9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 19th, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- 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:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- 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.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- PM Modi’s recent Nepal visit saw a successful deployment of India’s soft power to repair bilateral ties
- Law and public opinion: On Perarivalan release
- Help Afghans
- Delimitation fallout needs no political
GS Paper 3
- Lessons for today from India’s 2006 wheat crisis
- Central banks and the rule of law
- The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim
- PM inaugurates country’s first 5G testbed
- DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast
- The State of Inequality in India Report released
- India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF
- Cabinet approves Amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels -2018
- Perarivalan, Rajiv Gandhi case convict, released by Supreme Court citing extraordinary powers
- State of the Global Climate in 2021 Report: En route to climate catastrophe? 4 major indicators broke records in 2021, says WMO
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: The post is based on an article “Increasing the pace of India’s urbanisation’ published in the Business Standard on 19th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS1 Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Relevance: Trends of Urbanisation, Importance etc.
News: In recent years, the governments has started to realise that the cities are the drivers of economic growth.
Trends of Urbanization
In 1960, the global rate of urbanisation was at 33.61%. In 2003, more people were living in cities than in villages. In 2020, the global urbanisation rate was at 56.15% in 2020.
In fact, globally, the late 20th century saw rapid urbanisation, especially among the newly decolonised countries from Africa, Latin America and Asia.
According to the World Urbanisation Prospects report, the rate of urbanisation in Asia was close to 50% by 2018. Further, it is projected to be 52.3% for Asia and around 37.6% for South Asian (sub-region) by the year 2022.
The 20th and 21st centuries witnessed India’s rapid and sustained urban growth.
In 1960, India’s rate of urbanisation was 17.94%. In 2020, India’s urbanisation rate was 34.92%. Further, India is projected to have about 35% urbanisation by the end of 2022.
State-wise trends in India
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the UTs having the highest percentage of urban population are Chandigarh (99.63% in 2020) and Delhi (99.23% in 2020). The states having large area and population like Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh) have the least percentage of projected population living in cities.
Merits of urbanisation
A city is a breathing entity which is ever-growing and evolving. The cities shapes culture and give impetus to the realisation of dreams and ambitions of people who come from the countryside.
There is a positive correlation between urbanisation and economic growth. The cities and the process of urbanization offer a lot of developmental advantage.
Urbanization leads to rise of agglomeration economies, the formation of industrial clusters, and the increase in competitiveness among and within each state
Urbanisation also offers solutions to reduce income inequality and poverty. It enhances jobs and incomes as more talent is attracted to urban conglomerates.
What are the issues?
Looking at India’s urbanisation rate, it seems India has a sluggish rate of urbanisation.
India’s Urbanisation is below the global rate of urbanisation as well as the Asian average of urbanisation rate.
In India, “Cities” as a scope of study is a relatively new field. India has primarily been seen as a village-based country during colonisation and a few years right after independence.
In the post-independence years, industrial development, regional integration, and economic growth became priorities, and the “urban question” remained missing from the discourse of development.
There is a need to increase the pace of urbanisation in the country. At the same time, the influx of population should not be concentrated in bigger cities only.
Smaller cities lying on the periphery of the major industrial cities should be primarily focussed from the point of growth and investment potential.
In addition, all the backward cities and towns should be given attention for investment and development.
GS Paper 2
PM Modi’s recent Nepal visit saw a successful deployment of India’s soft power to repair bilateral ties
Source: This post is based on the article “PM Modi’s recent Nepal visit saw a successful deployment of India’s soft power to repair bilateral ties” published in The Indian Express on 19th May 22, andthe article “Can Lumbini bridge the Delhi-Kathmandu gap? Modi’s visit this week was important. Results of Nepal’s national polls in November will be key factor” published in The Times of India on 18th May 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Indo-Nepal bilateral ties
Context: Indian Prime Minister’s recent visit to Lumbini (Nepal) on Buddha Poornima.
What is the significance of the visit?
This visit assumes significance since the two countries should have had the best relationship in South Asia, but have been unable to capitalise on their connections, caught in the crossroads of Nepalese internal politics.
It also conveys a shared culture between India and Nepal and an attempt to deploy Indian soft power to reclaim some space in India’s Himalayan neighbour.
Significance of the venue:
– Lumbini was an inspired choice for the bilateral summit, especially since India and Nepal enjoy a close, people-centred, multi-layered, and multifaceted relationship. That Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha is testified by the Pali inscription on the pillar erected by Emperor Ashoka in 249 BC, 339 years after Buddha’s enlightenment.
– Nepal lies in the centre of the Himalayan ranges, described in the Markandeya Purana as extending from “sea to sea”, in the east from the Dihang bend down to the Bay of Bengal, and in the west from the Indus bend down to the Arabian Sea.
– Kalidas, in Kumarasambhava, called the Himalayas “the Kingdom of heaven”. Its topography and rivers make Nepal one of the best endowed countries in Asia. At the same time, the ever changing Himalayas, with an uplift rate ten times higher than that of the Alps, suffer from seismic fragility.
Significant agreements signed during Modi’s visit –
– A proposed collaboration between Madras IIT and Kathmandu University for a joint degree programme, and
– A second in the higher education sector between Indian Council of Cultural Relations and Lumbini Buddhist University for the establishment of a Dr Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies.
How can infrastructure projects help revive the Indo-Nepal ties?
The real potential for turnaround in bilateral relations lies via the route of infrastructure projects. One of the big stumbling blocks in the India-Nepal relationship used to be Delhi’s inability to complete agreed upon infrastructure projects in Nepal, including roads, railway lines and mega power projects. Over the last few years this has changed.
– Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba invited Delhi to take up the long stuck West Seti hydro power project, which was once taken up by Australia but abandoned, and later coveted by China Three Gorges Corporation.
– The offer follows India’s success with the 900 MW Arun III hydropower project, developed by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), a joint venture between the Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government.
- Significance: India-Nepal relations are rendered complex by Nepal’s overdependence on India, according to former Nepalese ambassador to India, Lok Raj Baral. Export of surplus Nepalese hydropower to India can reverse this situation. The agreement to have Indian PSU Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) develop the Arun-IV project is welcome in this context
What are some pending issues that need to be addressed?
Moving forward, India and Nepal need to address the following issues:
1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship: It has long been a thorn in the relationship. India is willing to consider reviewing, modifying, or updating the Treaty in line with the requirements of the 21st century.
China factor: Nepal joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2017, but little progress has taken place on the two identified projects – constructing a transHimalayan network, including a rail connection from Tibet to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini, and creating a Nepal-China Free Trade Area.
Unlike Nepal’s other partners, including India, China does not provide much grant assistance to Nepal. Stepping up its investments and development partnership in Nepal will allow India to address the China factor.
Kalapani boundary issue: Deuba has a difficult inheritance on the Kalapani boundary issue because Nepal’s previous regime vitiated it by altering maps and making exaggerated claims. Deuba has proposed a resolution through a dialogue mechanism. Only 2% of the India-Nepal boundary remains to be settled. Differences exist only in the areas of Kalapani and Susta. India and Nepal can resolve their boundary issues should both sides have the will to do so.
There is some urgency in getting India-Nepal relations back on the rails. Nepalese parliamentary election is due by November this year. Its outcome will determine much of the future trajectory of India-Nepal relations.
Source: The post is based on an article “Law and public opinion: On Perarivalan release” published in the “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Important Provisions of the Constitutions of India
Relevance: Governor’s Power
News: Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
How was he released?
The Supreme Court has invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.
Why was he released?
The mother of the convict, vast sections of public opinion and many political parties have been campaigning for years for his freedom. He drew public sympathy because he was only 19 at the time of assassination.
In 2018, the State cabinet recommended the release to the governor. However, the Governor referred the advice to the President. The Centre argued, that the cases involving murder under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) come under the President’s exclusive jurisdiction in matters of remission of life sentences.
What has been held by the Supreme Court?
The remission comes under the State’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the Governor is bound by the State Cabinet’s advice when acting under Article 161. Therefore, the governor’s reference to the President was “inimical to the scheme of the Constitution”.
The Governor’s remission powers are exercised solely on the State Cabinet advice. The release of these convicts would require the Centre’s concurrence under CrPC.
What remains to be resolved?
The Supreme Court failed to clear the issues of the absence of any time-frame for the President or the Governor to decide on the matter. Traditionally, this has been the cause of indefinitely delay in executive decisions.
Source: The post is based on an article “Help Afghans” published in the Times of India on 19th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 International Relations; Regional Grouping; Bilateral Relations etc.
Relevance: India-Afghanistan Relations; Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure
News: At present, the four-day meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure is being organized in Delhi, India.
Importance of the meeting
At present the global attention has been shifted to the Ukraine war, sanctions and their economic impact. Therefore, the US has abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban. Therefore, SCO’s RAT member countries, including those from Pakistan and China are focussing on Afghanistan.
Situation in Afghanistan
This is a virtual collapse of administrative structures, the local economy, Healthcare facilities etc. Around half of the Afghanistan’s population is facing acute hunger.
The humanitarian and social condition in Afghanistan has become terrible. For example, Girls can’t attend secondary education, women can’t get a driving licence and a job in the market. The Afghan refugees are pouring into neighbouring countries like Iran and Pakistan.
The security situation in Afghanistan affects all SCO members, including India.
The Islamic State and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have stepped up their activities on both sides of the Durand Line.
This jeopardises India’s painstaking investments in Afghanistan over the last two decades.
Pakistan always tries to block Indian moves to work more closely with Tehran to maintain a strategic foothold in the region.
Most of the governments are reluctant to deal with the Taliban. Therefore, there is absence of any concerted global effort to help.
India should help itself by continuing to send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan despite the Taliban regime.
In addition, the government should also expedite emergency visas for Afghan nationals.
Source: The post is based on an article “Delimitation fallout needs no political forecasting” published in the “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 Functioning of the Parliament of India
Relevance: Delimitation of Parliamentary Constituencies
News: India’s electoral democracy is going to observe the delimitation of the constituencies for the Lok Sabha. This will be based on the population figures returned by the next decennial Census post 2026.
Arrangements made in the Constitution of India
Article 82 of the Constitution of India provided for a periodic, Census-linked re-arrangement of constituencies to make the representation in Parliament tenable.
History of India as Bharat
India’s foundation for the Bharat that is mentioned in Article 1 of our Constitution can be traced back in the history of India.
North India has often been referred to as Upper India. North India always had the upper hand in the affairs of the nation, of being bigger, and more populous. The nation’s capital has always been in the North. These things reinforced the perceived image of India’s north as India’s political summit.
The Indian National Congress (INC) always kept India’s regions at equal front and symmetry. For example, It conducted its annual session in South India vis-à-vis at Bombay (1885), Madras (1887), Amaravati/Amraoti (1897), Coconada (1923), Belgaum (1924), and Avadi,Madras (1955) among others.
The All-India Kisan Sabha, the peasant wing of the Communist Party of India also conducted its sessions very pointedly in southern venues as much as in northern. For example, at Palasa (in 1940), and at Srikakulam.
What are/may be the issues in India’ electoral representation?
The 543 Members of Parliaments (MPs) represents a vastly increased population in the Lok Sabha. If there is a high number of people per constituency, then each voter yields a lower impact on parliamentary representation.
Issues in case of re-arrangement of constituencies post-2026
The delimitation will give more MPs to the States/UTs having greater population growth, and will give less MPs to the state/UTs having low population growth.
For example, according to the projections made by the Technical Group formed by the National Commission on Population for 2011-36, the share of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan would increase in India’s total population. Whereas, the share of the states of Tamil Nadu, undivided Andhra, Kerala and West Bengal will see decline in India’s Population in 2026.
The delimitation will inevitably lead to a reduced representation for States that have managed to stabilise their populations, and to a higher representation for States that have not stabilised their populations.
What are the alternatives?
One, the government can go on for another freeze until all States have achieved population stabilisation. [Note: To solve this anomaly, the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution was enacted to cause delimitation freeze in 1976 and same was extended to 2026 through the 84th Amendment]
Two, the demographic and statistical experts can devise a mathematical model along the lines of the ‘Cambridge Compromise’ used for the apportionment of the seats of the European Parliament between the member-states. The formula needs to be customised for our needs.
India cannot afford a tension on the north-south front. Therefore, the upperness syndrome of the past should not come back in the guise of delimitation.
At present, the most important thing is that India needs to limit its population, not representation. The southern States or the population-stabilising States of India continue to enrich our legislative and parliamentary processes.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Lessons for today from India’s 2006 wheat crisis” published in The Indian Express on 19th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Agriculture
Relevance: Wheat shortage in India
News: India faced a wheat crisis in 2006. The present article lists out the reasons that caused it and lessons that can be learnt.
The author is this article was appointed as the Secretary of Food and Public Distribution during that time.
What was the situation in 2006 and the reasons behind it?
– Centre decides to liquidate its excess stock: The central pool had been carrying large stocks and there was wide criticism that these were being held for no good reason and costing the taxpayer huge sums of money. The government had, after due consideration, decided to liquidate some stocks with the FCI for export.
– Procurement begins to go down: Coincidentally, procurement had started going down from a high of 20.6 MMT to 15.8 MMT in 2003-04, to 14.8 MMT in 2005-06. This trend and the resultant depletion of stocks went “unnoticed”.
Procurement in 2006-07 (April-March) at 9.23 MMT was far below the requirement.
The buffer stocks were drawn down by 2 MMT.
Hence, the stock position at the end of a poor procurement season had put the government in a tight spot.
What were the reasons behind the 2006 food crisis?
The thought that India has a food surplus and can feed its people and “the world” resulted in the unintended depletion of public stocks.
The reduction in public stocks without reviewing the production and stock position every quarter was ill-planned.
Overlooking the drop in production almost every alternate year, particularly in 2000-01, 02-03, and 04-05 followed by 05-06 proved costly.
Not estimating the impact of climate change (high temperatures) on production — grain formation and grain size/weight — turned out to be critical.
– The Department of Food, overconfident about procuring large quantities, believing that the crop size estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture is above 75 MMT, went about disposing of old stocks. By the time the third advance estimates came by end of May (there were no drones or satellite imagery in those days), the damage was done.
No data about private stocks: The government depended on only production and public stock data to take policy decisions, ignoring the importance of private stocks in the market.
What can India do to avoid such errors?
Set up systems to get reliable and timely estimates of crops. The second advance estimates come in mid-February and the third in mid/ late May. Food management requires a better picture by early March (same for kharif).
The National Crop Forecasting system including “FASAL soft” will have to be reset.
The much-hyped Drone-Artificial Intelligence- Blockchain technologies should be deployed to do a simple thing: Prepare a correct estimate of the crop well in time, for the government to plan and act ahead of any crisis.
Reliable price data has always been a missing link in policy planning. Mandatory reporting of price (not just the APMC price data) of all large (limits can be defined) transactions are a must. Price movement is an important indicator of the supply-demand mismatch.
The government should be aware of the quantum of private stocks, preferably in anonymised, aggregated formats. This needs legal backing. A provision to mandate the submission of anonymised stock data from all warehouses should be put in place.
The futures market remains grossly under-utilised. A vibrant futures market can help plan better. A futures market should be allowed to function without knee-jerk interventions from the government.
A robust system (drones, satellites, ground data) to monitor weather conditions like temperature, moisture stress, etc needs to be put in place immediately with a focus on key crops and major growing regions.
With the expertise available in the country today, algorithms can be built to assess the impact of weather and pest events on crop size and quality. The government needs this information more than anyone else.
Source: This post is based on the article “Central banks and the rule of law” published in Business Standard on 19th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy
Relevance: Functioning of the RBI
Context: Two recent developments in India underline the need to inspire the rule of law in the functioning of central banks (CBs).
What are these two recent developments and the reasons behind it?
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) normally makes policy announcements in line with a predictable schedule. But on May 4, it went off the schedule and increased the policy rate by 40 basis points. Markets were surprised by this and the 10-year government bond yield jumped. The inflationary outlook had not changed between the last MPC meeting of April 8 and the off-schedule announcement of May 4. So, why the RBI did this?
– One possibility relates to the exchange rate. Over the last year, the US dollar has appreciated by 8%. Holding other things constant, this means the normal rupee depreciation should be about 8%. The RBI seems to be countering this by selling reserves, and by responding to the large hike by the US Fed that was coming a few hours after the RBI’s surprise announcement.
The second development is the public statement of the co-founder and chief executive officer of a NASDAQ-listed crypto exchange that his company disabled the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system from its platform due to informal pressure from the RBI. The company had earlier announced that they would build systems in India whereby investors could receive/send money using UPI. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) came out with a negative press release, and all Indian banks refused to do business with the exchange. Such ostracisation by banks, with or without the involvement of the RBI, is tantamount to violating the Supreme Court order striking down the RBI ban on cryptocurrency.
What are the recommendations of FSLRC wrt integrating rule of law in and independence of financial agencies?
Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) recommended three pillars:
Pillar one- Regulation-making function of all SRAs, which is relevant in India as the RBI has been given the role of financial regulation for the payments and banking industries (and some other components). There is a problem of democratic legitimacy when unelected officials write law.
– The solution lies in technical expertise that is displayed, in consultation and control of all regulation-making process by an expert board where private persons have a majority. All these elements address the problem of “the administrative state”, the rule of officials, and generate legitimacy in the writing of law by the agency.
Pillar two – Executive functions of investigations, prosecutions and punishments. There is a case for political independence here. It should not be possible for the political masters to trigger punishments for their enemies.
– This requires processes, encoded in parliamentary law, which enshrine separation of powers, define and limit the powers of investigation, require due process in prosecutorial decisions, hygiene in how hearings take place, etc.
Pillar three: Monetary Policy is defined as the control of the short interest rate of the economy. There is a role for political independence here.
– It should not be possible for the political masters to trigger a rate cut prior to a tough election. Most of the developed world has gravitated towards an independent expert MPC structure for the discharge of this function.
What are some other issues with the functioning of RBI?
The mandate of RBI at present has an improbable combination of functions, ranging from running an exchange to investment banking for the Union government and state governments.
The sheer scope of this mandate induces innumerable conflicts and rule of law concerns.
Source: The post is based on an article “The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought” published in “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment and Ecology; and Disaster Management
Relevance: Drought, UNCCCD COP15
News: Recently, the Droughts in Numbers, 2022 report was presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
What is the Drought in Numbers Report?
The report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and the manner in which they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.
The report also gives information about negotiations that are undergoing at the UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) on key issues like drought, land restoration, and related aspects such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment.
What is UNCCD’S COP15?
UNCCD’s COP15 focuses on desertification, land degradation, and drought. The theme for COP15 has been kept to be “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.”
The conference has brought together government representatives, private sector members, and civil society stakeholders to ensure that land continues to benefit present and future generations. They are expected to brainstorm sustainable ideas to further land restoration and drought resilience, focusing on “future-proofing land use.
It proposes to tackle “the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss” in the ongoing UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-30).
The UNCCD envisions restoring one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030, creating a land degradation-neutral world.
What are the findings of the report?
The number and duration of droughts around the world has increased by an alarming 29% since 2000.
As per the report, Globally, droughts have caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts. Similarly, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced by 2 to 5% in the same period.
Pattern of drought emergencies between 2020 and 2022: It has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to droughts globally.
Human impact: Drought is the second-worst disaster after flooding. For example, Africa was the worst hit, with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa.
It affected more than a billion people around the world between 2000-19. The worst sufferers are women and girls, especially in emerging and developing countries. The droughts impact their education, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety.
- For example, droughts cause water stress, therefore, women and girls who bear the disproportionate burden of water collection are forced to go out to fetch water during droughts.
The droughts lead to water stress and also impact livestock and crops in almost every part of the world.
If global warming reaches 3° C by 2100, drought can lead to 5 times higher drought losses than today’s levels. The largest drought losses are projected in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe.
The droughts will intensify wildfires, which will threaten 84% of all terrestrial ecosystems. For example, 2019-2020 Australia’s mega drought and wildfires caused the killing or displacement of about three billion animals in addition to loss of their habitats.
According to a FAO Report 2017, around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification.
According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), weather, climate and water hazards have accounted for 50% of all disasters and 45% of all reported deaths since 1970. Most of the deaths have occurred in developing countries.
According to World Bank estimates, drought conditions, along with other factors like water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels and overpopulation can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050.
According to the report, climate change alone will cause 129 countries to experience an increase in drought exposure in the next few decades.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim” published in Indian Express on 19th May 2022.
What is the News?
After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
What is Radio Frequency Identification(RFID)?
RFID is a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers.
In this, radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of objects or people to nearby readers – devices that can be hand-held or built into fixed positions like poles or buildings.
What are the different types of RFIDs?
There are passive and active RFID tags:
Active RFIDs: They use their own power source, mostly batteries. Active tags can ping information every few seconds like beacons, or they can get activated when a reader is in proximity.
Passive RFIDs: They are activated through the reader using the electromagnetic energy it transmits. This is enough power for the tag to transmit information back to the reader.
Note: Active tags have a longer read range, around 300 ft, compared to passive tags.
How do RFIDs work?
RFID tags use an integrated circuit and an antenna to communicate with a reader using radio waves at several different frequencies – low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), and ultra-high frequency(UHF).
The message sent back by the tag in the form of radio waves is translated into data and analyzed by the host computer system. Unlike Barcodes, RFIDs do not require a direct line of sight to identify objects. They also have a bigger range.
Where are RFIDs commonly used?
Retail giants use them for inventory tracking. RFID chips are used as access keys in labs. They are also built into credit cards and library books. FastTags being used for toll payments across the country are also RFID tags.
In the Budget speech this year, the Union Finance Minister spoke about the government’s plan to roll out e-passports. These are likely to be paper passports carrying RFID chips in the jacket.
Source: The post is based on the article “PM inaugurates country’s first 5G testbed” published in The Hindu on 19th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Prime Minister has inaugurated India’s first 5G testbed facility.
What is a 5G Testbed?
The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.
Purpose: It will enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.
Note: In the absence of a 5G testbed in India, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.
What is 5G?
What is 5Gi Technology?
5Gi is a locally designed telecommunication network that has been designed by IIT Hyderabad, IIT Madras and the Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology.
Purpose: 5Gi technology is capable of working at a lower frequency than 5G by still providing a higher range. It works on a Low Mobility Large Cell method which transmits a cell-based waveform which results in increased range.
Significance for India: If implemented in the right manner, the 5Gi technology can be beneficial for a country like India as the large scale implications will make the technology cost-effective. Additionally, owing to its high range, 5Gi will be able to provide better network connectivity in the rural area of the country.
DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast
Source: The post is based on the article “DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast” published in PIB on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) and Indian Navy have successfully conducted the maiden flight test of an indigenously-developed Naval anti-ship missile.
What is the Naval anti-ship missile?
Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) for the Indian Navy.
Features: The missile has a weight of 380 kg and a range of up to 55 km and is meant for launch from helicopters.
The missile can cruise at just 5 meters above sea level making it difficult for enemy radars to detect and track and shoot down with surface-to-air missiles or guns. This low-level capability of anti-ship missiles is known as sea-skimming.
Significance: It is the first indigenous air-launched anti-ship missile system for the Indian Navy.
Source: The post is based on the article “The State of Inequality in India Report released” published in PIB on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
The State of Inequality in India Report has been released.
What is the State of Inequality in India Report?
Released by: Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister(EAC-PM) and written by the Institute for Competitiveness.
Purpose: The report presents a holistic analysis of the depth and nature of inequality in India. It compiles information on inequities across sectors of health, education, household characteristics and the labour market.
Focus Areas: The report looks at five key areas that influence the nature and experience of inequality. These are 1) income distribution, 2) labour market dynamics, 3) health, 4) education and 5) household characteristics.
Source of Data: The report is based on the data derived from various rounds of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) and UDISE+.
What are the key findings of the report?
Income Inequality: The share of the top 1% accounts for 6-7% of the total incomes earned while the top 10% accounts for one-third of all incomes earned. For instance, the salary of Rs 25,000 is already amongst the top 10% of total incomes earned.
Employment Categories: In 2019-20, among different employment categories, the highest percentage was self-employed workers followed by regular salaried workers and casual workers. The share of self-employed workers also happens to be the highest in the lowest income categories.
Unemployment Rate: The country’s unemployment rate is 4.8% (2019-20), and the worker population ratio is 46.8%.
Education Infrastructure: Till 2019-20, 95% of schools have functional toilet facilities on the school premises and 80.16% of schools have functional electricity connections.
Health Infrastructure: There has been a considerable improvement in increasing the health Infrastructural capacity with a targeted focus on rural areas.
– For instance, the results of NFHS-4 (2015-16) and NFHS-5 (2019-21) have shown that 58.6% of women received antenatal check-ups in the first trimester in 2015-16, which increased to 70% by 2019-21.
The Gross Enrolment Ratio has increased between 2018-19 and 2019-20 at the primary, upper primary, secondary and higher secondary.
Household Conditions: According to NFHS-5 (2019-21), 97% of households have electricity access, 70% have improved access to sanitation, and 96% have access to safe drinking water.
What are the recommendations given by the report?
a) Government should come out with a guaranteed employment scheme to create jobs for the urban unemployed, b) A universal basic income should be introduced, c) Higher funds should be allocated towards the social sector to reduce inequality in India.
Source: The post is based on the article “India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF” published in Down To Earth on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
UNICEF has released a report titled “Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency”.
What is Severe Wasting?
Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It is the most visible and lethal type of malnutrition. It affects over 45 million children under age 5.
Severe wasting is also known as severe acute malnutrition is its most deadly form. It is caused by a lack of nutritious food and repeated bouts of diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria, which compromise a child’s immunity.
Severe wasting in a child can increase the risk of dying by pneumonia by 11 times and essentially makes otherwise common diseases fatal.
What are the key findings of the report?
Severe Wasting: Globally, 1 in 5 deaths among children under age 5 is attributed to severe wasting making it one of the top threats to child survival.
Region-wise: South Asia remains the hub of severe wasting with figures worse than sub-Saharan Africa. At least 7.7 million children in the region are affected.
Country-wise: India has 5,772,472 children below five years affected by severe wasting — the most in the world. Indonesia ranked second with 812,564 children suffering from severe wasting.
Ready-to-use therapeutic food(RUTF) saved some five million children’s lives in 2020, but 10 million severely wasted children went without it.
Note: RUTF is considered the ‘gold standard for wasting treatment. It consists of a paste of peanuts, sugar, oil and milk powder. It can be consumed directly from the sachets it is packed in with or without mixing with milk to lower the chances of contamination.
Source: The post is based on the article “Cabinet approves Amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels -2018” published in PIB on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Union Cabinet has approved the Amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels -2018.
What is National Policy on Biofuels-2018?
National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 was notified by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2018 in supersession of the National Policy on Biofuels promulgated through the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in 2009.
What are the amendments approved to the National Policy on Biofuels-2018?
The amendments approved are:
– To allow more feedstocks for the production of biofuels,
– To advance the ethanol blending target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol to 2025-26 from 2030,
– To promote the production of biofuels in the country, under the Make in India program, by units located in Special Economic Zones(SEZ)/ Export Oriented Units (EoUs),
– To add new members to the National Biofuel Coordination Committee(NBCC),
– To grant permission for the export of biofuels in specific cases.
What is the present status of ethanol blending in India?
According to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, India achieved 9.45% ethanol blending as of March 2022.
The Centre projects that this will reach 10% by the end of the financial year 2022.
Why has the Ethanol blending target been advanced to 2025 from 2030?
A 2021 report by the NITI Aayog said that 20% ethanol blending by 2025 could accrue immense benefits such as 1) Saving ₹30,000 crores of foreign exchange per year, 2) Increased energy security, 3) Lowered carbon emissions, 4) Better air quality, 5) Self-reliance, 6) Better use of damaged foodgrains and 7) Increase farmers’ incomes and investment opportunities.
Why is it so difficult to raise the ethanol blending to 20%?
A 10% blending of petrol does not require major changes to engines. But a 20% blend could require some changes and may even drive up the prices of vehicles.
A greater percentage of blending could also mean more land being diverted for water-intensive crops such as sugar cane, which the government currently subsidizes.
Source: The post is based on the article “Perarivalan, Rajiv Gandhi case convict, released by Supreme Court citing extraordinary powers” published in The Hindu on 19th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court invoked its extraordinary powers to do complete justice under Article 142 of the Constitution and ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
What was the issue about?
In 2018, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had decided to pardon Perarivalan. However, the Governor refused to take a decision on his release and transferred the petition to the President. Against this delay in release, a petition was filed before the Supreme Court.
What did the Supreme Court held?
The court held that the TN Council of Minister’s advice to pardon Perarivalan was binding on the Governor under Article 161 (Governor’s power of clemency) of the Constitution.
This means that the Governor prima facie had no authority to transfer the mercy plea to the President.
Why was this a case for the Governor and not the President?
Perarivalan was not a death-sentenced convict (Earlier, the apex court had commuted his death penalty to a life sentence for murder in 2014). Hence, the Governor had no business forwarding the pardon plea to the President after sitting on it for years together.
Had this been a death penalty, the case would have been different. Hence, by invoking Article 142, the court ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan.
Why did the Supreme Court invoke Article 142?
Governor’s delay to decide Perarivalan’s pardon for more than two years has compelled the apex court to employ its constitutional powers under Article 142 to do justice to Perarivalan.
After all, the court said, a Governor’s non-exercise of power under Article 161 of the Constitution was not immune from judicial review.
What was the Centre’s argument on this issue?
Centre’s argument was that the President exclusively and not the Governor had the power to grant pardon in a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
But the court said that such a contention would render Article 161 a “dead-letter”.
This would rather create an extraordinary situation whereby pardons granted by Governors in murder cases for the past 70 years would be rendered invalid.
State of the Global Climate in 2021 Report: En route to climate catastrophe? 4 major indicators broke records in 2021, says WMO
Source: The post is based on the article “En route to climate catastrophe? 4 major indicators broke records in 2021, says WMO” published in Down To Earth on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released the State of the Global Climate in 2021 Report.
What are the key findings of the report?
Four Climate Indicators broke record: The world seems to be on a fast track toward climate catastrophe as four major climate indicators broke records in 2021. These indicators are:
1) Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020 when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally or 149% of the pre-industrial level.
2) Ocean heat was a record high. The upper 2000 m depth of the ocean continued to warm in 2021, and it is expected that it will continue to warm in the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales.
3) Ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a phenomenon where due to the direct absorption of CO2, the chemical composition of oceanic water changes. As the acidification increases, the ability of oceans to absorb CO2 also decreases.
The report quotes IPCC which says that “there is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH (a measure of acidity) is now the lowest it has been for at least 26,000 years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.”
4) Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021 after increasing at an average of 4.5 mm per year from 2013 to 2021. This is more than double the rate between 1993 and 2002 and is mainly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets.
Other Key Findings
Global Annual Mean Temperature: 2021 was one of the seven warmest years on record globally. The average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial level. The pre-industrial level is the average temperature of the world from 1850 to 1900.
– The warming happened despite a La Nina phenomenon being active at the beginning and end of the year. La Nina is the cooler-than-normal phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which generally leads to a temporary decrease in global temperatures.
Extreme Weather Events: Extreme weather events (like heat waves, cyclones and floods) around the world, led to loss and damages of more than $100 billion in 2021. For example, cyclonic events such as Tauktae and Gulab and floods in India have resulted in the displacement of more than one lakh people last year.
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[Answered] The dominant position of online aggregator platforms is damaging for small and medium businesses and customers. Discuss and also suggest some international experiences for dealing with this issue.
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NITI Aayog and TIFAC Launch Report on Future Penetration of Electric Two-Wheelers in the Indian Market
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