9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 21st, 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
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings

Source: This post is based on “Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings” published in The Hindu on 21st August 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF).

Synopsis: The new edition of the National Institutional Ranking Framework highlights the huge gap between the best and the rest.


National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)  has recently released its sixth edition of ranking for Higher Education.

Read more: Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021
What are the advantages of the ranking?

Choice of Institution: It helps students to choose institutions for admission. It helps colleges to secure research funding. It enables teachers to choose the right colleges and employers to target campuses for hirings.

Competition: It identifies areas of improvement and also the measures to overcome those deficiencies. It promotes competition, which further promotes the quality of the institution.

Privileges: Good ranking opens the gate of other privileges to institutions like more autonomy, power to offer open and distance mode programmes, and permission to enter into collaboration with foreign universities etc.

How Universities are ranked?

Universities are ranked on various parameters like research, publications, innovations, patents etc. Different standards are adopted by various organizations to rank the universities. For instance,

Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU): It ranks universities solely on the basis of their research performance.

Times Higher Education (THE): It gives 60% weightage to research.

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS): It gives only 20% weightage to research.

NIRF: It accords 30% weightage to Research Performance and Professional Practices (RPP).

What did NIRF data reveal?

Research Performance: NIRF reveals that the best university scored 92.6% in the research category. This score declined to 60.52% for university that got the 10th spot. This number further declined to 50.32%, 28.69% for 20th and 50th best universities respectively. For the 100th university, the score is only 4.35%.

Research scholars: Data reveals that the larger the number of research scholars, the higher the ranks of the universities in terms of RPP. Data shows top 10 universities in NIRF had an average of 2,627 research scholars, whereas universities ranked in the bottom 10 had no more than 165 research scholars.

Salaries: The data revealed another interesting fact, the higher the institution spends on salaries of the staff, the higher is the ranking of the university. For example, the average annual expenditure on salaries for the top 10 universities is ₹391.72 crores.  While the universities, ranked between 91-100, spent only ₹79.26 crores.

Thus, one can conclude that the funds and faculty are the two most important factors that improve the performance of any educational institution.

NRC is final, rules Assam Foreigners’ Tribunal

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • Done and Dusted” published in The Hindu on 21st September 2021.
  • NRC is final, rules Assam Foreigners’ Tribunal” published in The Hindu 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 latest developments in NRC issues.

Synopsis: Recently Foreigner’s tribunal in NRC issues a notice stating that the NRC list is final.


While the Registrar General of India has not yet issued a notification on Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) to make it a legal document, a Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) has gone ahead and recorded it as the “final NRC”.

The FT also held that “there is no doubt that this NRC Assam published in 2019 is nothing but Final NRC.”

About the NRC

The SC had mandated the NRC, after which the centre and state government of Assam had taken it up. The first draft in 2018 had left 4 Million people out, and the June 2019 list left 1Lakh more.

Another draft was released in August 2019. The final draft absorbed 2.2 million of those left out in the previous drafts. Of the total population of 33 Million, around 1.9 Million were left out. The fate of those left-out persons was to be decided by Foreigners Tribunals (FT’s).

This created an issue as different segments claimed that this exercise is biased towards Bengali Hindus or Bengali Muslims.

Revision of NRC

Considering all these, the Assam government and even the New NRC coordinator, have made repeated requests for a re-verification of 20% of the list, especially for the area’s bordering Bangladesh. With FT declares the list to be final, the questions of revision become doubtful. Even if the revision is taken up, it has its own set of problems.

What are the other issues associated with NRC?

There have been many other issues creating delays in the revision process. The new NRC coordinator’s petition is still pending in court. On the administrative side, the issuance of rejection slips is pending. The rejection slips are necessary to file appeals in the FTs.

What should be the way forward?

Considering all these, the next logical step should be that the Registrar General of India confers his stamp on NRC. The rejection slips have to be provided immediately for facilitating appeals to FTs.

Tackling Hate Speech

Source: This post is based on “Tackling Hate Speech” published in The Hindu on 21st August 2021.

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

Relevance: Understand the meaning of hate speech.

Synopsis: There are no laws on hate speech as such, so India needs a political and pedagogical solution to control the menace.


Recently, a Bishop from Kerala in his speech coined the term Narcotic Jihad and criticised few members of the Muslim religion. But the speech aimed at a particular religion has a divisive tone.

What does Hate Speech signify?

Though the precise definition would be difficult, but a lot can be inferred from various rulings of the courts around the world and also from the views of the experts.

In Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942):  The U.S. Supreme Court held that their Constitution does not protect “insulting or ‘fighting’ words — those which may incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

Lord Bhikhu Parekh, a British academic, said that hate speech views members of the target group as an enemy within. It creates hostility and breeds mistrust between individuals and groups.

In Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India (2014) case: The Supreme Court quoted from the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision in Saskatchewan v. Whatcott (2013). It held that “hate speech puts a serious barrier to the full participation of minority in our democracy.”

What are the challenges associated with hate speech in India?

This idea of hate speech resonates well in India’s political context. Being a minority in a Hindu majoritarian nation, the other religions at times feel defenceless when hatred is directed against them. This leads to a climate of fear amongst them. It has also led to violence against them based on their identity. And even genuine concerns like the social and economic backwardness of the minority community are ignored.

How India is tackling hate speech?

There are legal protections against hate speech in India. Section 153-A of IPC prohibits speech promoting enmity between groups based on religion, race, place of birth etc.

However, the law seems to suffer from misuse and disuse. While remarks against the minority are ignored, even vague references against the majority trigger the legal action and state machinery.

What should be the way ahead?

Given the challenges, a precise and accurate definition of law for hate speech is difficult. So a well-negotiated political and social solution is the best way forward.

With AUKUS dividing the Western bloc, is there a role for India?

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • With AUKUS dividing the Western bloc, is there a role for India? published in the Indian Express on 21st September 2021.
  • The new AUKUS alliance holds some lessons for India published in the Indian Express on 21st September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: Understanding India’s role in strengthening the Western bloc.

Synopsis: This article explains India’s relationship with Western Countries and India’s role in strengthening their relations.


C. Raja Mohan is of the view that AUKUS could leave a deep scar on US-EU relations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and weaken the international coalition in the Indo-Pacific. According to him, India has an indispensable role in strengthening the international coalition in the Indo-Pacific.

Must read: AUKUS Security Alliance – Explained, pointwise
What are the recent developments in the India-US security relationship?

Some major milestones in the Indo-US security relationship have been:

The signing of the path-breaking Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, in 2008; launching of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative in 2012.

The US Congress also accorded the status of “Major Defence Partner” to India in 2016; The US also granted Tier 1 status to India, enabling export of high-technology items; and institution of “2+2 talks” in 2018.

The signing of the fourth and last of the key “foundational agreements” in 2020, was supposed to have eliminated the final impediment to closer defence cooperation.

How India is maintaining its relations with Europe?

The Indian government has also stepped up on the political engagement with Europe as a collective as well as its sub-regions — from the Baltics to the Balkans and from Iberia to Mitteleuropa (Middle Europe).

India now discovered that every European nation, from tiny Luxembourg to a rising Poland, has something to offer. At present, Europe has become a thriving hub of India’s international relations.

How India is maintaining its relations with Britain?

India has also made a determined effort to build a new partnership with Britain, which is the fifth-largest economy in the world, a leading financial hub.

The UK and its settler colonies have long been the preferred destination for the Indian diaspora (besides the US). While the diaspora tends to connect the domestic politics of the Anglosphere (English-speaking nations) with that of India, India is figuring out that the diaspora politics can be played both ways.

What India needs to do to strengthen the Western bloc?

India’s interests lie in deeper strategic cooperation with France and Europe as well as the Quad and the Anglosphere. India’s diverse relationships in the West must be deployed in full measure to prevent a split in the Indo-Pacific coalition.

Read more: Quad Summit and its relevance – Explained, Pointwise

Further, to attain India’s full potential, India needs a political collaboration that helps to restore its economy to its earlier buoyant trajectory. Further, If realpolitik so demands, India must break old customs and strike new partnerships — wherever there is a convergence of interests.

A new water policy for India

Source: This post is based on the article “A new water policy for India” published in the Business Standard on 20th September 2021. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Governance.

Relevance: To understand the need for the new water policy. 

Synopsis: Article discusses the need of new water policy in India while listing some directions based on which water policy can be drafted. 


In 2019, the Ministry of Jal Shakti set up a committee to draft a new National Water Policy (NWP). The earlier NWPs of 1987, 2002 and 2012 were drafted entirely within the government system based on “command-and-control” approach towards nature.

This is the first time that the government decided to set up a committee of independent experts to draft the policy. 

The committee received suggestions from various experts, academics, practitioners and stakeholders. It found consensus in the various consensus received. It clearly shows that we need a new paradigm of water management and governance to deal with the water crisis in the 21st century.  

What does the water crisis teach us? 

It’s teaching us that we need to respect the nature and think equally of others.

Nature is reminding us to acknowledge, with humility, our quintessential equality and inter-dependency. We need to protect Mother Nature, re-orient the development models and consumerism-driven lifestyles.

We are living in an inter-connected world. Furthermore, we cannot continue with business-as-usual approach in the search for development and modernisation as every action impacts the environment. 

Till now, we failed to recognize that the economy is a small part of the larger ecosystem. This is the time we need to acknowledge the inter-connectedness and inter-dependence of the world where we live in.

For that, we need to be humble in our approach to natural systems. We also need to recognize that prakriti rakshati rakshita (Nature protects those who protect her).  

What are the five water reforms that are guiding the NWP?  

The five key water reforms enunciated by the prime minister are: 

First, the need to break down the silos into which we have divided water;  

Second, respect for the immense diversity of India while planning for water;  

Third, greater focus on management and distribution of water;  

Fourth, higher priority to recycling and reuse of water; and  

Fifth, raising people’s awareness and people’s participation in management of water. 

Final approval of the NWP rests with the National Water Resources Council, which is chaired by the prime minister and includes all chief ministers as members. 

GS Paper 3

India must shed obsession with ‘marginal farmers’. Their future lies outside farms — in dairy, poultry, food retail

Source: This post is based on “India must shed obsession with ‘marginal farmers’. Their future lies outside farms — in dairy, poultry, food retail” published in the Indian Express on 21st August 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.

Relevance: To Understand the issue of farmland and farmers.

Synopsis: Farming is best left to those who can do it well. Better fewer, but better.


Recently National Statistical Office (NSO) Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households report was released. It throws up interesting data which can also be used to guide the agriculture policies for the future.

What are the key findings of the Survey?

An average agricultural household earned a total monthly income of Rs 10,218 during 2018-19 (July-June). Out of this, the net receipts from crop production were just Rs 3,798 and from farming of animals was Rs 1,582. Taken together, this hardly contributes 53% of the total household income.

The single-largest income source was actually the wages/salary, at Rs 4,063.  Thus, it can be said that the average farmer, is more a wage labourer than a seller of produce from his/her land.

What does the data imply?

If we consider that farmers are those that derive 60% or more of their income from farms, then only 30 Million can be called farmers. This implies that India’s agriculture policy should primarily target these 30 Million farmers.

We should target these farmers through improved access to markets, water, electricity, credit and other means. We should focus on lowering the production cost and improving the output efficiency.

What should we do for the rest of the farmers?

We need to understand that for the remaining farmers, the crop-based mechanism needs to be reviewed. We should look to migrate them to activities like dairy, poultry etc.

Utilize a rear-view mirror for further telecom reforms

Source: This post is based on the article “Utilize a rear-view mirror for further telecom reforms” published in Livemint on 21st Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Relevance: Regarding India’s telecom sector, past issues and potential lessons.

Synopsis: Article takes a look at the history of telecom disputes in our courts, which shackled the sector’s potential, and lessons that governing institutions must avoid going forward.


– Read here: Telecom sector reforms – Explained, pointwise

What are some past telecom disputes that happened in India?

The 2G case: The 2G case was about spectrum allocation and its consequent loss to the exchequer.

In the 2G case, the government’s ‘first come first served’ policy to allocate spectrum licences was not only discriminatory, it also favoured a select few.

– Advice overlooked: In addition, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) overlooked the advice of the law ministry, Prime Minister’s Office and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India from time to time, and acted unilaterally.

– CAG estimates revenue loss: The CAG estimated a revenue loss of 1.76 trillion to the exchequer, alleging wrongdoing in spectrum allocations.

– SC cancels licences: The case reached the Supreme Court, which instead of punishing officers for corruption and/or cancelling the licences of companies that unduly benefited, cancelled all 122 telecom licences.

Supreme Court’s October 2019 ruling on the AGR case:

AGR dispute, which was about a disagreement on its definition, started in 2003. In this dispute, DoT holds significant accountability.

– Lack of trust in telcos: The DoT’s approach was marked by a belief that telecom operators were making windfall profits but withholding money from the government. This apparent lack of trust in telecom companies resulted in deference to a private chartered accountant (instead of the CAG) to define AGR while expanding the scope of gross revenue to include non-telecom revenues, and inadequate consultation on AGR with key stakeholders.

– Role of SC: SC failed to see the bigger picture. Instead of deferring to a specialized and neutral body, the apex court ruled on flimsy grounds that the tribunal had no jurisdiction over the matter. Given that the AGR orders of the government were set aside by various courts between 2006 and 2015, levying a penalty and interest on past AGR dues was plainly unjust. This reportedly inflated the AGR liability by about 300%. Yet again, the apex court failed to appreciate the economic fallout. 

What were the implications of 2G and AGR cases?

Impact of the 2G case: It adversely affected international relations, investments, competition and consumers. Moreover, the subsequent 2G spectrum auction was benchmarked to 3G rates, which forced the telecom companies to borrow more money, leading to an increased burden for many. Ultimately, the 2G case was a significant moment for the industry towards its decline.

Overall, Market competition and consumer welfare were directly impacted. Consequently, competition in our telecom market declined, which was once overcrowded with 10-12 operators.

What is the way forward?

Reforms introduced by the govt can only provide temporary relief. For a permanent solution we need a set of multi-pronged approach that could strengthen our reforms:

One, privatize state-run operators to ensure that they act as major competitors.

Two, make the exclusion of non-telecom revenues in AGR retrospective.

Three, use the unutilized Universal Supply Obligation Fund of about 58,000 crore for soft loans in this sector, and also reduce this fund’s levy from 5% to 3%, considering its poor utilization so far.

Gig economy workers need more protection of their rights

Source: This post is based on the article “Gig economy workers need more protection of their rights” published in Livemint on 21st  September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues Related new age industries and Employment generation

Relevance: Gig economy, labour reforms

Synopsis: India needs to create more formal jobs and provide protection to gig economy workers through labour reforms.


Three years ago, CEO of Walmart had said that the Flipkart-Walmart combination would generate 10 million jobs in India, which is roughly equal to India’s annual job creation requirement.

But, Flipkart didn’t say these jobs would materialize in one year. Similarly, Ola and Zomato have boasted of large employment generation too.

The problem is that these jobs are not traditional in nature. They belong to the gig category.

How the job creation by platform economics has high uncertainty?

No stable and secure employment: These so-called jobs do not provide health insurance, nor pay for overtime with no sick leave.

Lack of income security: There is no room for wage negotiations, and unions are absent. In the gig economy, job creation should be seen as the provision of livelihoods for entrepreneurs.

Grievance redressal mechanism: For instance, when Ola and Uber started cutting back incentives, the drivers in Mumbai decided to go on ‘strike’.

But there was no clarity against whom they were striking. When the strikers agitated at a local transport commissioner’s office, he had to tell them that he did not regulate the hail-a-taxi business.

How the slogan “be a job giver, not a job seeker” is misleading?

Type of job: most people want a stable job with a salary at the end of the month. That is not the same as job security. It is about their ability to take risks.

Existing poverty: Since India has a large population below or near the poverty line, their vulnerability to an income shock is very high.

Risk-handling capacity: due to poverty, it is low and hence youth display risk aversion toward entrepreneurship.

India lacks social security for the temporarily unemployed: The huge popularity of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is because it acts as a proxy for unemployment insurance. It also acts as a wage floor in rural areas.

Why India needs to create stable jobs?

Huge population dependent on agriculture: A national survey revealed that nearly 40% would gladly leave farming if a stable job was available in industry.

No protection to agri-labourers: A recent report indicates that farmers in India are earning more by serving as labour on someone else’s farm than cultivating themselves. But their labour does not get any protection from labour laws.

Emerging gig economy: it is such that there is no employer-employee relationship. It is more like a business partnership, with gig workers often serving as independent contractors. Gig economies door for exploitation. For example, the food delivery guy who has to beat a 30-minute deadline.

Informalization of workforce: Nearly 90% of India’s workforce is estimated to be in the unorganized or informal sector, and much of the labour law framework anyway does not apply to most Indians at work.

What is the way forward?

First, focus on declining labour force participation rate and one of the reasons is the gig economy.

Second, define gig workers as labour and not just contractors or partners.

The difference education makes to what the salaried earn in India

Source: This post is based on the article “The difference education makes to what the salaried earn in India” published in Livemint on 21st September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Growth, Development and Employment

Relevance: Unemployment in India

Synopsis: Earning variations can be explained by education but our problem of educated unemployment deserves deeper examination.


Unemployment among educated youth has been high in India for some years now. Despite consistently rising unemployment, youngsters continue to invest in education because over their lifetime, they expect to earn more compared to people with low education.

Why people continue to invest in higher education?

Socio-economic factors: Educated workers may earn more because of other related traits such as superior abilities, ambition, diligence and better endowments like parental resources and status.

Returns on education: educated youth’s lifetime- earnings’ trajectory changes vis-à-vis those with lower educational levels.

Decision making: education tends to improve decision-making on crucial life options. It is also found to improve patience and focus, and enable the formation of larger social networks, resulting in better access to opportunities.

How education makes difference to the salaried in India?

For young adults: In both rural and urban areas, younger adults (aged 20-24 years) with lower levels of education start at a similar level of salary, implying not much locational premium.

For experienced: There are lack of alternative jobs in rural areas for experienced workers who have less than a college education. In urban areas, there is a marginally better increase in the salaries of middle-aged workers with lower education compared to similarly educated younger workers.

Self-employment vs salaried employment: Workers with less than primary education are better off in salaried employment, over their earning life in both rural and urban areas. And, workers with middle and secondary level of education earn more in self-employment in urban areas than in salaried employment.

Educated workers: The average earnings of young regular salaried workers in urban areas are significantly higher than those of their rural counterparts, and the earnings see a sharp upward increase from the early twenties to mid-thirties.

Educated workers in the oldest age group (55-59 years): In urban area, salary is 2.3 times that of workers with lower education in the same age bracket. They also earn 1.6 times higher than their counterparts in rural areas.

What does this analysis of rural and urban worker reveal?

Surplus of educated workers: The high level of unemployment among Indian youth with degree-level education indicates a surplus of educated workers.

Public policy relevance: if the phenomenon of vast educated unemployment is more a reflection of low employability because of poor-quality education, then the effective surplus of educated workers may be much less.

The India Skills Report 2019 suggests that only 47% of youth in India with a college education are employable. Alternatively, educated youth tend to look for higher-paying and better-quality jobs, and if offered lower pay, are often ready to wait for a longer time to find a suitable job.

How effective is CPCB in its management of e-waste?

Source: This post is based on the article ” How effective is CPCB in its management of e-waste? ” published in the Down to Earth on 20th September 2021. 

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

Relevance: To discuss the role of CPCB in tackling the menace of e-waste.  

Synopsis: In this article, we will discuss the e-waste generation in India, roles and responsibility of CPCB and actions needed by CPCB to manage it.  


Electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest-growing stream of waste globally. As per the recent report of the United Nations, the world produced around 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste in 2019, out of which only 17.4% was recycled. UN termed this phenomenon a ‘tsunami of e-waste’. 

What is the scale of e-waste generation in India?

As per global e-waste monitor report, India generated 3,230 kilotonnes (KT) of e-waste, out of which only 30 KT of e-waste was formally collected in 2019. 

India generated around 2.4 kilograms of e-waste per capita; only 1 per cent of e-waste was formally collected. The informal sector of waste collection dominates over the formal sector. 

Though India’s per-capita generation is among the lowest in the world, the country is the third-largest generator of e-waste in the world. 

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are the states with the highest number of authorized recyclers / dismantlers. Other states should also work in this direction.  

Who is responsible for managing e-waste in India? 

The responsibility of managing e-waste in India lies with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB). 

In Shailesh Singh v. State of UP, NGT summoned the CPCB and SPCB due to unscientific disposal of e-waste. The NGT asked the authorities to submit a report on the actions taken to manage the e-waste in and around the capital. 

What are shortcomings in e-waste management in India? 

First, producers of the notified 21 categories of electronic equipment are not able to collect e-waste as per the specified target 

Second, only a few producers have been granted Extended Producer Responsibility Authorization (EPRA) from CPCB.  

Third, many unauthorized dismantling and recycling units are still in function 

Fourth, efficient monitoring of the authorized dismantlers / recyclers is required due to the leakage from authorized to unauthorized dismantlers and recyclers 

Fifth, ensure allocation of industrial space or shed for e-waste dismantling and recycling in the existing and upcoming industrial parks and clusters 

Sixth, the data collected by CPCB is do not include imported e-waste figures. It leads to actual figures for e-waste generation far higher than the current estimates. 

Seventh, state-wise data is not produced due to a lack of reported data by SPCBs. 

What are the recommendations to tackle the menace of e-waste? 

First, strict enforcement of the existing domestic rules and regulations 

Second, integrate formal and informal sector to reduce costs at the pre-processing stage and efficient recycling. 

Third, data inventory for data analysis and interpretation to know an estimate of e-waste produced annually.  

Fourth, publishing data in the public domain will create transparency with respect to generation, flow channels and methods of handling and disposal of e-waste 

How sustainable is India’s exports boom?

Source: This post is based on the article “HOW SUSTAINABLE IS INDIA’S EXPORTS BOOM?” published in Livemint on 21st Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to Imports and exports

Relevance: Export growth and Economic growth

Synopsis: The rise in exports has sparked hopes of a swift post-pandemic recovery, but there are reasons to be cautious.


August was the fifth straight month when India’s goods exports exceeded $30 billion. In the last five years, other than this ongoing run, it crossed $30 billion in just one other month i.e. March 2019

The increase is also broad-based. As many as 24 categories have registered an increase in exports in dollar terms over the corresponding 2019 period.

Why India still needs to be cautious?

There are two reasons to be cautious.

The first point of caution is the nature of items driving the ongoing export growth. Primary commodities, essentially, goods available from cultivating raw materials without a manufacturing process, are behind the current boost.

The largest gainer in exports compared to last year is petroleum products, and some of the other commodities that have registered the biggest increases over 2019, are ores, metals, cotton, and sugar.

In this context, experts warn of the ‘bullwhip effect’, wherein the post-pandemic economic recovery globally causes a spike in demand for primary goods. But, a subsequent tapering of demand can harm the same exporters.

The second point of caution is related to the international transportation of goods, which happens mainly via ships. Due to the pandemic, the number of ships, and containers in circulation fell. Meanwhile, world trade is topping pre-pandemic levels. The shortage of containers is also creating congestion and increasing processing time at Indian ports.

So, how corporates in India navigate these two factors will have an impact on the sustainability of the current export upswing.

What needs to be done to make exports growth sustainable in the long run?

Firstly, modest export growth in manufactured products needs to be taken care of. The highest increase in exports was seen in iron ore (87%) and cotton (43%). However, growth has been relatively modest in select key sectors in India’s export basket, especially in manufactured products. Notable among them are drugs and pharmaceuticals. Exports of ready-made garments have fallen by 11%.

Secondly, measures should be taken to mitigate the global shipping crisis. A 200% increase in the Baltic Dry Index notwithstanding, freight rates are expected to rise further in the coming months, as demand for shipping peaks in India around the festive season in October and November.

The rise in freight charges has particularly affected exporters from small and medium enterprises.

Thirdly, exports need to be incentivized by the government. In 2019-20, exports comprised 19.3% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Thus, a rise or fall in exports can have a significant bearing on economic growth. For India to succeed in export-led development, the focus should be on enabling manufacturing and global competitiveness.

One way to increase the competitiveness of Indian exporters is through government incentives. However, incentivizing Exports without offending WTO rules is a challenge. For instance,

The erstwhile Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), which provided an incentive of 2-7% on the shipping value of eligible exports, was deemed illegal under WTO norms after India’s per capita GDP crossed $1,000 in 2017.

To replace the MEIS, and comply with WTO norms, the government instituted the ₹12,454-crore Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) incentive scheme. This provides rebates to eligible exporters with remission rates ranging from 0.3-4.3%. Exporters can use this to pay specified taxes.

Fourthly, according to trade economists, beyond primary goods, India has a comparative advantage in lower-skilled, labor-intensive manufacturing such as textiles, which also has the potential to create large-scale employment. Another sector where India has a cost advantage is pharmaceuticals. India needs to support and incentivize such sectors.

Finally, innovative policy support. The production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme is one example of policy support paying dividends for smartphones, where India has become a net exporter, though with low-value addition. Such sector-specific policies need to be identified for other sectors also.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

India scores 46th rank in the Global Innovation Index 2021

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • India scores 46th rank in the Global Innovation Index 2021published in PIB on 21st September 2021.
  • “India moves to 46th in innovation index” published in Livemint on 21st September 2021.
  • “India climbs to 46th rank in Global Innovation Index” published in TOI on 21st September 2021.
  • India jumps 2 spots to 46th rank in Global Innovation Index 2021” published in Business Standard on 21st September 2021.
What is the News?

The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2021 has been released.

What is the Global Innovation Index?

The Global Innovation Index is published by the ​​World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in partnership with the Portulans Institute and with the support of corporate network partners.

Objective: The index ranks 132 world economies according to their innovation capabilities.

Indicators used: The index ranks countries based on roughly 80 indicators which are based on the following parameters: Institutions, Human capital and research, Infrastructure, Credit, Investment, Linkages, Creation, Absorption and Diffusion of knowledge and Creative outputs.

What are the key findings of the Global Innovation Index 2021?
Key findings related to India
Global Innovation Index
Source: PIB

India has been ranked 46th in the Global Innovation Index 2021 rankings. It was ranked at 48th in 2020.

India has been on a rising trajectory over the past several years in the Index, from a rank of 81 in 2015 to 46 in 2021.

Graduates in science and engineering disciplines and global corporate research and development investors are India’s strengths.

Other Key findings
Global Innovation Index
Source: Business Standard

Switzerland has topped the index. It was followed by Sweden, the US and the UK.

Among Asian economies, South Korea jumped to the fifth position, up from 10 last year. China was in the 12th position.

Minister of Railways launches Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RKVY)

Source:  This post is based on the articleMinister of Railways launches Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RKVY)published in PIB on 17th Sep 2021

What is the News?

The Minister of Railways has launched Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana.

What is Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana?

Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana is a skill development programme launched under the aegis of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana(PMKVY).

Aim: To provide training skills to the youth in various trades, with a special focus on jobs that are relevant to the Railways.

Eligibility: Candidates who are 10th passed and between 18-35 years shall be eligible to apply. 

Target: The training will be provided to a total of 50,000 candidates over a three years period.

Key Features of the Programme:

Under the programme, training will be provided in four trades viz. Electrician, Welder, Machinist and Fitter. Other trades will be added by zonal railways and production units based on regional demands and needs assessment.

Training shall be provided free of cost and participants will be selected from applications received online on the basis of marks in matriculation. 

The curriculum for this training has been developed by Banaras Locomotive Works.

Participants in the training shall have no claim to seek employment in Railways on the basis of this training.

After the completion of training, trainees shall be required to undergo a standardized assessment and will be awarded a certificate in the allotted trade by the National Rail & Transportation Institute, upon conclusion of their programme. 

They will also be provided Toolkits relevant to their trade, which would help these trainees utilize their learnings and enhance their capacity for self-employment as well as employability in various industries.

Significance of the Programme

The programme will not only improve the employability of the youth, but also upgrade the skills of self-employed and those who are working with contractors through reskilling and upskilling.

India will resume exports of covid-19 vax from Oct to meet its commitments

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • “India will resume exports of covid-19 vax from Oct to meet its commitments” published in Livemint on 21st September 2021.
  • “COVID-19 vaccine export to resume” published in The Hindu on 21st September 2021.
What is the News?

India will resume the export of COVID-19 vaccines under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme to fulfil the commitment towards COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access).

What is the Vaccine Maitri Programme?
Source: The Hindu

Vaccine Maitri Initiative was launched by the Government of India in January 2021.

Purpose: It is a humanitarian initiative undertaken by India to provide made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines to other countries around the world.

Beneficiaries till now: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Morocco, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mexico, DR Congo, Nigeria and the UK were among some of the beneficiaries of the Vaccine Maitri initiative.

Note: Among these countries, Bangladesh has received the most COVID-19 doses under the Vaccine Maitri programme till now.

However, ​​ the initiative was stopped in April 2021 due to India facing a severe shortage of covid vaccines amid a surging second wave.

But the initiative will now resume again in October 2021. This decision was taken as India has administered more than 80 crore covid vaccine doses.

Significance: India’s vaccine diplomacy is in line with our motto ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakamwhich means “the world is one family”. It also serves as an effective tool and instrument of Indian soft power and influence.

Power Finance Corp set to be India’s 11th Maharatna CPSE

Source: This post is based on the article “Power Finance Corp set to be India’s 11th Maharatna CPSE” published in Livemint on 21st September 2021.

What is the News?
Power Finance Corp. Ltd(PFC) is set to become the 11th Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) with an inter-ministerial committee clearing the status.

What is Maharatna Status?

Maharatna Status was introduced for Central Public Sector Enterprises(CPSEs) in 2010 in order to empower mega CPSEs to expand their operations and emerge as global giants. 

Criteria for grant of Maharatna status to CPSEs: The CPSEs meeting the following criteria are eligible to be considered for grant of Maharatna status. 

Having Navratna status,

Listed on Indian stock exchange with minimum prescribed public shareholding under SEBI regulations,

An average annual turnover of more than Rs. 25,000 crore during the last 3 years,

An average annual net worth of more than Rs. 15,000 crore during the last 3 years,

An average annual net profit after tax of more than Rs. 5,000 crore during the last 3 years,

Should have a significant global presence/international operations.

Benefits of Maharatna Status

A CPSE conferred with the Maharatna status would have a greater delegation of financial and operational powers to its Board of Directors. Further, it will have the power to expand its operations and improve its financial performance, especially in global markets. 

The Board of Directors of such Maharatna CPSE shall also have the powers for mergers and acquisitions, subject to certain conditions. 

Maharatna CPSEs

The 10 Maharatna CPSEs at present are Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd, Coal India Ltd, GAIL (India) Ltd, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, NTPC Ltd, Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd, and Steel Authority of India Ltd. 


Source: This post is based on the article6TH EDITION OF SCO EXERCISE “PEACEFUL MISSION – 2021” COMMENCES AT ORENBURG, RUSSIApublished in PIB on 20th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

The 6th Edition of SCO Exercise Peaceful Mission:2021 hosted by Russia has started in the Orenburg Region of South-West Russia.

What is an Exercise Peaceful Mission?

It is a Multilateral Exercise that is conducted biennially as part of military diplomacy between Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states. 

The exercise aims to foster close relations between SCO member states and to enhance the abilities of the military leaders to command multinational military contingents. 

The exercise is based on joint counter-terrorism operations at operational and tactical levels in an urban environment in which Armies and Air Forces of all SCO member states are participating. 

As part of the exercise, troops will train, share and rehearse tactical drills which will culminate in a final validation exercise where-in troops from all Armies and Air Forces will jointly undertake operations in a controlled and simulated environment.

Project Fulwari under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav To Strengthen Northern Coalfields’ Limited (NCL)fight against Malnutrition in kids

Source: This post is based on the article Project Fulwari under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav To Strengthen Northern Coalfields’ Limited (NCL)fight against Malnutrition in kidspublished in PIB on 20th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Northern Coalfields Ltd(NCL), a Singrauli based Coal India arm under the Ministry of Coal, has launched “Project Fulwari” in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh.

What is Project Fulwari?

Aim: To address the problem of malnutrition and associated physical and mental development issues of infants. 

As part of the project, Fulwari Centres are being established where identified malnourished children are getting special attention to ensure that their weight, physical and mental progress meets the normal standards.

Apart from this, timely vaccination and age-appropriate safe toys are also being arranged for the kids at these centres.

Significance of the Project

This initiative will give a major impetus to the Centre’s fight against malnutrition and its commitment towards Sustainable Social Development.


Source: This post is based on the articleINDIAN NAVY AND INDONESIAN NAVY PARTICIPATE IN EXERCISE ‘SAMUDRA SHAKTI’ published in PIB on 20th September 2021.

What is the News?

Indian Naval Ships Shivalik and Kadmatt have reached Jakarta, Indonesia to participate in Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’.

What is Exercise Samudra Shakti?

Exercise Samudra Shakti is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Indonesia.

Aim: To strengthen the bilateral relationship, enhance mutual understanding and interoperability in maritime operations between the two navies. 

Participation: From India’s side, Indian Naval ships Shivalik and Kadmatt are participating in the exercise.

Other Exercises between India and Indonesia

Exercise Garuda Shakti: It is an annual military exercise between the Indian and Indonesian Army. It is conducted on a reciprocal basis and its first edition was conducted in the year 2012 in India.

IND-INDO CORPAT: It is a bi-annual coordinated naval patrol exercise conducted along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the Indian and Indonesian Navy.

Is India nearing 100% school enrolment? Yes & No

Source: This post is based on the articleIs India nearing 100% school enrolment? Yes & Nopublished in TOI on 21st September 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has recently released the United Information System for Education Plus(UDISE+) 2019-20 report for School Education in India.

Click Here to Read about UDISE+ Report
What are the key analyses from the report?
Enrollment in Primary Education

The total enrolment in schools has increased by 1.6% in 2019-20 compared to 2018-19.

But when we compare it with 2012-13 data, the enrollment at the primary level has reduced from 13.5 crores in 2012-13 to 12.2 crores in 2019-20. 

The reason for the decline in Gross Enrollment Ratio(GER) is due to the steep decline in enrolment in absolute numbers from 2016-17 onwards.

For instance, if we compare the total primary enrolment between 2017-18 and 2019-20, it has come down by over 72 lakh. This should be a matter of concern, especially since this would be even higher now due to Covid.

The target of ​​100% enrolment ratio

Except for the Primary level of education, all other levels are far from attaining a 100% enrolment ratio. 

There is a steep decline in the dropout rate at the primary level from 4.5% to 1.5%. But the data also shows that 28% of students dropped out while moving from secondary (Grades 9 and 10) to higher secondary level and 8% between elementary and secondary level.

Note: As per National Education Policy 2020, Government has a target of achieving 100% gross enrolment at the school education level by 2030.

Reduction in Schools

There is a reduction in 43,292 schools. Most of these are Government Schools. The reasons for the decline in schools maybe because of the merging of schools. But we do not have any data about the merging of schools. 

Most of the decline in schools are from states such as Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. These two states with high fertility and large child population make up over 90% of the reduction.

This is a worrying sign as when schools merge, the distance to school increases for children and this hits girl students the hardest.

Pandemic study reveals lack of trained health personnel

Source: This post is based on the articlePandemic study reveals lack of trained health personnelpublished in TOI on 21st Sep 2021.

What is the News?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) have released a report titled ‘Health Workforce in India-Why, Where and How to Invest’.

What are the Key Findings of the Report?

Nurse to Doctor Ratio
Source: TOI

Nurse to Doctor Ratio:

The nurse to doctor ratio in India is estimated to be 1.7:1. This is too low when compared with most OECD countries where there are 3-4 nurses per doctor. 

Moreover, the Indian High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) recommendation for the nurse-doctor ratio in India stood at 3:1.

When compared state wise, the nurse to doctor ratio ranges from Punjab (6.4:1) and Delhi (4.5:1) on the higher side and Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh having less than one nurse per doctor. 

Even in Kerala, where the number of nurses is very high, the worker nurse to doctor ratio was less than 1:1.

Note: According to the 15th Finance Commission, a nurse-to-population ratio in India is at 1:670 as against the WHO norm of 1:300. 

Allied Health Workers to Doctor Ratio

The ratio of allied health workers to doctors is estimated to be 1:1.

When compared state wise, there are large variations across states, ranging from more than five allied personnel per allopathic doctor in Himachal Pradesh to as low as one-tenth (0.1) allied health professionals per doctor in Bihar.

China’s ‘Lehman moment’

Source: This post is based on the article “China’s ‘Lehman moment’” published in Business Standard on 21st Sep 2021.

What is the news?

Failure of Evergrande (China’s too big to fail real estate sector developer) would affect economic activities in China, which in turn, may have cascading negative consequences for the world.


Financial stress in China’s largest real estate developer, Evergrande, has led to turmoil across global markets.

Evergrande has a total debt exposure (including trade payables) of over $300 billion, which includes $19 billion in offshore US dollar-denominated bonds.

Recently, the real estate giant has issued warnings that it can default on $80 million worth of interest payments.

Experts are referring to this as “China’s Lehman moment”, in comparison to the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, which was a trigger for the global financial crisis.

The financial stress has been caused by tighter controls imposed by the People’s Bank of China, and a slowdown in housing demand.

How Evergrande’s crisis is affecting the global economy?

Impact on global stock market: Fears of this default have led to a crash across Chinese debt assets. Further, it has triggered big sell-offs in stock markets across Hong Kong, other Asian markets, including India, as well as in Europe. It has also triggered a panic sell-off in industrial metals and fuels. The prices of real estate stocks in Hong Kong have dropped to 2016 levels, while real estate bonds yields have spiked to 14.5 per cent.

Impact on commodity metal and fuel: A fall in Chinese activities will also hurt commodity metal and fuel players, given China’s dominance in manufacturing.

Impact on Exporters: If the yuan falls, exporters everywhere else will also be under intense pressure.

Impact on Global central banks: If it does default, every major central bank will probably open liquidity taps to ensure global markets don’t freeze in contagion.

Rich nations to miss $100-bn climate fund target even by 2025

Source: This post is based on the article “Rich nations to miss $100 bn climate fund goal even by 2025says Oxfam” published in the Business Standard on 21st September 2021. 

What is the news? 

As per a recent report published by Oxfam, developed countries’ pledge to provide $100 billions of annual financing, made over a decade ago is unlikely to be met even five years after the target i.e. by 2025. This threatens the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius as part of the Paris Agreement.  


What is the present scenario of funding?

Recent data from the OECD has showed that the pace of boosting the funding slowed further in 2019, growing just 2% to $79.6 billion from 2018.

Data wasn’t available for 2020, by when the $100 billion annual rate was to be achieved, but the economic damage wreaked by the pandemic means that target was likely missed.

What are the various findings of the report? 

First, funding is key for developing nations to pledge deeper emissions cuts.   

Second, concerns have been raised about how the financing will be disbursed to developing nations. Over two-thirds will be in the form of loans, which would put the countries into further debt.

Third, US is facing the biggest fund crisis, because former U.S. President had pulled the world’s richest polluter out of the Paris deal. France, Australia and Japan have failed to increase their financing for poorer nations. 

Researchers develop super-hydrophobic cotton for oil-spill cleanup

Source: This post is based on the article ” Researchers develop super-hydrophobic cotton for oil-spill cleanup ” published in the Down to Earth on 20th September 2021. 

What is the news? 

Recently, researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, have developed a new class of super-hydrophobic cotton composite with Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) that promise marine oil-spill clean-up in near future. 

What are the features of the new cotton material developed? 

First, this is a novel, highly porous and water-repellent super-hydrophobic cotton composite material containing MOF, which can absorb oil selectively from an oil-water mixture. 

Second, the MOF composite has great capability for selective separation of the oils from oil / water mixtures. The separation efficiency is very high irrespective of the chemical composition and density of the oils. 

Third, the MOF composite is also able to absorb large volumes of oils and can be reused for a minimum of 10 times so that the sorbents can provide more recovery of the spilled oil. 

Fourth, the new cotton will help in cleaning the spilled oil from environmental water (river, sea or ocean water) during oil transportation, thus reducing environmental water pollution. 

Fifth, both heavy and light oils can be effectively absorbed by the material. 

Sixth, the material is easy to prepare, cost-effective and recyclable. 

Seventh, MOFs are a class of compounds containing metal ions coordinated to organic ligands to form 3D structures. They are often highly porous materials that act like a sponge. 

Eighth, the medical cotton changes from hydrophilic to super-hydrophobic material and can float on the water surface.   


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