9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 17th, 2021

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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

What the SC order on RERA means for homebuyers

Source: This post is based on the article “What the SC order on RERA means for homebuyers” published in Live mint on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – issues related to Statutory, Regulatory, and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.

Relevance: Changes in the Real Estate Regulatory Authority Act.

News: Recently, The Supreme Court had suggested some changes in the Real Estate Regulatory Authority Act (RERA) to protect the interests of homebuyers.

What are the impacts of ruling on the RERA act?

The ruling strengthens the interests of homebuyers, protects their rights, and tells developers to conform to the RERA provisions. SC rulings can be classified under the three categories as given below.

Retroactive application of RERA: Making RERA retroactive means it will cover the projects, that were ongoing at the time of the Act’s implementation and for which the completion certificate was not issued. It will go against the states that diluted the RERA act to exclude such projects.

Jurisdiction under RERA: The top court ruled that RERA has exclusive jurisdiction to direct; refund and interest on the refund, or direct payment of interest for delayed delivery of possession, or penalty and interest, to the allottee.

Faster dispute resolution: The Supreme Court made it mandatory for developers to deposit at least 30% of the penalty ordered by the regulator before they challenge any RERA order in the High Court. Earlier home buyers had to wait for the resolution due to lengthy legal procedures and appeal against orders.

What are the implications of the judgment?

For states: Many states which diluted RERA provisions may now have to amend the regulations.

For homebuyers: It will result in a better grievance redressal mechanism and a uniform regulatory framework across states.

For developers: Now developers have to register the projects ongoing during the commencement of the Act.

Longer term, better impact

Source: This post is based on the article “Longer term, better impact” published in The Hindu on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions, and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Relevance – Understand the recent amendment to extend the tenure of CBI and ED directors.

News: The Government of India has brought two ordinances to extend the tenure of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) directors up to 5 years.

Must readCentre brings Ordinances to extend tenure of ED, CBI directors up to 5 years
What are the concerns associated with the ordinances?
Read more: Extension of terms of CBI, ED chiefs by ordinance goes against SC verdicts
Why the ordinance is necessary?

1. Check on frequent transfers: Earlier temporary appointments were given to favour certain individuals considered to be ‘compliant’. Seniority was often ignored in appointments, and Directors were removed frequently. A longer tenure will reduce frequent transfers. 2. Provides much-needed continuity: A two-year tenure for a CBI head is too short for any officer to make an impact on the organisation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Chief in the U.S. gets a 10-year term. In the five year term, the directors can take highly sensitive investigations which requires continuity of tenure. 3. Not targeting politicians: Only 5-10% of the cases registered by the CBI involve politicians, so the ordinance might not target political opponents as feared by oppositions.

Must readHow Enforcement Directorate (ED) became so powerful?
What should be done?

1. Drafting a CBI Act: Successive chiefs of CBI have suggested a CBI Act for the following benefits, a) To ensure the organisation is not dependent on the State governments for consent. b) Enable CBI to launch investigations from its own statute instead of depending on the Criminal Procedure Code, which makes the CBI a police organisation, c) Enable the officers to act on their own like Income Tax Act and the Customs Act.

Note: So far Eight States have withdrawn consent for the CBI to function in that State. The Court termed this a “serious issue”.

Must Read: The Issue of Withdrawal of General Consent to CBI – Explained, pointwise

2. Ensure accountability: The Director will have to keep the government informed of all major administrative decisions. He or she should inform the executive but not take orders from it, 3. Ensure a straight five-year term for the Director, instead of providing one-year extensions after mandatory two-year term as is provided in the Ordinance (the provision of one-year extensions is also susceptible to misuse).

SC collegium’s endorsement of Saurabh Kirpal as Delhi HC judge is very welcome. Govt must not stand in the way

Source: This post is based on the article “SC collegium’s endorsement of Saurabh Kirpal as Delhi HC judge is very welcome. Govt must not stand in the way” published in the Indian Express on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Fundamental Rights.

Relevance: Understanding homosexual rights in India.

News: Supreme Court collegium has recently recommended the name of Saurabh Kirpal as judge of Delhi High Court. If the government does not reject the name, then he will become India’s first openly gay judge.

What were the challenges in his appointment?
1) The initial reluctance of the collegium to recommend his name. 2) Opaque nature of collegium’s decision making process. 3) Government’s objection that the Judge’s partner is a foreign national and could lead to a conflict of interest and security risk.

What is the stand of the Supreme Court?
In the Navtej Johar versus Union of India case, Supreme Court decriminalized consensual same-sex relationships and stated that it is a matter of personal choice, “an expression of their autonomy and self-determination”.

What should be the way forward?
The Collegium has taken a bold step by recommending the name of Mr. Kirpal. This will promote the notion of equality of opportunity and nondiscrimination and help de-stigmatize homosexual minorities.

House not ordinance: Extending tenures of key officials of premier agencies should be debated in Parliament

Source: This post is based on the article “House not ordinance: Extending tenures of key officials of premier agencies should be debated in Parliament” published in the Times of India on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Relevance: Understanding the role and need of the ordinance.

News: The Government of India has brought two ordinances to extend the tenure of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) directors up to 5 years. This raises questions about Government’s use of ordinance as the same matter has already been adjudicated by the Supreme Court before.

Who can promulgate an ordinance?

Article 123  of the Constitution allows the President to promulgate an ordinance when Parliament is not in session.

According to PRS Legislative Research’s data 16 and 15 central ordinances were promulgated in 2019 and 2020 respectively. In the 2010s, the yearly average was 7.

Misuse of an ordinance making power

Although BR Ambedkar said that ordinances are not meant to be used as a parallel power of legislation, still there have been several instances when the various governments used ordinances to bypass normal legislative process.

Read more: Misuse of Ordinance Making Power

Why does the present ordinance defeat its very purpose?
The 1997 SC judgment (Vineet Narain Judgment) created a legal structure to give operational autonomy to investigative agencies and statutory status to CVC.

The November 2014 amendment to the DSPE Act strengthened it further by providing for a selection committee for directors posts which included the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. This ordinance reverses the trend where the SC and GoI were progressively taking such matters through the legislative route.

Read here: Extension of terms of CBI, ED chiefs by ordinance goes against SC verdicts

Kabul, Kashmir and the return of the real politik

Source: This post is based on the article ” Kabul, Kashmir and the return of the real politik” published in The Hindu on 17th November, 2021.

Subject: GS2-India and its neighborhood relations.

Relevance: Understanding the Afghan situation.

News: Withdrawal of US troops, fall of Afghanistan and return of Taliban has opened the geopolitical contestation for influence over Afghanistan.

What are the recent developments?
Afghanistan is reeling under economic crisis and humanitarian crisis with an acute shortage of food. Considering this Taliban has shown interest in engaging with India.

Read here: Aiding Afghanistan: On both humanitarian and strategic grounds, India must provide succour to ordinary Afghans

Also, India recently hosted Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan . But, China and Pakistan opted to stay out of it.

Read here: What are the challenges for India in achieving its Afghanistan objectives?

What are the strategies adopted by different countries?
China: It is engaging the Taliban, but is proceeding with caution. Eventually, it seeks to include Afghanistan through BRI and also CPEC.

Pakistan: It views Afghanistan as its backyard. So it seeks to gain international acceptance for the Taliban regime. At the same time, it seeks to keep the Indian influence away.

What is the dilemma facing the global countries?

Countries have the following concerns:

-Whether to send aid to Afghanistan or not – If the West sends aid via Taliban, it may not reach Afghan people.
-Whether to invest in stabilizing Afghanistan – If they stabilize Afghanistan, the beneficiaries may be Pakistan and China.

Read here: Implications of the rise of Taliban for India – Explained, pointwise

What is the Indian dilemma? How does this impact Pakistan’s Kashmir policy?
It has the question of Whether to engage with the Taliban or not – a closer engagement with the Taliban will make Pakistan insecure and create troubles in India-Pakistan relations and in Kashmir. There is rise in cases of violence in Kashmir after the Taliban Takeover.
Pakistan’s earlier stand to accept the withdrawal of Article 370 seems to have changed.

Read more: Is the Indian foreign-policy ship changing course?: About India-Afghanistan relations

But with the recent convening of Regional security dialogue, India has indicated it will engage with the Taliban. If this helps in stabilizing the Taliban regime, it is likely that the Taliban may not be hostile to India.

What can be expected in the future?
There can be a heating up of the Kashmir issue. Given the absence of China-Pakistan from the Indian initiative, it would be best for India to coordinate its Afghan policy through Moscow for now.

Read more: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained, pointwise

There’s a need for transparency in transfer of judges

Source: This post is based on the article “There’s a need for transparency in transfer of judges” published in the Indian Express on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary.

Relevance: understanding the transfer of judges.

News: Supreme Court collegium recommended the transfer of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court. Chennai bar commission has in fact raised many valid questions.

Read here: A routine matter or a punishment post?
What does the constitution say about the transfer of high court judges?

Article 222:It deals with the transfer of judges. It states that the President may, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), transfer a judge from one high court to another.

How did SC cases interpret Article 222 in different cases?

In the Sankalchand H Sheth case:  Justice Bhagwati said that the transfer of a judge from one court to another inflicts many injuries on the individual. So, the consent of the judge proposed to be transferred should be required. He also held that if the power of transfer is vested solely with the executive, it undermines judicial independence and impacts the basic features of the Constitution.

In the K Ashok Reddy case: Court held that primacy of the judiciary in the matter of appointments and in transfers introduces the judicial element in the process. As the process of transfer happens with the concurrence of the senior members of the judiciary, there is no need of further judicial review to check for executive’s arbitrariness or excess.

How should transparency be maintained?

The concerned judges and the other stakeholders should be informed beforehand about the reasons behind their transfer. This will help to build trust in the system.

Why should India invest in its adolescent population? New study has an answer

Source: This post is based on the article “Why should India invest in its adolescent population? New study has an answer” published in the Down to Earth on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Human Resources.

Relevance: Understanding the adolescent population.

News: The Population Foundation of India, a non-profit, recently commissioned a study ‘Investing in Adolescent Development’. It examines current interventions in key aspects of adolescent development in India, including physical and mental health, education and prevention of early marriage.

Who are the adolescents? 

There is no universally accepted definition of adolescents. But, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Government of India, adolescents belong to persons aged 10−19 years.

India– It has the highest adolescents population in the world. According to the 2011 census, the country is home to over 250 million adolescents.

Globally- There are over 1.2 billion adolescents globally, which accounts for about 16% of the world’s population.

What are the findings of the study?

Earnings: It found that an additional year of education in India increased the monthly income of individuals by about 7.02% on average. Also, every rupee invested towards the completion of school education is expected to bring an economic benefit between Rs 4.50 and Rs 8.20 in terms of the future earnings of each individual.

Returns: It found significant disparity in the returns to education between males and females. Returns were higher for females. However, their average wages were lower than that of males.

Contributors: The study reveals that health and education as the important contributors to adolescent development. Early investments in these fields are more efficient in preventing the social problems than investing later on to resolve them. The report also outlined the investments required e.g., INR 8,134 Crore to address the gaps in India’s mental healthcare for adolescents, and INR 3,000 Crore per year to provide iron and folic acid tablets to school-going adolescent boys and girls and out-of-school adolescent girls.

GS Paper 3

Good crypto and bad: Defining, regulating and taxing this world

Source: This post is based on the article “Good crypto and bad: Defining, regulating and taxing this world” published in Business Standard on 17th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

News: The government and regulatory authorities are considering a legislative and regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. 

As enforcing a ban on cryptocurrencies is not advisable, hence, the current policy approach is a step in the right direction.

Must Read: Managing cryptocurrencies
What parameters must be considered for regulating cryptocurrencies?

Define a tax structure: This must outline the incidence of long-term and short-term capital gains for crypto investors.

Define a good crypto: The regulatory framework should include a definition of what makes a good crypto. It must include some reference to the most common use cases for crypto, like remittances. 

Incentivizing good crypto: Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have very energy-intensive verification systems. More energy-efficient cryptos are desirable. There could be tax structured incentives to design more energy-efficient verification systems.

What is a good crypto?

A good cryptocurrency includes

– a secure peer-to-peer verification system

– an assurance of some anonymity

– a method of mining that allows for predictable growth in money supply, which cannot be manipulated, and so on.

What are some use cases of good crypto?

– Remittances: A remittance of, say, dirhams to rupees, involves bank charges and delays while the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) processes payments. Instead, one can buy cryptocurrency with dirhams and hand over the relevant codes to somebody who can sell the crypto in rupees. This process will be much faster and not involve bank charges if the parties are comfortable with price volatility.

– Currency swaps: A swap is a deal where two entities exchange two currencies, say USD and INR, at an agreed rate. They commit to the reverse exchange of exactly the same amounts of USD and INR after an agreed time, at the agreed rate, even if the exchange rate has gone up or down. The RBI itself has done swaps, most notably during the global financial crisis. It is easier to do swaps by using cryptocurrency trades rather than via banks.

Purchasing assets: Crypto can be used to purchase assets or services. But a clear accounting process must be framed for such transactions. For example, El Salvador adopted bitcoin as an alternative currency. Although this experiment has revealed several challenges, it’s worth studying.

– Trustless contract enabled by blockchain: This could prove quite useful in the Indian context. In such a contract, money is put into an escrow account. Instructions are put in blockchain that if certain conditions are fulfilled, the money is to be transferred automatically to a given account. This is much cheaper and less cumbersome than conventional bank escrow.

Escrow is a legal arrangement in which a third party temporarily holds large sums of money or property until a particular condition has been met (such as the fulfillment of a purchase agreement). It is used in real estate transactions to protect both the buyer and the seller throughout the home buying process.

For example, a municipality hands out a garbage disposal contract. It may create a blockchain where the residents can vote whether they are satisfied with the garbage disposal service. Such contracts cut down on corruption and accelerate government payment processes.

India needs time and money before it can dump coal

Source: This post is based on the article “India needs time and money before it can dump coal” published in the Times of India on 17th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS-3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Understanding the debate around phasing out of coal

News: India is being criticized for its last-minute call affecting changes to the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) wherein the expression ‘Phase out’ was changed to ‘Phase down’ of coal-based power in its final version.

India’s per capita energy consumption is a third of the global average. Hence, as per the IEA, India will need to add a power system the size of the European Union, to meet expected growth in electricity demand in the next 20 years.

Must Read: Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) – Explained, pointwise

The world must understand that this cannot happen by solely relying on alternative sources of power. India will have to continue with coal, as it is the cheapest fuel available in abundance domestically. It can fuel the level of economic growth required to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Can renewables fuel India’s future energy requirements?

India cannot depend entirely on renewable sources of energy due to the following reasons:

– Intermittency or irregularity remains a major issue with renewables, which are also vulnerable to weather.

Unlike the West, India has comparatively smaller gas-fired and nuclear generation capacities. Power from such small plants is unaffordable.

Hydel projects are costly and involve large displacement of forests and habitats. They also remain susceptible to weather patterns. Storage technology is still evolving and remains a costly option.

The power demand recently surged in double digits in India. This was caused due to lower power generation from solar, wind and hydel sources, which happened due to seasonal factors. Coal-fired plants had to step in to meet the demand.

Hence, the only dependable option is coal.

What are some other issues with phasing out coal?

At the mining level, the government enjoys dividend payments from Coal India Limited

The railways, which dominate transportation of coal, receive an existential level of cross-subsidy from coal.

There are large revenues from taxes, royalties, and mining fees, which are amongst the highest in the world

Read more about this issue in the following articles: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3

An estimate of a big formal shift that stretches credulity too far

Source: This post is based on the article “An estimate of a big formal shift that stretches credulity too far” published in Live mint on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS paper 3– Indian Economy and issues relating to formalisation of workforce

Relevance: Formalisation of India’s economy

News: SBI Research in a recent report said that the size of India’s informal economy had shrunk from 52% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017-18 to around a current maximum of 15-20%. However, the report is inaccurate in many accounts.

Read more here: https://blog.forumias.com/the-high-cost-of-indias-illusive-quest-for-formalization/

Why the recently released report by the State Bank of India (SBI) research team is said to be inaccurate?

Firstly, the report believes that E-Shram is a big step towards the formalization of employment because it facilitates the extension of social-sector scheme benefits to informal workers. However, it is silent on, whether all the 57 million workers, who have registered on the portal, getting the benefits of these schemes.

Secondly, the report points out that the average amount outstanding per Kisan Credit Card (KCC) has grown in 2021-22 and this has led to the formalization of ₹4.6 lakh crore. However, the Report of the Internal Working Group to Review Agricultural Credit (2019) pointed out that, approximately 30 percent of agricultural households still avail credit from non-institutional sources.

Thirdly, much of SBI Research’s analysis relies on data during a period in which the country was hit by the second covid wave. During this period, businesses in the informal sector have been destroyed by pandemic disruptions. So, the informal activity would remain low, and the data obtained would be inaccurate. As the economy recovers, informal enterprises will start increasing.

Fourth, also, formalisation itself doesn’t mean decreasing informalisation. Formal enterprises can employ informal workers. For example, a listed real estate company outsources a job to a contractor, which then informally hires daily wage workers.

Finally, considering gig workers a part of the formal economy is also not a correct measure, because their incomes aren’t protected if the business is negatively impacted.

Unnecessary intervention – RBI’s Proposal of tax benefits for retail investors

Source: This post is based on the article “Unnecessary intervention” published in Business standard on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Issues related to bond markets

Relevance: Retail Direct Scheme, risks associated with bond market investing.

News: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is thinking to approach the Union government to ask for tax benefits for retail investors investing in government bonds through its platform.

The idea behind the RBI’s Retail Direct Scheme, to increase the ease of investment in government bonds for individual investors and widen the pool of investors over time, is appropriate.

However, the idea of extending tax benefits to encourage retail participation in the government bond market is unnecessary and must be avoided.

Then, tax benefits to retail investors is not a good idea?

The new retail bond platform will not necessarily increase household financial savings, it may just lead to a shift in the household debt portfolio. It may lead to a revenue loss for the government, as it will reduce the existing household investor base.

Also, Investors entering the market at this stage are likely to suffer a capital loss if they decide to sell bonds over the next few years, as interest rates are likely to go up from the present level.

RBI’s policies are making debt investment unattractive. RBI is maintaining the policy interest rate below the inflation rate, with a high liquidity level.

What needs to be done?

First, RBI should spread awareness and sensitise investors about potential risks associated with bond market investing.

Second, RBI should try to bring the policy interest rate on par with the inflation rate. Low-interest rates have made debt investment unattractive.

Third, all debt instruments can be brought to par by removing tax benefits. It will not only simplify the tax structure but also drive individual investors to evaluate products on their merit.

India needs a coordinated approach for decarbonisation of economy

Source: This post is based on the article “India needs a coordinated approach for decarbonisation of economy” published in Indian Express on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Relevance: To understand the actions taken for climate crisis and issues related to the same.

News: PM announced enhanced targets for climate action by India, particularly for achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

What is the need for policy changes in Renewable Energy(RE) sector?

By 2070, there will be many changes in technology, environmental conditions, and the economy. Therefore, shorter period planning is needed, so that new knowledge about emerging technologies can be incorporated into plans.

The shorter-term targets to be reached by 2030 refer mostly to the power sector. This is needed because it is the biggest source of GHG emissions and also the easiest one to decarbonise.

There is an abundance of separate targets for almost every resource used to generate electricity. It reduces flexibility of distribution companies to select resources to meet their loads, resulting in a non-optimal resource mix, and a higher cost of electricity.

What is needed to be done?

Interim targets and monitoring progress-For this, an agency led by experts should be set up to cover climate change issues for all sectors. It would also monitor progress and annually report and suggest mid-course corrections.

Overarching objective-Reducing ’emission intensity’ is a good overarching objective, instead of multiple objectives, like increased use of RE or non-fossil-fuel generation, which are just means to that end.

Why Punjab’s short-duration paddy varieties have not solved stubble burning

Source: This post is based on the articles “Why Punjab’s short-duration paddy varieties have not solved stubble burning” published in Down To Earth on 16th November 2021 and

Our airpocrisies: For air quality crisis take aim at farm residue burning, land desertification, not lockdowns” published in Times Of India on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Relevance: To understand the issue of stubble burning and consequent environmental pollution.

News: Supreme Court’s suggested a two-day lockdown amid sharp deterioration in the National Capital Region’s air quality.

The government’s efforts in the past decade provided positive results, and the ratio of land under short-duration varieties to the total land under paddy has more than doubled—from 32.6 percent in 2012 to 67.7 percent in 2021.

What are the issues in stubble burning?

Damage to public health from severe air quality has produced few ideas, that too, suffer from poor implementation.

Despite heavy subsidies on straw management equipment, farmers keep protesting that these remain economically unviable.

The government failed to recognise that burning coal, biomass, and farm residue alongside land desertification contribute to 85% of air pollution.

Missing inter-governmental action– The proximate link to poverty, energy needs, waste management, and land degradation demand concerted inter-governmental actions.

Contrastingly, the districts where short-term crop varieties witnessed an increase, have seen a rise in straw burning incidents.

Reasons for the increased straw burning incidents:

The primary reason behind it is the low yield, due to which farmers cultivate an additional set of crops, such as potato, peas, green lentil, between kharif and rabi.

Even those farmers who have grown short-duration varieties, that fetched great prices, have used the time between rabi and kharif to grow a third crop and thereby increased income.

What actions are taken to tackle the crisis?

New crop variety-The old long-term variety used to leave just 10 days for sowing between kharif paddy to rabi wheat. Farmers started using short-duration varieties, especially PR 126, which give a window of over 35 days to farmers.

-It incentivizes farmers to not use the crop burning methods.

Central banks and climate change: How they can play a role in managing the fallout

Source: This post is based on the article “Central banks and climate change: How they can play a role in managing the fallout” published in Down To Earth on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Relevance: To understand the role of different institutions in managing climate change.

News: In a recent webinar central bankers, economists and lawyers explored the role and responsibilities of central banks in addressing the challenge of climate change.

Must read: RBI must come clean where it stands on climate change
How central banks can tackle climate change?

Central banks set interest rates and determine the prices of the goods and services people buy. This, in turn, influences the climate impacts of their consumption patterns.

Interest rates influence the credit in the economy and thus how much the country and its financial sector can allocate to dealing with climate change and on what terms.

Extreme weather events have several impacts on food prices and, thus, inflation. This in turn can influence employment, the ability of debtors to meet their financial obligations and financial stability.

What are the challenges faced by central banks in climate financing?

Central banks authority is not unlimited. They are guided by their legal mandates. They are also constrained by the fact that they are led by skilled, but unelected, technocrats with limited public accountability.

The unelected technical experts making decisions about how credit is allocated has an issue. However, decisions by elected authorities can lead to political interference in decision-making.

What are the associated challenges?

Roles and responsibilities: The Central bank’s ability to respond to climate change depends on the powers and responsibilities stipulated in the laws that create them.

These laws vary across countries, the statutory language has been interpreted differently in different countries.

The carbon neutrality issue: Financial markets are not carbon-neutral. In fact, the allocation of credit is more in favour of more carbon-intensive companies and activities.

What is needed to be done?

The lessons from the webinar have special importance for African central banks. The continent faces acute climate-related risks with limited capacity to manage the risks.

-African central banks must develop the capacity to understand and assess two things: 1. The possible impacts of climate change on monetary and financial stability and vice-versa, and 2. The ability of their societies to deal with the Climate challenges.

Central banks must speak the truth and educate their stakeholders about the monetary and financial stability implications of their policies, activities and conduct.

They also should use their international networks to educate external stakeholders on how global responses to climate change impact their own situations.

Green and secure: Char Dham Highway project must see government and environmentalists work together

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • The low road” published in Business Standard on 16th November 2021.
  • Green and secure: Char Dham Highway project must see government and environmentalists work together” published in Times of India on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: To understand the issues surrounding the Char Dham Highway Development project.

News: The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on an appeal by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) regarding the Char Dham Highway Development project.

About the Char Dham Highway Development project
Must Read: What is the “Char Dham Project”?
About the case

The whole project has turned into a defence versus environment debate. The Supreme court has also asked the Environment Ministry to form a high-powered committee to look into environmental concerns. But the committee provided two sets of recommendations.

In September 2020, the court upheld the recommendations in the minority report of a high-powered committee and recommended to limit the flagship project’s carriageway to 5.5 meter.

Note: But the majority report of the same committee had agreed to a 12-meter widening (of that 7 m will be carriageway). This would involve additional deforestation, slope cutting and tunnelling.

Why the MoD is demanding the widening of roads?

1. The MoD demanded a double-lane road which is more suitable for the army, 2. Recent India-China border tensions leave India no choice but to improve its border infrastructure in the eco-sensitive Himalayan zone.

For these reasons, the ministry of road transport and highways actually amended its previous guidelines for mountainous roads to support the government’s widening plans.

Note: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) earlier recommended 5.5-metre width for mountain roads.

Read more: Supreme Court orders committee to review ecological aspects of Chardham project
What are the consequences associated with the Char Dham project?

1. Widening the road in an eco-sensitive zone will have severe consequences for Uttarakhand, which has been grappling with major landslides and environmental degradation. Dangers of widening road were underlined twice this year, a) destruction of the Tapovan Hydro-Electric Power Dam, b) Recent floods and landslides in the state.

Read more: Tapovan Vishnugad Hydropower Project

2. Uttarakhand’s ecological decline is a direct result of its increasing reliance on revenues from religious tourism. So, building road to boost tourism will definitely impact its ecology more.

3. Challenges faced by Border Roads Organisation: The four-lane highways that have been built in the upper reaches of the Himalayas already eat up large parts of the BRO’s annual budget in clearing frequent landslides.

4. India’s climate change targets: India at the recent COP26 meet in Glasgow announced ambitious climate targets. Implementation of the project might create consequences in achieving that.

Read more: Glasgow Climate Pact – Explained, pointwise
What can be done?

Work together: Government and environmentalists should work together to find a middle path, instead of standing on opposite sides.

Adopt a fresh approach for all border infrastructure: The environmental impact of projects should be included in the approach in a transparent manner.

Better conceptualise National security: The government should not see National security in terms of military needs alone. The government should see the faster environmental degradation, massive flooding and landslides and huge loss of property and lives also as national security.

Not rely on road and work on airlift: The government cannot rely on the Himalayan area for unhindered movements of troops and heavy material, such as the BrahMos. Instead, it can just be airlifted.

Green hydrogen makes a debut

Source: This post is based on the article “Green hydrogen makes a debut” published in Business Standard on 16th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: To understand hydrogen extraction methods and other initiatives to produce green hydrogen.

News: Recently India has initiated many green hydrogen initiatives like National Hydrogen Mission and aims to make India a global hub for green hydrogen production and export.

Must read: Green Hydrogen: Potential, Issues and Solutions – Explained, pointwise
How to produce Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements, but it cannot be sourced from the atmosphere, since it is lighter than air. So, it has to be separated from other compounds like water. There are two most common ways to do that.

1. Steam Methane Reforming (SMR): It is less expensive, the process produces greenhouse gas emissions that defeat the main purpose of opting for hydrogen in the first place. Currently, 90% of global hydrogen production uses SMR.

2. Electrolysis or water-splitting: It involves passing electricity through water to separate it into basic elements, hydrogen and oxygen.

Electrolysis is an energy-intensive process. About 50 units of electricity is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen, not counting the energy costs of the total plant system as well as for storage and transportation.

So, using fossil fuels to produce electricity will not make it “renewable”. But if electricity is produced from renewable sources, then it is called as Green Hydrogen.

Note: Hydrogen gas has a chameleon-like character depending on its method of production. For instance,

  • Grey Hydrogen – If produced using fossil fuels,
  • Blue Hydrogen – If produced using fossil fuels but with carbon capture,
  • Green Hydrogen – If produced using renewable energy,
  • Pink Hydrogen – If produced using electrolysis powered by nuclear energy,
  • More niche definitions go on to add brown, black, turquoise, and yellow variants of hydrogen.
What are the other initiatives to boost Green Hydrogen?

1. Reliance industries announced that they would set up fuel-cell and electrolyser factories to produce green hydrogen. 2. Recently, the Adani group announced its intention to set up one of the largest green hydrogen projects in the world, 3. Indian Oil announced the setting up of the country’s first green hydrogen plant at its Mathura refinery, 4. NTPC announced plans for a green hydrogen fuelling station in Ladakh.

Must read: Green Energy Initiatives in Budget 2021- Explained

Globally, 120 mt (million tonnes) of hydrogen is produced annually. Only 1 per cent is green. The current annual demand for hydrogen in India is about 6 mt. It needs to go up ten times if net-zero targets are to be met. It promises to be a game-changer across industry, power and mobility; and of course, to meet the country’s decarbonisation goals.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Union Minister to inaugurate the seventh edition of India International Science festival, IISF at Panaji, Goa

Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister to inaugurate the seventh edition of India International Science festival, IISF at Panaji, Goapublished by PIB on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has launched the 7th edition of the India International Science Festival (IISF).

What is the India International Science Festival(IISF)?

IISF is a joint program of the Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences and VijnanaBharati (VIBHA) a swadeshi movement of Bharat.

Purpose: To celebrate science along with people in India and across the globe.

First Edition: The first program of IISF was held in the year 2015 and the sixth edition of this annual event was organised in the year 2020.

Nodal Agency for IISF-2021: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, an autonomous institute under the MoES.

The theme for 2021: ‘Celebrating Creativity in Science, Technology and Innovation for Prosperous India’.

Note: IISF 2021 is being organised in a hybrid model. It will be available for both virtual and in-person meet.

Significance: IISF is an integral part of India’s long-term vision in developing and widening the spectrum of scientific temper for sustainable development and new technological innovations in India.

Pochampally village in Telangana selected as one of the best Tourism Villages by United Nations World Tourism Organisation

Source: This post is based on the article “Pochampally village in Telangana selected as one of the best Tourism Villages by United Nations World Tourism Organisation” published by PIB on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

Pochampally Village in Telangana State has been selected as one of the best Tourism Villages by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The award will be given on the occasion of the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in December 2021 in Madrid, Spain.

Note: Ministry of Tourism had recommended three villages for the UNWTO Best Tourism Village entry from India. However, only Pochampally was awarded as one of the best Tourism Villages by UNWTO. The other two villages were Kongthong in Meghalaya and Ladhpura Khas in Madhya Pradesh.

What is the Best Tourism Villages Initiative?

It is an initiative of UNWTO.

Aim of the Initiative: 1. To award those villages which are outstanding examples of rural destinations and showcase good practices in line with its specified nine evaluation areas, 2. To support villages to enhance their rural tourism potential through training and access to opportunities for improvement.

About Pochampally Village

Pochampally is a town in Nalgonda district of Telangana.

What is the Speciality of Pochampally Village?

Firstly, Pochampally is often referred to as the Silk City of India for the exquisite sarees that are woven through a unique style called Ikat.

Note: Ikat is a Malaysian, Indonesian word that means “Tie and Dye”. It is a dyeing technique used to create a distinct style of textile patterns. Ikat received a Geographical Indicator(GI) tag in 2004.

Read more: Assam’s rice wine Judima gets GI tag

Secondly, Pochampally is also known as Bhoodan Pochampally to commemorate the Bhoodan Movement that was launched by Acharya Vinobha Bhave from this village on April 18th, 1951. 

Currently, a two-room Vinobha Bhave Mandir exists within the village, which was earlier the place where Vinobha Bhave resided during his visit to the village.

Report of the Committee of Experts on Insurance

Source: This post is based on the articleReport of the Committee of Experts on Insurancepublished by PIB on 16th November 2021.

What is the news?

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) had constituted an Insurance Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. G.N. Bajpai, former Chairman LIC and SEBI. The mandate of the committee was to identify key areas for the development of insurance and reinsurance business from IFSC.

The committee has now submitted its report to the ​​Chairperson, IFSCA.

What are the key recommendations of the committee?

The committee has given several recommendations to develop IFSC as Global (Re)Insurance Hub. Some of them are:

IFSC as an Insurance Hub for Different Sectors: IFSCA has developed an eco-system for Aircraft Leasing and Financing which can be utilized to develop Aviation Insurance Hub and Trade Credit Insurance at IFSC. Moreover, a similar platform may also be implemented for the shipping industry.

Captive Insurance Model: IFSC can develop a framework for enabling operations of Captive insurance model.

A captive insurance company is a wholly-owned subsidiary insurer that provides risk-mitigation services for its parent company or a group of related companies.

Redesign Investment Framework: Investment framework may be redesigned to give more avenues for insurers to mobilize their funds to ensure more returns and flexibility.

Develop alternate risk transfer solutions such as insurance linked securities, catastrophe bonds and parametric risk transfers available for the global market. 

Insurance for Indian Diaspora: Map the insurance needs of the Indian diaspora and meet such needs through promotion and development of the ‘hub and spoke’ model.

‘Navy’s plan for a 170-ship force on course’

Source: This post is based on the article “Navy’s plan for a 170-ship force on course” published by The Hindu on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Indian Navy will be commissioning the class stealth-guided missile destroyer “Visakhapatnam” and the fourth Scorpene Class Submarine “Vela”.

Visakhapatnam and its Key Features

Visakhapatnam is the name of the first stealth guided-missile destroyer ship under Project 15B.

Built by: The ship has been designed by the Directorate of Naval Design and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai.

Purpose: The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking multifarious tasks and missions spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare. 

– it has been constructed using indigenous steel DMR 249A and is amongst the largest destroyers constructed in India.

it includes many major indigenous weapons such as Medium Range Surface to Air Missile Systems, Brahmos Missile amongst others.

it has the latest stealth mechanisms built within and also uses sophisticated radar systems to detect attackers and provide live target locations to the ship’s gunner. 

it also has the capability of embarking two integrated helicopters to further extend its reach.

Read More: About INS Vela

What is Indian Navy’s current ship capability?

Indian Navy currently has 130 ships. It had earlier planned to achieve 200 ships which was revised to 170 ships by 2027. 

The timeline is now being revised as the Navy is revising its Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP).

The MCPP lays down the plans for force development and modernisation over three plan periods from 2005-22. It is being revised and will be in line with the 10-year Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP) by the Department of Military Affairs.

Courts cannot interfere with day-to-day temple rituals: SC

Source: This post is based on the article “Courts cannot interfere with day-to-day temple rituals: SC” published by The Hindu on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that constitutional courts could not interfere with the day-to-day rituals and ‘sevas’ performed in temples on the basis of “public interest” petitions.

What was the case?

A Writ Petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging an Andhra Pradesh High Court order. The order had rejected the plea of a devotee to look into irregularities in rituals at the Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple at Tirupati.

How did the Supreme Court responded to this petition?

The Supreme Court dismissed the petition.

The court said that the constitutional courts could not interfere with the day-to-day rituals performed in temples.

Religious scholars and priests were best equipped to answer whether rituals in temples were being conducted in accordance with customs and traditions.

Moreover, the writ jurisdiction of a constitutional court under Articles 226 and 32 was limited.

Hence, whether a particular ritual was being performed in the right way or not was a disputed question of fact. This means that at most, these types of issues could be a subject for filing a civil suit in a subordinate court.

Explained: Who is Devasahayam, the first Indian layman to be conferred sainthood?

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: Who is Devasahayam, the first Indian layman to be conferred saint” published by Indian Express on 16th November 2021.

What is the news?

Devsahayam Pillai, an 18th-century Hindu convert to Christianity would be made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican.

He is the first Indian layman to be declared a saint by the Vatican. All other Indians elevated as saints have been members of the clergy.

Who was Devsahayam Pillai?

Devsahayam Pillai was born in 1712 in the village of Nattalam in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari District.

He grew up in an upper caste family of temple priests and was known as Nilakanda Pillai.

He went on to serve in the court of Travancore’s Maharaja Marthanda Verma. It was here that he met a Dutch naval commander, who taught him about the Catholic faith.

He then converted to Christianity in 1745. He took the Christian name Lazarus, but later came to be known as Devasahayam (God’s help).

However, he then faced the wrath of the Travancore state which was against his conversion.

In 1752, just seven years after he became a Catholic, Devasahayam was shot dead. Since then, he has widely been considered a martyr by the Catholic community in South India.

The Church is of the view that his preaching of equality of all people despite caste differences eventually led to his martyrdom.


Source: This post is based on the article “INDIAN OCEAN NAVAL SYMPOSIUM (IONS) – 2021 CONCLAVE OF CHIEFS 15 -16 NOV 21, PARIS, FRANCE” published by PIB on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

The 7th edition of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Conclave of Chiefs is being hosted by the French Navy at Paris, France.

What is the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium(IONS)?

IONS is a biennial forum conceived by the Indian Navy in 2008.

Objective: To enhance maritime cooperation among Navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region. 

First Edition: The inaugural edition of IONS was held in Feb 2008 in New Delhi with the Indian Navy as the Chair for two years. 

Currently Chaired by: France.

Members of IONS: IONS includes 24 nations that hold territory within the Indian Ocean and 8 observer nations:

The members have been geographically grouped into the following four sub-regions:

  • South Asian Littorals: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and United Kingdom (British Indian Ocean Territory)
  • West Asian Littorals: Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
  • East African Littorals: France (Reunion), Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Tanzania.
  • Southeast Asian and Australian Littorals: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste.

Observer Nations: China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Madagascar, the Netherlands, Russia, and Spain.


BRO feat recognised by Guinness World Records

Source: This post is based on the articleBRO feat recognised by Guinness World Recordspublished by PIB on 16th November 2021.

What is the News?

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has received the Guinness World Records certificate for constructing and black topping the world’s highest motorable road at 19,024 feet at Umlingla Pass in Ladakh.

About the World’s Highest Motorable Road 

The road was built under the ‘Project Himank’ of BRO.

It is a 52-km long motorable road that connects remote villages in eastern Ladakh and it passes through the 19,024 feet high Umlingla Pass.

This beats the previous record of a road in Bolivia which connects volcano Uturuncu at 18,953 feet. 

Significance: The road will be important for Eastern Ladakh as it will help the local population of the region and will also enhance the socio-economic conditions and promote tourism in Ladakh. 

Read More: Project Himank and Umling La Pass

Country’s first fisheries business incubator launched in Haryana’s Gurugram

What is the News?

Union Minister of Fisheries has inaugurated the country’s first-of-its-kind, dedicated business incubator to be known as LINAC- NCDC Fisheries Business Incubation Centre(LlFlC) in Haryana’s Gurugram.

About LINAC- NCDC Fisheries Business Incubation Centre(LIFIC)

Aim: To nurture fisheries start-ups under real market-led conditions.

Services Provided by the LIFIC: The centre will provide hand holding such as training, converting entrepreneurial ideas into business models. It will also share seed money to the new as well as existing business entrepreneurs who are keen to make big in the fisheries segment.

Implementing Agency: National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)

What is the contribution of the Fisheries Sector in India?

India ranks second in the world in total fish production as per 2018-19 data. Of this, the inland fisheries sector contributes nearly 70% and the rest comes from the marine sector.

The share of the fisheries sector is more than 1% of India’s GDP now, It is up from merely 0.40% in 1950-51. Fisheries also constitute about 10% of total exports from India. 

Currently, Fisheries is a sunrise industry in India, growing at a 7% rate annually. The Prime Minister has set a goal of 22 million tonnes of fish production and export to the tune of Rs one lakh crore by 2025.

Source: This post is based on the articleCountry’s first fisheries business incubator launched in Haryana’s Gurugrampublished by PIB on 16th November 2021.


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