9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 26th, 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

Economic heft and foreign policy posturing

Source: This post is based on the article “Economic heft and foreign policy posturing” published in Business standard on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Relevance: Limitation to India’s foreign policy

News: India’s foreign policy options are limited by its relatively inadequate economic size and technological capabilities.

How economic considerations of a nation can influence its foreign policy stance?

This can be easily understood by analyzing the difference in the West’s posture towards China and Russia.

For instance, with respect to Russia, the western journals repeatedly condemn Mr Putin’s violations of human rights within Russia, such as the targeting of Alexei Navalny.

By contrast, they overlook China’s oppression of millions of people living within its own borders, for example the Uighurs and Tibetans.

This  contrast is because Western real and financial sector companies continue to profit enormously by having invested in mega-scale production of goods and services in China.

Further, China’s huge investments around the world, and being a huge exporter of a range of engineering products, provides them a significant power to influence international policies.

What is the way forward for India?

China’s economic heft has contributed to its aggressive external posturing, including armed intrusions into Indian territory, extravagant claims over all of Arunachal Pradesh.

Changes in the economic size, foreign direct investment-related numbers and military strength of neighboring and major powers, like China, should be factored by India in its foreign policy framework.


POCSO shocker

Source: This post is based on the article “POCSO shocker” published in The Hindu on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Relevance: Interpretation of provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Act)

News: Recently, the Allahabad High Court had ruled that a penetrative sexual assault on a 10-year-old boy did not fall under the stringent POCSO Act’s definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

The Allahabad High Court lowered the sentence of a man who was convicted of forcing a 10-year-old boy to perform oral sex.

The ruling has been handed down without due regard to the laws and facts.

What was Allahabad High Court’s view?

The Court agreed that it was a “penetrative sexual assault” as defined by the POCSO Act, as the accused had put his member into the victim’s mouth.

However, the court opined that, it did not amount to “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”, a crime punishable with a minimum prison term of 10 years that can go up to life.

Instead, it was punishable under Section 4 of POCSO, which prescribes a minimum 7 years. Accordingly, the court reduced the trial court sentence of 10 years in jail to 7 years.

Must Read: POCSO Act and associated issues – Explained
Why the High Court’s judgement is erroneous?

The High Court failed to note that a sexual offence can take the character of aggravated form of sexual offence in certain circumstances under POCSO.

Following sections of POCSO Act, contain provisions regarding ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’,

Section 5

i). When the offender is a police officer, a member of the armed forces, a public servant or someone on the staff of a jail, remand home, hospital, educational or religious institution, or any place of custody or care and protection.

ii). When the crime involves a group of offenders, or is done repeatedly, or when it pertains to the use of deadly weapons or causes grievous harm or injury, or leads to physical or mental incapacitation, pregnancy, or disease.

Section 5(m)

iii). Whoever commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below 12 years.

Further, the court failed to consider the fact that the child was about 10 years old when the offence took place.

What is the way forward?

First, the verdict in Sonu Kushwaha vs State of U.P. is a fit case for review, as it seems to be based on an error of law.

Second, quashing Bombay HC’s judgement in Satish v State of Maharashtra case, SC clearly stated that a narrow interpretation of POCSO provisions would defeat the very purpose of the act. This judgement cautioning against diluting the gravity of an offence against a child by ignoring the plain meaning of POCSO’s provisions needs to be adhered.


Why Non-Personal, What’s Critical … & Snooping?

Source: This post is based on the article ” Why Non-Personal, What’s Critical … & Snooping?” published in the Times of India on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Relevance: Understanding the provisions of JPC on PDP Bill.

News: Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)  on the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019 has submitted its report in the Parliament.

What are the key recommendations of JPC?

First, It suggested renaming ‘Data Protection Bill’ by dropping the word ‘personal’.

Second, Committee recommended that the same regulator should govern both personal data (data about an individual) and non-personal data (anonymised data, business data).

Third, It suggested that government should set up certification labs for testing the integrity of all digital and IoT devices.

Fourth, Another suggestion is to store the sensitive and critical personal data in India only, as proposed in the 2019 bill.

Last, The committee suggested to did away with the penalty provision proposed in the 2019 bill.

Read here: JPC retains exemption clause, adopts personal data Bill

What is non-personal data? Why is its inclusion worrying?

Non Personal data is not about any particular individual. For eg, data about traffic or congested routes picked up by a ride-share platform. Or data about soil trends or weather patterns that never relate to any person is considered as non-personal data.

The government argues that this data is useful for formulating any future policy, but businessman argues that such data is proprietary.

What are the concerns associated?
Read here: What are the concerns associated with the draft bill?
How the Data Protection Bill is effective in the current scenario?

– It has the potential to address long-standing concerns around our surveillance regime.

-Having strong checks and balances over government surveillance could also help India seek free flows of data from regions like Europe that restrict transfers to other countries unless they have sufficient protections.

Read here: How the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 can be more effective than the current regulations in place?

Chaos in Parliament a sign of India’s strong democracy

Source: This post is based on the article “Chaos in Parliament a sign of India’s strong democracy” published in Times of India on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.

Relevance: Understanding the cause and impact of disruptions occur in the Parliament

News: There is an increase in the cases of disruptions in the house.

About disruptions in Parliament 

Disruptions usually occurred when the opposition is against a government policy or a national issue. The amount of time lost due to disruptions in Parliament had steadily risen from 5% of working time in the truncated 11th Lok Sabha (1996-97) to 39% in the 15th LS (2009-14).

In 2010, the entire winter session was lost due to the uproar over the 2G scam. In 2011, 30% of the time was lost due to disruptions. 2016 was the least productive of the 16th Lok Sabha, when the opposition united against the government’s decision of demonetization. 73% of the time was lost during that period.

Previous cases of disruptions in the past

Disruptions have a long history in the Indian Parliament. Soon after the first Lok Sabha convened in 1952, an amendment to the contentious Preventive Detention Bill was brought about, which led to chaos in the house. In the words of veteran journalist BG Verghese, it was an incident of “an unprecedented hullabaloo.”

Another incident of disruption is from 3rd Lok Sabha in 1963 when Official Languages Bill was introduced, there were strong protests by some Opposition members, which this newspaper described as the first time that such “disorderly scenes” were witnessed in the house.

Many instances of disruptions have occurred after that and a similar trend follows to today date.

How has the trend changed over the years?

From the fourth Lok Sabha, the culture of parliamentary politics changed, and it was politics with the “masks and gloves off”.

The floor of the Lok Sabha was not the only site of protests. Members wanted permission to hold protests and even hunger strikes in the premises of parliament. For eg, The Communist MP AK Gopalan in 1964 held a one-day hunger strike in the lobby of Parliament to protest food shortage in his home state of Kerala. In 1966, Rameshwaranand led a mob protesting cow slaughter towards Parliament in an attempt to storm the complex.

What are the reasons behind the increase of disruption in the Parliament?
-The limited efficacy of the rules and disciplinary powers of speakers.
-More heterogeneous composition of Parliament compared to its first three decades of existence.
-Replacement of a dominant party system with a fragmented one where coalition government was the norm.
-The televising of parliamentary proceedings.
-Acceptance that disruptions were part of parliamentary and India’s political culture.
What should be the way forward?

Frequent disruptions reflect the nature of Indian democracy as being dysfunctional. Thus, there is a need to strengthen the working of the Indian parliament.


The case of Prince Jaibir Singh’s admission to IIT Bombay

Source: This post is based on the article ” The case of Prince Jaibir Singh’s admission to IIT Bombay” published in the Indian Express on 26th November 2021.

Subject: GS2 –  Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Relevance: Understanding affirmative action and substantive equality

News: Recently the Supreme Court, in pursuance of complete justice, directed IIT Bombay to allot a seat in the BTech program to Prince Jaibir Singh, a Dalit student from Ghaziabad.

What was the issue?

He was denied a seat because of late payment.  The institution did not provide an alternative mechanism for fees payment like cash or cheque or other measures like allowing late payment without a fine.  The supreme court ruled in favour of the student because Dalit students face many obstacles.

What are the obstacles faced by Dalit students?

They struggle in the initial stages to get good coaching. They also face humiliation in hostels, classrooms and playgrounds.

Considering these, more steps should be taken by the government to promote their welfare. One such measure was the recruitment drive for SC/ST/OBC/EWS through Mission Mode Recruitment (MMR).  But this also faces many challenges.

What are the challenges faced by MMR?

First, there is resistance by many IITs against this program. The recruitment process is rushed to adjust to the regular recruitment cycle. Due to this due diligence in the process, implementation is not followed.

Second, there is a lack of clear directions from state agencies, which brings discrepancies and variations in the process of recruitment. For example, illegitimate limits are set to the number of faculties to be recruited.

Third, Exceptionally good candidates are not recommended under the general category, which makes competition under the reserved category very difficult.

Fourth, Many candidates with high-quality publications hesitate to apply due to arbitrary numerical criteria like requiring 49 publications.  Here, quantity dominates quality.

What should be the way forward?

As argued by Max Webber and Dr. BR Ambedkar substantive rationality and substantive equality should guide public policymaking to ensure the welfare of the marginalized.


Why the link between mental health and death penalty deserves greater attention

Source: This post is based on the article “Why the link between mental health and death penalty deserves greater attention” published in the Indian Express on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Understanding death penalty and mental health.

News: Recently NLU Delhi’s project 39A released its report Deathworthy in collaboration with NIMHANS. It studied the life and history of prisoners who have been given death punishment.

What were the findings of the report?

The report gave two important findings.

First, The origins of violent behaviour are determined by poor educational attainment and mental health issues of the prisoners. Early nurturing, disturbed childhood, exposure to abuse as children, disturbed family environment contributed to the poor mental and cognitive development of the child. For example, 73 prisoners experienced at least three adverse childhood experiences.

Second, two-third of the prisoners were diagnosed with current episodes of mental illness like depression and had suicidal tendencies. Prisoners also demonstrated evidence of cognitive impairment, head injuries, deficits in mental functioning.

All these factors should ideally be considered as part of the judicial process while awarding the death punishment.

What is the status of death punishment in India?

Since 2014 nine prisoners have been executed. Until the execution of Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004 for the rape and murder of a minor girl, the country was a de facto abolitionist state. Now, Nearly 500 prisoners have been sentenced to death row.

Laws have provided for more crimes against which death punishment can be given, particularly of the nature of sexual violence.

What should be the way forward?

Evidence has shown that there is no link between death punishment and crime rate. In fact, murder rates have declined in 10 out of 11 countries that abolished capital punishment.

The Mental Health of the convict should be considered before giving capital punishment, as is the norm in international law.

GS Paper 3


After farm laws repeal, farmer unions want legal guarantee for MSP. Should the govt give in?

Source: This post is based on the article “After farm laws repeal, farmer unions want legal guarantee for MSP. Should the govt give in?” published in ToI on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 –  issues related to MSP

Relevance: Legalising MSP

News: Despite the announcement by the PM to repeal the three farm laws, farmers are demanding that, MSP should be made a legal entitlement.

This article provides both the side of the arguments (support and against) w.r.t legalising MSP demand. Some points are already covered in the following article:

Read more: https://blog.forumias.com/explained-in-perspective-farm-distress-and-the-demand-for-guaranteed-msp/
What are the arguments in support of legalising MSP?

Farmer distress: Survey after survey has shown that income from farming is inadequate to sustain basic financial needs of farming households. Hence, MSP represent a lifeline for farmers, and they want that lifeline to be given legal sanctity.

India’s Food security: India’s food independence and security against hunger are non-negotiable and this independence and security depends on farmers continuing to farm and produce food to feed nearly 1.38 billion citizens.

Lack of avenues to absorb the out-of-work farmers elsewhere in the economy: The proponents of free-market price discovery argue that this very mechanism will push farmers out of farming where excess labour is currently unproductive. However, Indian economy currently doesn’t have the capacity to absorb the 900 million farmers of India.

Fundamental right: The demand for legal guarantee of MSP also stems from the constitutional fundamental right to life and livelihood. It is the constitutional duty of the government to ensure and enforce this fundamental right in favour of the farmers of India.

What are the arguments against legalising MSP?

Other effective alternatives exist: If the objective of MSP is to help the poor, we can now effectively use the most direct way. For less than the amount spent on MSP, we can lift millions out of poverty by transferring funds into their bank accounts.

If our objective is to reduce farm price volatility, then direct funds transfer to the poor can partially address that objective along with a well-regulated crop insurance system.

Impact on Nutrition and export earnings: MSP is given only for a few crops, which means there is excessive production of these at the expense of other crops that may be more nutritious and could earn us export revenues.

Impact on water security: A distorted focus on few crops also depletes the water table.

Give rise to vicious demands: There is a demand to expand MSP to more crops, which is financially unviable for the government.

Effects of MSP on equity: Poor farmers get virtually nothing from MSP because they have little or no surplus, and many subsist as agricultural labourers.

In sum, MSP may have a few positives, but it has many negatives and should be deployed only with great circumspection.


Setting the tone at Glasgow, the job ahead in Delhi

Source: This post is based on the article “Setting the tone at Glasgow, the job ahead in Delhi” published in The Hindu on 26th Nov 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the significance of Glasgow summit and what needs to done to realize the targets set under it.

News: Net zero target set by India has cemented its position as a world leader in global climate change policy landscape.

Now, keeping in line with the spirit of climate justice, rich countries need to veer away from their unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns.

India too needs to focus on sustainable well-being.

How the Glasgow Climate Pact indicates a changing world order?

The carbon colonialism of the West was called out by the poor countries at Glasgow when the UK, along with G7 countries, tried to push for a phase out of coal in the final pact.

India and China came together on the last day of the COP26 at Glasgow to effect a change in the language of the pact from ‘phase out’ of the coal-based power to ‘phase down’.

That G7 had to accommodate this change indicates the coming of a world order in which the G7 no longer sets the rules.

Must Read: Coal controversy at the Glasgow summit
What is the way forward?

– Reduced consumption by the West: Consumption of affluent households both determines and accelerates an increase of emissions of carbon dioxide. In the West, these factors have overridden the beneficial effects of changes in technology. This is visible in the increasing carbon footprint. Thus, the West must begin by reducing its consumption.

India:

– In parallel with the infrastructure and clean technology thrust, the consumption patterns need to be shifted away from resource and carbon-intensive goods and services. For instance: mobility from cars and aircraft towards buses and trains, and nutrition from animal and processed food towards a seasonal plant-based diet.

– Along with reducing demand, resource and carbon intensity of consumption has to decrease, e.g. expanding renewable energy, electrifying cars and public transport and increasing energy and material efficiency.

More equal distribution of wealth with a minimum level of prosperity and affordable energy use for all: For instance, housing and doing away with biomass for cooking.

Floor’ and ‘ceiling’ of sustainable well-being: The Govt must set up focused research groups for the conceptual frame of sustainable well-being. It should analyze the factors of affluent overconsumption. It should further create awareness around how much energy we really need for a decent level of well-being.

– After the Stockholm Declaration on the Global Environment, the Constitution was amended in 1976 to include Protection and Improvement of Environment as a fundamental duty. Further, the Parliament used Article 253 to enact the Environment Protection Act to implement the decisions reached at the Stockholm Conference.

Under Article 253, Parliament has the power to make laws for implementing international treaties and agreements and can legislate on the preservation of the natural environment.

The decisions taken at COP26 need to be enabled by a new set of legislation around ecological limits, energy and land use, including the efficient distribution and use of electricity, urban design etc.

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

Decomputerize to decarbonize: A climate debate we can’t avoid

Source: This post is based on the article “Decomputerize to decarbonize: A climate debate we can’t avoid” published in Livemint on 25th Nov 2021.

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

Relevance: To understand the carbon footprint of computers.

News: Our planet faces an existential threat, with climate change and global warming threatening to make it un-liveable in a few decades.

Digitization doesn’t just pose a risk to people, It also poses a risk to the planet.

How computerization and technology adoption is contributing to climate change?

One huge factor ruining our planet is the uninhibited computerization and technology adoption, as is visible from the following facts:

– A UN study revealed that the manufacture of one desktop computer took 240 kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals and 1,500 kg of water.

– A University of Massachusetts team calculated that training one model for natural-language processing emits 626,155 pounds of carbon dioxide, what 125 New York–Beijing round trips will produce. OpenAI has estimated that the computing used to train a single AI model is increasing by a factor of 10 every year.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) —the branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that helps ‘virtual assistants’ like Alexa understand humans.

Hundreds of data centres that Google, Microsoft and others use water and power at alarming rates. As per reports, data centres consume 200 terawatt hours per year. This is roughly the same amount as South Africa, and is likely to grow 4-5 times by 2030, which would put it on par with Japan, the world’s fourth-biggest energy consumer.

Semiconductor chips: A fabrication unit takes $20 billion to build and need 2-4 million gallons of ultra-pure water per day, roughly equal to the needs of an American city of 50,000 people.

In fact, the carbon footprint of the world’s computational infrastructure has matched that of the aviation industry at its peak, and it is increasing at a faster rate.

Hence, decomputerization is necessary for decarbonization.

What is the way forward?

Though we don’t need a ‘Luddite revolution’ but in order to decarbonize, we must decomputerize. This does not mean getting rid of computers, but only the unnecessary ones in our homes and offices.

Luddites were the members of the organized bands of 19th-century English handicraftsmen who rioted for the destruction of the textile machinery that was displacing them. Today, the term is usually referred to any person who is against technology.

Airport Lessons

Source: This post is based on the article “Airport Lessons: Private airports are good for everyone” published in Times of India on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

Relevance: To understand the need of private participation in airport development in India.

News: The Jewar International Airport, a greenfield project will be the second airport in NCR. Both international airports in NCR will then be under private management.

It demonstrates India’s success in the last two decades in attracting private capital and management into airport infrastructure development and maintenance.

How private players’ participation was facilitated in airport development over the years?

The watershed moment was 2006, when Delhi and Mumbai airports were leased out for 30 years to private entities under a PPP model.

It was followed by greenfield airports in Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Further, in 2008, a key development was the creation of a statutory body, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) which regulates airport tariffs.

– It helped in getting both private capital and also buy-in from passengers.

The importance of a regulator can be gauged by the fact that in the case of railways, a lack of a regulator has hampered its efforts to attract private capital.

How has private participation helped?

It resulted in economic benefits from the increasing traffic – 341 million passengers in 2019-20. This revenue stream allowed Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop airfields in locations that can’t attract private capital right now.

What is the way forward?

The future of greenfield airports and expansion of existing ones will depend on states. National Civil Aviation policy expects them to acquire land and provide it free for airports.


Chinese med imports up 75%, raises concerns

Source: This post is based on the article “Chinese med imports up 75%, raises concerns” published in Times of India on 26th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 -Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development, and employment.

Relevance: To get an inside on the medical technology sector, our med-tech imports and issues associated.

News: China has become the largest exporter of medical devices to India, overtaking US and Germany during 2020-21.

The imports of med-tech and medical devices having jumped up to 75% from China alone, whereas overall increase in med-tech imports from all nations is just about 7%.

What are the reasons for the huge increase in imports?

Due to Covid-19 crisis, international supply chains initially got disrupted. To maintain investments in this field and ensuring supplies, the government resorted to reducing duty on Covid-critical devices to zero temporarily, which led to a huge influx of imports.

Most of the increase is attributed to imports of critical items like oximeters, diagnostic instruments, digital thermometers and chemical reagents, which were needed during the pandemic as a quick scale-up wasn’t possible.

What are the issues with imports?

These harm the domestic industry.

The nil customs duty did not benefit consumers and, with no MRP printed on devices, there was massive profiteering due to the huge mark-ups.

Such huge imports are also a challenge to India’s ‘Atma Nirbhar’ policy as private sector procurement largely has not been supporting ‘Make in India’, with China continuing to be a major supplier.

What is the way forward?

The Centre’s bulk purchases have been mainly restricted to respiratory care and oxygen delivery equipment due to the pandemic. Hence, impetus needs to be given to build capacity in other segments.

Medtech sector can’t be ‘Atma Nirbhar’ in a few months. We need to build technology, quality, supply chain and right policy.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: Why are India, other countries releasing oil from strategic reserves?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Why are India, other countries releasing oil from strategic reserves?” published in Indian Express on 26th November 2021.

What is the news?

India is going to release 5 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves as part of a coordinated challenge led by the US against the OPEC+ producers’ cartel’s move to curb output.

This would be the first instance of India using strategic reserves to influence international prices.

Must Read: India to release 5mn barrels of crude from reserves in bid to cool prices
Why are these countries releasing oil from strategic reserves?

It is part of a concerted effort to counter upward price of crude oil from OPEC+, led by Russia, to decide production quotas — keeping supply below demand.

How will this step affect crude oil prices?

Coordinated release of reserves by large oil consuming countries would bring down the crude prices.

Saudi and Russia are the largest oil producers in the OPEC+ group. They indicated plans to gradually increase production in the light of releases from strategic reserves.

Must Read: What strategic oil release means for Indian consumers
How have high crude oil prices impacted India?

Consumers paid record high prices for petrol and diesel across the country. Prices are significantly higher than those prior to 2021.

What are India’s strategic petroleum reserves, and why are they needed?

India’s strategic reserves aims to build an emergency stockpile of crude oil. These are created on the lines of the reserves that the US and its Western allies set up after the first oil crisis of 1973-74.

-These facilities can provide for about 9.5 days of India’s crude oil requirements based on 2019-20 consumption levels.

– Read more here

Need – India imports about 85% of its crude oil requirements. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends that all countries hold crude oil stocks worth 90 days of imports.


Centre mulls new testing modes after anaemia surge

Source: This post is based on the articleCentre mulls new testing modes after anaemia surge published in The Hindu on 26th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Government of India is implementing the  Anaemia Mukt Bharat (Anaemia-free India) Programme to reduce the prevalence of Anaemia.

What is the Anaemia Mukt Bharat Programme?

Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) Programme was launched in 2018 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Objective: To reduce the prevalence of anaemia among children, adolescents and women in the reproductive age group(15–49 years).

Target: The programme aims to reduce the proportion of anaemia among children to 40%, pregnant women to 32% and lactating women to 40% by 2022. 

6x6x6 Strategy: The 6x6x6 strategy under AMB implies six age groups, six interventions and six institutional mechanisms. This strategy focuses on ensuring supply chain, demand generation and strong monitoring using the dashboard for addressing anemia both due to nutritional and non-nutritional causes.


Union Minister for Jal Shakti Launches River Cities Alliance -A Dedicated Platform For River Cities In India To Ideate, Discuss And Exchange Information For Sustainable Management of Urban Rivers

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister for Jal Shakti Launches River Cities Alliancepublished in PIB on 24th Nov 2021.

What is the News?

Union Minister for Jal Shakti has launched the River Cities Alliance.

What is the River Cities Alliance?

Launched by: The alliance is a partnership of two Ministries i.e., Ministry of Jal Shakti and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Purpose: It is a dedicated platform for river cities in India to ideate, discuss and exchange information for the sustainable management of urban rivers.

Objectives:

  • To provide the member cities with a platform to discuss and exchange information on aspects that are vital for sustainable management of urban rivers.
  • To work towards adopting and localizing national policies and instruments with key river-related directions. 
  • To strengthen governance aspects for river cities and improve their liveability to attract external economic investments and access state-of-the-art knowledge.

Themes: The alliance will focus on three broad themes- Networking, Capacity Building and Technical Support. 

Participating Cities: The 30 member cities in the alliance include: Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, etc.

Secretariat:  National Institute for Urban Affairs(NIUA) with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) support.


Bring in three-rate GST structure, says study by Finance Ministry-backed think-tank

Source: This post is based on the articleBring in three-rate GST structure, says study by Finance Ministry-backed think-tank published in The Hindu on 26th November 2021.

What is the News?

National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), an autonomous think tank backed by the Finance Ministry, has released a study titled “Revenue Implications of GST Rates Restructuring in India: An Analysis”. The study has suggested the Government to rationalise the GST rates without losing revenues.

What is the current GST Tax rate structure?

Currently, the GST regime levies eight different rates

  • Five key tax slabs: zero, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. 
  • A compensation cess is levied on demerit and luxury goods, over and above the topmost rate of 28%.
  • Special rates of 0.25% on diamonds, precious stones and 3% on gems and jewellery. 
What is the problem with this GST Tax rate structure?

Multiple rate changes since the introduction of the GST regime in July 2017 have brought the effective GST rate to 11.6% from the original revenue-neutral rate of 15.5%.

Note: Revenue Neutral Rate(RNR) may simply be defined as the tax rate which seeks to achieve and garner similar revenue under the newly implemented tax structure as collected from taxes that were in force prior to the implementation of this new tax structure. Thus, basic objective of the RNR can be described to prevent the newly implemented tax structure from having negative revenue implications.

What has the NIPFP suggested in its study?
Source: The Hindu

NIPFP has suggested that the Government can rationalise the GST rate structure without losing revenues by rearranging the four major rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% with a three-rate framework of 8%, 15% and 30%.

 

 


Explained: What is INS Vela, the submarine commissioned by the Indian Navy?

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • What is INS Vela, the submarine commissioned by the Indian Navy?published in Indian Express on 26th November 2021
  • Scorpene class submarine INS Vela joins Navypublished in The Hindu on 26th November 2021.
  • FOURTH SUBMARINE OF PROJECT-75 ‘INS VELA’ COMMISSIONED AT NAVAL DOCKYARD, MUMBAI published in PIB on 25th November 2021.
What is the News?

INS Vela has been commissioned by the Indian Navy.

What is INS Vela?

INS Vela is the fourth submarine in the series of six Scorpene-Class submarines being built under Project-75.

Named After: Vela is named after a type of Indian fish belonging to the stingray family, and the crest depicts the fish swimming across the blue seas. It also carries forward the name of a decommissioned submarine Vela which served the Navy from 1973 to 2010. 

Built by: Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai, under collaboration with M/s Naval Group(earlier DCNS), France. 

Home Base: Vela will be commissioned into the Indian Navy’s western command and will be based in Mumbai.

What are the key features of INS Vela?

Vela is a diesel-electric powered attack submarine designed to act as “sea denial” as well as “access denial” warfare to the adversary.

The submarine can engage in offensive operations across the entire spectrum of naval warfare, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.

The submarine is also equipped with C303 anti-torpedo countermeasure system and can carry up to 18 torpedoes or Exocet anti-ship missiles or 30 mines in place of torpedoes.

Significance of Induction of INS Vela

With this induction, the Navy currently has 16 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. It includes eight Russian Kilo-class submarines, four German HDW submarines, four French Scorpene submarines and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant.


Group of 8 Food secretaries to create national policy for community kitchens

Source: This post is based on the articleGroup of 8 Food secretaries to create national policy for community kitchenspublished in The Hindu on 25th Nov 2021.

What is the News?

The Government of India has decided to constitute a group of secretaries from states, along with senior officers of the Centre, to deliberate on a framework of Community Kitchens Scheme.

Background

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking the setting up of community kitchens and subsidized canteens in all states with the aim of avoiding starvation deaths.

On this petition, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to come up with a community kitchen scheme that is agreeable to all states and UTs.

What was the Central Government’s response?

The Government of India has formed a group to deliberate on a framework of the Community Kitchens Scheme.

The group will be headed by the food secretary of Madhya Pradesh and will comprise food secretaries of eight states namely Kerala, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam, Bihar, and West Bengal, apart from Madhya Pradesh.

What is a Community Kitchen?

A community kitchen is a group of people meeting on a regular basis to plan, cook and share healthy and affordable meals. Community kitchen groups are for everyone and can be run anywhere there is a kitchen.

​​In India, many states like Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Delhi, and Jharkhand have already been running community kitchens that serve meals at subsidized rates in hygienic conditions. 


Analysing the Constituent Assembly debates reveals of a vital process

Source: This post is based on the article ” Analysing the Constituent Assembly debates reveals of a vital process” published in Livemint on 26th November 2021.

What is the news?

A textual study of the Constitution of India has been done by the researchers. The study aims to analyze how “We, The People” came to where we have reached.

What are the findings of the research regarding the Constitutional Assembly?

Diversity and participation: In terms of gender, there were only 15 women (around 8% literate women). A quarter of the members were from the princely states. Apart from that, 90% of members were Hindu. Party-wise, congress has an overwhelming presence in the assembly, but the party members have great diversity in their ideological positions.

But the study found that, despite the diversity, the diverse viewpoints of the members were not considered. Researchers, draw the Lorenz curve for the number of words spoken by each member, which represents unequal distribution. It was found that less than 6% of members spoke 50% of words uttered in the Assembly. Women members spoke less than 2%. Prominent national leaders like Nehru and Patel contributed to merely 2.18% and 1.47% of the debate by word count.

Lorenz Curve: It is a graphical distribution of wealth, shows the proportion of income earned by any given percentage of the population.

Gini coefficient: It measures the degree of income equality in a population.

Not only the Lorenz curve, but the Gini coefficient also showed an unbalanced result. The number of words spoken in the Constitutional Assembly debate is 0.756 which is worse than the Gini Index of income in South Africa. (World’s most unequal country in terms of income).

Constitutional Ideas: The study also analyzed some important constitutional concepts which are even relevant today. It was found that “Rights” came to be the most invoked word. Member spoke about ideas involving “religion, caste. Hindu, Muslim”. More members talked about education compared to health. Words like secular were used more than dharma or morality. Women was invoked more than adivasis.

Although the count of a single word does not say about the nature and direction of words, but the co-occurrence of words in speech reflects the importance of that topic. For eg: The prohibition of alcohol was hotly debated in Assembly by 51 members and was used 212 times.


Religious conversion does not change caste, says Madras high court

What is the News?

The Madras High Court has ruled that an individual’s caste couldn’t change on account of their conversion from one religion to another.

What is the issue?

A person originally belonging to the Adi- Dravidar Community had married a person from the Hindu Arunthathiyar community, both of which are originally Scheduled Caste.

However, the person later converted to Christianity and was later given a ‘Backward Class’ Certificate (As per law, Dalit-converts are treated as backward community (BC) members and not as SCs). On the basis of the Backward class certificate, he applied for an inter-caste marriage certificate.

Note: In Tamil Nadu, a marriage between a member of the SC/ST community and someone from any other community or between a member of the BC community and someone from another community is considered an ‘inter-caste’ marriage. Such unions are eligible for several welfare benefits, including priority consideration for government jobs.

However, the Tamil Nadu Government refused to issue the inter-caste certificate as both husband and wife belonged to the SC community by birth.

After the refusal, the person filed a writ of mandamus petition in Madras High Court seeking the inter-caste marriage certificate be issued.

Note: The writ of mandamus is issued by a court to compel a public authority to perform legal duties it either has not performed or has refused to.

What did the court say?

The Madras High Court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the Tamil Nadu government refusal to issue an inter-caste marriage certificate to the petitioner. 

The court said that the very purpose and object of the issuance of an inter-caste marriage certificate is to provide certain welfare schemes.

But the inter-caste marriage certificate could be issued only if one of the spouses belongs to the Scheduled Caste and the other spouse belongs to the other caste, but not otherwise.

In this case, as both persons belong to the SC community and an individual’s caste couldn’t change on account of their conversion from one religion to another. Hence, the inter-caste certificate can’t be issued.

Source: This post is based on the article Religious conversion does not change caste, says Madras high courtpublished in TOI on 26th Nov 2021. 


Science Ministers from India and UK discuss Green Energy collaboration

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Science & Technology held an online meeting with the United Kingdom (UK) Science Minister wherein the two discussed Green Energy collaboration between the two countries.

India-UK Science & Technology (S&T) collaboration

India-UK Science & Technology(S&T) collaboration has been growing at a rapid pace and the joint research programme has gone from an almost zero base to close to £300-400 million now.

India-UK Initiatives to promote S&T Collaboration

Science and Innovation Council(SIC): It is the apex body to review overall bilateral scientific cooperation (except strategic sector) between India and UK. It is held once in two years, alternatively in India and the UK. The last SIC meeting was held in New Delhi on 26th July 2018.

Newton-Bhabha Fund: It is supported by the UK and Indian governments to promote science and innovation partnerships between the two countries. 

Industry-Academia Partnership Programme: It has been set up under the Newton-Bhabha Fund. This initiative looks to harness links and spur networks to industry and UK expertise amongst Tier 2 and 3 engineering universities in India to build capability and improve their teaching, research and innovation outcomes.

Future S&T Collaboration Opportunities between India and UK

India and UK can collaborate on four technology value chains that contribute about half of the cumulative CO2 savings: technologies to widely electrify end-use sectors (such as advanced batteries); carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); hydrogen and hydrogen-related fuels; and bioenergy.

Source: This post is based on the articleScience Ministers from India and UK discuss Green Energy collaborationpublished in PIB on 25th Nov 2021.


Centre may continue to hold at least 26% stake in public sector banks

What is the News?

The Government of India will be introducing the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the upcoming winter session.

The Bill seeks to amend the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts, 1970 and 1980 and incidental amendments to Banking Regulation Act,1949.

What are the key provisions of the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021?
Source: Business Standard

Firstly, Government Shareholding in PSBs: provides for reducing the government’s minimum shareholding in Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to 26%.

Note: At present, the government has to hold 51% in PSBs at all times according to the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970.

Benefits of Reduced Government Shareholding in PSBs: This will enable institutional and public investment in PSBs in turn helping the exchequer with better receipts. This would also help in privatisation and meeting the disinvestment targets, besides reducing lenders’ dependence on the government for capital infusion.

Secondly, Scheme for privatisation of PSBs: The Bill would empower the government to make a scheme for privatisation of PSBs in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Thirdly, Auditors of PSBs: The bill seeks to replace provisions of the Companies Act, 1956, with the Companies Act, 2013 for conditions for auditors of PSBs, among others.

Fourthly, Disqualification of directors: The Bill will have provisions regarding the disqualification of directors. It will include terms and conditions for service of the chairman, whole-time directors and board of directors.

Fifthly, Remuneration of Directors: The bill will insert clauses to determine the remuneration and compensation for whole-time directors and officers carrying out material risk-taking and control functions of new privatised banks.

Lastly, Protection of Officers: To protect the decision-making of bank executives, a new provision will also be included in the law to protect them for action taken in good faith.

Source: This post is based on the articleCentre may continue to hold at least 26% stake in public sector bankspublished in The Hindu on 25th Nov 2021.


Need to make agri-food systems resilient to address food security: SOFA 2021

What is the News?

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) has released the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report 2021– Making agrifood systems more resilient to shocks and stresses.

What is the purpose of the report?

The report is an annual flagship report of FAO. It aims at bringing to a wider audience balanced science-based assessments of important issues in the field of food and agriculture.

What are Agri-Food Systems and its contribution?

Agri-food systems include the web of activities involved in the production of food and non-food agricultural products and their storage, processing, transportation, distribution and consumption.

Agri-food systems produce around 11 billion tonnes of food each year and a multitude of non-food products, including 32 million tonnes of natural fibres and 4 billion tonnes of wood.

What are the key findings of the report?

Gross Value of Agri Output: The estimated gross value of agricultural output in 2018 was $3.5 trillion. 

Employment: Primary Agri production alone provides about a quarter of employment globally, more than half in sub-Saharan Africa and almost 60% in low-income countries.

GHG Emissions: Agro-food sector including forestry and fisheries accounts for a third of the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. It occupies 37% of the Earth’s land area.

What happens if there is a disruption in Agri-Food Systems?

The fragility of agri-food systems can affect a large population. Around 3 billion already cannot afford a healthy diet currently due to this. An additional 1 billion would join their ranks if a shock reduced their income by a third.

Note: The report defines shocks as short-term events that have negative effects on a system, people’s well-being, assets, livelihoods, safety and ability to withstand future shocks. 

Food costs could also increase for up to 845 million people if a disruption to critical transport links were to occur.

What are the recommendations given by the report to improve Agri-Food Systems?

Diversification: Diversification of actors, input sources, production, markets and supply chains to create multiple pathways for absorbing shocks. 

Supporting the development of small and medium agrifood enterprises and cooperatives would also help maintain diversity in domestic value chains. 

Connectivity: Well-connected networks overcome disruptions faster by shifting sources of supply and channels for transport, marketing, inputs and labour. 

Improving the resilience of vulnerable households is critical to ensure a world free from hunger. This can be done by improving access to assets, diversified income sources and social protection programmes. 

Source: This post is based on the articleNeed to make agri-food systems resilient to address food security: SOFA 2021published in Down To Earth on 25th Nov 2021.


‘Aadhaar 2.0- Ushering the Next Era of Digital Identity and Smart Governance’ workshop

What is the News?

The Minister of Electronics & Information Technology has addressed the three-day workshop ‘Aadhaar 2.0- Ushering the Next Era of Digital Identity and Smart Governance’.

The workshop was organized by the Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI). The workshop aims to analyze the reach of Digital Identity in major reforms and schemes launched by the Government.

What is Aadhaar?

Aadhaar number is a 12-digit random number issued by the UIDAI (“Authority”) to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority. 

Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enrol to obtain an Aadhaar number. 

A person willing to enrol has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost. 

An individual needs to enrol for Aadhaar only once and after de-duplication only one Aadhaar shall be generated as the uniqueness is achieved through the process of demographic and biometric de-duplication.

Moreover, Aadhaar was given statutory status by the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016.

Importance of Aadhaar

Firstly, Aadhaar is increasingly being used by residents to prove their identity and for availing services under various schemes through online Aadhaar authentication.

Secondly, the APB payments (Aadhaar-enabled DBT payments) have increased significantly by the government in times of COVID.

Recommendations from the workshop

Aadhaar can continue itself as one of the main enablers of identity verification in both online as well as offline mode in light of the SWIK rules (Social welfare, Innovation and Knowledge).

Aadhaar’s legal framework is settled with the Aadhaar Act, Supreme Court judgement, but for addressing privacy aspects, Data Privacy Law Needs to be enacted.

Biometrics in Aadhaar can be improved using Artificial Intelligence and deep learning techniques. 

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Aadhaar 2.0- Ushering the Next Era of Digital Identity and Smart Governance’ workshop” published in PIB on 25th Nov 2021. 


MeitY organises 24th CISO Deep Dive Training program under Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative

What is the News?

The Ministry of Electronics and IT is conducting a six-day Deep Dive Training program.

What is a Deep Dive Training program?

Launched by: National e-Governance Division, Ministry of Electronics and IT under the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative.

Purpose: It is a six day training programme that aims to create awareness around cyber security and develop an empowered and strong cyber ecosystem in Government organisations in India.

Coverage: It is a training program for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT officials from various Ministries & Departments, Government & Semi-Government organisations from Central and State Governments, PSUs, banks, among others.

Significance: This type of training empowers them to secure their organisations from cyber threats and for smooth delivery of e-Gov services and functioning of production units. 

What is the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative?

Launched by: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2018.

Aim: To spread awareness about cybercrime and build capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.

Principles: The initiative will be operated on the three principles of Awareness, Education and Enablement. It will include an awareness program on the importance of cybersecurity; a series of workshops on best practices and enablement of the officials with cybersecurity health tool kits to manage and mitigate cyber threats.

Significance: It is the first of its kind public-private partnership that leverages the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity along with MeitY’s organisations such as CDAC, CERT-In, NIC and STQC as the knowledge partners.

Source: This post is based on the articleMeitY organises 24th CISO Deep Dive Training program under Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiativepublished in PIB on 24th Nov 2021.

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