9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 28th, 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 2
- Sedition needs a clear definition for it to be retained in law books
- Shooting messengers: Criminal defamation must go from IPC. Effective civil libel law is enough for protecting reputations
- From higher to hire education
- States, freebies and the costs of fiscal profligacy
- Modi’s two summits: UAE trumps G7
GS Paper 3
- The art and science of managing inflation
- Sushil Kumar Modi writes: The online marketplace is skewed in favour of big players and hurts small businesses and consumers
- Go beyond supply curbs to squeeze plastic waste
- Market reality is catching up to the tech startup ecosystem
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy
- Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland
- India State Support Program for Road Safety: World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety
- Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat
- N95 mask with nanoparticle coating developed using 3D printing technology
- Oceans Great Dying 2.0: Mass extinction haunts oceans
- Global Biodiversity Framework: What happened in Nairobi?
- Ministry of Education releases first ever report on Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for the year 2018-19 and 2019-20
- Explained: Where is Kaliningrad, why is it in focus amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
- Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment(PGII) Initiative: G7 leaders unveil $600 billion plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative in developing nations
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: The post is based on the article “Sedition needs a clear definition for it to be retained in law books” published in “Livemint” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding Section 124A.
News: India is often referred to as the world’s largest democracy. However, even a mild form of constructive criticism could interpretatively fall within the penal ambit of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code.
What is Sedition Law?
|Must read: Sedition Law in India (Section 124A IPC) – Explained, pointwise|
About the history of Section 124-A
It was originally introduced in British India by Lord Macaulay in 1837 as Section 113 of the then draft Indian Penal Code (IPC). It was at first omitted in the actual Act passed in 1860. Then law member in the Viceroy’s Council, Sir James Stephen, stated that the omission of Section 113 in the penal code was erroneous. It was introduced as Section 124-A in the IPC as a “corrective measure” in 1870.
Stephen while introducing Section 124-A said that in the absence of such provisions, this offence would be penalized under the more severe common law of England, which could result in transportation for life.
Despite severe opposition, the provision managed to remain decidedly in place after 1947. The provision was also reinforced during the tenure of the Indira Gandhi government by the conversion of the offence into a cognizable one.
|Read more: Successive reports of the Law Commission have reported the rampant misuse of the Sedition law|
What are the Judicial interventions on Sedition?
There are many instances of the law being invoked on flimsy grounds. In a recent judgement by the Supreme Court held that “Everything cannot be seditious. It is time we define what is sedition and what is not.”
A statistical analysis of registered sedition cases published by the National Crime Records Bureau between the years of 2014 and 2018 clearly shows a stark increase in such cases.
|Read more: Judicial interventions on Sedition law in India|
There is a need for legislative intervention that clearly redefines the parameters by which something amounts to a ‘seditious act’ under Indian law is unquestionable.
|Read more: The sedition law must go|
Shooting messengers: Criminal defamation must go from IPC. Effective civil libel law is enough for protecting reputations
Source: The post is based on the article “Shooting messengers: Criminal defamation must go from IPC. Effective civil libel law is enough for protecting reputations” published in “The Times of India” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding criminal defamation.
News: Recently, the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench has ruled that a newspaper fairly reporting information in the public domain without insinuation or innuendo cannot attract defamation charges.
What is the case on Criminal defamation?
The case involved a Marathi daily that had reported on a police FIR in 2016. The person booked in the FIR subsequently lodged a criminal defamation complaint. He claimed the newspaper hadn’t done due diligence, citing as a defence the chargesheet in the case not naming him an accused.
The court held that the registration of crimes, filing of cases in courts, the progress of investigations, and arrest of persons constitute “news events which public has the right to know”. The bench noted that a newspaper isn’t expected to investigate an FIR’s contents and verify its truthfulness but to report facts correctly.
What is Criminal defamation?
|Must read: Criminal Defamation|
What is a cause of worry with criminal defamation?
Firstly, claiming defamation on intent to harm reputation sets a very low and subjective bar for prosecution. For instance, The Tamil Nadu government is infamous for lodging criminal defamation cases indiscriminately against journalists.
Secondly, sometimes, multiple cases are filed in faraway places because the statute even allows offences only “partly committed” in that jurisdiction. This is punishment disguised as a process.
|Read more: Criminalisation of government criticisms: Laws and issues|
The British who introduced the criminal defamation has decriminalised defamation in 2009. Hence, India must shed this colonial baggage and get an effective civil libel law.
Source: The post is based on the article “From higher to hire education” published in “The Hindu” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.
Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with digital education.
News: Higher education policy envisions giving shape to the digital university. Though the digital university is not functioning, the university is expected to offer any number, kind, and type of course without limits on intake, in a hybrid or ‘physical plus digital’ mode. But before opening up such a venture, India should focus more on higher education reforms.
What are the challenges associated with higher education?
Floodgates for private universities: The University Grants Commission has relaxed the norms and standards for setting up open universities. For example, the land requirement has been reduced from 40 acres to just five acres. This is likely to open the floodgates for private open universities.
Higher education getting metamorphosed into ‘hire education’: More universities are being enabled to offer courses in the distance, open and online mode. Many such universities have already outsourced the delivery of their courses to EdTech startups and unicorns.
Further, Students can also accumulate credits at will and deposit them in their Academic Bank of Credit to be exchanged for a degree. This shows that higher education is now getting delivered by for-profit entities. This is in contravention of the long-held belief that education at all levels must be provided on a not-for-profit basis.
Challenges with technology: The mode and medium of remote learning have been changing to keep pace with technological advancement. Technology-enabled and mediated digital learning is supposed to end face-to-face formal education.
But, the digital divide and inherent limitations of the technology are creating massive learning losses.
Challenges with getting Jobs: EdTechs are raising resources and enhancing capacities to capitalise on the opportunities that market-friendly reforms created. But, most recruiters prefer to hire those who have graduated in face-to-face mode.
What should be done?
Higher education must indeed embrace and keep pace with the advancements in technology. Technology can be effectively leveraged as a quality-enhancement tool.
Become the producer of knowledge: India’s higher education at present is focused a lot on borrowing content and delivering them online or outsourcing content. This would render India a consumer of knowledge. India must, instead, be focused on exploiting its full potential to emerge as a producer of knowledge and providers of the global workforce.
Stricter oversight and tighter regulations for digital education: The quality of higher education is inversely proportional to the intensity of regulation. Even though experts of online and virtual education feel that such programmes should be subjected to stricter oversight, tighter regulations, and rigorous processes to ensure high standards and robust quality control.
Source: The post is based on an article “States, freebies and the costs of fiscal profligacy” published in the “The Hindu” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 ROPA, GS 3 The Union Budgeting;
Relevance: Freebies and Elections
News: In recent years, many states are pursuing the freebie culture. Such freebies are announced ahead of the assembly election. For example, the one of the contesting political parties in Punjab election, promised a sum of Rs. 1,000 per month to every woman in the State.
The state-governments are expanding freebies mostly to build vote banks through transfer payments to provide safety nets to the most vulnerable segments of the population.
What are the implications of freebies?
The state governments are facing heavy debt. It is difficult to afford such freebies.
The costs of fiscal profligacy can be huge. It can have an adverse impact on India’s macroeconomic stability.
The more States spend on transfer payments, the less they have for spending on physical infrastructure and social infrastructure, which are vital to improve growth and generate jobs. If governments spend the loan money on freebies, then it generates no additional revenue. It will lead to the growth of debt burden which will eventually implode in future.
There are discussions indicating that ‘some States might go down the Sri Lankan way’ due to freebies.
What are the causes of such problems?
The institutional checks and balances that could prevent this downward spiral have become ineffective. These are:
(1) Legislature/Parliament has failed. For example, the Opposition in legislature does not dare speak up against the populist schemes for fear of forfeiting vote banks that are at the end of these freebies.
The state governments are mandated to conform to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) targets. But the law has failed. The current FRBM provisions mandates that the governments disclose their contingent liabilities, but that disclosure is restricted to liabilities for which they have extended an explicit guarantee.
In reality, the state governments resort to extra-budgetary borrowings to finance these populist measures. This debt is concealed to circumvent the FRBM targets. Further, there is no comprehensive information in the public domain to assess the size of this off-budget debt.
(2) The CAG Audit is another constitutional check to enforce transparency and accountability. However, it has lost its teeth because the audit reports come with a lag.
(3) The market, which could signal the health of State finances, has also failed. It could price the loans floated by different State governments differently which could reflect their debt sustainability.
What should be done?
There is a need for instituting more effective checks that can push States to fall in line with prudent fiscal policy making. Various suggestions towards that end are:
First, the FRBM Acts need to be amended. Its provisions should be expanded to cover all liabilities of the government whether budget borrowing or off-budget borrowing, regardless of any guarantee.
Second, at present, the States are required to take the Centre’s permission when they borrow, under the Constitution. Therefore, the Centre should not hesitate to impose conditionalities while giving permission. While doing so, the Centre must act transparently and in accordance with well-defined, objective, and contestable criteria.
Third, the President can invoke the provision of the financial emergency enshrined in the Constitution. If s/he is satisfied that financial stability is threatened.
Fourth, the politicians should aim for long-term and sustainable gains instead of short-term gains. There is a Chinese saying, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.
Source: The post is based on an article “Modi’s two summits: UAE trumps G7” published in the “The Hindu” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 2 International Relations; Bilateral Relations
Relevance: India-the UAE relationship
News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to attend the G7 Summit in Germany and a bilateral summit in Abu Dhabi with the UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Why is India’s participation in the UAE Summit more important than the G7 Summit?
If the U.S. is exempted, no G7 country comes close to the UAE as India’s trading partner, exports market, Indian diaspora base, and inward remittances.
The UAE has invested more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India in 2021 than Germany and France combined.
Unlike the UAE, none of the G7 countries has yet signed a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India.
Importance of the bilateral summit
The Abu Dhabi summit would be a useful opportunity to recalibrate the bilateral ties. It would open new vistas following the operationalization of the bilateral CEPA from May 1.
Features of the India-UAE Relationship
In recent years, India has witnessed investments in Jammu and Kashmir. Further, both countries have recently signed a bilateral CEPA
India is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner. India is also the largest source of tourists and manpower for the UAE. The bilateral trade grew by 68% in 2021-22 to $72.9 billion, which is a new record. The trade is likely to grow even higher in 2022-23.
In the bilateral political domain, the two sides have cooperated efficiently on security and anti-terrorism.
What are the challenges in the bilateral relationship?
The trade deficit has grown and reached $16.8 billion, also a new record, due to the CEPA. It happened due to robust economic revival, higher oil prices, and larger Indian imports.
Abu Dhabi has developed some disturbance with the US. Therefore, it is diversifying its strategic options with Russia and China. For example, it ignored the U.S. and other Western countries’ plea to raise its oil production.
Some developments in India’s interests
The UAE has disrupted the longstanding Arab Israeli stalemate by normalizing relations with Israel in 2020.
The UAE has shunned its muscular regional foreign policy against political Islam and in regional hotspots such as Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia, Abu Dhabi. It has decided to stage a phased withdrawal and improve ties with Syria, Qatar and Turkey.
What should be done?
Trade Related: The corrective mechanism built into CEPA can prevent the deficit from going out of hand.
Scope of engagement
Both countries have successfully contained the COVID-19 pandemic. They can pool their experiences.
India is the world’s fastest-growing major economy. It could be a lucrative market for investments in areas such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, renewables, infrastructure, manufacturing, logistics, start-ups, etc.
The two sides can collaborate for the eventual reconstruction of the war-ravaged regional countries such as Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan.
Both need to do more to fight money laundering and the flow of illicit narcotics.
GS Paper 3
Source: The post is based on the article “The art and science of managing inflation” published in the Business Standard on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy; Issues and Challenges Pertaining to Growth and Development; Planning and Mobilization of resources
Relevance: Monetary Policy; inflation Targeting
News: In recent weeks, the conduct of monetary policy in India has been severely criticized by economists.
About the Monetary Policy Committee
The primary objective of the Monetary policy Committee is its flexible inflation-targeting mandate.
What have been the lacunas in MPC policies?
One, there has been an unnecessary delay in changing priorities from supporting growth to controlling inflation.
Two, in addition to balancing the inflation-growth trade-off, the MPC policy has been pursuing multiple objectives. Therefore, it resulted in the loss of focus on the primary objective, leading to persistently high inflation.
What are the underlying challenges in the conduct of monetary policy?
First, on inflation targeting. Monetary policy is always based on forecasts. The consumer price index inflation forecast moved lower from 4.9% in the September 2021 round to 4.7% in January 2022. However, when the geo-economic impacts of the Ukraine crisis on commodities and energy prices were factored into, it resulted, the inflation forecast jumped to 5.2 percent. Thus, there is an uncertainty in inflation targeting.
The second concern is the fiscal dominance of monetary policy. The transmission of monetary policy signals into the spectrum of interest rates is varied, with each rate having different behavioral, regulatory, and structural causes for the changes as well as functional impacts.
A third concern is whether RBI’s “management” of the rupee has been distracting from the primary objective of price stability.
In reality, at present, India is facing an episode of the open economy impossible trinity. For example, there is a global spill-over effect of G-10 central bank actions. It definitely requires foreign exchange intervention.
What should be the priority areas of the monetary policy?
(1) Conventional Focus
Globally, the role of monetary policy has been to fix the policy rate in order to ensure macroeconomic stability. Further, the rest of the yield curve was allowed to be moved based on market and economic conditions. In fact, the monetary policy was not involved in an attempt to control the slope and curvature.
(2) Focus areas at present
Since the global financial crisis, the conventional framework has been mostly abandoned. Now, monetary policy works through various instruments like quantitative easing, yield curve control, etc. to change the structure of the yield curve.
In India too, the RBI had deployed programs like targeted long-term repo operations, G-sec Acquisition Programme over and beyond normal open market operations to influence the yield curve at selected maturities, during the pandemic phase.
Sushil Kumar Modi writes: The online marketplace is skewed in favour of big players and hurts small businesses and consumers
Source: The post is based on the article “Sushil Kumar Modi writes: The online marketplace is skewed in favour of big players and hurts small businesses and consumers” published in “Indian Express” on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding the online marketplace.
News: The proliferation of a wide range of e-commerce platforms has created convenience and increased consumer choice. But, the online aggregator platforms have damaged large segments of small and medium businesses and favour the domination of a few big platforms. Across the world, small businesses are suffering from the unethical practices and unequal bargaining power of these large platforms
How do big players hurt small businesses and consumers in the online marketplace?
a) Big platforms resort to predatory pricing to acquire customers even as they suffer persistent financial losses, b) The cashback and deep discounts offered by big players have turned out to be a forerunner to customer addiction, c) Big players take away choice from suppliers and consumers. This, in the long run, can be viewed as an exclusionary practice that eliminates other players from the market, d) Using customer data: While using these platforms, citizens share their data voluntarily and involuntarily. The aggregators gather shopping habits, consumer preferences, and other personal data.
For small businesses
a) A few select sellers, who are generally affiliated with the e-market platforms, reap the benefits of greater visibility and better terms of trade. Further, they also have complete control over customer reviews and ratings on the platform; manipulation and arbitrary removal have also been reported, b) Online travel aggregators are often accused of cartelisation. For example, the Competition Commission of India’s investigation in the OYO-MakeMyTrip collusion case, c) Lack of a fair and transparent dispute resolution mechanism for sellers on e-commerce platforms.
d) Unreasonable and one-sided contracts allow travel aggregators to have a disparity clause (in the rates). This allows them to offer rooms at a much cheaper rate but bars the hotels from doing so. Restaurants are many a time forced to accept orders at prices much lower than their agreement. The same goes for Taxis attached to aggregators like Ola and Uber also.
What should be done to protect the online marketplace?
1) A set of comprehensive rules and regulations should be put together. These regulations need to be inclusive, should eliminate the conflicts of interest inherent in current market practices, and prevent any anti-competitive practices.
2) A model agreement that is fair and allows a level playing field between the aggregators and their business partners should be implemented. For instance, the Digital Markets Act of the EU.
3) Strong and quick grievance redressal and dispute resolution mechanisms should be established. The rules should allow for punitive penalties for unfair practices.
4) Market dominance and subsequent invoking of fair competition rules should be triggered at the level of micro-markets and for product segments.
Source: The post is based on the article “Go beyond supply curbs to squeeze plastic waste” published in the Live Mint on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 – Ecology and Environment
Relevance: Plastic Pollution
News: India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is set to prohibit the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution and sale of single-use items w.e.f. 1 July, 2022.
What are the problems with plastic?
The plastic waste disposal has led to large-scale invasion in the natural environment. The entire ecosystems are at threat of being choked by the plastic materials that refuse to blend back into nature. For example, marine species are being killed by microplastics.
As per the studies of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), there is a plastic output of 400 million tonnes per year. About 12% of it was burnt and only 9% recycled.
India is among the top three generators of plastic waste, along with China and the US.
India’s informal sector is very big. Therefore, it registers a patchy record on compliance.
What makes plastic so important?
The plastic is very cheap and affordable. It has succeeded because there is an economy of scale in its production.
What should be done?
There should be emphasis on recycling because at present it is difficult to fully phase out the plastic as, there is an absence of substitute. In addition, the government has been organizing events like a “hackathon” to solve the problem of substitution.
The curb on supply should go hand-in-hand with demand compression. Otherwise, it may adversely affect outcomes.
There is a need for a broad attitudinal shift to play a major role. This can be done through campaigns.
Globally, the UNEP has launched the “Plastic is forever” initiative. It indicates, the plastic does not decompose.
Source: The post is based on an article “Market reality is catching up to the tech startup ecosystem” published in the Indian Express on 28th June 2022.
Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development, and Employment.
Relevance: Start-up Ecosystem
News: In recent years, India has been witnessing the growth of the start-up ecosystem which has been in overdrive for the past few years.
What are the factors that have led to growth in the start-ups in India?
On the supply side, the start-ups were able to find cheap money, and they also benefitted from negative real interest rates.
On the demand side, the start-ups were supported by the strength of the Indian consumer, and the economy. India has been witnessing an accelerated financial inclusion (bank accounts) and identification became easy in India through Aadhaar. Connectivity also increased through mobile phones.
What are the challenges?
In recent times, the start-ups that have gone public, are facing losses. For example, Paytm’s, Zomato and PB Fintech (Policy Bazaar) have registered losses.
The era of cheap money is now showing signs of weakness in India. The investors from early-stage venture capitalists to institutional and retail investors, are likely to be more cautious in their dealings. For example, Alibaba and Ant Financial exited their entire holdings in Paytm Mall. The start-ups ranging from Ola to OYO, are planning to raise funds at lower valuations.
Due to high no. of the smartphone users in India, the transactions routed through the UPI platform was high, and there is near universality of bank accounts. But in reality, there are not many consumers with significant discretionary spending capacity, and those with the capacity aren’t increasing their spending as these companies would hope. For example, in 2021-22, Zomato received around 11 orders per customer for the entire year or less than one order per customer per month.
Another worrying factor is the complete absence of any increase in spending by the consumers who are already on these platforms. For example, Zomato, in 2020-21 registered an average order value of Rs 397 and in 2021-22 the average order value was Rs 398.
What should be done?
There is a need for tighter financial conditions, and a re-rating of the market, both of which will impact both fundraising efforts and valuations.
There is a requirement to answer questions like to what extent will investors continue to subsidise consumers? Will startups still command the same valuations they have received in previous fundraising rounds? Or will we see down rounds?
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy” published in PIB on 27th June 2022
What is the News?
NITI Aayog has launched a report titled ‘India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy’.
What is India’s Booming Gig and Platform Economy Report?
Released by: Niti Aayog
Purpose: The report is a first-of-its-kind study that presents comprehensive perspectives and recommendations on the gig–platform economy in India.
What are the key highlights from the report?
Definition: The report defines a gig worker as “someone who engages in income-earning activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship, as well as in the informal sector”.
Classification of Gig Workers: Gig workers can be broadly classified into the platform and non-platform workers. Platform workers are those whose work is based on online software apps or digital platforms while non-platform gig workers are generally casual wage workers, working part-time or full-time.
Gig Workers in India: In 2020–21, 77 lakh (7.7 million) workers were engaged in the gig economy.
They constituted 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce or 1.5% of the total workforce in India.
The gig workforce is expected to expand to 2.35 crore (23.5 million) workers by 2029–30. Gig workers are expected to form 6.7% of the non-agricultural workforce or 4.1% of the total livelihood in India by 2029–30.
At present, about 47% of the gig work is in medium-skilled jobs, about 22% in high skilled and about 31% in low-skilled jobs. The trend shows the concentration of workers in medium skills is gradually declining and that of the low skilled and high skilled is increasing.
What are the recommendations of the report?
Undertake a separate enumeration exercise to estimate the size of the gig economy and identify the characteristic features of gig workers.
During official enumerations (PLFS, NSS or otherwise), collect information to identify gig workers. This could include questions on the nature of the contract between worker and job creator, use of technology in work etc.
Introduce a ‘Platform India initiative’ on the lines of the ‘Startup India initiative’, built on the pillars of accelerating platformization by simplification and handholding, funding support and incentives, skill development, and social financial inclusion.
Self-employed individuals engaged in the business of selling regional and rural cuisine, and street food may also be linked to platforms so that they can sell their products to wider markets in towns and cities.
Other recommendations include gender sensitisation and accessibility awareness programmes for workers and their families, and extending social security for gig and platform workers in India.
Source: The post is based on the article “Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland” published in The Hindu on 25th June 2022.
What is the News?
Menar Village in the Udaipur district is set to be notified as Rajasthan’s new wetland. This will pave the way for getting the Ramsar site status for this village.
Note: At present, Rajasthan has two wetlands recognised as Ramsar sites – Keoladeo Ghana in Bharatpur district and Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur district.
Menar is a village located in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.
The village is recognised as the “bird village” following community-driven conservation efforts.
The village has two lakes – the Brahma and Dhandh. These lakes play host to more than 150 species of local and migratory birds in the winter season.
These include Greater Flamingo, White-tailed Lapwing, Pelican, Marsh Harrier, Bar-headed Goose, Common Teal, Greenshank, Pintail, Wagtail, Green Sandpiper and Red-wattled Lapwing.
The volunteers known as Pakshi Mitras (friends of birds) are maintaining the lakes as a safe haven for birds.
Source: The post is based on the article “World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety” published in The Hindu on 27th June 2022
What is the News?
The World Bank has approved a $250 million loan to support the “India State Support Program for Road Safety”.
What is the “India State Support Program for Road Safety”?
Aim: 1) To help participating states reduce road crash fatalities and injuries through improved road safety management and institutional reform and results-based interventions on high-risk roads and 2) To strengthen emergency medical and rehabilitation services for post-crash care.
Financed by: World Bank
Coverage: The programme will be implemented in seven states namely: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
How will the program help the states in reducing road accidents?
Under the program, the following steps will be taken:
– A single accident reporting number will be set up to better manage post-crash events.
– A National Harmonized crash database system will be established in order to analyze accidents and use that to construct better and safer roads.
– The program will also fund network expansion of basic and advanced life support ambulances and training of first responder caregivers to road crash victims on the spot.
– Further, it will also provide incentives to the States to leverage private funding through Public-Private Partnership(PPP) concessions and pilot initiatives.
Road Accidents in India and their impact on the economy
According to government data, each year road accidents in India kill about 1,50,000 people and injure another 4,50,000.
More than half of the victims are pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists and almost 84% of all fatalities are among road users between the working ages of 18-60 years.
Poor households that account for over 70% of crash victims bear a higher proportion of the socio-economic burden of road crashes due to loss of income, high medical expenses and limited access to social safety nets.
According to a World Bank study, road crashes are estimated to cost the Indian economy between 5% to 7% of GDP a year.
Source: The post is based on the article “Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat” published in The Hindu on 25th June 2022
What is the News?
The Salt Industry is facing enormous challenges in meeting the demand and handling the crisis faced by salt farmers and workers.
Salt Industry in India
India ranks third in the production of salt in the world next to the USA and China.
Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt production in the country.
Salt manufacturing activities are carried out in the coastal states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal Goa and hinterland State of Rajasthan.
Gujarat produces about 28.5 million tonnes of salt per year which is more than 80% of the country’s total production.
In Himachal and Rajasthan, salt is harvested by mining while in other states including Gujarat, salt is produced through a solar-evaporation process of seawater.
Government of India’s role in the Salt Industry
Salt is a central subject listed as item number 58 of the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. It is listed as a mining industry.
The Government of India has de-licensed the Salt Industry by deleting provisions relating to Salt in the Central Excise & Salt Act, 1944.
The Salt Commissioner’s Organization plays a facilitating role in the overall growth and development of the Salt Industry in the country.
What are the problems the Salt Industry is facing currently?
Classification of Salt Industry: Currently, Salt Industry is listed as a mining industry and is governed by the Ministry of Industries & Mines.
However, the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association(ISMA) has demanded the classification of salt production as an agricultural activity under the Ministry of agriculture.
This is because mining produces hardly 0.5% salt. 99.5% of salt is produced either from sea water or from subsoil water and the whole process is done by seeding, farming and harvesting.
Demand for MSP for Salt: Unseasonal rains and floods are resulting in demand for Minimum Support Prices for the Salt industry.
No Wage or Social Security: Salt companies have replaced cooperatives and they decide the wages of these workers and the production of farmers. Most of them are migrant labourers with no minimum wages or social security.
What should the government do to solve the problems in the Salt Industry?
Government should set up a separate nodal agency with common rules and regulations regarding salt production.
Minimum wages and social security must also be ensured with a uniform policy for the entire country.
Source: The post is based on the article “N95 mask with nanoparticle coating developed using 3D printing technology” published in PIB on 27th June 2022
What is the News?
Researchers from Amity University (Haryana) have developed an N95 mask by using 3D printing technology.
What is the N95 Mask?
N95 mask (respirator) is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in some hazardous substances.
The ‘N95’ designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 microns) test particles.
What has been developed?
Indian Researchers have developed an N95 mask by using 3D printing technology.
It is a four-layer mask whose outer layer is made up of silicon and has a shelf life of more than 5 years depending upon the use.
The mask is reusable, recyclable, washable, odourless, non-allergic and anti-microbial.
The mask can be used to prevent infections like COVID 19. It can also be used by workers in different industries where they are exposed to high volumes of dust like cement factories, brick kilns, cotton factories and pain industries.
Source: The post is based on the article “Oceans Great Dying 2.0: Mass extinction haunts oceans” published in Down To Earth on 27th June 2022.
What is the News?
Scientists warn of imminent mass extinction of marine species similar to one that happened 250 million years ago during the Permian Era.
What is the Permian Era?
The Permian era is a period spanning 298.9 million-252.2 million years ago. This was a time before the dinosaurs ruled the planet. Global ocean temperatures were 10 degrees higher than today. Oxygen levels were 80% lower.
During this period, land masses collided to form the supercontinent Pangaea. The supercontinent was arid; only a few parts received rainfall round the year.
However, the large Panthalassic Ocean which covered much of Earth was home to many marine and terrestrial species.
But towards the end of the era, a series of volcanic eruptions occurred in central Siberia, injecting massive amounts of greenhouse gases(GHG) into the atmosphere.
The change in climate after the volcanic eruptions was a death knell for the flourishing and diverse life forms.
Many long-lived lineages vanished. Roughly 96% of marine species and 70% of land species went extinct. Hence, the scientists refer to this period as the ‘Great Dying’.
Why are scientists warning of Great Dying 2.0?
Scientists have warned of Great Dying 2.0 because climate change that happened at the end of the Permian era is similar to the one that is unfolding now.
They have said that if emissions continue to climb and temperatures reach around 4.9 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, close to about 40% of marine genera could perish by 2300 and 8% by 2100.
Source: The post is based on the article “Global Biodiversity Framework: What happened in Nairobi?” published in Down To Earth on 27th June 2022.
What is the News?
The meeting of the Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework failed to achieve as much as was expected.
The objective of the meeting was to reach a consensus on the text of the framework which is to be finalized at the 15th Conference of the Parties(CoP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD).
What is the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework?
Aim: To implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity ensuring that by 2050 the shared vision of ‘living in harmony with nature is fulfilled.
The framework is built around a theory of change which recognizes that urgent policy action globally, regionally and nationally is required to transform economic, social and financial models.
Four goals to achieve under the framework by 2050
– To halt the extinction and decline of biodiversity.
– To enhance and retain nature’s services to humans by conserving.
– To ensure fair and equitable benefits to all from the use of genetic resources.
– To close the gap between available financial and other means of implementation and those necessary to achieve the 2050 Vision.
2030 Action Targets
The framework has 21 action-oriented targets for urgent action over the decade to 2030, which include:
– To bring at least 30% of land and sea under the world’s protected areas.
– A 50% greater reduction in the rate of introduction of invasive alien species, and controls or eradication of such species to eliminate or reduce their impacts.
– Reducing nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, and pesticides by at least two-thirds, and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste.
– Nature-based contributions to global climate change mitigation efforts of at least 10 GtCO2e (gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide) per year, and that all mitigation and adaptation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity.
– A $200 billion increase in international financial flows from all sources to developing countries.
Ministry of Education releases first ever report on Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for the year 2018-19 and 2019-20
Source: The post is based on the article “Ministry of Education releases first ever report on Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for the year 2018-19 and 2019-20” published in PIB on 27th June 2022
What is the News?
The Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE and L), Ministry of Education (MoE) has released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for 2018-19 and 2019-20.
What is the Performance Grading Index for Districts(PGI-D)?
Aim: To assess the performance of the school education system at the District level by creating an index for comprehensive analysis.
Parameters: The index comprises a total weightage of 600 points across 83 indicators which are grouped under 6 categories: 1) Outcomes, 2) Effective Classroom Transaction, 3) Infrastructure Facilities & Student’s Entitlements, 4) School Safety & Child Protection, 5) Digital Learning and 6) Governance Process.
Categorisation of Districts: The index grades the districts into ten grades: Highest achievable Grade is Daksh which is for Districts scoring more than 90% of the total points in that category or overall. The lowest grade in PGI-D is called Akanshi-3 which is for scores upto10% of the total points.
Significance: The index is expected to help the state education departments to identify gaps at the district level and improve their performance in a decentralized manner.
What are the key findings of the index?
No district achieved the ‘Daksh’ rating in both years.
Three districts from Rajasthan have scored more than 80% in school education performance and achieved the ‘Utkarsh’ grade which is the second highest grade.
Other observations made by the report
Schools across India performed poorly under the category of digital learning.
Around 61% of districts of the country had very little exposure to digital learning due to limited availability of computers, Internet facilities and teachers trained to handle technological tools in schools.
There is also a clear rural-urban divide in the area of digital learning. For instance, while districts in cities like Chandigarh and Delhi scored between 25 and 35 out of 50, places like Bihar’s Araria and Kishanganj scored as low as 2.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Where is Kaliningrad, why is it in focus amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict?” published in Indian Express on 28th June 2022
What is the News?
As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, the spotlight is on Kaliningrad, Russia’s westernmost region. The region is at the centre of a row after Lithuania decided to ban goods part of EU sanctions from moving through its territory to reach Kaliningrad.
Where is Kaliningrad?
Kaliningrad is located on the Baltic Sea. It is Russia’s westernmost federal entity. It is situated almost 300 km away from mainland Russia and shares no borders with it.
Kaliningrad borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. Essentially, Kaliningrad is Russian territory surrounded by NATO.
Why does Kaliningrad belong to Russia?
The present-day Kaliningrad used to be part of the Kingdom of Prussia and had a mixed Polish, Lithuanian and German-speaking population.
After the defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, the territory was ceded to Soviet Russia. Its main city, known in German times as Königsberg, was renamed Kaliningrad — the same name given to the entire area.
After the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, Kaliningrad became part of Russia.
Why is Kaliningrad important for Russia?
Kaliningrad is of prime strategic importance to Russia. Not only is it Russia’s gateway to the Baltic Sea, but is also the headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet.
Kaliningrad also houses Russian combat forces, advanced air defences and the mobile nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles.
Kaliningrad also serves as a warm water port for Russia round the year, which means Russia’s shipping operations in and out of the exclave do not get hindered due to harsh winters.
What has happened now?
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU imposed heavy sanctions on the Russian economy. To enforce the sanctions, Lithuania has decided to ban goods part of EU sanctions from moving through its territory to reach Kaliningrad.
Russia has termed this move as unprecedented and called it illegal. It is said that the consequences of this will have a serious impact on the population of Lithuania.
Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment(PGII) Initiative: G7 leaders unveil $600 billion plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative in developing nations
Source: The post is based on the article “G7 leaders unveil $600 billion plan to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative in developing nations” published in The Hindu on 27th June 2022
What is the News?
The US President, along with the heads of other G7 member states has launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment(PGII) Initiative.
What is the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment(PGII) Initiative?
It is a $600-billion global infrastructure investment partnership aimed at helping developing countries.
The initiative was first unveiled at the 2021 G7 summit in Britain, UK. At that time, it was called the Build Back Better Initiative.
The initiative will help developing countries make improvements in four core areas: 1) Healthcare, 2) Digital connectivity, 3) Gender equality and equity and 4) Climate and energy security.
The initiative has been viewed as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which critics have termed a ‘debt trap’.
|Read more: B3W – An alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative|
How will this initiative benefit India?
The initiative could benefit developing countries particularly India by offering finance for decarbonisation efforts.
Indian entrepreneurs and companies working to increase food security and improve the rural economy also stand to benefit from this global infrastructure investment partnership.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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’?