9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 18th, 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.
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Naval Ambition

Source: This post is based on the article “Naval Ambition” published in Times Of India on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2-India and its neighborhood- relations.

Relevance: To understand India’s naval prowess and the need to further strengthen it.

News: Indian navy aims to become a 170-warship force from its current strength of 130 warships over the next decade.

What is the significance of India’s naval plan? 

Firstly, there is a high possibility that the most consequential strategic battles of this century will be played out on the high seas.

Secondly, China’s agressiveness in the Indo-Pacific and building the world’s largest navy. China already has 355 warships, including at least 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines.

Third, A collusive threat of China-Pakistan. China recently transferred its largest and most advanced warship to Pakistan.

Fourth, Reorientation of India’s military – India has traditionally been focused on land-based forces. Now it requires boosting its naval prowess. India currently has just one nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant.

What are the challenges in front of India?

India’s target of 170 ships seems achievable, as 39 naval ships and submarines are already under construction in various Indian shipyards. However, it may not be sufficient, India’s initial plan was for a 200-plus naval force, it was reduced to 170 ships, and that too with an extension of timeline by 5 years.

Thus, considering the present circumstances, India needs to increase the pace of India’s naval modernization.


A collaborative tech vision for US, UAE, Israel and India

Source: This post is based on the article “A collaborative tech vision for US, UAE, Israel and India” published in Indian Express on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: To understand the potential of Quad nations on technology partnerships.

News: Recently, India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have decided to launch a new quadrilateral economic forum. The technology dimension of this partnership promises a far greater potential for collaboration.

Must read: Quadrilateral economic forum and India – Explained, pointwise
How the Quad countries are collaborating with each other on Technology?

Israel and UAE’s startup sectors sign a deal to collaborate on fintech and digital security.  This will create regulatory sandboxes and accelerators for start-ups and provide them with market access opportunities.

Read more: IFSCA introduces framework for ‘Regulatory Sandbox’

India and the US have been separately working with the two countries on multiple projects.  For instance, an Israel-based company, specialised in robotic solar cleaning technology, signed an agreement to utilise its manufacturing facility in India for a project in the UAE.

Israel, the UAE and the US are collaborating on water and energy projects.

What are the advantages for the Quad countries if engaged in Technology?

– Can shape an innovation-based partnership, which can conjoin the technology hubs of Silicon Valley, Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Bengaluru,

– Can focus on emerging technologies according to their respective national priorities,

-Counter the technological growth of China: By collaborating with Russia, and domestic flagship initiatives like “Made in China 2025”, China reduced the capability gap with the US. With the Quad nation’s shared technological goals, they can utilise each country’s unique advantage for common good.

How do the technological collaborations benefit India?

India can leverage Silicon Valley’s venture capital funding, Tel Aviv’s close-knit organic linkages between start-ups, industry, and academia, and UAE’s funding and focus on innovation.

Provide an opportunity for India on transformative technologies: The startup community in the US, Israel and the UAE have already reached an advanced research and development stage on three transformative technologies Quantum science, blockchain, and 3D printing. India can build expertise and offer the scale to the development and applications of these technologies.

For instance,

3D printing: Israel manufactures about 40% of 3D printers worldwide. On the other hand, India is lagging behind the 3D printing bandwagon.

Quantum computer: Israel, UAE and the US have made a research on quantum technology a priority. India is catching up with them through National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.

Blockchain: India and the UAE can leverage the American and Israeli expertise in cyber and cryptography to craft customised applications for use in banking, fintech and trade financing. This can contribute to reducing administration and transaction costs in India.

What should Quad nations do to strengthen technological collaboration?

Add opportunities for scaling up and manufacturing: Indian towns like Bengaluru and Hyderabad that have vibrant technology bases along with multiple defence public sector units and research establishments, private sector companies can be potential towns for such manufacturing.

Begin technology cooperation in transformative technologies: Quantum science, blockchain, and 3D printing can be a priority area for the four countries as they offer exciting applications for encrypted communications, cryptography, aerospace engineering, and manufacturing.

Their dual-use nature offers the potential to give a technological edge to the four countries’ militaries. This, in turn, can add the security cooperation element to the grouping’s agenda.

Plug innovation ecosystems: The new quad nations should broaden the base of cooperation, rather than restrict it to the government-to-government domain. This can be done through seed-funding, academic collaborations, industrial partnerships and MoUs.


What Biden-Xi summit presages for the future

Source: This post is based on the article “What Biden-Xi summit presages for the future” published in Business Standard on 17th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: To understand the recent developments in US-China relations and its impact on India.

News: During a virtual summit between US President and the Chinese President, both the nations have decided to nudge their relations towards greater engagement and expanded cooperation.

What are the recent initiatives by US and China to mitigate tensions?

Recently, both nations took significant steps to give a new and more positive direction to US-China relations.

These include

-Inauguration of high-level engagement on key bilateral and global issues,

-Agreed to engage in structured talks on their respective nuclear stockpiles to ensure “nuclear stability”. This is due to rapid and significant advances in the Chinese nuclear stockpile.

Read more: US-China missile rivalry opens up new opportunities for India

-US has rolled back to its earlier position in Taiwan and recognised the One China Policy.

Read more: Taiwan-China conflict and India’s stand on it

-Both Nations announced a “US-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Change” on the eve of the Glasgow summit. The declaration will 1. Enhance the bilateral programme of cooperation on Climate Change, 2. A substantial initiative on reducing methane emissions, 3. Expanding forestry, 4. “phasing down” of coal-based power by China, 5. Achieve a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 in the US.

Read more: Glasgow Climate Pact – Explained, pointwise
What are the reasons behind the US’s policy shift?

1. Opinion of American investors in China: China Business Report mentioned that 72% of American companies in China had no plans to move production out of the country in the next three years, 2. The Chinese economy is now fully integrated into the global economy, So the US has to adjust its external policy to reflect this reality. 3. Growth of Chinese nuclear stockpile: China now has more long-range and sophisticated missiles, including those with multiple warheads. Further, China successfully tested a hypersonic glide weapon that is capable of penetrating anti-ballistic missile systems deployed by the US.

Read more: Explained: Agni (ICBM) vs China’s Hypersonic missile
What are the challenges in China-US relations?

1. Issue of the trade war, 2. Discrimination against Chinese companies on specious national security grounds by the USA, 3. The spillover effect of the US’s domestic economic policy on global economic recovery and on China.

What it means to India?

The growth of the Chinese nuclear stockpile will have implications for the credibility of India’s own limited nuclear deterrent.

Affect India’s geopolitical calculations, and India need to reassess the value of partnership with the US and platforms like the Quad.


More a private sector primer than healthcare pathway

Source: This post is based on the article “More a private sector primer than healthcare pathway” published in The Hindu on 18th November 2021 

Syllabus: GS2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health.

Relevance: Understanding universal healthcare.

News: NITI Aayog recently released the document “health insurance for India’s missing middle”.

About the document
Read here: NITI Aayog Releases Report on ‘Health Insurance for India’s Missing Middle’
What are the existing health insurance programs?

Ayushmann Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana(AB-PMJAY), Other state-level health insurance schemes and private health insurance programs.

The report proposes voluntary, contributory health insurance dispensed mainly by private commercial health insurers as the prime instrument for extending health insurance to the ‘missing middle’.

This is a major departure from the universal health coverage (UHC) vision, which had earlier proposed a tax-funded, government-backed universal health coverage plan. This also creates many challenges.

What does the report suggest for in-patient care? 

For hospitalization insurance, the report proposes a similar model as Arogya Sanjeevani Scheme, with a lower premium of 4000 to 6000 per family. But it will be provided by private insurance players. The reduced premium is not on account of government subsidy.

Challenges associated

From international experience, such plans have been successful when there is a government subsidy, a not-for-profit mode of operation, and some important checks and balances. NITI Aayog’s report ignores all these.

For example in Switzerland, though insurance is provided by private players, checks and balances are insured through legislation that provides for mandatory insurance, no cream-skimming, and risk discrimination.

The report suggests enrolment in groups. But in India, where even free of cost government health insurance for the poor has seen low penetration, such models are likely to fail.

What does the report suggest for outpatient care?

Outpatient care comprises the largest share of out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare. The report proposes OPD insurance with an insured sum of Rs.5000 per family per annum.

Challenges associated

However, this will work on a subscription basis, requiring families to pay the entire insured sum in advance. This runs counter to the notion of universal healthcare, as it does not lead to any cost savings for the individuals.

Why is this report flawed?

UHC should involve a strong and overarching role of government. However, the report seeks to expand the footprint of private health insurance providers.

There is a need to move in the direction of National Health Policy 2017 which envisaged increasing public health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP. This amount should also be used to provide government-funded health insurance benefits to the missing middle.


Targeting food: Gujarat civic bodies’ unjustifiable action on vendors selling non-veg fare must be rolled back

Source: This post is based on the article ” Targeting food: Gujarat civic bodies’ unjustifiable action on vendors selling non-veg fare must be rolled back” published in Times of India on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Relevance: Understanding problems faced by the street vendors.

News: Gujarat civic bodies recently targeted street vendors selling non-vegetarian food on unreasonable grounds. In another incidence, Haryana’s local actions enforced a ban on meat shops during festivals despite no state-level directions on the issue.

What is the issue? 

Ahmedabad civic body’s town planning committee announced a drive against non-vegetarian street food vendors on the complaints of some residents. The committee said that they are targetting the food carts that are on arterial roads, near to schools or religious places.

However, clarification of Gujarat CM clarified that the state is not restricting the food choice of any individual. But, still, vendors are forced to move towards less visible parts of the city raises many questions on the CM’s assurance.

Why the move is troubling?

To Food Vendors: Food vendors belong to the self-employed workforce, which already is facing the brunt of the pandemic. Pushing them to the smaller areas will have a drastic impact on their livelihood.

Also read: Government launches PM SVANIDHI scheme to provide affordable loan to street vendors

To Society: It will generate intolerance and have the potential to impact harmonious co-existence.


Transfer as punishment

Source: This post is based on the article “Transfer as punishment” published in The Hindu on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: Understanding transfer of Chief Justice of Madras HC.

News: Recently, the Supreme Court collegium recommended the transfer of the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court.

Read more: There’s a need for transparency in transfer of judges

What are the questions raised by the transfer?

Read here: A routine matter or a punishment post?

What does the Memorandum of Procedure for judicial appointments and transfers say?

It says that a proposal to transfer a High Court judge can only be initiated by the CJI. In addition, the views of “one or more knowledgeable Supreme Court judges” are taken. These views are considered by the five-member Collegium. This system was put in place as a safeguard against executive’s arbitrariness

Read here: Questions for SC: Chief Justice Banerjee’s transfer from Madras HC again points to the opaqueness of collegium

GS Paper 3


The role of state policy in our acute smog crisis

Source: This post is based on the articles “Cleaning the NCR’s air will require a far greater sense of purpose and political will” published in Indian Express on 18th November 2021 and

The role of state policy in our acute smog crisis” published in Livemint on 18th November 2021.

End the blame game” published in The Hindu on 18th 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 expressed disappointment over the air pollution in National Capital Region.

According to official data, Delhi has recorded less than 20 good air days (AQI less than 51) since 2015. This year also capital is facing the same issue.

Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has given directions to close all educational institutions till further notice, ban all construction work, and work from home for 50 percent of government staff till November 21.

What are the reasons behind constant air pollution in Delhi?

Government policies

The crop timetable was set by Punjab in 2009 to match with the monsoon season. It was aimed at groundwater conservation by getting paddy to be fed by as much monsoon rain as possible. This pushed all further sowing seasons into a tight common band, leaving little time to harvest and sow rabi crops.

As part of our ‘mixed economy‘, we adopted a system of mass procurement for the sake of food security, which led to frequent gluts of rice and consequent excess of straw.

Work-in-silos– In the past, the problem got compounded because the Central Pollution Control Board, EPCA, transport departments, and state-level pollution management agencies worked in silos, and often at cross-purposes.

Technological issues

Mechanical harvesters– These are widely used and are faster than manual labour. However, they leave a residue of straw that farmers would rather burn than pay for eco-friendly but expensive field-clearance options. Incentive plans to cheapen the eco-friendly options have achieved little so far.

Other sources of Pollution 

Particulate matter from personal vehicles, industrial and construction activities are the major source of pollution in the region.

Road dust is the dominant source of particulate matter and the most significant impediment to clean air, but unfortunately, is not taken care of.

Bursting of crackers- Deepavali, social gatherings such as weddings see a demand for crackers around Oct-Nov. It is further compounded by less availability of green crackers leads to additional smoke from all of these.

What are some steps taken to resolve the issue?

Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, in the past.

The new agency, instituted by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act in August, is mandated to frame a “holistic approach” to the NCR’s perennial problem.

What are the solutions?

Market-driven demand for food grain would adjust the price and thereby helping output reach an optimal level. This would lead to optimal production of paddy and thereby less straw generation.

Farms could diversify into pulses, oilseeds, or other crops that we’re actually short of.

Resolving distrust– A plan for a gradual shift towards a market system accompanied by strong antitrust provisions designed to shield cultivator interests would allay their anxiety.

-The state could play chief procurer until a robust market for their produce takes shape, after which it should offer a fallback cushion mandated by law.

The way forward is to view winter air pollution as a natural disaster and target root causes.


How Indian startups are powering the metaverse

Source: This post is based on the article “HOW INDIAN STARTUPS ARE POWERING THE METAVERSE” published in Livemint on 18th Nov 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding various dimensions of metaverse and associated concerns

News: Metaverse has opened a whole new world in front of us. With a range of technologies like AR, VR and MR that it offers, we also need simultaneous policies to prevent misuse of data and protect privacy. Until then, the risks will continue to outweigh the immense benefits that metaverses can offer us.

What is AR, VR & Mixed Reality (MR)?

Virtual Reality (VR) is all about a world created solely inside computers or online.

Augmented Reality (AR) deals with the real world and has elements of the virtual world built atop it, like layers of information.

Mixed reality or MR, as the name suggests, mixes both realities in a bid to capture the best of both worlds. MR is what powers the metaverse to a very great extent.

MR is a metaverse for enterprises where –

The employees can go in groups for training.

The machines can be upgraded or replaced

Existing and new employees can be trained on new machines quickly, safely, and at lower costs.

In this metaverse, the team members can even connect with an instructor by dialing in, following which the instructor can appear as a 3D hologram.

Must Read: What is Metaverse – Explained, pointwise
What are some associated concerns with the metaverse?

Products and services that come out from the metaverse will use data collection and AI-powered data analytics. This can lead to gross misuse if there are no checks and balances.

What is the way forward?

AI-powered algorithms need to be transparent.

AI training models should be able to address bias in the training data or simply be able to detect a human-induced bias.

Humans should have a right to appeal against the decision of an AI-based algorithm.


India saved itself from dubious demands at the Glasgow climate change meet

Source: This post is based on the article “India saved itself from dubious demands at the Glasgow climate change meet” published in Livemint on 18th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Understanding the last-minute changes regarding coal power, effected by India and China in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

News: At the recently concluded COP26, India not only made new climate commitments, but also stood up to argue for its right to continue burning coal in the short to medium run.

The Indian delegation of negotiators eventually won the right for India to keep using coal for a while longer than richer countries.

We have already covered the entire issue in our previous articles. Click here to know about the entire issue in detail

Understanding why the informal sector really shrank during the pandemic

Source: This post is based on the article “Understanding why the informal sector really shrank during the pandemic” published in Indian Express on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 -issues related to formalisation of workforce

Relevance: Formalisation of workforce

News: Increase in formalisation is not a consequence of micro and small informal firms transitioning to formality.

A recent study by SBI estimates that the share of the informal economy has fallen to a mere one-fifth of GDP — a figure comparable to many advanced economies.

However, the supposed formalisation that happened during the pandemic is mainly an outcome of shrinkage of the informal sector under extreme duress.

Understanding the basic difference between formalisation and infomalisation and the objectives of formalisation will help us to understand this issue better.

What are the basic differences between formalisation and infomalisation?

As per ILO, the Informal sector includes those industries that are;

-Private unincorporated enterprises owned by individuals (or households) that are not constituted as separate legal entities independently of their owners.

– For which no complete accounts are available.

– Not registered under specific national legislation (such as Factories’ or Commercial Acts).

Formal workers in India are defined as those having access to at least one social security benefit such as a provident fund or healthcare benefits.

What are the basic objectives of formalisation?

Transitioning to formality requires a reduction in dualism in production and an improvement in employment quality.

Formalisation is not simply about legal considerations. Importantly, it is about increasing their productivity.

The final objective of formalisation is to improve the working and living conditions of those in the informal economy.

Hence,  formalisation does not simply mean registration on a portal(E-shram), it includes a development strategy that requires stepping up investment in physical and human capital to boost productivity and the extension of social security benefits for all workers.

Why the formalisation during the pandemic cannot be counted as a transition to formality?

Firstly, a decline in the share of informal sectors GDP cannot be accounted for as formalisation. Because the informal sector, which was badly affected by the economic contraction during 2020-21, didn’t receive much policy support. Most of the supply-side measures were mainly focused on firms in the formal sector.

Secondly, a decline in the informal sector’s share in GDP has not been accompanied by an expected reduction in its employment share. For instance, the PLFS survey shows, the employment share in non-agricultural informal enterprises has increased from 68 percent in 2017-18 to 69.5 percent in 2019-20.

Lastly, just registering firms cannot be counted as formalization.


Digital divide in education can’t be bridged by laptops and smartphones alone

Source: This post is based on the article “Digital divide in education can’t be bridged by laptops and smartphones alone” published in Indian express on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.

Relevance:  Understanding education divide and economic inequality.

News: Digital divide is not the only reason behind the educational divide, there are socio-economic reasons also.

The covid-induced online education system has highlighted the divide between the digital haves and have-nots, which is a reflection of economic inequality.

The distribution of smartphones and laptops to children to bridge the digital divide will not solve the problem. The lasting solution would be in addressing the root causes like education commercialisation by taking all-encompassing policy decisions.

What are the root causes of the increasing education divide?

Commercialisation of education is the main cause. Knowledge has become a commodity with a thriving market. Commodification leads to commercialisation.

The growth in entrepreneurship-led economic growth requires innovation and technology. Also, it has increased the knowledge intensity of production, which keeps the knowledge economy booming.

Further, Parents and students consider education as an assured instrument of mobility. This has further increased the demand for education.

Consequently, modern education has become costly.

What are the negative consequences?

Exclusion of poor from education: The digital revolution, with its emphasis on robotics, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, will bypass the “capability of poor”.

What are the solutions to address these challenges?

Guaranteeing economic security: Providing assured basic income through provision of universal property rights.

Expanding the ambit of Right to education: Article 21A now guarantees the right to education for children in the six-14 age group. This progressive step should be extended to all sectors and levels of education.

Fiscal measures: Enhancing budget allocation to education by reordering fiscal priorities, and applying methods like zero-based/ outcome budgeting etc.

Ideological change: put education at the centre of economic/ development policy formulation.

Involve private sector: Involve the corporate sector in meeting the demand for publicly funded education, not just through CSR, but as part of academic social responsibility, in return for special concessions and incentives.

Resource mobilisation: institute endowments and enhance diaspora contributions.


Why We Must Trade Freely

Source: This post is based on the article “Why We Must Trade Freely” published in ToI on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

Relevance: Free trade vs import substitution and protection

News: Economists view trade openness as one of the most critical elements in a country’s development policy.

Why India should review its trade protectionist policies?

The principle of comparative advantage: Freeing up trade moves a country towards specialization in products. This encourages the country to move towards products with low output costs and move away from comparatively costly products.

Benefits of economies of scale: Open Trade allows each country to specialize in a handful of products. In doing so, it allows each country to take advantage of scale economies and lower the costs of production of products it continues to produce.

Trade serves as a medium to access the most productive technology worldwide: For instance, the technology embodied in imported machines or imported products can be accessed by reverse engineering.

Exposes a country’s entrepreneurs to compete against the best in the world: Such intense competition keeps them competitive and offers an opportunity to learn from their peers.

Free trade benchmarks the economy against the best in the world: Exposure to the best in the world is an effective instrument of exposing domestic-policy distortions and poor infrastructure. It can help to identify the changes needed in its domestic policies, regulations, and infrastructure when the country is non-competitive.

Access to the global supply chain: Due to advances in transportation and communication technologies, and technological advances, product innovation, product design, and production and assembly can all take place in different locations based on cost advantage.

For example, a country that is rich in human capital is can focus on innovation and design, leaving manufacturing of components and assembly to countries that have a cost advantage in those activities.


Wide fault lines within the Global Climate Risk Index

Source: This post is based on the article “Wide fault lines within the Global Climate Risk Index” published in The Hindu on 18th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Disaster and Disaster Management

Relevance: Global Climate Risk Index,

News: Global Climate Risk Index has many fault lines hence, effective methods to manage climate change are needed.

Global Climate Risk Index” (GCRI), published annually by GermanWatch, ranks 180 countries based on the impact of extreme weather events and associated socio-economic data from 2000-2019.

It aims to forewarn countries about the possibility of more frequent and/or severe climate-related events in the future.

However, recommendations based on this index should be used with caution due to deep fault lines in its methodology and interpretation of the country rankings.

What is climate risk?

IPCC, defines climate risk as the likelihood of unfavorable impacts occurring as a result of severe climate events interacting with vulnerable environmental, social, economic, political, or cultural conditions.

Quantitatively, it is the product of the probability of a climate event occurring and its adverse consequences.

What are the issues in Global Climate Risk Index?

First, the GCRI report does not provide a rationale for the selection of macro indicators. Out of the four key indicators (The number of deaths, number of deaths per 1,00,000 inhabitants sum of losses in Purchasing Power Parity, and losses per unit of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)) two are absolute while the other two are relative.

Second, the index suffers from exclusion errors and selection bias. It excludes a number of key micro indicators such as the total number of people injured, loss of livestock, loss of public and private infrastructure, crop loss, and others that are better suited for assessing the composite loss resulting from climate change events.

Third, the index omits geological incidents like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or tsunamis, which may be potentially triggered by climate change and can have an economic and humanitarian impact.

Fourth, data not validated at ground level: The ranking under the GCRI is done based on data collected by Munich Re’s NatCatService, which is not validated at the ground-level. They are at best approximate values of economic losses.

What is the way forward?

Climate change can at best be managed within a comprehensive risk assessment framework, which uses climate information to better cope with the impact of climate change.

In this context, India’s latest module on the National Disaster Management Information System (NDMIS) extensively captures damages and losses caused by disasters. The data captured by the NDMIS includes all major climatic events.

It is necessary that India should use its own comprehensive risk assessment framework to identify climate risks.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

BRSR disclosure pathway to green companies: Indian industry lobby at CoP26

Source:  This post is based on the article BRSR disclosure pathway to green companies: Indian industry lobby at CoP26published by Down To Earth on 17th November 2021.

What is the News?

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) organised a side event in Glasgow at the COP26 to discuss the role of ‘Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report’ (BRSR) in driving climate actions in India.

What is the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR)?

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) as a reporting mechanism in May, 2021.

Purpose: It is a standardised reporting format that aims to encourage companies to go beyond regulatory financial compliance and report on their social and environmental impacts.

Impact: The reporting of BRSR will make it easier for regulators and investors to obtain a fair estimate of overall business stability, growth and sustainability. It will also give a baseline to draw comparison between environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals across companies and sectors.

Further, they may also help strengthen the climate commitments, accelerate decarbonisation and attract green investment for businesses.

Environment, social and governance (ESG) aspects were first incorporated in the business models in India in 2009 with the introduction of national voluntary guidelines by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). The latest framework, BRSR, is believed to be more comprehensive and relies more on quantitative disclosures.

Companies Covered: At present, the top 1,000 listed entities (as per market capitalization) have to voluntarily disclose the required information according to the new standards in the financial year 2021-2022. It is mandatory for the same companies to report according to BRSR in the next financial year (2022-2023).

What are the drawbacks of BRSR reporting?

Firstly, there is no benchmark against which the parameters are to be assessed. The indicators will be of no use for a common stakeholder and just act as another data point, without a benchmark for reporting of key performance.

Secondly, the information available will be company-specific and not plant-specific. Therefore, a biased picture may be generated from the parameters such as carbon emissions.


Union Minister inaugurates National Workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister inaugurates National Workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programmepublished by PIB on 17th Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Rural Development has inaugurated ‘Bhumi Samvaad’ – National Workshop on Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP).

The ​​Minister also launched the National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS) portal and Dashboard.

What is Digital India Land Record Modernisation Programme (DILRMP)?

It is a Central Sector Scheme launched in 2008. The programme was previously known as the National Land Record Modernization Programme (NLRMP).

Aim: To digitize and modernize land records and develop a centralised land record management system.

Schemes Merged under the programme: Two Centrally sponsored schemes namely Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR) were merged under DILRMP.

Components: The major components are computerisation of land records, survey/resurvey and computerisation of Registration. 

What is the National Generic Document Registration System(NGDRS)?

NGDRS is a cloud-based application developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) for registering land documents and properties digitally. 

Benefits: Reduction in land disputes, check on fraudulent transactions, SMS and email enabled alerts related to transactions on property, PAN Verification etc. It will also provide ease of living to the people.

What is a Unique Land Parcel Identification Number (ULPIN)?

The ULPIN System is a unique system wherein a 14 digit unique ID based on Geo-coordinates of the parcels is generated and assigned to the plots. 

This has been introduced to share the computerized digital land record data among different States/Sectors and a uniform system of assigning a unique ID to the land parcel across the country. 

So far, ULPIN  has already been implemented in 13 States and pilot tested in another 6 States.

Click Here to read more about ULPIN

Indian researchers develop better therapeutics to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: This post is based on the articleIndian researchers develop better therapeutics to treat Autism Spectrum Disorderpublished in PIB on 17th November 2021.

What is the News?

A group of Indian researchers have developed a compound called “6BIO” that can provide a better method to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD)?

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socialises with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication.

People with autism also often have co-occurring conditions, including epilepsy, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Causes: Available scientific evidence suggests that there are probably many factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental and genetic factors.

Symptoms: Early signs of this disorder can be noticed before a child reaches one year of age. However, symptoms typically become more consistently visible by the time a child is 2 or 3 years old.

Cases Worldwide: It is estimated that worldwide about one in 160 children has an ASD. 

What is the current treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD)?

Current therapeutics to treat ASD aim to alleviate symptoms such as epileptic seizures or sleep issues but not to treat the multiple problems of ASD.

What have the Indian Researchers developed to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD)?

Indian researchers have developed a compound called “6BIO” that can provide a better method to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

This compound has the potential for improving daily activities like learning and recollecting new tasks in patients with ASD/ Intellectual disability (ID).

Note: The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 has increased the types of disabilities from 7 to 21. It has added autism spectrum disorder as one of the disabilities which was largely ignored in earlier Act.


Cabinet approves USOF scheme for provision of mobile services in Uncovered Villages of Aspirational Districts

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • Cabinet nod for mobile services in 7,287 villages” published in The Hindu on 17th November 2021.
  • Cabinet approves USOF scheme for provision of mobile services in Uncovered Villages of Aspirational Districts published in PIB on 17th November 2021.
What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved a project for providing mobile services in Uncovered Villages of Aspirational Districts across five States.

About the Project

Aim:  To provide 4G based mobile services in the uncovered villages of Aspirational Districts across five States of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra & Odisha.

Funding: The project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

Allocation of work under the Project: The work related to the provision of 4G mobile services in these identified uncovered villages will be awarded through an open competitive bidding process. 

Duration of the Project: 5 Years.


Cabinet approves continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-I,PMGSY-II and Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA)

Source: This post is based on the article Cabinet approves continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-I,PMGSY-II and Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA)published by PIB on 17th November 2021.

What is the News?

Cabinet has approved the continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-I and II up to September 2022 for the completion of balance road and bridge works. 

Cabinet also approved the continuation of the Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA) upto March 2023.

What is Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana(PMGSY)? 

PMGSY was launched in the year 2000.

Aim: To provide rural connectivity, by way of a single all-weather road, to the eligible unconnected habitations of designated population size (500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-Eastern States, Himalayan States and Himalayan Union Territories as per 2001 census).

Note: In the critical Left Wing Extremism affected blocks, additional relaxation has been given to connect habitations with a population of 100 persons and above as per the 2001 census.

Features of PMGSY

PMGSY promotes the use of new and green technology in the construction of rural roads. Locally available materials are used in road construction in order to promote cost-effective and fast construction. 

It also envisages a three-tier Quality Assurance Mechanism to ensure the quality of road works during construction and post-construction.

PMGSY-Phase II

The Government of India subsequently launched PMGSY-II in 2013 for up-gradation of 50,000 Kms of the existing rural road network to improve its overall efficiency.

PMGSY-Phase III

The government of India launched PMGSY-III in 2019 for consolidation of 1,25,000 Km road length by March 2025. 

What is the Road Connectivity Project of Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas (RCPLWEA)?

RCPLWEA was started in 2016 to improve connectivity in 44 Left Wing Extremism(LWE) affected districts in 9 states.

The 9 states are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.


NITI Aayog lists 11 measures to improve school education system

Source: This post is based on the articleNITI Aayog lists 11 measures to improve school education” published by The Hindustan Times on 17th November 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has released a report titled “Systemic Transformation of School Education”. The report has suggested 11 measures to improve the country’s school education system.

About the report

The report has recommended 11 measures to improve the country’s school education system.

These recommendations are based on findings of NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH-Education) Initiative.

Note: SATH-Education Initiative was launched in 2017 to identify and build three ‘role model’ states — Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh — for the school education sector. The interventions undertaken by states under the initiative has resulted in an average 20% improvement in the education system.

What are the key recommendations given by the report?

Source: NITI Aayog

The report has given recommendations in five key areas, i.e, focus on academic reforms, strengthening human capacity, strengthening administrative systems, driving accountability and creating a shared vision for change. Some of the key recommendations in these areas are: 

Prepare Learning Outcome Framework(LOF): The implementation of the Right to Education Act resulted in providing near-universal access to education, with over 96% enrolment of students in age group 6-10 years. However, the learning outcomes did not reflect the improved quality of education. Hence, the report has suggested states to prepare a Learning Outcome Framework (LOF) 

Implement Learning Enhancement Programs that provide additional and specialized support to children behind grade level or with learning disabilities.

A reform in the assessment’s framework should target the transition from testing of memory to testing of command over competencies, critical thinking and conceptual clarity through better-designed question papers.

States need to implement remedial measures in campaign mode for 4-5 years to bring all children to grade level.

Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise

School enrolment fell during pandemic: Annual Status of Education Report

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • School enrollment fell during pandemic: Annual Status of Education Report published in The Hindu on 17th November 2021.
  • Explained: Covid’s impact on learning published in The Indian Express on 17th November 2021.
  • Enrolment shifts from private to govt schools in rural India: ASER 2021” published in Business Standard on 17th November 2021.
  • “Lessons in the pandemic” published in the Business Standard on 17th November 2021.
What is the News?

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey 2021 has been released.

What is an ASER Survey?

The ASER survey is facilitated by Pratham Education Foundation. It is the oldest survey of its kind in the country. The survey is known for the range of insights it provides on levels of foundational learning at the elementary level.

About ASER 2021 Survey

The 2021 survey was based on a household-based telephonic survey conducted in rural areas across 581 districts in 25 states and three Union Territories.

Aim: To understand the transition when it comes to the education system of India as the COVID-19 scare comes down.

The survey assesses enrolment in schools and tuition classes and access to devices and learning resources rather than the organisation’s usual face-to-face survey which assesses learning outcomes and children’s competencies in reading and arithmetic skills.

Unlike other ASER reports that are focused on learning outcomes, 2020 and 2021 reports are focused on rural school education levels in a post-pandemic world. It also captures trends during the early phases of partial school reopening.

What are the Key findings of ASER 2021?
Source: Hindustan Times

Increase in Enrollment in Government Schools: There has been an overall increase in the proportion of children enrolled in Govt schools. Around 70.3% of children in India enrolled in government schools in 2021 up from 65.8% in 2020 and 64.3% in 2018. 

The enrolment rate in private schools has decreased as compared to last year. In 2020, the enrolment rate was 28.8%, which decreased to 24.4% in 2021.

Reason for Shift to Government Schools: 1. Result of financial distress, 2. The closure of affordable private schools, 3. The movement of migrants to rural areas.

Tuition Dependent: There was a 40% increase in the number of school-going children taking tuition during the closure of their schools amid the pandemic.

Digital Divide: The youngest learners have the “least access to technology”. Almost a third of all children in Classes I and II did not have a smartphone available at home. 

Smartphone penetration in rural India had grown from 36.5% in 2018 to 62% in 2020. 68% of enrolled children had at least one smartphone at home, but their percentage varied sharply between children attending government schools (63.7%) and private ones (79%). In states like Bihar, UP, the lack of access varied from 54 to 34%.

Almost one in every three children in Classes I and II have never attended in-person classes before.

What are the suggestions provided by the ASER Report?

Government should focus more on the digital infrastructure, especially in the remote areas where more disruptions are visible.


 

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