9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 14th, 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.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • 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

Regarding the Abridged Life Tables report: The longevity puzzle

Source: The post is based on an article “The longevity puzzle” published in the “Business Standard” on 13th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: To understand the challenges highlighted by the Abridged Life Tables report.

News: According to the recent Abridged Life Tables report for the period of 2015-19, the average Indian can expect to live about 69.7 years, around two years more than the life expectancy 10 years ago.

What are the findings of the report?

India’s life expectancy has improved by leaps and bounds from an abysmal 32 years around the time of independence to 70 years now. The life expectancy also looks modest when one compares it with the global average of 72.6 years and when compared with neighbouring Bangladesh at 72.1 and Nepal at 70 years.

However, India’s life expectancy rate is also significantly behind China’s at 76.9 years. The life expectancy crosses the global average in the following Indian states and Union Territories — Delhi, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra — But, none of them surpasses China’s record.

Read here: Abridged Life Tables report
What are the challenges highlighted by the report?

Challenges with infants: Indian babies, especially girl children, still have a low chance of survival at birth and infancy.

For instance, the latest abridged sample registration system data shows that the gap between life expectancy at birth and that at ages one or five has improved by only about 20 years over a 45-year period.

Life expectancy is not even throughout India: States in the north and east of India have a lower life expectancy. Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh became the worst performers on life expectancy with 65.6 years and 65.3 years respectively.

Difference between rural and urban India: There are wide discrepancies between rural and urban life expectancy, which can vary as much as five to eight years.

What are the steps taken to improve life expectancy?

Since 1975, a) the Indian government has run a massive programme that was set up to focus on the health and nutrition needs of children under six years of age. 2) A large network of anganwadi centres was set up, and c) Almost every state offered mid-day meal schemes in their schooling system, d) Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) boasts being one of the largest such programmes in the world.

What is the reason for India’s poor showing on life expectancy?

a) Abysmal access to medical infrastructure for the average Indian, particularly women, b) Over the years, both budgetary allocations and institutional attention to the implementation of ICDS and related schemes appear to have reduced. This results in far lower coverage and c) Major beneficiaries of government schemes such as ICDS and MDMS have been middle and lower-middle class children rather than the poor and marginalised.

The findings on life expectancy suggest that an urgent course correction is long overdue to improve life expectancy.

Rights violations – Right to speech and property must be protected

Source: The post is based on an article “Rights violations” published in the “Business Standard” on 13th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Relevance: To understand the reason to protect the Right to property.

News: The government has the duty to protect the rights of its citizens. These include the rights to free expression and property also. The right to free expression includes the right to protest. But, the recent UP government decision to demolish property without a full public investigation is a violation of the Right to property.

About the Right to freedom of property

The right to property, like the right to free expression, was enshrined in the Constitution. But later, through amendment, the right to property was weakened.

But the right to free expression does not include the right to violent protest. The government’s response to violence should be firm but also constrained by individual rights.

What should be done?

The limits placed on rights to free expression and property by the state continue to lead to significant problems. For instance, The Indian state has long constrained free speech about religious issues precisely because it believes this will prevent violence. But the experiences show this is hardly the case.

A constant infringement of rights will make India a poorer country in terms of both economy and quality of life. Hence, a) The State should propagate and enforce a culture of tolerance and respect for the law. b) Criminal activity should be punished after investigation and trial, and that property should not be expropriated by the state without clear requirements.

Read more: Demolition drives violate international law

Proposed WTO reform aims to bully developing nations: Civil society members

Source: The post is based on an article “Proposed WTO reform aims to bully developing nations” Civil society members” published in the Down to earth on 13 June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations, International Organizations

Relevance: World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateralism

News: The ‘WTO Reform’ proposal has been pushed in the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, the proposed reforms are said to weaken the position of the developing countries.

What are the issues in the proposed WTO reforms?
As per some experts, the reforms may undermine the participation and say of the developing countries:

First, the proposed agenda will undermine the fundamental WTO principles of consensus and multilateralism. It will favour plurilateralism and create differentiation among developing countries.

Second, instead of addressing serious flaws within the existing harmful WTO rules, the new ‘reform’ will end up producing a framework which will be pro-corporate, and pro-developed countries. The richest nations and the global corporations will have complete control over the WTO.

Third, the reforms will subvert the key principles of WTO, which are: One nation one vote, decisions by consensus and ‘special and differentiated treatment’ to protect developing country interests.

Fourth, it will lead to permanently abandoning the mandated, long-unresolved issues of the development agenda. It will attack developing countries’ ability to access flexibilities enshrined in the WTO.

The influenza pandemic and ‘nations within a nation

Source: This post is created based on the article “The influenza pandemic and ‘nations within a nation” published in The Hindu on 14th June 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Issues related to health

Context: Whenever there is an increased demand for life-saving products such as vaccines, the issue of inequity in access to such medicines arises.

What are the factors that that drive production of life-saving products in a country?

Product demand is central to the development of capabilities and the resources of firms.

In developed countries, the high-fixed-cost research and development activities, required to produce life-saving medicines, are incentivised. Demand in these countries is the main factor behind this incentivisation.

Whereas, in developing economies, demand for prophylactic products are low due to the lower disposable income.

Therefore, greater demand for prophylactic products in developed economies relative to developing economies enable MNEs to bloom in developed economies. Thus, provide them a solid ground to become dominant incumbents in prophylactic product markets in developing economies too.

Prophylactic products are the products for which consumer pays now for some uncertain benefits in future. For example; a vaccine for some disease before outbreak of pandemic.

How does the pandemic impact the balance of global medicine market?

Sudden pandemic outbreak means a sudden increase in global demand for life-saving medicines. In this case, the firm will always select the most profitable regions within a country or most profitable countries all over the world.

In this case, large foreign multinationals (MNEs) face opportunity costs in serving the underdeveloped regions.

A research paper published in Management Science, describe, how MNEs and domestic firms respond in the different local markets to a global demand shock, during the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic in India. Following are findings:

First, the market share of MNEs fell much more in regions low in per capita public health expenditures and a lack of political alignment between federal-regional governments.

Second, unlike domestic firms, foreign firms did not enter the influenza vaccine market or expand in underdeveloped regions.

Third, direct costs and opportunity costs are two defining features that can lead to inequity across regions within a nation.

Significance of findings

The findings enable identifying what type of regions within a nation may require additional policy support to attract different kinds of firms to deliver life-saving products.

It also provides an insight to the transnational organisations (e.g., the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation, GAVI). These organisations use the country’s per capita income as the cut-off line to determine a country’s eligibility to receive vaccine donations. However, they should also find out the most prone regions within a country. It is also possible that a country ineligible for vaccine donation may have a region which is lacking infrastructure and is poor. This type of regions must be identified and served.

Swap the Battery And Get Going In Your EVs

Source: This post is created based on the article “Swap the Battery And Get Going In Your EVs” published in The Times of India on 14th June 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Infrastructure and energy

News: NITI Aayog has recently released the draft battery swapping policy.

What was the need of draft battery swapping policy?

First, major auto manufacturers are agreed on the view that electric vehicles shall be the mainstay of future mobility in India.

Second, as per the reports by India Energy Storage Alliance projects Indian EV and EV battery markets shall grow at a CAGR of 36% and 30%, respectively, in the next four years.

Third, Niti Aayog estimates EV sales penetration in India at 80% for two-wheelers (2W) and three-wheelers (3W), 70% for commercial cars, 40% for buses, and 30% for private cars, by 2030.

Fourth, there is a policy predictability and political will to enact the EV movement in the country. Majority of the states have already come up with dedicated EV policies.

Thus, battery swapping has tremendous potential to create new economic opportunities for various stakeholders and the nation. It propagates the concept of Battery as a Service (BaaS).

What are benefits associated with battery swapping?

First, in India vehicles used in the services by e-commerce, food and grocery delivery companies will form a good number of EVs. Both companies and gig workers can’t afford their vehicles to sit idle for 4-6 hours every day for routine charging. The battery swapping will cost effectively transforms batteries from a one-time capital expenditure to a recurring operating cost (pay per use).

Second, battery swapping will require a dense swapping station network across the city. This will trigger new ventures and enable small business owners like kirana stores and restaurants to get benefitted from this opportunity.

Third, battery swapping shall present OEMs with an opportunity to generate revenue steam for the vehicle’s entire lifetime.

Fourth, battery swapping stations, requiring less than 20% of land area vis-à-vis charging stations.

Fifth, Most people owning an EV tend to charge their vehicles overnight after coming back from work. Battery swapping can help balance the load on the grid by spreading the vehicle charging hours across different times of the day.

Sixth, It will provide an opportunity to India to globalise the cost-efficient indigenous battery swapping technologies and take economic benefits.

Free trade can’t yet pass a basic food security test

Source: The post is based on an article “Free trade can’t yet pass a basic food security test” published in the Live Mint on 13th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 2 Issues of Buffer Stocks and Food Security

Relevance: Free Trade Reforms in WTO

News: At present, the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference is being held in Geneva. Food security is one of the agenda on the discussion table on the ministerial conference.

Importance of Free Trade

Free trade ensures that agricultural products flow from zones of abundance to regions of scarcity, just as the free exchange of ideas, goods and services. This eases hunger and maximizes nutrition.

What are the challenges?

Ultimate Challenge

Agriculture has always been the final frontier of trade, given national anxieties over food sufficiency. For example, India has been criticized for its ban of private wheat exports.

The governments are running a massive food security programme. They procure harvests from farmers at prices not determined by the market. This imposes ecological costs, results in fiscal bloat, and keeps grain supply out of sync with demand.

Proximate Challenge

The Ukraine War has led to barriers to free trade. For example, trade has been weaponized for geopolitical aims. The Ukraine war has led to a wheat-supply squeeze. Now the costs of farm input have soared up.  Over two-thirds of humanity is living in countries that are net importers of food. The United Nations recently estimated that 276 million people are at risk of starvation.

What are the issues with WTO farm subsidy rules?

There are issues in the 10% subsidy limit rule. It was calculated based on prices of 1986-88, when food was much cheaper.

The rule placed burdens on developing economies, while the rich world found various opportunities for its own farms. Therefore, in 2013, a tentative “peace clause” was inserted at the Bali meet. It granted immunities to the countries from being charged with 10% rule violation.

The Way Forward

As fair-trade requires a level playing field. Therefore, the elimination of distortive subsidies is a key enabler.

Today, the circumstances have changed. Therefore, the WTO’s subsidy rules need an update. The revised rules should be made on food stockpiling, which offers autonomy in assuring our people’s food security.

In general, India must foster free trade. India should adapt our farm sector to market forces. In other words, there is a need for market-oriented farm reforms.

GS Paper 3

Red marks in green power plans amid lack of reform in electricity pricing

Source: The post is based on an article “Red marks in green power plans amid lack of reform in electricity pricing” published in the “Business Standard” on 13th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: To understand the need for power sector reforms.

News: Recently the Union Power Min­ister has asked states to set up steering committees at the level of chief secretaries to plan for the energy transition.

Why there is a need for power sector reforms?
Power Sector
Source: Business Standard

No money spent on capital expenditure: Capital expenditure among states is rising fast, but it is not rising in the energy or power sector. This is worrying since the demand for energy is rising across India and this expansion will need commensurate investments by state governments.

For instance, 20 large Indian states’ aggregate capital expenditure growth in FY22 grew by 48%, but their energy spending is less than 10%.

Note: According to the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission, the Centre has provided more fiscal room for states to borrow from the markets. The condition is the money has to be spent on power reforms.

Funds utilised for past debts: The money given by the centre to revive the power sector is going to meet the past debt liabilities of the distribution companies. Because these are paying for old dues, the return on equity for these spendings is abysmal in each state.

For example, According to a CAG report, Jharkhand has total outstanding loans of over Rs 20,000 crore to its power generation and distribution companies.

High energy subsidy burden: A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the states shows that

-In Telangana, of the total subsidy spent by the state each year, the share for discoms was almost 54%.

-Similarly, in Karnataka energy subsidies were Rs 8,647 crore in FY17, more than half of the total subsidies paid out by the states.

Further, States have not taken any steps to rationalise power tariffs.

Read more: Power Ministry working on a scheme to liquidate the past dues of Discoms
What should be done to improve the energy sector?

According to a research paper, more capital spending can take place in the energy sector only if a) Power sector reforms are linked to market-based pricing, b) Replacing the long-standing system of subsidies or free power to targeted user groups, c) Improve the quality of the distribution networks: This includes the provision of metering capacity, or installing substations for renewable energy to feed into the grids, d) Focus on specific problems: States such as Jharkhand and West Bengal need to spend money to encourage the population depending on coal mining and ancillary business to gravitate to other sectors.

Read more: Nursing the ailing power discoms back to health

Tackling the crisis of rising global food prices

Source: The post is based on an article “Tackling the crisis of rising global food prices” published in the “The Hindu” on 14th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy; Issues in PDS, Buffer Stock and Buffer Stock

Relevance: Food Security, Agri-Exports

News: Recently, the government of India has banned wheat exports and imposed restrictions on the export of other food commodities.

History of Food Price Crises 

Since the adoption of Green Revolution technology in the early 1960s, the world has faced food price crises three times in terms of nominal as well as the real prices: (1)1973-76 Period, (2) 2008-11 Period, and (3) Since 2020.

Few trends are important about these crises: 1) They were not caused by any serious shortfall in agriculture production, but the factors outside agriculture 2) The interval between two consecutive price shocks has narrowed down considerably. 3) The severity of the shock is becoming stronger.

Causes behind the recent spike

It has been caused by supply disruptions due to COVID-19 and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The commodities that are traded more at the global level are more vulnerable to global supply disruption. For example, trade dependence for vegetable oil is around 38%, for wheat is 25%, among others. Therefore, the current food price spike first began in vegetable oils and then expanded to cereals.

Nowadays, food crops are being diverted for biofuel generation.  For example, the proportion of vegetable oil used for biodiesel increased from 1% in 2003 to more than 15% in 2021.

Food prices hiked because of an increase in the prices of fertilizer and other agrochemicals.

The global prices are being transmitted to the domestic prices because the share of the agriculture sector in export and import is substantial.

Measures Taken by India to moderate the transmission of global prices to the domestic market

The government has adopted trade policy and other instruments to balance the interests of producers and consumers and to protect the economy against excessive volatility in international prices. For example, the government liberalized imports and imposed checks on exports to ensure adequate availability of the food items as the international prices have gone too high.

The government has used a buffer stock of food staples to maintain price stability, especially in the wake of global food crises.

Is the present move of Wheat export restrictions damaging India’s image as a reliable exporter? 

In order to understand the image of a reliable and credible exporter, there is a need to differentiate between disturbing normal export and regulating exports exceeding the normal level.

India’s ban is not disrupting its normal exports. India was a very small exporter of wheat (Only 0.1% to 1% share in global wheat trade during 2015-16 to 2020-21). Therefore, despite the ban, the wheat exports this year will be much higher than the average wheat export from India in recent years.

In order to compensate for the present disruption, around 50 million tonnes of wheat is required in the international market. India produced only double of it. Therefore, the absence of a ban could have led to a severe wheat shortage and food security in India.

What should be done?

Just like the Green Revolution of the 1960s which lowered food prices, India requires new breakthroughs for large-scale adoption.

The spending on agriculture research and development (especially by the public sector and multilateral development agencies) should be increased.

The global agri-research system under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) should be rejuvenated

Diversion of land under food crops and food output for biofuel should be carefully calibrated.

The energy prices and disruptions in the movement of food across borders should be checked. In addition, climate change can be another source of supply shocks in the future. Therefore, it should be checked.

A global buffer stock of food should be established to ensure food prices and supply remain stable at the global level.

Upholding the right to repair

Source: This post is created based on the article “Upholding the right to repair” published in The Hindu on 14th June 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3 – industries and industrial policies

News: The U.S. state of New York recently passed the Fair Repair Act. It has also ignited the debate in India on providing right to repair to the consumers.

The US’s Fair Repair Act requires manufacturers to supply repair information, tools, and parts to independent repair shops and not just their own stores or partners.

It will provide the repair shops a level playing field with the company’s store and also provide them with the security from intellectual property (IP) rights violations.

What are the issues in ensuring Right to repair?

At present following issues are faced in the process of repair by third parties:

Manufacturers claim that the quality and functioning of the product might be adversely affected if they allow repairs by consumers and third parties. This claim is correct due to absence of repair instructions and genuine parts.

Manufacturers incorporate warranty clauses which lapse when the product is repaired by a third party.

Often, manufacturers reduce the durability of the product. It compel consumers to either repurchase the product or get it repaired at exorbitant prices fixed by the manufacturers.

What rights can be provided to the consumers or repairers?

A blanket waiver of warranty should be avoided when the product is repaired by a third party. To protect the quality of the product, clause can be incorporated for use of company-recommended spare parts and certified repair shops.

Manufacturers can sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect the IP with the certified repairers/businesses.

A repair certification/licence can be allotted to those who pass certain criteria and skill tests. It will provide employment and skills to the certified persons to handle the repair manual.

What legal changes are required to ensure right to repair?

The ‘right to repair’ can be said to be implicit in Section 2(9) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. However, it is not being followed. Thus, explicit insertion of a ‘right to repair’ clause is required in the act.

The product liability clause under Section 84 can be amended. It should be expanded to impose product liability concerning various reparability parameters of the product.

France requires manufacturers to display a repairability index on their products which consists of five parameters. This helps consumers understand if the products are repairable, difficult to repair or not repairable at all. India can also follow this practice.

EU’s guidelines on Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations, 2021. Guidelines mandate manufacturers to provide spare parts for up to 10 years to avoid premature obsolescence.

With only 3 serious telecom operators, administrative allocation of spectrum space should take the place of auctions

Source: The post is based on an article “With only 3 serious telecom operations, administrative allocation of spectrum space should take the place of auctions” published in the Indian Express on 14th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure, Communications

Relevance: Telecom Sector

News: In January, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced a rescue package for some telecom companies (telcos).

What were the rescue packages?

The government dispensed with the requirement of performance bank guarantees required earlier than security. It increased the tenure of spectrum holding from 20 to 30 years, allowed for the surrender of the unutilised or underutilized spectrum after 10 years, and most importantly removed the levy of spectrum usage charges.

In addition, the government acquired a 35% stake in Vi in lieu of the spectrum and licensee fee dues that the operator vowed to it

In addition, Airtel got a respite from the government on account of easier and longer payment terms.

Evolution of the Indian Telecom Sector

In 1994, there was a public sector monopoly in the telecom sector. The public sector operators served the elite.

In the following years, the combined forces of technology and deregulation helped break the shackles of public sector dominance.

A few years ago, India had a hyper-competitive telecom market. Indian telecom operators provided the lowest tariff in the world.

However, at present, the telecom sector is facing lack of market competition due to the presence of a virtual duopoly.

Why was there a need for a rescue package?

The private sector that embraced cutting-edge technology has established its market dominance in the Indian Telecom market. They have done so through the market rather than administrative fiat.

If there is no third telecom player in the Indian market, subscribers would be at the mercy of a virtual duopoly. In reality, BSNL has largely become redundant to promote competition in the telecom sector.

A competitive telecom sector is fundamental to realizing India’s digital ambitions. Monopolized markets are vulnerable to cartelization.

At least three telecom operators can provide serious competition in all aspects of network quality, package availability, and service innovation.

Monopolies have no incentive to innovate. Competition will guarantee that operators invest in network infrastructure upgradation and offer consumers a wide range of innovative service options.

The imminent 5G networks demand massive investment and sophistication of operations. It can be achieved through a level playing field.

Other challenges

There has been ill-conceived and botched-up First Come First Serve (FCFS) method for administrative spectrum assignment.

The government’s revenue generation was seen only through the lens of spectrum sold through auctions. The government did not see that it lost revenue as many of the spectrums remained unsold due to high reserve prices.

At present, the government will find it difficult to induce competition because neither deregulation nor technology can boost competition.

There is an ongoing debate between the regulator, TRAI, and the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) on whether the 5G spectrum should be assigned to companies like TCS, Amazon, and Google, among others, for their private enterprise business. Telcos and the DCC opposed this as this would impact both the business model of operators and the discovered price in an auction.

The Way Forward

Therefore, the government needs to redesign policy to induce competition. Preserving numbers, alone, is not sufficient to induce competition in the telecom sector.

In addition to preventing the exit of Vi from the market, the government needs to bring structural changes to embed competition within the sector. For example, revisiting the spectrum assignment regime.

The administrative assignments of spectrum can be considered once again. All spectrum can be assigned at reasonable prices and in the process, a grand bargain can be struck with telecom operators.

In a dynamic market such as telecom, operators have always faced and will continue to meet market uncertainty. In 2014, the Over the Top (OTT) players damaged the business model of telecom licensees by making all calls and messaging virtually free.

The government’s revenue collections could be higher if all spectrum is assigned (reduced risk of spectrum being unsold) instead of being auctioned. In addition, the government would have more tax revenue in a competitive telecom sector.

At present, the public sector operator (BSNL) does not have capability to run its 5G business. Therefore, it needs to be privatised

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome — the rare facial condition affecting Justin Bieber?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome — the rare facial condition affecting Justin Bieber?” published in Indian Express on 13th June 2022.

What is the News?

Pop singer Justin Bieber has been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

The Ramsay Hunt syndrome is also called Herpes Zoster Oticus. It is a rare neurological disorder in which a virus – Varicella Zoster – causes inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements. 

When the nerves get inflamed, they lose their ability to function, leading to temporary facial palsy or paralysis. 

Causes: Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is caused by reactivation of Varicella-Zoster Virus that has previously caused chickenpox and shingles in the patient.

— This virus belongs to the herpes virus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection.

— Varicella-Zoster Virus can get reactivated due to the weakening of the immune system.

Symptoms: The symptoms include painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear and facial paralysis on the same side. Patients also report hearing loss in the ear that has been impacted apart from Tinnitus or ringing sounds.

Transmission: The disease is not contagious but can lead to chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease.

Cases: Only about five to 10 out of every 1,00,000 people will develop Ramsay Hunt Syndrome every year, making it an extremely rare disorder.

Treatment: It is treated using antiviral drugs, steroids and physiotherapy.

Is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome similar to Bell’s palsy?

Bell’s palsy is a case of facial muscle weakness or paralysis that can be set off suddenly. It is not considered to be a permanent condition, although in some rare cases, it can last for longer periods of time. Patients of Bell’s palsy usually show full recovery.

In comparison, patients of Ramsay Hunt syndrome may have more severe paralysis at the onset of the disorder and may not recover completely. Only 70% of patients with Ramsay Hunt syndrome regain normal or near-normal facial function compared to over 90% in Bell’s palsy.

Union Health Minister launches Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight – 2022 aimed at zero child deaths due to childhood diarrhoea

Source: The post is based on the articleUnion Health Minister launches Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight – 2022 aimed at zero child deaths due to childhood diarrhoeapublished in PIB on 13th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare has launched the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight (IDCF)-2022.

What is the status of Diarrhoea among Children in India?

According to the Sample Registration System(SRS) 2019 report, the Child Mortality Rate in the country has come down considerably since 2014.

This rate has come down from 45 per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 35 per 1,000 live births in 2019. 

But even today, diseases related to diarrhoea continue to be a major cause of death in children under the age of five.

Dehydration is the biggest cause of diarrhoea in children followed by the change in a baby’s diet, use of antibiotics or some kind of bacterial or parasitic infection.

Why is there still a high prevalence of Diarrhoea in Children?

According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS), only 60.6% of children under the age of five with diarrhoea were given Oral Rehydration Solutions(ORS) and only 30.5% were given zinc, suggesting a lack of awareness among mothers.

What is Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight – 2022(IDFC)?

IDCF has been organized since 2014 with the objective of ‘bringing the number of deaths due to diarrhoea in childhood to zero’. 

Purpose: IDCF consists of a set of activities to be implemented in an intensified manner for the prevention and control of deaths due to dehydration from diarrhoea across all states and UTs.

These activities mainly include 1) Intensification of advocacy and awareness generation activities for diarrhoea management, 2) Strengthening service provision for diarrhoea case management, 3) Establishment of ORS-Zinc corners, 4) Prepositioning of ORS by ASHA in households with under-five children and 5) Awareness generation activities for hygiene and sanitation.

Centre to boost supply of fortified rice

Source: The post is based on the article Centre to boost supply of fortified ricepublished in The Hindu on 14th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Food and Public Distribution has started the Second Phase of the Rice Fortification programme.

What is the Rice Fortification Programme?

On August 15, 2021, the Prime Minister announced the Rice Fortification Programme.

Under this programme, the government aims to distribute fortified rice under various government schemes including the PDS, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), PM POSHAN, and other welfare schemes (OWS).

Phase-1: It was completed in 2021-22. Under this, nearly 17 LMT fortified rice had been distributed under ICDS and PM-POSHAN. 

Phase-2: It began on April 1, 2022. Under this, 291 aspirational and high burden districts are to be covered for fortified rice distribution under the PDS by March 31, 2023.

Independent Evaluation: An independent evaluation would be carried out by the Development Monitoring & Evaluation Office (DMEO) under NITI Aayog of the rice fortification to assess the outcomes and impact of the programme.

Must read: Rice Fortification: Benefits, Concerns and Guidelines – Explained, pointwise
Why is the Rice Fortification programme important?

The Rice Fortification programme is important to address very high levels of malnutrition among women and children

For instance, malnutrition costs the country ₹77,000 crores annually in terms of lost productivity, illness and death. India lost about 1% of its GDP from anaemia.

Moreover, one rupee spent on nutritional interventions in India could generate ₹34.1-₹38.6 in public economic returns.

Read more: Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to maintain desired quality standards for implementation of ‘Rice Fortification’

Greater civil-military jointness must to further strengthen national security & deal with future challenges says Raksha Mantri at the 28th Joint Civil-Military Training Programme at LBSNAA

Source: The post is based on the articleGreater civil-military jointness must to further strengthen national security & deal with future challenges says Raksha Mantri at the 28th Joint Civil-Military Training Programme at LBSNAApublished in PIB on 13th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Defence Minister has addressed the participants of the 28th Joint Civil-Military Training Programme at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

What is the Joint Civil-Military Programme?

The Joint Civil-Military Programme was initiated in 2001 with the aim of fostering a structured interface between civil servants and Armed Forces officers for a shared understanding of national security. 

Participants are drawn from the Civil Services, Armed Forces and Central Armed Police Forces. 

Objectives of the Programme: 

– To increase awareness of the different dimensions and elements of National Security as well as threats to such security.

– To familiarize the participants with challenges to the management of national security, emerging external security environment, the impact of globalization and internal security environment.

– To provide an opportunity for the participants to interact and exchange ideas on the subject.

– To expose them to the imperatives of civil-military synergy.

Microplastics found in fresh Antarctic snow for first time

Source: The post is based on the article “Microplastics found in fresh Antarctic snow for first time” published in The Hindu on 11th June 2022.

What is the News?

Scientists have found Microplastics — plastic pieces smaller than a grain of rice — in freshly fallen Antarctic snow for the first time.

What did the Scientists find in Antarctica?

Researchers from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand collected samples from 19 sites in Antarctica and each contained tiny plastic fragments.

They identified 13 different types of plastics and the most common was polyethylene terephthalate(PET) mostly used in soft-drink bottles and clothing. This was found in 79% of the samples.

Where did Microplastics come from in Antarctica?

Microplastics may have travelled thousands of kilometres through the air, however, it is likely that the presence of humans in Antarctica has established a microplastic ‘footprint’.

What is the impact of these findings?

Harmful Species can enter Antarctica: Microplastics can have harmful substances stuck onto their surfaces such as heavy metals, and algae. So they can provide a way in which harmful species can make it into some remote and sensitive areas that otherwise wouldn’t get there.

Increase Impact of Global Warming: Microplastics may also be increasing the impact of global warming. Snowfields, ice caps and glaciers around the world are already melting fast and scientists say dark-coloured microplastics deposited at these locations can make things worse by absorbing sunlight and enhancing local heating.

Increase Landslides and Avalanches: Fast-melting glaciers on mountain ranges in different parts of the world are increasingly becoming hazards, leading to landslides and avalanches and causing glacial lakes to burst their banks.

Threat to Water Supply: The rapid thinning and retreat of glaciers also poses a threat to water supplies and agriculture in mountain regions around the world.

Explained: Managing type 1 diabetes

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Managing type 1 diabetes published in Indian Express on 14th June 2022.

What is the News?

Indian Council of Medical Research (IMCR) has released guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment, and management for type-1 diabetes. This is the first time the ICMR has issued guidelines specifically for type 1 diabetes.

Note: India is considered as the diabetes capital of the world.

What is Type-1 Diabetes?
Type-1 Diabetes
Source: Indian Express

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas completely stops producing insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the level of glucose in the blood by increasing or decreasing absorption to the liver, fat and other cells of the body.

Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes: In Type 2 diabetes, the body produces some insulin which can be managed using various pills. On the other hand, in type 1 diabetes, the body produces zero insulin and if the person stops taking their insulin, they die within weeks. 

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Source: OhioHealth

Vulnerable Group: Type 1 diabetes is predominantly diagnosed in children and adolescents.

Cases: There are over 10 lakh children and adolescents living with type 1 diabetes in the world, with India accounting for the highest number.

Note: Only 2% of all hospital cases of diabetes in India are type 1.

Risk Factors: The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system destroys the islets cells on the pancreas that produce insulin.

– However, genetic factors play a role in determining whether a person will get type-1 diabetes. 

– The presence of certain genes is also strongly associated with the disease. For example, the prevalence of genes called DR3-DQ2 and DR4-DQ8 is 30-40% in patients with type 1 diabetes as compared to 2.4% in the general population.

Treatment: People with type I diabetes are insulin-dependent which means they must take artificial insulin daily to stay alive.

However, researchers are now looking for a cure and there are some encouraging results from stem cell therapy to increase islets cells.

Martial Artforms in India: How a maulvi in Kashmir came to the rescue of thang-ta

Source: The post is based on the articleMartial Artforms in India: How a maulvi in Kashmir came to the rescue of thang-tapublished in PIB on 7th June 2022.

What is the News?

In Kashmir, a maulvi stepped in to save thang-ta by drawing youngsters to the fascinating sport of thang-ta in Jammu & Kashmir.

What are the various Martial Artforms in India?
Thang-Ta: Manipur

Thang-Ta is a traditional martial art form from Manipur.

Thang-Ta literally means ‘sword and spear’. It is one aspect of Huyen Langlon (art of war or method of safeguarding). Its other aspect is Sarit Sarak that involves unarmed combat.  

Silambam: Tamil Nadu

Silambam is an ancient martial art form of Tamil Nadu.This style is mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature.

The word ‘Silam‘ (in Tamil) stands for hills and ‘Mambam‘ stands for bamboo from the hills. 

Kalaripayattu: Kerala

Kalaripayattu is a famous Indian martial art from Kerala. It is one of the oldest fighting systems. It is practised in most of the parts of south India.

The place where this martial art is practiced is called a ‘Kalari’. It includes strikes, kicks and some weapon-based practised

Footwork patterns are the most important key in this art form

Musti Yuddha: Varanasi

It is basically an unarmed technique of fighting. This technique of the martial art basically belongs to the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

In this martial art, the use of punches, kicks, knees and elbows are very prominent. It teaches how to protect oneself without the use of arms and ammunition.

Gatka: Punjab

Gatka is a traditional martial art form associated with the Sikh gurus. It imbibes sword and stick fighting skills and self-control.

It is believed to have originated when the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind adopted ‘Kirpan’ for self-defence during the Mughal era.

Kathi Samu: Andhra Pradesh

Kathi Samu is an ancient and historical martial art which originated in Andhra Pradesh. Kathi basically means sword and Kathi Samu is a martial art which is fighting with swords. 

‘Garidi’ is the name given to the location where Kathi Samu is performed.

In Kathi Samu, the stick fight known as ‘vairi’ plays a significant part as a precursor to the real sword fight.

Other essential components of sword skills include ‘Gareja,’ in which a person holds four swords, two in each hand.

Sqay: Kashmir

Sqay is a martial art that belongs to Kashmir. It is a kind of sword-fighting.

A curved single-edged sword and a shield are used by armed sqay.

Mardani khel: Maharashtra

​​Mardani khel is an armed martial art from Maharashtra. It is particularly known for its use of the uniquely Indian patta (sword) and vita (corded lance).

Explained: What is the e-Vidhan system for paperless legislation?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is the e-Vidhan system for paperless legislation?” published in Indian Express on 12th June 2022.

What is the News?

A delegation of MLAs from Gujarat visited the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly to learn about the novel e-Vidhan system for paperless proceedings that has been adopted by the UP state assembly.

What is the National e-Vidhan Application(NeVA) Project?

Click Here to read about it

Which State first implemented NeVA?

Nagaland became the first state to successfully implement NeVA in March,2022.

Note: Lok Sabha Speaker has said that the proceedings of all legislatures — both Houses of Parliament and state Assemblies and Legislative Councils — will be available on one platform by 2023.

Why is NeVA being introduced?

This has been done for streamlining information related to various state assemblies and to eliminate the use of paper in day-to-day functioning which would in turn help save trees.

Has this been done elsewhere globally?

In December 2022, the Government of Dubai became the world’s first government to go 100% paperless. It announced all procedures were completely digitized

The US government announced in 2019 that by the end of 2022, all government agencies would stop dealing with paper.

What are the challenges?

The International Parliamentary Union, an organization of more than 170 parliaments including India, in a 2018 report outlined some challenges in this regard:

Firstly, access, particularly for legislators representing rural constituencies to devices and reliable internet and electricity was an issue.

Secondly, lack of training and heightened concerns over security are some more recent issues on the road to digitisation.

Explained: Next-generation Corvettes, and the combat edge Navy seeks through them

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Next-generation Corvettes, and the combat edge Navy seeks through them” published in Indian Express on 11th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has given the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of next-generation Corvettes for the Indian Navy at an approximate cost of Rs 36,000 crore.

What are Corvettes?

Corvettes are the smallest class of naval ships, and it falls below the warship class of a frigate. 

They are highly agile ships and are categorized as missile boats, anti-submarine ships, coastal patrol crafts and fast attack naval vessels. 

What kind of Corvettes does the Indian Navy possess?

The Indian Navy at present has the Kamorta Class Corvettes which are also known as Project 28. 

These ships have an anti-submarine role and are manufactured at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata.

The four Kamorta Class Corvettes that the Indian Navy possesses are named INS Kamorta, INS Kadmatt, INS Kiltan and INS Kavaratti. The first of these was commissioned in 2014 and the last one in 2020.

What new capabilities will the new generation of Corvettes have?

The next-generation Corvettes will be manufactured for various roles like surveillance missions, escort operations, deterrence, surface action group operations, search and attack and coastal defence.

These roles will be in addition to the anti-submarine roles being already performed by the existing Corvettes in the Navy.

These corvettes would also contribute to further the government’s initiative of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

Mains Answer Writing

Air pocket: Show cause to SpiceJet overdue. DGCA has to be more proactive on safety

Source: The post is based on the article “Air pocket: Show cause to SpiceJet overdue. DGCA has to be more proactive on safety” published in “The Times of India” on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Relevance: To understand aviation safety in India. News: India’s civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil… Continue reading Air pocket: Show cause to SpiceJet overdue. DGCA has to be more proactive on safety

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Weaponization of IPC to set police on journalists cuts across parties — and clamps down on press freedom

Source: The post is based on an article “Weaponization of IPC to set police on journalists cuts across parties – and clamps down on press freedom” published in the Indian Express on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS2 – Important provisions of the constitution of India Relevance: Fundamental Rights News: Recently, Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt… Continue reading Weaponization of IPC to set police on journalists cuts across parties — and clamps down on press freedom

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Shahida, Aura & Stories Of Two Markets

Source: The post is based on an article “Shahida, Aira & Stories of Two markets” published in the Times of India on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS3 – Inclusive Growth Relevance: Female Labour Force Participation News: In recent times, a number of surveys from the government and from private organisations like CMIE were released about… Continue reading Shahida, Aura & Stories Of Two Markets

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Hate crime, punishment

Source: The post is based on an article “Hate crime, punishment” published in the “The Hindu” on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India Relevance: Fundamental Right to freedom of speech and expression vs Hate Speech News: In recent, Umesh Kolhe, a chemist working in Amravati, Maharashtra, and Kanhaiya… Continue reading Hate crime, punishment

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A ‘no’ to pharma freebies, a ‘yes’ for public good

Source: The post is based on an article “A ‘no’ to pharma freebies, a ‘yes’ for public good” published in the “The Hindu’ on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Relevance: Freebies in Pharma Sector News: Recently, a bench of the… Continue reading A ‘no’ to pharma freebies, a ‘yes’ for public good

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Words from Bandung to relive in Bali and Delhi

Source: The post is based on an article “Words from Bandung to relive in Bali and Delhi” published in the “The Hindu” on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations; Bilateral Relations, Multilateral Organization Relevance: Rule based International Order; News: In the last month, the BRICS Summit, the G-7 summit, and the North Atlantic… Continue reading Words from Bandung to relive in Bali and Delhi

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Across democracies, supreme courts’ legitimacy, autonomy are under question

Source: The post is based on the article “Across democracies, supreme courts’ legitimacy, autonomy are under question” published in “Indian Express” on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary. Relevance: To understand the declining legitimacy of the Supreme Court. News: Recently, the US Senator declared that the Supreme Court of… Continue reading Across democracies, supreme courts’ legitimacy, autonomy are under question

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Twitter’s legal challenge to Centre’s takedown orders flags issues of free speech

Source: This post is based on the article “Twitter’s legal challenge to Centre’s takedown orders flags issues of free speech” published in The Indian Express on 7th Jul 22. Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions Relevance: Digital India, Free speech News: As the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) conducts a week-long celebration to… Continue reading Twitter’s legal challenge to Centre’s takedown orders flags issues of free speech

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Improving the odds for 5G

Source: The post is based on the article “Improving the odds for 5G” published in “Business Standard” on 7th July 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Relevance: To understand the way to improve the 5G spectrum. News: Recently, the government announced 5G spectrum auctions and limited E-Band backhaul allocation. Two bands of 250 MHz… Continue reading Improving the odds for 5G

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Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Maulana Azad show how to deal with hurt religious sentiments

Source: This post is based on the article “Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Maulana Azad show how to deal with hurt religious sentiments” published in The Indian Express on 7th Jul 22. Syllabus: GS1 – Society Relevance: Blasphemy and associated issues News: Muslims find blasphemy an abominable act for which the offender must part with… Continue reading Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Maulana Azad show how to deal with hurt religious sentiments

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