9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 13th, 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

Let central banks stay focused on their goals

Source: This post is based on the article “Let central banks stay focused on their goals” published in Livemint on 13th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – Statutory and Regulatory bodies – RBIRelevance: Central bank and its mandate, climate crisis and financial stability

Synopsis: Urjit Patel has suggested adding climate aims to the monetary agenda, however it has multiple risks associated to it. Hence, other tools should be used for our carbon crisis.

Introduction

Recently, former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel laid out a strong argument in favour of the proposition of adding climate goals to monetary policy.

There is debate that whether central banks should join the fight and whether monetary policy be assigned a role.

Must Read: RBI must come clean where it stands on climate change
Why RBI should not get involved with carbon crisis?

No expertise: Former Bank of England governor Mervyn King says, it is hard enough for central banks to get their basics right, such as keeping the internal value of their currencies stable.

Central banks getting involved in running policies: Raghuram Rajan has also opposed the adoption of plainly fiscal objectives like encouraging eco-friendly investments by monetary authorities. He spoke against central banks with sufficiently wide mandates running policies best run by governments.

Complexity in data collection: complexity of green-growth calculations could result in poorer outcomes overall. It would cover policy rates of interest in a data fog that will make it harder for analysts to subject central banks to scrutiny.

What is the way forward?

First, we must not rush into mixed mandates in response to our current climate emergency. Central banks have a complex job, and any errors can prove exorbitant.

Second, climate settings are a political matter and taking up such a cause would expose central banks to the risk of lost autonomy, which is vital for long-range stability.


IIT success as B-schools is a sign of a more expansive education vision taking root at premier engineering institutions

Source: This post is based on the article” IIT success as B-schools is a sign of a more expansive education vision taking root at premier engineering institutions” published in the Indian Express on 13th September 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the performance of IITs in Management courses.

Synopsis: The IITs, were long known to provide only technical courses. However, we see that they are also doing well in management courses.

Introduction

Six IITs came in the top 20 management institutions, even outpacing reputed business schools such as IIM-Indore and IIM-Lucknow. This shows that India’s premier engineering schools are not restricted just only to technical courses.

Why IIT embraces other streams apart from engineering courses?

IITs look beyond technology to embrace the world of humanities and law, arts and architecture. Over the years, several IITs offered courses in humanities, social science and literature. This is in response to a growing realisation that a technical education alone can reduce talent in the economy.

IIT Kharagpur:  It opened a medical college in 2018. It had also set up a school of law focused on intellectual property.

IIT Delhi: IIT Delhi, started offering MBA programmes in the late 1990s. Now, It is the highest-ranked IIT on the National Institute Ranking Framework in the management category.

What does this success signify?

Given adequate financial resources and the autonomy to decide their own courses, higher education institutions can build on their unique strengths to deliver the best quality education and results.

What are the issues in IIT?

Gender Diversity: Despite the introduction of supernumerary quotas to increase the intake of women, the IITs remain a largely male preserve — here, they are losing out to the IIMs, which do much better on the count of inclusivity.

Exam Pattern: IIT’s have been facing criticism as the exam pattern tends to favour those who have access to the best coaching institutes.

However, despite these problems, the expansion of courses by IIT’s is a welcome step as more talent can be accommodated in its ambit.


Nursing syllabus gets a major revamp

Source: This post is based on the article” Nursing syllabus gets a major revamp” published in The Hindu on 13th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS-2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.

Relevance: To study the impact of the new nursing syllabus.

Synopsis: The revamped programme for B.Sc nursing is aimed at standardization and includes medical ethics and simulation training.

Introduction:

The syllabus of BSC Nursing programmes has been revised. This is the first major overhaul after 1947. The revised curriculum has been standardized, updated and is aimed at bringing uniformity in nursing education across India.

Who made the changes?

Indian Nursing Council had revised and developed the syllabus under Section 16 of the INC Act.

What are the new additions to the syllabus?

Medical Ethics: It has been introduced for the first time.

Syllabus: Under the new system, a credit-based semester pattern has been adopted. Also, it has included forensic nursing, nursing informatics and ethics in the syllabus.

Assessments: Changes have been introduced in the internal assessment guidelines. Now there will be a continuous assessment based on attendance, written assignments, reports and other things.

Mandatory modules: The new system has also brought in mandatory modules for each specialisation. Students now have to pass in all mandatory modules placed within courses. Passing marks for each module is 50%.

Science Students: Students will only go to the clinical area after the compulsory training in the simulation laboratories. Also, the gazette does not permit the admission for non-science background students for B.Sc. The nursing program and minimum qualifying marks for the entrance test shall be 50%.

What are the new hospital norms?

Building: It is mandatory that an institution shall have its own building within two years of its establishment.

Hospital Beds: According to new norms, colleges of nursing should mandatorily have 100 bedded parent or own hospitals. The beds of the parent hospital shall be in the same building/same campus.

Modification of syllabus: The revised rules also state that no institution or university will modify the syllabi prescribed by the Council for a course or program. However, they can add units or subjects if required.

What are the negatives of the new curriculum?

Exclusion of the disabled: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act mandates inclusion of disability rights in higher education. Though the new system includes the pejorative expressions ‘handicapped’, ‘mentally challenged’ and physically challenged. It does not include disability rights and disability competencies.

Read more: Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act

Exclusion of gender: Curriculum also excludes gender expression and identity components which are mandated by Transgender Persons Act.

Read more: Transgender Persons Act
What are the advantages of the new curriculum?

Quality: New curriculum will enhance the quality and standardisation of the programme.  Based on the new curriculum, simulation-based training is given specific importance.


A selective nuclear policy

Source: This post is based on the article “A selective nuclear policy” published in The Hindu on 13th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS-2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.

Relevance: To understand the complexities of the North Korean nuclear program.

Synopsis: North Korea has maintained a dubious record of its nuclear program. Given its past record, it becomes difficult to access the direction its nuclear program is going to take.

Introduction

North Korea recently started its largest fissile material production reactor. This is the same reactor whose production was ceased in December 2018. IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has flagged this as a violation of the UNSC (United Nation Security Council) resolution.

North Korea’s confusing record of the nuclear program

1987: North Korea was added to the terror list following its bombing attack on a South Korean airplane. Ever since then it has been subject to repeated sanctions which were withdrawn, only to be re-imposed.

In 1994 North Korea barred the access of IAEA to its reactors. IAEA in its following reports mentioned that North Korea was generating plutonium from spent fuel.  In response, the USA planned pre-emptive precision strikes on the nuclear complex. This was, however, resolved diplomatically through a framework of a peace deal brokered by President Jimmy Carter. Under the deal, Pyongyang would free all the nuclear activities and allow inspection of its military sites. In return, they will be allowed to build two light-water reactors.

The same activities of North Korea have been repeated again. In June 2008, North Korea blew up its cooling tower at Yongbyon complex to show commitment to the US and other countries. This led the USA to ease sanctions on North Korea. However, it barred the access of IAEA inspectors to its reprocessing plant in this complex and later expelled them.

What is the USA present approach?

President Biden has adopted the pragmatic approach of dialogues and talks. North Korea has hardened its stance as it wants to secure relief from sanctions first.

All this leads to one important question – that can nuclear proliferation ever be controlled, especially when the States see it as a source of power.

Terms to know


The Quad must be flexible to counter China’s many strategies across a wide range of issues

Source: This post is based on the article “Power of four: The Quad must be flexible to counter China’s many strategies across a wide range of issues ” published in The Times of India on 13th Sept 2021. 

Syllabus: GS 2- International Relation: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests 

Relevance: Article stresses on QUAD’s multidimensional role for ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

Synopsis: The Quad needs to be flexible to counterbalance China across a range of issues, be it Afghanistan or the South China Sea. 

Introduction 

Quad is now shaping up as a security-plus platform. Recently, India and Australia held their first 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Militaries of the four countries participated in the Malabar joint naval exercise last year. Also, work is underway to produce and deliver a billion Covid vaccines through the group’s network by 2022. 

Why QUAD has a security & civilian component? 

Though, China has alleged that QUAD is an Asian NATO, it has been deliberately kept as a high-level diplomatic platform – notwithstanding a separate naval component – to prevent a return to the bloc politics of the past. There are two reasons for this: 

First, the four Quad nations need to get into the habit of working together. The Covid pandemic and the Galwan valley clashes between India and China last year have seen the group coordinate. But more is needed to achieve regular operational momentum. 

Second, the Quad also needs to find the optimum and balanced path between security and civilian cooperation because China represents a multidimensional systemic challenge. To counter China, Quad needs to be multidimensional as it is doing presently by working on Covid vaccines, open technologies and resilient supply chains 

What is the way forward?

As the global axis of power shifts partly from the West to the East, Quad democracies need to shape the Indo-Pacific as a free and open region. This will give Southeast Asian nations options to resist China’s strategy of weaponizing economic interdependencies.  

In short, the Quad needs to be flexible to counterbalance China across a range of issues, be it Afghanistan or the South China Sea. 


Shifts and stagnancy in the caste profile of our asset rich and poor

Source: This post is based on the article ”Shifts and stagnancy in the caste profile of our asset rich and poor“ published in Livemint on 13th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS-2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Relevance: To understand the linkage of reservation policies with development.

Synopsis: India’s debate on modifying affirmative action policies should be informed by an understanding of the trends observed so far.

Introduction

There are increasing demands for a caste census and the removal of a 50% cap on reserved seats for central government jobs and admissions to the central educational institutions.

Read more: Caste based census in India – Explained

The 50% cap was breached in 2019 when an additional 10% quota came into place for India’s economically weaker sections (EWSs) on top of the already-existing 49.5% reservation. (27% Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 15% Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 7.5% Scheduled Tribes (STs)).

In addition to this, various state governments in India also implement their own reservation in the name of affirmative-action policies.

A new study to understand the caste dynamics

An asset index, using individual-level data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for 2005-06 and 2015-16 has been constructed. It takes into account a wide array of assets like consumer durables and vehicles.

This helps us understand how different caste groups in the country are placed in terms of prosperity and poverty.

It defines the bottom 20% of the population as ‘asset poor’ and the top 20% of the population as ‘asset rich’ based on the asset index score.

Asset-poor: Those who hold less movable or immovable assets as compared to others.

Asset-rich: Those who hold more movable or immovable assets as compared to others.

The study compares changes in the share of each caste group in India’s population over time and their share among the asset-poor and asset-rich in India and its major states.

Findings at all India level

Asset Asymmetry
Source: Livemint

OBC: representation of OBCs in both asset-rich and poor categories is in line with their share in the population. Their share among the asset-rich has seen an increase between 2005-06 and 2015-16.

Among major states: OBCs are most over-represented among the asset-rich in Tamil Nadu. They are under-represented in Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

SC and ST: Represented more in the asset-poor category and under-represented in the asset-rich category.

SCs and STs are under-represented in the asset-rich category in all major Indian states, with the most under-representation relative to their population share in Odisha and the lowest in Punjab.

General Category:  They continue to form a higher share of the asset-rich than their share in India’s population. General-category Indians are over-represented in all states among the asset rich.

How states formation itself can be linked to such variance of the population?

Some states in India were linguistically formed, whereas others owe their formation to similar cultures and ethnicity. This suggests there may be one of the drivers of the sub-national differences in welfare outcomes in India.

Also, people in some states tend to be politically aware and act collectively on a range of issues, while people in other states have low levels of political awareness and have a deeply divided society.

What should be the future research?

More work is needed to understand how State policies have contributed to the advancement of different groups in different categories. Such studies would also help states in making evidence-based policies for affirmative action.


GS Paper 3

There’s a major new risk in town and it’s called crypto

Source: This post is based on the article “There’s a major new risk in town and it’s called crypto” published in Livemint on 13th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

Relevance: Discussion on Cryptocurrency and related issues

Synopsis: Retail investors are the ones who’ll most likely suffer in the high-yield, high-risk Crypto market. Government should come up with regulations before its too late.

Introduction

Crypto products are being mass marketed in India without the oversight needed for investor safety. The crypto marketing campaigns have now reached even tier-II and tier-III cities.

How has discourse around Crypto evolved in India?

Role of RBI: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been warning the general public since 2013 about crypto-products, calling them virtual currencies (VCs) in its communication. RBI, through a circular dated 6 April 2018, directed banks and other financial intermediaries not to deal with entities, either individuals or institutions, dealing in VCs.

Numerous government committees also examined these products and were divided in their opinion: some advocated an outright ban while others were ambivalent.

Supreme Court: In its March 2020 judgement, the Supreme Court ruled that RBI cannot direct banks to withhold services to crypto-exchanges, primarily because the central bank was unable to show that the “interface” with crypto-products had resulted in either harm or adverse effects for these financial intermediaries. The court’s three-member bench, though, refrained from either banning or endorsing crypto-products.

What are the related issues/concerns?

Crypto-exchanges have been aggressively advertising on all media platforms—print, television and the internet—without the necessary caveats or disclaimers. These exchanges must keep in mind the following issues:

Crypto is not a currency: Firstly, they must ask themselves whether it is proper to use the term ‘currency’ in their communication because crypto-products do not fit its classic definition. It is also dangerous because many investors might mistake it for legal tender backed by government, which it is definitely not. Public fiat monies fulfill the three functions of money: a store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange. No single crypto asset, though, broadly fulfils all the functions of money.

Crypto-products are not assets: Secondly, in their rush for yields, retail investors might overlook the fact that crypto-products may not qualify as assets in the true sense of the term. Most crypto-products do not have any underlying commodity, product or cash-flows that can provide them with economic value; a crypto’s value is derived primarily from its shortage because mining crypto-products is a specialized undertaking.

High volatility and other risks: Thirdly, crypto prices are extremely volatile and can change rapidly without any valid economic reason, as witnessed in recent months. What is more concerning, especially for individual customers, is that crypto-tokens are typically stored in digital wallets which can be hacked and robbed.

Unregulated crypto market: Lastly, crypto-activity is unregulated in India and any mishap will negatively impact investors. While crypto-products are legal in India, they are not answerable to any authority. Also, it is also relevant to ask whether fast-mushrooming crypto-exchanges can actually be called ‘exchanges’ at all. They are not supervised by SEBI and their trade matching processes or settlement mechanisms are not well known.

Hence, in light of the above risks and a potential huge impact on retail investors, government must step in to carve regulation for the Crypto market in India.


A step backward: On unemployment in India

Source: This post is based on the article “A step backward” published in Business Standard on 12th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Increasing unemployment

Synopsis: The periodic labour force survey (PLFS) indicates that India, far from modernising and formalising its economy, seems to be moving backwards in terms of the employment available.

Introduction

Recent PLF survey has stated that unemployment rate has declined by a percentage point to 4.8 per cent in 2019-20. The previous number, in the first PLFS in 2017-18, had been the highest recorded for over four decades.

However, a close look at the PLFS data reveals the dismal state of unemployment in India.

Must Read: Periodic Labour Force Survey and unemployment in India – Explained, pointwise
What is the present state of unemployment in India?

Firstly, PLFS data reveals that the unemployment rate is much unchanged, at almost 9 per cent, since 2017-18

Secondly, even more recent indicators, after the second wave, are more disturbing about the trend-line of unemployment. For instance, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) own survey suggests that unemployment in India rose to 8.3% in August 2021, an increase of over a percentage point from 7% in July.

Thirdly, even the industrial sector has apparently lost jobs, continuing a trend since the pandemic hit, which the CMIE says has cost 10 million jobs in manufacturing alone.

What does the PLFS data indicate?

PLFS data reveals that there has been a decline in good-quality employment opportunities since the last PLFS.

Workers have been forced into less remunerative and less secure jobs.

The share of regular salaried workers has been declining for some years, reflecting problems with the formalisation of the economy.

The proportion of the non-agricultural workforce working in the informal sector rose to almost 70 per cent.

There has also been a sharp rise in the proportion of people working in household enterprises who receive no compensation.

Women are working more, but as unpaid family workers in agriculture.

The most worrying point is that there has been an increase in the share of workers in agriculture. The first time that this has happened in the modern statistical era.


Winners and losers in shipping crisis

Source: This post is based on the article “Winners and losers in shipping crisis” published in Business Standard on 13th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Industry: Shipping and ports

Relevance: Issues related to Exports

Synopsis: Challenges faced by exporters due to steep rise in ocean freight rates and congestion in various ports of the world.

Introduction

There has been a steep rise in ocean freight rates and congestion in various ports of the world. Indian exporters have complained of increase in freight rates by 300% to 1000% for various destinations and additional charges like emergency revenue recovery charges, cargo declaration charges etc.,

Why there’s been an increase in freight charges?

Increase in freight charges results from the uneven post-Covid economic recoveries of the world’s largest importing and exporting countries. The primary pillars of the crisis are:

significant fall in the availability of containers

reduced workforce, fewer shipping vessels operating

erratic movements in demand for various commodities.

Additionally, a lag in the supply of timber to manufacture containers, a rise in the number of containers being scrapped than produced further increased the cost of the containers which surged from $1600 in 2021 to $2500 this year.

Who has benefitted out of it?

The obvious winners are the container shipping industry, which reported the best actual quarterly performance  in its history for the second quarter of this year (2Q21). The 11 container lines that represent 64.5% of the TEU capacity made profits of $18.44 billion.

How increased freight rates is impacting Indian Exporters?

It has to be noted that, some Indian products have become relatively more price competitive with regard to their competitors in East Asia and China due to increase in freight rates.

However, the exporters from China, Asia and India are getting less price-competitive with regard to the producers in West Europe and North America due to lower transportation costs from those locations.

What are the complaints raised by exporters?

Other than increased freight rates, the exporters also complain about acute difficulties in getting shipping space, getting containers.

Shipping lines are being diverted to more lucrative routes and giving fewer sailings from India.

Bookings are not given at the contracted freight rates and are forced by the shippers to give higher spot rates through freight forwarders.

Delays in issue of mandated inspection certificates for certain items from nominated agencies.

Some exporters allege cartelisation by the shipping companies.

What are possible long-term implications?

Exporters worry that, if the present trends in shipping continue, then we can see a move from globalisation to localisation or regionalisation for some items.

Also, consumer-led economies are likely to look for alternative markets with shorter trade routes to cut losses. This could severely harm SMEs who are already battling with the pandemic-led economic crisis.


Organic farming should never be turned into an article of faith

Source: This post is based on the article “Organic farming should never be turned into an article of faith” published in Livemint on 13th September 2021.Syllabus: GS3 – Growth, Development and Employment.Relevance: Organic farming and issues related to it

Synopsis: Policies that respect the farmer’s economic freedom offer the best route to sustainable agriculture.

Introduction

Recently, the Srilankan government imposed a state of emergency in Sri Lanka after its mismanaged response to the foreign exchange crisis cascaded into food shortages.

The Sri Lankan government had imposed a range of import controls earlier this year. Banning the import of automobiles, toilet fixtures, Venetian blinds, toothbrush handles and turmeric is one thing, but a complete ban on chemical fertilizers is entirely another.

The fertilizer ban has left Sri Lanka both short of food and US dollars.

How the ban has impacted Sri Lankan economy?

Ruined agriculture: Domestic production is critical for any food-importing country facing a foreign exchange crisis. It is even more important for Sri lanka because it is a major exporter of tea. The fertilizer ban has left Sri Lanka both short of food and US dollars.

It was being seen as a progressive policy aimed at making Sri Lanka the first country in the world to completely embrace organic agriculture. In a few short months it resulted in a disaster.

What are the lessons from Sri Lanka’s unplanned push for organic agriculture?

No simple, universal case for organic agriculture: Pushing organic farming as a one-size-fits-all policy will inevitably lead to the disaster. Like all dietary preferences, individuals are free to attach morality to what they consume, but public policy has to be justified using reason and empirical evidence.

Leave cropping and farming decisions to the farmers: Government and civil society should spread awareness and market knowledge. In India, farmers are demonstrating greater awareness about their profession than the people who are trying to raise it.

Need policy support: Estimates suggest that organic yields are 20-30% lower than their conventionally farmed counterparts. Hence, it is unethical to ask a family earning less than ₹10,000 a month to consider organic farming.

Hence, organic farming is a luxury. Those who prefer to remain into agriculture do it because they can.

This is one reason why organic farming is catching on in Western economies and among India’s richer cultivators.

What are key takeaways for India?

First, we need massive improvements in yield, a massive reduction in the number of farmers, or both.

We need to make the policy case for organic, at the global, national and regional levels. Reckless abuse of pesticides, fertilizers and hormones need to be fixed through better public policies and technology.

Second, to increase organic output and income, we need more farmland and fewer farmers. More farmland means fewer forests. Fewer farmers would need more non-farm jobs.

Hence, there is need for creation of non-agricultural jobs.


Cleaning the Yamuna a story of missed deadlines

Source: This post is based on the article” Cleaning the Yamuna a story of missed deadlines” published in The Hindu on 13th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Relevance: How can we improve the sorry state of River Yamuna?

Synopsis: The Yamuna, as it passes through Delhi, becomes extremely polluted. Immediate steps are needed to check this sorry state of the river.

Introduction

Recently, the draft NCR Regional Plan-2041 was prepared by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB). It has fixed 2026 as the new deadline to ensure ‘zero discharge of untreated sewage and industrial discharge into the Yamuna’.

About the Yamuna

The Yamuna originates in the Yamunotri glacier in the Himalayas. It travels through Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi before its merger with the Ganga.

What are the earlier plans to clean the Yamuna?

1st Yamuna Action Plan (YAP): It was signed in 1992. It aims for the “improvement of water quality conservation in the river and hygiene environment in the cities in the river basin”.

3rd YAP (YAP-III): It is presently underway. But the present condition of Yamuna does not even fit for bathing in the Delhi stretch, except for Palla. It is the point where the river enters Delhi.

What is the pollution concentration in the Yamuna?

Presently, levels of faecal coliform (microbes from human and animal excreta) is beyond the desirable levels in all points except for Palla. At some points, the concentration is 760 times the desirable level.

A committee by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) states that Delhi accounts for 76% of the pollution load on the river.

What are the major causes of pollution in Delhi?

Less water in the river in Delhi.

Sewage: Drains dumping sewage and industrial effluents into the Yamuna.

Under YAP-III entire sewage load of Delhi is to be intercepted and treated. It is the duty of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to treat the city’s sewage. The city generates 720 Million gallons per day(MGD) of Sewage of which 123 MGD remains untreated.  DJB had informed NGT that it will increase its sewage plant treatment to 99%, but it still remains at 86%.

Similarly, the interceptor sewer Project, which has been in pipeline since 2006 has been delayed multiple times.

So, to address these issues, water flow should be increased. Also, there is a need to treat sewage waste.

What are the court and tribunal judgments on the Yamuna?

1994: SC took cognizance of a newspaper article “Quiet Flows Maily (dirty) Yamuna” and summoned the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to explain the issue. Later, various stakeholders, including the Delhi, UP and Haryana governments became part of the case.

2015: In this judgment, NGT formed the ‘Maily Se Nirmal (from dirty to clean) Yamuna Revitalisation Plan, 2017’, which was set to be completed by 2017. But that did not happen and the NGT in 2018, formed a monitoring panel to implement the 2015 judgment. The NGT dissolved the committee in January 2021 and directed the Chief Secretaries of various States to monitor the progress.

What can be done to reduce pollution in the Yamuna?

The immediate technological way forward would be Zero untreated discharge into the Yamuna.

More water can dilute the pollutants, thereby reducing the relative pollution load. As per the study by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a flow of 23 cusecs is needed in the lean season for this. This flow is not easy to attain, as it is constrained by interstate river water treaties.

Ministry of Jal Shakti observed that the 1994 water-sharing agreement between Uttrakhand, HP, UP, Haryana is due for revision in 2025. This can act as an opportunity to divert more water towards the Delhi stretch of Yamuna.

The Experts are of the view that the Yamuna can be cleaned only if the government takes it in a mission mode approach.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Battle of Saragarhi explained: When 21 men fought thousands

What is the News?

September 12 marks the 124th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi that has inspired a host of armies, books and films, both at home and abroad.

About Battle of Saragarhi

The Battle of Saragarhi is considered as one of the finest last stands in the military history of the world. 

The battle happened in 1897 between the British Indian contingent comprising 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikhs (now known as Indian Army’s 4th Battalion) who were stationed at Saragarhi and 10,000 to 12,000 Afghans Tribesmen.

Importance of Saragarhi

Saragarhi was the communication tower between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan. The two forts were in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), now in Pakistan. The forts were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh but renamed by the British.

Saragarhi helped to link up the two important forts which housed a large number of British troops in the NWFP.

Why is the Battle of Saragarhi achievement celebrated? 

Though heavily outnumbered, the 21 Sikh soldiers led by Havildar Ishar Singh managed to hold the Saragarhi tower for seven hours till their last breath, killing 200 tribals and injuring 600.

This bought time for the two other forts to be reinforced and were able to defend themselves upon coming under attack.

Significance: 

Battle of Saragarhi is the only instance in the history of warfare where 21 soldiers were posthumously awarded with Indian Order Merit, the highest award given to Indian soldiers at the time (equivalent to today’s Param Vir Chakra).

Source: This post is based on the articleBattle of Saragarhi explained: When 21 men fought thousandspublished in Indian Express on 12th September 2021.


‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue between India & Australia

What is the News?

The ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue between India & Australia was held.

What is ‘2+2 Dialogue’?

‘2+2 Dialogue’ is a term adopted in foreign diplomacy that implies a dialogue between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries. 

The goal of the 2+2 dialogue is to facilitate the highest-level dialogue on the bilateral, regional, and global issues between countries.

India holds such talks with the US, Japan and Australia.

About India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

India-Australia 2+2 dialogue is the outcome of a decision made at the India-Australia leaders virtual summit in 2020 to elevate bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

What was the focus of the recent India-Australia 2+2 Dialogue?

The dialogue is aimed at further ramping up the overall defence and strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Topics Discussed: The recent developments in Afghanistan, maritime security in Indo-Pacific, cooperation in multilateral formats & other related topics are discussed

Source: This post is based on the article‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue between India & Australiapublished in PIB on 11th September 2021.


LCA-Mk2 to roll out next year, first flight in 2023, says scientist

What is the News?

The preliminary design for the Light Combat Aircraft(LCA)-Mk2 and the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) has been completed.

About LCA-Mk2

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk2 is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Payload Capacity: It is a 1,350 mm longer aircraft. It can carry a payload of 6,500 kg compared to the 3,500 kg the LCA can carry.

Features: The aircraft features enhanced range and endurance, including an onboard oxygen generation system, which is being integrated for the first time.

About Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft(AMCA)

The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft(AMCA) is a fifth-generation indigenous fighter aircraft designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).

Payload Capacity: It will be a 25-tonne aircraft with a payload capacity of 1,500 kg internally and a 5,500-kg external payload.

Features: The aircraft will have stealth and non-stealth configurations. It will be developed in two phases, AMCA Mk1 with an existing GE414 engine and an AMCA Mk2 with an advanced more powerful engine to be developed later along with a foreign partner.

Note: Stealth technology is a low observable technology that makes aircraft, fighter jets, ships, submarines, satellites, missiles less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection methods.

Participation of Private Industry: The manufacturing and production of the aircraft will be through a special purpose vehicle which will have the participation of private industry.

Source: This post is based on the articleLCA-Mk2 to roll out next year, first flight in 2023, says scientistpublished in The Hindu on 13th September 2021.


PRANA portal for air pollution launched

What is the News?

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has launched ‘PRANA’ (prana.cpcb.gov.in) Portal.

About PRANA Portal:

Developed by: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in partnership with Knowledge Lens (a B2B product company)

Full Form: PRANA stands for Portal for Regulation of Air-pollution in Non-Attainment cities.

Purpose: It is a portal for monitoring the implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).It will support tracking of physical as well as financial status of city air action plan implementation and disseminate information on air quality management efforts under NCAP to the public. 

About National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

The National Clean Air Programme(NCAP) was launched in 2019.It is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and CPCB.

Purpose: It is a comprehensive initiative in partnership with various Ministries and States to improve air quality at city, regional and national level. 

It is a focused and time bound scheme to implement various sectoral policies, strengthen monitoring and enhance public participation in more than 100 cities for effective air quality management.

Target: It has a target of 20%–30% reduction of Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentration by 2024.

Source:  This post is based on the articlePRANA portal for air pollution launched” published in PIB on 7th September 2021


PM pays tribute to Subramania Bharati on his 100th Death Anniversary

What is the News?

Prime Minister has paid homage to Mahakavi Subramania Bharati on his 100th Death Anniversary.

About Subramania Bharati

Subramania Bharati was a poet, freedom fighter and social reformer from Tamil Nadu. He was known as Mahakavi Bharathiyar which means a great poet.

His songs on nationalism and freedom of India helped to rally the masses to support the Indian Independence Movement in Tamil Nadu.

Examples:Kannan Pattu” “Nilavum Vanminum Katrum” “Panchali Sabatham” “Kuyil Pattuare examples of Bharathi’s great poetic output. He also published the sensational “Sudesa Geethangal” in 1908.

Bharati as a Journalist

He began his career as a journalist and as a sub-editor in Swadesamitran in 1904. 

He edited and published the weekly journal “India”, which was the first paper in Tamil Nadu to publish political cartoons. He also published and edited a few other journals like “Vijaya”.

Bharthi as a social reformer

Bharati was against the caste system. He declared that there were only two castes-men and women and nothing more than that. 

He condemned certain Shastras that denigrate women. Furthermore, he believed in the equality of humankind and criticised many preachers for mixing their personal prejudices while teaching the Gita and the Vedas.

He also opposed child marriage, dowry and supported widow remarriage.

Source: This post is based on the article PM pays tribute to Subramania Bharati on his 100th Death Anniversary published in PIB on 11th September 2021


Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming

Source: This post is based on the article “What a new study says about fossil fuel extraction and global warming” published in the Indian Express on 10th September 2021.

What is the news? 

As per recent study, the global oil and gas production should decline by 3% per year until 2050 to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target was set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.  

To achieve this target, global fossil fuel extraction needs to go down.  

What is the current progress on Paris Agreement? 

As of now, human activities have already caused global temperatures to rise by about 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1950-1900). Currently, countries’ emissions targets are not in line with limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees. 

What are the findings of the study? 

Firstly, it says that both planned and operational fossil fuel extraction projects are not conducive to meeting the targets set out by the climate agreement signed in 2015. 

Secondly, number of regions in the world have already reached their peak fossil fuel production. To achieve the goal, any increase in fossil fuel production will have to be offset by a decline elsewhere. 

Thirdly, the required unextracted reserves need to be 58% for oil, 59% for fossil methane gas and 89% for coal by 2050. These percentages of fossil fuels need to remain unextractable if global warming targets are kept in mind. 


 

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