9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 21st, 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

The neighbourhood in turmoil, lessons for India

Source: The post is based on an article “The neighbourhood in turmoil, lessons for India” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st May 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Regional Grouping etc.

Relevance: India’s Foreign policy to deal with countries in our immediate neighbourhood

Context: India’s foreign policy while dealing with the neighbouring countries in the South Asia Region has changed from 2016 to the present.

Rather than prevailing over any uncooperative neighbour using any means possible, India has now shifted towards using soft-power diplomacy, thereby improving ties with each of the South Asian countries.

However, it has virtually ignored the political developments in Pakistan.

What are the changes that have taken place in India’s foreign policy?

Foreign Policy pre-2016

The Government of India adopted a “muscular foreign policy” with the uncooperative South Asian neighbour. For example, India put Pakistan on notice on terror attacks. It also cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan. Further, India has been alleged to have intervened in the Sri Lanka’s and Nepal’s domestic Politics.

Foreign Policy post 2016

India has abandoned its uniformly muscular “one size fits all” approach to the region. At present, the government has made peace with a much more consensual, and conciliatory policy in the neighbourhood.

For example, India has not been held responsible in any of its neighbouring countries, namely Myanmar, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka which have undergone electoral changes.

India has been improving its ties with each country (except Pakistan) in South Asia through high-level visits, extending development aid and lines of credit, and enabling a rush of soft power diplomacy.

India is focused on people in the neighbourhood rather than just those in power. For example, in Afghanistan, India negotiated with Pakistani officials to ensure it could send food grains for the Afghan people.

India has toned down rhetoric on domestic issues in the neighbourhood. For example, the Indian Government’s public reaction to Durga Pooja violence against Bangladesh’s Hindu minority in 2021.

Way Forward

India cannot maintain a silent or “neutral” position in relations to South Asian Countries. This is not in the interest of India.

For example, India faces the direct impact of almost every crisis in South Asian country like refugee influx, economic crisis etc. Therefore, they must be watched more closely.

India should learn that the potent combination of populism, hyper-nationalism, religious majoritarianism, and a strident anti-elitism does not pay in the long run.

For example, the popular leader may come to power, but their popularity can decline sharply and suddenly. For example, fall of K.P. Oli, Imran Khan and Mahindra Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka. This means nothing is forever, especially in a democracy.

The economy matters above all.

For example, In Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the defeat of populists has come due to slowdown in growth, jobs and rising inflation, instead of the Opposition parties. The economic mismanagement has brought changes in the neighbourhood

India must survey the impact of new vulnerabilities on smaller neighbouring countries as the vulnerabilities could be exploited by global powers like China

New Delhi must find newer ways to energise regional groupings such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative.

Finally, the Indian government must learn that lack of consensus building in political culture let down the popular leaders in neighbouring democracies.

For example, Rajapaksa, Oli and Khan turned their opposition into “the enemy”, and froze out the media, non-governmental organisations


Putin’s Made India The Swing State In Geopolitics

Source: The post is based on an article “Putin’s Made India The Swing State In Geopolitics” published in the Times of India on 21st May 2022.

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Regional Grouping, Multilateral Relations

Relevance: India as a Swing State; India’s position in the global and regional geopolitics

News: Currently, The Russia-Ukraine War is ongoing. And the Prime Minister of India is going to attend the Quad summit in Tokyo next week.

What are the developments in the Russia-Ukraine war?

Although Ukraine may never become a NATO member, it is being strongly supported by the Western countries.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO. This will infuriate Russia. It will change forever the nature of European security.

What are the consequences of recent developments?

(A) Russian Worries

Russia may end up at the bottom end of the spectrum in terms of global political and economic isolation.

According to reports, Russia’s imports from technologically advanced countries are dropping exponentially. This will impact Russia’s ability to manufacture complex weapons and systems.

The war has pushed the Western countries to seize Russian government and oligarch assets overseas and use that for Ukraine’s reconstruction because Europe is not willing to pay for Russia wrong.

(B) Some European worries

The US is being accused of changing its war aims from Ukraine to Russia. It is putting Europe at the centre of it.

The war has escalated to a position to which Both Russia and Europe had not planned on.

What are the challenges for India?

The Indian leadership had the tough task of doing two things at once – explaining India’s Russia policy due to India’s traditional dependence on Russia, and focussing on partnering with Europe in clean, green, tech-powered development.

The war has led to increase in energy costs, fertiliser costs and general inflation which have become headache for India’s post-pandemic recovery

The war has challenged India’s plan to transition to a less carbonised future. Therefore, the war is rapidly becoming India’s war.

Way Forward

India’s leadership has explained to his European counterparts that India is accelerating its diversification away from Russian military equipment.

The Indian government needs to engage with its international partners and tell them about India’s interest and plans to deal with the current mess.

India needs to address the challenge of rising and asserting China. India should build a partnership with Europe that is clean, green, digital and non-China.

In the new strategic context, India in many respects is acting as a swing state. However, it is in its best interests that it bends its trajectory more to the West. There is a growing space for India. The United States and Europe desire to engage more fundamentally with India. Therefore, India should think big with the US on the Indo-Pacific and global security. 

GS Paper 3


Let’s keep GST good and simple

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

– “A timely reminder” published in The Hindu on 21st May 22.

– “Let’s keep GST good and simple” published in Times of India on 20th May 22.

– “Explained: The SC ruling that GST Council decisions are not binding on Centre or states” published in Indian Express on 21st May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy

Relevance: GST and related issues, GST Council

Context: The Supreme Court ruled on May 19th that the recommendations of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council only have persuasive value, and cannot be binding on the Centre and states.

It should be noted that the case – Union of India vs Mohit Minerals Pvt Ltd – was dealing with the levy of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on ocean freight and not per se on central and state legislative powers.

Must Read: Objection milords: SC’s GST Council ruling is an overreach and can be hugely disruptive
What are the concerns with the SC verdict?

There are concerns that after the SC decision is various states will now begin pulling in different directions, taking indirect taxes back to the VAT era.

The SC decision comes at a time when states have been very concerned about their ability to manage their fiscal situation once the compensation cess provided to counter revenue losses on account of GST comes to an end in June 2022. Suggestions by states to increase the period of the cess by two or three years, have not yet elicited any positive response from the Centre. In this situation, and given the SC ruling, there is concern on whether the level of uniformity in GST legislation across states, presently in force, will continue in future.

How have the stakeholders reacted?

Opposition-ruled States have hailed the verdict as upholding their rights vis-à-vis what a few termed as the ‘arbitrary imposition’ of Centre’s decisions in the Council.

The Finance Ministry has sought to disperse the anxiety by indicating that the Court has only elaborated on the Council’s existing arrangement and the status quo would continue. States can already reject the Council’s decisions, but none has chosen to so far, it said.

How has the GST Council performed so far?

The GST Council has met 46 times till now and its decisions have largely been unanimous, indicating a high level of fiscal maturity and understanding between the Centre and states.

While some states have had divergent viewpoints on some issues, the Council however has been effective in balancing the interests of the Centre and the states.

It has also dealt with various implementation issues during the past five years and ensured that the overall aim – a common indirect tax across the country – is not diluted.

Way forward

There does not appear to be any reason for immediate alarm, as the outcomes of GST Council meetings have largely been implemented by all states till now.

Also, both the Centre and states have worked on GST in a spirit of cooperative federalism and the uniformity in GST laws across states has benefited both consumers and manufacturers.

At worst, the SC verdict can trigger more contestations in Council meetings, and at best, infuse a fresh sense of responsibility among members.

The Centre can strive to be more conciliatory towards States’ concerns and fiscal dilemmas.

The Council should also meet more often to nurture the critical fiscal federalism dialogue in the right direction and minimise trust deficits.

There are many pending reforms that require the Centre to work more cohesively with States to take India’s economy forward and lift those left behind. For instance: An overhaul of land and labour markets as well as the agrarian sector.

What we need right now is a restatement of the principle of ‘One Nation, One Tax’, that it won’t become a ‘One Nation, Many Taxes’ situation all over again.

GST should now move further along the path of procedural simplification, improving the ease of doing business. It is in essence a tax collected from consumers by businesses and paid to both central and state governments. Therefore, collective views of both consumers and businesses should be duly considered before considering any changes in the GST decision-making framework.


Jobs scheme will not offer a long-term solution to urban unemployment. Safety nets need to better conceived

Source: This post is based on the article “Jobs scheme will not offer a long-term solution to urban unemployment. Safety nets need to better conceived” published in The Indian Express on 21st May 22.Syllabus: GS3 -Indian economy – Issues related to growth and development

Relevance: Tackling the rising inequality in India

Context: A few days ago, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister released a report on the state of inequality in India. The report, prepared by the Institute of Competitiveness, provides a detailed examination of the existing disparities in society.

Some of the suggestions to tackle rising inequality in India included putting in place an urban equivalent of MGNREGA and introducing a universal basic income.

These require careful consideration.

  • For more on the report – Click here
Why the proposal for an urban employment guarantee scheme has been made?

The proposal to introduce an urban employment guarantee scheme comes in the backdrop of the pandemic, exposing the critical position of workers, especially those employed in the informal sector in urban areas.

It’s also argued that not only would this provide employment during times of distress, but this would also serve as a channel to push funds through quickly in periods of stress.

Several states have in fact been experimenting with this concept. Recently, the Rajasthan government announced a scheme for urban areas — the Indira Gandhi Shahri Rozgar Guarantee Yojana — on the lines of MGNREGA.

What are the problems associated with the idea of an urban employment guarantee scheme?

First, such a scheme may simply encourage migration, which without the creation of the attending infrastructure, will only exert further pressure on the crumbling facilities of these cities.

Second, demand for work under MGNREGA tends to move in line with the agricultural cycle. As such, it is seasonal in nature. However, in urban areas, there is no such seasonality in either work demanded or unemployment, complicating the design of such a scheme. And moreover, many of the migrant workers are unlikely to have the requisite skills needed for regular jobs in cities.

Third, it is also debatable whether the educated but unemployed workers will take up these jobs.

Fourth, there are capacity constraints with the urban local bodies, which are likely to be the implementing agencies.

Lastly, there is also the question of financing such a scheme at the national level.

Way forward

The proposal seeks to address the continuing employment and inequality crisis that plagues India. However, India’s job challenge is structural in nature, owing in part to the absence of a labour-intensive manufacturing sector.

A more prudent approach would be for economic policy to focus on boosting growth, lowering inequalities in opportunities, improving access to education and health, and providing pathways for upward mobility.


Talking peace, negotiating with the Maoists

Source: The post is based on an article “Talking peace, negotiating with the Maoists” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st May 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 – Internal Security

Relevance: Extremism in India

News: Recently, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh announced that the State government was ready for peace talks with the Maoists provided they laid down arms and expressed their faith in the Constitution of India.

Earlier attempts

In 2010, the then Home Minister tried to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table. He asked them to halt violence and come to talk. In response, the Maoists placed three pre-conditions to a dialogue.

In 2014, the Andhra Pradesh State government lifted the ban on the party. Consequently, there was a four-day peace dialogue between the representatives of the People’s War (PW) party and government. Maoists proposed a 11-point charter of demands such as legislation on land ceiling; creation of a separate state of Telangana; and questions associated with armed action by either side. However, the peace process collapsed mid-way and the ban was re-imposed on the CPI(Maoist) and its sister organisations.

What are the major conditions of the Maoists?

First, the ‘withdrawal of all-out war’, i.e., a cessation of hostilities by both sides simultaneously, i.e., mutual ceasefire and not unilateral ceasefire by the Maoists.

Second, lifting of the ban on the party was necessary for peaceful legal work by the Maoists,

Third, the government should adhere to the Constitution and end the illegal arrests, tortures and murders in the name of encounters. The government was also required to release some leaders

Should the Govt withdraw security forces from Maoist areas?

For

The government should go ahead with the Maoist’s demand of withdrawal of armed police forces with a mutually agreed ‘ceasefire’. For example, Maoists must abjure violence and the Security force’s Anti-Maoist operations must be halted for some period.

Against

The State government cannot afford the risk of moving out security forces as a pre-condition for initiating peace talks. The Maoists misused the ceasefire during the 2004 peace talks in Andhra Pradesh.

Way Forward

The State governments should implement the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996.

The release of jailed Maoist leaders should not be made a pre-condition by the Maoists. In fact, the Chhattisgarh government has withdrawn criminal cases against many tribals and has also ensured expeditious triasl of Naxal cases.

The government may give some concessions with regard to lifting a ban on the CPI(Maoist), the PLGA and its front organisations.


Simulating gravity

Source: The post is based on an article “Simulating gravity” published in the Business Standard on 20th May 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 – Developments in Science and Technology; Space Technology

Relevance: Artificial Gravity, Space Settlement

News: Recently, the Orbital Assembly Corporation announced a plan to develop a space business park (hotel) which will be made operational by 2025. The hotel will be equipped with artificial gravity.

Benefits of artificial gravity

It would keep astronauts healthy on long trips, prevent loss of bone density and muscle atrophy. For example, in microgravity, the fluids in the body shift upward to the head. This put pressure on the eyes and causes vision problems. This worsens humans’ physical and mental health.

Further, the creation of artificial gravity can help humanity to settle on celestial bodies beyond Earth.

What are the proposals to create artificial gravity?

The first and considered most feasible is making a spaceship rotate. The inertia or the pseudo “centrifugal force” in such a scenario would be the basis of the solution to artificial gravity as was in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The centrifuge solution is worth considering when looked at for setting up space colonies. It is called the O’Neill system. In fact, the space company Blue Origin has shown interest in building O’Neill cylinders.

Similarly, centripetal acceleration could be used and a person on board would feel the outer hull of a spaceship pushing him/her towards the centre.

Second, another approach could be to use electricity and magnetism to substitute for gravity. The electricity will be run in circles to produce magnetism. This will result in a magnetic field. Astronauts would wear metal boots and the magnetic attraction should allow them to walk on the floor.

Third, the scientists could also harness real gravity. Everything with mass has gravity. Therefore, the scientists can go for creating a planet which will have enough gravity. The key might be to get a lot of mass into a very small area. For instance: A teaspoon of neutron-star material might be enough to give us gravity, or a tiny pencil prick of a black hole. Both of these are neither feasible nor possible currently.

Fourth, another idea is making gravity generators. A Russian engineer named Eugene Podkletnov has claimed to have designed and demonstrated gravitomagnetic devices. These devices consisted of rotating discs constructed from ceramic superconducting materials.

The string theory does predict that gravity and electromagnetism could be unified in hidden dimensions. This can act as a way to “generate” gravity in the future.

What are the issues with these ideas?

At present, there is no confirmed technology that can simulate gravity, other than actual mass or acceleration. All the above-mentioned solutions are in the realms of concept and the fictions.

In case of centrifugal approach, there is an issue of size. With rotating spacecraft, the radius of rotation grows with the square of the orbital period. The delivery of materials to space is very expensive. Such a concept was envisioned in the epic science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey released in 1968.

The electricity and magnetic approach would require a lot of power supply which is very difficult due to limited resources.

Creating a planet is easier said than done.

The claim of gravity generators has not been verified by third parties. In 2006, another research group created a similar device but the gravity created was very small. The process wasn’t replicated.


Governments must understand that resources are held in trust. They’re not to be frittered away

Source: The post is based on an article “Governments must understand that resources are held in trust. They’re not to be frittered away” published in the Indian Express on 21st May 2022.

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy, Issues and Challenges in planning, mobilization of resources, growth and development

Relevance: Budgeting

News: Recently, the Rajasthan government has announced that it will restart the old civil servant pension scheme. Further, the Punjab government has announced its measures on providing electricity in Punjab. These decisions are based on the foundation of a welfare state to make a more egalitarian society.

Types of State as per Nobel Laureate James Buchanan

There are three versions of a state: (1) the protective state (police, rule of law, defence, courts), (2) the productive state (common goods like roads, power, health, education, etc.), and (3) the redistributive state.

What are the problems in India in terms of state?

Most of the state governments accept the status quo in the first two types of state. But they always “innovate” to fulfill their redistributive role.

The populist decisions lead to unsustainable borrowing burden in the future. For example, Europe is facing an unsustainable situation. It has 8% of the world’s population, 25% of its GDP, and 50% of its social spending.

If Indian state governments could limitlessly print or borrow money. It would lead India to reach an economic crisis that Sri Lanka is going through.

The populist schemes confiscate future spending on interest payments, it crowds out other expenditure, and crowds out capex.

What are the genuine problems that need the government’s attention?

India has the problem of unemployment. This is found in farming, informal wage employment, and self-employment.

Way Forward

It’s high time that all the state governments shift the usage of their resources from fulfilling their role of redistributive state to fulfilling their other two roles of protective and productive state.

The state government should work upon five structural interventions in order to create higher-wage jobs:

Reduce regulatory cholesterol: Around 80% of India’s employers’ compliance comes under the state government. Therefore, the state governments should rationalise, decriminalise, and digitise their compliance ecosystem. This will help in the achievement of lower corruption and higher formality.

Fix government schools: The most powerful tool for social mobility and employability is free and quality school education. The government works towards ensuring fulfilment of smaller class sizes, teacher salaries, teacher qualifications, and toilets. The governments must overhaul school performance management and governance. This will help in the creations of human capital.

Converge education and employability: The partition between degrees and skills is meaningless for the new world of work, organisations, and education. States should set up skill universities. The government can promote degree apprentices which innovate at the intersection of employment, employability and education.

Devolve money and power: Cities are the engine of growth, job creation and social justice. For example, New York City’s GDP is higher than Russia’s. Therefore, the state governments should devolve money and power to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to avoid the curse of megacities.

Civil services reform: The state’s people need better government schools, primary healthcare, policing, infrastructure, selling off of loss-making public sector units, and greater Capital Expenditure (CAPEX). The state government needs a new human capital regime for civil servants via seven interventions; structure, staffing, training, performance management, compensation, culture, and HR capabilities.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Govt. reconstitutes Central Advisory Board on Archaeology

Source: The post is based on the article “Govt. reconstitutes Central Advisory Board on Archaeology” published in The Hindu on 21st May 2022.

What is the News?

The Government of India has reconstituted the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA).

What is the Central Advisory Board on Archaeology (CABA)?

Purpose: To strengthen contacts between the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and those in the field of archaeological research.

– To advise the Centre on matters relating to archaeology referred to it by its members.

Chairman: Minister of Culture.

Members: It includes officials from the Culture Ministry and ASI, MPs, nominees of State governments, representatives of universities, scientists and experts on the Indus Valley script.

– It would also include five persons nominated in their personal capacities by the Government of India and former Director-Generals of ASI.

Board Meeting: The Board will meet once a year. 

Note: The last meeting of the Board was held in 2017.


Government lifts “Export Prohibition” on Bamboo Charcoal for Higher Profitability of Bamboo Industry

Source: The post is based on the article Government lifts “Export Prohibition” on Bamboo Charcoal for Higher Profitability of Bamboo Industrypublished in PIB on 21st May 2022.

What is the News?

The Centre has lifted the “export prohibition” on bamboo charcoal to boost the utilization of raw bamboo and support the industry.

Background

Bamboo is largely used in making Agarbattis wherein up to 16% which is the upper layers of the bamboo is used for manufacturing while the remaining 84% of bamboo goes into waste. The waste generated in Agarbatti and bamboo craft industries is not utilized commercially.

Consequently, the bamboo input cost for round Bamboo sticks ends up in the range of Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 per metric ton (MT) as against the average Bamboo cost of Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per MT.  

What can be done to overcome this problem?

Bamboo waste can be best utilized by making “Bamboo Charcoal” which has very limited use within the domestic market, but it is hugely in demand in the international market. 

Bamboo Charcoal is used for barbeque, soil nutrition and as a raw material for manufacturing activated charcoal. However, the Government of India has prohibited the export of Bamboo Charcoal.

What was the issue then with Bamboo Charcoal?

In 2017, the Government amended the export policy for bamboo products wherein exports of all the bamboo products were kept in the Open General License (OGL) category and were free to export.

However, exports of bamboo charcoal, bamboo pulp and unprocessed shoots were put under the prohibited category. 

What has the Government done now?

The Government of India has lifted the “export prohibition” on bamboo charcoal. This move would facilitate optimum utilization of raw bamboo and higher profitability in the Indian bamboo industry.


Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework?” published in Indian Express on 20th May 2022.

What is the News?

The United States President is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).

What is the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF)?

In October 2021, the US administration announced the development of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework(IPEF).

Pillars: The IPEF is built on four modules: 1) fair and resilient trade (including digital, labour, environmental and other standards), 2) supply chain resilience, 3) infrastructure, decarbonisation and clean energy and 4) tax and anti-corruption.

Countries would have to sign up for all of the components within a module but do not have to participate in all modules.

However, IPEF will not include market access commitments such as lowering tariff barriers, as the agreement is more of an Administrative arrangement.

Why is the US planning to launch this framework?

IPEF is seen as a means by which the US is trying to regain credibility in the region after former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP). 

Since then, there has been concern over the absence of a credible US economic and trade strategy to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

Will India be joining the IPEF?

India is currently examining the framework.

However, some experts have said that some areas proposed in the IPEF do not appear to serve India’s interests. 

For example, the IPEF talks about digital governance but the IPEF formulation contains issues that directly conflict with India’s stated position. Amongst these are the prohibition/restrictions on cross-border data flows and data localization requirements including for financial services; promotion of the interoperability of privacy rules among others.


Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to maintain desired quality standards for implementation of ‘Rice Fortification’

Source: The post is based on the article Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued to maintain desired quality standards for implementation of ‘Rice Fortification’ published in PIB on 20th May 2022.

What is the News?

The government of India has issued a Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) to maintain desired quality standards for the implementation of ‘rice fortification’ to address malnutrition, anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies.

What is Fortification?

Food fortification is regarded as one of the top three priorities for developing countries as per the Copenhagen Consensus Statement, 2008.

Read here: Food Fortification in India – Explained, pointwise

What is Rice Fortification?

Rice fortification is a process of adding micronutrients like Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. It is an effective, preventive and cost-efficient complementary strategy to address the challenge of anaemia. 

On August 15, 2021, the Prime Minister announced a plan to distribute fortified rice to the poor by 2024. This could be accomplished under different schemes, including through Public Distribution Systems (PDS) and Mid-Day Meals.

What is the purpose of SOP on Rice Fortification?

The SOP clearly narrates the role and responsibilities of various stakeholders engaged under the Rice Fortification Programme: 

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) gives licenses to manufacturers of FRK (Fortified Rice Kernels).

– FSSAI is also mapping the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories(NABL) accredited labs under the states which may test the various quality parameters of FRK/FR.

– Promotional and regulatory roles are undertaken by the FSSAI’s Food Safety Officer(FSO). These officers are picking random samples from the mill and from fair price shops to ensure the quality of fortified rice.

– Food Fortification Resource Center (FFRC) a unit of FSSAI will monitor & evaluate the programme with support from development partners.


Scientists image mysterious rock zone 3,000 km beneath Earth’s surface

Source: The post is based on the article “Scientists image mysterious rock zone 3,000 km beneath Earth’s surface” published in Down To Earth on 20th May 2022.

What is the News?

Scientists have scanned a rock structure that is located 3,000 kilometres beneath Hawaii and is known to slow earthquake waves.

What have the scientists found?
Rock zone beneath Earth
Source: Statesman

Scientists have found a rock structure that is located 3,000 kilometres beneath Hawaii.

This structure is known to slow earthquake waves. They found that the speed of the earthquake waves travelling through the base could be 40% slower than the surrounding regions.

How did these ultra-low-velocity zones form?

The Rock Structure’s origins can be traced to around four billion years ago when the Earth was an infant. Around this time, scientists believe a Mars-sized rock crashed into the earth raising the planet’s temperatures and creating a magma ocean.

At some point, the iron materials likely descended deep into the interiors forming pockets called the ultra-low-velocity zones.


India gets the highest annual FDI inflow of USD 83.57 billion in FY 21-22

Source: The post is based on the articleIndia gets the highest annual FDI inflow of USD 83.57 billion in FY 21-22” published in PIB on 20th May 2022.

What is the News?

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has released details of Foreign Direct Investment(FDI inflow) into India in FY 21-22.

What are the key highlights from FDI  inflows into India in FY 21-22?
FDI inflow 2021-22
Source: Economic Times

FDI Inflow: India has reported the highest foreign direct investment(FDI inflow) to the tune of $83.57 billion for the financial year 2021-2022.

Note: India’s foreign investment inflows increased 20-fold since the financial year 2003-04 when it recorded a mere $4.3 billion.

Source of FDI equity Inflow: Among the top contributors to India’s FDI inflow, Singapore topped the charts with a share of 27%  followed by the US (18%) and Mauritius accounting for 16%.

Sectors: The computer software and hardware remained the top sector which received the FDI inflow with around 25% share followed by services sector and automobile sector getting 12% each.

States: Karnataka is the top recipient state with 38% share of the total FDI Equity inflow reported during the previous financial year followed by Maharashtra (26%) and Delhi (14%).


Explained: Project WARDEC – India’s upcoming AI-powered wargame centre

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Project WARDEC – India’s upcoming AI-powered wargame centre” published in Indian Express on 21st May 2022.

What is the News?

Army Training Command has signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with Gandhinagar-based Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) to develop a ‘Wargame Research and Development Centre(WARDEC) in New Delhi.

What is WARDEC?

WARDEC will be a first-of-its-kind simulation-based training center in India that will use artificial intelligence(AI) to design virtual reality wargames.

Purpose: The centre will be used by the Army to train its soldiers and test their strategies through metaverse-enabled gameplay. 

How will the simulation exercises play out at the center?

Soldiers will test their skills in the metaverse where their surroundings will be simulated using a combination of virtual reality(VR) and augmented reality(AR).

Location: The centre will come up in a military zone in New Delhi.

Significance: The centre will help soldiers prepare for wars as well as counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations.

How many countries use such wargaming drills?

Since the 9/11 attacks, the use of information technology-enabled wargaming is preferred by several countries like the US, Israel, and the UK to prepare for possibilities in case of terror attacks or war.

For instance, in 2014, several world leaders including former German chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping played a war simulation game during the Hague Summit about how to react in case of a nuclear attack. In that case, the target of the nuclear attack was a fictional country named Brinia.

Mains Answer Writing

[Download] – Prassannakumar V AIR 264 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies

Dear Friends, We are happy to release the Mains answer copies of Prassannakumar V. He has secured AIR 264 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021. Aspirants can learn from these copies and strategize their preparation accordingly. Download link: Prassannakumar V MGP Copy 1 – GS Test Copy Prassannakumar V MGP Copy 2 – GS Test… Continue reading [Download] – Prassannakumar V AIR 264 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies

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[Download] – Donthula Zenith Chandra AIR 241 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies

Dear Friends, We are happy to release the Mains answer copies of Donthula Zenith Chandra. He has secured AIR 241 in the UPSC Civil Services Examination 2021. Aspirants can learn from these copies and strategize their preparation accordingly. Download link: Donthula Zenith Chandra MGP Copy 1 – GS Test Copy Donthula Zenith Chandra MGP Copy… Continue reading [Download] – Donthula Zenith Chandra AIR 241 (UPSC CSE 2021) – MGP Test Copies

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[Answered] Enumerate NITI Aayog’s recommendations for the betterment of gig and platform workers.

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Write some points related to NITI Aayog’s recommendations for the betterment of gig and platform workers. Conclusion: Write a way forward. A gig worker is a person who engages in income-earning activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship, as well as in the informal sector. When gig workers use platforms i.e.,… Continue reading [Answered] Enumerate NITI Aayog’s recommendations for the betterment of gig and platform workers.

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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.

Introduction: Contextual introduction. Body: Explain how dominant position of online aggregator platforms is damaging small and medium businesses and customers. Also write some international experiences for dealing with this issue. Conclusion: Write a way forward. The proliferation of a wide range of e-commerce platforms has created convenience and increased consumer choice. But in reality, the… Continue reading [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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[Download] 10 PM Weekly Compilation – June, 2022 – 4th week

Hello, everyone. We are posting a Compilation of the 10 pm current affairs quiz – June 2022 – Fourth week  Click on the following link to download Download The 10 PM Daily Current Affairs Quiz is focused on the current affairs part of UPSC Prelims. The daily current affairs quiz consists of 10 questions based on the daily current affairs.… Continue reading [Download] 10 PM Weekly Compilation – June, 2022 – 4th week

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – July 1, 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 – July 1, 2022

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NITI Aayog and TIFAC Launch Report on Future Penetration of Electric Two-Wheelers in the Indian Market

What is the News? NITI Aayog and Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) have released a report titled ‘Forecasting Penetration of Electric Two-Wheelers in India’. Note: TIFAC is an autonomous organization set up in 1988 under the Department of Science & Technology to look ahead in the technology domain, assess the technology trajectories and… Continue reading NITI Aayog and TIFAC Launch Report on Future Penetration of Electric Two-Wheelers in the Indian Market

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Commonwealth adopts ‘Living Lands Charter’ for future generations

What is the News? The Commonwealth leaders have adopted the Living Lands Charter at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali, Rwanda. What is the Living Lands Charter? It is a non-binding agreement adopted by the Commonwealth member countries. Purpose: The charter mandates member countries to safeguard global land resources and arrest land… Continue reading Commonwealth adopts ‘Living Lands Charter’ for future generations

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Explained: What is CAPSTONE, NASA’s new satellite?

What is the News? NASA has launched CAPSTONE, a microwave oven-sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds(25 kg).  What is CAPSTONE? Full Form: Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment(CAPSTONE) Aim: To help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies and by verifying the dynamics of the halo-shaped orbit. Which orbit… Continue reading Explained: What is CAPSTONE, NASA’s new satellite?

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Cabinet approves Computerization of Primary Agriculture Credit Societies(PACS)

What is the News? Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Computerization of Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS). The objective behind this is to increase the efficiency of PACS, bring transparency and accountability to their operations; facilitate PACS to diversify their business and undertake multiple activities/services. What are Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)? Primary… Continue reading Cabinet approves Computerization of Primary Agriculture Credit Societies(PACS)

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