9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 11th, 2022

Dear Friends,

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

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

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

This food regulator needs to step up to the plate

Source: This post is based on the article “This food regulator needs to step up to the plate” published in The Hindu on 11th May 22.

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

Relevance: Draft regulation for labels on front of food packets

Context: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is expected to issue a draft regulation for labels on front of food packets that will inform consumers if a product is high in salt, sugar and fat. It is expected to propose a system under which stars will be assigned to a product.

The draft regulation is based on a study commissioned by the FSSAI and conducted by IIM-Ahmedabad.

As per this article, the study has many methodological errors. Hence, the FSSAI cannot go ahead with a draft regulation based on a highly contested study design and whose findings are not yet peer reviewed.

Its decision to stick to a Health Star Rating based on an algorithm known to the food industry only, as a front of pack labelling, is without sound logic or evidence.

What are the associated concerns?

We need to reduce the production, the marketing and the availability of such unhealthy foods.

Even if available, we need to change consumer behaviour in purchasing such processed food by due warning of their contents using the labels on the packets.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a threshold for sugar, salt, fat, and calories per 100 grams of processed food packaged or 100 ml of liquid beverages bottled. Unless we generate competing technical data for the Indian population, we have to abide by WHO norms.

– We cannot relax thresholds to suit the industry, but industry must alter its composition to healthy limits. The FSSAI must ensure that.

Any order or guideline issued in public interest must be mandatory from day one. We cannot have the flexibility of voluntary adoption and staggered implementation.

No one denies that the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is an institute of repute, but so are many others which were not invited or given a chance to bid for such a large expensive study.

On Front of the Package labelling: The participants of the study must have the capacity to objectively evaluate the various formats of FOPL based on the information content. They must have the ability to compare and identify least harmful, or identify higher content than recommended. Opinion of the consumer, who is not knowledgeable or illiterate, is pointless.

The authors admit in this study that 13.8% of respondents have not had schooling at all or are illiterate, while 28%-35% of respondents are those who never read food labels. Therefore, they should have been excluded from making a relative comparison between labels in this study.

Missing data: The exclusion of young adolescent children aged 10-18 years — who are big consumers of packaged biscuits chips and bottled soft drinks — from the study is a big methodological error. It is a case of significant missing data.


Measuring the change: On socio-economic surveys

Source: This post is based on the article “Measuring the change: On socio-economic surveys” published in The Hindu on 11th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to health

Relevance: Health surveys in India

Context: Findings of the 5th edition of the National Family Health Survey were made public last year, providing some key insights into changes underway in Indian society.

India should invest more to enhance the reliability of various socio-economic surveys.

What are some key findings of the NFHS 5?

Findings of the survey throw light on traditional parameters, for instance immunisation among children, births in registered hospital facilities, and nutritional levels. While there is a general improvement in these parameters, there were mixed signals in nutrition.

Gains in childhood nutrition were minimal, as were improvements in obesity levels.

The prevalence of anaemia has actually worsened since the last survey in 2015-16.

Decline in TFR: When highlights were made public last year, the focus was on India’s declining total fertility rate that had, for the first time in the country’s history, dipped to below the replacement level, or a TFR (Total Fertility Rate) of 2.1.

  • If the trend were to persist, India’s population was on the decline in line with what has been observed in developed countries, and theoretically means improved living standards per capita and greater gender equity.
  • Because this TFR had been achieved across most States, it was also evidence that population decline could be achieved without coercive state policies and family planning has struck deep roots. The more detailed findings, made public last week, suggest that this decline is agnostic to religion.

The fertility rate among Muslims dipped to 2.3 in 2019-2021 from 2.6 in 2015-16, the sharpest among all religious communities when compared to the 4.4 in NFHS 1 in 1992-93.

Gender equity: Another set of subjective questions that the NFHS attempts to answer using hard data is gender equity.

  • Less than a third of married women are working and nearly 44% do not have the freedom to go to the market alone. However, a little over 80% have said that they can refuse demands for sex from their husband. This has implications for legal questions surrounding marital rape.
  • Only 72% of Indian men think it is not right to coerce, threaten or use force on a woman if denied sex, which again points to the vast territory that needs to be covered in educating men about equality, choice and freedom in marriage. This question made it for the first time in the family health survey, as did another question, about the number of registered births and deaths, in the family survey.
Way forward

Multiple surveys such as the NFHS, Sample Registration Surveys, the Census, labour, economic surveys and ways of interrogation are necessary for insights about a country as vast and complex as India; the Centre should invest more substantially in improving their reliability.

GS Paper 3


The grim forewarnings of a global study on birds

Source: This post is based on the article “The grim forewarnings of a global study on birds” published in The Hindu on 11th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment and Ecology

Relevance: State of the World’s Birds report

Context: The State of the World’s Birds, an annual review of environmental resources, has revealed that the population of 48% of the 10,994 surviving species of birds is declining.

The report led by the Manchester Metropolitan University gives an overview of the changes in the knowledge of avian biodiversity and the extent to which it is imperilled.

What are the key findings of the study?

5,245 or about 48% of the existing bird species worldwide are known or suspected to be undergoing population declines. While 4,295 or 39% of the species have stable trends, about 7% or 778 species have increasing population trends. The trend of 37 species was unknown.

1,481 or 13.5% species are currently threatened with global extinction. These include 798 species classified as vulnerable, 460 as endangered and 223 as critically endangered while 52 species were considered to be data deficient.

For more findings: Click here

What is the importance of birds to ecosystems and culture?

Birds contribute toward many ecosystem services that either directly or indirectly benefit humanity. These include provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services.

The functional role of birds within ecosystems as pollinators, seed-dispersers, ecosystem engineers, scavengers and predators  facilitates accrual and maintenance of biodiversity. It also supports human endeavours such as sustainable agriculture via pest control, besides aiding other animals to multiply. For instance, coral reef fish productivity has been shown to increase as seabird colonies recovered following rat eradication in the Chagos archipelago.

Wild birds and products derived from them are also economically important as food (meat, eggs). Approximately 45% of all extant bird species are used in some way by people, primarily as pets (37%) and for food (14%).

The cultural role of birds is perhaps more important than any other taxonomic group, the study says. Beyond its symbolic and artistic values, birdwatching is a global pastime practised by millions of people.

  • Garden bird-feeding is valued at $5-6 billion per year and growing by four per cent annually.
What are the threats contributing to avian biodiversity loss?

The study lists eight factors, topped by land cover and land-use change.

The continued growth of human populations and of per capita rates of consumption lead directly to conversion and degradation of primary natural habitats and consequent loss of biodiversity. Although global tree cover increased between 1982 and 2016, this has been driven by afforestation with plantations (often of non-native species) plus land abandonment in parts of the global North, with net loss in the tropics.

The other factors are habitat fragmentation and degradation, especially in the tropics; hunting and trapping with 11 to 36 million birds estimated to be killed or taken illegally in the Mediterranean region alone; the impact of invasive alien species and disease; infrastructure, energy demands and pollution; agrochemical and pharmaceutical usage (pesticide ingestion kills an estimated 2.7 million birds annually in Canada alone); global trade teleconnections; and climate change.

Can the avian biodiversity loss be stemmed?

Yes.

The growing footprint of the human population represents the ultimate driver of most threats to avian biodiversity. So the success of solutions will depend on the degree to which they account for the social context in which they are implemented, and our ability to effect changes in individual and societal attitudes and behaviours.

Emerging concepts of conservation social science can inform efforts to address biodiversity loss and to achieve more effective and sustainable conservation outcomes.

  • Conservation social science links birds to human well-being, sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental justice.

We require dependable ways to recycle lithium batteries

Source: This post is based on the article “We require dependable ways to recycle lithium batteries” published in Livemint on 11th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment, Industrial policy and growth

Relevance: Reuse and recycling of lithium batteries

News: In March 2022, the Indian government announced four recipients for its Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for advanced cell chemistry batteries, which aims to establish 50 gigawatt hours (GWh) of domestic cell manufacturing capacity by 2030.

The establishment of a domestic manufacturing capacity will be essential for ensuring supply chain and energy security.

However, scarce materials that are used in lithium-ion battery chemistries, such as cobalt, nickel and graphite, pose a significant risk for India, which has extremely limited domestic reserves of these materials. The industry’s upstream supply chain is largely dominated by China, and markets have been volatile.

Hence, a robust reuse-and-recycling programme for batteries will enable India to reduce raw material risk and help the country establish sunrise industries that are climate-friendly.

What steps are being taken globally and by India wrt building recycling capacity?

Globally

Several international actors are taking steps to build necessary recycling capacity as a response to growing battery demand.

In China, a suite of policies introduced in 2018 was aimed at the growth of recycling centres in proximity to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing hubs.

In the West, the EU has begun the process of establishing policies requiring collection targets, coupled with minimum local content requirements.

In the US, the country’s department of energy has awarded grants to innovative recycling companies.

India

India has also taken steps to establish a domestic market for battery recycling.

In February 2020, the ministry of environment introduced draft rules on battery-waste management. These rules would establish an extended producer responsibility (EPR) programme.

Under an EPR framework, stakeholders in the domestic battery industry (including manufacturers, producers and importers) would be responsible for establishing a collection plan to be approved by regulators. The plan must enable the collection of 30% of end-of-life batteries by weight two years after implementation, and gradually escalate this to 70% by the seventh year.

What are the potential benefits of setting up a recycling ecosystem in India?

Under the EPR programme, materials recovered from recycled EV lithium batteries could provide 5% of India’s domestic manufacturing needs for minerals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, and graphite by 2030. The quantity of recoverable material will only increase with time as the volume of EV batteries due for retirement increases.

Utilization of recovered minerals to meet lithium battery demand within India would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding upstream emissions associated with extraction, processing and transportation.

Further, as the Indian power grid gets decarbonized, the lithium battery manufacturing process will also become less carbon intensive. Battery recycling would therefore reduce risks to the domestic battery-making industry while complementing the national emissions reduction targets announced by India at the CoP-26 summit held in Glasgow last November.

How the draft rules on battery waste mgmt can be improved?

Currently, they have only set a battery collection target, but the policy can be used to bolster the market for second-life batteries.

The draft rules should also look to include specific language on hazardous material transport and handling guidance for lithium batteries, formalize second-life performance standards and warranties, and also establish a transparent methodology for identifying issues and stages for remediation and penalties.

In the meanwhile, the plans of battery industry stakeholders must take into consideration how costs will impact EV market parity vis-a-vis conventional vehicles, and what mechanisms are used to incentivize consumer adoption.

Way forward

The implementation of a reuse-and-recycling programme would not only enhance the resource security of the country’s vehicle electrification and energy transition ambitions, but could also deliver economic development and job growth, while ensuring improved public health and environmental safety.


A regulatory overload could weaken our cyber security

Source: This post is based on the article “A regulatory overload could weaken our cybersecurity” published in Livemint on 10th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Information Technology

Relevance: Cybersecurity and related issues

Context: Most countries have comprehensive rules setting out the various steps that companies must follow from the moment they learn of a breach. These rules are designed to mitigate the privacy harms from a breach of personal data.

But, there is an absence of a full-fledged privacy law in India.

What is CERT-In?

In 2013, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) was established under rules issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000, to serve as a “trusted referral agency” that users could turn to in the event of a cyberattack.

The role of CERT-In was to provide technical assistance in the event of a breach, and as such it had no mandate to assess the privacy implications of such breaches.

What are the rules wrt reporting of cybersecurity incidents in India?

The 2013 Rules, issued under the IT Act 2000, largely left it up to individual users to decide whether or not they wanted to report a cybersecurity incident to CERT-In. However, in an annex at the end, it listed ten types of incidents that mandatorily had to be reported.

  • Most incidents described in the annex had to do with attacks on critical infrastructure: the SCADA systems central to our national energy grid, the DNS servers that route internet traffic, and other such systems.
  • However, the annex also required relatively benign incidents—“unauthorised access to IT systems/ data”, “defacement of websites” and “spoofing and phishing attacks”—to be reported to CERT-In.

Recently, the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) extended the 2013 Rules by issuing a new set of Directions under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The new directions considerably expanded the list of mandatorily reportable incidents, doubling it to 20.

  • It introduced new reporting requirements in relation to attacks on Internet-of-Things devices, unauthorized access to social media accounts, and for suspicious activities that could affect systems relating to big data, blockchain, virtual assets, robotics, 3D and 4D printing etc.
  • Companies are now required to report cyber incidents to CERT-In within six hours of becoming aware of them, and in a form that has to be downloaded from the CERT-In website as a non-editable PDF. Firms are required to maintain (within the territory of India), logs of their ICT systems for a period of 180 days and ensure that their system clocks are synchronized with Network Time Protocol Servers of either the National Informatics Centre or the National Physical Laboratory. It even presumes to regulate virtual asset service providers, requiring them to maintain KYC information and records of their financial transactions for a period of five years.
Issues associated with the rules

Excessive burden on CERT-In: Requiring users to mandatorily report all such incidents, like —every phishing attempt, every attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer —is excessive. It places an onerous reporting burden on companies that is unwarranted, considering that their IT departments are eminently capable of dealing with them. More importantly, it risks so thoroughly inundating CERT-In with trivial incidents that the agency may be left incapable of responding to serious incidents when they actually occur.

Classification of all “suspicious activity” relating to drones, blockchain and artificial intelligence as cybersecurity incidents under the new reporting requirements by MEITY, regardless of their likely consequences, does seems excessive.


Equating states’ off-budget borrowings with their debt will clarify extent of indebtedness

Source: This post is created based on the article “Equating states’ off-budget borrowings with their debt will clarify extent of indebtedness” published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Fiscal policies

News: This year, off-budget borrowings by the states will be equated with the states’ own debt.

What are off-budget borrowings?

Off-budget borrowings refer to loans taken by state govt. entities, special purpose vehicles, etc. These loans are serviced through the state government’s own budget, instead of revenues generated by the borrowing entity.

As per the Department of Expenditure, using off-budget borrowings, states are effectively breaching the ceiling set by the Centre. Thus, states are surpassing the fiscal deficit limits set under state Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Acts,

What are the changes?

Under Article 293 (3) of the Constitution, if the state government has taken loan from the central government, it needs to take the Centre’s permission for fresh borrowing.

The central government decides fiscal deficit target for state governments for 5 years, after considering the finance commission’s recommendations. Thus, the net borrowing ceiling of states is defined by the central government.

The borrowing ceiling set in this manner acts as a soft constraint to that year’s state-wise fiscal deficit.

However, earlier, off-budget borrowings were not considered in this calculation. But, from now on, all incremental off-budget borrowings from 2020-21 will be adjusted from this year’s ceiling.

Implications of changes

It will lead to large downward adjustments in some States’ effective borrowing room.

It will bring in much-needed fiscal transparency in an area that has been cloaked in opacity.

States will find it difficult to fund their expenditures.


Explained: Making sense of exchange rate

Source: This post is created based on the article “Explained: Making sense of exchange rate” published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.

Syllabus:  GS Paper 3- Indian Economy – Money and Banking

News: Indian rupee hit an all-time low exchange rate of 77.6 against the US dollar.

What is the exchange rate?

The exchange rate tells us how much of a currency (e.g. Rupee) is required to purchase one unit of another currency (e.g. Dollar). For example, if the rupee’s exchange rate “falls”, it implies that buying American goods would become costlier.

How an exchange rate is determined?

In a free market, the exchange rate is determined by the supply and demand for currencies, i.e. rupees and dollars. For example, in case Indians demand more dollars in comparison to the demand of rupees in America, the value of rupees will depreciate.

Other than the market forces, central banks (RBI, in the case of India) also play a role in determining the exchange rate.

What are the factors determining the supply and demand of currency?

Balance of Payment determines how many rupees was demanded by the rest of the world and how much foreign currency was demanded by Indians. The BoP is divided into— current, capital, and financial accounts.

  • The current account is used to mark the inflow and outflow of goods and services into a country.
  • The capital account is where all international capital transfers in assets are recorded.
  • In the financial account, international monetary flows related to investment in the business, real estate, bonds, and stocks are documented.

The following 2 scenarios will clear the Rupee’s exchange rate fluctuations

First, India imports 80% of its oil. In case the demand or price of oil goes up, India will need more dollars to buy crude oil in the international market. On the other hand, the demand for Indian rupees has not increased. This would weaken the Indian Rupee exchange rate due to the increasing trade deficit.

Second, if the US central bank raises its interest rates, Global investors would start investing their money in the US, instead of India. Again, the rupee would weaken. Such a transaction would be recorded in the Capital Account.

What is RBI’s role in exchange rate determination?

RBI plays a very important role in exchange rate determination. It controls the drastic fluctuations in Rupee’s exchange rate. For that, RBI can take various measures:

In case of a drastic fall in Rupee value, RBI sells some of the dollars from its forex reserves. This is why the RBI’s forex reserves have gone down sharply since the war in Ukraine started in February.

In case of a drastic rise in Rupee value, the RBI buys excess amount of dollars (by paying rupees in the market) and adds it to its forex reserves.


Control inflation by acting on liquidity

Source: This post is created based on the article “Control inflation by acting on liquidity” published in The Hindu on 11th May 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Indian Economy – Growth and development

News: Inflation has assumed a menacing proportion in almost all countries.

Consumer price index (CPI) inflation in India stood (in March 2022) at 6.95%. It is expected to rise further in April. On the other hand, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation had remained in double digits since April 2021.

It is not the case solely with India, the situation is the worst in the United States where the consumer price inflation stood (in March 2022) at 8.56%

Monetary and fiscal policy approach adopted after pandemic

After the advent of COVID-19, the major concern of policymakers all over the world was to revive demand. Government’s tried to increase demand by raising government expenditure. However, it didn’t happen due to supply constraints that came from a non-mobility of factors of production.

But it is the right approach, the increase in output could happen with a lag and also with the relaxation of restrictions.

The focus of monetary policy in India also has been to keep the interest rate low and increase the availability of liquidity through various channels.

The Government’s borrowing programme also went through smoothly, due to abundant liquidity.

Changing Policy measures due to inflation

Although the monetary policy is still accommodative, the focus is back on the gradual withdrawal of accommodation, to ease inflationary pressure.

What should be done?

Many experts are of the belief that present inflation is cost-push inflation that occurred due to rising crude oil prices and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Thus, some part of the increase in crude prices and food prices can be absorbed by the government.

However, an abundance of liquidity has also been an important factor. Thus, action on liquidity is very much needed, with a concomitant rise in the interest rate on deposits and loans.


The Problem on Our Plate

Source: This post is created based on the article “The Problem on Our Plate” published in The Times of India on 11th May 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3- Indian Agriculture– Crops and cropping patterns in India

News: Commodity prices are increasing globally.

Prices of grains, feed and meat, and edible oils, in particular, are surging.

Russia and Ukraine together contributed roughly one-fourth (or 52 million metric tonnes [MMT]) of global wheat exports of 203 MMT in 2021-22.

What can be done to control inflation?

The main reason behind the upward cycle in commodities was massive liquidity injections by G20 countries through loose monetary and fiscal policies. Thus, the following approach can be adapted to control inflation:

Tightening the monetary and fiscal policies to suck in the excess liquidity from the system.

All exporting countries need to step up their production and exports to fill in the shortfall caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. For example, Europe, Australia, the US, Canada, and Argentina can fill the gap for the shortfall in wheat. Whereas, India can surely play a critical role in Rice supplies till the storm of inflation is over.

In India, the government can procure large wheat stocks from farmers and incentivize them to plant more area under wheat in the next season.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

SC seeks Centre, State governments’ reply on making ‘physical literacy’ a fundamental right

Source: The post is based on the article SC seeks Centre, State governments’ reply on making ‘physical literacy’ a fundamental rightpublished in The Hindu on 8th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and States to respond to a report recommending sports to be expressly made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Note: The report was submitted by the court’s amicus curiae (friend of the court).

What was the case about?

A Public Interest Litigation(PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to amend the Constitution to make sports a fundamental right and amend the Directive Principles of State Policy to include an obligation to “strive for promotion of sports education”.

It had also urged that sports should be transferred to the Concurrent List to facilitate cooperative work between the Center and states (at present, sports is a state subject).

What are the recommendations given by the report?

Replace Sports Phrase with Physical Literacy: The “narrow” phrase ‘sport’ should be replaced by ‘physical literacy’, which is a term “firmly established as a right in the leading sporting nations of the world”.

Launch National Physical Literacy Mission: The mission should implement a responsibilities matrix that includes curriculum design, compliance monitoring and grievance redressal and self-correction mechanisms which starts at the school level to groom children for various sports.

Dedicated Time for Sports: All school boards including CBSE, ICSE, State Boards, IB, and IGCSE should be directed to ensure that from the academic year commencing 2022-2023, at least 90 minutes of every school day will be dedicated to free play and games.

Sports Facilities for Free: State governments ought to ensure that from the current academic year, all educational institutions in their non-working hours, should allow neighborhood children to use their playgrounds and sports facilities for free.

Draft ‘Physical Literacy Policy’: A 180 days’ time should be given to educational institutions to draft ‘Physical Literacy Policy’. The policy will include the institution’s commitment to a ‘no-child-left-behind’ approach. It should ensure that the institution’s physical literacy activities are designed and delivered in a manner that is inclusive of students.

Setup Internal Committee: There is a need to create an internal committee to address specific cases where there is a failure in responsibilities to deliver the right to physical literacy of students.

Create Dashboard: There is a need to create a dashboard with real time data on mapping of available playgrounds and open spaces and their utilization rates. The dashboard should also include the availability and qualifications of physical education teachers, curricula, timetables, and equipment in educational institutions across the country.


89% children between 6-23 months don’t get adequate diet: NFHS

Source: The post is based on the article “89% children between 6-23 months don’t get adequate diet: NFHS” published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

The National Family Health Survey(NFHS-5) has released data on the gap in Child Nutrition.

What does NFHS say about Child Nutrition?

Minimum Acceptable Diet: Around 89% of children between the formative ages of 6-23 months do not receive a “minimum acceptable diet’’. This is only marginally better than the 90.4% recorded in NFHS-4.

Note: The minimum acceptable diet is a composite of two main things: 1) breastfeeding and its frequency up to two years and 2) dietary diversity. 

– In dietary diversity, WHO has defined ten essential food groups — cereals and millets, pulses, milk and milk products, roots and tubers, green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruits, fat or oil, fish, egg and other meats and sugar — out of which 4-5 every day are required for a child to prevent malnutrition.

States where Children received an adequate diet: The proportion of children who received a minimum acceptable diet was highest in Meghalaya (28.5%) and the lowest in UP and Gujarat (5.9% each).

Access to the minimum acceptable diet in children was higher in urban areas (12.1%) than in rural areas (10.7%).

Reasons for Deficient Diet: There are a number of reasons for a deficient diet — poverty, lack of access to nutrition (cereals, fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc), lack of awareness and low education among others.

Impact of Deficient Diet: Deficiency in the diet in a child’s formative years has a direct bearing on malnutrition, with India having one of the highest malnutrition burdens in the world.


Union Minister launches NITI Aayog’s Experience Studio on Drones

Source: The post is based on the article Union Minister launches NITI Aayog’s Experience Studio on Dronespublished in PIB on 10th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Civil Aviation has launched NITI Aayog’s Experience Studio on Drones.

What is NITI Aayog Experience Studio on Drones?

Purpose: To help promote various applications of drone technology to public and private stakeholders as well as help them fast-track adoption of drone technology within their organizations and aid in building a robust drone industry in India.

What are the other initiatives launched?

The following challenges have been launched by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Aviation(MoCA):

– ‘Drones for Social Impact Competition’: For the start-up community to showcase their capabilities to solve critical problem statements in various use cases.

– ‘Robotics Workshop and Competition’: For students of Atal Tinkering Labs to foster the spirit of innovation and problem-solving.

What is the Cloud Innovation Center?

Launched in: 2021 by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Amazon Web Services(AWS) and Intel.

Aim: To help showcase the potential of frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), and Blockchain among others.


How India fares on NFHS Wealth Index, in 5 charts

Source: The post is based on the article How India fares on NFHS Wealth Index, in 5 chartspublished in Livemint on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

According to the National Family Health Survey(NFHS) Wealth Index, a vast chunk of India’s poor in terms of ownership of consumer goods and household assets resides in a handful of eastern and northeastern states.

What is the Wealth Index?

The wealth index is a measure of living standards based on households’ ownership of items such as televisions to housing features such as drinking water sources. The population is divided into five equally-sized groups based on the index. The top 20% form the richest, and the bottom 20% the poorest quintile. 

What are the key findings of the index?
Wealth distribution across the country
Source: Livemint

For uniform wealth distribution across the country, any demographic or state would need to have 20% of their population falling in each of the five wealth quintiles. However, that’s far from true.

India’s urban population is tilted towards the top quintiles indicating a generally higher standard of living, but it has a striking contrast with rural areas. For instance, about 74% of urban Indians belong to the two richest quintiles (top 40% of the overall population). On the other hand, only one in four rural Indians falls into these groups.

Twelve states and Union territories have more than half of their population in the lowest two wealth quintiles. Assam has the highest such share (70%), followed by Bihar (69%) and Jharkhand (68%). Barring Mizoram and Sikkim, all northeastern states fall under this category.

District Wise

Mahe District of Puducherry has the smallest share of the poor (0.1%), while Supaul district of Bihar has the highest (91.9%). 

In Kerala, most districts have less than 10% poor population. The trend is similar in the districts of Punjab and Haryana.

Religion and Caste wise

Hindus and Muslims have a wealth distribution fairly in line with India’s national average with about 20% of their populations in each quintile. Christians have a slightly higher share of the population (26%) in the highest wealth quintile. Only 1.6% of Sikhs fall in the lowest wealth quintile.

The caste-wise distribution is far more stark. Over 70% of the scheduled tribe population falls in the lowest two quintiles and the same is true for 49% of the scheduled caste population. 

Correlation between Education and Wealth

The report shows a strong correlation between education and wealth status.

BPL Households

In India, 45% of households have Below Poverty Line(BPL) cards which are given to families adjudged to be below the poverty line. However, in some states, the figure exceeds 80%:Andhra Pradesh has the highest share (90%), followed by Chhattisgarh (87%), Telangana (85%), and Karnataka (79%). Among larger states, Punjab has the lowest share (19%). 


New low-cost iron aluminide coatings can increase corrosion resistance in harsh media to four times of mild steel

Source: The post is based on the article New low-cost iron aluminide coatings can increase corrosion resistance in harsh media to four times of mild steelpublished in PIB on 10th May 2022

What is the News?

Scientists have developed low-cost iron-based intermetallic powders that can be used as a corrosion-resistant coating for materials exposed to harsher environments like high temperature in thermal power plants where oxidation, corrosion and wear and tear takes place simultaneously.

Background

Wear and corrosion cause major damage to materials that are exposed to harsher environments like high temperatures. Hence, there is a need to protect these materials for enhanced economic viability. 

At present, thermally sprayed Chromium Carbide-Nickel Chromium Powder coatings have been widely used to protect the material surface. However, the powder is expensive due to the presence of Co and Ni elements.

What have the scientists developed?

Scientists have developed low-cost iron-based intermetallic powders that can be used as a corrosion-resistant coating for materials exposed to harsher environments like high temperatures.

The coatings have demonstrated an increased wear resistance by 30-40% than the mild steel under solid particle erosion wear mode implying that iron-based coatings can be used for high-temperature erosion resistance applications.


NFHS-5 data shows literacy and delivery of services, not religion, influences fertility

Source: The post is based on the article “NFHS-5 data shows literacy and delivery of services, not religion, influences fertility” published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

The National Family Health Survey(NFHS-5) has released data on the Total Fertility Rate(TFR) in India.

What does NFHS-5 say about the Total Fertility Rate(TFR) in India?

Total Fertility Rate(TFR): India’s total fertility rate(TFR) has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 2.0 in 2019-21.

Note: The TFR is the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime. TFR of 2.1 is considered the replacement level fertility rate at which population stability is achieved.

Regional Variations in TFR: There are wide inter-regional variations with five states namely Bihar (2.98), Meghalaya (2.91), Uttar Pradesh (2.35), Jharkhand (2.26) and Manipur (2.17)  still not achieving a replacement level of fertility of 2.1.

Religion wise TFR: All religious communities have shown a decline in fertility. But the fall has been sharpest in the Muslim community from 4.4 in NFHS 1(1992-93) to 2.3 in NFHS 5(2019-2021).

– However, the Muslim community’s TFR still remains the highest among all religious communities with the Hindu community’s fertility rate of 1.94, the Christian community has a fertility rate of 1.88, the Sikh community at 1.61, the Jain community at 1.6 and Buddhist and neo-Buddhist community at 1.39.

Reason for Fertility gap between Communities: The fertility gap between communities is narrowing. But high fertility is mostly a result of non-religious factors such as levels of literacy, employment, income and access to health services. Muslims are most disadvantaged on these parameters.

Importance of Education in TFR: The number of children per woman declined with women’s level of schooling. Women with no schooling have an average of 2.8 children compared with 1.8 children for women with 12 or more years of schooling. 

Family Planning: The survey has highlighted the male attitude towards family planning. They tend to put the onus for birth control on women. For instance, as many as 35% of men believe that using contraceptives is a woman’s responsibility. They ignore the fact that male vasectomy is a much simpler procedure than female tubectomy.


Corals and sea anemones turn sunscreen into toxins – understanding how could help save coral reefs

Source:  The post is based on the article “Corals and sea anemones turn sunscreen into toxins – understanding how could help save coral reefs” published in Down To Earth on 9th May 2022

What is the News?

Researchers have identified a mechanism by which oxybenzone – a common sunscreen component – may be hastening the demise of reefs. 

What is Oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone is the sun-blocking agent in many sun creams. Its chemical structure causes it to absorb UV rays, preventing damage to skin cells.

But it has attracted controversy in recent years after studies reported that it can damage coral reefs. These concerns have led to some beaches in Hawaii, Palau and the US Virgin Islands, banning oxybenzone-containing sunscreens. 

However, the mechanisms by which oxybenzone does harm have largely remained a mystery, making it difficult to ensure that sunscreen components proposed as alternatives are truly safer for corals.

To find out the mechanism, Stanford researchers conducted a study.

What did the researchers find out?

The scientists used sea anemones and mushroom corals as models and exposed them to oxybenzone in a tank filled with artificial seawater.

In one of the experiments, this treatment was combined with simulated sunlight, which saw all anemones die off within 17 days. In a parallel experiment where there was no sunlight, the creatures all remained viable. 

This runs counter to what the scientists expected from oxybenzone which is designed to absorb light energy and dissipate it as heat to prevent sunburn.

Hence, these findings suggest that sunscreen pollution and climate change combined could be a greater threat to coral reefs and other marine habitats.


A historic initiative by Department of Telecommunications – India advances in 5G/ORAN testing ecosystem through public private partnership

Source: The post is based on the article A historic initiative by Department of Telecommunications – India advances in 5G/ORAN testing ecosystem through public private partnershippublished in PIB on 10th May 2022.

What is the News?

Telecommunication Engineering Center(TEC), a technical arm of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with VVDN Technologies Private Limited.

The signing of MoU will facilitate registered startups, innovators and MSMEs working in the field of Open RAN to get their products tested at the existing lab of M/s VVDN.

It is aimed that India shall be emerging as the design leader in 5G/ORAN. This test certification ecosystem will make India as design testing and certification hub of Asia.

What is Radio Access Network(RAN)?

RAN is a key part of a mobile network system that uses cellular radio connections to link individual devices to other parts of a network.

It comprises antennae which transmit and receive signals to and from our smartphones or other compatible devices. The signal is then digitized in the RAN-base station and connected to the network.

What is Open RAN?

Currently, RAN is provided as an integrated platform of both hardware and software. Therefore, it is difficult to mix vendors for the radio and baseband unit and in most cases, they come from the same supplier.

The idea of Open RAN is to change this. It aims to enable a multi-supplier RAN solution that allows for the separation – or disaggregation – between hardware and software.

With Open RAN, telecom players would have the flexibility to use in-house solutions or solutions from multiple vendors for RAN services.

What are the benefits of Open RAN?

More opportunities for telecom operators: Open RAN would allow telecom operators to look beyond traditional vendors, thus creating opportunities for lesser-known vendors from abroad as well as from home to be part of the growing 5G ecosystem, based on their innovation competence.

Network flexibility: Being software-centric, it is scalable, agile and best of networks with improved network performance using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Reduced cost: Open RAN would reduce a telecom operator’s network deployment cost as it is interoperable with other networks such as 4G.


AIM, NITI Aayog launches the AIM-PRIME Playbook to help academicians launch deep-tech spin-offs

Source: The post is based on the article AIM, NITI Aayog launches the AIM-PRIME Playbook to help academicians launch deep-tech spin-offspublished in PIB on 10th May 2022

What is the News?

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM),NITI Aayog has launched AIM-PRIME (Programfor Researchers on Innovation, Market Readiness and Entrepreneurship) Playbook.

What is AIM PRIME?

Launched in: April 2021 by Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Aim: To promote science-based, deep technology ideas to market, through training and guidance over a period of 12 months.

Implemented by: Venture Center

What is AIM PRIME Playbook?

AIM-PRIME Playbook aims to be a comprehensive resource for academic researchers, entrepreneurs and incubators involved in building science-based enterprises from lab tomarket.

What is a Venture Center?

The Venture Center is India’s leading science-based business and inventive enterprises’ incubator. It is located in Pune. 

It is a non-profit incubator hosted by the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune and part of the Pune Knowledge Cluster. 

The Venture Center is a partner incubator of the Department of Science and Technology, BIRAC and IDEX.


Puja event at ASI-protected Martand Temple in Kashmir stokes controversy

Source: The post is based on the article Puja event at ASI-protected Martand Temple in Kashmir stokes controversy published in The Hindu on 8th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor participated in a religious ceremony held in the ruins of the 8th century Martand Sun temple, a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. This temple has been recognised as a “Site of national importance”.

What is Martand Sun Temple?

The Martand Sun Temple also known as Pandou Laidan is located five miles from Anantnag in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism) and built during the 8th century CE. Martand is another Sanskrit synonym for Surya.

It was built during the 8th century CE by the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty, Lalitaditya Muktapida.

It is now in ruins, as it was destroyed by the orders of Muslim ruler Sikandar Shah Miri.

From the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.

The temple also appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda (Sun Temple).

Who was Lalitaditya?

Lalitaditya alias Muktapida(724 CE–760 CE) was a powerful ruler of the Karkota dynasty of the Kashmir region in the Indian subcontinent.

He commissioned a number of shrines in Kashmir, including the now-ruined Martand Sun Temple. 

He also established several towns, including a new capital at Parihasapura although he also maintained the dynasty’s traditional capital at Srinagara.

The main source of information about Lalitaditya is Rajatarangini, a chronicle of the rulers of Kashmir, by the 12th century Kashmiri writer Kalhana.

Lalitaditya also finds a brief mention in the New Book of Tang (Xin Tang shu), a record of the Tang dynasty of China.

The 11th-century Persian chronicler Al-Biruni mentions a Kashmiri king called Muttai who was most probably Lalitaditya.

Mains Answer Writing

[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #214 : Smita Nagraj Board, Economics Optional, Rajasthan Home State, Korean Drama, Diary Writing Hobbies

Date of Interview: 5th May 2022 ( Forenoon Session), 4th to go Board: Smita Nagraj Optional: Economics Home State: Rajasthan Background: B.S.-M.S. Economics, IITK Hobbies: Ghoomar, Korean Drama, Diary Writing To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Experience in Interview: It happened so fast, board was very cordial, didn’t cross question, they were… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #214 : Smita Nagraj Board, Economics Optional, Rajasthan Home State, Korean Drama, Diary Writing Hobbies

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[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #213 : Smita Nagraj Board, Anthropology Optional, Himachal Pradesh Home State, Meditation Hobby

Date of Interview: 6 May, afternoon session Board: Smita Nagraj Optional: Anthropology Background: NIT-H Home State: Himachal Pradesh Hobbies: meditation, reading spiritual and self help books, journaling To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman Recent Chandigarh issue controversy What should be thr stand for Chandigarh? Monologue on centre state tussles going on.… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #213 : Smita Nagraj Board, Anthropology Optional, Himachal Pradesh Home State, Meditation Hobby

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 24, 2022

Good Morning 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… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 24, 2022

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[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #212 : RN Choubey Board, Anthropology Optional, Jammu and Kashmir Home State

Date of Interview: 06 May (Afternoon session) Board: RN Choubey Sir Optional: Anthropology Home State: Jammu and Kashmir Background: Delhi Technological University (DTU) Hobbies: Budget travelling and trekking, watching documentaries on himalayas, Reading thrillers To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman Introduce yourself to the board members There has been no revolution… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #212 : RN Choubey Board, Anthropology Optional, Jammu and Kashmir Home State

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – May 25, 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 – May 25, 2022

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[Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India.

Introduction: Write in brief about Inter-State Council. Body: Explain how Inter-State Council promotes cooperative federalism and also write some issues in doing so. Way forward: Give some suggestions. The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body that facilitates coordination between states and the center. However, it is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects in… Continue reading [Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India.

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[Answered] The establishment of foreign university branch campuses in India would be beneficial, it is worthwhile to look at the experience of other countries for both positive and negative lessons. Examine the statement.

Introduction: contextual introduction. Body: Write some points related to benefits of establishment of foreign university branch campuses. Also write some negative aspects of this initiative. Conclusion: Give a way forward. Centre in its Union Budget announced that world-class foreign universities will be allowed to offer courses in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics… Continue reading [Answered] The establishment of foreign university branch campuses in India would be beneficial, it is worthwhile to look at the experience of other countries for both positive and negative lessons. Examine the statement.

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 23, 2022

Good Morning 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… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 23, 2022

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Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of United States of America

What is the News? The Government of India and the Government of the United States of America have signed an Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) in Tokyo, Japan. What is the Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA)? The Agreement is the legal requirement for DFC(Development Finance Agency of the USA), to continue providing investment support in India. Note:… Continue reading Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of United States of America

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Kolkata unveils biodiversity register: First among major Indian metros

What is the News? Kolkata became the first major metropolitan city in India to prepare a detailed register of biodiversity (People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)). Note: Chandigarh and Indore are other important cities that have prepared the document. What is the People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)? The People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) entails complete documentation of biodiversity such… Continue reading Kolkata unveils biodiversity register: First among major Indian metros

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