9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – November 30th, 2021

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

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

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Helping Supreme Court: Regional courts of appeal can spare SC from many matters. But judicial infirmities will remain

Source: This post is based on the article “Helping Supreme Court: Regional courts of appeal can spare SC from many matters. But judicial infirmities will remain” published in the Times of India on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, Organization, and Functioning of the Judiciary.

Relevance: Understanding the need for establishing a Regional court of appeals.

News: To address the Supreme Court’s pendency burden, Attorney General KK Venugopal plea suggested setting up at least four regional courts of appeal (RCAs). He also recommended that RCA should focus solely on constitutional matters.

How does the pendency of cases affect the functioning of SC?

The pendency of cases in the Supreme Court has increased from 58,000 in April 2019 to 70,000 presently. Over 400 constitution bench matters like Article 370 and CAA are pending before 5,7 and 9 judge benches.

Also read: Pendency of Cases and Rising Vacancies in the Judiciary – Explained, Pointwise

Ideally, constitutional matters to be heard by benches comprising more judges. But, SC is occupied with adjudicating divorce cases to bail pleas and appeals against orders of lower courts. So, the SC is not able to allocate high judge benches to constitutional matters.

The US court, in comparison, is very selective, and the appeal load is borne by 13 circuit courts under it.

How should Regional Courts of Appeal (RCAs) work? 

The success of RCAs would depend on the quality of judges. Otherwise, it would produce sub-par results and litigants would appeal to the supreme court. An All-India Judicial Service can be helpful in boosting the quality of judicial appointments.

What measures should need to be further adopted?

1) Vacancies should be filled quickly. 2) Other institutions have to make sure that miscarriage of justice does not happen so that fewer cases of appeal to SC.

ForumIAS is now in Hyderabad. Click here to know more

The many challenges before trade unions

Source: This post is based on the article “The many challenges before trade unions” published in The Hindu on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues related to Labour laws

Relevance:  Labour law reforms

News:  Trade unions have intensified their agitation against the Codes in the wake of the government’s decision to repeal the farm laws.

The labour code requires repeal for many reasons. However, as opposed to the success of farmers’ protests, the trade unions’ agitations failed in achieving their demands.

What are the problems with the labour codes?

The Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have criticised the Codes for the below reasons

Firstly, the Labour Codes were passed with little debate and discussion. The Central government did not hold adequate consultations with trade unions on the Codes.

The absence of effective dialogue contradicts the International Labour Organization treaty, the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention of 1976 (C.144), which India had ratified in February 1978.

Secondly, many clauses in the codes deprive labourers of hard-won labour rights.

Thirdly, the Codes disrupt the collective legal and industrial relations intelligence in the country. For instance, the government introduced changes in major contentious clauses (hire and fire, contract labour) that were not based on robust empirical evidence.

Further, the promises that were made are not backed by credible systems (social security fund, universal minimum wages, and social security).

Fourthly, liberalization of thresholds would intensify informalisation of the workforce. For instance, liberalization of major legal aspects such as contract labor, hire, and fire, standing orders.

Finally, the codes had many procedural deficiencies. The codes did not reflect several of the PSC (Parliamentary Standing Committee) recommendations or included clauses not mentioned in the draft Bills sent to the PSC.

Why strikes are unsuccessful?

The CTUs are divided: For instance, out of the 12 major CTUs, 10 have been jointly spearheading agitations calling for the repeal of all four Codes while the BMS has been conducting its own limited agitation.Furhter, thousands of enterprise-based unions lack political consciousness and therefore do not always support the CTUs’ agitations.

Labour Codes matter less even if they are repealed: This is because of two reasons,

One, though the CTUs for long succeeded in blocking labour law reforms at the national level, substantial reforms of laws and inspections have happened at the regional level.

Two, with the support of the government, employers have been able to achieve labour flexibility (the rampant contractualisation of the workforce) denied to them by formal laws. Hence, the Labour Codes matter less even if they are repealed.

Unorganised: Though there are around 400 million unorganised and informal workers, they are scattered and not organised in a consolidated manner to mount significant political opposition and demand labour market securities.

Industrial workers cannot organise longer and larger strikes: Unlike farmers, they would lose their jobs and wages.

Furhter, the presence of a huge number of underemployed or unemployed and informal workers weakens their bargaining power.

The failures of the Railway strike of 1974 and the Bombay textile workers’ strike of 1982-83 haunt the labour movement.

Neoliberal order: Labour reforms agendas such as privatisation, flexible labour markets, etc. are supported by global financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.


Data regulation in India: All you need to know

Source: This post is based on the article “Data regulation in India: All you need to know” published in Livemint on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2– Issues related to Privacy and protection of data.

Relevance: Personal Data Protection (PDP) bill

News: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Personal Data Protection (PDP) bill is finally ready to table its report during the winter session of the Parliament.

The JPC has prescribed a phased approach to implementing provisions of the bill. The Act will be fully active in two years.

What are the major recommendations of the JPC?

The JPC has recommended that the bill should be called the Data Protection Bill, and its scope widened.

It said the bill should cover not just personal data within its purview, but also non-personal data and non-personal data breaches.

Non-personal data breaches include any unauthorized acquisition, sharing, use, alteration, destruction, or loss of access to such data that compromises the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of this data.

-Accidental disclosure of non-personal data, including breaches resulting from a lack of proper compliance measures, are also covered under such breaches.

The JPC has recommended that social media firms shouldn’t be allowed to function in India without setting up offices here.

Firms that do not operate as intermediaries should be treated as publishers, who will be accountable for the content distributed on their platforms.

Creating an alternative payment system to SWIFT for cross-border payments, digital certification of Internet of Things (IoT) and other digital devices by the DPA, and localization of sensitive data.

Chairpersons and members of the Data Protection Authority (DPA) should be appointed within three months, and the DPA should start work under the Act and register data fiduciaries in six and nine months, respectively.

What is non-personal data, and what is the issue related to it?

All data that doesn’t personally identify a user is known as non-personal data. For instance, an anonymized data set showing the preferences of users in a particular city or state can fall under non-personal data.

Earlier, a draft report released by the Kris Gopalakrishnan committee had suggested that non-personal data should be provided to domestic companies for building products and services.

However, it has been opposed by major social media firms, who think it will take away their competitive advantage.


Reducing poverty

Source: This post is based on the article “Reducing poverty” published in Business Standard on 29th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 –Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Relevance: To know about India’s own MPI, its datas.

News: NITI Aayog has come up with India’s first multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI).

It is a useful report for policymakers and NGO’s to know about the well-being of Indians on a wider set of indicators other than income.

More about the report:

The report figured usual states like Bihar, Jharkhand, and UP as India’s poorest states.

ReadNITI report on Poverty

The Indian MPI is based on the same UN’s dimensions of poverty which are health, education, and the standard of living with the weighting of one-third ascribed to each.

However, two additional indicators are placed under health and standard of living in the Indian index which are ante-natal care and bank accounts, respectively.

What is the problem with new data?

The report reveals that 25% of Indians are multi-dimensionally poor. This is nearly 3% points lower than the UN survey.

This might be because of the above two new indicators introduced, where India has done well.

What is the challenge of sustainability?

The real test of success in reducing multi-dimensional poverty lies in its sustainability. Some projects like “har ghar me nal” for safe drinking water is a good move, however, the challenge lies in ensuring that the taps, do not run dry because of a rapidly falling water table in parts of India.

The target of electrifying all households, while admirable, demands the provision of 24×7, good-quality power.

Similarly, maintaining a gas connection after Ujjwala scheme providing a connection is a challenge.

GS Paper 3


The three farm laws were never a solution

Source: This post is based on the article “The three farm laws were never a solution” published in The Hindu on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 – issues related to the Agricultural sector

Relevance:  Role of states in regulating agricultural sector

News: On November 29, the Farm Laws Repeal Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha without discussion

One of the significant issues with the farm laws was that the centre tried to regulate agricultural markets.

However, it must be noted that, While the Centre has the capacity to make landmark changes, true reform and action rests with local governments.

Because, states are better placed to assimilate and respond to the diversity of institutional and socio-economic contexts and agroclimatic regions. They are often better placed to incorporate local concerns for robust and sustainable solutions.

How the states are affected by the farm laws?

Transfer of regulatory authority from the States to the Centre: The APMC Act mandated that states can regulate, designated physical premises called the ‘market yards’, via their respective APMCs. However, through the farm laws, the Centre assumed control of market areas outside these yards, now called ‘trade areas’, from the States.

This particularly hurt States that had the most deregulated systems. A State that had no APMC Act, for example, suddenly found that all deregulated areas within the State would now come under the Centre’s regulatory ambit and control.

Further, by exempting private players from adhering to any State law in agricultural marketing, it effectively nullified the power of States to control agricultural markets.

Why the central governments should not regulate agricultural markets?

Firstly, there is no systematic evidence to suggest that the Centre is better informed and better equipped to regulate agricultural markets.

Secondly, during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Centre was almost unable to implement relief measures for agricultural marketing. In contrast, States, regardless of the ruling parties, offered a more timely and relevant response to manage the fallout of the COVID-19 lockdown on agriculture.

Thirdly, beyond agricultural marketing, the central government’s efforts in the past such as One Million Ponds, 10,000 FPOs, and One District One Product are often disconnected from local needs for robust and sustainable solutions for agriculture.

Fourthly, Centralisation of authority to influence the functioning of trade areas, would facilitate consolidation of big business, a trend that is evident globally.

For instance, the recent memoranda of understanding that the Government of India has signed for building data stacks with Cisco, Jio, ITC, NeML, etc. has raised fears.

These select few companies have been granted limited access to “data from the federated Farmers’ database” for specific areas.

A “trade” area under full control of the central government would potentially offer the big business a digital data consolidation route to controlling supply chains.

What is the way forward?

For state governments: States need to implement the suggestions that many expert committees have proposed for agricultural market reform, i.e., delinking the regulatory and operational roles of the APMCs.

For the center: The Centre, in the short term, should try to offer a stable and predictable policy environment vis-à-vis imports and exports, the functioning of national commodity exchanges, and futures markets.

Further, it should work towards providing inclusive platforms for discussions on State-level market reform, public procurement, and price support, designing safeguards against the consolidation of corporate interests, and framing data policies.


Not pie in the sky: Satellite-based technology can transform connectivity. GoI needs to enable it

Source: This post is based on the article “Not pie in the sky: Satellite-based technology can transform connectivity. GoI needs to enable it” published in the Times of India on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 IT and communication.

Relevance: Understanding satellite-based connectivity.

News: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reprimanded Elon Musk’s Starlink Internet Services for pre-selling and booking the satellite-based internet services without having obtained the necessary licences in the country. After which the company applied for the license.

This showcases the challenges that the government of India faces while balancing the advancement of technology along with regulating the services.

Read more: Satellite communications could improve quality of existing mobile networks
How can the technology transform connectivity?

5G is expected to provide much better services than 4G. Satellite-based services can bypass hurdles associated with terrestrial networks in creating a 5G network.

Read more: 5G technology in India – importance, challenges and solutions

Technology has enabled the reduction and cost of launching satellites. The cost has come down from $18,500 per Kg to $2720 per Kg. This has made satellite-based networks economically viable.

The constellation of satellites, being as low as 10 kgs, placed in low Earth orbit or acting as drivers of satellite-based connectivity.

What steps have been taken by the government of India to promote this?

In November 2020, telecom regulator TRAI was asked to recommend a licensing framework for satellite-based connectivity. The TRAI recommended to tweak the existing telecom policy for universal licenses to pave way for satellite-based connectivity.

That advancement in technology should be promoted and enabled by the policy. This can transform connectivity and pave way for India’s success in the digital world.


Policymakers must break India’s cycle of poverty

Source: This post is based on the article “Policymakers must break India’s cycle of poverty” published in the Indian Express on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Understanding challenges to India’s poverty.

News: Many reports suggest widespread unemployment and consequent poverty on the rise in India.

As per CMIE data, 5.46 million Indians lost jobs in October. The youth unemployment rate was 22.26% in 2021 – compared to 15.66% in 2016–17. There are about 20 million Indians entering the job market annually. But in August 2021, around 33% of all employable youths were estimated to be unemployed.

How policies adopted by India have led to this situation?

Major sectors like textile have become stagnant and less competitive. For example, labour cost of producing one shirt in India is $0.5, as compared to $0.22 in Bangladesh. As per a World Bank estimate, 12 million jobs in the textile sector shifted from China to Bangladesh, while India’s textile sector remained stagnant.

Inflation has raised prices of petrol to rupees 100 per litre. Yet, as per estimates, owing to poor government incentives and policies, electric vehicle sales are low and are likely to comprise only 8% of total sales by 2030. This is in contrast to China, which is expected to have 40% of Electric cars.

Moreover, the government has pushed for domestic LPG for household consumption. India should have instead pushed for electric cookstoves which would have helped reduce the import demand and would have shielded the consumers from price hikes.

India also find prices of edible oils rising almost 30 to 40% over the last year. This is due to dependence on the import of palm oil and also a push for the Production of biodiesel.

How have these aggravated the poverty?

An average farmer’s net worth declined by 33.8% between 2013 and 2019. An average entrepreneur’s wealth declined by 30% on a real value basis. Between 2012 and 2018 the debt of rural households rose by 35% and urban households by 22.4%.

The poorest category of people were given loans at rates which were as high as 25 to 40%.

All this happened, while 1% of rich Indians hold 73% of national wealth as quoted by Oxfam in 2017.

What should be the way forward?

MSMEs are the driver of growth and employment. While the push for formalization is required, it should not reduce the growth potential of the MSMEs.


How to increase farm incomes & growth post repeal

Source: This post is based on the article “How to increase farm incomes & growth post repeal” published in Times of India on 30th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices.

Relevance: Understanding why there is a need to increase farmers income.

News: Government has decided to repeal the three farm laws. The laws had the potential of transforming agriculture and farmers’ income. But now, agricultural growth will be a challenge.

What are the challenges facing agriculture and its growth?

India has reported the fastest agriculture growth of 4.4% in the 1980s when the green revolution was at its peak. Then there is the challenge of selling the output. Selling surplus in the Indian market will depress the prices and reduce farmer income. If we export the food surplus, the importing countries will put countervailing duties to counter or subsidies.

Diversion of food crops: In three decades starting from the 1980s, the area under food crop has fallen marginally only from 73.9% to 62.3%. Moreover, its prospects have been further hurt by the repeal of these laws.

What can be the solution to this challenge outside the domain of agriculture?

There are two main work areas:

-Creating gainful employment opportunities for the current farm population.

-Creating more income transfers for those who continue to remain in agriculture.

This will be aided by the fact that the government has enacted reform measures.
1) Insolvency bankruptcy code 2) Goods and services tax 3) Labour reforms and labour codes, 4) Competitive corporate profit tax

These measures supported by privatization and monetization of assets can help in job creation and accelerating growth.

What more needs to be done?

The government needs to create a liberal trade regime. This would augment the positive effect of the above-mentioned reforms. It would also dispel fears of any further rollbacks of reform measures.

The government needs to announce a program of import liberalisation. It should bring down the high customs duties in a phased manner. Further, it should enter pre-trade agreements with European Union and the United Kingdom.

These measures will help increase farm incomes and put India into a double-digit growth trajectory.


Crypto-assets: To ban or not to ban?

Source: This post is based on the following articles

Regulation, not ban: on cryptocurrencies” published in The Hindu on 30th November 2021.

Crypto-assets: To ban or not to ban?” published in Business Standard on 29th November 2021.

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

Relevance: Regulation of Cryptocurrency.

News: The government has listed the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 for the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

Read more: New cryptocurrency bill seeks to ban private players
About the Banning of Cryptocurrencies and introducing National Digital Currency
Read here: Introducing National Digital Currency in India – Explained, Pointwise
How do other countries view cryptocurrencies?

El Salvador becomes first nation to adopt bitcoin as legal currency. Further, the country is on the way to develop a dedicated Bitcoin city.

– Canada, Japan and Thailand permit the use of virtual currencies as a payment method.

China started a trial run of their digital currency e- RMB amid pandemic. They plan to implement pan-china in 2022.

In general, some jurisdictions regulating them as digital assets, and others as a commodity. Canada and the U.S. closely monitor virtual currency activity to ensure they do not run afoul of laws on financial crimes.

Why does India need to regulate cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies, or more correctly crypto-assets. So, if regulated, India can earn tax revenue on transactions like Canada.

Post-liberalisation India moved from outright bans to “controls”. So, India shouldn’t ban cryptocurrencies.

Innovation and entrepreneurship: Like fintech, there are strong links between crypto-assets and India’s sunrise industry, IT services.

The government can’t ban cryptocurrency as it is a “technological and financial innovation.”

Read more: Cryptocurrencies in India: Ban or Regulation? – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges in regulating Cryptocurrencies?

Regulators are bound by their existing mandates under their parent legislation. But neither the RBI nor the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is specifically empowered to deal with “crypto-assets.”

What should India do?

As 20 million Indians (and mostly young) hold crypto assets, the government respect the economic freedom of citizens. Further, instead of banning crypto-assets altogether, the government should work on customer protection.

India should avoid the temptation to join China in proscribing virtual currencies and instead aim to tightly regulate their trading through monitored exchanges and earn revenue.

The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission in 2013 had said that “the present arrangement has gaps where no regulator is in charge”. The report recommended the setting up of a unified financial agency that would implement consumer protection law and micro-prudential law for all financial firms other than banking and payments. It is time for India to setup unified financial regulatory architecture to regulate an unregulated activity.

Given the characteristics of crypto-assets, regulators ought to build capacity in, both, the technological and economic aspects of crypto-assets.


Boosting green hydrogen

Source: This post is based on the article ”Boosting green hydrogen” published in The Hindu on 29th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

Relevance: To understand the green hydrogen energy and economy.

News: Prime Minister recently announced that India would aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.

At present, nearly 75% of India’s energy needs are met by coal and oil. Thus, to reduce dependence on coal and oil, the synergy between renewable energy and green hydrogen must be tapped.

What is the global scenario with regard to Green hydrogen?

At present, more than 30 countries have hydrogen road maps and over 200 large-scale hydrogen projects across the value chain.

According to Hydrogen Council, governments worldwide have committed more than $70 billion in public funding to develop a hydrogen economy.

What is the significance of green hydrogen as a source of renewable energy?

ReadAll about green Hydrogen

India has already increased its solar capacity nearly 3,000 times in less than a decade, now it can use this experience in increasing green hydrogen production.

Nearly 70% of the investment, required to produce green hydrogen through electrolysis, goes into generating renewable energy.

Green hydrogen improves the long-term energy storage capabilities of renewable energy. It is also the most promising solution to decarbonise sectors like cement, steel, and refineries.

India can reduce its carbon emissions and annual import bills by developing a value chain for hydrogen from its production to its diverse applications.

What is the way forward?

Attract private investments through government funding and progressive long-term policies.

Hydrogen’s uses in different sectors should be encouraged, according to each sector’s cost and ease of adoption.

-Firstly, a few key sectors with low transition costs, such as refineries, fertilizers, and natural gas, should be
mandated to use hydrogen to bring down costs.

-Secondly, as part of medium-term goals new demand from steel, cement, and road mobility should be exploited.

-Thirdly, in the long run, heavy-duty vehicles should receive government incentives. For example Shipping,   aviation, solutions for energy storage should be mandated to use green hydrogen in the long run.


A launch window for India as a space start-up hub

Source: This post is based on the article “A launch window for India as a space start-up hub” published in The Hindu on 30th Nov 2021.

Syllabus: GS3-Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Relevance: To understand the need of private sector participation in space sector and the hindrances faced by them.

News: The boom of private sector participation in space technology.

How has the space sector evolved?

Space race 1.0– The great space race of the 20th century started with the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957.

-It reflected the Cold War agenda in the space field and a test of their ideologies.

Space race 2.0– This time, private players are taking the next leap for mankind and democratizing space usage to build commercial value.

Privatisation of the space sector in India?

India is a leading space-faring country, with end-to-end capabilities to make satellites, develop augmented launch vehicles and deploy interplanetary missions.

Investment and new ventures: The total early-stage investments in space technologies in FY21 were $68 billion, India was in fourth place.

Already 350 plus start-ups such as AgniKul Cosmos, Skyroot Technologies, have established firm grounds for home-grown technologies with a practical sustainable business model.

Encouragement to private participation: Further, GOI recently created a new organisation-INSPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre)- as a supplement to the ISRO.

-It is a single-window nodal agency established to boost the commercialization of Indian space activities. It will promote the entry of private entities through a friendly regulatory environment and by creating synergies through already existing necessary facilities.

What are the challenges faced by the Indian space sector?

Despite this achievement, though the space economy is a $440 billion global sector, India has less than 2% share in the sector.

In India, brain drain has increased by 85% since 2005 and thereby low private participation. This is due to:

Investor confidence-The hindrances faced by private space ventures to attract investors, making it virtually non-feasible to operate in India.

Lack of clarity in laws-The absence of a framework to provide transparency and clarity in laws is the reason for the lack of independent private participation in space.

-Timelines not fixed– Due to the technicalities involved in the space business, timelines on licensing,   issuance of authorisation, and continuous supervision mechanism need to be defined into phases.

-Lack of insurance and indemnification clarity in space law, particularly about who or which entity undertakes the liability in case of a mishap, creates challenges for a smooth rollout.

The private entities in this sector currently work on leased licenses from ISRO rather than having their own IP for a product.

What is the way forward?

The laws need to be reformed and reframed into multiple sections, each to address specific parts of the value chain and in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty.

India can learn from France in license timelines where there are four obtainable licences in addition to
case-by-case authorisation.

India can also learn from several western countries with an evolved private space industry, where there is a cap on liability and the financial damages that need to be paid.

-The insurance provision can be brought in by the law. For example, in Australia space operators are
required to hold insurance of up to AUD$100 million under Australian space law.

For independent existence, Indian space private companies need to generate their own IP for their product or services. With this, the market for them should also be not limited to ISRO. This will help open the door to global markets.

ISRO needs to go beyond taking small manufacturing support from private players and start involving them in complex operations. This will help both players by reducing costs and turnaround time with innovation and advanced technology.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: How and when MPs are suspended

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: How and when MPs are suspended” published in Indian Express on 30th November 2021.

What is the news?

An uproar has been seen in both the Houses of Parliament because of the Pegasus controversy and bill repealing the farm laws without any discussion. This led to the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs for the remainder of the session.

The reason for their suspension was “their unprecedented acts of misconduct, contemptuous, unruly and violent behaviour and intentional attacks on security personnel.

Which rules do LS and RS members follow for maintaining the decorum of the house?

1) To not interrupt the speech of others 2) Maintain silence and not obstruct proceedings by hissing or making running commentaries during debates 3) Not to shout slogans, display placards, tear up documents in protest, and play a cassette or a tape recorder in the House.

What powers do presiding officers have to deal with MPs disrupting proceedings?

The Presiding officer can suspend any MP for disorderly conduct. The MP then has to remain absent from the proceedings of the House for the remainder of the day.

In case of “persistently and wilfully obstructing the business” of the House, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister moves a motion for suspending the offending MP from the service of the House. The suspension can last until the end of the session.

A new rule, 374A, has been added in 2001, which empowers Speaker to automatically suspend an MP for a maximum of five days for disrupting the business of the House. In 2015, the Speaker used this rule for suspending 25 MPs.

What should government do to solve the problem of disruption?

Debate is central to democracy. Therefore, there should be more debate and fewer disruptions.

There is a need for cordial and respectful relations between the Opposition and ruling parties.


Per capita out-of-pocket health expenditure sees decline: report

Source: This post is based on the article “Per capita out-of-pocket health expenditure sees decline: reportpublished in The Hindu on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the National Health Accounts Report for 2017-18.

About the National Health Accounts Report

Produced by: National Health Systems Resource Centre (It is designated as National Health Accounts Technical Secretariat in 2014 by the Health Ministry). 

Source of Data: The report was prepared by using an accounting framework based on the internationally accepted System of Health Accounts 2011 provided by the World Health Organization.

What are the key findings of the report?

Government Expenditure on Healthcare

The share of government expenditure on healthcare has increased to 1.35% of GDP in 2017-18 from 1.15% in 2013-14.

In per capita terms, the Government health expenditure has increased from ₹1,042 to ₹1,753 between 2013-14 to 2017-18.

Out of Pocket Expenditure on Health

Out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) as a share of total health expenditure has come down to 48.8% in 2017-18 from 64.2% in 2013-14. 

The per capita out-of-pocket expenditure has declined to Rs 2,097 in 2017-18 from 2,336 in 2013-14.

The government has attributed the fall in out-of-pocket expenditure to the increased utilisation of government health facilities and reduction in the cost of services at these facilities. 

Foreign Aid to Health

The share of foreign aid for health declined to 0.5% from 0.6% the previous year, which the government attributes to India’s economic self-reliance.

Primary Health Care

The share of primary healthcare in the current government expenditure has increased to 54.7% in 2017-18 from 51.1% in 2013.14.

The primary and secondary health care together accounted for 86% of the government health expenditure in 2017-18 up from 75% in 2016-17. 

In contrast, the share of primary and secondary care in the private sector has declined from 84% to 74%, while that of tertiary care increased.


India Young Water Professional Programme Launched

Source:  This post is based on the articleIndia Young Water Professional Programme Launched published in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

The first edition of the India Young Water Professional Programme was launched virtually in the presence of the Indian High Commissioner to Australia and the Australian High Commissioner to India.

About India Young Water Professional Programme 

Launched under: The Program was launched under the National Hydrology Project and supported by the Australian Water Partnership.

Aim: To provide a structured platform for capacity building with strategic and long-term investment to support the water management reforms in India. 

Objectives of the Programme

To equip water professionals with the necessary skills, knowledge, behaviours and networks that will better enable them to contribute to the development and management of water resources in India. 

To address the competency needs and priorities of the water sector in India.

Implementation: The Program will be implemented by the Australia- India Water Centre (a consortium of Australian and Indian universities). 

What are the key features of the Programme?

Firstly, the Program is unique and different from typical capacity building and training programs. It is focused on the Engaged Training and Learning Model. About 70% of the program is focused on project-based learning through Situation Understanding and Improvement Projects (SUIP). 

Secondly, the Program focuses on gender equality and diversity because sustainable water management can only benefit from the views and skills of all members of society. 

What is the significance of this programme?

The programme marks a significant milestone in the Australia-India Water relationship. It will also help prepare future water leaders. 


NITI Aayog Pushes for Online Dispute Resolution for Speedy Access to Justice

Source: This post is based on the articleNITI Aayog Pushes for Online Dispute Resolution for Speedy Access to Justice published in PIB on 29th November 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has released a report titled ‘Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India’.

The report is a culmination of the action plan made by a committee constituted by NITI Aayog on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in 2020. The committee was chaired by Supreme Court Justice (Retd) AK Sikri.

What is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)?

ODR is the use of technology to ‘resolve’ disputes The disputes are solved through techniques of Alternate Dispute Resolution(ADR) such as arbitration, conciliation and mediation.

Why does India need ODR?

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a large section of society being unable to receive timely access to justice. The pandemic also led to a deluge of disputes, further burdening the already lengthy court processes.

Hence, ODR has the potential to help reduce the burden on the court and efficiently resolve several categories of cases. It may also be introduced within Government departments for internal disputes.

What are the benefits of ODR?

Firstly, it is cost-effective, convenient, efficient, allows for customizable processes to be developed and can limit unconscious bias that results from human interactions. 

Secondly, in terms of layers of justice, ODR can help in dispute avoidance, dispute containment and dispute resolution. 

Thirdly, its widespread use can improve the legal health of the society, ensure increased enforcement of contracts and thereby improve the Ease of Doing Business Ranking for India. 

Lastly, the benefits of ODR and Digital Courts (technology in the public court system) together can transform the legal paradigm as a whole.  

What are the recommendations given by the report on ODR?

The report recommends measures at three levels to tackle challenges in adopting ODR framework in India:

Structural Level: It suggests actions to increase digital literacy, improve access to digital infrastructure and train professionals as neutrals to deliver ODR services.

Behaviour Level: It recommends the adoption of ODR to address disputes involving Government departments and ministries. 

Regulatory Level: It recommends a soft-touch approach to regulate ODR platforms and services. This involves laying down design and ethical principles to guide ODR service providers to self-regulate while fostering growth and innovations in the ecosystem. 

Note: The report also stresses strengthening the existing legislative framework for ODR by introducing necessary amendments to statutes. 


Indian Bio-Jet Fuel Technology Receives Formal Military Certification

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian Bio-Jet Fuel Technology Receives Formal Military Certification published in PIB on 29th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Indian Bio-jet fuel has been formally approved for use on military aircraft of the Indian Air Force(IAF).

This approval will enable Indian armed forces to use bio-jet fuel produced using indigenous technology across all its operational aircraft. 

What is Indian Biojet Fuel Technology?

Developed by: The Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), a constituent laboratory of the CSIR.

Sources of Production: Bo-jet fuel can be produced from used cooking oil, tree-borne oils, short gestation oilseed crops grown off-season by farmers and waste extracts from edible oil processing units.

When was the aircraft with Bio jet fuel tested?

In 2019, an aircraft filled with blended bio-jet fuel flew over RajPath at New Delhi during the Republic Day celebrations. 

Further, in 2020 another aircraft, filled with blended bio-jet fuel safely landed and took off from Leh airport at high altitudes under severe winter conditions.

The Bio jet fuel was also used on a civil, commercial demonstration flight operated by SpiceJet in 2018 from Dehradun to Delhi.

Read more: IAF’s AN-32 Aircraft formally Certified to Operate on Indigenous Bio-Jet Fuel
What are the benefits of Biojet Fuel Technology?

Firstly, it will reduce air pollution by virtue of its ultra-low sulphur content compared with conventional jet fuel and contribute to India’s Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Secondly, it will also enhance the livelihoods of farmers and tribals engaged in producing, collecting, and extracting non-edible oils.


Union Minister launches unique Face Recognition Technology for Pensioners, says it will bring Ease of Living for the retired and elderly citizens

Source:  This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches unique Face Recognition Technology for Pensioners, says it will bring Ease of Living for the retired and elderly citizenspublished in PIB on 29th November 2021.

What is the News?

Union Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has launched unique Face Recognition Technology for Pensioners.

What is Face Recognition Technology for Pensioners?

All pensioners are mandated to submit life certificates annually to continue receiving the pension. 

Face Recognition Technology would act as a proof of life certificate for pensioners and ensure their ease of living.

What are the other initiatives taken by the Government in the field of Pensions?

Jeevan Pramaan: It is a biometric-enabled Aadhaar-based Digital Life Certificate for pensioners. Pensioners of Central Government, State Government or any other Government organization can take benefit of this facility.

Bhavishya: It is an online Pension Sanction and Payment Tracking System implemented by the Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare. The system provides for on-line tracking of pension sanctions and payment processes.

Centralized Pensioners Grievance Redress And Monitoring System(CPENGRAMS): It is an online web-enabled system for the speedy redressal of grievances related to pension by various Central Government Ministries/ Departments/Organizations.  


Nearly 33% of India’s medical devices capacity lying unused: Industry

Source: This post is based on the articleNearly 33% of India’s medical devices capacity lying unused: Industrypublished in Business Standard on 29th November 2021.

What is the News?

According to a report, ​​Indian medical device makers are now struggling with idle capacity.

What are the issues faced by the Medical Devices sector currently?
Source: Business Standard

Medical Devices Lying Idle

The Indian Medical Devices Sector had increased its production of ventilators, masks and PPE Kits to meet the demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For example, India used to produce just 6.24 million pieces of PPE kits per annum before Covid, but this was ramped up to 233.87 million pieces per annum. Similarly, India used to make only 3,360 ventilators per year earlier but now makes over 700,000 per year.

However, around a third of the installed capacity especially for consumables, disposables, small-ticket electronic items is lying unutilised.

 

Rise of Imports of Medical Devices from China

There was a 75% increase in Chinese imports in the financial year 2020-21 (FY21) as it bagged the top spot of medical devices exporters to India, overtaking the US and Germany.

The reason for the rise in Chinese imports is that several traders realised that it was cheaper to import finished products rather than critical raw materials.

Moreover, the Government cannot ban imports from China as the local industry will suffer as they are dependent on China for components. 

What should the Government do to help the Medical Devices sector?

The Government of India is making efforts to boost local manufacturing through the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. But since local manufacturers are stuck with idle capacity, the demand to invest under the scheme would be muted.

Hence, the Government should take corrective measures to keep investors motivated and incentivised, especially for critical products by including them in the PLI scheme or through tariff protection and non-tariff measures.


RBI for widening scope of ‘bank note’ to include digital currency

Source: This post is based on the article RBI for widening scope of ‘bank note’ to include digital currency published in Indian Express on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has proposed amendments to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 to enhance the scope of the definition of ‘bank note’ to include currency in digital form. This would allow RBI to launch a Central Bank Digital Currency(CBDC). 

Moreover, on Bitcoin, the Government has informed that it does not collect data on Bitcoin transactions and on trading in cryptocurrencies. Further, the government has no plans to recognise Bitcoin as a currency.

​​What is the Central Bank Digital Currency(CBDC)?

CBDC is a digital form of fiat currency that can be transacted using wallets backed by the blockchain and is regulated by the central bank. 

How is it different from virtual currencies and crypto-assets?

Firstly, CBDC is different from decentralised virtual currencies and crypto-assets as others are not issued by the state and lack the ‘legal tender’ status. 

Secondly, CBDCs enable the user to conduct both domestic and cross border transactions which do not require a third party or a bank.

What are the benefits of CBDC?

a) Less dependence on cash b) Higher seigniorage due to lower transaction costs c) Reduced settlement risk and d) more robust, efficient, trusted, regulated and legal tender-based payments option.

Note: Seigniorage is the difference between the value of currency/money and the cost of producing it. It is essentially the profit earned by the government by printing currency.

Must read: Introducing National Digital Currency in India – Explained, Pointwise

New indigenous smart technology system can automatically protect power grids from short-circuits

Source: This post is based on the article New indigenous smart technology system can automatically protect power grids from short-circuits published in PIB on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur have indigenously developed a new system to safeguard power grids from short-circuits and prevent accidents.

Background

Short-circuit situations often occur in power distribution networks like power grids.

This results in huge current surges that can damage the power grids as they are not designed to handle the large surge current, which in turn cause major economic losses and disruption in the electricity supply.

What have the Researchers developed to prevent Short-circuit situations?

Researchers have indigenously developed a prototype of a system called Smart Superconducting Fault Current Limiter (SCFLsm).

It was developed with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies Programme of the Department of Science & Technology(DST).

How does the SCFLsm system work?

This system works on a similar principle, as superconductors offer zero resistance to currents up to a threshold current value. At currents beyond the critical current, the resistance of the superconductor becomes high. 

Hence, this system could prevent short circuits by either automatically diverting the current into a parallel shunt (external resistance to bypass maximum current) or limiting a current surge by developing high resistance in the current path.


Africa’s Great Green Wall: Viable return on investments, says FAO study

Source: This post is based on the article Africa’s Great Green Wall: Viable return on investments, says FAO studypublished in Down To Earth on 30th November 2021.

What is the News?

According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO),Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) Initiative is an important contribution towards combating climate change.

The study showed that for every dollar invested into the Great Green Wall (GGW) Initiative, investors can expect an average return of $1.20 with outcomes ranging between $1.10 and $4.40.

What is the Great Green Wall (GGW) Initiative?

The Great Green Wall Initiative was launched in 2007 by the African Union.

Aim: To restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs for the people in the Sahel region of Africa by 2030.

Countries: The 11 countries selected as intervention zones for the Great Green Wall are Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.

What is the status of the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative?

Only four million hectares of degraded land had been restored between 2007 and 2019. This is because of the lack of financial resources.

Note: According to a UN Report, GGW countries need to speed up the current pace of land restoration to an average of 8.2 million hectares every year.


 

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