9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 22nd, 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

Keeping a close eye on China’s nuclear capabilities

Source: This post is based on the article “Keeping a close eye on China’s nuclear capabilities” published in The Indian Express on 7th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

Relevance: Understanding a shift in China’s strategic military capabilities and India’s response.

News: The PRC’s nuclear capabilities, in particular, are undergoing a fundamental transformation and a shift seems to be evident in both the quantity and the quality of the PRC’s atomic arsenal. India needs to be cautious.

How China’s military capabilities are undergoing a major shift?

China Military Power Report (CMPR) recently released by the Pentagon reveals four specific areas where change is underway —

i). Quantitative strength: the size of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal, is set to increase. Presently, it has around 200 nuclear warheads. By 2027, they are likely to increase to 700.

ii). Atomic yield: The PRC is likely to favor the expansion of low-yield weapons. They are weapons ideal for battlefield use during conventional military operations and against conventional targets such as concentrations of armoured, artillery and infantry forces. Lower yield warheads help the PRC avoid causing collateral damage.

iii). Delivery capabilities: these low-yield nuclear warheads are also likely to find their way into a key delivery capability — the PRC’s Dong-Feng-26 (DF-26) ballistic missile. In addition to the DF-26, China has also developed the JL-2 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) with a range of 7,200 kilometres capable of striking targets across continental Asia.

iv). Posture: China has moved towards a Launch on Warning (LoW) nuclear posture. A higher alert posture risks reducing the threshold for nuclear use in the form of preemption. It could also lead to miscalculation and unintended nuclear use.

What are the implications for India of China’s increasing military capabilities?

For India, there are some serious implications with China’s increasingly minatory nuclear military capabilities.

First, the size of China’s nuclear arsenal complicates the potency of India’s nuclear arsenal. A significantly larger Chinese nuclear arsenal paired to missile defences will limit damage to the PRC. It also threatens the survivability of the Indian nuclear arsenal.

Secondly, the Launch on Warning (LoW) posture reduces the decision time for any Indian retaliatory nuclear strike in the heat of a war or crisis and places pressure on India to pursue its own LoW. The PRC could also significantly degrade an Indian retaliatory strike if China chooses to resort to First Use (FU) of nuclear weapons, and completely eradicate India’s nuclear forces.

Thirdly, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese have added two new Type 094 (Jin class) SSBNs/nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines to their existing fleet. The Chinese Navy has carried out bathymetric and ocean mapping surveys in the Indian Ocean, crucial to the execution of sub-surface military operations. The Bay of Bengal’s sea depth is very conducive for nuclear submarine missions, which will leave India exposed to a Chinese atomic pincer from the maritime & the continental domain.

A pincer attack is a military attack by two coordinated forces that close in on an enemy position from different directions
What is the way forward?

Indian strategic planners will have to think about the quantitative nuclear balance and India’s nuclear posture vis-à-vis the PRC.

The maritime dimension of China’s nuclear capabilities might not be an immediate strategic challenge but will potentially become one in the coming years for New Delhi. It will have to specifically watch the pattern in the People Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) nuclear submarine deployments and address the deficit in its subsurface nuclear delivery capabilities.

Flaws in the system

Source: This post is based on the article “Flaws in the system” published in The Hindu on 21 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 –Structure, organization, and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: To understand the constitutional and supreme court stand on the transfer of judges.

News: The transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee from the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court has given rise to a controversy.

What is the Constitutional provision on the transfer of judges?

Article 222 of the Constitution provides for the transfer of High Court judges, including the Chief Justice.

-It says the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, may transfer a Judge from one High
Court to any other High Court.

-It also provides for a compensatory allowance to the transferred judge.

What is the Supreme Court’s stand on the issue?

In Union of India vs. Sankalchand Himatlal Sheth(1977):

-Supreme Court rejected the idea that High Court judges can be transferred only with their consent. It reasoned that the transfer of power can be exercised only in the public interest.

-The President is under an obligation to consult the CJI which meant that all relevant facts must be placed before the CJI.

-The CJI had the right and duty to elicit and ascertain further facts from the judge concerned or others.

In S.P. Gupta vs. President of India (1981), also known as the ‘Judges’ Transfer Case’, the Supreme Court by the majority ruled that consultation with the Chief Justice did not mean ‘concurrence’ with respect to appointments.

-In effect, it emphasised the primacy of the executive in the matter of appointments and transfers.

However, this position was overruled in the ‘Second Judges Case’ (1993) where also the concept of a ‘Collegium of Judges’ came into being. That is the opinion of the CJI ought to mean the views of a plurality of judges.

What is the current procedure for transfers?

In the collegium era, the proposal for transferring a High Court judge, including a Chief Justice, should be initiated by the CJI.

The consent of the judge is not required. “All transfers are to be made in the public interest, i.e., for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.

For transferring a judge other than the Chief Justice, the CJI should take the views of the Chief Justices of the two High courts concerned.

The CJI should also take into account the views of one or more Supreme Court judges in the process of deciding whether a proposed transfer should take place.

-In the case of transfer of a Chief Justice, only the views of one or more knowledgeable Supreme Court judges need to be taken.

The views should all be expressed in writing, and they should be considered by the CJI and four
senior-most judges of the Supreme Court- Collegium of five.

The recommendation is sent to the Union Law Minister who should submit the relevant papers to the Prime Minister who then advises the President on approving the transfer.

What makes transfers controversial?

The accusation of the Punitive element in the transfer of judges makes the transfer controversial.

Not disclosing the reason for a transfer, as disclosure could impinge on the judge’s performance and independence in the court.

-On the other hand, the absence of a reason sometimes gives rise to speculation whether it was effected because of complaints against the judge, or if it was a sort of punishment for certain judgments.

Deeper trade ties will benefit both India and US

Source: This post is based on the article “Deeper trade ties will benefit both India and US” published in Indian Express on 22 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 Indo-US ties and pain points in the relation.

News: The first US-India Trade Policy Forum in over four years begins.

Over the past two decades, the partnership between India and US has strengthened tremendously. From strategic cooperation to our deepening people-to-people ties, the gains have been impressive.

However, the current stakes for a growing economic partnership are greater as we experience a volatile and uneven global economic recovery from the pandemic.

What is the significance of the US for India?

India is trying to move up its value chains and reach ambitious development targets. The aims are to grow to a $-5 trillion economy by 2025, become a hub for high-tech manufacturing, and install 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

These goals can be achieved with US capital and investment and continued access to the US market.

What are the steps taken by India and challenges thereon to boost investment?

The recent moves to raise FDI caps in key sectors and the repeal of the retroactive tax law have boosted investor confidence.

However, the implementation of unpredictable tariffs and regulatory regimes targeting foreign firms should be avoided.

What should be the way forward for India and US?

Both governments can make real progress by pursuing negotiations on two parallel tracks:

One dedicated to removing and resolving longstanding irritants and disputes.

Second focused on building a 21st-century trade framework starting with the key sectors that are driving growth and innovation across the economic corridor. Some of them are:

Healthcare sector

Governments should embrace market-based approaches to innovative medical products. It must ensure that public procurement policies do not discriminate against foreign firms, and speed up the approval of medical devices and pharmaceuticals so that critical and lifesaving therapies can get to the market faster.

Digital sphere

we must address several foundational issues, such as the digital service tax, cross-border data flows, and common cellular standards.

It’s important that on the digital services tax, India accords with emerging global agreements that will accelerate trade.

Similarly, it is important that India and the US come to a common ground on 5G standards so that it can operate in an integrated telecommunications ecosystem.

 New data regulations should also facilitate the flow of information and respect internationally recognised intellectual property rights that serve as the cornerstone for innovation worldwide.

What are the potential benefits of these actions if taken?

Progress on these fronts can facilitate the movement of the goods, services, technology, talent, and capital necessary to fortify the world against climate disruption, prepare it for future pandemics, and build an economy ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

In Hyderpora, leadership of security forces must ensure that personnel follow court’s directions, in letter and spirit

Source: This post is based on the article “In Hyderpora, leadership of security forces must ensure that personnel follow court’s directions, in letter and spirit” published in the Indian Express on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Fundamental Rights.

Relevance: Understanding the breach of Fundamental Rights behind the encounter.

News: Recently, army and police forces conducted an operation in Srinagar which led to the killing of three civilians along with a Pakistani militant has raised questions of the overuse of their powers.

What was the issue all about?

Army and police personals in the disturbed areas have the special power under Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) to fight against militants. But in some cases, the security personnel find it difficult to distinguish between militants and civilians, a distinction which has blurred even further with the recent emergence of “OGW” (overground worker for militants) or “hybrid militant”.

What were the earlier instances?

A similar instance has happened last year in Amshipora in Shopian, where the Army captain and JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) in association with two civilians wrongly portrayed three men as terrorists, in order to claim reward money and killed them. The Police had filed a charge sheet against the captain, and the two civilians.

The Army also acknowledged the breach of powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act by the officials. Army took over the case from the civil court. As of now, there is no update from either the Military Court or Civil Court.

What is the Supreme court’s view over misuse of power?

SC in 2019 order said that every encounter must be enquired and there must be material evidence before naming someone as a terrorist. The Army leadership must ensure the rule of law is followed and Article 21 is respected.

Also read: Rule of Law vs Rule by Law

Shifting the pile: On inequity and Swachh citiest

Source: This post is based on the article “Shifting the pile: On inequity and Swachh citiest” published in  The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: Understanding the results of Swacch Survekhan 2021.

News: Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs has released the results of Swachh Survekshan 2021.

What are the key takeaways of the Swachh Survekshan 2021 awards?

Read here: President of India Graces Swachh Amrit Mahotsav and Presents Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021

Ganga Towns: Varanasi has been awarded the cleanest town award along the banks of river Ganga.

Prerak Daaur Samman: It is a new category of awards that starts from 2021 and judged states on its Solid waste management. It ranked Indore, Surat, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi Municipal Council and Tirupati as ‘Divya’ (platinum).

What is the purpose of such rankings?

1) Publicity boost  2) Motivation to do better

What are the questions raised by the Swachh Survekshan survey?

The award categories have expanded manifold e.g., Separate award for States Category based on number of ULBs in the State (Above 100 and below 100); ‘Ganga City’, ‘Prerak Daaur Samman’, and ‘Population’ wise category. The expanded categories mean that more cities get awards and consequently the award process resembles an appeasement exercise.

For the last six years, almost the same cities are topping the survey. This raises legitimate questions like  (1) whether cities are actually getting motivated as intended; (2) whether some cities have better access to funds; (3) whether the States focus their funds in keeping some cities clean to avail of a rank in any of the wide number of categories; (4) Can complex problems like sanitation be reduced to simple metrics?

Thus, there should be a better analysis of the scheme to understand whether the cities are getting cleaner or the numbers are hiding inequity?

Making Ayurveda a real science

Source: This post is based on the article “Making Ayurveda a real science” published in  The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Achievements of Indians in science & technology.

Relevance: Understanding the need of revamping the Ayush system.

News: During the Pandemic, Ayurveda based self-medication was promoted. But no attempt was made to educate people with the correct ingredients like Giloy or Dalcheeni.

Many Ayurveda physicians claimed successful treatment of Covid, but none were recorded and researched. The coordination between ICMR and Ayush could have helped in better management of the pandemic.

Why the Ayurveda system is being questioned?

Recently, a group of scientists has started a social media campaign calling all Ayush systems “pseudoscience”. This is because of:

– Finding unwarranted constituents like antibiotics, heavy metals in many of the Ayush products.

-Unscientific and outdated content in the textbooks of Ayush graduate programmes.

– Various cases where adverse impacts were visible after exposure to Ayush interventions.

What should the policymakers/academicians do?

– Introspect all the flaws carefully and do the required changes.

-Adoption of uniform protocols for diagnosis and interventions of various diseases.

-Conduct longitudinal observation studies involving around 20 different clinical conditions that Ayush is confident of treating to establish the efficacy of Ayush medicines and systems.

-Establish a regulatory mechanism to check that classical formulations do not contain harmful substances like heavy metals before they are made available in markets.

GS Paper 3

Failure at the tri-junction of land, income and identity

Source: This post is based on the article “Failure at the tri-junction of land, income and identity” published in Live mint on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Land Reforms in India.

Relevance: Centrality of Land to people’s livelihood.

News: The centrality of land to people’s lives is key to understanding the reasons behind the year-long, rigid opposition to the three farm laws by the farmers.

The ongoing land acquisition issue between the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) and over 10 agricultural families in Dholaivra is a case point that explains the significance of land attached to people’s lives.

This story seen in the context of farm laws will help us to understand why Farmers were agitating rigidly against the farm laws.

What is the issue between the Archaeological Society of India (ASI) and the agricultural families in Dholaivra?

During the early 1990s, the ASI, acquired land from over 10 agricultural families around the excavation site to expand its discovery coverage.

However, none of the families accepted the compensation because they felt it was too little. They wanted either jobs or equivalent parcels of land anywhere else.

The ASI couldn’t comply, forcing land-owners to seek legal redressal. The case has been dragging for more than 25 years. This issue illustrates, the significance of the land.

How significant is land to people’s livelihood?

Land is a source for livelihood: Land is one of the two primary factors of production, capital, and labour. The land is capital, and when coupled with labour, it yields a regular income.

Land serves important social functions: For many agricultural families, despite their marginal holdings, land serves as the basis for social, cultural, linguistic, and filial ties.

How the significance associated with land is connected to farm laws?

First, the farmers were afraid that the farm laws were designed for the benefit of large conglomerates that could use their influence to control farmers and the farm trade.

Second, the farm income has been declining owing to a decline in operational agricultural land-holding. For example, The National Statistical Office’s 2019 survey on farm incomes, showed that farmers with less than 2 acres of land (90% of all farmers) had suffered poor income growth from cultivation over the past decade.

In this context, the farm laws gave rise to fears that even this income would be further compressed under corporate pressure, forcing many farmers to eventually lose their capital.

Reliable data, good policy

Source: This post is based on the article “Reliable data, good policy” published in The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- issues related to Data governance

Relevance: Role of reliable data in Evidence-based policymaking

News: Reliable and timely public data have a direct bearing on the state’s capability to effectively design and implement programmes.

The coverage and reporting of Census data have vastly improved since independence. Among the emerging economies, India is credited to have a relatively robust public data system generated through its decennial Census and yearly sample surveys on specific themes.

However, some present trends regarding data collections are concerning.

What are the concerns?

Firstly, increasing delays, in the release of the collected data,  despite the latest data processing technologies. This renders such data less useful for policy intervention. The delay also implies less public scrutiny and hence undermines accountability. For instance, the government refrained from releasing the data collected through the Socio-Economic and Caste Census.

Secondly, the issue of comparability. The recent changes introduced by the government w.r.t the estimation of GDP had made comparisons over time impossible. The revisions undertaken do not improve the quality of estimates. They are driven more by political considerations than by the need to improve accuracy.

Thirdly, sample surveys, which are an important policy instrument for many welfare schemes, are not conducted periodically. For example, the quinquennial ‘Monthly Household Consumer Expenditure’ (MHCE).

The MHCE provides the database to compute the poverty line and poverty ratio. The government also uses the poverty estimates to decide on the State-wise allocation of food grains to be sold at subsidised prices through the Public Distribution System. Despite its importance, MHCE data collected in 2017-18 could not be released due to data quality issues.

Further, The GoI has also postponed the decennial census in 2021 to 2022 on the grounds that COVID-19.

What are the implications of non-availability of reliable data?

Affects the framing of policies: Without reliable data, it becomes difficult to frame policy solutions relating to social issues such as food and nutrition security, etc.

Increase dependence on unreliable surveys: In the absence of timely and reliable public data, users are increasingly relying on data provided through large-scale surveys conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). However, users have raised questions about the design and data collection framework of the CMIE’s high-frequency household survey.

Tackling the problem of bad loans

Source: This post is based on the article “Tackling the problem of bad loans” published in Indian Express on 22 November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

Relevance: To understand NPA crisis and the measures taken to resove the issue.

News: The newly-created National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL), first in the public sector, offers hopes for the faster clean up of lenders’ balance sheets.

NARCL is not a bank, but a specialised financial institution to help resolve the distressed assets of banks.

Over the last 5 years, considerable progress has been made in resolving and recovering bad debts of banks. Despite this, there are still around Rs 10 lakh crore worth of stressed assets in the system.

What are its potential advantages?

Firstly, it will help in the faster aggregation of distressed assets that lie scattered across several lenders.

Secondly, its securitised receipts carry sovereign assurance. It provides comfort to PSU banks as price discovery would not be subject to later investigations.

Thirdly, it would initially focus on large accounts with debts over Rs 500 crore. This is also expected to free the banks from the tortuous recovery process and would provide time to focus on much-needed credit expansion.

What were the previous measures taken to resolve the bad debts?

The RBI had launched a slew of policy measures during 2013-14 to resolve, reconstruct and restructure stressed assets. These measures did not deliver, and they were all abandoned subsequently.

Institutional measures:

-BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, 1987).

-Lokadalat, DRT (Debt Recovery Tribunal, 1993).

-CDR (Corporate Debt Restructure, 2001).

-SARFAESI (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement, 2002), ARC (Asset   Recovery Company, 2002).

The resolutions undertaken respectively by Lokadalat, DRT, and SARFAESI were merely 6.2%, 4.1%, and 26.7%.

The IBC(Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016):

With a legally time-bound resolution, rather than recovery, it marked a departure from the earlier measures.

It has instilled a sense of fear in mischievous corporate borrowers who have siphoned funds.

It nearly put an end to ever greening. It has succeeded in resolving a few large corporate borrowers, with an average recovery of 45%.

What are the challenges?

Realisation of debt to lenders-The execution will depend on IDRCL (Indian Debt Resolution Company), the operating arm, which would be in the private sector.

Elevated haircuts(the lower-than-market-value placed on an asset being used as collateral for a loan.) — in some cases going up to 95%.

The NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) is starved of infrastructure and over 50% of its benches were short of regular judges. This coupled with the poor quality of its decisions has made matters more difficult.

Lenders and regulators need to address this issue of delayed recognition and resolution. Business stress and/or financial stress needs to be recognised even prior to regulatory norms on NPA classification.

Anchoring bias(tendency to make decisions on the basis of first available information)The low cost of acquisition would suffer from the anchor effect. Potential bidders would quote prices nearer to this anchor.

What needs to be done?

Incentives to lenders for more flexible provisioning requirements would encourage them to recognise bad debts early.

NARC should uphold IBC’s given credit culture principle, not dilute it, by forbidding errant and willful defaulters to take back distressed assets.

-it should have a sunset clause of three to five years. This will avoid the perpetuation of moral hazards and also encourage expeditious resolution.

-Anchor bias needs to be mitigated by better extrinsic value discovery.

-NARC should avoid selling to other ARCs.

The fundamental problem of accumulation of elevated and recurring NPA generation needs to be tackled. Prevention of the accumulation of NPAs (below 2%) is critical.

Future of farms – On Farm Laws

Source: This post is based on the article Future of farms” published in Business standard & “Go back to committees’ is the farm laws lesson” published in The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- issues related to agriculture sector

Relevance: Agriculture reforms, Parliamentary functions

News: Recently, the Prime Minister in an address to the nation announced that the three controversial farm laws would be withdrawn in the upcoming session of Parliament.

Yet, the farmer groups are pressing for a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) and the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill.

Since this will not be feasible for the government, middle ground needs to be found.

Why the farm laws are said to be controversial?

Firstly, the farm laws, that have a far-reaching impact on the farmers, were brought through ordinance route without taking the farmers into confidence.

Secondly, under Article 123 of the Constitution, ordinances are made during an emergency situation and when the parliament is not functioning. But the farm laws do not have the kind of urgency which necessitates immediate legislation through the ordinances.

Thirdly, when the Bills were brought to replace the ordinances, it should have been referred to the standing committee on agriculture for a detailed scrutiny. However, they were not consulted.

Why the government cannot accept the farmer demands for the legal guarantee on MSP?

There is no dispute that farmers need to be fairly compensated for their produce. But any form of guaranteed price is not the way forward for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, the benefit of MSP is available only to a limited number of farmers in select few states, and the government is not in a position to procure more than what it is already doing.

Secondly, the present cropping pattern in states such as Punjab and Haryana, which a guaranteed MSP will further encourage, is simply not sustainable. The unabated pumping of groundwater supported by subsidised power has led to irreversible damage to the ecology of these states.

Thirdly, the agriculture sector needs to adjust to the evolving market and demand conditions.

What is the way forward?

Strengthening the committee system: One way of strengthening it is by getting all the important Bills examined by the standing committee. The presiding officers may, in public interest, refer all Bills to the committees with few exceptions.

Leadership of the State government: Reforms should proceed in the agriculture sector because the present situation is flawed. The best way forward, will be to let the state governments take the lead.

Remunerative prices for farmer groups: Can be done by appropriate government interventions. Such as,

Continued public sector procurement.

Compensating farmers for lower realisation.

Encouraging cooperatives or farmer producers to participate in the value chain.

Constantly engaging with farmers to push reforms and improve productivity in the sector.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Ministry of Textiles to set up a Handloom Village at Moirang of Manipur: Piyush Goyal

Source: This post is based on the article Ministry of Textiles to set up a Handloom Village at Moirang of Manipur published by AIR on 21st Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Textiles has announced that the Ministry of Textiles has decided to set up a Handloom Village at Moirang of Manipur.

What is the significance of Moirang?

Moirang is a small town in Manipur.

– It is a very important place in the history of India’s freedom movement as it was the headquarters of the INA led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose after they liberated a part of Manipur from the British rule and established the provincial independent government.

– Subsequently, on April 14 1944, Colonel Shaukat Ali Malik hoisted the flag of the provincial government in Moirang. The INA flag comprises yellow, white and green. The image of a springing tiger was in the middle of the flag.

– A museum dedicated to the soldiers was also inaugurated at Moirang by the then Prime Minister in 1969.The museum houses memorabilia and important documents related to the INA during World War II in the Burma theatre.

Developed nations want to expand WTO agenda

Source: This post is based on the article Developed nations want to expand WTO agenda  published by TOI on 21st Nov 2021.

What is the News?

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister has said that developed countries linking World Trade Organisation (WTO) reforms with special and differential treatment (S&DT) being provided to poor and developing nations is “unfair”.

What is Special and differential treatment (S&DT) under WTO?

WTO agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and allow other members to treat them more favorably. These are called “special and differential treatment provisions” (abbreviated as S&D or SDT). These special provisions include: 

– longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments

– measures to increase trading opportunities for these countries

– provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries

– support to help developing countries build the infrastructure to undertake WTO work, handle disputes and implement technical standards.

– Provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) members

What is the problem with S&DT under WTO?

Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail S&DT  benefits. 

– As a result of the self-selection process, there is a competition among members to get the developing country status. Several advanced countries have also taken developing country status.

Hence, that’s why the US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO that states that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations, and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.

However, India is of the view that the matter needs to be negotiated comprehensively in the WTO and a consensus-based decision needs to be taken on S&DT.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs and CBSE jointly launched an online certificate course on Experiential Learning for the 21st Century for EMRS and CBSE teachers

Source:  This post is based on the articleMinistry of Tribal Affairs and CBSE jointly launched an online certificate course on Experiential Learning for the 21st Century for EMRS and CBSE teacherspublished by PIB on 21st Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and CBSE has jointly launched a certificate course on Experiential Learning for the 21st Century for educators from CBSE and Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) in collaboration with Tata Trusts, CETE, TISS (Centre of Excellence in Teacher Education, Tata Institute of Social Sciences), and MGIS (Mahatma Gandhi International School).

What is a Certificate course on Experiential Learning for the 21st Century for educators?

The course is for the educators from CBSE and Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs). The program will be deployed for 350 educators in 6 States.

Purpose: It is an as online certificate course for educators to help them in adapting classroom learning to real life experiences.

Objectives of the course: The course aims to

– Sensitize teachers towards multi-sensorial pedagogical experiences with a special focus on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of students.

– Enable teachers to construct alternative strategies to develop 21st-century skills and competencies in their students.

– Guide teachers to map learning experiences to concepts and competencies.

– Transform teachers as active members, contributing to a community of educators.

– Support upskilling of teachers as teacher-leaders.

Cost of the Course: The course will be offered free of cost to all the selected educators.

Significance of the course: The course will help teachers to connect with the tribal students by understanding their real-life experiences and own contexts. This will in turn help in promoting tribal education.

Union Minister inaugurates centres for nano technology and Indian Knowledge System at IIT Guwahati

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister inaugurates centres for nano technology and Indian Knowledge System at IIT Guwahati published by PIB on 21st Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Education has visited IIT Guwahati and inaugurated the state-of-the-art Centre for Nanotechnology (CNT) and Centre for Indian Knowledge System (CIKS) at the institute.

What is the purpose of the Centre for NanoTechnology (CNT)?

Aim: To meet future challenges and augment academic partnerships with industry in Nanotechnology. 

Funding: The major funding for the Centre was obtained from the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications.

Click Here to read more about Nanotechnology

What is the purpose of the Centre for Indian Knowledge System (CIKS)?

Focus: CIKS will focus on preserving, documenting and sustaining the knowledge that is unique to India. 

The top priorities include Indian classical music, Yoga, Sanskrit, traditional medicines, temple architecture and agricultural practices of North-East India, herbal plants of north-east as health food and metal work of Assam.

Can this portable robot end septic tank deaths once it is deployed?

Source: This post is based on the articleCan this portable robot end septic tank deaths once it is deployed?published by The Hindu on 20th Nov 2021.

What is the News?

IIT Madras has developed a robot named HomoSEP.

This robot promises to end manual scavenging | Deccan Herald
Source: Deccan Herald

If this robot is deployed extensively, it can put an end to the practice of manual scavenging.

About HomoSEP

HomoSEP stands for “homogenizer of septic tanks”.

It is a portable robot that has a shaft attached to blades that can open like an inverted umbrella when introduced into a septic tank. This is helpful as the openings of the septic tanks are small, and the tank interiors are bigger.

Moreover, the sludge inside a septic tank contains faecal matter that has thickened like hard clay and settled at the bottom.

Hence, this needs to be shredded and homogenized so that it can be sucked out and the septic tank cleaned. The whirring blades of the robot achieve precisely this.

Deaths due to Manual Scavenging

According to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in the last five years, there have been 340 deaths due to manual scavenging.

Uttar Pradesh (52), Tamil Nadu (43) and Delhi (36) lead in the list of deaths due to manual scavenging.

Prolonged school closures due to COVID-19 pose threat to gender equality: UNESCO study

What is the News?

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has released a study titled “When Schools Close: Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 School Closures”.

This study highlights how school closures affected girls and boys, young women and men differently depending on the circumstances.

What are the key findings of the study?

Around 1.6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures. Not only did they lose access to education, but also the benefits of attending school.

Girls access to learning was constrained by a) increased household chores b) limited access to Internet-enabled devices c) a lack of digital skills and d) cultural norms restricting their use of technological devices,

Boys participation in learning was limited by income-generating activities. Around one-third of respondents in a poll conducted in 55 nations reported an increase in the prevalence of child labour as a result of COVID-19 school closures.

School closures also had a negative influence on children’s health, particularly their mental health, well-being, and safety.

What are the suggestions given by the study?

-Advance equal access to gender-responsive and inclusive remote learning.

-Prevent school dropout and ensure the return to school – particularly of the most vulnerable

-Safeguard the health and well-being of all learners and teachers.

-Build resilient, equitable and gender-responsive education systems.

-Finance education that promotes inclusion and gender equality

Source: This post is based on the article Prolonged school closures due to COVID-19 pose threat to gender equality: UNESCO study published by The Hindu on 22nd Nov 2021.

Life expectancy lower for urban poor, says study

What is the News?

Azim Premji University has released a report titled “Healthcare equity in urban India”.

What is the purpose of the report?

The report explores health vulnerabilities and inequalities in cities in India.It also looks at the availability, accessibility and cost of healthcare facilities and possibilities in future-proofing services in the next decade.

What are the key findings of the report?

Source: The Hindu

Urban Population: A third of India’s population lives in urban areas. There was a rapid growth in this segment from about 18% (1960) to 28.53% (2001) and 34% (in 2019).

Rise in Urban poverty: Close to 30% of people living in urban areas are poor.

Declining life expectancy: Life expectancy among the poorest sections of society in urban areas when compared to the richest economic groups is lower by 9.1 years and 6.2 years for men and women respectively.

Bad Urban health governance: There is a chaotic urban governance due to a) Overlapping administrative jurisdictions such as that of municipal corporations (urban local bodies) and state health services and b) multiplicity of healthcare providers both within and outside the government without coordination.

Lack of research on Urban Healthcare: Urban healthcare has received relatively less research and policy attention.

What are the recommendations given by the report?

The report calls for:

-Strengthening community participation and governance.

-Building a comprehensive and dynamic database on the health and nutrition status, including comorbidities, of the diverse, vulnerable populations.

-Strengthening healthcare provisioning through the National Urban Health Mission, especially for primary healthcare services.

-Putting in place policy measures to reduce the financial burden of the poor.

-A better mechanism for coordinated public healthcare services and better governed private healthcare institutions.

Source: This post is based on the article Life expectancy lower for urban poor, says studypublished by The Hindu on 21st Nov 2021.

President of India Graces Swachh Amrit Mahotsav and Presents Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021

What is the News?

The President of India has addressed the Swachh Amrit Mahotsav and presented the Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021.

What is the Swachh Survekshan Awards?

Swachh Survekshan is an annual survey of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation in cities and towns across India. 

It was launched as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which aimed to make India clean and free of open defecation by 2nd October 2019. 

The first survey was undertaken in 2016.

Conducted by:  Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) with Quality Council of India (QCI) as its implementation partner.

Parameters: The cities have been ranked based on three broad parameters — service level progress, citizen’s voice and certification.

What are the key awards given?

Population above 1 lakh: Indore has been ranked the cleanest city in India for the fifth consecutive year. Surat and Vijayawada were ranked as the second and third-cleanest cities.

Population Below 1 lakh: Vita, Lonavala and Saswad all from Maharashtra, bagged the first, second and third positions respectively.

The Cleanest States with more than 100 urban local bodies (ULBs): Chhattisgarh retained the first position in the “cleanest state” title. Bihar was the worst performer in this category.

Cleanest state award in the less than 100 ULBs category: Jharkhand, was given the cleanest state in this category. This was followed by Haryana and Goa.

Best Cantonment: Ahmedabad Cantonment won the title of ‘India’s Cleanest Cantonment.

Source:  This post is based on the article President of India Graces Swachh Amrit Mahotsav and Presents Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021 published by PIB on 21st Nov 2021.


What is the News?

The Sixth Edition of Indo – French joint military exercise “Ex SHAKTI 2021” has commenced at the Military School of Draguignan, France.

What is Exercise Shakti?

Exercise Shakti is a biennial military exercise between the Indian and French Army.

Aim: To enhance military cooperation and interoperability between the two Armies.

Focus on: Joint planning, mutual understanding of the conduct of operations and identification of coordination aspects required for jointly operating in a Counter-Terrorism environment under United Nations mandate.

​​What are the other exercises between India and France?

Exercise Garuda – It is a biennial air force exercise between the Indian & French Air Force.

Exercise Varuna – It is a biennial naval exercise between the Indian & French Navy.

Exercise Desert Knight-21 – It is a Bilateral Air Exercise between India and France.

Source: This post is based on the article 6th EDITION OF INDO-FRANCE JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE “EX SHAKTI 2021” BEING CONDUCTED IN FRANCE published by PIB on 21st Nov 2021.

Bihar, Uttar Pradesh police lowest among all States on perception of ‘sensitivity’, says survey

What is the News?

Indian Police Foundation (IPF) has released the SMART Policing Survey 2021.

Note: Indian Police Foundation (IPF) is a multidisciplinary think tank and policy advocacy platform.

What is a Smart Policing Survey?

The SMART Policing idea was envisioned, articulated and introduced by the Prime Minister at the Conference of DGPs of State and Central Police Organizations in 2014.

Aim: To gather information on citizens’ perceptions of the impact of the SMART policing initiative and to gauge public perceptions of the quality of policing in India and the level of public trust in the police.

Parameters: The survey had 10 sets of questionnaires which included:

  • Six indices of “Competence-Based Indicators” dealing with issues such as police sensitivity, accessibility, responsiveness and technology adoption among others;
  • Three indicators of “Value-Based indicators” deal with the integrity of the police; and
  • One index of “Trust”

Based on these indicators, scores are set on a scale of 1 to 10 and are indicative of the levels of citizen satisfaction, with a score of 10 being the highest level of satisfaction.

What are the key findings?

Topped by: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana topped the Index with a SMART score of 8.11 and 8.10 respectively. These states were followed by Assam, Kerala and Sikkim.

Bottom States: Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Punjab were ranked at the bottom of the survey.

Region-wise: Southern states and some in the Northeast fared better on most policing indices compared to states in the north.

Perception of Police: The majority of citizens (a weighted average of 66.93%) believes that the police are doing their job well and strongly support the police. This is despite being attacked for insufficient sensitivity, declining public confidence and growing concerns about the quality of policing.

Read more: Challenges associated with the functioning of Police – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article Bihar, Uttar Pradesh police lowest among all States on perception of ‘sensitivity’, says survey published by The Hindu on 21st Nov 2021.

Allahabad High Court Decision on Unform Civil Court Code

Source: This post is based on the article “Allahabad High Court Decision on Unform Civil Court Code” published in  The Hindu on 22nd November 2021.

What is the news?

The Allahabad High Court in its judgement directed the Centre to consider the constitution of a committee or commission for implementing the mandate of Article 44.

What is a Uniform Civil Code? Why India needs it?
Read here: Uniform Civil Code
What is the view of Allahabad High Court?

Need for Uniform Code: On hearing petitions filed by inter-faith couples, the court observed a steep rise in inter-community, inter-caste and interfaith marriages and called for a comprehensive Family Code which is in conformity with the changing times.

Constitutionality of law: The court observed The Act (The Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021)  does not prohibit inter-faith marriages. It only makes them tedious because of the requirement of approval from district authorities. Moreover, such a requirement can only be a directory, as making it mandatory would violate Article 14 and Article 21.

Power of marriage registrar: The court directed the marriage registrar and marriage officers to register the marriage of the couples without insisting or awaiting approval of the competent district authority with regard to conversion.

Authorization: The court said that consent of the family or the community or the clan or the State or executive is not necessary if the marriage is legal and lawful.

Direction to authorities: The court ordered the police officials to ensure the safety of the couples and provide protection to them if needed. It also orders the private and State respondents from interfering with the life, liberty, and privacy of the couples to live as man and woman.

What did the State government say?

Approval of the marriage was not obtained from the District Magistrate. Because the marriage of an inter-faith couple cannot be registered without district authorities making an inquiry that conversion was voluntary and there was no coercion.


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