9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 12th, 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

Heading for GSTExit

Source: The post is based on an article “Heading for GSTExit” published in the Indian Express on 12th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Issues and challenges in the federal structure

Relevance: GST Regime 

News: Recently, Britain witnessed Brexit because loss of some sovereign freedom in return of the economic gains of a common European market was capitalised. India may also see the “GSTExit” if the trust and faith between the centre and the state is not revived in the Union-states relationship. 

Importance of GST 

The GST untangled disparate taxation structures across various states, reduced transportation costs and created a unified market that would boost economic growth and yield buoyant tax revenues for everyone to share. 

Issues  

The 2015 GST report proclaimed that the GST would help in “making one India” through centralised GST by curtailing states’ fiscal powers. However, the GST could pave the path for the over-arching centralisation project. For example, one nation, one language”, “one nation, one religion”, “one nation, one election” etc. This seems to be anti-federalist and anti-pluralistic ideas of “one India”.   

Five years after GST, Tax buoyancy has actually declined. The GST has led to fight between the Union and state governments during Covid-19.  

The GST induced fiscal federalism problem has entered into other domains like the union and state governors fighting over Hindi impositions, NEET exam etc.  

The GST has ruptured India’s larger federal structure and destroyed trust between the Union government and states.  

What are the issues in the GST Regime? 

After the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, state governments lost their independent taxation powers. However, state had fiscal independence in liquor and fuel as both were exempted from the GST.  

The share of both items in revenue generation have increased since the GST. Earlier, Both accounted for over 1/3rd of states’ own tax revenues. However, the alcohol’s share in overall state taxes has increased by 50% from the pre-GST years. In addition, Both the Union and state governments levy high fuel taxes to generate revenues as they do not have to seek permission of each other 

The state governments kept liquor shops open during Covid-19 lockdowns to compensate for the loss of revenue because they had no other independent means to raise resources.  

This GST framework and the fiscal independence in the fuel and alcohol domain is punishing the common Indian. For example, India has the highest fuel tax rates in the world.  

The GST relies upon the foundation of “compensation guarantee” based on which states surrendered their fiscal powers in return for guaranteed revenues. This foundation is going to end and the trust deficit would plague GST. 

Way Forward 

The technical approach to the problem of states’ growing reliance on liquor and fuel taxes is by bringing these sin goods within the GST ambit is not the solution. The root cause lies not in economics but in politics 

Fixing GST requires a fundamental reset of the Union-states relationship. It requires a state of mutual trust and respect. Both governments should uphold the value of cooperative federalism by extending it to ethics. 

India has a lot of economic, social and political diversity. Therefore, the GST was always going to be a tough proposition.  

The revenue guarantee agreements between the Union and states are necessary but not sufficient to make GST tenable.  

The central government should deftly balance all stakeholders and win back their confidence instead of just bringing alcohol and fuel within the GST ambit. This would further constrain the fiscal sovereignty of states. 


Still a long way for termination as an unconditional right

Source: The post is based on an article “Still a long way for termination as an unconditional right” published in the “The Hindu” on 12th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Social Sector, Health Sector; Laws and policies; Important Provisions of the Constitution of India 

Relevance: Medical Termination Law, Right to Abortion, Right to life etc. 

News: Recently, the issue of abortion was in the news internationally. This brings into picture the legal status of abortions in India. 

Legal Status of abortion in India 

Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), voluntarily causing (if not caused in a good faith) a woman to miscarry is an offence attracting a jail term of up to 3 years or fine or both. 

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 was enacted to legalise access to abortion in certain circumstances. It provided exceptions to the IPC provisions.  

In case of abortion in certain circumstances, the permission to terminate the pregnancy was sought from the judiciary. In various case, the courts had ruled that the right of a pregnant woman to decide on the continuation of her pregnancy is a part of her right to health and right to life. Therefore, right is non-negotiable. 

Further, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 was amended in 2021. It broadened the scope of the law.  

Circumstances in which medical termination of pregnancy is allowed after amendment 2021  

Grounds 

(1) If the continuation of the pregnancy involves a risk to the physical, mental health or life of the pregnant woman.  

(2) If the pregnancy is a result of rape or failure of contraceptive used to limit the number of children. The continuation of such a pregnancy can cause grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.  

(3) If the continuation of the pregnancy can cause substantial risk to the infant child in the form of serious physical or mental abnormality. 

Different Scenarios 

The pregnancy can be terminated for any of the above reasons keeping into consideration the gestational age of the pregnancy. Further, the medical opinion of the medical practitioner registered under the MTP Act is also required. 

(1) Up to 20 weeks of gestational age, opinion of a single registered medical practitioner.  

(2) From 20 weeks up to 24 weeks, the opinion of two registered medical practitioners is required. This is applicable to women, either a survivor of sexual assault/rape or incest, minors, women with major physical disabilities, mentally-ill women, foetal malformation incompatible with life, change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy, i.e., either widowhood or divorce, etc. 

(3) Beyond 24 weeks, the opinion of a Medical Board as set up in each State, as per the law, is required. The abortion can be permitted only on the ground of foetal abnormalities 

(4) In exception to all that is stated above, the pregnancy can be terminated at any time by a single registered medical practitioner if necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.  

What are some associated issues?

The law does not acknowledge the right of a pregnant person to decide on the discontinuation of a pregnancy. 

After the right to privacy judgment, it has been argued that the right of a pregnant person to continue a pregnancy or not has to be part of the right to privacy and the right to life. The amended law is not in sync with this judgment.  

The amended law is also not in sync with other central laws such as the laws on persons with disabilities, on mental health and on transgender persons, to name a few.  

The amendments did not removed ambiguity between the MTP Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, to name a few. 


Regulators don’t need constitutional status

Source: This post is based on the article “Regulators don’t need constitutional status” published in Business Standard on 12th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions, Regulatory bodies

Relevance: Granting constitutional status to regulatory bodies in India

Context: Should Indian regulatory agencies be given constitutional status? It is argued that Indian regulatory agencies are often unable to withstand political pressure from the elected government of the day, which affects the way they perform their functions.

So, granting them constitutional sanctity would “restore symmetry” between regulatory agencies and the elected government.

Though tempting, it’s still a weak argument.

Instead, provisions to secure transparency and public accountability will go a longer way in securing true independence for a regulator than conferring constitutional status on it.

What type of entities are given Constitutional status?

Mature constitutions cement the place of two types of entities in society.

First, those bodies that make laws and must be elected by the people. These bodies are hardwired into the Constitution to secure the people’s right to elect their representatives. For instance: Election of central and state legislature, their composition etc

Second, the Constitution fortifies institutions that are designed to exercise checks and balances on elected bodies and safeguard against majoritarian tendencies. For instance, it fortifies the position of the higher judiciary, the comptroller and auditor general’s office and the election commission, etc.

Why every apolitical body should not be granted Constitutional status?

Since Constitutions are (and should be) harder to amend than parliamentary law, granting permanence to every apolitical institution by hard-wiring it into the Constitution would make for a bulky and potentially an easily amendable Constitution.

Regulatory agencies do not comprise elected representatives of the people. In fact, many argue that they comprise technocratic elites who make regulations that have the binding effect of the law, license and regulate intermediating firms.

Credible commitment: When the government sets up a regulator, it cedes its sovereign powers to govern that area of the economy. By doing so, it signals its commitment (credible commitment) to policy stability. In fact, in a democracy, it is the legislature’s prerogative to decide whether to cede its sovereign power to regulate a sector, how much power to cede, and the constraints within which regulators must work. Since regulators exercise law-making and enforcement powers without having to ever face an election, making them accountable to the elected representatives is effectively the only way to hold them accountable to the people at all. This illustrates that they do not perform a function that should be hardwired in a Constitution.

No connection b/w achievement of its purpose and its legal status: A key argument for conferring constitutional status, specifically on the Reserve Bank of India, is to allow it to conduct monetary policy independently. The evidence to substantiate this claim is weak. For instance: Early findings of researchers at the Bank of England show no connection between a central bank’s legal form and the achievement of its public purpose (Bholat and Gutierrez, 2019).

What is the alternative to secure independence of regulatory bodies?

In the absence of constitutional hardwiring, how “independent” are regulators set up under laws passed by parliament? The answer is that it depends on the terms of the law setting up the regulator. Following steps must be ensured:

Fair contract terms for these agencies under their governing law

Aligning the incentives of the persons heading the regulatory agencies with public interest and

Requiring them to consistently explain their actions to the public. Transparency of conduct is one of the most effective ways of incentivising the agency to act in the public interest. For instance: Provisions built into the Reserve Bank of India Act in 2015, require the regular publication of the minutes of the monetary policy committee’s meetings. This is a powerful provision that simultaneously secures independence and accountability, as it would be hard to explain decisions and votes that do not align with public interest.


From Bharat to India

Source: This post is based on the article “From Bharat to India” published in The Hindu on 12th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity

Relevance: The idea of Bharat

Context: Article describes the views of Prof Oommen and Dr BR Ambedkar in constructing a Bharat.

Prof Oommen is a eminent sociologist and former president of the International Sociological Association.

What are the views of Prof Oommen?

Principal challenges to the evolution of a nation lie in minimising disparity, eradicating discrimination, and avoiding alienation. He has listed nine categories of socially and/or politically and/or excluded groups in our society: “Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, cultural minorities — both religious and linguistic, women, refugees-foreigners-outsiders, people [of] Northeast India, the poor and the disabled”.

Sources of exclusion in India: He has suggested that “the three sources of exclusion in India — stratification, heterogeneity and hierarchy — create intersectionality.” This insecurity manifests itself in genocide, culturocide and ecocide and in its absence, a society may be conceptualised as secure.

The Indian polity, has the most elaborate set of identities based on class, religion, gender, caste, region, language and their intersectionalities as well as consequent permutations and combinations. To ignore this complex social set up and speak in terms of ‘multiple identities’ is not only simplistic but also misleading. And, given the long history of India and its shifting frontiers, it is not easy even to identify the identity markers of Indian citizens and demarcate the numerous identity groups in India.

Given the diversity and complexity of India, the only constitutionally valid common denominator is citizenship. This is the point at which fraternity can and should be practiced among equals. Only through the conflation of state and nation can our Republic be considered a nation. Cultural monoism and secularism are insufficient.

On Article 351 of the Constitution on the national language. Hindi is to be enriched by ‘Hindustani’ along with other languages in the Eighth Schedule; yet the latter does not figure in the list of the Eighth Schedule. He suggests that “India shall be a multicultural nation and not a nation-state having many identities and that eventually the preferable solution would lie in a confederation – USSA (United States of South Asia).”

What is necessary for the continuance of democracy?

B.R. Ambedkar gave three warnings to ensure continuance of democracy “not merely in form but also in fact.” These were

constitutional procedures

avoidance of hero worship, and

social democracy instead of mere political democracy. Political democracy necessitates equality and fraternity.


The bitter dispute over India’s pandemic mortality

Source: This post is based on the article “The bitter dispute over India’s pandemic mortality” published in The Hindu on 12th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to Health

Relevance: Data about COVID pandemic mortality in India

News: How many people died in India as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? This question has become the subject of a heated argument after the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated India’s pandemic excess deaths at around 4.7 million.

The Government of India issued a strongly worded response, while media houses and editors also jumped in.

What are some factors that need to be considered?

Precisely how many excess deaths occurred in India during the novel coronavirus pandemic will never be known.

All mortality studies, including the latest from WHO, involve choices about what data to include, how to fill gaps, and how to deal with uncertainty; there is always room for debate and disagreement about these choices.

Also, all the estimates come with uncertainty and depend on choices. For example, the WHO estimate drops from 4.7 million to 4.4 million if we consider the pandemic period to span April 2020-July 2021 rather than January 2020-December 2021.

Uncertainty does not mean total ignorance: even the most optimistic reading of the data puts excess deaths at six or seven times official COVID-19 deaths.

How has the Govt responded to such studies?

Several studies, most putting India’s pandemic excess deaths at between three and five million, have been met by strident Government “rebuttals”.

These rebuttals have highlighted the uncertainties (which is valid), and then jumped — without justification — to claiming that there are no excess deaths beyond recorded COVID-19 deaths.

What are the implications of the Govt’s stance and the issues with it?

In its response to the latest WHO study, the Govt has said – “India strongly objects to the use of mathematical models for projecting excess mortality estimates in view of the availability of authentic data”.

The “authentic data” in question is mortality data from the Civil Registration System (CRS), and there are two implications:

  • CRS data has been ignored by the researchers;
  • CRS data does not support estimates of high pandemic mortality.

Both are wrong.

Issues

Estimates of pandemic mortality, including those of WHO, are largely data-driven, and the main data-source is the CRS. This data strongly supports estimates of high pandemic mortality.

The “modelling” that the Government objects to is largely simple data analysis and techniques for filling gaps in the data, entirely unavoidable if we are to use CRS data to estimate excess mortality.

Can a huge mortality surge be explained via increased registration coverage?

It is possible that in some States, registration coverage improved during the pandemic. But, overall, registration probably dropped during 2020.

Data from the Government’s latest National Family Health Survey suggests that deaths that occurred in 2020 were less likely to be registered than deaths in 2019. Birth registration data from the CRS points in the same direction: after increasing by 5% during 2017-18 and 7% during 2018-19, birth registrations fell by 2.5% in 2020.

Way forward

The current state of affairs highlights both the value of India’s CRS data, and the need to strengthen the CRS.

GS Paper 3


The good cop

Source: The post is based on an article “The good cop” published in the Indian Express on 12th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Security

Relevance: Police Reforms 

Context: There have been the National Police Commission, the Ribeiro and Padmanabhaiah committees, and other commissions which directly alluded to police reforms. In addition, the Malimath Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission indirectly expressed requirements for police reforms. The Supreme Court acknowledged the requirement of police reforms in Prakash Singh judgment of 2006 

Structural control over police machinery 

Constitutional Provisions 

The State List has public order and police.  

The Union List mentions the armed forces of the Union, CBI and some reasons for preventive detention.  

The Concurrent List mentions to deal with criminal law and procedure and some reasons for preventive detention.  

Centre-State Aspect 

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has Police-I Division and Police-II Division. The latter one is responsible for controlling the central armed police forces 

What are the issues in Indian policing machinery? 

It involves corruptions like a police officer may brush up a case on payment of his terms like presents from parties. 

The police officers threaten and bully suspects and innocent persons to give information they are supposed to possess.  

The police officer instead of working like a detective procure confessions by improper inducement, by threats and by moral pressure. 

Measures Taken So Far 

In Prakash Singh Guidelines 2006, the court’s gave directives in seven domains to induce transparency and reduce discretion which are desirable for improving police efficiency. There are: (1) State security commissions; (2) the appointment and tenure of DGPs; (3) the tenure of other police officers; (4) the separation of investigation from law and order; (5) police establishment boards for transfers, postings and promotions; (6) police complaints authorities; and (7) the National Security Commission. Subsequently, a draft Model Police Act was framed in 2006.  

So far almost all states have complied with the seven directives of the Supreme Court issued in Prakash Singh Case.  

Recently, the Central Government has reviewed the Model Police Act, 2006. Accordingly, a draft Model Police Bill, 2015 has been prepared and placed on the website of BPR&D. 

What are the issues which still persist in the police department even after implementation of the directives? 

Compliance has remained in the letter of the law, not in the spirit. For instance, the composition, powers and other aspects of the State Security Commission do not comply with the directives in spirit. Same is the case with other six directives as well.  

Meanwhile, the structure varies across states. This concern was highlighted by the Police Commissions of 1860 and 1902-03. This has not improved till 2022. This results into inefficiency 

States often readily request the central armed police forces whenever there is a problem.  

In tracking compliance in letter and spirit across states, it was found that there was no state which was fully compliant with the seven directives.  

Way Forward  

As ‘police’ is a state subject, therefore, the primary responsibility to formulate a new Police Act or amend their existing Act on the lines of the draft Model Police Bill prepared by the Central Government lies in the hands of the state government.  

In 2016, the Niti Aayog published a paper on building smart police. It suggested moving police to the Concurrent List 

However, the State List entry (related to police) should not be moved to the Concurrent List alone. It will be perceived as hampering rights of States and interpreted as greater centralisation. Therefore, the central government should go for a complete overhaul of the Seventh Schedule.  

Now the pandemic is out of the way, it is necessary to bring police reforms back on the agenda. The country deserves to move on from 1861. 


Time to solve a solvable encroachment problem

Source: The post is based on an article “Time to solve a solvable encroachment problem” published in the “The Hindu” on 11th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure, Road Transport etc.

Relevance: Urban Menace, Traffic and Parking Issues 

News: Recently, illegal structures on public land in National Capital Regional of Delhi were razed using bulldozers. This has brought into forefront the major issues of encroachment in the urban areas. 

What are the major issues in urban areas? 

Traffic 

The urban spaces are plagued with the problem of vehicular saturation. There is scarcity of land resources and continuing problems of unauthorized parking, blockage of major roads, entry areas like hospital access. 

This has been due to the auto boom in the Indian Economy since 1991. There are around 350 million vehicles on roads. Around 47 million of them are cars which are stationary and occupying space unpaid for. 

In India, traffic rules are routinely flouted, they are poorly enforced. In fact, motorists are often surprised when they are enforced effectively. 

Other things 

The urban areas witness the issue of illegal encroachment, ‘squatters’ settlement’, slum proliferation, among other things.  

Way Forward 

The New Motor Vehicle Act of 2019 should be strictly implemented. It mandates that a vehicle cannot be left at a spot that either impedes or endangers others. The act mentions barred zones which have been broadened to cover footpaths, bus stops, main roads, high-speed routes, entrances of premises and spots near traffic signals, crossings, pedestrian stripes, hilltops, bridges and street bends.  

If there is non-compliance to the above provisions, the violation can lead to a fine and the towing away of the vehicle left unattended for over 10 hours in a public place, wrecked or abandoned cars.  

Digital India, technologies like satellite or drone technology among others can be used to spot order and find cause-effect relationships in India’s chaotic traffic systems. The government can go for pricing the scarce resource. 

Delhi can roll out a road-pricing policy on a pilot basis aimed at coffer filling as much as market discipline 

The technology like space orbiters and smartphones etc. could be used to provide real time analysis of traffic, parking and other aspects. This can be extended to an era of varying tariffs based on demand and supply in real time.  


Shallow and deep ecologism

Source: The post is based on an article “Shallow and deep ecologism” published in the “The Hindu” on 12th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 Environment and Ecology

Relevance: Environmental Philosophy 

News: India continues to face with the unrelenting heatwave. Although, heat waves are known to have been a reality for hundreds of years. But more extreme, frequent and prolonged heat waves in recent has exposed the long-term effects of climate change which have exacerbated them.  

Concept of Ecologism 

The concepts emerged in the 1970s, when Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss sought to look beyond the popular pollution and conservation movements of his milieu to address environmental degradation.  

In his study, he viewed nature and themselves as two competing entities, therefore, established a master-slave dynamic. There are two strands of environmental philosophy that reinvent the relationship between nature and humans 

Two styles of ecologism 

(1) Shallow ecologism: Also referred to as weak ecologism, refers to the philosophy wherein the present lifestyle is continued, but with specific tweaks to minimise the damage to the environment. He termed this powerful and fashionable fight against pollution and resource depletion as shallow ecologism or environmentalism.

For example, using vehicles that cause less pollution or air conditioners that do not release chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) 

(2) Deep ecologism: It refers to the philosophy wherein the exponents believe that humans should radically change their relationship with nature. It rejects shallow ecologism as it prioritises humans above nature. It aims to preserve nature subsequent to environmental destruction.

For instance, the wealthier countries are responsible for a majority of carbon emissions. For instance, the US constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 17% of the world’s energy consumption. In addition, 

Objectives of deep ecologism 

It aspires to sustain nature by making large-scale changes to our lifestyle. For example, limiting the commercial farming, reducing the artificial fattening of animals, or the reshaping of transport systems.  

In addition, it shifts the attention from pollution and conservation narratives to robust policy formulation and implementation. The policies must include technical skills and inventions which are ecologically responsible

In addition, deep ecologism advocates for a re-evaluation of the ‘survival of the fittest’ doctrine. It advocates that doctrine should be understood through the perspective of cooperation and coexistence with nature, as opposed to competition, exploitation or domination 

The deep ecologists prioritise a principle called the ‘live and let live’ attitude over an ‘either you or me’ approach. 

What are the issues in Shallow ecologism?  

A narrow focus on pollution and conservation movements is counterproductive.

  • For example, projects implemented only to solve pollution generates evils of a different kind, like the installation of pollution control devices may increase the cost of living, leading to an increase in class difference.  

The environment becomes more vulnerable when decisions are strongly influenced by majority rule without taking local interests into consideration 

Way Forward 

We should adopt ethically responsible ecologism which operates in the interest of all economic classes.  

There should be decentralisation of the decision-making process. This can be done by strengthening local autonomy 

A holistic approach is needed to solve the environmental crisis. It demands avoiding adoptiob of a ‘vague, global’ approach. It should acknowledge regional differences and the disparities between under and over-developed nations 

The responsibility of solving the climate crisis falls on both policy-makers; and scientists and ecologists. Therefore, the political class or those who are in positions of power should be held accountable. 


The good side of inflation: Accelerating prices make govt debt management easier. Higher food prices mean bigger farmer income

Source: This post is based on the article “The good side of inflation” published in The Times of India on 11th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Monetary policy

Relevance: Inflation and related issues

Context: Some positive effects of inflation.

How is inflation beneficial in some respects?

A higher inflation (consumer price index or wholesale price index) helps in the lowering of the estimated fiscal deficit. The fiscal deficit, is calculated as a percentage of the nominal GDP. The nominal GDP because of the way it is calculated on current prices includes the inflation component. To estimate the real rate of GDP growth, statisticians net out inflation using a GDP deflator, a weighted average of CPI and WPI. A higher inflation would therefore shrink the deficit just as a higher subsidy reduces the nominal GDP.
This is how India managed to maintain an elevated level of fiscal deficit (including off-budget public spends like oil subsidies) for 5-6 years post the Global Financial Crisis, without blowing out on debt to-GDP ratios. It was made possible because of high single-digit, near double-digit inflation for most of that period.

Partial reversal of Terms of Trade in agriculture: A somewhat less straightforward, but perhaps more high-impact consequence of inflation is a partial reversal of the terms of trade (ToT) in agriculture. It’s well-known that ToT in farming has been on a decline in India.

The phrase ‘terms of trade’ for agriculture broadly refers to the gap between the price paid for inputs used in growing agricultural crops, and the prices received from the sale of those crops.

Even when the retail inflation went up, the farmgate prices lagged behind, but this trend has been reversed now A synchronised inflation in the last one year – substantial increase in MSP last year and a global uptick in food prices as a result of the war in Ukraine – means. Farmgate food price inflation is trending significantly above retail price inflation.

The price increases are not restricted to cereals like wheat. Milk, cotton, edible oils – the anecdotal evidence of higher farmgate prices is adding up. Perhaps it’s temporary, but ToT is shifting just a tad bit in favour of the farmer due to the current inflationary spell. In other words, it’s an income transfer from urban India to the farmers.

Way forward

In short, inflation is a policy paradox. Policymakers need to find a balance, rather than condemning inflation as an unmitigated evil that it is projected to be in popular discourse.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mission Amrit Sarovar- A high level meeting held to review the progress of the Mission under the chairmanship of Secretary, Rural Development

Source: The post is based on the articleMission Amrit Sarovar- A high-level meeting held to review the progress of the Mission under the chairmanship of Secretary, Rural Development published in PIB on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has launched a Mission Amrit Sarovar.

What is Mission Amrit Sarovar?

Aim: To develop and rejuvenate 75 water bodies in each district of the country as a part of the celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. In total, it would lead to the creation of 50,000 water bodies of a size of about an Acre or more.

Participating Ministries/Departments: Department of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate change.

Technical Partner: Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Application and Geo-informatics(BISAG-N).

Duration of the mission: The Mission Amrit Sarovar is to be completed by 15th August 2023.

Implementation Strategy

Refocusing of Schemes: The Mission works through the States and Districts through refocusing of various schemes such as MGNREGA, 15th Finance Commission Grants, PMKSY sub-schemes such as Watershed Development Component, Har Khet Ko Pani besides States own schemes. 

– The mission also encourages the mobilization of citizen and non-govt resources for supplementing these efforts.

Minimum Area: This Amrit Sarovar will be constructed on at least 1 acre of land with a water holding capacity of about 10,000 cubic meters.


Supreme Court puts colonial sedition law on hold

Source: The post is based on the article “Supreme Court puts colonial sedition law on hold published in The Hindu on 12th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has suspended pending criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code while allowing the Union of India to reconsider the British-era law.

What is Sedition Law?

Click Here to read about it

What was the issue about?
Sedition Law
Source: Hindustan Times

Several Petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A which deals with sedition.

In response to these petitions, the Central Government filed an affidavit informing the Supreme Court that it had decided to re-examine the provisions of section 124A of the IPC in wake of the criticism against the law’s “application and abuse”. 

The Supreme Court accepted the Government’s affidavit and said that the sedition law will be put on hold till the Central Government completes the exercise to reconsider and re-examine the provision.

What are the directions issued by the Supreme Court on Section 124A?

Firstly, it has suspended pending criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code until the Centre finishes its review.

Secondly, the court also made it clear that it hopes and expects the Center and States to restrain from registering FIRs under Section 124A while the “reconsideration” of the colonial provision was on.

Thirdly, the court indicated that there is no blanket stay on the registration of fresh FIRs under Section 124A. But if any fresh case is registered, the affected parties can approach the concerned Courts for appropriate relief and courts are requested to examine the reliefs sought to take into account the present order passed.

What is the significance of this judgment?

The judgement would act as a powerful message against the rampant misuse of the sedition law by governments to silence dissent and violate personal liberty. 

Moreover, undertrials booked under Section 124A can now use the order to seek bail.

Further, with this order, bail-in Section 124A cases have become the rule.

Must read: Sedition Law in India (Section 124A IPC) – Explained, pointwise

What is tomato flu? Who does it affect?

Source: The post is based on the article What is tomato flu? Who does it affect?published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

Tamil Nadu has ramped up surveillance at its borders in the wake of “tomato flu” cases being detected in Kerala.

What is Tomato Flu?

Tomato Flu got its name from the tomato-shaped blisters it causes on the body.

Vulnerable Population: The flu is affecting children below the age of five in Kerala.

Symptoms: The affected child can get blisters, high fever, body ache, joint swelling and fatigue.

Transmission: Like other cases of flu, tomato fever is also contagious. If someone is infected with this flu, they need to be kept in isolation as this could spread rapidly from one person to another.

Treatment: This flu is a self-limiting one and there is no specific drug for this. This means that the symptoms will resolve over time on their own if supportive care is given.


Union Environment Minister delivers the National Statement at the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties of UNCCD

Source: The post is based on the article Union Environment Minister delivers the National Statement at the 15th Session of the Conference of Parties of UNCCDpublished in PIB on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change addressed the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in Côte d’Ivoire.

What is the UNCCD Conference of the Parties(COP)?

The UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP) was established by the Convention as its main decision-making body.

It is made up of governments and organizations such as the European Union and is responsible for guiding the Convention so that it can respond to global challenges and national needs. 

The COP has been meeting biennially since 2001 and has held 14 sessions. 

Note: India had hosted the 14th session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 2019 in New Delhi.

What is COP 15?

Held at: Côte d’Ivoire 

Focus Areas: Drought, land restoration, and related enablers such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment are among the top items on the Conference agenda.

Theme: ‘Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity’.

What are the key highlights from India’s address at UNCCD COP15?

Developed countries should take the lead in reducing carbon emissions drastically as they have contributed the most to global warming historically and even at present.

There is a need to urgently reduce the profligate emissions driven by the high consumption lifestyle of a global minority among countries,

It is critical to ensure the flow of public finance into natural resource management to halt the deteriorating state of the environment.

Read more: Concept of Familial Forestry

Drought In Numbers, 2022: Desertification: ‘Droughts reduced India’s GDP by up to 5% in 20 years’

Source: The post is based on the article “Desertification: ‘Droughts reduced India’s GDP by up to 5% in 20 years’” published in Down To Earth on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) has released the Drought In Numbers, 2022 Report to mark Drought Day.

What are the key findings of the report?
Global findings

Droughts represent 15% of natural disasters but took the largest human toll, approximately 650,000 deaths from 1970-2019. Since 2000, the number and duration of droughts have risen by 29%.

From 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50% of disasters and 45% of disaster-related deaths, mostly in developing countries.

From 1998 to 2017, droughts caused global economic losses of roughly USD 124 billion.

By 2030, or in the next eight years, drought will potentially displace an estimated 700 million people worldwide. 

Report on India

India has featured in the assessment as one of the severely drought-impacted countries. Nearly two-thirds of the country suffered drought during 2020-2022.

The effect of severe droughts was estimated to have reduced India’s gross domestic product by 2-5% over the 20 years from 1998-2017.

What are the recommendations given by the report?

-Sustainable and efficient agricultural management techniques that grow more food on less land and with less water.

-Changes in relationships with food, fodder and fibre, moving toward plant-based diets and reducing or stopping the consumption of animals.

-Development and implementation of integrated drought action plans

-Set up effective early-warning systems that work across boundaries.

-Deployment of new technologies such as satellite monitoring and artificial intelligence to guide decisions with greater precision.

-Mobilize sustainable finance to improve drought resilience at the local level.

What do the other reports say about India’s drought situation?

According to Down To Earth analysis, India’s drought-prone area has increased by 57% since 1997. One-third of India’s districts have faced more than four droughts over the past decade and 50 million people are affected by drought every year.

According to the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India, some 97.85 million hectares — nearly 30% of the country’s land — underwent land degradation during 2018-19.


Fortified rice: Surveyors find that consumers fear traces of ‘plastic rice’

Source: The post is based on the article “Fortified rice: Surveyors find that consumers fear traces of ‘plastic rice’” published in Business Standard on 12th May 2022.

What is the News?

A fact-finding team of civil society activists has found serious issues with the Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice.

About Fortification of Rice Programme
Rice Fortification
Source: Business Standard

Recently, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the supply of fortified rice throughout the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under the following schemes by 2024 in a phased manner:

National Food Security Act (NFSA), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman-PM POSHAN [erstwhile Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)]

Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) of the Government of India in all States and Union Territories (UTs).

Note: Earlier, the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System” was implemented for a period of 3 years beginning from 2019-20. Eleven (11) States successfully distributed the fortified rice in their identified districts (one district per State) under this pilot scheme.

What were the issues identified by activists with the Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice?

Firstly, there is a perception on the ground and fear that ‘plastic-rice’ has been mixed with normal rice in the name of fortification. Due to this, a vast majority of women were picking out and throwing away the Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) added to rice.

Secondly, the beneficiaries of fortified rice have complained of abdominal discomfort, gastritis, diarrhoea and nausea after eating fortified rice.

Thirdly, the programme was being implemented without proper labelling and warning about its adverse impact on people with sickle-cell anaemia and Thalassemia.

Must read: Food Fortification in India – Explained, pointwise

Adenoviruses: The Mystery of an Unknown Bug, Sick Kids

Source: The post is based on the article “Adenoviruses: The Mystery of an Unknown Bug, Sick Kids” published in Livemint on 12th May 2022.

What is the News?

The World Health Organization(WHO) has said that 348 probable cases of hepatitis in children potentially linked to adenovirus have been reported from 20 countries across five global regions.

What is Hepatitis?

Click Here to read about it

What are Adenoviruses?

Adenoviruses are a group of common viruses that infect the lining of your eyes, airways and lungs, intestines, urinary tract, and nervous system. 

The virus usually causes fever, respiratory illness (cough, cold, sore throat), gastroenteritis (stomach inflammation) and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Vulnerable Group: Adenovirus infections happen in children more often than in adults, but anyone can get them. Most kids will have at least one type of adenovirus infection by the time they’re 10.

Types: There are many different types of adenoviruses, so people can get infected more than once. These viruses also don’t have a “season” like other viruses (the flu, for example), so infections can happen at any time of the year.

Transmission: Adenovirus infections spread from one person to another through surfaces, close contact and respiratory droplets. 

Treatment: Infections are mild, and they typically get better on their own. 

Scientists have used modified adenoviruses to build other vaccines such as those that protect against COVID-19.


India elected as Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities(AAEA) for 2022-24

Source: The post is based on the article India elected as Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities(AAEA) for 2022-24published in PIB on 11th May 2022.

What is the News?

India has been unanimously elected as the new Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities(AAEA) for 2022-2024 at Manila, Philippines.

What is the Association of Asian Election Authorities(AAEA)?

Established in: 1998

Purpose: To promote and institutionalize open and transparent elections, independent and impartial election authorities, professionalization of Asian election authorities, citizen participation in the electoral process and the development of resources for election-related information and research.

Members: Currently 20 Asian Election Management Bodies(EMBs) are members of AAEA. 

Note: Election Commission of India(ECI) is a founder member of EMB of the AAEA and also served on the Executive Board of the AAEA as the Vice Chair during 2011-13 and Chair during 2014-16. 

AAEA is also an Associate Member of the Association of World Election Bodies(A-WEB).


Pantanal Wetland: Brazilian scientists warn that the Pantanal is at risk of collapse

Source: The post is based on the article “Brazilian scientists warn that the Pantanal is at risk of collapse” published in Down To Earth on 8th May 2022.

What is the News?

Pantanal Wetland (​​world’s largest wetland) is at the risk of collapse due to a series of decisions that aims to open up the wetland to more intensive uses that collectively threaten the long-term survival of the Wetland.

What is Pantanal Wetland?
Pantanal Wetlands
Source: DW

Pantanal Wetland is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area and the world’s largest flooded grasslands. 

Location: It is located mostly within Brazil, but it extends into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. 

Vegetation: The vegetation of the Pantanal often referred to as the “Pantanal complex” is a mixture of plant communities– moist tropical Amazonian rainforest plants, semiarid woodland plants, Brazilian Cerrado savanna plants and plants of the Chaco savannas of Bolivia and Paraguay.

Keystone Species: The apple snail is a keystone species in Pantanal’s ecosystem. 

Wildlife: Pantanal has the largest concentration of crocodiles in the world, with approximately 10 million caimans. The Pantanal is also home to the biggest parrot on the planet, the hyacinth macaw. 

Significance: I​​n 2000, part of this ecoregion, the ‘Pantanal Conservation Area’ representing 1.3% of the Brazilian Pantanal was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

– In the same year, a part of Pantanal Wetland was named as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Mains Answer Writing

[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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National Hospital Ship (NHS): Navy issues RFI to get 250-bed hospital ship in the high seas

What is the News? The government has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a national hospital ship (NHS) for the Navy that will act as a floating 250-bed hospital on the high seas. What is the National Hospital Ship (NHS)? The hospital ship is the first such ship for the Indian Navy. The vessel… Continue reading National Hospital Ship (NHS): Navy issues RFI to get 250-bed hospital ship in the high seas

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