involved up and running.

Cryptojackers co-opt devices, servers and cloud infrastructure, and use their resources for mining. The use of ‘stolen’ or cryptojacked resources slashes the cost involved in mining.

Why is cryptojacking a concern? 

Cryptojacking is hard to detect and the victims of these attacks mostly remain unaware that their systems have been compromised. Some telltale signs are the device slowing down, heating up or the battery getting drained faster than usual.

Mains Answer Writing

Must Read Current Affairs Articles – August 11, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – August 11, 2022

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The Issue of Jobless Growth in India – Explained, pointwise

For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE → Introduction India’s GDP has grown at the annual rate of 7-8% in the last decade. However, this growth hasn’t translated into creation of more employment opportunities for the labour force. No other major economy has been expanding as fast as India lately. But beyond the headlines lies the grim reality of… Continue reading The Issue of Jobless Growth in India – Explained, pointwise

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Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications

Source: The post is based on the article “Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications” published in The Hindu on 6th August 2022. What is the News? Indian Army has conducted a major pan-India Exercise codenamed ‘Skylight’. What is Exercise Skylight? Conducted by: Indian Army Aim: To test the operational… Continue reading Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications

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RPF undertakes month long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers

Source: The post is based on the article “RPF undertakes month-long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers” published in PIB on 6th August 2022. What is the News? Railway Protection Force(RPF) has launched a Pan-India Operation under the code name “Operation Yatri Suraksha”. What is Operation Yatri Suraksha? Launched… Continue reading RPF undertakes month long Pan India Drive under ‘Operation Yatri Suraksha’ to enhance security of passengers

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Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks

Source: The post is based on the article “Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks” published in Business Standard on 10th August 2022. What is the News? The Centre has asked the Indian Banks Association(IBA) to prepare a viability plan for Regional Rural Banks(RRBs) similar to the Enhanced Access and Service… Continue reading Centre asks IBA to ready EASE-like plan for regional rural banks

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Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws report: Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors” published in The Hindu on 9th August 2022. What is the News? The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has tabled its report in both Houses of Parliament titled ‘Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws’. What are the… Continue reading Review of Guardianship and Adoption Laws report: Explained | On guardianship and adoption of minors

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Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal

Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal” published in PIB on 9th August 2022. What is the News? The Union Cooperation Minister has launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e-Marketplace(GeM) portal. What is the Government e-Marketplace(GeM)… Continue reading Union Minister for Cooperation e-launched the onboarding of cooperatives on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal

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Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance

Source: The post is based on the article “Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance” published in Indian Express on 9th August 2022. What is the News? Scientists have discovered over 4,300 dinosaur footprints in Hebei province of Zhangjiakou in northern China. About Dinosaur Footprints in China  This is the largest number of… Continue reading Dinosaur footprints in China: the discovery and its importance

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Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister

Source: The post is based on the article “Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister” published in The Hindu on 8th August 2022. What is the News? The Union Finance Minister has informed the Lok Sabha about the Counterfeit Currency in the Banking System. What… Continue reading Value of fake notes in banking system recorded over 80% decline from 2016-17 to 2021-22: Union Minister

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‘Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep’

Source: The post is based on the article “Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep” published in Down to Earth on 8th August 2022. What is the News? The National Institute of Ocean Technology, an autonomous institute under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) is establishing an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion(OTEC) plant… Continue reading ‘Ocean thermal energy conversion plant coming up in Lakshadweep’

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