9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 13th, 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

On marital rape: The importance of consent

Source: This post is based on the article “On marital rape: The importance of consent” published in The Hindu on 13th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Social issues

Relevance: Regarding marital rape

Context: A split verdict in the Delhi High Court on the question of criminalising marital rape has reignited the controversy over legal protection for disregard of consent for sex within marriage.

What has happened?

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, who headed the Delhi HC Bench, struck down as unconstitutional the exception to Section 375 of the IPC, which says that intercourse by a man with his wife aged 18 or above is not rape even if it is without her consent

But, Justice C. Hari Shankar rejected the plea to criminalise marital rape pointing out that any change in the law has to be carried out by the legislature since it requires consideration of social, cultural and legal aspects.

On what points did the judges differ with each other?

Difference of opinion of the judges was on key points such as

– Difficulty in getting evidence

The importance of consent

Whether the state’s concerns about safeguarding the institution of marriage were valid, and

if other laws against sexual violence protected married women, the issues involved may have to be ultimately adjudicated with the help of a third judge or a larger Bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court.

What is the stance of the Central Govt on the issue?

The Union government has been opposing the removal of the marital rape exception.

In 2016, it had rejected the concept of marital rape, saying it “cannot be applied to the Indian context” due to various reasons, not least because of the “mindset of society to treat marriage as a sacrament”.

However, in the final hearing, the Union government did not take a stand on the issue.

What are the opinions of the Delhi HC Bench?

Justice Shakdher’s opinion

He says what is defined as rape in law should be labelled as such, irrespective of whether it occurs within or outside marriage.

He finds that the marital exception violates equality before law, as well as deprives women of the right to trigger a prosecution for non-consensual sex. Besides, it also discriminates among women based on their marital status and robs them of sexual agency and autonomy.

Justice Hari Shankar’s opinion

In contrast, Justice Hari Shankar’s opinion, somewhat disconcertingly, de-emphasises the element of consent and highlights the importance of preserving the institution of marriage to such an extent that he holds that any legislation that keeps rape out of a marital relationship “is immune to interference”.

Way forward

If marriage is regarded as a partnership between equals, an exception in a 162-year-old law should have had no place.

While there are other laws governing civil relationships that legitimise conjugal expectations, these cannot be seen as giving a free pass for violence within marriage, which is essentially what sex without consent is.

Whether the legislative route is more appropriate in making marital rape a criminal offence is a matter of detail.

What is important is that sexual violence has no place in society, and the institution of marriage is no exception.


On the question of notifying minorities

Source: This post is based on the article “On the question of notifying minorities” published in The Hindu on 13th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity – Indian Constitution

Relevance: Notifying minorities in India

News: A public interest litigation (PIL) under the consideration of the Supreme Court of India has challenged the power of the Centre to notify minority communities at a national level.

Who are the minority communities at national level?

Six communities are currently notified as minority communities at the national level — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.

Who is a minority and who decides that?

The PIL specifically questions the validity of Section 2(f) of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions or NCMEI Act 2004, terming it arbitrary and contrary to Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.

Section 2(f) says “minority ,”for the purpose of this Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government.” Section 2(c) of the of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992 also gives the Centre similar powers.

In 2005, the Govt at the Centre notified five communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis — as minorities at the national level.

In 2014, the Central government notified followers of Jainism as a minority community, making them the sixth on the national list.

What does the PIL argue?

The petitioner argues that the Centre’s decision was arbitrary since the SC had held, in the T. M. A. Pai Foundation vs State Of Karnataka case of 2002 that, “for the purpose of determining minority, the unit will be State and not whole India.”

The petitioner argued that the Centre’s notification has created an anomalous situation in which the communities declared as minorities by the Centre enjoy the status even in States/UTs where they are in majority (Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and Christians in Nagaland for instance) while followers of Hinduism, Judaism and Bahaism who are minorities are not accorded the same status under the Act.

The petition seeks the SC to curtail the Centre’s power to notify national minorities or direct the Centre to notify followers of Hinduism, Bahaism and Judaism as minorities in States/UTs where they are actually fewer in numbers; or direct that only those communities that are “socially, economically and politically non-dominant” besides being numerically smaller in States/UTs be allowed the status of minorities.

How has the Govt responded?

The Centre filed two affidavits in the case. In both, the Centre said it had the power to notify minority communities.

In the first, the Centre categorically defended the concept of minorities at the national level. Centre has pointed out that it had concurrent powers with States to take measures for the welfare of minorities. States could have minorities notified as such within their jurisdiction, and it even cited the examples of Maharashtra recognising Jews as a minority community and Karnataka recognising speakers of several languages as linguistic minorities.

In the second, the Centre remains silent on the concept of minorities at national level. specific question.

In other words, the Centre has not taken a position, one way or the other, about continuing the national list of minorities while it reiterated its power to notify communities as minorities under Central Acts.

What happens next?

The Centre has said it would come back to the apex court after consideration of several sociological and other aspects.

It said “any stand without detailed deliberations with stakeholders may result in an unintended complication for the country.” Though the power is vested with the Central government, it would consult the States and other stakeholders.


The India hypertension control initiative

Source: This post is based on the article “The India hypertension control initiative” published in The Hindu on 13th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to Health

Relevance: Prevalence of Hypertension in India

News: A project called the India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) finds that nearly 23% out of 2.1 million Indians have uncontrolled blood pressure.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension was defined as having systolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 90 mmHg or/and taking anti-hypertensive medication to lower his/her blood pressure.

What is the IHCI?

Recognising that hypertension is a serious, and growing, health issue in India, the Health Ministry, the Indian Council of Medical Research, State Governments, and WHO-India began a five-year initiative to monitor and treat hypertension.

India has committed to a “25 by 25″ goal, which aims to reduce premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025.

One of the nine voluntary targets includes reducing the prevalence of high blood pressure by 25% by 2025.

The programme was launched in November 2017.

What has the IHCI found so far?

Its most important discovery so far is that nearly one-fourth of (23%) patients under the programme had uncontrolled blood pressure, and 27% did not return for a follow-up in the first quarter of 2021.

There were an estimated 20 crore adults with hypertension in the country.

To achieve India’s target of a 25% relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure, approximately 4.5 crore additional people with hypertension need to get their blood pressure under control by 2025.

How prevalent is the problem of hypertension?

Southern States have a higher prevalence of hypertension than the national average, according to the latest edition of the National Family Health Survey.

While 21.3% of women and 24% of men aged above 15 have hypertension in the country, the prevalence is the highest in Kerala where 32.8% men and 30.9% women have been diagnosed with hypertension.

Kerala is followed by Telangana where the prevalence is 31.4% in men and 26.1% in women.

The prevalence of hypertension is higher among Sikhs (37% for men and 31% for women), Jains (30% for men and 25% for women), and Christians (29% for men and 26% for women) than the rest.


With delimitation over, a look at the slate for J&K

Source: The post is based on an article “With delimitation over, a look at the slate for J&K” published in the “The Hindu” on 13th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Functioning of the parliament and legislative assemblies in India

Relevance: Jammu and Kashmir Assembly 

News: In recent, the Delimitation Commission awards for redrawn map for Jammu and Kashmir’s Assembly has been notified.  

Background 

The State’s Assembly had been dissolved. It was under President’s rule. Thereafter, the State of J&K had been divided into two Union Territories under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. And fresh elections could be held under the J&K Reorganization Act 2019. Therefore, the delimitation of J&K assembly was very important for conducting fresh elections. 

Composition of the Commission 

Apart from Retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and J&K State Election Commissioner K.K. Sharma were ex-officio members of the commission. 

Criticism of the commission’s award 

A long list of objections was made against the commission’s draft. But the final report does not summarise the objections nor address them point by point. 

The commission has not explained the methodology based on which it awarded more seats to Jammu province relative to its population than the Valley province having a relatively larger population base. For example, Jammu gained 6 Assembly Seats against 1 seat gained by the Valley Province.  

In fact, the majority of the six new constituencies that are acquired by Jammu are Hindu-majority. Further, one Jammu constituency has a population of just over 50,000 people whereas a Muslim-majority constituency having the same physical features have close to four times its population. 

It did not explain why Jammu’s Muslim-majority seats now comprise less than a quarter of the province’s total seats despite the fact the Muslims comprise over a third of the province’s population. 

The commission’s recommended the President to nominate Pandit migrants to 2 Assembly seats, along the lines of reservation for Anglo-Indians in Parliament. However, it is silent on the nomination for Pandits who live in the Valley and West Pakistani refugees who live in the J&K. 

What is good in the award? 

The commission proposed to match the boundaries of Assembly and parliamentary constituencies. This will ensure that Assembly and parliamentary constituencies match local administrative and police boundaries.  

What are the challenges to the commission’s award? 

Further, the Supreme Court of India is about to hear the challenges to the reorganisation act 2019. In continuation, if the Court decides the challenges are valid, then the delimitation exercise will be nullified. 

The redrawn constituencies may result in greater polarisation of the community and people living in J&K in the next election. It may lead to risk of greater communal violence. 

If the outcome of the J&K Assembly election results reflects a sharp divide between Jammu and the Valley, then it will make it more difficult to put together a coalition administration in the J&K Assembly.  

Way Forward 

The Election Commission should not delay announcing dates for the long overdue Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir as the redrawn constituencies have been notified. 

In order to ensure the peace process in Jammu and Kashmir, there has to be a clean election, speedy restoration of statehood.  

In fact, the commission itself proposed that the report be placed before the legislative assembly. Therefore, let the new Jammu and Kashmir assembly approve or query the delimitation report. 

The government must give attention to fundamental freedoms of over a thousand Kashmiris who are held up in prison under sedition charges. They have been denied bail or asked to furnish punitive sureties.  


Why the sedition law must go

Source: The post is based on an article “Why sedition law must go?” published in the Indian Express on 13th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Important Provisions of the Constitution of India

Relevance: Sedition Law Versus Fundamental Right of the freedom of speech and expressions 

News: Most recently, the Supreme Court directed the Union government and the states to refrain from using the law of sedition. In addition, the Supreme Court has also kept all previous cases under Section 124A of the IPC in abeyance till the matter is reconsidered in a comprehensive way.  

Argument against the Sedition law 

The colonial government used the law of sedition liberally to curb free speech. However, the section on sedition was retained after independence and has been used on the same pattern so far. 

In the Constituent Assembly, B R Ambedkar passionately argued that liberty, equality and fraternity should become the principles of our democratic lives.  

The Section 124Aof the IPC, has acted as a constraint on the exercise of the freedom of speech and expression which is enshrined as a guaranteed fundamental right in Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. In fact, dissent, criticism and differences of opinion are vital for the functioning of any democracy. But the governments have used sedition to suppress and quell political dissent. 

The Section 124A of the IPC has often been invoked with the aim to create an atmosphere of fear and servility against the dissenters. For example, it is used against politicians, political activists, human rights activists, civil rights workers and advocacy groups who dared question the government’s stand.  

The NRCB data exposes the untenability of Section 124A or UAPA. Most cases are disposed of at the police level by withdrawing the case or submitting a chargesheet in the court. In courts, there is an abysmally low rate of conviction and the cases are disposed of without conviction. It means the sedition charges are slapped in flimsy nature or are used to intimidate or harass those who question the government’s fiat.  

The law endangers our fundamental constitutional values. For example, the pendency rate in court remained 95%. This indicates harassment and violation of the right to life and liberty for a great number of people who are suffering because of the diabolical prison conditions in India.  

The Law Commission of India in its “consultation paper on sedition” found many issues that need addressing around the working of Section 124A. 

Way Forward 

A Private Member’s Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2011 to abolish Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. 

In order to improve the democratic foundations of our country, there must not be any space for sedition. The progressive citizens of India have been constantly asking for the repealing of the sedition law. 


WHO’s Methodology Has Been Robust’

Source: The post is based on an article “WHO’s Methodology Has Been Robust” published in the on 13th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to Health

Relevance: Civil Registration System, Sample Registration System, Mortality Data 

News: Recently, the World Health Organisation estimated the excess mortality caused by the pandemic 

What is the scope of WHO’s estimate? 

WHO is measuring the excess mortality to understand the net effect of a pandemic.

Here, excess mortality means the difference between what would have been expected to be the mortality if there had been no pandemic as compared to the actual mortality occurring which include covid deaths, deaths due to the disruption of other essential health services and worsening of social determinants like poverty.  

India’s institutional measures for recording death 

The Civil Registration System (CRS): It is organised by the Registrar General of India (RGI), and is uniformly operated across India. The states are required to implement it, and they don’t have any flexibility.  

Issues in CRS: This system faces a number of issues. The death registration in CRS is weak. In fact, the certification of cause of death is as low as 21%. 

India’s Sample Registration System (SRS)

It is implemented by RGI to overcome weaknesses in CRS and get a better sense of mortality in India. Therefore, people are sent to survey villages, to verify death registration, search for missing deaths and explore causation. By convention, it is considered to be the gold standard for mortality. 

Issues: India’s Sample Registration System (SRS) is the main source of mortality data. However, SRS usually comes out after a two-year lag. Therefore, unfortunately, SRS data is not available for 2020 and 2021.  

What are the issues in the estimation of excess mortality?

As per SRS and CRS report in 2019, Only 13 states and 4 UTs recorded 100% reporting which did not include large and populous states. Therefore, we cannot rely upon the death reporting done during covid when there was so much disruption.  

Another important issue is that the Covid deaths were collected through a parallel system (collected directly from district administrators reporting it from laboratories and from hospitals), not through the civil registration and vital statistics system. Therefore, they had no cross-reference with the rest of the system. Like CRS and SRS.  

Why WHO approach and its estimation about the bulk of the excess deaths in 2021 is correct? 

There are numerous direct and indirect effects of using the excess mortality indicator. For example, it helps to take into account mortality which occurs due to indirect causes. Therefore, the WHO’s methodology has been robust. If anything, it’s an underestimate. 

The WHO has used death data from those states which have put the death data in the public domain. Thereafter, WHO has extrapolated the data for the whole country.  

WHO’s numbers are in sync with at least five other studies. They have all come to similar conclusions.  

Way Forward 

Government should release its own estimate of excess mortality data as soon as possible. The data should not remain confined to the government itself.  

The best way to validate it is to triangulate it across different methods. That holds out the validity of WHO’s study. 

GS Paper 3


Explained: What’s causing high inflation and where?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: What’s causing high inflation and where?” published in The Indian Express on 13th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy – Monetary policy

Relevance: Inflation and related issues

News: India’s retail inflation rose by 7.79% in April, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Inflation in food items rose by even higher — 8.38% in April — according to the MoSPI’s Consumer Food Price Index.

However, the biggest jump was registered in fuel prices, which rose by almost 11 per cent in April. This is a direct impact of the higher crude oil prices being passed through to the consumers in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

What is retail inflation and why it’s significant?

Retail inflation essentially refers to the rate at which the general price level went up in a particular month (April in the current instance) over what it was in the same month a year ago.

  • The change is expressed as a percentage.

Retail inflation also refers to the prices faced by consumers, and not the ones prevailing in the wholesale market.

Significance: The retail inflation level is the most important measure of inflation in India because it is this inflation rate that India’s central Bank, the RBI, targets to maintain price stability. According to the law, the RBI is supposed to keep overall retail inflation between 2% and 6%.

However, since the start of 2022, retail inflation has been trending above the 6% mark and there is a good chance that it may stay above the 6% mark for the first 9 months of the year. If that happens, the RBI will have to explain the slippage to the Parliament.


An inflation focus that neglects growth could lead to stagflation

Source: The post is based on an article “An inflation focus that neglects growth could lead to stagflation” published in the Live Mint on 12th May 2022. 

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

Relevance: Macroeconomic Policy, Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy 

News: Recently, the International Monetary Fund published statistics on actual inflation rates and growth rates in the world in economy group-wise which also include corresponding figures for India, for the period 2015-2019, 2020, 2021 and projections for 2022.

What are the findings? 

The global economy is confronted with a daunting prospect, as accelerating inflation and decelerating growth.  

In advanced economies, consumer price inflation which was a mere 1% per annum during 2015-20 is projected to reach about 6% in 2022. These projected inflation levels in rich countries, for 2022, are unprecedented and have not been witnessed since the oil crises of the 1970s fifty years ago.  

In developing economies, where consumer price inflation was on average 5% per annum during 2015-2020 is projected to reach about 9% in 2022. For Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Middle East & Central Asia, the inflation reached double-digit levels in 2021 (Except Asia where inflation is moderate).  

In Developing Europe (non-EU transition economies), the corresponding rates are 10% and 27% per annum for 2021 and 2022. 

What are the factors underlying inflation 

After the financial crisis of 2008, the global growth had not returned to its boom levels seen until 2008. The recovery was slow and uneven. There was a sharp contraction in output and employment everywhere during the pandemic period.

In response to covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown during 2020-2021, most central banks adopted easy monetary policies while governments adopted expansionary fiscal policies. Thereafter, significant proportions of cheap money went into financial assets. This led to stock market booms while there was an economic slump. This led to crashing prices of primary commodities.  

The Russia-Ukraine war has accentuated inflation. This has led to contraction in world supplies of fuels (oil and gas from Russia) and food (wheat from Ukraine), while the sanctions and the war disrupted supply chains.  

In addition, there is a sharp slowdown in growth worldwide. The slowdown is being experienced by advanced economies, and the developing economies. 

The consequences of such high inflation and dampened growth are bound to be hurt poorer people and countries far more 

What are the macroeconomic policy responses worldwide? 

In response to high inflation, the orthodox macroeconomic policies (monetary policy and fiscal policy) are being adopted across the world. The worldwide central banks are hiking interest rates while the governments are working upon the fiscal consolidation to restrain and manage inflation.  

What are the issues in the adopted macroeconomic policies? 

The contractionary macroeconomic policies might accentuate rather than solve the problem of inflation. This is because the present inflation is driven by supply-demand imbalances, particularly in fuels and food. The imbalances have been caused by war-induced disruptions.  

The raising of interest rates will not curb such supply-side inflation. This might stifle growth further. The higher interest rates will dampen investment while fiscal consolidation will squeeze consumption expenditure, which are the main sources of aggregate domestic demand.  

If the government policies do not strike a balance between managing inflation and stimulating growth, it would lead to stagflation. 

Way Forward 

Monetary policy should be used for stimulating investment, while fiscal policy should be used for stimulating consumption expenditure to revive growth.  

The well-being of people should be the primary concern of governments. Further, the well-being of people and economic progress of countries requires stability with growth. Therefore, price stability and economic growth must not be posed as an either-or choice. 


India’s biggest policy challenge

Source: The post is based on an article “India’s biggest policy challenge” published in the Business standard on 13th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy 

Relevance: Status of India’s economy and policy measures

News: Recently, the Periodic Labour Force Survey’s latest quarterly bulletin was released last week.  

Findings of PLFS

The unemployment rate for workers of 15 years or above in urban areas came down from 10.3% during October-December 2020 to 8.7% in October-December 2021.  

The labour force participation rate (LFPR) has also increased marginally from 46.9% in July–September 2020 to 47.3% in July–September 2021.  

However, the unemployment rate declined during the quarter under review still remains fairly high.  

Causes 

There was ebbing of the second wave of Covid-19, the impact of the third wave was relatively limited and economic activity recovered sharply during the aforesaid period. This has helped in creating jobs in the last quarter of 2021.  

The most restrictions have now been lifted, including in the contact-intensive sectors, 

What are the pressing policy challenges in front of the Indian policymakers? 

The global economic outlook has also worsened. The central banks are increasing interest rates due to higher inflation. Therefore, the tightening of global financial conditions and slower growth will have a bearing on the Indian economy.  

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s), India has been undergoing strong inflationary pressure in the first half of the current fiscal year.  

Further, India is going to have slower economic growth at around 4% in the second half of Fiscal Year 2021-22.  

The overall employment situation is likely to remain challenging in the foreseeable future due to current scenarios of high inflation and slower economic growth.  

India’s labour force participation rate (around 47.3%) is lower than other countries such as 61% in the US and 68% in China in 2021. In addition, the female LFPR is at about 20% which is even more worrying. This means numerous people in India are not joining the labour market because of lack of opportunities 

The reasons for lower workforce participation in India is absence of a large manufacturing base. At present, the policies incentivise a small number of large firms. These large firms are unlikely to create employment at the large scale required.  

Way Forward 

The RBI has started increasing the policy rate to contain inflationary pressures, which could affect economic activity.  

India also needs to deal with a structural problem, which could actually worsen with slower growth. 

The employment creation depends significantly on the level of growth and expansion in economic activity. 

India needs a more comprehensive policy approach to deal with issues ranging from labour laws to tariffs. India needs to create a large manufacturing base to address the employment challenge. 


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Burden of cancers in India: India’s Cancer Burden to rise to 29.8 million in 2025: ICMR

What is the News?

Indian Council for Medical Research(ICMR) has released a report titled ‘Burden of cancers in India’.

What are the key findings of the report?
Cancer Cases in India in 2021

The number of Indians suffering from cancer in 2021 was around 26.7 million.

The highest incidence was in the North (2,408 patients per 100,000) and the Northeast (2,177 per 100,000). 

Cancer cases were higher among men. Seven Cancers accounted for more than 40% of the total disease burden: lung (10.6%), breast (10.5%), oesophagus (5.8%), mouth (5.7%), stomach (5.2%), liver (4.6%) and cervix uteri (4.3%).

Mizoram, Delhi and Meghalaya had the highest cancer Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and the most vulnerable demographic are people in the 65–69-year age group.

Note: DALY is a measure of overall disease burden expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

Future Projections on Cancer Cases in India

The number of Indians suffering from cancer is projected to increase to 29.8 million in 2025 from 26.7 million in 2021.

What are the major factors that are contributing to the increased risk of cancers?

The factors that are increasing the risk of cancer are: 1) Tobacco and alcohol consumption, 2) increasing consumption of packaged food with harmful preservatives and junk food, 3) obesity, 4) radiation from mobile phone towers, 5) vegetables grown in toxic water like rivers near industries, 6) adulteration in food and artificial colouring of food and vegetables.

Source: The post is based on the article India’s Cancer Burden to rise to 29.8 million in 2025: ICMR published in Livemint on 13th May 2022.


Astronomers reveal first image of black hole at the heart of Milky Way galaxy

What is the News?

Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope(EHT) facility have revealed the first image of the black hole named Sagittarius A* at the centre of our galaxy i.e. the Milky Way.

What is Sagittarius A*(SgrA*)?
Source: BBC

Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy i.e. the Milky Way. It is located near the border of the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius.

SgrA* possesses 4 million times the mass of our sun and is located about 26,000 light-years and 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km)—from Earth.

The diameter of Sagittarius A* is about 17 times that of the sun, meaning it would sit within the innermost planet Mercury’s solar orbit.

Is this the first-ever image of a black hole?

No. In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope released the first-ever image of a black hole M87* – the black hole at the centre of another galaxy Messier 87 which is a supergiant elliptic galaxy.

How is Sagittarius A* different from M87*?

Imaging Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) was much more difficult than imaging M87* for the following reasons: 1) SgrA* is only one-thousandth the size of M87*, 2) the line of sight of SgrA* is obscured by a lot of matter and 3) variability of SgrA* makes it difficult to image.

What is Event Horizon?

Black holes are extraordinarily dense objects with gravity so strong that not even light can escape, making viewing them extremely challenging. 

A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything—stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation—gets dragged into oblivion.

What is an Event Horizon Telescope?

Click Here to read about it

What is the significance of this discovery?

This image of the black hole referred to as Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) gave further support to the idea that the compact object at the centre of our galaxy is indeed a black hole. This discovery also strengthens Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Source: The post is based on the following articles

“Astronomers reveal first image of black hole at the heart of Milky Way galaxy” published in Livemint on 13th May 2022.

“Event Horizon reveals true colours of SgrA*” published in The Hindu on 13th May 2022.


Wheat exports: India to send delegations to 9 countries

What is the News?

India has set a target of a record 10 million tonnes of wheat export in 2022-23 amid rising global demand for grain globally.

Why is India targeting to boost Wheat Exports?

Globally, Russia is the market leader for wheat exports (almost 15% share) and Ukraine is also a major producer. However, exports from these two countries have been hit by the war and sanctions.

Hence, many countries are turning to India for wheat because of the competitive price, acceptable quality, availability of surplus wheat and geopolitical reasons.

Read more: Ukraine invasion, global wheat supply and India’s opportunity
What are the steps taken by the Government of India to boost Wheat Exports?

The Government of India has sent delegations to nine countries including Morocco, Tunisia, and Indonesia to explore possibilities of boosting wheat shipments.

The Ministry of Commerce & Industry has set up a task force on wheat exports with representatives from various ministries, including commerce, shipping and railways, and exporters under APEDA.

The Department of Commerce has also planned to organize a series of sensitization meetings on exports in major wheat growing states such as Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. 

What are the outcomes of these steps?

Recently, Egypt, which is one of the world’s biggest importers of wheat, has agreed to source wheat from India

Egypt imported 6.1 MT of wheat in 2021 and India was not part of the list of accredited countries which can export wheat to Egypt. 

Note: More than 80% of Egypt’s wheat imports estimated to be close to $2 billion in 2021 were from Russia and Ukraine. 

Read more: Fall in Wheat Production and Procurement: Reasons and Impacts – Explained, pointwise

Source: The post is based on the article Wheat exports: India to send delegations to 9 countries published in PIB on 12th May 2022.


Defence Minister approves Enhanced Scales of Accommodation – 2022 for the Armed Forces

What is the News?

Defence Minister has approved revised Scales of Accommodation 2022 (SoA) for Defence Services.

What is Scales of Accommodation(SoA)?

The Scales of Accommodation(SoA) defines the authorization for construction facilities for operational, functional, training, administrative, living and recreation facilities for the Defence Services. 

These scales are applicable for all three Defence Services and the Indian Coast Guard.

The previous SoA was approved by the Government of India in 2009.

However, there was a need for a revised SoA due to the induction of new units, technological facilities, requirements of operational readiness, increased threat perception and concept of sustainable development. 

What does SoA 2022 contain?

SoA 2022 would be a tremendous improvement in built facilities/infrastructure and specifications commensurate with contemporary requirements. 

It emphasizes on optimisation of Defence land usage by using multi-storeyed construction and austerity measures by combining common facilities.

Amenities in all public buildings for persons with disabilities have also been introduced and gender commonality in all specifications has been ensured.

Source: The post is based on the article Defence Minister approves Enhanced Scales of Accommodation – 2022 for the Armed Forces published in PIB on 12th May 2022.


Second Global Covid-19 Summit – India to expand genome sequencing network to neighborhood: PM Modi

What is the News?

The Indian Prime Minister has addressed the Second Global Covid-19 Summit.

What is the Second Global Covid-19 Summit?

Organized by: United States (as first COVID Summit Chair), Belize (as CARICOM Chair), Germany (holding the G7 Presidency), Indonesia (holding the G20 Presidency) and Senegal (as African Union Chair).

Aim: To galvanize new actions to address the continued challenges of the pandemic and build a stronger global health security architecture.

Theme: Preventing Pandemic Fatigue and Prioritizing Preparedness.

What are the key highlights from the Indian PM address at the summit?

Firstly, India adopted a people-centric strategy to combat the pandemic and has made the highest ever allocation for its health budget this year. 

Secondly, India was running the largest vaccination campaign in the world and had vaccinated close to ninety percent of its adult population and more than fifty million children.

Thirdly, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog), a national multi-agency consortium of genome sequencing laboratories established in 2020 would soon be extended to neighboring countries.

Fourthly, India has used traditional medicine extensively and has laid the foundation for a WHO Center for Traditional Medicine in India to make this knowledge available to the world.

Source:  The post is based on the article India to expand genome sequencing network to neighborhood: PM Modi published in Indian Express on 13th May 2022.


Union Minister releases Breed-Wise Report of Livestock and Poultry Based on 20th Livestock Census

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying have released the Breed-Wise Report Of Livestock And Poultry based on the 20th Livestock Census.

What is the Breed-Wise Report Of Livestock And Poultry? 

The Breed-Wise Report Of Livestock And Poultry was done along with the 20th Livestock Census during the year 2019. 

It was for the first time in the country that breed wise data was collected by using tablet computers instead of paper mode which is indeed a unique attempt. 

The report has covered 184 recognized indigenous/exotic & crossbred breeds of 19 selected species that are registered by the NBAGR (National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources).

What are the key highlights from the report?

Cattle Population: Exotic and Crossbred animals contribute nearly 26.5% of the total cattle population whereas 73.5% are Indigenous and Non-descript cattle.

Indigenous Cattle: The total number of indigenous cattle declined by 6% in 2019 from 2012. Their share in the total cattle population fell to 73% from 79% during this period.

– Gir, Lakhimi and Sahiwal breeds have major contributions in total Indigenous Cattle.

Exotic/Crossbred cattle:  The total number of Exotic/Crossbred cattle grew from 3.9 crores in 2012 to 5 crores in 2019. The Census defines “Exotic” cattle as “the animals which have their origin in other countries”.

– Crossbred Jersey has the highest share with 49.3% in total Exotic/Crossbred cattle.

Buffalo: Murrah breed majorly contributes with 42.8% which is commonly found in UP and Rajasthan.

Goats: There are 28 indigenous Goat breeds found in the country.The Black Bengal breed contributes the highest with 18.6%.

Horse & Ponies: In this, Marwari breed contributes majorly with a share of 9.8%. 

Donkeys: In this, the Spiti breed contributes majorly with a share of 8.3%. 

Camel: Bikaneri breed majorly contributed with 29.6%.

Source:  The post is based on the article Union Minister releases Breed-Wise Report of Livestock and Poultry Based on 20th Livestock Census published in PIB on 12th May 2022.


Explained: What are the Protected Mobility Vehicles that the Army wants to purchase?

What is the News?

The Army has floated a Request for Information (RFI) to purchase Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV) for high-altitude areas and for deserts and plains.

What are Protected Mobility Vehicles(PMV)?

The PMV is essentially a wheeled armoured personnel carrier. 

It provides protection to the soldiers travelling inside the vehicle from mine blasts and sudden attacks by small arms.

What are the technical specifications of PMVs?

The PMVs must have ballistic protection and should be able to protect the vehicle from grenade and mine blasts. 

It should have a maximum speed of 90 km on road and 40 km per hour on cross country terrain. 

They should be able to operate in temperature ranges of 40 degrees centigrade to minus 15 degrees in high-altitude areas.

The PMV should be able to ford in water with a depth of 1000 mm without any special preparation.

Does India produce PMV vehicles?

India has the capability of producing PMVs. In April 2022, the Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) handed over the first of such Infantry Protected Mobility Vehicles(IPMVs) to the Chief of Army Staff.

Hence, TASL is now the first private sector company in the country to produce IPMV in collaboration with the DRDO.

Source: The post is based on the article Explained: What are the Protected Mobility Vehicles that the Army wants to purchase? published in Indian Express on 13th May 2022.


One In Four Adults In India Suffers From Hypertension, Says ICMR

What is the News?

According to the India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) study, at least one in every four Indian adults suffers from hypertension, but only about 10% get their blood pressure under control.

What is the India Hypertension Control Initiative(IHCI)?

Launched in: 2017

It is a multi-partner initiative of the Union Health Ministry, ICMR, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Aim: To achieve the government’s goal of a 25% relative reduction in raised blood pressure by 2025.

Note: India has committed to a “25 by 25” goal. The goal aims to reduce premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25% by 2025. One of the nine voluntary targets includes reducing the prevalence of high blood pressure by 25% by 2025.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is defined as having a systolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure level greater than or equal to 90 mmHg or/and taking anti-hypertensive medication to lower his/her blood pressure.

How prevalent is the problem of hypertension?

According to the National Family Health Survey, Southern States have a higher prevalence of hypertension than the national average.

Kerala ranks highest with 32.8% of men and 30.9% of women being diagnosed with hypertension. 

The prevalence of hypertension is higher among Sikhs (37% for men and 31% for women), Jains (30% for men and 25% for women), and Christians (29% for men and 26% for women) than the rest.

Source: The post is based on the article One In Four Adults In India Suffers From Hypertension, Says ICMR published in Livemint on 11th May 2022.


Explained: What is a ‘marsquake’, and what causes it?

What is the News?

NASA has reported that its InSight Mars lander has detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet.

What are marsquakes?

On Earth, quakes are caused by shifts in tectonic plates. However, Mars does not have tectonic plates and its crust is a giant plate.

Therefore, NASA notes, ‘marsquakes’ are caused due to stresses that cause rock fractures or faults in their crust.

What is the Insight Mission?

Click Here to read about it

What is InSight doing on Mars?

InSight is not looking for life on Mars but is studying what Mars is made of, how its material is layered and how much heat seeps out of it.

This is important because Earth and Mars used to be similar — warm, wet and shrouded in thick atmospheres — before they took different paths 3-4 billion years ago. Mars stopped changing, while Earth continued to evolve.

What are the other characteristics of Mars?

Firstly, Scientists are curious about Mars because of the possible presence of liquid water on it either in the past or preserved in its subsurface. This question makes the planet more intriguing for scientists since almost everywhere there is water on Earth, there is life.

Secondly, if Mars harboured a warmer atmosphere enabling water to flow in its ancient past and if microbial life existed on it, it is possible that it exists in “special regions” even today. 

Note: Some other missions studying the possibility of life on Mars include UAE’s Hope, China’s Tianwen-1 and NASA’s Perseverance.

Source: The post is based on the article Explained: What is a ‘marsquake’, and what causes it? published in Indian Express on 11th May 2022.


Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update Report – WMO report: Below normal mercury in India from 2022 to 2026

What is the News?

The World Meteorological Organization(WMO) has released the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update Report.

What are the key findings of the report?

Globally

Temperature reaching 1.5 °C: There is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years.

The probability of breaching 1.5 °C was close to zero back in 2015 when the Paris Agreement was adopted, but it has risen steadily since then to 50% now.

Warmest Year: There is a 93% likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking.

La Nina: Back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is only temporary and does not reverse the long-term global warming trend.

– Moreover, any development of an El Niño event would immediately fuel temperatures, as it did in 2016, which is until now the warmest year on record.

Findings related to India

The year 2022 will be cooler (compared to the 1991 – 2020 average) over India, along with Alaska and Canada.

One of the primary reasons for the lowering of temperatures over India from next year is the possible increase in rainfall activity in this decade.

Note: India Meteorological Department (IMD) had also said that the Indian monsoon will soon enter the positive epoch after remaining under a negative epoch since 1971.

Source: The post is based on the article WMO report: Below normal mercury in India from 2022 to 2026 published in Indian Express on 12th May 2022.

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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