9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 17th, 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.
  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
  • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

GS Paper 2

As children come back to school, they will need both time and patience

Source: This post is based on “As children come back to school, they will need both time and patience” published in the Indian Express on 17th September.

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

Relevance: Understanding the issues of school education post-pandemic.

Synopsis: As the schools will soon reopen after the pandemic induced gap, what should be the factors that should drive the education system?


Pandemic has had a negative impact on the education of children with students facing up to 57 weeks of school closure. They might have forgotten what they had learnt. But there has also been a loss of foundation abilities like reading, writing etc. This all has had a great impact on the learning process of children..

What are the findings of the report?

What’s next? Lessons on Education Recovery report by UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank and OECD: It documents the steps that have been taken to overcome the backlog of learning. Nearly 41% of countries have extended the academic year. 42 % of countries have prioritized certain curriculum areas or skills. Over 2/3rd of countries have implemented remedial measures to address learning gaps.

Azim Premji Foundation’s Research: It noted that nearly 3/4th of the children in Class II have lost the ability to identify a word in print. Similarly, in Class 4th, the majority of students have lost the ability to express the gist of a poem. In Class VI more than half the children lost the ability to write their views on various events happening around them.

SCHOOL Survey : It noted that 42% children in urban areas and 48% in rural areas are unable to read more than a few words. It also indicated that most children across the primary grades have lost the basic abilities of learning.

Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise

How should schools frame their curriculum?

The learning outcomes should focus on the abilities children have to acquire as opposed to the content of textbooks as indicated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Thus, learning outcomes of specific subjects must be prioritised, and the curriculum should be reset, prioritising the need of students.

Primary schools: As the primary schools established the foundation of later learning, we need to focus on recovery of foundational abilities in language and mathematics. Along with learning of the current class, focus should also be on relearning from previous classes.

Middle school : Focus should be adopting an integrated approach to achieve learning outcomes across subjects.

Secondary and Senior secondary level: Focus should be on core learning outcomes. Learning process should be mapped to textbooks; and for this level additional material could be developed.

Teachers: Teachers should be given the autonomy to determine what and when the children should learn. Changes in curriculum and the approach to teaching-learning would require orientation of teachers.

Track the performance of students: There is a need to track the performance of students by periodic assessments, regular testing, assessments and interactions with the students. Teachers should also make sure that this process will not demotivate the children.

What should be the way forward?

We need to understand that students have not just suffered a learning loss, but lost valuable time of learning and growth. The most important thing is to give them time to settle back into routines and cover up what has been lost.

Recruit transgenders to foster greater diversity

Source: This post is based on “Recruit transgenders to foster greater diversity” published in the Livemint on 17th September.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted for Protection & Betterment of the Vulnerable Sections of society.

Relevance: Understanding that gender inclusion should also talk about transgender.

Synopsis: As society talks more about gender inclusion, we need to take a deeper look at all the dimensions of gender.


Recently, Tata steels have welcomed transgender individuals as candidates for their job openings. Also, Dutch paints in collaboration with National Small Industries Corp opened a painting academy designed to focus on the training of people who are identified as transgender.

What is the court ruling on the transgender community?

National Legal Service Authority vs Union of India (2014): The Supreme Court recognized that gender identity cannot merely be binary (male and female). The court also recognized the transgender community as different and identified them as the third gender.

So, in 2020 all central government departments were directed to include transgender as a third gender under India’s Constitution. Recently, Karnataka also provided reservations in their state jobs for transgender.

What is the status?

Census 2011: About half a million identify themselves as transgender, still, they are underrepresented.

There are only a few transgenders who have done well professionally like activist dancer Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Doctor V.S. Priya, Mayor Madhu Bai Kinna, etc yet others have regular jobs.

Read more: Empowerment of Transgender community in India

How should we promote a gender-inclusive society?

Corporates could take the lead. It could take up the gender sensitization policies and encourage a more gender-inclusive workplace. It could work to enhance their skills. Small gestures like Unisex bathrooms can have a symbolic effect. Such efforts should also be backed by the State, which can have a transformative effect.

E-Shram needs some hard work to get going

Source: This post is based on “E-Shram needs some hard work to get going” published in The Hindu on 17th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: Understanding the E-Shram portal.

Synopsis: India’s challenge of providing social security benefits to unorganized workers can be revamped through initiatives like E-Shram.


The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE) launched the E-Shram, the web portal for creating a National Database of Unorganized Workers (NDUW), which will be seeded with Aadhaar.

What is e-Shram Portal?

e-Shram Portal is a database of unorganised sector workers. It aims to register 38 crore unorganised workers, such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors etc

It has come into existence after the repeated directives of the Supreme Court and even after passing the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.

Read more: Government of India launches the e-Shram Portal

What are the problems associated with it?

Long Process: Given the size of the Indian labour force, it is going to be a long-drawn process. This is evident as till now, only 0.61 million workers have been registered.

Data Security: The measure would require the central government to share data with the state government. However, the data security credential of the State government is doubtful.

Eligibility: The government has excluded workers covered by EPF (Employees Provident Fund) and ESI (Employees’ State Insurance). This would mean that lakhs of contract and fixed-term contract workers will be excluded from the ambit of Unorganised Workers.

Read more: Migrant workers and their Social protection in India – Explained, pointwise

Under the Social Security Code (SSC), hazardous establishments employing even one worker will have to be covered under the ESI, which means these workers also will be excluded.

Further, the NDUW excludes workers aged over 59 from its ambit, which constitutes age discrimination.

Aadhar Criteria: Aadhaar-seeding is a controversial issue. Many workers will not have an Aadhaar-seeded mobile or even a smartphone.

Identity: Many unorganized workers are circular migrant workers. They quickly shift from one trade to another. Many others perform both formal and informal work, e.g. during non-office hours, some may belong to the gig economy like an Uber taxi driver or a Swiggy employee.

  • This creates confusion on multiple fronts. Firstly, MOLE has included gig workers in this process, but there is confusion whether gig/platform worker can be classified first as a worker at all (the other three Labour Codes do not include these workers).
  • Secondly, their classification as organized or unorganized workers is also not clear. The definition of an “unorganized worker” in the Social Security Code does not include them.

Dependency: The central government will have to depend on the state governments for this project to be successful. Given political issues between different parties ruling states, this can be challenging.

Corruption: Concern about corruption also exists, as middle-service agencies such as Internet providers might charge high charges to register and print the E-Shram cards.

Why E-Shram portal is vital?

E-Shram is a vital system to provide invisible workers much-needed visibility. It will provide the Labour Market Citizenship Document to them. It will also link delivery of all kinds of benefits and voices to workers/citizens, viz. One-Nation-One-Ration Card (ONOR), E-Shram Card (especially bank account seeded) and the Election Commission Card.

Going down the wrong path

Source: This post is based on “Going down the wrong path” published in Business Standard on 16th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Relevance: To understand India’s ranking in various international reports.

Synopsis: India slips on indices of freedom and the government has not even acknowledged there is a problem.


Recently, the government decided to leverage the monitoring of select Global Indices to drive reforms and growth in the country”. The Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office of the NITI Aayog, set up in September 2015, will monitor the indices.

It would track India’s performance in four categories — industry, development, economy, and governance. The aim is to use these Indices as tools for systemic reforms in the policies and processes. As this would help in improving investor confidence, creating a conducive ecosystem for investment and enhance ease of living”.

What are the findings of various reports on India’s Democracy and civil liberties?

CIVICUS National Civic Space Ratings: India has gone from the “Obstructed” to “Repressed” category.

Freedom House Freedom in the World: India has gone from the “Free” to the “Partly Free” category.

Access to Info RTI Ratings index: India has fallen four places for being “less transparent” in government.

What are the findings of various reports on Employment?

Similar performances have been seen in the economy and employment sector. In most of the reports, India’s ranking has been slipped down.

United Nations Development Index, India has gone from 130 to 131 out of 189 countries.

United Nations Happiness Report:  India has fallen 22 places. India has been placed at 139th position out of 149 countries.

International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Hunger Index: India has fallen 39 places even ranked below Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

What are the platforms where India scored better?

India has shown improvement in other global reports World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Global Terrorism Index , World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, Global Innovation Index.

What are the reasons for the lower rankings in the above categories?

The indices are reflective of data that the government itself puts out in many ways. But despite that, the government is not acknowledging the rakings. Given the NITI’s monitoring system, and , this trend is likely to continue.

Read more: Instead of denying slide in democratic values, India must work to fix it

Two democracies and their vigilante problem

Source: This post is based on the article “Two democracies and their vigilante problem” published in The Hindu on 17th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Criminal justice system.

Relevance: Understanding the notions of the word – vigilante.

Synopsis: With incidents of mob justice and vigilantism increasing, it becomes important to understand the dimensions of the word Vigilante.


This article highlights how the word “Vigilante” has different meanings in two different democracies.

What is Vigilantism?

It is a process of law enforcement undertaken without legal authority by a self-appointed group of people. Or It is the practice of ordinary people in a place taking unofficial action to prevent crime or to catch and punish people believed to be criminals:

Vigilantism In the case of India: Vigilant behaviour can be seen through incidents like beating couples on Valentine’s Day, love jihad etc. It is considered anti-democratic. Law and order machinery takes punitive actions varying from police cases to arrest of the accused.

In the USA: The criticism is guarded and balanced.  In fact, the laws in the USA make vigilantism respectable.

E.g. in the USA, “Citizen Arrester“(Vigilantee) enjoys the legal status and his/her actions are protected by law. Laws in the USA permit an individual to pursue and arrest a person accused of breaking the law.

How the USA allows the practice of Citizen Arrester?

It is carried from the legal convention of 12th century Common Law, which was prevalent in England. This law allowed a Citizen arrester to physically arrest a person who has been accused of breaking a law. There are procedures to be followed, safeguards and risks involved for wrongful arrest. Given its potential for abuse, there are debates regarding the need to reduce its scope. However, recent legislation in the USA seems to encourage citizen arresters.

USA’s legislation to promote citizen arresters

Recently, Texas introduced the Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits abortion of any child after the foetus registers a heartbeat (about 6 weeks into pregnancy). Further, this bill provides an award of $10,000 to anyone (including a Vigilantee) who can sue abortion providers. Thus, anyone who helped in the abortion process, from the taxi driver who drove the women to the hospital or the doctors and nurses etc. can be sued by any citizen.

In another incident in the USA, a bill had to be passed for voter reforms. In that, the experts pointed that the representatives were more worried about citizen representatives than the officials themselves.

What needs to be done?

The oldest and the largest democracies, it seems, both have a vigilante problem today. So, the trend of the State asking citizens to do its duty – like arresting offenders, needs to be checked, given its potential of misuse.

GS Paper 3

How green is my central bank

Source: This post is based on the article“How green is my central bank” published in Business standard on 17th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to climate change

Relevance: Climate financing

Synopsis: Green climate and other bonds, and fixed-income assets, cannot guarantee carbon neutrality.


The Bank of Finland has announced that its investment portfolio will be carbon-neutral by 2050. Also, many western central banks are making similar announcements.

However, the author of this article states that resorting to green climate financing by central bank (RBI) will not solve the problem of climate change.

Besides, he also points out that ensuring carbon neutral investment through green financing is an uphill task.

Why green climate financing by central bank is not the solution?

Firstly, green financing completely misses basic principles of government finance. Government revenues are not directly linked to expenditures. Governments do not spend to maximize tax revenue. This is equally true of debt-financed government spending. Even if such debt-financed spending is only used for capital expenditure, the portfolio of capital spending cannot be judged according to its carbon impact, since a large chunk of such investment is financial investment. Nor do they generate revenues solely to spend them on acquiring goods and services, like households do.

Secondly, a large chunk of government expenditures are transfers, which seek to influence the allocation and distribution of resources in an economy. For eg: Unemployment benefit used to buy fossil fuels is bad for carbon, but that does not make it carbon-positive.

Thirdly, even if domestic debt is used to finance a high-carbon investment, there is no way any central bank can refuse to issue such debt as – i). It is not part of the mandate of a central bank to tell the government how to spend its money, ii). Specific sovereign bonds cannot be reserved to a specific investment activity, as these are issued to finance a fiscal deficit and are therefore neutral.

Fourthly, the reasons why central banks acquire foreign debt have absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of issuance.

Finally, Green climate and other bonds, and fixed-income assets do offer an explicit and potential guarantee of carbon neutrality. However, there are two problems with this: i). The first is that it takes away from the sovereign’s absolute power to receive resources (whether tax or debt) ii). The second is that green financing does not guarantee carbon neutral green procurement or utilization. For instance, if a green bond is used to finance a railway project but the steel and electricity used to produce and run the railway are dirty, then can it be said to be carbon-neutral?

What is the way forward?

The problem, as the world has carbonized, is that a minority of people have been consuming too much and a majority too little. Hence, unless the negative impacts of the consumption of the affluent are recognized and discouraged, the climate change issue will not be effectively addressed.

Clean energy prospects beyond the 100GW milestone

Source: This post is based on the article “Clean energy prospects beyond the 100GW milestone” published in Livemint on 17th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure, Conservation

Relevance: Initiatives taken by the government to push clean energy

Synopsis: Regular policy interventions by the government, an investment push and fiscal stimuli over the years have helped India emerge as a global front runner in the clean energy ecosystem.


Despite the covid pandemic, steady growth has helped India cross the 100-gigawatt (GW) target of installed capacity. Today, we stand 4th in the world in terms of installed renewables capacity (fifth in solar and fourth in wind).

What is the reason behind growth of renewable energy sector in India?

Dedicated efforts by the government: India had set up the ministry of non-conventional energy sources in 1992 and renamed it ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) in 2006.

Policy reforms: such as transparent bidding, waiving of inter-state transmission system charges and losses for the inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects, and creating renewable purchase obligations. Also, government has given ‘must-run’ status to renewable energy projects, crafting liquidity packages for distribution companies.

Global-scale initiatives: such as setting up of the International Solar Alliance on the side-lines of the Paris Climate Conference along with ambitious target of achieving 450GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Energy ecosystem potential : Estimates suggest India has over 1,050GW of renewables potential in wind and solar power alone, with wind potential at 300GW and solar at 750GW.

Newer means of power generation such as floating solar and offshore wind projects have been introduced, storage-based systems to provide round-the-clock energy are coming into play.

Efforts to digitize power grid are also underway. Battery costs have been falling consistently. Bloomberg estimates that it will fall by 8% every year to reach $60 by 2030.

Grid connectivity: New renewable capacity can ensure 100% renewable energy generation for stable power to the grid. ReNew Power currently has a project under development that envisages the use of wind, solar and batteries for the stable supply of renewable energy.

How India can ensure development in renewable energy sector?

Foster the development of an end-to-end clean energy ecosystem: it will help India to become a global champion.

Creating demand and providing supportive policies such as wind equipment-making and electrolyzer and fuel-cell manufacturing. According to the International Labour Organization, around 330,000 new jobs could be created in the renewables sector by 2022 and more than 24 million new jobs by 2030.

The PLI plan for our automotive sector can accelerate its success

Source: This post is based on the article “The PLI plan for our automotive sector can accelerate its success” published in Livemint & “Another industrial policy misstep” published in Business Standard on 17th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Automotive Industry

Relevance: PLI scheme for Automotive Industry

Synopsis: The new PLI scheme will incentivize the industry to move into higher-value-added technologies and thus spur sectoral growth


The Union Cabinet has decided on a major new production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme aimed at reviving and transforming the automotive sector in India.

The planned outlay of government funds for the scheme is in excess of Rs 26,000 crore.

There are two aspects to the scheme. One targeted at original equipment manufacturers and the other at the component’s ecosystem. The OEM scheme focuses in particular on electric vehicles and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

What are the issues and challenges of the automotive industry?

Reduced demand due to the Pandemic: Like with other sectors, covid has caused immense damage to the automotive sector. Besides, factors like a cyclical downturn, Bharat Stage VI transition and supply-chain disruptions having made conditions even more severe.

Geopolitical issues: Although signs of recovery are now clearly visible, ongoing global supply disruptions, particularly of semiconductors, threaten to dampen the revival of this sector.

Low export growth: While India’s automotive exports are about $27 billion, or about 8% of total exports, in the context of global automotive trade, there exists vast room for growth. India’s current auto-component exports comprise a mere 1% of their global trade.

Dependence on Imports: There remain technologies and parts that are either not made in India or for which we haven’t matched the global scale, prices or quality needed. For instance, of our top 12 import categories, drive transmission and steering units, engines, electricals and electronics account for 62%, with most imports from China.

Low levels of localization in evolving technologies: such as e-vehicles, unless we act now, the Indian industry would be at threat of losing competitiveness and lagging rivals.

Cost disadvantages in various automotive technologies: hampering our Industry to be globally competitive.

How the PLI scheme will help the Indian automotive industry?

Focus on Startups: Given the role of startups and new technology players in the automotive space, this scheme covers not only existing auto original equipment and component makers, but also new non-auto investors.

Inclusivity: The PLI criteria for eligibility, offers all companies an equal opportunity, irrespective of their size, area of operation or country of incorporation.

Reduce Import dependence: The approach adopted is to target advanced-tech components that currently show high import intensity with usage across all vehicles. Further, it has also built-in flexibility for the inclusion of more technologies.

Pollution mitigation: The OEM scheme attempts to mobilise demand in the direction of zero-emission vehicles, especially the FAME-II scheme. This will help in transformation of the automotive sector towards zero-emission vehicles

What are the changes needed in the PLI schemes to make it more effective?

Firstly, the PLI schemes thrust towards zero-emission sector has not attracted support from automotive industry. Perhaps the government must once again revisit its timetable for the tighter regulation of emissions if market conditions are to be changed sufficiently to induce additional investment.

Secondly, the PLI scheme focuses on advanced component manufacturing. However, there is an issue of the availability of skilled labour that needs to be addressed.

Thirdly, using taxes to provide incentives for the private sector in order to minimise imports is but steps away from the full-fledged licence-permit raj. The purpose of industrial and trade policy must be to integrate further with global value chains, not to dissociate from them. Dissociation from global supply chains will leave the private sector unproductive, drain the public exchequer, hurt consumer welfare.

What is the way forward?

Now the automotive industry must step up and invest in future technologies, advanced manufacturing and improving their processes as well as skilling their workforce, to bolster India’s integration with global value chains.

Bringing woolly mammoths back from extinction might not be such a bad idea — ethicists explain

Source: This post is based on the article “Bringing woolly mammoths back from extinction might not be such a bad idea — ethicists explain” published in Down to Earth on 17th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Biodiversity and Conservation

Relevance: Regarding restoring ecosystem via de-extinction methods

Synopsis: There’s a strong case for trying out novel methods to restore lost species and damaged ecosystems. A look at the related issues.


The United States startup Colossal Biosciences has announced plans to bring woolly mammoths, or animals like them, back from extinction and into the frosty landscape of the Siberian tundra.

Colossal proposes to use CRISPR gene editing technology to modify Asian elephant embryos (the mammoth’s closest living relative) so their genomes resemble those of woolly mammoths. These embryos could then theoretically develop into elephant-mammoth hybrids (mammophants), with the appearance and behaviour of extinct mammoths.

What is the objective?

The ultimate aim is to release herds of these mammophants into the Arctic, where they will fill the ecological niche mammoths once occupied.

Restoration of ecosystem: When mammoths disappeared from the Arctic some 4,000 years ago, shrubs overtook what was previously grassland. Mammoth-like creatures could help restore this ecosystem by trampling shrubs, knocking over trees, and fertilising grasses with their faeces.

Impact on climate change: Theoretically, this restoration could help reduce climate change. If the current Siberian permafrost melts, it will release potent greenhouse gases. Compared to tundra, grassland might reflect more light and keep the ground cooler, which Colossal hopes will prevent the permafrost from melting.

The proposed project is exciting, with laudable ambitions — but whether it is a practical strategy for conservation remains unclear.

Global example

A well-known example is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s, which started a cascade of positive changes for local flora and fauna.

What are the associated issues and ethical concerns?

Two major concerns associated with De-extinction are:

Firstly, de-extinction could distract from more cost-effective efforts to protect biodiversity or mitigate climate change: Some critics of de-extinction projects hold that while de-extinction may be an admirable goal, in practice it constitutes a waste of resources. Even if newly engineered mammophants contain mammoth DNA, there is no guarantee these hybrids will adopt the behaviours of ancient mammoths.

Also, important are the behaviours animals learn from observing other members of their species. The first mammophants will have no such counterparts to learn from.

And even if de-extinction programs are successful, they will likely cost more than saving existing species from extinction. The programs might be a poor use of resources, especially if they attract funding that could have otherwise gone to more promising projects.

Secondly, the possible moral hazards that may arise if people start believing extinction is not forever: Some environmentalists argue once de-extinction becomes possible, the need to protect species from extinction will seem less urgent.

What is the way forward?

We shouldn’t rule out de-extinction technologies altogether. The costs will eventually come down. In the meantime, some highly expensive projects might be worth considering.

De-extinction is not the only conservation strategy that seeks to undo otherwise irreversible losses. For example, “rewilding” involves reintroducing locally-extinct species into an ecosystem it once inhabited. If we welcome these efforts then we should also welcome novel strategies to restore lost species and damaged ecosystems.

Furthermore, climate change is one of the great moral challenges of our time. The melting of the Siberian permafrost is expected to accelerate climate change and exacerbate ecological disaster. This is such a serious problem that even ambitious projects with a low probability of success can be ethically justified.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

52 cos apply with Rs 6,000-cr investment proposals for AC, LED PLI scheme

What is the news? 

Around 52 companies have applied for availing production-linked incentives (PLIs) for white goods makers, proposing an investment of around Rs 6,000 crore in the manufacturing of components for air conditioners and LED lights. 

Most of the investments are expected to happen in the next two-three years; and after that, local production for components for AC and LED light is expected to start. 

What are the potential benefits of PLI scheme for white good makers?  

First, it will help in saving the foreign currency, reduce dependency on foreign countries and create job opportunities in the country. 

Second, average domestic value addition for AC, which is around 20-25 per cent with local components of the product, will go up to 75 per cent in the next five years. This would save the cost and time of the industry from sourcing the components. 

Third, it will enable design-led manufacturing, fuel innovation and drive component exports along with finished ACs from India. 

Fourth, it will also enhance design capability and growth of the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). 

What support domestic manufactures are likely to get? 

First, in air conditioners, support would be provided for AC components as copper tubes, aluminium foil and compressors. It will also provide incentives for low-value intermediates such as PCB assembly for controllers, BLDC motors, service valves and cross-flow fans for AC and other components. 

Second, for LED lighting products, support will be provided for core components like LED chip packaging, resistors, ICs, fuses and large-scale investments in other components.  

Source: This post is based on the article “52 cos apply with Rs 6,000-cr investment proposals for AC, LED PLI scheme” published in the Business Standard on 16th September 2021. 

COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed climate change: UN

What is the news? 

Recently United Nations released report titled United in Science 2021 with the help of WMO, UNEP, WHO, IPCC etc,.  

As per the report, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused only a temporary reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions last year while concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continued to increase. 

What are the findings of the report? 

First, Global emissions in the power and industry sectors were at the same level or higher in January-July 2021 than in the same period in 2019. Emissions from road transport remained about five per cent lower. 

Second, Global mean sea levels rose 20 cm from 1900 to 2018. 

Third, Heat-related mortality and work impairment, caused by rising temperatures led to loss in working hours. 

Fourth, High latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter over 2021–2025, than the recent past. 

Fifth, average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record. In the next five years, temperatures might temporarily breach the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era. 

Sixth, the disruption to our climate and our planet have become worse and it is moving faster than predicted. An urgent climate action is needed. 

What are the recommendations? 

Countries need to develop long-term strategies consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Net-zero commitments needed to be translated into strong near-term policies and action. 

Source: This post is based on the article “COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed climate change: UN” published in the Down to Earth on 16th September 2021. 

Scientists unravel mystery behind Odisha’s ‘black tigers

What is the news? 

Recently, scientists have resolved the mystery behind the ‘black tigers’ of Simlipal in Odisha. A recent study has discovered that the coat colouration and patterning that make the wild cats appear dark boil down to a single mutation in the Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) gene. 

The researchers found that the Similipal black tigers may have arisen from a very small founding population of tigers and are inbred, providing an answer to the question that had perplexed so many. 

The abnormally dark or black coat in such tigers is termed pseudomelanistic or false coloured. 

What are the findings of the study? 

First, tigers in the Simlipal Tiger Reserve are an isolated population in eastern India, and gene flow between them and other tiger populations is very restricted. 

Second, such isolated and inbred populations of tigers are prone to extinction over even short periods of time. 

Third, the researchers found out that pseudomelanistic coat came down to the genes. It was found that black tigers are mutants and are Bengal tigers with a single base mutation. Different mutations in this gene are known to cause similar changes in coat colour in several other species of cats, including cheetahs. The drastic change in patterning and colouring of the black tigers’ coat is caused by just one change in the genetic material DNA Alphabet from C (Cytosine) to T (Thymine) in position 1360 of the Taqpep gene sequence.  

Fourthly, Genetic analyses and comparisons with a total of 395 captive and wild Indian tiger populations indicates that the mutation in Similipal tigers is very rare. 

Fifthly, the only other black tigers outside of Similipal in India exist at the Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar, Ranchi Zoo and Chennai’s Arignar Anna Zoological Park, where they were born in captivity. These captive-born tigers shared a common ancestry with Similipal tigers. 

Sixthly, the researchers also carried out investigations to understand why this mutation occurred at such a high frequency in Similipal alone. 

One hypothesis is that the darker coat colour of the mutants offers them a selective advantage when hunting in the dense closed-canopy and relatively darker forested areas of Similipal as compared to the open plains of most other tiger habitats. 

Other reason might be the small founding population and prolonged isolation from other tiger populations in India. Due to this geographic isolation, genetically related individuals have been mating with each other for many generations in Similipal, leading to inbreeding. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Scientists unravel mystery behind Odisha’s ‘black tigers” published in the Indian Express on 14th September 2021. 

Building a resilient economy

What is the news?

Amidst the hopes of a V-shaped recovery of the Indian economy, the National Statistical Office (NSO) had recently estimated that India’s economic growth has surged to 20.1% in the April-June quarter, despite a devastating second wave of COVID-19.

It also stated that the gross domestic product (GDP) had contracted by 24.4% in the April-June quarter of 2020-21.

Supporting these estimates, in its recently launched Trade and Development Report 2021, UNCTAD has estimated global growth to hit 5.3% in 2021 and growth in India to hit 7.2%.

What are the findings of the report? 

According to the report,

i). India showed a strong quarterly growth of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2021. It is despite severe second wave of the pandemic, rising food and general price inflation, drastic consumption and investment adjustments.

ii). India’s growth in 2021 as a whole is estimated at 7.2%, which is one of the fastest compared to most countries in the analysis. It is still not sufficient to regain the pre-COVID-19 income level. 

iii). Going forward, the economy is likely to experience a deceleration of growth to 6.7% growth in 2022. Beyond that, and even assuming the pandemic is fully under control, the situation is looking increasingly uncertain for many emerging economies.

What are the recommendations?

To revive and sustain growth, action is needed both at the international and national levels.

i). The report strongly supports India’s proposed temporary suspension of the World Trade Organization TRIPS waiver. It is a necessary step to enable the local manufacture of vaccines in developing countries. The inability of COVAX and CTAP schemes to mobilise the requisite resources from Northern governments and corporations, increases the need of such waiver. 

ii). We need a global strategy that mitigates the threat of global warming whilst simultaneously addressing the inequities and fragilities of a financialized world.

iii). New sources of finance are required, including support from the international community in line with its commitment to common but differentiated responsibilities. 

iv). At the national level, we can build resilience through public investment. COVID-19 has reinforced the idea that resilience is a public good and has to be delivered through a robust public sector with the resources to make the necessary investments.

v). We should not cut wages to boost competitiveness as wages are a critical source of demand and their growth can stimulate productivity.  

vi). Policies targeting informality are important for a country like India with a large informal economy.  

ix). Build a healthy, diversified economy through strong industrial policy focusing on building digital capacities.  

Source: This post is based on the article “Building a resilient economy ” published in The Hindu on 17th September 2021. 

Government sets up ‘bad bank’ to clear the NPA mess

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • Government sets up ‘bad bank’ to clear the NPA messpublished in The Hindu on 17th September 2021.
  • ​​FM Sitharaman announces Rs 30,600 crore govt guarantee for bad bank” published in The Indian Express on 17th September 2021.
  • “Explained: What’s good about a ‘bad bank’” published in The Indian Express on 17th September 2021.
  • “Centre to help offload ₹2 tn NPAs in five years” published in Livemint on 17th September 2021.

What is the News?

Cabinet has cleared a ₹30,600-crore guarantee programme for securities to be issued by the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited(NARCL) for taking over and resolving non-performing assets(NPAs).

What is NARCL?

NARCL is India’s first-ever “Bad Bank”. It has been incorporated as an Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) under the Companies Act.

Purpose: It has been set up to acquire and consolidate stressed assets for their subsequent resolution.

Owned by: Public Sector Banks(PSBs) will maintain 51% ownership in NARCL and private lenders will hold the rest.

Read more: Union Cabinet clears decks for National Asset Reconstruction Company

What is India Debt Resolution Company Ltd (IDRCL)?

IDRCL is an operational entity of NARCL. It will manage the stressed assets acquired by NARCL and try to raise their value for final resolution.

Owned by: Public Sector Banks(PSBs) and Public Financial Institutions(FIs) will hold a maximum of 49% stake and the rest will be with private-sector lenders.

Read moreEstablishment of Bad Banks – associated Issues and Significance 

How will the NARCL and IDRCL work?

The NARCL will acquire assets by making an offer to the lead bank. It will acquire nearly Rs 2 lakh crore of stressed assets from banks. These will be high value stressed loan assets of more than Rs 500 crore. 

Once acquired, it will pay banks 15%  cash upfront for these assets and issue “security receipts” for the remaining 85% of the asset value.

The stressed assets acquired by NARCL will then be handled by IDRCL. It will focus on the resolution of the assets and employ turnaround professionals. When the assets are sold, the commercial banks will be paid back the rest.

If NARCL-IDRCL is unable to sell the stressed assets or has to sell it at a loss, then the government guarantee will be invoked. Under this, the difference between what the commercial bank was supposed to get and what they were able to raise will be paid from the Rs 30,600 crore that has been provided by the government.

What benefit do banks get from this new structure?

It will incentivize quicker action on resolving stressed assets thereby helping in better value realization. 

This approach will also permit freeing up of personnel in banks to focus on increasing business and credit growth.

Further, it will bring about improvement in the bank’s valuation and enhance their ability to raise market capital.

NITI Aayog Launches Report on Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India

Source:  This post is based on the article “NITI Aayog Launches Report on ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India” published in PIB on 16th September 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has launched a report titled ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India’.

Read more: NITI Aayog to Launch Report on ‘Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India’

What are the Key Findings of the Report?

India is home to 11% of the total global urban population. By 2027, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world. However, unplanned urbanisation will exert great strain on our cities. Hence, there is an urgent need for planning and management of our cities.

Recommendations of the report on Urban Planning

Healthy Cities Programme: Every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy City for All’ by 2030. For this purpose, the report suggests a central sector scheme titled “500 Healthy Cities Programme” for a period of five years, where priority cities will be selected jointly by the states and local bodies 

Ramping Up of Human Resources: To combat the shortage of urban planners in the public sector, the report recommends that states/UTs may need to expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners and additionally sanction new posts as lateral entry positions.

Re-engineering of Urban Governance: The report recommends the constitution of a high-powered committee to re-engineer the present urban-planning governance structure.

The report also suggests the government to revise the Town and Country Planning Acts.

Citizens Participation: The report recommends a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for enabling citizens participation in urban planning.

Enhancing the Role of the Private Sector: The report recommends strengthening the role of the private sector to improve the overall planning capacity in the country. 

Recommendations of the report on Urban Planning Education

Postgraduate Programmes in Urban Planning: The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer postgraduate degree programmes (M. Tech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.

Faculty Shortage: Faculty shortage in educational institutions conducting degree and PhD programmes in planning needs to be resolved in a time-bound manner by 2022.

Other Recommendations of the report

National Council of Town and Country Planners: The report recommends the constitution of a ‘National Council of Town and Country Planners’ as a statutory body of the Government of India. 

Also, a ‘National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners’ is suggested to be created within the National Urban Innovation Stack of MoHUA. This portal will enable the self-registration of all planners and evolve as a marketplace for potential employers and urban planners.

EU unveils Indo-Pacific strategy

Source: This post is based on the article “EU unveils Indo-Pacific strategy” published in PIB on 17th September 2021.

What is the News?

The European Union has released a new Indo-Pacific strategy for boosting economic, political and defence ties in the Indo-Pacific.

Why an EU Strategy for the Indo-Pacific?

The Indo-Pacific region is increasingly becoming strategically important for the EU. The EU is already the top investor, the leading development cooperation partner and one of the biggest trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region. 

Together, the Indo-Pacific and Europe hold over 70% of the global trade in goods and services, as well as over 60% of foreign direct investment flows.

What is the aim of the Indo-Pacific Strategy?

The aim of the strategy is:

To strengthen and expand economic relations 

To reinforce the respect of international trade rules

To help partners fight and adapt to climate change and biodiversity loss

To boost cooperation on health care so least-developed countries can better prepare for crises like the coronavirus pandemic.

What does the strategy say on Security and Defence in the Indo-Pacific?

As part of the strategy, the EU will promote an open and rules-based regional security architecture, including secure sea lines of communication, capacity-building and enhanced naval presence by the EU Member States in the Indo-Pacific. 

Furthermore, the EU will seek to conduct more joint exercises and port calls with Indo-Pacific partners, including multilateral exercises, to fight piracy and protect freedom of navigation in the region.

The EU will also intensify its dialogues with partners on counter-terrorism and cybersecurity. 

PFC issues India’s first-ever Euro Green Bond

Source: This post is based on the articlePFC issues India’s first-ever Euro Green Bondpublished in PIB on 16th September 2021.

What is the News?

Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC), the leading NBFC in the power sector, has issued its maiden Euro Green Bond.

What is a Euro Green Bond?

It is the first-ever Euro denominated Green bond issuance from India.

Moreover, it is the first-ever Euro issuance by an Indian NBFC and the first Euro bond issuance from India since 2017.

The issuance saw strong participation from institutional investors across Asia and Europe with participation from across 82 accounts and was oversubscribed 2.65 times.

What is Green Bond?

A green bond is like any other bond where a debt instrument is issued by an issuer for raising funds from investors. However, what differentiates a Green bond from other bonds is that the proceeds of a Green Bond offering are ‘ear-marked’ for use towards financing ‘green’ projects.

The Green Bonds may come with tax incentives such as tax exemptions and tax credits to attract investors. 

The World Bank is a major issuer of green bonds. It has issued 164 such bonds since 2008, worth a combined $14.4 billion.

In India, YES Bank was the first bank to issue green bonds in 2015 for financing renewable and clean energy projects.

Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation, a civic body in Uttar Pradesh, has become India’s first municipal corporation to successfully list the country’s first green municipal bonds on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in April 2021.

A new method developed to convert poultry feather & wool waste to animal feed & fertilizer

Source: This post is based on the articleA new method developed to convert poultry feather & wool waste to animal feed & fertilizerpublished in PIB on 16th September 2021.

What is the News?

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) have developed an innovative way to convert keratin waste into fertiliser and animal feeds.

What is Keratin Waste?

Keratin waste is generated from human hair, poultry feather waste and wool. India generates a huge amount of keratin waste each year. 

These wastes are dumped, buried, used for landfilling or incinerated. This leads to increased environmental hazards, pollution and threat to public health and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. 

What is the potential use of Keratin waste?

Keratin waste are inexpensive sources of amino acids and protein. Hence, it can be used as animal feed and fertiliser.

What have the Indian Scientists developed?

Indian Scientists have developed a method that can easily convert keratin waste into fertiliser and animal feed. 

The method uses advanced oxidation for the conversion of the waste to marketable fertilisers and animal feed. The key technology behind this involves pre-treatment followed by hydrolysis of keratin using a technique called Hydrodynamic Cavitation, which involves vaporization, bubble generation, and bubble implosion in a flowing liquid.

This method is almost three times more economical than the existing technologies.

It is also easily scalable, environment-friendly and would make amino acid-rich liquid fertilizers more economical as compared to currently marketed products.

Explained: What are the tarballs that have resurfaced on Mumbai’s beaches?

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: What are the tarballs that have resurfaced on Mumbai’s beaches?published in Indian Express on 16th September 2021.

What is the News?

Recently, black oil-emanating balls also called Tarballs were seen lying on the shore of Mumbai Beach.

What are Tarballs?

Tarballs are dark-coloured, sticky balls of oil that form when crude oil floats on the ocean surface. They are transported from the open sea to the shores by sea currents and waves.

Some of the Tarballs are as big as a basketball, while others are smaller globules. They are usually coin-sized and are found strewn on the beaches

How are Tarballs formed?

Tarballs are formed by weathering of crude oil in marine environments. They are also formed from oil-well blowouts, accidental and deliberate release of bilge and ballast water from ships, river runoff, discharges through municipal sewage and industrial effluents.

What are the Harmful effects associated with Tarballs?

Fishing: Tarballs that travel towards the coast can get stuck to the fishing nets installed in the sea, making it difficult for fishermen to clean.

Marine Life: Tarballs could affect marine life, especially filter feeders like clams and oysters.

Tarball pollution: It is a major concern to the global marine ecosystem. Microbes such as bacteria and fungi are known to be associated with tarballs.

Difficult to Break Down: Tarballs are difficult to break down, and can therefore travel for hundreds of miles in the sea. 

Tourism: Tarballs washed ashore on beaches will negatively affect local economies because tourists will be offended by the odour.

Low carbon bricks developed using construction and demolition waste for energy-efficient walling envelopes

Source: This post is based on the articleLow carbon bricks developed using construction and demolition waste for energy-efficient walling envelopespublished in PIB on 16th September 2021.

What is the News?

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science(IISc) have developed an energy-efficient carbon brick called ‘Low-C Bricks’.

What are Low-C Bricks?

Low-C Bricks are low carbon bricks developed using construction and demolition waste (CDW) and alkali-activated binders.

These bricks do not require high-temperature firing. They also avoid the use of high-energy materials such as Portland cement.

Note: Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar etc.

Why were Low-C Bricks developed?

Conventionally, building envelopes consist of masonry walls built with burnt clay bricks, concrete blocks, hollow clay blocks, fly ash bricks, and lightweight blocks. Most of these technologies spend energy during their production, incurring carbon emissions.

Similarly, the masonry units are manufactured either through the process of firing or using high-energy carbon binders, mainly Portland cement. Further, the annual consumption of bricks and blocks in India is about 900 million tonnes.

What are the benefits of Low-C Bricks?

Low-C Bricks solves the disposal problems associated with the construction and demolition waste (CDW).

These bricks also use very low energy in producing them when compared to the high energy used in producing burnt clay bricks.

New defence office complex opened

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • New defence office complex openedpublished in The Hindu on 17th September 2021.
  • PM inaugurates the Defence Offices Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue published in The Indian Express on 17th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister has inaugurated the Defence Offices Complexes at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Africa Avenue in New Delhi.

What are Defence Office Complexes?

Defence Office Complexes has been constructed as a part of the Central Vista redevelopment project.

These complexes will accommodate around 7,000 officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force. 

The buildings will provide modern, secure and functional working spaces. An Integrated Command and Control Centre has also been established for managing building operations while also catering to the end to end safety and surveillance of both the buildings.  

One of the defining features of these buildings is the use of new and sustainable construction technology called LGSF (light gauge steel frame), which reduced construction time from 24 to 30 months in the case of conventional reinforced cement concrete (RCC) construction. 

Note: Light gauge steel framing (LGSF) is a construction technology that uses cold-formed steel as the construction material.

Non-farm activities need a big push to boost rural incomes, say experts

Source: This post is based on the article “Non-farm activities need a big push to boost rural incomes, say experts” published in Business Standard on 16th Sep 2021.

What is the news?

The National Sample Survey (NSS) in its latest findings mentioned that Doubling farmers’ income by 2022 is not feasible. The findings also mentioned reasons such as reduced earnings from crop production and increased debts for not achieving it. The findings also highlighted the need for a strong policy response to reverse the trend.

What are the key findings of the latest NSS findings?

Reduced Incomes: Incomes from crop production have dropped while wages have become the mainstay for rural households. But, wages also aren’t growing in rural areas because economic activities outside farms are limited and landholding size is also shrinking. In the non-farm sector income opportunities are limited or going down.

This trend was seen in the last NSS of 2013, followed by the Financial Inclusion Survey of 2015-16 (of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) and now the current one.

NSS Findings
Source: Business Standard

Increased migration: India is also witnessing an increase in migration because income-generating opportunities in the rural sector have been diminishing.

Farming took a backseat: According to the latest survey, farming had taken the backseat in rural India at an aggregate level. While the number of farming households increased from 90 million to 93 million in six years, the number of families not engaged in farming rose from 66 million to nearly 80 million in the same period (2013-19).

Increased Farm debt: The NSS findings showed an average farm household in India had debts of Rs 74,121 in 2018-19 compared to Rs 47,000 in 2012-13. Debt is growing for a rural household because expenditure on health and education is rising in rural areas.

Low real income growth: As income grew 60 percent over six years, average debt, too, rose with a similar degree, by 57 percent. But, in real terms, income growth was even lower at 21 percent between 2012-13 and 2018-19 (six years)

What are the key suggestions from the NSS Findings?

To improve farm income: The NSS findings calls for stronger and structural measures to overcome the challenges facing the country’s rural sector. These changes need to diversify the crop sector through promoting more high-value products that generate higher incomes, while changing the mindset that prevailed in the 1960s.

Shift to integrated cropping: In India at present, mono-cropping has taken over the crop sector in a big way. But it has to give way to integrated farming systems.

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