9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 27th, 2022

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Rewriting ‘old history’ for a New India

Source: The post is based on an article “Rewriting ‘old history’ for a New India” published in the “The Hindu” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1 India History; GS 2 Education

Relevance: Education Reforms

News: Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth, and Sports, tabled its Report on the Reforms in Content and Design of School Textbooks. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is in the process of formulating the new National Curriculum Framework. At the heart of this process is the rewriting of school textbooks.

Objective

It is to reduce the load on school students who have suffered a loss of learning due to novel coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown.

What are the proposed series of curricular changes?

As per the Report, school textbooks share a single narrative across millions of students through the multitude of diversity. Therefore, it proposes to delete various facts. For example, to delete the history of the practices at the Akbar’s court like the translation of Sanskrit texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Rajatarangini into Persian, etc.

The government is working to rewrite history textbooks, to remove ‘un-historical facts and distortions about national heroes. It believes that the real story of India lies in the ancient period. It was, subsequently, changed by frequent invasions, battles, and bloodshed, which were mostly the Muslims

The proposals suggest that the use of audio-visual resources and digital content through QR codes would be promoted to make school textbooks interesting for students.

What are the issues with the proposed changes?
The changes made in the history textbooks specifically target certain areas of India’s past. Therefore, it will result in an ideological shift in history teaching at the school level.

India’s history is at the heart of the political discourse today. The majoritarian political rhetoric calls the Muslims of India ‘outsiders’ and ‘invaders. Therefore, it can lead to communal disharmony.

This is a limited and unimaginative approach to school education in general and history education in particular.

The present content of school textbooks involves pedagogic techniques. The students are challenged in the realm of ideas. This makes education more engaging and meaningful.

The changes would suspend critical thinking about the world around them and reduce the past to statist and static in their imagination.

The proposed changes in textbooks would not show the diversity in our past. It would reduce the space for exploring other histories, like that of inequality, whether of caste or gender, etc.

The Way Forward

The Historians of New India should rewrite histories that would create a ‘national community’, one which rose above all differences of community and caste, and where citizens were to be subject to national laws.

India’s past is very complex and diverse. It is unjust to fit it into simple accounts of the golden and dark ages.

GS Paper 2


Indian laws on abortions

Source: The post is based on the article “Indian laws on abortions” published in “The Hindu” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with the MTP Act.

News: Recently, the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade judgement of 1973. The 1973 judgement gave women in America the right to have an abortion before the foetus is viable outside the womb or before the 24-28 week mark.

According to a 2018 study in the Lancet, 15.6 million abortions were accessed every year in India as of 2015.

What are the key provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act?

The Union government ordered the constitution of the Shantilal Shah Committee to deliberate on the legalisation of abortion in the country. In order to reduce maternal mortality owing to unsafe abortions, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act came into force in 1971. The Act was amended in 2021.

Aim: To reduce maternal mortality owing to unsafe abortions.

The 2021 Act increased the upper limit of the gestation period to which a woman can seek a medical abortion to 24 weeks from 20 weeks permitted in the 1971 Act. But this renewed upper limit can only be exercised in specific cases.

Further, if the pregnancy has to be terminated beyond the 24-week gestational age, it can only be done on the grounds of foetal abnormalities if a four-member Medical Board, as set up in each State under the Act, gives permission to do so.

Exceptions: Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions 312 and 313.

Under Section 312 of the IPC, a person who “voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry” is liable for punishment, attracting a jail term of up to three years or fine or both, unless it was done in good faith where the purpose was to save the life of the pregnant woman.

Under Section 313 of the IPC, a person who causes the miscarriage without the consent of the pregnant woman, whether or not she is the in the advanced stages of her pregnancy, shall be punished with life imprisonment or a jail term that could extend to 10 years, as well as a fine.

Read more: Medical termination of pregnancy bill 2020 – explained
What are the judicial interventions in cases of abortions?

Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India and others case, 2017: In this Right to Privacy judgement, the court held that the decision by a pregnant person on whether to continue a pregnancy or not is part of such a person’s right to privacy as well and, therefore, the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

A private report says that, in the 15 months leading up to August 2020, High Courts across the country were hearing 243 petitions of women seeking permission to abort.

Read more: The MTP Amendment Act 2021 is against Women’s Rights
What are the challenges associated with the MTP Act?

The MTP Act requires abortion to be performed only by doctors with specialisation in gynaecology or obstetrics. However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s 2019-20 report on Rural Health Statistics indicates that there is a 70% shortage of obstetrician-gynaecologists in rural India.

The law does not permit abortion at will. This pushes women to access illicit abortions under unsafe conditions. Statistics put the annual number of unsafe and illegal abortions performed in India at 8,00,000, many of them resulting in maternal mortality.

Read more: Issues in the MTP Amendment Bill

How Hanoi and New Delhi are fortifying defence ties

Source: The post is based on the article “How Hanoi and New Delhi are fortifying defence ties” published in “The Hindu” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: To understand the India-Vietnam relationship.

News: India and Vietnam recently deepened their bilateral cooperation with the signing of the Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030.

Apart from that, the early finalisation of the $500 million Defence Line of Credit extended by India to Vietnam and the implementation of existing projects which would complement India’s ‘Make in India, Make for the world’ was also discussed.

About Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030

Aim: To boost the scope and scale of the existing defence cooperation between the two nations.

The vision document facilitates both sides to expand avenues of effective and practicable collaboration in bilateral defence engagements pertaining to regional and global issues.

Significance: This is the first agreement of its kind that Vietnam has entered into with any other country. The agreement also elevates the standing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) which Vietnam shares with India since 2016 (along with only Russia and China).

How do India-Vietnam ties evolve over time?

Maritime domain: This occupies a central focus of India – Vietnam relations. Both countries find convergence in their approaches toward the maintenance of stability and security of the Indo-Pacific which has translated into diplomatic and political support in the context of developments within the region.

Geostrategic collaboration: China’s expanding footprints in the Indo-Pacific made emphasis on cooperative mechanisms and frameworks across the region. Vietnam, like India, supports freedom of navigation and opposes any threats to sovereign maritime territorial rights.

India has supported Vietnam’s position in the South China Sea with respect to Beijing’s destabilising actions and coercive tactics. India has also not backed down from continuing ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL)’s oil exploration project in Block 128 (which is within Hanoi’s EEZ) despite China’s protests.

These instances deepened India’s operational outreach in the Indo-Pacific and have successfully cemented India’s role as a capable, willing and reliable partner.

Defence partnership: Ever since India and Vietnam signed the Defence Protocol in 2000 the defence collaboration has been growing steadily.

Today it covers extensive navy-to-navy cooperation spanning the exchange of intelligence, production and logistical support for Vietnam’s defence requirements, development of naval facilities such as Nha Trang, defence dialogues, high-level visits and the supply of warships and cruise missiles.

Further, India’s Act East Policy, maritime multilateralism, maritime security outreach and the building of stronger networks across the Indo-Pacific are some of the key elements which have made India and Veitnam natural partners.


Ruchi Gupta writes: The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive

Source: The post is based on the article “Ruchi Gupta writes: The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive” published in “Indian Express” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.

Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding anti-defection law.

News: The political crisis in Maharashtra has brought focus back on the anti-defection law. The law has failed to provide the stability of elected governments.

What is anti-defection law?
Read more: “Nominated members” and “Anti-defection Law” in India
What are the challenges associated with the anti-defection law?

Repeated ceding of political power to the judiciary: Political parties are repeatedly giving primacy to legal instead of political battles since these issues inevitably end up in court. This repeated ceding of political power to the judiciary is a serious deviation from the democratic paradigm and must be checked.

Polarization: The anti-defection law has undermined not just the very principle of representation but has also contributed to polarization in the country. This is by making it impossible to construct a majority on any issue outside of party affiliation.

Many governments have fallen due to defections in recent times. Further, defectors have not suffered any cautionary consequences.

Read more: The success of anti-defection law in India and its relevance in multiparty parliamentary system
What should be done to prevent defection?

Firstly, The way forward is to amend the anti-defection law. By mandating time-bound decisions by the Speaker and disqualifying defectors from standing for the next election as well.

But there are certain challenges with the amendment as well. For instance, a disqualified representative may simply choose to have a family member stand in their stead.

Secondly, political parties must address organizational and ideological infirmities. This will address the mass defections in the first place. Political organizations’ vulnerability to mass defections calls for urgent introspective and corrective measures at the level of the leadership.

Political parties need ideological clarity and the ability to attract individuals with a sense of purpose and not a love for power alone. This will give members the ability to withstand lean periods of power.

Thirdly, Scrapping the anti-defection law: This would provide some institutional leverage to express intra-party dissidence. Though it may be more chaotic in the short term would lead to greater stability and political strength in the long term.

Read more: Anti-defection Law: What can disqualify a legislator

What’ll help us come to terms with India’s past

Source: This post is created based on the article “What’ll help us come to terms with India’s past” published in Live Mint on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2, Issues related to Education

News: Many state boards and NCERT are making changes to the social science textbooks, specifically history books. For example; NCERT) has proposed sweeping changes to social science textbooks for Classes VI to IX.

Read MoreObjections to rewriting of the history textbooks

What are the issues with making changes to the social sciences?

History is not about good guys or bad, or a quest for a singular story of heroism. It is an objective assessment of complex and often paradoxical facts to know what’s likely to have happened and what lessons can be learned from it.

Future generations of India should be trained to use history and social sciences as tools of critical thinking.

History students must be able to understand everything clearly, from ruthless invaders or a syncretic past of harmony. They must learn everything without shutting their minds to uncomfortable facts.


Why India Should Become A Rare Earths Powerhouse

Source: This post is created based on the article “Why India Should Become A Rare Earths Powerhouse” published in The Times of India on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2, Government policies and interventions

Context: India has huge reserves of Rare Earth Elements, but is still dependent on imports.

Rare Earth Elements are a group of 17 elements: scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium.

Demand for Rare Earth Elements is on the rise for many critical applications in modern manufacturing, including electric vehicles, renewable energy, and high-tech electronics.

However, India is almost 100% import-dependent for most rare earth elements, despite possessing the fourth-highest reserves of rare earths in the world.

Example of Strategic importance of Rare Earth Minerals

Neodymium is a critical component for permanent magnets. It has the ability to carry material 1,300 times its own weight.  Neodymium-based permanent magnets are key components in EV traction motors and wind turbines.

The demand for neodymium is estimated to rise sharply with the domestic production capacity of India. It is expected to increase 6-7 times by 2025 (6,000 tonnes) and by 18-20 times by 2030 (20,000 tonnes).

The global price of neodymium has risen sharply, from under $100 per kg in 2018 to over $200 per kg at present.

Europium is necessary for LED bulbs and colour television screens.

Samarium is used in optical lasers.

Several rare earths also have important uses in emerging hi-tech medical technologies.

China’s share in global rare earths has reduced to 60%, after aggressive production by US, Australia, and Canada. However, it is still dominant.

Status of Rare Earth Minerals in India

India has greater reserves than the US and Australia in the extractable form in beach sands (of which the country has abundance) and in rock formations known as monazites.

In India, rare earths are classified as atomic minerals because some of these elements occur on the earth’s surface along with radioactive thorium and uranium minerals.

Mining for rare earths is reserved exclusively for government companies. In India, there are only 2 such companies i.e. Indian Rare Earths Ltd (owned by GoI) and Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (owned by the Kerala government).

However, their production and technological capacities are limited, thus India has to depend upon imports.

Beach sand mining was banned in 2016 to conserve strategic minerals including rare earth and thorium.

What should be done?

A pragmatic approach to increase production is by allowing mining.

The Ministry of mines has recently proposed moving the 17 rare earth elements outside the ambit of atomic minerals. It will enable the commercial mining of rare earth by private entities and other PSUs.

The issue of the presence of radioactive minerals and their use must be addressed via regulation, then a blanket ban.

Private players can be mandated not to extract thorium and uranium from monazite, or they may be permitted to extract any radioactive minerals, but the sale can be restricted to the government.


Making sense of New Delhi’s Taliban rapprochement

Source: The post is based on an article “Making sense of New Delhi’s Taliban rapprochement” published in the “The Hindu” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations; Bilateral relations

Relevance: India-Afghanistan Relations

News: Recently, India sent a senior diplomatic delegation to the Taliban-occupied Kabul. The visit was the culmination of Delhi’s months of quiet diplomacy and signaling.

India’s Foreign Policy

Just hours after the Taliban’s takeover, in 2021, India was the first country to immediately ban all Afghans traveling to India, including students and patients with a valid Indian visa.

India chose to abstain from the UN Security Council’s call on the Taliban to open girl schools. Further, India remains silent about the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

India’s apparent reorientation can be described and understood as an example of realpolitik, and supremacy of national interest.

What are India’s key strategic interests in Afghanistan?

India is facing various security concerns due to the developments in Afghanistan. There is a nexus of Islamic militancy, illicit drugs, and proxy warfare in Afghanistan. And, India is a primary target for this alliance. The Taliban aims to establish a “pure Islamic Government” in the Heart of Asia, and secure Pakistan’s “Strategic Depth”.

In addition, the Taliban also possess imperial ambition. For example, to establish Ghazwa-e-Hind, implied in Mahmud Ghaznavi’s plunder of India more than 1,000 years ago. The British also tried to topple Afghanistan’s progressive King Amanullah Khan.

In its first war against India in 1948, Pakistan mobilized a tribal army to attack India.

Pakistan has a geo-strategic vision for Afghanistan, i.e., to create a “Greater Waziristan”, to be ruled by an isolated, ruthless and dogmatic Taliban reign. This would become a major center for producing, training, and sheltering different Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment is determined to maintain its monopoly on its proxies.

India wishes to capitalize on the personal grudge some Taliban commanders have against Pakistan. It aims to create an India-friendly faction within the Taliban.

What are the challenges with ‘India First policy’?

It will destroy a central pillar of India’s foreign and security policy, which refers to the dismantling of the region’s “terrorist infrastructure”.

India as a “civilizational state” and an inspiring global power cannot behave as a bandwagoning, transactional, opportunistic salesman.

India has attained the status of ideational and trustworthy partner among most of the Afghan people. They look at India as an example of a fellow developing nation that will support them. Therefore, this policy can lead to loss of the trust and goodwill of Afghans toward India.

The Way Forward

The prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan are not feasible if Afghanistan continues to work in the direction of Pakistan. Because Pakistan itself is facing multiple internal and external challenges.

India has been seen as a sincere friend of Afghanistan, unlike many double-faced actors

Afghanistan needs a strong UN mandate, including a UN-led political transition process. The process can be supported by a UN peacekeeping / making force.


On GST, the problem is trust deficit

Source: The post is based on the article “One GST, the problem is trust deficit” published in the Indian Express on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure

Relevance: Fiscal Federalism; GST Regime

News: On 1st July 2022, India’s goods and services tax (GST) will be five years old. Further, the GST Council will be meeting over the next few days.

What are the issues with GST?

(1) The breakdown of trust and cooperative federalism between states and the Union government,

(2) The expiry of the revenue guarantee that protected states’ revenues. The state governments were given five-year insurance from the Centre of a minimum revenue guarantee. However, the GST failed to live up to its economic promises to states.

In the past, the Union government levied and appropriated cess revenues for itself without sharing them with the states.

The center is reluctant to provide compensation because of its deteriorating fiscal situation, foisted by high global crude oil prices, rising fertilizer imports, and expanding welfare expenditure.

(3) Recently, the Supreme Court awarded its judgment highlighting that the GST Council’s recommendations are not binding on the states. The states can comply fully with the Council’s recommendations or modify them as they deem necessary.

(4) Democratically elected state governments in India do not have sole powers for both direct and indirect taxation. This is in very contrast to the rest of the federal democracy. GST centralized India’s indirect taxation.

(5) The GST regime has witnessed flawed implementation. There has been GST’s economic failure

(6) The SC’s judgment has opened the window for states to override the fundamental GST premise of a “one nation one tax”. If pushed to a corner, states may now use the SC ruling as a shield.

The Way Forward

The cooperation between states and the Union cannot just be an economic compact. It should be a broader political ethic.

Recently, the SC observed that it is in the national interest to have both cooperative and competitive federalism.

In the larger and longer-term interest of GST, it is prudent to extend the compensation guarantee. All the state governments want an extension of the compensation guarantee. The focus should be on the GST revenues buoyancy rather than on eroding the states’ confidence.

To address trust deficit and revenues issues, there is a need for rationalization of rates and ease of GST compliance. The Union government should commit to the states that it will not resort to cesses and surcharges that are outside the shareable pool of revenues.

The union government must resolve to honor the revenue guarantee commitment to the states. It must respect and uphold the true spirit of fiscal federalism, as well as political and constitutional federalism.

Now, the government should move towards decentralization by giving states powers for direct taxation.


On women’s rights, West takes a backward step, and India shows the way

Source: The post is based on an article “On women’s rights, West takes a backward step, and India shows the way” published in the Indian Express on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Social Sector; Programmes for the vulnerable section

Relevance: Women Related Policies and Programmes

News: At present, there is a distressing furore on social media and the streets against the near-total bans on abortion in the West.

What are the reasons for India’s forward-looking policy?

About The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021

It allows the abortions up to 24 gestational weeks on grounds of risk to the mother’s life, mental anguish, rape, incest, contraception failure, or the diagnosis of foetal abnormalities.

India’s medical pregnancy termination regime is very generous in nature. It safeguards reproductive autonomy.

India’s constitutional ethos commits to the protection of personal liberty through Article 21. It means abortion or termination of pregnancy is a woman’s prerogative.

It ensures that expectant mothers exercise self-determination in welcoming new life to their homes.

Women’s readiness for and desirability for children decisively shape the life trajectories of mothers, families, and children alike.

It is an established fact that unwanted pregnancies unexpectedly curtail the life choices of parents, especially mothers. It may also limit their mental well-being and personal growth.

Further, children born unwanted may suffer reduced opportunities because parents invest more in the education of wanted children.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021

The government has introduced a bill to raise the legal marriageable age for women from 18 years to 21 years, in order to delay pregnancy.

As per the study, adolescent mothers aged 10 to 19 years are prone to higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections in comparison to women aged 20 to 24 years.

Further, children born to adolescent mothers face higher risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery, and severe neonatal conditions. This happens because such young mothers are poorly aware of feeding practices and baby care, making them more likely to have stunted or wasted children.

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021,

India has become a lucrative “bio-market” for surrogate mothers. India witnessed the commodification of women and the reduction of their reproductive capacity.

The act has replaced commercial surrogacy with ethical, altruistic surrogacy.

The Act prohibits couples who are not of Indian origin from availing of surrogacy in the country.

It allows only locals with certified, medical reasons necessitating gestational surrogacy to avail of it.

Other Importance Women-Centric Measures

The government policies, under the aegis of Ayushman Bharat- Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) provide a health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per annum for a wide range of packages pertaining to obstetrics and gynecology.

The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) partially compensates wage loss before and after pregnancy

The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyaan (PMSMA) provides free antenatal care to pregnant women every 9th day of the month. It eases the financial burden of pregnant women.

The government is also promoting safe motherhood through institutional deliveries under Janani Suraksha Yojana.

The government also provides quality, respectful care in labour rooms during deliveries under schemes like LaQshya.

The government regards daughters’ role at various points in their lives as mothers, students, valuable employees, and valorous entrepreneurs.

The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign has been launched to ensure that girls are born and nurtured bore fruit.

In addition, Ujjwala and Jal Jeevan Mission wants to provide much-needed respite from the drudgery of collecting fuelwood or water

The Mudra Yojana has provided aspiring women entrepreneurs with loans without collateral. In addition, the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme has advocated for higher subsidies for women.

Achievements

There has been a manifold increase in institutional deliveries, from 79% in NFHS-4 to nearly 89% in NFHS-5.

India has achieved the greater longevity of mothers, as evidenced by the declining Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from 167 per lakh live births in 2011-13 to 103 per lakh live births as of 2019.

GS Paper 3


Aerial boon for farming

Source: The post is based on the article “Aerial boon for farming” published in “Business Standard” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 – Technology missions in Agriculture.

Relevance: To understand the benefits of drones in Agriculture.

News: Within a year after the government liberalised the drone policy, the farm sector has become the biggest user of these multi-utility flying robots. The country’s agricultural drone market is projected to grow at a robust annual rate of over 25% in the next five to six years.

What is the reason for increasing drone usage in Agriculture?

a) Shortage of farm labour in agriculturally progressive regions is contributing to growth in drones’ demand, b) Reduced cost in hiring drones: The cost of hiring drone service is expected to fall (to Rs 350-450 per acre) as the scale of its use increases for common services, such as applying plant protection chemicals or crop nutrients. This is far lower than that of getting the same work done manually or with conventional machines.

Other contributory factors

a) Government support: The government support the use of drone through various acts such as a slew of financial and other kinds of incentives, a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for the drone sector and conducting “Bharat Drone Mahotsava 2022”. Further, inclusive drone development is one of the four priorities of the government,

b) Increased flow of private investment into the UAVs sector, c) Numerous enterprises, ranging from start-ups to well-established auto companies, have come forward to manufacture and set up facilities to provide custom-hiring services to farmers, d) Drone exports: Many drone makers got export orders from Japan and other Asian and Gulf countries.

e) Skill training: The civil aviation ministry expects that around 100,000 skilled drone pilots may be urgently required to operate these unmanned aerial vehicles. The minimum education qualification has been reduced to passing class 12 to facilitate a greater enrolment of the rural youth for this purpose.

Thus, India seems to have the potential to become the global leader in manufacturing and utilising UAVs and reduce the Chinese dominance in the global bazaar for drones.

Read more: Drone Imports Ban and Boosting Indigenous Drone Manufacturing – Explained, pointwise
How drones are used in Agriculture?

Firstly, Drones are employed in agriculture for a variety of purposes such as estimating the planted area and likely production, assessing crop damage by pests and diseases, and digitising land records, apart from their most common use for spraying pesticides and plant nutrients.

Secondly, The use of drones in the farm sector is unlikely to remain confined to a few broad areas, such as spraying, surveying, mapping, and surveillance.

Thirdly, Specially designed sensors equipped with artificial intelligence tools can enable drones to distinguish between healthy and diseased or pest-infested plants for better targeting of pesticides and other plant-protection chemicals.

Fourthly, large drones can be used to transport farm produce, especially perishable items like vegetables, fruit, meat, and fish, to markets directly from farms in the least possible time and with minimum damage to the stuff.

Read more: ‘Kisan drones’ will help in the development of agriculture sector. Analyse the initiatives of government for the promotion of drone use

All this could enable farmers to fetch higher prices due to the better quality and freshness of their produce.  Drones, if used prudently, can prove to be a major game-changer for the farm sector.


Bringing MSMEs into global value chains

Source: The post is based on an article “Bringing MSMEs into global value chains” published in the “The Hindu” on 27th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3, Indian Economy; Issues and Challenge sin mobilization of resources, growth and development in India

Relevance: MSMEs sector

News: Recently, World MSME Day was celebrated on June 27 for giving attention to the MSMEs. Just like any other large businesses in India, they have also contributed to growth and achievements.

About the micro-small and medium enterprises (MSME)

MSMEs are privately owned enterprises with less than Rs. 50crore in investments in plant and machinery and turnover below Rs. 250 crore.

Importance of MSMEs

They are the backbone of the Indian economy. For example, it accounts for over 99% of businesses in India.

They have given valuable contributions to job creation and sustainable development across the world. For example, MSMEs are the largest employer in India outside of agriculture, validated by the fact that MSMEs employ over 11.1 crore people or 45% of all workers.

What are the challenges in the functioning of the MSMEs?

These businesses are the ones that have faced the harshest of environments over the last few years.

(1) The Pandemic-induced disruptions severely impacted MSMEs. They have faced a lack of access to resources

(2) Due to war, they are facing supply shocks and soaring fuel, food, and fertilizer prices.

(3) Further, the ongoing climate crisis is going to become the greatest disruption multiplier of all.

(4) Most MSMEs do not meet today’s standards on productivity, environmental sustainability, health and safety of workers.

(5) There is a high degree of informality, with many enterprises unregistered, and both employers and workers lack awareness of and commitment to comply with labour and environmental laws.

(6) The informal enterprises cannot access formal MSME support and financing nor participate in global value chains that require full compliance with all applicable regulations.

The economic landscape is changing due to digitalisation, greening, and the reorganisation of value chains.

(1) Digitalisation concerns the integration of digital technologies, such as big data, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, in business processes, also known as Industry 4.0.

(2) “Greening” requires cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship to accelerate the transition to a circular and low carbon economy.

(3) To increase the resilience of supply in response to recent shocks, and other reasons like shift in the production locations in the global value chains across countries and regions.

Measures Taken by the Government and other agencies

The government has launched the Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and has identified the development of the MSME ecosystem as a top priority for achieving this.

India’s ambitious “Make in India” campaign wants to make India a global manufacturing hub.

The production-linked incentives (PLI) schemes and the recently launched zero effect zero defect (ZED) certification are helping to promote and boost the MSMEs sector.

The UN system in India is supporting these and other MSME development initiatives at the local, state, and national levels.

The government initiatives such as the Digital Saksham and the interlinking of the Udyam, e-Shram, National Career Service (NCS), and Atmanirbhar Skilled Employee-Employer Mapping (ASEEM) portals aim to promote digitalisation in the MSMEs.

At present, together, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), and UNIDAO provide energy efficiency advisory services to various MSMEs in different sectors of the MSMEs.

ILO, together with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and corporates, are supporting MSMEs in creating and retaining jobs

The Start and Improve Your Business program is helping over a lakh young people across five States launch enterprises.

The Way Forward

To leverage the demographic dividend, India needs to create many jobs, especially for the one million young people entering the labor market every month.

The policymakers should work on creating an environment to fully unlock emerging opportunities in the rapidly changing global value chain ecosystem and maximize the demographic dividend

MSME owners should commit to formalize their businesses, investing in improved productivity, compliance, and most of all, decent work and jobs for India’s aspiring youth.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Odisha to install siren to caution elephants movement in forest

Source: The post is based on the article “Odisha to install siren to caution elephants movement in forest” published in The Hindu on 27th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Forest Department in Odisha is experimenting with a siren system to reduce human-elephant encounters.

What is the Odisha Government doing to reduce Human-Elephant encounters?

Odisha Forest Department in association with a non-government organization has started a pilot project on a siren system to alert traffic about elephant movement.

The siren system detects elephant herds approaching the National Highway by its infrared sensor system. There is an in-built programme to identify jumbos from their sizes and other attributes. 

Once detected, the siren would go off alerting traffic from both sides.

Other Initiatives to reduce Human-Elephant encounters

Khadi Village Industries Commission is implementing Apiculture Programme to keep elephants at bay in Angul district in Odisha.

Under this programme, about 100 bee boxes have been set up at the border of Laxmipur village in Angul district. Elephants are expected to be stung by bees if their boxes are hit. It would drive the elephant’s back. Closed circuit television cameras have been installed to capture the reaction of elephants.

Read more: KVIC Rolls Out Project RE-HAB in Assam to Prevent Elephant – Human Conflicts Using Tiny Bees

EU Draft Nature Restoration Law: Halving pesticide use, dismantling dams: EU’s ambitious draft law to restore nature

Source: The post is based on the article “Halving pesticide use, dismantling dams: EU’s ambitious draft law to restore nature” published in Down To Earth on 25th June 2022.

What is the News?

The European Commission(EC) has unveiled a draft “Nature Restoration Law” to restore nature and mitigate climate change on the European continent.

What is the EU Draft Nature Restoration Law?

Aim: To cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

Targets under the law

– To halve the pesticide use across Europe by 2030.

– Reverse the decline of pollinator populations by 2030 and increase their populations from there on.

– No net loss of green urban spaces by 2030.

– Removing river barriers so that at least 25 000 km of rivers would be turned into free-flowing rivers by 2030.

– Restoration and rewetting of drained peatlands under agricultural use and in peat extraction sites.

How will this Nature Restoration Law be implemented?

EU countries and the European Parliament will need to approve the draft legislation before it becomes law. 

The members of the European Union are then expected to submit national-level plans for restoration to the Commission within two years.

Around €100 billion ($105 billion) will be available for biodiversity spending, including restoration. Thereafter, they are expected to monitor and submit progress reports against the targets.


Explained | Can virtual servers bypass India’s VPN rules?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | Can virtual servers bypass India’s VPN rules?” published in The Hindu on 27th June 2022.

What is the News?

Some of the leading virtual private network(VPN) service providers have announced that they will remove servers from India after India’s cyber agency Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has announced new rules for VPN providers.

What is a Virtual Server?

A virtual server is a simulated server environment built on an actual physical server. It basically recreates the functionality of a dedicated physical server.

What are the advantages of a Virtual Server?

More Efficient: Converting one physical server into multiple virtual servers allows organizations to use processing power and resources more efficiently by running multiple operating systems and applications on one partitioned server.

Reduces the cost: Running multiple operating systems and applications on a single physical machine reduces the cost as it consumes less space and hardware.

Higher security: It offers higher security than a physical server infrastructure as the operating system and applications are enclosed in a virtual machine. This helps contain security attacks and malicious behaviours inside the virtual machine.

Useful in Debugging: Virtual servers are also useful in testing and debugging applications in different operating systems and versions without having to manually install and run them on several physical machines.

What is Virtual Private Network(VPN)?

Click Here to read about it

What are the new rules released by CERT?

The new rules mandate VPN providers to record and keep their customers’ logs for 180 days. Corporate VPN providers have been exempted from this. 

It also asked these firms to collect and store customer data for up to five years. 

It further mandated that any cybercrime recorded must be reported to the CERT within 6 hours of the crime. 

Who all do these new rules apply to?

The rules are applicable to “any entity whatsoever” in the matter of cyber incidents and cyber security incidents, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in India or not, as long as they deliver services to Indian users.

The service providers who do not have a physical presence in India but offer services to the users in the country have to designate a point of contact to liaise with CERT-In. 

What is the implication of these new rules?

In regards to the VPN service providers, they have few options but to switch to storage servers that will increase the existing costs of operations. 

In addition to that, the core aspect of using a VPN to protect the users’ privacy would also be affected.

Is India the first country to regulate VPNs?

India is not the first country to ban or regulate VPNs. In the past, various other countries such as China, Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the UAE have also taken similar steps. 

For instance, in China, only government-approved VPNs are officially permitted to function.


National Monuments Authority observes Martyrdom Day of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at Red Fort

Source: The post is based on the articleNational Monuments Authority observes Martyrdom Day of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at Red Fortpublished in PIB on 25th June 2022.

What is the News?

The National Monuments Authority has observed the Martyrdom Day of the great warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at Red Fort in New Delhi.

Who was Baba Banda Singh Bahadur?

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was a great Sikh warrior.

Contributions: He was a commander of the Khalsa army who defeated the Mughals and liberated a large part of North India from the oppressive Mughal rule and established the Khalsa rule in Punjab. 

He abolished the Zamindari system and granted property rights to the tillers of the land. 

He introduced the Nanak Shahi coins. 

Death: He was captured by Mughal ruler Farrukhsiyar and his martyrdom took place in Mehrauli where a monument stands in his memory.

Click Here to read more about him


Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban 2.0 launches Revised Swachh Certification Protocols to sustain Open Defecation Free Status across Urban India

Source: The post is based on the article Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban 2.0 launches Revised Swachh Certification Protocols to sustain Open Defecation Free Status across Urban Indiapublished in PIB on 26th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs(MoHUA) has launched Revised Swachh Certification Protocols for ODF, ODF+, ODF++ and Water+ certifications under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0.

What is Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0?

Launched by: Prime Minister in October 2022

Aim: To achieve “Garbage Free” status for all cities.

Components of the Mission: 1) Sustainable Solid Waste Management, 2) Sustainable Sanitation, 3) Used water management, 4) Information, Education and Communication(IEC) and 5) Capacity Building(CB).

Duration of the Mission: The Mission will be in force for five years from 1st October 2021 to 1st October 2026.

Read more: PM launches Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and AMRUT 2.0
What are the revised Swachh Certification Protocols?

The revamped protocol contains provisions to encourage cities to have a robust infrastructure with reliable operation and maintenance(O&M) mechanisms to achieve the goal of a clean urban India. Key interventions against each certification include:

– ODF category: It focuses on a robust monitoring mechanism by increasing the number of survey sample sizes and location types.

– ODF+: focus on the functionality of community and public toilets and innovative O&M business model for their sustainability in the long run.

– ODF++ category: It emphasizes on mechanised cleaning of septic tanks and sewers, safe collection & treatment of used water as well as safe management of faecal sludge.

– Water+ category: Its focus will be on the collection, transportation, treatment and reuse of both used water and faecal sludge to prevent environmental pollution.


Explained: What are ‘carbon bombs’, why environmentalists want them defused?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are ‘carbon bombs’, why environmentalists want them defused?” published in Indian Express on 8th June 2022.

What is the News?

A group of environmentalists, lawyers and activists have come together to identify and ‘defuse carbon bombs’ that have the potential to contribute significantly to global warming.

What are Carbon Bombs?

It is “an oil or gas project that will result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.”

In total, around 195 such projects have been identified the world over, including in the US, Russia, West Asia, Australia and India.

They will collectively overshoot the limit of emissions that had been agreed to in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

What is the plan for defusing Carbon Bombs?

The network working towards this goal is called Leave It In the Ground Initiative (LINGO). 

Its mission is to leave fossil fuels in the ground and learn to live without them. It believes the root of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels and the 100% use of renewable energy sources is the solution.

The network has listed carbon bomb projects from all over the world. This includes the Carmichael Coal Project owned by the Adani Group, Gevra Coal Mines in Chhattisgarh owned by Coal India, and Rajmahal Coal Mines in eastern Jharkhand owned by Eastern Coalfields.


Union Minister takes part in the “2022 UN Ocean Conference” in Lisbon

Source: The post is based on the article Union Minister takes part in the “2022 UN Ocean Conference” in Lisbonpublished in PIB on 25th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Earth Sciences is participating in the “2022 UN Ocean Conference” in Lisbon, Portugal.

What is the Ocean Conference 2022?

Co-Hosted by: Governments of Kenya and Portugal

Aim: To propel much-needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action.

Theme: Scaling up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation for the Implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.

What is the importance of Oceans?

The oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, are the planet’s largest biosphere and are home to up to 80% of all life in the world. 

It generates 50% of the oxygen human need, absorbs 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90% of the additional heat generated from those emissions. 

It is not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest carbon sink – a vital buffer against the impacts of climate change.

Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water

It was adopted in 2015. It is an integral aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of 17 transformative goals.

Goal 14 stresses the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources.


The Global Liveability Index 2022: These are the world’s ‘most’ and ‘least’ liveable cities

Source: The post is based on the articleThe Global Liveability Index 2022: These are the world’s ‘most’ and ‘least’ liveable citiespublished in Hindustan Times on 23rd June 2022.

What is the News?

The Global Liveability Index 2022 has been released.

What is the Global Liveability Index?

Published by: Economist Intelligence Unit(EIU) annually

Aim: To quantify the challenges presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 173 cities.

Categories: The index ranked the cities based on these categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

What are the key findings of the index?

Topped by: Austrian capital Vienna has once again topped the list of most liveable cities in the world.

The living conditions remained worst in the Syrian capital Damascus.

India: The cities in India have fared poorly in the list of the world’s most liveable cities. India’s national capital New Delhi has been ranked 112th on the list while Mumbai is ranked at 117th position.


Utricularia Furcellata: Rare plant species found in western Himalayan region for first time

Source: The post is based on the articleRare plant species found in western Himalayan region for first timepublished in Indian Express on 27th June 2022.

What is the News?

A very rare carnivorous plant species called Utricularia Furcellata has been found in the western Himalayan region for the first time.

What is Utricularia Furcellata?
Utricularia
Source: ANI News

It is a rare carnivorous plant species found in Uttarakhand’s Mandal valley, Chamoli district. This plant was last seen in the country in Meghalaya state in 1986.

Genus: ​​The plant belongs to a genus, commonly known as bladderworts.

Habitat: These plants are mostly found in freshwater and wet soil.

Diet: The plants of this genus use one of the most sophisticated and developed plant structures for traps and its targets range from protozoa to insects, mosquito larvae and even the young tadpoles.

Significance of this discovery: This is the first sighting of this plant not only in Uttarakhand but in the entire western Himalayan region.


Goa becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified State & Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified UT in the Country

Source: The post is based on the article “Goa becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified State & Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified UT in the Country” published in PIB on 18th August 2022. What is the News? Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and… Continue reading Goa becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified State & Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu becomes the First ‘Har Ghar Jal’ Certified UT in the Country

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Great Indian Bustards adapt to produce 2-egg clutch

Source: The post is based on the article “Great Indian Bustards adapt to produce 2-egg clutch” published in The Hindu on 19th August 2022. What is the News? Great Indian Bustards(GIBs) in Rajasthan’s Desert National Park(DNP) have adopted an altogether new habit of laying a clutch of two eggs at a time after having a… Continue reading Great Indian Bustards adapt to produce 2-egg clutch

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Tilapia Fish: Inspired by Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, and to bring ‘Blue Revolution’ TDB-DST supports its first aquaculture project

Source: The post is based on the article “Inspired by Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, and to bring ‘Blue Revolution’ TDB-DST supports its first aquaculture project” published in PIB on 18th August 2022. What is the News? To bring about the blue revolution, the Technology Development Board(TDB), a statutory body under the Department of Science… Continue reading Tilapia Fish: Inspired by Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, and to bring ‘Blue Revolution’ TDB-DST supports its first aquaculture project

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Explained: How scientists are planning to ‘resurrect’ the extinct Tasmanian Tiger

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How scientists are planning to ‘resurrect’ the extinct Tasmanian Tiger” published in Indian Express on 18th August 2022. What is the News? Scientists in the US and Australia have embarked on a $15-million project to resurrect the thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, a marsupial that went extinct… Continue reading Explained: How scientists are planning to ‘resurrect’ the extinct Tasmanian Tiger

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How health ministry’s draft guidelines may improve nurses’ work conditions

Source: The post is based on the article “How health ministry’s draft guidelines may improve nurses’ work conditions” published in Business Standard on 19th August 2022. What is the News? The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW) has issued draft guidelines to improve the working conditions of all categories of nurses in all healthcare institutions… Continue reading How health ministry’s draft guidelines may improve nurses’ work conditions

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Digital Lending and its Regulation – Explained, pointwise

For 7PM Editorial Archives click HERE → Introduction The lending business, in recent years, has been disrupted by digital technologies. The transformation of lending landscape has been driven by the need for superior customer experience, faster turn-around time, and adoption of modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). However, the digital lending ecosystem has given… Continue reading Digital Lending and its Regulation – Explained, pointwise

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Write your mains before Actual Mains Exam 2022

Dear Friends, As you may be aware, ForumIAS will organize the Mains Open Test 2022 between 31st August to 1st September. If you want to have the realistic experience of writing UPSC Mains once before you actually write the Mains and know the time management in advance you can appear for Mains Open Test by visiting the below link:https://academy.forumias.com/mains-opentest/… Continue reading Write your mains before Actual Mains Exam 2022

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Experts Explain: An India Blockchain Platform

Source: The post is based on the article “Experts Explain: An India Blockchain Platform” published in the Indian Express on 19th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – e-governance applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential Relevance: About public digital infrastructure News: In recent years, India has made a significant effort to become a digital society by building a large… Continue reading Experts Explain: An India Blockchain Platform

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Chinese ship at Hambantota calls for New Delhi to look closely at its maritime strategy

Source: The post is based on the article “Chinese ship at Hambantota calls for New Delhi to look closely at its maritime strategy” published in the Indian Express on 19th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – India and its Neighbourhood relations. Relevance: Yuan Wang 5 and China’s evolving Indian Ocean strategy News: Recently, Sri Lanka approved the arrival… Continue reading Chinese ship at Hambantota calls for New Delhi to look closely at its maritime strategy

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Should there be limits on ‘freebies’?

Source: The post is based on the following articles “Should there be limits on ‘freebies’?” published in The Hindu on 19th August 2022. “Freebies In Our Bonnet” published in The Times of India on 19th August 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these… Continue reading Should there be limits on ‘freebies’?

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