We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- 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:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- 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 Brief – Click Here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- Who is the hollow CAA really meant to protect?
- A spike – India must prioritise vaccines to States and districts that are at greatest infection risk
- Empathy through Education
- Nutrition through biofortification
- Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET
- Our Courts are Infra Vires
GS Paper 3
- Structural changes in GST
- New hope in private investment?
- An existential crisis for the banking sector?
- Ease of doing business at risk if issue of appointments to tribunals is not resolved
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- 1.2 lakh people died in road accidents in 2020: NCRB
- Explained: How a Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi script
- India will become 3rd largest importer by 2050: UK report
- Union Minister of Home paid tributes to the great King Shankar Shah
- Businesses should give useful inputs for FTA negotiations
- 15TH EDITION OF INDO – NEPAL JOINT EXERCISE SURYA KIRAN
- Ministry of Law and Justice launches Pan-India Special Campaign for Justice Delivery at doorstep
- Govt eyes 14GWh battery storage system in Kutch
- Holding TNCs accountable
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Why India needs ‘good’ urbanisation
Source: This post is based on the article “Why India needs ‘good’ urbanisation“ published in the Indian Express on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 1 – Urbanisation, their problems and their remedies.
Relevance: understanding good local governance.
Synopsis: Covid reinforces that good urbanization is our most powerful technology for poverty reduction.
New York City, with just 6% of the population of Russia, has a GDP that is equal to that. Twenty-six of the world’s 33 megacities are in developing countries because their rural areas lack rule of law, infrastructure and productive commerce. This shows the significance of good urbanization or good development.
India’s challenge is not that of land, labour, or capital but of increasing the productivity of urbanization or its cities. It should also simultaneously look at improving the productivity of local self Government and rural areas. If 50% of our population in rural areas generate only 18% of the GDP, they are bound to live a life of poverty.
What are the challenges of rural areas and local governments?
Rural areas are characterized by poor infrastructure, poor facilities, poor law and order etc. All this leads to poor villagers migrating to cities. It is estimated that two lakh villages out of 6 lakh villages have less than 200 people.
The annual spending of our central and state government is about Rs 34 lakh crore and Rs 40 lakh crore respectively. 15th Finance Commission estimates our 2.5 lakh plus local government bodies only spend Rs 3.7 lakh crore annually. This discrimination has many reasons:
Power: Local government power is curtailed by the state government in various departments like water, power, schools, healthcare, etc.
Independence — only 13 % and 44 % of the budget of rural and urban bodies is raised from internal sources.
|Read more: Recommendation of 15th Finance Commission and challenges faced by Local Bodies|
Control: There is excessive control over local bodies, which is deeply embedded in the structure of governance. For example, a Union ministry controlling finance and governance of the states would be unacceptable at the Centre. But at the State level, we have the Department of Local Self Government, which has almost unlimited powers like suspension/removal of mayors and other elected representatives.
Separate central rural and urban ministries: Joint policymaking is difficult, as each ministry wants to pull the policy in its direction.
Lack of power and resources: It drives away talented resources as they feel powerless in those positions.
Centralised Structure: Our democracy gives more power to the centre. Then rest of the power is concentrated in states, leaving local governments powerless.
Leadership and power: Empowering local governments is not taken seriously by the state governments. The city leadership is either ‘unelected with Power’ (bureaucrats) or ‘elected with limited power and unreasonable conditions’.
Good Urbanisation: Poor quality urbanisation has led to ‘men-only migration’. It leaves the women dealing with all matters like farm work, raising the children, and looking after in-laws, no proper health services etc.
Even the village children, who go to poor quality government schools, will always be at a disadvantage when compared to urban English educated school children.
What can be done in the future?
Good urbanization requires that the power centres in the state are willing to hand over power functions and finances to the local governments. This can lead to real empowerment of the local bodies.
GS Paper 2
Who is the hollow CAA really meant to protect?
Source: This post is based on the article “Who is the hollow CAA really meant to protect? published in the Indian Express on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Relevance: Understanding the recent issue of Afghan refugees in India.
Synopsis: The CAA was never meant to help asylum seekers and protect persecuted people.
The government evacuated many of its citizens and Afghan nationals from the Hindu and Sikh minorities after the Taliban takeover. But these people would not be given Indian nationality under Citizenship Amendment Act because of the provisions mentioned in it. It provides citizenship only for those who have been in India since before December 2014.
How Indian refugee policy is handled?
India had hosted several refugees in the past like Tibetans, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, persecuted Chin and Afghan refugees and the minority Chakmas from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). India also had received worldwide admiration for refugees who fled from then East Pakistan in 1970-71.
But still, India doesn’t have any refugee-specific legislation. It is conditioned by ad hoc policies adopted by the government to deal with specific circumstances.
How persecution (under the CAA) definition is different from United Nations?
United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, 1951: Under Article 1A (2), it defines a refugee as ‘people who are unable to avail the protection of their state and are forced to flee outside their country due to “fear of persecution” based on their “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. It adopts a non-discriminatory approach.
India: It is discriminatory and adopts a narrow interpretation of persecution. It gives protection to persecuted minority communities — Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and not to the Muslims.
The government gave the reason that since the three countries named are dominated by Muslims, it would not be necessary to consider Muslims as being persecuted in these countries.
What is the intention of CAA?
The intention of the citizenship amendment act is to confirm citizenship. It is not meant to provide protection for Asylum to the people belonging to other countries. This was evident when the government did not grant Asylum to Rohingyas from Myanmar or Hazara from Afghanistan.
This does not mean that they can not seek protection in India. They are governed by many laws and can seek visas in India and apply for citizenship in due course.
A spike – India must prioritise vaccines to States and districts that are at greatest infection risk
Source: This post is based on the article “A Spike” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Health.
Relevance: Understanding India’s vaccination challenges.
Synopsis: Given the Indian population, vaccinating all adults itself is a challenge in India, given that supply challenges still persist.
Recently, India administered a record 2.5 crore vaccine shots in a day to mark the celebration of the Prime Minister’s birthday. It is equivalent to the populations of the whole of Australia, two-thirds of Canada and five times that of New Zealand. It is also near to China’s pace of vaccination of 2.47 crore shots on a single day.
Till now, 62% of Indian adults have now got at least one dose, and one in five fully are vaccinated.
What are the problems with vaccination drives?
Vaccine Hesitancy: People, owing to various reasons, hesitate in taking vaccines. Like in the USA, where vaccine availability is good, but people are hesitant.
Shortage of vaccines: In India, there is a supply shortage even when vaccine production continues. This would make it difficult for India to achieve its target to immunize its adult population (about 94 crores) by the year-end, as it will require over 185 crore doses, or close to one crore immunisations a day. India has till now crossed the 80 crore mark.
What should the government do?
India’s caseload is reducing, with about 30,000 cases per day. India has also faced the delta variant, and chances of new variants coming up still exist. So vaccination cannot be ignored.
As schools would reopen in winter, the load to vaccinate children would also rise. So, it is a must for India to raise its supplies to meet the upcoming demand. For this government should:
Prioritize the vaccines process: Government should first provide vaccines to those States and districts that are at greatest infection risk.
Speed up: Proper follow-up with vaccine makers to speed up the process.
Empathy through Education
Source: This post is based on the article “Empathy through Education” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education.
Relevance: To understand the importance of Social and Emotional Learning.
Synopsis: Social and Emotional Learning is not fluff; it is an important goal in education.
The article highlights the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as an important tool of education. India’s recent National Education Policy also highlights its importance in children’s development.
What is SEL?
It forms the foundation of human development, for building healthy relationships, academic learning, manages emotions and much more things more effectively. The following are the key elements of SEL:
Empathy: It is the ability to understand another person’s emotions. It is also the awareness of why they might be feeling those emotions.
Theory of mind: It is the ability to understand others’ intentions, knowledge and beliefs and recognize that those might be different from your own.
Neurobiologically different regions of the brain such as the prefrontal and frontal cortices and others are involved in the cognitive mechanisms of SEL. Thus, it is vital to consider that the learning process is a social as well as an emotional experience.
How pandemic bought challenges for SEL?
The pandemic has brought numerous challenges for SEL as school closures reduced opportunities for students to deepen social relationships and learn in shared physical spaces.
What practices can we adopt?
Individuals from underprivileged backgrounds have faced immense learning losses during the pandemic. We need to prioritize “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” We can start with the following strategies:
Practices: SEL practices should be based on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.
Strategies: SEL strategies of caretakers and educators must align with one another.
Scientific use: Long-term success requires SEL to be based on scientific evidence.
As can be seen that such comprehensive learning involves all the stakeholders, including parents and teachers. This onus lies on all of us to bring the changes.
Nutrition through biofortification
Source: This post is based on the article “Nutrition through biofortification” published in Business Standard on 20th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger
Relevance: Significance of biofortification in fighting malnutrition
Synopsis: Malnutrition is a serious problem for India. Biofortification can help us address it
Malnutrition is still rampant in India despite it being the world’s top or second-largest producer of most food items, such as staple cereals, pulses, fruit, vegetables, and milk.
Biofortification can be a helpful tool in alleviating this problem.
What is the present scenario of malnutrition in India?
Nutritionally-deficient diet: The diet of a sizable section of the population is neither sufficient nor nutritionally balanced. The deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals, or other major or micro-nutrients is widely prevalent.
India was ranked 94th among 107 countries on the Global Hunger Index 2020, falling behind its smaller neighbours like Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Particularly worrisome is the lack of nutrients like iron and zinc, and vitamins like A and C, which are vital for growth and tissue repair, and preventing diseases.
This nutritional inadequacy had, in fact, been highlighted even earlier by the National Family Health Survey-4, conducted in 2016.
– It had found that as many as 38.4% kids below five were stunted and about 21% had low weight for their height (dubbed as “wasted”) and more than half of all women (nearly 53%) were anaemic.
What is the problem with govt initiatives?
The government is attempting to combat undernourishment by offering highly subsidised or free foodgrains to the poor and the needy through various welfare programmes.
The month of September is observed as the “Poshan Mah” (nutrition month) and its first week as the “Poshan week” every year.
India’s mid-day meal scheme for school children, is one of the world’s largest programmes of its kind.
But these initiatives target the consumption of belly-filling staples rather than wholesome foods.
They lack the required emphasis on balanced nourishment. As a result, these initiatives have reduced the incidence of underfeeding but without denting malnutrition, which can be curbed only by boosting the intake of wholesome food.
What is the reason behind increased incidence of malnutrition?
Low nutrition foods: The poor nutritional profile of average Indians can, in fact, partly be attributed to the fact that most of the available and mass-consumed foods are inherently low in nutrition.
Focus on yield: Most of the crop varieties developed by the country’s vast farm research network in the past were bred with an eye on enhancing yield and resistance against diseases and pests, then upgrading their nutrient content.
This problem is now sought to be rectified by biofortification.
What is biofortification?
Biofortification means incorporating nutrient-enriching genes in select crop varieties, using conventional or modern plant-breeding tools.
Such genetically altered and nutrition-augmented crops, termed aptly as “biologically fortified” or “biofortified” crops, differ from the commercially available fortified foods as these have genetically ingrained, rather than artificially added, additional nutrients.
What are the advantages of biofortification?
As per experts, Biofortification is the most sustainable and cost-effective means to provide the needed nutrition through food rather than food supplements.
The nutrient-doped varieties, developed under the all-India coordinated research programmes for different crops, provide enough calories, as also essential nutrients, for healthy growth.
More than 70 biofortified food crops have already been evolved and released for cultivation.
What is the way forward?
The greater use of biofortified foods can go a long way in meeting the universally agreed and United Nations-backed goal of zero hunger by 2030.
This would require a big push to the consumption of biofortified crops.
Besides, it would also need incentivising farmers to grow biofortified crops and making consumers aware of their health benefits.
The most important thing is to ensure that biofortified produce is traded separately in mandis and growers get premium prices for that. Once these products get the label of healthy foods, their production as well as consumption would inc automatically.
Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET
Source: This post is based on the article “Inequity and injustice writ large” published in The Indian Express on 20th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
Relevance: On the uncertain theory of “merit”, NEET is heralding an era of great inequity and injustice.
Synopsis: This article explains the journey of Education and issues surrounding NEET.
Historically, states had established medical colleges and allowed private persons to establish medical colleges. States regulated the admission of students to these colleges. Standards and quality of education improved over time. But, the NEET is creating an era of great inequity and injustice.
About the journey of education in India
The Constitution of India was a compact between the states. The central pillar of the Constitution consists of the Three Lists — Union List, State List and Concurrent List.
List II (State List), Entry 11, as originally enacted, read: Education, including universities, subject to the provisions of entries 63, 64, 65 and 66 of List I and entry 25 of List III.
List III (Concurrent List), Entry 25, as originally enacted, read: Vocational and technical training of labour.
Entries 63 to 66 posed no problem at all because they dealt with some named institutions, institutions of scientific and technical education funded by the Central government, training institutions and laying down of standards.
During the emergency, by 42nd amendment, the Parliament deleted Entry 11 of the State List instead added it into Entry 25 of the Concurrent List. Entry 25 was re-written as: Education, including technical education, medical education and universities.
The 44th Constitution Amendment did not restore the original entries concerning ‘education’.
What are the reasons to run State medical colleges?
State government medical colleges are established using the money of the people of the state. They are intended, by and large, to admit the children of the people of that state and teach them medicine in English and, in course of time, in the state’s official language.
The graduating doctors are expected, by and large, to serve the people of that state, especially in the rural areas where healthcare was/is woefully inadequate. They are expected, by and large, to speak and prescribe and counsel the patients in their language.
State governments encouraged admission of rural students, students who studied in government schools, children from poor families, children belonging to disadvantaged sections and first-generation learners.
There were grave issues that needed to be addressed such as capitation fees, excessive fees, poor quality of equipment, inadequately attached hospitals, inadequate laboratory, library, hostel and playground facilities and so on. These problems are continuing problems irrespective of whether the state regulates the admission of students or some Central authority does so.
How NEET evolved?
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is acclaimed as merit has to be the sole criteria for admission at all India level. The Supreme Court also in Modern Dental College vs State of MP case, held that, “When it comes to higher education, that too in professional institutions, merit has to be the sole criteria”. Only a common entrance test will ensure merit-based admissions, fairness, transparency and non-exploitation.
Why NEET is creating inequity and injustice?
Justice A K Rajan Committee on the impact of NEET on the admission process in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu highlighted the inequity and injustice in the NEET.
Students who study in state board schools and take the state board exam are at disadvantageous in NEET. Further, the relevance of the State board itself will come into question, as there is a common syllabus for NEET.
With NEET, state governments shy away to spend the state’s tax-payers’ money and set up government medical colleges.
Urban students might not serve in the PHCs and taluk-level hospitals.
|Must read: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise|
Our Courts are Infra Vires
Source: This post is based on the article “Our Courts are Infra Vires” published in the Times of India on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Issues related to the development and management of court infrastructure.
Relevance: Understanding the issue of judicial infrastructure.
Synopsis: To ensure that justice is never delayed, there is a need to urgently upgrade the judicial infrastructure to meet the load of the cases.
This article highlights the state of judicial infrastructure in our country. In this regard, the statement of the Chief Justice of India that he will be championing the creation of a National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation (NJIC) is a welcome move.
What is the status of Indian Judicial infrastructure?
Infrastructure: At least 1/6th of district courts have no running water in women’s washrooms in court premises. For wheelchair-bound, only 27% of district courts have a ramp for barrier-free access. For the blind, only 2% of district courts provide access to tactile pavements
Building: Our courtrooms are not built to deal with large volumes of cases, nor were they built keeping in mind the convenience of the native Indian population. Even newer courts do not have sufficient space and basic amenities for citizens
What the courtrooms should be like?
Physical Infrastructure: It should be citizen-centric. Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has presented their report. It has demonstrated how the citizen should be the central focus of a redesigned court layout. This includes well-planned seating space for litigants, minimal distance between them and the judges and the use of simple sound absorbent material on the walls to facilitate hearing.
Digital Infrastructure: The coronavirus pandemic allowed the judiciary to take big steps towards digital courts with mandatory virtual hearings. This now needs to be integrated with existing systems by creating a National Digital Courts Platform Infrastructure.
Such infrastructure should include secure connectivity and data storage at the base level. It should also have interoperable digital registries of cases, lawyers and litigants at the system level. Finally, a range of digital services such as e-filing, e-payments of courts fees and digital summons are required at the application level.
What about the Finances allotted for judicial infrastructure?
Research shows that the existing centrally sponsored scheme on judicial infrastructure has so far led to disbursals of Rs 7,460 crore from the Union government to the judiciary. At the same time, the 15th Finance Commission has sanctioned an additional Rs 10,425 crore to build special courts over five years. Besides, the e-courts Mission Mode Project has been allocated Rs 1,670 crore for technological enablement.
What should be the way forward?
As India’s experience with GST shows, that once enabled, India’s power of IT can transform any government sector. The big challenge there is to ensure that the needed amount of funds are available. There has to be a mechanism to use these funds efficiently, backed by strong political will.
GS Paper 3
Structural changes in GST
Source: This post is based on the article “Structural changes in GST” and “The food tax that points to a loss of clarity on GST” published in Business Standard and Live Mint on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to GST
Relevance: Increasing revenue collection and GST reforms needed
Synopsis: Several important decisions taken during the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council’s 45th meeting in Lucknow last week.
What are the important decisions taken during the GST Council’s 45th meeting?
Concessional rates for Essential medicines: The council extended concessional rates for several drugs, such as Remdesivir, used to treat Covid-19. It also reduced duty on some other drugs like Itolizumab and Posaconazole till December.
Reforms in Inverted Duty structure: It further decided to correct the inverted duty structure in textile and footwear, which was discussed in earlier meetings. Additionally, the council decided to form two groups of ministers to examine the issue of inverted duty structure in different sectors and using technology to improve compliance.
Tax collection responsibility shifted to E-commerce entities instead of restaurants: E-commerce operators like Swiggy, Zomato have been asked to pay GST on restaurant services supplied by them, at the point of delivery. 5 per cent GST will be levied at the point where the delivery is made by Swiggy and Zomato. The tax will also be imposed on cloud kitchens.
What decisions was taken w.r.t extending GST compensation for states?
At the time of implementation of GST, it was decided that states would be compensated for shortfall in revenue collection with an annual growth rate of 14 per cent for five years.
Some states have argued in favour of an extension of GST compensation beyond 5 years. In this regard, the minister said the compensation to states would not be extended beyond June 2022.
Why the compensation won’t be extended beyond 2022?
Extending the compensation mechanism beyond June 2022 will further complicate the GST system since compensation cess collection will be used to repay debt.
Any extension in the collection of the compensation cess itself will affect items on which it is levied and firms will have to alter business plans.
The basic structural problem is lower revenue collection, and government want to rectify this anomaly.
What is the reason for low revenue collection?
Premature rate reduction, largely because of political reasons, has resulted in lower revenue collection.
For instance, MS Sitharaman noted the revenue-neutral position at the time of implementation was about 15 per cent. However, the rate has come down to 11.6 per cent.
The Fifteenth Finance Commission report also showed, revenue from GST was lower by well over 1 per cent of gross domestic product in 2019-20, compared to the collection from taxes subsumed into GST in 2016-17.
What are the impacts of low revenue collection?
Lower collection affects the central government finances and has an additional indirect impact on states in terms of lower transfers.
Lower overall GST collection is one of the reasons why dependence on petroleum products for revenue has increased
Why tax collection responsibility was shifted to E-commerce?
Tax evasion: As per estimates, the gap in taxable turnover for suppliers where TCS was deducted by Zomato was greater than the turnover declared by such suppliers. tax loss to exchequer due to alleged underreporting by food delivery aggregators is Rs 2,000 over the past two years.
What should be done?
Firstly, the council should target reverting to the revenue-neutral rate as soon as possible, along with reducing the number of slabs.
Secondly, Tax input credits to restaurants are not available. This is because, since raw ingredients are mostly sourced from the informal sector, they have few supply invoices to claim any tax already paid by suppliers. But, For GST coherence and definitional clarity, input credits should invariably be allowed.
New hope in private investment?
Source: This post is based on the article “New hope in private investment?” published in Business Standard on 18th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Resource mobilization and infrastructure financing
Relevance: Infrastructure development and Financing
Synopsis: After long, India has witnessed an increase in private investment. This article explains the reasons for the current shift and significance of Private investment.
What is the significance of Private investment?
Private investment is the most important source of economic and cultural dynamism in a country.
Most gross domestic product (GDP) and most jobs are created by the private sector.
When private firms build fixed assets, this generates a long-term stream of output and a long-term stream of wage payments.
What is India’s story w.r.t private investment?
India got good growth in the 1991-2011 period, and after that private investment has faltered.
For instance, there has been a decline in the following years of about Rs 50 trillion. On average, this is a decline of Rs 5 trillion or about $70 billion per year.
What is the reason for declining Private investment?
One reason is the sharp decline in private participation in infrastructure and the enhanced role of the state in infrastructure. About half of the decline in private sector investment has happened in infrastructure.
For instance, private “under implementation” infrastructure projects (expressed in 2021 rupees) peaked in 2011/12 at about Rs 36 trillion and now stand at Rs 10 trillion.
A decline of Rs 26 trillion in private projects “under implementation” is on account of the problems of infrastructure.
Why States cannot offset private sector roles wrt to Infrastructural investments?
A decline in private spending is being offset by an increase in government spending. But there are inevitable difficulties in this strategy:
Fiscal capacity and project management in government are quite limited, so the state-led strategy has limited headroom.
For instance, from 2018 onwards, the stock of government “under implementation” projects has declined in real terms by Rs 7 trillion.
As a consequence, the total infrastructure projects “under implementation” declined from Rs 70 trillion in 2018 to Rs 63 trillion today.
What is the reason for current increase in private investments?
Return to normalcy: In the pandemic, some firms faced radical uncertainty, had little management bandwidth left had put investment activities on hold. By 2021, uncertainty had declined and these firms are going back to normalcy in investment.
Export boom due to rising demand from European countries: Developed countries used fiscal policy to restart their economies on a gigantic scale, and an export boom from India started. This was assisted by nationalism in China, which led many in the world to shift business to India. Many Indian firms shifted resources to emphasise export- or export-adjacent activities, and have harnessed the export boom. Through these developments, many firms in the export sector are investing.
Industries gained from Pandemic are investing: Finally, the structure of consumption in the pandemic shifted. Some industries did badly (e.g., Commercial real estate), but some industries did well (e.g. broadband telecom). Firms in the right industries saw high growth and are back to investing.
An existential crisis for the banking sector?
Source: This post is based on the article “An existential crisis for the banking sector? ” published in Business standard on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development
Relevance: Reforms in banking sector
Synopsis: The business model of banks is under threat. Hence, both banking and market regulators must take a close look at the evolving landscape.
Corporate India has cut its debt burden. They are replacing high-cost debt with cheap money, raised from the market, and sale of assets.
Since 2016, RBI has been insisting on big corporations raising part of long-term borrowings from the corporate bond market. Bonds allow funds to be raised for the long term, or even forever.
How the business model of banks is under threat?
Priority sector lending: Banks are allowed to raise deposits from the public. Since they raise cheap money, they must have an exposure to the weaker section of society or the “priority sector” up to at least 40 per cent of the loans.
Cost of reserve requirements: banks also need to keep 4 per cent of their deposits with the regulator in the form of cash reserve ratio (CRR), on which they don’t earn any interest, and buy government bonds to the extent of at least 18 per cent of deposits.
High cost of money: The cost of money for the best-managed banks is between 4 and 4.5%. Add to this at least 2 percentage points fixed cost. In contrast, the best-rated NBFCs have been raising one-year money at around 4.2%.
Banks today have clearly a 1.5-2% disadvantage vis-à-vis the best NBFCs.
Power of technology: The use of technology is no longer confined to the payments space and loans. For instance, Amazon Pay has tied up with wealth management platform Kuvera, which is offering users to facilitate investments into mutual funds, fixed deposits, and more overtime. Setu, is offering a similar facility for Google Pay.
Once the popularity of such platforms grows, they can start dictating terms on interest rates. For better earnings, people may start preferring such platforms over banks. It cuts the cost of brokerage and benefits the customers, but it raises doubts on the financial sector stability.
What is the way forward?
Interest on CRR: it is needed because banks have many obligations and banks have access to public money in the form of deposits.
Lower the priority loan target: Those banks that are not able to meet their priority loan targets either buy such loans from others who have excess exposure or keep the shortfall with certain agencies at an interest rate that is far lower than their cost of money.
Ease of doing business at risk if issue of appointments to tribunals is not resolved
Source: This post is based on the article “Ease of doing business at risk if issue of appointments to tribunals is not resolved ” published in the Indian Express on 20th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 3- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
Relevance: Resolving issues with the tribunals.
Synopsis: Article discusses the vacancies in the tribunals and how it’s affecting the Insolvency and bankruptcy code’s actual purpose to resolve the debt. Timely appointment will make strict time-bound insolvency resolutions a reality.
Recently, Supreme Court questioned the government on vacancies in the National Company Law Tribunals (NCLT), and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
What are the implications of the vacancies?
First, IBC helps to improve India’s ranking on the “Ease of Doing Business”. But vacancies in the tribunals have slowed down insolvency resolution due to the huge pendency of cases. Both the NCLT and NCLAT have been without chairpersons for many months and also had members less than the actual strength. Recently, government appointed members and chairpersons to both NCLT and NCLAT.
Second, IBC was enacted with an object of time-bound resolution of debts, pendency of appeals. But in reality, it is leading to delay in the final resolution.
Why a slower resolution process is bad?
Resolution applicants take a higher risk if the process is uncertain and if there is no fixed time for transfer of control of a corporate debtor to the successful applicant. A longer approval period means greater value erosion of a corporate debtor which would be an unattractive proposition for any prospective resolution applicant.
This uncertainty can be cured by a faster approval process by the NCLTs by the creation of more benches and filling up of current vacancies.
What steps can be taken?
First, along with filling up vacancies, the members being appointed must have sufficient domain expertise, and they must be provided with training.
Second, we can recover the lending process which got disrupted due to COVID-19 by supporting the mechanism under the IBC to inspire confidence in creditors.
Third, Supreme Court can make appointments by itself, and it can take harsher steps like transferring jurisdiction under the IBC to high courts.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
1.2 lakh people died in road accidents in 2020: NCRB
Source: This post is based on the article “1.2 lakh people died in road accidents in 2020: NCRB” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2021.
What is the News?
National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) has released a report titled ‘Crime in India’ Report, 2020. The report has talked about road accidents in India.
|Read more: Crime in India Report, 2020|
What are the Key Findings of the Report on Road Accidents?
Road Accidents in 2020: India has recorded 1.20 lakh cases of deaths due to negligence relating to road accidents in 2020. This means 328 people lost their lives every day on an average.
State-wise: Uttar Pradesh continues to top the list in road accidents in 2020. It was followed by Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
Road Accidents in the last three years: As many as 3.92 lakh people have lost their lives to road accidents in 2020. While 1.20 lakh such deaths were recorded in 2020, the figures stood at 1.36 lakh in 2019 and 1.35 lakh in 2018.
Hit and Run Cases of Road Accidents: In 2020, there were 41,196 cases of hit-and-run. This means, on an average, there were 112 cases of “hit-and-run” reported across the country every day.
Note: In the last three years, the country has registered 1.35 lakh cases of hit-and-run.
Rail Accidents: As many as 52 cases of deaths due to negligence relating to rail accidents were recorded across the country in 2020 from 55 in 2019 and 35 in 2018.
Terms to know:
Explained: How a Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi script
Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: How a Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi script” published in Indian Express on 16th September 2021.
What is the News?
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in Bilsarh village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.
Note: The Bilsarh site was declared as a ‘protected’ site in 1928. Every year, the ASI undertakes scrubbing work at the protected sites.
What has the ASI discovered?
ASI has discovered two decorative pillars of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century).
The stairs of the temple had ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions. The inscription possibly reads Mahendraditya which was the title of king Kumaragupta I.
This discovery becomes significant since only two other structural temples from the Gupta age have been found so far — Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat).
What is Shankhalipi Script?
Shankhalipi Script is also called a “shell-script”. It is found in inscriptions across north-central India and dates back to between the 4th and 8th centuries.
It was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep.
Moreover, the script is found to be similar to the Brahmi Script as both are stylised scripts used primarily for names and signatures.
The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.
Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh, Mansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In fact, shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.
Terms to know:
India will become 3rd largest importer by 2050: UK report
Source: This post is based on the article “India will become 3rd largest importer by 2050: UK report” published in Livemint on 20th September 2021.
What is the News?
The UK’S Department of International Trade has released a report titled ‘Global Trade Outlook‘.
What are the key findings of the report?
Currently, India is the eighth-largest importing country, with a 2.8% import share. It is set to become the fourth-largest importer by 2030.
Moreover, India will become the world’s third-largest importer by 2050 with a share of 5.9% of global imports, right behind China and the US.
A shift in Economic Activity
Between 2019 and 2050, 56% of global growth is expected to come from the Indo-Pacific, compared with a quarter from the EU and North America combined.
China will be the major driver of this economic shift as it is expected to become the world’s largest economy by 2030.
Note: China has already displaced the US in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms (which account for differences in local prices) in the mid-2010s. But based on market exchange rates, the change is expected to happen around 2030.
Moreover, India is projected to become the third-largest economy by 2050 just behind China and the US with a share of 6.8% in global GDP. At present, India is ranked fifth in the size of the world’s economies, with a share of 3.3%.
E7 Group of Economies
The ‘E7 group’ of the seven largest emerging economies—China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey—are projected to equal the G7’s (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US) share of global import demand by 2050.
What are the concerns highlighted in the report?
The report has cautioned that while emerging economies have ‘catch up’ potential. They also face major challenges—including the need to shift from imitation to innovation to escape the middle-income trap, tackle indebtedness and rebound from covid.
Union Minister of Home paid tributes to the great King Shankar Shah
Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister of Home paid tributes to the great King Shankar Shah” published in PIB on 20th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
Union Minister of Home Affairs has paid tributes to the great patriot King Shankar Shah and his son Kunwar Raghunath Shah in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Who is King Shankar Shah?
King Shankar Shah was a Gond king of Garha Kingdom in the Gondwana region of Madhya Pradesh.
Despite his state being under British rule during the first war of independence in 1857, the king and his son, Raghunath were saddened by the British era atrocities and kept igniting the rebellion through their poetry.
As the British officers learnt about their acts, the duo was arrested and sentenced to death and on September 18, 1858. They were tied to the mouth of the cannon and blown up.
The locals in Jabalpur mark their martyrdom day on September 18 every year.
Businesses should give useful inputs for FTA negotiations
Source: This post is based on the article “Businesses should give useful inputs for FTA negotiations” published in the Business Standard on 19th September 2021.
What is the news?
Recently, the Commerce Ministry said that the negotiations for India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will commence from November this year. The governments in both the countries are eager to conclude an interim agreement quickly, but the businesses are yet to warm up to the idea.
What are the findings of the study published by the NITI Aayog?
NITI Aayog did a study on FTAs. Here are its findings:
First, India should review and assess its existing FTAs in terms of benefits to various stakeholders and changing trade patterns in the past decade.
Second, negotiating bilateral FTAs with countries where trade complementarities and margin of preference is high may benefit India in the long run.
Third, reducing compliance cost and administrative delays to increase utilization rate of FTAs.
Fourth, proper safety and quality standards should be set to avoid dumping of lower quality hazardous goods into the Indian market.
Fifth, strictly deal with rules of origin should be strictly dealt with by the authorities.
FTAs have to be signed keeping two things in mind – mutually reciprocal terms and focusing on products and services with maximum export potential.
Why Indian businesses are not enthusiastic about FTAs?
India maintains a higher level of tariffs than the developed countries. If India will cut its tariff rates, then the partner countries in FTA will gain more. Consequently, imports by India from the partner countries may increase more than exports from India to the partner countries. So, the Indian businesses are not very enthusiastic about the trade agreements.
15TH EDITION OF INDO – NEPAL JOINT EXERCISE SURYA KIRAN
Source: This post is based on the article “15TH EDITION OF INDO – NEPAL JOINT EXERCISE SURYA KIRAN” published in PIB on 20th September 2021.
What is the News?
The 15th Edition of Indo – Nepal Joint Military Training, Exercise Surya Kiran between Indian Army and Nepali Army is starting at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand.
What is Exercise Surya Kiran?
Exercise Surya Kiran is a joint annual military exercise between India and Nepal.
The exercise is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India. The last edition of the Exercise was conducted in Nepal in 2019.
During this exercise, both countries’ armies would be sharing their experiences gained during the conduct of various counter-insurgency operations over a prolonged period in their respective countries.
Also, there would be a series of Expert Academic Discussions on various subjects such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, High Altitude Warfare, Jungle Warfare among others.
What is the significance of the Exercise?
The joint exercise will help in improving bilateral relations and also will be a major step towards further strengthening the traditional friendship between the two nations.
Ministry of Law and Justice launches Pan-India Special Campaign for Justice Delivery at doorstep
Source: This post is based on the article “Ministry of Law and Justice launches Pan-India Special Campaign for Justice Delivery at doorstep” published in PIB on 17th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The Ministry of Law and Justice in association with the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) has launched the “Ek Pahal” Campaign.
What is Ek Pahal Campaign?
Ek Pahal Campaign aims to mainstream legal aid and to actualize the aspiration of access to justice for every citizen.
Under the campaign, people will be encouraged to register under the Tele-Law Initiative.
What is the Tele Law Initiative?
Tele-law Initiative was launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Law and Justice. It is a service that uses video conferencing facilities and telephone services to connect lawyers to litigants who need legal advice.
This service aims to reach out to the needy, especially the marginalized and disadvantaged. The service is provided through Common Service Centers or CSCs located at the gram panchayat level.
The service is free for those who are eligible for free legal Aid as mentioned under Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. For all others, a nominal fee of INR 30 Rs is charged.
Govt eyes 14GWh battery storage system in Kutch
Source: This post is based on the article “Govt eyes 14GWh battery storage system in Kutch” published in Livemint on 20th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
India has planned to set up around 14 gigawatt-hour (GWh) grid-scale battery storage systems at the Khavda renewable energy park in Gujarat.
About Khavda Renewable Energy Park
Khavda Renewable Energy Park is the world’s largest renewable energy park in Gujarat’s Kutch.
The park will be built along the Indo-Pak border at Khavda.
The park will generate 30GW of clean energy. It will be a hybrid renewable energy park, as it will produce power using both solar energy and wind energy.
What are Large Battery Storage systems used for?
Large battery storages can help keep power grids stable, given electricity is produced intermittently from clean energy sources such as solar and wind.
One of the most critical advantages of battery storage is the ability to store energy as it is generated and then redistribute it when needed rather than as it is produced.
This ability reduces the need to curtail renewable generation and allows the energy to be deployed during periods of high electricity demand.
India’s Renewable Energy Capacity and the need of Battery Storage systems
India has already crossed 100GW of installed solar and wind capacity, with another 63GW under construction.
The plan is to have 175GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 450GW by 2030. This huge injection of electricity in the grid from sources such as solar and wind requires a battery storage mechanism that can help balance the national electricity grid.
According to the Central Electricity Authority, there will be a need for 27GW of grid-scale battery energy storage systems by 2030 with four hours of storage.
Holding TNCs accountable
Source: This post is based on the article “Holding TNCs accountable ” published in the Hindu on 20th September 2021.
What is the news?
As per the report published by the UN working group on ‘human rights, transnational corporations (TNCs) and other businesses’, it is important for states to ensure that their bilateral investment treaties (BITs) are compatible with international human rights obligations.
It emphasizes the accountability of TNCs in international law. Many a times questions about the TNCs accountability have arisen.
What are the past efforts?
In 2014, the UN Human Rights Council established an open-ended working group with the mandate to elaborate on an international legally binding instrument on TNCs and other businesses concerning human rights.
Since then, efforts are being made towards developing a treaty and finding ways to make foreign corporations accountable.
The latest UN report is a step in that direction.
How we can hold the TNCs accountable?
Case study of Argentina: Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) can be harnessed to hold TNCs accountable under international law.
The issue of fixing accountability of foreign investors came up in an international law case, Urbaser v. Argentina (2016).
The tribunal held that corporations can be subjects of international law and are under a duty not to engage in activities that harm or destroy human rights.
However, on question of whether the foreign investor was under an international law obligation to provide drinking water and sanitation, the tribunal held that only states have a positive obligation to meet the human right to water; corporations only have a negative obligation in this regard unless specific human rights obligations are imposed on the foreign investor as part of the BIT.
Significance: The case played an important role in bringing human rights norms to the forefront in BIT disputes. It also opened up the possibility of using BITs to hold TNCs accountable, provided the treaty imposes positive obligations on foreign investors.
In the last few years, states have started reshaping their BITs by inserting provisions on investor accountability. Being a soft law language, they do not impose positive and binding obligations on foreign investors. They fall short of creating a framework to hold TNCs accountable under international law.
What lessons India needs to learn?
The recent UN report has important takeaways for India’s ongoing reforms in BITs.
India’s new Model BIT of 2016 contains provisions on investor obligations. However, they do not impose a binding obligation on the TNC.
India should impose positive and binding obligations on foreign investors, not just for protecting human rights but also for imperative issues such as promoting public health.
Role model: The Nigeria-Morocco BIT, which imposes binding obligations on foreign investors is a good example. These reforms would help in harnessing BITs to ensure the answerability of foreign investors and creating a binding international legal framework to hold TNCs to account.