9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 4th, 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

Let us not underestimate deprivation in the country

Source: This post is based on the article “Let us not underestimate deprivation in the country” published in Livemint on 3rd May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to poverty

Relevance: Poverty in India

Context: Status of extreme poverty in India prior to the pandemic is unclear. The most recent survey data (2017-18) was not officially released, but leaked reports showed a fall in real consumption and an unprecedented rise in poverty.

In the absence of recent official data, two studies have attempted to estimate the numbers:

An IMF working paper by Bhalla, Bhasin and Virmani (BBV) uses the growth rate of private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) from the National Accounts Statistics.

A World Bank paper by Sinha Roy and Van der Weide (SRW) uses consumption data from the CMIE Consumer Pyramids Household Survey.

Also, the National Sample Survey Office is planning to conduct the next round soon.

What are the key findings of the studies?
IMF working paperWorld Bank paper
Extreme poverty rate declined to 3.4% in 2019Extreme poverty rate ($1.9 a day or Tendulkar line) fell from 22% in 2011 to 10% in 2019. This is a healthy decline, though not as rapid as what occurred between 2004-05 (40%) and 2011-12.
The large decline in India’s poverty rate is due to strong consumption growth and a moderation of inflation.
Way forward

It is important to keep sight of the human element and bigger picture.

The $1.9 poverty line is too low. It is time India moves to a higher line, such as $3.2 a day or a line derived from the recommended National Floor Minimum Wage.

The covid outbreak has undoubtedly slowed down progress, but India is moving towards eliminating extreme poverty. Timely data and pro-poor policies will help it get there sooner.


Why the judiciary is failing?

Source: This post is based on the article “Why the judiciary is failing?” published in Business Standard on 3rd May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Judiciary, Rule of Law

Relevance: Issues with the Higher judiciary

Context: This article, the first in a series of three, suggests that although the rule of law is a necessary condition for the survival of civilised society, but it is not sufficient for the delivery of justice.

This first article will focus on the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, the next one on police reforms, and the last one on civil society.

What are the issues associated with the higher judiciary in India?

As per the author of this article, the Supreme Court has failed to do its job, both as a constitutional court and a court of final appeals.

It has neither been able to enforce the law satisfactorily, nor ensured relative uniformity in judgments so that justice is seen to be delivered. 

Public opinion on getting justice from the courts is unenthusiastic at best. This is the result of not only endless delays, but also a huge variability in verdicts. The variability can be gauged from the following instances:

Last month, a three-judge bench, headed by Justice U U Lalit, reduced the sentence of a rapist-murderer of a four-year-old child.

On the same day, a lower court in Thane sentenced another rapist-murderer of a seven-year-old to death

– In 2021, the Bombay High Court, in a similar case, upheld a death sentence.

The convicted rapists in the Nirbhaya case were all executed.

Another issue is the Supreme Court’s apparent preference for taking up limelight-hogging public interest litigation (PILs) compared to bread-and-butter cases of justice.

An analysis by the Supreme Court Observer shows that on an average, over 26,000 PILs were filed annually between 1985 and 2019, totalling over 900,000 PILs in all. Such huge number of PILs is the result of a general belief among litigants that PILs make more sense than regular legal recourse.

Real constitutional issues left unaddressed: Moreover, in recent years, the Supreme Court has taken up everything from deciding whether there should be bars on highways to whether SUVs should be taxed more for entering Delhi, and whether oxygen and vaccine supplies have been managed properly during the Covid spike of 2021.

On the other hand, real constitutional issues — on the legality of the Citizenship Amendment Act, the rights of Hindus to administer their own places of worship, article 370 abrogation, and the review of the Sabarimala judgment — are being left unaddressed for years on end.

Courts expound on how governments cannot amend some “basic features” of the constitution without ever defining what constitutes a basic feature.

Bail, not jail, is supposed to be the norm, but the lower courts can ratify the arrest of anyone who publicly criticizes a powerful politician.

Has the Govt made efforts at streamlining the court process?

Yes.

In 1999 and 2002, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government made major changes to the Code of Civil Procedure and put timelines on the number of adjournments that can be given in civil proceedings, the issue of summons and the filing of written statements.

But the Supreme Court effectively killed these laws by suggesting that these are mere guidelines, not legal limitations.

Now, practically no time limits apply if a judge decides to endlessly prolong a case.

In the USA, a Sentencing Commission was established in 1984, which set guidelines for sentencing in similar cases, reduced the variability in judgments. But, here too, over time, the US higher judiciary diluted these guidelines so as to give judges greater leeway to use their individual instincts to decide cases.
Way forward

For greater focus, the Law Commission has suggested that the Supreme Court should be split into two, one being a constitutional court in Delhi, and the other being a final court of appeals in non-constitutional cases.


Green partners: India must integrate with EU’s renewables supply chain, with access to its technology

Source: This post is based on the article “Green partners: India must integrate with EU’s renewables supply chain, with access to its technology” published in The Times of India on 3rd May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations

Relevance: India-EU relations, Indo-German relations

Context: The Prime Minister’s visit to Germany, the first leg of his three-nation European tour, has , set the stage for an essential aspect of India’s development pathway.

Following talks, India’s foreign secretary identified the joint declaration of intent on green and sustainable development partnership as perhaps the most important one.

Both countries will create a Green Hydrogen Task Force and Germany will support India’s green growth plans with an additional development assistance of €10 billion by 2030.

What is the significance of these developments?

These developments need to be seen in a larger context.

The urgency of mitigating climate change is critical.

IPCC’s report in 2021 said that the global surface temperature was 1.09 degrees higher in 2011-20 than the 1850-1900 baseline. Its consequences are already evident.

India has contributed of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions between 1850 and 2017. However, with a coastline of about 7,516 km and 17% of the world’s population, it is already at the front line of the fallout of climate change. Therefore, it’s in India’s interest to enhance the use of non-fossil fuel sources for incremental economic growth.

Achieving Net Zero: At the Glasgow summit India outlined a net-zero commitment by 2070 as India’s overarching aim. It is to be realised through two interrelated steps by 2030 – a) India is to reduce its projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes and b) 50% of its energy needs are to be sourced through renewables. This is where India’s goals tie in with the EU’s vision.

Having set a net-zero target by 2050, the EU is in the midst of a transition to sourcing most of its energy needs from renewables. Denmark, for example, has already sourced about 32% of its energy consumption in 2020 from renewables.

What is the long term potential of PM’s three-nation tour?

Renewables represent a menu of energy options. In the EU, wind and water provide most of the renewable electricity. This is being complemented by solar.

Advances in R&D are opening up more options, which also allows countries to de-risk their sourcing of renewable energy.

It is in this context that India’s PM three-nation tour holds significant long-term potential.

Way forward

India needs more than development assistance. It also has to be a part of the EU’s renewables supply chain with access to technology. This trip will lay the foundation.


Distortion, imposition: Why Northeast groups are against Centre’s Hindi push

Source: The post is based on an article “Distortion, imposition: Why North-East groups are against Centre’s Hindi push” published in the Indian Express on 04th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India, Govt policies and interventions

Relevance: Development of the Hindi Language and The Official Language 

News: Recently, at the 37th meeting of the Parliamentary Official Language Committee, the Union Home Minister commented that nine tribal communities of the Northeast have converted their dialects’ scripts to Devanagari. Further, all eight states of the Northeast have agreed to make Hindi compulsory in schools up to Class 10.  

The comments have led to protests in the several states of the region because Northeast states people speak different language ranging from Indo-Aryan to Tibeto-Burman to Austro-Asiatic families. 

What have been the reactions from the North-East Region? 

(A) Tripura 

Background: Kokborok has been the official language of Tripura since 1979. It is the lingua franca for most tribes of the state. The language relies upon the Bengali and Roman scripts which were adopted based on studies of the Shyama Charan Tripura Commission and Pabitra Sarkar Commission 

Response: The Roman Script for Kokborok Choba (RSKC) a conglomerate of 56 tribal organisations in Tripura strongly opposed the forcible imposition of Hindi or Devanagari as the script for Kokborok 

It was argued that the imposition of Hindi script might disturb the linguistic balance in Tripura. The brotherhood and balance of Bengali- and Kokborok-speaking people in the states might be upset. 

(B) Mizoram 

Background: The Mizo language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family. It is based on the Roman script, introduced by the British a long ago in 1894.  

Response: The imposition of the Hindi script has been opposed by the Mizo people. 

(C) Manipur 

Background: Manipuri is one of the 22 languages listed in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. Therefore, Hindi and Manipuri have the same status. Further, Manipur’s Meitei Mayek or Manipuri script is recognised by the Government of Manipur. In fact, it is a 2,000 years old script.   

Response: The Manipur student organization protested against the proposal of Hindi as a compulsory subject up to Class X in Manipur and of Hindi script. In fact, it would put extra pressure on students and hinder development of the local language. Therefore, they decried the imposition of Hindi as a majoritarian policy.  

(D) Arunachal Pradesh 

Background: Arunachal Pradesh is a multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic state. A UNESCO survey identified 33 languages as endangered and 4 as critically endangered 

Response: It is argued that Hindi can act as a bridge language in Arunachal Pradesh. However, Hindi cannot be imposed as it would further distort the language dynamics. 

(E)Assam 

Background: First, Assamese and Bodo are spoken in Assam. Both are listed in the 8th Schedule. Second, While Assamese uses an ancient script of its own, Bodo is written in the Devanagari script. Third, Assam has dozens of other indigenous languages either having different script or without script. 

Response: All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) opposed the proposal of compulsory Hindi up to 10th because the students are already studying Hindi till Class 8. 

Further, the Devanagari script debate is not an issue for the Assamese language. However, apart from Hindi language and script, all other tribal and ethnic languages should also be developed in Assam. 

Overall argument against the proposal 

NE Students’ Union 

The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) opposed “imposition” of Hindi as a compulsory subject. It would be detrimental to the propagation of indigenous languages. It would add another subject to the curriculum. 

In fact, the National Education Policy says education should be imparted in the mother language. Hindi is not the mother language of the people of the states in the North-East region. 


The court’s burden

Source: The post is based on an article “The court’s burden” published in the “The Hindu” on 04th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Functioning of Indian Judiciary

Relevance: The National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) and Judicial Reforms  

News: Recently, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) proposed a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) with corresponding bodies at the State level at the joint conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers. 

Arguments in favour 

The court complexes have a lot of inadequacies in India. There is a wide gulf between the available infrastructure and the justice needs of the people of India. The proposed NJIC would immensely help in augmenting facilities for the judiciary. 

There are already some agreements on the idea of state-level bodies for the same purpose. 

Arguments against 

There are experiences that funds allocated to many states for judicial infrastructure remain unspent. The proposal did not find favour with many Chief Ministers. 

There are apprehensions that a national body would usurp the powers of the executive. Therefore, the proposal did not find favour with many Chief Ministers. 

Measures that can be taken in the future 

The Chief Justice of India proposed to have adequate representation of the Union/States in the NJIC. 

The state level bodies proposal is to be implemented as a centrally sponsored scheme (CSS), with the Centre and States sharing the burden on a 60:40 ratio. The allocated funds for proposed State-level bodies should be actively spent for speeding up implementation of the scheme. 

It will naturally require greater coordination between States and the respective High Courts for creation of required infrastructure, especially for the lower judiciary.  

The Government has to contribute a lot to reduce the burden of the judiciary. The Government should also focus on other challenges: pendency, chronic shortage of judges etc.  

The government should implement court orders, leaving crucial questions to be decided by the courts. 

The government should ensure broad-based consultation before passing legislation. This would reduce the litigation burden on the part of the courts.  

The judiciary and the executive at the level of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers should have a conversation. It will infuse an atmosphere of cooperation for the judicial appointments, infrastructure upgradation and downsizing pendency in Indian courts. 


A defining moment for Indo-German ties

Source: The post is based on an article “A defining moment for Indo-German ties” published in the Indian Express on 04th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations; Bilateral Relations

Relevance: Indo-Germany Relations 

News: The Prime Minister of India is going to attend the sixth Indo-German Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in Berlin. The IGC is the only such format that India has with any country. 

Important initiatives taken at the IGC 

Both have signed a Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) for establishing the Green and Sustainable Development Partnership. It will fund green projects in India under public, private and PPP models. 

Both have concluded the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) on Triangular Development Cooperation for projects in third countries. This will provide avenues to work together in the Indo-Pacific, Africa and beyond.  

The JDI on migration and mobility was an important step taken during this IGC. This will facilitate the movement of a larger number of Indian students and Indian professionals to Germany. This will lead to a larger trade in services and augment the efforts for digital partnerships. 

The joint statement shows immense congruence and commonality on the UN, Afghanistan and terrorism. 

What are the other areas of convergence of interest between both the countries? 

Both India and Germany are reluctant players in the anti-Russian movement. Both search for strategic autonomy.  

The Indo-Pacific Region is strategically and economically important for both India and Germany. Therefore, Germany wants to engage with India as part of its fledgling Indo-Pacific policy.  

Germans are wary of the Chinese role in world affairs. There are signs of its departure from China. This is poised to bring business engagement to India. 

The German economy is facing the wrath of the pandemic and sanctions on Russia. Therefore, it requires new markets for trade and investment. India is an important partner in this regard due to its sustained economic growth and market size. 

India and Germany have established a green partnership based on trade, investment, technology, functional collaboration, skill development, and sustainability. For example, Indo-German energy forum, environmental forum, partnership on urban mobility etc.  

Convergence of Interests 

Germany introduced the Indo-German Education Partnership in 2016. This provided a New Passage to India. It has provided opportunities to Indian students in Germany. For example, New IITs like IIT-Indore have engaged with several technical universities in Germany for joint programmes. The Indo-German Science and Technology Centre has made valuable contributions.  

What are the challenges in bilateral ties? 

Both Germany and India do not share relations of a traditional strategic partnership. It has not been established so far. 

Way Forward 

A biennial ministerial forum is being introduced under the Indo-German Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). It will provide “high-level coordination and political direction to the Partnership”. It will provide a coordinated institutional mechanism.  

India and the EU have agreed to restart discussions on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and an investment agreement.  

At IGC, India should focus on harnessing the entrepreneurship and private sector of both countries to take the climate-friendly achievement of SDGs forward.  

Under the energy partnership, the Green Hydrogen Task Force has been established. It will develop a Green Hydrogen Roadmap. This will attempt to take R&D to the level of commercialisation. 

A new period is reflecting new priorities in view of crises like the pandemic, the economic downturn and now, Ukraine 


India and France: A deepening friendship

Source: The post is based on an article “India and France: A deepening friendship” published in the Indian Express on 04th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations; Bilateral Relations

Relevance: Indo-France Relationship 

News: The Prime Minister of India is going to visit France to congratulate Macron on his stunning re-election. For India, the visit is important to survey the international strategic landscape and take stock of bilateral ties.  

Convergence of interest in the India-France relationship 

India and France have strategic convergence on important aspects of international relations. Both have the fundamental conviction in a multipolar world and in the concept of strategic autonomy 

Since 1998, both countries have deepened the strategic partnership. For example, France supported India’s Nuclear Test 1998.  

India sees France as a preferred partner in the Indo-Pacific.

Both countries have concluded a Joint Strategic Vision for cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region in 2018.

Both share concerns of ensuring maritime security, ensuring respect for international law by all states, freedom of navigation and overflight, fight against organised crime and combating climate change in the IOR.

Both have done “Joint patrolling” in the Indian Ocean, conducted Varuna (Joint naval exercises) in the IOR. Both are striving towards maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean region. 

India and France share strategic partnership in the space domain. Both concluded a Joint Vision for Space Cooperation in 2018. For example, situational awareness in the space domain and cooperation in satellite navigation and related technologies. 

India and France are jointly constructing the world’s largest nuclear park in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.  

There are newer areas of cooperation such as connectivity, climate change, cyber-security and science and technology(S&T).  

What are the challenges in bilateral ties? 

Bilateral defence ties: France has largely stuck to the promised delivery of Rafale aircrafts to India. The challenge to move from a buyer-seller relationship to an investor-investee relationship involving making defence equipment in India accompanied by a transfer of technology 

In nuclear energy, the Jaitapur nuclear project has been stalled. It is facing a lot of domestic impediments. 

What have been the measures taken by Indian leadership? 

The Prime Minister of India has taken Indian diplomacy to the level of “personalised diplomacy”. He has invested in personal relations and made a difference in relations between States. The PM has developed a close relationship with the French President Emmanuel Macron since 2017.  

Both the Indian PM and the French President are having good terms and relationship with the President of Russia. Therefore, they can jointly work to bring the horrific war in Europe to an end. 

Way Forward 

India is negotiating the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Investment Agreement with the EU. Therefore, PM Modi can persuade the President of France to support India on the negotiating table.  

India should understand France’s assessment of the Sino-Russian axis and EU’s own relations with China. Further, India should put India’s assessment of the situation in Ladakh and the state of Sino-Indian ties to the counterpart. 

GS Paper 3


Rising inflation cannot be fought well without global coordination

Source: This post is created based on the article “Rising inflation cannot be fought well without global coordination” published in Live Mint on 4th May 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Indian Economy – Inflation

Context: Inflation has suddenly become a major global problem. However, inflation is one of the least understood phenomena within economics and requires much more research.

Many major and small countries of the world, like the US, Turkey, South Korea, EU, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are facing the problem of inflation. However, fine-tuned management of inflation is a missing aspect of economics.

What are the reasons behind rising inflation across the world?

Supply-chain disruptions triggered initially by the covid pandemic and now by the Ukraine war are the major reasons.

The price rise of Food and energy products is a major reason behind eurozone inflation.

The rise in aggregate demand was caused by the largest government spending packages in American history.

In the case of emerging economies, mainly demand-driven inflation is the major cause. Furthermore, due to unevenly skewed inflation across goods and services, a mere exchange-rate correction cannot work.

Due to globalization, central banks seem relatively ineffective in tackling today’s inflation. It is because of the easy flow of goods, services, and capital from one country to another country.

Thus, If one country tries to control inflation by raising interest rates, money will flow into that country, causing its exchange rate to appreciate and dampen exports.

What should be done to manage inflation effectively?

We have enough examples of preventing major hyperinflationary episodes, like the record-breaking cases in Germany in 1923 and Hungary in 1946, and in parts of Latin America and Africa in more recent times. This knowledge can be used cautiously.

Better global coordination of monetary policy is essential.


Like Nero, we fiddle as the world burns

Source: The post is based on an article “Like Nero, we fiddle as the world burns” published in the Indian Express on 04th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment and Ecology – Climate Change

Relevance: Tackling Climate Change, mitigation efforts

News: Recently, the temperature level of four to eight degrees above normal have been recorded in South Asia. Such intense heat waves have not been seen in more than a century.  

Pattern of extreme weather events due to climate change 

(1) Spatial Pattern: India is uniquely vulnerable to heat waves. The vulnerability will increase with climate change. But larger heat waves are now a possibility everywhere: From Chicago to California, from Australia to Europe.  

(2) Temporal Pattern In 2019, the global heat waves took a toll of about 3,50,000 excess deaths world-wide. Weather events like these validate the worldwide arguments of climate catastrophism. 

The recently released IPCC Synthesis Report mentions that the future is already here. The world has bypassed the point where we could have limited global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.  

Measures already taken to mitigate the climate change 

India has taken various measures to mitigate climate change. For example, India has ramped up renewable energy capacity and kept fuel taxes high.  

Globally, private investment in “green technologies” is accelerating. For example, the growth of the green bonds market. The financial help is available for countries that want to get off the fossil fuel path. 

What are the challenges wrt mounting an effective response against climate change?  

(A) Global Level 

The world has to counter the challenge of a number of climate deniers and peddlers of fake news across the world.  

Further, those who do acknowledge that climate change is the reality are imprisoned by a sense of unreality. These countries do not take collective action in relation to climate change. They think only in terms of its national interest.  

Further, the targets announced by the countries are not in terms of measures that will actually mitigate climate change. They are actually announced only to show the upper hand in global discourse. 

In reality, the developed world has failed to accept its historical responsibility. They put disproportionate blame on developing countries. For example, the US has been blaming other countries.  

The will of the countries to live up to modest Paris climate targets has diminished. For example, (1) the Ukraine war has revived the focus on fossil fuels on a massive scale, and (2) the US has not released many funds, despite big announcements for the climate related development finance of developing countries. 

In turn, developing countries like India are seeing the global climate debate and the IPCC’s alarmism as another ruse to trap developing countries. The climate debates are being used as a wedge to pressure developing countries 

The developing countries are accusing the developed countries of climate colonialism instead of finding creative solutions for combating climate change. 

Climate change mitigation measures like private investment are more about business opportunities.  

The IPCC Synthesis Report points out that the countries are making it harder not easier to reach the 1.5-degree Celsius global warming target.  

India

Although India claims to have increased forest cover, its commitment to renewables, and electric vehicles, however, India is facing various issues. For instance: Indian cities are hotter, water is more precarious, health is subject to the vagaries of climate, and dependence on fossil fuels is higher than necessary.  

Way Forward 

India needs to ask whether its actions and initiatives are achieving the objective of making India more habitable. 


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

NASA to shut down SOFIA telescope that found water on Moon

Source: The post is based on the article “NASA to shut down SOFIA telescope that found water on Moon” published in Down To Earth on 3rd May 2022. 

What is the News?

The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has decided to shut down the SOFIA Telescope that confirmed the presence of water on the Moon.

What is the SOFIA Telescope?

SOFIA stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy,

It is a 2.7-meter infrared telescope sitting inside a Boeing 747SP airplane flying at an altitude of 38,000-45,000 feet above the surface.

Collaboration between: NASA and the German Space Agency(DLR). 

Purpose: To observe cosmic objects in far-infrared wavelengths. This allows researchers to watch star formation by looking through huge, cold clouds of gas.

Significance: It is the world’s largest flying telescope. It is also the second-most expensive astrophysics mission.

Important discoveries made by SOFIA Telescope

Water on the Moon:  In 2020, NASA announced that SOFIA discovered water molecules(H2O) on the sun-facing side of the Moon. The site is the Clavius Crater located in the Moon’s Southern Hemisphere. 

Helium Hydride in the Universe: In 2019, SOFIA discovered helium hydride — the first molecule formed in the Universe almost 14 billion years ago.

SOFIA also identified atmospheric circulation patterns in Jupiter.


Newly identified drug can be used as oral treatment for diabetes: IIT Mandi study

Source: The post is based on the articleNewly identified drug can be used as oral treatment for diabetes: IIT Mandi studypublished in Indian Express on 3rd May 2022. 

What is the News?

Researchers at IIT Mandi have identified a drug molecule called  “PK2” that can be used to treat diabetes. 

What is the current treatment for Diabetes?

Diabetes is associated with insufficient insulin release by the beta cells of the pancreas in response to blood glucose levels. 

The release of insulin entails many intricate biochemical processes. One such process involves protein structures called GLP1R present in the cells. A hormonal molecule called GLP1 released after the ingestion of a meal binds to the GLP1R and triggers the release of insulin.

Current drugs used for the treatment of diabetes mimic GLP1 and bind to GLP1R to trigger insulin release. However, these drugs are administered as injections, and they are costly and unstable after administration. 

What is the alternative treatment found by the researchers?

Researchers have identified a drug molecule called  “PK2” that can be used to treat diabetes. 

PK2 is able to trigger the release of insulin by the pancreas and can potentially be used as an orally administered medicine for diabetes.


India slides 8 places to 150 in 2022 Press Freedom Index

Source: The post is based on the articleIndia slides 8 places to 150 in 2022 Press Freedom Indexpublished in TOI on 4th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The World Press Freedom Index 2022 has been released.

What is the World Press Freedom Index?

Released by: Reporters Without Borders(RSF).

Aim: To assess the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories.

Indicators: The index ranks countries based on five indicators: the political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and security.

Note: The index has defined press freedom as the effective possibility for journalists as individuals and as groups to select, produce and disseminate news and information. Especially in the public interest, independently from political, economic, legal and social interference and without threats to their physical and mental safety.

What are the key findings of the index?
Source: TOI

Top Positions: Norway (1st), Denmark (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Estonia (4th) and Finland (5th) grabbed the top positions in the index while North Korea remained at the bottom of the list.

The index has found a two-fold increase in “polarization” amplified by information chaos, that is, media polarization fuelling divisions within countries as well as polarization between countries at the international level.

India: India’s ranking in the Index has fallen down to 150th position in 2022 from 142nd rank in 2021.

Reason: India’s ranking has fallen on the back of increased violence against journalists and politically partisan media which has landed press freedom in a state of “crisis” in India.


Explained: Submarine tech that India wants

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Submarine tech that India wantspublished in Indian Express on 4th May 2022. 

What is the News?

France’s Naval Group, one of five shortlisted Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM) for the Navy’s P-75 India(P-75I) project to build six conventional submarines within the country, has announced that it would not bid for the project. 

Background

In 1999, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a 30-year plan for the Navy to indigenously build and induct 24 submarines by 2030. 

In the first phase, two lines of production were to be established — the first, P-75; the second, P-75I. Each line was to produce six submarines.

What is P-75?

Click Here to read about it

What is P-75I?

Click Here to read about it

What is the status of the P-75I Project?

P-75I Project is running slightly behind the schedule due to the following reasons:

Firstly, the project requires the Original Equipment Manufacturers(OEM) to demonstrate a sea-proven fuel cell Air-independent propulsion(AIP). While some manufacturers may have the technology, it may not have been proven at sea yet.

Secondly, the other problem for the OEMs is the transfer of technology which is built into the process under the Strategic Partnership(SP) model. OEMs are unwilling to share all their expertise, especially the niche technologies that they have built.

What are Air-independent propulsion(AIP) Systems?

AIP technology allows a conventional submarine to remain submerged for much longer than ordinary diesel-electric submarines. 

All conventional submarines have to surface to run their generators that recharge the batteries that allow the boat to function underwater.

However, the more frequently a submarine surfaces, the higher the chances of it being detected. AIP allows a submarine to remain submerged for more than a fortnight compared to two to three days for diesel-electric boats.

Types of AIPs: There are different types of AIP mechanisms available; what India is looking for under the P-75I project is AIP based on fuel cells. These cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, recharging the batteries of the submarine.

The backdrop of AIP: Installing AIP increases the length and weight of the boats as it requires pressurized Liquid OXygen(LOX) storage onboard and supplies for all three technologies.

What submarines does India have currently?

India has 16 conventional diesel-electric submarines which are classified as SSKs. After the last two Kalvari Class subs are commissioned under P-75, this number will go up to 18.

Of the 16 SSKs, four are of Shishumar Class which were bought and then built in India in collaboration with the Germans starting 1980s; eight are Kilo Class or Sindhughosh Class submarines bought from Russia (including erstwhile USSR) between 1984 and 2000 and four are Kalvari Class built in India at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited(MDL).

Note: India also has two nuclear ballistic submarines classified SSBN.


Joblessness on the rise in India

Source: The post is based on the article “Joblessness on the rise in Indiapublished in The Hindu on 4th May 2022. 

What is the News?

There has been a massive increase in joblessness of at least 10 million due to COVID-19 on top of the 30 million already unemployed in 2019. 

What are the key highlights from the article?
Less number of Non-Farm Jobs Generated

According to the Periodic Labor Force Survey(PLFS), the number of new non-farm jobs generated between 2013-2019 was only 2.9 million, when at least 5 million were joining the labour force annually.

Increase in Farm Employment

The agricultural output may have performed well during COVID and free rations may have alleviated acute distress. 

But this completely ignores that between 2019 and 2020, the absolute number of workers in agriculture increased from 200 million to 232 million, depressing rural wages — (a reversal of the absolute fall in farm employment of 37 million between 2005-2012, when non-farm jobs were growing 7.5 million annually). 

Manufacturing Employment

According to PLFS, manufacturing employment increased between 2017-18 and 2019-20 by 1.8 million. But what this ignores is that between 2011-12 and 2017-18, manufacturing employment fell in absolute terms by 3 million, so recovery is hardly any consolation. 

Further, manufacturing as a share of GDP also fell from 17% in 2016 to 15%, then 13% in 2020, despite ‘Make in India’.

MSMEs have not recovered to Pre-Covid Levels

It is being said that GDP in FY22 could not have returned to the pre-COVID FY20 level without workers returning to work and MSMEs recovering. However, this is not true.

This is because the Consortium of Indian Association(CIA) conducted a survey of over 81,000 micro-businesses across India in June 2021 two months after the second wave was over. 

According to the survey, 59% of these MSMEs reduced their staff compared to pre-COVID levels; 88% of respondents had not availed of any government stimulus packages; 28% reported they were unable to get payment dues from their customers from private or government; 64% reported banks were not giving loans.


India, Denmark to strengthen Green Strategic Partnership

Source: The post is based on the articleIndia, Denmark to strengthen Green Strategic Partnershippublished in The Hindu on 4th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The Indian Prime Minister is on a visit to Denmark.

What are the key highlights from the visit?

Green Strategic Partnership: India and Denmark agreed to further strengthen the Green Strategic Partnership with a focus on green hydrogen, renewable energy and wastewater management.

Antimicrobial resistance: India and Denmark have decided to continue their collaboration in the field of Antimicrobial Resistance(AMR). India conveyed its acceptance of the Danish invitation to join the International Center for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS) as a Mission Partner.

What is the International Center for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions(ICARS)?

Established by: Denmark Government.

It is a funded partnership, collaborating with low- and middle-income countries to co-develop evidence-based, context specific, cost-effective and sustainable solutions to mitigate AMR by advancing each country’s individual National Action Plan.

Global Digital Health Partnership: Danish Prime Minister confirmed Danish accession to the Global Digital Health Partnership on India’s invitation.

Note: Global Digital Health Partnership(GDHP) is a collaboration of governments and territories, government agencies and the World Health Organization, formed to support the effective implementation of digital health services.

Green Shipping: The two countries welcomed the Letter of Intent on the establishment of a Centre of Excellence on Green Shipping which will further strengthen bilateral maritime cooperation.


How does a trade deal with the EU shape up?

Source: The post is based on the article “How does a trade deal with the EU shape up? published in Livemint on 4th May 2022. 

What is the News?

After signing comprehensive economic and trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia, India has stepped up efforts to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union(EU).

How is the trade relationship between India and the EU currently?
Source: Livemint

The EU is India’s third-largest trading partner accounting for 11.8% of India’s total trade in 2020-21 after the US(12.61%) and China(12.59%). EU is also India’s second-largest export destination after the US.

India is the EU’s tenth-largest trading partner accounting for 1.8% of the EU’s total trade in goods in 2020.

The EU is also a major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India. Between April 2000-March 2021, FDI flows from the EU to India totalled $88.32 billion.

How will the FTA with the EU help India?

It will help Indian exporters gain a competitive advantage in the EU markets while helping domestic manufacturers get cheaper access to imports from the EU. 

Why is the FTA with India important for the EU?

Firstly, after Brexit, the EU is trying to clinch trade deals to diversify supply chains and find profitable exporting destinations for European companies. 

Secondly, the FTA with India will also help the EU reduce trade ties with Russia.

What are the stumbling blocks in India-EU FTA?

A major point of contention has been the EU’s demand for  a reduction in India’s tariff rate.

The earlier talks also did not resolve issues involving trade in agriculture and services, digital trade, intellectual property rights, and commitments on sustainable development issues such as environmental, social, and labour rights.

Visa requirements and work permits for Indian workers to the EU have also been a major bone of contention.

Further, restrictions on the transfer of personal data from the EU to other countries is also a major barrier to trade in digital services.


Embroiling Transnistria in the Russia-Ukraine War

Source: The post is based on the articleEmbroiling Transnistria in the Russia-Ukraine Warpublished in The Hindu on 3rd May 2022. 

What is the News?

There is growing concern that Transnistria could be dragged into Russia’s war against Ukraine.

What is Transnistria?
Source: The Hindu

Transnistria – officially called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic – is a narrow strip of land between Moldova and western Ukraine.

It is an unrecognized breakaway state that left Moldova after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. 

The Transnistrian government has de-facto independence, but it is recognized by other countries and the United Nations as part of Moldova.

Does Russia recognize it as an independent country?

Russia does not officially recognize Transnistria as an independent country. However, Transnistria retains its independence largely due the military support provided by the Russian army stationed in the Transnistrian territory.

Transnistria has close ties to Russia. People living there are largely Russian speakers and the government is run by pro-Russian separatists. 

Russia also provides Transnistria with free natural gas and has supported older people in the region with pension supplements.

Why is Transnistria important for Russia?

Russia has long sought to keep Moldova, formerly part of the Soviet Union, in its political sphere of influence. 

Moldova is located between the European Union, bordering Romania and southwestern Ukraine. Russian troops stationed in Transnistria give Russia a way to intimidate Moldova and limit its Western aspirations. 

Moldova applied for European Union membership in March 2022. However, the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria prevents Moldova from fully controlling its own borders. Without border and territorial control, Moldova cannot join the EU. This is one of the conditions for EU membership.


Union Home Minister paid homage to Shri Basavanna on the occasion of Basava Jayanti

What is the news?

The Union Minister for Home and Cooperation paid homage to Shri Basavanna on the occasion of Basava Jayanti.

About Basava Jayanti: Basava Jayanti is a Hindu festival celebrated by Lingayats in Karnataka. The day marks the birth anniversary of Lord Basavanna.

About Shri Basavanna

He was a 12th-century poet and philosopher and was the founder of Lingayatism. He was a Hindu Shaivite social reformer.

Not only that, but he served as a chief minister during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I.

The Lingayats (Followers of Lingayatism) are a Hindu sect with a wide following in southern India that worships Shiva as the only deity.

Contributions of Basavanna

  • Believed in a society free of the caste system, with equal opportunity for all.
  • Preached about manual hard work.
  • Introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in the open.
  • Used poetry, known as Vachanaas, to spread social awareness and bring equality to the 12th-century society.
Mains Answer Writing

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The technical higher education market dissected 

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