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
- Law and lawmakers
- How does a democracy die?
- How a Supreme court order could render the new co-op ministry a non-starter
- Quotas don’t solve what’s really wrong with education
- EU’s vaccine travel pass is highly discriminatory towards low-income countries
GS Paper 3
- Small state, big brother
- Patchwork progress
- Leveraging traditional lo-tech innovations to fight climate change
- Visualising the Himalaya with other coordinates
- Cloud over Videocon resolution process points to larger weakness in IBC
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial
- Kendu leaf trade: Stringent laws needed to keep children out
- Govt. introduces Bill on insurance firms
- 36th Edition of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol(CORPAT)
- CSIR-CMERI dedicates Tractor Mounted Spading Machine to the Nation
- Social Audit of Social Sector Schemes
- Union Minister releases “Biotech-PRIDE (Promotion of Research and Innovation through Data Exchange) Guidelines
- Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana(PDDUUKSY)
- UNESCO study calls for sensitive reporting of rape cases
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 – Parliament and State Legislatures — Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.
The Supreme Court held that a legislative privilege cannot be extended to provide legal immunity to criminal acts committed by lawmakers.
- On March 13, 2015, six members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) from LDF party in Kerala tried to interrupt the presentation of the Budget. Their action resulted in destruction or damage to some items, amounting to a loss of Rs. 2.20 lakh.
- Based on the Assembly Secretary’s complaint, the police registered a case and later filed a charge sheet against them.
About the case:
- The MLAs were booked for committing mischief and trespass under the IPC and destroying public property under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.
- This year, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, had rejected the application by the public prosecutor for withdrawal of the prosecution case. This order was affirmed by the Kerala HC. Later, the Supreme Court also concurred with this decision.
About the Supreme Court Directive:
- A legislative privilege can not provide legal immunity to criminal acts of lawmakers.
- This ruling by Supreme Court is a step in the right direction, because,
- It is an unacceptable argument that the alleged vandalism took place as part of the legislators’ right to protest on the floor of the House.
- An alleged act of destroying public property within the House cannot be considered “essential” for their legislative functions.
- It is the court’s duty to decide whether the prosecutor’s withdrawal is in good faith and in the interest of public policy. Further, the withdrawal shouldn’t aim at thwarting the process of law.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions, and Basic Structure.
Relevance: This article highlights few examples that can turn a country in a failed democracy.
Democracies die when democratically elected governments cease to be held accountable by a society weakened by poor health, low morale, and joblessness. In such a scenario, political leaders are prone to blindness and incompetence, they pay minor regard towards the promise of a dignified life for every citizen.
- Global surveys are everywhere reporting dipping confidence in democracy and marked jumps in citizens’ frustrations with government corruption and incompetence.
- Most worrying are the survey findings for India, which is fast developing a reputation as the world’s largest failing democracy.
- In its Democracy Report 2020, Sweden’s V-Dem Institute noted that India “has almost lost its status as a democracy”.
- It ranked India below Sierra Leone, Guatemala, and Hungary.
- Democracy is much more than pressing a button or marking a box on a ballot paper. It is a whole way of life and involves freedom from hunger, humiliation, and violence.
- Democracy is saying no to every form of human and non-human indignity. In a healthy democracy, citizens are not forced to travel in buses and trains like livestock, wade through dirty water from overrunning sewers or breathe poisonous air.
- Democracy is public and private respect for different ways of living. It is a willingness to admit that impermanence renders all life vulnerable, that in the end nobody is invincible, and that ordinary lives are never ordinary.
Political scientists have often pointed out that democracies fade in two connected ways. Some have suffered sudden death. But death by cuts is more common.
Two Ways in which Democracy dies:
- Military Coup: Democide or military coup is usually a slow-motion and messy process. Wild rumours and talk of conspiracies flourish. Street protests and outbreaks of uncontrolled violence happen. Fears of civil unrest spread.
- The armed forces take control. The emergency rule is declared, but things eventually come to a boil.
- As the government weakens, the army moves from its barracks onto the streets to quell unrest and take control. Democracy is finally buried in a grave it slowly dug for itself.
- During the past generation, around three-quarters of democracies met their end in these ways. These include military coups against the elected governments of Egypt (2013), Thailand (2014), Myanmar, and Tunisia (2021).
- Destruction by Social Emergencies: The judiciary becomes vulnerable to cynicism, political meddling, and state capture. Massive imbalances of wealth, chronic violence, famine, etc. destroy people’s dignity.
- The victims stop believing themselves worthy of rights, or capable as citizens of fighting for their own entitlements, or for the rights of others.
- This social indignity undermines citizens’ capacity to take an active interest in public affairs and to check and humble the powerful.
- Citizens are forced to put up with state and corporate restrictions on basic public freedoms.
- This makes them used to big money, surveillance, baton charges, preventive detentions, and police killings.
- But the scandal doesn’t end there. When millions of citizens are daily victimized by social indignities, the powerful are granted a license to rule arbitrarily.
- When this happens, demagoguery comes into season. It refers to political activity or practices that seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.
- The leaders can even convince people that they can turn lead into gold. They make careless, foolish, and incompetent decisions that reinforce social inequities. They license Big industry and government players to decide things, which in turn breeds corruption.
- Finally, in the absence of redistributive public welfare policies that guarantee sufficient food, shelter, security, education, and health care to the downtrodden; democracy morphs into a mere façade.
Source: Business Standard
Gs2: Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein.
Synopsis: Supreme court order has huge ramifications on the functioning of the newly-formed cooperative ministry
- Recently, the Supreme Court of India in a landmark judgment struck down parts of the 97th amendment to the Constitution.
- The 97th amendment to the Constitution sought to reduce the powers of the state governments over their cooperative societies.
- The judgment could have huge ramifications on the functioning of the newly-formed cooperative ministry, headed by none other than the country’s Home Minister.
Why parts of the 97th amendment to the Constitution were struck down?
What are the options available for the center?
The Centre is believed to be exploring multiple options to ensure that the functioning of the newly formed ministry of cooperation is not hampered.
- The first option is to abide by the Supreme Court’s interpretation and let its jurisdiction remain only in respect of Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS).
- In that case, the newly formed ministry of cooperation will only be responsible for managing the affairs of the 1500 odd MSCS.
- Whereas around 800,000 cooperatives will be left outside its scope, barring the Urban and State Cooperative Banks, which are being regulated by the RBI as per amendments made to The Banking Regulation Act, 1949 in 2020.
- The second Option is to validate that part of the original amendment that seek to violate state powers, by getting the same ratified by at least half of the state legislatures.
- Third and more radical approach will be to adopt the same process of getting an amendment ratified by state legislatures to put cooperation into the Concurrent List.
- Winding up of cooperatives is in the state list, and putting it in the concurrent list will empower the Central government to legislate on matters related to the cooperatives.
Source: Times of India
GS2: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States
Synopsis: Recently, the government announced 27% reservation for OBC and 10% for EWS candidates in the all-India quota for medical admissions.
- The proportional increase in overall seats continues the trend of entrenching reservations.
- Now this government can claim bragging rights, just like in 2006 government did after introducing OBC reservations in central educational institutions.
- Also, by upholding EWS quotas too, the government has theoretically pacified most social groups.
- First, politics of quotas is such that no one will ask even basic questions. Such as,
- How soon will an increase in medical seats to accommodate new quotas happen?
- What will be the quality of education after that increase?
- How will putting more stress on this system produce a better outcome?
- Second, there is already-existing shortcomings in medical education which restrict the output of thoroughly trained doctors.
- Policy makers have failed to provide high quality school education or facilitate job creation.
- Third, there is no clarity on how to attract entrepreneurs who value creating institutions and also does rigorous performance reviews of medical colleges.
- Fourth, quota balancing will now be an added job for medical regulators not known for their commitment to excellence.
- Lastly, there is more politics on quota and little policy aimed at quality.
- For instance, without economic growth or learning outcomes, OBC groups, sandwiched between the general category and SC/STs, were rallied on the promise of quotas.
- Now, groups within the OBC quota are clashing over who benefited or lost out, and even the GoI-appointed Rohini Commission is struggling to reconcile claims.
Hence, we need many more quality medical institutions to increase the supply of quality medical professionals otherwise quota along with lack of skilled human capital will subdivide the shrinking pie.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS2 – Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests
Relevance: Implications of Green Pass scheme
Synopsis: Green Pass scheme is discriminatory towards low income countries. Issues involved and way forward.
In a recent guideline, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended its member states not to seek proof of Covid-19 vaccination or recovery as a mandatory condition for entry to or exit from a country. In this direction, many countries like China and Israel have introduced vaccine certificates that ease the process of entering and traveling across the destination country for vaccinated travelers.
Though these certificates can be looked at from the lens of trade facilitation, they can potentially act as a trade barrier if they encourage discriminatory treatment.
The recent and the most contentious issue in this regard is the European Union’s “Green Pass” scheme.
|Also Read: What is EU’s Green Pass Scheme? – Explained|
Issues with Green Pass Scheme
Discriminatory in nature
The EU’s approach creates a divide between low and high-income countries due to the following reasons:
- The difference in the vaccination rates across the globe: Vaccine doses administered per 100 people are 1.4 for low-income countries as compared to 93.2 for high-income countries. This makes travelers from low-income countries ineligible to avail these certificates.
- Type of vaccines administered in a country: As the Green Pass scheme includes only four selected vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), it makes travellers from countries administering alternate vaccines ineligible for certification.
- Discrimination faced by Indian citizens: Initially, the policy did not allow AstraZeneca’s Indian-manufactured vaccine, Covishield. Due to the immense pressure, 16 EU countries have now accepted Covishield. However, despite this inclusion, travel rules vary across the region and in some cases, are still discriminatory — for instance, travellers from India vaccinated with Covishield still need to quarantine in the Netherlands, as India is considered a high-risk country. The only relief for them is the removal of any possible restriction on their movement within the destination country.
Against COVAX policy
It goes against the policy of COVAX, which has stated that “any measure that only allows people protected by a subset of WHO-approved vaccines to benefit from the re-opening of travel into and with that region would effectively create a two-tier system… (and) would negatively impact the growth of economies that are already suffering the most”.
Indirect cost burden
Countries not administering any of the EMA-approved are mostly low and middle-income countries, including India. Along with African and South Asian regions, this population also includes South East Asian countries. Nationals from many of these countries also serve in the hospitality industries in countries across the world, including Europe.
With these exclusion criteria, an indirect cost burden is put on their domestic service sectors that are already suffering due to the pandemic.
With such discriminatory intervention, the EU policy also goes against the globalization policy of collective welfare.
To achieve the desired goal, countries need to cooperate on vaccine production to accelerate the global vaccination process.
The COVID vaccine supply chain can involve more than 100 components, and it is important to strengthen the global supply chain. This makes lifting trade barriers on raw materials for vaccine production critical.
COVID vaccine makers across the world have created a platform, led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, to connect with key raw material suppliers needed for boosting production.
Also, in a recent declaration, WTO members have agreed to review and eliminate unnecessary existing export restrictions on essential medical goods needed to combat the pandemic
GS Paper 3
Source: Business Standard
Syllabus: GS 3 – Internal Security
Assam-Mizoram violence is an outcome of the central government trying too hard to ‘integrate’ distinct northeastern states, which has unleashed latent regionalism.
- Recent border clashes on the Assam-Mizoram Border and Assam-Meghalaya border point to the failure of central and state governments to solve the boundary issue.
- On 26 July, a violent confrontation took place between police and residents on the Assam-Mizoram border.
- The clash has left six Assam Police personnel dead and a trail of injuries on both sides.
- The tension on July 26th followed alleged attempts by Meghalaya to put up electric poles at the Khanapara area of Guwahati.
- Today the borders between Assam-Meghalaya, Assam-Mizoram, Assam-Nagaland, and Assam-Arunachal Pradesh are all hotly contested spaces and marked by frequent bloodbaths.
Reason behind such intense border conflicts:
- First, four out of six neighbors of Assam were carved out of Assam between 1963 and 1972. The boundary lines were drawn hurriedly and casually by the civil servants, just like the approach adopted by Radcliffe in demarcating the India-Pakistan border.
- This is why such intense border issues do not fester between Assam, Tripura, and Manipur as those two were already territorial entities by themselves and not created by dividing Assam.
- Second, there is the existence of a smaller state syndrome in 4 states. They believe that their culture, identity, and ethnicity are being subjugated by Assam, the bigger state. It is the same reason which makes Pakistan anxious about India’s policy.
- Third, the central government is trying too hard to integrate the Northeast region as one single monolith. This has awakened sleeping regionalism, as every state has a unique culture and diversity of its own.
- Setting up an organization like the NEDA (Northeast Democratic Alliance) by the ruling party also tries to impose homogeneity over the diverse region.
- Such an integrationist approach also defeats the rationale behind the creation of smaller Northeast states. They were created to address their insecurities about being overwhelmed by outsiders and losing their identity.
- The dispute can be solved if generosity is shown by the bigger state (Assam) towards the smaller. The smaller states have always resented Assam as the big brother. They didn’t want to be dominated by New Delhi nor by Dispur.
- India settled its land and maritime boundaries with Bangladesh. It also settled the Katchatheevu island dispute with Sri Lanka. In each case, the larger neighbor showed generosity and large-heartedness. The disputes would not have been solved if India had approached them like Big Brother.
Source: The Hindu
GS3: Indian Economy – Money and Banking
Synopsis: The Government has recently introduced changes to 1961 Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation law.
Benefits for depositors: Added Points
- As per RBI data, ₹76.21 lakh crore or almost 51% of deposits are now insured, but 98.3% of all accounts have balances of ₹5 lakh or less, so they are fully insured.
- This can be a source of renewed comfort for people in the banking system which is important for financial stability
- First, making incremental changes in quick succession suggests a piecemeal approach to governance rather than a system-wide view.
- Second, given the rising distress in households and the downward momentum in savings levels due to the pandemic, this change must be allowed to make it through the din in Parliament.
- Third, the outcome is not satisfactory for several people with limited financial literacy and access to retirement savings instruments, with lifetime earnings (possibly over ₹5 lakh) parked in a neighborhood co-operative bank.
Hence, just as the latest amendments have an enabling provision, there should have been one modification to raise the insured deposit limit in line with inflation and per capita income trends.
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment
Relevance: Understanding the role of traditional ecological practices as a sustainable solution to climate change problem.
Synopsis: Indigenous technological innovations backed by traditional ecological knowledge is the way forward to fight climate change.
Problem with high-tech
High-tech solutions to climate change are based on an idea of abundance of resources, money and unrestricted scalability. But it is these principles of infinite resources that make this tech inherently unsustainable.
High tech vs lo-tech
In contrast, lo-tech is born of finite resources and an understanding that ecosystems have limitations. Indigenous innovations evolved over thousands of years while dealing with climatic extremes like tidal surges and floods.
This technology has inherent principles which make it truly sustainable.
Idea behind traditional lo-tech innovations
These innovations are based on diverse ecological understanding of indigenous communities.
- Man and nature are one: Nature is not seen as being separate from human beings. HUman beings are all a part of the nature. Hence, these lo-tech innovations encourage working alongside with natural systems like water, trees and sunlight.
- Value Stewardship: These technologies also value stewardship i.e. taking care of the resources. These are not about always extracting from nature or showing a superiority complex regarding biodiversity which often reflects in Western ideology. Instead, lo-tech emphasises symbiosis, working with different life forms and preserving diversity because that makes resilience possible.
Examples of lo-tech
- Meghalaya’s living root bridge system: Meghalaya has some of the highest rainfall in the world. When the monsoon comes, the rivers rushing by take out all the bridges, except for the living root bridges grown by the Khasi and Jaintia people. The Khasi community weaves together tree roots to make living bridges that can withstand monsoon storms and floods. These are built out of rubber fig trees planted near rivers by the community. They train the trees to grow across rivers and then, using bamboo scaffolding, they weave their secondary root systems together — after some years, you get a living root bridge. There are about 30 such bridges today and they are the most structurally efficient system possible.
- Kerala’s kuttanad system — it’s like the Dutch polder-dike arrangement, with a polder or lake lower than sea level and a dike or barrier which keeps the water out. This helped the Dutch make low-lying lands agricultural. Kerala’s kuttanad is similar. It allows saltwater in, where shrimp is farmed. When the monsoon comes, this changes to a freshwater system which grows crops. For people trying to mitigate sea level rises on land, this is an important innovation. Kerala’s technology is better than the Dutch because it deals with an intense weather system like the monsoon.
- Philippines’ rice terrace aquaculture: There is also the Philippines’ rice terrace aquaculture, made by the Ifugao people in Banaue. These fields are sloped at 80 degrees, so they’re near-vertical. These are thousands of years old and incredibly biodiverse, supporting birds, aquatic and terrestrial life, including humans, through the growing of rice. They’re acknowledged by UNESCO as some of the most important habitats on Earth.
These examples show that conversations about climate resilient technology don’t need to be dominated by the West with a narrative that is centered completely around high-tech solutions.
We need such site-specific technologies to deal with sea level rise, food scarcity, water shortages, etc. Locally developed tech will mitigate these challenges.
We must think about adaptability, flexibility and how to integrate with natural systems and only indigenous technology lets us do this.
We cannot solve climate change with the same approach that created the problem. We need to move from polluting technology to nature-based science and the bridge enabling this important step is indigenous technological innovation.
Terms to know:
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Relevance: The countries in the Himalayas has to look beyond geopolitics and security to protect the interest of humanity
India and other countries lying in the Himalayas is so far has been examining the Himalayas mainly through the coordinates of geopolitics and security, while relegating others as either irrelevant or incompatible.
Ironically, it is the Delhi-Beijing-Islamabad triad, and not the mountain per se, that defines our concerns about the Himalayas. If during colonial times it was Russophobia, then now it is Sinophobia or Pakistan phobia that in fact determines our concerns over the Himalayas.
Creation of a national Himalayas:
In the case of Himalayan studies, it has given birth to the political compulsion of territorialising the Himalayas. Thus, the attempt to create a national Himalayas by each of the five nations (Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and Tibet/China) that falls within this transnational landmass called the Himalaya.
- The Himalayas remains as space largely defined in terms of sovereign territoriality. This is in contrast to alternative imaginations such as community, ecology, or market.
- For instance, the National Mission on Himalayan Studies under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change is a classic example of that. India is creating policies only for the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).
- States have dominated the agenda of defining the domain of non-traditional security (such as climate change, human trafficking, migration, etc.) and traditional security threats (such as military, political and diplomatic conflicts) with the help of the Himalayas. But they never initiated work towards the collaboration.
Why the territorialisation of the Himalayas is still prevalent?
- The Himalayas’ territorialisation bears a colonial legacy that also sets up its post-colonial destiny as played out within the dynamics of nation-states.
- The arbitration of relationships between and among the five nation-states falling within the Himalayan landmass has failed to transcend the approach derived from the given categories of territoriality, sovereignty, and difference.
- The fact that the lines of peoplehood and the national border, especially within the context of the Himalayas, never coincided. This is bound to give tensions while working out projects.
- Given this historical logjam, what we can only expect is the escalation of territorial disputes as to the immediate fallout when infrastructure development projects in the border areas.
Suggestions to work on the entire Himalayas:
- Human security cannot be effectively appreciated through the paradigm of sovereign territoriality. So, to protect the interest of humanity, the nation-states have to come together.
- Anthropological, historical, cultural, and ecological ones have to take privilege over the statist meaning (territoriality, sovereignty, and difference)
- The countries have to refer to the Himalayas as one of the largest biodiversity hotspots, the largest water tower of Asia. Similarly, The Himalayas needs to be visualised with an open eye and taken in as a whole instead of in parts, unlike the previous initiatives.
- It is necessary to address the concerns of trade, commerce, community, ecology, and environmental issues associated with the entire Himalayan range.
- Further, Policymaking, state-building strategies, and diplomatic relations are worked out in relation to the Himalayas.
The time has come when we need to take position between the Himalayas as a national space and as a space of dwelling, instead of avoiding our encounter with this ambivalence.
Source: Indian Express
Gs3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
Synopsis: issues involved in Videocon resolution process
- Videocon was one of the first test cases to examine the prospects of insolvency jurisprudence in India and the first one, for group insolvency proceedings.
- On June 8, the NCLT approved a resolution plan submitted by Twinstar Technologies (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Vedanta Group).
- Twinstar’s resolution plan provided for payment of Rs. 2,962 crore (a mere 4.15 percent of Videocon’s total admitted debt of Rs 64,838 crore).
- This had raised several concerns, such as
- Confidentiality obligations of the resolution professional
- The rights of dissenting creditors.
- Expectedly, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stayed the approval granted by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
What are the issues involved in the Videocon resolution process?
1. Principles of Fairness and equitability ignored
- Under the IBC (Section 30(2)(b)), the resolution plan must provide for payment of debts amongst creditors in a “fair and equitable” manner.
- In the plan submitted by Twinstar, unsecured assenting financial creditors and operational creditors are getting a paltry 0.62 percent and 0.72 percent of their admitted dues.
- This has raised concerns about whether such resolutions are in line with the public policy of the country.
2. Suspicion over the confidentiality of the resolution process.
- Twinstar’s bid of Rs 2,962 crore is close to the liquidation value of the Videocon Group, estimated at Rs 2,568 crore.
- This raises legitimate suspicion and concern over the confidentiality of the resolution process.
- Regulations 35(2) and 35(3) of the I&B (Insolvency Resolution of Corporate Persons) Regulations, 2016 have provisions related to the confidentiality of the resolution process.
- It states that the resolution professional must maintain the confidentiality of the fair market value and liquidation value of the corporate debtor and can only disclose the same to the CoC members after the resolutions plan has been submitted.
- Whilst the CoC members must, on receipt of the information, issue an undertaking of confidentiality, no such obligation falls on the resolution professional.
- Even under Section 25 of the code, titled “Duties of resolution professional”, the specific duty to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information is conspicuously absent.
- Clearly, the confidentiality rules need to be revisited, especially the rules related to the resolution professional.
3. Delayed Resolution Process
- It has been more than three years since the Videocon group was admitted into insolvency proceedings. This is way beyond the statutory timeline of 330 days.
The two primary objectives of enacting the IBC were: The conclusion of the insolvency resolution process in a “time-bound manner”, and “maximization of value of assets” of the corporate debtor. The Videocon resolution plan fails both objectives.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
What is the News?
The Government of India has participated in the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3).
About Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3):
- Arctic Science Ministerial(ASM) is a global platform for discussing research and cooperation in the Arctic region.
- Organized by: Iceland and Japan have jointly organized the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial(ASM3). It is the first Ministerial meeting being held in Asia.
- The first Arctic Science Ministerial was hosted by the United States in Washington in 2016. The second ASM was co-hosted by the European Commission, Finland, and Germany in Berlin in 2018.
- Purpose: To provide opportunities to various stakeholders, to enhance collective understanding of the Arctic region. It also emphasizes the constant engagement in monitoring and strengthening Arctic observations.
- Theme: ‘Knowledge for the Sustainable Arctic’.
About NISAR(NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) Mission:
- NISAR is a joint Earth-Observation mission between ISRO and NASA. It aims to make global measurements of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.
- Objective: To improve understanding of the impact of climate change on Earth’s changing Ecosystems, land and coastal processes, land deformations, and Cryosphere.
- Features: It is a dual-band (L-band and S-band) Radar imaging mission with the capability of full polarimetric and interferometric modes of operation, to observe minor changes in land, vegetation, and cryosphere.
- Contributions: NASA is developing L-band SAR and associated systems. While ISRO is developing S-band SAR, spacecraft bus, the launch vehicle, and associated launch services.
- Launch Year: NISAR is proposed to be launched in early 2023.
Source: Down To Earth
What is the News?
Several children were seen collecting kendu leaves in the Joradobra Phadi (kendu leaf collection center) in Odisha’s Kalahandi district. This was a clear violation of child rights and also a reflection of the shoddy state of affairs across the state.
About Kendu Leaf:
- Kendu Leaf is a species of flowering tree in the family Ebenaceae. It is native to India and Sri Lanka.
- The states producing Kendu leaves in India comprise mainly Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
Kendu Leaf in Odisha:
- Kendu leaf is called the green gold of Odisha. It is a nationalized product, like bamboo and the sal seed. It is one of the most important non-wood forest products in Odisha.
- Odisha is the third-largest producer of kendu leaf, after Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- The Uniqueness of Odisha’s kendu leaf is in processed form, whereas the rest of the states in India produces in Phal Form.
- In processed form, the Kendu leaves are graded into different qualities that are Grade I to Grade IV as per the specification of color, texture, size, and body condition of the leaf.
Uses of Kendu Leaf:
- The Kendu leaves are used to wrap bidis, a popular smoke among the locals.
- Tribals living in remote forests, pluck the Kendu leaves and sell them in the market to earn their livelihood.
- Traditional medical practitioners use Kendu Leaves to treat malaria, diarrhoea, and dysentery. Due to their antimicrobial properties, the leaves are applied to cuts and bruises as well.
Kendu Leaf Sector in Odisha:
- In Odisha, Children are mostly engaged in plucking, drying, collecting Kendu leaves. They are paid extremely low wages for the work.
- Moreover, children are also deprived of benefits such as healthcare and compensation in case of accidental death and injury.
- To free Kendu leaves sector from child labour, more stringent laws are needed. Parents and children need to be sensitised about child rights.
- Besides the child protection system viz. childline, district child protection unit, child welfare committee, etc. would have to be more vigil and proactive in ensuring rights to children.
Source: The Hindu
What is the News?
The Government of India has introduced the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021.
Purpose of the Bill:
- The Bill introduces amendments to the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 to enable the privatisation of public sector insurance companies.
Key Features of the Bill:
- Reduces Shareholding Limit: The Bill removes a clause that requires the Centre to hold at least 51% shares in the public sector insurance companies.
- Currently, there are four public sector general insurance companies — National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited, and United India Insurance Company Limited.
- Applicability of the Act: The bill includes a new section that states that the applicability of the Act ceases from the date the central government relinquishes control over an insurer.
- Liability of Director: The Bill makes the director of an insurer who is not a whole-time director liable for any acts of omission or commission committed with his knowledge and consent.
Significance of the Bill:
- The Bill will allow private participation in public sector insurance companies with the government reducing its shareholding.
- Moreover, the bill has tightened the noose around directors (other than whole-time directors).
What is the News?
The 36th Edition of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol(CORPAT) is being conducted. Indian Naval Ship(INS) Saryu, an indigenously built Offshore Patrol Vessel, is participating in the 36th Edition of the CORPAT.
About India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol(CORPAT):
- India and Indonesia have been carrying out Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) exercise along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002.
- Aim: To keep the vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping, international trade, and the conduct of legitimate maritime activities.
Significance of the Exercise:
- CORPATs help build understanding and interoperability between navies and facilitate the institution of measures to prevent and suppress Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing, drug trafficking, maritime terrorism, armed robbery, and piracy.
- Moreover, the exercise is also in line with the Government of India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and growth for All in the Region).
- As part of the vision, the Indian Navy has been proactively engaging with countries in the Indian Ocean Region to enhance maritime security in the region.
What is the News?
CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute has dedicated a tractor-operated spading machine to the nation.
What was the need of Tractor Operated Spading Machine?
- The first activity in any crop cultivation practice is the tilling of soil to make a desirable seed bed for germination of seeds or seedlings.
- However, a major part of tractor energy is utilized in seed bed operation leading to high operating cost for farmers.
- Hence, the Spading Machine has been developed at CMERI to reduce the cost of tillage operation and improve its effectiveness.
Advantages of Tractor Operated Spading Machine:
- Firstly, as compared to other tillage implements, the machine forms no compaction of subsurface soil and improves the aerobic quality and drainage of soil.
- Secondly, the machine can incorporate large organic material due to its homogeneous working and uniform turning of soil.
- Thirdly, the machine is less compacted in subsurface soil layers thereby eliminating the need for subsoiling.
- Subsoiling is a practice that breaks up soil, usually 12-18″ deep, to allow increased water movement, better aeration of the roots and access to additional minerals and nutrients for plant growth.
What is the News?
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a scheme called Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit(I-MESA) in Financial Year 2021-22.
- Under this scheme, Social Audits are to be conducted for all schemes of the Department starting FY 2021-22. These social audits are done through Social Audit Units(SAU) of the States and National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
What is Social Audit?
- Social Audit is the examination and assessment of a programme/ scheme conducted with the active involvement of people and comparing official records with actual ground realities.
- A social Audit is a powerful tool for social transformation, community participation, and government accountability.
How is Social Audit different from Financial Audit? A social Audit is different from Financial Audit.
- Financial audits involve inspecting and assessing documents related to financial transactions in an organization to provide a true picture of its profits, losses, and financial stability.
- On the other hand, Social audits focus on the performance of a program in fulfilling its intended social objectives and ethical vision.
Origin of Social Audits in India:
- In India, social audits were begun by Tata Iron and Steel Company in 1979.
- Later, such an auditing mechanism gained significance after the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution, which attempted to empower Panchayati Raj institutions and gram sabhas by arming them with such audits.
- Section 17 of the MGNREGA Act has mandated a Social audit of all works executed under the MGNREGA.
Benefits of Social Audit:
- It informs and educates people about their rights and entitlements.
- It provides a collective platform for people to ask queries, express their needs and grievances.
- Furthermore, it promotes people’s participation in all stages of the implementation of programmes.
- Also, it brings about transparency and accountability in government schemes.
- It strengthens decentralized governance.
Union Minister releases “Biotech-PRIDE (Promotion of Research and Innovation through Data Exchange) Guidelines
What is the News?
The Union Ministry for Science & Technology has released “Biotech-PRIDE (Promotion of Research and Innovation through Data Exchange) Guidelines”.
About Biotech-PRIDE Guidelines:
- The Biotech-PRIDE Guidelines have been developed by the Department of Biotechnology(DBT).
- Aim: The guidelines are aimed at providing a well-defined framework and guiding principle to facilitate and enable sharing and exchange of biological knowledge, information and data.
- Implementation: The guidelines will be implemented through the Indian Biological Data Centre(IBDC).
- Significance: The exchange of information will help in promoting research and innovation in different research groups across the country.
Note: These guidelines do not deal with generation of biological data but are an enabling mechanism to share and exchange information and knowledge generated as per the existing laws, rules, regulations and guidelines of the country.
- Bio-Grid will be a national repository for biological knowledge, information and data and will be responsible for enabling its exchange, developing measures for safety, standards and quality for datasets and establishing detailed modalities for accessing data.
About Indian Biological Data Center(IBDC):
- The Indian Biological Data Centre(IBDC) is the first national repository for life science data in India.
- Purpose: IBDC is mandated to archive all life science data generated from publicly funded research in India.
- Supported by: The data center is supported by the Government of India (GOI) through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
- Location: It is being established at Regional Centre of Biotechnology (RCB),Faridabad.
What is the News?
Government has organized 108 training programmes for the awareness of the farmers across 24 states/UTs under the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana(PDDUUKSY).
About Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Unnat Krishi Shiksha Yojana (PDDUUKSY):
- The scheme was launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- Aim: To develop the human resource in organic farming, natural farming and cow based economy for environmental sustenance and soil health.
- To build skilled Human Resource at village level who are relevant for development organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
- Provide rural India with technical support in the field of Organic Farming or Natural Farming or Rural Economy or Sustainable Agriculture.
- To extend other activities of this Yojana at village level through their established centres.
- Implementation: Education wing of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR).
Other Scheme Mentioned in the Article:
About Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana) Programme:
- The Student READY Programme is an initiative of Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR).
- Aim: To provide rural entrepreneurship awareness, practical experience in real-life situations in rural agriculture and creating awareness to undergraduate students about practical agriculture and allied sciences.
- This will in turn help in building confidence, skill and acquiring Indigenous Technical Knowledge(ITK) of the locality thereby preparing the pass-out for self-employment.
Source: The Hindu
What is the news?
A study on ‘Sexual Violence and the News Media: Issues, Challenges and Guidelines for Journalists in India’ has recommended that, nationally, a charter for news reporting of rape and sexual violence can be established by news industry leaders, which would ensure accountability and commitment to sensitive reporting of the same.
Basis of the study
Study was based on content analysis of 10 newspapers over six languages, and semi-structured interviews with 257 journalists across 14 languages. Through this, the study provided insights into routines journalists follow and the challenges they face on the field.
Findings of the study
- There was a lack of formal editorial guidelines in use across newsrooms in the country.
- 20% of the respondents, more women than men, said that they experienced distress, and 55% of women journalists said that they had directly experienced or witnessed workplace sexual harassment.
- Journalists rarely undertake in-depth inquiries into the cases they cover. The challenges they face include safety issues while newsgathering, difficulties in accessing key sources, and distress from the requirements of their assignments.
- Women reporters were overall less inclined than men to depend on police sources. Some women journalists also mentioned experiencing gender bias from the police.
- Disproportionate publication of unusual cases: The study also highlighted patterns in daily news about sexual violence and said that news outlets often tended to disproportionately publish unusual cases which led to a misleading picture of how sexual violence manifests in the country. Below 7% of stories focused on solutions.
- Adoption of a charter: A charter nationally suggested that it be based on a public pledge that newsrooms can adopt, which included a commitment to best practices.
- Establishment of peer support networks for journalists experiencing trauma
- Training in law enforcement procedures through a national initiative which covers both rural and urban journalists
- More material on responsible reporting for media and journalism students in their curriculum.
- For news organisations, the use of institutional style guides, which would establish what language is to be used with regard to reporting rape and sexual violence
- Establish a routine for fact checking and verifying FIRs
- Institutional process to ensure the safety of journalists who were reporting
- Regular promotion and reporting on programmes and policies which focus on rape and sexual violence.
- For individual journalists and newsrooms, the study also stated guidelines which can be put into practice on a day-to-day basis for routine news work focusing on interviewing survivors, depiction and news framing, sources, setting a context, and offering solutions.