9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 3rd, 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 2
- How to vernacularise medical education in India?
- Europe is looming larger than ever in India’s strategic calculus
- Our two-speed ties with the US need convergence
GS Paper 3
- Reforming fuel taxes
- The supply bottlenecks causing power shortages
- The world is short of time and not minerals for climate action
- No short circuits: On electric vehicles catching fire
- A New CDS Is Urgently Need
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Explained: What are anabolic steroids and how does it impact one’s health?
- Railways restructuring to lead to closure of wings
- Commerce dept seeks ₹6k crore for ‘Districts as Export Hub’
- National Open Access Registry(NOAR) goes live successfully
- The debate on the national language
- Indigenous towed artillery guns complete firing trials, paving way for induction into army
- Two sloth bears rescued from Bokaro after Maneka Gandhi’s intervention
- No one can be forced to get vaccinated:Supreme Court
- Joint Statement: 6th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations
- The cost of Internet shutdowns in India, in charts
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Source: The post is based on an article “How to vernacularise medical education in India” published in the Indian Express on 03rd May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 Social Sector; Education Sector
Relevance: Medical Education Reforms
News: Recently, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh declared their intention to provide the MBBS course in Hindi.
Arguments in favour of using vernacular language in the medical education
This will help counter the hegemony of English in professional education. Few countries such as Germany and China have long been doing so successfully. Therefore, the Indian government can also replicate this in India.
One of the intentions of the move is to increase access to medical education beyond the English-knowing elite.
Arguments in favour of using vernacular language in the medical education
The measure would entail significant costs. The implementation would demand regulatory and administrative alterations. For example, translation of educational materials, training of trainers, etc. Further, the costs will depend on the scale of implementation and need not necessarily be a deterrent.
An argument advanced by critics is that this measure is fuelled by misplaced nationalistic sentiments.
This would erode the competitive advantage which Indian graduates have in the global scientific arena.
In contrast to Germany and China where local languages are used, English is firmly entrenched in India. Therefore, there will be two-fold challenges. First, the measure could face considerable resistance in assimilating local language into the existing ecosystem. Second, it is unlikely to spur enough demand. For example, this has already been witnessed in the case of engineering courses.
If MBBS is taught in the regional language, then postgraduate medical courses and other medical courses would also need to be conceived in regional languages.
At present, the government wishes to expand the private sector’s scope in medical education. However, the private sector is unlikely to welcome the move in the field of medical education.
There is no oblivious correlation between knowledge of English and socioeconomic status in Indian society.
Today, a considerable proportion of medical graduates who have studied in English are employed in allied sectors (research, pharmaceuticals, administration etc.). There medium graduates in vernacular language are unlikely to be welcomed in these allied sectors.
It would lead to development of an implicit hierarchy between non-English medium and English medium medical graduates.
The diversity and multiplicity of languages across and within states thwarts tge vernacularisation of medical education.
Medical doctors are highly mobile professionals. English medium medical graduates can find jobs across the country and the world.
English is a mutually-intelligible option in technical as well as routine dealings and interactions. Therefore, numerous local languages based medical education can lead to chaos.
Going for a select few languages with a large following could be an optimum middle-path. However, this is unlikely to obviate the need for incorporating basic English skills in the curriculum.
An incremental approach should be adopted in providing medical education in regional languages. For example, the government can start providing paramedical courses in the regional language. Such paramedical workers are often less mobile and function closer to the patients.
Further, vernacularisation is one of many reforms in medical education. Many other measures require political attention.
Source: The post is based on an article “Europe is looming larger than ever in India’s strategic calculus” published in the Indian Express on 3rd May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations; Bilateral and Multilateral Relations
Relevance: India-Europe Relations
News: Recently, the president of the European Commission visited India. Further, the Prime Minister of India is scheduled to visit Berlin, Copenhagen, and Paris in Europe. He will attend the 2nd India-Nordic summit. These visits signal a glimpse of India’s post-Russian strategic future in Europe.
What are the driving forces?
The Western sanctions have been imposed on Russia. Therefore, Russia is deepening its alliance with China.
India is also working to boost up its bilateral partnerships with key European countries— Germany and France.
Both countries have been facing various challenges coming from the Chinese muscular foreign policy and assertion.
Germany is striving to reduce its exposure to Russian and Chinese markets. Therefore, India is an attractive new destination for German capital. The full potential of the commercial relationship is still to be realised.
In fact, Germany is tied far more deeply to Russia than India. Germany’s annual trade with Russia is about $60 billion while India’s is at $10 bn. Further, Germany relies heavily on Russian natural gas. Therefore, Both India and Germany have been under pressure to disentangle from their Russian connection. In fact, both don’t like the Western pressures to reduce ties with Russia.
India-Nordic Countries Relations
In the last few years, Delhi has learnt that the Nordic Five — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden can contribute significantly to India’s development. They have a combined GDP greater than that of Russia.
The First India-Nordic Summit 2017 produced a framework for an ambitious bilateral agenda on technological innovation and sustainable development. It implies that India has acknowledged the Nordic region as one of the various sub-regions of Europe which is important for Indians.
Both countries laid the foundation for a strong strategic partnership in 2018. Both are concerned about the implications of the war in the Indo-Pacific. There is going to be the next phase in the strategic partnership between both the countries.
France is said to be India’s “new Russia” i.e., India’s most important strategic partner in the coming period. For example: (1) France defended India’s interests in the UNSC, (2) Both are partnering in the Indo-Pacific theatre, and (3) France is a major supplier of advanced arms to India.
What are the challenges for India?
India’s stand on the war in Ukraine and India’s strategic ties to Moscow can cast shadow on India’s relationship with all the European countries.
The Nordic world shares frontiers with Russia over land as well as in the waters of the Arctic. Therefore, apart from Denmark, Iceland, and Norway which are founding members of NATO, the other two members of the Nordic five Sweden and Finland are now rushing to end their long-standing neutral status and join NATO.
Indian PM’s tour to Europe can give India a better appreciation of the new mood in Europe developed due to Russian aggression.
The India-Europe Trade and Technology Council was launched by the European Union. This is the EU’s second such council after the US. It marks the new contours of the EU’s strategic partnership with India
The PM can explore the emerging possibilities for stronger cooperation with key European countries.
The Western Europe has become an important element in India’s foreign and security policies. The crisis in Ukraine has intensified the imperatives for deeper strategic cooperation between India and its European partners. This is because the crisis has shattered the regional order in Europe that emerged in 1991.
France has developed a political framework for the peaceful integration of Russia into the European order. Both India and France can expand the defence partnership. France is critical in expanding domestic production of weapons in India. It can promote greater participation of private and foreign capital.
Indian PM interactions with the Nordic leaders might help Delhi appreciate the deeply-held fears about Russia among Moscow’s smaller neighbours. India wants to build on the unique bilateral green strategic partnership with Denmark.
Source: The post is based on an article “Our own-speed ties with the US need convergence” published in the Livemint on 2nd May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations; Bilateral Relations
Relevance: Indian-the US Relations
News: The four-nation Quad summit is going to be held in Japan. The leaders will meet in-person. The US President and Prime Minister of India are going to meet in-person and have talks on bilateral relations.
What is the convergence of interests between India and the US?
Both countries have acknowledged that there is a “growing strategic convergence” between India and the US. For example, China.
Both democracies have security concerns over Beijing’s muscle-flexing in the Asia theatre. Both are working to check this threat.
What are the challenges?
New Delhi’s position on Russia. Our stance has not been condemned outright by US politicians.
Both nations have neglected mutual engagement in the critical area of economic relations. Both have not joined any large and meaningful trade pact in Asia.
The US walked out of what is now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and India walked out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). China is a member of both. Therefore, it would help China to consolidate its position as Asia’s predominant economic and trade powerhouse.
India-US relationship is also shadowed by India’s strong relations with Russia and India’s position on Russian invasion of Ukraine.
India’s neighbourhood concerns and energy vulnerability should be handled through India’s strategic autonomy on its geopolitical position.
The US announced for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), for its renewed trade thrust in the Indo-Pacific region. It would include four pillars: (1) fair and resilient trade, (2) supply-chain longevity, (3) infrastructure (including clean energy) and tax and (4) anti-corruption measures. The IPEF will involve “fairness” over labour issues.
The glue of cooperation for mutual benefit invariably lies in economic partnerships. Therefore, the US should come up with greater clarity on the IPEF.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “Reforming fuel taxes” published in Business Standard on 2nd May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy
Relevance: Increasing fuel prices
Context: Addressing the chief ministers of the states recently, Prime Minister said that the Union government had reduced excise duty on fuel last November, but pointed out that some states had not followed this lead.
States raised several objections to his statement. They pointed out that the Union government has earned windfall gains on fuel production and taxation in recent years. Moreover, even without a VAT cut, fuel taxes were lower in several of the states mentioned by the PM.
What are the issues associated with the taxation of fuel?
Failure to incorporate fuel into the goods and services tax (GST) regime. Petrol and diesel have been kept out of the GST net, which means that consumers are not given the advantage of being able to set off their costs as input credits.
Further, there is no uniformity in the tax system. The GST has a pre-determined sharing formula built in, and therefore such disagreement about relative tax rates will no longer occur.
What is the way forward?
Bringing fuel under the GST will mean that overall taxes on petrol and diesel will have to be reduced to conform to the GST slabs. But in order to maintain revenue neutrality, an additional levy can be charged to the extent that current collections are higher than what they would be under the lower GST rates. This additional levy can be a special excise duty. It can also be defined as a carbon tax in keeping with international norms.
This will also allow India to make an even stronger case internationally that it is meeting its commitments on climate change. This may not be the best solution, but it is certainly better than the present situation.
Ideally, revenue from the carbon tax should be directed towards decarbonisation or sustainability projects, and shared to this end with the states. A major point of contention between the Centre and states would thus be removed.
Source: This post is based on the article “The supply bottlenecks causing power shortages” published in The Indian Express on 3rd May 22
Syllabus: GS3 – Energy and Infrastructure
Relevance: Power crisis in India, shortage of coal
Context: The power sector in India is going through a crisis. Peak shortages in some states have reached double digits. Coal stocks available at thermal plants are at abysmal levels, and about 106 plants out of 173 plants have reached a critical stage.
In some plants, the stocks available are just about enough to run the plant for a day or two more. Part of the problem of poor coal stock is also rumoured to be on account of the non-payment of dues of coal companies.
But this is not the major cause of the shortage.
What is the chronology of power crisis?
Firstly, with summer approaching before time, power demand has shot up to record levels. Delhi’s power demand crossed 6,000 MW on April 28 which is a record.
The second reason for the rise in power demand is that the economy is recovering, and demand from the industrial sector is going up.
All things put together, power demand crossed 207 GW on April 29, which is about 14% higher than what it was a year ago.
Is the increased power demand the actual reason for power crisis?
The increase in demand should have posed no problem since there was enough spare capacity available with coal-based stations operating at less than 60% capacity.
The real problem is the availability of coal, as many plants have less than two days worth of stock.
Moreover, generation from gas-based plants has also fallen due to high gas prices in the world market.
Reservoirs, too, are drying up due to intense heat which will adversely affect hydro generation.
What are the reasons behind the coal shortage?
Firstly, it’s important to note that this coal crisis is not because of any deficit in the supply of coal from domestic sources.
– Coal dispatches from Coal India during 2021-22 were 23% higher than in the previous year.
There are two main reasons for coal shortage:
a) The first is that due to a rise in the international price of coal on account of the Ukraine crisis, all plants that were importing coal have either stopped generating completely or are generating at much lower levels. We have a sizeable generating capacity based on imported coal, estimated at about 16 GW to 17 GW. All these plants after stopping imports are now looking for domestic coal, creating pressure on domestic coal.
b) The second reason for low coal stocks is the non-availability of rakes with Indian railways for transporting coal.
– There is also the issue of availability of tracks since they are being used on a back-to-back basis.
What is the way forward?
With efforts now being made to sort out the transportation problems, stocks will begin depleting faster. Thus production has to be enhanced so that the replenishment rate is higher than consumption.
This is the right time to enhance coal production and build adequate stocks because once the monsoon sets in, production will fall.
Anticipating this, the government has asked the power companies to import coal for blending purposes to reduce the pressure on domestic coal.
- The problem is that there may be no takers for this, given the high price of coal in international markets. Besides, these imports will again put pressure on the availability of rakes for domestic coal.
Hence, unless the weather relents, dark days are ahead.
Livemint on 2nd May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment – Climate Change
Relevance: Transition to a green economy
Context: The overlapping effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, covid-related supply chain disruptions and high inflation have all led to narratives that the clean-energy transition will be highly inflationary—or that it will stall.
The worries usually centre on the implications of soaring demand for commodities such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and copper that are used for electric vehicles (EV), solar cells, wind turbines and electrical grids.
The pitfalls of emission cuts must be seen in a broader context. A rush for minerals to build the new energy infrastructure is only a temporary problem.
What are the problems cited?
The International Energy Agency (IEA), highlights that an EV uses six times as much metals as a fossil fuel car and that wind farms use nine times as much as a gas-fired plant.
Some mines for the metals and minerals used in zero emissions energy systems will take years to come online. The IEA estimates four to seven years for lithium, depending on whether it is in Australia or South America. Copper mines can take well over a decade. It’s easy to see that this could be a problem if demand ramps up unexpectedly fast.
What is the issue with this type of analysis?
The shock value of that analysis doesn’t entirely withstand scrutiny.
Firstly, it fails to acknowledge the absence of fuel from the equation. For eg: an internal combustion pickup truck will use $25,000 of fuel in a decade, under a low gasoline price scenario.
Secondly, it fails to consider the economics of demand and supply. More demand and higher prices will engender more supply.
Thirdly, running out of commodities is a popular fear, but the past couple of hundred years have seen humans develop ever more efficient ways of finding things they want under the ground and pulling them out. Examples: Consider the US shale oil boom of the past decade: the country’s oil output more than doubled between 2008 and 2018. Both the ‘resources’ and the economically recoverable ‘reserves’ of transition minerals have tended to grow over time, even as production continues.
Fourthly, innovation also helps on the demand side. Electric car batteries today use far less cobalt than they did a decade ago, and researchers are confident in the prospects for doing without that scarce mineral altogether.
Source: The post is based on an article “No short circuits: On electric vehicles catching fire” published in The Hindu on 03rd Mar 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Infrastructure, Transport Sector, Science and Technology
Relevance: Electric Vehicle and Li-Ion Battery Technologies
News: Recently, the Union government announced the constitution of an expert panel to investigate the causes of the Li-ion battery explosions in a number of incidents of burning of the electric vehicle (EV). Further, a few manufacturers have recalled batches of electric scooters after some caught fire.
Status of EV Sector in India
EVs have increasingly become a viable transportation device. According to Vahan database, there are 11 lakh electric/battery-operated vehicles registered in India.
What are the factors that have led to increased utilisation of EVs?
The significant reduction in costs of lithium-ion batteries. The costs have fallen by an estimated 89% since 2010.
The governments have incentivised the shift to EVs in wake of the climate change concerns.
The manufacture of electric vehicle (EV) for commercial use has undergone an acceleration. In addition, a number of indigenous companies manufacturing EV have mushroomed in the Indian market.
What are the causes of fire in the EV?
The Li-ion battery in the electric vehicles (EV) may catch fire due to the convergence of heat, oxygen and fuel.
The Li-ion battery packs that form the core of the technology, are sophisticated devices and there should be no compromise on the inbuilt safeguards. The controlled manufacturing of batteries is specifically required to prevent such incidents.
There should be absence of “shoddy engineering” and “cutting corner approaches” in the manufacturing of Li-ion batteries and the electric vehicles.
The manufacturers can go for long-term changes in Li-ion batteries such as the use of solid-state electrolytes, special safety switches, thermal management solutions that prevent accidental shorting of the cells, etc.
The manufacturers and regulators must ensure that testing and certification standards related to battery management systems are met in existing Electric Vehicle (EV) systems and supply chains.
The Union Ministry of Transport has announced to issue guidelines for EVs which would include tests for compliance with specific safety norms.
Syllabus: GS3 Indian security; Mandate of various forces
Relevance: Indian Armed Forces Reforms
News: Recently, the first chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash almost five months ago. The post remained in cold storage after the 1999 Kargil conflict. The first-ever CDS was appointed in 2019. The post of the chief of defence staff is significant for reforms in the Indian Armed forces.
Armed Forces Reforms Across the World
Around 70 countries, including the US, UK, France and Germany, have a CDS-like post for integration in military planning and operations.
The US has 11 unified combatant commands, which include six ‘geographical’ theatre commands to handle different parts of the globe and five ‘functional’ commands that handle nuclear arsenal, special operations, space, cyberspace and transport.
In 2016, China re-organised its People’s Liberation Army into five theatre commands. It improves the PLA’s command-and-control structures and boosts offensive capabilities against the enemy. For example, China’s Western Theatre Command handles the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Issues in front of the Indian Military Forces
India is the world’s third-largest military spender. However, it is plagued with haphazard planning, ineffectual policies, piecemeal reforms and the poor domestic defence-industrial base. Therefore, India is the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 11% of global imports.
Indian armed forces grapple with shortages of fighters, submarines, helicopters or different kinds of ammunition.
India is facing border disputes. For example, there is an ongoing border crisis with China in eastern Ladakh.
There are challenges of military modernisation due to pressure of the ballooning salary and pension bills.
There are the new warfare domains of space and cyberspace as well as clandestine operations. For example, China has developed cyberweapons to destroy an adversary’s military assets, strategic networks, energy, banking, transport and communication grids even before the actual kinetic war kicks off.
What is the status of services/theatre commands in India?
At present, there are existing 17 single-service commands (army 7, IAF 7 and navy 3). In addition, India currently has only two unified commands, the ‘geographical’ Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) and the ‘functional’ Strategic Forces Command (SFC) to handle the nuclear arsenal.
It is proposed to subsume 17 single-service commands under 4 integrated commands. This would ensure avoiding wastage of manpower, infrastructure and resources. The commands will prepare the forces for integrated land-air-sea operations.
Functions and Importance of the newly created position of the chief of defence staff (CDS)
The CDS is important to accomplish the task of building a lean, mean, integrated warfighting machine within budgetary constraints. The annual defence budget is unlikely to see a dramatic hike due to competing demands from other sectors in a developing country like India.
The position is the prime driver behind the far-reaching restructuring of the Indian armed forces.
He can build military capabilities of India with proper inter-service prioritisation in tune with India’s geopolitical objectives. Therefore, the first CDS has proposed the creation of the four integrated commands in India. These commands would have the assets and manpower of army, navy and IAF under a single operational commander in each theatre.
He can promote synergy among the army, navy and IAF in planning, procurements, logistics, doctrines and operations.
Recently, the CDS has been responsible for creation of the small tri-service Defence Space Agency, Defence Cyber Agency, and the Armed Forces Special Operations Division.
There is also the urgent need to right-size the armed forces by slashing the non-operational flab and infusing cutting-edge military technologies.
Various government initiatives are facing criticism. For example, the ‘Tour of Duty’ scheme, proposal to make Short Service Commission (SSC) more attractive like grant of paid study leave to a golden handshake at the end of their tenures of 10-14 years etc.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are anabolic steroids and how does it impact one’s health?” published in Indian Express on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
Recently, two Tokyo Olympians have been banned for using anabolic steroids.
What are Anabolic Steroids?
Anabolic steroids are essentially lab-made versions of the male hormone testosterone and have a similar effect of increasing muscle mass as the natural hormone does.
How are they different from normal steroids prescribed by doctors?
They are very different from the steroids that are prescribed by doctors for inflammations, and several autoimmune diseases. These steroids are called corticosteroids and are lab-made molecules that mimic the action of the hormone called cortisol which controls the body’s stress response, metabolism and inflammation.
What are anabolic Steroids normally prescribed for?
They are mainly used by doctors to a) help patients gain weight after a severe illness or injury, b) prescribed in small doses to the elderly to build muscle mass and c) to men who have low levels of natural testosterone.
How are anabolic steroids misused?
Anabolic steroids are misused mainly by those who want to bulk up as it helps increase one’s muscle mass.
What are the health impacts of anabolic steroids?
The use of anabolic steroids in the short term can cause acne and hairfall. Extended misuse of the substance can also lead to gynecomastia (growth of breasts in men) and erectile dysfunction.
In women, it can lead to the growth of facial hair. It may also cause extreme anger, paranoia, and impaired judgement.
Long-term use can lead to kidney disease and even failure, liver damage and tumours, enlarged heart and high blood pressure. It can also lead to stunted growth in teenagers.
Source: The post is based on the article “Railways restructuring to lead to closure of wings” published in The Hindu on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
Indian Railways has announced the closure of the Special Railway Establishment for Strategic Technology and Holistic Advancement (SRESTHA), Lucknow.
What is the SRESTHA?
It is a research unit set up in 2016 as a part of the Research Designs and Standards Organization(RDSO).
Purpose: It was tasked with the role of taking up long-term railway research projects requiring technological advancement.
Located in: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Why was the SRESTHA unit closed?
SRESTHA unit is being closed as part of the restructuring plan of the Railways which is in line with the recommendations of the Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal for Rationalization of Government Bodies.
For Indian Railways, the Principal Economic Adviser has called for the closure of organizations like the Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE), the Central Organization for Modernisation Of Workshops (COFMOW), and the Center for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) and the Indian Railways Organization for Alternative Fuel.
Why is this restructuring plan of Indian Railways being criticized?
Firstly, the establishments proposed for closure have crucial modernisation, technological and research-oriented goals in the near future. Hence, winding them up prematurely defeats the very purpose of their creation and demoralizes the officers/employees who have been part of the mission.
Secondly, the closures might lead to chaos and disruption of systems and cause a serious setback to the orderly and efficient functioning of the railways.
Source: The post is based on the article “Commerce dept seeks ₹6k crore for ‘Districts as Export Hub’” published in Livemint on 3rd May 2022.
What is the News?
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade(DGFT) has sought ₹6,000 crores from the Finance Ministry for its proposed Districts as Export Hubs scheme.
What is the “Districts as Export Hubs Scheme”?
Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Type: Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
Part of: The Scheme will be part of the new Foreign Trade Policy(FTP).
Aim: To help producers across 200 districts scale up manufacturing and find foreign buyers for their goods.
Implementing Body: Directorate General of Foreign Trade(DGFT).
Under the scheme, District Export Promotion Committees(DEPCs) have been constituted in most of the districts and products and services with export potential have been identified in each district.
Source: The post is based on the article “National Open Access Registry(NOAR) goes live successfully” published in PIB on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
National Open Access Registry(NOAR) has successfully gone live from 1st May 2022.
What is the National Open Access Registry(NOAR)?
Launched by: Ministry of Power.
Purpose: It is a centralized online platform through which short-term open access to the interstate transmission system is being managed in India.
The platform is accessible to all stakeholders including open access participants, traders, power exchanges, and national/regional/state load despatch centres.
The platform also has a payment gateway integrated for making payments related to interstate short-term open access transactions.
Nodal Agency: National Load Despatch Centre(NLDC) operated by Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCO).
Benefits of the Platform: NOAR would be key to facilitate faster electricity markets and enable the integration of Renewable Energy (RE) resources into the grid.
– It will also enable seamless market participation by the open-access consumer with easier and faster access to the short-term electricity market comprising about 10% of all India demand.
Source: The post is based on the article “The debate on the national language” published in The Hindu on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
Recently, remarks by a Hindi actor that Hindi is the national language of India sparked a controversy over the status of the language under the Constitution.
What is the status of Hindi in India?
Under Article 343 of the Constitution, the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in the Devanagari script. The international form of Indian numerals will be used for official purposes.
However, the Constituent Assembly was bitterly divided on the question with members from States that did not speak Hindi opposing the declaration of Hindi as a national language.
Ultimately, it was decided that the Constitution will only speak of an ‘official language’. And that English would continue to be used for a period of 15 years. After 15 years, Parliament may by law decide on the use of English and the use of the Devanagari form of numbers for specified purposes.
What happened after 15 years?
The Official Languages Act, 1963 was passed in anticipation of the expiry of the 15-year period during which the Constitution originally allowed the use of English for official purposes.
The Act provided for the continuing use of English, notwithstanding the expiry of the 15-year period.
What is the Eighth Schedule?
The Eighth Schedule contains a list of languages in the country. Initially, there were 14 languages in the schedule, but now there are 22 languages. There is no description of the sort of languages that are included or will be included in the Eighth Schedule.
However, there are only two references to these languages in the text of the Constitution.
Article 344(1): It provides for the formation of a Commission by the President which should have a Chairman and members representing these scheduled languages. The purpose of the Commission is to make recommendations for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union and for restricting the use of English.
Article 351: It says it is the Union government’s duty to promote the spread of Hindi so that it becomes “a medium of expression for all elements of the composite culture of India” and also to assimilate elements of forms and expressions from Hindustani and languages listed in the Eighth Schedule.
What is the three-language formula?
Since the 1960s, the Centre’s education policy documents speak of teaching three languages — Hindi, English and one regional language in the Hindi-speaking States and Hindi, English and the official regional language in other States.
However, in practice, only some states teach both their predominant language and Hindi, besides English. In States where Hindi is the official language, a third language is rarely taught as a compulsory subject.
Tamil Nadu has been steadfastly opposing the three-language formula and sticks to teaching Tamil and English. It argues that those who need to know Hindi can learn on their own.
Source: The post is based on the article “Indigenous towed artillery guns complete firing trials, paving way for induction into army” published in TOI on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
India has successfully conducted the trials of the indigenous Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System(ATAGS).
What is the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System(ATAGS)?
ATAGS is a large calibre Gun system with the capability to program and fire future Long-Range Guided Munitions (LRGM) to achieve precision and deep strike.
Developed for: Indian Army.
Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED.
Features of ATAGS
Range: It consists of a barrel, breech mechanism, muzzle brake and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunition with a firing range of 48 kilometres.
Maintainance Free: The system is configured with an all-electric drive that will ensure maintenance-free and reliable operation over long periods of time.
Advanced Features: It is integrated with advanced features like high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, automatic command and control system and an advanced communication system with night vision capability in direct-fire mode.
Firing Capability: It can fire three rounds in 15 seconds in burst mode, and as many as 60 rounds in 60 minutes in sustained mode.
Source: The post is based on the articles:
“No one can be forced to get vaccinated: Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 3rd May 2022.
“Covid vaccination can’t be forced, made mandatory: SC” published in TOI on 2nd May 2022.
“No individual can be forced to undergo covid vaccination: SC” published in Livemint on 3rd May 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has said that no person can be forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and asked the Union government to make public the effects of such immunization.
What was the case about?
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking disclosure of vaccine trial data and a stay on vaccine mandates.
What was the judgement of the Supreme Court?
No Forced Vaccination
The Supreme Court upheld the current vaccination policy of the Indian Government. However, the court made it clear that vaccines cannot be made mandatory, and no person can be forced to get vaccinated against his or her wishes.
This is because the right to bodily integrity of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to refuse vaccination.
However, when the issue extended to “communitarian health”, the government was indeed entitled to regulate issues.
But the Courts also had the authority to review whether the government’s interventions met the “three-fold” requirements as expounded in the Constitution Bench judgment in K.S. Puttaswamy case (the judgment which upheld the right of privacy as a constitutional right under Article 21).
Set up the virtual public platform
The court directed the Centre to set up a virtual public platform at the earliest to facilitate individuals and private doctors to report adverse vaccine events without compromising their privacy.
Vaccine Trial Data be made public
The court directed the Union government to ensure that the findings and results of the relevant phases of clinical trials of vaccines already approved by the regulating authorities for administration to children be made public at the earliest.
Source: The post is based on the article “Joint Statement: 6th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations” published in PIB on 2nd May 2022.
What is the News?
India and Germany under the co-chairmanship of the Federal Chancellor and Prime Minister held the sixth round of Intergovernmental Consultation.
What are the key highlights from the consultation?
Indo-German Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development: The partnership aims to intensify bilateral, triangular and multilateral cooperation and link it with the strong commitment of both sides on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and SDGs.
Under this partnership, Germany intends to strengthen its financial and technical cooperation and other assistance to India with a long-term goal of at least 10 billion Euros of new and additional commitments till 2030.
Indo-German Renewable Energy Partnership: It focuses on innovative solar energy and other renewables, including the associated challenges for electricity grids, storage and market design to facilitate a just energy transition.
The partnership would also support the creation of a circular economy for solar technologies.
Develop an Indo-German green hydrogen roadmap based on the inputs by the Indo-German green hydrogen task force supported by the Indo-German energy forum.
Establish lighthouse cooperation on “Agroecology and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources” to benefit the rural population and small-scale farmers in India. Especially in terms of income, food security, climate resilience, improved soil, biodiversity, forest restoration and water availability and to promote the Indian experience globally.
Indo-German Collaboration Acknowledged
SDG Urban Index: The collaboration between NITI Aayog and BMZ in developing the country’s first SDG Urban Index & Dashboard (2021-22). The dashboard is aimed at strengthening SDG localization at the city level and for fostering data-driven decision-making as well as plans for further SDG implementation at the state and district level.
Both countries welcomed the Women Involvement in Science and Engineering Research(WISER) program. The program facilitates lateral entry of women researchers into ongoing S&T projects and paired early career fellowships creating an inclusive ecosystem for the Indo-German S&T cooperation.
Source: The post is based on the article “The cost of Internet shutdowns in India, in charts” published in Livemint on 3rd May 2022.
What is the News?
According to the Tech Policy think tank Access Now, India for the fourth year in a row recorded the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world in 2021.
Internet Shutdowns in India
Between 2016 and 2021, internet services faced varying restrictions in at least 567 instances in India. This is more than half of the 931 such incidents recorded globally.
Note: Access Now defines an internet shutdown as an intentional disruption, making internet communications inaccessible or effectively unusable for at least an hour. In many countries, authorities impose such shutdowns to suppress dissent, silence critics, and control the flow of information during elections. The global count had dipped in 2020 because of the pandemic but rose again in 2021.
J&K had most number of Internet Shutdowns
Jammu and Kashmir has borne most of the brunt of internet blackouts in India since such data became available. In 2021 as well, out of the 106 shutdowns, 85 were imposed in J&K.
The government claims that most of these shutdowns were ordered for counter-terrorism measures, to quell unrest, and keep anti-national elements at bay.
Impact of Internet Shutdowns
Economic Impact: According to ToplOVPN, a global digital privacy and research group, Internet Shutdowns cost India $583 million in 2021 alone.
Social Impact: The long internet shutdown in J&K overlapped with the first wave of Covid-19 affecting access to healthcare and education. Quarantined patients could reportedly not get in touch with families, contact tracing was hindered and doctors struggled to communicate. Online classes were difficult as bandwidth was curtailed.
Benefits of Internet Shutdowns
There is little evidence to prove that internet shutdowns help restore peace, stop misinformation, and curb terrorism. Studies have shown they often have the opposite effects.
A working paper by Jan Rydzak 2019 has said that communication blackouts only strengthen violent unrest. Rumours and disinformation continue to spread with or without access to digital communication networks.
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