9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 17th, 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

Bulldozer injustice to ‘teach a lesson’

Source: The post is based on an article “Bulldozer injustice to ‘teach a lesson’ published in the Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India

Relevance: Rule of Law

News: In recent times, a fringe but influential national spokesperson has been alleged for inciting violence by saying something offensive about the Prophet.

Laws in India

The Constitution of India permits only a peaceful assembly without arms. Violence in protests cannot be justified under any circumstances.

There are adequate provisions in the Indian Penal Code for the police to act against any violator.

Trends of bulldozer justice in India

Persons accused of far lesser offences have attracted stringent charges against them. They have been subjected to stringent laws such as the Sedition law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the National Security Act (NSA) or the Public Safety Act.

For example, In the law on sedition, the SC has made it clear that the one inciting violence is the guilty person. However, in today’s interpretation of the law, it does not matter whether there is incitement or not; a charge of sedition will be slapped anyway if anything which is said is not liked by the government.

However, the law does not take its course against an influential fringe or well-connected person who has committed an offence. For example, senseless mob lynching and offensive saying against the Prophet.

In general, the government comes down on the violent protesters with a heavy hand with an iron fist. For example, recently, the governments have used bulldozers to demolish the residential premises of those allegedly involved in violent protests.

Javed’s House Demolition Case

In the Javed House demolition case, the government has resorted to a lot of arbitrariness. For example; (1) first, the state collected taxes for the so-called illegal construction, and later issued order for its demolition, (2) the demolition order was delivered on Saturday night and the demolition took place on Sunday morning, which was a government holiday.  Therefore, giving no time to challenge the correctness of the demolition order in a court of law or file an appeal.

In another case, the Uttar Pradesh police sent two persons to judicial custody for almost two months on no charges at all.

Argument Against such a move

In Avas Evam Vikas Parishad vs Friends Coop. Housing Society Ltd (1996) and in Chameli Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1996), the Supreme Court of India has held that “The right to shelter is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India”.

The Way Forward

The government should conform to well-settled principle like requiring state action to be just, fair and reasonable mandates.

First, the state should adequately compensate the victims for their loss and the mental distress caused.

The officers concerned in the decision making at all levels must be held accountable and punished enough to ‘teach them a lesson’.

The government should work upon building accountability jurisprudence in India and the culture of impunity should be banished.


Iran foreign minister’s visit reaffirms resolve of two countries to strengthen ties

Source: The post is based on an article “Iran foreign minister’s visit reaffirms resolve of two countries to strengthen ties” published in the Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations; Bilateral Relations

Relevance: India-Iran relations

News: Iran’s Foreign Minister was on a three-day visit to India in keeping with Iran’s “Asia-oriented” foreign policy. It was the first ministerial-level visit from Iran since Ebrahim Raisi assumed the Iranian presidency.

What is the convergence of interests between India-Iran?

The “Tehran Declaration” between India and Iran affirmed the shared vision of the two countries for an “equitable, pluralistic and co-operative international order”. It symbolizes common geopolitical interests:

Ex-Iranian President envisioned “dialogue among civilisations” as a paradigm of international relations based on principles of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity.

India sees Iran which borders the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, as a land bridge to Central Asia and Eurasia which have seen emergence of independent landlocked countries over the last three decades.

Some developments in the India-Iran Relationship

Despite the US Sanctions, Iran, India, Russia and a few other countries in the Eurasian region, have continued to work on the multi-modal International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Both countries have pledged to redouble their efforts to build the railway line between Iran’s Caspian port of Rasht and Astara on the Iran-Azerbaijan border, aimed to connect the railway networks of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Iran’s Chabahar port, which India is building, is also a story of perseverance in the ties between the two countries.

In recent times, India has abstained on the resolution by the US and its allies to censure Iran at the IAEA.

 

What are the challenges in India-Iran relationship?

The US sanctions on Iran and Tehran withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018, worsened the bilateral relations, especially in India’s energy imports from Iran

At present, India is strengthening its new partnerships within its regional vision centred on the Indo-Pacific. Whereas, Iran is deepening its relationship with China and Russia which have been playing aggressive geopolitical games in their own neighbourhood and also at the global level.

The “sluggish” pace of the port’s development. Tehran has maintained that Chabahar does not seek to rival Pakistan’s Gwadar port being developed by China.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Pakistan has been leading the efforts to link Central Asia with Karachi through a trans-Afghan railway.

Way Forward

New Delhi is pushing for integrating Chabahar into the 13-nation International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Recently, the maiden India-Central Asia summit agreed on creating a Joint Working Group on Chabahar.

The revival of the US-Iran nuclear deal could give a fillip to India’s economic ties with Iran. India’s interests in continental Asia can be served with an improved bilateral relation with Iran.


There is a concerted effort to plug procedural gaps in death penalty sentencing

Source: The post is based on an article “There is a concerted effort to plug procedural gaps in death penalty sentencing” published in the Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India

Relevance: Death penalty

News: Recently, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment in Manoj & others v. State of MP which attempted to reform the administration of the death penalty. The judgment is prominent in India’s criminal justice jurisprudence.

The SC’s Observations

It reflected the state of the death penalty in the country. It attempted to fix a broken sentencing system.

The framework of mitigating factors placed four decades in the Bachan Singh Case is not being followed.

What were the issues in death penalty sentencing since Bachan Singh Case?

The Supreme Court, the Law Commission of India, research scholars and civil society groups have acknowledged a judicial crisis in death penalty sentencing in India. It has been on account of unprincipled sentencing, arbitrariness and high levels of subjectivity. The death penalty sentencing has been, by and large, crime-centric.

The crisis prevailed despite requirements imposed on sentencing judges by the Supreme Court in Bachan Singh (1980).

What are the reasons for non-compliance to the Bachan Singh Framework?
There has been utter confusion across all levels of the judiciary on the requirements of this framework and its implementation.

The nature of the crime and its brutality has often dominated over the consideration of mitigating factors. The socioeconomic profile of death row prisoners has not been used as a mitigating factor into the courtroom.

There is now empirical evidence that a vast majority of India’s death row prisoners are extremely poor. They do not receive competent legal representation.

Till yet, the measures have not been taken to put in place a system to gather the information required for mitigating factors.

Manoj & others v. State of MP Judgement

The Judges must follow the laid down a framework to choose between life imprisonment and death sentence.

Sentencing Judges couldn’t impose the death penalty only on the basis of the crime or aggravating factor. They’ll give appropriate weight to both the aggravating factors related to crime and mitigating factors related to background of the accused, the personal circumstances, mental health and age of the accused, to ascertain if a case is fit for the death sentence. They have to determine if the option of life imprisonment was “unquestionably foreclosed”.

It has attempted to plug the procedural gap in gathering information related to mitigating factors. The judgment is clear that certain procedural thresholds must be met for sentencing to be fair.

The judgment recognised reformation as integral to the Indian criminal justice system, especially death penalty sentencing. The sentencing judges must establish that there is no probability of reformation of the accused.

The accused’s life, both pre-offence and post-offence in prison, are relevant. The courts have to call for reports from the probation officer as well as prison and independent mental health experts.

What will be the challenges to procedural coherence and integrity in the trial courts and the high courts?

Achieving meaningful compliance across all levels of the judiciary will be a significant challenge. The sentencing judges do not understand the need for this wide range of sentencing information.

In addition, translating these procedural reforms into substantive fairness in determining punishment will also be a challenge.

There will be a challenge in producing detailed and high-quality sentencing information to the courtrooms.

Way Forward

The Supreme Court will have to provide a rigorous normative basis for consideration of these factors.

The psychological studies ascertain that criminality cannot just be reduced to terrible decisions by individuals in the exercise of their free will. All our actions are a result of a complex web of biological, psychological, and social factors. Therefore, their understanding is important for discussions on criminality and punishment.


Baptism by fire: Army pension needs pruning. But Agnipath protests show future soldiers’ anxiety needs better responses

Source: This post is based on the article “Baptism by fire: Army pension needs pruning. But Agnipath protests show future soldiers’ anxiety needs better responses” published in The Times of India on 17th June 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with the Agnipath Scheme.

News: Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved an attractive recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the Armed Forces called AGNIPATH. Violent protests erupted in parts of India ever since the launch of the scheme.

Must read: Cabinet clears Agnipath Scheme

Need: The US in FY-2018 set aside 10% of the defence department’s total expenses for pension. In the UK, the pension outgo in FY-2019 was 14% of the total defence spending.

According to a parliamentary committee report in 2020, there are 3.2 million defence pensioners, with about 55,000 added annually. In 2010-11, pension outgo was 19% of total defence expenditure. The fallout of pension’s rising share is a corresponding decrease in expenditure to buy new equipment.

Must read: Agnipath Scheme: Need, Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges associated with the Agnipath Scheme?

Lack of motivation: Post-announcement assurances of job preferences in paramilitary or police, or bank loans for potential entrepreneurs are inadequate to satisfy youth to be an Agniveer.

Losing long-term job options: According to CMIE’s April 2022 jobs data, unemployment was 50% for the 15-19 age group, and 38.7% for the 20-24 cohort. The scheme will increase the unemployment figures.

Read more: Education Ministry to recognize in-service training received by Agniveers as credits for graduation
What should be done?

a) The government needs to quickly design a more effective package to help demobilised Agniveers’ transition to civilian life, b) Follow best practices: In the US, it takes 20 years of service to be eligible for a pension. This helps the US to keep pension costs down. India can follow such practices.

GS Paper 3


On Centre’s plan to recruit 10 lakh personnel in 18 months: Waiting for jobs

Source: This post is based on the article “On Centre’s plan to recruit 10 lakh personnel in 18 months: Waiting for jobs” published in The Indian Express on 17th June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to growth and development

Relevance: Unemployment in India

News: The Centre’s decision to recruit personnel to fill vacancies is a nod to the festering unemployment issue

Moreover, for a nation that has had a significant demographic dividend finding productive employment for its youth was to be an imperative for India.

What is the situation wrt unemployment in India over the years?

In the last few years, unemployment has remained a major concern

the leaked Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in 2018 revealed that India’s unemployment rate was the highest (6.07%) in four decades.

– The latest PLFS suggests that the overall unemployment rate is now at 4.2% in 2020-21, compared to 4.8% in 2019-20. Also, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) has inc to 41.6%, up from 40.1% in 2019-20.

But the PLFS data will not bring much cheer to the Government despite a decrease in unemployment, according to official data. This is because the decrease, says the PLFS, has also coincided with the transfer of employment into lower productive and unpaid jobs away from salaried employment.

The, industrial jobs have decreased with more employment in agricultural and farm-related jobs — a trend that accelerated following the lockdown and has not reversed since then. Unemployment rates among the educated (above secondary education — 9.1%) and t                >he youth (age between 15-29 — 12.9%) have only declined marginally.
What is the way forward?

It is clear that the Government must tackle unemployment and, concomitantly, the quality of employment issue, on a war footing.

In this regard, India’s announcement that the Government will be recruiting 10 lakh personnel within the next 18 months should be seen as a step in the right direction.

The bulk of the promised employment is to fill up vacancies.

The country cannot afford to squander more years in its race to reap the benefits of its demographic dividend, and the push to provide jobs for those seeking to enter the labour force, even if belated, will help ease matters for the medium term.


The reasons behind the crashing crypto market

Source: This post is based on the article “The reasons behind the crashing crypto market” published in The Hindu on 17th June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Information and Tech

Relevance: Cryptocurrency and related issues

News: Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have been crashing since they hit an all-time high late last year. Bitcoin has lost more than two-thirds of its value since it hit a peak of around $69,000 in November last year.

Ethereum, another cryptocurrency popular among investors, has lost almost 80% from its peak.

As a result, the overall market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies has dropped under $1 trillion for the first time since January 2021.

Why are cryptocurrencies crashing?

It may not be possible to pinpoint the exact reasons why investors are fleeing cryptocurrencies at the moment.

Most analysts believe that the fall in the price of cryptocurrencies is in line with the fall in prices of stocks and other assets as Central banks such as the U.S. Fed Reserve tighten monetary policy to fight price rise.

– As central banks withdraw liquidity from the market, there’s less money chasing assets, which in turn causes the prices of assets to drop.

Others believe that the crash could also mark the popping of the bubble that has driven the prices of cryptocurrencies to stratospheric levels.

Sceptics have long argued that the price of cryptocurrencies seems driven more by speculative fervour fuelled by easy monetary policy than by any fundamental factors.

How do governments view cryptocurrencies?

Some sceptics have also argued that even though private cryptocurrencies can rise to the status of alternatives to fiat currencies over time, governments and central banks may not allow this to happen.

Many countries have taken several steps to discourage the widespread use of cryptocurrencies.

While countries such as China and Russia have opted to impose outright bans on cryptocurrencies, others such as India have tried to tax and regulate them heavily.

Do cryptocurrencies hold value?Cryptocurrency enthusiasts argue that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have always been subject to extreme price swings, and that the current crash is a good time to buy these virtual currencies at a tremendous bargain.

It should be noted that, unlike fiat currencies issued by central banks, the supply of various cryptocurrencies is limited by design. By holding their wealth in cryptocurrencies that either maintain their value or even appreciate in value over time, investors can protect themselves against the debasement of their wealth by central banks.


Trained but unemployed

Source: The post is based on an article “Trained but unemployed” published in the Business Standard on 17th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 – Economic growth and development

Relevance: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana

News: In a recent interview, the Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said the government was spending ₹ 5,000 crore on skill development initiatives. Further, the government seeks to recruit one million people in 18 months

Background

The government announced the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), its first skill development initiative in 2015. It aimed to train as many people as possible and provide them with placements.

2nd Iteration

The government has shifted its focus to reskilling. It recognises the fast-changing need for skills in different sectors.

3rd Iteration

The government has changed the scheme from a supply-driven programme to a demand-driven model.

Overall Achievements

Certification Record

A combined analysis of three iterations shows that certifications varied from a low of 29.3% to 84.4% during this period.

Lakshadweep certified 79 of the 270 placed candidates. Rajasthan certified 9.26lakh of 11lakh candidates total enrolled candidates during this period.

Ten of the 36 states/UTs which includes, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, had a certification rate higher than the national average of 76.5%.

Placement Records

Less than 10%: – Lakshadweep did not place a single candidate. Three states, including Maharashtra, placed less than a tenth of the certified candidates.

Between 10 and 30 per cent: 22 states recorded placement rates in this range, which includes Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana

placement rate of 30 per cent and above: Eleven states and UTs, like Punjab placed 39.6% of the total certified candidates. Ladakh provided placement for 54.1% of the certified candidates.

What are the issues?

The record of the flagship skill development programme, which aims to enhance the employment potential of Indians, has been poor.

It has been able to enrol 14.2 million people in the PMKVY since the start of the programme in 2015. However, the performance in terms of placements has not been remarkable which may be due to the pandemic and economic slowdown.

Around, three-fourths of the total enrolled have been certified. Further, a little over a fifth or 2.4 million have found placements.

Way Forward

The union government would still need to reorient its programme in order to improve its placement record.


Oil prices are not the real policy challenge for countries like ours

Source: The post is based on an article “Oil prices are not the real policy challenge for countries like ours” published in the Live Mint on 17th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy; Issues and challenges pertaining to growth and development

Relevance: Monetary Policy, Inflation Targeting

News: The US Federal Reserve has raised its federal funds rate by another 75 basis points to tame inflation. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also raised its policy rate, including an inter-meeting rate hike.

Inflation Forecasts

Recently, India’s inflation forecast has been revised from 4.5% to 6.7% in a span of a few months.

What are the reasons for inflation forecast revision?

A major geopolitical conflict that broke out in early 2022 has led to upending of the inflation forecasts globally. Therefore, the RBI was also compelled to take this into account for the inflation forecast.

Criticisms that RBI has been remiss in meeting its inflation target and treating the upper bound as its central inflation target miss the point of ours.

Why is the RBI being criticized?

RBI has set the upper bound as the central inflation target. It is being criticized for prioritizing growth over its inflation mandate in the last few years which has led to the present inflationary pressure situation.

Why is the RBI’s criticism not correct?

(A) In the last few years, the Indian economy has faced successive shocks in the last few years. There were

(1) The balance sheets of the financial and non-financial sector had to be repaired substantially over the last decade after the credit excesses of the previous boom.

(2) There was a collapse of a large non-banking financial company and housing finance companies.

(3) Thereafter, India has also faced the brunt of the pandemic or the lockdown induced economic slowdown.

(B) It has to be understood that the RBI was not prioritizing growth so much as it was ensuring macro stability.

What is the appropriateness of an inflation-targeting regime?

Monetary policy is a short-run aggregate demand management tool. It is not the right instrument to address supply-side induced inflation. The central banks have a limited role and effectiveness in dealing with supply-side inflation

The central bank can be blamed for not suppressing demand and economic growth because demand compression is a valid policy option until supply-side problems are not fixed. It will alleviate pressure on supply and cools down prices.

The monetary policy has asymmetric effectiveness. It cannot generate inflation by itself (unless aided by fiscal stimulus and other real factors). But it can be effective in taming inflation. This is because there is no cap on how far rates can rise.

What are the other challenges?

The US Fed is raising interest rates. It endangers macroeconomic and financial stability in emerging economies.

The US Fed is doing monetary tightening after a long period of extraordinary accommodation.

Way Forward

At present, the central banks must focus on broader macro and financial stability, of which inflation is one part

In the current global context, the RBI’ monetary policy normalization is important to ensure macro and financial stability, orderly conditions in capital markets and normal evolution of the external value of the currency. It will ensure financing a considerably large current account deficit without disruption.


The next level – 5G will open up opportunities for businesses

Source: This post is based on the following articles

“The next level – 5G will open up opportunities for businesses” published in Business Standard on 16th June 22.

“Government has eased terms of spectrum auction, but high reserve price and allocations for enterprises will pose problems” published in Indian Express on 17th June 22.

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

Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding 5G spectrum auctions.

News: Recently, Cabinet has approved the much-awaited airwave auction for ultra-fast mobile internet networks. With this, India is set to join the league of 5G-enabled nations.

What is 5G technology?
Read here: 5G technology
What are the benefits of 5G technology?
Must read: 5G Impact: Traffic To Teaching, Factories To Farming
What is a Spectrum Auction?

Click Here to read about it

About the 5G auctions

The 5G spectrum auction is billed as the biggest, and the upcoming sale of airwaves across nine bands including 5G frequencies for 20 years. The auction could fetch more than Rs 4 trillion at the base price. TRAI in its April 2022 recommendation reduced the spectrum reserve price by more than 35% from its 2018 level, the demand from telcos was a cut by around 90%.

The spectrum usage charges earlier levied at about 3% of the telco’s adjusted gross revenue, have been abolished for spectrum allocated under fresh auctions.

The Cabinet decision on pricing is in sync with what the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended in April during a review of its earlier proposal and has also been endorsed by the Digital Communications Commission.

What are the things that should be considered during 5G auctions?

Spectrum pricing: India is already late in its 5G journey, hence the telecom industry must not lose time in complaining about issues such as enterprises getting a better deal than telcos or high reserve prices for spectrum. Most other countries have conducted the 5G spectrum sale at a much lower rate.

The decision of captive private networks: The government has allowed enterprises to run captive private networks with the direct allocation of spectrum by the Department of Telecommunications. Enterprises have also been allowed to lease spectrum from telcos for their network.

But the telcos are opposing these decisions as they lose their revenues. According to their estimates, 40% of 5G revenues accrue from the enterprise services. This makes up for the bulk of the 5G revenues.

Taking the global benchmark, most other countries are following a similar model of direct allocation of spectrum to enterprises. Every telecom service provider has to look at the enterprise opportunity, either on its own or in collaboration. The gains for the economy by allowing business enterprises to embrace 5G would be huge.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

A closer look at the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022

Source: The post is based on the article “A closer look at the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022” published in The Hindu on 14th June 2022.

What is the News?

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has released the Digital News Report, 2022.

What are the key findings of the Digital News Report?

Firstly, people are trusting news content less and less. 

Secondly, consumption of traditional news media declined in nearly all the countries surveyed. 

Thirdly, the proportion of news consumers who say that they “avoid news” has risen sharply across countries with the report describing the phenomenon as “selective avoidance”. 

Fourthly, despite small increases in the proportion of people willing to pay for online news (mostly in richer countries), the growth in digital subscriptions for news content seems to be levelling off. 

Fifthly, smartphones have become the dominant way in which most people first access news in the morning. 

Lastly, Facebook remained the most-used social network for news. But it is TikTok that has become the fastest-growing network. However, TikTok is currently banned in India.

What does the report say about India?

India is a strongly mobile-focused market. 72% of the survey respondents accessed news through smartphones and 35% did so via computers.

Around 84% of the Indian respondents sourced news online, 63% from social media, 59% from television, and 49% from print. YouTube (53%) and WhatsApp (51%) were the top social media platforms for sourcing news.

India registered a small increase in the level of trust with 41% trusting news overall.

A minority of respondents – 36% and 35% – felt that legacy print brands and public broadcasters lacked undue political influence and business influence, respectively.


Explained: Why is the discovery of microplastics in fresh Antarctic snow troubling?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why is the discovery of microplastics in fresh Antarctic snow troubling?” published in Indian Express on 17th June 2022.

What is the News?

For the first time, Microplastics have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica. 

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that is smaller than 5 mm in length, and tinier than even a grain of rice. There are two types of microplastics:

Primary microplastics: These are tiny particles that are purposely designed as such for commercial use, like in cosmetics, nurdles-plastic pellets used in industrial manufacturing and in fibres from synthetic textiles like nylon.

Secondary microplastics: These are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items like bottles, fishing nets and plastic bags.This occurs through exposure to the environment, like radiation from the sun, wind and ocean waves.

What did the researchers find in Antarctica?
Read here: Microplastics found in fresh Antarctic snow for first time
Why are these findings troubling?

Firstly, microplastics are not biodegradable and once they are found in the environment, they begin to accumulate. They can be toxic for plants and animals.

Secondly, ingestion of microplastics by various life forms in the region, from microorganisms like zooplankton to larger predators like king penguins can disrupt their usual biological processes and negatively impact the entire Antarctic food chain.

Thirdly, dark-coloured microplastics which constituted 55% of the samples collected in the study are even more harmful than lighter colours as they are better at absorbing sunlight and retain more heat.

Fourthlywhen snow travels in the atmosphere, it binds itself to airborne particles and pollutants, which are then deposited on Earth’s surfaces. This phenomenon is called “scavenging”. Hence, this is a significant way in which microplastics are able to travel and further pollute land and water.


Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) develops an Indian Standard for ‘Non-electric cooling cabinet made of clay’

Source: The post is based on the articleBureau of Indian Standards (BIS) develops an Indian Standard for Non-electric cooling cabinet made of claypublished in PIB on 16th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) has developed an Indian Standard, IS 17693: 2022 for a ‘non-electric cooling cabinet made of clay’ named “Mitticool refrigerator”.

What is the Mitticool refrigerator?

Mitticool Refrigerator is a non-electric cooling cabinet made of clay.

Developed by:  Shri Mansukh Bhai Prajapati from Gujarat

Technology: The refrigerator operates on the principle of evaporative cooling.

Note: Evaporative cooling, otherwise known as adiabatic cooling, works on the principle of water evaporation through which the air is cooled down to a comfortable temperature. It is a cooling and ventilation technique that uses water as its refrigerant.

Uses of Refrigerator: It is a natural refrigerator made primarily from clay to store vegetables, fruits, milk, and also for cooling water. It provides natural coolness to foodstuffs stored in it without requiring any electricity. 

Significance of this Refrigerator: It can play an influential role in 1) Reviving the pottery culture, tradition, and heritage, 2) Connecting people back to roots in better healthier ways, 3) Promoting sustainable consumption, 4) Economically empowering the indigent community, 5) Working towards green and cool earth, economic development and employment generation and 6) Contributing towards rural women upliftment and making them financially independent.

How has the Government helped in promoting this innovation?

‘Mitticool Refrigerator’ was presented at the 4th batch of Innovations Scholars In-residence Programme. This programme was held at Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2017 in partnership with the National Innovation Foundation (NIF).

Objective: The programme supports grassroots innovations developed by individuals and local communities in any technological field.


For the first time in a decade, WTO members reach historic deal at Geneva

Source: The post is based on the article “For the first time in a decade, WTO members reach historic deal at Geneva” published in Business Standard on 17th June 2022.

What is the News?

For the first time in a decade, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have finalized a historic deal at the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC12).

Note: The WTO’s rules dictate that all decisions are taken by consensus, with any single member able to exercise a veto.

What are the major outcomes of a deal at the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC12)?
TRIPS Waiver

On TRIPS (trade-related intellectual property rights) waiver, an agreement could be reached only on vaccines. But not on diagnostics and therapeutics.

Still, the agreement on patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines will allow developing countries to waive intellectual property protections on the vaccines without the patent holder’s permission in order to spur domestic production of the medicines.

On Food Security

The countries decided not to impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme. However, internal food security concerns will take precedence.

Also, there is no work programme on agriculture. This could be considered as a good outcome for India as India’s agri-subsidy will not face any further scrutiny.

On E-Transmission Moratorium

The countries agreed to extend a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions until the next ministerial meeting, likely in 2023.

However, the moratorium would expire in March 2024 should the next conference be postponed.

On Fisheries Subsidies

The countries agreed to put in place rules to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 


Unemployment rate dips in first quarter of 2022: Survey

Source: The post is based on the article Unemployment rate dips in first quarter of 2022: Surveypublished in The Hindu on 17th June 2022.

What is the News?

The National Statistical Office (NSO) has released the quarterly bulletin of Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for January-March, 2022.

What are the key findings of the PLFS Survey?
Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons in the labour force. The unemployment rate for persons aged 15 years and above in urban areas dipped to 8.2% in January-March 2022 from 9.3% in the same quarter in 2021.

Among males, the unemployment rate in urban areas dipped to 7.7% in January-March 2022 compared to 8.6% a year ago. Among females, the unemployment rate in urban areas declined to 10.1% in January-March, 2022 from 11.8% a year ago. 

The opening up of workplaces after the lockdowns seems to have an impact on the unemployment rate.

Labour Force Participation Rate(LFPR)

LFPR in Current Weekly Status(CWS) in urban areas declined to 47.3% in the January-March quarter of 2022. It was 47.5% during January-March 2021 and 47.3% during October-December 2021. 

The Labour force is defined as the part of the population which supplies or offers to supply labour for pursuing economic activities for the production of goods and services and therefore, includes both employed and unemployed persons.

Worker Population Ratio

The worker population ratio in CWS in urban areas was 43.4% in January-March 2022. This shows an increase from 43.1% in January-March 2021 and 43.2% in October-December 2021.


Explained: The world of crypto lending

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: The world of crypto lendingpublished in Indian Express on 13th June 2022.

What is the News?

Major U.S. cryptocurrency lending company Celsius Network froze withdrawals and transfers citing “extreme” market conditions sparking a sell-off across crypto markets.

What is Crypto Lending?

Crypto lending is essentially banking – for the crypto world. Just as customers at traditional banks earn interest on their savings in dollars or pounds, crypto users that deposit their bitcoin or ether at crypto lenders also earn money, usually in cryptocurrency.

What are the benefits of Crypto Lending?

While savings at traditional banks offer small returns due to historically low-interest rates, crypto lenders offer much higher returns – at the very top end as much as 20%, though rates depend on the tokens being deposited.

What is the present status of Crypto Lending?

Crypto lending has boomed over the past two years as decentralized finance or “DeFi,” platform. 

These platforms are easier to access than banks. Moreover, they are also being promoted as financial services where lenders and borrowers can bypass the traditional financial firms that act as gatekeepers for loans or other products.

What are the risks involved in Crypto lending?

Crypto lenders aren’t overseen by financial regulators. That means that customers who hold their crypto at the platforms could lose access to their funds – as happened with Celsius recently.

Crypto lenders also face other risks, from volatility in crypto markets that can hit the value of savings to tech failures and hacks.


INDO-BANGLADESH BILATERAL EXERCISE “EX SAMPRITI-X” CONCLUDES AT JASHORE, BANGLADESH

Source: The post is based on the articleINDO-BANGLADESH BILATERAL EXERCISE “EX SAMPRITI-X” CONCLUDES AT JASHORE, BANGLADESHpublished in PIB on 16th June 2022.

What is the News?

Indo-Bangladesh bilateral Joint Military Exercise “Ex SAMPRITI-X” concluded at Jashore Military Station, Bangladesh.

What is Exercise SAMPRITI?

Conducted between: India and Bangladesh

Type: Military Exercise

Hosted by: The exercise is hosted alternately by both countries. 

Aim: To strengthen the military relations between the two countries.

Significance: The exercise will provide an opportunity for the contingents from both the Armies to understand each other’s tactical drills and operational techniques. It will enable them to share their experience in Counter-Terrorism, Peace Keeping and Disaster Relief Operations.


Railway Innovation Policy: In a boost to start-ups, Railways promises Rs 1.5 crore for tech ideas

Source: The post is based on the article “In a boost to start-ups, Railways promises Rs 1.5 crore for tech ideas” published in Indian Express on 14th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Railways Minister has launched a Railway Innovation Policy titled “StartUps for Railways”.

What is Railway Innovation Policy?

Aim of the policy: To promote Indian innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of innovative startups in the ecosystem and services of the railway.

Under phase 1 of the policy, 11 problem statements involving rail fracture and headway reduction will be taken up out of over 100 problem statements received from different divisions and field offices of Railways. These problem statements will be presented before the start-ups to find innovative solutions.

How will the startups be supported under the policy?

Initially, innovators will be selected in a transparent and fair manner through an online portal.

The selected innovators will be provided grants of up to Rs. 1.5 Crore on an equal sharing basis with provision of milestone-wise payment.

The trials of prototypes will be done on Railways. Railways will also provide enhanced funding to scale up deployment on the successful performance of prototypes.

Moreover, developed Intellectual property rights(IPR) will remain with innovators only.

What is the significance of this policy?

Firstly, this policy will bring scale and efficiency in the field of operation, maintenance and infrastructure creation through the participation of a very large and untapped startup ecosystem.

Secondly, the policy will help leverage innovative technologies developed by Indian Startups/ MSMEs/ Innovators/Entrepreneurs to improve operational efficiency and Safety of the Indian Railways

Thirdly, it will promote an “Innovation Culture‟ in the country for co-creation and co-innovation in the Railway sector.


India, Israel, US, UAE are I2U2, summit next month

Source: The post is based on the article “India, Israel, US, UAE are I2U2, summit next month” published in Indian Express on 15th June 2022.

What is the News?

The US President will host a virtual summit of I2U2 Grouping in July,2022.

What is I2U2?

I2U2 is the grouping formed by four nations-India, Israel, UAE and the US. The countries share various common global issues including food security crisis and defense.

When is the first summit of I2U2?

The first summit of I2U2 nations will be held in a virtual mode in July 2022 where the four nations will discuss the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation. 

What is the significance of I2U2 Grouping?

The grouping of the four nations- India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the United States met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021. 

At that time, the grouping of the four-nation was called ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’.

Moreover,  the Ambassador of UAE to India had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

Now the four nations group will officially be called I2U2 where I stand for India and Israel and U stand for the US and UAE.


Explained: 2 years after Galwan clash, where India-China relations stand today

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: 2 years after Galwan clash, where India-China relations stand today” published in Indian Express on 17th June 22.

What is the News?

Two years after the Galwan clash India-China relations reached to the lowest level. The Galwan clash was the first in which Indian soldiers were killed since October 1975, when four personnel of the Assam Rifles were killed in an ambush by the Chinese at Tulung La in Arunachal Pradesh.

Read more: Disengagement agreement at Pangong Tso Lake – Explained
What is the status of India-China relations post-Galwan valley clash?

India has not yet succeeded in getting the Chinese to vacate some parts of eastern Ladakh on India’s side of the Line of Actual Control or ensuring a return to the status quo ante. Chinese forces even have a stronghold in Depsang plains, Hot Springs and Demchock.

Trade: India’s trade with China in the calendar year 2021 was $125 billion. This is higher than in the previous year and higher than pre-pandemic, pre-Ladakh standoff levels.

Imports from China reached $97.5 billion, while exports crossed $20 billion for the first time.

These all occurred after India placed restrictions on Chinese participation in the Indian economy. Such as banning several popular Chinese apps.

Read more: India China rebooting ties Post – Doklam

Eased Visa restrictions: China has lifted a two-year Covid ban on visas for Indian professionals and their families. China has also indicated it is processing visas of Indian students who had returned home on account of the pandemic.

Military stand-off: 15 rounds of talks had happened between India and Chinese senior army commanders in eastern Ladakh for resolution of “friction points”. The negotiations have led to the withdrawal of troops by both sides from Galwan, Pangong Lake and Gogra/ Patrolling Point 17A.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the two sides reviewed the situation along the LAC in the Western Sector, and agreed to hold the 16th round of senior military commanders at an early date.

Building infrastructure in strategic areas: China’s build-up of military infrastructure on its side of the LAC, especially two bridges across Pangong Tso Lake. India is also building road infrastructure on its side.

Read more: Explained: Strategic significance of bridge China is building on Pangong Tso

 


Mains Answer Writing

[Download] Prelims Marathon Weekly Compilation – June, 2022 – 4th week

Hello everyone, We are posting a compilation of Prelims Marathon for the month of June 2022 – Fourth week. Click on the following link to download Download About Prelims Marathon Daily Prelims Marathon is focused on UPSC Prelims 2022. Under this initiative, we post, daily 10 MCQs, based on the provided weekly schedule. For More… Continue reading [Download] Prelims Marathon Weekly Compilation – June, 2022 – 4th week

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IFoS 2021 Results Declared – ForumIAS Student Shruti Gets Rank 1

UPSC has released the results of IFoS 2021. We are happy to share that ForumIAS Student Shruti , a student of MGP and then AWFG and also the IGP has secured Rank 1 in IFoS. This is the year, like 2018, when Rank 1 was secured by ForumIAS Students in both CSE and IFS –… Continue reading IFoS 2021 Results Declared – ForumIAS Student Shruti Gets Rank 1

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – June 29, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – June 29, 2022

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I June 27, 2022

Dear Friends, Following are answers to Mains Marathon questions, we posted yesterday. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. Every morning, we post 2 questions are based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant to the exam.… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I June 27, 2022

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[Answered] India is a rich source of rare earths, but still imports. Why are they strategically important and what are the challenges India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals?

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Explain some points related to significance of rare earth elements. Also write some challenges which India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals. Conclusion: Write a way forward. The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of seventeen metallic elements i.e., fifteen lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium. They are… Continue reading [Answered] India is a rich source of rare earths, but still imports. Why are they strategically important and what are the challenges India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals?

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[Answered] What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Highlight the implications of India’s new VPN rules.

Introduction: Explain Virtual Private Network. Body: write some implications of India’s new VPN rules. Conclusion: Write a way forward. A virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network. The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping… Continue reading [Answered] What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Highlight the implications of India’s new VPN rules.

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NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy

What is the News? NITI Aayog has launched a report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’.  What is India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy Report? Released by: Niti Aayog Purpose: The report is a first-of-its-kind study that presents comprehensive perspectives and recommendations on the gig–platform economy in India. What are the key highlights from… Continue reading NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy

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Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland

What is the News? Menar Village in the Udaipur district is set to be notified as Rajasthan’s new wetland. This will pave the way for getting the Ramsar site status for this village. Note: At present, Rajasthan has two wetlands recognised as Ramsar sites – Keoladeo Ghana in Bharatpur district and Sambhar Salt Lake in… Continue reading Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland

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India State Support Program for Road Safety: World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety

What is the News? The World Bank has approved a $250 million loan to support the “India State Support Program for Road Safety”. What is the “India State Support Program for Road Safety”? Aim: 1) To help participating states reduce road crash fatalities and injuries through improved road safety management and institutional reform and results-based… Continue reading India State Support Program for Road Safety: World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety

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Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat

What is the News? The Salt Industry is facing enormous challenges in meeting the demand and handling the crisis faced by salt farmers and workers. Salt Industry in India India ranks third in the production of salt in the world next to the USA and China. Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt… Continue reading Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat

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