9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 9th, 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

On Delimitation in J&K: Beyond the boundary

Source: This post is based on the article “Beyond the boundary” published in Business Standard on 8th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Polity – Union and States

Relevance: Analysing the Delimitation in J&K

Context: Political considerations instead of constitutional proprieties appear to have influenced the delimitation of the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by the fifth Delimitation Commission. The commission submitted its recommendations recently.

Under what provisions the fifth Delimitation Commission was set up?

In setting up the fifth Delimitation Commission, the govt invoked a section of the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019, which raised the number of seats in Jammu and Kashmir from 83 to 90 (to account for the fact that Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory under this legislation) and sanctioned delimitation under the 2011 census.

It is worth noting that the commission’s original mandate covered five states, including those in the Northeast, but these were dropped in early 2020, leaving J&K as the sole unit within its purview.

What are the issues associated with the decision?

Objective not clear: It is unclear why the exercise was undertaken when there was a freeze on the readjustment of parliamentary and Assembly seats in India until 2026.

The Act, which granted J&K’s special status, has been pending in appeal before the Supreme Court for well over a year. Given the multiple constitutional questions that arose during the rapid passage of the law through Parliament, there is a risk that the Act may be overturned.

Why the commission’s recommendations have met with criticism?

The commission’s recommendations have been rejected by almost everyone in the Valley, primarily because of the seat distribution both in the Assembly and Lok Sabha.

For one, it has retained the old, politically troublesome communal binaries between Jammu and Kashmir by allocating them 43 and 47 seats, respectively. In the Assembly, this new set-up tilts the vote shares significantly. Now, Jammu with 44% of the population will vote for 48% of the seats, whereas the Kashmir division with 56% of the population will vote for 52% of the seats.

The earlier configuration was better aligned to population share, with Jammu having 44.5% of the seats, and Kashmir 55.4%.

– The realignments of the parliamentary seats, too, have been problematic, with critics viewing the restructuring of the Jammu and Anantnag seats as reducing the influence of the Kashmiri-speaking Muslim voters.


The multiple crises in Indian universities

Source: This post is based on the article “The multiple crises in Indian universities” published in The Hindu on 9th May 22.

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to development and management of Education

Relevance: Higher education and related issues

Context: Problems being faced by Universities in India.

What are some indications of the worsening state of India’s universities?

Spending on higher education (as a % of government expenditure) has stagnated at 1.3-1.5% since 2012.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education continues to push higher education institutions to increase their intake capacity by 25% (in a push to implement the 10% quota for economically weaker sections),

The Ministry of Finance has sought to ban the creation of new teaching posts.

At the central level, student financial aid was cut to ₹2,078 crore in FY 2022-23 from ₹2,482 crore in FY 2021-22; allocations for research and innovation were down by 8%, reaching ₹218 crore.

What are the challenges being faced by the Universities?

Universities are plagued by multiple crises –

Financial crunch: Investments in university infrastructure have shrunk. Most Indian universities and colleges have overcrowded classrooms, poor ventilation and sanitation, and unsatisfactory hostel accommodation.

The Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), which provides funding for all infrastructure loans to institutions, saw its budget reduced from ₹2,000 crore in FY 20-21 to ₹1 crore in FY 21-22.

Stifled cash flow has led to delays in salary payments for deemed/central universities. Hence, most universities are running on a deficit — Madras University saw an accumulated deficit of over ₹100 crore, forcing it to seek a ₹88 crore grant from the State government (Raman A. Ragu, March 2022)

Faculty members have faced salary delays for months, with salaries coming in weeks later.

This has led to cuts in discretionary spending – many colleges in Delhi are unable to afford subscriptions to basic databases and journals.

Grants under the UGC’s minor and major research project schemes have declined from ₹42.7 crore in FY 2016-17 to ₹38 lakh in FY 2020-21. India has over 1,040 universities, but just 2.7% offer PhD programmes, given paltry funding and poor infrastructure. The National Research Foundation (NRF), to improve research infrastructure in universities, has not yet been approved, and may have a limited budget ($5-6 billion spread over five years).

Fall in standards: Academic standards and processes are not being maintained.

– Examination paper leaks have become common – the Hindi examination of the National Eligibility Test of the UGC, which enables post-graduate students who pass to teach in State and Central colleges, was leaked in June 2021.

Repression: Universities have played a crucial role in strengthening democracy and civil society. For instance:

The Central Hindu College (Delhi), inaugurated by Madan Mohan Malaviya, was a centre for political debate during the freedom struggle, with students and teachers joining the Quit India movement, and involved in the defence of Rash Behari Bose and Lala Har Dayal in 1915

And yet, of late, institutional apathy has given way to repression. Police action against students of select universities (JNU, Jamia Millia, for instance) for campus protests, along with arrests and incarceration, have cast a shadow over free expression in campuses.

What measure are required to be taken?

There is an urgent need for increased funding, along with establishing dedicated funding streams for infrastructure grants/loans and financial aid. Universities can also be freed up to utilise other revenue streams such as start-up royalties and advertising.

Funding for research needs to rise significantly, with institutions like the NRF supplementing (and not replacing) existing schemes (including those from the Ministry of Science). Funding should also be allocated to enable course-based research experiences for undergraduates.

Improving the sanctity of the examination process will require a decentralised approach, with universities allowed to take decisions on academic programmes, promotions, cohort size, etc.

We need to embrace tolerance for a diversity of views in our campuses – our students have formative experiences there and must have the space to define themselves as individuals.


This is how poverty in rural India came down

Source: The post is based on an article “This is how poverty in rural India came down” published in the Indian Express on 09th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Hunger and Poverty in India

Relevance: Rural Poverty 

News: A recent World Bank Report has shown that extreme poverty in India has come down from 22.5% in 2011 to 10.2%. Further, the reduction was in rural areas from 26.3% to 11.6% which was higher than urban areas.  

How poverty in rural areas was reduced at a faster pace.? 

First, the identification of deprived households on the basis of the Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 across welfare programmes. The SECC used key deprivation criterion. This led to greater coverage of SC and ST communities and the backward regions in Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, UP, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Rajasthan and rural areas of Maharashtra. 

Second, the PRI-SHG partnership catalysed changes. This increased the pace of poverty reduction. Further, Aadhar enabled an ecosystem for curbing corruption at several levels. This partnership increased coverage of women under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana etc. 

Third, Finance Commission transfers were made directly to gram panchayats. This helped in creation of basic infrastructure like pucca village roads and drains etc. at a much faster pace in rural areas. The infrastructure creation programme created greater opportunities for employment in rural areas. 

Fourth, the focus on livelihood diversification (both farm and non-farm livelihoods) and availability of credit increased in the rural areas under the NRLM. The social capital of SHGs was leveraged. The credits were provided by banks, micro-finance institutions and MUDRA loans.  

Fifth, the schemes for gas and electricity connections, LED bulbs, accident insurance, life insurance, bank accounts and immunisation were very well implemented due to community-led action under the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 2018. 

Sixth, there was also thrust on universal coverage for individual household latrines, LPG connections and pucca houses 

Seventh, during this period, huge amounts of public funds were transferred to rural areas for development efforts. 

Eighth, there was thrust on a “people’s plan campaign”, “Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas” for preparing the Gram Panchayat Development Plans from 2017-18 onwards. This laid the foundation for robust community participation involving panchayats and SHGs, especially in ensuring accountability. 

Ninth, social and concurrent audits were organized to ensure full utilization of the funds and resources.  

Tenth: The programmes like the MGNREGS were upgraded to create durable and productive assets. This helped marginal and small farmers in improving their homesteads, and diversifying livelihoods. 

Tenth, this was an era of competitive federalism. Nearly all states and UTs focussed on improving livelihood diversification in rural areas and on improving infrastructure significantly. 

All these factors contributed to improved ease of living of deprived households and improved their asset base 

What are the challenges ahead? 

The pandemic and the Ukraine crisis are posing challenges to the gains made in poverty reduction up to 2019. 


India’s judiciary and the slackening cog of trust

Source: The post is based on an article “India’s judiciary and the slackening cog of trust” published in the “The Hindu” on 09th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 Functioning of Indian Judiciary

Relevance: Judicial Transparency and Accountability; and Judicial reforms 

News: There has been the erosion of trust in the lower judiciary comprising high courts, and district and sessions courts. This makes it imperative to look into the functioning of lower judiciary in India. 

About Justice 

(1) Substantive justice: It is associated with whether the statutes, case law and unwritten legal principles are morally justified (e.g., freedom to pursue any religion). For example, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is alleged to be violative of the constitution, thus is a violation of substantive justice. 

(2) procedural justice: It is associated with fair and impartial decision procedures. The case of Lal Bihari, who was officially declared dead but struggled for 9 years to prove that he was alive, involved violation of substantive and procedural justice.  

What are the issues in the lower level of Indian judiciary? 

(A) judicial corruption 

(1) political interference in the judicial process by the legislative or executive branch, as refusal to comply can lead to political retaliation, and  

(2) bribery: it can occur throughout the chain of the judicial process including delaying or accelerating verdicts, accepting or denying appeals, or simply to decide a case in a certain way. For example, lawyers can charge additional “fees” to expedite or delay cases. 

(B) Severe backlogging: According to the National Judicial Data Grid, there are 2.4Cr pending cases in India’s district courts. Out of the total, 23lakh cases have been pending for over 10 years, and 39lakh cases have been pending for between five and 10 years.  

(C)Understaffing: In the subordinate courts, 4,432 posts (or 22% against sanctioned strength) of judicial officers were vacant (as of December 31, 2015). In the case of the High Courts, 458 (or 42% of the sanctioned strength) were vacant as of June 2016.  

Some reports about judicial corruption 

According to Transparency International (TI 2011), around 45% of people between 2009-2010 paid a bribe to the judiciary for quick disposal of case related to divorce, bail, and other procedures.   

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a person spent at least ₹ 1,000 as bribes in bringing a petition to the court.  

According to the “Freedom in the World 2016 report, “India’s lower judiciary has been rife with corruption”.  

According to the GAN Business Anti-Corruption Portal report 2017, “there is a high risk of corruption at the lower court levels. Bribes and irregular payments are often exchanged in return for favourable court decisions”. For example, Tis Hazari District Court Senior Civil Judge was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe to rule in favour of a complainant in a case. 

What are the impacts of judicial corruption?  

Such kind of corruption induced incidents in the lower level of judiciary lead to erosion of public trust. The erosion of trust in the judiciary could severely imperil governance. 

The lack of justice delivery is bound to promote proclivity to deliver instant justice, extra-judicial killings, exercise of extra-constitutional authority, widespread corruption, and unprovoked and brutal violence against some sections of society (e.g., lynching of innocent cattle traders). 

Judicial corruption leads to failure of procedural justice and to some extent substantive justice.  

Way Forward 

The Greek philosopher, Aristotle said, “It is in justice that the ordering of society is centred.” 

The trust in the judiciary is positively and significantly related to the share of undertrials for three to five years under total prisoners. Therefore, the share of undertrials must be increased in India. 

GS Paper 3


In Business & Security, Sky Isn’t The Limit For GAGAN

Source: This post is based on the article “In Business & Security, Sky Isn’t The Limit For GAGAN” published in The Times of India on 8th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Tech

Relevance: India’s Space-Based Augmented System (SBAS)

Context: Recently, an IndiGo ATR aircraft landed at Kishangarh Airport in Rajasthan using GAGAN, India’s own Space-Based Augmented System (SBAS).

Why this is a significant achievement for India?

Though only a trial, the landing was a significant achievement that could allow aircraft to operate in poor weather conditions at smaller airports that lack expensive instrumentation.

The landing was also a rare demonstration of how the US Global Positioning System (GPS) could be augmented for use in critical ‘safety of life’ applications like aviation.

More significantly, GAGAN shows the profound effects that satellite navigation has had on both commercial and military undertakings. As satellite navigation matures, these effects are only likely to deepen and thus influence India’s own relative power in the world.

What is GAGAN?

GAGAN is an acronym for GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation, and its infrastructure reaches from earth to space.

On earth, reference stations receive American GPS signals that are then collated and corrected for ionospheric distortions and other errors.

The corrected signal is then broadcast from three Indian geostationary satellites, providing a more accurate and reliable service for aircraft.

What are the augmented systems already in place around the world?

Utility of augmented systems

Besides guiding aircraft, these augmented systems could help ships navigate narrow waterways, assist the coordination of train routes, and manage traffic jams on highways.

Augmented systems around the world

GAGAN is only one of many augmented systems already in place or being developed around the world.

The WAAS system covers North America, while EGNOS covers Europe.

China is developing its own system based on the BeiDou constellation of navigation satellites. As China’s reliance on BeiDou indicates, spacefaring states are setting up their own constellations. BeiDou is the most ambitious of these, with a constellation of 45 satellites providing global coverage. Europe’s Galileo has 24 satellites and Russia’s GLONASS, 23.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), also known as NavIC, consists of just seven satellites and provides services in India and its neighbourhood. Together, these satellite services complement GPS, providing better coverage in some regions. However, they also compete with GPS, providing users with viable alternatives and eroding what was effectively an American monopoly.

Why India has struggled with NavIC?

India has struggled to get civilian users on NavIC. A major reason for this was the lack of chipsets that could receive NavIC signals on mobile phones or vehicles.

This prompted ISRO to reach out to chipmakers like Broadcom and Qualcomm. Mobile phone manufacturers have also begun to provide NavIC support.

The government has even made it mandatory for public and commercial vehicles in India to carry NavIC-based trackers.

Why indigenous navigation systems are a necessity?

National security: In times of crisis, other states could choose to deny such services, wreaking havoc on both businesses and military operations. Indeed, satellite navigation cannot be separated from its military utility.

In 1999, the US denied India the use of GPS to help fight Pakistani intruders in Kargil, a decision that sparked India’s efforts to build its own navigation system.

Way forward

In the coming decades, competition over satellite navigation is likely to intensify as states improve their own capabilities and try to deny them to adversaries.


The government is business

Source: This post is based on the article “The government is business” published in The Hindu on 9th May 22.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy – Mobilization of resources

Relevance: Generating revenue from the market

Context: In case of India, the only avenue for revenue generation seems to be taxes. However, like other countries, for instance, Singapore and China, markets, wealth management and dividends are not explored.

If markets create wealth, why can’t the government create it and use it for creating prosperity for the public?

How are Singapore and China generating wealth via markets?

Singapore

The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) invests internationally in equities. It owned shares worth about ₹1.09 lakh crore at the end of March 2022 in India alone. Around the world, GIC investments amount to about ₹55 lakh crore. GIC is the eight largest wealth management fund in the world. This money is also used by the government for public welfare.

Another arm of the Singapore government, Temasek Holdings, has investments worth ₹22 lakh crore.

To get a perspective of things: the Indian government’s budget expenditure for 2022-23 is ₹39.45 lakh crore.

China

By 2017, Chinese government-owned companies had invested ₹67.5 lakh crore in overseas companies. This is about 27% of India’s GDP.

What is the situation of govt holdings in Indian companies?

The total market value of Indian government holdings is only ₹13 lakh crore, far less than China or even Singapore.

Overseas holdings through these companies is negligible.

The Navratna PSUs are performing well, but are being sold.

Why PSUs are being disinvested, and what should be the policy approach by India?

The prevailing ideology that the government has no business to be in business is used to justify disinvestment. The real reason is the growing government deficit. India uses a western ideology about government-owned companies, but forgets that what the West preaches is for others and what it practices is in national self-interest. The world’s list of top asset-holding PSUs includes the U.S., Israel and the European Union counties. But there are none from India.

Policy approach

Instead of being disinvested, the Navratna PSUs should invest overseas, increase their wealth, and create greater economic influence as China is doing.

The smaller and loss-making need to be disinvested, the profitable ones can be reformed by altering archaic rules and removing political interference.

There is excellent talent in the PSUs. Other talent from the private sector can also be brought in. Salaries for key top personnel should be in line with worldwide best practices, along with real accountability.

The success of enterprises and startups shows that there is abundant managerial talent, which needs to be harnessed in national interest.

Why India should learn from other countries, like Singapore?

National and public interest: The source of wealth has shifted from land to natural resources, to the industrial sector and now to the knowledge economy. Assets are largely in the financial markets today.

If the Indian government invests like Singapore, that will give it much more funds than disinvestment ever can. Meanwhile, ownership remains intact. A few caveats are required.

Singapore invests in long-term assets, and does not take risky decisions.

Another powerful reason is managing government finances. Other avenues of wealth generation, like markets, wealth management and dividends need to be explored.

India needs to look for talent from our financial markets rather than from the government only. There are well-known entrepreneurs and wealth managers in the stock markets. The government can surely use their talent for the greater public good.

The example from the 1980s in telecom, recent examples of Aadhaar, and the creation now of a government platform called ONDC to increase marketing power of ordinary kirana stores shows how private sector talent can be harnessed for public good.


How to tackle food inflation – and how not to

Source: The post is based on articles “How to tackle the food inflation and how not to?” published in the Indian Express on 09th May 2022, and “Food inflation has not started to hurt India yet. Stepping up production can help country duck global trend?” published in the Indian Express on 09th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Issues and Challenges in PDS and Food Security
Relevance: Food Inflation and Food Security 

News: Recently, The RBI raised the repo rate by 40 basis points (bps) and the cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 50 bps aimed to control inflation.  

Why has the repo rate and CRR rate been increased in India? 

Domestic Food Inflation 

India is seeing high food inflation in wheat, edible oils, maize etc. 

Global Food Inflation 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food price index has recorded high inflation globally among all commodity group due to supply disruptions from the war, dry weather in South America, high crude prices inducing greater diversion of corn, sugar, palm and soyabean oil for bio-fuel, and so on.

  • Therefore, it can be said that the global food inflation is getting “generalised”.  

India’s vulnerability to global inflation: The transmission of the above global inflation to domestic food prices basically depends on how much of a country’s consumption/production is imported/exported. Therefore, India is vulnerable to prices of edible oils and cotton. Their inflation can be transmitted to India’s domestic food prices. For example, two-thirds of India’s edible oil consumption is imported and a fifth of Cotton’s production is exported.  

Will the measures control inflation, especially food inflation?  

Probably not yet. The RBI has been behind the curve by at least 4-to 5 months. It may be difficult to rein in food inflation, which is surging faster than the overall consumer price index (CPI). 

India cannot remain insulated from the phenomenon of global food inflation. India is vulnerable to import prices of edible oils and fertilisers. 

What are the opportunities from global food inflation? 

There has been record breaking cereal export in FY22. Among cereals, wheat exports and rice exports (crossed 20 MMT in FY22 in a global market of 50 MMT) have witnessed an unprecedented growth in FY22.  

Therefore, the government has set a target of 10 MMT for wheat exports in FY23 and it has been expected to go even up to 15 MMT.  

Way Forward 

(A) Monetary Policy 

If the RBI has to make up for lost time, it will have to repeat the raising repo rates and CRR by at least three more times in this fiscal year (FY23) to mop up excess liquidity in the system.  

(B) The government’s side 

Global food inflation is a reality. In order to contain its import of the inflation into domestic market, the domestic production should be stepped up. For this, the government should announce the kharif MSPs with credible procurement plans for oilseeds and pulses. The government should ensure timely availability of seed, fertiliser, crop protection chemicals and credit. 

The government should not resort to knee-jerk export bans or stocking controls. This will only disincentivise producers. 

The public distribution system and PMGKAY should be rationalzied. The government can effectively target the massive food subsidy and save resources for the higher import bill on edible oils and fertilisers.  

In the wake of lower production and procurement of wheat, rice can be used as a substitute for wheat in the NFSA and PMGKAY. The beneficiaries can be given option to receive cash in their Jan Dhan accounts in lieu of grains. This is permitted under NFSA. This can also save on the burgeoning food subsidy bill. 

The policymakers should not suppress prices by intervening in the markets through stock limits on traders, putting minimum export prices or outright bans on exports etc.  

Indian farmers should be allowed to access global markets to augment their incomes. The government must facilitate minimising marketing costs and investing in efficient logistics for exports to develop more efficient export value chains. 

(C) Climate Change Adaptation 

The massive Agri-R&D investment is needed to find heat-resistant varieties of wheat and also create models for “climate-smart” agriculture.  


How Indian banking has changed over the last decade

Source: The post is based on an article “How Indian Banking has changed over the last decade” published in the Live Mint on 09th May 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy

Relevance: Banking Sector 

Context: Over the last decade, the nature of commercial banking in India has changed a lot. This has taken new form in various ways. 

What changes have taken place in commercial banking in India? 

(1) Industry vs Retail lending: Commercial banks in India broadly carry out four different kinds of lending: agricultural, industrial, services and retail.  

Between 2007 and 2014, the banks gave more and more loans to industry as a proportion of non-food credit. From mid-2014 onwards, the industrial lending started to slow down and retail lending (housing loans, vehicle loans, personal loans, consumer durables loans, education loans, etc.) started to go up.  

(2) The private banks have become important lending players in addition to the public sector banks (PSBs). 

How did this happen? 

How did industrial loan increase between 2004 to 2013? At that time, the Indian economy was growing at a higher rate. India was deemed to be the next China. Therefore, corporates started investing in big infrastructure projects from power plants to steel plants. Therefore, the banks disbursed a lot of industrial loans as a proportion of non-food credit. 

How did industrial loan decline? The industrial loans were disbursed without due-diligence. Many projects faced delays due to a lack of environmental clearances, non-environmental clearances, land acquisition, roadblock on policy issues, etc. These projects did not take off. The corporates could not repay the loan. Therefore, more fresh loans were disbursed to prevent any default. These loans turned out to be bad loans.  

Since 2014, the industrial loans could not be extended because the banks were reluctant to lend more to industries, many companies were unable to borrow loans and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) placed many public sector banks under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework.  

How has the retail lending increased? The balance sheets of banks have gradually improved because the banks have written off the bad loans, the PSBs have been recapitalized, the recovery of a few bad loans took place, and the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework was imposed by the RBI. Therefore, the bank’s lending improved and the bank’s preferred retail lending to industrial lending. However, this rise was largely driven by the rise of housing loans as a proportion of non-food credit.  

How privatization of banking took place? PSBs could not lend, operate and compete well due to accumulated bad loans. Therefore, the new generation private sector banks found an opportunity to grow their share in the overall bank lending in India. They disbursed more loans than public sector banks (PSBs). The private banks have managed to lend around 85% of the deposits raised by the. Whereas, the public sector banks managed to lend around 64% of the deposits raised by them. This means the PSBs have been losing market share and privatization by stealth is quietly on. 

How does the future look?

More chances of decline in Industrial lending? In 2021-22, new projects worth ₹14.3 trillion were announced. This is around 40% lower than new projects announced in 2014-15 and 47% lower than new projects announced in 2008-09. This fall has been on account of the weak capacity utilization of the existing infrastructure to make things. In this scenario, banks will get fewer opportunities to give out industrial loans. In fact, now, corporates have more ways to finance their projects.  

New areas of lending: There have been a rise of intangible intensive firms. Earlier, Banks could lend against the tangible physical assets (like machines, buildings, vehicles, computers etc.) which could be sold in case of default. But now, demands are for intangible assets like research and development, branding, organisational development, and software etc.  

Rise of Fintech in banking: Many unicorns in India are in the fintech space. These firms are looking to break the conventional banking business model of having a physical presence through branches and personal visits to raise deposits, carry out lending and offer wealth management services. 


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Coir is the best example of ‘Waste to Wealth’, says Union Minister for MSME

Source: The post is based on the article Coir is the best example of ‘Waste to Wealth’, says Union Minister for MSMEpublished in TOI on 5th May 2022

What is the News?

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) inaugurated the ‘Enterprise India National Coir Conclave 2022’ at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

What is Coir?

Coir is a versatile natural fibre extracted from mesocarp tissue or husk of coconut fruit. The husk contains 20% to 30% fibre of varying lengths.

Coir has been used for centuries by navigators in rope form for rigging and ship cables.

Nowadays, coir is used to create an assortment of products from rugs and doormats to plant pots and hanging basket liners, to cultivation-enhancing gardening material and blankets used for erosion control. Some potting mix products also include coir.

Coir Board

Coir Board was set up under the Coir Industry Act, 1953 by the Government of India for the overall sustainable development of the coir industry in the Country.

Functions: The functions of the Board are undertaking, assisting and encouraging scientific, technological and economic research, modernization, quality improvement, human resource development, market promotion and welfare of all those who are engaged in this industry.

Nodal Ministry: The board functions under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

Headquarters: Kochi, Kerala

Largest Producer of Coir

India has a virtual monopoly over the coir industry with a share of more than 75% of the global production of coir and 80% of world trade in coir yarn and coir products.

In India, Kerala accounts for 61% of total coconut production and 85% of total coir products.

Significance of Coir Industry in India

Employment: Coir Industry provides employment to more than 7 lakh people in the rural areas of the coconut growing states. 

– More interestingly, 80% of these artisans are women, but its production has so far been confined to the southern coconut producing States/UTs in the country.

Environment Friendly: Coir Products are eco-friendly in nature and gained “Eco Mark” certification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. Of India.


Botnet: Hackers are weaponsing India’s connected machines

Source: The post is based on the article “Hackers are weaponsing India’s connected machines” published in Indian Express on 9th May 2022

What is the News?

Unpatched computers, the prevalence of legacy software and misconfigured smart and connected devices in India are being used as botnets by hackers to run distributed denial of service(DDoS) attacks.

What is Botnet?
Source: Kaspersky

The words “robot” and “network” together give rise to the term Botnet. 

Botnet refers to a network of hijacked internet-connected devices that are installed with malicious codes known as malware. Each of these infected devices is known as Bots, and a hacker/cybercriminal known as the “Bot herder” remotely controls them. 

Botnets can be used to perform Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, steal data, send spam and allow the attacker to access the device and its connection.

India as a host of Botnet 

According to a report published by US-based cyber security firm A10 Networks, India hosts 10% of the world’s bot networks, the second-highest in the world after China. 

The target sectors for Botnet based DDoS attacks include telecom firms, government infrastructure, healthcare providers and even big technology firms.

Moreover, the report has also found that State-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd(BSNL) was the fourth most exploited company in the world in terms of its cyber infrastructure being used for botnets. Around 5% of the world’s botnets originated from devices with BSNL’s internet protocol (IP) addresses. 

Why are Botnet attacks increasing?

Experts have said that the lack of adequate cybersecurity awareness or standards among small companies and government organizations along with the use of old and outdated Windows machines is leading to this growth in compromised devices.


Centre pushes for increased exports of tissue culture plants; offers help to exporters to access new markets

Source: The post is based on the articleCentre pushes for increased exports of tissue culture plants; offers help to exporters to access new markets published in PIB on 8th May 2022

What is the News?

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), has conducted a webinar on “Export Promotion of Tissue Culture Plants such as Foliage, Live Plants, Cut Flowers, and Planting Material”.

What is Tissue Culture?

Tissue Culture is a method of biological research in which fragments of tissue from an animal or plant are transferred to an artificial environment in which they can continue to survive and function. 

The cultured tissue may consist of a single cell, a population of cells or a whole or part of an organ. 

Export of Tissue Culture Plants from India

The top ten countries where India exports tissue culture plants are the Netherlands, USA, Italy, Australia, Canada, Japan, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia and Nepal. 

Among these countries, the Netherlands account for around 50% of the shipments.

What are the challenges faced by Tissue Culture Plant Laboratories?

1) Increasing power costs, 2) low-efficiency levels of the skilled workforce in the laboratories, 3) contamination issues in the laboratories, 4) cost of transportation of micro-propagated planting material, 5) lack of harmonization in the HS code of Indian planting material with other nations and 6) objections raised by the forest and quarantine departments.

What are the steps taken by the Government to help Tissue Culture Laboratories?

APEDA is running a Financial Assistance Scheme(FAS) to help laboratories upgrade themselves so as to produce export quality tissue culture planting material. 

It also facilitates exports of tissue culture planting material to diversified countries through market development, market analysis and promotion and exhibition of tissue culture plants at international exhibitions and by participating in buyer-seller meets at different international forums.


Ministry of Home Affairs launches ‘CAPF Punarvaas’ through Welfare & Rehabilitation Board (WARB)

Source: The post is based on the articleMinistry of Home Affairs launches ‘CAPF Punarvaas’ through Welfare & Rehabilitation Board (WARB)published in PIB on 7th May 2022

What is the News?

The Ministry of Home Affairs has launched ‘CAPF Punarvaas’ through the Welfare & Rehabilitation Board(WARB).

What is CAPF Punarvaas?

Launched by: Ministry of Home Affairs 

Aim: To facilitate retired Central Armed Police Force(CAPF) and Assam Rifle personnel to secure employment with private security agencies.

Through this portal, retired personnel seeking re-employment can find an appropriate match by uploading personal details on the WARB website along with their area of expertise and preferred employment location. 

Moreover, this portal has also been linked with another portal that the Ministry of Home Affairs runs for the registration of Private Security Agencies (PSAs) under the Private Security Agencies Regulation Act (PSARA). This will result in a single platform for both jobseekers and job providers.

Significance of this portal

On one hand, PSAs will benefit by accessing the database of retired and willing personnel of CAPFs who are well-trained in providing security and other security-related services.

On the other hand, this portal will provide an electronic platform for retired CAPFs personnel to secure employment in PSAs.


Tailless Lineblue butterfly spotted in Delhi for first time

Source: The post is based on the article “Tailless Lineblue butterfly spotted in Delhi for first time” published in TOI on 9th May 2022

What is the News?

Ecologists have spotted “Tailless Lineblue”, a species of butterfly for the first time in Delhi.

What is Tailless Lineblue?
Source: TOI

Tailless Lineblue or Prosotas dubiosa or Small Purple Lineblue is a blue butterfly (Lycaenidae) species found in Asia to Australia. 

The species was first described by Georg Semper in 1879.

Significance of spotting Tailless Lineblue butterfly species in Delhi

The sightings confirm the migration of the Tailless Lineblue butterfly from areas high in moisture. The migration might happen from the Himalayan foothills. It also shows that the range of this butterfly is extending.

Studying solitary insects like butterflies is very important and can be used as a very effective tool to understand climate change, and global warming, especially for a city like Delhi.

However, the Ecologists have stressed that the presence of the butterfly doesn’t indicate any improvement in Delhi’s environment. 


Wet Bulb Temperature: Explained: India Heatwaves and the role humidity plays in making them deadly

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: India Heatwaves and the role humidity plays in making them deadly” published in Indian Express on 9th May 2022

What is the News?

Parts of India are under a record-breaking heatwave exposing more than a billion people to dangerously hot conditions with little relief in sight.

While temperatures in the region cooled slightly this week, blistering heat is expected to return in the coming days where rising “wet-bulb temperatures” could threaten the ability of humans to survive.

What is Wet Bulb Temperature?
Wet-bulb temperature
Source: TOI

Wet-bulb temperature measures the combination of heat and humidity which can hamper the human body’s ability to cool itself down if at too high a level.

Humans, like most mammals, cool themselves through sweating. Body heat is used to convert sweat into water vapour, and as that evaporation process occurs, the body cools.

However, when the wet-bulb temperature exceeds the temperature of the human body — around 97 degrees Fahrenheit or 36 degrees Celsius — sweat cannot evaporate and humans can no longer cool themselves down.

IPCC on Wet Bulb Temperature

According to the IPCC Report, sustained exposures to wet bulb temperatures above 35°C are fatal, while sustained exposures to wet bulb temperatures above 32°C are dangerous for intense physical activity.

Note: Wet-bulb temperatures in excess of 35°C have been observed in Sindh in Pakistan, but such conditions occur once every three to four years and probably for a few hours. This fails to meet the criteria of “sustained exposure”.

Wet Bulb Temperature in India

According to the IPCC Report, wet-bulb temperatures in India at present rarely exceed 31 degrees C with most of the country experiencing maximum wet-bulb temperatures of 25-30 degrees C.

The report also notes that if emissions are cut, but only by the levels currently promised, many parts of northern and coastal India would reach extremely dangerous wet-bulb temperatures of over 31 degrees C towards the end of the century.

However, if emissions continue to rise, wet-bulb temperatures will approach or exceed the unsurvivable limit of 35 degrees C over much of India with the majority of the country reaching wet-bulb temperatures of 31 degrees C or more.


Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying hands over a “Go Kasht” machine to Project Arth and ENACTUS IIT Delhi students”

Source: The post is based on the article Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying hands over a “Go Kasht” machine to Project Arth and ENACTUS  IIT Delhi studentspublished in PIB on 6th May 2022

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying have handed over a cow dung log machine named “Go Kasht” to Project Arth and ENACTUS IIT Delhi students.

What is Go Kasht?

Go Kasht is a cow dung log machine. The machine is used to manufacture cow dung-based fuelwood in a long log-like shape. 

How does the machine work?

A mixture of cow dung and cattle waste (like dried waste paddy) is inserted into the inlet(hopper) of this machine. 

The machine then breaks it down, mixes it, and compresses the mixture in the shape of a log. 

This log is then sun-dried and can be later used as fuelwood in various situations.

What are the benefits of this machine?

Firstly, this machine can process 3000 kg of cow dung every day to produce 1500 kg of cow dung-based logs that can be used as firewood for the cremation of 5-7 bodies, saving roughly 2 trees in each cremation. 

Secondly, it can help gaushala to cater to their waste management problems, provide an additional source of employment to its employees or nearby villagers and contribute to reducing deforestation.

Thirdly, it also helps to engage the non-milking cows in an economical activity, generating funds to support all the cows in a gaushala.


Explained: Why VPN providers believe new rules will undermine users’ privacy

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Why VPN providers believe new rules will undermine users’ privacy” published in Indian Express on 7th May 2022

What is the News?

Virtual private network(VPN) service providers are up in arms against a new directive of The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team or Cert-In that mandates they must maintain all customer data for five years.

Cert-In also wants VPN service providers to maintain data such as the purpose for which the customers used their services, their validated addresses and contact numbers, and the ownership pattern of the customers.

What is an IP address?

Any and all devices connected to the internet are a part of a large network of computers, servers and other devices spread across the world.

To identify each device connected to the internet, service providers globally assign a unique address to each such device called the Internet Protocol(IP) address.

It is this IP address that helps websites, law enforcement agencies and even companies track down individual users and their accurate location.

Read more: Origin of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and how they work?
What is Virtual Private Network(VPN)?

A Virtual Private Network(VPN) when switched on, essentially creates a safe network within the larger global network of the internet and masks the IP address of the user by rerouting the data. 

Acting as a tunnel, a VPN takes data originating from one server and masks it in a different identity before delivering it to the destination server. 

In essence, a VPN creates several proxy identities for the data and delivers it safely without disturbing the content of the data.

Must read: Banning Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – Explained, pointwise
Why is VPN important for users?

The main reason why privacy or anonymity is important for both VPN service providers and users is that it helps to avoid being tracked, mostly by websites and cybercriminals. 

Since VPN masks the location of a device from everyone, it also prevents government and law enforcement agencies from accurately identifying the location.

Read more: How India’s new VPN rules change the status quo
Mains Answer Writing

Mundka fire is a symptom of all that ails the informal sector 

News: Recently, a fire broke out at Delhi’s Mundka, with a death toll of 27 persons so far. A majority of the persons who died in the incidents were women workers in informal manufacturing units.  What issues have been exposed the fire incident in our urban areas? The reports on buildings catching fire leading to fatalities… Continue reading Mundka fire is a symptom of all that ails the informal sector 

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How to strengthen cyber security the right way

Context: On 28th April, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued “directions” under Section 70-B(6) of the IT Act 2000 relating to information security practices, procedure, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents. These directions have expanded the scope of obligations of the above requirements compared to the IT (The Indian Computer Emergency Response… Continue reading How to strengthen cyber security the right way

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Modi in Lumbini: Buddhism provides India a cultural inroad in Nepal – it may not be enough to counter China

News: On the occassion of Buddha Poornima, PM Modi made a trip to Lumbini in Nepal, becoming the first Indian PM to do so. He offered prayers at the Mayadevi temple, believed to be the Buddha’s birthplace, and then laid the foundation for the International Buddhist Conference and Meditation Centre. The trip has come one… Continue reading Modi in Lumbini: Buddhism provides India a cultural inroad in Nepal – it may not be enough to counter China

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For a better South Asian neighbourhood 

News: Recently, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan have been facing a lot of hardship. All the South Asian countries are facing the problem of higher oil and food inflation. This has resulted in popular unrest across the region. This underlines the geographic imperative that binds India to its neighbours in the Subcontinent.   How is India… Continue reading For a better South Asian neighbourhood 

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A war that is shrinking India’s geopolitical options 

Relevance: Global and Asian Geopolitics, India-China Relations, India-Russia relations  News: The confrontation between Russia and Ukraine is now raging on with no end in sight, and with its long-term implications yet unknown.   What are the consequences for India?  India’s initial phase of diplomatic rush is over. Its geopolitical options are shrinking as the war drags… Continue reading A war that is shrinking India’s geopolitical options 

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The technical higher education market dissected 

News: During the past two years, the higher education technical institutions have seen a drop of 18.3% and 6.01% in the number of institutions and intake capacity, respectively.  Background of technical higher education  Much of the growth in technical higher education has been after 1991, when the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) became functional. … Continue reading The technical higher education market dissected 

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Focusing on public health engineering 

News: According to Startup India, one in five children die before their fifth birthday because of poor sanitation and hygiene conditions.  What are the environmental degradation problems?  Global   According to the United Nations, Globally, around 80% of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused which pose a significant environmental and health… Continue reading Focusing on public health engineering 

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Inauguration of amenities at Kanheri Caves

What is the News? The Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has inaugurated the Kanheri Caves on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.  What are Kanheri Caves? The Kanheri Caves are a group of caves and rock-cut monuments located on the western outskirts of Mumbai. The caves are located… Continue reading Inauguration of amenities at Kanheri Caves

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Explained: What is fair and average quality wheat, the norms for which have been relaxed by the government?

What is the News? The Centre has relaxed the Fair and Average Quality(FAQ) norms for wheat in the ongoing rabi marketing season in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh raising the permissible limit of “shriveled and broken grains” to 18% from the existing 6%. Procurement Process of Wheat Every year, before procurement begins in April, the Storage… Continue reading Explained: What is fair and average quality wheat, the norms for which have been relaxed by the government?

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Explained: What is the Places of Worship Act and what are its provisions?

What is the News? The Supreme Court will hear an appeal challenging the order of a civil court in Varanasi which allowed inspection, survey and videography at the Gyanvapi Mosque complex.  The petitioner contended that the Civil Court order upheld by Allahabad High Court is “clearly prohibited” by The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act,… Continue reading Explained: What is the Places of Worship Act and what are its provisions?

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