9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 3rd, 2022

Dear Friends,

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

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

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Do we need a law to compensate those implicated in false cases?

Source: This post is based on the article “Do we need a law to compensate those implicated in false cases?” published in The Hindu on 3rd June 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions

Relevance: Compensation for arrest in false cases

Context: In October 2021, Aryan Khan, son of actor Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested in Mumbai by the Narcotics Control Bureau in a drug racket case.

Now, on May 28, he and five others were given a clean chit by a special investigation team from Delhi.

Besides highlighting the torment suffered by him and his family, Aryan Khan’s case also threw the focus on the countless victims of malicious prosecution, many of whom are resourceless.

In this article, the participants have discussed the following:

– whether those who have been implicated in false cases should be compensated?

– reasons for wrongful and malicious prosecution, the role of investigating officers and agencies along with the judiciary, and

– whether India needs a new law to decide on the quantum of compensation?

Why do falsely implicated persons need to be compensated?

There are several reasons why a person should be compensated if there is false implication

– Our justice delivery system is painfully slow. There are instances where persons have spent eight, 10 or more years under trial.

– There is the mental trauma that not only a person, but also their family and children undergo.

– There is social stigma. In a village, where people know one another, maybe not intimately but they know who’s who, the family of the one who is falsely accused gets ostracised. It may not happen in a big city like Mumbai or Delhi.

Children also suffer. A child who is going to school and if the teacher or some other child says that this boy’s father is a terrorist, and he’s in jail, it is bound to affect the child.

The Delhi High Court on a couple of occasions has said the person needs to be compensated for having been kept in jail, even though he’s entitled to bail and all the papers are in order.

What needs to be done to prevent false implication of people?

More professional scrutiny by the senior officers of enforcement agencies. For instance: In Aryan Khan’s case, a senior officer could have applied his mind and maybe advised the overenthusiastic officers on the professional lines of investigation.

Role of the prosecutors – They are neither with the police nor with the investigating agencies; they are independent officers of the court. When the investigating agency or police are saying that a person is involved, and want his custody, the prosecutors can point out to the enforcement agencies that they are wrong; so they should not ask for custody.

There can be a departmental inquiry against an errant officer or he can be dismissed from service.

The state must also take responsibility in case of wrongful confinement.

If the judicial officer feels or thinks that the investigating agency does not have enough evidence, or it’s going blatantly wrong, they should not hand over the custody either to the agency or to prison.

Does India need a new law to ensure disbursement of compensation?

Legislation must be brought on this issue to ensure a standard practice of compensation disbursal. It is possible that one court in a small State may think that giving ₹5 lakh compensation to someone is a good idea, but a High Court in a bigger State may say, what is ₹5 lakh? It’s nothing, we should give at least ₹10 lakh.

Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code talks of a false charge of offence made with an intent to injure. It can lead to two years of imprisonment, or up to seven years. This section is valid for malicious prosecutions, but further legislation for compensation would be a welcome step.


India-Pakistan ties and the mirror of 2019

Source: The post is based on an article “India-Pakistan ties and the mirror of 2019” published in the “The Hindu “on 3rd June 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 International Relationships; Bilateral Relations

Relevance: India-Pakistan Relations

News: Recently, the official delegation from Pakistan visited New Delhi to hold talks with its Indian counterparts. This was done under the aegis of the Indus Water Treaty.

Recent Developments

India has been sending consignments of wheat to the Taliban-run Afghanistan via Pakistan, under the World Food Programme.

Since the Ladakh border crisis on the Line of Actual Control with China in the summer of 2020, the Indian leadership has not been targeting Pakistan as an enemy country.

The Indian and Pakistan armies agreed to a reiteration of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir in February 2021.

What are the reasons for re-engagement between India and Pakistan?

The Ladakh border crisis raised the threat of a collusive military threat between China and Pakistan. Therefore, India has resorted to diplomatic, economic, informational, and military engagement.

For example, India’s National Security Adviser opened backchannel talks with Pakistan, using the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an interlocutor.

The Kashmir’s Assembly constituencies delimitation has been completed. The Jammu and Kashmir statehood could also be restored in the coming future.

Despite, security-centric approach, J&K violence has gone up in the past year or so. Pakistan has been involved in this violence. It has been alleged of sending weapons and militants, thus thwarting a lasting solution in Kashmir.

For example, all the resources of the Indian state have now been devoted towards a successful conduct of the Amarnath Yatra.

Recently, the Pakistan government has changed. It is seen as a positive in New Delhi. Both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party are now part of the government with which Indian official establishment has had good relationship.

What are the possible challenges?

Pakistan has set two preconditions for initiating reengagement: (1) restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir; and (2) an announcement of no demographic change in the Kashmir Valley.

Recently, Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik was sentenced. His sentencing also earned a strong statement of condemnation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

The environment in Pakistan is not conducive for any positive move. Their domestic politics [Imran Khan garnering support against the establishment], economy in doldrums etc. are posing challenges.

Both Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed countries which have threatened to shoot missiles at each other on a number of mishaps.

Way Forward

In response, the Foreign Minister of India has rejected the condemnation from the OIC.

There are some low-hanging fruits which can be plucked the moment a political go-ahead is given.

For example, the Sir Creek dispute resolution, revival of bilateral trade, return of High Commissioners to the missions in Delhi and Islamabad, and build-up of diplomatic missions to their full strength.

Further, there can be demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier later on.

India and Pakistan would have a new window of opportunity in the coming years. For example, Pakistan would have elections, there will be a fresh Pakistan Army chief, Jammu and Kashmir may have a new State government after elections, India to have re-election in 2024 etc.

Indian leadership must shift course from belligerence to a proper diplomatic and political engagement with Pakistan.


GST Council must uphold fiscal federalism

Source: The post is based on an article “GST Council must hold fiscal federalism” published in the Indian Express on 3rd June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 Issues and Challenges pertaining to the federal strucutre

Relevance: Fiscal Federalism; GST Council

News: Recently, the Supreme Court has given its verdict on the nature of recommendations made by the GST Council. The verdict included an important observation on Indian federalism, especially on it being a dialogue between cooperative and uncooperative federalism.

Background of the Case

The case was an appeal to the SC against the Gujarat High Court Judgment which had quashed the two notifications that levied IGST (Integrated GST) on the ocean freight component in a CIF (cost, insurance and freight) contract on account of being unconstitutional and double taxation.

Submissions by the Union of India

As per Articles 246A and 279A, the GST Council is the ultimate policy-making and decision-making body for framing GST laws.

The GST Council recommendations would override the legislative power of Parliament and state legislatures and would be binding on Parliament and state legislatures.

The Supreme Court’s Observations on federalism in this case

The SC rejected the UOI submissions. It held that the sovereignty of Parliament and the state legislatures, as well as the fiscal autonomy of the states cannot be diminished.

Democracy and federalism are interdependent for their survival. If the states had been conferred less power, they could still resist the Union mandate through different forms of political contestation as permitted by constitutional design.

Article 246A confers simultaneous or concurrent powers on Parliament and the state legislatures to make laws relating to GST. It is unlike the constitutional scheme that prevailed till 2017 in which taxing powers were clearly demarcated between the Centre and states with no overlaps.

Under Article 279A, the GST Council has to make “recommendations” on various topics including the tax rate and exemptions.

The GST Council recommendations have only a persuasive value. Both the Union and states have been conferred equal power to legislate on GST. The binding recommendations would disrupt fiscal federalism.

Article 279A has made no provision to make the decision of the majority binding on the dissenting states. Several sections in the state GST laws, CGST and IGST have made it binding on dissenting states to issue notifications to implement the recommendations of the GST Council.

The court held that the states are free to use means of persuasion ranging from collaboration to contestation on federalism in general, and fiscal federalism in particular.

Way Forward

The state legislatures can amend their GST laws if they so choose to remove the binding nature in the statutes.

The GST Council is founded on the bedrock of collaborative federalism. The GST Council should meet periodically. There should be active participation of all the states so that there is careful deliberation in the national interest. Thereafter, no state will oppose the GST Council recommendation.

The spirit of cooperative and collaborative federalism should prevail in the functioning of the GST Council.


Myanmar’s internal situation shouldn’t hobble India’s ‘Act East’ policy

Source: The post is based on an article “Myanmar’s internal situation shouldn’t hobble India’s Act East Policy” published in the Indian Express on 3rd June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations; and GS 3 Indian Economy, Issues and Challenges in Growth and Development, Inclusive Development

Relevance: North-East Region, Act East Policy

News: In 2021, Myanmar’s military took over the civilian government. Now, there are reliable reports of the strengthening of the People’s Defence Force, with the support of various ethnic militias. There is no sign of the restoration of normalcy.

Implications on India

For India, the coup has caused an adverse impact on its Act East policy. The policy is going nowhere due to present dispensation in Myanmar.

It has thwarted India’s land outreach towards the vibrant economies of South East Asia as well as has retarded development in the Northeast.

The lack of movement in terms of North-East development has led to a series of unfortunate incidents that indicate a resurgence in anti-India posturing in the region.

  • For example, there seems to be a resurgence of the insurgent groups in the N-E. Many insurgent groups are operating from the Sagaing Division and Chin State in Myanmar.

There are also reports that the Chinese intelligence is supporting the militant groups working against India.

Way Forward

The disruption of the existing supply chain linkages due to the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have created prospects for developing fresh trade linkages with the nations of Southeast Asia and the far east.

A fresh look needs to be taken at both the furtherance of the Act East policy, as well as the security matrix that governs the Northeast. The following is recommended:

India can build upon favorable bilateral relations with Bangladesh under Sheikh Hasina.

– India can open a new axis of land-sea connectivity for promoting trade and commerce with Southeast Asia.

– The inland of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura can be connected to the ports of Bangladesh. The inland water transport (IWT) on the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers can be exploited.

India should not dilute its efforts to ensure that peace and stability return to Myanmar. There is a need for continued engagement, both formal and informal, with the warring factions in Myanmar.

India should build appropriate infrastructure such as container depots, cold storage facilities and seamless highways for transport of the Indian manufactured goods in the Northeast via Bangladesh.

The government should constitute an inter-ministerial empowered department for monitoring and facilitating projects that support India’s Act East policy.

The government should create “integrated defence zones” around the “free move regime” to weaken the strike capability of the insurgent groups. The zones should be jointly manned by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) and the Indian Army/Assam Rifles.

Further, the Assam Rifles should remain under the control of the Indian Army. This force should undertake intelligence operations for greater transparency of the events within Myanmar and further the national strategy.

The Government of India should improve the security situation, and also reassure the locals that the region’s interest is paramount.

GS Paper 3


States should focus on the quality of public expenditure

Source: This post is based on the article “States should focus on the quality of public expenditure” published in Livemint on 3rd June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Economy – Mobilization of resources

Relevance: GST and related issues, public expenditure management

News: States were guaranteed bi-monthly compensation for any loss of revenue in the first 5 years of GST implementation from 1 July 2017. The 5-year period will end on 30 June and there is a growing demand from many states to extend the GST compensation mechanism beyond that.

Given this uncertainty over the extension of GST compensation and the possibility of it tapering off at least in the medium term, it is imperative for states to devise strategies towards prudent public expenditure management.

How can states create additional fiscal space?

Additional fiscal space can only be created through two routes:

either by enhancing both tax and non-tax revenues, or

by careful expenditure management.

As possibilities for the first route are constrained within the federal system, the second route could be a pragmatic approach.

In this context, getting expenditure priorities right and efficiently utilizing funds is of paramount importance.

The 13th Finance Commission had also suggested that due weightage be given to “the need to improve the quality of public expenditure to obtain better outputs and outcomes” from fiscal transfers.

What is the key constituent of prudent public expenditure management?

An important constituent of the quality of public expenditure is reducing committed expenditures in budgets and focusing on outlays that are “future-” and “growth-oriented”.

– This entails an assessment of the institutional arrangements relevant to the fiscal rules and budgetary procedures in states.

Steps already taken

As a first step, a system of performance budgeting was introduced to assess performance against set goals/objectives. However, this was not able to establish a clear one-to-one relationship between financial budgets and performance.

Outcome budgeting was introduced in 2006-07, which also recognized that outlays do not necessarily mean outcomes.

What is the RBI’s triple E framework?

A framework was suggested by the RBI study in 2009. This study proposes a “triple E framework” to assess expenditure quality, which has constituents of expenditure adequacy, effectiveness and efficiency.

– Expenditure adequacy is in terms of focusing on the government’s primary role.

– effectiveness is about assessing performance, and

– efficiency involves an assessment of the output-input ratio.

What are the present trends wrt public expenditure of states?

Present patterns of public expenditure in many states are unlikely to pass the test set out by the RBI study’s ‘triple E’ framework.

Expenditure adequacy: The classic case of new welfarism has been the proliferation of subsidies and freebies. Increased allocations for these have often resulted in inadequate allocations for public goods, and hence, low provisioning levels.

Once expenditure adequacy is undermined with expanded subsidies and freebies, the scope for assessing effectiveness and efficiency gets narrower and is limited to expanding the coverage of such schemes.

Even though freebies and subsidies increase private consumption and could generate growth in the short term, these reduce fiscal space in the long term.

Way forward

States need to rationalize expenditure, which includes reassessing the continued desirability of specific expenditure programmes, such as unbridled subsidy expansion. Such an approach would also help in realizing possible efficiency gains in the provision of public goods and services, and thus create fiscal space.

States need to look beyond GST compensation and adopt a long-term view to manage finances. The long-term solution rests on state efforts at revenue raising, expenditure re-prioritization or rationalization and judicious borrowings.

State finance commissions (SFCs) – In most states, state governments are either apathetic towards the institution of SFCs, or, in certain cases, poor implementers of the recommendations made. For the sake of their own finances, states must change this.


Asset monetisation

Source: This post is based on the article “Asset monetisation” published in the Business Standard on 2nd June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Economy  – Mobilization of Resources

Relevance: Asset monetisation and related issues

News: The Union government’s asset monetisation plan seems to be facing resistance from government departments and public sector enterprises (PSEs).

The government’s target of mobilising Rs 1.62 trillion in the current fiscal year would thus become difficult to achieve.

What is the progress of Asset monetisation plan?

As per reports, PSEs in the oil and gas sector, such as Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation, and GAIL, may not go ahead with the pipeline monetisation plan.

The government was expecting these firms to transfer part of their pipeline assets to infrastructure investment trusts and raise resources.

– The asset monetisation pipeline of central government departments and PSEs is estimated to have a monetisation potential of Rs 6 trillion by 2024-25. The idea is to transfer public sector assets to the private sector for a limited period to unlock value and reinvest the proceeds in other or new assets. Expected efficient use of assets in private hands will also increase overall benefits

Another report suggested the Ministry of Railways and Department of Telecommunications are also lowering their target for asset monetisation, and will depend more on internal resources and budgetary support for investment.

Why are PSEs reluctant to monetise their assets and the resultant impact?

The petroleum sector PSEs consider pipelines core assets and are reportedly not keen to monetise them.

These firms are also said to have argued that they are in a better position to mobilise funds from the markets at a lower cost for investment.

Impact:

The reported reluctance among the PSEs and government departments to monetise assets could affect the overall investment in the economy.

Why asset monetisation is needed?

Since private sector consumption and investment demand are still weak, higher government expenditure can help revive demand.

Although the government has been supporting the economy with higher investment, its finances are stretched, and it is not in a position to significantly increase the scope of expenditure.

In this context, asset recycling and monetisation could be useful in pushing up overall investment in the economy. Although India needs higher investment in general, its importance in the post-pandemic period has only increased.

Way forward

Since some participants seem unwilling, the government would do well to reassess the asset monetisation plan. It is likely that some PSEs are unwilling to give up control of core assets for good reasons and should not be forced to do so.

To be sure, a one-size-fits-all solution may not work. The idea of transferring assets for a defined duration can work well in a sector like roads, for instance. In the petroleum sector, the inability to pass on higher prices will dent the profitability and investment capability of PSEs, which may not be covered by asset monetisation.

Further, the government should push full privatisation of PSEs. Asset monetisation in state-owned telecom companies, for instance, is unlikely to take them very far.

The govt departments that hold large assets, such as the railways, will need to be dealt with differently. Different kinds of assets will need different methods for monetisation.


A ban on wheat exports was the country’s least damaging option

Source: This post is based on the article “A ban on wheat exports was the country’s least damaging option” published in Livemint on 3rd June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Economy

Relevance: Wheat export ban and related issues

Context: The Indian export ban on wheat in mid-May drew much negative attention. The ban was on private sector wheat exports, leaving open government-to-government contracts.

The widespread criticism of the ban was misplaced.

Details about the wheat export ban and related issues

The issue has been covered in detail in the following articles,

Why the criticism of the wheat export ban is unwarranted?

Economists routinely condemn sudden policy reversals because these erode trust in government. However, in this case, it was the least damaging of options before the government.

Reducing the free food grain would have been an even more disastrous betrayal of public trust.

To have provided farmers a bonus above the MSP of 250 per quintal, so as to outcompete export demand, would have been a fiscally disastrous additionality to the food subsidy.

In the midst of a fiscal watch on public debt levels, and inflation concerns, all avenues were blocked other than a ban on free-flowing wheat exports.

The wheat export ban signalled cognizance by the government of the need for multiple actions to stem inflation

How have other countries responded to India’s wheat export ban?

International calls to reverse the ban continue.

At a high-level ministerial meeting in New York on ‘Global Food Security: Call to Action’, India was reminded of its global responsibilities, especially in the context of its upcoming role as chair of the G-20.

The issue figured prominently in a meeting of the UN Security Council. And of course, it will come up at the G-7 meeting later this month in Germany.

The immediate reason for the ban was the drop in the production of wheat due to extreme heatwave conditions caused by global warming and climate change.

Global leaders reminding India of its responsibilities have themselves not come through with their climate finance commitments.

Way forward

The principle is clear.

The setting of global targets and monitoring of individual country contributions cannot be selectively done by a powerful subset of countries. Countries outside that exclusive subset have to be allowed to retreat from commitments to the free flow of exports if their domestic imperatives compel them to do so.


Price Of Wrong Price Strategy

Source: The post is based on an article “Price of wrong price strategy” published in the Times of India on 3rd June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy, Issues and Challenges in growth and development of the Indian Economy

Relevance: Inflation Targeting

News: India is now facing a dual problem of low growth and high inflation at the time when India is facing a historic opportunity to use exports to boost India’s GDP growth.

Historic Opportunities

Two large countries China and Russia are reducing their presence on the international trade landscape, providing opportunities to India:

– China, the main export engine of the world has been shutting down its factories, and MNCs are looking for new production locations, and

Russia is facing strict economic sanctions

What is the status of inflation and growth in the Indian Economy?

Inflation

Inflation has been surging alarmingly over the past few weeks. The CPI (consumer price index) inflation was close to 8% in April against the RBI’s legally mandated target of 4%.

Growth

The economic recovery has been much weaker than expected. The growth was 4.1% in the fourth quarter of 2021-22.

What are the driving forces behind rising inflation?

This has been primarily due to supply-side bottlenecks. This has been triggered first by the pandemic and subsequently by the Russia-Ukraine War and lockdowns in China.

Measures Taken Now

(A) Monetary Policy Strategy

RBI has been pursuing an easy monetary policy. For example, RBI is still in “accommodative” mode.

(B) Fiscal Policy Strategy

The central government is trying hard to bring down the cost of commodities.

The central government has now announced a slew of measures to ease the supply constraints. For example, ban on wheat exports, cap on sugar exports, lowering of the excise tax on petrol and diesel, reduction in the import duty on steel, imposition of an export duty on steel products and increased the export duty on iron ore among others.

What are the issues in the RBI and the government measures to tackle inflation?

(A) Monetary policy

Despite having supply constraints, RBI’s monetary policy is aimed at encouraging demand. As a result, inflation has been increasing.

(B) Fiscal Policy
It is going to have a modest effect on inflation because inflation is now broad-based. It means, it has extended to virtually every good and service in the economy.

Instead of the inflation containment, the government’s interventions will damage growth by undermining exports and investment.

How will the government measures impact the growth?

The government’s actions will have only a marginal effect on inflation. These efforts may cause significant damage to the incipient recovery.

India has unprecedented scope to attract international firms to produce and export from here. But, exploiting the opportunities requires an appropriate policy stance, and a stable and consistent trade policy.

The radical policy exposes both exporters and importers to large losses. For example, firms cannot fulfil their contracts. Thus, foreign firms will be reluctant to place orders with Indian firms.

MNCs will be discouraged from shifting their production to India due to a risk that its exports could be banned, and its imports may be subjected to high duties overnight.

The Centre’s revenue will see reduction due to reduction in excise taxes on petrol and diesel.

Way Forward

The macroeconomic policy has the delicate task of simultaneously tackling inflation and promoting the recovery. Therefore,

The RBI must take full responsibility to tackle inflation. It should give a clear signal that it will focus only on bringing inflation down without getting distracted by any other objective.

The government should focus on growth. It should reduce market interventions, eliminate prohibitions, and dismantle trade barriers. This will incentivise the firms to export and invest.

The government needs to step back from the inflation fight, and instead encourage RBI to tighten monetary policy.


Evaluating the arsenal

Source: The post is based on an article “Evaluating the arsenal” published in the Business Standard on 3rd June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Security

Relevance: Various Security Forces and their Mandate

News: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Army are assessing procurement of another 100-200 mobile SP howitzers. The additional 200 guns would equip 10 medium artillery regiments.

Historical trends

(1) Medieval Times

In 1526, Babur defeated the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodhi and won the First Battle of Panipat.

Babur was able to do so simply by deploying and employing artillery skilfully.

Whereas Ibrahim Lodhi failed to register victory despite having a large number of troops, and war elephants because he had no field artillery in the battle.

(2) Modern Times

India´s modern military learnt the importance of artillery usage from World War II and India’s experience in the 1947-48 Kashmir campaign, the 1962 Sino-Indian war, 1965 war and 1971 war when India hardly had any artillery.

In the 1999 Kargil War, the artillery demonstrated its utility. For example, Bofors FH77 gun destroyed or degraded the enemy´s combat potential.

Artillery numbers 

Today, India has about 226 artillery regiments. India is looking to increase the artillery regiments to 270. Each regiment would have about 18 artillery guns plus two reserve guns. Thus, the total arsenal will amount to 5,400 artillery pieces.

Mediumisation of all the artillery regiments has been done in wake of the Kargil War. This involves replacing 105 mm and 130 mm field guns with 155 mm medium guns.

Multi-barrelled rocket launchers: Their number is growing. For example, 6 units of the indigenous Pinaka, 3 Russian SMERCH regiments and 5 Russian GRAD BM21 regiments.

In addition, there are three units of BrahMos cruise missiles, and a fourth under raising.

Sophisticated surveillance and target acquisition (SATA) systems. This picks up and locates enemy guns and radars that can then be destroyed by counterfire. India has indigenous Swati weapon locating radar.

India has LOROS (long-range recce and observation system) systems which have been imported from Israel. They are used to detect locations of enemy guns and batteries.

Over the last five years. The Indian army’s five artillery regiments have been equipped with 100 guns called as K 9 Vajra.

What are the issues?

The army has long been deficient in artillery, which is the most lethal killer in today’s modern battlefields.

The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Ordnance Factory Board have failed to design and manufacture affordable, long-range artillery guns in India. Therefore, the army is lacking in firepower.

At the same time, the MoD has failed to address the shortfall by acquiring guns from the international market.

For example, the present acquisition of the artillery gun is inadequate, given, each strike corps is authorised four medium SP regiments, each with 20 howitzers.

Way Forward

(A) Increasing gun performance:  The chamber size of the artillery gun can be increased. This would increase the range and capability of guns. More chamber size allows burning of more propellant, creating greater pressure on the projectile, propelling it further. That increases the range of the ammunition.

For example, the DRDO’s Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) has a 25litre chamber.

(B) Precision of the artillery gun can be improved: A gun with greater precision needs to fire less ammunition for achieving the desired effect on a target. This can be done using following technologies:

The Excalibur ammunition: the projectile is guided precisely to the target with the help of onboard inertial and GPS guidance. However, it is not in service with us.

– Krasnopol: This is another type of guided ammunition. The projectile is guided onto the target with a laser designator. However, India´s stocks of Krasnopol have been destroyed because they were now outdated.

Increase projectile range without increasing chamber capacity or the length of the barrel: This can be done by putting a ramjet on the rear of the projectile. For example – BAE Systems is already doing that.

(D) Higher performance explosives can be placed in projectiles in order to improve the lethality. The DRDO´s High Energy Materials Research Laboratory is working on the bimodular charge systems.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Painted Leopard Gecko: Gecko found in Andhra, Odisha turns out to be a new species

What is the News?

Researchers have identified a new species of Gecko named Eublepharis pictus also known as the Painted Leopard Gecko.

What is a Painted Leopard Gecko?
Painted Leopard Gecko
Source: Indian Express

Discovered in: 2017

Genus: It belongs to the gecko genus Eublepharis

Geographical Distribution: It appears to be a common species in the forests of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Habitat: This species lives in dry evergreen forests mixed with scrub and meadows. 

Nocturnal Species: It is strictly nocturnal, actively foraging along trails in the forest after dusk. 

Significance: With this new gecko species, the gecko genus Eublepharis now contains seven species. The new species differs from all members of the genus Eublepharis except for the East Indian Leopard Gecko.

– The Brahmani River, which runs through the Eastern Ghats separates it geographically from the East Indian Leopard Gecko with which it shares a lot of similar traits.

Threats: The species is collected for the pet trade and even now may be smuggled illegally. Hence, the authors of a study suggesting it to be listed under Near Threatened category of IUCN Red List.

Source: The post is based on the article “Gecko found in Andhra, Odisha turns out to be a new species” published in Business Standard on 3rd June 2022.


A Unique Liquid-Mirror Telescope sees first light in the Indian Himalayas

What is the News?

India has commissioned an International Liquid Mirror Telescope(ILMT) in Devasthal, Uttarakhand.

What is the International Liquid Mirror Telescope(ILMT)?

Built by: Astronomers from India, Belgium and Canada.

Location: It is located at an altitude of 2450 meters at the Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Purpose: The telescope will help in surveying the sky, making it possible to observe several galaxies and other astronomical sources just by staring at the strip of sky that passes overhead. 

– For this, the telescope employs a 4-meter-diameter rotating mirror made up of a thin film of liquid mercury to collect and focus light. 

Duration: The ILMT will operate every night for five years and carry out daily imaging except between June and August monsoon months, as a precaution to protect the instruments from humid conditions.

Significance:  It is the first liquid mirror telescope in the country and the largest in Asia.

Note: ILMT will be the third telescope to be operating from Devasthal after the 3.6-metre Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT) — the largest in India commissioned in 2016 — and the 1.3-metre Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) inaugurated in 2010.

Read more: Trans- Himalayan region becoming one of the promising astronomical sites globally

Source: The post is based on the articleA Unique Liquid-Mirror Telescope sees first light in the Indian Himalayaspublished in PIB on 2nd June 2022.


India, Israel seek links on futuristic defence tech

What is the News?

The Israel Defence Minister is on a visit to India.

Note: 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of the official diplomatic ties between India and Israel.

What are the key highlights of his visit to India?

Signed Vision Statement

India and Israel signed a ‘Vision Statement’ to further deepen the defence cooperation in a manner that harnesses Israel’s “technological advance and operational experience” together with India’s “extraordinary development and production capabilities”.

In addition, they discussed partnerships within the government-to-government framework, military training, and technological cooperation with a focus on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and defensive capabilities.

India-Israel Defence Cooperation: Israel has been one of India’s top defence partners supplying a range of high-end defence equipment. For instance:

Indian armed forces rely heavily on Israeli Searcher and Heron UAVs to meet their surveillance requirements.

In 2020, the Indian Army inducted Negev Light Machine Guns from Israel.

In 2021, the Army placed orders for smaller, expendable ‘SkyStriker’ drones to be manufactured in Bengaluru by a joint venture between Israel’s Elbit System and India’s Alpha Design Technologies.

In October 2021, India and Israel had agreed to form a task force to formulate a comprehensive 10-year roadmap to identify new areas of cooperation as part of efforts to further advance the bilateral defence cooperation.

The two countries also have several joint development projects in the pipeline, including the Long Range Surface to Air Missile also called Barak-8 for the Indian Navy’s warships.

Read more: Explained: The India-Israel relationship

Source: The post is based on the article “India, Israel seek links on futuristic defence techpublished in The Hindu on 3rd June 2022.


Explained: How ‘Use and File’ system will bring new health insurance products faster

What is the News?

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI) has decided to extend the ‘Use and File’ procedure to all health insurance products. The move is expected to facilitate faster customer access to health policies.

What is the Current System?

Under the current system, an insurance firm wishing to introduce a new product has to first file an application with the IRDAI and use the product for sale in the market only after getting all regulatory approvals”.

What is the “Use and File” procedure?

Under ‘Use and File’, insurance firms are permitted to market products without the regulator’s prior approval, thus avoiding a long wait.

This means insurance firms can quickly introduce new schemes with innovative features, enabling people to participate and cover their health expenses. 

How will this be beneficial?

The move offers flexibility to insurers to offer products that may cover the immediate needs of customers on account of a changing environment.

For instance, if there is a new disease that emerges, ‘Use and File’ will allow insurers to design a product covering that disease and offer it immediately, rather than waiting for approval.

What if the IRDAI raises concerns over such a product later?

If a customer has already taken an insurance policy launched under ‘Use and File’, and the IRDAI later raises concerns about it, then it can lead to some rethinking. 

The customer will continue to get the benefits of the policy for the first year, and if the insurance company makes amendments in line with the regulator’s apprehensions, the customer will still get these benefits. 

However, if the policy is withdrawn as a result of IRDAI’s intervention, the product will no longer be available for renewal in the second year. 

What is the status of the health insurance business in India?

The health insurance business is the fastest-growing segment in the insurance sector and accounts for a 33.33% market share in the general insurance industry.

For instance, there were 26.54 lakh claims under the Covid health insurance category until April 2022. These claims are reimbursement for treatment and hospitalization expenses. Many insurers have seen over 100% claims during the peak of the pandemic.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How ‘Use and File’ system will bring new health insurance products faster” published in Indian Express on 3rd June 2022.


In a first, IIM-Ahmedabad brings out agriculture land price index

What is the News?

IIM-Ahmedabad(IIM-A) has joined hands with SFarms India (an e-marketplace for agricultural land) to launch a farm land price index called IIM-Ahmedabad SFarmsIndia Land Price Index (ISALPI).

What is IIM-Ahmedabad SFarmsIndia Land Price Index (ISALPI)?
Land price Index
Source: Business Standard

Launched by: IM-Ahmedabad(IIM-A) and SFarms India (an e-marketplace for agricultural land).

Purpose: The index has been designed to record and present the “quality-controlled” data on prices of agricultural land in the country.

The index will track the price movements in the marketplace and come up with a composite pricing mechanism on a monthly basis which will be updated twice a year.

Pilot Launch: The index has been started on a pilot basis in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh.

Significance of the index: The index will be a reliable source in benchmarking land prices in rural and semi-urban areas and help in signalling converting agricultural land into real estate.

– Moreover, the index can also be used by local governments to compensate people who lose land for highway expansion.

Source: The post is based on the article “In a first, IIM-Ahmedabad brings out agriculture land price index” published in Business Standard on 3rd June 2022.


Explained: What is sologamy or ‘self-marriage’?

What is the News?

A woman from Gujarat has announced that she would marry herself in what she described as an “act of self-love”. This wedding is seen as one of the country’s first instances of self-marriage or “sologamy”.

What is Sologamy?

Sologamy is the act of marrying oneself in a public ceremony, also referred to as self-marriage or autogamy. 

While such a marriage has no legal sanction or status, the symbolic ceremony is used by many as an act to emphasize their self-love and independence.

When did the trend of Sologamy begin?

It can be traced back to a dental hygienist from the US who married herself in 1993. It is widely considered the first publicized act of self-marriage.

A sologamy divorce was also reported in 2021 when a Brazilian model announced she was ending her solo marriage after falling in love with someone else.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is sologamy or ‘self-marriage’?published in Indian Express on 2nd June 2022.


New Guidelines for Central Sector Scheme “Promotion of MSMEs in North Eastern Region and Sikkim” for enhancing productivity and competitiveness

What is the News?

The Central Government has approved New Guidelines of Central Sector Scheme “Promotion of MSMEs in North Eastern Region(NER) and Sikkim”.

What is the “Promotion of MSMEs in the North Eastern Region and Sikkim” Scheme?

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises(MSME)

Type: Central Sector Scheme

Aim: To provide financial support for enhancing the productivity and competitiveness as well as capacity building of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the NER and Sikkim. 

Components of the Scheme

Setting up of new and modernization of existing Mini Technology Centres: The Scheme envisages financial assistance to State Governments for setting up new and modernization of existing Mini Technology Centres. The financial assistance of the Central Government will be 90% with maximum assistance up to 13.50 crore.

Development of new and existing Industrial Estates: The financial assistance will be provided for the development of new and existing Industrial Estates and Flatted Factory Complexes. The financial assistance of the Government will be 90%. 

Development of Tourism Sector: The financial assistance will be provided for the creation of common services such as kitchen, bakery, laundry & dry cleaning, refrigeration and cold storage among others. The financial assistance of the Government will be 90% with maximum assistance limited to Rs. 4.50 crore.

Source: The post is based on the articleNew Guidelines for Central Sector Scheme “Promotion of MSMEs in North Eastern Region and Sikkim” for enhancing productivity and competitivenesspublished in PIB on 2nd June 2022.


Integrated Landscape Management Plan For Greater Panna Landscape Released

What is the News?

The government of India has released the final report of the Integrated Landscape Management Plan for Greater Panna Landscape. 

What is the Integrated Landscape Management Plan for Greater Panna Landscape? 

Prepared by: Wildlife Institute of India(WII)

Purpose: The plan has been prepared in respect of the Ken-Betwa Link Project which has been approved by the Government of India in 2021.

Key Features of the Plan

The Plan analyzed the data and came up with detailed site-specific inputs for the implementation of the proposed activities under the Ken-Betwa Link Project.

For instance, it provides for better habitat protection and management of flagship species such as Tigers, Vultures and Gharial. 

What is the significance of the plan?

The plan will help to holistically consolidate the landscape for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, especially in forest-dependent communities. 

It is also expected to enhance tiger carrying capacity in the landscape by strengthening connectivity with Nauradehi Wildlife sanctuary and Durgavati Wildlife sanctuary in MP and Ranipur Wildlife sanctuary in UP.

Source: The post is based on the articleIntegrated Landscape Management Plan For Greater Panna Landscape Releasedpublished in PIB on 2nd June 2022.


India to oppose continuation of moratorium on customs duties on e-com trade at WTO meet

What is the News?

India will strongly oppose the continuation of the moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce trade at the World Trade Organization(WTO)’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland.

What is the E-transmission Moratorium?  

WTO members have agreed not to impose customs duty on electronic transmission since 1998 and the moratorium has been periodically extended at the Ministerial Conferences, which is the highest decision-making body of the WTO.

The moratorium is on digitizable products like photographic films, cinematographic films, printed matter, music, media, software and video games.

The validity of the current extension on the moratorium is up to the 12th ministerial which will be held in June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.

What will be India’s stand on E-transmission Moratorium?

At the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC) in June 2022, many WTO members are seeking a temporary extension of the moratorium till the 13th MC, but India does not want this time to continue this further.

India and other countries like South Africa on several occasions have asked the WTO to revisit the issue and have highlighted the adverse impact of the moratorium on developing countries.

Why is India opposing the extension of the E-transmission Moratorium?

India is witnessing an exponential rise in imports of electronic transmissions, mainly of items like movies, music, video games and printed matter, some of which could fall within the scope of the moratorium.

Allowing the moratorium to lapse is important for developing nations like India to preserve policy space for their digital advancement, to regulate imports and generate revenue through customs duties.

For instance, it has been argued that the percentage of customs revenue lost due to foregoing duty on e-transmission for developing nations is 4.35% while that of the developed countries is a mere 0.24%.

Moreover, it has been estimated that India loses about $500 million annually due to the E-transmission Moratorium.

Source: The post is based on the article “India to oppose continuation of moratorium on customs duties on e-com trade at WTO meet” published in The Hindu on 31st May 2022.


Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 campaign commences

What is the News?

The Union Health Ministry has launched “Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0” to accelerate the pace and coverage of COVID19 vaccination across States and UTs.

What is the Har Ghar Dastak campaign?

The Har Ghar Dastak campaign was launched in Nov 2021.

Under this campaign, healthcare workers in all the States visited door-to-door to vaccinate people eligible for second dose and also those who have not taken the first dose.

What is Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0?

Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 will be implemented from 1st June 2022 to 31st July 2022. 

Objective: To vaccinate and cover the eligible population groups for first, second and precaution doses through door-to-door campaigns. 

Focus of the campaign: The focus will remain on improving sub-optimal coverage of persons aged ≥ 60years with precaution dose along with considerably slower speed of coverage in the 12-14 years, old age homes, schools/colleges , prisons, brick kilns etc.

Source: The post is based on the article “Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 campaign commencespublished in PIB on 1st June 2022.

Mains Answer Writing

Must Read Current Affairs Articles – July 2, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – July 2, 2022

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[Download] – Rammohan Meena AIR 328 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies + Testimonial

Dear Friends, We are happy to release the Mains answer copies of Rammohan Meena. He has secured AIR 328 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021. Aspirants can learn from these copies and strategize their preparation accordingly. He has also written a letter to us:   Download link: Rammohan Meena MGP Copy 1 – GS… Continue reading [Download] – Rammohan Meena AIR 328 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies + Testimonial

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Green Hydrogen Is Critical to India’s Economic Development and Net-Zero Ambitions: Report

What is the News? NITI Aayog has released a report titled “Harnessing Green Hydrogen: Opportunities for Deep Decarbonisation in India”. What is Green Hydrogen? Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas produced through the electrolysis of water — an energy intensive process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen — using renewable power to achieve this. The… Continue reading Green Hydrogen Is Critical to India’s Economic Development and Net-Zero Ambitions: Report

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Explained: Who was Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, whose statue is coming up at the Bengaluru airport?

What is the News? A bronze statue of Nadaprabhu Kempegowda will be unveiled soon at the premises of the Kempegowda International Airport(KIA). Who is Nadaprabhu Kempegowda? Nadaprabhu Kempegowda is a 16th-century chieftain of the Vijayanagara empire. Community: He belonged to the Vokkaliga community in south Karnataka. Contributions:  He is credited as the founder of Bengaluru… Continue reading Explained: Who was Nadaprabhu Kempegowda, whose statue is coming up at the Bengaluru airport?

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Explained: What is ISRO’s ‘POEM’ platform?

What is the News? Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) PSLV-C53 rocket has successfully placed three Singaporean satellites into orbit. Besides placing these three Singaporean satellites in orbit, ISRO has also achieved the feat of successfully launching the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module or ‘POEM’. What is POEM? The PSLV Orbital Experimental Module is a platform that will… Continue reading Explained: What is ISRO’s ‘POEM’ platform?

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Assessment of States/UTs based on implementation of Business Reforms Action Plan for the year 2020 declared

What is the News? The Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs has announced the assessment of States/UTs under the Business Reforms Action Plan(BRAP) 2020. What is the Business Reforms Action Plan(BRAP)? Released by: Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry since 2014. Aim: To boost investor confidence, foster business-friendly… Continue reading Assessment of States/UTs based on implementation of Business Reforms Action Plan for the year 2020 declared

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PM participates in ‘Udyami Bharat’ programme

What is the News? The Prime Minister has participated in the ‘Udyami Bharat’ programme. During this, he launched several initiatives like 1) Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP) scheme, 2) Capacity Building of First-Time MSME Exporters(CBFTE) scheme, and 3) new features of the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) to ramp up the MSME sector. … Continue reading PM participates in ‘Udyami Bharat’ programme

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INS SATPURA ARRIVES AT PEARL HARBOUR IN HAWAII TO PARTICIPATE IN RIMPAC-22

What is the News? INS Satpura has entered Pearl Harbour in Hawaii Islands to participate in Rim of the Pacific(RIMPAC) exercise. Note: INS Satpura is an indigenously designed and built 6000-tonne guided missile stealth frigate equipped to seek and destroy adversary in air, surface and underwater.  What is Exercise RIMPAC?  It is one of the… Continue reading INS SATPURA ARRIVES AT PEARL HARBOUR IN HAWAII TO PARTICIPATE IN RIMPAC-22

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Vritika Research Internship

What is the News? The one-month-long Vritika Research Internship was concluded with the valedictory function organized by CSIR-NIScPR. What is Vritika? VRITIKA is the call for initiation and practice in science through the Training and Skill Internship. Objective: To provide necessary knowledge on converting research data into an indexed publication and exposure to processing of… Continue reading Vritika Research Internship

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High-speed expendable aerial target Abhyas successfully tested off Odisha coast

What is the News? India has successfully tested the indigenously-designed Abhyas – a High-speed Expendable Aerial Target(HEAT) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), off the coast of Odisha. What is Abhyas? Source: Wikipedia Designed and developed by: Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO Purpose: It offers a realistic threat scenario for practice of weapon systems.Hence,… Continue reading High-speed expendable aerial target Abhyas successfully tested off Odisha coast

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