9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 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

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The dividends of democracy are worth the requisite investment

Source: This post is based on the article “The dividends of democracy are worth the requisite investment” published in the Livemint on 3rd Mar 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations.

Relevance: Understanding the need to nurture democracy.

News: The world is seeing a continued rise of authoritarianism in countries such as Brazil, Turkey, and Russia. There is a need for urgent global action to fight it and to put democracy in action.

Read here: How does a democracy die?

What does the research data suggest?

There is a growing aspiration for democracy among ordinary people seeking greater freedom and dignity. Pew Research survey of 17 advanced economies in 2021 shows disaffection of people with the lack of individual freedom in authoritarian states. According to the survey, a median of 74% of people in these countries had no confidence in Putin doing the “right thing in world affairs.”

Read here: The 21st-century challenge for democracy

How is democracy important?

Democracy is a key ingredient for economic advancement, as creating space for decent democracy nurtures innovation and consequently economic flourishing. Except for China, economic progress stalls in countries that are guided by religious fundamentalism or authoritarianism.

While many justify democracy as a means, democracy is an end in itself. Even if democracy slows economic growth, it brings equality which is vital for an equitable society.

India is the best example of how democracy can bring growth. Despite many economic mistakes, India’s investment in its education is bearing fruits today. Pickup of India’s democratic growth after the 90s is also an account of democratic dividend.

Read here: What can be done to sustain and protect democracy?

What is the USA’s role in strengthening democracy?

A recent study by the Roosevelt Institute points out how America’s neoliberal economic policies fuelled discrimination and inequity in many countries. Moreover, it intervened in countries like Chile, Cuba, and Central America to protect US corporate interests and not to support democracy.

Providing leadership to isolate authoritarian regimes requires the USA to take leadership.

The systemic problems that have kept Indian schooling ineffective

Source: This post is based on the article “The systemic problems that have kept Indian schooling ineffective” published in the Livemint on 3rd Mar 2022.

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

Relevance: Understanding flaws in education system.

News: The article talks about the causes behind why children are not able to learn what they should at their school.

What are the causes?

Design of schooling system: The design like having a primary school within 1km has creates difficulties. Every primary school only has a small number of children between classes 1 to 5. Thus there is only one teacher or two. This has meant a greater teaching load for children.

Inadequate investment in public education: It results in inadequate or poor-quality resources. With roughly 3% of GDP as our public expenditure on education, India has been short of its commitment of 6%. This underlies many of the problems like a) an inadequate number of teachers, b) Inadequate staffing, c) lack of basic facilities in schools, d) deteriorating nutritional standards of the mid-day meal.

All of this affects the motivation and efficacy of teachers and the school atmosphere and children’s engagement.

Dysfunctional teacher education system: The National Education Policy 2020 talks about the issue of corrupt teacher education systems in India. 9 million teachers have undergone a B.Ed or D.Ed program of very poor quality. Many colleges sell degrees, without students even attending classes.

Read here: Quality issues in higher education system in India

Design and culture of the education system: Indian education system is rigid and centralized. Many problems impact the education quality like a) uniform norms across the state, b) cookie-cutter training (training which lacks any distinguishable characteristics) for teachers irrespective of their actual needs, c) an ‘inspectorial’ regime rather than a problem-solving one.

All these make the teacher unsupported, demotivated, and disempowered.

Administrative leadership and management: Administration often assigned teachers to other duties like election duty, anti-malaria campaigns, etc. Their priorities are continually and rapidly changed, thus disorienting and distracting them from their main role. Further, policies related to education are typically not implemented effectively.

Weak capacity of key institutions: Flaws in Indian higher education system

A negation of the individual and a collective moral decay

Source: This post is based on the article “A negation of the individual and a collective moral decay” published in The Hindu on 3rd March 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, organization, and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: The understanding of the issue of the death penalty.

News: Recently, a designated fast track in Gujarat decided the fate of 78 accused in the 2008 blasts in Ahmedabad. 49 people were convicted. The Court Sentenced 38 of 49 people to death.

According to a report by Project 39A at the national law university (Delhi), a total of 488 prisoners in India were on death row. This is an increase of 21% from 2020. This judgment has added 10% more to this number.

It is a reflection of the increasing trend of retributive justice.

How does it reflect retributive justice?

Debates on the death sentence focus on its efficacy or constitutionality. But the issue that it provides the state with the monopoly of violence or retribution is ignored.

This monopoly is justified by arguments that this prevents crime or is a measure of long-due justice. But this punishment under the rarest of rare doctrine is a reflection of retributive justice.

Rarest of rare doctrine allows the use of public sentiment as a judicially reliable standard in giving death sentences.

As Justice Bhagwati had pointed out in Bachchan Singh versus State of Punjab(1980) that discretion under doctrine is a poor substitute for principles. When an institution can kill someone using any standard, it defeats the moral imperative to do no harm.

Read here: Judges mustn’t be swayed in favour of death penalty: Supreme Court

How lack of standards was displayed in the current verdict?

Following are the criticisms put forward by the authors in the article:

First, the court orally convicted several accused ‘en masse’, instead of declaring charges separately. Out of 78 accused, 49 were convicted, consequently, the role of each accused was not indicated.

Second, the defense was directed to commence sentencing argument without access to written judgments. Even it was unknown, which accused are awarded the death sentence. It crippled any possibility of making a proper mitigation argument.

Mitigation requires going into the humanity of the accused, which itself is subjective. It is therefore important that that penalty should be also seen from the angle of retributive Justice.

Will Russia’s war spur trade diversification?

Source: This post is based on the article “Will Russia’s war spur trade diversification?” published in Business Standard on 3rd March 2022.

Subject: GS 2 –international relations.

Relevance: Understanding need of resilient supply chains amidst Russia Ukraine crisis .

News: Building a resilient economy, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic became important. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine gave a boost to this ideology.

Why is it important to build a resilient economy?

After World War II, economic actors had put faith in broad-based international commitment to open a global economy. But tensions, fiction, and blockages in global supply chains during the pandemic began to erode this faith. Countries like China and United States have erected barriers to foreign tech firms and market access, citing national security concerns.

Economic and financial sanctions have become a foreign policy weapon for countries like the USA. This can be seen in the Ukrainian crisis, where the NATO response has been economic. EU countries are experimenting with excluding Russia from the SWIFT financial system.

Why economic sanctions on Russia are difficult?

Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s natural gas. Therefore, there was resistance by major EU countries to exclude Russia from SWIFT. Only selected banks were targeted.

Read here: Explained: What is SWIFT, what shutting Russia out of it means

Russia also depends on Europe to continue purchasing its gas. This translates into economic mutual assured destruction. Therefore, the Italian president had commented that Europe should look to diversify its supplies.

What should be done to ensure greater diversification?

Though Japan is entirely dependent on the import of fossil fuels, it maintains a highly diversified supply. Japan acquire oil from several countries in the Middle East and natural gas from Australia, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, and the USA. Europe can adopt similar supply sources.

Countries should also diversify their markets, as market access can also be cut by large economies like the USA. Given these factors, it is important to ensure diversification for a resilient supply chain and global economy.

Read here: Russia-Ukraine crisis underscores lack of integrated energy policy in India

Why Rajasthan government’s decision to return to old pension scheme is a fiscal disaster

Source: This post is based on the article “Why Rajasthan government’s decision to return to the old pension scheme is a fiscal disaster” published in Indian Express on 3rd March 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government policies for various sectors.

Relevance: Understanding Rajasthan’s defined pension benefit scheme ( DPBS).

News: The government of Rajasthan has decided to switch back to the DPBS scheme.

What is the reason that the Rajasthan government chose the DPBS scheme?

As life expectancy increases and demographic transitions increase older people, the crisis of financing DPBS is increasing. Sure pensions to govt. employees recruited up to 2003 and four-armed forces personnel, which is payable 35 years later, is like borrowing from young children to pay for the future.

Given these factors, it becomes important to understand why the government of Rajasthan has taken this step.

Why these steps have been taken?

The first reason is the considerable physical pressure on the state government. They have to bear the financial burden of both expenditures on a defined pension and their contribution to NPS. For example in Rajasthan, number of pensioners is about 5.6 lakh, which is expected to increase by 30,000 every year. And NPS scheme has approximately 5.5 lakh employees.  So the government has spent about 23,000 crores on pensions and about 29,000 crores on the NPS.

So, by taking this decision, the government will reduce fiscal pressure today and postpone it to the coming generations.

Second, there is also a concern of NPS employees about the pension amount on retirement may be affected by market fluctuations. NPS is linked to government bonds, giving stable returns, in the case of rise and fall in the market. However, the inflation-linked pension of the DPBS is attractive for employees looking to take risks.

Read here: NPS: minimum assured return scheme on the cards

Third, There were concerns about employees and government contributions not being transferred for investment in time. For example, CAG has pointed out such delays by state finance departments to contain their fiscal deficit on paper.

Read here: ‘Mindset to blame for poor response to NPS’

Fourth, NPS Employees were also concerned about benefits payable in case of death of an employee while in service.

Read here: National Pension Scheme for traders fails to gain traction

What challenges does it bring to the state of Rajasthan?

Rajasthan already has a primary deficit of 29,400 Crore. This implies that Addison has to borrow money to even pay the interest on that earlier borrowings.

Rajasthan currently spends 23,000 crores on pension and 60,000 crores on Salaries and wages. This is 56% of its tax and non-tax revenues.

What steps can be taken to address these issues?

Rajasthan’s government can ask the finance committee for the accommodation of 0.5% of the state’s fiscal deficit limit. For the issue of payments in case of the death of an employee, the government can propose several alternative means like buying a group life insurance product, etc.

lastly, the world is moving away from defined pension benefits schemes. Rajasthan government should also do the same.

The growing scourge of anti-microbial resistance needs urgent attention

Source: This post is created based on the article “The growing scourge of anti-microbial resistance needs urgent attention” published in Indian Express on 3rd March.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Social issues – Issues related to health

News: The concerns regarding increasing Antimicrobial Resistance due to improper use of antimicrobials have become graver ever since the covid pandemic.

In the past few years, alarmingly high resistance rates in pathogens of public health importance have been reported from Indian hospitals. Thus, it becomes important that the issue of AMR be given due importance.

Findings of GRAM(Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 204 countries and territories in 2019) report

  1. 95 million people died from drug-resistant bacterial infections in 2019. AMR directly caused at least 1.27 million deaths.
  2. Majority of the deaths from AMR are associated with bacteria E coli, followed by K pneumoniae, S aureus, A baumannii, S pneumoniae, and M tuberculosis.
  3. Lower respiratory infections associated with resistance accounted for more than 1.5 million deaths.
  4. Data specifically for India was not sufficiently available, but as per few available reports AMR burden in India may not look very different from the global estimate.

What are the reasons behind increasing AMR?

Firstly, unnecessary prescription of antimicrobials is increasing the already high levels of drug resistance.

Secondly, the major impediment to AMR containment is that the most affected countries have the least data on the burden posed by AMR. In India too, hospital information systems in most public sector funded healthcare facilities are inadequate.

Third, National Action Plan for AMR was approved in 2017. However, its results proved to be dismal. It faced many issues such as missing governance mechanisms and absence of funding

What are the suggestions to tackle the AMR problem?

A multipronged and multisectoral approach is required to tackle AMR.

Firstly, promoting the judicious use of existing antimicrobials.

Secondly, Developing new antimicrobial drugs.

Third, creating effective AMR containment plans by fixing responsibility and monitoring progress at the highest levels.

Fourth, some of the measures that have been proved effective must be used as much as possible, for example;

  • Utilization of quality diagnostics and laboratories.
  • Educating people about antimicrobials.
  • Infection control in communities and hospitals.

Lines and roles: On Governors

Source: This post is created based on the article “Lines and roles: On Governors” published in The Hindu on 3rd March.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2- Indian Polity – Issues related to federal structure

News: Recently, Kerala witnessed tussle between Governor, Arif Mohammed Khan and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan. These confrontations are very common in different states.

The major source of conflict among these 2 offices is the way they understand their own powers. The problems arise due to the ways they understand their own powers.

How powers of Governors are balanced by Constitution?

Powers of the governor are limited by the ‘aid and advice’ clause, given in the constitution.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court laid down in 1974 that the President and Governor shall “exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well-known exceptional situations.

Exceptional situations are also illustratively listed

What are the issues linked to powers of Governors?

Some Governors are using the discretionary powers available to them to control the state governments.

There have been many instances of some Governors not acting upon requests to grant clemency or assent to Bills. For instance, in Tamil Nādu, governor showed the reluctance to reserve the bill for President’s consideration, even though the bill expressly required so.

What are the sources of this conflict?

Firstly, Article 163 empowers Governors to choose what is in their discretion and what is not.

Second, the Constitution does not set any time frame for Governors to act on the requests of state government.

Third, Constitution bars Courts from enquiring into acts of Governors.

Fourth, the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations also recommended not to change this scheme.

What are the suggestions?

Provisions relating to the Governor’s role should be amended to make the following changes:

  • Identifying areas of discretion,
  • fixing a time-frame for them to act, and
  • Cabinet advice should be mandatory to act upon in dealing with Bills.

M.M. Punchhi Commission’s recommendation of ending the practice of burdening Governors with the office of Chancellor in universities should be implemented.

GS Paper 3

Is DRDO To Blame for India’s Acute Import Dependence?

Source: This post is created based on the article “Is DRDO To Blame for India’s Acute Import Dependence?” published in Times of India on 3rd March.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Science and tech – Defence technologies

News: After the Ukraine conflict, DRDO has been blamed for India’s heavy dependence on other countries like Russia for their defence needs. However, there are many issues that are constraining the capabilities of DRDO.

What are the issues facing Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)?

First, DRDO is a demand-driven organization. It means the efficiency and success of DRDO’s projects depend upon the user’s requirements. For example, Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) was built as per the requirements of the Indian Army based on a Western tank. It achieved performance in terms of protection, mobility, and firepower comparable with any leading MBT in the world in its class. However, later it was found that tank has become heavier for transportation over the bridges near the border.

Second, Some experts also try to compare DRDO with US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). However, DARPA is a user independent organisation, means it is independent of US armed force’s requirements. It is like venture capital with an element of risk of failures.

Whereas, DRDO’s projects are user defined and it is only one link in the entire chain of defence development and production.

Third, some technologies are difficult to develop and reverse engineered. They require continuous investment over years without expectation of immediate return. This is not the case with DRDO. For example, Kaveri aero engine project was abandoned, even though it achieved some successes.

Fourth, DRDO has decentralised and it is embracing the private sector as a partner. Thus, it should not be held responsible for technical failures. It is working on the same lines as DARPA, like funding the private sector projects, under Technology Development Fund Scheme. Another, VDEX program is a defense ministry program, with a corpus of Rs 500 crore administered for developing techs for armed forces.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

FSSAI to introduce health star rating for packaged foods

Source: This post is based on the article “FSSAI to introduce health star rating for packaged foods” published in Livemint on 2nd Mar 2022.

What is the News?

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will soon start a Star Rating System for packaged food products.

What is FSSAI Star Rating System for packaged food Products?

This Star Rating System for packaged food products will be the first such in India.

Aim: To guide consumers to opt for healthy food. 

Under this system, packaged foods will display the number of stars on the front of the pack, indicating how healthy or unhealthy it is depending upon the amount of salt, sugar and fat it has.  

Exclusion: milk and dairy products will be excluded from this proposed front-of-the-pack labelling.

Adherence: This rating system will be initially voluntary from 2023 with a transition period of four years. After this, it would be made mandatory.

This rating system will be similar to the one that is being used by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency for assessing the energy efficiency in electrical devices.

Why is FSSAI planning to bring this Star Rating System for packaged food Products?

FSSAI has taken this decision based on a study conducted by IIM Ahmedabad regarding the methodology to be used to display the health ratings of the food items.

The study has recommended Front of the Pack labelling(FoPL) for packaged food products as it would be easier for the customer to understand.

Note: At present, countries such as the UK, Chile, New Zealand, Mexico and Australia have Front of the Pack labelling(FoPL) for packaged food Products.

NPS to include assured returns; new products likely to come in August

Source: This post is based on the article “NPS to include assured returns; new products likely to come in August” published in Business Standard on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority(PFRDA) is preparing to launch “Minimum Assured Return Scheme (MARS)” which will provide savers and people from the salaried class an option for their investments.

Note: PFRDA currently operates the National Pension System(NPS).

What is the Minimum Assured Return Scheme(MARS)?

Aim: To have a separate scheme that can offer a guaranteed minimum rate of return to NPS subscribers, especially those who are risk averse (Currently, the NPS gives returns annually, based on prevailing market conditions).

What will be the returns offered under MARS Scheme?

The actual returns under the scheme will depend on the market conditions. Any shortfall will be made good by the sponsor, and the surplus will be credited to the subscribers’ accounts. 

Two options are likely to be on offer:

– Under the fixed guarantee option, the guaranteed return is fixed along with the accumulation phase.

– Under the floating guarantee option, the guaranteed rate of return is not fixed along with the savings phase. The floating guarantee depends on the development of the 1-year interest rate until retirement. 

Lock-in- Period: The Lock-in may be applicable under the scheme on each contribution and will be applied based on the period since that contribution has been made. 

It may also consider multiple lock-in period options (or staggered guarantee periods) for flexibility. Withdrawals are also likely to be directly linked to the lock-in period. 

The subscriber may also have the option to withdraw or to stay invested after the lock-in period. However, there won’t be any guarantee applied on the investment after lock-in.

Limit of Contribution: Minimum and maximum monetary limits on contributions may be prescribed. The attraction for investors will be the minimum guaranteed return.

Russia-Ukraine conflict may increase the risk of cyberattacks for India

Source: This post is based on the article “Russia-Ukraine conflict may increase the risk of cyberattacks for India” published in Livemint on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

According to experts, India needs to up its ante against potential cybersecurity attacks in the telecom, infrastructure and banking sectors in the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

What is a Cyberattack?

A Cyberattack is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.

Cyberattacks in Asia

According to a report, Asia was the most-attacked region by cyber-criminals in 2021, accounting for one in four attacks globally. Server access attacks (20%) and ransomware (11%) were the top two attack types on Asian organizations in 2021.

In Asia, India was among the top three nations that experienced the most Cyberattacks.

What are experts views on Cyber Attacks in India?

India has to be prepared for a vicious cyberattack amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For example, a lot of the hacking community in Ukraine is not happy with India choosing to abstain from voting at the UN against Russia. This approach could lead to the hacking community being antagonized.

Moreover, there could also be a spillover impact where other nations may take advantage of this distraction to test their latest malware into the vulnerabilities of servers based in India.

Indian farmers can now trade in carbon credits to boost income

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian farmers can now trade in carbon credits to boost income”  published in Business Standard on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

Indian Agricultural Research Institute(IARI) will join hands with a private firm – for the first time, to build a marketplace for trading in carbon credits for farmers in the country.

How much Greenhouse Gas emissions does Indian agriculture emit?

Farming contributes around 14% of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from India. Of this, 55% comes from the livestock sector alone 

As of 2019, CO2 emissions for India were 2.6 billion tonnes. In the recent COP26 summit, India committed to reducing overall carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030.

What is Carbon Credit, and how can Carbon Credit trading work in agriculture?

A carbon credit is a tradable permit or certificate that provides the holder of the credit the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide or an equivalent of another greenhouse gas.

Farmers can claim carbon credits for a host of regenerative agricultural practices such as not burning paddy straw, conservation agriculture such as not ploughing land and laser levelling of land.

For each such practice undertaken, some credits that can be monitored will be generated. They will then be valued in accordance with standard international practices.

Companies that want to lower their carbon footprints, such as fertiliser manufacturers or airlines, but are finding it difficult to do so because of the nature of their business, can step in by directly purchasing carbon credits from farmers using the platform and its high-end technology.

What are the benefits of Carbon Credit trading in agriculture?

Carbon Credit trading is a win-win situation for both farmer and company in multiple ways: 

1) Farmers are paid for adopting healthy agricultural practices that reduce carbon emission, 2) They also benefit the soil, environment and also their own surroundings while at the same time companies can meet their targeted emission norms.

What is the Montreux Convention and can Turkey use it to block Russian warships?

Source: This post is based on the article “What is the Montreux Convention and can Turkey use it to block Russian warships?” published in Indian Express on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

Turkey is set to implement Montreux convention on naval passage through Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. This would allow Turkey to limit the movement of Russian warships between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

What is the Montreux Convention?

Montreux Convention is an international agreement governing the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits in TurkeyThe convention was signed in 1936 at the Montreux Palace in Switzerland.

The convention gives Turkey certain control over the passage of warships from the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits.

Peacetime passage: Warships can pass the straits by prior diplomatic notification with certain limitations on the weight of the ships and arms they carry — and depending on whether the ship belongs to a Black Sea nation or not.

Wartime passage: The pact gives Turkey the right to regulate the transit of naval warships and to block the straits to warships belonging to the countries involved in the conflict.

Note: Since Turkey has said that the situation in Ukraine had become a war. This declaration authorises Turkey to activate the Montreux Convention and ban Russian war vessels from entering the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.

What will be the significance of this move by Turkey?

The Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, also known as the Turkish Straits or the Black Sea Straits, connect the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea Via the Sea of Marmara.

It is the only passage through which the Black Sea ports can access the Mediterranean and beyond.

Over three million barrels of oil, about three per cent of the daily global supply, mostly produced in Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, pass through this waterway every day.

What are the challenges for Turkey in implementing the Montreux Convention?

Russia’s location on the Black Sea complicates the situation for Turkey.

This is because Article 19 of the Convention contains an exception for the countries on the Black Sea that can effectively undermine Turkey’s power in blocking the Russian warships entering or exiting the Black Sea.

Article 19 says that “Vessels of war belonging to belligerent powers, whether they are Black Sea Powers or not, which have become separated from their bases, may return thereto”.

This means warships can return to their original bases through the passage and Turkey cannot prevent it.

End Plastic Pollution: 175 countries commit to forge internationally binding treaty on plastic pollution

Source: This post is based on the article “175 countries commit to forge an internationally binding treaty on plastic pollution by 2024” published in Down To Earth on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

Around 175 countries have endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in Nairobi, Kenya titled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument”.

What is the purpose of this resolution?

The resolution has agreed to end plastic pollution and adopt an international, legally binding agreement by 2024. 

To prepare a draft agreement for this, the resolution establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee(INC) which will begin its work in 2022.

What will be the objectives of the agreement?

The agreement is expected to reflect diverse alternatives to address the full lifecycle of plastics, the design of reusable and recyclable products and materials and the need for enhanced international collaboration.

Under the agreement, countries are expected to develop, implement and update national action plans reflecting country-driven approaches to contribute to ending plastic pollution.

Why do we need a legally binding agreement against Plastic Pollution?

Plastic production increased from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 348 million tonnes in 2017, becoming a global industry valued at US$522 billion, and it is expected to double in capacity by 2040. 

The impacts of this plastic production and pollution are a catastrophe in the making. For instance:

– Exposure to plastics can harm human health, potentially affecting fertility, hormonal, metabolic and neurological activity, and the open burning of plastics contributes to air pollution.

– By 2050 greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use and disposal would account for 15 percent of allowed emissions.

– More than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion, entanglement, and other dangers.

Finance Minister launches e-Bill system on 46th Civil Accounts Day

Source: This post is based on the article Finance Minister launches e-Bill system on 46th Civil Accounts Daypublished in PIB on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Finance has launched the e-Bill system for Central Government Ministries on the 46th Civil Accounts Day.

What is the e-Bill System?

Aim: To make the entire process of submission and backend processing of bills completely paperless and transparent for Central Government Ministries.

Developed by: Public Financial Management System (PFMS) Division in the office of the Controller General of Accounts in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance. 

Objectives of the System: 

– Provide convenience to all vendors/suppliers of the government to submit their bills/claims at any time, from anywhere.

– Eliminate physical interface between suppliers and government officers.

– Enhance efficiency in processing bills/claims.

– Reduce discretion in the processing of bills through the “First-In-First-Out”(FIFO) method.

What is the significance of the launch of the e-Bill System?

Currently, the suppliers of various goods and services to the Government have to submit physical copies of their bills to the respective Ministries. Similarly, government employees also need to submit hard copies of their claims.

Due to this, the suppliers need to visit the offices to deliver bills. Moreover, they are unable to track the status of the processing of their bills. 

But under this e-Bill system, vendors/suppliers can upload their bills online along with supporting documents at any time through digital signature. For those not having a digital signature, the facility of e-sign using the Aadhaar has also been provided. 

Union Minister for Women & Child Development launches “Stree Manoraksha Project”

Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister for Women & Child Development launches Stree Manoraksha Project ” published in PIB on 3rd March 2022.

What is the News?

During International Women’s Day week, Union Minister for Women and Child Development has launched “Stree Manoraksha project”.

What is the Stree Manoraksha Project?

Launched by: National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, with support and funding from the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Aim: To provide training and supervision in psychosocial and mental health care for staff and counsellors of all One Stop Centres (OSCs) across the country to support women facing various forms of gender-based violence. 

Why was this project initiated?

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-2021, one in three married women has experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). However, around 9 in 10 women have never sought help when they faced violence. 

This has made women vulnerable to experiencing debilitating consequences on their mental and physical health. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the rate of gender-based violence manifold. 

Therefore, mental health support is highly imperative and needs to be tailored to the individual woman and her unique needs. 

Government has approved continuation of Umbrella Scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates”

Source: This post is based on the articleGovernment has approved continuation of Umbrella Scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates” published in PIB on 2nd March 2022.

What is the News?

The government has approved the continuation of the seven existing sub-schemes under the Umbrella Scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates” for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26.

What is the “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates” Scheme?

Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Home Affairs

Aim: To enable migrants and repatriates, who have suffered on account of displacement, to earn a reasonable income and to facilitate their inclusion in mainstream economic activities.


There are seven sub-schemes namely:

– Relief and Rehabilitation of displaced families of Pakistan Occupied Areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Chhamb.

– Relief assistance to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

– Relief assistance to Brus lodged in relief camps in Tripura.

– Enhanced relief to 1984 Anti-Sikh Riot Victims. 

– Financial Assistance and other facilities to the families of affected civilian victims of terrorist violence including militancy, insurgency, communal/ Left Wing Extremism violence and cross border firing and victims of mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory.

– Grants-in-aid to Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC).

– Grants-in-Aid to Government of West Bengal for infrastructure development in 51 erstwhile Bangladeshi enclaves in India, situated in Cooch Behar District and for resettlement of 922 returnees from erstwhile Indian enclaves in Bangladesh.

Explained: What are cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons, allegedly used by Russia against Ukrainians?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What are cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons, allegedly used by Russia against Ukrainians?” published in Indian Express on 3rd Mar 2022.

What is the News?

Human rights groups Amnesty International and Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States has accused Russia of using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs in the ongoing war.

What are Cluster Munitions?

Cluster Munitions ​​are non-precision weapons that are designed to injure or kill human beings indiscriminately over a large area and to destroy vehicles and infrastructure such as runways, railway or power transmission lines. 

They can be dropped from an aircraft or launched in a projectile that spins in flight, scattering many bomblets as it travels.

Many of these cluster bombs end up not exploding, but continue to lie on the ground, often partially or fully hidden, posing a threat to people for long after the fighting has ceased.

What are Thermobaric Weapons?

Thermobaric weapons — also known as aerosol bombs, fuel-air explosives, or vacuum bombs — use oxygen from the air for a large, high-temperature blast. 

A thermobaric weapon causes significantly greater devastation than a conventional bomb of comparable size.

Is using Cluster and Thermobaric Weapons illegal?

Cluster Munitions: There is a Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). It is an international treaty adopted in 2008. It prohibits the use, transfer, production, and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Currently, 110 states are parties to the convention and 13 other countries have signed up but are yet to ratify it. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are signatories.

Thermobaric weapons are not prohibited by any international law or agreement, but their use against civilian populations in built-up areas, schools or hospitals, could attract action under The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

Mains Answer Writing

Convergent growth

Source– The post is based on the article “Convergent growth” published in the Business Standard on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy Relevance– Challenges to growth of Indian economy News– The article explains the historical reason for disparity in growth and development performance between Indian states. It also tells about the steps needed to… Continue reading Convergent growth

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Chief of Defence Staff

Source– The post is based on the articles “Evolving Chair” published in The Hindu and the “The Chief task” published in The Indian Express on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Security challenges Relevance– Reformation of armed forces News– The article explains the new vision of the Indian government for transformation of armed focus and bringing… Continue reading Chief of Defence Staff

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Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits

Source: The post is based on an article “Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits” published in Live Mint on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 Relevance: measures taken by the RBI to tackle falling rupee News: RBI has taken a decision recently to let domestic exim traders facilitate and settle invoicing and payments for international trade in rupees.… Continue reading Rupee trade settlement offers India structural benefits

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How much should India prop up the rupee?

Source: The post is based on an article “How much should India prop up the rupee?” published in The Hindu on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy – Growth and development Relevance: concerns associated with declining rupee and widening CAD. News:  The rupee weakened against the dollar recording a low at Rs 81 per dollar in the… Continue reading How much should India prop up the rupee?

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How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India

Source: The post is based on an article “How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India” published in The Indian Express on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Relevance: problems associated with the employment of women News: Urban cities are the hope of social and economic independence for young girls. However, the murder of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari… Continue reading How dreams of freedom are shattered for working women in small-town India

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After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act

Source: The post is based on an article “After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act” published in The Hindu on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2 Relevance: concerns associated with corruption and measures to tackle them News:  Bengaluru’s floods have gone but they have left difficulties for the people. Difficulties such as flying of the dust in… Continue reading After the floods, Bengaluru needs to clean up its act

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Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome

Source: The post is based on the article “Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome” published in The Times of India on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 2: India and its neighbourhood- relations. Relevance: About India-China relations. News: The troop disengagement process in eastern Ladakh remains incomplete and China continues to… Continue reading Keep up pressure: India-US teaming up on Pacific Islands will trouble China. That’s welcome

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Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors

Source: The post is based on the article “Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors” published in the Business Standard on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Awareness in the fields of Space. Relevance: About DART Mission. News: NASA’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft has collided with the asteroid Dimorphous. What is the DART… Continue reading Saving the world – DART can reduce risks from meteors

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The right corporate culture would end moonlighting

Source: The post is based on the article “The right corporate culture would end moonlighting” published in the Livemint on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Indian economy and employment. Relevance: About Moonlighting. News: Wipro has sacked 300 employees it found guilty of working for its competitors. This triggered the ‘moonlighting’ debate. What is moonlighting? Read here: What is moonlighting… Continue reading The right corporate culture would end moonlighting

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A costly decision – Extension of PMGKAY should have been avoided

Source: The post is based on the article “A costly decision – Extension of PMGKAY should have been avoided” published in the Business Standard on 30th September 2022. Syllabus: GS 3: Indian economy. Relevance: About extending PMGKAY. News: Recently, the government has extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY-Phase VII) for a further period of 3… Continue reading A costly decision – Extension of PMGKAY should have been avoided

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