We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- 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:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- 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 Brief – Click Here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks
- NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised
- Countering the Chinese Threat
GS Paper 3
- You can switch off Siri, but not the State
- Air India sale opens up a brighter future for aviation
- Securing the States
- Proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act are a bad idea
- Tackling the climate crisis
- It’s not fossil fuel: Coal, biomass and degraded land are main contributors to India’s air pollution
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- COVID-19 reverses decades of progress in TB elimination, India worst-hit: WHO
- Why Nasa is launching robo archaeologist named Lucy
- Indian Army Contingent Departs for 17th Edition of Indo-US Joint Military Exercise “Ex Yudh Abhyas 2021” at Joint Base Elmendorf – Richardson, Alaska(USA)
- Research centre for Indian art set up in Zurich museum
- Country’s first ‘One Health’ consortium launched by D/o Biotechnology, Post COVID 19
- Proposed policy may cut Alwar, Panipat from National Capital Region
- Around 1.3 billion people at high risk of conflict and displacement: Report
- PM launches 7 defence PSUs carved out of OFB
- India slips 7 spots to rank 101 among 116 countries on Global Hunger Index
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks
Source: This post is based on the article”Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks” published in the Times of India on 16th October 2021.Syllabus: GS 2- Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted for Protection & Betterment of These Vulnerable Sections.
Relevance: To understand the reason behind the stigmatization of the bisexual community under the medical profession.
Synopsis: The social issues in India are not just societal problems, but also ingrained deepens our educational system.
Recently National Medical Commission has issued an advisory to all medical universities and colleges. It asked them to bring changes in the teaching methods and opt methods that are not derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community.
What is the discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ in the medical profession?
The medical profession mostly treats homosexuality as an illness. This plays a significant role in the stigmatization of non-heterosexual identities. Madras High Court in its recent judgement also raised concerns as it tells “queerphobia continues to be rampant in medical education”
|Read more: Madras High Court guidelines for mainstreaming LGBTIQA+ community|
The medical curriculum describes lesbians as “mental degenerates” and force them to conversion therapy. There are various medical practices that continue to try to alter various sexual orientations instead of recognizing them as a normal variant of human sexuality. According to American Psychiatric Association, these kinds of treatments are unethical as they can cause depression and self-destructing behavior.
|Read more: Need to ban the Conversion therapy of the LGBTQIA+ community|
What needs to be done?
Our medical institutions still propagate the age-old band practices like the two-finger virginity test. So, change needs to be brought not just in the curriculum but in the mindset.
NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised
Source: This post is based on the article “NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised” published in the Indian Express on 16th October 2021.Syllabus: GS-2 Issues Relating to Development & Management of Social Sector/Services.
Relevant: Understanding the issues related to NEET.
Synopsis: The recent move of the Tamil Nadu government to bypass the NEET exam requires careful analysis of the issues surrounding the NEET.
The government of India cleared the way for making NEET a common entrance examination for all medical colleges across India. This was opposed by many states including Tamil Nadu.
What steps have been taken by Tamil Nadu?
The government of Tamil Nadu appointed a committee under Justice AK Rajan. The committee found that NEET is biased towards the pattern of the CBSE syllabus.
Based on the recommendations, the government of Tamil Nadu passed a law that provided that NEET is not the only means through which admission can be secured in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The bill, however, has not yet received the President’s assent.
|Read more: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise|
What are the challenges created by NEET?
The first challenge is the inequality of participation. NEET assumes that all students have the same social-economic background and are equally placed. This is what political philosopher and Nancy Fraser called “parity of participation“.
According to him, maldistribution of resources is an impediment to parity of participation. With regard to NEET, socio-economic inequalities and the absence of objective conditions are unfair because they hinder the parity of participation.
Secondly, it crushes what sociologist Arjun Appadurai called “capacity to aspire” of Marginalised students. The report stated that coaching institutes create an impression that these exams cannot be cleared without repeated coaching sessions. Given the price and cost of these coaches, they remain out of reach for a majority of the students.
|Read more: Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET|
What can be the solution?
National Education Policy ,2020 provides some initiatives which can solve the problem. It focuses on multi-lingual learning. It also focuses on educating in the mother tongue as that is regarded as the best medium to learn any subject or concept.
There is also a need to restructure the focus of NEET such that it can encompass the varied school curriculum and regional languages. The methodology should be innovative and should not require repeated coaching.
All the steps taken together can solve the challenges related to NEET and also help realize the vision of national education policy.
Countering the Chinese Threat
Source: This post is based on the article “Countering the Chinese Threat” published in Business Standard on 16th October 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Relevance: Understanding the policies/strategies of China in the Indian context.
Synopsis: India should adopt a multi-level approach to counter the encircling of China.
Over the period of time, China has made its position stronger and has now emerged as a threat to India. Recently, RSS Chief in his Vijayadashami speech also raised concerns over the China-Pakistan-Taliban-Turkey nexus.
How China emerges as a threat to India?
China has successfully encircled India, and now it is in the process of making its grip tighter. Following are the few instances where India can see it happening:
Friendly relations: It has successfully built friendly relations with India’s neighboring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and now Afghanistan. China is also intensifying its relations with Iran, Turkey and some Central Asian republics.
But Pakistan and its economy are in their worst state. Taliban have not been recognized by the world. And Turkey, at its best, can sell few drones to Pakistan, provided Pakistan pays for it.
Propaganda: Recently, China released a series of videos from the Galwan clash of June 2020. These are Indian soldiers who were captive for three days. This is complemented by warlike commentary in Global Times or other Chinese weapons of psychological warfare. The reaction from Beijing to Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh is one such example.
Border engagement with Bhutan: Chinese media claims of a border engagement with Bhutan. The reaction shows that these talks will happen with or without India.
Ladakh position: In the 13th Corps Commander level talks, China presented its hardstand and issued offensive statements with a “take-it-or-you-won’t-even-have-it” like attitude.
Other surface areas: China has bought various dormant regions like the Barahoti plains in the Central sector and Tawang in the east to life. It has also increased its deployments in Ladakh and is in the progress of making it permanent.
Russia: Recently Russian President praised China for its stronghold as it does not need to use force to take Taiwan. This shows the emerging strong position of China.
Trade: According to Pia Krishnankutty report, in trade relations, China has a surplus of about $47 bn. It also seems poised to break the record of $63.05 billion.
How India is tackling the Chinese threat?
First, In Ladakh, China attained the dominant position through the use of the first-mover advantage. They no longer have this advantage, as was found out by China when they tried similar tactics in Tawang.
Second, every harsh step by China is pushing India closer to the USA and away from Russia. That is the reason India signed LEMOA and other strategic agreements with the USA. C Raja Mohan also anticipated that India can sign a similar deal with the French as well.
What India should do?
It is true that India needs to secure its borders to tackle the challenge. But India needs to focus on building alliances to counter the rising Chinese threat. Thus, at this critical juncture, India cannot afford a polarised society. India can fight China, but not with a divided house.
GS Paper 3
You can switch off Siri, but not the State
Source: This post is based on the article “You can switch off Siri, but not the State” published in Indian Express on 16th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
Relevance: Artificial Intelligence and need for Data regulation.
Synopsis: While there are plans for greater deployment of AI and harvesting of our data for various purposes, the lack of any rights paradigm w.r.t data protection in India is deeply unsettling.
What is ‘Artificial intelligence’ and ‘Deep learning’?
In 1956, John McCarthy wrote, “Artificial intelligence is allowing a machine to behave in such a way that it would be called intelligent if a human being behaved in such a way.” Siri, which Apple consumers are dependent on, is an example of artificial intelligence.
Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro’s new book, Klara and the Sun, book describes the process of “deep learning”. Where, artificial intelligence programmes are able to absorb information and start demonstrating reasoning of the kind which distinguishes us as humans.
How Individual’s data are captured in India?
In the world’s largest democracy of 1.3 billion people, increasingly more and more citizens have vital information on themselves stored as part of state or private data platforms.
Government Data: The government collects information for Aadhaar, for vaccinations on CoWin, from our tax returns, from our driving licence and a host of other instruments.
Private Data: Private platforms like Facebook, Twitter and a host of others collect unique information of our opinions, our likes and dislikes, our ideologies on their platforms.
How the Data is put to use and what are the concerns associated?
Based on this data, algorithms drive news and information that aligns with our beliefs to our Twitter or Facebook selves. For instance, Algorithms on OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hotstar recommend movies or serials we like based on our prior viewing.
But the use of algorithms is not just restricted to movie recommendations. It is being used in many other areas. For instance, the U.S uses AI to predict recidivism likelihood amongst prisoners and, therefore, to grant sentences based on machine predictions.
However, there are inherent issues associated with AI. For instance, the data being fed to create the algorithms reflects the opinions of the programmers feeding the information. For instance, is the zip code of where a person lives likely to indicate chances of committing fresh crimes.
What are the issues/challenges faced in India w.r.t Data collection and processing?
One, In India, citizens have no rights over their data or protection from its extraction and in general, against its misuse.
Two, there is no data protection law in place, even though a Bill is being discussed by the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology.
Three, only protection at present is the Supreme Court’s Judgment in the Puttaswamy case, where it ruled that citizens have rights to informational privacy. Yet, in the absence of legislation, this proves difficult to implement.
Rightly, Niti Aayog notes that impediments to the greater use of AI include the lack of access to data, concerns for privacy and security.
Why the absence of Data protection laws in India is a concern?
Currently, the state has unilateral rights to collect and use our data, it has also given itself the ability to regulate private parties. For instance, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 are used to mandate that WhatsApp, which uses end-to-end encryption, must enable the identification of the first originator of the information.
Further, our government is thinking about the potential and inevitability of the greater use of AI. The 2018 Niti Aayog National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence points to the greater need for AI in sectors like education, healthcare and agriculture.
The papers also make clear that the aims of state policy include creating a data marketplace a “deployable model” in which it seeks to bring “buyers and sellers of data together”.
Amid these plans for greater deployment of AI and harvesting of our data, the lack of any rights paradigm provided by law is deeply disturbing.
It violates a constitutional premise that citizens must have their speech, expression, intellectual property and liberty rights protected.
Air India sale opens up a brighter future for aviation
Source: This post is based on the article “Air India sale opens up a brighter future for aviation” published in Indian Express on 16th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Relevance: Disinvestments in loss making PSU’s
Synopsis: Disinvestment of Air India will benefit Indian economy.
Recently, the Government of India has successfully disinvested 100 per cent of its stake in Air India, 100 per cent in the low-cost airline Air India Express Ltd and 50 per cent in the Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.
The move reflects the resolve and conviction of the government to revitalise India’s loss-making PSUs by changing their governance model.
Why disinvestment in Air India is a welcome move?
One, Air India has become a loss-making PSU. The airline was losing Rs 20 crore each day with its debt having mounted to Rs 65,562 crore by August, 2021. As a result, it had lost more than Rs 5,000 crore each year since 2016. Its accumulated losses of Rs 70,875.98 crore resulted in the complete erosion of the net worth of the company.
Moreover, it has outstanding employee dues of Rs 1,332 crore as per the Justice Dharmadhikari report with employee benefit expenses being above Rs 3,000 crore each year.
Air India also has a fleet strength of 213 as of August, 2021, and incurs huge costs to maintain this fleet.
Two, Impact of the pandemic on aviation sector. Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on the aviation sector. A report by the International Civil Aviation Organisation notes that due to the pandemic, the financial losses of airlines across the world have been around $370 billion.
Three, Poor operational structure. Despite the best efforts of governments over the years, the airline’s financial condition continued to worsen in the absence of a competitive operational structure.
Four, ensures a competitive aviation market. While the air ticket fare is already rising, another airline’s exit would have further concentrated power in the market. Moreover, a debt-laden airline only adds burden on the industry, while stretching government finances. Thus, the sale of Air India, which is now to be managed by a more competition-conscious organisation, in a free aviation market, is a welcome move.
Fifth, revival of Air India will be possible only with effective professional management. In this context, the Tatas have a proven history of turning around ventures on the brink of collapse, like Jaguar Land Rover.
How it will benefit the government and Indian economy?
One, the government can now shed its tag of being the arbitrary protector of a bleeding enterprises.
Two, Air India will not pose a further burden on the government’s finances and taxpayers’ money will be put to use in productive asset. For instance, since 2009-10, 1,10,276 crore rupees of tax payers’ money has been wasted on the airline.
Three, the move will help government to disprove the allegations of protectionism which it has carried for the last seven decades, foster fair competition, rid the civil aviation market of distortions, and enhance the opportunity for travel.
Four, this move will also help towards revitalising the limping tourism sector.
Securing the States
Source: This post is based on the article “Securing the States” published in Indian Express on 16th October 2021.Syllabus– GS3: Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate
Relevance: Border management and the role of security forces
Synopsis: Border Security Force should be left to do its job.
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently issued a notification extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force from 15 km to a depth of 50 km along the international borders in three states — Punjab, Assam and West Bengal.
However, the chief minister of Punjab has condemned and called it as the Government of India’s “unilateral decision” to give additional powers to the BSF as a “direct attack on federalism”.
What does the notification say?
Previous notification: The last notification of the MHA (July 3, 2014), defined the jurisdiction of the BSF, stated that the force could operate in the entire states of Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya without any restrictions.
In Gujarat, it had jurisdiction up to a depth of 80 km and in Rajasthan up to 50 km. In Punjab, Assam and West Bengal, the BSF jurisdiction was up to a depth of 15 km only.
New rules: Under the latest notification, there is no change in the north-eastern states and Rajasthan. In Gujarat, jurisdiction has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km.
Controversial changes: In Assam, West Bengal and Punjab the BSF jurisdiction has been extended from 15 km to 50 km. It is this part of the notification which has generated controversy.
Why is the revision of BSF powers being opposed by Punjab, Bengal?
Share International borders: In the context of recent developments in the Af-Pak region, the radical groups are going to make a determined attempt to destabilise Punjab, where there have been several attempts to drop weapons from drones; for instance, the seizure of 3,000 kg of heroin that originated from Afghanistan and the killing of five army personnel in Surankote (Jammu and Kashmir).
Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, will almost certainly renew their onslaught in the border states.
Other reasons: It has already undergone a huge demographic change due to its accommodative attitude towards illegal migrants. Also, assam faces multiple problems of ethnic insurgencies, smuggling, counterfeit currency, drug trafficking, etc.
What is the need and propriety of the government order?
Previous efforts: In 2011, the UPA had brought a bill to vest the BSF with powers to search, seize and arrest in any part of the country where it was deployed. However, it had to be dropped in the face of opposition to the proposed measure.
State police capacity: the police across the country are in a state of decline and they need the assistance of central armed police forces even for maintaining normal law and order. As such, their effectiveness against the emerging trans-border threats is suspect.
It is in this context that the Government of India decided to extend the jurisdiction of the BSF in three states.
To strengthen cooperation: The latest notification only seeks to reinforce the capabilities of the state police in securing the states under section 139 of the BSF Act, which empowers the members of the force to discharge certain powers and duties within local limits of the areas specified in the schedule.
Role of BSF: The jurisdiction of the state police has neither been curtailed nor its powers reduced in any manner. It is just that the BSF will also be exercising powers of search, seizure and arrest in respect of only the Passport Act 1967, Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920 and specified sections of the Criminal Procedure code.
The BSF would be handing over the accused together with the seized contraband to the local police. The power to register FIR and investigate the case remains with the state police.
Proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act are a bad idea
Source: This post is based on the article “Proposed amendments to the Forest Conservation Act are a bad idea” published in Indian Express on 16th October 2021.Syllabus: Gs3- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Relevance: Environmental protection vs Development
Synopsis: Government seek deregulation by reducing scrutiny over certain decisions to deforest, thereby weakening safeguards.
Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued a letter documenting 14 aspects that it seeks to change in the key forest legislation, the Forest Conservation Act,1980. The proposed amendments to the FCA, work to restrict the scope of applicability of the Act.
What is the significance of the Forest Conservation Act,1980?
This law has been instrumental in reducing deforestation as it requires approval from the central government when forests have to be diverted for non-forestry purposes.
The regulatory mechanism of forest clearances allows the ministry to deliberate on whether deforestation should be permitted or not and what the conditions should be if such a permit is granted.
What is the policy stand of the present government w.r.t environmental safeguards?
The present government has been working towards amending, changing, and recrafting environmental laws in India since 2014 to improve ease of doing business.
Some contentious attempts have been the draft Environment Impact Assessment notification, amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927.
Environment Impact Assessment notification: Government sought to create exemptions to the requirement of environmental clearances for a set of industries.
Indian Forest Act, 1927: it gave the forest department wide discretionary powers, including the power to shoot at sight.
However, these amendments have been revoked because of sharp criticism from environmental movements across the country.
The recent amendments proposed to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 cannot be seen in isolation of these other attempts to remake environmental laws in India.
What are the concerns related to the proposed changes in the Forest Conservation Act, 1980?
One, Changes proposed in the current definition of forests. It aims to implicitly define what does not constitute forests by creating a set of exceptions to the Act. These exceptions include forests in border areas where strategic projects need to be built, private land where plantations are to be established, and forest land which was acquired before 1980 for the construction of railways and highways.
Currently, the definition of Forest includes land recognised as forest by the government as well as that which comes under the dictionary meaning of forest land based on the Supreme Court decision in the T N Godavarman case.
Two, more emphasis is on creating an enabling regulatory environment for setting up plantations. It argues that these plantations will not attract the provisions of the FCA. But, It does not define what the nature of these plantations should be and where they can take place.
Three, exceptions enable deforestation as opposed to regulating it. The amendments seek to deregulate certain decisions to deforest like the use of extended oil drilling for the extraction of oil and gas. Which the ministry says is environmental-friendly and thus qualifies for a legal exception. There have not been sufficient ecological studies to support this.
Four, it limits citizen participation, prevents citizen oversight on these anti-environmental decisions. The proposed amendments are listed as a set of issues without detailing what the amendments are going to be. This makes it difficult for citizens and experts to partake in a public consultation process. The proposed amendments are not translated into other languages and provide a very short window of 15 days to providing comments.
Fifth, an integral part of the forest clearance process is the requirement of consent of the gram sabha. The creation of exceptions to the requirement of forest clearances directly results in the cancellation of the application of this progressive legal provision.
What is the way forward?
The changes being proposed to the FCA need to be done in consultation with forest-dwelling communities whose livelihoods and rights are likely to be affected by the remaking of this law.
In conclusion, the deregulatory approach to changes being made to India’s environmental laws needs to be scrutinised.
Limiting deforestation should guide regulatory decision-making, not compensating with plantations.
Tackling the climate crisis
Source: This post is based on the article “Tackling the climate crisis” published in The Hindu on 12th October 2021.
Syllabus: GS3- Conservation; Disaster and disaster management.
Relevance: To understand the climate crisis.
Synopsis: The climate crisis and the steps needed to be taken in this regard in light of the recent IPCC report.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published its Sixth Assessment Report. Working Group of the report has strongly expressed demand for climate action.
Why is there a need for action?
Globally: According to the IPCC report, the past decade (2011-2020) was warmer by 1.09°C than the period from 1850 to 1900, and the1.5°C global warming threshold is likely to be breached soon.
India specific crisis– IPCC report warns India against more intense heat waves, heavy monsoons and rise in weather extremes in the future.
The Global Climate Risk Index (2021) ranked India the seventh-most affected country by weather extremes.
What are the actions taken by India for ‘mitigation’ of the climate crisis?
India is targeting 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and it has launched mega solar and green hydrogen missions.
The Shoonya programme by NITI Aayog, which aims to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles.
What is the need of the hour?
Initiatives such as National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and the ‘National Adaptation Fund’ has been taken among others.
A breakthrough on adaptation and resilience actions is needed to save developmental gains and adjust to new climate conditions.
A development-centric approach that aligns climate change, food security, and livelihood perspectives and takes into consideration regional specificities is crucial for reducing poverty and distress migrations.
What are the steps needed to be taken by India?
High-quality meteorological data: With improved early warning systems and forecasting, the crisis can be tackled better. Premier research institutes can be roped in to develop regional climate projections for robust risk assessments.
Well-functioning markets: For sustainable production systems, it is necessary to develop well-functioning markets for environmentally friendly products and disseminate them for the desired behavioural change.
Private sector participation: For investment in adaptation technologies and for designing and implementing innovative climate services and solutions in areas such as agriculture, health, infrastructure, insurance and risk management.
There is a need to protect mangroves and forests to address climate-related risks by blending traditional knowledge with scientific evidence and encourage local and non-state actors to actively participate.
Social protection schemes should be climate-sensitive to enhance the adaptive capacity of rural households.
Effective feedback mechanisms- for continuous monitoring and evaluation, effective feedback mechanisms must be developed for mid-course correction.
A more collaborative approach towards climate change adaptation is crucial. Adaptation planning requires governance at different levels to understand, plan, coordinate, integrate and act to reduce vulnerability and exposure.
It’s not fossil fuel: Coal, biomass and degraded land are main contributors to India’s air pollution
Source: This post is based on the article “Its not fossil fuel: Coal, biomass and degraded land are main contributors to India’s air pollution” in Times of India on 16th October 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3 Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Relevance: Understanding the problem of Air pollution in Delhi
Synopsis: Instead of announcing various schemes, there is a need to understand the root cause behind increasing pollution.
As air pollution became more prominent in Delhi, various political parties have made commitments and release action plans to solve this problem. Recently, the Union road transport minister promised to make Delhi free of air, water, and noise pollution in three years.
Delhi CM has also released a 10-point winter action plan. On the same lines, Environment Minister has unveiled plans for free distribution of bio-decomposer to control stubble burning.
What is the status of pollution in Delhi?
According to National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme, PM 2.5 levels have increased from 63 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) in 2012 to 141 μg/m3 in 2019. Although it has been dropped to 115 μg/m3 in 2020 due to Covid lockdowns, the PM 2.5 level is still nearly three times the national standards.
What were the steps taken by the government to address pollution?
The government took various initiatives to control the rise of pollution in Delhi. It has banned highly polluting industries and fuels, moved its public transport to CNG, closed power plants, imposed strict emissions norms on vehicles, restricted entry of heavy vehicles, experimented with odd-even, restricted gensets and distributed LPG cylinders etc. But in spite of all these, Delhi’s PM2.5 levels have more than doubled in the last decade.
What are the reasons behind the pollution in Delhi?
Pollution from neighboring states: Most of the pollution coming in Delhi is from its neigboring states like Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan.
Burning of fossil fuel, agriculture waste: In India, at least 85% of air pollution is generated from coal, biomass and garbage while petroleum products and gas contribute less than 15%.
In 2019, the country burnt 1,830 million tonnes (MT) of fossil fuels and biomass to meet its energy needs. In addition, about 100 MT of agriculture residues and 10-15 MT of garbage were burnt in the open.
Dust: Dust is the major contributor to PM 2.5. In Delhi, approx 20-30% of PM2.5 is attributed to dust generated from construction sites and roadsides and wind-blown dust from degraded lands in neighboring states.
What needs to be done?
The majority of the air pollution comes from the burning of coal or biomass and not petroleum products alone. So, the initiatives or the 10 point plan announced by the Delhi government to rid Delhi of pollution will, unfortunately, fail as it addresses only 15% of the problem. So, there is a need to focus on Coal and biomass to effectively tackle the issue.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Indian Army Contingent Departs for 17th Edition of Indo-US Joint Military Exercise “Ex Yudh Abhyas 2021” at Joint Base Elmendorf – Richardson, Alaska(USA)
Source: This post is based on the article “Indian Army Contingent Departs for 17th Edition of Indo-US Joint Military Exercise Ex Yudh Abhyas 2021” published in PIB on 14th October 2021.
What is the News?
The 17th edition of the exercise “Yudh Abhyas” will be conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska, USA.
About Exercise Yudh Abhyas
Exercise Yudh Abhyas is the largest running joint military training and defence cooperation endeavor between India and the USA.
The exercise was started in 2004 under the US Army Pacific Partnership Program. The exercise is hosted alternately between both countries.
The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between two Armies.
What are the other exercises between India and the US?
Exercise Tiger Triumph– It is a tri-service military exercise between India and the US.
Exercise Vajra Prahar: It is a Special Forces joint military training exercise. It has been conducted alternately in India and the US since 2010.
Exercise Cope India: It is a series of bilateral Air Force exercises between India and the United States.
Exercise Malabar: It is a multilateral naval exercise that includes simulated war games and combat manoeuvres. It was started in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian and the US navies. Japan joined in 2015. In 2020, the Australian Navy has participated in the exercise for the first time since 2007.
Research centre for Indian art set up in Zurich museum
Source: This post is based on the article “Research centre for Indian art set up in Zurich museum” published in The Hindu on 16th October 2021.
What is the News?
Museum Rietberg based in Zurich, Switzerland has established a unique research centre and fellowship programme named GBF Centre.
What is the purpose of the GBF Centre?
GBF Centre is a public-private partnership initiative meant for scholars, curators and artists who specialise in Indian painting.
The centre takes its name from the initials of its founders, three renowned names in art historical research, Prof. B.N. Goswamy from India, Prof. Milo Cleveland Beach from the U.S and Dr. Eberhard Fischer from Switzerland.
Aim: To enhance international scientific, artistic, and curatorial exchange on Indian art and advance the museum’s own collections through dialogues from different perspectives.
As part of the initiative, research fellows will get a chance to engage with original artworks from renowned collections for three to six months in a project of their own design.
The research fellows will work with the museum’s team of scholars as well as experts from Switzerland and Europe. Their papers will be presented at lectures and conferences and feed into the work at the Rietberg.
About Museum Rietberg
Museum Rietberg was founded in 1952. It is the only art museum for non-European art in Switzerland, and houses collections from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
It holds exhibitions, cultural events, and global collaborations. Its Indian paintings collection is ranked alongside those in London, Paris, and Berlin.
Country’s first ‘One Health’ consortium launched by D/o Biotechnology, Post COVID 19
Source: This post is based on the article “Country’s first ‘One Health’ consortium launched by D/o Biotechnology, Post COVID 19” published in PIB on 16th October 2021.
What is the News?
The Department of Biotechnology has launched a ‘One Health’ consortium in a virtual mode.
What is the purpose of the ‘One Health’ Consortium?
One Health Consortium has been launched to carry out surveillance of important viral, bacterial, & parasitic infections of zoonotic and transboundary pathogens in India.
The consortium will also look into the use of existing diagnostic tests and the development of additional methodologies to conduct surveillance and understand the spread of emerging diseases.
Organisations under ‘One Health’ Consortium
One Health Consortium comprises 27 organisations and is led by the DBT-National Institute of Animal Biotechnology, Hyderabad.
What is One Health Approach?
One Health is an approach that recognises that the health of human beings is connected to the health of animals and the environment.
Hence, it aims to design and implement programmes, policies, legislation and research in a way in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
Proposed policy may cut Alwar, Panipat from National Capital Region
Source: This post is based on the article “Proposed policy may cut Alwar, Panipat from National Capital Region” published in The Hindu on 16th October 2021.
What is the News?
The National Capital Region Planning Board(NCRPB) has approved the ‘Draft Regional Plan 2041’.
Note: NCRPB was set up in 1985 to promote balanced development of the NCR and to avoid haphazard development.
What are the key highlights of the Draft Regional Plan 2041?
New Boundary of NCR
The National Capital Region(NCR) currently spreads to around 150-175 kilometres, covering entire districts and their rural areas.
But with the approval of Regional Plan 2041, areas beyond 100 km are not likely to be the main part of the NCR.
Note: The geographical size of the region will be a contiguous circular region of a 100 km radius from Rajghat (Delhi).
Also, the decision to include or omit Tehsils lying partly within this 100 km delineation will be left to the respective state governments.
Establishment of Linear Corridors: The plan talks about establishing linear corridors beyond the 100 km radius, paving the way for development in areas falling within one kilometre from express ways, national highways and regional rapid transit systems.
Slum Free NCR: The plan calls for a future-ready, slum-free National Capital Region with an air ambulance facility and high-speed connectivity through helitaxis, road, rail and inland waterways.
Mass Transit Rail System(MTRS): The Plan proposes to explore the feasibility of a 30-minute Mass Transit Rail System (MTRS) from the nearest NCR boundaries to Delhi.
Around 1.3 billion people at high risk of conflict and displacement: Report
Source: This post is based on the article “Around 1.3 billion people at high risk of conflict and displacement: Report” published in Down To Earth on 10th October 2021.
What is the News?
Institute of Economics and Peace(IEP), an international think tank has released a report titled “Ecological Threat Report (ETR) 2021”.
About Ecological Threat Report(ETR)
This is the second edition of the Ecological Threat Report (ETR), which analyses 178 independent states and territories.
The report assesses threats relating to food risk, water risk, rapid population growth, temperature anomalies and natural disasters.
What are the key findings of the Ecological Threat Report?
Relationship between ecological degradation and conflict
There is a cyclic relationship between ecological degradation and conflict. It is a vicious cycle whereby degradation of resources leads to conflict and the ensuing conflict leads to further resource degradation.
Hence, breaking the cycle requires improving ecological resource management and socio-economic resilience.
Ecological Risk Countries: Around 1.26 billion people across 30 countries are suffering from both extreme ecological risk and low levels of resilience.
The most vulnerable countries are clustered in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Food Insecurity: Global food insecurity has increased by 44% since 2014, affecting 30.4 % of the world’s population in 2020, and is likely to rise further. As a region, South Asia is the worst-placed.
Water Stress: By 2040, over 5.4 billion people will live in countries facing extreme water stress. Lebanon and Jordan are the countries most at risk.
Rapid Population Growth: Eleven countries are projected to double their population between 2021 and 2050. They are all in sub-Saharan Africa.
Natural Disasters and Warmer Temperature: From 1990 to 2020, a total of 10,320 natural disasters occurred globally. Flooding has been the most common natural disaster, accounting for 42% of the total disaster count.
In 2020, 177 countries and territories recorded a warmer average temperature compared to their historical average temperatures.
About Institute for Economics & Peace(IEP)
It is one of the world’s leading think tanks headquartered in Sydney, Australia. It also releases reports such as the Global Peace Index and Global Terrorism Index.
PM launches 7 defence PSUs carved out of OFB
Source: This post is based on the following articles
- “PM launches 7 defence PSUs carved out of OFB” published in Business Standard on 16th October 2021.
- “Aim is to make India a military power on its own strength: PM” published in The Hindu on 16th October 2021.
- “Seven new defence companies, carved out of OFB” published in PIB on 15th October 2021.
What is the News?
The Prime Minister has inaugurated seven new defence public sector undertakings(DPSUs) incorporated after the dissolution of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
In June 2021, the Union Government had approved a plan for Ordnance Factory Board(OFB) Corporatisation.
As per the plan, OFBs will be dissolved. It will be replaced by seven new Defense Public Sector Undertakings(DPSUs). Each undertaking will have a specific manufacturing role.
The 41 factories under the OFB will be subsumed under one or the other of the seven new companies. These all will be 100% government-owned public sector undertakings(PSU).
Click Here to Read more about OFB Corporatization
What are the seven new DPSUs?
Advanced Weapons and Equipment India (AWE) Limited: AWE India is based in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. It is involved in the manufacturing of small arms and weapons for the armed forces and police.
Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (AVANI): It is the biggest among all the seven new DPSUs. It is located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Gliders India Limited (GIL): This company has a registered address in Kanpur. It is involved in the manufacture of textiles.
India Optel Limited (IOL): It is headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. It is involved in the manufacturing of electrical machinery and apparatus.
Munitions India Limited (MIL): It is based in Pune, Maharashtra. It works to manufacture general-purpose machinery.
Troop Comforts Limited (TCL): The company manufactures apparel except those made of fur, It is also based in Kanpur.
Yantra India Limited (YIL): It is based out of Nagpur, Maharashtra and manufactures components such as shells of ammunition.
Terms to know:
India slips 7 spots to rank 101 among 116 countries on Global Hunger Index
Source: This post is based on the articles
- “Hunger Index: poor ranking devoid of ground reality and facts, says Govt” published in The Hindu on 16th October 2021.
- “India slips 7 spots to rank 101 among 116 countries on Global Hunger Index” published in Down To Earth on 15th October 2021.
- “Statement of Ministry of Women and Child Development on Global Hunger Report 2021” published in PIB on 15th October 2021.
What is the News?
Global Hunger Index 2021 has been released and the government has challenged India’s poor ranking and the methodology used, calling it “devoid of ground reality and facts”.
The data used to come up with the Index this time was from 2016–2020.
What are the key findings of the “Global Hunger Index”-2021?
Findings regarding India
India’s score on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in the recent two decades has declined by 10 points. It slipped to 28.8 in 2021, from 38.8 in 2000.
It ranked India at 101st position of 116 countries. India was ranked 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released last year.
Globally, India ranked among the worst in ‘child wasting’ or ‘weight for height’. Its performance was worse than Djibouti and Somalia.
Report has shown increase in the value of ‘proportion of population undernourished’ from 14.0% for the previous period 2017-19 to 15.3% for the latest period 2018-20.
According to the report, only 15 countries fare worse than India. India was also behind most of the neighbouring countries. Pakistan was placed at 92, Nepal and Bangladesh at 76 and Sri Lanka at 65.
Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
The level of hunger was ‘serious’ in 36 countries besides India. In nine countries severity was ‘alarming’. It was ‘extremely alarming’ in Somalia, which ranked 116 on the Index this year.
What are the allegations of the government against the report?
It is the FAO report used for assessing undernourishment that the Government has questioned.
The results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll have been questioned by the Government that has been conducted for undernourishment.
According to FAO report ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’, four countries of this region — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka-despite covid 19, were able to improve their position on the indicator ‘proportion of undernourished population during the period 2018-20 over 2017-19.
What is the ‘Global Hunger Index’?
It is an annual report jointly published by ‘Concern Worldwide’ and ‘Welthungerhilfe’.
GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators — child wasting, child stunting, child mortality and undernourishment.
|Indicators||Data sourced from|
|Child Mortality||U.N. Inter- agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation|
|Child Wasting and Stunting||Joint database of UNICEF, WHO, World Bank|
The prevalence of undernourishment in a population is calculated in a scientific manner that includes habitual dietary energy intake levels, information on the population structure and median height in each sex and age.
Read More: Global Hunger Index
COVID-19 reverses decades of progress in TB elimination, India worst-hit: WHO
Source: This post is based on the article “COVID-19 reverses decades of progress in TB elimination, India worst-hit: WHO” published in Down To Earth on 14th October 2021.
What is the News?
World Health Organization (WHO) released “Global TB report” which stated that the world suffered huge reverses in progress towards tuberculosis (TB) elimination in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic. India has been the worst-hit.
What are the key findings of the report?
Detection of new cases-The biggest impact was felt in terms of detection of new cases. From 2016-2019, the number of new cases rose continuously, but fell to 20% in 2020. This was due to cases going undetected because of lack of access during the pandemic.
India contributed the biggest drop in detection of new cases. Some 41% of the total number of cases that dropped in 2020, as compared to 2019, came from India. From 2013-19, the gap between the people actually infected and correctly diagnosed with the TB decreased continuously and India and Indonesia were the biggest contributors to this achievement. Now, these very countries are the two biggest laggards.
Increase in TB deaths- Overall, the deaths have gone back to the level of 2017.people dying with TB without HIV co-infection and those who suffered with HIV co-infection registered increased number of deaths in 2020.
Death globally- TB was ranked the 13th leading cause of death till 2019. Because of the huge setbacks, it is now estimated to be the second leading cause, only after COVID-19.
Drug-resistant TB- Number of people provided with treatment for drug-resistant TB went down by 15 per cent in 2020, as compared to the previous year. However, the burden of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) remained stable.
What are the reasons cited for this condition?
Report includes both supply- and demand-side disruptions to TB diagnostic and treatment services.
A large number of cases went undetected due to highly curtailed access to diagnostics and restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.
Reduced health system capacity to continue to provide services.
Less willingness and ability to seek care in the context of lockdowns and associated restrictions on movement.
Concerns about the risks of going to healthcare facilities during the pandemic.
Stigma associated with similarities in the symptoms related to TB and COVID-19.
What are the milestone targets on TB to be achieved?
‘End TB Strategy’ milestones
TB disease burden- A 35% reduction in the number of TB deaths by 2020 was the target. However, the global reduction in the corresponding time period has only been 9.2 per cent.
TB incidence rate- Strategy aimed to reduce the TB incidence rate to 20% by 2020, as compared with the levels in 2015. But the target achieved till 2020 was only 11%.
Preventive treatment- People suffering from conditions that make them vulnerable to TB, particularly an HIV infection, are also provided preventive treatment. This segment also saw a decline.
What is the expected future trend?
Due to spillover effects, the years 2021 and 2022 can see further deterioration in TB condition. TB mortality in 2021 is projected to be much higher than in 2020 in all of the 16 countries that accounted for almost all of the global drop in TB notifications.
To improve the diagnosis, the report said countries need to increase testing through bacteria culture or rapid tests. The share of rapid tests especially needs to go up as only 33 per cent of total cases were diagnosed through it.
Why Nasa is launching robo archaeologist named Lucy
Source: This post is based on the article “Why Nasa is launching robo archaeologist named Lucy” published in “The Times of India”on 16th October 2021.
What is the News?
NASA is about to launch a probe toward clusters of asteroids along Jupiter’s orbital path. They are known as the Trojan swarms. It represents the final unexplored regions of asteroids in the solar system.
More about the news
The spacecraft, a deep-space robotic archaeologist named Lucy will study the geology, composition, density and structure of the Trojans.
After a six-year cruise, Lucy will fly close to seven Trojan asteroids by 2033.
What is the aim of the project?
NASA is interested in finding primordial organic material on asteroids because billions of years ago, they may have seeded Earth with the chemical ingredients necessary for life.
What are Trojan asteroids?
Trojan asteroids are the asteroids that orbit around the Sun near the orbit of Jupiter. These asteroids move in their own stable orbits in fixed points either ahead or behind the orbit of Jupiter (called Lagrangian Points)
Other asteroid missions
Dawn mission (NASA) orbited Ceres and Vesta the two largest worlds in the belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Hayabusa mission (JAXA-Japan) probed asteroid “Ryugu”
OSIRIS-REX(NASA) spacecraft probed asteroid “Bennu” and collected samples from there.
Read More: Lucy mission