9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 4th, 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 
  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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Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

NS2 A win-win proposition: About Nord Stream 2

Source: This post is based on the article “NS2 A win-win proposition” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.

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

Relevance: To understand the challenges associated with Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Synopsis: A consensus on the Nord Stream 2 could benefit Germany, Russia and Ukraine, but many hurdles remain.

Introduction

A 1224 km, underwater Nord Stream Pipeline 2 running from Germany to Russia across Baltic Sea has been completed recently despite controversies. It provides the shortest, economical and environment friendly route to double Russia’s gas export to Germany.

Must read: Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Germany and Russia
What is the utility of this pipeline?

According to Russian authorities, NS2 has the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year. It can also cover the needs of about 26 million households, and restock storage inventories.

With the increase in European gas prices because of various reasons like severe winter, post covid economy surge, many industries and food supply chains are under stress. The pipeline is intended to provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while providing Russia with more direct access to the European gas market.

What are the fears raised by other countries?

Ukraine: The pipeline has irked Ukraine, as they believe that Russia will use it as a geopolitical weapon aimed at depriving Ukraine of political traction and crucial revenue. Once the pipeline is completed, Russia could bypass the existing land pipeline between Russia and Europe that runs through Ukraine and deprive the country of lucrative transit fees.

Here USA seems to have ensured Ukraine that the USA will impose tougher sanctions on Russia if it continues to disregard Ukraine’s concerns

Read more: Why has the US changed its mind on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline?

Poland and Ukraine: They accused Germany of weakening the EU’s political unity and strategic coherence by giving Russia greater leverage through NS2.

Other European countries: Some European politicians accuse Russia of pressure to speed up the start of NS2. But Russian NS2 needs European certification to become operational. This is turning out to be a lengthy process.

What is the assistance provided to Ukraine?

To ease the tensions of Ukraine, Germany has promised assistance for the development of hydrogen energy. But Ukraine has doubts about this promise to be fulfilled.

Despite the uncertainty, Elections in Germany could make things easier if a coalition supporting green energy comes into power, then it could support cleaner gas alternatives compared to other fossil fuels.


A Quad alliance for emerging technology

Source: This post is based on the article “A Quad alliance for emerging technology” published in Business Standard on 4th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Relevance: To understand the need for technological collaboration between Quad nations in today’s time.

Synopsis: To counter China’s influence, Quad announced their collaboration in the technology sector.

Introduction

Recently Quad Summit was held. Under this summit, a separate statement on “Quad Principles on Technology, Design, Development, Governance and Use” has been issued which is independent of the main statement. This signifies the focus of Quad countries on technology.

What were the commitments made under the Quad principles?

Quad countries committed themselves to develop critical and development technology to benefit the society while upholding the freedom of expression, respect for universal human rights, shared democratic values and privacy.

Share Information: Quad countries recognized the need to collaborate on areas that were earlier strictly regulated. They agreed to share research and movement of highly skilled experts. They also agreed on reducing barriers to data and knowledge sharing for research projects and greater innovation, while protecting research security,

Private Sector Collaboration: Quad pledged to support new opportunities for innovation and technology like 5G and commitment to private sector-driven international standards, and commend the initiative to foster STEM education across the countries.

Read more: Quad Leaders’ Summit – Explained, pointwise

Why China is a threat, and what are the countries approaches to counter this threat?

China has made rapid advancements in the technological sector. It has invested several billion dollars in emerging tech. It is an emerging nation in cyber hacking, robotics, artificial intelligence etc.

USA: The defence security and technology strategy of the US is now centred around countering China. According to the research of Rand Cooperation, the Aim of the Third Offset Policy of the USA was to draw on US advanced technologies to offset China’s and Russia’s technological advances.

These efforts were successful as in 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) embraced many of the fundamental tenets of technological advances and Organisational changes developed by the Third Offset.

India: India has also announced various collaborations in defence security systems driven by emerging tech. These include sectors like drone manufacturing and cyber security.

Read more: Four geopolitical developments and a window of opportunity for India
What should the Quad do?

The fear of Chinese domination in advanced technologies has brought the governments together. But most countries have their own independent technological solutions to take on the challenge. There is a need to bring in greater synergy between the QUAD countries to form a combined front against China.


Reimagining food systems with lessons from India

Source: This post is based on the article “Reimagining food systems with lessons from India” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Relevance: To understand global food insecurity

Synopsis: Given the worsening situation of global hunger, ensuring food security is the need of the hour.

Introduction

The first United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) 2021 was held in September 2021. It was conceived in 2019 by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to find solutions to transform the way the world produces, consumes, and thinks about food and help address rising hunger.

The food system transformation is essential in achieving the Sustainable development agenda of 2030. This action agenda also covers 11 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) out of 17.

What is the need for this summit?

Global food systems – The networks that are needed to produce and transform food, and ensure it reaches consumers, or the paths that food travels from production to plate – are in a state of crisis. The flaws in food systems are affecting nearly 811 million people in the world, who go to bed hungry each night.

The COVID crisis further exposed the vulnerabilities of the global food systems. An alarming escalation in global hunger was reported in the world hunger in 2020, much of it likely related to the fallout of COVID-19.

How does the summit help?

The summit created a mechanism for serious debates involving UN member states, civil society, non-governmental organisations to evolve transformative ideas for reimagining food systems. The summit also provided a historic opportunity to empower all people to leverage the power of food systems to drive our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has India contributed to the summit?

India constituted an inter-departmental group with representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development, and other agencies namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) , the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International fund for Agricultural Development(IFAD).

This group conducted national dialogues with various stakeholders of agri-food systems to explore national pathways towards creating sustainable and equitable food systems in India.

How is India helping the developing world?

India’s long journey from chronic food shortage to surplus food producer offers several interesting lessons for other developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They can learn lessons from the steps taken by India in the area of land reforms, public investments, institutional infrastructure, new regulatory systems, and intervention in Agri markets and prices and Agri research and extension.

Further, the period between 1991 and 2015, saw the diversification of agriculture towards horticulture, dairy, animal husbandry and fishery sectors.

India’s greatest contribution to equity in food is its National Food Security Act,2013 that spearheads the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the Mid-Day meals (MDM), and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) .

Food safety nets and inclusion are linked with public procurement and buffer stock policy. This was visible during the global food crises 2008-2012 and during the COVID-19 pandemic fallout. The vulnerable and marginalized families in India continued to be saved from the food crises by its robust TPDS and buffer stock of food grains.

What should be the way forward for ensuring equity and sustainability?

The world is on the cusp of a transformation to make the world free of hunger by 2030. This will require strong cooperation and partnership between governments, citizens, civil society organisations, and the private sector.


Let us revitalize multilateralism: The future of the world is at stake

Source: This post is based on the article “Let us revitalize multilateralism: The future of the world is at stake” published in LiveMint on 4th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Relevance: To understand the need required to bring reforms in multilateral institutions.

Synopsis: The great political task of our times is to bolster a rule based global order with a stronger and more inclusive UN at its core.

Introduction

Last year, the United Nations conducted worldwide consultation. It was found that the views of most of the people are almost similar. All they want is better access to services like education, health, sanitation, relief for people who are hit by the pandemic etc. They are worried about climate change, biodiversity crisis and want more global cooperation to deal with all the challenges.

Following this, UN released “Our Common Agenda”, which follows on UN75 Political declaration adopted by all UN members.

Why there is a need for joint efforts to solve the crisis?

With the recent pandemic, it is clear that people live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Thus, to solve any challenges, there is a need for joint efforts across various levels.

Why there is a need to modernize multilateral Institutions?

To solve present-day challenges: They are only built to solve inter-country challenges. They do not deal with the problems such as financial crisis, pandemic, terrorism, crime networks etc. So, there is a need to modernize multilateral institutions. For this, we can start with:

Renew commitment: There is a need to include all stakeholders like academia, civil society, young people etc so that all the different voices can be heard. There is also a need to enhance cooperation among the UN, regional organization, international finance institution at both policy and operational levels.

Implement the agenda: There is a need to act on the UN general agenda to revive and strengthen our capacity to fight against issues like poverty, equal participation, biodiversity loss, justice etc

Strengthen International Cooperation: Countries should use various opportunities to set up joint efforts to strengthen international cooperation.

Read more: A crisis of multilateralism and Asia’s rising stake in it

Peace at the heart of education

Source:  This post is based on the article “Peace at the heart of education” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.

Relevance: Education can promote peace and create social equity.

Synopsis: Pandemic has increased the social divisions. To overcome social divisions and promote peace, India should promote education.

Introduction

On October 2, everyone gathers to celebrate the ideals of peace by marking the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. The day presents an opportunity to explore the causes of violence and reassert a commitment to building a culture of dialogue through education.

How the pandemic increased social divisions?

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new forces of division globally. Levels of hate speech and fear of the ‘other’ have grown, as people have assigned blame for the virus.

Forms of structural violence – economic, racial and gendered forms- have been aggravated as marginalised groups have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic.

What are the root causes of human animosity?

In ‘Pathways for peace’, a flagship 2018 report by the World Bank and the United Nations, it was shown that many of the world’s conflicts arise from exclusion and feelings of injustice.

How one can promote peace?

Promoting education: UNESCO advocates education as a way to strengthen social equity. As it can impart the skills and values necessary to recognise and prevent potential conflicts and promote tolerance.

According to an educator, “Preventing war is the work of politicians, establishing peace is the work of educationists”.

How India is promoting peace through education?

The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 presents a unique opportunity to contribute to strengthening equity, justice and social cohesion. The policy has a broad focus on value-based and experiential education, including promoting critical thinking, cultural exchanges, teaching in regional languages, and a commitment to education for all.

As schools reopen, peace education can be even more integrated within national curricula and the broader learning environment to promote non-violence.

Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise 
How can India promote peace through education?

Providing necessary skills: Teachers and educators need to be equipped with skills to promote peace through experiential and interactive methods.

Adopting global best practices: UNESCO’s work to promote media and information literacy and sports for peace equips youth with skills to eradicate harmful stereotypes and stand up against injustice. So, India can also provide skills to youth.

Further, India can focus on inclusion. UNESCO highlights the need to recognise and improve opportunities for disadvantaged groups, like women and girls and persons with disabilities.

Beyond discussions around innovation, technology and smart future schools, India needs to understand the potential of education systems and schools in building peaceful societies.

Terms to know:


Digital health mission in a click? Not yet

Source: This post is based on the article “Digital health mission in a click? Not yet” and “Digital health ID concerns” published in Business Standard on 4th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Health infrastructure in India.

Relevance: Understanding various dimensions of Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission (ABDM)

Synopsis: Experts have stated that though ABDM is a step in the right direction, India needs a commensurate push towards establishing a robust infrastructure that’ll be required for its success.

What are some issues with the pilot?

Public health experts are not very confident about the pilot that was run in six Union territories as the benchmark for a national roll-out. The pilot was launched in August 2020 in Chandigarh, Ladakh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.

The piloting may not necessarily reveal all the glitches because they have been done in relatively sterile conditions where the central government has direct control over the administration. When this gets rolled out in larger states, its not known how well the system will function or the quality of data that will emerge.

How ABDM aims to achieve security and privacy?

According to sources, the scheme plans to achieve security and privacy ‘by design’ through three building blocks:

– Consent manager: The goal of the consent manager would be to ensure the patient is in complete control of the data.

– Anonymizer: The anonymizer takes the data from health datasets, removes all personally identifiable information to protect the privacy, and provides the anonymized data to the seeker.

– Privacy operations centre

What is the way forward?

i). Govt should test the technology in four to five different sites and socioeconomic groups to get the spatial and demographic dimensions spread over a year. Health is not like a ration card or a bank credit card. There are seasonal, behavioural, cultural, and fiscal dimensions that go into health-seeking behaviour

ii). The data-entry interface has to be user-friendly for doctors to be able to key in patient data. This will specially be required if the plan is to rope in accredited social health activist (or ASHA) workers and cover the rural health care system.

iii). It should be possible for users to opt out of the health ID and ADBM and still receive health care. Also, user-consent for every granular access of the PHR and of the demographic data should ideally be built in.


Explained: Why do the Pandora Papers matter?

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Why do the Pandora Papers matter?” published in The Indian Express on 4th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

Relevance: the issue of pandora papers

Synopsis: There are at least 380 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers. The papers consist of as many as 12 million documents from 14 companies in offshore tax havens with details of ownership of 29,000 offshore companies and Trusts. A look at various dimensions of the issue.

What are the Pandora Papers?

These are the leaked files from 14 global corporate services firms which set up about 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts in obscure tax jurisdictions and in countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States, for clients across the world.

These documents relate to the ultimate ownership of assets ‘settled’ (or placed) in private offshore trusts and the investments including cash, shareholding, and real estate properties, held by the offshore entities.

The trusts are set up in known tax havens such Samoa, Belize, Panama, and the British Virgin Islands, or in Singapore or New Zealand which offer relative tax advantages, or even South Dakota in the US, the biggest economy.

What do the Pandora Papers reveal?

The Pandora Papers reveal how the rich, the famous and the notorious, set up complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning, in jurisdictions which are loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterized by air-tight secrecy laws.

The purpose for which trusts are set up are many is two-fold:

i) to hide their real identities and distance themselves from the offshore entities so that it becomes near impossible for the tax authorities to reach them and

ii) to safeguard investments — cash, shareholdings, real estate, art, aircraft, and yachts — from creditors and law enforcers.

What is a trust?

A trust can be described as a fiduciary arrangement where a third party, referred to as the trustee, holds assets on behalf of individuals or organizations that are to benefit from it.

It is generally used for estate planning purposes and succession planning. It helps large business families to consolidate their assets — financial investments, shareholding, and real estate property.

A trust comprises three key parties: ‘Settlor’ — one who sets up, creates, or authors a trust; ‘trustee’ — one who holds the assets for the benefit of a set of people named by the ‘settlor’; and ‘beneficiaries’ — to whom the benefits of the assets are bequeathed.

A trust is not a separate legal entity, but its legal nature comes from the ‘trustee’. At times, the ‘settlor’ appoints a ‘protector’, who has the powers to supervise the trustee, and even remove the trustee and appoint a new one.

Is setting up a trust in India, or one offshore/ outside the country, illegal?

No.

The Indian Trusts Act, 1882, gives legal basis to the concept of trusts.

While Indian laws do not see trusts as a legal person/ entity, they do recognise the trust as an obligation of the trustee to manage and use the assets settled in the trust for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’.

India also recognises offshore trusts i.e., trusts set up in other tax jurisdictions.

Why are trusts set up?

i). Maintain a degree of separation: Businesspersons set up private offshore trusts to project a degree of separation from their personal assets. This way, he insulates these assets from creditors.

ii). Hunt for enhanced secrecy: Offshore trusts offer enhanced secrecy to businesspersons, given their complex structures. The Income-Tax Department in India can get to the ultimate beneficial owners only by requesting information with the financial investigation agency or international tax authority in offshore jurisdictions. The exchange of information can take months.

iii). Avoid tax in the guise of planning: Businesspersons avoid their NRI children being taxed on income from their assets by transferring all the assets to a trust. The ownership of the assets rests with the trust, and the son/ daughter being only a ‘beneficiary’ is not liable to any tax on income from the trust.


An inclusive plan for healthcare systems to be built back better

Source: This post is based on the article “An inclusive plan for healthcare systems to be built back better” published in Livemint on 4th Oct 2021.

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

Relevance: Emergency preparedness and response

Synopsis: Need to strengthen and transform our health systems by making them more equitable, resilient and sustainable for all.

Introduction

Countries in the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia Region, continue to respond to the pandemic aggressively, battling new and more transmissible variants.

In addition to covid-19, the region faces a range of pressing threats, from emerging and re-emerging diseases to natural disasters and climate-related weather events. For instance, in 2021 alone, India, Indonesia and Timor-Leste have had to respond to floods. Indonesia and Nepal responded to earthquakes.

In all countries of the region, the need of the hour is to strengthen capacities to prevent, prepare for, respond and recover from covid and other health emergencies, and to accelerate progress in all areas of health.

Why resilient health systems are important?

Resilient health systems are the bedrock of emergency preparedness and response, and ensure that when acute events occur, essential health services can be maintained.

Strong health systems that are primary health care (PHC)-oriented, and which leave no one behind, resulting in populations that are healthier, more productive and financially secure.

What are the action plans agreed by the south Asian member countries?

Action plans agreed by South Asian member countries at the 74th Session of the WHO Regional Committee to build back better essential health services:

First, full recognition of the need for a health-in-all-policies approach that addresses social, economic and environmental determinants of health, and which empowers communities. Governance of the health sector in particular will be strengthened, including through greater oversight and engagement with the private sector and civil-society organizations.

Second, increased public investments in health that are allocated towards strengthened PHC services, enhanced human resources for health, and increased access to essential medical products. Investment in PHC could also accelerate progress on other SDG targets, like zero poverty, decent employment and gender equality. Since 2019, the WHO has advocated that all countries globally increase spending on PHC by at least 1% of gross domestic product.

Third, better integration of health emergency and disaster risk management strategies, as well as public health emergency preparedness and response capacities, with PHC services. This will help in reducing response times, empowering local networks, and responding to on-the-ground needs as and when they arise.

Fourth, taking advantage of the potential of traditional systems of medicine, as well as key innovations in digital and disruptive health technology.

Fifth, strengthening partnerships. Covid has shown that robust and reliable bilateral, multilateral and public–private partnerships are critical to emergency responses and to maintain essential health services. Such partnerships will also aid in supporting India’s overall vision that is cohesive, and which is aligned with our long-term targets and goals.


GS Paper 3

Revealing India’s actual farmer population

Source: This post is based on the article “Revealing India’s actual farmer population” published in The Indian Express on 4th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Agriculture

Relevance: To estimate the actual number of agricultural households

Synopsis: Various surveys put the total number of agricultural households at a different number. The actual number of farmers deriving a significant share of their income from agriculture only is far less and this has policy implications.

Introduction

The last Agriculture Census for 2015-16 placed the total “operational holdings” in India at 146.45 million.

The Pradhan Mantri-Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme has 110.94 million beneficiaries who got their Rs 2,000 income support installment for April-July 2021.

And now, we have the National Statistical Office’s Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households (SAAH) report for 2018-19. It pegs the country’s “agricultural households” at 93.09 million.

In short, India officially has anywhere from 90 million-plus to almost 150 million farmers.

Why this wide variation in the number of farmers?

This wide variation has largely to do with methodology.

The Agriculture Census looks at any land used even partly for agricultural production and operated/managed by one person alone or with others. The land does not have to be owned by that person (“cultivator”), who needn’t also belong to an “agricultural household”.

The SAAH report, on the other hand, considers only the operational holdings of agricultural households. Members of a household may farm different lands.

While the Census treats each of them as separate holdings, the SAAH takes all these lands as a single production unit. It does not count multiple holdings if operated by individuals living together and sharing a common kitchen.

Accounting for only “agricultural households”, while not distinguishing multiple operating holdings within them, brings down India’s official farmer numbers to just over 93 million.

The authors of this article, using their methodology, estimate that India’s “serious” farmer population adds up to 36.1 million, which is hardly 39% of the SAAH estimate.

If the actual number of farmers deriving a significant share of their income from agriculture per se is only 40 million — as against the official, also popular, consensus range of 100-150 million — a range of policy implications follow.

What are the policy implications of a lesser number of farmers?

Firstly, one must recognise that farming is a specialised profession like any other. Not everyone can or needs to be a farmer. “Agriculture policy” should, then, target those who can and genuinely depend on farming as a means of livelihood.

Minimum support prices, government procurement, agricultural market reforms, etc will matter mainly to “full-time/regular” farmers. Even PM-Kisan would be more effective if directed at these farmers, whose quantum of income support can be enhanced to encourage them to remain in or expand their agriculture business.

Secondly, land size matters. The SAAH report reveals that the 50% farm income dependence threshold is crossed at an all-India level only when the holding size exceeds one hectare or 2.5 acres. This is clearly the minimum land required for farming to be viable, which about 70% of agricultural households in the country do not possess.

Thirdly, What should be done for this 70%, who are effectively labourers and not farmers? Their problems cannot be addressed through “agriculture policy”. A more sustainable solution lies in reimagining agriculture beyond the farm. Crops may be produced in fields, but not everyone needs to engage in cultivation.

The scope for value-addition and employment can be more outside than on the farm like, grading, packaging, transporting, processing, warehousing and retailing of produce or supply of inputs and services to farmers. All these activities legitimately fall within the realm of agriculture, even if outside the farm. Agriculture policy should aim not only at increasing farm incomes but also adding value to produce outside and closer to the farms.


Clash of economy and ecology in global politics

Source: This post is based on the article “Clash of economy and ecology in global politics” published in Business Standard on 4th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Geopolitics and its impact on Climate change

Synopsis: We cannot ensure sustainable growth unless it is affordable and inclusive

Introduction

Thirty years ago, India ushered in economic reforms. As the growth intensified, the use of natural resources too increased, and it added to the pollution of our waterbodies and air.

In the next two decades, India witnessed much more toxification of our land, water, air, and food, and realised how it impacts our health.

It is for this reason there have been repeated conflicts over the need to balance development with the environment. However, the resolution is often flawed because public institutions that are required to make decisions have been progressively weakened and disabled.

How India needs to reinvent its growth story?

It has to be based on the needs of all and not just a few. It has to protect the environment because that is the survival base on which life thrives.

For instance, Investment in natural capital, trees and water, will help build the resilience we need in the climate-risked world.

How U.S. – China rivalry will hamper the agenda of reducing greenhouse gas emission?

Since the extraordinary rise of China, it has overtaken just about all countries in global trade. It relied on cheap labour, cheap credit, and no restrictions on account of environmental or social safeguards. Today, the western economies are adapting the Chinese Growth strategy model to compete with China.

For instance, the proponents of free trade and globalisation are turning towards protectionism.

This struggle for global domination, which pits China against the US, will have ramifications for environmental security and climate change in India and the rest of the world.

Today, the countries that aspire to become new world leaders aim to increase its economic standing in the world through manufacturing, trade, and global commerce. This means there will be more pollution and more greenhouse gas emissions.


Staying the Green Course

Source: This post is based on the article “Staying the Green Course” published in Indian Express on 4th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Relevance: Green Transition

Synopsis: In CoP 26, world leaders need to discuss how best governments can help each other stay on the “green” course and also manage shorter-term political compulsions.

What is the current scenario?

Rise in price of natural gas: The price of natural gas in Europe has shot up by approximately 600 per cent over the past 12 months. A year back, it was trading at just under $4/mmbtu (Metric Million British Thermal Unit), and today it is hovering around $25/mmbtu.

Reversal of the conventional feedback loop: Conventionally the price of oil would lead to a change in the price of gas, this time it is the price of gas that has pushed up the prices of oil and coal. This is because as the former became increasingly unaffordable, consumers turned to the latter.

What is the dilemma in front of governments?

The price hike of natural gas would incentivize an increase in the production of fossil fuels and that would run counter to not just public sentiment but also the efforts to shift to a clean non-fossil fuel energy system.

The dilemma is to find a way to navigate the long-term imperatives of decarbonization and also manage the political and social backlash from consumers impacted by high electricity and fuel costs.

What are the reasons for the price surge of natural gas?

On the demand side: the strongest driver has been the global economic recovery. Added to that are the micro factors of the drop in hydropower in Brazil and China because of drought, the reduction in wind power because of unfavourable wind conditions in the North Sea and the underperformance of nuclear reactors in Europe. The severe summer heat in the US, Europe and China has also been a factor.

On the supply side: The economic blockers were the cold wave in Texas this year, which froze gas wells and throttled the export of US LNG, the start-up of the maintenance work suspended since 2020 on account of Covid-19 and the declining production profile of the giant Groningen field in the Netherlands.

This field is slated to close down in two years. Matters have been compounded by the diversion of US LNG cargoes destined for Europe to Asia and low inventories.

The geopolitical factor: Russia has provided approximately 40 per cent of Europe’s gas requirements but it always had the capacity to supply more and could have come to Europe’s rescue this time. But it decided not to. The reason is Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The US has been an opponent of this pipeline on the grounds it strengthens Russia’s leverage over Europe. In consequence, the EU has not yet approved its operationalisation.

Integration of markets: the gas market today is different. It is global, integrated and liquid. That is why, what happens in one region quickly spill over into other geographies. For instance, the CIF price of spot LNG landed in Hazira, Gujarat averaged around $6/bbl a year back.

What is the way forward?

First, World leaders will assemble in Glasgow next month for COP 26 and since they are aligned on the nature of the climate crisis and the steps that must be taken to address it.

Second, leaders will have to work together to smoothen the green transition to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Third, the sustainable response is to leverage this price shock to improve energy efficiency, intensify demand conservation, intervene to prevent the switch to coal and increase investments in battery and storage technology and transmission infrastructure to scale up solar and wind energy supplies.


COVID-19: How bio-medical waste poses challenges to urban solid waste management system

Source: This post is based on the article COVID-19: How bio-medical waste poses challenges to urban solid waste management system” published in The Down to Earth on 1st Oct 2021. 

Syllabus: GS3- Environmental Pollution and Degradation, 

Relevance: To discuss the threat posed by COVID-19 virus in waste sector. 

Synopsis: COVID-19 virus has increased the urban solid waste which is very infectious and risky. Some suggestions to deal with the situation. 

Introduction 

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic tremendously affected the waste sector, with medical waste subjected to uncontrolled dumping and open burning. It is leading to public health risks. 

Why it is important to prioritise a separate collection of waste? 

With the potential onset of the third wave, it is important to prioritise a separate collection of the infectious and highly infectious waste in the urban solid waste management system (USWM).

It is also crucial to equip the system with essential resources and skills to break the infection chain at the generation stage. 

What steps have been taken to improve the urban solid waste management system (USWM)? 

First, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) notified the Solid Waste Management Rules and Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules in 2016 to effectively manage waste. 

Second, the local governments adopted several policies for waste management. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) issued specific guidelines for Indian states to store, collect, transport, recycle, process and dispose of COVID-19 infectious waste to reduce the risk of infection spread. 

How COVID-19 has affected the waste sector? 

First, the COVID-19 outbreak increased the quantity of urban solid waste (USW) generated and changed its composition. These changes have been accelerated by the widespread implementation of syndromic management of COVID-19 throughout India. 

Secondthere is addition to traditional residential USW. It includes infectious and highly infectious bio-medical waste generated during diagnosis, treatment and quarantine. These include sanitary waste, masks, gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits that have the potential to spread infection. 

Third, the quantity of USW from households increased during the lockdown. The increase can be attributed to the disease’s effects on lifestyles such as in-home cooking, online shopping, use of packaged foods, etc. 

Thus, bio-medical waste management has become a part of the current urban solid waste management system and poses serious challenges to it. Second wave of COVID-19 in India further increased the risk, with the increased number of infected patients and changes in isolation, quarantine and hospitalisation protocols. 

What steps are needed to deal with urban waste management?  

First, the USW system has to upgrade its facilities to accommodate the changes.  

Second, the infrastructure resilience of the waste management system needs to be examined. 

Third, management of bio-medical waste generated in hospitals needs to follow standard protocols for segregation of infectious and highly infectious waste and their treatment at the source. 

Fourth, the virus can survive a maximum of three days (up to 72 hours). We can segregate and store the waste in a yellow bag to reduce the chances of spreading the infection. Storage space and availability of manpower can pose challenges in implementation. 

Fifth, separate collection of infectious and highly infectious waste needs to be streamlined through appropriate authorities collecting the waste regularly from households to avoid unauthorised dumping of waste. 

Sixth, the infectious waste should not be mixed with the daily USW during storage, collection and transportation. 

Seventh, reducing the use of PPE kits in non-COVID-19 areas and the use of reusable masks and gloves is a potential short-term solution to reduce waste generation. 


What the continued distress in informal labour market says

Source: This post is based on the article “ What the continued distress in informal labour market says ” published in The Indian Express on 4th Oct 2021. 

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

Relevance: To discuss the distress faced by the informal labour market 

Synopsis: Status of informal sector in India, distress faced by them mainly during the Covid-19 pandemic and various impacts of the sustained divergence between the formal and the informal labour force. 

Introduction

Recently released economic data suggests that the Indian economy has emerged from the second wave of the pandemic better than expected. Two broad points emerge.  

First, the second wave was far more severe. Still, the impact of the localized restrictions imposed during this period on economic activity was less damaging than observed last year.  

Second, in the weeks and months thereafter, large parts of the economy are almost back to pre-Covid levels. But distress is lasting in large parts of the informal economy. 

What is the status of the informal sector in India? 

The informal/unorganised sector in India accounts for roughly half of the total value added in the economy (52.4 per cent in 2017-18). It employs around 90 per cent of the labour force. 

The distress faced by this sector can be estimated from the state of the informal labour force.   

What does the various data represent? 

First, In the first quarter of the ongoing financial year, the number of households demanding work under MGNREGA was lower than last year. But it was higher than pre-covid levels. There could be two possible explanations for this.  

The extent of distress in the labour market last year was of a much higher magnitude.  

The spread of the pandemic in rural areas this year curtailed the registration of households demanding work under MGNREGA. 

Second, In the second quarter, however, the number of households demanding work this year was not only around the same level as last year, but was also significantly higher than the pre-Covid level (2019-20). This signals two possibilities. 

sections of the informal labour force in rural areas and the migrant households who have not returned to urban areas, were unable to find non-farm employment. They had to rely on MGNREGA. This implies that large parts of the informal economy (manufacturing, construction, trade and transport) were operating well below their pre-Covid levels in the second quarter as well. 

A section of the informal labour force simply opted for whatever work was available at depressed wage rates wherever employment opportunity was available. They supplemented its income by seeking work under MGNREGA.   

 What does the level of sustained distress in the informal labour market represent? 

This level of sustained distress in the informal labour market points towards a continuing gap in the fortunes of the formal and informal parts of the economy. 

Data also revealed that the bigger companies flourished, the smaller ones continued to be in distress. 

What are the outcomes of the sustained divergence between the formal and the informal labour force? 

First, worsening of the income distribution.  

Second, loss in purchasing power of the lower half of the distribution chain would translate to the aggregate household consumption basket shifting towards that of the relatively wealthy households. This would raise demand for the less labour-intensive services and high-end/imported manufactured products and reinforce the current labour market trends. 

Third, this distressed labour market has broader implications for aggregate consumption and investment, and indicates subdued medium-term growth prospects. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Eye on China, India looks to step up engagement with Indian Ocean

What is the news?

Recently, India held a special training course for 6 Indian Ocean countries Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

What was the course about?

The course includes modules on India’s polity, foreign policy, contemporary maritime issues, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, international framework under UNCLOS, multilateral and economic diplomacy, diplomatic protocol, health diplomacy and climate change challenges.

The government is hoping that this course will help to promote mutual understanding and corporation between Indian Ocean countries. It will further enhance to build awareness about this region.

Countries like the Comoros and Madagascar, the largest island in the Indian Ocean, showed a lot of interest in the programme.

How China is influencing Madagascar region?

China appointed a defence attache (member of an armed force who served in the embassy) to consolidate its naval position. It also launched a Chinese language course in the Madagascar defence ministry to facilitate more “exchange of ideas and experience”. China earlier also trained Madagascar officials in the French.

How India is facing challenges in influencing Madagascar?

India had already approved the appointment of military attache years so, but the actual appointment is yet to made. Another proposal for the deployment of a liaison officer at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre in Madagascar is also delayed. Apart from this, the appointment of English teachers in Madagascar has still not been finalized

What does Madagascar seek from India?

According to the Madagascar defence minister, they want to enhance their relationship through joint military exercises and capacity building programmes. They also seek Indian cooperation in the maritime sector through the transfer of Indian expertise to the Magalasy National Navy.

Source: This post is based on the article “Eye on China, India looks to step up engagement with Indian Ocean” published in Times of India on 4th October 2021.

Terms to know:


Gaming disorder increases during pandemic

What is the news?

The pandemic spurred an increase in the use of Internet devices has resulted in an increase in gaming addiction throughout India.

About the Online games and gaming addiction in India

According to the All India Gaming Federation, India’s online gaming industry is expected to be worth ₹15,500 crores by 2023.

A 2019 survey by the U.S.-based Limelight Networks found that India had the second-largest number of gamers after South Korea. In India, while time spent online is still not as high as in other countries, the survey found that almost a quarter of adult Indian gamers had missed work while playing games.

What are the impacts of gaming addiction?

Gaming addictions cause physical, social and emotional damage, impairing sleep, appetites, careers and social lives. The addiction can also cause insomnia, withdrawal from social contacts, academic failure, and extreme anger and irritability.

For these reasons only, the World Health Organization categorised gaming disorder as a mental health condition in 2018.

How India tries to limit online gaming?

In India, the legal focus has been on recent laws in the southern States seeking to ban online games such as rummy, poker or even fantasy sports which offer prize money or financial stakes. But, recently Kerala High Court quashed such a law in the State.

The Kerala High Court accepted the stance of Industry that games of skill should not trigger bans on gambling.

How China is regulating online games?

Recently, China limited gamers under 18 years to just three hours of online games per week. The limit is also during specified times. China made the industry responsible for enforcing the restriction.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Gaming disorder increases during pandemic” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.


British-era bungalow is home to Brahmaputra heritage centre

What is the news?

Vice-President has recently inaugurated the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre in Guwahati.

About the Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre

The Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre has been set up in a nearly 150-year-old Scottish-type wooden bungalow after an elaborate restoration. The Centre is located in Guwahati’s Barphukanar Tila, meaning Barphukan’s Hillock.

The centre has on display the history of the Battle of Saraighat, the heritage of Assamese war boats, an amphitheatre, an exhibition space, a cafeteria and two viewing decks.

About Barpukhan hillock

Barpukhan was a post equivalent to Governor-General created by Ahom king Pratap Simha or Susengpha (1603-1641). The hillock in the Brahmaputra has been mentioned in ancient scriptures as Mandrachal. The hillock is used to be the 17th-century military office of the Ahom rulers.

From this hillock only, Ahom General Lachit Barpukhan launched the Battle of Saraighat in March 1671 to inflict the most crushing defeat on the Mughals.

Captain Archibald Bogle, posted as the Assistant Commissioner and Collector of Kamrup district in the 1850s, had the bungalow built.

Post-Independence, it continued to be the Deputy Commissioner’s Bungalow until 2011.

What is the significance of the Battle of Saraighat?

The Battle of Saraighat was the last major attempt by the Mughals to extend their empire into Assam. The Battle was fought in 1671 between the Mughal Empire, led by Raja Ram Singh I and the Ahom Kingdom, led by Lachit Borphukan.

The Ahom army defeated the Mughal Army by brilliant uses of the terrain, guerrilla tactics, clever diplomatic negotiations to buy time, military intelligence and by exploiting the sole weakness of the Mughal forces—its navy.

Battle of Saraighat is regarded as the “greatest naval battle ever fought in a river”.

Source:  This post is based on the article “British-era bungalow is home to Brahmaputra heritage centre” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2021.


PM launches Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and AMRUT 2.0

What is the news?

Prime Minister launched Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation 2.0. Both of them will be implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).

About the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0

The mission would be implemented over five years — from 2021 to 2026. The focus of SBM-U 2.0 will be on sustaining the sanitation and solid waste management outcomes achieved and accelerate the momentum generated, thus taking Urban India to the next level of ‘Swachhata’.

The aim of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0’ is to “make the cities completely free of garbage”.

Key components of SBM 2.0

Ensuring complete access to sanitation facilities to serve additional populations migrating from rural to urban areas in search of employment and better opportunities.

Complete liquid waste management in cities with less than 1 lakh population to ensure that all wastewater is safely contained, collected, transported and treated.

Under Sustainable Solid Waste Management, greater emphasis will be on source segregation.

Special focus will be put on the well-being of sanitation and informal waste workers.

Material Recovery Facilities, and waste processing facilities will be set up, with a focus on phasing out single-use plastic. Construction & demolition waste processing facilities will be set up.

Mechanical sweepers deployed in National Clean Air Programme cities and in cities with more than 5 lakh population.

Remediation of all legacy dumpsites will also be done under the mission.

Expected outcomes of SBM 2.0

It is expected that under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, all statutory towns will become at least ODF+; and all cities with <1 lakh population ODF++.

Systems and processes will be in place so that all waste water is safely treated and optimally reused and no untreated wastewater pollutes water bodies.

Regarding Solid Waste Management, it is expected that all cities will achieve at least 3-star Garbage Free certification under SBM-U 2.0

About AMRUT 2.0

AMRUT2.0 aims to make around 4,700 towns/cities‘ water secure’. It will build upon the progress of AMRUT to address water needs, rejuvenate water bodies, better manage aquifers, reuse treated wastewater, thereby promoting circular economy of water.

The Objective of AMRUT 2.0 is to provide 100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 ULBs.

Key components of AMRUT 2.0

It will provide 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities, by providing 2.64 crore sewer connections/ septage connections, thereby benefitting around 10.6 crores people.

Rejuvenation of water bodies and urban aquifer management will be undertaken to augment sustainable freshwater supply.

Upscaling from 500 cities covered under AMRUT with 1 lakh+ population to all 4,372 cities, covering 100% urban India.

It will promote a circular economy of water through the formulation of the City Water Balance Plan for each city, focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation.

Pey Jal Survekshan will be conducted in cities to ascertain the equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies.

Technology Sub-Mission for water will leverage the latest global technologies in the field of water.

The AMRUT-2.0 Mission will promote Public-Private partnerships (PPP). It will also promote the GIG economy and on-boarding of youth & women. Further, a target based capacity building program will be conducted for all stakeholders including contractors, plumbers, plant operators, students, women and other stakeholders.

Source:  This post is based on the following articles

  • “PM launches Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and AMRUT 2.0” published in PIB on 1st October 2021.
  • “Prime Minister launches Schemes for transforming Urban Areas- AMRUT 2.0 and Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0” published in PIB on 1st October 2021.

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh launches a Special Campaign on disposal of pendency in Government of India during the period 2nd October to 31st October, 2021

What is the news?

The government has launched a dedicated Portal and a Special Campaign for disposal of pending grievances in the Government of India during the period 2nd October to 31st October 2021. The campaign will focus on citizen-centric governance to bring “Ease of Living” for the common man.

About the campaign

The Special Campaign is aimed at ensuring timely and effective disposal of Public Grievances, references from MPs, State Governments, Inter-Ministerial Consultations and Parliamentary Assurances by each Ministry/Department during the campaign period.

During this special campaign, files of temporary nature may be identified and weeded out as per the extant instructions, and redundant scrap material and obsolete items may be discarded to improve cleanliness at workplaces.

Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) will be the nodal Ministry to monitor the implementation of this campaign.

How the campaign will function?

DARPG has developed a dedicated Dashboard for the campaign, and also issued detailed guidelines in this regard to all Ministries/Departments of Government of India.

Each Ministry/Department has designated a Nodal Officer for the special campaign. The progress should be monitored by the Secretaries/HOD on daily basis.

What is the need for the campaign?

There had been a 10-fold increase in public grievance cases since 2014. The public grievances have increased from 2 lakh in 2014 to nearly 22 lakhs at present, with more than 96 percent disposal of cases.

Ministries and Departments have identified over 2 lakh cases of pending Public Grievances and 4.5 lakh physical files for weeding. To resolve them, a dedicated campaign has been launched.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh launches a Special Campaign on disposal of pendency in Government of India during the period 2nd October to 31st October, 2021” published in PIB on 1st October 2021.


Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur launches nationwide Clean India Programme from Prayagraj

What is the news?

Department of Youth Affairs of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in commemoration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava is organizing a nationwide Clean India Programme from 1st October 2021 to 31st October 2021.

About the Clean India Programme

The programme will be the largest cleanliness drive in the world. The programme will be organised in 6 Lakh villages of 744 Districts across the country through the networks of Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS) affiliated Youth Clubs & National Service Scheme affiliated Institutions.

The aim of the programme is to create awareness, mobilize people and ensure their involvement in cleaning waste mainly Single-Use Plastic waste throughout the country.

Under this initiative, 75 Lakh kgs of waste, mainly plastic waste, will be collected and disposed of with the support and voluntary participation of citizens.

Key activities of the Clean India Programme

The focus point of the Clean India Programme is villages. But, specific segments of the population such as Religious bodies, Teachers, Corporate Bodies, TV and Film Actors, and others are also participating on a particular designated day to show their solidarity for the cause and making it a public movement.

The Cleanliness Drives will also be undertaken at historical/iconic locations and hotspots such as Tourist Places, Bus Stand/Railway Stations, National Highways and Educational Institutions.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Union Minister Shri Anurag Thakur launches nationwide Clean India Programme from Prayagraj” published in PIB on 1st October 2021.


Kamdhenu Deepawali 2021 campaign launched

What is the news?

Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has launched a Kamdhenu Deepawali campaign to promote Cow Entrepreneurship and Cow based Panchgavya products.

About the Kamdhenu Deepawali campaign

Kamdhenu Deepawali campaign is to make cows to be economically useful by proper economical use of Cow Dung and Cow Urine too along with its Milk, Curd, Ghee.

The campaign was launched to manufacture and market more than 100 Crore Cow dung based products, such as Deepak lamps and Laxmi-Ganesh Idols.

More than 300 items are getting made by Panchgavya from cows. This includes Deepawali items too like – Deepak, Lamps, Candles, Sambrani cup, Dhoopbatti, incense sticks, Hardboard, Wall piece.

Note: Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog has provided training along with many Volunteer organizations across India. This gave rise to a large number of Cow dung based Start-Ups.

Benefits of the Kamdhenu Deepawali campaign

Cow Entrepreneurs across India will get benefitted from this campaign.

The Gomaya lamps made by Cow Entrepreneurs and Cow owners will save the environment by providing eco-friendly alternatives to chemical-based Chinese lights.

About Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog

It is an agency working under the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying of Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying. It was established to protect cows.

The agency organises animal husbandry on scientific & modern lines. It also takes steps to preserve & improve breeds, as well as prohibit the slaughter of cows & calves. The agency also functions as an integral part of Rashtriya Gokul Mission.

Source:  This post is based on the article “Kamdhenu Deepawali 2021 campaign launched” published in PIB on 3rd October 2021.


NITI Aayog, in a joint effort with IFPRI, IIPS, UNICEF and IEG launch ‘The State Nutrition Profiles” for 19 States and Union Territories

What is the news?

NITI Aayog, in a joint effort with International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Indian Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), UNICEF and the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) has launched ‘The State Nutrition Profiles’ for 19 States and Union Territories.

About the ‘State Nutrition Profiles’ (SNPs)

The SNPs give insights on nutrition outcomes, immediate and underlying determinants and interventions based on National Family Health Survey (NFHS) rounds 3, 4 and 5.

The SNPs include a comprehensive compilation of crucial data that can positively affect policy decisions and facilitate research in the area.

They contain the trend analysis of key indicators such as wasting, stunting, anemia, underweight and overweight and NCDs (Diabetes and High blood pressure) showcase the variability of performance across districts.

The reports highlight the best and worst-performing districts, the highest-burden districts and top coverage districts of the country.

How the SNPs are framed?

The SNPs are based on the headcount-based analyses and use of data from NFHS-5 to provide evidence that helps identify priority districts and the number of districts in the state with public health concerns as per WHO guidelines.

The SNPs include a colour-coded dashboard to compare the coverage of nutrition interventions across all the districts in the state.

Each SNP has incorporated key takeaways for children, women and men and identifies areas where the state has the potential to improve further.

Source:  This post is based on the article “NITI Aayog, in a joint effort with IFPRI, IIPS, UNICEF and IEG launch ‘The State Nutrition Profiles” for 19 States and Union Territories” published in PIB on 1st October 2021.


The aftermath of delayed central infra projects

What is the news?

According  to  the  Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI)

As many  as 470 central sector projects have witnessed a combined  cost overrun  of  4.37  trillion.

560  projects have an average time overrun of 46.94 months.

Why are the projects delayed?

The following factors have resulted in delays:

Localized curbs

Lack of infrastructure support and linkages

Land acquisition delays

Forest and  environment  clearances

Delayed tendering, law and order  problems

Inadequate manpower

What needs to be done?

The following key steps need to be taken:

Improved management of infrastructure projects, including strengthening of internal processes to build in-house project management capabilities

Enhanced stake-holder management for land acquisition

Obtaining regulatory approvals, a dispute resolution mechanism in the public-private partnership model

Establishment of robust project governance

What is the way forward?

Infrastructure creation plays a key role in economic development. Land is a state subject, and it is important that the Centre and States work together to make land acquisition a smooth and seamless procedure for investors.

The process of granting environmental clearances needs to be more efficient and transparent. Time-bound clearances and implementation norms should be adhered to by all. Senior officials should be made accountable.

Source: This post is based on the article “The aftermath of delayed central infra projects” published in Livemint on 4th Oct 2021.


Centre rolls out new survey to map job creation in the informal sector

What is the news?

The Union government has rolled out a nationwide survey, the Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES), to map employment generation in the unorganized sector and establishments deploying less than 10 workers.

About Area Frame Establishment Survey

The informal sector survey has also been designed by veteran labour economist and statistician S.P. Mukherjee.

The labour bureau, the data and statistics wing of the Union labour ministry will collect samples from all states and present quarterly reports.

This will be the second quarterly employment survey conducted by the labour ministry. The first survey tapped formal sector establishments employing 10 or more people. Both the quarterly surveys put together will collect data from around 150,000 small, medium, large and very large establishments.

Why we need such surveys?

Data on all aspects of labour is crucial, and scientifically collected data is the bedrock of any evidence-based policymaking.

A holistic view on jobs sector and employment generation will be beneficial in policymaking and in having a clear picture of the labour market.

Source: This post is based on the article “Centre rolls out new survey to map job creation in the informal sector” published in Livemint on 4th Oct 21.


NGRI proposes landslip, flood warning system

What is the news? 

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research -National Geophysical Research Institute (CSIR-NGRI) has launched an ‘Environmental Seismology’ group to develop a ‘Landslide and Flood Early Warning System’ for the Himalayan region.  

It is based on real-time monitoring with dense seismological networks, coupled with satellite data, numerical modelling and geomorphic analysis. 

What is the purpose of this early warning system? 

It would enable a crucial warning several hours prior, which will save human lives and property. Its need was necessitated following the flash floods at Chamoli district in February when a steep glacier on the Nandadevi peak in Garhwal Himalaya got detached.

It caused a major avalanche and inducing flash floods in the Rishi Ganga and Alaknanda rivers in Chamoli (Uttarakhand) . It killed several persons downstream and caused damage to two power plants. 

Source: This post is based on the article ” NGRI proposes landslip, flood warning system ” published in The Hindu on 4th Oct 2021. 


Molnupiravir, the covid drug that everyone wants to launch

What is the news? 

Indian drugmakers are preparing to play a key role in the global scale-up of the oral covid-19 drug molnupiravir. It is termed to be the first antiviral to treat the disease. 

How the drug is beneficial? 

The experimental drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 50% in an interim trial. Afterwards it has been decided to stop trials and seek emergency approval from the US drug regulator. 

Unlike a vaccine, there is really no limitation to scale up the manufacturing of this drug as the chemical process to produce it is simple. We are also in discussions with not-for-profit organizations such as UNITAID, UNICEF for a possible supply agreement. 

What is the status of drug approval in India and how it is useful? 

Next month, at least three Indian drugmakers will seek approval from the drug regulator following the completion of their own clinical trials for the drug in India. 

An approval will help in the global scale-up of the drug, especially in low- and middle-income countries. In India, there are 12 companies that are running clinical trials for this drug. 

Source: This post is based on the article ” Molnupiravir, the covid drug that everyone wants to launch ” published in Livemint on 4th Oct 2021. 


 

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