9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 28th, 2021

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

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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

Quality of life in informal settlements: Basic sanitation services a luxury

Source: This post is based on the article “Quality of life in informal settlements: Basic sanitation services a luxury” published in “Down To Earth” on 27th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS1- Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Relevance: To understand the basic survival challenges faced by vulnerable section of society.

Synopsis: The study of National Sample Survey (NSS) data on urban slums presents a grim picture of the settlers there, regarding the provisioning of basic amenities.


In India, increasing urbanization is pushing disadvantaged populations living in informal settlements into a more poverty-stricken way of life.

Multiple factors influence the quality of life in informal settlements, including access to drinking water, toilets, sanitation and waste management.

What are the challenges faced by people living in informal settlements?

Residents often have no tenancy rights over the place they reside.

According to a National Sample Survey (NSS) study of unit-level data on urban slums:

– Basic amenities- Around 41% households in informal settlements depended on sources of ‘exclusive use’ for basic amenities, followed by ‘unrestricted public sources’ (25.63%) and ‘common use’ (18.04%).

– Water- Rather than being a public good, it is a rival economic good since its access depends on the willingness to pay money and a certain amount of walking to obtain it.

Toilets- As many as 52.6% households had ‘exclusive use’ toilets. Others used ‘common use’, ‘public toilets without payment’,’public toilets with payment’. 10.3% had no access to any kind of toilets. The SC / ST community had the highest proportion of those who did not have access to a toilet, followed by Muslims and then OBCs.

– Disposal of excreta-The urban local bodies are entrusted with the work of emptying tanks and pits of excreta. But the frequency of the cleaning indicates that they do not complete the task on time. More than half of the households (53%) depend on private agencies to get the excreta emptied and 25% depend on hired labour.

Waste mismanagement- Around 47% households in these settlements do not have access to daily   garbage collection in their area. Out of that, garbage collection happens just once a week for 23.45%   households.

What are the concerns/issues invovled?

For government– Informal settlements emerge unlawfully, either on government property or private land, thereby breaching government planning requirements.

The fundamental issue in providing services to these informal / illegal settlements is their lack of tenurial security / status.

On dwellers– These informal settlers are frequently in direct contact with garbage lying around, they are highly vulnerable to communicable diseases.

-These informal settlements do not receive the government’s attention because they have been established unlawfully and lie outside government’s jurisdiction.

The issue questions the State’s role in providing access to basic amenities to every citizen, since the state exists to offer its citizens basic human rights.The informal private players fill the gap in providing services, raising serious concern regarding the rights and entitlements of these residents.

GS Paper 2

Energy cooperation as the backbone of India-Russia ties

Source: This post is based on the article “Energy cooperation as the backbone of India-Russia ties” published in The Hindu on 28th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India

Relevance: To understand the relationship between India and Russia on energy security.

Synopsis: India’s renewable energy needs and other requirements can be fulfilled if India and Russia collaborated.


India has been at the forefront of the transformation of global energy and striving to diversify its trade relations. Russia could be a long-term partner in India’s diversification plans.

About recent India Russia collaboration on various fields

Petrochemicals: A JV between RIL and Russia’s Sibur Elastomers established South Asia’s first butyl and halogenated butyl rubber plant in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The plant meets India’s domestic needs and the surplus is exported to Asia, Europe, the US and Brazil among others.  

Refineries: ONGC, IOCL and Gazprom have signed up MOUs regarding setting up of refineries in India in line with IEA’s Energy Outlook 2021,  identifying India as critical refining hub in Asia. 

Nuclear energy: Russian companies have been involved in the construction of six nuclear reactors in the Kudankulam nuclear power project at Tamil Nadu. 

Read more: Energy access and its importance – Explained, pointwise
What can be done?

Renewable Energy: India has installed 100GW of renewable energy capacity. To meet the target of 450 GW capacity by 2030, investments of USD 500 billion are required in infrastructure, grid expansion and storage. The Nuclear Energy capacity target for 2031 is 22.5GW, up from 6.7GW at present. 

Read more: [Yojana October Summary] Energy Security: Nuclear Power – Explained, pointwise

According to Russia’s Energy Minister, almost all of Russia’s major energy companies were interested in projects in India. So both governments have to provide the necessary support and facilitate corporate leaders to grasp the potential.

Read more: Reviving India-Russia Relationship – Explained, Pointwise

India needs a policy solution for the problem of radicalisation

Source: This post is based on the article “India needs a policy solution for the problem of radicalisation” published in the Indian Express on 28th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Relevance: Understanding radicalization and associated problems

Synopsis: Any programme aimed at deterring or reversing radicalization must focus on the ideological commitment that enables violence.


Recently, multiple suspects have been arrested in the ISI terror module. During the investigation, it was found that online radicalization played an important role in the recruitment of members, preparation and execution of extremist activities by the members.

Read more: PM calls on SCO to act against radicalization
What did the government do to control radicalization?

Ministry of Home Affairs had set up the Counter-Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation division in 2017. Its aim is to frame developing policies and strategies to counter-radicalization. The focus of this division is mainly on the implementation and administration of counter-terror laws and monitoring of fundamentalist organizations such as the Popular Front of India, Jamaat-e-Islami etc.

However, the group is not completely successful in controlling radicalization.

What should India further do to control the threat of radicalization?

Government should realize that any deviation from conventional thinking can not be termed as radicalization. Radicalization becomes problematic only when it has a tendency to lead to violence. So developing a broad understanding can help in creating an effective action plan.

Define radicalization: Government should first begin by defining radicalization. This will provide clarity of purpose and help in developing an action plan.

Frame strategies: The battle against radicalization begins in the minds and hearts. So Indian state should develop and enforce de-radicalization, counter-radicalization and anti-radicalization strategies at a pan-India and pan-ideology level on a war footing.

Adopt uniform policies: Government should adopt uniform policies to deal with radicalization and associated strategies. Also, initiatives should be taken to stop the flow of radicalization across the borders.

Mainstreaming youth: Policies should be adopted to mainstream youth and indulge them in productive work. Government should work on activities like promotion of the syncretic nature of religions in India, promotion of constitutional values and virtues, promotion of sports etc

‘India must not give up on extraditing Kim Davy, accused in Purulia arms drop

Source: This post is based on the article ‘India must not give up on extraditing Kim Davy, accused in Purulia arms drop” published in the Indian Express on 28th October 2021.

Subject: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India.

Relevance: Understanding issues related to the extradition of Kim Davy.

Synopsis: By stalling the process of extradition of Kim Davy, Denmark has shown contempt for Indian institutions.


Kim Davy, a citizen of Denmark was prime accused in the Purulia bomb drop case, where arms were dropped in West Bengal from an unidentified airplane. Kim Davy has also publicly accepted to be part of the operation.

After this, India raised the issue of the extradition of Kim Davy from Denmark to India.

Read hereThe Law of Extradition in India
What has been the history of the extradition issue?

Initially, Denmark was reluctant and asked for assurances that he would not face the death penalty, would be safe in jail during the trial and would be allowed to serve his sentence, if convicted, in Denmark. These demands were accepted by India. Finally, an extradition order was passed by the Danish government in 2010.

Davy appealed to a court against the extradition order. The CBI sent a team, presented India’s stand to Copenhagen, but the Danish government lawyers ignored them. The court’s issued a judgment that relied on the testimony of NGOs and ignored the sovereign guarantees of the government.

Read more: State of Prisons in India – Explained, pointwise
What was the impact of this on India-Denmark relations?

The Ministry of External Affairs noted the judgment would encourage “terrorists and criminals”. It also rejected “the grounds cited by the Danish court as the basis of its decision”.

Further, the Indian embassy in Copenhagen stated that India’s relations with Denmark were affected by the extradition case of Kim Davy. This included trade and economic relations and cooperation in multilateral forums.

What should be the way forward?

India should continue to build its relations and prepare for upcoming high-level visits with Denmark. India should have to resolve the issues of the Indian judicial system.

Refugee adoption in India call for the adoption of a specific law

Source: This post is based on the article “Refugee adoption in India call for the adoption of a specific law” published in the Livemint on 28th October 2021.

Subject: GS2- International Relations.

Relevance: Understanding the issue of refugees in India.

Synopsis: India has numerous acts dealing with foreigners, refugees etc. But it needs a comprehensive National law.


In December 2019, the Indian government introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, which sought to make “illegal migrants” from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan from a specific religion to get citizenship. This shows that India still lacks a comprehensive law to handle refugees and illegal immigrants.

Read moreRefugee problem in India and its solutions
What is the current legal position of India on refugees?

India is not a signatory of the 1951 refugees convention, under which UNHCR operates. India also does not have any domestic refugee legislation which controls the entry and stay of refugees.

Even under Indian laws, there is no distinction between the terms foreigners and refugees. The Indian government can further deport any foreigner to their country of origin, even if their life is at risk.

Read moreIndia’s Refugee law and policy- An Analysis
How does the government treat refugees in India?

Since there is no particular law for refugees in India, the government regulates the refugees and asylum seekers on an ad-hoc basis.

Administration of refugees in India: Of all the refugees coming in India, India recognized refugees only coming from Tibet and Sri Lanka only. Refugees coming from other countries are registered and protected by UNHCR.

So, refugees in India are identified on these two different parameters- India recognized and UNHCR recognized. They are also treated differently. For eg India recognized refugees have access to all the basic facilities like health, education, etc while the same does not go for UNHCR recognized

Judicial response: Indian judiciary has stepped up from time to time to safeguard refugees from deportation, expulsion and forced repatriation. These are guided by Article 14 and  Article 21  of the Indian constitution.

What is the way forward?

It is time for India to adopt a national law for refugees. The law will streamline refugee- status determination procedures for all kinds of refugees and will guarantee them the rights they have under international law.

GS Paper 3

India’s post-pandemic fiscal future

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s post-pandemic fiscal future” published in Business Standard on 28th October 2021.

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

Relevance: Fiscal discipline and debt sustainability

Synopsis: The post-pandemic fiscal future would depend on the way government expenditure is directed.


Tax collection in the current fiscal year is likely to exceed the Budget estimate by a significant margin. This would enable the government to increase growth-enhancing capital expenditure and also help reduce the fiscal deficit to some extent.

What is the current fiscal scenario?

As per the Union government,

the fiscal deficit will be brought down to 4.5% of GDP by 2025-26.

According to IMF projections,

India’s general government Budget deficit will come down to 7.8% of GDP by 2026-27, compared to 12.8% in the last fiscal year.

What are the current medium-term fiscal challenges Indian economy is facing?

Government debt: According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections, it will remain above 85% of GDP by 2026-2027, which would be over 10 percentage points higher than the pre-Covid level.

However, India is not the only country where government debt has gone up substantially. The global public debt is estimated to have increased to about 100 per cent of GDP, with advanced economies contributing the most in 2020.

Pandemic-induced economic disruption: India will need to work on multiple levels to bring government finances under control and redirect spending to support growth.

Balancing spending and debt: India cannot sharply reduce spending to contain debt and deficit in the near term as this would impair economic recovery. As per IMF, fiscal space can be created through a credible medium-term consolidation strategy.

Fiscal discipline: The Union government is targeting to contain the fiscal deficit at 6.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the current fiscal year, compared to 9.5% last year.

Which factors can affect the financial stability?

Growth and exports: Higher deficit and debt will affect government spending with implications for growth. India must focus on exports for higher growth. However, exports as a percentage of GDP slipped from about 24 per cent in 2008 to about 18 per cent in 2020.

Flow of compensation to states against the shortfall in GST collection: it will end next year. This could affect the fiscal position of a large number of states and create policy risks.

The quality of expenditure: As a recent article by Reserve Bank of India, the share of revenue deficit in gross fiscal deficit has been around 70% for the Central government, which is more than twice the level envisioned by the FRBM review committee. As a result, capital outlay of the government has suffered.

Debt sustainability: The IMF expects India’s medium-term potential growth to be about 6%. The policy establishment will need to aggressively push reforms to attain higher sustainable growth. Higher public sector resource requirements for an extended period would affect longer-term growth potential.

What is the way forward?

First, create some policy space as soon as possible.

Second, the government needs to systematically address the low and stagnant tax-to-GDP ratio. India’s tax gap is said to be worth about 5% of GDP.

Third, issues in the GST system, including simplification of processes and adjustment of rates to the revenue-neutral level, need to be addressed immediately. Besides, the government will need to aggressively push the disinvestment programme to raise resources.

Fourth, a more robust indirect tax system is necessary to reduce the dependence on high fuel taxes to fund government expenditure and the direct tax system needs to be reviewed as well to increase the tax base.

It’s time for a new QES

Source: This post is based on the following articles “It’s time for a new QES “published in Business Standard on 28th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: On Quarterly Employment Survey

Synopsis: The Quarterly Employment Survey is based on an outdated frame and will result in incorrect estimates.


Recently, the Labour Bureau, under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, released the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) results for April-June 2021 for non-farm industries in the organised sector.

However, the findings of QES met with muted scepticism on the reliability and validity of the quarterly estimates and their comparability with the dated annual census estimates.

Must Read: All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (AQEES)
What are issues with the present QES?

Issues in comparing the quarterly QES estimates with the annual Economic Census 2013-14:

One could compare estimates based on a sample survey with census figures provided the sample is representative of the frame it is drawn from and appropriate data multipliers are applied to sample survey data.

In comparing the QES with the Economic Census, however, this does not appear to be the case, as the sample selection is not proportional to the units in the frame.

For instance, establishments in the education sector accounted for the largest number of units in the frame, but the education sector stands third in terms of the number of units in the sample.

Additionally, there are problems in comparing a year-long census with quarterly estimates from a sample survey.

It is also important to remember that the Economic Census was designed to create sample frames for conducting surveys in the non-farm sector and not for producing employment estimates. Shortcomings of the Economic Census’s employment numbers are widely acknowledged and hence sparsely used.

QES is based on an outdated sample frame: The Economic Census is based on the “enumeration blocks” of the Population Census, 2011, as the primary geographical units. Hence the universe of establishment for drawing up QES samples is nearly a decade old.

One can reasonably expect large scale entry and exits of establishments during the seven years when the economy has grown at an average annual rate of 5%.

Estimating quarterly employment using the QES based on such an outdated sample frame and comparing it with the annual Economic Census estimates do not seem statistically appropriate.

It has to be noted that, in 2017, the revised QES was abandoned as the employment estimates were unsatisfactory.

So, what should be done to correct for the failed effort?

It is, perhaps, best to abandon the current QES, expedite the Economic Census-2020 frame, and re-launch the QES with a statistically sound sample frame.

Even the government appointed a task force on employment statistics in 2017 suggested scrapping the QES, as the outdated Economic Census-2013-14 sample frame was responsible for the poor QES estimates.

Further, the task force recommended that there is an acute need to strengthen sources of enterprise and establishment-level data by

-Increasing coverage across enterprises,

-bringing both industry and services into the fold,

-carrying out enterprise surveys at a greater frequency and to conduct the Economic Census at regular intervals.

5 Questions On Facebook

Source: This post is based on the following articles “5 Questions On Facebook “published in TOI on 28th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

Relevance: Negative impact of Social media networks

Synopsis: New revelations underline how the Facebook company is sheltering hate speech in India.


In September 2021, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee had submitted eight complaints to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. This is the regulatory body that exercises oversight over the capital markets and companies like Facebook Inc which are listed there.

What were the complaints alleged against Facebook?

Mismanagement: Haugen’s complaint alleges material misrepresentations by Facebook and that its management has misled shareholders.

Promotion of extremist content and hate speech: Facebook is deleting less than 5% of all the hate posted on its platform. The most shocking revelation is that Facebook’s algorithms themselves promote misinformation and other divisive, low-quality content while claiming to prioritise “meaningful social interactions”.

Childrens vulnerability:  Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) is harmful to children, especially teen girls who have said that the platform makes thoughts of suicide and self-harm as well as body image and eating issues worse.

Are the revelations significant in the Indian context?

As India is Facebook’s largest user base, the recent disclosures become significant for close to 34 crore users. The following issues have been revealed w.r.t India

Discriminatory budgetary allocation: Facebook devotes only 13% of its total budget on content moderation for India (along with the rest of the world), devoting 87% to the United States which has less than 10% of users.

Lack of Skilled professional: The internal documents note that Facebook lacks the ability for classifiers in widely used languages like Hindi and Bengali. Thereby, it lacks the ability to intelligently determine hate speech when made in these languages, even when it is notified by users.

Communal division being prompted by Facebook: The internal report Adversarial Harmful Networks: India Case Study shows that Facebook was aware that anti-Muslim narratives and hate speech were prevalent on its platforms in India by certain political actors but it chose to do nothing due to political reasons.

What has been various governments’ response?

Till date, there has been no official comment by the Union government or any other state government.

There seems to be similar inaction by any legislative body, including by the standing committees on information technology and home affairs, as well as the committee on peace and harmony constituted by the Delhi government.

At present there are no public interest litigations (PILs) filed on these disclosures.

What steps should Facebook take?

The first point of correction must be accompanied by insulating its content moderation decisions from senior executives in roles of business development and policy teams that handle government relationships. The reason for this is due to the internal documents citing interference by Facebook India’s public policy team.

A final reform may be done by placing a human rights expert as an independent director on the board to change its corporate culture.

What should Govt of India do?

For the Indian government the first step should be to acknowledge the problem caused by social media rather than to wait out this media cycle. Such recognition should support credible processes that are transparent for the creation of institutions that enforce rights respecting regulations.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

South Asia has lost most human capital due to air pollution: World Bank

What is the news?

The latest “Changing Wealth of Nations” 2021 report published by the World Bank states that ‘South Asia’ suffers the most among all regions of the world in terms of loss of human capital due to air pollution.

The latest report has measured wealth creation and distribution in 146 countries covering a 20-year period from 1995-2018.

The World Bank included GDP, human-produced capital, human capital (as per bank,”earnings over a person’s lifetime”) and natural capital like renewable and non-renewable natural resources in its measurement of wealth.

What are the key findings of the report?

Global findings:

Human capital was the largest source of worldwide wealth, comprising 64% of total global wealth in 2018. Middle-income countries increased their investment in human capital and in turn, saw significant increases in their share of global human capital wealth.

Globally, wealth had increased during the two decades. In fact, middle-income countries were catching up fast with high-income ones in wealth generation.

Air pollution was affecting hugely this significant wealth generator ie human capital.

Natural assets- The growing prosperity has been accompanied by unsustainable management of some natural assets. Low- and middle-income countries saw their forest wealth per capita decline 8% from 1995 to 2018, reflecting significant deforestation.

Unequal wealth creation-This wealth creation, arguably the best in recent decades, has not been equal. Low-income countries’ share in global wealth is below 1%(same for decades), account for 8% of the world’s population.

The survey found that countries that depended more on natural resources were also reporting a decline in wealth due to the degradation of resources.

Declining wealth per capita– Over a third of low-income countries saw declining wealth per capita. These countries tend to be degrading their base of renewable natural assets. For low-income countries, appropriately managing renewable natural capital, which accounts for 23 per cent of their wealth, remains crucial.

South-Asia related findings:

Human capital in south Asia accounts for 50 per cent of the region’s wealth. This did not change during the survey period(1995-2018). It shows the importance of a healthy workforce.

Air pollution-South Asia as a region was the most severely affected by the estimated loss of human capital due to air pollution.

Wealth-South Asia has increased its wealth since 1995. But still, its per capita wealth is among the lowest in the world, comparable to sub-Saharan Africa due to population growth in the same period.

Gender disparity in human capital- Over 80% of the region’s wealth was attributed to men, indicating a huge gender disparity in human capital and its contribution to national wealth.

Source: This post is based on the article “South Asia has lost most human capital due to air pollution: World Bank” published in “Down To Earth” on 27th October 2021.

Union Minister for MSME Narayan Rane launches “SAMBHAV” National Level Awareness Programme, 2021

What is the news?

SAMBHAV”, a National Level Awareness Programme-2021, being organised by Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises.

What is SAMBHAV?

SAMBHAV calls for engagement of the youth in promoting entrepreneurship, leading to the economic development of the country.

The mass outreach program is a one-month long initiative under the Ministry of MSME in which students from different colleges/ITIs from all parts of the country will be encouraged by 130 field offices of the Ministry to take up entrepreneurship.

During the campaign the college students will be made aware of the various schemes being implemented by the Ministry of MSME through Audio/Video film presentations.

Awareness programs will be conducted in more than 1,300 colleges across the country in which 1,50,000 students are expected to participate.

What are the outcomes envisaged through “SAMBHAV”?

Enhancing the MSME’s contribution to GDP  from present 30% to 50%, and employment generation in MSME sector from 11 crore to 15 crore.

Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister for MSME Narayan Rane launches “SAMBHAV” National Level Awareness Programme, 2021” published in PIB on 27th October 2021.

Prime Minister participates in 16th East Asia Summit on October 27, 2021

What is the news?

Prime Minister recently participated in the “16th East Asia Summit” via video conference, hosted byBrunei” as EAS and ASEAN Chair. India has been an active participant of EAS.

It saw the participation of leaders from ASEAN countries and other EAS Participating Countries including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, USA(first time since 2017) and India.

What are the key takeaways from the summit?

The EAS leaders adopted three Statements on Mental Health, Economic recovery through Tourism and Sustainable Recovery, which have been co-sponsored by India.

Discussion on important regional and international issues including Indo-Pacifc, South China Sea, UNCLOS, terrorism, and situation in Korean Peninsula and Myanmar was seen.

What are the view shared by India at the summit?

Reaffirmed the importance of EAS to discuss important strategic issues. 

Reiterated its support of $1 million to “ASEAN Covid Recovery Fund” and raised the idea of developing global standards on cyber security.

Commitment to deliver Quad-sponsored vaccines to Indo-Pacific nations.

Stressed on “Atmanirbhar Bharat” Campaign for post-pandemic recovery and in ensuring resilient global value chains.

“ASEAN centrality” reaffirmed in the Indo-Pacific and the synergies between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) highlighted.

Source: This post is based on the articles“PM calls for free & open Indo-Pacific” published in “Times of India” on 28th October 2021 and “Prime Minister participates in 16th East Asia Summit on October 27, 2021″ published in “PIB” on 27th October 2021.

Terms to Know:

In stern signal to China, India tests 5,000-km range Agni-V

What is the News?

India has successfully test-fired Agni-V Missile.

What is Agni-V?
Agni V
Source: The Tribune

Agni-V is a surface-to-surface nuclear-capable InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

Note: ICBMs are guided missiles that can deliver nuclear and other payloads. They have a minimum range of 5,500 km, with maximum ranges varying from 7,000 to 16,000 km.

Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Range: It is capable of striking targets at ranges up to 5,000 kilometres with a very high degree of accuracy.

Speed: It can reach an exceptional Mach 24 speed, which is around 29,401 km/h.

Key Features of Agni-V

The missile uses a three-stage solid-fuelled engine

It is road-mobile and can be transported by a truck and launched via a canister.

Satellite Guidance: The missile is equipped with a ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system (NavIC) that works with satellite guidance. So, ​​the missile can carry nuclear warheads with advanced navigation and guidance systems. 

MIRV Technology: The most striking feature of Agni-V is its MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles) technology. In this technique, multiple weapons can be installed instead of one in the warhead mounted on the missile. That is, a missile can hit multiple targets simultaneously.

What is the significance of the Agni-V launch?

Agni-V will put India’s credible minimum deterrence on a firm footing, as no missile in the Indian arsenal has the range to strike targets deep inside China.

Moreover, with the launch of Agni-V, India has joined an exclusive club of countries such as China, the US, Russia, Britain and France to have ICBMs.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • In stern signal to China, India tests 5,000-km range Agni-Vpublished in TOI on 28th October 2021.
  • Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile, Agni-5, successfully launched from APJ Abdul Kalam Islandpublished in PIB on 27th October 2021.

How ONDC seeks to democratize digital  commerce

What is the News?

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) is building an Open Network for Digital Commerce(ONDC) which is designed to curb digital monopolies and standardize the on-boarding of retailers on e-commerce sites.

What is the aim of ONDC?
Source: TOI

The Unified Payment Interface (UPI) has disrupted the digital payments’ domain. ONDC seeks to achieve something similar for e-commerce. 

It  aims  to  democratise digital commerce by moving it away from platform-centric models like Amazon and Flipkart to an open network. 

This will enable more sellers to be digitally visible. The transactions will also be executed through an open network. 

How would ONDC work?

ONDC network may make it easier for a small retailer to be discovered. Once a retailer lists its products or services using the ONDC open protocol, the business can be discovered by consumers on e-commerce platforms that follow the same protocol. 

A consumer searching for the product can see the location of the seller and opt to buy from the neighbourhood shop that can deliver faster compared to an e-commerce company. 

This may promote hyperlocal delivery of goods, such as groceries, directly from sellers to consumers.

Read more: Open-sourcing project govt panel: What’s in store for online retailers
What issues does the ONDC seek to address?
Source: Livemint

Currently, Indian digital businesses are dominated by a few established players such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, and Swiggy.

Both consumers and the goods/service providers depend on these platforms to connect. 

Moreover, often e-commerce platforms push their own white-labelled products at the expense of third-party sellers. The ONDC wants to break the digital barriers between consumers and retailers by doing away with the intermediary. The ONDC protocols may also standardize operations.

Read more: How Open Network for Digital Commerce could disrupt India’s e-commerce space?

Source: This post is based on the article “How ONDC seeks to democratize digital  commerce” published in Livemint on 27th October 2021.

‘Hyperlocal neighbourhoods’ can promote sustainable travel, help decarbonise transport sector: Report

What is the News?

Imperial College, London has released a paper on smart and sustainable urban transport.

What are the key suggestions given by the paper to decarbonize the Transport Sector?

Create Hyper-local Neighbourhoods: Hyper-local neighbourhoods that provide every necessary service within a walking distance will help people avoid using transport for their daily needs. This can help reduce Green House Gas emissions(GHG) from the transport sector.

Shifting Activities Online: Lockdowns due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic forced a range of activities to shift online. Many of these changes can be recommended for permanent adoption.

Use of Low Carbon Fuels: Alternative low-carbon fuels involve the production of fuels using renewable or other low-carbon sources. The most well-developed fuel for production is hydrogen, but the use of hydrogen as fuel involves more substantive infrastructural changes.

Read more: Green Hydrogen: Potential, Issues and Solutions – Explained, pointwise

Electrification: Electrification in the transport sector is the process of replacing fossil-fuel based engines with electric motors. However, the challenge is to combine modern innovations and engineering alongside low-carbon electricity to ensure it is the cheapest and most sustainable option. 

Shifting mode of transport: Some modes of transport — public transport and cycling — are highly energy efficient. Using technology, policies, the built environment and behavioural interventions one can switch from less efficient modes to high energy-efficient modes like cycling and public transport. 

Read more: Energy efficiency needs behavioral change: Study

Source: This post is based on the article‘Hyperlocal neighbourhoods’ can promote sustainable travel, help decarbonise transport sector: Reportpublished in Down To Earth on 27th October 2021.

Defence ministry pact with US to procure MK 54 torpedo, expendables worth Rs 423 cr

What is the News?

The Defence Minister has signed a contract with the US government to procure MK 54 torpedoes and expendables such as chaff and flares for the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare aircraft P-8I. 

What is MK 54 lightweight torpedo?

MK 54 lightweight torpedo is an anti-submarine warfare(ASW) torpedo used by the United States Navy.

The torpedoes are designed to operate in shallow waters and in the presence of countermeasures, they can track, classify and attack underwater targets.

What is P-8I?

P-8I is a long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft offered by US Boeing for the Indian Navy.

The aircraft can conduct Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (AsuW), intelligence, maritime patrol and surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Read more: U.S. Clears Sale of “P-8I Patrol Aircraft” to India
What is Chaff?

Chaff is an electronic countermeasure technology used by militaries worldwide to protect naval ships, aircraft or other sensitive targets from radar and radio frequency guiding mechanisms of the enemy missile. 

Read more: DRDO develops Advanced Chaff Technology for Indian Air Force
What is Flare?

A flare or decoy flare is an aerial infrared countermeasure used by a plane or helicopter to counter an infrared homing (“heat-seeking”) surface-to-air missile or air-to-air missile.

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Defence ministry pact with US to procure MK 54 torpedo, expendables worth Rs 423 crpublished in Indian Express on 27th October 2021.

Explained: Queen Heo Hwang-ok of Korea, and her Ayodhya connection

What is the News?

On the banks of the Sarayu in Ayodhya, the Ram Katha Park has been renovated which will be renamed as Queen Heo Hwang-ok memorial park.

Note: In 2019, Department of Post issued a set of two postage stamps to commemorate the bilateral relations between India and the Republic of Korea. The Stamp featured the portrait of Princess Suriratna (Queen Heo Hwang-ok).

Who was Queen Heo Hwang-ok?
Princess Suriratna
Source: Mintageworld

Queen Heo Hwang-ok was a Korean queen who is believed to have been born Princess Suriratna of Ayodhya, daughter of King Padmasen and Indumati.

Note: Padmasen ruled the ancient kingdom of Kausala (Kosala), a region that extended from present-day UP to Odisha.

The queen’s story is described in Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of Three Kingdoms). It is a 13th-century collection of legends, folktales and history of Korea’s three kingdoms — Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla — and some other regions.

Queens Journey from India to Korea

In 48 BC, when Princess Heo or Suriratna was 16, she travelled to Korea from the ancient city of “Ayuta’ and married Kim Suro, king of the south-eastern Korean state.

She travelled by boat along with an entourage and was sent by her father, who is said to have had a dream about her marrying King Suro.

The debate about her Indian Origins

There is some debate about her Indian origins as there are many versions of the same story. 

Samguk Yusa talks about the queen from a distant land named Ayuta and popular culture considers it Ayodhya. But Indian document or scripture has no record of her. 

Some historians also believe that the princess could actually be from Thailand’s Ayutthaya kingdom

But the kingdom in Thailand came about in 1350, years after Samguk Yusa had already been written.

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: Queen Heo Hwang-ok of Korea, and her Ayodhya connection” published in PIB on 27th October 2021.

Ministry of Education notifies Four Year Integrated Teacher Education Programme

What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has notified a Four Year Integrated Teacher Education Programme (ITEP). This fulfils one of the major mandates of the National Education Policy 2020 related to Teacher Education.

Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise
What is the Integrated Teacher Education Programme(ITEP)?
Source: PIB

ITEP is a four-year dual-major holistic bachelor’s degree offering B.A B.Ed./ B.Sc B.Ed and B.Com B.Ed.

This integrated course will benefit students since they will save one year by finishing it in four years rather than the customary five years required by the present B.Ed. plan.

Who can do ITEP?

This course will be available for all students who want to choose teaching as a profession after clearing secondary school.

Hence, the basic aim of the government is to make a four-year integrated B.Ed, the minimum degree required for teaching by 2030. 

Who has prepared the curriculum for the course?

The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has created the curriculum of this course to enable a student-teacher to get a degree in education as well as a specialised discipline such as history, mathematics, science, arts, economics, or commerce.

The course will also impart cutting-edge pedagogy and establish a foundation in early childhood care and education (ECCE), foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN), inclusive education among others.

Nodal Agency for Admission

The commencement of the ITEP will be from the academic session 2022-23.

Admission for the course will be carried out by the National Testing Agency (NTA) through the National Common Entrance Test (NCET). 

Source: This post is based on the article Ministry of Education notifies Four Year Integrated Teacher Education Programmepublished in PIB on 27th October 2021.

Union Civil Aviation Minister releases Krishi UDAN 2.0

What is the News?

The Union Civil Aviation Minister has launched the Krishi UDAN 2.0 scheme.

What is Krishi UDAN 2.0 Scheme?

Krishi UDAN Scheme was launched in 2020 on international and national routes to assist farmers in transporting agricultural products so that it improves their value realisation.

Krishi UDAN 2.0 will focus on transporting perishable food products from the hilly areas, northeastern states and tribal areas.

The scheme will be implemented at 53 airports across the country, mainly focusing on Northeast and tribal regions, and is likely to benefit farmers, freight forwarders and Airlines.

What are the key features of the Krishi UDAN 2.0 scheme?

Facilitating and incentivizing movement of Agri-produce by air transportation: The scheme will provide a full waiver of landing, parking, Terminal Navigation and Landing Charges and Route Navigation Facilities Charges for domestic airlines.

Strengthening cargo-related infrastructure at airports and off airports: The Ministry will facilitate the development of a hub and spoke model and freight to transport perishable products.

Concessions sought from other bodies: The Ministry has asked states to reduce sales tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) to 1 percent for airlines under Krishi UDAN 2.0.

Resources-Pooling through establishing convergence mechanism: Collaboration with other government departments and regulatory bodies.

Source: PIB

Focus Routes: Seven focus routes and the agro products to be flown from there have been identified under the scheme.

Technological convergence: Development of E-KUSHAL (Krishi UDAN for Sustainable Holistic Agri-Logistics).

What is E-KUSHAL?

E-KUSHAL is a platform that will facilitate information dissemination to all the stakeholders. 

This will be a single platform that will provide relevant information at the same time will also assist in coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the scheme. 

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Civil Aviation Minister releases Krishi UDAN 2.0published in PIB on 27th October 2021.

Terms to know:

Centre wants to keep birth, death database

What is the News?

The Centre has proposed amendments to a Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD),1969 that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.

What are the amendments proposed by the Centre?
Registration of Births and Deaths Act
Source: The Hindu

Presently, the registration of births and deaths is done by the local registrar appointed by States.

But the Centre has now proposed to insert Section 3A in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969.

As per this amendment, the Chief Registrar (appointed by the States) would maintain a unified database of births and deaths at the State level and integrate it with the data at the “national level” maintained by the Registrar General of India(RGI). This will imply that the Centre will be a parallel repository of data.

The database can then be used by the Registrar General with the approval of the Central government to update the 

What is the significance of this amendment?

If the amendments are implemented, the Centre could use the data to update the National Population Register (NPR), first prepared in 2010 and revised through door-to-door enumeration in 2015. 

Note: As per Citizenship Rules, 2003, NPR is the first step towards the creation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

About the other amendments proposed?

Another proposed amendment is the appointment of “Special Sub-Registrars, in the event of a disaster, with any or all of his powers and duties for the on-spot registration of deaths and issuance of extract thereof as may be prescribed”.

Source: This post is based on the article Centre wants to keep birth, death databasepublished in PIB on 25th October 2021.

Two samples in Karnataka found infected with AY.4.2

What is the News?

Two samples from Karnataka were retrospectively found to be infected with AY.4.2 Covid Variant.

What is AY.4.2 Variant?

AY.4.2 is a descendant of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The Delta variant also known as B.1.617.2 was first identified in India in October 2020.

The AY.4.2 variant carries two characteristic mutations in the spike, Y145H and A222V. Both of these have been found in various other SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

Cases of AY.4.2 Variant

Presently, the United Kingdom accounts for 96% cases of AY.4.2 followed by Denmark and Germany at 1% each. It has also been reported in the US, Israel, and Russia.

In India, cases have been detected in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

How dangerous is AY.4.2?

The AY.4.2 is still emerging. Hence, there is no evidence so far that AY.4.2 mutation is intrinsically dangerous, makes vaccines less effective or causes more severe illness.

What is Mutation, and how does it occur?

A mutation is simply a change in the virus’ genome: the set of genetic instructions that contain all the information that the virus needs to function. 

When the virus replicates, this set of instructions needs to be copied, but errors can creep in during this process. 

Depending on where in the genome mistakes occur, they can have a negative or positive impact on the virus ability to survive and replicate. The majority of the time, they may have no impact at all.

Source: This post is based on the article Two samples in Karnataka found infected with AY.4.2 published in The Hindu on 27th October 2021.


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