9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 21st, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
- Why North Is Rain-Starved & Northeast Is Flooded
- The choice is narrowing the circle or widening it
- The head and heart of secularism
GS Paper 2
- India buys more coal from Russia, and urea from the US — diversifying supply sources is good policy
- Arun Prakash writes: Agnipath, between the lines
- A case of the court straying into the legislative sphere
- Resurrecting a dead law
- The complex world of regulators
GS Paper 3
- At the centre of job creation
- Madan Sabnavis writes: The jobs puzzle
- Flaming question: Why is it so easy to burn trains? Because effective RPF, local police coordination is missing
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1
- World Mental Health Report: Business as usual for mental health simply will not do: WHO
- Explained: What are bird strikes and how they can affect flights
- Spiny Horntail: Rare dragonfly spotted in Kerala for the first time
- Sleep organisation stabilizes among vipassana meditation practitioners: study
- Explained: How lightning kills, and how to be safe when it strikes?
- Theri Desert: There is a desert in Tamil Nadu and the dunes are red
- Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise Ex Khaan Quest 2022 culminates in Mongolia
- New species of bamboo-dwelling bat found in Meghalaya
- Explained: What is a black swan event?
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: This post is based on the article “Why North Is Rain-Starved & Northeast Is Flooded” published in The Times of India on 21st June 22.
Syllabus: GS1 – Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.
Relevance: To understand the reason behind floods in the Northeast and drought in North India.
News: After a season-long heatwave from March to May, the north-northwest and central India are undergoing a rainfall deficit, while Northeast India and Bangladesh are hit with devastating floods.
For instance, Meghalaya’s Mawsynram – the world’s wettest place – recorded more than 1,000 mm of rain for the first time on June 17.
What are the characteristics of ongoing floods?
The winds over the Bay of Bengal have been exceptionally strong for a week. These strong winds carry a lot of moisture, dumping them as rains over Bangladesh and Northeast India.
The ongoing La Nina conditions in the Pacific, in combination with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in the Indian Ocean, has increased the intensity of the floods. This is because this condition strengthens the winds that blow from the southwest to the northeast (Southwesterlies) in the Bay of Bengal.
Note: Negative IOD happens when the Indian Ocean is cool in the west and warm in the east.
What is the reason for changing the monsoon pattern?
Monsoon patterns have seen a climatic shift over South Asia since the 1950s. This is because,
a) The strong monsoon winds in the Bay of Bengal now carry a lot more moisture than ever and result in heavy rains. The moisture-holding capacity of the air has increased with global warming. b) Instead of having moderate rains spread out through the monsoon season, India now has long dry periods interspersed with short spells of heavy rains. For example, a month’s rain is pouring in a day or two now.
For these reasons, both droughts and floods occur across South Asia, and sometimes in the same season. This puts tremendous pressure on the water and food security in the region.
What will be the impact of a 1˚C rise in global temperature for South Asia?
The total amount of rainfall is expected to increase by 7-10% for every 1˚C rise in temperatures. The extreme rainfall events are also projected to increase proportionally over South Asia.
South Asia is the most vulnerable to climate change due to its proximity to the rapidly warming Indian Ocean on its south and the rapidly melting glaciers on its north.
The east coast of India and Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable since the sea-level rise in the North Bay of Bengal region is faster than in other regions due to a gradually sinking land. Also, storm surges are particularly large in the Bay of Bengal as compared to the Arabian Sea.
The combined effect of sea-level rise and storm surges leads to the saltwater intrusion that affects agriculture and cholera epidemics on the east coast of India and Bangladesh.
What should be done?
a) The countries need to disaster-proof every district and village of South Asia and make them climate-resilient, b) Make houses and farms for both droughts and floods, c) Policies should be framed so that they help to redesign cities and prepare rural areas for intensifying cyclones, floods and heatwaves.
Source: The post is based on an article “The choice is narrowing the circle or widening it” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st June 2022.
Syllabus: GS1 – Indian Society
Relevance: Communalism; Fundamental Rights of Minorities;
News: Recently, it is said that ‘India is witnessing the progressive normalisation of minority baiting’.
About India’s Minority
Muslims are our largest religious minority. They constitute 14.3% of the total population.
In terms of population, their 200 million number is more than the populations in Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Some happenings in a related context
It was noticed that the two spokespersons of the ruling party reflected on the personality of the Prophet
There were uses of strong-arm tactics and bulldozers to counter public demonstrations. Some observers believe that the bulldozer is an instrument to silence the minorities.
At present, there has been furtherance of hate by unfairly criticizing the Muslim minority.
What are the Consequences?
The Gulf Cooperation Council and Persian Gulf countries, which are India’s extended neighbourhood, have strongly criticized about what has happened in India.
These countries provide gainful employment to many million Indian nationals, who contribute to India’s foreign exchange remittances. Therefore, such a move can impact their safety and security.
What are the challenges?
No reaction has been received from the senior leaders of the government, institutional bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission of India and of the National Commission for Minorities and the Indian judiciary.
There has been violation of rule of law and in fact, absence of due process or proportionality.
The public watches popular television channels where the debates are not conducted in a healthy manner. It invariably produces dangerous results for a particular section of Indian society.
What are the ultimate causes behind?
The differentiation between Indic and non-Indic culture is being propagated to divide fellow citizens. Those who pursue Indic faiths are assumed to be of Indian origin. Those who subscribe to Christianity and Islam are believed not to be of Indian origin.
India is traditionally defined as Bharat. It can refer to all the countries which combine to form the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
Why is it wrong to say that Muslims minorities do not belong to Hindustan?
As per our history, Hindustan or Bharat extended to some parts of Afghanistan and even some parts of Iran. Therefore, Ghazni, Khilji, Lodi, etc. should not be seen as foreign invaders but as domestic plunders who even succeeded in establishing kingdoms.
The landmass of Bharat cannot be described in terms of faith alone since there was a period of several centuries when Buddhism was the dominant religion.
During the period, when there were Muslim rulers, no effort were made for mass conversions in India.
India has been a place where since time immemorial, migrant groups have continued to come and settle in the search for greener pastures. This resulted in the formation of India as a ‘civilisational state’.
The constitutional principle like the promotion of equality and fraternity should operate in social behaviour.
India is and must remain diverse and inclusive, and continue to build itself on the principles inscribed in the Preamble.
Source: The post is based on an article “The head and heart of secularism” published in the Business Standard on 21st June 2022.
Syllabus: GS1 – Secularism
News: Whether a particular religious practice offends the principles of secularism is often debated in India.
The French model of secularism
It is clear of all religious considerations. It debars the public officials to demonstrate their religious affiliation, does not permit the wearing of Cross or, if worn, cannot be shown and prohibits the wearing of the hijab, in public places.
India’s Secularism Model
In India, the model of Secularism is different from the laicitein France. It is decided on case by case, whether a particular practice is against the core principles of secularism, or not.
In India, the decisions are often taken based on heart, compassion and tolerance.
Issues of Indian Model of Secularism
In reality, every policy needs one steadfast instrument for its implementation. But, in India, multiple instruments are employed to implement secularism.
Decoding the Indian Secularism
In India, it is the tenets of citizenship that should guide the state policy on secularism.
Case of banning of cow slaughter
The Directive Principles of our Constitution (DPSP) recommended for banning cow slaughter because it does not “harm” citizenship, it doesn’t degrade public space, it doesn’t inhibit acquiring educational and health facilities, it doesn’t impair the functioning of public institutions and eating beef is not compulsory for Muslims and it was also not acceptable to Hindus.
In fact, there are various countries which have banned the slaughter of different kinds of animals for food, even without getting into the question of religion.
Various regulations are made on the use of loudspeakers in mosques and temples because these are an invasion of public space and a health hazard as they contribute to noise pollution.
Regulations have been made on carrying out the religious ceremony because it curtails public space, and causes problems to other persons using those spaces.
The CPCB regulates the immersion of idols in rivers, say of Goddess Durga or Lord Ganesh are supposed to be of eco-friendly material because they can lead to water pollution.
Case of Burqa and Hijab
The objections are being made on the wearing of the Burqa and Hijab in the public spaces. Without going into whether wearing them is essential to Islam or not, such practice impair the functioning of public institutions like it restrict vision, mobility and communication. It promotes barriers in socialisation and cooperation between men and women as equal citizens of India
They entail the issue of “harm”. There whether its is “essential” to a religion, or not should not matter.
The decision on secularism in India should be based on citizenship considerations alone. Instead of choosing between the heart [Indian Model] and the head [France Model].
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “India buys more coal from Russia, and urea from the US — diversifying supply sources is good policy” published in The Indian Express on 21st June 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – International relations
Relevance: India’s growing trade with Russia
News: India’s imports of Russian coal in June are reportedly expected to be the highest in at least seven and a half years.
This comes alongside Russia displacing Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-largest oil supplier after Iraq in May.
Neither of these are unwelcome developments, nor the fact that India has, for the first time, bought a large urea consignment from the US.
Why India’s trade with Russia has increased?
Russian traders are offering discounts of 25-30% for thermal coal and accepting payment in rupees. Hence, bulk purchases by Indian cement and steel companies have spiked in recent weeks.
Diversifying supply sources and buying at the lowest price for equivalent quality is also in national interest.
– It has, likewise, become economical now to import urea from the US, which is quoting $55-75 per tonne cheaper than that from the Middle East, notwithstanding higher freight costs and longer voyage time.
India’s imports of crude petroleum, coal and finished fertilisers in 2021-22 have increased, as against the previous fiscal’s corresponding levels. The country’s merchandise trade deficit hit a record $190.71 billion in 2021-22.
– A further widening of its deficits, whether external or fiscal, and uncontrolled weakening of the rupee, both external and internal purchasing value, is something India cannot afford.
If importing more coal and oil from Russia or urea from the US forces existing suppliers — the likes of Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — to lower prices, it would aid in macroeconomic stability necessary for long-term growth.
India and China purchasing more from Russia, also reduces the pressure on the international oil market.
– Imagine where crude prices would have reached had these two Asian countries not stepped up buying from Russia.
The growing trade with Russia may not be to the West’s liking. While the invasion of Ukraine deserves the widest condemnation, financial sanctions and not buying from Russia don’t really help.
That the economic and national interests of other countries overrides its geopolitical priorities is a reality that the West has to acknowledge and accept, sooner than later.
Source: This post is based on the following articles
“Arun Prakash writes: Agnipath, between the lines” published in the Indian Express on 21st June 22.
“The Rs 34,500 Crore Argument” published in The Times of India on 21st June 22.
“Avoid sudden changes” published in Business Standard on 20th 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 government of India introduced a new recruitment scheme for the armed forces, Agnipath.
How do other nations solve their challenges with armed forces?
All major nations undertake a periodic (every 4-5 years) review of their evolving national security objectives, the options available, and the economic/military means available for achieving them. For example, China releases a biennial “Defence White Paper” since 2002.
These reviews generate assessments of existing/potential adversary threats to national interests, as well as the state of the own military’s material/operational readiness.
Apart from providing fiscal guidance, this process also facilitates the evolution of a national security strategy.
What is the main challenge faced by the Indian armed forces?
The current profile of defence spending is counterproductive. The capital outlay expenditure (including the spending on modernisation) has declined as a proportion of the defence budget, from 32% in 2010-11 to 28% in 2020-21.
Spending on pensions increased considerably after the introduction of One Rank One Pension (OROP).
Between 2011-12 and 2020-21, while the total defence expenditure increased at a nominal annual rate of 9.5%, the pension expenditure increased 14% year-on-year, and capital outlay spending rose only 8.4%.
In 2019-20 the defence pension expenditure exceeded capital outlay expenditure.
|Must read: Agnipath Scheme: Need, Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise|
What is the reason for the challenges faced by armed forces?
Firstly, Independent India’s defence expenditure got relegated to the “non-plan” category. The pension bill for veteran soldiers was linked to the defence budget. This increased the defence expenditure on pensions.
Secondly, the Finance Ministry did not find ways and means for raising essential additional funds for national defence. Instead, they demanded armed forces to evolve measures for reducing the pension bill.
Thirdly, the government of India has neglected to undertake any periodic assessment, in the past 75 years. For instance, India is among the few major powers which have failed to issue a National Security Strategy or Doctrine.
Fourthly, Half-hearted attempts at organisational reform made the Indian army to remain with “boots-on-the-ground” syndrome and not prepared them for “hybrid warfare”. For instance, the Ukraine conflict has highlighted the disadvantages of poor military organisation.
|Read more: Education Ministry to recognize in-service training received by Agniveers as credits for graduation|
What are the challenges associated with the Agnipath Scheme?
Not the right time: Armed forces are already short of manpower and the Country’s northern and western borders are already facing turbulence. Hence, this is not the best time to implement a radical and untried new recruitment system.
Focus only on the army: Army’s large infantry component is not excessively burdened with technology. So, the Agnipath scheme is best suited only for the army. On the other hand, the Navy and Air force have sophisticated lethal weapon systems, complex machinery and electronics. So, they require at least 5-6 years for a new entrant to acquire enough hands-on experience to operate them.
Forget to consider the present ex-servicemen issues: Home Ministry has resisted the induction of ex-servicemen into the armed police and paramilitary forces on the ground that it would spoil the career path of their own cadres. Similarly, state governments and other agencies have also ignored reservations.
Pension savings will happen only after 15 years: Agniveers recruited today are replacing soldiers who would have retired approximately 15 years from now. The purported pension savings would start accruing only after a decade and a half.
Creates intergenerational injustice: The OROP scheme provides a uniform pension but increased the government’s pension bill. But the Agnipath scheme does not provide any pension at all. This creates an intergenerational injustice to those who join the army under the new scheme.
What should be done to improve the Agnipath scheme?
The government must a) Compensate for the reduction of opportunities in the military by increasing the public employment, b) Ensure “Minimum government, maximum governance” across defence sectors.
|Must read: How can Agnipath be made more attractive? Recommendations from 2 former army leaders|
Source: The post is based on an article “A case of the court straying into the legislative sphere” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Social justice; Functioning of the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature
Relevance: Misuse of Dowry Case
News: Recently, the Allahabad High Court took cognisance of the misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), pertaining to dowry practice in India.
What did the HC say?
The High Court expressed its concern over the growing tendency of misuse of the dowry provisions against the husband and his family members. It has issued following directions
(1) A family welfare committee should be constituted in each district under the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA).
(2) The first information report should be handed over to a committee immediately after its registration.
(3) There should be a “cooling period’ of two months and no arrest should be made by the police during that period.
The Judgement took guidance from of the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar vs Union of India (2018)
How is the judgment different from the SC’s judgment?
There are minor differences in the composition of the family welfare committees such as inclusion of a young mediator or an advocate or a senior law student, as
In the SC judgment, directions did not apply to the offences involving tangible physical injuries. However, the HC’s directions shall apply to the cases where the offence would attract an imprisonment of less than 10 years. The police shall only do peripheral investigations such as collecting the injury report and recording the statements of witnesses.
In Rajesh Sharma (supra) case, the cooling period was one month, where in this case it is two months.
What are the arguments against the issuance of directions by the Allahabad HC?
There are questions on the High Court’s jurisdiction to issue such directions because of various reasons
(1) The CrPC clearly laid down the scheme of investigation. Such directions should be issued when such a scheme of investigation is absent. For example, In Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan (1997), the SC issued directions to enforce FRs because there was absence of law in certain cases of sexual harassment at the workplace.
(2) In the case of Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar (supra), the Court held that a third agency (i.e., the family welfare committee) had nothing to do with the CrPC and stalling arrest till a report is submitted by the committee.
The misuse of Section 498A IPC by itself cannot be a ground to dilute the provisions and issue directions. Further, the directions do not flow from any provision of the Code.
As per the constitutional scheme, the issuance of such directions potentially falls in the sphere of legislature.
Moreover, these directions might also curtail the rights of a genuine victim of dowry harassment.
Argument in favour
The HC directions were inspired with noble intentions to curb the tendency of misuse of dowry provisions in the heat of matrimonial discord.
What are the solutions to check false cases of dowry and avoidable incarcerations?
At present, the law of the land needs to be enforced strictly by both the police and the courts, without any dilution.
The Supreme Court’s directions issued in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014) must be strictly enforced by the Police machinery. It must ensure that there is sufficient reason and credible material against the accused person before going forward for the arrest.
The investigating officers must be imparted training to learn the principles stated by the Court relating to arrest.
The legislature can amend the Section 498A IPC to make the offence bailable and compoundable.
The Mediation Bill, 2021 can institutionalize mediation mechanism. It may also help in settling the matrimonial dispute through the civil route.
Source: The post is based on an article “Resurrecting a dead law” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st June 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 Provisions of the Constitution of India
Relevance: Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression; Shreya Singhal Case; Section 66A of IT Act
News: Recently, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is back in the news. India made a formal submission for criminalising “offensive messages” in the ongoing negotiations at the United Nations for a proposed international treaty on combating cybercrime. The language in the submission is similar to what was used in Section 66A.
About the law
The Supreme Court had declared Section 66A of the IT Act, unconstitutional in 2015 in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India on the ground of having a “chilling effect on free speech”.
If India’s proposal is accepted, would the provision have a direct effect on the Indian legal system?
Theory of monism
In this, international law is automatically incorporated into the domestic legal system of the country. The Parliament is not required to enact an enabling legislation fo giving effect.
Theory of dualist state.
The international law does not become a part of the domestic legal system because the Parliament is required to amend the domestic law to implement the international law.
Case of India
Although, India is a dualist state. But, over the years, the Supreme Court of India has moved away from this traditional dualist approach towards monism. For Example,
The SC of India in Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan (1997), National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India (2014), and K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2018), followed the international law and judicially incorporated the readings into India’s domestic law.
What will be the Judicial scenarios in the future?
(1) Scenario I: If international treaty combating cybercrime is finalized with a provision similar to Section 66A and the Indian Parliament has not enacted law to give effect.
The Indian courts will give primacy to the domestic law enunciated in Shreya Singhal Case, not the international treaty because the international law would be in conflict with domestic law.
Scenario II: If Parliament enacts legislation or amends existing legislation to implement the international treaty under the Article 253 of the Constitution of India and incorporate a provision similar to Section 66A back on the statute book.
If the constitutionality of the re-introduced version of Section 66A is challenged. The constitutional court will still strike down it down because it will still be violative of the fundamental right to free speech, the ground which was used in the Shreya Singhal Case.
What is the major issue?
The Indian government proposed the inclusion of a provision in an international treaty which was struck down by its own apex court for breaching fundamental rights.
The U.K. and many countries in the European Union have reportedly already contested India’s submission because such proposals seek to violate the freedom of speech.
Source: The post is based on an article “The complex world of regulators” published in the Business Standard on 21st June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.
Relevance: Statutory Regulatory Bodies
News: Recently, there has been an important change in the working of the government. Nowadays, the statutory regulatory authorities (SRAs) have become important institutions of the government.
What are the issues in SRAs?
They face questions of accountability and excessive concentration of power.
They seem to depart from the principles of the separation of power between legislature, executive, and judicatory.
These are unusual organisation which are set into motion in the body politic and body economic
It is important to assess the working of SRAs. however, it is difficult to do so.
In normal times, regulators are often criticised for over-regulation. In difficult times, they are criticized for under-regulation.
They have not laid the foundation for economic growth or avoiding crises so far. For example, in 2001, a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the stock market crisis of March/April 2001said that “regulators have been found wanting and they do not instil confidence in the investor”.
Regulators generally do not have much direct output. Their services are inputs to outputs of the regulated entities and markets.
Their performance is affected by several external factors, many of which are beyond their control. Further, their efforts take years to have visible outcomes.
The data required to make the evaluation of SRAs may not be easily available.
Some good examples of SRAs success
The SEBI was created in 992. It laid the foundations of a modern financial market system.
How can the working of SRAs be improved?
In 2013, the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) recommended a formal mechanism to evaluate regulators based upon which a review committee should be established. The review committee should comprise only non-executive members of the regulator’s governing board.
The Committee on Reforming the Regulatory Environment for Doing Business in India (2013) recommended that each regulator should undertake self-evaluation once in three years. Its conclusions should be placed in the public domain for informed discussion and debate.
Measures Taken So far
The International Financial Services Centres Authority Act, 2019 mandates that the authority should constitute a Performance Review Committee to review its performance annually.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is also required to do assessment of its effectiveness and efficiency in terms of its objectives and mandate, as per the provisions, mentioned in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016.
A systematic strategy for evaluation can be organised. It should be done around three groups of parameters: Governance, process, and outcomes. However, the principle of Nemo judex in causa sua, or nobody should judge their own cause, should be kept into consideration while doing so.
The legislature can authorize the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to do performance audits of SRAs, as both have a principal-agent relationship.
The terms of reference of the evaluation should be discussed with the relevant parliamentary standing committee. The task can be delegated to a non-partisan external research organisation which should submit report back to the parliamentary standing committee. This report should be the basis of the amendments to the law.
The regulatory evaluation can consist of two aspects: First examining the actions of the regulator over a stated time period, and second, doing anonymous perception assessment among regulated persons through a private organisation.
Lesson to learn
The IBBI has become the first Indian SRA to have commissioned an independent evaluation of its regulatory role. This constitutes an important milestone in the emergence of state capacity in regulation in India. Other SRAs should learn from it.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “At the centre of job creation” published in The Hindu on 21st June 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Economy – Issues related to growth and development
Relevance: Unemployment in India, job creation and related issues
Context: The government should re-establish its role as the principal employment generator.
Moreover, with its announcement that 10 lakh government jobs will be provided over the next 18 months on a “mission mode”, the govt has sent the following message:
– the creation of employment is indeed a problem and can no longer be hidden from the public discourse.
– the private sector, especially modern sectors such as the service and manufacturing sectors, which are dominated by multinational companies, have not created many jobs. Even if the IT sector or the modern gig economy have created jobs, these are either very high-skilled jobs or low-skilled ones.
What are the employment trends in India?
First, the present government is relying on the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization/National Pension System/Employees’ State Insurance Scheme registrations and exits as indicators of the formal labor market.
– This could be misleading, as companies may be increasing registrations to cross the threshold to become eligible to fall under any of these. Hence, this might be more a case of formalization rather than employment generation.
Second, media reports show that more than 85% of those aspiring for those 10 lakh jobs could be consumed by existing vacancies in Central government departments (8,72,243). In that sense, the pronouncement possibly does not indicate 10 lakh new jobs.
Third, 241 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) have been shedding jobs in recent years — jobs declined from 10.84 lakh in 2017-18 to 10.71 lakh in 2018-19 and to 9.22 lakh in 2019-20. This downward trend is a cause for concern.
Fourth, The 10 lakh jobs creation also needs to be seen in the context of the labour market. Even though the labour force and workforce participation rates have increased marginally, there is a decline in the quality of jobs. This means that there is a rise in the unpaid segment of the self-employed and a rise in the share of the agricultural sector in total employment over the last three Periodic Labour Force Surveys (43% to 47%). This is a historical retrogression.
– On the other hand, the manufacturing sector’s share in national income has declined in 2020-21 (10.9%) compared to that in 2018-19 (12.1%).
Employment shares in the informal enterprises have increased — for men (71% to 75%), women (55% to 57%) and all persons (68% to 71%) from 2017-18 to 2020-21.
Why govt must assume a central role in job creation?
The private sector creates jobs in response to market forces and while taking into consideration radically altering technological developments.
The projections about employment generation by the gig economy are unreliable, as they are computed by a trade body or by consulting agencies which have vested interests.
Projects in the modern private sector consume a lot of capital to generate very few jobs.
– For instance, recently, there was a report that the Adani Group has invested ₹70,000 crore (or ₹700 million) in Uttar Pradesh to create merely 30,000 jobs.
Foreign Direct Investment, which at any rate is highly capital-intensive, goes mostly into the non-manufacturing sectors.
Employment is not merely about numbers and growth figures.
India needs to concentrate on enabling the creation of decent work and a sustainable labor market, to which India is committed as a member of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization.
The government should play a significant role soon. The government should re-establish its role as the principal employment generator through jobs in its ministries and CPSEs and through assured employment generation programmes like MGNREGA.
Source: This post is based on the article “Madan Sabnavis writes: The jobs puzzle” published in Indian Express on 21st June 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Economy – Issues related to growth and development
Relevance: Unemployment in India, job creation and related issues
Context: While the government’s intent to add over a million jobs in the next 18 months is laudable, the task is audacious and challenging from both an administrative and financial point of view.
Important reports regarding employment
Three reports have appeared recently on the issue of jobs.
The first pertains to start-ups that have begun issuing pink slips to their employees. The number given for this year so far is above 10,000 and more could be in the offing.
The second pertains to the NSO survey, which says that the unemployment rate in 2020-21 (July to June) was at 4.2%, down from 4.8% in 2019-20. This sounds good because it seems that even though start-ups are retrenching staff, somewhere in the country, opportunities are being created.
And the third is the determination shown by the government in creating opportunities — it has assured the creation of one million jobs over the next one-and-a-half years.
Problems with the Unemployment data
The NSO data talks of the unemployment rate coming down to 4.2% in 2020-21. But this does not seem in sync with those times when several people had lost their jobs and when migrants were forced to go back home with their workplaces closing down.
In fact, the PLFS data does throw up some anomalies.
– From 2018-19 onwards, the unemployment rate has been coming down — from 6.1% in 2017-18 to 4.2% in 2020-21. But, during this phase, the GDP growth rate declined from 6.8% in 2017-18 to 6.5 per cent and 3.7 per cent in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively, contracting thereafter by 6.6 per cent in 2020-21.
– Therefore, there does seem to be something amiss here as lower GDP growth is being associated with a decline in the unemployment rate, which should be the other way.
What is the situation wrt unemployment in India?
Consumer durable goods have been registering negative or slightly positive growth for the last five years or so — this is a reflection of the purchasing power of the people that ultimately can be linked to job creation.
Why Start-ups cannot be relied upon for large scale job creation?
Globally, 80-85% of start-ups fold up in the first couple of years mainly due to non-viable models that fail the scaling-up challenge — when an enterprise that works at the micro-level does not survive as it expands.
For this deep pockets are required and if funds are not forthcoming, it adds to the pressures on the firm.
A fallout of this is retrenchment.
Therefore, while start-ups sound exciting, job creation at scale cannot be part of these experiments, unless there is an assured flow of funds.
What are the issues with the promise of 1 million govt jobs?
First,can this number be accomplished in this short period of time, considering that there are fairly lengthy processes involved in hiring people to government departments?
Second, hiring such a number is good for the country, but finding meaningful roles for them in various departments needs to be seriously examined.
Third issue is the increase in cost for the govt.
– As per the budget for 2022-23, the average outgo per employee was around Rs 12.20 lakh. Assuming the new set earns half of the existing average, the additional cost would be at least Rs 60,000 crore. The other associated cost that has to be kept in mind relates to pension funds.
The overall unemployment picture looks complex today. While officially, the rate is coming down, experience during the pandemic doesn’t support such optimism.
The high hopes placed on startups to propel India have proved to be a dampener from the point of view of the stock market performance as well as employment. It has led to job destruction rather than creation.
India may have to wait for the traditional route of economic growth to gradually create spaces for more jobs.
Flaming question: Why is it so easy to burn trains? Because effective RPF, local police coordination is missing
Source: This post is based on the article “Flaming question: Why is it so easy to burn trains? Because effective RPF, local police coordination is missing” published in The Times of India on 20th June 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Internal Security
Relevance: Destruction of railway property during protests
News: Over 500 trains were cancelled recently following protests against Agnipath scheme. The cancellation follows instances of arson and wilful destruction of railway property.
Yet again, Indian Railways (IR) has been made collateral damage.
Cancellations not only directly inconvenience millions but undermine the economy, as railway rakes transport 3.3 million tons of freight daily, mainly coal.
This senseless destruction and related disruption should be stopped.
|Between FY-2016 and FY-2020, losses on passenger service rose from Rs 36,286 crore to Rs 63,364 crore. Given GoI’s fiscal challenges and limited rail budgets, willy-nilly people dependent on train travel will suffer.|
Who is responsible for security of Indian Railways (IR)?
IR’s security is overseen by its own force, Railway Protection Force (RPF), and backed by central legislation.
– RPF is empowered to arrest without a magistrate’s order and in 2019 its handpicked personnel were given commando training.
As trains crisscross states, state governments also come into the picture. Government Railway Police (GRP), and local police assist in safeguarding railway assets and passengers.
– GRP is funded equally by IR and states, but is under the administrative control of the local government.
Why IR’s security performance is still unsatisfactory?
It’s because of gaps in coordination with the state police.
This was examined in detail in a 2011 CAG performance audit of IR’s security.
– GRP and state police forces handle security of trains, tracks and railway premises, while RPF protects properties and consignments. The performance of local policing is influenced by a state government’s political signalling.
Consequently, the leeway agitations get has a direct impact on IR’s assets.
In this unfavourable environment, CAG’s report observed that a unified overseeing arrangement between RPF and state police is missing.
In short, there are coordination problems that IR has not addressed.
RPF, headed by a police officer on deputation, needs to strengthen its coordination protocols with local police. Trains shouldn’t be such easy targets for arsonists.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why is single-use plastic being banned in India from July 1” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
The Government of India has announced the ban on the use of ‘single-use plastic’ from July 1, 2022.
What is Single use-plastic?
Single use-plastic refers to plastic items that are used once and discarded.
Single-use plastic has among the highest shares of plastic manufactured and used — from packaging of items, to bottles, polythene bags, face masks, trash bags, food packaging among others.
How much is Single use-plastic produced globally?
Single-use plastics account for a third of all plastic produced globally, with 98% manufactured from fossil fuels.
Single-use plastic also accounts for the majority of plastic discarded – 130 million metric tonnes globally in 2019 — all of which is burned, buried in landfills or discarded directly into the environment.
India features in the top 100 countries of single-use plastic waste generation – at rank 94 (the top three being Singapore, Australia and Oman).
Impact on Environment: It has been projected that single-use plastic could account for 5-10% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Which Single-use plastic items have been banned by the Government?
Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) have announced a ban are earbuds; balloon sticks; candy and ice-cream sticks; cutlery items including plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, trays; sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packs; PVC banners measuring under 100 microns and polystyrene for decoration.
Note: The government had already banned polythene bags under 75 microns in 2021, expanding the limit from the earlier 50 microns. From December, the ban will be extended to polythene bags under 120 microns.
|Read more: Single-use plastic ban: Reading the fine print reveals ominous loopholes|
Why has the Government banned these single-use plastic items?
These single use-plastic items have been chosen as they are difficult to collect, especially since most are either small or discarded directly into the environment. It then becomes difficult to collect for recycling, unlike the much larger items.
How will the ban be enforced?
The ban will be monitored by the CPCB from the Centre and by the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) that will report to the Centre regularly.
Penalty: Those found violating the ban can be penalized under the Environment Protection Act 1986 – which allows for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
Violators can also be asked to pay Environmental Damage Compensation by the SPCB. In addition, there are municipal laws on plastic waste, with their own penal codes.
How is the world dealing with Single-use plastic?
Recently, around 124 countries including India have endorsed a resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument”. The resolution has agreed to end plastic pollution and adopt an international, legally binding agreement by 2024.
Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags in 2002. New Zealand became the latest country to ban plastic bags in July 2019. Hence, as of 2019, 68 countries have plastic bag bans with varying degrees of enforcement.
Source: The post is based on the article “Business as usual for mental health simply will not do: WHO” published in Down To Earth on 20th June 2022.
What is the News?
The World Health Organization(WHO) has released the World Mental Health Report.
What are the key findings of the World Mental Health Report?
Mental Health Issues: Almost a billion people or one in 8 people worldwide were living with some form of mental health issue in 2019.
For some, this resulted in dying by suicide which accounted for one in 100 death with more than half of them happening before the age of 50.
Depression and anxiety spiked 25% in the first year of the pandemic (2020).
Moreover, those living with mental health issues live some two decades less than the general population.
Major Threats to Mental well-being: Covid-19 Pandemic, social and economic inequalities, public health emergencies, war and the climate crisis.
Access to Mental Health Care: Access to mental health services remains poor. Globally, 71% of psychosis patients don’t receive treatment. High-income countries provide treatment to 70% of psychosis patients and low-income countries manage the same for just 12%.
Only 2% of national health budgets and less than 1% of all international health aid goes to mental health.
All 194 WHO member states have adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030, but progress has been slow.
Suggestions given by the report: The report has called for an end to the stigma attached to mental health. It lists three key ‘paths to transformation’ to quicken progress on the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030.
These include more focused investment in mental health, reshaping environments such as homes, communities, schools, workplaces and health care services that influence mental health and strengthening the quality of mental health care by diversifying it.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are bird strikes and how they can affect flights” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
Recently, at least two bird strike incidents have happened. Following both of these incidents, the aircraft had to return back to their origin airports and were grounded for maintenance.
What are Bird Strikes?
A Bird Strike is strictly defined as a collision between a bird and an aircraft which is in flight or on a take-off or landing roll.
What is the impact of Bird Strike on aircraft?
Typically, when birds collide with an aircraft’s airframe, it is unlikely to cause significant problems for the pilots flying.
However, if the collision has happened with a window or a windscreen resulting in cracking of the structure, pilots will look to land the plane as early as possible.
Further, smaller planes would generally be more susceptible to the dangers of bird strikes than larger ones.
What causes Bird Strikes?
In the simplest of terms, the presence of birds around an airfield increases the chances of a bird strike.
In monsoons, as water puddles emerge in open grounds attracting insects to breed, it also increases the presence of birds in these regions.
Other reasons for bird activity around an airfield could be the presence of landfills or waste disposal sites that attract a large number of birds.
What steps have been taken to avoid Bird Strikes?
Firstly, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the DGCA has recognised wildlife strikes including bird and animal hits to aircraft as one of the “State Safety Priority”.
Secondly, DGCA regularly carries out aerodrome inspections that are considered critical with regard to wildlife strikes.
Thirdly, Aviation authorities along with local agencies are working on reducing wildlife presence around airports from time to time.
Source: The post is based on the article “Rare dragonfly spotted in Kerala for the first time” published in The Hindu on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
Dragonfly enthusiasts have recorded the presence of a rare dragonfly species named “Spiny Horntail” that was not seen in Kerala until now.
What is Spiny Horntail?
Spiny Horntail (Burmagomphus chaukulensis) is a dragonfly species.
This species is known to be endemic to the Western Ghats and was discovered in Maharashtra earlier this year.
The species differs from other Burmagomphus species by the markings on the lateral thorax and the peculiar shape of anal appendages.
Burmagomphus is a genus of dragonfly in the family Gomphidae.
Prior to the finding of B. chaukulensi, Burmagomphus was represented by three species – B. cauvericus, B. pyramidalis and B. laidlawi.
While B. laidlawi is found throughout the Western Ghats, B. cauvericus is more restricted in its distribution. B. pyramidalis is found in the Western Ghats as well as in Peninsular India .All other species of the genus are found in the Western and Eastern Himalayas.
Source: The post is based on the article “Sleep organisation stabilizes among vipassana meditation practitioners: study” published in PIB on 20th June 2022.
What is the News?
Researchers have found that practitioners of meditation have better sleep as compared to those who do not practice meditation.
What are the sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis.
Some of the commonly found sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, narcolepsy and shift work disorder.
In India, over 93% of our population is affected by sleep deprivation or disorders.
What is the purpose of this study?
Frequent sleep transitions (from higher deep sleep to lighter sleep) are seen in sleep disorders, and with age, these transitions increase.
Traditionally, meditation has been recommended as a solution for sleep disorders. However, scientific evidence on the relationship between meditation and sleep disorders was lacking. This study focuses on that.
Note: This study has been supported by the SATYAM Programme of the Department of Science and Technology.
What are the findings of the study?
Researchers have found that practitioners of meditation transition from light to deep sleep faster, and their period of transition does not increase with age as against those who do not practice meditation.
Moreover, the duration of the deep sleep period is also the longest among the people who meditate whereas this duration reduces with age among those who don’t meditate.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How lightning kills, and how to be safe when it strikes?” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
Seventeen people have been killed by lightning over the last two days in various parts of Bihar.
What is Lightning?
Lightning Strikes in India
According to a report on lightning by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), in 2019-20, about 1.4 crore lightning strikes were recorded which increased to 1.85 crores in 2020-21.
In 2021-22, about 1.49 crore strikes were recorded across the country. The reason attributed to this reduction in lightning is due to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced reduction in aerosol level, pollution, environmental up-gradation and relatively stable weather system in the Indian subcontinent.
But most of this reduction was seen in the cloud-to-cloud lightning. Of the strikes that reach the Earth, only a 2.5% reduction was observed.
Lightning Prone Areas in India
Madhya Pradesh has reported the largest number of cloud to ground lightning strikes followed by Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. Other states with high strike rates include Bihar, UP, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu.
What steps are being taken against lightning strikes?
States are being encouraged to prepare and implement lightning action plans, along the lines of heat action plans.
An international centre for excellence on lightning research to boost detection and early warning systems is also in the process of being set up.
How can the impact of Lightning strikes be mitigated?
Firstly, Lightning needs to be listed as a notified disaster by the Ministry of Home to get required attention in national policy directives and developmental programmes.
Secondly, more than 96% of lightning deaths happen in rural areas. As such, most of the mitigation and public awareness programmes need to focus on these communities.
Thirdly, lightning protection devices are fairly unsophisticated and low-cost. Yet, their deployment in the rural areas, as of now, is extremely low. Hence, they should be deployed.
Source: The post is based on the article “Theri Desert: There is a desert in Tamil Nadu and the dunes are red” published in Down To Earth on 16th June 2022.
What is the News?
There are a couple of theories regarding the formation of Theri Desert, the most plausible being the role of south west monsoonal winds.
What are Theri Deserts?
Theri Desert is a small desert situated in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.
The desert consists of Red Sand Dunes (The red dunes are called theri in Tamil).It consists of sediments dating back to the Quaternary Period and are made of marine deposits.
They have very low water and nutrient retention capacity. The dunes are susceptible to aerodynamic lift. This is the push that lets something move up. It is the force that is the opposite of weight.
The analysis of the red sand dunes in Theri desert reveals the presence of heavy and light minerals. These include Ilmenite, Magnetite, Rutile, Garnet, Zircon, Diopside, Tourmaline, Hematite, Goethite, Kyanite, Quartz, Feldspar, and Biotite.
The iron-rich heavy minerals like ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, hypersthene and rutile present in the soil had undergone leaching by surface water. They were then oxidised because of the favourable semi-arid climatic conditions.
Hence, it was due to these processes that the dunes are red-coloured.
How did Theri desert form?
Theory 1: Theri appears as gentle, undulating terrain. The lithology (the study of general physical characteristics of rocks) is that the area might have been a paleo (ancient) coast in the past. The presence of limestone in many places indicates marine transgression.
Based on these observations, the present-day theris might have been formed by the confinement of beach sand locally, after the regression of the sea. When high-velocity winds from the Western Ghats blew east, they induced migration of sand grains and accumulation of dunes.
Theory 2: Another theory is that Theris are geological formations that appeared in a period of a few hundred years.
For instance, there is a lot of red sand spread over Theri Desert. This red sand may have been brought from the surface of a broad belt of red loam in the plains of the Nanguneri region (about 57 kilometres from this area in Tirunelveli district) by south west monsoon winds during May-September.
Note: These processes of erosion, transport and deposit of sediments that are caused by wind at or near the surface of the earth, are called Aeolian processes.
Source: The post is based on the article “Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise Ex Khaan Quest 2022 culminates in Mongolia” published in PIB on 20th June 2022.
What is the News?
The Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise Ex Khaan Quest 2022 culminated at the Peace Support Operations Training Centre at Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
What is Exercise Khaan Quest?
Exercise Khaan Quest is a multinational exercise co-sponsored by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces.
Aim: To enhance interoperability, build a military to military relationships, developing peace support operations and military readiness among participating nations.
Participating Countries: The exercise saw participation from military contingents from 16 countries. India is one of the participating countries.
The Indian Army was represented by a contingent from the LADAKH SCOUTS.
Other Exercises between India and Mongolia
Exercise Nomadic Elephant: It is a joint military exercise between India and Mongolia.
Source: The post is based on the article “New species of bamboo-dwelling bat found in Meghalaya” published in The Hindu on 16th June 2022.
What is the News?
Scientists have discovered a new species of bamboo-dwelling bat named Glischropus meghalayanus in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya.
Note: Bamboo-dwelling bats are a particular kind of bats living in the internodes of bamboos with specialized morphological characteristics that help them to adapt to the life inside a bamboo.
About Glischropus Meghalayanus
It is a bamboo-dwelling thick-thumbed bat species found near the forested patch of Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.
The species is small in size and has a dark brown colour with a sulphur-yellow belly.
Significance: This discovery is the first report of a thick-thumbed bat not only from India but also from South Asia.
Note: Thick-thumbed bats of the genus Glischropus are currently composed of four recognized species from Southeast Asia, two of which were described in recent times.
What were the recent discoveries in Meghalaya?
In the past few years, three bamboo-dwelling bats have been reported from the area which highlights the ecological significance of the region.
For instance, from the same forested patches outside Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, another species of a disk-footed bat “Eudiscopus denticulus” was discovered recently.
Bamboo Bat Species in India
With this new discovery, the total number of bat species known from India stands at 131. Meghalaya has the highest bat diversity in the country with 67 species, which is about 51% of the total bat species in the country.
The unique caves in Meghalaya provided roosting opportunities for a large number of bats. For instance, there are a number of cave-dwelling bats species from Meghalaya, the most common being the Horseshoe bat and Leaf-nosed bats.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is a black swan event?” published in Indian Express on 20th June 2022.
What is the News?
A study by the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has spoken about the possibility of capital outflows to the tune of $100 billion from India in case of a major global risk scenario or a “Black Swan” event.
What is Black Swan Event?
A Black Swan is a rare, unpredictable event that comes as a surprise and has a significant impact on society or the world.
These events are said to have three distinguishing characteristics – 1) They are extremely rare and outside the realm of regular expectations, 2) They have a severe impact after they hit and 3) They seem probable in hindsight when plausible explanations appear.
What is the origin of the term Black Swan?
The black swan theory was put forward by author and investor Nassim Nicholas Taleb in 2001.
The term is also linked to the discovery of black swans. Europeans believed all swans to be white until 1697 when a Dutch explorer spotted the first black swan in Australia. Hence, the metaphor ‘black swan event’ is derived from this unprecedented spotting from the 17th century and how it upended the West’s understanding of swans.
Have Black Swan Events occurred in the past?
According to Nicholas Taleb, the past Black Swan events are 1) The 2008 global financial crisis – triggered by a sudden crash in the booming housing market in the US, 2) The fall of the Soviet Union and 3) The terrorist attack in the US on September 11, 2001.
On Covid-19, Taleb called it a “white swan” event arguing that it was predictable and there was no excuse for companies and governments not to be prepared for something like this.
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