9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 8th, 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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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Decentralised renewable energy solutions offer great promises for healthcare facilities

Source: This post is based on the article “Decentralized renewable energy solutions offer great promises for healthcare facilities” published in Down to Earth on 7th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Health

Relevance: How decentralized renewable energy solutions can help India’s health infrastructure

Synopsis: In facilitating access to affordable RTPV electricity in public healthcare facilities, India can achieve the twin objective of greening the economy and transforming the healthcare infrastructure so that it can provide affordable health services.

Introduction

It has been a big challenge for our health infrastructure to deal with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Apprehension about a third wave of COVID-19 has many health institutions setting up their own oxygen plants within their premises.

But, the electricity cost of running these oxygen plants is around 70-80% of the running cost. 

Many health institutions have attempted setting up oxygen plants within their premises under the PPP mode (design-build-finance-operate-transfer). But electricity costs make these projects unviable and unable to compete with the far larger liquid medical oxygen plants. This has driven away private investors.

In the post-pandemic world, energy access interventions involving rooftop photovoltaics (RTPV) can help health facilities and enable them to become ‘atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant).

Why RTPV systems should be implemented?

The rationale behind adoption of RTPV systems is driven by the following factors:

i). Electricity cost savings: The RTPV system can produce significant savings for daytime electricity consumption. The state of Madhya Pradesh in mid-2018 discovered the electricity tariff for medical colleges under the RESCO model, a renewable energy service company to be around Re 1.74 / unit with 3% annual escalation (with subsidy support from the state and central governments) and Rs 2.18 / unit (without subsidy). These rates are a fraction of what medical colleges pay for grid-supplied electricity.

Electricity savings can be used to purchase medicines and for other necessary expenditures, as well as to strengthen the health infrastructure.

A 234-kW RTPV project has been commissioned at the Government Medical College, Shivpuri as part of the project. This has led to saving of more than Rs 15 lakh in the first year and expected cumulative savings over project life of around Rs 7 crore. This is with zero investment by the medical college.

ii). Environmental benefits: RTPV systems would also result in environmental benefits. For instance: The project, mentioned above, results in approximately 7,187 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being reduced over the project life. This environmental gain would have been achieved by planting 12,345 trees.

iii). Generation of jobs: In a preliminary assessment published by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the potential for RTPV in all district hospitals and medical colleges of our public healthcare system is estimated to be approximately 450 MW, entailing an investment of about Rs 1,575 crores and generating over 13,000 jobs locally.

What are some disadvantages of RTPV electricity systems?

The high initial cost of RTPV intervention is one of the reasons state governments overlook such investments, given the budgetary constraints of making significant capital expenditures.

What steps are being taken to offset high initial cost of RTPV systems?

NITI Aayog’s and the World Bank’s SuBaH initiative aims to bridge these gaps by demonstrating the OPEX / RESCO model to provide affordable RTPV electricity services to health facilities.

The health institutions or governments would therefore not have to make any investment whatsoever and would make savings from day one. The investment would be made by solar developers, who would recover their investment through the sale of power to the health institutions over the 25 years.

Efforts in demand aggregation planned under the initiative will optimise upfront costs and reduce the overall cost of energy services through economies of scale.

What is the way forward?

Cooperation between the private sector, the public sector and non-governmental organisations has proven crucial to the success of healthcare electrification, such as using the pay-as-you-go model in Rwanda, micro-grids anchored around the facilities and connected to staff housing in Madagascar and Lesotho. Such partnerships should be encouraged.


Stronger at the grassroots: On strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions

Source: This post is based on the article “Stronger at the grassroots” published in The Hindu on 8th October 2021. 

Syllabus: GS2- Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein, GS 3- Disaster and Disaster Management. 

Relevance: Role played by Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in tackling the menace of COVID-19. 

Synopsis: About PRIs, role played by them in COVID-19 crisis, need to build their capacity further so that they can deal with these kinds of situations in stronger way.

Introduction 

The Panchayati Raj was first adopted by Nagaur in Rajasthan on October 2, 1959. It has expanded vastly. There are now 2,60,512 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) represented by about 31 lakh elected members across India.  

What are PRIs? 

This is a system of local self-governance, where people in the villages participate in the decision-making process. It is the backbone of democracy. They also provide a platform to build consensus and making resolutions in the community’s interest.

The People’s Plan Campaign and Vibrant Gram Sabha Dashboard, rolled out this year, aspire to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system by making gram sabhas more vibrant.

How PRI played a key role in tackling COVID-19 crisis? 

Unlike other disasters like earthquakes, COVID-19 is an unusual crisis as it is long-drawn and affects people everywhere.

When the traditional top-down disaster response system was compromised during the bad months of the pandemic, it was PRIs that played a remarkable role.  

Helped reduce risks– responded swiftly and thus helped people recover quickly. They provided essential leadership at the local level. 

Performed both regulatory and welfare functions– For instance, during the nationwide lockdown, PRIs set up containment zones, arranged transport, identified buildings for quarantining people and provisioned food for the incoming migrants.  

Effective implementation of welfare schemes like MGNREGA and the National Rural Livelihood Mission – This quickened the pace of recovery while ensuring support to the vulnerable population.  

Bridged the trust gap between the community and the officials– They did it with regular engagement with frontline workers like ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers through committee.

Organised community-based surveillance systems – It involved village elders, the youth and self-help groups (SHGs). The purpose was to keep a strict vigil in quarantine centres and monitor symptoms in households.  

Mobilised citizens for COVID-19 vaccination.

How we can further build the capacity of PRIs? 

The Yokohama strategy pointed out that it is important to focus on disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness rather than disaster response alone, to reduce vulnerability. In this light, certain initiatives can be taken to build the capacity of PRIs:

– Include disaster management chapters in Panchayat Raj Acts and make disaster planning and spending part of Panchayati Raj development plans and local-level committees. This will ensure citizen-centric mapping and planning of resources. Various insurance products customised to local needs will build financial resilience of the community. 

– Conducting regular location specific training programmes for the community and organising platforms for sharing best practices. This will strengthen individual and institutional capacities.  

– Assigning roles to individual members and providing them with the necessary skills. It can make such programmes more meaningful.  

– Community-based disaster management plans are needed as the community is usually the first responder in case of a disaster. We also need to take the traditional wisdom of local communities which will complement modern practices. Moreover, financial contributions from the community should be encouraged through the establishment of community disaster funds in all gram panchayats.

It is the high time to make disaster resilience an inherent part of the community culture. 

GS Paper 3

Will a bad bank fix India’s broken banking system?

Source: This post is based on the article “Will a bad bank fix India’s broken banking system?” published in The Hindu on 8th Oct 2021.

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

Relevance: Regarding the recently established Bad bank

Synopsis: Last month, the Union government set up the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) under the Companies Act. Two experts, Ajit Ranade  and C.P. Chandrasekhar, discuss the bad bank proposal. We list out the key points.

Must Read: NARCL: Need and Challenges – Explained, pointwise
What is the need to bail out banks? 

There are many reasons to bail out banks.

One is the fact that interests of the depositors is involved here. If we allow banks to fail, depositors who operated under the presumption that the regulatory framework would protect their money would be undermined. Historically, we’ve found that central banks try to actually save banks, either by bailing them out or by amalgamating them with stronger banks, in order to be able to protect depositors.

Two, there is a systemic problem. If a bank fails, and there is a sort of contagion effect, we could actually have systemic problems. Banks are the core of the settlements system and the credit structure and allowing them to go down would be a problem.

And finally, there is also the option of getting banks to write off these bad assets and then the government can recapitalize them. But that would deal a significant blow to the government’s finances.

Isn’t there the risk of moral hazard linked with bailouts, which makes banks more complacent?

We need to compare the risk of moral hazard of bailing out banks versus the impact that bank failures would have on depositors and the social and political implications of it.

Why has the government opted for a bad bank over directly infusing capital into banks?

It’s important that these bad loans be moved to a separate entity which is exclusively focused on recovery, so that the bank can then focus on its core business, which is business development, giving new loans, credit growth, etc.

Also, for their growth, banks will need to be infused with additional capital to achieve the credit growth needed to get to 7-8% GDP growth. So, the government will continue to pour more capital into banks, while bad loans will be moved to a separate entity.

Does the bad bank proposal actually address the root causes of the banking crisis or is this just a temporary band-aid?

The fact is that over the last few years, the NPA ratio has been mounting, and we’ve tried many things. In that sense, the bad bank is taking a small chunk out of the overall NPAs to keep the problem within manageable proportions.


Our automobile sector needs a hearty dose of tax relief

Source: This post is based on the article “Our automobile sector needs a hearty dose of tax relief” published in Livemint on 8th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth

Relevance: Problems ailing India’s auto industry and likely solutions.

Synopsis: Due to a demand slump and reluctance shown by entrepreneurs to invest in the auto industry, it is going through a rough phase. This sector can be a key driver for the future economic growth of India.

Introduction

Indian auto industry suffered yet another setback when the renowned automaker, Ford Motors, decided to exit India a few weeks ago.

Faced with declining demand for vehicles and often also rising inventory levels, most auto production facilities in the country have been running below their capacities. The covid pandemic and its associated lockdowns have only worsened the industry’s problems.

As the outlook remains uncertain despite signs of recovery in the market for passenger vehicles, most players are reluctant to make fresh investments. Moreover, the private consumption demand has also not picked up.

Falling consumption and a lack of investment by entrepreneurs has been responsible for a steady decline in overall growth since 2016-17.

What is the present scenario of India’s auto industry?

The auto industry also reflects the above-mentioned trends, as it contributes 7.5% to GDP, but certain sectors within the industry show improvement:

– Motor cars registrations have smartly recovered, showing robust growth

Two-wheeler volumes remain down

If motor car and two-wheeler sales are considered indicators for consumption by upper and lower-income households, respectively, their divergent trends suggest a K-shaped recovery.

Why is auto industry significant for India?

It accounts for 49% of the manufacturing sector’s output and employs around 35 million people directly and indirectly.

Globally, India is the fifth-largest passenger-car manufacturer with 2.9 million vehicles produced in 2020, according to the International Organization for Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

It is also the world’s largest market for two-wheelers and the largest maker of tractors.

The industry thus can be a critical driver of overall growth. It is a bright spot now that vehicle-manufacturing in most advanced countries has reached maturity.

What are some concerns for auto industry?

Auto industry is driven by consumption demand and the outlook on demand is still worrisome.

Urban consumers are postponing purchases as new mobility solutions emerge that are disrupting the global auto industry. Electric mobility, digitally connected and autonomously driven vehicles have the potential to drive consumers away from the traditional combustion-based vehicles.

The value of car ownership itself is being called into question, with ride-hailing options provided by apps like Uber and Ola.

What is the way forward?

As an engine of growth, the auto industry needs policy attention.

– Lowering the cost of ownership will help generate demand. For instance: We can lower the GST component of the purchase wherein even two-wheelers attract a Goods and Services Tax of 28%.

– Electric mobility: The government is pushing electric mobility and has announced a package to incentivize electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. But, if electric vehicles fail to turn affordable, they too will face the demand constraints faced by other carmakers. Perhaps India could learn from the example of Norway, which facilitated electric mobility through truly generous tax subsidies.


A host of challenges greets India’s new Air Chief

Source: This post is based on the article “A host of challenges greets India’s new Air Chief” published in The Indian Express on 8th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

Relevance: Challenges confronting Chief of Air Staff

Synopsis: The IAF has played a stellar role in defending India. The squadron strength of the Air force is depleting. We need a quality and quantity check of its operational assets before pushing for the creation of theatre commands.

Introduction

Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari assumed office as Chief of Air Staff on September 30. One of the main problems confronting Chief of Air Staff, is that of IAF’s depleted assets.

What are the challenges confronting the new Air Chief?

The new Air Chief has a wide spectrum of challenges to address, including

Rewiring of India’s military into new theatre commands and the reservations expressed by the IAF about its “support” role

The depletion in operational air assets due to obsolescence and lack of new platforms. From a strength of 42 combat squadrons in 2002, the IAF now operates barely 30. Experts have cautioned that the combat strength of the IAF will decline to 27 squadrons in five years and will come down to 19 in 10 years.

All this at a time when the country is coping with the Covid pandemic, a complex geopolitical situation due to US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the setback in Galwan.

How the Air force intends to boost its squadron strength?

In the next decade

IAF hopes to induct the indigenous fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and the Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) — a new platform that would be built in India with a foreign entity, the “original equipment manufacturer” (OEM), and thereby move up to 35 squadrons.

What are the issues with future plans to boost squadron strength?

The AMCA is “under design” and India’s track record in the design and manufacture of indigenous fighter aircraft is cost- and time-intensive.

As regards the MRFA, the request for information for 114 jets has just been issued. The Rafale experience and the long delays associated with it would suggest that speedy selection of an OEM will be difficult to find.

What is the way forward?

Air power is becoming technologically more refined with unmanned platforms, cyber-space linkages and AI advances. The inherent trans-border nature of this military capability needs astute professional and political handling. China has demonstrated the degree of suasion and intimidation that airpower can bring to bear in relation to Taiwan.

Acquiring credible aerospace power with a meaningful degree of indigenization will need a greater degree of national resolve, professional integrity and resource allocation.


Seeding a data revolution in Indian agriculture

Source: This post is based on the article “Seeding a data revolution in Indian agriculture” published in The Hindu on 8th October 2021. 

Syllabus: GS3 – Agriculture

Relevance: Using digital tech for boosting farmer’s income

Synopsis: Two consultation paper, one by the Ministry of Agriculture and the other by Bain were released recently. They both talk about leveraging digital technology for helping farmers and supporting their livelihoods.

Introduction

The first consultation paper is on the India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture (IDEA) from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW). It talks about a digital revolution in the agriculture sector. 

The second is on Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption from a private organisation, Bain and Company. It predicts a revolutionary investment growth in agri-logistics, offtake, and agri-input delivery by 2025.

What is Bain report? 

The Bain report is a data-based prediction on agri-business scenarios related the agricultural set-up at present and predicting its
future trajectories in another 20 years. It includes targeting the production of alternative proteins, and food cell-based food/ingredients and initiating ocean farming, etc.
 

The report has a ‘today forward– future back approach’ and predicts a drastic investment opportunity development by 2025. The agriculture sector (currently worth $370 billion), is estimated to receive an additional $35 billion investment.  

The two enabling conditions for such investment opportunities are the  

changes in the regulatory framework, especially recent changes in the Farm Acts and

-digital disruption

As per the report, huge investments into the agri-ecosystem can help to achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income in near future.  

What is IDEA report? 

The IDEA-consulting paper is based on the Task Force and Working Group report constituted by the MoA&FW to design the blueprint of “digital agriculture”.

IDEA concept is aimed at farmer and the improvement of farmers’ livelihood which can be achieved through tight integration of agri-tech innovation and the agriculture industry ecosystem to farming and food systems. 

Value-added innovative services by agri-tech industries and startups are an integral part of the IDEA architecture. This will help Indian agriculture sector to become a single national market with a national platform with better connection between producer and consumers.  

What are some issues with these reports? 

First, the IT industry has opposition to IDEA due to the ethics of creating a Unique Farmer ID based on one’s Aadhaar number and data misuse.  

Second, the emission, energy, and other resource footprints and sustainability issues around these techniques must be carefully studied to confirm the projected trajectory (which is not a part of the report). 

Third, both these reports heavily rely on digital disruption to improve farmers’ livelihoods. But they fail to discuss how much farmers will be prepared to benefit from these newly emerging business environments. The reality is that majority of small and marginal farmers are not having practical knowledge of the technology. Most of them are under-educated for capacity building. Overall, report ignored the capacity-building required at a farmer’s end.    

Fourth, The Bain report relies on the general assumption that more investments into the agriculture sector will benefit farmers, but it failed to answer how. Also, the IDEA concept fails to clarify, how the technology fix will help resolve all the nine issues of Indian agriculture listed at the beginning of the report. T 

What is the way forward?

Though, data revolution is inevitable in the agriculture sector, but we can not only rely on technology fixes to deal with the issue.

We need to improve the capacities of the farmers in India – at least until the educated young farmers replace the existing under-educated small and medium farmers. This capacity building can be done through a mixed approach. 

building the capacities of individual farmers or  

coping with the new situation by establishing support systems, through FPOs and other farmers associations where technical support is available for farmers.  

To fulfil this target, we need a separate programme across the country with considerable investment. 


The farmers’ movement is no longer about the three controversial farm laws

Source: This post is based on the article “The farmers’ movement is no longer about the three controversial farm laws” published in Livemint on 8th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Agriculture

Relevance: Farmers’ protest against the farm laws passed by the Central govt.

Synopsis: Despite the Supreme Court issuing a stay on the controversial farm laws passed by the govt, the protests which started against them, have carried on. They are now less about the farm laws but more about the issues and problems being faced by our farmers since long. A brief look at some of these issues.

Introduction 

The death of farmers participating in the farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Khiri, Uttar Pradesh, is turning into a political contest.  Attempts to prevent the politicization of the event led to a restriction on political parties.

All this has brought the farmers’ protest back into focus. 

Why farmer protest is more than just being about the farm laws?

The 2020 farm laws led to country wide protest in India. What has surprised many is the longevity of it. More so because the 2020 farm laws they oppose are technically under a Supreme Court stay and there has been no push by the government to implement them, or even to have the stay vacated.  

Clearly, the farmer protest today has less to do with a demand for the laws’ withdrawal than broader concerns on issues related to the sustainability of farming and farm livelihoods.

What is the background of the protest and situation in various parts of India? 

The current agitation started after the three farm laws were forced through Parliament without consultation with the sector’s stakeholders. But in reality, farmer protests have been going on for the last five years in various parts of the country.  

A mobilization in Maharashtra witnessed two long marches. Similar demonstrations were witnessed in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and several other states. In Madhya Pradesh, farmers in 2017 were fired upon, resulting in death of seven farmers. 

The causes of these protests were different but had a common theme and reasons. 

Why India has been witnessing farmer protests since few years? 

Declining profitability of farming– driven by rising input costs, weak farm-gate prices and the withdrawal or dilution of protections available from the state.  

Decline in income– not only incomes of farmers have declined between 2012-13 and 2018-19, but the majority of them have turned to wageworkers from farmers. This has resulted in an increased share of casual-wage income in the overall earnings by farmers

Increase in number of workers in farm sector- With jobs drying up in non-agricultural sectors, the number of workers in the farm sector has risen up, resulting in decline in per- worker income. With rural wages also falling in real terms over the past three years, farmers’ hardship have worsened.

Attempting to malign the farmers protest– this has angered farmers. This was visible in the early months, when their movement was sought to be linked with foreign elements. 

Trust deficit- The absence of consultation with farmers and criticism of farmer unions has led to a widening trust deficit between farmers and policymakers. Such a situation may not be conducive to allowing and facilitating greater market penetration and participation by private players. Instead, it is likely to contribute to farmer resistance to all reforms in the agricultural sector proposed by the government.

No major efforts by the govt: Govt Efforts to negotiate with farmers have been superficial and lacking any enthusiasm. Even the report of the Supreme Court-appointed committee has not been shared publicly, with no further attempts from the judiciary.

What is the way forward? 

Since farmers along with other people dependent on agriculture still account for almost two-thirds of the country, a prolonged protest could also turn into social and political unrest.

More so given the large pool of unemployed youth in rural areas who only have a slim chance of getting absorbed meaningfully by an economy suffering from a slowdown and pandemic-induced economic distress.

In times of such a multi-dimensional crisis, a confrontational attitude taken by governments towards farm-protesters will only strengthen their movement. 

Consensus for structural changes in the farm sector needs trust-building and onboarding of all stakeholders.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

India Joins High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People

Source: This post is based on the article “India Joins High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People published in ‘PIB’ on 07 October 2021. 

What is the news?

At a ceremony held between the French and Indian governments in New Delhi, India officially joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.

What is the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People?

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People was initiated at the “One Planet Summit” in Paris in January 2021. The coalition aims to promote an international agreement to protect at least 30 % of the of world’s land and ocean by 2030 (30×30 target).

The 30×30 target is a global target that aims to halt the accelerating loss of species and protect vital ecosystems that are the source of our economic security.

HAC is co-chaired by Costa Rica and France, and by the United Kingdom as Ocean co-chair.

Members: At present, the group has more than 70 countries encouraging the adoption of the global goal to protect 30×30. The members of HAC currently include a mix of countries in the global north and south. These include European, Latin American, Africa and Asia countries are among the members.

India is the first BRICS country to join the HAC.

Why 30×30 target is needed?

Currently, an estimated 15% of the world’s land and 7% of the ocean are protected. In order to address both the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, there is growing scientific research that half of the planet must be kept in a natural state. Some research papers have suggested that the number should be even higher.

Despite this, experts agree that a scientifically credible and necessary interim goal is to achieve a minimum of 30% protection by 2030. So, to achieve this, the world needs to double the current land protections and more than quadruple current ocean protections.

What is the significance of India joining HAC?

India is a major player in biodiversity protection. So, joining the HAC is a real game-changer and will boost multilateral efforts to protect 30×30.

There is a high-level biodiversity meeting, hosted by China, to take place virtually in October this year. The meeting will focus on key aspects of the biodiversity treaty to be finalized in 2022. The global 30×30 goal is currently a centrepiece of the treaty. So, India’s membership will boost the adoption of the biodiversity treaty.


Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying unveils National Digital Livestock Mission Blueprint at NDDB

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying unveils National Digital Livestock Mission Blueprint at NDDB published in ‘PIB’ on 07 October 2021. 

What is the news?

Union Minister of State Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying unveiled the National Digital Livestock Mission Blueprint at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

What is the National Digital Livestock Mission (NDLM)?

NDLM is a digital platform developed jointly by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) and NDDB on the foundation of the existing Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH).

Aim of NDLM: The aim is to create a farmer-centric, technology-enabled ecosystem where the farmers are able to realize better income through livestock activities with the right information.

The bedrock of NDLM will be the unique identification of all livestock, which will be the foundation for all the state and national level programmes, including domestic and international trade.

How the NDLM will benefit farmers?

Through NDLM, the farmers will be able to effortlessly access the markets, irrespective of their location or holdings through this digital platform as a wide range of stakeholders will be connected in this ecosystem.

This system will also include robust animal breeding systems, nutrition, disease surveillance, disease control programmes and a traceability mechanism for animals and animal products.

Why does India need NDLM?

The livestock sector has a unique combination of being the backbone of rural livelihood. The growth would have been a lot better if there were concerted efforts to harmonise programmes across the country in order to create an ecosystem that is conducive to the growth of the sector.

This has been the main idea behind the deployment of NDLM, keeping the welfare of the farmer at the core.

What is National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)?

The NDDB is a statutory body and an institute of national importance, established by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1965. It was founded by Dr Verghese Kurien, often called ‘India’s milkman’.

The NDDB was created to boost, finance and support producer-owned and controlled organisations in the dairy industry. The NDDB is headquartered in Anand, Gujarat.

NDDB’s efforts transformed India’s rural economy by making dairying a viable and profitable economic activity for millions of milk producers while addressing the country’s need for self-sufficiency in milk production.


How seven mega textile parks will help the industry

Source: This post is based on the article “How seven mega textile parks will help the industry” published in Livemint on 08th October 2021.

What is the news?

The government recently cleared the PM MITRA scheme to set up seven mega textile parks over five years.

Read more: Government has approved setting up of 7 Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (PM MITRA) Parks 
What does the scheme mean for the Textile industry?
PM MITRA
Source: Livemint

Help to address the bottlenecks: The textile and apparel industry in India  is  deeply fragmented and due to past policies, including those meant for the protection of small-scale industries, could not scale up. The Scheme will  break this bottleneck and help the textile sector grow and achieve global competitiveness.

Make the textile sector more competitive: One of the key factors affecting the global competitiveness of India’s textile and garment exports is the logistics cost. The logistics cost is high due to the fragmented nature of the sector. Mega  integrated  textile parks could be an answer to this.

Help in scaling up of textile sector: The scheme will also help businesses to scale up and to make value-added products leveraging the abundant raw material resources available in the country

Open to all segments of the textile and apparel industry: The government earlier announced a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme. But this scheme is limited to the man-made fibre segment and technical textiles alone. PM MITRA scheme is open to all segments of the textile and apparel industry. This also includes technical textiles.

Read more: Production-Linked Incentive or PLI Schemes and its challenges – Explained, pointwise

Provide additional benefits to the sector: All benefits offered by states either under their textile policy or under their industrial policy will be available to the units coming up under PM MITRA.

Further, the benefit of tax refund will also be available under the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies scheme. So, the benefits available under PM MITRA is an additional boost to the sector.


CURTAIN RAISER: 6TH EDITION OF INDIA – UK JOINT COMPANY LEVEL MILITARY TRAINING: EXERCISE AJEYA WARRIOR COMMENCES AT CHAUBATIA (UTTARAKHAND)

Source: This post is based on the following articles 

  • “CURTAIN RAISER: 6TH EDITION OF INDIA – UK JOINT COMPANY LEVEL MILITARY TRAINING: EXERCISE AJEYA WARRIOR COMMENCES AT CHAUBATIA (UTTARAKHAND)” published in ‘PIB’ on 07 October 2021. 
  • “Indian forces to carry out exercise with U.K. published in The Hindu on 08 October 2021. 
What is the news? 

The 6th Edition of India – UK Joint Military Training Exercise Ajeya Warrior has commenced at Chaubatia (Uttarakhand). The execution of joint military operations is done in a semi-urban environment. 

The second meeting of the India-U.K. Joint Working Group (JWG) on cyber capacity-building was held through videoconferencing. 

What are the expected outcomes of Exercise Ajeya Warrior? 

The exercise is part of an initiative to develop interoperability and sharing expertise with friendly foreign nations.

Experiences gained during the conduct of various military operations in their respective countries and during overseas engagements would be shared during this exercise. 

Also, there would be a series of Expert Academic Discussions on various subjects of mutual interest such as Combined Arms Concept, Sharing of Experiences in Joint Force, Operation Logistics, etc. 

As part of the training, both the Armies would familiarise themselves with each other’s weapons, equipment, tactics, techniques and procedures for carrying out joint military operations. 

What are the other exercises between India-UK? 

Passage Exercise (PASSEX): It was conducted between the Indian Navy and Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group to ensure that the navies are able to communicate and cooperate in times of war or humanitarian relief.

Exercise Konkan: It is also a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of the UK. The Exercise aims to consolidate interoperability and help cement the strong bonds of friendship between the two navies.

Exercise IndradhanushIt is a joint bilateral air exercise between India and the UK started in 2006. 


Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices

Source: This post is based on the article “Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 08 October 2021. 

What is the news? 

The report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21“, released by the Union Ministry of Education talks about the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What are the key findings of the report? 

The report shows that 40% to 70% of school-going children in seven large states do not have access to digital devices. These states are– Assam (44.24%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Bihar (58.09%), Gujarat (40%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Madhya Pradesh (70%) and Uttarakhand (41.17%). 

In absolute numbers, prepared on the basis of surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices. 

The digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to the adequate availability of smartphones and television sets. 

Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%. 

What is the significance of the report? 

Report once again spotlights the grim reality of differential access to education, made starker by the pandemic-induced disruption and the consequential digital divide. 

The official figures also validate the concerns expressed by non-profits working in the education sector. 

The report also highlights the interventions at various levels to bridge the divide, but those interventions did not emphasise enough on the need to scale up the efforts. 

What are the challenges associated with the report? 

There are questionable claims like that of Rajasthan that it does not have students without digital access. 

The true picture remains incomplete in the absence of data from states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 


In India, 5 out of 6 multidimensionally poor are from lower tribes or castes: UN report

Source: This post is based on the article In India, 5 out of 6 multidimensionally poor are from lower tribes or castes: UN report published in Times of India on 08 October 2021. 

What is the news? 

The UN report: Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021 highlights yet another divide in the Indian society as 5 out of 6 multidimensionally poor are from lower tribes or castes. 

What is the key focus of the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021?

The report provides estimates on multidimensional poverty for 109 developing countries.

Present multidimensional poverty estimates disaggregated by ethnicity and caste for 41 countries to identify who is – and how people are – being left behind. 

The intrahousehold analysis of poverty with a gender focus. 

It revealed how multidimensional poverty could amplify the impacts of COVID-19 shocks, hurting education, employment and livelihood. 

What are the key findings of the Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021? 
Key findings at the global level

The report mentions that there are 1.3 billion multidimensionally poor people globally.

The top five countries with the largest number of people living in multidimensional poverty are India (381 million), Nigeria (93 million), Pakistan (83 million), Ethiopia (77 million) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (56million).

Women and Children: Almost two-thirds of global multidimensionally poor people – 836 million- live in households in which no female member has completed at least six years of schooling. These people live mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (363 million) and South Asia (350 million).

The report also found that half of global multidimensionally poor people are children.

Women-led houses: One in six multidimensionally poor people across 108 countries live in female-headed households.

Key findings related to India

The report mentions that, in India, five out of six multidimensionally poor people are from lower tribes or castes.

The Scheduled Tribe group accounts for 9.4% of the population and is the poorest, with 65 million of the 129 million people living in multidimensional poverty. They account for about one-sixth of all people living in multidimensional poverty in India. 

Following the Scheduled Tribe group is the Scheduled Caste group with 33.3 percent – 94 million of 283 million people living in multidimensional poverty.

The report further said that 27.2 percent of the Other Backward Class group– 160 million of 588 million people — live in multidimensional poverty.

Overall, five out of six multidimensionally poor people in India live in households whose head is from a Scheduled Tribe, a Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Class.

In India, close to 12 percent of the Multidimensional poor population — 162 million people — live in female-headed households.

About the Multidimensional Poverty Index

The report is developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 2010 for UNDP’s Human Development Reports. 

Read more: Human Development Index (HDI) and other Indices of UNDP

NITI Aayog is the nodal agency that has been assigned the responsibility of leveraging the monitoring mechanism of the Global MPI to drive reforms. 

According to Global MPI 2020, India is 62nd among 107 countries with an MPI score of 0.123 and 27.91% headcount ratio, based on the NFHS 4 (2015/16) data. 


SC empowers green tribunal to initiate action on its own

Source: This post is based on the article “SC empowers green tribunal to initiate action on its own” published in “The Times of India” on 08 October 2021. 

What is the news? 

The Supreme Court has empowered the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with suo motu(on its own) power to initiate proceedings on its own in case of environmental exigencies. 

Earlier status 

Earlier, the NGT could pass on a ruling only after a petition has been filed by someone before the tribunal. 

What is the significance of the ruling? 

The ruling now gives more teeth to the NGT, which would have wider implications for the society and environment in particular. 

The tribunal would no longer remain a mute spectator to the damages done to the environment and can act in a proactive manner. 

What is National Green Tribunal (NGT)? 

It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources. 

Must readNational Green Tribunal (NGT) 

Explained: Importance of Nobel winner Abdulrazak Gurnah’s writing in highlighting the refugee experience

Source: This post is based on the articles 

  • “Explained: Importance of Nobel winner Abdulrazak Gurnah’s writing in highlighting the refugee experience” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 08 October 2021. 
  • “Tanzanian novelist wins Nobel published in The Hindu on 08 October 2021. 
What is the news? 

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to “Abdulrazak Gurnah”, who was born in Zanzibar and now lives in the UK. He became the fifth African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read more: Nobel Prize for Physics Goes to 3 for Climate Discoveries
About Gurnah’s work

He is the author of 10 novels and several short stories and essays. These include “Desertion” and “Paradise”(shortlisted for the Booker prize). 

The Theme of his works mostly dealt with ‘immigrant experience and how exile and loss, shape identities and cultures’. 

Read more: Explained: Nobel Prize in Medicine 2021
What is the significance of his work in the contemporary world? 

At a time when the global refugee crisis is exponentially on the rise, Gurnah’s work draws attention to how racism and prejudice against targeted communities and religions perpetuate cultures of oppression. 

Read more: Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021
About the Nobel Prize in literature

It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. The Nobel Prize in literature is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country. The award is based on an author’s body of work as a whole. 

Read more: About Nobel Prizes 

 

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