9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – October 9th, 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

There’s an urgent need to clean up the World Bank and IMF

Source: This post is based on the article “ There’s an urgent need to clean up the World Bank and IMF ” published in The Indian Express on 9th October 2021. 

Syllabus: GS2- Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate. 

Relevance: Integrity of two big institutions of the world, WB and IMF are at stake 

Synopsis: Wrongdoings of WB and IMF, unsuitability of heads of these institutions, various steps that these institutions need to take to maintain their credibility and legitimacy 

Introduction 

Head of the World Bank and IMF are selected under the dual monopoly selection procedure wherein only an American can head the World Bank and only a European can head the IMF. This has been the result of a long-standing arrangement among the western powers.

It needs to change.

Why the dual monopoly system needs to change? 

The system requires change because of the selection of such heads whose personal integrity has often been called into question.

For instance: Manipulation of data by the WB wherein the bank manipulated the data of at least two major countries (China and Saudi Arabia) to make them look better than they would otherwise have been. This shows that its integrity is at stake and not the ideology.

Why qualities of honesty and decency are a must for heads of world institutions?  

The heads of these institutions often go around the developing world, preaching the virtues of good governance, from arguing against the corruption to improving data integrity. There are even World Bank indices to rank countries on those metrics. 

If they do not have the qualities of honesty, morality and decency, then it is for sure that they will not pass good message to others.  

How credible can such policy messages be if their carriers are themselves compromised? It is not just the charge of hypocrisy, but also the effect on the morale and motivation of the staff of these institutions. Many of them chose to work here because of a commitment to public service. How must they feel if their boss is a sexual predator or complicit in data manipulation?  

What have been the policies of developed countries in making appointments to International Organizations? 

Countries place their nationals to head International institutions, both for prestige and to pursue their national interests. Moreover, there is now a deliberate contest between the West (and especially the US) and China to shape the global order by placing their nationals as head of global international organizations.

China is following the same strategy. It is evident from the fact that China attempts to place its own nationals in existing IOs as well as creating new ones. Its own nationals now head four of the 15 UN specialised agencies. China’s efforts, its success, and more broadly its influence in IOs should certainly raise deep concerns, most notably the suppression of the inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

Equally, Western countries have been anything but an exemplar in their commitment to international organisations (the US neutering of the World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body under both Trump and Biden administrations is another recent example).

What is the way forward?

Global political leaders must act with urgency and conviction to stem the rot.

They must open the selection of the heads of these institutions to the best candidate, regardless of nationality.


GS Paper 3

Simple, but brilliant: on Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Source: This post is based on the article “Simple, but brilliant: on Nobel Prize for Chemistry” published in The Hindu on 9th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS – 3 – Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Relevance: The article discusses the significance of the discovery of asymmetric organocatalysis.

Synopsis: This year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry is awarded for the discovery of an efficient, “precise, cheap, fast and environmentally friendly” concept of catalysis asymmetric organocatalysis.

ReadWhat is asymmetric organocatalysis?

Significance of discovery

Simpler: This concept for making molecules is simpler than one could ever imagine.

Accelerating research: The multitudes of new organocatalysts developed have helped drive a variety of chemical reactions, in turn accelerating pharmaceutical drug research.

Other expensive catalysts: In 2001, the three scientists who first developed asymmetric catalysts won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. But such catalysts often use heavy metals, making them expensive and environmentally harmful.

Easing the process of molecules: Natural and synthesised molecules can exist in two forms — right-handed and left-handed. Their properties very often vary depending on their handedness. In the 1950-60s, thalidomide was widely used to treat nausea in pregnant women, but caused severe birth defects. It became clear that the right-handed molecule was highly toxic. But asymmetric organocatalysts allowed the production of molecules of the desired mirror-image form.

Minimizes waste: Other catalysts require the isolation and purification of each intermediate product. It leads to loss of substance at every stage. On the other hand, the use of asymmetric organocatalysts minimizes waste by allowing several steps in molecule production to continue without interruption.


Need Smart Govts For Checking Big Tech

Source: This post is based on the article “Need Smart Govts For Checking Big Tech” published in Times of India on 8th Oct 2021.Syllabus: GS -3 Industries and industrial policies

Synopsis: This article is based on ideas from a book on how governments can check the power of big techs.

Introduction

The book System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, has been written by Stanford University professors Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy M Weinstein. This book talks about the issues created y Big techs and ideas to check them.

Today, the world’s five biggest companies by market cap are Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook.

These companies just focus on profit and are not concerned about the problems they are creating. But when they face backlash, they spend enormous resources on lobbying, public relations, and influencing legislators.

Many tech CEOs see themselves as philosopher-kings or display a libertarian streak and a disdain for government intervention.

How to check the powers of big Techs?

Governments can limit the power of Big Tech in three ways.

First, address the power gulf between companies and consumers when it comes to personal data. Aggressive commitment to data protection and government agencies capable of enforcing that right would be the first check on corporate power.

Second, give greater voice within companies to those who are likely to be hurt by technological change – limit the powers of directors.

Third, a crackdown on monopolistic behavior and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. Recall how Facebook snapped up WhatsApp and Instagram to control 85% of the social networking market.

Fourth, To keep an effective check on these companies, lawmakers have to be more tech-literate too, so that they are not spun by lobbyists.


Coal’s problems are governance, not climate regulation

Source: This post is based on the article “Coal’s problems are governance, not climate regulation” published in Business Standard on 8th Oct 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: EnergyRelevance: Understanding the power shortage crisis in India

Synopsis: The recent power shortage crisis in India is not about coal, and neither it is about climate action. It’s about poor governance.

Introduction

It is the worst news possible for a world struggling to recover from a pandemic while also trying to increase its effort to combat climate change: Power shortages in China and India.

Various forecasters have cut their estimates of 2022 growth in China by about 0.5 percentage points.

India’s coal shortages have not yet translated into widespread and significant reductions in expectations of growth in the current year. But that might change if there are major industrial power cuts when the festive season hits and expands consumer and household electricity demand.

The Union power minister has warned that supply constraints could last for six months.

Must Read: Coal Crisis in India – Explained, pointwise
What are the problems being faced by India?

They face similar problems in terms of coal supply:

i). Costly imports: Spot price for seaborne high-quality thermal coal has now crossed $200 a tonne — a new record, surpassing one set just before the 2008 financial crash. This has limited options for coal imports.

ii). Low production: Domestic coal mining has stumbled. Stockpiles of coal in India have crashed from around 50 million metric tonnes when the pandemic hit in 2020 to under 10 million tonnes today. Coal-fired power plants in India entered October with about four days’ worth of coal inventory; it’s usually a couple of weeks’ worth at least.

Is sharper global regulation on emissions responsible for the present shortage?

The fact is that although many supply restrictions have come into force in multiple economies, the basic problems for this electricity shortage are those of market structure and governance.

Policymakers would be wrong to look at this power crisis and assume it means that more climate-friendly regulation is the problem. Power crises are being caused for the same reasons in 2021 that they were decades ago:

Unreformed pricing

Poor management of infrastructure

– Poor governance: Coal India claims it has returned to pre-pandemic levels of production, effectively blaming the problems on the Railways’ negligent treatment of coal trains — although moving coal provides almost half of the Railways’ freight revenues, and more than half of its profits. Here too, there is a governance issue to be resolved.

Climate change-associated weather events have played a greater part than normal, with peculiar rainfall patterns and associated floods delaying shipments from the coalfields in India’s east-central states.


What the attacks against minorities in Kashmir reveal

Source: This post is based on the article “What the attacks against minorities in Kashmir reveal” published in The Indian Express on 9th Oct 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Role of External State and Non-state Actors in creating challenges to Internal Security.Relevance: terror attacks against minorities in Kashmir

Synopsis: Reasons behind recent terrorist attacks in Kashmir, challenges involved and the future course of action.

Introduction 

The targeted terror attacks against minorities in Kashmir indicate a dangerous move. Sikhs and Hindus were identified and shot for being who they are. It also led to Muslim casualties. The purpose was to spread terror, threating minorities and taking advantage of the communal tensions which are developing in India. 

Such attacks indicate that counter-insurgency strategies have their place but not without any comprehensive political settlement that involves all parties.

What is the motive behind these attacks? 

Drawing a response from the state: The purpose of these attacks is to draw a response from the state and to create a “whatever happens we will win” strategy. 

Deepening the communal divide: Their purpose is deep communal divide in India. With this terrorism will get strength. 

What are some challenges in resolving the insurgency issue?

– Absence of a united front: Indian republic is facing the tragedy of not have a common language of solidarity or a political language that can express a united front against violence of all kinds. In a state like Kashmir, we do not still have the political language to overcome this divide. 

– Absence of a political settlement: Kashmir still does not have avenues of normal political articulation. Its statehood has not been restored and its constitutional humiliation continues. Kashmir was never allowed the normal processes of social mediation of a democracy. No new political class has emerged. In its absence, there is no chance of a counterinsurgency strategy succeeding. 

How should the govt respond?

The first is a deepening and widening of combing for terrorists inside Kashmir. 

The second response is external. In the Indian state’s mind, there is no doubt that this is the work of groups supported by Pakistan. If that is the case, we have once again been reminded (as the US was in Afghanistan), that air strikes are not a solution to the problem of terrorism.  


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

2 journalists battling for freedom of expression awarded peace Nobel

What is the news?

Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia received the Nobel Prize for Peace “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression”.

This is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament programme.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.

About Maria Ressa

An investigative journalist, Ressa in 2012 co-founded Rappler, a digital media platform for investigative journalism, which she continues to head.

The Nobel Committee noted that Rappler has “focused critical attention” on President Rodrigo Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. It said Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents, and manipulate the public discourse.

In the RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index, the Philippines ranked 138 of 180 nations (India was ranked lower, at 142).

Ressa, the first Filipino to win the peace prize and the first woman to be honoured this year with an award by the Nobel committee, was convicted last year of libel and sentenced to jail in a decision seen as a major blow to press global freedom

Dmitry Muratov

The Nobel Committee said Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. During the Vladimir Putin regime, Russia has ranked 150 in the RSF’s 2021 World Freedom Index.

Five years after Muratov left the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, he along with around 50 colleagues started Novaja Gazeta in 1993, as one of its founders. He has served as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief since 1995.

Committee to Protect Journalists, a US-based non-profit, had felicitated Muratov as one of its International Press Freedom awardees in 2007. CPJ had called Novaja Gazeta the only truly critical newspaper with national influence in Russia today.

Muratov is the first Russian to win the peace prize since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990

Source: This post is based on the article “2 journalists battling for freedom of expression awarded peace Nobel” published in TOI on 9th Oct 2021 and “Explained: Nobel Peace Prize to independent journalists who stood up for freedom of expression” published in Indian Express on 9th Oct 2021.


Launch of I-Sprint’21: IFSCA’s Global FinTech Hackathon Series Sprint01: BankTech

What is the news? 

I-Sprint21, the global FinTech Hackathon Series of IFSCA was launched recently, where the first Sprint of the series “Sprint01: BankTech” is focussed on FinTechs for the Banking sector. 

Sprint 01: BankTech is hosted jointly by IFSCA and GIFT city in collaboration with NITI Aayog. In Union Budget 2020-21 finance minister envisaged on supporting a “World Class FinTech Hub” at GIFT IFSC. 

What is Sprint01: BankTech hackathon?

Under its banner a series of Hackathons cutting across the spectrum of banking, insurance, securities and fund management have been planned in IFSC. 

Sprint01: BankTech” hackathon is first under the I-Sprint series focussing on the Banking Sector and is one of its kind being backed by a Regulator. It shall be conducted virtually and is open to eligible FinTechs from across the Globe. 

The finalists of this Hackathon shall be allowed direct entry into IFSCA Regulatory/Innovation Sandbox. 

What are the objectives of the Hackathon? 

To connect IFSCA and GIFT IFSC with FinTech Ecosystem 

To solve Business Problems for the Banking Units at GIFT IFSC and 

To promote retail business for the Banking Units at GIFT IFSC. 

What are the Major rewards and recognition proposed under Sprint01: BankTech? 

FinTech finalists to be allowed direct entry into IFSCA Regulatory/Innovation Sandbox. 

FinTechs will work directly with the Partner Banks on the problem statement who will provide the APIs, mentoring, guidance, etc. 

Opportunity for the FinTechs to show-case during the Flagship FinTech Forum of IFSCA scheduled during Dec’2021 

iCreate sponsored Price money of Rs 24 lakh 

Business Support Solution Partner benefits of upto $25,000 per startup from Zone Startups India’s network. 

What is “Regulatory Sandbox”? 

It allows the FinTech entities to have facilities and flexibilities to experiment with innovative FinTech solutions in a live environment with a limited set of real customers for a limited time frame. 

Source: This post is based on the article ”Launch of I-Sprint’21: IFSCA’s Global FinTech Hackathon Series Sprint01: BankTech” published in ‘PIB’ on 08 October 2021. 

Terms to know:


Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, launches a nationwide River Ranching Programme

What is the news? 

The Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has launched a national level River Ranching program in UP.  

At the same time, other 4 states namely, Uttarakhand, Orissa, Tripura and Chhattisgarh also participated nationwide River Ranching program launching. 

What is river ranching?

River ranching is a form of aquaculture in which a population of a fish species is held in captivity for the first stage of their lives, then released, and later harvested as adults. 

What is the river ranching programme?

River ranching programme is introduced as special activity under PMMSY (Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana) scheme for augmenting and enhancing the fish production and productivity through expansion, intensification, diversification and productive utilization of land and water. 

Nodal Agency -Department of Fisheries has designated National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad as the Nodal Agency 

This program is under Central Sector component of PMMSY for implementing River Ranching across the Country. 

As a Phase –I programme NFDB during 2020-21 has targeted three major river systems namely Ganges and its tributaries, Brahmaputra & Barak river tributaries and Mahanadi & other rivers

What is the need of this program? 

With growing human population, the requirement of high-quality protein, the demand of fish is gradually increasing. 

What are the potential benefits of the program? 

For ecosystem-River Ranching Program can achieve sustainable fisheries, reducing habitat degradation, conserving biodiversity, maximizing social-economic benefits and assessing ecosystem services.  

For fishing community-It also ensures the upgradation of traditional fishery, ecosystem sustainability and trade & social protection of Inland communities. 

It would maintain the cleanliness of the river as they feed on organic remnants. 

Must ReadPradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana 

Source: This post is based on the article ”Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, launches a nationwide River Ranching Programme” published in ‘PIB’ on 08 October 2021. 


New toxic-free, superior multilayer technology that packages together electronic components can help country’s strategic sectors

What is the news? 

CSIR– NIIST (National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology), under the purview of “Advanced Manufacturing Techniques scheme” of Department of Science & Technology (DST) has indigenously developed toxic-free and superior multilayer series of LTCC tapes and HTCC substrates which are on par with international standards. 

About the technology: LTCC tapes and HTCC substrates 

These technologies package together electronic components like resistors, capacitors to produce multilayer circuits, an all gold system as a substitute for the imported commercial LTCC tape system. 

They have dielectric properties or the ability of storing electric energy in an electric field that are comparable to the commercial tapes, with better thermal conductivity than them. 

An aqueous tape casting technique has been developed, which is relatively health hazard free since it does not employ volatile organic components like xylene and methyl ethyl ketone. The technology developed is a glass-free LTCC tape casting composition, which can address the brutality issues of tapes. 

What is the need of this technology? 

Low orbit satellite systems which are in demand today need a sustainable technology supporting reduced satellite volume and mass, besides reduced production time and affordable cost 

Hybrid microsystems based on LTCC technology (integration of passive components, such as a capacitor, resistor, inductor, resonator and filter, etc., into a multilayered ceramic module) is an interesting solution in future communication satellites due to their outstanding performance and moderate cost. 

What are the applications of this technology? 

These tapes find application in various satellite communication components which require thousands of microwave substrates every year as also in Deference Research laboratories and BHEL 

If the testing is successful, NIIST tapes can be employed in ISRO’s several microwave components like S- and C- band receivers for their satellite transponders. 

What are the potential advantages to India? 

It can work as a cost-effective replacement to the commercial LTCC tapes which India is currently importing, thereby saving drain of heavy amount from India. 

It is less toxic and more environment friendly. 

Source: This post is based on the article “New toxic-free, superior multilayer technology that packages together electronic components can help country’s strategic sectors” published in ‘PIB’ on 08 October 2021. 


Shipping Minister launches ‘MyPortApp’ for digital monitoring of port operations

What is the news? 

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways launched a port mobile application called “MyPortApp” in Kolkata today. 

Also, inauguration of a 1 Mega Watt solar plant in Haldia port to produce renewable energy for port operations. 

What are some key features of the “MyPortApp”?

The App includes all port details digitally and monitor operations virtually, is aimed to promote transparency and easy access of port related information. 

The app also has various information like Vessel Berthing, Rake & Indent, Rake Receipt, Container Status, Tariff, Bills, Port Holidays, etc. and can be accessed anywhere 24×7 and reach out directly to port. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Shipping Minister launches ‘MyPortApp’ for digital monitoring of port operations” published in ‘PIB’ on 08 October 2021. 


 

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