9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 6th, 2022

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The school dress is in the cross hairs

Source: The post is based on an article “The school dress is in the cross hairs” published in the “The Hindu” on 06th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Social Sector (Education)

Relevance: School Uniform, Karnataka Hijab Controversy 

News: Recently, the Karnataka government had ordered a school uniform code to be followed in the classroom as well as the examination hall.

In fact, the Kendriya Vidyalayas (central schools) which are not governed by the provincial government have also fallen in line with the Karnataka order.  

A historical background of school uniform 

The colonial systems of education generally favoured the strict enforcement of the school uniform.  

The idea of a school uniform has spread with urbanisation, prosperity and privatisation. In fact, rural and small-town schools seldom insisted on a daily uniform in the early years of Independence.  

The supply of uniforms offered business opportunities for the schools, local cloth merchants, tailors and shoe stores. Therefore, the uniform business was encouraged and the private schools started demanding every day wearing of the prescribed uniform. It also induced local monopolies.  

Importance of school uniform 

A school uniform ensures children are uniformly dressed. It helps in the regimentation of the young.  

Argument against Karnataka’s decision 

In the long history of education, there is no evidence that a school uniform is a factor in learning.  

Sri Aurobindo in his “The Ideal of Human Unity” explained that diversity tempts for uniformity. But uniformity does not contribute to a sense of relatedness or unity. 

The mandated school uniform can lead to curtailing the already limited autonomy of principals and teachers. 

The Karnataka government should have focused on other education reforms. Policy reforms have been pending since the 1960s. Pre-university or junior colleges prevail in Karnataka. However, other states have adopted the 10+2 model recommended by the Kothari Commission nearly 60 years ago.  

Key distinction between Uniform and Dress Code: (1) A uniform is different from a dress code. A uniform is more prescriptive than a dress code. The Dress code expects the student to avoid using clothes which displays status or wealth of the student, and (2) On the other hand, A uniform may go as far as prescribing not just the colour but also the material and the design or cut 

Way Forward 

There is a need for a significant reorganisation of the administrative system in education. The school principals and teachers should be given a greater say and freedom in establishing the norms that govern institutional life. 

The Kothari report recommended a participatory role for the community in matters of day-to-day life at school and decline for bureaucratic authority, creating greater room for school autonomy.  

The government should have recommended a dress code instead of recommending a particular uniform. If elaborated, the uniforms should be used where inequality is pervasive in a society.  

The government should open public debates. All the stakeholders, especially teachers should be allowed to participate. They are closer to students. They are more sensitive to what makes classroom life more comfortable for all.  

The Kothari Commission suggestion should be implemented. The recommendation intended to make classroom teaching less stereotyped, more lively and child-centred. 

The challenge for Middle Powers like India, France and Germany

Source: The post is based on an article “Powers like India, France and Germany” published in the Indian Express on 06th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 International Relations; Bilateral; Regional Grouping 

Relevance: India-European Union relations, India-France relations and India-Germany relations. 

News: Recently, the head of the European Union visited India, and Prime Minister of India visited the two European countries – France and Germany. 

India’s relationship with the continental European Countries 

Ex-French President Charles de Gaulle famously declared, “the strength and stability of India are essential for peace and tranquillity in South Asia”.  

German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer funded the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology.  

What are the challenges? 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seeks to tear down the post-Cold War security structure in Europe. The west is dissatisfied with India’s position in this regard.  

There are differences in the agenda of the EU and individual European countries. This division has often posed a problem for India. Individual countries cannot offer bilateral market access in exchange for bilateral defence deals.

For example, the French will sell Rafale jets in the name of strategic partnership but they cannot offer a trade and investment deal to India. 

The European Union is unlikely to settle a free trade agreement (FTA) for a “tariff-only” trade agreement having exclusion of labour, environment and social issues. The Europeans cannot isolate trade from some of the very relevant dimensions connected to trade. The Europeans constructed the EU as the EU Single Market project to deal with external competition 

In short, even as Europe worries about Russia, and India worries about China, it is still not clear what the two can and would do for each other, despite all the talk about partnership across Eurasia and Indo-Pacific.  

For India, it is not clear how much and what it can unilaterally offer Europe beyond the promise of standing up to China or reducing dependence on Russia. This alone cannot be the foundation of a new strategic partnership. 

India’s relations with these continental European powers have been shaped by the Cold War. Therefore, the revival of old East-West tensions will cast a shadow on India’s relations with the European Union. 

Way Forward 

The EU and G7 can de-risk, if not decouple, from aggressively rising China in the economic space. 

These middle powers like Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa and others can work together to combine their “strength and stability” to ensure “peace and tranquillity” in their respective neighbourhoods. It will further impose some discipline on the three big powers from recklessly and unilaterally setting the global geopolitical and geo-economic agendas. 

India should continue to seek a global environment conducive to its own economic development. It should work to ensure the world acknowledges its civilisational contribution to humanity. 

Individual European nations, especially Germany and France, focus on their own strategic and business interests, including defence equipment sales. 

Both sides should acquire a better understanding of each other’s security concerns. For example, The EU is concerned about Russian aggressiveness in Europe. India is equally concerned about Chinese aggressiveness in Asia.  

The “Middle Powers”, countries like France, Germany and India should seek policy space for themselves and not be forced into taking positions by the Big Powers — the United States, China and Russia. 

India must seize the trade opportunity opening now

Source: The post is based on an article “India must seize the trade opportunity opening now” published in the Indian Express on 06th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy

Relevance: Trade opportunities, Export Sector 

News: The year 2021 was a record one for trade despite the pandemic. The world merchandise trade volume grew at twice the rate of world GDP at market exchange rates in the two decades before the global financial crisis. 

According to the WTO, the World merchandise trade volume is expected to grow at 3% in 2022 and 3.4% in 2023. 

Status of India’s exports

India has had a good export run in line with global trends. India witnessed record goods exports of $419 billion, while touching $250 billion in services exports. 

What are the new opportunities? 

The exporters (including Indian) look to tap into newer agricultural commodity export opportunities. Ukraine and Sri Lanka which are major exporters of agricultural products are having limited presence in global trade.  

The new opportunities will spur overall exports and will also help to support the recovery of the agrarian economy through higher realisations.  

The food security in Europe and Africa depends on wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine. Therefore, India has new opportunities for wheat export in these new markets and supplies have been disrupted. 

Sri Lanka (the largest producer of tea) is a major player in the global tea market. Almost 98 per cent of its annual production is exported. Sri Lanka is a major player in textile export. However prolonged power cuts in the island nation will hurt its production and export capacity.  

India has newer export opportunities in tea and textile export. 

In addition, major global garments brands such as Zara and H&M have been reportedly looking towards India. Chinese factories are locked up due to a Covid surge and the Asian exporters like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia lack the capacity to fill the void. Therefore, India can seize this opportunity. 

What are the challenges? 

The ratio between trade and GDP growth may fall to 1.1:1 in 2022 and 2023 due to slower global growth, an adverse geopolitical environment, the shadow of recurring waves of the pandemic and prolonged supply chain issues. 

Measures to tap export opportunities in developed markets 

One, the government should work on non-tariff barriers for agricultural trade with a special focus on harmonising the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements. The government should implement sector-specific measures and strengthen the traceability system in supply chains.  

Two, to support tea exports, traditional tea boards should be given greater role and autonomy for optimising the development, promotion, and research in the sector. The proposed Tea Promotion and Development Act should be implemented. 

Three, India must integrate with global supply chains. A slew of trade deals. and a new pro-trade policy should work in this direction.  

Four, tariff rates for intermediate inputs should be reduced to either zero or should be negligible for India. It will make India an attractive location for assembly activities 

Five, India should create an enabling ecosystem that realigns its specialisation patterns towards labour-intensive processes and product lines. The labour market reforms must be taken.  

Six, a continuous and pro-active FDI policy is critical. The foreign capital and technology transfer enables entry of local firms into global production networks. The local firms play a role as subcontractors and suppliers of intermediate inputs to MNEs. 

Seventh, the issue of logistical bottlenecks should be taken care of by the government. The Economic Survey 2019 had recommended that low levels of service link costs (costs related to transportation, communication, etc) are prerequisites to strengthen their participation in GVCs.  

GS Paper 3

Let’s make GST a good and simple tax

Source: This post is created based on the article “Let’s make GST a good and simple tax” published in Indian Express on 6th May 2022.

Syllabus topic: GS Paper 3 – Indian Economy – Mobilization of resources

Context: Existing GST rate structure needs to be rationalized.

The introduction of GST might be the most important tax reform. It was a unique experiment in cooperative federalism, where both the Union and the state governments gave up their tax autonomy in favor of harmonizing domestic trade taxes. However, some negative features have been inserted into the tax to make it acceptable.

Why single rate structure of GST is favorable?

The single rate structure has been more acceptable and beneficial globally, because,

Firstly, it simplifies the tax structure.

Secondly, it prevents misclassifications and litigations due to multiple rates.

Third, it avoids an inverted duty structure of taxes on inputs. India has this structure on items like electrical transformers, railway wagons, some textile products, plastic bags, and solar modules.

An inverted duty structure comes up in a situation where import duties on input goods are higher than on finished goods.

Fourth, the main argument in favor of rate differentiation is equity. However, it is an inefficient way of targeting benefits for the poor. Poor consume more exempted and low-rated items. Furthermore, the ideal way of targeting the benefits to the poor is on the expenditure side, through targeted cash transfers.

Fifth, it will end the lobbying by manufacturers for placing their products in the low tax rate category.

How the present tax collections have improved then?

GST revenues have increased significantly, with collections of over Rs 1 lakh crore in the last 10 months and touching a record of Rs 1.68 lakh crore in April 2022.

However, economic recovery or tax structure is not the reason. The GSTN has been able to stabilize the technology platform. Making e-invoicing mandatory for all businesses above Rs 100 crore has made the detection of fake invoices easy that were used to claim the input tax credit.

This has helped to improve tax compliance and has also enabled better enforcement.

What should be done?

It would be desirable to have a single rate of tax, besides exemptions on unprocessed food items, in the long run. However, in the short run, 12 percent and 18 percent categories should be merged into a 15-16 percent slab. 28 percent category should be removed altogether.

The status of the Naga peace talks

Source: This post is based on the article “The status of the Naga peace talks” published in The Hindu on 6th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Internal Security

Relevance: Naga insurgency issue

News: The annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) released recently said that the Isak-Muivah faction of the National
Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) was involved in 44% of insurgency-related incidents in Nagaland in 2020.

The Union government had, in 2015, signed a framework agreement with the NSCN-IM to find a solution to the Naga political issue.

The negotiations are yet to be concluded.

Why did Naga insurgency begin?

The term ‘Naga’ was created by the British for administrative convenience to refer to a group of tribes with similar origins but distinct cultures, dialects, and customs.

  • The Naga tribes are accumulated in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Myanmar.

Residing in the Naga hills of Assam during the advent of the British and the annexation of Assam in 1820, the Nagas did not consider themselves a part of British India.

The British adopted a way of governance over the Nagas that involved keeping in place their traditional ways of life, customs, and laws while putting British administrators at the top.

At the time of the withdrawal of the British, insecurity grew among the Naga tribes about the future of their cultural autonomy after India’s independence, which was accompanied by the fear of the entry of “plains people” or “outsiders” into their territory.

  • These gave rise to the formation of the Naga Hills District Tribal Council in 1945, which was renamed the Naga National Council (NNC) in 1946.

Amid uncertainties over the post-independence future of the Nagas, a section of the NNC, led by Naga leader A.Z. Phizo declared the independence of the Nagas on August 14, 1947, a day before India’s declaration.

– The underground insurgency began in the early 1950s when Mr. Phizo founded the Naga Federal Government (NFG) and its armed wing, the Naga Federal Army (NFA).

The Central Government sent the insurgency and imposed the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which is still in place in parts of Nagaland.

Unlike other groups in the northeast which were accepting some form of autonomy under the Constitution, Nagas rejected this in favour of sovereignty.

Some leaders among the NNC formed their own group to hold discussions with the government, leading to the formation of the State of Nagaland in 1963. This, however, did not satisfy many in the NNC and NFG, who, following years of negotiations with the government, eventually signed the Shillong Accord of 1975, agreeing to surrender arms and accept the Constitution.

When did the NSCN came into the picture?

This signing of the Shillong Accord was not agreeable with many top leaders of the NNC and those operating from Myanmar as the agreement did not address the issue of Naga sovereignty and coerced them to accept the Constitution.

Three NNC leaders — Thuingaleng Muivah of the Tangkhul Naga tribe of Manipur’s Ukhrul district, Isak Chishi Swu of the Sema tribe, and S. S. Khaplang from Myanmar’s Hemis tribe, formed the National Socialist Council Of Nagaland (NSCN) to continue the armed movement.

The motto of the NSCN was to create a People’s Republic of Nagaland free of Indian rule.

In 1988, after years of infighting and violent clashes, the NSC split intwo two groups – a) One, led by Mr. Muiwah and Swu called the NSCN-IM and the other, b) Second, led by Mr. Khaplang called the NSCN-K.

The NSCN-IM demanded and continues to demand ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in the neighbouring States of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.

The NSCN-IM has now grown to became the most powerful insurgent group, also playing a role in the creation of smaller groups in other States.

Where do peace talks stand now?

In 1997, the Government of India got the NSCN-IM to sign a ceasefire agreement to begin the holding of talks with the aim of signing a Naga Peace Accord. After this ceasefire, there have been over a hundred rounds of talks.

In 2015, it signed a Framework Agreement with the NSCN (IM), the first step towards an actual Peace Accord.

In 2020, the NSCN-IM accused the Centre’s interlocutor, Mr Ravi, of tweaking the agreement to mislead other Naga groups. The NSCN-IM continued to demand a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas and the creation of Nagalim, which it claimed was agreed upon in the Agreement.

On 19th April 2022, AK Mishra, the newly appointed interlocutor, visited the NSCN-IM’s camp in Dimapur to hold closed-door talks but issues over the Naga flag and constitution remain to be ironed out.

Inflation and what to do about it: Secure cheap Russian oil at least

Source: This post is based on the article “Inflation and what to do about it: Secure cheap Russian oil at least” published in
Livemint on 5th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy – Inflation
Relevance: Monetary policy and Inflation management

Context: The current price rise in Indian economy is largely driven by the non-core elements in the retail consumption basket. The food element in the non-core is being driven up both by primary global supply shortages and the rise in the fuel cost of transporting food. The key, therefore, is the cost of fuel.

Core inflation = Headline inflation – Non-core elements (food and fuel)

India secured Russian crude oil in the face of sanctions, reportedly on offer at a discount of $20-30 per barrel. This raised hopes of inflation control without having to resort to monetary contraction.

But, the impact of discounts will take time to take effect.

Why cheap Russian crude oil is not helping bring down cost of fuel?

A Bloomberg article authored by Serene Cheong and Debjit Chakraborty identifies the problem as the following:

The way Indian oil refineries source crude oil—by a call for tenders from trader intermediaries, few enough in number to form oligarchies which collude on prices.

The deep discounts on Russian crude are reportedly being pocketed by those traders, while refineries continue to pay what might at best be a marginally discounted price.

There exists an oligarchic hold of intermediaries in the global market for oil. Global markets for primary commodities are characterized by powerful price-maker intermediaries.

Way forward

Both headline and core will benefit enormously if India can manage to secure those large discounts on Russian crude.

How India’s new VPN rules change the status quo

Source: This post is based on the article “How India’s new VPN rules change the status quo” published in Livemint on 6th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Tech – Information Technology

Relevance: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and related issues

News: On 28 April 2022, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In) issued new directives that require Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers to store user data for five years.

What does the directive say?

Under the new directions,

Storage of user data:

VPN providers will need to store validated customer names, their physical addresses, email ids, phone numbers, and the reason they are using the service, along with the dates they use it and their “ownership pattern”.

In addition, Cert is also asking VPN providers to keep a record of the IP and email addresses that the customer uses to register the service, along with the timestamp of registration.

Most importantly, however, VPN providers will have to store all IP addresses issued to a customer and a list of IP addresses that its customers generally use.

What does this mean for VPN providers?

VPNs basically obscure a person’s internet usage by jumping the signal off multiple servers. A log of these servers can easily lead law enforcement agencies back to the original user.

That is why most top VPN operators provide a “no logging” service—at least for paying users. This means they do not keep logs of the user’s usage history or the IP addresses of servers involved. Such services could be in violation of Cert’s rules by simply operating in India.

However, ‘no logs’ does not mean zero logs. VPN services still need to maintain some logs to run their service efficiently.

The Indian government has not banned VPNs yet, so they can still be used to access content that is blocked in an area, which is the most common usage of these services. However, journalists, activists, and others who use such services to hide their internet footprint will have to think twice about them.

What does it mean for users?

For law enforcement agencies, a move like this will make it easier to track criminals who use VPNs to hide their internet footprint.

Potential misuse

– Experts have pointed out that governments and their agencies can easily misuse such a rule, and it may actually drive such users towards the dark and deep web, which are much tougher to police than VPN services.

It is also unclear whether the Centre will use this to take action against users accessing content that is blocked in India using VPNs, such as the game PUBG Mobile.

Faster, cheaper and cleaner power

Source: This post is based on the article “Faster, cheaper and cleaner power” published in Business Standard on 2nd May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment – Renewable energy

Relevance: Transition to cleaner energy

Context: The Sate-owned NTPC said it plans to begin work on the construction of a new coal power plant, despite it being faster, cheaper and cleaner to build solar or wind.

Why India should transition to solar and wind energy?

Record low tariffs: India has seen record low renewable energy tariffs of Rs 1.99 (2.6 US cents) per kilowatt-hour for solar power, and Rs 2.43 per kilowatt-hour for wind power. These are quite favourable as compared to tariff of electricity produced from non-renewable sources or new hydropower projects.

Solar generation is highest during summer months, which coincides with high power demand in India.

Power from the sun could also help meet the rising midday demand as the use of air conditioning increases in India.

Moreover, unlike coal based generation, solar plants offer a sustainable pathway to bridge the gap between electricity demand and supply.

Coal power generation dominates India’s power supply, followed by hydropower. Solar emerged as the third-largest source last year, with wind power close behind.
Why the coal consumption has increased?

Presently, the world is using a lot more coal due to the following reasons:

Supply shock resulting from the war in Ukraine, and

the World is speeding up its response to the energy crunch

Way forward

The $8.5 billion commitment finalised by the governments of France, Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union for a “Just Energy Transition Partnership” in South Africa — aimed at accelerating the move away from coal — could be a model for other countries.

Direct Air Capture (DAC) could comprise a large share of the investment in the broader carbon capture and storage sector, if companies can bring down costs.

Paradise polluted: Can we save Kashmir’s lakes?

Source: The post is based on an article “Paradise polluted: Can we save Kashmir’s lakes?” published in the Live Mint on 06th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 Environment and Conservation

Relevance: Kashmir’s Lake Ecology 

Context: Normalcy is gradually returning to Jammu and Kashmir after the upheaval caused by the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Tourism has been rapidly growing.

For example, 100% hotel occupancy was seen in popular resorts of Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam in the winter months of 2021-22.  

What are the problems being faced by the locals? 

Almost every Kashmir Lake has been facing degradation, like Dal Lake, Nigeen, Khushal Sar, Gilsar and Anchar. 

These lakes are the source of livelihood for local people. 500,000 people of Kashmir are directly and indirectly associated with tourism. But these lakes have been polluted (For example, Dal Lake). They are full of plastic bags, empty bottles and overgrown weeds. The lake’s ecology has been destroyed. The dead birds floating on the water has become a common phenomenon.  

What are the factors behind environmental degradation? 

It is human interventions, particularly encroachments, which have ruined water quality. The lakes are shrinking 

The lakes are being polluted by weeds and ferns like Azolla, increasing silt and encroachments of various kinds.  

The most important cause of pollution is release of the untreated sewage, according to the UT’s pollution control board, Srinagar generates around 201 million litres of sewage daily, but its sewage treatment plants can handle only 53.8 million litres. The rest flows into Dal Lake and other lakes and the Jhelum River.  

The pollution is also caused by release of effluents from the houseboats. The registration of new houseboats was banned in 1982. Further, the repair and renovation of registered houseboats was also banned by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 2009. 

Rehabilitation Efforts Made So Far 

(A) The Government efforts 

(1) The Srinagar Master Plan of 1971 has never been seriously adhered to. In 1997, the ministry of environment and forests launched a ‘Save Dal’ project 

(2) In 2018, the Indian Army launched a 21-day ‘clean Dal’ mission– uprooting weeds and removing plastic and other waste.  

(3) In 2019, the Union home minister announced a package for the Dal Lake’s preservation. In 2002, ‘Swachha Pakhwada’ drive was launched for the lake, as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. But even today, little evidence of all this effort is visible. 

(4) In 2007, the J&K’s Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) launched a project to shift families living around Dal Lake to Bemina, 12 km away. But the project has failed. The land acquisition is still incomplete, and those shifted complained about joblessness and lack of basic facilities. 

(B) Efforts by the Judiciary 

(1) The Jammu & Kashmir High Court observed, “Despite public money being pumped in by the government, the authorities have proved helpless and unable to effectively ensure some meaningful outcome.” 

(2) In 2002, following a public interest litigation claiming that the Srinagar Master Plan was being blatantly violated, the court took over monitoring of the Dal Lake’s water quality and directed its immediate clean up. Later judgments ordered all encroachments within 200 metres of the lake be demolished. 

(C) Citizens’ Initiative 

A social activist Manzoor Wangnoo, launched a plan to clean up Khushal Sar (one of the smaller lakes) following the Article 370 abrogation and the dissolution of the assembly, civil society in the spring of 2021.  

A door-to-door campaign was launched in the catchment area to raise awareness about the socio-economic importance of the lake as a revenue earner. 

Way Forward 

The problem demands a community approach for a comprehensive restoration of the lakes.

The houseboats are an important tourist attraction, and their dwindling number would affect tourism income. Therefore, the government is promoting sustainable houseboats through a houseboat policy in 2021.

A new houseboat could be built on the lakes if they are equipped with a bio-digester–a mechanised toilet system.

Similarly, repair of damaged houseboats would be allowed on case-by-case basis,

In addition to sustainable houseboats, the government should look into Kashmir’s unsustainable urbanisation, rapid rise in the tourist’s inflow since 1960 and 1970s, the choked canals, and deforestation along the streams that has caused inflow of more silt in the lake. 

The missing CDS

Source: The post is based on an article “The Missing CDS” published in the Business Standard on 06th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 Indian Security

Relevance: Indian Armed Services Reform; Jointness and the Chief of Defence Staff

News: Recently, the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India died in a helicopter crash. The second CDS of India has not been appointed so far.

The Indian military continues to remain headless and directionless with no successor to Rawat.  

Importance of the CDS 

The elevation of the tri-service chief is expected to improve interservice coordination, cooperation and operational integration.  

The CDS was responsible for creating the structures of the geographical integrated theatre commands, enabling cohesive and effective operations.  

History of Tri-Service Command in India 

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or apex structure of tri-service command was first proposed by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.  

Thereafter, a tri-service commander was also recommended in the report furnished by a Group of Ministers (GOM). The Naresh Chandra Committee also recommended for a “permanent chairman, chiefs of staff”. 

PM Modi desired for the jointness of the tri-services. On this line, the Combined Commander’s Conference (CCC) organized in 2017 opened up discussions about tri-service jointness and theaterisation. After the conference, the three service chiefs were directed to talk amongst themselves and present six actionable points towards jointness within one month. 

In 2019, the prime minister created the post of the CDS who was also supposed to be head of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS of India. 

What are the reasons for non-appointment of the 2nd CDS? 

Unlike the post of the army chief which is an operational post that cannot be kept empty, the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is not an operational appointment.   

Where is theaterisation going 

It has been proposed that a Pakistan Land Theatre with an air force commander; a China Land Theatre with an army commander; a Maritime Theatre with a navy commander; a Northern Command to deal with the insurgency-roiled areas of Kashmir; and an Air Defence Theatre command should be created. 

Way Forward 

The PM should make efforts to resolve the infighting of the three chiefs. The three chiefs should take the ownership of the CDS project. Each one of them should be given a theatre, and they should be given a four-star appointment 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

State of the World’s Forests 2022: 10% of total forest area on Earth lost in 30 years

Source: The post is based on the article “State of the World’s Forests 2022: 10% of total forest area on Earth lost in 30 years” published in Down To Earth on 2nd May 2022. 

What is the News?

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released the State of the World’s Forests 2022 (SOFO 2022).

What are the key highlights from the report?

Loss of Forests: Forests cover 31% of the Earth’s land surface (4.06 billion ha) but the area is shrinking with 420 million ha of forest lost through deforestation between 1990 and 2020. The rate of deforestation is declining but was still 10 million ha per year in 2015–2020.

Infectious Diseases linked to forests: 15% of 250 emerging infectious diseases have been linked to forests. Moreover, 30% of new diseases, reported since 1960 can be attributed to deforestation and land-use change.

Rise in Poverty: Approximately 124 million more people fell into extreme poverty after Covid-19 and this may have longer-term impacts on wood-based fuel (such as firewood, and charcoal) due to the increase in wood-based fuel use in some countries during the pandemic.

Forests are crucial for mitigating climate change: Trees and forests are major means for combating climate change. Forests contain 662 billion tonnes of carbon, which is more than half the global carbon stock in soils and vegetation. Despite a continued reduction in area, forests absorbed more carbon than they emitted in 2011–2020 due to reforestation, improved forest management and other factors.

Consumption of Natural Resources: The world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. Due to this, the annual global consumption of all-natural resources combined is expected to more than double from 92 billion tonnes in 2017 to 190 billion tonnes in 2060 due to increases in population size and affluence.

Dependence on Forests: It is estimated that more than half of the world’s gross domestic product (USD 84.4 trillion in 2020) depends moderately (USD 31 trillion per year) or highly (USD 13 trillion per year) on ecosystem services, including those provided by forests. 

What are the recommendations given by the report?

Three interrelated pathways involving forests and trees can support economic and environmental recovery. These are (1) halting deforestation and maintaining forests; (2) restoring degraded lands and expanding agroforestry and (3) sustainably using forests and building green value chains.

Increase in Funding: A massive uptick in funding will require, specifically, a three-fold increase by 2030. Establishing and maintaining forests, for example, may cost USD 203 billion every year by 2050.

Supporting local producer organizations and protecting land tenure rights are also crucial for allowing small communities and Indigenous groups to continue sustainably managing their forests.

India embarks on the World’s largest film restoration project under National Film Heritage Mission: I&B Minister

Source: The post is based on the article India embarks on the World’s largest film restoration project under National Film Heritage Mission: I&B Minister published in PIB on 6th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting has announced the World’s largest film restoration project under National Film Heritage Mission(NFHM). 

What is the National Film Heritage Mission(NFHM)?

Launched in: 2016 by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting 

Aim: To preserve, restore and digitize India’s cinematic heritage.

Objectives of the mission: 1) Condition assessment of film reels to ascertain the remaining life of the film, 2) 2K/4K picture and sound restoration of landmark films of Indian and recording of new picture and sound inter-negatives of each film, 3) Digitization of films, 4) Construction of archival and preservation facilities called vaults, 5) Training and workshops for in-house capacity building and 6) Web-based end to end IT solution.

Implementing Agency: National Film Archives of India (NFAI).

Significance: It is one of the world’s largest film preservation missions.

What is the National Film Archive of India(NFAI)?

Setup in: 1964 as a media unit of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

Aim: To acquire and preserve Indian cinematic heritage. This includes the preservation of film and non-film material including but not limited to celluloid, stills, glass slides, posters, lobby cards, scripts and song booklets.

Headquarters: Pune, Maharashtra.

India stays out of Global Declaration on Future of Internet

Source: The post is based on the article “India stays out of Global Declaration on Future of Internet” published in The Hindu on 29th April 2022. 

What is the News?

The United States and 60 other partner countries signed a political declaration called the “Declaration for the Future of the Internet”.

India, China and Russia are among the nations that have not signed this declaration.

What is the Declaration for the Future of the Internet?


-To champion a single interconnected communications system for all of humanity amid surging state-sponsored or condoned malicious behaviour.

-To advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies.

Principles of the Declaration

– Commitments to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people,

– Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information,

– Advancing “inclusive and affordable” connectivity,

– Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem including through the protection of privacy and 

– Protecting and strengthening the multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the Internet running for the benefit of all.

Are these Principles legally binding?

These principles are not legally binding but should rather be used as a reference for public policymakers as well as citizens, businesses and civil society organizations. 

Significance of this declaration

There has been a recent rise in the repression of Internet freedoms by some authoritarian governments, the use of digital tools to violate human rights, the growing impact of cyberattacks, the spread of illegal content and disinformation and the excessive concentration of economic power.

In the backdrop of this, this declaration was needed to have free and open internet.

Delimitation panel notifies new J&K Assembly constituencies

Source: The post is based on the article “Delimitation panel notifies new J&K Assembly constituencies” published in The Hindu on 6th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has notified the new boundaries, names and number of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, paving the way for the first-ever Assembly election in the Union Territory.

What is the Delimitation Commission?

Click here to read about it

Delimitation in the J&K State

In the erstwhile J&K state, the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies was governed by the Constitution of India and that of Assembly seats was carried out by the then state government under the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957. 

After the abrogation of J&K’s special status in 2019, the delimitation of both Assembly and parliamentary seats is governed by the Constitution.

The last delimitation exercise in J&K was carried out in 1995.

Why was the Delimitation Commission set up for J&K?

Delimitation became necessary after the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 increased the number of seats in the Assembly.

The Reorganization Act increased the seats from 107 to 114 besides the 24 reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir(PoK).

Who heads the Delimitation Commission?

In 2020, the Government of India set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai

The delimitation as a rule is carried out on the basis of the Census population. But this Commission said it would take certain other factors into consideration for J&K including size, remoteness and closeness to the border.

What changes have the delimitation commission made?

ASSEMBLY: The Commission has increased seven Assembly seats — six in Jammu (now 43 seats) and one in Kashmir (now 47). It has also made massive changes in the structure of the existing Assembly seats.

LOK SABHA: The Commission has redrawn the boundaries of Anantnag and Jammu seats. 

KASHMIRI PANDITS: The Commission has recommended the provision of at least two members from the community of Kashmiri Migrants (Kashmiri Hindus) in the Legislative Assembly.

Seats for POK migrants: It has also recommended that the Centre should consider giving representation in the J&K Legislative Assembly to the displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, who migrated to Jammu after Partition.

Norwesters: The SpiceJet ‘accident

Source: The post is based on the article “The SpiceJet ‘accident” published in The Hindu on 6th May 2022. 

What is the News?

Spicejet aircraft experienced severe turbulence at around 16,000 feet while on approach to the destination airport.

Why did this turbulence on the aircraft occur?

The turbulence in the aircraft might have occurred due to the following possible reasons: 

Firstly, it appears that the flight crew had not followed the speed for turbulence penetration. This was probably why severe conditions were encountered.

Secondly, the experts have drawn attention to a weather phenomenon called the Norwester as the aircraft was over Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with its descent into West Bengal.

What is Norwesters?

Nor’westers or Kalbaishakhi (in Bengali) or Bordoisila (in Assam) are localized rainfall and thunderstorm events which occur in Bangladesh and the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.

These storms generally occur in the afternoon or just before sunset when thick dark black clouds start appearing over the sky and then bring gale-speed wind with torrential rain, often with hail, but spanning only a short period of time.

They occur mostly in the month of March with their frequency increasing in May and early June.

Effects: Kalbaishakhi brings destruction by uprooting trees due to winds and heavy rainfall. However, it is extremely helpful for Kharif crops like jute and paddy and gives relief after the midday heat and gives rainfall to the dry soils for the development of the crops.

Significance: Many Bengali poets and artists have been inspired by Kalbaishakhi not just by its fury but by its astounding beauty. Bengali poet Mohit Lal Majumder described the storm in his poem “Kalbaisakhi” and Rabindranath Tagore also got inspired by the storm and wrote the poem “Esho e Baisakh”.

Scientists develop a new model for inferring density inhomogeneity in the solar corona

Source: The post is based on the article Scientists develop a new model for inferring density inhomogeneity in the solar corona published in PIB on 5th May 2022. 

What is the News?

Scientists have developed a new theoretical model to quantify the inhomogeneity in the density of Solar Corona generated by the turbulence in the electrically conducting, magnetized fluid present as plasma in it.

What is Solar Corona?

The Solar Corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere. The corona is usually hidden by the bright light of the Sun’s surface. That makes it difficult to see without using special instruments. However, the corona can be viewed during a total solar eclipse.

What is the Coronal Heating problem?

The solar corona is an extremely dynamic medium. It is well established from the last few decades that electrically conducting, magnetized fluid present as plasma which causes Magnetohydrodynamic(MHD) wave-driven turbulence plays an important role in the heating of the solar corona by millions of degrees.

However, the exact reason behind heating of the solar corona to such a high temperature is still an open question and is known as the ‘coronal heating problem’ in the solar physics community.

What causes Turbulence in the Solar Corona?

Propagation of the MHD waves in a plasma medium can cause turbulence. When the MHD-wave propagates through the medium, it carries energy and the amount of energy depends on the density inhomogeneity of the medium.

What have the scientists developed?

Scientists have developed a new approach to estimate the amount of density inhomogeneity in the solar atmosphere, which can be quantified by the density filling factor (fraction of the volume occupied by the overdense regions with respect to the entire volume of the medium).

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports invites suggestions on draft National Youth Policy

Source: The post is based on the article Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports invites suggestions on draft National Youth Policypublished in PIB on 5th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The Government of India has reviewed the existing draft National Youth Policy,2014 and prepared a New Draft National Youth Policy(NYP). 

Why was the Draft National Youth Policy prepared?

Currently, youths between the ages of 15 and 29 are estimated to constitute more than 34% of the total population in India.

While these numbers are expected to decline in the coming years, youth will still account for almost 24% of India’s population or 365 million people in 2030. 

Compared to countries like China, Japan, and the USA, where they face the challenge of an ageing population, India has the advantage of being in a position of strength with the potential to drive economic growth. 

Hence, this Draft National Youth Policy has been prepared.

What is the Draft National Youth Policy(NYP)?
Source: PIB

Prepared by: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Vision of the Policy: The policy articulates a ten-year vision for youth development that India seeks to achieve by 2030. The policy is also aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) and serves to ‘unlock the potential of the youth to advance India’. 

Priority Areas: The policy seeks to catalyze widespread action on youth development across five priority areas: 1) education, 2) employment and entrepreneurship, 3) youth leadership and development, 4) health, fitness and sports and 5) social justice. 

Each priority area is underpinned by the principle of social inclusion — enabling equitable progress by including the most marginalized sections in the design, planning and implementation of all schemes and programmes.

Explained: What is Shigella, the bacteria that killed a girl after she ate shawarma in Kerala?

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What is Shigella, the bacteria that killed a girl after she ate shawarma in Kerala?” published in Indian Express on 6th May 2022. 

What is the News?

The Kerala health department has identified Shigella bacteria as the cause for the food poisoning incident in Kasaragod, which claimed the life of a girl and led to 30-odd others being admitted to the hospital.

What is Shigella?

Shigella is a bacterium that belongs to the enterobacter family — a group of bacteria that reside in the intestine, not all of which cause disease in humans. 

Symptoms: It mainly affects the intestine and results in diarrhoea, sometimes bloody, stomach pain and fever.

Transmission: Shigella is generally transmitted through contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact.

– Shigellosis is primarily a disease of poor and crowded communities that do not have adequate sanitation or safe water.

Incubation Period: The incubation period of shigellosis is typically 1–4 days.

Types of Shigella: There are four types of Shigella bacteria that affect humans — Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii, and Shigella dysenteriae. The fourth type causes the most severe disease because of the toxin it produces.

Treatment: The cornerstone of shigella treatment is the maintenance of hydration and electrolyte balance.

– Antibiotics are also recommended for reducing illness duration and for preventing transmission.

– However, currently, there are no vaccines available for shigellosis.

Isro to join race to Venus, eyes 2024 orbiter launch

Source: The post is based on the article Isro to join race to Venus, eyes 2024 orbiter launchpublished in TOI on 5th May 2022. 

What is the News?

Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) is planning to launch Venus Mission in 2024.

What is the Venus Mission?

To be launched by: ISRO

Year of Launch: 2024

Objective: To study the Venusian atmosphere which is toxic and corrosive in nature as clouds of sulfuric acid cover the planet.

Experiments planned for the Venus mission include 1) investigation of the surface processes and shallow subsurface stratigraphy including active volcanic hotspots and lava flows, 2) studying the structure, composition and dynamics of the atmosphere and 3) investigation of solar wind interaction with the Venusian Ionosphere.

Why has the year 2024 been chosen for the Venus Mission?

2024 has been chosen keeping in mind the fact that Venus will be in close proximity to Earth in the year 2025. When Venus and Earth are in such close proximity, a spacecraft can be placed in Venus’ orbit with the least amount of propellant. The next similar window is slated only in 2031.

[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #213 : Smita Nagraj Board, Anthropology Optional, Himachal Pradesh Home State, Meditation Hobby

Date of Interview: 6 May, afternoon session Board: Smita Nagraj Optional: Anthropology Background: NIT-H Home State: Himachal Pradesh Hobbies: meditation, reading spiritual and self help books, journaling To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman Recent Chandigarh issue controversy What should be thr stand for Chandigarh? Monologue on centre state tussles going on.… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #213 : Smita Nagraj Board, Anthropology Optional, Himachal Pradesh Home State, Meditation Hobby

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 24, 2022

Good Morning Friends, Following are answers to Mains Marathon questions, we posted yesterday. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. Every morning, we post 2 questions are based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant to the… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 24, 2022

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[UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #212 : RN Choubey Board, Anthropology Optional, Jammu and Kashmir Home State

Date of Interview: 06 May (Afternoon session) Board: RN Choubey Sir Optional: Anthropology Home State: Jammu and Kashmir Background: Delhi Technological University (DTU) Hobbies: Budget travelling and trekking, watching documentaries on himalayas, Reading thrillers To view all IAS Interview Transcripts 2021, visit this page Chairman Introduce yourself to the board members There has been no revolution… Continue reading [UPSC Interview 2021] – Transcript #212 : RN Choubey Board, Anthropology Optional, Jammu and Kashmir Home State

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Must Read Current Affairs Articles – May 25, 2022

About Must Read News Articles: Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers several newspapers such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Livemint, etc. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites… Continue reading Must Read Current Affairs Articles – May 25, 2022

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[Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India.

Introduction: Write in brief about Inter-State Council. Body: Explain how Inter-State Council promotes cooperative federalism and also write some issues in doing so. Way forward: Give some suggestions. The Inter-State Council is a constitutional body that facilitates coordination between states and the center. However, it is a recommendatory body to investigate and discuss subjects in… Continue reading [Answered] Critically analyze the functioning of the Inter-State Council in promoting cooperative federalism in India.

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[Answered] The establishment of foreign university branch campuses in India would be beneficial, it is worthwhile to look at the experience of other countries for both positive and negative lessons. Examine the statement.

Introduction: contextual introduction. Body: Write some points related to benefits of establishment of foreign university branch campuses. Also write some negative aspects of this initiative. Conclusion: Give a way forward. Centre in its Union Budget announced that world-class foreign universities will be allowed to offer courses in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics… Continue reading [Answered] The establishment of foreign university branch campuses in India would be beneficial, it is worthwhile to look at the experience of other countries for both positive and negative lessons. Examine the statement.

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[Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 23, 2022

Good Morning Friends, Following are answers to Mains Marathon questions, we posted yesterday. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. Every morning, we post 2 questions are based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant to the… Continue reading [Answered] Mains Marathon I Daily Answer Writing I May 23, 2022

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Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of United States of America

What is the News? The Government of India and the Government of the United States of America have signed an Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA) in Tokyo, Japan. What is the Investment Incentive Agreement (IIA)? The Agreement is the legal requirement for DFC(Development Finance Agency of the USA), to continue providing investment support in India. Note:… Continue reading Investment Incentive Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of United States of America

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Kolkata unveils biodiversity register: First among major Indian metros

What is the News? Kolkata became the first major metropolitan city in India to prepare a detailed register of biodiversity (People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)). Note: Chandigarh and Indore are other important cities that have prepared the document. What is the People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR)? The People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) entails complete documentation of biodiversity such… Continue reading Kolkata unveils biodiversity register: First among major Indian metros

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National Hospital Ship (NHS): Navy issues RFI to get 250-bed hospital ship in the high seas

What is the News? The government has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a national hospital ship (NHS) for the Navy that will act as a floating 250-bed hospital on the high seas. What is the National Hospital Ship (NHS)? The hospital ship is the first such ship for the Indian Navy. The vessel… Continue reading National Hospital Ship (NHS): Navy issues RFI to get 250-bed hospital ship in the high seas

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