9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 27th, 2021

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

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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Open mind, large heart

Source: This post is based on the article “Open mind, large heart” published in  TOI on 27th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS1 – Indian Society

Relevance: Understanding the debate around Vir Das’s video

News: A heated online debate has erupted after comedian Vir Das’s “two Indias” monologue video went viral. While many are accusing him of insulting India, others are coming to his defence.

Police complaints have also been filed against the comedian.

At the root of the current tension is the idea of an India that is only a few decades or few centuries old. It is much older.

Why Vir Das is being criticized?

He’s been accused of lowering India’s image and prestige abroad.

Why the criticism against Vir Das is unfair?

Mature democracies should be unafraid of introspection and criticism, and instead welcome it.

The greatness or otherwise of India is not diminished or enhanced by stand-up comics or sit down dharnas.

Moreover, nation-building calls for an open mind and a large heart. India, like America, and virtually any nation on earth, is an unfinished process, a work in progress. Criticism and relentless self-examination are what will make it better.

The hallmark of a strong, resilient, self-confident nation is the ability to take criticism even if it is unfounded or unfair.

India should strive towards the ideal of vasudaiva kutumbakam – “the world is one family.”

GS Paper 2

On the path of Buddha and his followers

Source: This post is based on the article “On the path of Buddha and his followers” published in Indian Express on 27th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – India and neighbourhood relations

Relevance: Buddhism and its significance in international relation, Use of Soft power in foreign diplomacy

News: Recently, the Prime Minister inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport in eastern Uttar Pradesh to facilitate Buddhist pilgrims to reach the important site of the Mahaparinirvana Temple.

The completion of the Kushinagar airport is a significant milestone in the Indian government’s 2016 plan to develop a “Buddhist Circuit”.

The ambitious tourism circuit, will help India to achieve regional objectives.

How the development of Buddhist circuit will help India to achieve regional objectives?

Facilitation of people-to-people diplomacy between the SCO members: Both India and the seven members of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan) share a common Buddhist religious and cultural legacy.

Will counter ongoing Chinese attempts to distrust the Buddhist narrative in the maritime Belt & Road Initiative countries like Sri Lanka, in Himalayan border monasteries in Leh, Arunachal Pradesh, and also in India’s neighbours Nepal and Bhutan.

Neighborhood First policy: Bhutan has about 75 per cent Buddhist Lamaist population, while Nepal has 10 per cent. China had already started to leverage the soft power of Buddhism in these countries to achieve its strategic geopolitical goals. In this context, India’s Buddhist Circuit including Lumbini in Nepal as a pilgrimage site holds great potential in bringing greater ties between India’s neighbours.

Spread of India’s soft power: The spread of Buddhism also coincided with the transmission of secular knowledge from the Indian subcontinent – like traditional Indian medicine (Aayush), manufacturing (sugar) and the astro-sciences into these regions. Most monasteries along the Silk Route during the first millennium were often headed by Indian monks. They hosted merchants, travellers, and tended to the sick using traditional Indian medicine. Even today, amongst the Central Asian Republics (CARs) there is an interest in traditional Indian medicines. Exchanges (research and students) for studying this would be of great interest to these countries.

What steps were taken by India in this regard?

Recently, when India chaired SCO, India hosted the Shared Buddhist Heritage virtual exhibition in New Delhi, where it showcased Buddhist art, tapestry, ritual objects from across this vast Eurasian region.

What is the way forward?

First, Buddhist history, trade and student exchanges, should become truly impactful.

Second, tracing back Buddhism’s living legacy and its archaeological remains in the SCO nations to its roots in India is essential for India’s soft diplomacy.

Obesity is a social problem. Addressing it requires access to healthy food, not restrictions

Source: This post is based on the article “Obesity is a social problem. Addressing it requires access to healthy food, not restrictions” published in Indian Express on 27th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Health

Relevance: Obesity and health.

News: The council in the most obese area in Lancashire is planning to place restrictions on takeaway food to control the health menace. There is also talk of encouraging exercise and addressing mental health issues

Restricting fast-food isn’t a bad idea, particularly for young people, amongst whom research indicates it is both a consequence of and cause for mental issues.

However, obesity control cannot be achieved just by restricting individual choice.

Why the solution to control obesity cannot be achieved just by restricting individual choice?

Obesity, like most public health issues, is a social problem: In the West, it is more expensive and difficult to procure healthy produce. Hence, much of the people belonging to lower-income groups prefer fast foods.

Like most addictive substances, fast food targets the poor and vulnerable, and the solution to it cannot just be restricting individual choice. We must find healthy replacement choices first.

What can be done?

It is important to ensure food habits and economies that do not make eating healthy a function of wealth.

Need to expand choices, especially, the ability to make healthy ones rather than restricting them.

It’s time we produced champions

Source: This post is based on the article “It’s time we produced champions” published in Indian Express on 27th 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 our suboptimal performance in major sporting events.

News: India won only seven medals in Olympics. Even small nations with fewer people have done better than India.

What are the issues plaguing our sports sector?

Access to infrastructure(like schools and stadiums)- In India, our pool of talent is limited to a few pockets. For example, the badminton team has been picked from an academy; the boxers and wrestlers are all from Haryana or the Northeast; and the shooters are all, with few exceptions, rich kids who don’t need any state support.

No country has performed well in sports without taking care of the basic needs of its people, especially health and social security. India needs to take care of it.

On the lines of the Soviet Union, the US, South Korea, and China, the rise in the sporting world should be preceded by widening the sporting pool from which talented players can be tapped.

We need to change our attitude and not accept second-best anymore. Complacency could creep in when we celebrate bronze medals like gold.

Sports should be seen from the right perspective. It should help the community at large in becoming better by serving a social purpose.

We must create leaders in every field who can think and act, not leaders who think they act.

Opposition Dissent without Basis or Foundation: About the data protection bill

Source: This post is based on the article “Opposition Dissent without Basis or Foundation” published in Times of India on 27th November 2021.

Source: GS2 Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Relevance: Understanding the JCP chairperson’s viewpoint on the data protection bill.

News: The Joint Committee of Parliament chairperson PP Chaudhary clarifies the concerns raised by opposition on the data protection bill.

What are the concerns associated with the data protection bill?
Read here: What are the concerns associated with the draft bill?
What are the reasons provided by the JCP chairperson of the data protection bill?

On exemption of agencies: The claims that the government was given undue powers are without foundation. Article 19 and Article 21 have reasonable safeguards. Moreover, they are subject to judicial review.

The exemption clauses allow the government to intervene in matters of sovereignty or integrity of the country. In such matters, the reasons cannot be disclosed on the floor of the house. Moreover, sections 12, 13, and 14 provide that individual consent may not be required. The state is authorized by law to seek data for the provision of any services or benefits.

Also read: Draft Personal Data Protection Bill – Explained, pointwise

About inclusion of non-personal data: According to the chairperson, the reason behind including of non-personal data is that so much data is flowing, which makes it hard to differentiate between personal and non-personal data.

Inclusion of bringing hardware manufacturers under the purview of proposed legislation: Because of various news of breaches of data, this has been done. Under the process of Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC), both software and hardware will be examined.

About 72 hours to report a breach of data: According to him, this is the reasonable time for data fiduciaries to report for the breach of data.

On how the bill will impact India’s digital economy: Committee is expecting a 22% increase in cloud storage in India due to the boost this law provides. India’s digital infrastructure will become stronger and can benefit the economy.

What they own: NFHS on women property ownership isn’t conclusive

Source: This post is based on the article ”What they own: NFHS on women property ownership isn’t conclusive” published in The Times of India on 27th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Relevance: To understand the land ownership of women in India based on the findings of NFHS-5.

News: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has released the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

NFHS-5 Findings of women’s ownership of property

In the NFHS-4,  38.4% of women respondents reported owning a house/land alone or jointly, this has risen to 43.3% in NFHS-5. 45.7% of rural women claimed such ownership, against 38.3% in urban areas.

States like UP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab reported a huge improvement in women ownership between the two surveys. But, Delhi, Odisha, Puducherry and Chandigarh surprisingly declined.

Read more: NFHS-5 and its findings – Explained, pointwise
Is the NFHS-5 data reliable?

NFHS doesn’t reveal women owners as a percentage of total land/house owners. So, the experts warned relying upon NFHS data for land ownership.

A 2020 University of Manchester working paper examined other Indian surveys and found barely 16% of women in rural landowning households own land. Women constitute only 14% of all landowners, owning just 11% of the land.

What are the government steps to improve land ownership among women?

Hindu Succession Act: The 2005 amendment to the Act gave daughters equal coparcenary rights in the undivided joint family property.

-Official schemes for homeless/landless offering property titles predominantly to women.

-Many states are lowering stamp duties for women to reduce gender gaps in property registration.

What needs to be done?

Kerala, which implemented the HSA amendments decades before 2005 reported only 27.3% of women claiming property ownership in NFHS against 55% in Bihar. So, India has to fix the data gaps to better reveal gender gaps.

Read more: India must push for women’s rights in land ownership

Terms to Know:

Shore in the lifeline – About MGNREGA

Source: This post is based on the article “Shore in the lifeline” published in The Hindu on 27th November 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the impact of delay of funds in MGNREGA.

News: Government has recently announced 10,000 crore additional funds to supplement the needs of the state under MGNREGA. However, 24 states and UT’s still show a negative net balance.

Also read: MGNREGA: Issues and Significance – Explained, pointwise
What are the reasons behind the fund crunch under MGNREGA?

-High demand because of the extended effects of pandemics in rural areas.

-Low budget allocation for the MGNREGA scheme. In the case of 2021-22, the total allocations were ₹73,000 crores, much lower than the ₹1,11,500 crore as revised estimates in expenditure in 2020-21.

Read here: What are the reasons for the delayed payments of MGNREGA wages?
What is the impact?

According to the activists, delayed payment led to increase in an unmet demand of 20% in Bihar, Telangana and Gujarat.

Also read: What is the impact of low fund allocation to MGNREGA?
What should be the way forward?

Considering MGNREGA as the lifeline of rural communities, Government should make up the shortfalls quickly.

Our constitution, A beacon of freedom

Source: This post is based on the article “Our constitution, A beacon of freedom” published in Indian Express on 27th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Relevance: Understanding the importance of constitution day.

News: 26th November 2021, marked as India’s 72nd Constitution Day.

Also read: Constitution Day
What are the challenges involved in drafting the constitution?

Multiple roles: Constituent assembly faced a difficult task. It sat as the parliament in the morning and the constituent assembly in the afternoon. It faced challenges of governing a new nation along with communal tensions, partition and refugees.

Constituency: Constituent body was supposed to have 296 members which were later reduced to 210 as members boycotted. But statesmen like Dr. Ambedkar still believed in creating an environment that would allow those members to come and participate.

Juristic concerns: Some constitutional experts like Ivor Jennings questioned why the constitution plays down communalism as the partition of India was the result of communalism.

Given all these challenges, our constitution makers framed the constitution delicately and culminated the constitution in who we would be — “We the People” all citizens, not subjects. And what we will become –a nation that would secure the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, and ensure equality of status and opportunity”.

Read more: Analysing the Constituent Assembly debates reveals of a vital process
How India’s constitution is unique in comparison with other constitutions?

Reparation: India’s constitution made compensations for historical discrimination on grounds of caste that defines the present and future of so many Indians. By contrast, America’s Constitution makes no apology nor enables reparations for slavery.

Voice of all communities: India’s constitution is an instrument for silenced minorities to express themselves, to have injustices redressed and in turn owe their allegiance to their Constitution.

These are the main reasons that India’s constitution lives through along.

What should be the responsibility of Indian citizens?

Tom Ginsburg, after studying 935 different constitution systems of 200 nations commented on an average a constitution survives for 17 years. Yet, the Indian constitution is successfully entering in 72nd year. Indians should not take the endurance of the constitution as granted.

The endurance of the Indian constitution is deeply rooted in the commitment to expand each other’s freedom.

GS Paper 3

Indian agriculture needs a Verghese Kurien

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian agriculture needs a Verghese Kurien” published in The Hindu on 27th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Cooperative sector

Relevance: Verghese Kurien’s legacy, cooperative movement

News: 26th Nov, 2021 was Kurien’s 100th birth anniversary

What is the legacy of Verghese Kurien?

Architect of a rural revolution: He transformed the lives of millions of farmers in Gujarat. Poverty alleviation and social transformation was central to his idea of Co-operative model.

Professional integrity: There were many who saw him as an outsider due to his diverse socio-economic background. But Kurien won the farmers over with his professional integrity and his vision of a central role for farmers in India’s journey of development.

Launched the White Revolution: He was behind the design of Amul as a co-operative, that later became a global brand and transformed India as the largest milk producing nation in the world.

 Co-operative model of business development: He decided that Amul would grow and establish its identity neither as a public sector undertaking nor as a private corporate entity. He felt that, the co-operative model, was in the best interests of Gujarat’s milk producers.

Learning from the Best practices: He borrowed the ideas and the practices of the corporate world in areas such as innovation in marketing and management, branding and technology etc

How has Amul performed in the years after the demise of Verghese Kurien?

Amul has grown steadily on the strong foundation laid by its visionary leader, diversifying its product range and adding new ones.

Amul remains one of India’s best-known food brands and is an inspiration to other dairy cooperatives such as Nandini in Karnataka, Aavin in Tamil Nadu and Verka in Punjab.

Has cooperative sector benefitted from Amul’s success?

Sadly, Amul’s success has not been the catalyst for an economic transformation at the grassroots level. It has neither resulted in similar movements across other agricultural commodities in India.

The cooperative movement in India is in a state of uncertainty. It has suffered due to lack of professional management, adequate finance and poor adoption of technology.

Is crypto mania more a symptom than a cause?

Source: This post is based on the article “Is crypto mania more a symptom than a cause?” published in The Indian Express on 27th Nov 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the reasons as to why Cryptocurrencies are attractive assets and why banning cryptocurrencies might not be a bad idea

News: Instead of rooting for its ban, we must try to decipher the reasons behind popularity of Cryptocurrencies and why they appear so attractive an asset for investors.

What are the reasons behind fascination and attraction around Cryptocurrencies?

– They are a fascinating technological innovation. Part of their initial attraction was that they promised a new governance order.

– Faced with the inflation of the 1970s, thinkers like Friedrich Hayek theorized about reasserting the dominance of private currencies, protected from the state. This required a solution to the problem of ‘trust’ on which every currency depends. Crypto seemed to solve that problem, with its decentralised architecture and community and self-verification protocols.

– The global economy currently has an abundance of cheap money, while small savers are desperate for return. In this context, it is easy for the powerful to misallocate money, and the small saver to indulge in speculation via cryptocurrency.

Why a new governance order backed by Crypto can never be a reality?

This obvious due to the following reasons:

– No state is going to let go of its power to assert control over the monetary system. The sustenance of state-sponsored fiat money is one of the great achievements of modern state formation, and the foundation of its power and legitimacy.

– Crypto requires substantial material infrastructure, which a state could always control. States can shut down mining, as China has done.

Neither Bitcoin, nor any other cryptocurrency currently possess stability, efficiency, privacy and safety that would allow it to dominate central bank money.

Crypto is now considered more like an asset.

Are there any tangible benefits to Cryptopcurrency?

Some financial products bring genuine gains for the economy or development, others pose a risk. Cryptocurrency doesn’t bring any concrete development benefits.

The underlying technology of Blockchain can be harnessed for potential benefits even without crypto. Hence, a ban on cryptocurrency should not be a major problem.

Why a ban instead of regulation is a good choice for India?

Because the insulation of the financial system from the volatility of crypto markets will be difficult to achieve for the following reasons:

The first reason is political economy. A large number of investors, and some influential ones, will become a vested interest in their own right, potentially demanding the socialisation or mitigation of losses. Now RBI is facing lobbying by investors as an interest group.

A major new class of assets, especially if volumes grow, will have systemic effects on the rest of the economy. For instance:

– In a crisis, if stable coin redemptions go up, RBI will have to step in.

– Opportunity costs of investments flowing into crypto on prices of other assets and monetary instruments.

What is the way forward?

RBI should avoid a scenario where it bans but then carves out exceptions.

Ensure that trade does not go offshore. Not fully banning and allowing it offshore will be the worst of both worlds.

Lastly, RBI’s case would be strengthened if it spelled out the systemic risks that crypto might pose to the stability of the real economy.

Must Read: Cryptocurrency: Ban or regulation – Explained, pointwise

The dreaded rainforest shift

Source: This post is based on the article “The dreaded rainforest shift” published in Down To Earth on 26th Nov 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the role of amazon rainforest in the world’s climate, its change from a carbon sink to source.

News: A study was conducted in which vertical profiling measurements of the air above the Amazon rainforest was done over a period of nearly one decade.

The study shows that major portions of the Amazon rainforest have shifted from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Recent deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest- up 22% in one year, is at the highest level in nearly two decades.

What are the main results of the study and the reason for the shift?

The study shows the eastern Amazon rainforest has become a significant source of carbon emissions, competing with cars, trains, planes, and power plants.

-Multiple factors behind this shift from carbon sink to carbon emitter are global warming, deforestation,   and fire all happening in the eastern Amazon.

Western Amazon is also facing pressure from logging, agriculture, and mining, extending deeper into the forest. Therefore, it will soon look like eastern Amazon.

What are the impacts seen?

This shift has severe planet-wide negative implications.

The temperatures across the southeastern Amazon have risen dramatically in comparison to the western part of the rainforest.

Transpiration of around 20 billion tons of water was used to evaporate per day in the region. This huge flow of vapor into the atmosphere was also called invisible flying rivers. Due to deforestation, this is hampered.

– The release of water vapor into the air and circulation of water and weather patterns throughout the globe is also impacted.

What is the way forward?

Due to the inter-connectedness of all ecosystems, it is one of the most important roles for humans to act as caretakers and protectors of natural systems.

The neoliberal capitalism’s politics of growth at any cost, destroying ecosystems along the way, must be stopped through youth participation.

Brazil is a signatory to CoP26 to end deforestation by 2030. It should keep its promise and an anti-environmental stance should be shed away.

Yes, there are two Indias, and they are not getting any closer together

Source: This post is based on the article ”Yes, there are two Indias, and they are not getting any closer together” published in Business Standard on 26th November 2021.

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

Relevance: To understand the stark contrast within India’s development.

News: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has released the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

Read more: NFHS-5 and its findings – Explained, pointwise
Why it is called two India?

There is a stark contrast of development that exist between better performing Indian states and less performing Indian states. The fifth National Family Health Survey’s findings make it clear yet again that there are indeed two Indias. For example,

In social development: Tamil Nadu has less than a third of the diarrhoea cases when compares to Bihar. Similarly, Bihar has only two-thirds of Tamil Nadu’s ratio of literate women or doctors per 1,000 population, but a 50% higher ratio of stunted and wasted children.

In economy: State’s comprising most of Southern and Western India and states like Haryana have an annual net income per head of about $3,000. Their per capita income is closer to the Philippines.

Bihar with barely a third of India’s net income per head might get bracketed with Niger. UP might get clubbed with Niger’s neighbour in the Sahel, Mali.

So economically, Africa’s Sahel region and the Philippines co-exist in India.

Note: Niger is ranked 204th out of 215 countries and territories on per capita income.

What are the impacts of these two India?

Private investment will go to India that might catch up with the Philippines, not the India that compares with the Sahel.

Poorer states’ own tax resources are much lower when compares to the better-off states.

Are these two India’s getting closer?

Even though there is a difference when the gap is smaller than for some other metrics. For example, on metrics like households that have electricity, women with bank accounts and drinking water, the difference is less.

Progressively, these two India’s have to get closer. But that is not the reality for two reasons.

1. Infrastructure does not reap enough benefits: For instance, UP claimed that it will have Asia’s largest airport at Jewar. But the real catchment area for that airport is not in the hinterland of Western UP but in the urban and industrial areas like the National Capital Region.

2. State’s Policies against migration: Migration to more prosperous places will create a level playing field. The Covid lockdown showed how migrants are spread across India. But, states like Haryana are creating laws that favour locals in employment, even though people from other states are willing to work for low wages.

This will hamper 1. The creation of enough jobs in India, 2. Less-educated Indians are forced to leave the state, 3. Make less competition between states, 4. Hamper the economy.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Why this new Covid strain ‘B.1.1.529’ is more lethal that Delta variant

What is the news?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 called B.1.1.529 as a ‘variant of concern’.

This variant has been named as Omicron.

How the new variant was discovered?

The new variants of Covid-19 are detected through whole genome sequencing of samples that have tested positive for the virus. This process involves checking every sequence obtained for differences compared to what we know is circulating in the world. When we see multiple differences, we investigate further to confirm what we’ve noticed.

Based on this method, the Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. The variant has now spread to many nearby countries.

How did the Omicron Variant evolve?

The Omicron Variant might have evolved during a chronic infection of an immunocompromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient.

Why is the Omicron variant worrying?

Omicron Variant carries certain mutations that are concerning. They have not been observed in this combination before, and the spike protein alone has over 30 mutations.

This is important, because the spike protein is responsible for the virus’s entry in human cells, and it also makes up most of the vaccines.

Moreover, the mutations are also associated with more efficient cell entry, indicating enhanced transmissibility.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

Why this new Covid strain ‘B.1.1.529’ is more lethal that Delta variantpublished in Business Standard on 27th Nov 2021

The hunt for coronavirus variants: how the new one was found and what we know so farpublished in Down To Earth on 27th Nov 2021.

First of its kind program for lateral entry for women researchers in joint R&D projects between India and Germany launched

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Science and Technology has launched the Women’s Involvement in Science and Engineering Research (WISER) program.

What is the WISER Program?

Launched by: Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC)

Purpose: It is a first-of-its-kind programme that aims to promote women in the field of research and development through lateral entry.

Features: The involvement in the program will be possible through lateral entry. There is neither requirement of break-in-career nor any age limit, and it will enable easy participation.

Significance: The program will enable gender equality and women’s participation in Science and Technology.

What is Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC)?

IGSTC was established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany

Objective: to foster innovation through Indo-German R&D networking including industrial research partnership in PPP mode.

What is the 2+2 Project?

The 2+2 project is the flagship programme of the Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC).

Aim: To catalyse innovation-centric R&D projects by synergizing the strength of research/academic institutions and public/industry from India and Germany.

Under the scheme, R&D projects will be supported through “2+2 Mode of Partnership” i.e. involvement of at least one research/academic institute and one public/private industry from both India and Germany.

Source: This post is based on the article “First of its kind program for lateral entry for women researchers in joint R&D projects between India and Germany launched” published in PIB on 26th Nov 2021.

SWADESH, World’s First Multimodal Brain Imaging Data and Analytics, Developed at DBT-National Brain Research Centre, Haryana

Source: This post is based on the article “SWADESH, World’s First Multimodal Brain Imaging Data and Analytics, Developed at DBT-National Brain Research Centre, Haryana” published in PIB on 26th November 2021.

What is the news?

DBT-National Brain Research Centre (DBT-NBRC) has developed a project named SWADESH.

Click Here to read about National Brain Research Centre (NBRC)

What is SWADESH?

Source: PIB









SWADESH is a unique brain initiative focussing on certified neuroimaging, neurochemical, neuropsychological data and analytics that are made accessible to researchers for managing brain disorders. 

It is also the first large-scale multimodal neuroimaging database designed specifically for the Indian population with big-data architecture and analytics for various disease categories under one platform.

Modules: The initiative proposes a big-data architecture that manages and analyzes six modules namely neurodegenerative [Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Parkinson’s disease (PD)], neuropsychiatric (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), neurodevelopmental (autism and epilepsy), COVID-19-related disorders and other disorders.

What are other clincal tools developed under SWADESH?

DBT-NBRC has developed several clinical research tools through SWADESH.

GAURI system uses adaptive pattern recognition and learning schemes for predictive single or differential diagnosis, designed with MRI modalities and neuropsychological batteries.

– NINS-STAT is a high-performance state-of-the-art automated statistical test selection and execution software package with high applicability in clinical research.

– KALPANA is an integrative package for visualization, preprocessing, and quantitation of MRS data.

– PRATEEK analyzes multimodal neuroimaging data that minimizes the need for expertise in handling different neuroimaging tools for processing and analyzing multimodal data.

– BHARAT, a big-data analytic model for early diagnostic biomarkers of AD.

PM pays tributes to Lachit Borphukan

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has paid tributes to Lachit Borphukan on the occasion of Lachit Divas.

Note: Assam celebrates Lachit Divas on November 24 as a tribute to Borphukan valour and heroism. 

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?

Firstly, Lachit Borphukan was the inspiration behind strengthening India’s naval force and revitalising inland water transport and creating infrastructure associated with it due to his great naval strategies.

Secondly, 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.

Source: This post is based on the article “PM pays tributes to Lachit Borphukanpublished in TOI on 5th Nov 2021.

One out of every two Bihar households is multidimensionally poor: NITI Aayog

What is the News?

Niti Aayog has released India’s first National MPI (multidimensional poverty index).

About National MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index)

National MPI seeks to measure poverty across its multiple dimensions and in effect complements existing poverty statistics based on per capita consumption expenditure. 

Methodology: The index has used the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Global MPI.

Indicators: The index is based on three equally weighted dimensions – health, education and standard of living – which in turn are represented by 12 indicators.

Source: PIB

Source of Data: The index is based on the findings of the fourth National Health Family Survey (2015-16).

Steps in Computing MPI:

Source: NITI Aayog
What are the key findings of the National MPI?
Source: The Hindu

Multidimensionally Poor: Around 25.01% of the Indian population is multidimensionally poor. Bihar has the maximum percentage of the population living in poverty among all the States and the Union Territories, with over 50% of the population in the State identified as “multidimensionally poor”. On the other hand, Kerala registered the lowest population poverty levels (0.71%).

Note: The Global MPI had shown  27.9% of India’s population were multidimensionally poor. The country ranked 62nd out of 109 nations on the index. 

Poverty Criteria: The report took a person spending less than Rs 47 a day in cities and one spending less than Rs 32 a day in villages as poor.

Source: Business Standard

Healthy Nutrition: Some 37.6% of Indian households are deprived of healthy nutrition levels.

Child and Adolescent Mortality: Some 2.7% households have reported child and adolescent mortality. A household is deprived if any child or adolescent under 18 years of age has died in the household in the five-year period preceding the survey.


At least 13.9% households have a member aged 10 years or older who has not completed six years of schooling. At least 6.4% of households have a school-aged child not attending school up to the age at which he/she would complete class 8.

Standard of Living

Source of Cooking Fuel: At least 58.5% of households have dung, agricultural crops, shrubs, wood, charcoal or coal as their primary source of cooking fuel.

No Access to Drinking water: At least 14.6% of households do not have access to improved drinking water or a safe drinking water facility that is more than a 30-minute walk from home (as a round trip). 

Inadequate Housing: Some 45.6% of households have inadequate housing. Their floor is made of natural materials, or the roof or walls are made of rudimentary materials.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • One out of every two Bihar households is multidimensionally poor: NITI Aayogpublished in Down To Earth on 27th November 2021
  • Over 50% Bihar poor in new index based on health, education, standard of livingpublished in Indian Express on 27th November 2021.
  • 25% of Indians are poor on MPI metric, says NITI Aayog report published in Business Standard on 27th November 2021.

India, Russia, China call for formation of inclusive Afghan govt

What is the News?

India’s External Affairs Minister has chaired the 18th meeting of the foreign ministers of the Russia-India-China(RIC) group.

During the meeting, the three countries have called for a) ensuring that Afghanistan’s territory is not used to attack any country b) the formation of a truly inclusive government and c) immediate aid to the war-ravaged Afghanistan.

What is the Russia-India-China(RIC) Group?

Russia-India-China(RIC) is a strategic grouping that was founded in the late 1990s under the leadership of Yevgeny Primakov, a Russian politician, as a counterbalance to the Western alliance.

Aim: To end its subservient foreign policy guided by the USA and renew old ties with India and foster the newly discovered friendship with China.

Significance: Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19% of the global landmass and contribute to over 33% of the global GDP. Moreover, all three countries are nuclear powers and the two countries namely Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one.

Chaired by: India took over the chairmanship of RIC after the last meeting of the three foreign ministers in Russia in 2020.

What is the relevance of RIC Group for India?

Firstly, Group for ​​Cooperation: Even though India, China and Russia may disagree on a number of security issues in Eurasia, there are areas where their interests converge, like, for instance, Afghanistan. So, RIC can ensure stable peace in Afghanistan and, by extension, in Central Asia.

Secondly, RIC is an incentive for Russia to remain neutral on India-China disputes as well as to exercise-friendly persuasion and restraint on China.

What are the challenges faced by RIC Group?

India-China Standoff: India and China share strained ties after the brutal clash at the Galwan Valley in 2020 killed 20 Indian troops. While the two countries have been holding talks to resolve the issue and disengage at the LAC, a final solution hasn’t been found yet.

India’s improved relations with the United States: The other issue that affects the group is  India’s improved relations with the United States which is perceived as enemy number one by both Russia and China.

Source: This post is based on the article “India, Russia, China call for formation of inclusive Afghan govt” published in Indian Express on 27th November 2021.

Union Minister launches unique anti-bacterial fabric; Says, it will help create rural employment and contribute to environment protection

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises(MSME) has launched the unique anti-bacterial fabric.

About Anti-Bacterial Fabric

The anti-bacterial fabric has been developed by Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute, Jaipur under Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC).

The fabric is treated with an anti-bacterial agent extracted from cow dung which prevents bacterial growth in the fabric.

Benefits: This innovative fabric could be of great use in hospitals and other medical facilities. It will also help create rural employment and contribute to environmental protection.

What are the other eco-friendly products made by KVIC?

Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister launches unique anti-bacterial fabric; Says, it will help create rural employment and contribute to environment protection” published in PIB on 26th November 2021.

Judicial Intervention to nudge exec, not usurp its role: CJI

What is the news?

Chief Justice of India in his speech from Constitution Day (26th November), talked about the role of judiciary and executive in providing justice to people.

What is the CJI viewpoint?

On securing justice: Although the judiciary is the guardian of the constitution, upholding the commitment to secure justice lies in all three organs of the state. Any deviation by the legislature or executive from the path prescribed by the Constitution will only lead to an additional burden on the judiciary.

Judicial Intervention: CJI recognized the Laxman Rekha drawn by the constitution. He said that the judiciary only intervenes when the court is compelled to pay attention to unresolved grievances. The intention behind this is not to overstep their role.

Pendency of cases: He welcomed the government’s step for clearing many names for the higher judiciary. To further reduce the pendency of cases, he suggested filling of existing vacancies of judicial officers and public prosecutors, government pleaders and standing counsel, creation of more posts, creation of necessary infrastructure etc.

On increase in the number of attacks on judges: These attacks are often sponsored and synchronized. These attacks are related to the physical one and also on social media.

CJI requested the law enforcement agencies to deal with such malicious attacks that can bring disharm to the functioning of the judiciary. Government should create a secure environment so that the judges and judicial officers can function fearlessly.

Source: This post is based on the article “Judicial Intervention to nudge exec, not usurp its role: CJI” published in Times of India on 27th November 2021.

New research: How climate change causes ‘divorce’ among albatrosses

Source: This post is based on the article “New research: How climate change causes ‘divorce’ among albatrosses” published in the Indian Express on 27th November 2021.

What is the news?

A new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B has provided evidence of the effect of environmental conditions on the longevity of relationships among a population of albatrosses.

What does the report suggest?

It suggests that environmental conditions cause splits between black-browed albatrosses in the South Atlantic, which otherwise have long-term monogamous relationships.

The “divorce rate” in the study population varied substantially across years and was directly modulated by environmental variability at different times.

-Higher “divorce rates” were recorded in lower-quality years.

How exactly can a changing environment cause these birds to split up?

Split between albatrosses partners, in long-lived monogamous sea populations, is an adaptive strategy.

-It is triggered by breeding failure and also for some reproductive benefits, particularly for females which are more likely to find new partners and attain a higher breeding success.

About Albatross:

The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) are large flying seabirds. Their species of the genus Diomedea (great albatrosses) have the longest wingspans of any extant birds.

Range: They are found widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic.

IUCN status– Of the 22 species of albatrosses recognized by the IUCN, all are listed as at some level of concern.

-Critically endangered-3; Endangered-5; Near threatened-7; Vulnerable-7.

Threat- Numbers of albatrosses have declined in the past due to harvesting for feathers.

-They are also threatened by introduced species, like rats and feral cats that attack eggs, chicks, and nesting adults.

-By pollution and serious decline in fish stocks in many regions largely due to overfishing.

Longline fishing-It poses the greatest threat, as feeding birds are attracted to the bait, become hooked   on the lines, and drown.


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