9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 22nd, 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
GS Paper 2
- Sukanta Chaudhuri writes: Education plan for disbanded Agniveers is alarmingly vague
- NCERT’s textbook ‘rationalisation’ exercise raises questions of political intent, is at odds with progressive thrust of NEP
- India and Australia: Partners with shared interests and entwined
- A wish list for reform in India’s higher judiciary
GS Paper 3
- Analysing spectrum auction
- A new global standard for AI ethics
- No single-use plastic
- Open access: A game changer for green energy?
- We Have A Long Wait Before India Inc Gets Space-Ready
- It is time India plans a hub airport flight path
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Union Minister inaugurated Jyotirgamaya-A festival showcasing the talent of unsung performers
- To end illegal mining, Madhya Pradesh plans to make it legal in parts of Chambal sanctuary
- Five states need to take steps to stabilize debt levels: RBI
- Explained: India’s emerging twin deficit problem
- New research: Study flags emergence of drug-resistant typhoid strains
- Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy Meets
- Payments Vision 2025: RBI aims to regulate BigTech, FinTechs, BNPL services
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: The post is based on an article “The duality of India” is published in the Business Standard on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 1 Regionalism; GS 2 Issues and Challenges pertaining to Federalism; Pressure Groups; Functioning of the Parliament
Relevance: North and South Divide
Context: In the history of Independent India, the South India States have reacted to the policy moves by the Centre quite differently from their counterparts in north India.
How was the response of south India to the Centre’s major policy initiatives different from the response of north India?
(1) Demonetization Period: In North India, there were long queues of customers at banks waiting to exchange old currency notes. The traders were reluctant to accept online payments at the place of cash. However, in South India, there were hardly any queues outside banks. In fact, the shopkeepers accepted online transactions instead of pushing for cash payment etc.
(2) 2020 & 2021 Farmer’s Protest Period: It was largely restricted to Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, South Indian Farmers ignored the new laws on agriculture.
(3) Agnipath Protest: The protests are largely concentrated in the north Indian states.
(4) 1975 Emergency Period: The states in south India responded in a completely different way than those in the north.
Why is the response from south India so different from that of north India?
Economically, the south of India has been growing better than both the north and east of India.
The average population growth in most south Indian states has been much lower than that in states in the north, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
The South Indian states have witnessed a higher rise in per capita income than the northern states.
In the South, the population’s dependence on agriculture as a livelihood has seen a gradual reduction. The state’s economic activities are dominated by the manufacturing and the technology-enabled services sector.
The southern states have better equality of education, health-care services, and infrastructure.
The southern states do not enjoy the same political influence in national politics as enjoyed by the northern states and western states of India.
What are the possible implications of this scenario?
At present, the southern states are already protesting the parameters (like population and development) used by the finance commissions to allocate central resources to states. The northern states received a higher share.
The southern states feel that they have lost out in the new framework for the GST. The consuming states collect more taxes than the states producing goods and services.
There is a danger of increasing political disempowerment of the southern states. For example, the delimitation exercise post- 2026 will lead to an increase in the political influence of the northern states in national politics. They will send a larger number of representatives in both the houses of Parliament.
The Way Forward
The Union government should take positive interventions through policy initiatives to remove these problems.
GS Paper 2
Source: The post is based on the article “Sukanta Chaudhuri writes: Education plan for disbanded Agniveers is alarmingly vague” published in the “Indian Express” on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.
Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with the educational benefits provided to Agniveers.
News: Recently, the government of India introduced a new recruitment scheme for the armed forces, Agnipath.
What are the educational benefits provided to Agniveers?
Two major plans have been mooted.
First, those joining after Class X can proceed to a Class XII certificate through the National Institute of Open Schooling.
Second, a special three-year degree programme was mooted by the University Grants Commission jointly with the Indira Gandhi National Open University.
|Read more: Education Ministry to recognize in-service training received by Agniveers as credits for graduation|
What are the concerns associated with educational support?
Disbanded Agniveers will require training for whatever work they take up subsequently.
Content of the programme: The most beneficial plan for Agniveers would be to focus on mainstream general education: Languages, mathematics, natural and social sciences, alongside practical skills like computation and accountancy. But the educational programme does not mention anything about the content.
For instance, the only degrees mentioned in the press release are B.A. (various streams) and B.Com. (One wonders about Agriculture, one of the listed subjects.). This completely neglects the basic sciences or technology degrees.
|Must read: How can Agnipath be made more attractive? Recommendations from 2 former army leaders|
Challenges with the manner in which degree is provided: The new National Educational Policy prescribes an open-ended four-year undergraduate programme. The first three years’ courses are multifarious, not a scattered or diffused one. After three years, the student can exit with a Bachelor’s degree; after four, with a “multidisciplinary” Bachelor’s degree, or one “with research”. Further, the UGC’s latest announcement declares that a four-year Bachelor’s course is sufficient training for doctoral research, including “multidisciplinary” research.
These models are further diluted for Agniveers by reserving 50% of the credits from the “skill training received by Agniveers during their tenure in the defence establishments.”
There are a few questions associated with that. Such as,
-How this will enhance Agniveers skills in a civilian education system to degree level?
-How does the six-month in-service training be mechanically converted to credits for the notionally separate three-year course?
All this turns the degree into an undemanding formality. That would be a poor tribute to Agniveers abilities and motivation, and poor provision for their future.
|Must read: Agnipath Scheme: Need, Benefits and Challenges – Explained, pointwise|
NCERT’s textbook ‘rationalisation’ exercise raises questions of political intent, is at odds with progressive thrust of NEP
Source: The post is based on an article “NCERT’s textbook ‘rationalisation’ exercise raises questions of political intent, is at odds with progressive thrust of NEP” published in the Indian Express on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Social Sector; Education; Statutory, regulatory and quasi-judicial bodies
Relevance: NCERT Functioning; NEP
News: It is reported that the NCERT is going to introduce sweeping changes in social science textbooks for Classes VI to XII. It will involve deletion and modification of certain contents of the NCERT books
The NCERT’s Rationale
The changes are being introduced as a “rationalisation exercise”. This is aimed to reduce the curriculum load to help students make a “speedy recovery” in learning after the Covid-induced disruptions.
What are the proposed changes?
It will delete content related to chapters in history that have acquired political overtones under the current ruling establishment. For example, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire.
Some changes will be introduced in certain moments in India’s recent political history. For example, the Emergency in 1975-77 and the communal violence in Gujarat 2002.
What are the issues and concerns in this project?
Some of the revisions will impact the learning of the students related to the inequities of the caste system and the impact of social and protest movements such as the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
The proposed changes seem to be motivated by the urge to protect the authority of the state from questions, arguments and criticism. Therefore, it raises the questions on the political non-partisanship and autonomous functioning of the NCERT.
It seems that the proposed changes aim to project the notion of a cohesive Hindu society through NCERT books/.
There is a lack of transparency in the functioning of the NCERT. For example, the name of the “external experts” has not been revealed in the public domain.
The learning loss can be best recovered through classroom-level interventions, such as empowering teachers.
The pandemic-related exigencies do not require making permanent deletions and attenuating the content of textbooks.
The social scientists argue that the content which is proposed to be changed is important to encourage critical thinking of a complex understanding of social and political processes that took place in the past.
It is the responsibility of a historian to depict a nuanced view of the past.
Source: The post is based on the article “India and Australia: Partners with shared interests and entwined destinies” published in the Indian Express on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – International relations; Bilateral relations
Relevance: India-Australia relations
News: The Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Australia is going to make a visit to Japan and India.
(1) Both have a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which is full of practical, and tangible actions.
(2) Both hold annual leaders’ summits and biennial 2+2 talks involving foreign and defence ministers.
(3) Indian and Australian defence forces undertake more complex activities together. For example, Exercise Malabar, Indian military officials also observed the Australian Exercise Talisman Sabre.
(4) Both countries coordinate closely on maritime domain awareness. For example, deployment of P-8 surveillance aircraft to each other’s territories for joint patrols.
Convergence of Interests
(1) The Indo-Pacific region is facing a lot of issues, ranging from the highly intensified strategic and geo-economic competition in the region.
(2) The world is facing the problem of the return of war to Europe, growing climate risks, and enduring pandemic impacts. As a result, the world is facing the problems of inflation and supply chain shocks.
(3) Both countries share common values and interests. For example, both countries are committed to democracy, the drive and the goodwill to make the Indo-Pacific region safer, freer and better.
(4) India’s economy, manufacturing capabilities, and talent ensure that it can play a key role in securing supply chains and restarting post-pandemic growth.
(5) India’s military has the capacity and capability to respond to natural disasters, help stabilize an uncertain region and contribute to an effective balance of power.
(6) India’s technological and scientific capabilities are gateways to a cleaner and more sustainable world.
(7) The Australian government is focused on making Australia a renewable energy superpower. In this context, India can emerge as a clean technology manufacturing powerhouse which will benefit both.
(8) Both India and Australia have great potential to cooperate on the issues of climate and sustainability.
(9) Both have vital interests in the Indian and Pacific oceans like combating climate change, illegal fishing and people smuggling and responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters.
The Way Forward
The new Australian government places India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The Australia government has adopted the India Economic Strategy to 2035. It aims to set up a Consulate-General in Bengaluru in 2023, a joint Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy in Bengaluru and a Centre for India-Australia Relations in Australia to propel and strengthen the community, institutional and business ties.
Australia has a vision for an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. This implies a more integrated region, where trade and investment flow freely based on agreed rules and treaty commitments.
The rules-based international order must be followed and disputes are resolved through dialogue in accordance with international law.
Both countries must work together with resolve to shape our economic and strategic environment aimed to ensure collective security and prosperity.
Source: The post is based on an article “A wish list for reform in India’s higher judiciary” published in the “The Hindu” on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 Functioning of the Indian Judiciary
Relevance: Reforms in the Supreme Court of India
News: There are rumours that the age of retirement of Supreme Court of India judges is to be increased to 67 years
What should be the prioritized areas with respect to the reforms in the functioning of the Supreme Court of India?
The disparity between the retirement ages of HC (62year) and SC judges(65year) should be removed. At present, this differential retirement age puts intense pressure and competition among HC judges to make it to the top court in order to get three more years.
At present, there is no uniformity in the working of the judge’s post-retirement. For example, some focus on arbitrations, some do public service; and some are appointed to various constitutional posts, tribunals and commissions.
It would be worthwhile to disallow the retired judges from doing arbitrations. A cadre of public service for retired judges can be created. From this pool, the government can make appointments to the constitutional and statutory posts and special assignments.
Such judges should receive the full pay and the facilities of a judge of the Supreme Court for life.
The Second Judges case (1993) and the Memorandum of Procedure(MOP) has established the norm that the senior-most judge of the SC should be the CJI. However, Article 124 does not mandate such a thing. It states that the President will appoint every judge of the SC, including the CJI. It has no constitutional legitimacy. The process usurps the President’s power. Therefore, it should be reformed.
Let all serve equally under the constitutional throne for the entire length of their tenure. It would also ensure that the judges are not swayed by their aspirations to become the CJI.
Who shall be “primus inter pares”, the first among equals?
The Constitution says, the judges of the HC, senior advocates and distinguished jurists can become the judges of the SC.
Therefore, the best reputed Chief Justice of a HC who has proved himself worthy both in judicial office as well as administrative leadership can be raised to the position of the CJI.
In addition, The CJI should be given a clear term of three year rather than the present left over term.
In addition, the CJI should not function as the primus super pares. He should function in a true collegiate manner, especially in regard to the roster of allotment of cases etc.
Such a combination of CJI so chosen working with senior ranking colleagues will ensure collegium function in a more efficient and effective way.
The US Model: Such a system is invariably followed in making the appointment of the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. It is part of a system designed to relieve excessive power and pressure.
GS Paper 3
Source: The post is based on the following articles
“Analysing spectrum auction” published in “The Hindu” on 22nd June 2022.
“Progress without limits” published in “The Hindu” on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: To understand the various challenges associated with the 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?
What are the key factors responsible for the Spectrum Auctions?
Reserve price: The reserve price significantly and positively correlates with the winning bid price. However, a higher reserve price also inhibits bidders from bidding for more spectrum blocks, resulting in lower amounts of spectrum sold.
If the quantity effect is more than the price effect, it results in reduced revenues for the government exchequer.
Position of telcos vis-à-vis Over The Top providers: The willingness to pay by the telcos depends on their position vis-à-vis Over The Top providers who are providing substitute services such as Voice Over Internet Protocol.
The number of bidders: Reserve price and the number of bidders in the auction have a positive effect on the auction. The number of bidders was reduced from seven in 2016 to three now.
What are the incentives for bidders in present spectrum auctions?
a) Abolition of annual spectrum usage charges for all spectrum procured in this auction and the deferred payment option incentivise bidders to be active in the auction. b) TRAI in its April 2022 recommendation reduced the spectrum reserve price by more than 35% from its 2018 level.
What are the concerns associated with the spectrum auctions?
Firstly, Government’s decision to set the reserve price for the spectrum based on the regulator’s recommendations reveals a prioritisation of revenue over the industry’s long-term health.
Secondly, Telecom sector is facing heavy financial stress that has shrunk the sector to a near duopoly. This forced the surviving operators to resort to tariff increases to protect their viability and ability to make future investments. At this time, even though the government provided an annual pay-out of the licence fee over a 20-year term, the price is still high.
Thirdly, 5G technologies such as machine-to-machine communication, smart grids and autonomous vehicles are still in infancy even in advanced economies. These technologies are some years away from scale-based economic viability. So, the service providers will take an ultra-cautious approach both to bidding for spectrum and in rolling out services.
Fourthly, Captive Non-Public Networks undermine the economics of traditional telcos.
India must be conscious of the challenges and opportunities of 5G services, and ensure that the technology caters to the largest sections of the population.
Source: The post is based on the article “A new global standard for AI ethics” published in “The Hindu” on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics
Relevance: Artificial Intelligence(AI) and their global standards.
News: Artificial Intelligence(AI) and AI algorithms despite having numerous benefits have certain inherent challenges.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
|Read here: Artificial Intelligence|
What is the status of AI in India?
India is one of the world’s largest markets for AI-related technologies, valued at over $7.8 billion in 2021.
The National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence was released by NITI Aayog in 2018. The strategy highlights the massive potential of AI in solving complex social challenges faced by Indian citizens across areas such as agriculture, health, and education, in addition to the significant economic returns that AI-related technologies are already creating.
India has made great strides in the development of responsible and ethical AI governance. For instance, starting from NITI Aayog’s #AIForAll campaign to the many corporate strategies that have been adopted to ensure that AI is developed with common, humanistic values at its core.
|Read more: Government efforts regarding artificial intelligence in India|
What is the UNESCO’s AI Agreement?
Recently, 193 countries reached a groundbreaking agreement at UNESCO on how AI should be designed and used by governments and tech companies.
Aim: To fundamentally shift the balance of power between people, and the businesses and governments developing AI.
Based on: UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. Countries which are members of UNESCO have agreed to implement this recommendation by enacting actions to regulate the entire AI system life cycle, ranging from research, design and development to deployment and use.
Key recommendations: a) Underscores the importance of the proper management of data, privacy and access to information, b) Recommend member states to ensure that appropriate safeguards schemes are devised for the processing of sensitive data and effective accountability, and redress mechanisms are provided in the event of harm, c) Take affirmative action to make sure that women and minority groups are fairly represented on AI design teams, d) AI systems should not be used for social scoring or mass surveillance purpose, e) Member states should invest in and promote not only digital, media and information literacy skills, but also socio-emotional and AI ethics skills to strengthen critical thinking and competencies.
What are the issues associated with AI?
Not diverse: The data used to feed into AI often aren’t representative of the diversity of human societies. So, the outcomes produced using AI can be biased or discriminatory.
Biases in facial recognition technologies: For three facial recognition programs released by major technology companies, the error rate was 1% for light-skinned men, but 19% for dark-skinned men, and up to 35% for dark-skinned women.
These biases in facial recognition can lead to wrongful arrests from the law-enforcement authorities.
What are the expected outcomes of UNESCO’s AI recommendation?
Firstly, The recommendation will serve as a compass to guide governments and companies, to voluntarily develop and deploy AI technologies that conform with the commonly agreed principle.
Secondly, governments will themselves use the Recommendation as a framework to establish and update legislation.
With UNESCO’s agreement, AI can be put to work where it can have the most impact: hunger, environmental crises, inequalities and pandemics.
Source: This post is created based on the article “No single-use plastic” published in Business Standard on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS Paper 3, Environment – Pollution
News: The long pending ban on single-use plastic seems set to come into effect on July 1.
However, some of the companies, specifically producers of beverages where straws are integral to their products, are seeking more time.
Why the demand to stay on ban on single-use plastic is not right?
First, already sufficient time has been given to industries to adapt to biodegradable products. The phasing out of these straws and other use-and-throw plastic products was initially notified by the Central Pollution Control Board way back in 2018, which is being extended continuously since then.
Second, Compostable straws made of paper, PLA (poly-lactic acid), or corn-starch, are now being commonly used in many other countries. These products can be produced or imported for use in India.
Third, indigenous manufacturing capacity for such items is expected to be expanded as demand grows.
What are the issues associated with single use plastics?
Nearly 90 per cent of single-use plastic material is neither recycled nor disposed of properly. The bulk of it ends up either on roads or drainage systems leading to water-logging or in the waterways, reaching right up to the seas to affect aquatic ecosystems.
A sizable part of it lands up in garbage dumps, where it can stay for hundreds of years, emitting toxic fumes to pollute the air. Traces of plastic toxicants are often found even in cooked or processed foods packed in substandard plastic containers.
India’s annual per capita plastic waste generation, estimated at about 4 kg, may seem low compared to that of many other countries. But in terms of the total mass, it ranks third in the world, next only to China and the US.
As many as 170 countries pledged to do away with hazardous plastic by 2030, in the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi. About 80 of them have fulfilled their commitments by imposing a complete or partial ban on the production, trade, possession, and use of unwanted plastic material. Thus India should also do away with the single use plastic now.
Source: This post is created based on the article “Open access: A game-changer for green energy?” published in Business Standard on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS Paper 3, Indian Economy – Infrastructure – Energy
News: Government recently notified green energy open-access rules. The article analyses the rules.
India’s 2030 target is 500 GW of non-fossil generating capacity. However, the present grid-connected installed capacity (including large hydro) is about 165 GW.
What was the need for green energy open access rules?
To reach the figure of 500 GW, the renewable capacity will have to be increased from about 10 GW per year to about 40 GW per year. But it is a difficult task due to the following factors:
First, this capacity addition will require incremental investments to the tune of Rs. 13 trillion.
Second, The accumulated losses of discoms (as of March 2020) are about Rs 5 trillion, or 3.5 percent of gross domestic product (2019-20). Each unit of energy sold results in a loss of 60 paise for the discoms. Thus, there will be few investors, who would be willing to take risk of investing in them.
Third, the solar capacity is suffering from the following issues
- The imposition of safeguard duty for two years led to the postponement of the investment in the solar capacity.
- Usual issues like land acquisition
- upsurge in solar tariff
- The imposition of basic customs duty is going to increase the cost of capital expenditure (capex)
- Increase in freight charges due to a shortage of containers and
- Increase in goods and services tax on solar cell/modules from 5 percent to 12 percent.
- The directive to buy solar panels from an approved list of models and manufacturers (ALMM) for government projects. ALMM only includes domestic manufacturers.
How green energy open access rules are helpful?
Consumers can now demand green power from discoms (power distribution companies).
The eligibility for applying for open access has been reduced from 1 MW to 100 KW for any consumer.
A decision to grant open access or not would have to be taken in 15 days. If the permission is not granted within the time limit, it would be treated as deemed permission.
What are the issues with the green energy open-access rules 2022?
First, with the decrease in the required capacity, a larger number of commercial and industrial consumers will become eligible for open access.
It will create a situation where only the subsidised consumer will remain in the billing fold of the discoms.
Second, the states still can deny open access citing technical issues. Some states are already denying open access to even mighty railways citing, so there will be no question if the same is done to the consumer.
Third, government’s indulgence in tariff-related issues does not give the desired impact. It is because, Electricity Act 2003 under section 176(2)(z), just allows rules framing for government, only for those activities which are under its domain, and tariff is not one of them.
What should be done?
Improve the financial health of Discoms: nobody will invest in renewable capacity also, if they are uncertain of their payments.
Source: This post is created based on the article “We Have A Long Wait Before India Inc Gets Space-Ready” published in Times of India on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Science and technology
Context: Recently, India opened up the space sector, with the intention of gaining economic and strategic importance. However, reality has been different.
India’s share in the $440-billion global space economy is only around 2%.
In June, 2020, India announced reforms based on four pillars; 1) Freedom of innovation for the private sector, 2) Changing the government’s role to be an enabler, 3) Preparing youth for the future, 4) Using space technology for the progress of the common man.
Although the private sector has shown interest in the collaboration, but, is not to the extent expected. A global report by SpaceTech Analytics finds that India has more than 350 private space tech firms, but the majority of these are just start-ups.
What are the reasons behind the disinterest of the private sector?
First, there is Indian businesses’ propensity for risk aversion.
Second, the space sector does not offer an easy success, despite the opportunities it is presenting.
Third, for the success of reforms, political will, financial capability, indigenous futuristic technologies and global partnerships are required.
Fourth, the sector is highly capital-intensive and risk-prone.
What should/can be done?
Earlier this month, NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said in Bengaluru:
“Mind you, there would be no private sector if not for Nasa.”
First, ISRO must follow the NASA model of partnering with and enabling the private sector. ISRO’s technical prowess and vision can be helpful in utilizing the potential of eager and ambitious albeit small (in number and size) private industry.
Second, the Centre must increase ISRO’s funding and enhance its capacity. It will enable the ISRO to handle big science missions such as Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan, and Aditya and help the private sector innovate and build technologies for the future.
Third, IN-SPACe, whose headquarters was inaugurated two weeks ago, must bridge industry gaps with expertise and wherewithal from Isro, through NSIL or otherwise.
Source: The post is based on the article “It is time India plans a hub airport flight path” published in the “The Hindu” on 22nd June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure; Transport
Relevance: Air mode of Transportation
News: There is an ongoing discussion on transforming India’s metro gateway airports into a hub airport. Today’s conditions are just right for building a hub airport.
The concept of a hub airport
A hub airport is one which is served by a multitude of airlines, connecting several airports through non-stop flights.
In addition to a common passenger terminal with arrival/departure flows segregated on different floor levels, at the hub airport, there is a separate corridor for transit flyers, who use the airport only to connect flights.
A hub airport operates on the concept of waves. A wave of incoming flights arrives and connects with another wave of outgoing flights that departs an hour or two later.
Advantages of a hub airport
It is a win-win for all. A hub creates economies of scale for the airport and airlines alike.
‘Hubbing’ allows for the maximum combination of flight pairs at the hub airport. Therefore, it provides a wider choice of destinations and frequencies for connecting passengers. In addition, it lowers ancillary costs, such as avoiding the time and cost of an overnight stay.
The direct connectivity is increased with other airports. It provides more revenue opportunities due to increased passenger footfalls.
It improves the wider airport ecosystem, such as aero and non-aero service providers at the airport, including cargo and ground handling, fuelling, retail and duty-free, vehicle parking, aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO), and fixed-base operation (FBO) services at the airport.
This enables airlines to serve city pairs that are otherwise economically unviable for non-stop flights.
An airport acts as a force multiplier with economic activity, jobs and employment, investments, business, trade, commerce, tourism, culture, and benefits to other sectors of the economy. For example, if one job is created in the aviation sector, it leads to the creation of up to six jobs in various allied sectors, such as the tourism and hospitality sector.
In fact, it propels the economic and social development of the city and its inhabitants, too.
What are the requirements for making a major airport hub, whether domestic or international, in India?
(1) sufficient local consumer demand;
(2) good geographic location, and
(3) necessary infrastructure to support high-volume traffic.
What are the favourable factors for making an airport hub in India?
As per the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division – Report on International Migration 2020, India has the largest diaspora, or transnational community, at 18 million people across all six continents and regions.
India is located on busy international air corridors that connect Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with Asia.
As per the IMF World Economic Outlook Database April 2019, India is the 5th largest economy in nominal GDP terms.
India is the 7th largest by land mass, India can support the development of more than one hub airport.
India’s Airport business is largely monopolistic. Normally, a competing airport is not found in the same urban area;
In India, Airport development is a regulated business. It has minimum downside risk for investors.
The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India has established a robust, fair, and transparent process for Airport tariff determination.
At present, India is the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world, next only to the United States and China. There is a continuous surge in passenger demand in India.
What are the impediments?
There are capacity constraints at major airports because of a lack of landing slots, especially during peak hours.
The Airports Authority of India Act (AAI), 1994 constrains the AAI/airport operators from commercially exploiting available land for non-aeronautical activities.
There is a ‘high cost-low fare’ operating environment in India.
There are 34 operational international airports in India. But smaller international airports are either completely left out or have very limited scope in starting international flight operations
There are problems with high duties and taxes like imposed on Aviation turbine fuel (ATF)
What are the opportunities?
There is a need to develop inter-modal connectivity (rail/road – air) and logistics support infrastructure (warehousing) as a part of the future airport master plans to fully exploit potential with cargo and freight;
The aspiring hub airports can partner with tier-2 and tier-3 airports in their catchments;
Airports should develop allied service capabilities, such as cargo handling, aircraft MRO and FBO.
The duties and taxes should be rationalized, such as bringing ATF under the ambit of GST.
In India’s case, the first two requirements of making a major airport are largely addressed. At present, the focus should rightly be on addressing the third requirement.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister inaugurated Jyotirgamaya-A festival showcasing the talent of unsung performers” published in PIB on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
The Union Minister of Culture has inaugurated Jyotirgamaya-A festival showcasing the talent of unsung performers.
What is Jyotirgamaya?
Organized by: Sangeet Natak Akademi
Purpose: It is a festival to showcase the talent of rare musical instruments from across the country, including street performers, train entertainers, performers attached to temples etc.
Significance: The festival envisages sensitizing people about the need to safeguard the craft of making as well as the skill of playing rare musical instruments and to give a voice to ‘unheard’ artistes who hardly ever see the limelight.
What is Sangeet Natak Akademi?
Source: The post is based on the article “To end illegal mining, Madhya Pradesh plans to make it legal in parts of Chambal sanctuary” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
Madhya Pradesh government has proposed to open 292 hectares for mining in five stretches on Chambal and its tributary Parvati rivers.
The step is taken to free its forest department from devoting too much time, resources and efforts to fighting illegal mining in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
Note: Sand mining has been banned in the sanctuary since 2006.
What is the National Chambal Sanctuary?
The National Chambal Sanctuary was set up in 1979 as a riverine sanctuary.
The sanctuary is located on the Chambal River near the tripoint of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
The sanctuary is listed as an Important Bird Area(IBA) and is a proposed Ramsar site.
Ecological Significance of Chambal
The sanctuary is home to critically endangered Gharial, the red-crowned roof turtle and the endangered Ganges River dolphin.
It is the only known place where the nesting of Indian Skimmers is recorded in large numbers.
Chambal supports 8 rare turtle species out of the 26 found in the country. Chambal is one of the cleanest rivers in the country. Chambal supports more than 320 resident and migrant birds.
Source: The post is based on the article “Five states need to take steps to stabilize debt levels: RBI” published in Indian Express on 21st June 2022.
What is the News?
According to a Reserve Bank of India(RBI) study, five states namely, Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal figure among the most stressed states fiscally.
RBI on Status of States Debts
Based on the debt-GSDP ratio in 2020-21, Ten states namely Punjab, Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the states with the highest debt burden.
These 10 states account for around half of the total expenditure by all state governments in India.
For instance, Punjab’s debt-GSDP ratio is projected to exceed 45% in 2026-27. Rajasthan, Kerala and West Bengal are projected to exceed the debt-GSDP ratio of 35% by 2026-27.
Hence, these states will need to undertake significant corrective steps to stabilize their debt levels.
What is the reason for the fiscal deterioration in these states?
Exceeded Debt and Fiscal Targets: Among the ten states, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Punjab exceeded both debt and fiscal deficit targets for 2020-21 set by the 15th Finance Commission (FC-XV).
Declining Tax Revenue: The own tax revenue of some of these states, viz Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Kerala has been declining over time making them fiscally more vulnerable.
High Revenue Expenditure: The share of revenue expenditure in total expenditure of these states varies in the range of 80-90%. This results in poor expenditure quality, as reflected in their high revenue spending to capital outlay ratios.
Significant Committed Expenditure: Committed expenditure which inter alia includes interest payments, pensions and administrative expenses accounts for a significant portion (over 35%) of the total revenue expenditure in some of these states.
High Discoms Losses: The combined losses of DISCOMs in the five most indebted states, viz Bihar, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal, constituted 24.7% of the total DISCOMs losses in 2019-20 while their combined long-term debt was 22.9% of the total DISCOM debt in 2019-20.
What are the recommendations given by RBI to states to improve their fiscal position?
– In the near term, state governments must restrict their revenue expenses by cutting down expenditure on non-merit goods.
– In the medium term, states need to put efforts toward stabilizing debt levels.
– In the long term, states need to increase the share of capital outlays in the total expenditure. This will help create long-term assets, generate revenue and boost operational efficiency.
– Moreover, states also need to undertake large-scale reforms in the power distribution sector to reduce losses and make them financially sustainable and operationally efficient.
– Alongside, state governments need to conduct fiscal risk analyses and stress test their debt profiles regularly to be able to put in place provisioning and other specific risk mitigation strategies to manage fiscal risks efficiently.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: India’s emerging twin deficit problem” published in Indian Express on 22nd June 2022.
What is the News?
The Finance Ministry in its report has warned of a Twin Deficit Problem due to higher commodity prices and a rising subsidy burden.
What is a Twin Deficit?
A twin deficit basically refers to a situation where the country runs relatively large current account and fiscal deficits.
A higher twin deficit is inherently destabilizing and was the primary reason why India faced a currency crisis back in 1991.
What is Fiscal Deficit?
Report on India’s Fiscal Deficit
The Government revenues have taken a hit following cuts in excise duties on diesel and petrol. Due to this, upside risk to the budgeted level of gross fiscal deficit has emerged.
Hence, the government needs to trim its revenue expenditure (or the money the government spends just to meet its daily needs) to protect its growth-supporting Capital Expenditure(Capex) and also for avoiding fiscal slippages.
What is the Current Account Deficit?
Report on Current Account Deficit
The costlier imports such as crude oil and other commodities will not only widen the Current Account Deficit(CAD) but also put downward pressure on the rupee. A weaker rupee will, in turn, make future imports costlier.
Further, there is one more reason why the rupee may weaken. If, in response to higher interest rates in the western economies especially the US, foreign portfolio investors (FPI) continue to pull out money from the Indian markets, that too will hurt the rupee and further increase CAD.
Source: The post is based on the article “New research: Study flags emergence of drug-resistant typhoid strains” published in Indian Express on 22nd June 2022.
What is the News?
According to a study published in The Lancet, the effectiveness of antibiotics for typhoid fever is threatened by the emergence of resistant strains.
What is Typhoid?
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi.
Transmission: It is usually spread through contaminated food or water. Once Salmonella Typhi bacteria are eaten or drunk, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream.
Symptoms: It includes prolonged fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhea. Some patients may have a rash. Severe cases may lead to serious complications or even death.
Treatment: Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics.
Cases: Typhoid fever causes 11 million infections and more than 100,000 deaths per year. South Asia accounts for 70% of the global disease burden.
What does the study say about Typhoid?
According to this study, bacteria that cause typhoid fever are becoming more and more resistant to some of the most widely used antibiotics.
What is the Indian Government doing against Typhoid?
The Ministry of Health is considering introducing new typhoid conjugate vaccines into the national immunization program.
Note: According to a survey conducted at 18 Indian sites during 2016-20, typhoid was found as common as it was two decades ago, especially in urban areas. However, complications and deaths are not common.
But if the transmission still prevails and resistance develops to commonly used antibiotics, then it is likely that there will be an upsurge in severe cases of Typhoid.
Source: The post is based on the article “Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy Meets” published in PIB on 18th June 2022.
What is the News?
The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has represented India at the virtual meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate(MEF).
What is the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate(MEF)?
Launched in: 2009 by US President Barack Obama.
Aim: To facilitate candid dialogue among major emitting countries, both developed and developing, to garner the political leadership needed to advance efforts against climate change.
What was the purpose of the MEF 2022 meeting?
Purpose: To galvanize actions (both developed and developing countries) to strengthen energy security and tackle the climate crisis thereby building momentum for COP27.
Participating Countries: The meeting was attended by countries namely: Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates among others.
Key Takeaways from India’s address at MEF 2022
India has already installed 159 GW of non-fossil fuel-based electricity generation capacity.
During the last 7.5 years, India’s installed solar energy capacity has increased over 18 times.
India’s annual per capita emissions are only a third of the global average and its cumulative GHG emissions are less than 4 percent.
India’s Panchamrit goals are being fructified through one of the largest clean energy development plans in the world.
India is on track to meet its commitments, through the adoption of low carbon policies across key sectors of our economy ranging from the green hydrogen mission to e-mobility.
Source: The post is based on the article “Payments Vision 2025: RBI aims to regulate BigTech, FinTechs, BNPL services” published in Business Standard on 18th June 2022.
What is the News?
The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has released the “Payments Vision 2025”.
What is “Payments Vision 2025”?
Released by: Reserve Bank of India(RBI)
Core Theme: E-Payments for Everyone, Everywhere, Everytime (4 Es)
Vision: Provide every user with Safe, Secure, Fast, Convenient, Accessible, and Affordable e-payment options (6 Attributes).
Goalposts: The activities to be taken up by the RBI till 2025 have been captured across five anchor goal posts: 1) Integrity, 2) Inclusion, 3) Innovation, 4) Institutionalization and 5) Internationalization.
Actions to be taken under the Payment Vision 2025:
– Regulations for BigTechs and fintech in payments,
– Guidelines on payments involving “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) services,
– Introducing the central bank digital currency (CBDC),
– Geotagging of digital payment infrastructure and transactions,
– Create a payments system for processing online merchant payments using internet/mobile banking, and
– Linking credit cards and credit components of banking products to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
Expected Outcomes of the Vision Document: 1) Restrict the volume of cheque-based payments to less than 0.25% of the total retail payments, 2) Increase the number of digital payment transactions three times, 3) UPI register 50% annualized growth, 4) IMPS and NEFT register 20% growth and 5) Reduction in Cash in Circulation (CIC) as a percentage of GDP.
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