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

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

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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

It’s time to engage in ‘lawfare’

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

Source: This post is based on the article “It’s time to engage in ‘lawfare” published in The Hindu on 9th November 2021. 

News: India has failed to utilise the international law to advance its national security interests.  

International laws cover wide array of security issues ranging from terrorism to maritime security. For example, Article 1(1) of the UN Charter recognizes the maintenance of “international peace and security” as a principal objective of the UN. However, India has not been able to fully utilize international law to advance its national security interest.  

What are the examples of non-usage of international laws in India? 

First, after Pulwama attack of February 2019 by a Pakistan-based terror outfit, India struck the terror camps in Pakistan. However, in its justification for this action, India did not invoke the right to self-defense, ratherit relied on a contested doctrine of ‘non-military pre-emptive action’ 

Second, as per General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), countries can deviate from their MFN obligations on grounds of national security. But India did not use this provision for suspending the most favored nation (MFN) status of Pakistan after Pulwama. Instead, India increased the customs duties on all Pakistani products to 200% under Customs Tariff Act, 1975.  

Third, India wants to deport Rohingya refugees, as they pose a security threat. But the justification for this action is being given that India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, whereas, India is bound by the principle of non-refoulment to not deport them. National security is one of the exceptions to the non-refoulment principle in international refugee law, which is not used as a justification yet.  

However, there are also instances, like Kulbhushan Jadhav case and pushing for international law to counter terrorism, where India has utilised international laws effectively.  

Why India is lagging behind in ‘lawfare’? 

Lawfare means using law as a weapon of national security.  

First, International lawyers are marginally involved in foreign policymaking. Legal and Treaties Division of the Ministry of External Affairs is understaffed and also ignored in policy making. This division was formed to advice government on international law matters.  

Second, ministries like Commerce and Finance with negligible expertise in international law, also deal with different facets of international law.  

Third, Institutions created to undertake cutting-edge research in international law are suffering from low research quality and neglect. 

Fourth, many of the outstanding international law scholars have failed to international law among the larger public.  

India’s latest dengue outbreak ought to ring alarm bells again

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s latest dengue outbreak ought to ring alarm bells again” published in the Down to Earth on 9th November 2021.  

Syllabus: GS- 2, India and neighboring countries 

Bhutan is graduating from least developed country (LDC) in 2023. The country has experienced impressive growth in the past four decades.  

Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. 

Poverty levels have declined from 36% in 2007 to 10% in 2019. UNDP Human Development Report 2020 ranks Bhutan highest amongst LDCs. Furthermore, Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world. Bhutan has also achieved 100% electricity access. The following approaches have contributed to the Bhutan’s development:  

Niche markets: It has diversified its exports considering its domestic industries of natural resources, tourism, culture, handicrafts and textiles.  

Digital transformation: Due to accessible and affordable backbone infrastructure such as electricity and internet in Bhutan, it was able to launch of the Thimphu TechPark in 2012. The TechPark increased productive employment in Bhutan and enhanced ICT skills amongst the Bhutanese workforce.  

What are the challenges facing Bhutan? 

First, Bhutan’s export concentration is high on hydropower, tourism services and the mining sector. Whereas the growth of its manufacturing sector is stagnant. Its export market concentration is also high, with 80% of exports are to India.  

Second, LDC category will result in the erosion of preferential treatment.  

Third, its small size of market, landlocked status and high cost of trading means it cannot compete in the global market at a large scale.  

Bhutan is lagging behind in attracting the foreign direct investment (FDI) compared to other LDCs such as Cambodia and Maldives. The small size of the Bhutanese market has remained a disincentive to foreign investment in the country. 

No Quota without quantifiable data

Source: This post is created based on the article “No Quota without quantifiable data” published in The Hindu on 9th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 –  mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections

News: The Madras High Court recently quashed the provision of 10.5% reservation for Vanniyakula Kshatriyas within the overall 20% quota for Most Backward Communities (MBCs) and Denotified Communities (DNCs). This has highlighted the importance of quantifiable data while taking a decision on reservation in education and employment.

What is the issue?

The State Assembly had granted the special internal quota in February 2021, but the move was challenged in the High Court. The Court opined that there were no data, quantifiable or otherwise, available with the State Government for decision making and hence quashed the provision.

No exhaustive study has been undertaken in Tamil Nadu on the representation of various communities in education and employment since the Second BC Commission (J.A. Ambasankar) in 1982-85.

In 2011, the State BC Commission couldn’t present the community wise break-up after being asked to justify the 69% quota granted to the BCs/MBCs/DNCs/SCs/STs under the 1994 Reservation Act (which was subsequently placed in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution)

What is the need for the exhaustive study on status of communities?

The Madras HC observed that the quantifiable data are required in order to understand the representation of communities in services along with their social and educational backwardness to grant reservation in employment. The two BCs Commissions set up earlier had expressed similar opinion.

The Second BC Commission had argued for internal reservation within the backward communities based on their status, while the first BC commission (A.N. Sattanathan, 1969-70) had advocated periodic removal of top communities from the provisions of the reservation.

What can be done?

One of the terms of reference of the existing BC Commission (set up in July 2020), is to examine the demand for internal reservation and make a recommendation on the matter. The Commission can undertake a comprehensive study to compile data and understand the way the benefits of reservation get accrued to the various communities within the Umbrella BCs, MBCs, DNCs.

India needs a new integrated approach to Eurasia (1200)

Source: This post is created based on the article “India needs a new, integrated approach to Eurasia” published in Indian Express on 9th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

News: India’s Indo-Pacific strategy has got a concrete political and institutional shape with the setting up of QUAD. India must develop a similar strategy for Eurasia as well. The Eurasian Strategy will completement the Indo-Pacific Strategy as the latter influences maritime geopolitics while the former will be in the Continental domain.

What is the concept of Eurasia?

The concept of Eurasia poses challenges similar to the Indo-Pacific. While the region can be defined unambiguously by the Physical Geographers, the political definition of Eurasia remain fluid. Russia defines Eurasia in terms of territory and neighbourhood of the former Soviet Union. Some others define it in terms of “Central Asia”, “Inner Asia” and “Greater Middle East” by including West Asia as well. India must consider Eurasia in broadest term to shape its Eurasian strategy.

How is the geopolitics changing in the regions?

China’s dramatic rise: China asserts deep influence in the region due to its long borders. China has grown more aggressive in recent times as the region is central to its BRI project which extends till Atlantic Coast of Europe. Moreover Russia’s differences with the West has brought China and Russia closer.

US Realignment: While the US has increased focus on the Indo-Pacific, there is realignment of America’s strategic view regarding the Atlantic and Eurasia. US has already withdrawn from Afghanistan. The US and NATO are debating the rebalancing of Europe’s collective defense where the US had played a central role since WWII. The US is calling this rebalance as “Burden Sharing” while EU might call it “Strategic Autonomy”. But in essence, the US might reduce its role in Europe’s strategic defense and Europe might take a more central role and would require a rethink regarding Europe’s conception of Eurasia.

What has been India’s relationship with Eurasia?

India’s connection with Eurasia dates to ancient civilization links since the Buddhist era. Foreign forces continued to come to India through the western border while the British got entangled with the Russians in the Great Game in 18th and 19th centuries. The partition of India and a hostile neighbour in the West cut off India from Central Asia and Eurasia. Overcoming this barrier would be central to India’s Eurasian Strategy.

What should be India’s Strategy?

There should be 3 core elements to India’s Eurasian Strategy

  1. Centrality of Europe: Many Indian nationalists had made Europe their base during the freedom struggle. Post independence, India’s relationship with the USSR had led to distancing from Europe. India must have strategic engagement with Europe (both EU and NATO) on Eurasian Security and should set up a military office in Brussels as the first step.
  2. Engagement with Russia on Eurasian security: There are differences between India and Russia regarding QUAD, China and Taliban; but there are significant common grounds between the two regarding Eurasian security
  3. Collaboration with Iran and Arab world: While Iran is central to connectivity; the Arabs are critical due to their religious influence. Both might help in countering the hostile Turkey-Pakistan alliance.

India shouldn’t let the internal contradictions between all the regional and extra-regional stakeholders. Eurasia presents both a challenge and opportunity to India’s foreign policy.

A vital cog in Bongaigaon’s response in malnutrition

Source: This post is based on the article ” A vital cog in Bongaigaon’s response in malnutrition ” published in The Hindu on 9th November 2021.

Subject: GS2 – Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Understanding the measures to tackle malnutrition.

News: Given the seriousness and complexity of the issue of malnutrition in India, innovative approaches are needed.

Hippocrates famously stated that Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. This highlights the importance of nutrition in the growth of a child.

A unique Project Sampoorna was conceived in the Bongaigaon district of Assam. This is in line with the UN SDG goals and Kuposhan Mukta Bharat initiative of India. The project has resulted in the reduction of malnutrition in children using near zero economic investment.

Initiatives like these are needed to tackle the vicious cycle of malnutrition.

How malnutrition impacts children?

The highest risk is posed by anaemia. An anaemic child goes into an unhealthy adolescent, an anaemic pregnant young woman. The woman would give birth to an asphyxiated low-birth-weight baby. This baby will then face developmental delays and grow into a malnourished child.

Read more: A multi-dimensional approach to tackle malnutrition
How Project Sampoorna helped Bongaigaon district?

The project yielded encouraging results – maternal deaths for six months have fallen from 16 (Apr to Sep 2020) to three (Apr to Sep 2021) and infant deaths from 130 to 63.

Project Sampoorna had prevented at least 1,200 children from becoming malnourished over the last year

Why was Project Sampoorna launched?

The National Family Health Survey (NHFS)-5) documented that the number of children under five who are stunted, wasted, underweight and the number of anaemic women and children in the district are higher than the national average. And anaemia is a major determinant of maternal and child health.

Low number of beds: District Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres, or NRCs, usually have up to 20 beds. This means that they are not equipped to deal with high number of severely acutely malnourished children.

Loss of wages: Parents of the children have to abandon their farmlands and forego their wages for 10 days.

Back home, siblings of the severely and acutely malnourished (SAM) child are not taken care of and may become malnourished. The treated child could also slip back to a SAM state after being discharged and if not cared for.

Considering the challenges of this, Project Sampoorna was launched.

Based on the success of the community-based COVID-19 management model (Project Mili Juli), Project Sampoorna was launched targeting the mothers of SAM/MAM (Moderate Acute Malnutrition) children.

How did Project Sampoorna work?

Project Sampoorna’s tagline states its purpose – empower mothers, healthy children.

Buddy mothers: First a healthy mother is identified and paired with the target mother (buddy mothers) of the same Anganwadi Centre (AWC). They were usually neighbours and shared similar socio-economic backgrounds. The pair is given diet chart to indicate daily food intake for the children. they would have discussions about this on all Tuesdays at the AWC. Local practices related to nutrition would also be discussed.

– The project also arranged 100 millilitres of milk and an egg on alternate days for all children for 1st 3 months. Children who did not show improvement were treated by doctors under Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram.

Assistance was taken from UNICEF, IIT Gauhati, Tezpur University and social welfare department for periodic course correction.

Also read POSHAN 2.0 and tackling malnutrition in India
What were the challenges faced by the project?

The major hindrance to the project was patriarchy. Mothers had to be empowered financially for sustained results.

Therefore, they were enrolled in Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) [Women Empowerment]

What is the way forward?
Project Sampoorna was recognised in the innovation category of the National Nutrition Mission. It also prevented at least 1200 children from becoming malnourished every year.

There is a need to implement Buddy Mothers Model and Women Empowerment Model in the world so that children can enjoy their right to stay healthy.

Jail should be the exception, not the norm

Source: This post is based on the article ” Jail should be the exception, not the norm” published in the Indian Express on 9th November 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Fundamental Rights.

Relevance: Understanding the issue of granting bails.

News: Unlike most democratic countries, arrest seems to be becoming a norm in India. This needs an urgent course correction.

There are so many cases of unjustified arrests and denial of bails like of Aryan Khan, journalist Siddique Kappan, and many others. These all incidents raise questions on rule of law in India.

It is time to seriously consider whether the practice of creating too many non-bailable offences and the routine denial of bail serves the public interest at all.

What are the safeguards available in India?

Article 21 states no person shall be deprived of personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Supreme Court – has clearly stated that bail is the norm and jail is an exception.

Read more: The process is the punishment
What are the issues in granting bail?

-Conflict between personal liberty of the accused and interest of the community as a whole

-Sensational cases: The lower courts are reluctant to grant bail

-Legal issues: The presence of many non-bailable offences and routine denial of bails.

Read more:  India’s system of bail and personal liberty
What is the way forward?

Amendment: Legal laws imposing difficult conditions for grant of bail should be amended. For example, section 45 of the prevention of money laundering act requires a judge to be satisfied that the accused is not guilty and will not commit any offence while on bail. This makes the grant of bail very subjective.

Decriminalization of several provisions: Amendments should be done in Central and State enactment e.g. companies act 2013 amended in 2020.

Sensitivity: Supreme Court: should take suo moto notice of unacceptable arrests and issue urgent directives to the Centre and state. Judges should also understand the importance of bail, particularly when most of the poor and illiterate accused have little or no access to legal assistance.

Read more: Supreme Court on Protecting Rights of People

Making an arrest at an FIR stage destroys a person’s reputation. A subsequent acquittal cannot heal the scars. So while the investigation is going on and if the accused are cooperating, bail should be allowed to become the norm.

How to fix India’s creaking health infrastructure?

Source: This post is based on the article ” How to fix India’s creaking health infrastructure?” published in Livemint on 9th November 2021.

Subject: GS2 – Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Understanding India’s poor health infrastructure.

News: COVID-19 pandemic revealed the poor status of India’s health infrastructure. Now it is time to revamp this infrastructure.

COVID-19 pandemic in India exposed the weakness of health infrastructure. Overflowing intensive care units, empty oxygen cylinders, lack of medicines, dead bodies outside hospitals all revealed the poor status of health infrastructure in India.

What is the status of health infrastructure in India?

Physical infrastructure: India has 1.3 beds per 1,000 people; 0.5 pharmacists per 1,000 people & 0.8 physicians per 1,000 people–which is less than half of the world average.

Funding: Economic Survey 2020-21 observed that India ranks 179th among 189 countries in prioritizing health care in the government budget. The public expenditure on health at 1.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is low. E.g. it is 3.5% in Ghana.

Disease burden: India has 17% of the world’s population but a disproportionately high share of the global disease burden at 20%.

Quality of healthcare: Economic Survey pointed out that India ranked 145th out of 180 countries (Global Burden of Disease Study 2016) on the quality and access to healthcare.

Doctors: India will require 2 million more doctors by 2030 to achieve a desirable doctor-to-population ratio of 1:1000.

Read more: Why India needs an NHS-like healthcare model?
What is the status of primary healthcare in India?

At present only 12% of primary health centres (PHCs) and 13% of community health centres are functioning. The major factor behind this is the lack of finances.

Even schemes like Ayushman Bharat -Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) do not cover primary healthcare services.

Why budgetary allocation for health is poor?

With lower growth rates, and focus on spending on social indicators, health is ignored.

Under the national health authority, as a percentage of gross health expenditure, centres share is 31% and states share 69%.

But States have little tax collection after the GST regime.

Read more: An inclusive plan for healthcare systems to be built back better
What are the government initiatives to improve healthcare?

ABHIM – Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission:  It will work with the National Health Mission in building public health facilities, critical care infrastructure and PHCs.

Read more: PM launches PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission

Drug prices: 70% off out of pocket expenditure goes towards medicine. So government introduced tight control over the crisis and cut retail prices in 2018.

Ayushman Bharat–National Health Protection Mission (AB–NHPM), 2018: It provides health coverage of ₹5 lakh per family per annum for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to nearly 110 million poor and vulnerable families.

What is the way forward?

Building public infrastructure. For this India needs to increase budgetary support to healthcare to around 2.5% of GDP.

Incentivize state expenditure on healthcare: Finance commission parameters for Definition can include healthcare. Better performing states should be incentivized example Aarogyashree scheme of Telangana state.

Learn from international best practices for example Thailand and Cuba model. Thailand passed the affordable care act and brought health insurance premiums down. Cuba focused on the best quality primary healthcare system.

What we can learn from these is the community participation in healthcare by focusing on awareness, sanitation and involving civil society. This can eventually pave the way for universal healthcare.

GS Paper 3

The energy headwind

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Infrastructure – Energy

Source: This post is based on the article “The energy headwind” published in Times of India on 9th November 2021. 

News: The rise in prices of energy may slow down the economic recovery and growth rate.

How are energy prices linked to economic recovery and growth?

Economic Productivity is directly related to the use of dense forms of energy*. Improvements in Indian economy’s energy density means India’s energy demand grew 2.5% slower than India’s GDP growth. But lack of reserves of dense fuels (oil, gas etc.) means India’s imports are growing faster than the GDP.

Energy imports accounted for nearly 80% of India’s trade deficit in 2019-20. The rapid rise in energy prices globally has bloated India’s energy import bill. While some deficit can be covered by exports; the shortfall is covered through fund inflows (sale of equities) or through loans. This additional payout to foreign suppliers limits demand for domestic products.

Household consume almost 40% of the crude oil products directly, while 60% are used by Industry. Industry will pass on the price rise to consumers eventually which will reduce the demand and slow the growth.

What were the reasons for cut-down on excise duty on fuels?

The cut-down announced by the Government on excise duties will reduce cost to consumers by $20 billion. The Government has surplus receipts due to high fuel prices and consequently higher revenue from duties. The Union Government has already received 56% of budgeted receipts in the first 6 months (April-September) compared to the norm of 40%. Thus, the reduction in duties made sense.

Another reason was inflationary pressure of high fuel prices. The fuel price cut will reduce the CPI by at least 30 basis points.

What is the outlook for the future?

Rise in prices of Coal has been short-lived as production of coal has ramped-up in China. Inventories are also better in Indian thermal plants. This showed that there are no structural issues in the energy supply chain, only that production had gone down during the pandemic phase due to low demand. Rising demand is now a signal for fast economic recovery.

Now the focus of the policymakers should be on sustaining this recovery and focus on the priorities of next phase of economic cycle.

For Indian economy to grow at 7%, energy demand would grow by 4-5% annually. India’s energy security and insulating the economy from external energy price shocks should be the top-most policy priority. Moreover, with new emission targets, India’s energy mix should be at the center of energy policy.

* Energy density means energy stored per unit mass or volume, higher the energy density, higher the energy, and better the fuel, e.g., Energy density of Natural Gas is 55MJ/kg while Wood has 16MJ/kg, Gas is much better fuel than wood)

Methane question: It is easier to cut CH4 than CO2

Source: This post is based on the article “Methane question: It is easier to cut CH4 than CO2” published in the Times of India on 9th November 2021. 

Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Environment – Climate Change  

News: In CoP 26 summit, 105 countries have pledged to reduce their methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels, by 2030. 

IPCC research estimates that 1/4th of global warming is done by CH4 or Methane. Cutting Methane emissions is easier compared to other emissions due to tech solutions. Also, UN’s latest assessment is that over 50% of available targeted measures have negative costs – they quickly end up saving money. 

But it is not yet clear that industrialized meat production system, which globally accounts for 32% of anthropogenic methane emissions, will be a part of reform or not.  

What India should do? 

livestock and paddy cultivation, which accounts for 8% of CH4 emissions, is the main reason behind India not signing the agreement.  India can use technologies that reduce methanogenic activity in bovines and sheep. For example, ICMR has developed a feed supplement that cuts down their methane emissions by 17-20%.  

Further India can also take a lead in the future “green meats” or laboratory meats.  

Big claims of rapid economic formalization are suspect

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

Gains of demonetization and worries over growth‘ and Big claims of rapid economic formalization are suspect published in Livemint on 9th Nov 21;

Who shrunk India’s informal sector?published in TOI on 9th Nov 21.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Formalization of Indian economy

News: The formalization of India’s economy has increased over the years, but regaining a fast-growth trajectory is a challenge yet to be fully tackled.

What is the size of India’s informal economy?

Estimate done in 2018 suggests the size of the informal economy at 52%. This number was expressed by NSC (National Statistical Commission) with very limited methodological details.

How the size of informal economy can be measured?

e-Shram initiative: GoI is making earnest efforts to bring such unorganised employment into the formal stream by incorporating MSMEs through the GST portal. It also recently launched the e-Shram initiative that is creating a comprehensive database of unorganised employment in India.

Digital footprints: the consumption of the informal sector can be captured through digital footprints. For instance, an informal wage-earner’s trace in the economy may be captured by the shampoo-sachet or glucose biscuit she may be purchasing. Likewise, a small entity may be a seller in an online platform and accepting UPI-based payments.

What are the signs that indicate an increase in formalization of the economy?

Provident-fund enrolments have steadily risen amid a job scarcity – a chunk of these could be due to payrolls going formal.

Extra bounce seen lately in collections of GST.

Inc in UPI transactions: In October, transactions done via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) hit a record 4 billion, worth over $100 billion.

The EPFO portal shows that around 2.25 lakh business units have been formalised since that data has been made online.

The total number of outstanding KCCs (Kisan Credit Cards) is currently at 6.5 crore. The credit offtake per KCC translates into agri-credit formalisation of Rs 4.6 lakh crore.

What are the issues that still remain?

As a proportion of gross domestic product, cash in circulation has risen above its level before demonetization.

The extent of formalization still lacks a sound estimate. Recent research work by State Bank of India estimated that the informal sector’s share of India’s output had shrunk from over half the total back in 2017-18 to under a fifth. The way this fraction was arrived at, however, does not lend it the reliability needed for such an important ratio.

Has there been a considerable decrease in the size of the informal economy?

A recent report by SBI made a striking claim that the informal sector’s share in India’s GDP has shrunk from about 52% three years ago to a “max 15-20%” of GDP.

There are four key problems with this analysis.

Firstly, the assumption that the entire GDP loss in 2020-21 represents the loss of just the informal sector is too simplistic. The informal sector was undoubtedly hard hit. But given the widespread evidence of revenue losses suffered by the formal sector, it is hard to justify the assumption of zero loss in the formal sector.

Secondly, SBI’s analysis uses an extraordinary reference point (the pandemic year) to make a claim about a structural transformation in the economy.This is a problematic approach. Small enterprises fold easily when faced with external shocks, be they pandemics or droughts. Compared to large firms, they are also easier to restart once the shock subsides.

Thirdly, SBI’s report makes an implicit assumption that the reported GDP figures capture the informal sector’s contribution accurately. To calculate growth of the informal sector, national account statisticians use the available data on formal-sector indicators for each sub-sector of the economy (with some exceptions such as agriculture) i.e. they make assumptions for informal sector.

Fourthly, share of workers with social security benefits is also considered to estimate the extent of formalization across the world. In India, such data is now available annually, via the periodic labour force surveys (PLFS). As per the survey an overwhelming majority of workers in India do not have regular employment. Even among the small minority that have regular jobs, a majority don’t have a written contract or paid leave, according to the last pre-pandemic PLFS survey conducted in 2018-19.

How India’s Gati Shakti Plan can have an impact beyond its borders

Source: This post is based on the article ” How India’s Gati Shakti Plan can have an impact beyond its borders” published in the Indian Express on 9th November 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the importance of Gati Shakti Plan.

News: Gati Shakti Plan can generate positive spillover effects, strengthen India’s economic ties with its neighbours.

Prime Minister recently launched the Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity. Apart from the economic multiplier effect at the domestic level, the plan has also great significance in shaping India’s relations with other countries.

What are the components of the Gati Shakti Plan?
What will be the impact of Gati Shakti on India’s foreign relations?

With the focus on infrastructure and to boost the last-mile connectivity, it will help India to deepen its economic relations with neighboring countries as well as countries from Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean origin.

For eg: India trade relations with Nepal reached new heights because of the various initiatives in the infrastructure sector like new rail and road routes, modernisation of border control systems etc.

Read more: What PM Gati Shakti plan means for the nation
What should India do to ensure the success of the Gati Shakti Plan?

First, India’s connectivity issues need to be coordinated with domestic issues. Also, India should deepen bilateral consultations with its neighbouring countries to measure their connectivity strategies and priorities.

For eg: India’s integrated check post lack complementary infrastructure on the other side of the border. Similarly, in the case of digital systems, while India has joined Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) convention, none of its eastern neighbours have.

Second, India should work collaboratively on various regional institutions and platforms. This will help India to develop a regional vision and standards for connectivity, reducing bilateral transaction costs etc.

Third, India should work closely with global players who are keen to support its strategic imperative to give the Indo-Pacific an economic connectivity dimension.

These all measures will give the Gati Shakti plan a truly regional and global dimension and help India achieve its developmental targets at home.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

UNESCO picks Srinagar as creative city

What is the News?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) has selected Srinagar as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) under the Crafts and Folk Arts category.

What is the UNESCO Creative Cities Network?

UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.

Aim: To foster mutual international cooperation with and between member cities committed to invest in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy.

Categories:  The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature and Music.

Cities: The network now includes 295 cities covering around 90 countries.

Which Indian cities apart from Srinagar are part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)?

Chennai and Varanasi – Cities of music; 

Jaipur – City of crafts and folk arts; 

Mumbai – City of film and 

Hyderabad – City of gastronomy.

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • UNESCO picks Srinagar as creative city published in The Hindu on 9th November 2021.
  • PM expresses happiness over Srinagar joins UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)” published in PIB on 9th November 2021.

Gujarat retains pole position in logistics index: Commerce ministry report

What is the News?

The Ministry of Commerce has released the LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States) 2021.

What is LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States)?

Source: Economic Times:

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) had launched LEAD Index in 2018 with the main objective of ranking States and UTs on the efficiency of their logistics ecosystem.

The first version of the index(LEADS 2018) focused on export-import trade and assessed the efficiency of the logistics ecosystem in each State and UT.

The second edition of the study(LEADS 2019) covered both international and domestic trade.

The third version(LEADS 2021) has gone one-step ahead in analysing the domestic and EXIM logistics ecosystem of the state.

What are the rankings of the index?

Topped by: Gujarat has topped the index.Haryana has secured the second position followed by Punjab at third.

North Eastern States and Himalayan Region: Jammu and Kashmir is the top ranker followed by Sikkim and Meghalaya

Union Territories: Delhi stands at the top rank among other UTs. 

Remarkable improvement: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand have witnessed a remarkable improvement in their ranks compared to 2019 LEADS ranking and have emerged as the top improvers.

What is the significance of this index?

The inputs given by the LEADS 2021 can lead the way to bring down logistics cost by 5% over the next 5 years.

Currently, the cost of logistics in India is at a high 12-13% of GDP.

Source: This post is based on the following articles: 

  • Gujarat retains pole position in logistics index: Commerce ministry report published in “Business Standard” on 9th November 2021.
  • Police, RTO add to India’s logistics costs published in TOI on 9th November 2021.

Union Minister launches first-ever Mentorship Programme for Young Innovators to mark the 75th Year of India’s Independence

What is the News?

​​The Union minister has launched the first-ever DBT-Star College Mentorship Programme.

What is DBT-Star College Mentorship Programme?

The programme aims to have a ‘Star College’ in every district of the country supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Under the programme, the Star Status Colleges will mentor the newer colleges through hand-holding and peer learning and bringing them under the aegis of Star College Scheme.

What is the Star College Scheme?

The Star College Scheme was initiated by the Department of Biotechnology(DBT) in 2008 to support colleges and universities offering undergraduate education to improve science teaching across the country. 

Aim: To improve critical thinking and encourage ‘hands on’ experimental science at undergraduate level in basic science subjects.It also aims to encourage more students to take up higher education in science. 

Support under the scheme: Through this scheme the DBT identifies colleges with potential for excellence and provides support for developing infrastructure for academics and laboratory activities.This support is in turn expected to invigorate teaching and provide unique exposure of students to experimental science. 

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister launches first-ever Mentorship Programme for Young Innovators to mark the 75th Year of India’s Independencepublished in PIB on 9th November 2021.

Telling Numbers: A ranking of countries on drug policies and implementation

What is the News?

The inaugural Global Drug Policy Index 2021 has been released.

About Global Drug Policy Index:

Released by: Harm Reduction Consortium

Purpose: It is a unique tool that documents, measures and compares national-level drug policies, providing each country with a score and ranking that shows how much their drug policies and their implementation align with the UN principles of human rights, health and development. 

Parameters: It is composed of 75 indicators running across five broad dimensions of drug policy: criminal justice, extreme responses, health and harm reduction, access to internationally controlled medicines and development.Based on these indicators, each country is then given a total score ranging from 0 to 100 with 100 as the highest score.

What are the rankings of the index?

India: India’s rank is 18 out of 30 countries.It has an overall score of 46/100.

Topped by: Norway has topped the Index with a score of 74/100.It was followed by New Zealand, Portugal, the UK and Australia.

Lowest Ranking Countries: ​​Brazil, Uganda, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico. 

What are the observations made by the report?

The median score across all 30 countries and dimensions is just 48/100.(​​48 out of 100 is a drug policy fail in anyone’s book).

Inequality is deeply seated in global drug policies, with the top-ranking 5 countries scoring 3 times as much as the lowest-ranking 5 countries.

Drug policies disproportionately affect people marginalised on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.

There are wide disparities between state policies and how they are implemented on the ground.

Source: This post is based on the article Telling Numbers: A ranking of countries on drug policies and implementationpublished in Indian Express on 9th November 2021.

India now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics

What is the News?

According to the Chief economic adviser at State Bank of India (SBI), India is now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics.

India’s Financial Inclusion Metrics

Mobile and Internet Banking Transactions: The mobile and Internet banking transactions have increased to 13,615 per 1,000 adults in 2020 from 183 in 2015.

Bank Branches: The number of bank branches has reached up to 14.7 per 1 lakh adults in 2020 from 13.6 in 2015 which is higher than in Germany, China and South Africa.

No Frills Account: 

The number of no-frills bank accounts has significantly increased.Of these, almost two-thirds are operational in rural and semi-urban areas and more than 78% of these accounts are with state-owned banks.

Note: RBI had introduced ‘no-frills’ accounts in 2005 to provide basic banking facilities to the poor and promote financial inclusion.The accounts could be maintained without or with very low minimum balance.

Banking Outlets: The number of banking outlets in villages /  banking correspondent (BC) had increased from 34,174 in 2010 to 12.4 lakh in 2020.

Note: Banking Correspondents (BCs) are individuals/entities engaged by a bank for providing banking services in unbanked/under-banked geographical territories.

Source: This post is based on the article “India now ahead of China in financial inclusion metrics” published in The Hindu on 9th November 2021.

Centre amends the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011 for enhanced protection of Consumer Rights

What is the News?

The Department of Consumer Affairs under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has amended the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011.

What is Legal Metrology?

Metrology is the science of measurement.Legal metrology provides regulations for the control of measurements and measuring instruments.It also provides rules for protection of public safety, the environment, consumers, traders and is critical to fair trade. 

What are the amendments introduced in the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011?

Indicate Unit Sale Price on pre packed commodities: Companies will be required to print ‘unit sale price’ on the packaged commodities.For example, a packaged wheat flour of 2.5 kg should have a unit sale price per kg along with the total MRP.This will make it easier for the consumers to ascertain the cost in unit terms.

Schedule 2 of rules scrapped: The Ministry has scrapped the Schedule 2 of the rules under which 19 types of commodities were to be packed in quantities by weight, measure or number in a specified manner.Now the companies can sell the commodities in any quantity.

Pre Packed Commodities: Mandatory Declaration of date of manufacture on the pre packaged commodities.

Mandatory Declaration of MRP: ​​Government has made it mandatory to declare MRP in Indian currency inclusive of all taxes on pre packed products.

Note: Pre-packed commodity means any commodity which is placed in a package without the purchaser being present and the product contained therein has a predetermined quantity.

Source: This post is based on the articleCentre amends the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules 2011 for enhanced protection of Consumer Rightspublished in PIB on 9th November 2021.

Department of Justice launches “Tele-Law on Wheels” Campaign

What is the News?

The Department of Justice has launched the week- long “Tele-Law on Wheels” campaign from 8th to 14th November, 2021.

What is the Tele-Law on Wheels campaign?

It is a campaign under which a series of activities are being undertaken to empower people through pre-litigation advice for rightfully claiming their entitlements and for timely redressal of their difficulties.

Conducted by: The Campaign is being conducted with aid of  Common Service Centers(CSCs)  e Governance which has a network of 4 lakh + digitally enabled CSCs across the country.

About Tele-Law Mobile App

The app has been launched by the Ministry of Law and Justice.It would connect the beneficiaries directly with Panel Lawyers offering legal advice and consultation.

Click Here to read about the Tele Law Initiative

Source:  This post is based on the articleDepartment of Justice launches “Tele-Law on Wheels” Campaignpublished in PIB on 9th November 2021.

Explained: India’s submarine strength

What is the News?

CBI filed two chargesheets against serving and retired naval officers for allegedly sharing details of the ongoing modernisation project of India’s Kilo Class submarines.The Kilo Class comprises imported submarines that are being retrofitted.

What is Submarine?

A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater.Their main cover is their ability to move stealthily under water and keep an eye on enemy movement of vessels.

How many submarines does India have?

Currently, India has 15 conventional diesel-electric submarines classified as SSKs and one nuclear ballistic submarine, classified as SSBN.

About Conventional diesel-electric submarines classified as SSKs: Among the SSKs:

Four are Shishumar Class, which were bought and then built in India in collaboration with the Germans 

Eight are Kilo Class or Sindhughosh Class bought from Russia (including erstwhile USSR)

Three are Kalvari Class Scorpene submarines built at India’s Mazagon Dock in partnership with France’s Naval Group, earlier called DCNS.

About Nuclear ballistic submarine classified as SSBN:

INS Arihant is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine built indigenously.

INS Arighat, an upgraded version of Arihant is likely to be commissioned within the next few months. 

Projects for Submarines

The 30-year plan (2000-30) for indigenous submarine construction was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.

The plan envisages two production lines of six submarines each built in India in partnership with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM). The projects were called P-75 and P-75I.

P-75 has delivered three Kalvari Class Scorpene submarines so far.P-75I is yet to take off.

How many submarines does China have?

According to a 2020 report by the Pentagon, China currently operates four SSBNs.It has six SSNs(nuclear-powered attack submarines) and 50 diesel-powered attack submarines(SSs).

Click Here to read: What makes nuclear submarines so important?

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: India’s submarine strengthpublished in Indian Express on 9th November 2021.

Revised fisheries draft: WTO draft snubs India’s transition period proposal

What is the News?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a revised draft text of the fisheries subsidies agreement. However, India has said that the text still remains “unbalanced”.

Click Here to read about Fisheries Subsidies

What are the objections India has over the WTO draft text on fisheries subsidies?

Source: Economic Times

Firstly, the draft text has suggested a threshold of 0.7% for a country’s share of global fishing up to which it would be exempted from subsidy cuts. However, India accounts for higher than the suggested threshold at about 4% of global fishing at 3.8 million tonnes annually.

Secondly, it does not specify the transition period of 25 years for exempting some developing countries from subsidy cuts, as proposed by India.

Thirdly, India has suggested that those countries which are engaged in the distant water fishing and beyond their natural geographic area should stop giving subsidies for 25 years in fishing areas beyond their exclusive economic zones (200 nautical miles). However, the draft text does not specify that.

Source: This post is based on the articleRevised fisheries draft: WTO draft snubs India’s transition period proposalpublished in Business Standard on 9th November 2021.

Mineral concession amendments to raise availability, ease pricing pressure

What is the News?

The Ministry of Mines has notified the Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Mineral) Concession (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2021 to amend The Minerals Concession Rules, 2016.

What are the key provisions of the Minerals Concession (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 2021?

Source: Business Standard

Allows Part Surrender of Mines: The rules have allowed part surrender of mining lease area allowed in all cases.Presently, part surrender was allowed only in case of non-grant of forest clearance.

Sale of minerals by captive owners: In any lease, where the mineral is required to be used for captive purpose, the lessee may sell up to 50% of total mineral produced in such captive mines in a financial year.

Click Here to read: Difference between Captive and Non-Captive Mines

Disposal of Mineral: The rules have added a provision allowing disposal of overburden/ waste rock/ mineral below the threshold value which is generated during the course of mining.

Penalty provisions in the rules have been rationalized: Previously, the rules provided for penalty of imprisonment upto 2 years or fine upto 5 lakh rupees or both for violation of each and every rule irrespective of the severity of the violation.Now the rules categorized the violations of the rules under the following heads:

  • Major Violations: Penalty of imprisonment, fine or both.
  • Minor Violations: Penalty of only fine for such violations prescribed.
  • Violation of some rules has been decriminalized.

Source: This post is based on the articleMineral concession amendments to raise availability, ease pricing pressurepublished in Business Standard on 9th November 2021.


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