9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 24th, 2022

Dear Friends,

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

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

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2


Why the judiciary may not be the best selector of election commissioners

Source: The post is based on the following articles “Space, not time” published in The Hindu on 24th November 2022.

“Why the judiciary may not be the best selector of election commissioners” published in the Indian Express on 24th November 2022.

“Make a house call: EC does a great job holding polls. Let Parliament decide who should make appointments in EC” published in The Times of India on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 2 – Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

Relevance: About SC questioning the appointment of election commissioners

News: The Supreme Court is hearing a case about the election commissioners’ (ECs) appointment.

What is the suggestion given by the Supreme Court in the appointment of CEC and Election Commissioners?

The court suggested a “collegium” type system in which the Chief Justice of India is a member.

Read more: Supreme Court calls out Centre over short tenures of Chief Election Commissioners
What are the merits of SC’s questioning appointment of election commissioners?

Might ensure the security of tenure: Except Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), none of the ECs has the security of tenure that could provide them operational freedom and space. There is a good case for extending the same tenure security to the ECs too, regardless of what kind of appointment process is in place.

Ensure neutral appointments: Demands for bipartisan appointments to the Election Commission have been around for decades, but governments have seldom agreed. In the present case, the court might provide a way for neutral appointments to Election Commission.

Further, the shift towards a bipartisan, consultative appointment process would be desirable because that has been the larger trend of India’s legislative and democratic evolution in the past two decades.

Role of CJI in other institutional appointments: The CVC Act 2003 empowers a committee comprising the PM, CJI and the leader of the opposition to recommend central vigilance commissioners. These three also make recommendations for appointment to the Lokpal body and CBI director under the Lokpal Act 2013. So, the role of CJI in appointments is not new.

What are the counter-views about SC’s questioning appointment of election commissioners?

No need to question the appointments of ECs: Elections were held on time and there was no need to question the system of appointment. The court should only intervene if a challenge had been raised against any specific appointment of Election Commissioner.

Further, there is no abuse of power has happened in Election Commission like the malafide executive interference in pre-collegium era judicial appointments.

SC should question other serious challenges instead of appointments: In terms of maintaining the integrity of the electoral process, the case pertaining to electoral bonds is far more consequential than the question of the appointment of ECs. Further, electoral bonds will showcase the Court’s real commitment to the integrity of the electoral process.

Violate separation of powers: The role of the CJI in selection committees can be counterproductive, and it is like one constitutional body involved in the functioning of another body. This might create a view the court is violating the separation of powers.

The question of the best candidate is subjective: The role of the Election Commissioner is complex. So many of India’s independent institutions, judiciary included, might not function well if a search for good candidates is prolonged. In the end, structures of accountability matter more than the process of selection.

For instance, many ex-post heroes like T N Seshan, would have been disqualified on their prior reputations for political intrigue.

Brief tenures do not undermine independence: The CEC has a six-year tenure, but should demit office on attaining 65. The Court has questioned the practice of appointing CECs close to that age so that they have only a brief tenure. However, it may be argued that even Chief Justices have brief tenures, but that does not undermine their independence.

Ideally, political parties should arrive at a consensus and work out the EC appointment process in Parliament. SC has a point, but the Parliament should decide.


India-Australia trade pact

Source– The post is based on the article “India-Australia ECTA is a landmark in bilateral relations, will deepen ties” published in The Indian Express and “Growth through trade” in the Business Standard on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral groupings and agreements

News- The article explains the recently concluded India-Australia ECTA (Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA)).

What is the importance of this relationship?

India and Australia both are Commonwealth countries, and parliamentary democracies with similar legal systems. Both are members of the Quad, a trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

What is the status of an economic relationship?

India has 3.7% share in Australia export and a 2.4 per cent share in its imports as of 2021.

Manufactured goods constitute 72 per cent of India’s exports to Australia.

India primarily imports raw materials. 82% of its imports from Australia are these materials.

What are the main points of the agreement?

Australia will eliminate Customs duties on 98% of the traded goods and 100% of its tariff lines. India will do so for about 40% of its import tariffs immediately and 70.3% of its import tariffs over a 10-year period.

The agreement would provide duty-free access to over 6,000 broad categories of Indian products in the Australian market.

The Ind-Aus ECTA goes beyond merchandise trade. The Indian services sector also gets a major boost as it makes wide-ranging commitments in around 135 service sectors.

The Most Favoured Nation status will be granted in about 120 sub-sectors covering key areas of India’s interest such as IT, ITES, education, health and audio-visual.

The deal provides an annual quota of 1,800 for yoga teachers and Indian chefs. It provides a commitment to over one lakh of India’s outgoing students to Australia.

What is the importance of this agreement?

This is salient also because most free trade deals New Delhi has negotiated and entered into have been mostly with South Asian countries. These have hardly served India’s trade interests. This is the first trade deal concluded with a developed country in a decade.

It provides an opportunity for Australian exporters to tap the vast Indian market of 1.4 billion consumers. Indian exporters can market their value-added products.

The deal should be complemented for excluding the most sensitive sectors, dairy and agriculture. These provide employment in rural areas to about 50-55 per cent of its population with small landholdings and 1-2 cattle per farmer. This is in sharp contrast to Australian agriculture and dairying.

China is Australia’s largest trade partner. Strategically, there is a need for trade diversification away from China for Australia, in view of a multiplicity of geopolitical factors. It tilts the balance in favour of India. It is  a win-win partnership for both.

What are the economic benefits of this deal?

It will benefit India’s labour-intensive exports such as textiles and apparel, agriculture and fish products. These now fetch 4-5 per cent import duty in the Australian market.

The trade deal will boost exports of pharmaceuticals to Australia.

India is the world’s largest importer of coal. Out of India’s coal trade deficit of $24 billion, Australia accounts for $11 billion. The Ind-Aus ECTA is likely to make coal available at competitive prices.

The duty-free imports of Australian raw materials such as copper, nickel would boost the competitiveness of Indian industry and create enormous job opportunities.

The Ind-Aus ECTA is expected to increase bilateral merchandise exports by $10 billion by 2026-27. It will contribute to the creation of additional job opportunities for Indians in Australia and an additional 10 lakh jobs in India as a result of Australian investments.

The trade deal also resolves the long-pending Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement related to IT/ITES. This will lead to yearly savings of over $200 million.

What are the major concerns with FTAs in the case of India?

The principal concern is the move towards greater protectionism in Indian economic policy. There is a steady rise in Customs tariffs on a wide range of goods since 2017. The Make in India production-linked incentive schemes for a range of industries shows an inwards looking approach.

A related question is whether India will now discard its earlier reservations about the RCEP among Asia-Pacific nations, from which it abruptly withdrew in 2019.


India’s G-force moment

Source– The post is based on the article “India’s G-force moment” and published in The Hindu on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Global groupings and agreements

News- The article explains the opportunity provided by G20 leadership to increase its stature in the international community.

Together, the G20 members represent over 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of international trade and 60% of the population.

What should be the policy formulation that India must come up with at G20?

First, the world needs new windows for financing climate infrastructure. Using the G20, India should press the IMF, the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank to open new windows for financing climate infrastructure to support the Panchamrit goals.

Second, India should use the G20 to roll-out the India Stack on the global stage. India Stack is the world’s largest digital public utility and is growing fastly. Some of its principal components are Aadhaar, UPI, eKYC, DigiLocker.

Third, India could use the platform to push its own agenda and South Asia’s agenda on a global scale. For example, coming up with an alternative financial mechanism to SWIFT and taking steps for making the rupee more international.

Fourth, India should leverage the G20 to re-imagine the shareholding structures of the IMF and World Bank. The current structures of the World Bank and the IMF are at variance with the emerging world in general and India in particular. India can use the leadership to re-imagine the shareholding structure in such a way that it reflects its global aspirations and power position and also those of other emerging markets.

Fifth, India, like the European Union, represents a multicultural and multi-religious quasi-federal structure. The G20 would be a good platform for India to showcase the multiple aspects of its composite culture so that the world begins to appreciate the richness and cultural tenacity of the country.

Lastly, India can use this opportunity to boost tourism in the country. India has a huge potential to boost tourism. India receives around 17 million-18 million tourists every year. Compared to this, Las Vegas gets over 30 million tourists.


Fixing India’s malnutrition problem

Source– The post is based on the article “Fixing India’s malnutrition problem” and published in The Hindu on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Issue related to hunger

News- The article explains the issues related to malnutrition in India.

The Global Hunger Index 2022 has ranked 107 out of 121 countries.

The GHI is an important indicator of nutrition, particularly among children. It looks at stunting, wasting and mortality among children, and calorific deficiency across the population.

What are the issues with government interventions to tackle malnutrition?

Funding– Government of India implements the Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0 scheme to tackle the problem of malnutrition. However, the budget for this scheme for FY 2022-23 was ₹20,263 crore. It  is less than 1% more than the actual spend in FY 2020-21.

An Accountability Initiative budget brief reports that per capita costs of the Supplementary Nutrition Programme  POSHAN 2.0 has not increased since 2017 and remains grossly underfunded. It is catering to only 41% of the funds required.

Manpower constraints– The budget brief also mentions that over 50% Child Development Project Officer posts were vacant in Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

Monitoring- Social audits that are meant to allow for community oversight of the quality of services provided in schools are not carried out routinely.

Cash transfer– It seems to be a favoured solution for several social sector interventions in India today. Evidence suggests primarily that cash transfers improve household food security. But, they do not necessarily translate into improved child nutrition outcomes.

The effect of cash transfers is also limited in a context where food prices are volatile and inflation depletes the value of cash. There are social factors such as ‘son preference’, which continues to be prevalent in India. They can influence household-level decisions when responding to the nutrition needs of sons and daughters.

What is the way forward?

Cash transfers have a role to play here. They are useful in regions experiencing acute distress, where household purchasing power is very depressed. Cash transfers can also be used to incentivise behavioural change in terms of seeking greater institutional support.

Food rations through PDS and special supplements for the target group of pregnant and lactating mothers, and infants and young children, are essential.

There is a need for greater involvement of local government and local community groups in the design and delivery of tailored nutrition interventions.

A comprehensive programme targeting adolescent girls is required if the intergenerational nature of malnutrition is to be tackled.


The Borders Inside – on interstate border disputes

Source: This post has been developed based on the article “The Borders Inside”, published in The Times of India on 24th November, 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

News: Recently, a dispute between Assam and Meghalaya at the border resulted into loss of lives. Also, a border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra is boiling.

The conflict is happening despite the rule of same party or allies in these states.

What are the reasons behind these conflicts?

These conflicts are rooted in reorganisation of states. Initially the states were reorganised on linguistic lines and later over other issues. It left many matters unresolved over borders and river water sharing.

The zonal councils with CMs, although meet regularly, it is not enough. For example, Maharashtra and Karnataka fall in different zones.

The national level mechanisms like Inter-State Councils (ISCs) are ineffective. In the last 16 years, just two meetings of ISCs have been held. In the last 16 years, just two meetings have been held

What can be the course of action?

Strengthen Inter-State Councils (ISCs). ISCs were set up 32 years ago under Article 263 of the Constitution. They are the most effective mechanism at present, to resolve these issues. Therefore, regular meetings must be held.


India is losing its cherished right to know

Source: This post is created based on the article “India is losing its cherished right to know”, published in The Hindu on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2- Governance – Transparency

News: Central Information Commission (CIC) has largely become ineffective in carrying out the assigned mandate.

Central Information Commission’s main mandate is to decide, whether to disclose or not the information sought by the citizens.

Read moreAbout RTI Act

What are the reasons behind CIC’s ineffectiveness?

CIC was a well-functioning institution before 2019 amendment to the RTI Act. It passed many effective orders, like;

  1. Political parties were under the RTI Act’s ambit, and hence accountable to the public.
  2. Disclosure of the current Prime Minister’s education qualifications
  3. Reserve Bank of India’s list of wilful defaulters of loans.

However, now, CIC has become like a walking dead institution. In the recent times, not a single order for disclosure has been forthcoming in matters of public importance.

Cases at the CIC come up for a hearing roughly after a two year wait. The matter loses its significance in that long period.

In the matter of national importance, CIC has adopted a new approach. It delegates the decision to the concerned ministry. In most cases, the Ministries reiterate their earlier stand of non-disclosure, most often under vague grounds of national interest.

Furthermore, once the public authorities pass the order against disclosure, the CIC refuses to accept any further challenge to such order.

By allowing concerned ministries to decide, CIC is violating the cardinal rules of natural justice that no one should be a judge in their own cause.

A similar situation arose when the Home ministry passed non-disclosure order in the phone tapping case and CIC refused to hear the Internet Freedom Foundation’s challenge to it. However, the organisation was able to get the fair hearing in CIC, after challenge the order before the Delhi High Court. But, most organisation do not have that much resource to challenges the order.

Also, commission is taking the steps that are not allowed in the RTI act. For example;

  1. In a case seeking disclosure of documents relating to the making of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019, the commission has resorted to keeping the matter pending for final order for more than three months now. Keeping the matter pending is something which is unheard of.
  2. In another case the disclosure of non-performing assets and top defaulters of a co-operative bank was sought. The matter was listed out-of-turn and a “stay” order was issued against the Bank’s First Appellate Authority’s order for disclosure. A stay order is unheard of and there is no provision in the RTI Act for the same.

What are its Implications?

These issues frustrate citizens who dare to seek answers from the powers that be, and reduce the efficiency of the RTI Act.

It is becoming difficult to extract any information of importance under the present system.

Bureaucrats are losing fear of facing penal provisions outlined in Section 20 of the RTI Act for non-disclosure.

GS Paper 3


Review needed – Govt should address consumer complaints, not monitor product reviews

Source: The post is based on the article “Review needed – Govt should address consumer complaints, not monitor product reviews” published in the Business Standard on 24th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 3 – changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Relevance: About monitoring online consumer reviews.

News: The Department of Consumer Affairs has unveiled the new standard – Indian Standard (IS) 19000:2022 on “Online Consumer Reviews” and Ratings. The framework aims to safeguard and protect consumer interest from fake and deceptive reviews in e-commerce.

What are the key features of the framework for monitoring online consumer reviews?
Must Read: Centre launches framework for safeguarding and protecting consumer interest from fake and deceptive reviews in e-commerce
What are the advantages of the framework for monitoring online consumer reviews?

Ensure neutral review: A retail channel or product manufacturer can add fake reviews praising the channel, or product, to influence consumers favourably. Equally, a rival channel can put out fake reviews criticising a product or channel to generate a negative impression. The framework will curb such reviews.

Encourages creation of Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC): Most e-commerce platforms operating in India are marketplaces offering an array of brands of various companies, and these are sold and orders serviced via different retail channels. Many e-marketing concerns offer services to generate positive reviews, alongside giving search engine optimisation and similar services.

So, neutral reviews will give valuable feedback to potential consumers by offering them the information required to choose between competing products, and between competing fulfilment channels.

What are the challenges associated with monitoring online consumer reviews?

The online framework is difficult to enforce because,

-The framework involves the government machinery moderating an activity that should ideally be left to the market.

-If reviews are shut down by the framework, both customers and platforms will lose a valuable channel for feedback.

-It is not really possible for a framework to judge if a reviewer is honest or not. The old principle of “buyer beware” should apply in such cases.

What should be done to safeguard and protect consumer interests?

Role of market forces: Market forces will sort out the fake from the genuine on their platforms. They will do this by allowing many reviews and simultaneously improving the ability to weed out the fakes are more useful than trying to over-regulate reviews.

Role of government: There are many laws protecting consumer rights and guarding people against false advertising. Consumers can seek redress under these laws and in consumer court. So, the regulatory focus should be on ensuring fast redressal of consumer complaints instead of monitoring them.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

What is the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, how the recent killing of six people impacts it

Source: The post is based on the article “What is the Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, how the recent killing of six people impacts it” published in Indian Express on 24th November.

What is the News?

Tension gripped along the Assam-Meghalaya border areas again after six people were killed when Assam police intercepted a truck that was allegedly smuggling timber.

What is Assam-Meghalaya Dispute?

Assam and Meghalaya share an 885 km border. In 1970, Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as an autonomous state.  In 1972, Meghalaya became a full-fledged state following the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969.

This was the beginning of the border problem as the Meghalaya government found the Act unacceptable. As many as 12 land dispute points, along the border of these two states, have been a bone of contention. 

Major Point of Contention: A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam.

Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but Post Independence, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya. Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam.

What steps have been taken to resolve the dispute?

In 1983, a joint official committee was formed to address the border issues. The panel recommended that the Survey of India should re-delineate the border, teaming up with both states.

An independent panel, spearheaded by Justice YV Chandrachud, was set up in 1985. Meghalaya rubbished the report.

In March 2022, a historic MoU was signed between Assam Chief Minister and his Meghalaya counterpart. The agreement sought closure in six disputed sectors that were taken up for resolution in the first phase. 

The second phase of border talks was held with the two states deciding to form three regional committees to resolve issues regarding the remaining six disputed areas.


Lifestyle diseases among top killers in tribal districts: ICMR

Source: The post is based on the article “Lifestyle diseases among top killers in tribal districts: ICMR” published in The Hindu on 24th November.

What is the News?

A survey carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found that lifestyle diseases are among the top killers in tribal districts.

What are the key findings of the survey conducted by ICMR?
Lifestyle diseases
Source: TOI

Deaths due to Non-communicable diseases(NCDs) in Tribals: ICMR has conducted a survey in 12 tribal districts of India. It has revealed that non-communicable diseases(NCDs) were causing 66% of deaths in these areas.

It is comparable to the percentage of deaths being caused due to NCDs — mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes — in non-tribal districts (approximately 63%).

After NCDs, infectious diseases (15%) and injuries (11%) caused the maximum number of deaths according to the ICMR survey.

Lack of Health Infrastructure: The majority of tribals (70%) in the districts surveyed died at home. This reflected the lack of awareness about health problems as well as an acute shortage of healthcare infrastructure in tribal districts of the country.

What is the significance of this survey?

Firstly, this survey has broken the myth that tribal people aren’t as affected by the NCDs often referred to as lifestyle diseases.

Secondly, it is also clear from the survey that many tribal people die at home, which could be due to reduced health-seeking behaviour or the very lack of doctors or hospitals in the region.


Black-naped pheasant-pigeon sighted in PNG for first time in 140 years

Source: The post is based on the articleBlack-naped pheasant-pigeon sighted in PNG for first time in 140 yearspublished in BBC on 23rd November.

What is the News?

Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon was rediscovered after 140 years on Fergusson Island off eastern Papua New Guinea.

Note: Before this rediscovery, Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon was first and last seen in 1882.

What is Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon?

Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon is a large, terrestrial pigeon having black and orange feathers and red eyes.

The bird feeds on seeds and fallen fruits.

The bird is endemic to Fergusson Island in Papua New Guinea.

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Threats: The species is suspected to be going under decline due to the loss of its forest habitat, which is subject to some pressure for logging and conversion for subsistence agriculture gardens.


Move to change ‘cumbersome’ procedure for inclusion on ST list is put on hold

Source: The post is based on the article “Move to change ‘cumbersome’ procedure for inclusion on ST list is put on hold” published in The Hindu on 23rd November.

What is the News?

The Union government has put on hold a proposal to change the procedure for adding new communities as Scheduled Tribes(STs) which has been in the pipeline for more than eight years. Instead, it will continue with the existing longer procedure.

What is the current procedure for adding communities to the ST list?

Under the current procedure, each proposal for the inclusion of a community as an ST has to originate from the relevant State government and is sent to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which sends it to the office of the Registrar General of India(RGI). 

Once approved by the office of the RGI, it is sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and only after its approval is sent to the Cabinet.

What are the problems with the current procedure?

The Government of India constituted a Task Force on Scheduling of Tribes in 2014 headed by the then Tribal Affairs Secretary, Hrusikesh Panda. The task said that:

Firstly, the present procedure “defeats the Constitutional agenda for affirmative action and inclusion” and is “cumbersome” and “time-consuming”. 

Secondly, the current procedure is preventing at least 40 communities from being listed as ST. For instance, several tribes pronounced or spelt their community’s name in different ways; some communities were split when new States were created leaving them as ST in one State and not in the other, and some tribes people were forcibly taken as indentured labour to other States where they were left out of the ST list.

What has the government decided now?

The Government of India has decided to put on hold a proposal to change the procedure for adding new communities as Scheduled Tribes(STs). Instead, it will continue with the existing longer procedure.

The government justified its decision by saying that the current procedure was followed for decades and was scientific and most practical. 


INDO-PACIFIC REGIONAL DIALOGUE 2022(IPRD)

Source: The post is based on the article INDO-PACIFIC REGIONAL DIALOGUE 2022(IPRD) published in PIB on 23rd November.

What is the News?

Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue (IPRD) is scheduled to be held from 23 to 25 November 2022.

What is Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue(IPRD)?

IPRD is an apex-level international annual conference of the Indian Navy.

Organized by: National Maritime Foundation(NMF) 

Note: NMF was established in 2005. It is the nation’s sole maritime think-tank that concentrates upon the entire gamut of activities relevant to India’s maritime interests and has gained significant international traction for the conduct of independent, original and policy-relevant research on all ‘matters maritime’. 

Purpose: It is an annual international conference that seeks to foster an exchange of ideas and promote deliberations on maritime issues relevant to the Indo-Pacific.

Theme of 2022: ‘Operationalising the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)’

What is the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative(IPOI)?

The Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative(IPOI) was articulated by the Indian Prime Minister at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2019. 

It is a comprehensive and inclusive construct for regional cooperation that is focused on seven interconnected spokes or pillars: 1) Maritime Security, 2) Maritime Ecology, 3) Maritime Resources, 4) Disaster Risk-reduction and Management, 5) Trade-Connectivity and Maritime Transport, 6) Capacity-building and Resource sharing and 7) Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation.


Effective enforcement of laws, traceability needed for trade in European eels: COP19 draft decision

Source: The post is based on the article “Effective enforcement of laws, traceability needed for trade in European eels: COP19 draft decision” published in Down To Earth on 23rd November.

What is the News?

The draft decision of the 19th Conference of Parties(COP19) to the CITES has asked for strengthening coordination between countries exporting and importing European eels and for improving traceability and effective enforcement measures for trade in the species.  

About European eels

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of eel, a snake-like, catadromous fish. 

Conservation status:

IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

CITES: Appendix II

Habitat: It is found in the continent’s freshwaters and estuarine habitats.

Geographical distribution: European eels can be found from the northern reaches of Russia and Finland all the way down to the coasts of Morocco, Egypt, and even within the Black Sea.

Features: This species is nocturnal and secretive, preferring to burrow into the mud and under stones during the day. At night, European eels emerge to feed on a variety of food sources.


CITES COP19 lists sea cucumbers as ‘threatened’

Source: The post is based on the article “CITES COP19 lists sea cucumbers as ‘threatened’published in Down To Earth on 23rd November.

What is the News?

The 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has accepted a proposal to include sea cucumbers in Appendix II of the Convention.

What are Sea Cucumbers?

Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates that live on the seafloor. They’re named for their unusual oblong shape that resembles a fat cucumber.

They are part of a larger animal group called echinoderms, which also contains starfish and sea urchins. 

Range: Sea cucumbers are found in virtually all marine environments throughout the world, from shallow to deep-sea environments. Sea cucumbers are benthic, meaning they live on the ocean floor. However, their larvae are planktonic, meaning they float in the ocean with the currents.

Reproduction: Sea cucumbers can breed sexually or asexually.

Significance: Sea Cucumbers are an integral part of the coral ecosystem as one of the main by-products of the sea cucumbers digestion of sand is calcium carbonate and this is essential for the survival of the coral reefs. 

– They act like garbage collectors of the ocean world, and they recycle nutrients, thus playing an important role in keeping coral reefs in good condition. 

Sea cucumber in India is treated as an endangered species listed under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Threats: According to Wildlife Conservation Society-India WCS-India), sea cucumbers were the most frequently trafficked marine species in India from 2015-2021.

– Tamil Nadu recorded the highest number of marine wildlife seizures during this period.

Initiatives: In 2020, the Lakshadweep Islands administration created the world’s first conservation area for sea cucumbers.


Are El Niño-La Niña weather patterns changing?

Source: The post is based on the article “Are El Niño-La Niña weather patterns changing?” published in The Hindu on 24th November.

What is the News?

A new study projects that climate change will significantly impact El Niño-La Niña weather patterns approximately by 2030 — a decade before what was earlier predicted.

What are El Nino and La Nina?

El Nino and La Nina, which mean ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ in Spanish, are mutually opposite phenomena.

La Niña refers to the phase in which sea-surface temperatures are cooler than normal. The warmer phase is known as El Niño.

Click Here to read more

What is the impact of El Nino and La Nina?

Impact of El Nino: The phenomena of upwelling, where nutrient-rich waters rise towards the surface, is reduced under El Niño. This in turn reduces phytoplankton. Thus, fish that eat phytoplankton are affected, followed by other organisms higher up the food chain.

– Warm waters also carry tropical species towards colder areas, disrupting multiple ecosystems.

– El Niño also causes dry, warm winters in the Northern U.S. and Canada and increases the risk of flooding in the U.S. gulf coast and south-eastern U.S. It also brings drought to Indonesia and Australia.

Impact of La NiñaThis leads to drier conditions in the Southern U.S., and heavy rainfall in Canada. La Niña has also been associated with heavy floods in Australia.

What is the effect of El Nino and La Nina on India’s monsoons?

In India, El Niño causes weak rainfall and more heat, while La Niña intensifies rainfall across South Asia particularly in India’s northwest and Bangladesh during the monsoon. 

At present, India, like the rest of the globe is witnessing an extended ‘triple dip’ La Niña. This is why India saw surplus rain in September, a month that usually sees the monsoon retreat, for the third year in a row.

What are the study’s findings?

The combination of El Niño, La Niña and the neutral state between the two opposite effects is called the El Niño Southern Oscillation(ENSO). ENSO’s scale is significant enough to influence the global climate. 

The study has projected that climate change will significantly impact El Niño-La Niña weather patterns approximately by 2030 — a decade before what was earlier predicted.


What India gains from FTA with Australia

Source: The post is based on the article “What India gains from FTA with Australiapublished in Livemint on 24th November.

What is the News?

After 10 years of negotiations, India and Australia have finally agreed on an interim free trade deal called India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement(ECTA).

How will Indian firms benefit from this deal?

Along with ECTA, the Australian parliament has also approved an amendment to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)—a long-standing tax issue for Indian companies operating in Australia. 

As per industry estimates, Indian IT firms lost more than $1 billion in taxes due to the existing provisions in DTAA. Most IT firms take up projects where they do some portion of work on-site, and some from India. However, Australian courts have ruled that even the work done from India can be taxed as per local Australian laws. The same income was subject to taxes in India, too.

Now this amendment in DTAA is expected to lead to savings for Indian information technology (IT) companies operating in Australia.

What’s in it for pharmaceutical companies? 

ECTA says Indian drugs that have already been approved in the UK and US will get faster approval in Australia too.

India has the highest number of USFDA-approved sites and other stringent regulatory agencies approvals, too—which will yield results once ECTA comes into effect.

Will ECTA give a push to labour-intensive industries? 

Getting easier access to apparel, textiles, leather, footwear, gems & jewellery, furniture, machinery and electrical goods in western markets is India’s key aim in trade deals. 

ECTA will see India getting zero duty on 98.3% of tariff lines from the day the agreement comes into force and on 100% of tariff lines within five years.

Can India cut its trade deficit with Australia? 

At the moment, Australia exports much more to India than it imports. During the last financial year, India had a trade deficit of $8.5 billion with Australia with $8.3 billion worth of exports and $16.8 billion worth of imports. 

According to experts, entering the Australian market is not just about lowering tariffs as Australia is already a very open economy. There already are firmly established players in Australia and displacing them would need cutting trade costs and signing a comprehensive deal.


400th birth anniversary of Assam’s war hero Lachit Borphukan to be celebrated

Source: The post is based on the article “400th birth anniversary of Assam’s war hero Lachit Borphukan to be celebrated” published in The Hindu on 23rd November.

What is the News?

A three-day celebration of the 400th birth anniversary of the legendary Assamese general and folk hero Lachit Borphukan began in New Delhi on November 23.

Who was ​​Lachit Borphukan?

​​Lachit Borphukan was a commander in the erstwhile Ahom kingdom.

He is known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat that thwarted an attempt by Mughal forces to capture Assam. 

The battle of Saraighat was fought on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati.

He defeated the Mughal Army by brilliant uses of the terrain, guerrilla tactics, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces—its navy.

What is the significance of ​​Lachit Borphukan?

Lachit Divas has been celebrated on November 24, his birth anniversary in Assam since the 1930s.

He was the inspiration behind strengthening India’s naval force and revitalizing inland water transport and creating infrastructure associated with it due to his great naval strategies.

The Lachit Borphukan gold medal is awarded to the best cadet from the National Defence Academy. The medal was instituted in 1999 to inspire defence personnel to emulate Borphukan’s heroism and sacrifices.


Election Commissioner shouldn’t be a ‘yes-man’: Supreme Court

Source: The post is based on the article “Election Commissioner shouldn’t be a ‘yes-man’: Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 24th November 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has recently said that Election Commissioners (ECs) should be a person who could take a stand even risking their life, and not a docile “yes-man” whom the government knew would do its bidding.

What is the constitutional status of Election Commissioners?

Article 324 envisaged that the Commission be led by a single CEC (Chief Election Commissioner). The President can appoint more Election Commissioners (ECs). But this is subject to any law made in that behalf by Parliament.

But no law has been enacted so far. However, the number of commissioners the EC can have is not specified. Similarly, none of the statutes lay down the procedure for the appointment of Election Commissioners (ECs).

The other commissioners do not enjoy the security of tenure and constitutional status of the CEC.

About the case

An application questioning the prolonged vacancy of election commissioner was already pending before the Constitution Bench.

Recently, a secretary in the government took voluntary retirement. Within a few days, the government appointed him as an Election Commissioner. This raised the debate on the mechanism of selecting Election Commissioners.

Further, this created a debate on the need for a “neutral and independent mechanism” for the appointment of Election Commissioners.  

Read more: Supreme Court calls out Centre over short tenures of Chief Election Commissioners
What was the Supreme Court’s view on the independence of the Election Commission?

Questioned the mechanism of appointment: The court repeatedly asked the government how it had appointed an Election Commissioner when a case was pending before the court. Further, the court demanded the mechanism the government followed for making this appointment.

Independence of Executive is essential: If ECs become CECs, then there is no independent mechanism to consider persons other than ECs for the post of CEC. So, the Court questioned the independence of appointing ECs. The court also said that the independence of the executive was as sacrosanct as the independence of the judiciary.

Condemned the political parties: The court observed that “each political party in power will want to perpetuate that power. Nobody would be willing to make the changes required in the system. That is when the court steps in”.


Think local climate action, think Meenangadi

Source: The post is based on the articleThink local climate action, think Meenangadipublished in The Hindu on 23rd November.

What is the News?

If India has to achieve the set of goals enunciated in the ‘Panchamrit’ resolution of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow 2021, Panchayati raj institutions must play a pivotal role in tackling many of the causes and effects of climate change.

What are some of the initiatives taken by Panchayati Raj Institutions to tackle climate change?
Meenangadi Gram Panchayat in Kerala’s Wayanad district

In 2016, the Meenangadi panchayat envisaged a project called ‘Carbon neutral Meenangadi’. The aim was to transform Meenangadi into a state of carbon neutrality.

Actions taken under the project: An action plan was prepared by organizing gram sabha meetings. The entire community was involved in the process, with school students, youth, and technical and academic institutions given different assignments

– Socio-economic surveys and energy-use mapping were also carried out.

– Awareness programme through campaigns, classes and studies

– A greenhouse gas emission inventory was prepared.

– ‘Tree banking’ was one of the landmark schemes introduced to aid carbon-neutral activities which encouraged the planting of more trees by extending interest-free loans.

– Local economic development was another thrust area where LED bulb manufacturing and related micro-enterprises were initiated.

Palli gram panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir

It followed the same people-centric model with specific local activities such as: 

– The panchayat has prepared a climate-resilient plan where villagers have been made aware of climate change Mitigation factors

– Bio-gas plants and solar panels were also introduced.A solar plant (500KW) has also been installed to power 340 households.

Other Initiatives

In Seechewal gram panchayat, the Kali Bein River was rejuvenated with people’s involvement.

Tikekarwadi gram panchayat in Maharashtra is well known for its extensive use of biogas plants and green energy production.

Chapparapadavu gram panchayat in Kerala has several green islands that have been nurtured by the community.

What are the steps taken by the Ministry of Panchayat Raj to fight against Climate Change?

Clean and Green Village Theme: Ministry of Panchayati Raj has focused its attention on localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a thematic basis.

– ‘Clean and Green Village’ is one of the themes under it. Under this theme, panchayats can take up activities on natural resource management, biodiversity protection, waste management and afforestation activities.

– Over 1 lakh gram panchayats have prioritized ‘Clean & Green Village’ as one of their focus areas for 2022-23.


The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?

Source– The post is based on the article “The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?” published in the Business Standard on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Indian economy Relevance: Economic policy News- The article explains the dilemmas faced by Indian policymakers while deciding the right policies for economic… Continue reading The future of Indian economy: Should it play the power game or values game?

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Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants

Source: The post is based on the article “Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants” published in The Times of India on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment Relevance: impact of climate change. News: The article discusses the impact of climate change. What is the impact of climate change? Climate change causes climate refugees, i.e., people… Continue reading Climate justice means rich nations helping migrants

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Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction

Source: The post is based on an article “Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction” published in The Indian Express on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS 3 – Agriculture Relevance: importance of millets News: The year 2023 will be celebrated as the International Year of Millets. The external affairs minister S. Jaishankar has put… Continue reading Why India’s push for millets is yet to gain widespread traction

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The Constitution of India deserves better

Source– The post is based on the article “Constitution Day: A rare, enduring document” published in The India Express and “The Constitution of India deserves better” published in The Hindu on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS2- Indian Constitution Relevance: Making of Indian constitution News- The article explains the basic facts about evolution and present working… Continue reading The Constitution of India deserves better

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COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility

Source– The post is based on the article “COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility” published in The Hindu on 26th November 2022. Syllabus: GS3- Environmental degradation Relevance: Climate change News- The article explains the issues related to the climate finance and Loss and Damage provisions. What is Loss and Damage agenda for developing countries? The… Continue reading COP27 and the ambiguity about responsibility

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All India Open Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS | 4th December 2022

Dear Friends,   Prelims is the gateway to Mains Exam. Before appearing for the actual examination of UPSC CSE, it is necessary to appear in the mock test and get used to the real exam interface. One can only be a master of something when someone assesses his own strength and weakness and overcome this.… Continue reading All India Open Test for Prelims 2023 by ForumIAS | 4th December 2022

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What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?” published in Indian Express on 24th November. What is the News? Certain services at Central Depositories Services India Ltd(CDSL) were disrupted due to a suspected cyber attack. What is CDSL? CDSL or Central Depositories Services India Ltd was founded in… Continue reading What is CDSL, India’s registered share depository?

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China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028

Source: The post is based on the article “China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028” published in Business Standard on 26th November. What is the News? China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028 followed by the landing of astronauts there in the years… Continue reading China plans to build its first moon base powered by nuclear energy by 2028

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Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time

Source: The post is based on the article “Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time” published in PIB on 26th November. What is the News? The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has announced the setting up of… Continue reading Work on India’s first-ever Night Sky Sanctuary in Ladakh’s Hanle going on in full swing and shall be complete in over a month’s time

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Indians received the biggest share of U.K. work visas: report

Source: The post is based on the article “Indians received the biggest share of U.K. work visas: report” published in The Hindu on 26th November. What is the News? According to the British High Commission in India, Indian nationals continued to be the top nationality to be granted ‘worker’ visas from the UK. Increased mobility… Continue reading Indians received the biggest share of U.K. work visas: report

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