9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 6th, 2022

Dear Friends,

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

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

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Unnatural urbanisation

Source: This post is based on the article “Unnatural urbanisation” published in the Business Standard on 5th June 22.

Syllabus: GS1 – Urbanisation

Relevance: Issues related to urban planning

News: Recently, a 20-minute thunderstorm in Delhi uprooted many trees, some of them between 40 and 50 years old, throwing the city out of gear for hours. This chaos, caused due to poor urban planning, has become a pattern whenever a pre-monsoon storm, with high-velocity winds, hits the city.

Delhi High Court has taken note of this. It pointed out that the growing concretisation of the city, without providing trees sufficient breathing space around their trunks, causes their roots to dry out and make them vulnerable to the elements.

Uprooting of old trees causes huge biodiversity destruction, not just of flora but also the birds and insects that have inhabited them for decades.

The lack of eco-sensitive urban planning in India is promoting an ecological and aesthetic disaster — for which Indians will pay in the long run.

How has unplanned urbanisation impacted Indian cities?

Chronic annual monsoon floods in Chennai and Bengaluru: In Chennai and Bengaluru, the haphazard construction over surrounding lakes, wetlands, and marshlands has deprived both cities of natural drainage systems, and unique bird and insect life.

Shutdown of Mumbai when the rains intensify: In Mumbai, it’s the hectic horizontal and vertical construction on mangrove forests and low-lying reclaimed land that has deprived the city of a critical conduit for monsoon rain. It has also contributed to the massive destruction of marine biodiversity.

The cities are out of sync with nature. This can be seen most tragically in India’s Himalayan and Nilgiri mountains, where Dubai-style glass and concrete jungles are sprouting on fragile and stunning beautiful terrain.

What is the way forward?

Urbanisation is unavoidable. Hence, it is critical that planners pay more attention to optimising the environmental balance with urban development.

Urban bodies need to promote vertical rather than horizontal development to contain urban sprawls. For instance:  the steady encroachment of Delhi on to the Ridge, the city’s green lungs, or of Gurugram over the ecologically priceless Aravalli.

Uncontrolled tree felling for various infrastructure projects in all major cities is another issue that can be approached with greater imagination than a mindless replanting exercise, which is of limited value.

Insistence on the use of local, eco-friendly material.

GS Paper 2


New WHO report on assistive technology for disabled provides a roadmap for India

Source: This post is based on the article “New WHO report on assistive technology for disabled provides a roadmap for India” published in The Indian Express on 6th June 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions, Issues related to Disability

Relevance: Assistive Technology (AT) and related issues

News: The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly launched the first Global Report on Assistive Technology (GReAT) on May 16.

What is Assistive technology (AT)?

It may include any item, piece of equipment, software programme or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.

These aids could also be

– Physical products such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prostheses, walking devices or continence pads;

– Digital products such as software and apps that support communication and time management; or

– Adaptations to the physical environment, for example, portable ramps or grab-rails.

Different disabilities require different assistive technologies, and these are designed to help people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, seeing, hearing, learning, or walking.

A billion people globally are currently estimated to be in need of assistive technology (AT); this is projected to double by 2050.
What are the findings of the GReAT report?

The GReAT report draws upon surveys conducted in 20 countries. Some key findings:

Proportion of the population currently using at least one assistive product ranges from less than 3% to about 70%.

Those reporting that they use or need at least one assistive product range from about 10% to nearly 70%; the extent to which these needs are met varies from about 2% to nearly 90%.

Universal assistive technology coverage implies that everyone, everywhere receives the AT that they need without financial or any other hardship.

What are the challenges regarding access and coverage wrt AT?

These are best understood when seen from the following five parameters.

People: This is related to the age, gender, type of functional difficulty, location and socioeconomic status of those in need of AT.

Products: The range, quality, affordability and supply of assistive products continue to pose considerable challenges. Quality and standard issues such as safety, performance and durability are key concerns.

Provision: The information and referral systems remain complex and services are not available across all geographies and populations. The range, quantity and quality of assistive products procured and provided, as well as the efficiency of delivered services, remain below par.

Personnel: The workforce gaps are not just about numbers, but also about adequate training and education too.

Policy: A survey of more than 60 countries reported that they have at least one government ministry or authority responsible for access to AT. Even then, the current levels of access imply a long road to universal AT access.

India

Disadvantaged groups and communities face hardships in their search for affordable quality healthcare in India. This is more so wrt obtaining ATs and associated services — the estimated unmet need is about 70%.

ATs handed out in camps or as a part of social service initiatives are a sporadic activity without the use of statistics as a basis for unmet needs. Products are often sub-standard and lead to poorer health outcomes.

Way forward

Including assistive technology in universal health and social care services is a critical imperative.

The health system’s responsibility in providing equitable access to ATs, is increasingly being recognised and country-level plans are being drawn up with an aim to fund and provide ATs under the UHC.

Until AT solutions are integrated with the existing primary healthcare packages the current top-down approach is of limited benefit. The GReAT Report provides that roadmap.


The IPEF holds promise but there are perils too

Source: The post is based on an article “The IPEF holds promise but there are perils too” published in the “The Hindu” on 6th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 International relations; regional grouping; and GS 3 Indian Economy, Issues and Challenges pertaining to growth and development; effects of liberalization on Indian Economy

Relevance: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)

News: Recently, the US President Joe Biden has established the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) which is said to be a new version of a “pivot to Asia”.

Background

The US President had first spoken about it in October 2021 during the East Asia Summit, in the presence of all IPEF signatories except Fiji.

Objectives

To bring together the US allies in the Indo-Pacific region and enhance economic cooperation on the lines of the former U.S. President Barack Obama’s pet project called as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),

The US can fulfil its twin ambitions, to provide economic leadership and to challenge China’s hegemony in the region.

Features

The IPEF has been proposed as an elaborate framework of rules covering four pillars: (1) fair and resilient trade, (2) supply chain resiliency, (3) clean energy decarbonisation, and (4) tax and anti-corruption.

In the Fair and resilient trade pillar, the IPEF “aims to develop high-standard, worker-centred commitments” covering labour rights, the environment and climate, the digital economy, agriculture etc.

Significance

The intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been excluded from the list, which used to be at the heart of the U.S.’ economic engagements with its partner countries. The possible reason could have been it acting as constraining forces in the universal coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine

It has been designed differently from the free trade ideal. It has been proposed as a “fair and resilient trade”, not like a traditional trade agreement. The primary objective is to ensure a high degree of regulatory coherence and market access between the member countries.

What are the associated issues?

Overall

The representatives of the pharmaceutical, and electronics sectors could pitch for the inclusion of the IPRs in the IPEF negotiations.

Enforcement of labour rights have often been rejected by the World Trade Organization (WTO) members in the trade deals on several occasions. They argue that “internationally recognized core labour standards” of the International Labour Organization (ILO) should be used to deal with issues pertaining to labour rights. They had also rejected the use of labour standards for protectionist purposes.

The environment and climate change have been duly included in the list of the IPEF. In this connection, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has cautioned that measures taken by the countries to combat climate change should not be used to discriminate or cause disguised restriction on international trade”.

The standards on cross-border data flows, data localisations and data portability has been included. This can have ramifications on the future of the digital economy because there are contrasting views on the control over data, which is the driver of the digital economy.

Although the U.S. wants its manufacturing giants to shift their bases from China to the other countries in the Indo-Pacific. But ensuring the supply chain resilience from new destinations will also remain a challenge.

For India

On this issue of data localisation, based on the inputs from the Draft National E-Commerce Policy, the Government of India aspires for restrictions on cross-border data flows. This goes against “high-standard rules on cross-border data flows and data localization”.

India may also worry about rules on strengthening labour rights in the IPEF. India prefers for a “flexible labour market” unlike the regime that the U.S. is proposing for the IPEF


The Ukraine conflict has raked up old dilemmas

Source: The post is based on an article “The Ukraine conflict has raked up old dilemmas” published in the Indian Express on 6th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 – International relations

Relevance: Impact of Ukraine-Russia war on Energy security

News: The Ukraine Conflict has caused a resurfacing of the deepest dilemma related to the energy sector, i.e.

whether to ensure there is affordable, secure, and accessible energy at present, or

to secure the longer-term imperatives of economic growth and sustainable development.

Situation Prior to the Ukraine Conflict

Oil market

It was globally integrated. There was one internationally acknowledged benchmark price. The OPEC was expanded to include Russia amongst its de facto members.

Gas Market

The market was bounded by regional pipelines and inflexible long-term LNG supply contracts. Further, the prices were quoted regionally in the US, Europe and Asia.

However, destination flexibilities have been introduced in the recently concluded LNG contracts. Also, the LNG spot trade was gaining in market share and prices were converging.

Problems, dilemmas and consequences due to the Ukraine Conflict

Global

The petroleum market is now fragmented, fractious and volatile. Europe and the US have sanctioned 90% of the Russian crude. This has tightened the crude oil and products market further.

At present, Russian gas has not yet been sanctioned. But there are chances that Europe may also sanction Russian gas. For example, Europe has published a road map for eliminating all energy imports from Russia by 2027.

OPEC has refused to remove Russia from OPEC plus. They have refused to bow down to US pressure to increase production to cool the oil market. They want to keep control over the oil market and also benefit from the fact that Russia cannot meet its OPEC determined export quota.

The US President aims to disallow petroleum companies from drilling for oil and gas on federal lands. He has approved the issuance of fresh leases.

The US and Italy are proposing to create an oil consumers cartel because the oil consumers have been facing difficulty. For example, the retail price of gasoline is very high, and American consumers are currently paying historic high prices.

European leaders are facing a dilemma between the rock of energy geopolitics and the hard place of energy economics.

Some countries have given the green signal to reopen coal mines. This could enhance GHG emissions and prolong the life of fossil fuels.

India

In India, the rise in the price of oil has “forced” the government to reintroduce de facto administered pricing. The public sector oil companies could not pass on the higher prices to retail customers but instead would bear the loss. This will impact their balance sheets and investment plans.

The India government is interested in buying the assets of Shell LNG in the Siberian port of Sakhalin. The deal can enhance India’s security cover.

What are the challenges for India?

India’s investment may be subject to sanctions. Also, India may attract criticism for purchasing “contaminated” assets.

Way Forward

In order to reduce energy “independence” on Russia. Europe needs to invest in solar and wind generation, gas storage, LNG import infrastructure and intra-Europe gas pipelines. This can lead to generation of carbon emission certificates.

EU leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to cut GHG emissions by 55 per cent in 2030 over the levels in 1990.

The Ukrainian conflict should end. Further, Russia’s energy industry and the Russian people cannot be indefinitely ghettoised.

There should be a transition to clean energy with Political expediency because global warming presents an existential planetary threat.


The new era of fiscal federalism could strengthen national unity

Source: The post is based on an article “The new era of fiscal federalism could strengthen national unity” published in the Live Mint on 06th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India

Relevance: Fiscal Federalism and related issues

Context: The 15th Finance Commission (2021-2026) retained the states’ share, and its methodology of assigning weights based on population. This is likely to be a factor in the politics of federalism.

Importance of fiscal federalism in India

Linguistic pluralism, a federal structure and fiscal federalism have served us well and enabled us to succeed

At the time the Constitution came into force, some regions were endowed with more human capital, infrastructure and industrial capacity, others had abundant natural resources, and a few had very limited economies. Therefore, fiscal federalism is important for balancing equity, equality and efficiency in a country having a hyper-diverse federation.

Fiscal federalism is an important force to leverage the comparative advantage.

On the one side, the linguistic reorganization of states helped address political aspirations. On the other side, fiscal federalism has been important for the political restructuring.

Why states in India have weak fiscal capabilities?

The following reasons have resulted in India’s states to have relatively weak fiscal capabilities:

The Planning Commission was an important arbiter of how funds were shared. Central planning constrained both the market and State governments in allocation of resources.

The nationalization of banks further centralized resource allocations and aligned them to planning.

Important Institution to uphold fiscal federalism

Finance Commission

The Constitution of India created an independent, non-partisan Finance Commission to determine how fiscal resources ought to be shared among the Union and states.

It has functioned transparently, professionally and has played a fundamental role in keeping the country united. For example, politically sensitive and border states receive disproportionately larger shares of funds.

Every Finance Commission has worked with consultative and non-partisan character. Therefore, its recommendations have been accepted by the Union and states as fair. 

Measures towards Fiscal Federalism

A new era of fiscal federalism started when the 14th Finance Commission raised the states’ share of funds from 32% to 42%.

In addition to this, the Planning Commission was disbanded by the government in 2015.

Further, the GST framework has been adopted. The GST Council has given a powerful platform to the states to negotiate their fiscal interests. Therefore, the states enjoy a greater degree of fiscal autonomy than before.

What are the challenges involved?

Now the Union government has a larger role in directing expenditure through a large number of “centrally sponsored schemes” like those for education, health and rural employment guarantee.

The states are laggards in setting up state finance commissions to devolve funds to municipalities and panchayats.

State governments and local bodies have also been reluctant to raise their own revenues.

There are political considerations which prevent taxing of the richer farmers in India.

There are bureaucratic incapacities at the municipal level in terms of the collection of property taxes because “the closer the government is to the people, the more unwilling it is to raise taxes“.

Way Forward

The states have to learn how to frame fiscal policy otherwise, the fiscal balance will tilt towards the Centre.

There should be requisite deliberations on providing a permanent secretariat to the Finance Commission

The Inter-State Council chaired by the Prime Minister and comprising state chief ministers, must be upgraded into a national forum.


7% Growth Is India’s Best Foreign Policy Strategy

Source: This Post is created based on the article “7% Growth Is India’s Best Foreign Policy Strategy” published in The Times of India on 6th June 2022.

Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 2, International Relations

Context: Countries from around the world like the US, Israel, Iran, etc. are trying to build good relations with India. However, India is still not free to make strategic choices.

How economic development determines freedom to make choices for countries?

In 2010, Professor Michael Beckley analyzed the relationship between military effectiveness and economic development. In the study, he analyzed hundreds of battles over a nearly 100-year period (between 1898 and 1987).

His study found that military effectiveness is primarily a function of economic development. Other political and social factors are marginal in effect.

The reason is simple, economically developed states have a greater surplus of wealth. Thus, they could sustain larger investments in technology, production techniques, and military development without draining the economy of resources.

For example; China has used its spectacular economic growth to fund the fastest military expansion seen since World War II. In 2011.

How India has fared in this domain?

After the 1991 reforms, India’s economy was in a high growth orbit till 2008. During this period, India entered into the landmark nuclear deal with the US without any objection from China in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. China was 2 times the size of the Indian economy then.

However, now China has become 5 times of Indian economy, and it is not willing to make the same adjustment for India in NSG (for membership).

Similarly, India’s ability to purchase cheap Russian oil while maintaining great relations with major European powers is based on the possibility of India becoming a bigger economy. An economically anaemic India won’t provide the same attractions, and choices will become harder.

Furthermore, India’s ability to push back the most proximate national security threat, from China, is weakened due to low spending on defence. The problem is not the percentage of GDP spent on defense, but the total GDP itself. If GDP is small, the percentage won’t make much difference.

A growth rate of 7% will give all the flexibility the country needs on funding the military, getting seats in crucial global alliances, and enforcing the principle of Indian Exceptionalism in the world.


Why kidney rackets thrive

Source: This Post is created based on the articles:1) “Explained: Why kidney rackets thrive” published in Indian Express on 6th June, 2022.

2) “Busting illicit organ trade is imperative” published in Indian Express on 6th June, 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Issues related to health, Government policies for various sectors

News: Last week, a network of kidney traffickers was busted in Delhi. This is the 3rd such scam in the last 15 years in Delhi.

The trafficker involved doctors and other healthcare personnel, hospital administrators. They catered to patients that have end-stage kidney diseases and cannot be treated with medicines or dialysis and require a transplant.

The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 2011

The act was amended in 2011 and 2014

The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 2011 recognizes 3 kinds of donations by living organ donors:

  1. by near-relatives (parents, siblings, and spouses)
  2. by altruistic donations
  3. by swap donations

Swap transplant is allowed when a near relative is medically incompatible with the recipient. It allows swapping with another related, unmatched donor-recipient pair.

Altruistic donations are those donations where someone donates an organ, usually a kidney or part of the liver, to someone they are not related to or, in some cases, even to a complete stranger.

The act allowed donations from cardiac dead patients (earlier, organs could be donated only by brain-dead patients).

The law prohibits any financial exchange for donations.

All cases of living donations have to be scrutinised by an in-hospital committee to ensure no commercial dealing happens. In cases of unrelated donors or any case flagged by hospitals, an external panel examines all papers.

What are the reasons behind the prevalence of organ trafficking in India?

More than 1.5 lakh people in the country require kidney transplants every year. But the number of organ donors is a small fraction of this requirement.

The black market in the organ trade flourishes by disguising illegal trafficking as “altruistic donation”.

Medical authorities have ignored suggestions to increase the transparency in the work of committees that scrutinise organ donations.

Unlike some western countries, India does not have a “opt-out” system. This system assumes all citizens to be willing organ donors after death unless they “opt-out” of it.

India’s organ transplant law recognises cadaver (after death) donations with family approval. However, declaring a person brain-dead in time for the organs to be harvested is very difficult in India. Most hospitals lack the expertise and facilities required for this purpose.

Why Kidney trafficking is most prevalent among organs?

In 2020, there were 7,443 transplants in the country, of which 5,486 or nearly 74% were kidney transplants. Thus, the demand for transplants is high.

The kidney can survive longer outside the body — 24 to 36 hours — than the lungs (4-5 hours) and the liver (8-12).

There is a severe shortage of Kidneys and the quality of life after transplant is quite good.

India has expertise in kidney transplantation and the procedure is standardized. So patients face low risk.

With changing life styles, diseases like diabetes and hypertension are increasing. These diseases can go undetected for years and causes kidney diseases.

What can be done?

Increase donations from the dead. In 2020, of all the transplants, only 9.4%, used organs from deceased donors.

GS Paper 3


External vulnerabilities: Time for a rupee review

Source: This post is based on the article “External vulnerabilities: Time for a rupee review” published in Livemint on 5th June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Economy – Monetary policy

Relevance: Trade deficit and related issues

News: India’s exports in May were up 15.5% on last year’s figure. On this upbeat momentum, India could see another year of robust exports, beating the $418 billion record set in 2021-22.

High oil prices are also a major reason for a rise in exports this year, since petroleum products made up a big share of our overseas sales.

But, increased oil prices also inflated this sector’s import bill by 91%. Overall, our trade deficit widened to its widest ever gap of $23.3 billion. Pressure on this front isn’t likely to ease anytime soon.

Hence, RBI should weigh the option of bridge support for the rupee in aid of broad macro stability

What are the challenges involved?

With the Russia-Ukraine war now past 100 days with no end in sight and Europe set to choke off most of its Russian intake, the global price shock is here to stay.

Cheaper oil from Russia, meanwhile, faces logistical and insurance burdens that negate some of its savings.

Throw in the impact of climate action, which could result in a tighter Opec grip as non-Opec output slows, and the scenario signifies an increased import bill for months to come.

Energy costs on the whole are rising globally.

Coal imports spiked 167% in May to feed a power shortage; domestic supply of coal is poor, and the demand is growing. Thus, India’s trade gap is expected to widen and the rupee to weaken as dollar demand gets the better of it.

Capital markets have already seen a sell-off by foreign investors, whose exit via rupee conversion into dollars pushed its value down. Rising US interest rates and rupee erosion due to local inflation could see even more money pulled out of India. In a world unsettled by war, ‘safe haven’ assets are luring investors away.

Should the RBI respond?

Its usual practice is to buy and sell dollars to contain volatility, but otherwise let the exchange rate float. The Forex reserve has fluctuated around $600 billion, remains large enough to keep an external crisis at bay.

RBI’s priority at this juncture, however, is inflation control. It could strategically choose to boost rupee in aid of internal price stability. Selling dollars would reduce domestic liquidity and also ease swelling oil bills.


Say no to cookies from strangers

Source: This post is based on the article “Say no to cookies from strangers” published in the Business Standard on 5th June 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology

Relevance: Web cookie, privacy issues

Context: How did the web cookie become the bone of contention in the battle for privacy?

What is a web cookie?

A cookie is a little piece of text stored on one’s web browser. It can identify what sites one has visited, to which sites one goes too often, or even, under some circumstances, the details of the credit card that one used to shop at an e-commerce site.

How did privacy issues come to be associated with web cookie?

The realization that a cookie can track user information, led to the first uproar, from Europe leading to the enactment of a new law, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became enforceable in May 2018. The GDPR legislation requires all companies, whether European or from any other country in the world, to specifically ask the web user’s permission before using a web cookie to store information about that user.

This law also provides for fines to be imposed on those websites which take user information without his explicit permission. This is what makes every website you visit ask one’s approval about storing their cookie on one’s browser.

The magnitude of the fines imposed under the GDPR is astounding: $823 million on Amazon, $249 million on WhatsApp, $9 million on Vodafone, to name just a few.

The United States, under President Joe Biden, is also said to be considering data privacy regulations along the lines of the European one.


Modinomics and the long distance to the finish line

Source: The post is based on an article “Modinomics and the long distance to the finish line” published in the “The Hindu” on 06th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy; Issues and challenges in the growth and development

Relevance: Economic Reforms

News: Recently, the National Statistical Office (NSO) announced that the fourth quarter GDP growth rate of the FY 2021-22 stands at 4.1% compared to fourth quarter figures for the previous year, 2020-21.

What are the important considerations in terms of the Indian Economy?

Some Indian economists believe that the Indian economy has been consistently declining since 2016.

It is also believed that the growth rate of GDP has fallen below the “The Hindu Rate of Growth” which was around 3.5%-4% per year during the period between 1950-77.

Major macroeconomic goals like a $5 trillion GDP by 2024-25 are impossible to achieve without major reforms because this requires a growth rate of 14.8% per year in GDP.

Dynamics of democracy

In every nation, democracy is structured on four pillars: (1) electoral legitimacy, (2) constitutional safeguards, (3) functionally independent institutions, and (4) embedded accountability.

There are conflict situations between the market and democracy that requires to be resolved:

(1) In a flourishing and vibrant democracy. The masses are empowered to vote. Therefore, the masses can influence legislation against the relatively rich capitalist and entrepreneurial minority

(2) A thriving market economy driven by a rich empowered minority having disproportionate access to capital, skills and media and other networks has the capacity to undermine the electoral system. They can do so through strategic funding of the same.

Therefore, there is a need to understand the dynamics of democracy. The economic conditions play an important role in electoral victory. For example, economic failures could lead to the threat of democracy by desperate political extremists.

Way Forward

India needs a new economic policy. This policy should be based on clearly stated objective targets, and priorities. Further, there should be a strategy to achieve the state’s targets. In addition, an intelligent and transparent resource mobilisation plan is also needed.

The government while doing economic reforms must ensure that the deregulations are not utilized by few rich minorities corruptly. The unorganised poor do not face the bad impact. For this the government must reduce unemployment and control galloping inflation.

It is important to empower the democratic institutions to guard against public disorder arising from rapid de-regulation. For example, in the post-1991 period, Russia underwent chaos and misery. Thus, dictatorship has returned for the Russians.

There is a need for the establishment of affirmative action, social security and a safety net for the poor in the system.

The level playing field should be provided to create hope, ensure transparency, accountability, and trusteeship (philanthropy).

The corporate governance should be improved to legitimize profit making that drives the market system.

The government should promote market system capitalism. The principal driver is capital. It should be deployed for innovation to raise productivity.


How to keep inflation under control

Source: The post is based on an article “How to keep inflation under control” published in the Indian Express on 6th June 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy, Agriculture Sector, Monetary policy

Relevance: Food Inflation, Edible Oil, etc.

News: Recently, the GDP growth of India has been pegged at 8.7% for the fiscal year 2021-22. It seems the economy is largely out of the shadow of Covid-19.

But both GDP growth and inflation are likely to be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5 per cent in 2022-23 if bold and innovative steps are not taken.

What are the problems in front of India’s growth story in 2022-23?
India is witnessing a raging inflation that is CPI at 7.8%, food CPI at 8.4%, and WPI inflation at more than 15%

What are the proposed focused policy actions to deal with the problems?

First, the RBI should keep inflation at 4%, plus-minus 2%. For this, it has already started the process of tightening monetary policy by raising the repo rate. There should be fine calibration of the repo rate at least to 5.5% by the end of 2022-3.

Second, the finance ministry should go for more prudent fiscal policy. The fiscal deficit which soared to more than 9% in 2020-21 and 6.7% in 2021-22, in wake of Covid-19 must be tightened.

Third, the government should adopt a rational trade policy. There should not be a knee jerk reaction, like, India announced a ban on exports of wheat, and imposed restrictions on sugar exports in the name of taming inflation. In fact, the abrupt export bans are poor trade policy.  A more mature approach requires a gradual process of minimum export prices and transparent export duties. Further, abrupt restrictions/bans on exports, cannot tame inflation visible globally.

The government can moderate inflation at home through liberal import policy, and reducing tariffs across the board. For example, the government reduced tariffs on palm oil, soya oil, and sunflower oil where CPI is very high. Similarly, the government should also reduce tariffs on rapeseed and cottonseed oils which remain prohibitively high at 38.5 per cent for crude and 49 per cent for refined despite high inflation in the last two years.

What are the challenges?

The fiscal deficit reduction to less than 5% is going to be challenging because of enhanced food and fertiliser subsidies, and cuts in duties of petrol and diesel.

Further, the fiscal policy might remain more populist. Therefore, the fiscal deficit might remain in the range of 6.5 to 7.5% in 2022-23.

Way Forward

The tax revenues should be improved substantially. The government can go for monetising land and assets of public enterprises.

India must focus on two critical commodities, i.e., crude oil and edible oils to become self-reliant. For example, India is almost 80% dependent on crude oil imports and 55-60% dependent on edible oils imports for our domestic consumption.

To reduce import dependence in crude oil, sugarcane and maize production can be promoted, in water abundant states like eastern UP and North Bihar. This can lead to massive production of ethanol from sugarcane and maize.

To reduce import of edible oils, a large programme of palm plantations in coastal areas and the northeast is the right strategy.

To control food inflation on a sustainable basis, investment should be made to raise productivity and to make agri-markets work more efficiently.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

State of Environment Report 2022: Rivers facing heavy pollution:CSE

Source:  The post is based on the article Rivers facing heavy pollution:CSEpublished in The Hindu on 6th June 2022.

What is the News?

The State of Environment Report 2022 has been released.

What is the State of Environment Report 2022?

Released by: Center for Science and Environment (CSE). 

Purpose: The report is an annual compendium of environment-development data and is derived from public sources.

What are the key findings of the report?

Heavy Pollution in RiversThree out of every four river monitoring stations in India posted alarming levels of heavy toxic metals such as lead, iron, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium and copper. 

Poor Wastewater TreatmentOf the 588 water quality stations monitored for pollution, total coliform and biochemical oxygen demand were high in 239 and 88 stations respectively across 21 States. This is an indicator of poor wastewater treatment from industry, agriculture and domestic households.

Note: As per Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB), India dumps 72% of its sewage waste without treatment. Ten States do not treat their sewage at all.

Coastal ErosionOver a third of India’s coastline that is spread across 6,907 km saw some degree of erosion between 1990 and 2018. West Bengal is the worst hit with over 60% of its shoreline under erosion. 

The reasons for coastal erosion include an increase in the frequency of cyclones and sea-level rise and anthropogenic activities such as the construction of harbours, beach mining and building of dams.

Total Forest CoverIndia’s total forest cover has registered a little over a 0.5% increase between 2017 and 2021. But most of the increase has taken place in the open forest category which includes commercial plantations. 

This has happened at the cost of moderately dense forest which is normally the area closest to human habitations. At the same time, very dense forests, which absorb maximum carbon dioxide from the atmosphere occupy just 3% of total forest cover.


The status of eVTOL: soon to be reality?

Source: The post is based on the article “The status of eVTOL: soon to be reality?published in The Hindu on 6th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Civil Aviation Minister has said that the Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Take off and Landing(eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India.

What is Electric Vertical Take off and Landing(eVTOL) Aircraft?
Electric Vertical Take off and Landing(eVTOL) aircraft
Source: The Hindu

eVTOL Aircraft is one that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically. 

Most eVTOLs also use what is called distributed electric propulsion technology, which means integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe. 

This technology has grown on account of successes in electric propulsion based on progress in motor, battery, fuel cell and electronic controller technologies. The development is also fuelled by the need for new vehicle technology that ensures urban air mobility (UAM).

What is the significance of eVTOL?

eVTOL is being seen as a runway independent technological solution for the globe’s transportation needs.

This is because it opens up new possibilities that aircraft with engines cannot carry out in areas such as manoeuvrability, efficiency and even from the environmental point of view. 

Moreover, eVTOLs have also been likened to a third wave in an aerial revolution; the first being the advent of commercial flying and the second the age of helicopters.

What are the challenges with eVTOL?

a) As the technology so far is a mix of unpiloted and piloted aircraft, the areas in focus include “crash prevention systems”. These use cameras, radar, GPS (Global Positioning System) and infrared scanners, b) Ensuring safety in case of a power plant or rotor failure, c) Aircraft protection from cyberattacks is another area of focus and d) Navigation and flight safety and the use of technology when operating in difficult terrain, unsafe operating environments and bad weather.

What about bringing eVTOL aircraft to India?

For this, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)  Taskforce for Urban Air Mobility has suggested policy and regulation changes to better integrate EVAs. It has advised: 

1) Formulating regulations for pilotless vehicles, 2) Airworthiness certifications, 3) Implementing efficient energy management systems, 4) Onboard sensors, 5) Collision detection systems, 6) Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, 7) Charging stations and 8) Robust air traffic management system.


India has achieved the target of 10% ethanol blending ahead of schedule

Source: The post is based on the article India has achieved the target of 10% ethanol blending ahead of schedulepublished in Livemint on 6th June 2022.

What is the News?

At the Save the Soil movement event, the Prime Minister said that the Government of India has achieved the target of 10% ethanol blending in petrol five months ahead of schedule.

What is the Save Soil Movement?

Save Soil Movement is a global movement to increase awareness about deteriorating soil health and to bring about a conscious response to improve it. 

The movement was started by Sadhguru in March 2022, who embarked on a 100-day motorcycle journey passing through 27 countries.

The timeline of India’s Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme

The Government of India promotes the Ethanol Blended Petrol(EBP) Programme with the aim to enhance India’s energy security, reduce import dependency on fuel, save foreign exchange, address environmental issues and give a boost to the domestic agriculture sector.

The ‘National Policy on Biofuels’ notified by the Government in 2018 envisaged an indicative target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol by the year 2030. However, due to various interventions made by the Government since 2014, the target of 20% ethanol blending was advanced from 2030 to 2025-26.

A “Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India 2020-25” was also released by the Prime Minister in 2021. This lays out a detailed pathway for achieving 20% ethanol blending. This roadmap also mentioned an intermediate milestone of 10% blending to be achieved by November 2022.

However, due to the coordinated efforts of the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) the target of 10% blending under the programme has been achieved five months ahead of schedule.

What are the benefits of achieving this goal?

There are three clear benefits of achieving this goal: 1) It has led to a reduction of 27 lakh tonnes of carbon emission; 2) It has saved foreign exchange worth ₹41,000 crore and 3) Farmers of the country have earned ₹40,600 crore in the last eight years due to increase in ethanol blending.


World’s first fishing cat census done in Chilika

Source: The post is based on the articleWorld’s first fishing cat census done in Chilikapublished in The Hindu on 6th June 2022.

What is the News?

The World’s First Fishing Cat Census has been conducted at Chilika Lake.

About World’s First Fishing Cat Census

Conducted by: Chilika Development Authority(CDA) in collaboration with The Fishing Cat Project(TFCP).

Significance: This is the world’s first population estimation of the fishing cat, which has been conducted outside the protected area network.

Findings of the Census: The Census has found that Chilika Lake which is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon has 176 Fishing Cats.

What are Fishing Cats?
Source: Fishing Cat Alliance

Fishing Cats have globally threatened cats that occur in wetlands like marshlands, mangroves and flooded forests in major South and Southeast Asian river basins starting from the Indus in Pakistan to the Mekong in Vietnam and in the island nations of Sri Lanka and Java. 

They are found in 10 Asian countries but have remained undetected in Vietnam and Java since the last decade or so.


PM launches global initiative ‘Lifestyle for the Environment- LiFE Movement

Source: The post is based on the article PM launches global initiative ‘Lifestyle for the Environment- LiFE Movement’published in AIR on 5th June 2022.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has launched a global initiative ‘Lifestyle for the Environment – LiFE Movement’.

What is Lifestyle for the Environment – LiFE Movement?

The idea of LiFE was introduced by the Prime Minister during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021.

Aim: To promote an environment-conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful and deliberate utilization’ instead of ‘mindless and destructive consumption’.

Vision: To live a lifestyle that is in tune with our planet and does not harm it and those who live such a lifestyle are called Pro-Planet People.

As part of the launch of LiFE movement, ‘LiFE Global Call for Papers’ has been released. This paper invites ideas and suggestions from academics, universities & research institutions etc to influence and persuade individuals, communities and organizations across the world to adopt an environment-conscious lifestyle.


Explained: What is D2M technology, and how could it change your mobile behaviour?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is D2M technology, and how could it change your mobile behaviour?” published in Indian Express on 3rd June 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Telecommunications(DoT) and Prasar Bharati are exploring the feasibility of a ‘Direct-to-Mobile’(D2M) Broadcasting technology. This technology allows to broadcast video and other forms of multimedia content directly to mobile phones, without needing an active internet connection.

What is Direct-to-Mobile(D2M) Broadcasting Technology?

The technology is based on the convergence of broadband and broadcast using which mobile phones can receive terrestrial digital TV. 

It would be similar to how people listen to FM radio on their phones where a receiver within the phone can tap into radio frequencies. Using D2M, multimedia content can also be beamed to phones directly.

What are the applications of D2M Technology?

It can possibly be used to directly broadcast content related to citizen-centric information and can be further used to counter fake news, issue emergency alerts and offer assistance in disaster management among other things.

Apart from that, it can be used to broadcast live news, sports etc. on mobile phones. 

How would this impact consumers and Businesses?

Consumers: They would be able to access multimedia content from Video on Demand(VoD) or Over The Top(OTT) content platforms without having to exhaust their mobile data, and more importantly, at a nominal rate. The technology will also allow people from rural areas, with limited or no internet access, to watch video content.

Businesses: It can enable telecom service providers to offload video traffic from their mobile network onto the broadcast network. Thus helping them to decongest valuable mobile spectrum. This will also improve the usage of mobile spectrum and free up bandwidth which will help reduce call drops, increase data speeds etc.

What is the government doing to facilitate D2M technology?

The Department of Telecommunications(DoT) has set up a committee to study the feasibility of a spectrum band for offering broadcast services directly to users’ smartphones.

What are the possible challenges to the D2M technology’s rollout?

Firstly, bringing key stakeholders like mobile operators on board will be the “biggest challenge” in launching D2M technology on a wide scale.

Secondly, a mass rollout of the technology will entail changes in infrastructure and some regulatory changes.


Mains Answer Writing

IFoS 2021 Results Declared – ForumIAS Student Shruti Gets Rank 1

UPSC has released the results of IFoS 2021. We are happy to share that ForumIAS Student Shruti , a student of MGP and then AWFG and also the IGP has secured Rank 1 in IFoS. This is the year, like 2018, when Rank 1 was secured by ForumIAS Students in both CSE and IFS –… Continue reading IFoS 2021 Results Declared – ForumIAS Student Shruti Gets Rank 1

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – June 29, 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 – June 29, 2022

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I June 27, 2022

Dear Friends, Following are answers to Mains Marathon questions, we posted yesterday. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. Every morning, we post 2 questions are based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant to the exam.… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I June 27, 2022

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[Answered] India is a rich source of rare earths, but still imports. Why are they strategically important and what are the challenges India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals?

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Explain some points related to significance of rare earth elements. Also write some challenges which India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals. Conclusion: Write a way forward. The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of seventeen metallic elements i.e., fifteen lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium. They are… Continue reading [Answered] India is a rich source of rare earths, but still imports. Why are they strategically important and what are the challenges India is facing in becoming self-sufficient in rare earth minerals?

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[Answered] What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Highlight the implications of India’s new VPN rules.

Introduction: Explain Virtual Private Network. Body: write some implications of India’s new VPN rules. Conclusion: Write a way forward. A virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network. The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping… Continue reading [Answered] What is Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Highlight the implications of India’s new VPN rules.

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NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy

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… Continue reading NITI Aayog Launches Report on India’s Gig and Platform Economy

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Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland

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… Continue reading Rajasthan’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland

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India State Support Program for Road Safety: World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety

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… Continue reading India State Support Program for Road Safety: World Bank approves $250 mn loan for road safety

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Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat

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… Continue reading Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat

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N95 mask with nanoparticle coating developed using 3D printing technology

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… Continue reading N95 mask with nanoparticle coating developed using 3D printing technology

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