9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 5th, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- In the time of war: On India’s ties with Europe without upsetting Russia
- Ed reform gone rogue
- ‘Obnoxious’ speech does not call for heavy hand of the law
GS Paper 3
- How safe are India’s dams?
- Agri trade beyond the Ukraine war
- What severe disruptions taught us about supply chain resilience
- Inflation control needs another model
- The workers hit the hardest
- Climate arbitrage: Cost of carbon versus capital
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Joint Statement : 2nd India-Nordic Summit
- India’s position on the World Press Freedom Index
- SC is loud and clear on noise pollution
- FSSAI’s star ratings for food products may mislead consumers: experts
- PM addresses inaugural session of fourth edition of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
- Researchers find ways for broader design & engineering of reconfigurable magnonic crystals that can transfer information more efficiently than electrons
- President has no role to play in Perarivalan’s plea, says Supreme Court
- Global Report on Food Crises 2022: 40 million more pushed into acute hunger last year: United Nations
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: The post is based on an article “This is what keeps educated women out of the workforce” published in the Indian Express on 05th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS1 – Women issues
Relevance: Female Participation in Economic Activities
News: Recently, an International Deloitte survey report was released. The survey finds that there is a trend of low and declining levels of women’s workforce participation in economic activities. Further, the trend has been worsened during the pandemic years
What are the challenges in front of women to participate in economic activities?
First, there are various factors which influence the decisions of non-working women. Second, they can act as demand and supply side drivers. Some of them are mentioned as below:
There is a social environment, wherein the boys are expected to be the breadwinners while girls are expected to perform functions of care and reproductive work.
There are rigid workplace demands, lack of sustained family/social support, personal responsibility to guide children and ensure their security. This reflects absence of good-quality childcare, counselling and mentoring.
How do these factors play out in the lives of women?
The situations create a social environment for girls wherein they go to school and college while they are waiting to marry. In case of working women, they have to face periods of hectic work interspersed by spells of no work.
Domestic situations like concerns over the security of school-going children, and critical moments like “students being at the end of school and college entry” force the working women to give up the job.
The situations impact the choices of women. The women are driven out of full-time jobs from the workplaces. They shift to voluntary work or paid activities (often intermittent work) including teaching, home-based marketing, consulting, tutoring etc.
There is a requirement of providing the stronger supportive infrastructures to women to ensure they work consistently during pandemics or otherwise.
GS Paper 2
Source: This post is based on the article “In the time of war: On India’s ties with Europe without upsetting Russia” published in The Hindu on 5th May 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations
Relevance: Prime Minister’s three-nation tour to Europe
Context: Prime Minister three-nation visit to Europe comes at a time when the continent is facing its biggest security crisis since the end of the Cold War.
While bilateral issues are at the centre of these meetings, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the major issue.
What were the key highlights of the tour?
In Germany, the partnership between the two countries was reiterated. Berlin has also announced €10 billion for bilateral cooperation.
– India and Germany also unveiled the contours of the next level of their partnership. Germany has said India is its “central partner” in Asia and that close cooperation would continue to expand.
In Copenhagen, the PM attended the India-Nordic summit with leaders of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
In the last leg, the Prime Minister held talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected recently.
What is the context of the three-nation tour?
The trip comes a few days after the President of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, visited India.
New Delhi’s neutral position on the war has triggered both criticism and engagement from the West.
India has seen several high-profile visits from the West, with some top officials pressing New Delhi to cut back on trade with Russia, a traditional strategic partner.
Among the Nordic five, Sweden and Finland are now considering dropping their decades-long neutrality and seeking NATO membership.
What did both countries say on the Ukraine crisis?
Both sides showed pragmatism over the Ukraine question.
Germany, like India, has deep economic ties with Russia. For India it is about defence supplies, and for Germany, it is for almost 40% of its gas import requirements.
While the Russian aggression has prompted Germany to raise its defence spending and join the western sanctions regime, it has been reluctant in sending weapons to Kyiv, compared to other NATO members in Eastern Europe.
While Germany’s chancellor urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop this senseless murder and withdraw your troops”, the Indian PM’s response was more measured. He said that and that dialogue was the only way out
What is the way forward?
Europe is expected to take a more securitised approach to foreign policy from now, given the direction of the Ukraine conflict
Source: This post is based on the article “Ed reform gone rogue” published in The Times of India on 4th May 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to the development of Education
Relevance: UGC’s Draft curriculum for its Four-Year Undergraduate Programme’, or FYUGP
Context: On 17th Mar 22, the University Grants Commission (UGC) released a draft curriculum for a ‘Four-Year Undergraduate Programme’, or FYUGP, a key component of the National Education Policy.
But the curriculum is filled with confusion and contradiction.
What is the draft curriculum released by the UGC?
The curriculum demarcates three phases for the students’ progression.
The first stage consists of three semesters and is devoted to basic courses labelled as Language, Common, Introductory and Vocational.
– In the Introductory portion, the student must take courses from each of Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. At the end of this stage, students will be allotted their Major discipline based on their grades (and not their performance in entrance tests or school).
During the second stage, in semesters four through six, students will complete their Major along with a significant portion of two Minors.
– At the end of the third year, the student can graduate with a plain Bachelor’s degree.
Some students can stay for a fourth year, the final stage, and complete a Bachelor’s degree called Honours or Research. These students will be eligible for direct admission to PhD programmes in India.
What are the associated issues?
The current three-year Honours degree consists of 148 credits, of which 108 are assigned to the Major discipline. A student completing all four years of the FYUGP will complete 160 credits, of which 48 are for the Major and another 18 for Research.
Due to the proliferation of breadth requirements, the FYUGP students will study an extra year and yet emerge with much less knowledge of their main subject than preceding batches.
One market for FYUGP is students hoping to go abroad for graduate studies, for whom it is useful to be able to show an extra year of study. However, this benefit will not accrue once foreign universities discipline has actually decreased!
The first three semesters ignore achievements in school or any predilection towards a particular discipline.
– Someone wishing to major in Mathematics may be rejected due to poor performance in the common, demonstrate aptitude for Mathematics itself.
– Having stagnated or even regressed for three semesters, students will be asked to suddenly shift gears and complete the requirements for a standard Bachelor’s degree in just three semesters. This is a recipe for disaster.
There’s no unified vision. For instance: Consider the statement that while students may opt for a three-year degree, the four-year option is “a preferred option since it would allow the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education”. However, the fourth year is only available to students whose CGPA is at least 7. 5 and this will restrict its benefits to, at best, only a quarter of the student population.
Further, a major part of the UGC document was directly copied from a webpage of the University of Michigan. Another significant portion was found on a webpage of the University of Arizona. This plagiarism has revealed the inner workings of the committees that formulate the national policies and curricula. The curriculum has evidently been put together by a group that pooled their individual suggestions, but did not try to harmonise them in a common cause.
Source: The post is based on an article “Obnoxious speech does not call for heavy hand of the law” published in the Indian Express on 05th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 – Provisions of the Constitution of India
Relevance: Freedom of Speech and Expression and reasonable restrictions
News: Recently, the Delhi High Court conducted the bail hearing of Umar Khalid, an accused in the case related to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. He was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for his speech delivered at Amaravati which has been seen as being part of a “larger conspiracy” to destabilise the government.
Observations made in the court
The Delhi High Court highlighted several parts of the speech that it found “obnoxious” or “unacceptable”.
First, an accusation of “jumla” against the prime minister was said to have crossed the “Lakshman Rekha” of free speech.
Second, the court found the words “krantikari” and “inquilab” used by the accused unacceptable.
Thirdly, another observation made by the Court was that Khalid is an “intelligent man” who used indirect speech to goad his audience to violence.
What are the general exceptions to free speech?
The first is hate speech, which is closely linked to discrimination and violence against vulnerable and marginalised groups. For example, in history, there was a close link between antisemitic speech and the economic and social boycott of the Jewish people, which eventually led to the Holocaust.
The second is incitement to violence. This does not fall within the protection of free speech because it leaves neither the time nor the scope for response or reason. The incitement to violence leads an enraged mob to burn down a neighbourhood.
Further, in addition to above, there are certain forms of religious offence that are also criminalised in India.
Issues in the present case
In the present case, the speech of the accused falls outside of the scope of the above said narrow exceptions. The statements picked in the court are well within the mainstream of Indian political discourse. For example, there is a “Revolutionary Socialist Party” in Parliament.
Further, a person cannot deserve to be in jail for years without trial. The accused in the case has already spent more than 500 days in jail without trial. In a civilised society, people cannot be jailed for speech as a regular matter.
In a civilized society, such kind of speech should attract counter-speech instead of the heavy hand of the state and the law-enforcement machinery to silence someone.
The general criticism of the Prime Minister in the public domain does not go against fundamental right of freedom of speech. The remarks highlighted in the case should be seen as an example of an enthusiastic political speech involving satire, parody etc.
The hearing of the case should be done on the tangible record of events i.e., things done and spoken, instead of intangible things like “intelligent man” and use of indirect speech to incite the violence.
GS Paper 3
Source: This post is based on the article “How safe are India’s dams?” published in Business Standard on 4th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy – Infrastructure
Relevance: Dam failures in India
Context: Jal Shakti Minister recently told the Rajya Sabha that since 1979, there were 42 instances of dam failures, the latest being the Annamayya reservoir in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh that led to the death of at least 20 people in November 2021.
|India has the 3rd largest number of dams in the world at 5,745, following China with 23,842 and the US with 9,261.|
What are the issues with the dam infrastructure in India?
80% of the dams are more than 25 years old, and with the accumulated burden of deferred maintenance, many have huge associated risks.
– 6% are more than 100 years old and 18% are 50-100 years old.
What are the factors on which long-term safety of a dam depends?
The long-term safety of a dam depends on:
– the extent of degradation of its materials,
– weakening of the foundations
– seismological threats.
What efforts have been taken at ensuring dam safety in India?
The Dam Safety Organisation (DSO) was established in the Central Water Commission (CWC) in May 1979 to convince the states about dam safety. Issues related to dam safety have often been cited in reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The efficacy of the DSO has also been questioned in such reports.
The first major programme initiated was the Dam Safety Assurance and Rehabilitation Project implemented with support from the World Bank from 1991 to 1999 in four states (Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu).
The second programme was the World Bank funded Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP), from April 2012 to March 2021 with a much larger budget outlay.
– This scheme has rehabilitated 223 dams located in seven states — Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
Based on the success of DRIP, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has initiated DRIP Phase II and Phase III. These new schemes have 19 states, and three central agencies (Bhakra Beas Management Board, CWC and Damodar Valley Corporation) on board.
The Dam Safety Bill, 2019, was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 2, 2019. This legislation provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams by the establishment of a National Committee on Dam Safety, National Dam Safety Authority, State Committee on Dam Safety, and the State Dam Safety Organization.
This new Act and associated rehabilitation programmes thus usher in a new era of professional management of India’s dams and related safety issues.
What needs to be done?
The physical rehabilitation of dams involves two clear streams of activity:
– The first is “de-siltation” — to restore the original reservoir capacity.
– The second is “safety” — encompassing, structural safety, hydrologic safety and operational safety
The issue of dam decommissioning also needs to be brought into the action-agenda. Demands for decommissioning have already been raised for the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, Dumbur dam over the Gumti river in Tripura and Jayakwadi dam in Maharashtra.
Source: This post is based on the article “Agri trade beyond the Ukraine war” published in Business Standard on 4th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy
Relevance: Export of food grains from India
Context: The conflict in Ukraine has created an opportunity for India’s agricultural exports, particularly wheat.
But, India’s chances of becoming a stable supplier of wheat are limited in the absence of a long-term policy on foodgrain exports.
|Out of the around 200 million tonnes (mt) of global wheat exports, Russia and Ukraine export 60 mt. India exported nearly 7 mt in 2021.|
Is India facing a pressure on its wheat stocks this year?
Yes. Presently, India’s wheat stocks are facing pressure due to the following reasons:
A possible decline in production and procurement:
- Production could be lower by more than 10 mt due to the heat wave in the second half of March.
- Due to a decline in production and private sector purchases, the government procurement of wheat this rabi season is expected to be around 20 mt or less (it was 43 mt last year). Govt needs
An increase in public distribution and the rise in exports
Can India become a stable supplier of foodgrains beyond the Russia-Ukraine conflict?
An analysis by experts shows the following –
The prospects for sustained wheat exports by India are limited
– India can substitute only a small part of the 60 mt of wheat exports by Russia and Ukraine.
Exporting for a year and then banning exports is bad for trade relationships.
Non-price factors like food safety, quality and the variety of wheat may also constrain exports.
Similarly, wheat may not be competitive globally in most years for exports. Although India is competitive in the cost of production, it may not be so if we consider the minimum support price, which is 50 per cent over cost and other mandi charges.
What is the overall situation wrt agricultural exports by India?
India has exported more than 17 mt of rice both in FY21 and FY22.
Wheat exports were 2.1 mt in FY21 and 7 mt in FY22.
The country has done well in total agricultural exports in the last few years. As per data, agricultural exports have grown by 20% during FY22 to touch $50 billion. This higher growth was achieved in spite of logistical challenges posed by the pandemic.
It is possible to be a stable supplier of rice and wheat to other countries if there is a long-term policy on exports of foodgrains. Of course, the environmental costs of these crops must be considered, particularly in the production of rice.
Imports of edible oils and the rise in prices. India is the biggest importer of edible oils. Palm oil constitutes 60% of the imports (9 mt) followed by soyabean and sunflower.
– The prices of sunflower oil increased due to the conflict in Ukraine, while soyabean oil prices rose because of dry weather in South America.
India will face higher food inflation in the near future. This is an opportunity for farmers to increase their incomes. But vulnerable consumers have to be protected with safety nets like in-kind and cash transfers.
What are the policies needed to improve edible oil production, reduce imports and prices?
– India is planning to engage with Indonesia on palm oil imports as there are limited alternatives. It is also trying to reduce cess charged on edible oil imports to soften prices.
– The government is promoting the production and productivity of oilseeds through the national Food Security Mission: Oilseeds (NFSM-Oilseeds) from 2018-19 onwards in all districts of India.
– In August 2021, the prime minister announced the National Mission on Edible oils-Palm oil to make India self-sufficient in cooking oils.
Alternative sources have to be found to reduce dependence on palm oil imports.
In the medium to long term, there is a need to have atmanirbharta in edible oils, as the demand for them will rise with urbanisation and increase in incomes.
Investment in R&D in oilseeds has to be increased for these crops.
Similarly, marketing infrastructure, development of value chains, price incentives, etc have to be given to farmers to shift cropping patterns from rice and wheat to oilseeds in several states, including Punjab and Haryana.
Hence, there is a need for a two-pronged strategy of increasing domestic production and engaging with other countries to have reliable imports.
Source: This post is created based on the article “What severe disruptions taught us about supply chain resilience” published in Live Mint on 5th May 2022.
Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 3 – Industries and industrial policies
Context: Events like Covid Pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war have highlighted the importance of global supply chains for economic resilience.
The global events of the last 2 years have proved that intermediate goods procurement is really important. For example, the shortage of semiconductors has upset the production schedules of automobile companies across the world.
How have companies responded to global supply Chain disruptions?
The April edition of World Economic Outlook has listed some examples:
First, General Motors has decided to reduce the use of unique semiconductor chips down to just three types of microcontrollers.
Second, Tesla rewrote the software used by its cars so that they could use available semiconductors, rather than stopping its assembly lines.
Third, following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, Toyota standardized components across models so that different units could share inventory across various factories. It regionalized its supply chain to reduce dependence on any one location and told its single-source suppliers to either produce in several locations or hold excess inventory.
How have Indian policymakers responded?
The Indian government has started holding excess stocks to deal with unexpected shocks after Food shortages in the early decades after independence and the Balance of Payments crises before 1991.
What should be done?
Protectionism or the aim to produce everything within the country are impractical ideas. For that, a country would require to reinvest everything. The International Monetary Fund has provided two useful principles for making supply chains more resilient.
First, supply chains must be diversified geographically.
Second, there should be greater ease of substitution so that a company can quickly switch input sourcing from one country to another.
Source: The post is based on an article “Inflation control needs another model” published in the Hindu on 05th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy
Relevance: Inflation Targeting
News: Recently, the Monetary Policy Committee has announced its primary focus on inflation or the” inflation targeting. Keeping the high inflationary pressure into consideration, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has raised the policy repo rate in order to ensure price stability.
Status of inflation in India
The wholesale price inflation has been in the double digits for over 12 months. The consumer price index (CPI) has breached the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s upper target of 6%.
What is Inflation targeting?
Inflation targeting is based on the idea that inflation is the result of “overheating” of the economy. It reflects an excess of output over its ‘natural’ level.
Therefore, the central bank raised the interest rate or ‘repo rate’ to control inflation. It is the rate at which the central bank lends to commercial banks. It induces firms to stay their investment plans, and focus on reducing inventories, and lowering production. This ensures the contraction of the output takes to the natural level of output (i.e., optimal level). This may lead to a decline in inflation. It ensures full employment and freely functioning labour market.
What are the issues in inflation targeting in India?
India’s official model of inflation control is based on unscientific a foundation. The Indian model is based on the idea to achieve “natural level of output”. However, it is a theoretical and unobservable phenomenon. The RBI report of 2014 did not mention any empirical validity of this model of inflation.
India’s model is based on the idea that inflation is driven by agricultural goods prices. Therefore, the production and supply of agricultural goods should be increased. This would cause the Indian economy to expand without inflation. However, whenever there is surplus agricultural production, the government procures food grains at the highest price. This leads to inflation.
The growing per capita income in India has shifted the average consumption basket towards foods rich in minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, and protein, such as milk and meat. But the expansion of the supply of these foods has been lower than the growth in demand for them.
Therefore, the RBI’s present move of increasing the repo rate is not an efficient solution for an agricultural price-driven inflation.
Monetary policy can control inflation by curbing the growth of non-agricultural output. This would in turn lower the growth of demand for agricultural goods. As the demand for agricultural goods slows, so will inflation.
There should be a focus to increase the supply of food other than rice and wheat like fruits, vegetables, milk and meat.
The government should work hard towards increasing agricultural productivity and thereby increasing agricultural production and supply.
Source: The post is based on an article “Climate arbitrage: Cost of carbon versus capital” published in the Live Mint on 05th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy and Environment and Ecology
Relevance: Carbon market and Climate Arbitrage
News: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has hiked the main policy rate like the central bank of the western economies. Further, Holcim, MNC of cement making is rearranging its portfolio (sell in India) to fit its climate adaptation plan for 2025.
Why was the policy rate hiked?
The inflation has been at a higher level. Therefore, the central bank decided to tighten credit for the sake of price stability.
Therefore, big investors like Indian cement-makers like Aditya Birla group etc. would find it difficult to invest in the Holcim’s assets due to dearer debt.
Impact of the policy hike
The cost of capital is going to increase. The local banks will have to pay 4.4% on funds taken from its repo window. Further, the lenders are expected to raise their own rates in response. Therefore, the cost of borrowings will increase in India.
About the Climate arbitrage
There is an ongoing global reshuffle of carbon-heavy assets. Till now it was visible coal mining and oil and gas sector. But, Holcim’s rearrangement of its asset is a step in this direction in the field of cement industry. The cement making business involves dirty processes that cause carbon emissions and pollution. Therefore, corporations are setting emission caps to go green.
What are the issues in climate arbitrage?
This would worsen the planet’s crisis. This system will not bring emissions down. There are many buyers for high-exhaust and high-return assets. The polluting technologies remain in daily use by those companies which are under less climate pressure.
The basic problem behind climate arbitrage stems from green plans running ahead of usage reality.
Therefore, the game theory calls for collective action with a cap-and-trade system based on carbon pricing. A global framework should be created which stop a reshuffle of assets.
Source: The post is based on an article “The workers hit the hardest ” published in The Hindu on 05th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Issues in planning, mobilization of resources, employment, growth and development.
News: Recently, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) released the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. According to the survey, employment in India fell from 408.9 million in 2019-20 to 387.2 million in 2020-21 and then recovered to 401.8 million in 2021-22.
General trends of employment in India
Firstly, employment was declining at the rate of about 0.31% per annum before the pandemic. This led to loss of 7 million (1.7%) jobs in the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20.
Second, the declining trend continued during the pandemic. A lot of job were lost. However, most of the jobs lost during lockdowns came back when the restrictions on mobility are lifted. However, despite of recovery, 4.5 million jobs remained lost in the long-term due to the shock of the pandemic.
Therefore, in 2021-22, the unemployed who were actively seeking work but were unable to find any were estimated at 33 million. This was higher than the pre-pandemic levels.
What is the category-wise employment trends in India since the pandemic?
The women suffered job losses disproportionately during economic shocks and the pandemic. For example, they accounted for less than 11% of all jobs in 2019-20, but nearly 52% of the 7 million job loser were women. It was more predominant in Urban India.
The small traders/vendors and daily wage workers
They could enter and exit the labour markets with ease during a crisis. For example, during the first lockdown, 79 million small traders and daily wage labourers lost employment. But most of them were back to work after the end of the first lockdown.
The pandemic has reversed a trend of rising entrepreneurs. There was a fall of about 1% in sharp contrast to the 13% per annum growth in entrepreneurs before the pandemic.
Salaried employees Category
They witnessed the biggest relative fall in employment (6.8%). They cannot go back to work unlike daily wage labourers, small traders and entrepreneurs. Except for a few high-skill jobs, finding a new salaried job is difficult.
What were the challenges for women wrt work from home (WFH) situation?
Working from home with the rest of the family at home was not easy for women. It increased their hardship.
The WFH does not help small traders/vendors and daily wage labourers who are required to go out for work for a living. Their earnings depend upon their ability to reach markets and trade their goods or services for daily earnings. In fact, they account for the largest share of employment in India.
What are going to be the challenges?
The 7 million jobs lost over the two years since the COVID-19 outbreak is unevenly distributed. It would be difficult to recover all of them anytime soon.
Employing women and providing salaried jobs are the two big challenges that will be difficult to tackle soon.
In addition to generating jobs for those who have lost jobs during the pandemic, more job creations will be needed to employ those people who will enter the labour force in the coming year.
It is expected that entrepreneurship can rise again principally because of a lack of salaried jobs.
If the Indian economy expands by about 7.5% in 2022-23, 6 million jobs can come back. However, despite this, more jobs need to be created to employ new entrants in the working age population and the labour force.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Joint Statement : 2nd India-Nordic Summit” published in PIB on 4th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Indian Prime Minister has attended the second India-Nordic Summit at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark.
What is the India-Nordic Summit?
It is a summit between India and Nordic Countries namely Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.
Purpose: The summit primarily focused on post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change, renewable energy, and the evolving global security scenario.
Note: The first India-Nordic summit was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 2018.
Significance: India is the only other country besides the United States that the Nordic countries engage with on a summit level, highlighting the significance of the partnership.
Why are Nordic countries important for India?
Nordic countries collectively represent an economy of more than $1.6 trillion.
Total bilateral trade in goods and services between India and the Nordic countries is $13 billion.
All these countries figure among the top achievers in several areas of human endeavour, particularly innovation, clean energy, green technologies, and education.
What are the key highlights from the summit?
UNSC Reforms: The Nordic countries reiterated their support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed and expanded United Nation Security Council(UNSC).
India and the Nordic countries emphasized the importance of green technologies and industry transition with Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) as a notable example.
Nordic Prime Ministers reiterated their strong condemnation of the unlawful and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine by Russian Forces.
Source: The post is based on the article “India’s position on the World Press Freedom Index” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022.
What is the News?
India’s ranking in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 150 out of 180 countries.
What is the World Press Freedom Index?
Released by: Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Note: RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. It is headquartered in Paris, France. It has consultative status with the United Nations.
What does the index say about India under various indicators?
Political Context: Originally a product of the anti-colonial movement, the Indian press used to be seen as fairly progressive, but things changed radically in the mid-2010s when Narendra Modi became prime minister and engineered a spectacular rapprochement between BJP and the big families dominating the media.
Legal framework: Indian law is protective in theory but charges of defamation, sedition, contempt of court and endangering national security are increasingly used against journalists critical of the government.
Economic Context: The media outlets largely depend on advertising contracts with governments. At the national level, the central government has exploited media to impose its own narrative and is now spending more than ₹130 billion (5 billion euros) a year on ads in print and online media alone.
Socio-cultural indicators: The enormous diversity of Indian society is barely reflected in the mainstream media. For the most part, only Hindu men from upper castes hold senior positions in journalism or are media executives — a bias that is reflected in media content.
Source: The post is based on the article “SC is loud and clear on noise pollution” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court judgments which govern the use of loudspeakers were intended to protect citizens from becoming “forced audience” to noise.
What are the key observations from Supreme Court’s judgments on loudspeakers?
Freedom from Noise Pollution under Article 21
Regulating the use of loudspeakers and timings was based on the legal principle that freedom from noise pollution is a part of the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Disturbance to Neighbours
Nobody from any religion can claim a right to create noise even on his own premises which would travel beyond his precincts and cause a nuisance to neighbours or others.
Loudspeakers in Religious Practices
On the use of loudspeakers in religious practices, the Supreme Court reproduced parts of a newspaper column which said the objective of any religion was not to force anyone to listen to its expressions of faith.
Hence, the logic that loudspeakers are not a must to spread religious devotion appealed to it.
Source: The post is based on the article “FSSAI’s star ratings for food products may mislead consumers: experts” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022.
What is the News?
According to experts, the nutrition labelling system for food packets recommended by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) will not only fail to enable consumers to make healthy choices but also mislead them about their nutritional value.
FSSAI has recently released Draft Regulations for a Front of Package Labeling(FoPL) system.
This system proposes a health star rating for packaged foods. Under this, packaged food will be assigned a certain number of stars based on “positive” components (fiber, protein, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content) balanced against other components (energy, sugars, sodium, and saturated fat).
Why are experts criticizing health star ratings for food products?
Firstly, this proposed system is divorced from science as the presence of high quantities of sugar can’t be offset by the so-called positive ingredients.
Secondly, this system defeats the seven-year-long fight for safeguarding consumer interests and helping them make informed decisions to exercise their right to healthy choices.
What is an alternative to the star rating system suggested by experts?
Experts have favoured the warning label system such as a black-and-white stop symbol used in Chile or the red warning symbol in Israel for each of the three ingredients — salt, sugar and fat.
PM addresses inaugural session of fourth edition of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
Source: The post is based on the article “PM addresses inaugural session of fourth edition of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure” published in PIB on 4th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Prime Minister addressed the inaugural session of the fourth edition of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure(ICDRI).
What is ICDRI?
Hosted by: Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Purpose: To explore ways to strengthen the resilience of transitioning infrastructure systems, with an emphasis on human-centred approaches.
What is the Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure(CDRI)?
CDRI is a multi-stakeholder global partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks, the private sector, and academic and knowledge institutions.
Launched by: The Indian Prime Minister at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019.
Led by: CDRI is led and managed by national governments, where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster resilience of infrastructure.
Secretariat: New Delhi, India.
Members: As of March 2021, 29 members consisting of 22 national governments and 7 organizations have joined CDRI.
Significance: The CDRI is the second major coalition launched by India outside of the UN, the first being the International Solar Alliance. Both of them are seen as India’s attempts to obtain a global leadership role in climate change matters.
Researchers find ways for broader design & engineering of reconfigurable magnonic crystals that can transfer information more efficiently than electrons
Source: The post is based on the article “Researchers find ways for broader design & engineering of reconfigurable magnonic crystals that can transfer information more efficiently than electrons” published in PIB on 4th May 2022.
What is the News?
Researchers have found ways for broader design and engineering of reconfigurable functional magnonic crystals. This can show the way for magnon based computing systems and bring about a paradigm shift in computing and communication devices.
Electrons, the lightest known particles almost two thousand times lighter than the proton, are carriers of information in all “electronic” devices.
As the electrons drift in the semiconducting device of the CPU, the signal moves almost at the speed of light. However, this drift generates heat in the device which has to be fanned out of the CPU.
To overcome this drawback of heat generation, scientists around the world are looking for materials in which magnons can be used to transport information without the generation of heat.
What are Magnons?
Magnons are particle avatars of spin waves which can ripple through a lattice of tiny ferromagnetic particles of nano dimensions.
Since magnons are quasiparticles, their movement through the material does not generate any heat.
The promise held by magnons has led to magnonics, a budding research field in nanoscience that deals with the excitation, propagation, control and detection of magnons or spin waves through periodic magnetic media.
What have the researchers developed?
Researchers have merged magnons with “Artificial Spin Ice” to transport information without the generation of heat.
Note: Artificial spin ice or ASI are metamaterials made up of coupled nanomagnets arranged on different lattices. The tag ‘ice’ comes from the similarity in molecular structure with tetrahedron shaped ice crystals in which two hydrogen atoms are close to the central oxygen atom, and two are far.
Moreover, the researchers also studied this merged sample through Brillouin light scattering(BLS). BLS is an inelastic light scattering phenomenon of light quanta photons from quasiparticles like magnons or phonons which can help in understanding spin-wave propagation and dispersion under the influence of an external magnetic field.
Source: The post is based on the article “President has no role to play in Perarivalan’s plea, says Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has disagreed with the Central government’s suggestion that the court should wait till the President took a call on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case convict mercy plea referred to him by the Tamil Nadu Governor for a decision.
What was the case about?
In 2018, the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers recommended to the Governor to release Perarivalan, the convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The Governor referred the matter to the President. Against this delay in release, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court.
What did the Supreme Court rule?
The Supreme Court said that the pertinent question was whether the Governor had in the first place the authority to refer the mercy plea to the President.
This is because, under Article 161 of the Constitution, the Governor was bound by the aid and advice given by the Council of Ministers.
This means that the Governor prima facie had no authority to transfer the mercy plea to the President.
In case, the governor disagrees with the state cabinet’s decision to release him, he can at most send it back to the cabinet but cannot forward it to the President.
What is Pardon?
A pardon is a government/executive decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offence as if the act never occurred.
Pardoning Powers of Governor and President
The President and Governor exercised two distinct powers of mercy under Articles 72 and 161, respectively.
The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161.
The power differs in the following two ways
– The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
– The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is the sentence of death, but the pardoning power of the Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Global Report on Food Crises 2022: 40 million more pushed into acute hunger last year: United Nations
Source: The post is based on the article “40 million more pushed into acute hunger last year: United Nations” published in The Hindu on 5th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Global Report on Food Crises 2022 has been released.
What is the Global Report on Food Crises?
Released by: Global Network Against Food Crises, an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, and governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises together.
Focus of the report: The report focuses on those countries and territories where the magnitude and severity of the food crisis exceed the local resources and capacities.
What are the key findings of the report?
Around 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021. This represents an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with the already record numbers of 2020.
Among these 53 countries facing the problem, the most affected include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The key drivers behind rising acute food insecurity in 2021 were: conflict, weather extremes and economic shocks.
Note: The United Nations defines “acute food insecurity” as when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.
The report does not take into account the conflict in Ukraine. But the experts have warned that Russia’s war in Ukraine could cause famine.
What is the News? The Prime Minister has inaugurated India’s first 5G testbed facility. What is a 5G Testbed? The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras. Purpose: It will enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence… Continue reading PM inaugurates country’s first 5G testbed
DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast
What is the News? The Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) and Indian Navy have successfully conducted the maiden flight test of an indigenously-developed Naval anti-ship missile. What is the Naval anti-ship missile? Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) for the Indian Navy. Features: The missile has a weight of 380 kg and a range… Continue reading DRDO & Indian Navy conduct successful maiden flight-test of indigenously-developed Naval Anti-Ship Missile off Odisha coast
What is the News? The State of Inequality in India Report has been released. What is the State of Inequality in India Report? Released by: Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister(EAC-PM) and written by the Institute for Competitiveness. Purpose: The report presents a holistic analysis of the depth and nature of inequality in India.… Continue reading The State of Inequality in India Report released
What is the News? UNICEF has released a report titled “Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency”. What is Severe Wasting? Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It is the most visible and lethal type of malnutrition. It affects over 45 million children under age 5. Severe wasting is also known as severe acute malnutrition… Continue reading India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF
What is the News? After a high-level security review for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the government has decided to track all pilgrims using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. What is Radio Frequency Identification(RFID)? RFID is a wireless tracking system that consists of tags and readers. In this, radio waves are used to communicate information/identity of… Continue reading Explained: What are RFID tags that will be used to track Amarnath pilgrim
News: India faced a wheat crisis in 2006. The present article lists out the reasons that caused it and lessons that can be learnt. The author is this article was appointed as the Secretary of Food and Public Distribution during that time. What was the situation in 2006 and the reasons behind it? – Centre… Continue reading Lessons for today from India’s 2006 wheat crisis
News: Recently, the Droughts in Numbers, 2022 report was presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). What is the Drought in Numbers Report? The report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and the manner in which they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future. … Continue reading The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought
Context: Two recent developments in India underline the need to inspire the rule of law in the functioning of central banks (CBs). What are these two recent developments and the reasons behind it? The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) normally makes policy announcements in line with a predictable schedule. But on May 4, it went off… Continue reading Central banks and the rule of law
News: Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the release of A.G. Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. How was he released? The Supreme Court has invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. Why was he released? The mother of the convict, vast sections of public… Continue reading Law and public opinion: On Perarivalan release
News: At present, the four-day meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure is being organized in Delhi, India. Importance of the meeting At present the global attention has been shifted to the Ukraine war, sanctions and their economic impact. Therefore, the US has abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban. Therefore, SCO’s RAT member countries,… Continue reading Help Afghans