9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 10th, 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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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The national security discourse is changing

Source: This post is based on the article “The national security discourse is changing” published in The Hindu on 10th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: impact of various factors on the national security and domestic policy of countries

Synopsis: National security has long been viewed through a narrow perspective of just war-fighting. In the present scenario being shaped up by multiple factors like climate change, a rising China and the COVID pandemic, national security and domestic policy are to be seen as two sides of the same coin. This new understanding is gaining ground.

Introduction

Aspects surrounding global and national security discourse are undergoing transformational change. The old order is collapsing much faster than the ability of nations to create the foundations of a new one.

The idea that foreign and domestic policy are two sides of the same coin is gaining prominence. Also, there’s a greater recognition of the challenges on national security originating from domestic vulnerabilities.

How India’s policy and view on national security is evolving?

Dependence on overseas supply chains is a national security challenge: COVID pandemic revealed how deeply India has been dependent on Chinese manufacturing for critical supplies. At a time when Indian armed forces were facing the People’s Liberation Army across the Line of Actual Line, this exposed India to a new realization that dependence on overseas supply chains is a national security challenge. India has since moved towards building up domestic capacities in critical areas and also started looking at free trade.

Views of the military leadership in India are also evolving. The national security comprises not only warfare and defence but also financial security, health security, food security, energy security and environment security apart from information security. Instead of viewing national security primarily from the perspective of an armed conflict, there is a need to take a whole-of-government approach towards security.

How US policy is evolving wrt its views on foreign policy and national security?

USA: For the US, its foreign policy is now integrated with its domestic policy. It is based around this simple question: Will it make life better, easier, safer, for working families across the USA?. Discourse around national security in the US is centered around the following factors:

Building up the domestic industrial base, maintaining pre-eminence in critical technologies, making supply chains for critical goods more resilient, protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, and responding with a sense of urgency to climate change.

How Indian policymakers should strategize resource allocation post-COVID pandemic?

In the post-pandemic world with a serious strain on national resources, it will be important for policymakers
to underline areas of close cooperation between the civilian and the military spheres.

This idea is again based on the understanding that national security policy is invariably linked with domestic policy and vice-versa.

For example: Here are some tangible and intangible ways in which investment in the armed forces contributes to the national economy such as indigenisation of defence procurement, providing an impetus to indigenous industries, aid to civil authorities or Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations protecting infrastructure, demand for hi-tech military products by the armed forces spurring entire industries, and transportation and logistics capacities of the armed forces acting as force enablers for the Government in times of emergencies.


How India and Germany can work together to tackle climate change

Source: This post is based on the article “How India and Germany can work together to tackle climate change” published in Indian Express on 10th September 2021.

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

Relevance: India and Germany relations, climate change

Synopsis: India and Germany have innovative economies and many highly-trained people. There is a need to harness this potential, especially to fight climate change.

Introduction

The Covid-19 pandemic has left no country untouched. It is safe to say, we will either beat Covid-19 worldwide or not at all. The virus briefly drew attention away from another crisis — climate change and its impact.

Climate change could even stop the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Why India can play greater role in the fight against climate change?

Low per capita emission: India is set to deliver on the national goals it set itself as part of the Paris Agreement. Compared to other G20 countries, its per capita emissions are very low.

Development interests of large population: India now has the opportunity to make its massive investments in infrastructure over the next 15 years climate-smart and climate-resilient.

Leading international role to play: Without India, the world will not be able to fight climate change and achieve SDGs.

How India and Germany collaboration can beat climate change?

Germany recently adopted laws to achieve climate neutrality by 2045 and stopping the use of coal for electricity production by 2038.

Indo-German development cooperation focuses on three areas:

1). The transition to renewable energies.

2). Sustainable urban development

3). Sustainable management of natural resources.

India-Germany cooperation: Germany and India can collaborate for greening their own economy and also support other countries.

In 2015, India’s Prime Minister and Germany’s Federal Chancellor agreed to further strengthen the two countries’ strategic partnership.

Knowledge sharing technology transfer and financial solutions: Over half the Indian population will live in cities by 2050. These cooperation efforts support Indian policies in the face of limited urban resources and climate change.

Self-reliance: The pandemic has shown global supply chains are vulnerable. There are smart solutions in agriculture and natural resources that are being tested in India and Germany including agro-ecological approaches and sustainable management of forests, soils and water.

One Health approach: India and Germany can help tackle the challenges posed by population growth, increased mobility, shrinking habitats, industrialised farming and intensive animal husbandry.


Terra pharma: A new drugs legislation must keep the pharma sector growing while safeguarding consumer interest

Source: This post is based on the article “Terra pharma: A new drugs legislation must keep the pharma sector growing while safeguarding consumer interest” published in The Times of India on 9th September 2021.

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

Relevance: Introduce new law for drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and e-pharmacies.

Synopsis: Pharma ecosystem is rapidly evolving and needs proper monitoring and regulation.

Introduction

The Union government has constituted a committee for framing draft legislation regarding new drugs, cosmetics and medical devices.

Read more: Panel set up to draft Bill on drugs, cosmetics and medical devices
What is the performance of Indian Pharma at global level?

Indian Pharma industry is ranked as the second-largest in terms of workforce. It is ranked as third in terms of production volumes. Furthermore, It is also ranked as 14th in terms of global value.

The Economic Survey 2020-21 also estimated a threefold growth for the pharma industry from its $40 billion current market size by the end of this decade.

What is expected in the new law?

Consultation: It will have to be framed after consulting all the leading industry voices and health experts.

Uniform standards: It will seek to address one of the major flaws of the present regime is the dual regulation by CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization) and the states. The new law will enforce uniform standards to prevent malpractices in the system.

Uncertain Regulatory environment: E-pharmacies are adjusting and evolving after the recent regulatory and judicial declarations. Still, the risks like forged prescriptions continue.

Even in Brick and mortar shops, the risks like the sale of over-the-counter antibiotics and Schedule H drugs continue. The new law has to properly regulate these instances.

India needs a mature pharma ecosystem where the entire chain from prescription to sale of drugs is monitored. The new law must streamline manufacturing rules, quality control and R&D norms to help Indian companies meet new challenges.


GS Paper 3

Making green hydrogen viable demands financial, tech support to lower costs

Source: This post is based on the article “Making green hydrogen viable demands financial, tech support to lower costs” published in Business Standard on 10th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: the Article talks about Green hydrogen, associated facts, and delineates the steps needed for making the production of Green Hydrogen economically viable.

Synopsis: Bringing down the cost of producing Green Hydrogen in India will require a mix of financial and technological interventions.

Background
What is the major issue with Green Hydrogen adoption?

Cost: According to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the cost of green hydrogen production is $5-6 a kg, approximately thrice the cost of predominant technology that uses fossil fuels and is called “grey hydrogen”.

Note: According to a compilation by the Scientific Information Re­so­urce Division at the Bhabha Atomic Re­search Centre, most of the world’s hydrogen production is grey.

What is the present global scenario wrt Hydrogen production?

Scale: According to the International Renew­a­ble Energy Agency’s World Energy Transi­tions Outlook report, less than 1% of annual global hydrogen production is green

Efforts: Investments are under way to ramp up green hydrogen manufacturing. In December 2020, seven companies — ACWA Power, CWP Re­n­ewables, Envision, Iber­drola, Ørsted, Snam and Yara — announ­ced a global coalition to acce­lerate the production of green hydrogen 50-fold in the next six years.

These companies have targeted the deployment of 25 GW thro­u­gh 2026 of renewab­les-based hydrogen production.

At what price point will adoption of Green Hydrogen be feasible for industry?

An analysis by the Hyd­rogen Council, a Belgium-headquartered initiative to promote hydrogen adopt­ion, found that it will be feasible for steel and fertiliser production, power generation and long-range shipping to adopt green hydrogen if it is available at $2 per kg price.

What steps is India taking to push for Green Hydrogen?

India is taking its first few steps.

IndianOil recently anno­unced that it is setting up the country’s first green hydrogen plant at its Mathura refinery.

IndianOil’s R&D centre has been working since the early 2000s to explore the use of hydrogen as a fuel by mixing it with compressed natural gas (CNG) to make H-CNG.

In November 2020, govt announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Energy Mission.

In terms of government support for green hydrogen, a cabinet note proposing to make it mandatory for fertiliser plants and oil refineries is in the works.

The govt also aims to extend the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manufacturing electrolysers to produce green hydrogen.

What are future projections for India wrt Green Hydrogen?

According to industry body India Hyd­rogen Alliance (IH2A), the annual demand for hydrogen in the country is around six million tonnes (MT), mostly from fertiliser plants and refineries.

It needs to go up to 28 MT by 2050 and 40 MT by 2060 if the net-zero carbon target is to be achieved. However, by 2050, nearly 80 per cent of India’s hydrogen is projected to be green — produced by renewable electricity and electrolysis.

What steps India must take?

Reducing expenditure on Electrolysers: Indigenous development of critical materials and local innovation for components can help reduce electrolyser capital expenditure to below $300 per kilowatt.

Attractive financial incentives like the PLI scheme for electrolysers.

National H2-themed Energy Transition Fund: India should create a national H2-themed Energy Transition Fund, with co-funding partnerships with sovereign partners, multi-lateral agencies, clean energy funds and industry, with the aim to raise $1 billion by 2030 for deployment towards national hydrogen projects of a certain scale.

Terms to know


The irrelevance of Indian GDP estimates to most of our citizens

Source: This post is based on the article “The irrelevance of Indian GDP estimates to most of our citizens” published in Livemint on 10th September 2021.

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

Relevance: Obsession with GDP growth, which is seen as the sine qua non for all policy interventions.

Synopsis: Economic recovery is unlikely to prove sustainable when most basic indicators of human development show a worsening of our situation.

Introduction

Estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of fiscal year 2021-22 were released on 31 August. This year’s first-quarter estimate shows a 20%-plus GDP growth.

However, the real issue is the relevance of GDP estimates as the sole or most important indicator of a recovery for an economy.

Why GDP growth cannot be a used as a sole indicator of an economic recovery?

It doesn’t capture informal sector data: India’s informal sector is not only a significant part of the overall economy, but is crucial for generating broad demand, given the significantly large proportion of our population that depends on it. However, GDP estimates hardly capture livelihood and income losses in the informal sector.

Stock market does not capture ground situation: Our real economy has been hampered by policy-induced shocks as well as a health calamity, our stock markets do not reflect a true picture of the economic ground reality.

Data from other sources confirms worsening of economic situation: Diverse data from official, unofficial and private sources confirms a worsening of the economic situation for most households.

Disruption in many sectors is not accounted in GDP: The pandemic and slowdown have not only impacted homes and individuals in terms of livelihood, but also on various aspects of human development.

Since the 2020 lockdown, disruptions in education, with significant numbers of students dropping out or unable to get educated, is unlikely to be reflected in GDP statistics.

So is the case with malnutrition and other health parameters. These are unlikely to see a recovery in the near future, but will cause irreparable long-term damage, unless they receive attention.

This failure to reflect the economic conditions of our population’s majority is partly a result of the way data on GDP is calculated, but also due to infirmities of the database itself.

What do the other sources of data indicate about India’s current economic situation?

Various official, unofficial and private sources of data confirm a worsening of the economic situation for most households. For instance:

Rise in distress employment: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), released in July 2021 showed a worsening of the employment scenario, with a rise in distress employment. After more than five decades, there has been an actual increase in the proportion of workers employed in agriculture.

Decline Wage rates:

In Agricultural occupations: Data on casual wages in rural areas from the labour bureau (available until June 2021) shows that real wages in agricultural occupations declined 0.8% in the past two years.

In Non-Agricultural occupations: The decline is much worse for non-agricultural occupations, with non-agricultural wages declining by 6.7% compared to last June. Clearly, 20%-plus GDP growth is irrelevant to most casual wageworkers in rural India.

Among better paid and protected workers: The PLFS 2019-20 data shows average regular real wages declining by 1.8% in rural zones, but increasing marginally by 0.4% in urban areas, compared to 2017-18.

Declining farmers income: Already suffering from low output prices, the majority of farmers have seen incomes decline as input costs rose (such as on diesel and fertilizers).

Must Read: Where’s the V-shaped recovery?

Terror didn’t win: 9/11 changed democratic countries in some unlovely ways. But democracies stayed on track

Source: This post is based on the article “Terror didn’t win: 9/11 changed democratic countries in some unlovely ways. But democracies stayed on track” published in The Times of India on 9th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.

Relevance: To understand the Impacts of the terror attacks on democracies.

Synopsis: This article highlights how global democracies change after the 9/11 attack.

Introduction

A study from the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimated that the number of active terrorist groups was 67 in 2018, the most since 1980.

A new study from the Costs of War project at Brown University calculates that the US spent $8 trillion during its two-decade-long war on terror that also took 9,00,000 lives.

Does terrorism threaten democracy?

It created a lot of trouble in the last 20 years and has the capacity to disturb democracies. Still, it was not able to outcast democracy.

Existence of democracy: Despite the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan, multiple terror groups in Africa, and the persistence of the Islamic State outfit, democracies hasn’t been thrown off track.

No Quality of Life in terrorism controlled areas: No terrorist movement nor any state that sponsors terrorism has been able to provide the better life they promised than democracies.

Lack of Governance in terrorism controlled areas: Although ISIS did briefly control territory in parts of Iraq and Syria, establishing its caliphate. But it was short-lived, and violent movements were there. In these conditions, it is difficult to build viable states or provide good governance.

What are the impacts of terror attacks?

To counter the attacks, some democracies have diluted some of their core principles.

Western Countries: Post-9/11, they reinterpreted their privacy laws, boosted surveillance and armed their security agencies with powers overriding legal checks.

India: Used the same method India is providing justification for some of its most Draconian laws, For example, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

Globally: widespread Islamophobia and refugee fatigue in some countries provided space for right-wing populism.

China: The war on terror coincided with the rise of China after 2001. After 9/11 USA was busy with its war on terror while China strengthened its hold over the global economy. And as the USA withdraws, we witness China is ready to adopt a transactional approach to groups like the Taliban.

What should be done next?

It is clear that adopting terrorism as a state policy has disastrous consequences. This is evident in the case of Pakistan. Overall, 9/11 did change liberal democracies. But terrorists didn’t throw any democracy off track.


What Chandrayaan-2 has sent

Source: This post is based on the article “What Chandrayaan-2 has sent” published in Indian Express on 10th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology

Relevance: Significance of Chandrayaan-2

Synopsis: The failure of Chandrayaan-2 to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface had led to much disappointment. However, Orbiter part of the mission has gathered a wealth of new information.

Introduction

Due to crash landing, ISRO missed the opportunity to demonstrate soft-landing in outer space and gather more local information. The lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan could have helped prepare a more composite picture of the Moon.

However, recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the information gathered by the scientific payloads till now.

What information has been gathered by the orbiter?

Presence of H2O molecules: Instrument used on Chandrayaan-1 was not sensitive enough to detect whether the signals came from the hydroxyl radical (OH) or the water molecule (H2O).

The Imaging Infra-Red Spectrometer (IIRS) on board Chandrayaan-2 has been able to distinguish between hydroxyl and water molecules.

Places with water molecule: Chandrayaan-2 has now found signatures of water at all latitudes.

Potential water ice: The Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar has reported detection of potential water ice at the poles as it has been able to distinguish properties of surface roughness from that of water ice.

Minor elements: The Large Area Soft X-Ray Spectrometer (CLASS) measures the Moon’s X-ray spectrum. This instrument has detected the minor elements chromium and manganese for the first time through remote sensing. Sodium was detected without any ambiguity for the first time.

It will help in understanding magmatic evolution and deeper insights into the nebular conditions.

Revelations by CLASS: it has mapped nearly 95% of the lunar surface in X-rays for the first time. Scientists at ISRO believe that based on the CLASS findings, a direct link of exospheric sodium to the surface can be established.

Revelations regarding SUN: Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) through the radiation coming in from the Sun has collected information about solar flares.

This has great implications on the understanding of the mechanism behind heating of the solar corona, which has been an open problem for many decades.

Why is chandryaan-2 orbiter significant?

It paves the path for future Moon missions: mineralogical and volatile mapping of the lunar surface and maps of elements will be key for future scope of work. It is expected to help scientists for human missions also.

International collaborations: Some key future Moon missions that hope to make use of such data include the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)-ISRO collaboration Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission scheduled for launch in 2023/2024, NASA’s Artemis missions.


Climate crisis in North East India: What is behind water scarcity in the region

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate crisis in North East India: What is behind water scarcity in the region” published in Down to Earth on 10th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: To understand the climate crisis and water scarcity in North East India.

Synopsis: Changing rainfall pattern including incidents of high and variable rainfall in NE states is causing problems like floods, land degradation and acidification.

Introduction

The climate of North East India is changing, which includes changing rainfall patterns over the region, resulting in overall drying up of the region. A major reason behind it is the drying up of around 200 mountain springs which are direct primary sources of water for mountainous villages in the region.

The region is ultimately facing climate induced water crisis. Action plans on climate change by the northeastern states have identified the change in rainfall patterns as one of the major causes of vulnerability to climate change.

Why are springs important to NE states?

Contribution to rivers: The springs contribute a large share to the base flow of the large Himalayan rivers such as the Brahmaputra — more than glaciers, ice and snow.

Meeting water needs: Moreover, the mountainous regions of the northeastern states are mostly dependent on these springs to meet their water needs.

Why Assam is more vulnerable to climate change as compared to other NE states?

Groundwater levels: In Assam, the groundwater levels are closely related to the flow of water in the Brahmaputra,  which means that the difference between the river flow levels and the ground water levels is less. Hence, a little rainfall in the catchments will affect the flow of the rivers and along with that the ground water levels will also be impacted.

Soils: Brahmaputra has mostly sandy soil and their water retention capacity is low, which creates a scare of water scarcity.

Irrigation: As per a study, Assam has the least area under irrigation, least forest area available per 1,000 rural households and the second lowest per capita income among the Indian Himalayan states. It is the most vulnerable to climate change. Mizoram is the next one.

Why have springs dried up?

The drying of springs in North East India may be because of human-induced geological and land use changes, along with the impact of climate change, especially rainfall.

The exact cause needs to be ascertained.

What are some negative consequences of changing rainfall pattern in NE states?

Land degradation: Another consequence of the untimely and excessive rains is that large parts of northeastern states have become degraded, which has a direct consequence for the region’s main occupation — agriculture.

Causes behind land degradation:

i) One of the major causes of this degradation could be increased frequency of high rainfall events in the region.

ii) Another common cause of land degradation in these states is acidification. In the top eight states in the country where acidification is the most rampant, seven are in the northeast.

Land in the North East is naturally acidic because it receives heavy rainfall every year. Climate change-induced high frequency of heavy rainfall events will further exacerbate the acidification, which will decrease the quality of soil.

Acidity is measured in terms of the concentration of hydrogen ions (pH) in the soil, as they are essential for the formation of all acids. Acidification of soil or land takes place when the pH balance of the soil shifts towards acidic nature due to an excessive presence of hydrogen ions.

Soil acidity increases when metallic minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are lost from the soil and only hydrogen ions remain. These minerals get removed from soils due to heavy rainfall and flooding. They also get removed with crop residue or harvest hay.

Reducing acidification of the soil

We can use lime and organic manure in the soil and can adopt nutrient management practices and smart crop selection.

 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

El Salvador’s gamble on Bitcoin: Much too dicey

Source: This post is based on the article “El Salvador’s gamble on Bitcoin: Much too dicey” published in Live Mint on 9th Sep 2021.

What is the news?

El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. But the launch was marked by Chivo app (state-backed wallet app) glitches and crash in the Bitcoin price.

This shows the volatility associated with Cryptocurrency is real and the adoption of Bitcoin as the official currency can turn out to be disastrous in the future.

What benefits El Salvador expects?

Its recent decision is based on potential benefits, like

Savings on remittance fee: By embracing an online currency that costs nothing to transfer across borders, El Salvador expects annual savings of $400 million on remittance fees.

Financial inclusion via digital wallets was another goal: Chivo gets preloaded with $30 of Bitcoin every year by the state. A kind of universal basic income.

What are the risks associated with El Salvador’s recent decision?

The problem with El Salvador’s adoption of costless digital payments is its choice of instrument.

Limited supply and high volatility: Bitcoin is limited in supply, which makes it a store-of-value rather than a good means-of- exchange. As its demand rises, so does its conversion value, and vice-versa; and thanks to speculation, high volatility is assured.

China’s potential crackdown on miners: Should China crack down on the carbon exhaust of Bitcoin mining, for example, crypto markets will face another crash. For transactional use, however, a currency’s stability is crucial. 

El Salvador’s move was brave, but the recent crash was only one among many and definitely not the last.


DRDO hands over air defence missile (MRSAM) System to Indian Air Force

What is the News?

The Defence Minister has handed over the first deliverable Firing Unit (FU) of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile(MRSAM) System to the Indian Air Force(IAF).

About Medium Range Surface to Air Missile(MRSAM) 

Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with the Indian industry.

Purpose: The missile provides air defence against aerial threats like fighter aircraft, UAVs, guided and unguided munitions & cruise missiles.

Range: The missile is capable of engaging multiple targets at ranges up to 70 kilometres.

Features: The missile is powered by an indigenously developed rocket motor and control system for achieving high manoeuvrability during the terminal phase.

Source: This post is based on the articleDRDO hands over air defence missile (MRSAM) System to Indian Air Forcepublished in PIB on 9th September 2021.


Ministry of Jal Shakti launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2021

What is the News?

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has presided over the e-launch of Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2021.

About Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2021

Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2021 is organized by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti under Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase -II.

Aim: To support the acceleration of Open Defecation Free(ODF) plus interventions and increase momentum for improving ODF Sustainability as well as Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) activities across the villages in the country.

Who will conduct it? An expert agency has been hired to conduct the Survekshan 2021. As part of the exercise, Villages, Districts and States would be ranked using key parameters.

Coverage: As part of the survey, 17,475 villages in 698 Districts across the country will be covered.

Weightage to different elements under SSG-2021
  1. Direct Observation of sanitation at public places -30%
  2. Citizen’s Feedback, including feedback from common citizens, key influencers at the village level and from citizens online using a mobile App -35%
  3. Service Level Progress on sanitation-related parameters -35%.

New Elements in SSG-2021

Many new elements have been added in the SSG 2021. These elements include – 

  1. Assessment of Solid, Liquid, Plastic Waste & faecal Sludge Management Arrangements, 
  2. Awareness on Menstrual Hygiene and Management & Disposal Arrangements for Menstrual Waste. 
  3. Survey of Waste disposal infrastructure in the village.

Source: This post is based on the article Ministry of Jal Shakti launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2021published in PIB on 9th September 2021.

Terms to know:


‘Main Bhi Digital 3.0’ Special Campaign for Digital Onboarding, Training for street vendors launched

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has launched  ‘Main Bhi Digital 3.0’ Campaign.

About ‘Main Bhi Digital 3.0’ Campaign

It is a special campaign for Digital Onboarding and Training of street vendors under the PM SVANidhi scheme.

The campaign has been launched across 223 cities in the country.

Under the campaign, BharatPe, Mswipe, PhonePe, Paytm, Aceware are participating to issue UPI IDs, QR codes and provide digital training to street vendors.

The street vendors will also be trained to accept and make digital payment transactions.

About PM SVANidhi Scheme

PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi(PM SVANidhi) was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2020 as a Central Sector Scheme

Purpose: To facilitate affordable working capital loans of up to ₹10,000 with an interest subsidy @7% on regular repayment. The street vendors are not required to pay any collateral for the loan. 

Implementing Agency: SIDBI has been appointed as the implementation agency for scheme administration.

Target: The scheme targets to cover 50 lakh street vendors, who had been vending on or before March 24, 2020. 

Key Features of the scheme

The scheme provides Graded Guarantee Cover, to Lending Institutions, on a portfolio basis. 

The street vendors also stand a chance to avail a loan of ₹20,000 and ₹50,000 in the second and third tranches respectively on timely repayment of the loan. 

To encourage digital transactions a cashback up to ₹1,200 on digital transactions at ₹100 per month is provided to the street vendors under the scheme. 

Source: This post is based on the article “‘Main Bhi Digital 3.0’ Special Campaign for Digital Onboarding, Training for street vendors” published in PIB on 9th September 2021.


BHEL demonstrates tech to create methanol from high ash coal

What is the news?

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited(BHEL) has successfully demonstrated a facility to create methanol from high ash Indian coal. 

About Methanol

Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel. It can also replace diesel in Railways and could be an ideal complement to Hybrid and Electric Mobility.

Methanol can also be used to generate di-methyl ether (DME), a liquid fuel that is very similar to diesel — existing diesel engines simply need to be minimally changed to use DME instead of diesel. 

What are the benefits of using Methanol?

Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).

To adopt Methanol as a transport fuel requires minimal infrastructure modifications and capital both in vehicles and in terminal and distribution infrastructure. 

Methanol 15% blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%.

How Methanol is produced?

Methanol can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Biomass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2.

The majority of worldwide methanol production is derived from natural gas, which is a relatively easy process.

Challenges associated with methanol production in India

India doesn’t have much of natural gas reserves. Hence, producing methanol from imported natural gas leads to outflow of foreign exchange and is sometimes uneconomical due to excessive prices of natural gas. 

The next best option is to utilise India’s abundant coal. However, due to the high ash percentage of Indian coal, most internationally accessible technology will not be adequate for our demands.

India’s Initiatives to increase Methanol Production

NITI Aayog’s ‘Methanol Economy’ programme is aimed at reducing India’s oil import bill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and converting coal reserves and municipal solid waste into methanol.

The Bureau of Indian Standards has notified 20% of DME blending with LPG, and a notification for other blends has been issued. 

Railways is working towards blending methanol in the range of 5-2% through direct fuel injection in locomotives. 

In 2018, Assam Petrochemicals launched Asia’s first canister-based methanol cooking fuel programme.

Five methanol plants based on high ash coal, five DME plants, and one natural gas-based methanol production plant with a capacity of 20 MMT/annum in a joint venture with Israel, have been planned.

Source: This post is based on the article BHEL demonstrates tech to create methanol from high ash coalpublished in PIB on 9th September 2021.


Prime Minister chairs 13th BRICS Summit

What is the news?

Indian PM chaired the 13th BRICS Summit, which was held virtually. The Summit stressed the need to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a staging ground for terrorist attacks against other countries, as well as a sanctuary for terrorists. The BRICS nations also collectively adopted the “New Delhi Declaration“.

The theme of the 13th BRICS Summit

The theme is BRICS@15: Intra-BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus. It is chosen by India.

What are the initiatives/key provisions of the New Delhi Declaration?

Terrorism: It suggested adopting a comprehensive approach for the whole international community to effectively curb terrorist activities.

BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan: It is aimed at implementing the counter-terrorism strategy and defines the approach and actions of the five countries towards counter-terrorism cooperation. This includes ensuring coordinated efforts to understand, identify and collaboratively respond to persistent and emerging terrorist threats.

Space cooperation: BRICS countries signed an Agreement on Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation among the space agencies of BRICS countries.

Inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue”: Under it, leaders stressed the need to ensure peace, stability and order in Afghanistan. They also condemned the terrorist attacks at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

In the declaration, they called for addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. They urged the need to uphold the rights of women, children and minorities.

International System: BRICS countries pledged “to promote a more inclusive, equitable and representative multipolar international system with the United Nations at its center.

Post-Covid Global Recovery: Indian PM urged for BRICS cooperation under the motto of ‘Build-back Resiliently, Innovatively, Credibly and sustainably’.

It stressed the need for accelerating:

‘Build-back’ by enhancing speed and accessibility of vaccination.

‘Resilience’ by diversifying pharma and vaccine production capacities beyond the developed world.

Fostering ‘innovation’ by creatively using digital tools for the public good, ensuring reform of multilateral institutions to enhance their ‘credibility’

Promoting ‘sustainable’ development by articulating a common BRICS voice on environmental and climate issues.

About BRICS

It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies that have similar economic development. The five countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The acronym was first used in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill. Originally, the first four were grouped as “BRIC”. In 2010, South Africa was officially admitted as a BRIC nation. Thus, making the current acronym BRICS.

Structure of BRICS

The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym BRICS.

Currently, India is holding the chairmanship of the BRICS. India was the chair in 2012 and 2016 too.

Read more: Its time to build BRICS better

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • “Prime Minister chairs 13th BRICS Summit” published in the PIB on 9th September 2021.
  • BRICS seeks inclusive Intra Afghan Dialogue” published in The Hindu on 9th September 2021.
  • “Must prevent use of Afghanistan soil as terror sanctuary: BRICS” published in the Times of India on 10th September 2021.
  • “BRICS calls for settling Afghan situation by peaceful means” published in the Livemint on 10th September 2021.

Union Minister inaugurates Emergency Landing Facility for Indian Air Force in Barmer, Rajasthan

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister inaugurates Emergency Landing Facility for Indian Air Force in Barmer, Rajasthan published in PIB on 9th September 2021.

What is the News?

Union Defence Minister and Minister for Road Transport and Highways have jointly inaugurated Emergency Landing Facility(ELF) for the Indian Air Force(IAF).

About Emergency Landing Facility(ELF)

Purpose: It will be used for emergency landings of the Indian Air Force aircrafts. 

Located at: It is a 3 km stretch located on Gandhav-Bhakasar section on National Highway-925 in Barmer, Rajasthan.

Developed by:  GHV India Pvt. Ltd under the supervision of IAF and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has developed this ELF.

Significance of Emergency Landing Facility

This is the first time that a National Highway will be used as an Emergency Landing Field (ELF) for IAF aircraft.

This emergency landing area is strategically important from the national security point of view also as it is just 40 kilometres from the India-Pakistan border.

The government also announced that the Emergency Landing Facilities will be developed at 19 other places to strengthen the country’s security.


Government Provides Big Boost to Exporters

Source: This post is based on the articleGovernment Provides Big Boost to Exporterspublished in PIB on 9th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Government of India has announced that it would clear all dues of exporters under various export promotion schemes.

What are the various export promotion schemes under which dues will be cleared?

About Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) 

Click here to Read about MEIS

Note: RoDTEP scheme which came into effect on January 1st, 2021 has replaced the Merchandise Export from India Scheme(MEIS). 

About Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme

Click Here to Read about RoDTEP 

About Service Exports from India Scheme(SEIS)

The SEIS Scheme was rolled out as a part of the foreign trade policy 2015-2020. 

Under the scheme, service exporters for eligible service categories, are granted benefits in the nature of transferable Duty Credit Scrips as a percentage of Net Foreign Exchange earned on the export of the eligible services in a financial year. The Duty Credit Scrips can be used in the Payment of Basic Customs duties and certain other duties.

Note: The SEIS scheme for 2019-20 is yet to be notified, and inordinate delay in notifying the scheme has dampened the spirits of the services sector.

About Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) for textiles:

It was launched by the Ministry of Textiles in 2019. The scheme covers exports of made-up articles & garments.

Under this scheme, the exporters are issued a Duty Credit Scrip for the value of embedded taxes and levies contained in the exported product. Exporters can use this scrip to pay basic Customs duty for the import of equipment, machinery or any other input.


Ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

Source: This post is based on the article Ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)” published in PIB on 9th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas has co-chaired a virtual Ministerial meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Energy to launch the revamped U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP).

About the U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP)

When was it launched? It was launched at the Leaders Summit on Climate held in April 2021.

The partnership is in accordance with the U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.

Pillars: It organizes inter-governmental engagement across five pillars of cooperation: (1) Power and Energy Efficiency; (2); Responsible Oil and Gas; (3) Renewable Energy; (4) Sustainable Growth and (5) Emerging Fuels.

Other Initiatives mentioned in the Article

Partnership to Advance Clean Energy(PACE): It was launched in 2009 by India and the United States to accelerate inclusive, low carbon growth by supporting research and deployment of clean energy technologies.

Hydrogen Task Force: It is a public-private initiative launched by India and the US to help scale up technologies to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and fossil fuel sources and to bring down the cost of deployment for enhanced energy security and resilience.

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

Thamirabarani civilisation 3,200 years old

Source:  This post is based on the article Thamirabarani civilisation 3,200 years oldpublished in The Hindu on 10th September 2021.

What is the News?

A study has revealed that the Thamirabarani civilization in Tamil Nadu is at least 3,200 years old.

About the study on Thamirabarani civilization

The study was carried out by the US-based Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory.

The laboratory has conducted the carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn in Sivakalai in southern Tamil Nadu during an archaeological excavation.

The analysis has revealed that the Porunai river [Thamirabarani] civilization belongs to 1155 BCE which is 3,200 years ago. 

Encouraged by this finding, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced the establishment of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of ₹15 crores.

Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots

The Tamil Nadu government will now conduct archaeological excavations in neighbouring states and countries in search of Tamil roots.

In the first phase, studies would be undertaken at the ancient port of Musiri now known as Pattanam, in Kerala. Similar studies would also be conducted at Vengi in Andhra Pradesh and Palur in Odisha. 

Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department would also conduct research at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt as well as in Khor Rori in Oman to establish the Tamils trade relations with these countries.

Note: Pot shreds with Tamil scripts have been found in these countries. 

Moreover, studies would also be conducted in southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam where king Rajendra Chola had established supremacy.


New rules to reform financial powers of armed forces

Source: This post is based on the article “New rules to reform financial powers of armed forces” published in The Indian Express on 10th September 2021.

What is the news?

In order to address operational needs of the armed forces, Defence Minister has released order on Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS), 2021. The last DFPDS was released in 2016.

Under this order, new rules have been released to enhance the delegation of revenue procurement powers for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Along with this, financial powers have also been delegated to new officers among the services, depending on requirements.

What do the new rules say?

Under the new rules, critical equipment, like air-to-air refuellers for the Air Force, can be hired for short periods as compared to buying them or a long-term lease, which is not only considerably expensive, but also takes a long time.

Along with this, new rules also tells about delegating the financial powers for greater decentralisation and operational efficiency.

How armed forces acquire capital assets?

They buy assets as per Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020. Under this, they buy equipment from Indian or international players and also lease equipment for a limited time.

What is the primary objective behind delegation of financial powers?

Primary focus of the enhanced delegation of financial powers is to empower Field Commanders and below to procure equipment/war-like stores in a speedy manner for urgent operational necessities and meeting essential sustenance requirements

Emergency Financial Powers have been given to field formation below the Command levels as well, which were available at the Vice Chief or Commander level officers till now.


The success of the PLI is likely to hinge on how entrepreneurs weigh the risk-reward equation

Source: This post is based on the article “The success of the PLI is likely to hinge on how entrepreneurs weigh the risk-reward equation” published in The Hindu on 10th September 2021.

What is the news?

Recently, Cabinet gave approval of a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the textile sector that is expressly targeted at the man-made fibre (MMF) and technical textiles segments.

In the global level, there was a shift in the consumer preferences and fashion trends which saw MMF surpass cotton as the fibre of choice in the 1990s. But India’s textile and clothing exports have continued to remain dominated by cotton and other natural fibre-based products.

In last fiscal as well, MMF share remained unchanged. The present scheme, therefore, aims to focus attention towards MMFs.

What is the aim of the scheme?

It aims to specifically focus investment attention on 40 MMF apparel product lines, 14 MMF fabric lines and 10 segments or products of technical textiles. The items have been chosen on account of being among the top-traded lines in the global market, as well as India having less than a 5% share in each of them.

What is the purpose of inclusion of intermediate products?

It reflects the Government’s keenness to ensure the scheme ultimately delivers on the broader policy objectives.

How the incentives will be categorized?

The incentives have been categorized into two investment levels.

Firms investing at least ₹300 crore into plant and machinery over two years for making a specified product would need to hit a minimum turnover of ₹600 crore before becoming eligible to receive the incentive over a five-year period.

At a second level, an investment of ₹100 crore with a pre-set minimum turnover of ₹200 crore would enable qualification for the incentive.


 

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