9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 18th, 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 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

The founder of a Mini India

Source: This post is based on the article “The founder of a Mini India” published in The Hindu on 18h October 2021

Syllabus: GS1 important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

Relevance: To understand the contributions of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Synopsis: As India seeks to embark on an inclusive development agenda, it is important to recognize the role of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Introduction

Recently Aligarh Muslim University completed 100 years of its foundation. Its founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was born on October 17, 1817. His focus was on utilizing education as a tool to build an inclusive society and a progressive nation.

How did he use education as a tool for empowerment?

He believed that National progress depends on the education and training of the people. So we must create a national system of education to educate our people in science and technology.

He welcomed everyone in his fight against illiteracy. He wanted to unshackle Hindus and Muslims from medieval thinking towards reason and progress.

How does India know that he promoted inter-faith harmony?

He was living in the era of Hindu Muslim tension being promoted by the British. It was an era of transition where Muslims were left behind as they were still struggling with the debate of religion vs science.

But he was a true advocate of Hindu Muslim unity. Sir Syed led this by example. During the Bismillah ceremony of his grandson Ross Masood, Sir Syed placed him in the lap of his friend Raja Jai Kishan Das. When Sir Syed established a madrasa in Ghazipur, he elected Raja Dev Narayan Singh as patron of the school. Sanskrit was one of the five languages taught at this school. The managing committee of MAO College comprised 22 members of whom nine were Hindus.

Sir Syed also laid the foundation of comparative religious studies and revived the spirit of Dara Shikoh’s philosophy — to bring major communities of India together by finding commonalities in their religions. Section 5 (2)(b) of the AMU Act empowers the university to promote the study of religions, civilization and culture of India.

What can people learn from Sir Syed?

When India emphasizes the principles of ‘nation first’ and ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’,. Indians should remember that Sir Syed established AMU with a rational, progressive and scientific mindset. So, the country should also move towards such a mindset.


Gandhi and Savarkar shared goal of independence, differed on means

Source: This post is based on the article “Gandhi and Savarkar shared goal of independence, differed on means” published in “Indian Express” on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS1: Modern Indian history significant events, personalities, issues.

Relevance: To understand the contribution of different thoughts of personalities in gaining Indian independence.

Synopsis: How Gandhi and Savarkar shared similarities and dissimilarities for the same cause.

Introduction

The Indian freedom struggle consisted of different ideologies and viewpoints, encompassing the right, left and centre. It was a broad socio-economic, cultural movement to shape the idea of India, besides politically freeing India.

There were reformists, revolutionaries, constitutionalists, loyalists, progressivists and even regressive personalities.

What are the parallels between Gandhi and Savarkar?

Religious identity: Both were conscious of their Hindu identity and were orthodox Hindus.

On language: Both advocated for Hindi as a common language for the unification of Bharat.

Social reformers: Both opposed untouchability. For instance, Savarkar was engaged in social reform project in Ratnagiri. He worked to uproot the caste system, advocated inter-caste dining, inter-caste and interregional marriages, widow remarriage, female education and temple entry for all castes.

Even Gandhiji was for reforming Hinduism from within and eradicating caste-based differences.

As authors: Both were authors and wrote extensively on contemporary political and social issues. Both wrote books in the same year, 1909. Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj” and Savarkar’s The “Indian War for Independence” on the 1857 uprising.

Partition: Both were against the idea of dividing India.

What were the differences in their opinions?

State: Gandhi championed the cause of Ramrajya-an ideal state where equality and justice prevail. For Savarkar, it was the Hindu Rashtra in which anyone who is born in the motherland and loves his country is a Hindu irrespective of their religion.

For him, Hinduness was not sectarian or religious, but a cultural identity emanating from a shared history and bloodline.

Complete independence: Savarkar was unambiguous in his conception of independence — complete independence. Gandhi developed the idea of complete independence gradually. The resolution for complete independence moved in 1927 Madras session was even opposed by Gandhiji.

Uprising of 1857: Savarkar hailed 1857 as the first war of independence. Interestingly, Karl Marx also called this the first war of independence in his articles in the New York Tribune. Gandhi did not have any clear enunciation of the uprising of 1857.

Means vs Ends: For Gandhi, the end had to be justified through the means. Non-violence, Satyagraha, “changing the mind of the oppressor” was essential.

For Savarkar, the goal of complete and immediate independence was more important than the means.

On religious rituals: Gandhi was more assertive — he described himself as a Sanatani Hindu and cow worshipper.

Savarkar was more progressive in his approach — he was averse to the ritualistic aspects of the Hindu religion.

In conclusion, any freedom struggle has two aims. One is to achieve independence from colonialism; the other is seeding and nurturing the ideas and values on the basis of which nation-building is to be done. Irrespective of the differences, the two great personalities gave their contribution for the same purpose of “Bharat”.

GS Paper 2

Three dark clouds over the Bretton Woods twins

Source: This post is based on the article “Three dark clouds over the Bretton Woods twins” published in “Livemint” on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS2: Global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: To understand the working of IMF and World Bank.

Synopsis: In light of the latest issues of the pandemic, economic recovery etc., how Bretton Woods can remain relevant.

Introduction

Time and again, Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and World Bank) have been accused of bias towards the West, more specifically with regard to the USA.

Recently, the ‘Fund-Bank’ annual meeting discussed the issues plaguing the whole world as they affect rich and poor countries alike, though the degree of impact may differ.

What are the recent challenges in front of Bretton Woods institutions?

The controversy over the World Bank’s Doing Business report, whereby it is alleged that senior leadership at the bank manipulated the index’s data in response to pressure from China and Saudi Arabia among others, casted further mistrust on these institutions.

Read more: The end of Ease of Doing Business Rankings: Reasons and implications – Explained, pointwise

Global economic recovery- The latest edition of the IMF’s ‘World Economic Outlook states, that the pandemic has widened the existing economic gap between rich and poor nations.

Its ‘Fiscal Monitor’ says that while advanced economies used supportive fiscal policy to kick-start growth and employment, the pandemic’s impact has squeezed the fiscal space for poor nations, thereby imperilling their growth prospects for some time to come. The uneven pace of vaccination across economies worsens the malady.

The visible effects of climate change and the US Federal Reserve’s monetary-policy’s proposed hawkish (higher interest rates) stand has magnified global economic risks.

How Bretton Woods duo can make meaningful contributions?

It needs to provide higher volumes of concessional funding at an accelerated rate, either directly or by precipitating financial flows from other agencies.

By minimizing the influence of America’s domestic politics or by dropping their past ideological commitments and practice true multilateralism.


GS Paper 3

The final frontier of space technology

Source: This post is based on the article “The final frontier of space technology” published in Business Standard on 18th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3- Awareness in the fields of Space.

Relevance:  Use of Technology in space sector

Synopsis:  Emerging tech is helping leverage space for various terrestrial uses.

Introduction

Technological innovations are now driving space activities and research. The space industry is using technologies like 5G, advanced satellite systems, 3D printing, big data, and quantum technology in its activities according to a report by Analytics Insight.

It is also helping scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs reduce project time and cost. Further, implementing advanced space technology is critical since several services like weather forecasts, remote sensing, satellite television, and long-distance communication rely on space infrastructure.

Two critical shifts that are driving the space industry are miniaturisation of satellites and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for understanding the dynamics of the universe.

How the miniaturisation of satellites will be beneficial?

Reduced Latency: Smaller satellites orbit closer to the earth and are more flexible than larger ones. Proximity to earth means that the transmission time of data to the base station is faster.

Saves Energy: The energy required to run such satellites is lower.

Produce High resolution images: As camera technology has also miniaturised, the satellites can take much better photos of the earth with higher resolution than large satellites which orbit much higher.

Ease of Maintenance: Since the cost is lower, these can be replaced easily, or their software updated more efficiently.

Sustained Mass production: Miniaturised satellites allow for cheaper designs and advancements in industrial technologies enable their mass production.

Better alternative: Startups develop small satellites that enable space companies to conduct missions that are difficult with large satellites. Moreover, small satellites are well-suited for use in proprietary wireless communications networks, as well as for scientific observation, data gathering, and monitoring the earth using the GPS.

How the use of AI will benefit Space sector?

The use of AI and machine learning (ML) in space activities helps to understand the data being generated by satellites and terrestrial observatories.

Scientists and astronomers are constantly trying to make sense of space phenomena and events. It can take months and years to understand spatial activities.

Algorithms can be trained to understand signals and analyse the different types of lights which are generated by stars and planets.

Researchers say that the accuracy of reading the data can be over 90 per cent, often higher than by humans and in less time.

For example, the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile which is expected to become operational this year will use a 3200-mega pixel camera to observe the night skies. It will photograph the entire sky every night and store over 80 terabytes of images every time.

Over a period of 10 years, the car-sized camera of the observatory will capture 60 petabytes of data. No scientist or even a team can possibly analyse or understand this data without the help of trained algorithms.

What lies ahead for India?

The launch of the Indian Space Association can accelerate the domestic ecosystem build on the success of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Many startups in India are at the leading edge of using emerging tech for space exploration and knowledge generation. The use of such technologies will be unique for India especially with the opening up of geo-spatial mapping for the private sector.


Liberalising capital account

Source: This post is based on the article “Liberalising capital account” published in Business Standard on 18th October 2021.

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

Relevance:  Capital account liberalisation.

Synopsis:  Further Liberalisation of capital account would increase risks.

Introduction

India has been progressively liberalising its capital account and further opening up would depend on a combination of factors. Deputy Governor T Rabi Sankar in a speech last week talked about various issues in this context.

What are the recent steps taken by RBI with respect to capital account liberalisation?

India took a big step towards further liberalising the capital account last year with the introduction of the fully accessible route (FAR) for government securities. This essentially removed the limit on non-resident investment in specified government securities.

The channel has been opened up with the objective of getting government bonds included in the global bond indices and allow the government to tap foreign savings to finance the fiscal deficit.

Further, Portfolio investment in the equity market is now practically unrestricted aside from sectoral caps. Foreign direct investment is also broadly open except in some sectors.

Why India has to act cautiously w.r.t capital account liberalisation?

Greater integration with international markets can broaden the base for Indian assets and help push up economic activity. But it can also increase risks to financial stability. Therefore, it’s important for policymakers to consider the trade-offs at different levels of development.

India has moved cautiously on this front to minimise the level of risk involved and should continue with this approach.

Why India needs significant fiscal and financial sector reforms before further liberalisation of the capital account?

Firstly, the Indian financial system is not prepared for full capital account convertibility. The recommendations of the Tarapore Committee (2006) in this regard have not been implemented, either. Capital account convertibility will require integration and development of financial markets.

Secondly, the combined fiscal deficit over the years remained elevated and the situation has only worsened because of the Covid crisis. A higher sustained fiscal deficit with elevated levels of debt can increase financial stability risks.

Thirdly, the financial sector has also not been reformed to the desired extent. The banking system, for instance, is still dominated by public sector banks with differential regulations.

Fourthly, greater capital account convertibility would also run counter to India’s trade policy, which is becoming increasingly protectionist.

Fifthly, besides, currency management will become more difficult for the central bank. A significant real currency appreciation would affect India’s competitiveness and increase risks.


Nuclear power: A climate response that gets short shrift

Source: This post is based on the article “Nuclear power: A climate response that gets short shrift” published in Livemint on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus- GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Relevance: Need of nuclear power generation

Synopsis: There is need to move away from fossil fuels, but the current green energy paradigm needs some serious examination.

Introduction

The world has been dealing with a power and energy crisis and the factors that caused this emergency are complex and differ somewhat from country to country.

What does the analysis of green energy paradigm reveal?

Instability: The solar and wind energy are dependent upon the external conditions (shining of the sun or blowing of the wind) and are intermittent in nature. Hence, in the very best conditions, solar and wind farms can never generate power round the clock, they require fossil-fuel back-up.

For instance, today, 24% of Britain’s power comes from wind. But the country saw an unexpected “windless summer” this year, which is one of the reasons for the power crisis in the UK.

Among EU nations, Germany has been shutting down its coal-fired and nuclear power stations. But recently, it faced a coal and natural gas crunch.

Why developing nuclear power is a better option?

Less cost of power: Germany’s household-sector electricity price is the highest in the EU: $0.37 per kilowatt-hour (KwH). In France, it’s $0.19. In 2019, Germany emitted 350 grams of carbon dioxide for every KwH generated. France emitted 56 grams, six times less. Power in France is much cheaper and cleaner.

Nuclear power: In 2020, nuclear power made up 78% of the energy France generated, and renewables 19%. Fossil fuels accounted for only 3%.

Zero-emission: According to US government data, a typical 1,000-megawatt wind farm requires 360 times more land than a similar-capacity nuclear facility, while a solar plant requires 75 times more area. Apart from the ecological damage that wind and solar projects can cause, it is estimated that 500,000 birds are being killed every year by collision with wind turbines in the US. This number can only rise.

Less waste: Today, the risks due to radiation exposure are fully known and there are reliable and safe ways to dispose off the nuclear waste. All the waste produced by the US nuclear industry over 60 years can fit into a seven-metre-high stack of containers in a soccer field. Coal plants spew out that volume of waste every hour.

Clean energy trap: California, the most ‘progressive’ state in the US, is a fascinating case study. California has been shutting down nuclear plants and aims to be nuclear-free by 2025. However, one of the consequences has been rising emissions due to more dependence on natural gas and more fossil fuel for back-up. Also, while the price of electricity has stayed flat for the rest of the US over the last 10 years, in California it has risen more than 60%.

Where India stands in terms of nuclear power?

Nuclear deal: The boldest decision that Dr Manmohan Singh took in his 10 years as prime minister was to sign the Indo-US nuclear deal. But, due to the usual protests and short-term political thinking, not much seems to have happened since then. Today, only 3% of the power India generates is nuclear.

In 2021, the government announced that India would triple its nuclear power capacity in the next 10 years.

Thorium availability: India imports much of the uranium it uses, which is both expensive and geopolitically tricky. But it has immense reserves of thorium. Hence, there is a need to invest ambitiously in projects that convert thorium to fissile uranium and produce power.

What is the way forward?

First, develop very-large-scale cost-effective technology to store the power produced by renewable resources.

Second, make the right choices between various low-carbon technologies, all of which have some social and environmental impact.


Climate justice and India’s choice

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate justice and India’s choice” published in Business Standard on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Issues related to climate change

Relevance:  Climate change and Decarbonisation and its impact on developing countries

Synopsis:  India should equally weigh its stand on Climate justice with the cost of carbon-heavy future.

Introduction

The world is facing a difficult situation with cutting back on CO2 pollution. Global emissions of CO2 today are at about 55 gigatons a year. To avoid catastrophic events with a reasonable probability, emissions have to go to zero by about 2055. Under business as usual, emissions are projected to grow to about 80 gigaton per year in 2055.

While many countries have announced their Zero transition targets, India stands firmly with the principle of ‘Climate justice’. The corollary of this fact is that India need not worry about carbon emissions until we become a developed country. But in the view of the author, India needs to reconsider this decision.

How India is faring in controlling carbon emissions?

Indian emissions through history make up 3.1 per cent of the CO2 in the air. However, India went up from about 4 per cent of global emissions in 2000 to about 7 per cent today and India is the fourth-largest source of emissions.

On a flow basis, India’s annual emissions rose from about 1 gigaton per year in 2001 to 2.6 gigatons per year today, with a compound growth rate of about 5 per cent per year.

While there is ample sunlight in India, the carbon intensity of energy production has actually grown in recent decades.

Why India’s aim for a carbon-heavy future needs to be reconsidered?

The first is the cost of capital: The global financial system has changed in ways that interfere with carbon-heavy growth paths for India. Real sector investment projects in India are now planned in an international asset pricing environment.

Vast resources of asset managers worldwide have been reshaped into the ESG world. As a consequence, the cost of capital is high for a carbon-intensive electricity project and low for a renewable energy project. (ESG stands for Environment, Social and Governance. ESG is becoming a crucial factor in the assessment and evaluation of potential investments in the context of sustainability).

If Indian firms try to use fossil fuels, they will face a high cost of capital in doing so. ESG investment also demands that big companies emit less carbon in their upstream suppliers. For instance, a firm like Google does not buy thermal electricity.

The new world of ESG-inflected investment pushes energy firms and energy customers in India to not emit CO2 (directly or indirectly).

The second is the  social movement in developed countries against carbon emission will reshape international relations:

A Pew Research Centre survey in 17 advanced economies, published last month, found that 72 per cent felt global climate change would personally harm the respondent, and 80 per cent were willing to make changes in life and work in response.

These strong majorities have reshaped the views of First World politicians who face democratic accountability and have to follow the shifting views of the median voter. It could lead to an intensification of the rules shaping ESG investment. Climate questions will become a part of the overall give and take of foreign policy.

What is the way forward?

As the world organises itself to remove emissions by 2055, the reshaped international relations environment implies there are gains for India from de-carbonising. Hence, India should prioritise decarbonisation.


Powering the energy sector

Source: This post is based on the article “Powering the energy sector” published in The Hindu on 18h October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: Understanding the need for reforms in the Energy sector.

Synopsis: The Electricity (Amendment) Bill will be a game-changer if we implement its provisions successfully.

Introduction

India’s energy sector is struggling to meet the development needs of people. Also, DISCOMS are fighting with various problems ranging from poor infrastructure, ineffective operations to State level tariff policies. Under this backdrop, the Government of India released Electricity (Amendment) 2020 to bring reforms in this sector.

What are the provisions of Electricity (Amendment) 2020?

More options: The bill aims to provide more options to consumers to choose their service provider or switch their power supplier

Read more: Draft Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill 2020

What should the government do further?

There is a need to encourage the use of rooftop solar plants. Also, proposing penalties for non-compliance with renewable purchase obligations can help push renewable energy consumption and increase its demand.

Electrical energy should be covered under GST as this will enable companies to avail input credit.

Other solutions can be the installation of smart meters and smart grid which will reduce the AT&C losses.


Coal India, the fall guy for power crisis

Source: This post is based on the article “Coal India, the fall guy for power crisispublished in Indian Express on 18h October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure.

Relevance: Understanding the reasons behind shortage in the coal sector.

Synopsis: Instead of blaming Coal India, there is a need to recognize its efforts to meet the demand for coal, and its help in generating power at affordable tariffs.

Introduction

The post-Covid economic recovery has led to a major increase in the demand for power, both in India and globally. India’s coal-based power plants are struggling with a shortage of coal stocks to meet the end demands.

What are the reasons behind it?

The reason behind this shortage is both structural and operational.

Structural Changes

Allocation to private sources: The government appointed the committee in the early 1990s. It concluded that Coal India Limited (CIL) is not sufficient enough to meet the need of excess demands in case if needs arise in the future. So, the government amended Coal Mines Nationalisation Act (CMNA) in 1993.

Under this, it allocates 200 coal blocks of 28 bn tons from CIL and allocates them to end-users (mostly private) for the captive mining of coal. But unfortunately, they failed to produce any significant quantity of coal to meet the rapidly rising power capacity between 2007 and 2016

Production: There is the requirement that coal production should produce at least 500mn tons per annum (mtpa). But, in reality, it never proceeds 60 mtpa.

Operational Changes

Mandatory Requirements: Central Electricity Authority mandates a coal reserve of 15-30 days, which was lacking.

Non-Payment: The non-payment of dues by the power companies of the coal companies has led to poor finances of these companies. According to the reports, 18000 crore is due on power companies.

Shortage: The continued shortage of domestic coal production has forced India to import about 200 mn tonnes of coal. China’s increased consumption, driving international coal prices upwards, this has led to reduced coal imports in India.

Internal problem: Many of the staff members got infected or lost their lives with covid. This has led to a shortage of employees.

Geographical Impact: Monsoon also added disruptions in the mining process.

Read more: Coal crisis in India – Explained, pointwise
What is the performance of CIL?

Though CIL has increased its output by 5.8% in the 1st half of 2021-22, the consumption also increased.

With monsoon receding, CIL has started ramping up production and supply will soon meet the demand. It has already increased its coal offtake to more than 1.5MT per day. Apart from this, CIL has also been able to replace imported coal with domestic coal. The cost of CIL coal is still cheaper than imported coal despite various taxes and transport costs.

What should India do?

CIL has performed excellently despite policy measures in the 90s which took away 28 billion tonnes of coal. So, instead of blaming, CIL needs to be appreciated for its performance and for providing light to the people.


Our farm income and nutrition challenge amid climate change

Source: This post is based on the article “Our farm income and nutrition challenge amid climate change” published in “Livemint” on 18th October 2021.Syllabus: GS3: cropping patterns in various parts of the country

Relevance: To understand issues plaguing the agriculture sector and the simultaneous need of protecting the environment.

Synopsis: Need and ways to scale up sustainable agriculture’ practices (SAP’s).

Introduction

The global climate change negotiations at ‘CoP-26’ of ‘UNFCCC’ is scheduled for last October. It is in this context, the role of agriculture in environmental degradation and vulnerability of farmers needs to be seen.

What are the vulnerabilities of Indian farmers due to climate change?

India is one of the most vulnerable, with its farmers facing higher temperatures, less predictable rains, frequent droughts and cyclones. These are expected to get worsen over time.

Read more: Challenges like climate change call for farm research to take centre stage, just like during the Green Revolution
What model of agriculture is prevalent in India?

The “Green Revolution” based agriculture practices followed till now, helped India overcome the food crisis, however it is reaching its limits.

What are the shortfalls seen in “Green Revolution”?

In rain-fed areas, its impact is marginal.

In irrigated areas, farmers now use 3.5 times more fertilizer than in 1970 to get the same output. Of this,78% of fertilizer is lost to the environment, causing soil, air and water pollution.

What are the consequences seen in the model?

Income growth in agriculture is the slowest among all sectors of India’s economy. Apart from that, input-intensive agriculture has made us calorie-secure, about 22% of adults are underweight and under the age of five 38% of children are stunted and 59% are Anaemic.

What model of agriculture is the need of the hour?

Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW) identified 16 ‘sustainable agriculture‘ practices (SAP’s), such as organic farming, natural farming, integrated farming systems, agro-forestry and precision farming.

These could be economically remunerative, socially inclusive and environmentally benign.

What are the challenges in the success of ‘SAP’s’?

Farmers-No single SAP has been adopted by more than 4% of farmers.

Central government support is limited. India’s National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture receives only 0.8% of the agricultural budget.

The lack of state support limits the mainstreaming of sustainable agriculture.

What are the impacts of SAP’s seen?

The impact is seen on incomes, yields, nutrition and the environment.

Natural and organic farming has improved farmers’ net income by reducing inputs costs and increasing crop diversification, leading to improved nutrition security and incomes for small and landless farmers.

They have raised annual farm output by unlocking additional cropping seasons in rain-fed areas.

These are also helping improve farm resilience against climate change. In 2018, naturally-farmed paddy and banana fields withstood heavy cyclones in Andhra Pradesh, whereas adjoining fields with conventionally harvested crops were devastated.

How India can incentivize SAP’s?

Capacity building-Farmers need hand-holding initially. To accelerate this process, the government must leverage the presence of more than 1,000 civil society organizations promoting farmer-to-farmer capacity building for sustainable agriculture.

Technology adoption to mechanize labour-intensive activities associated with SAPs. Incentivize innovators and entrepreneurs through channels like the Atal Innovation Mission to encourage the development of farm implements for SAPs.

Support local micro-businesses through state livelihood missions to produce and sell ready-made inputs such as vermicompost and organic fertilizers.

National policy focus should be shifted from food to nutrition security, looking beyond yields. Government can support transition and bear short-term losses. Instead of input-based subsidies for fertilizer and power, the focus should be to incentivize outcomes like nutrition output, water conserved or desertification reversed.

Research and development-SAP’s impact studies comparing these with conventional farming across agro-climatic zones could inform further scale-ups of SAPs, even in irrigated areas.

In conclusion, India should start promoting sustainable agriculture, particularly in rain-fed areas—home to 60% of Indian farmers. Rain-fed farmers practise low-resource agriculture, have low productivity, and stand to be the chief gainers from this transition.


Digitisation of farm data needs awareness

Source: This post is based on the article “Digitisation of farm data needs awareness” published in “Business Standard” on 18th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS3: e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Relevance:To understand the need to digitise agriculture related information.

Synopsis: Digitisation of data relating to farmers, and how private participation can strengthen agriculture.

Introduction

Government recently roped in corporate houses on a pro-bono (free of charge) basis in select areas for one year for digitisation of data related to Indian agriculture. These would be scaled up if found useful.

A ‘Digital Agricultural Mission‘ has also been launched for the period 2021-25 to promote the use of novel technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain (hack-proof) data upkeep, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), drones, and robots.

What it aims to achieve?

The objective is to enable stakeholders in the farm sector value chain, from production to consumption, to take informed decisions about their professional and business matters.

This database is proposed to be integrated with the land records of farmers to create a national data resource.

What are its benefit to farmers?

Farmers would get digital access to timely, situation-specific, and problem-solving know-how. They would also receive tips on what crops and their varieties to grow, and when and where to sell their produce to realise the best prices.

A unique identity for each farmer (Farmer ID) would be created for better targeting of cash benefits and other kinds of support and services provided by the Centre and state governments.

What is the current status of agri-digitization?

The agriculture-related data of about 55 million farmers has already been digitised. This number is expected to be 100 million by the end of the year.

How can the private sector help in agri-productivity?

Jio provides soil tests and water availability-based advisories to cultivators and facilitate their direct interaction with farm scientists.

ITC has proposed to provide customised digital “site-specific crop advisory service” and also handhold farmers to enable them carrying out the suggestions on their farms.

CISCO has already created digital agricultural infrastructure and has linked it with other information technology and artificial intelligence tools for knowledge-sharing on improved farm practices.

NCDEX is planning to disseminate information relating to crop arrivals, price trends, and locations of warehouses.

What are some of the apprehensions associated with private sector participation?

The access of private companies to the entire data, including private information, related to individual cultivators impinges on the right to privacy.

There are chances of misrepresentation of land records, most of which are in bad shape at present.

The potential corporatisation of agriculture might subjugate the interests of actual land tillers.

What steps has the government taken to allay these apprehensions?

A specific policy is being drafted to regulate collecting, preserving, and protecting agricultural data.

The government assured that the private data of farmers, though readily accessible to them for their own use, would not be shared with any organisation.

Way forward:

It would be advisable for the agriculture ministry to allay their fears concerning the digitisation of farm data. A well-organised awareness campaign is perhaps the need of the hour.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Abortion allowed till 24 weeks of pregnancy in special cases

Source: This post is based on the article Abortion allowed till 24 weeks of pregnancy in special cases published in Indian Express on 17th October 2021.

What is the News?

The government of India has notified the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021. These rules have been notified under Section 6 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 2021.

What are the key provisions of the rules?
Defines Special Categories of Women

The act extended the upper limit for medical termination of pregnancy to 24 weeks, from the earlier stipulation of 20 weeks for certain special categories of women.

These special categories of women include:

  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest; 
  • minors; 
  • change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce); 
  • women with physical disabilities; 
  • mentally ill women; 
  • foetal malformation that has a substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born, he/ she may suffer from serious physical or mental abnormalities; and
  • women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations.
Opinion Needed for Termination of Pregnancy

Opinion of one Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation.

Opinion of two RMPs for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.

Earlier, abortion required the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.

Formation of State level Medical Board Mandatory

The rules make the formation of a state-level medical board mandatory, to decide if a pregnancy could be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation. 

Moreover, it would also be mandatory for the board to provide its opinion on the termination of pregnancy within three days of receiving the request for medical termination of pregnancy.

The rules also stipulate that the medical board will have the power to allow or deny termination of pregnancy beyond the 24 weeks of gestation period after due consideration and ensuring that the procedure would be safe for the woman.


INDIAN ARMY TEAM WINS GOLD MEDAL IN EXERCISE CAMBRIAN PATROL ORGANISED AT BRECON, WALES (UK)

Source: This post is based on the article INDIAN ARMY TEAM WINS GOLD MEDAL IN EXERCISE CAMBRIAN PATROL ORGANISED AT BRECON, WALES (UK) published in PIB on 17th October 2021.

What is the News?

A team from Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) which represented the Indian Army at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise at Brecon, Wales, UK has been awarded a Gold medal.

What is Exercise Cambrian Patrol?

Exercise Cambrian Patrol is organised by the UK Army. It is considered as the ultimate test of human endurance, team spirit and is sometimes referred to as the Olympics of Military Patrolling among militaries in the world.

During the exercise, teams are assessed with respect to their performance under harsh terrain and cold weather conditions. They were also exposed to complex real-world situations in order to assess their reactions in combating the settings.

Who participated in the exercise from India?

The Indian Army team participated in the exercise and competed against a total of 96 teams, which included 17 international teams representing Special Forces and prestigious Regiments from around the world.

What did the Indian Army receive?

The Indian Army team received a Gold Medal for their excellent navigation skills, overall physical endurance and delivery of patrol orders.


More than 4 crore unorganized workers registered at e-Shram Portal, India’s first National Database on Unorganized Workers

Source: This post is based on the article More than 4 crore unorganized workers registered at e-Shram Portal published in PIB on 17th October 2021.

What is the News?

According to the Labour Ministry’s data, more than 4 crores (40 million-plus) workers have registered at the e-Shram portal. 

Click Here to Read about e-Shram portal

Workers Registered on the Portal
e-Shram Portal
Source: PIB

As per the data, 4.09 crore workers have registered on the portal. Of these around 50.02% of beneficiaries are female and 49.98% are male. 

Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are the states with the highest number of registrations.

The largest number of workers registered is from agriculture and construction, given the sheer volume of these two sectors in employment generation in India.

Around 65.68% of registered workers are in the age group of 16-40 years and 34.32% are in the age group of 40 years and above. 

The social compositions of these workers include Other Backward Castes (OBC) and General Castes, with almost 43% and 27% respectively from these categories and 23% and 7% being from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

What are the benefits of registering on an e-shram portal for unorganized workers?

After registration at e-SHRAM Portal, the unorganised workers will receive a digital e-SHRAM card, and they can update their profiles/ particulars through the portal or mobile app. 

They will also have a Universal Account Number (on eSHRAM Card) that will be acceptable across the country. With this, they will not be required to register at different places for obtaining social security benefits. 

Moreover, if a worker is registered at the e-Shram portal and meets with an accident, he/she will be eligible for Rs 2.0 Lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1.0 lakh on partial disability.


China tested ‘nuclear capable hypersonic missile’, says report

Source: This post is based on the following articles 

  • China tested a ‘nuclear capable hypersonic missile’, says a reportpublished in The Hindu on 18th October 2021.
  • Explained: China’s hypersonic glide vehicle test” published in Indian Express on 18th October 2021.
What is the News?

China’s military has carried out its first-ever test of a “nuclear capable hypersonic missile”.

What is a Hypersonic Missile?

Hypersonic speeds are those that exceed five times the speed of sound, that is, anything that can move at speeds of Mach 5 or above, which means at least 1.6 km per second. 

Types of Hypersonic Missiles: There are two types of hypersonic missiles. 

Hypersonic cruise missiles: These are the ones that use rocket or jet propellant through their flight and are regarded as being just faster versions of existing cruise missiles. 

Hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) missiles: This is the one that China has tested. They are launched on rockets and then orbit the earth at their own speed. They are difficult to track because, unlike ballistic missiles, they “do not follow the fixed parabolic trajectory”.

Note: Countries like the US, Russia and China are developing hypersonic glide vehicles.

What about India?

India too is working on hypersonic technologies. In September 2020, DRDO has successfully flight-tested the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle(HSTDV) with a capability to travel at 6 times the speed of sound. 

In December 2020 an advanced Hypersonic Wind Tunnel (HWT) test facility of the DRDO was inaugurated in Hyderabad. It is a pressure vacuum-driven, enclosed free jet facility that simulates Mach 5 to 12.


World’s most powerful passports as per Henley’s Index; India at 90th spot

Source: This post is based on the article World’s most powerful passports as per Henley’s Index; India at 90th spotpublished in TOI on 16th October 2021.

What is the News?

Henley & Partners has released the Henley Passport Index.

What is the Henley Passport Index?

Henley Passport Index(HPI) was started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.

The index ​​ranks the passports of countries according to the number of destinations their holders can visit without a prior visa.

The rankings are based on the analysis of data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

What are the key findings of the index?

Topped by: Japan and Singapore stood at the top of the index, with their passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries.

India: India, which held the 84th rank in 2020 fell down to the 90th position with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries.

Bottom: At the bottom of the index is Afghanistan with an Afghan passport allowing visa-free travel to only 26 countries. 

Other countries at the bottom of the index are Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen. Most of the countries at the bottom are either war-torn or seeing some state of strife. 


Statsguru: Six charts explain another dimension of poverty in India

Source: This post is based on the article Statsguru: Six charts explain another dimension of poverty in India published in Business Standard on 18th October 2021.

What is the News?

Researchers have released a paper titled “Examining multidimensional poverty reduction in India between 2005/6–2015/16”.

What are the key highlights of the paper released?
Incidence of Poverty

Incidence of Poverty or the headcount ratio defines the percentage of people who are poor.

According to the research, the all-India national average of Incidence of Poverty was 27.9 %.

When compared social group-wise, the incidence of poverty was highest among Scheduled Tribes(STs). Over half (50.6%) of the ST population was multidimensionally poor.

They were followed by Scheduled Caste groups where a third(33.3%) were affected by multidimensional poverty.

Intensity of Poverty

The intensity of Poverty defines the average share of deprivation experienced by the poor.

The all-India national average of Intensity of Poverty was 43.9 per cent.

When compared social group-wise, the intensity of poverty was marginally higher among Scheduled Tribes (45.9%) compared to Scheduled Caste(44.1%) and Other Backward Classes(43.5%).

Religion wise differences in incidence and intensity of multidimensional poverty 

The NFHS 2015-16 data shows the difference in incidence and intensity of multidimensional poverty among religious groups. 

Muslims had a higher incidence and intensity of Poverty, followed by Hindus and Christians.

Asset Ownership among Social Groups

All India Debt and Investment Survey(AIDIS) provides data regarding asset holdings of social groups. 

According to the survey, about 98.8% of ST households in rural areas had assets vis-à-vis the 99.4% national average. 

In urban areas, the divide was even starker with only 93% of ST households having assets, compared to 98% national average.

However, the data also shows that the average value of assets held by Scheduled Tribes(STs) was higher compared to Scheduled Castes.

Covid-19 Impact on Poverty

The multidimensional poverty index does not show the deprivation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the Pew Research Centre study indicates that India may have added 75 million poor because of the disruption caused due to Covid-19.


Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Promoting Telecom and Networking Products Manufacturing in India

Source: This post is based on the article Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Promoting Telecom and Networking Products Manufacturing in Indiapublished in PIB on 16th October 2021.

What is the News?

The Minister of State for Communications has launched the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products.

What is the objective of the PLI Scheme for Telecom and Networking Products?

To boost domestic manufacturing in the telecom and networking products by incentivising incremental investments and turnover.

To reduce India’s dependence on other countries for the import of telecom and networking products.

What are the target segments under the scheme?

Core Transmission Equipment

4G/5G, Next-Generation Radio Access Network and Wireless Equipment

Access and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), Internet of Things (IoT) Access Devices, and Other Wireless Equipment

Enterprise equipment: Switches, Routers

What is the eligibility criteria?

MSMEs – Minimum Threshold of Investment ₹ 10 Crores

Other than MSMEs – Minimum Threshold of Investment ₹ 100 Crores

Further, for MSMEs, the scheme has a 1% higher incentive in the first three years.

What are the incentives under the scheme?

An incentive of 7% to 4% on incremental sales (over base year) of goods manufactured in India

Tenure: Support under the scheme shall be provided for a period of five (5) years from 1st April 2021.

Read moreProduction-Linked Incentive or PLI Schemes and its challenges – Explained, pointwise

 


 

Print Friendly and PDF[social_warfare]