9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 28th, 2021

Dear Friends,
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
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Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The growing strategic importance of outer space

Source: This post is based on the article “The growing strategic importance of outer space” published in The Indian Express on 28th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS2 – International Relations

Relevance: Strategic importance of outer space

Synopsis: India is looking to bolster outer space cooperation with US and other QUAD members. Many reforms have also been initiated towards this direction. But, the growing strategic salience of outer space demands substantive national policy action in India.


Technological progress in the last two decades has also “produced” new domains for human activity. One is “cyberspace” that drives so much of modern life. The other is the “outer space”, a rapidly evolving domain that is seeing more commerce and competition.

In opening new pathways for outer space cooperation both India and US have agreed to continue and expand their partnership in this new domain and many areas of critical and emerging technology, like cyber, health security, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G and blockchain. This is a part of the technological agenda outlined in Washington last week.

At the bilateral level, Delhi and Washington have agreed to intensify space cooperation; and the Quad has set up a new working group to discuss space-related issues.

Rationale behind India’s interest in outer space

Delhi’s new strategic interest in outer space is based on a recognition of two important trends.

One is the centrality of emerging technologies in shaping the 21st-century global order.

Second is about the urgency of writing new rules for the road to peace and stability in outer space.

The new emphasis on space cooperation is also a part of a much larger technology agenda outlined by India and its Quad partners.

Why outer space cooperation b/w QUAD members is necessary?

Although human activity into space began in the middle of the 20th century, the intensity of that activity as well as its commercial and security implications have dramatically increased in recent decades.

Firstly, In the future, outer space is going to be a location for lucrative business

Secondly, space will gradually evolve into a critical factor in shaping the military balance of power on the earth. Hence, there is a growing competition among states.

Thirdly, the dramatic expansion of Chinese space capabilities and Beijing’s ambition to dominate outer space have given a new urgency for outer space cooperation. Democratic powers are looking to come together to secure their national interests as well as promote sustainable order in the skies above.

What is Space Situational Awareness (SSA)?

Space situational awareness (SSA) involves monitoring the movement of all objects — natural (meteors) and man-made (satellites) — and tracking space weather.

International cooperation on space situational awareness is similar to the agreements on maritime domain awareness — that facilitate sharing of information on a range of ocean metrics.

Indo-US cooperation on outer space

India has developed significant space capabilities over the decades. The US recognises that it can’t unilaterally define the space order anymore and is looking for partners.

The India-US joint statement issued in Washington highlighted plans to finalise a Space Situational Awareness Memorandum of Understanding that will help in sharing of data and services towards ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities by the end of the year.

When signed, the agreement with the US on SSA will be the first of its kind for India. Washington has agreements with more than two dozen countries on SSA.

Artemis accords: The US and Indian delegations have also discussed a US initiative called the Artemis Accords — that seek to develop norms for activity in the Moon and other planetary objects.

What is the way forward?

As commercial and military activity in outer space grows, the 20th-century agreements like Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty (1979) need reinforcement and renewal.

Though India has taken steps, but the scale of the challenges and opportunities in outer space demand more urgent and sweeping reform.

That can only be mandated by the highest political level. Back in 2015, PM’s speech on the Indian Ocean focused national attention on maritime affairs. India could do with a similar intervention on outer space today.

When Digital Meets Health

Source: This post is based on the following articles “When Digital Meets Health” published in TOI on 27th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues related to Health sector

Relevance: Digital health mission and its significance

Synopsis: GoI’s new initiative ‘Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission ‘has the potential to revolutionise patient care.


Currently, with the processes followed in hospitals when a patient develops any complication, it gets difficult to track events. Bedside paper records contain very little detail to analyse and interpret with accuracy.

Today it is a nightmare for doctors to get all the medical data required to make accurate clinical diagnosis by the patient’s bedside. Doctors are under tremendous pressure due to the fear of possible human error, which can adversely affect a patient’s life.

However, things are going to change with the launch of the ‘Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission’.

How ‘Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission’ will improve health sector?

Technology with protocol will make India’s Health sector as one among the safest industries in the world: Unfortunately, in healthcare delivery it is difficult to follow treatment protocols since over 90% of hospitals in developing countries including India do not have Electronic Medical Records (EMR). In this regard, EMR will help us document real-time events happening around a patient, inside the hospital with seamless movement of data between various stakeholders on a mobile platform.

Affordability, Accessibility: Providing smart digital tools to doctors, nurses and technicians, morbidity mortality in healthcare will come down significantly, access to healthcare will improve and the cost of healthcare will come down.

Facilitates globalisation of India’s health care: The Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission will open the door for Indian digital health start-ups to dominate the global digital health industry.

Mobility: A unique digital health ID will help chronic patients carry their medical records on their phones which can be seen by doctors on their computers anywhere.

Nudge people to consult doctors at the earliest: Earliest For every medical problem starting from a headache to cancer, first interaction with a doctor will happen online. Consulting a doctor online will become a pleasant experience instead of painful hospital visits. In the process, patients will consult doctors online at the early stages of the disease and this will help in effective treatment of disease.

Avoids repetition: Since most of the blood tests, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound reports will be available on the cloud from anywhere, patients do not need to go for painful and expensive repeat tests.

Facilitate analysis of Data: Soon data analytics will build clinical decision support systems on EMRs which will suggest alternative diagnosis based on the patient’s condition.

Abolition of Quackery: Since only registered doctors will be allowed to prescribe medication on digital prescription pads. With the barcoding of medicine strips, fake medicines will also disappear.

Optimise resource utilisation: Digitisation has disrupted every industry. For instance, Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular digital media owner, creates no content. Similarly, the world’s largest healthcare provider will have no beds because it’s going to be a Healthapp.

Plan to discontinue the vitamin A supplement programme is hasty

Source: This post is based on the following articles “Plan to discontinue the vitamin A supplement programme is hasty published in The Indian Express on 28th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Relevance: Understanding the issue of the Vitamin A Supplement program.

Synopsis:  Some researchers have suggested stopping of vitamin A nutrition supplement program. But this needs careful analysis.


Recently, in a study published the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, some researchers argued that the government’s National vitamin A Supplement (VAS) programme should be partially discontinued.

They argued that the VAS programme is leading to a condition of hypervitaminosis (abnormally high levels of vitamins that can cause toxicity). So, the researchers said that the VAS programme should be discontinued in all except 7 states — Bihar, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Telangana, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Why vitamin A is important?

Discontinuing VAS programme would deprive the vitamin A supplement for children between 6 months and 5 years. This may adversely impact optimum immune responses against diseases. It may even lead to the re-emergence of eye damage and blindness caused by nutritional deficiencies. It will also adversely impact the ongoing anaemia control measures.

What is the VAS programme?

VAS programme was introduced in 1970 and modified in 1991. It was based on the reason that the daily diet of children in the country is deficient in this essential nutrient. Surveys by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) confirmed that over 70% of children consumed less than 70% of the recommended level of this vitamin.  Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS), 2016-19, re-confirmed the low dietary intake of vitamin A-rich foods. Among children aged 2 to 4 years, only 5 percent consumed vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables.

“Management of Vitamin A Deficiency” was thus introduced in 1991. It was guided by the findings of the National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR that reported the seroconversion of measles vaccine in field conditions was significantly higher in children who had taken a vitamin A supplement as compared to those who did not.

What are the problems associated with the debate to limit the VAS?

First, the survey is based on a limited sample. For e.g. In Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the sample size was as low as 35 and 134 as against the recommended minimum 500.

Second, as per CNNS, vitamin A deficiency is a severe public health problem in not 7 but 12 states.

Moreover, there are wide intra-state variations that cannot be overlooked when dropping an entire state from the VAS programme.

What should be the way forward?

The fear of hypervitaminosis should not be used to stop the VAS programme until there are proper studies that prove hypervitaminosis. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that should be provided as part of the Diet to meet any deficiency.

Measuring Regional Diversity – Regarding NIRF

Source: This post is based on the article “Measuring Regional Diversity” posted in The Hindu on 28th September 2021.

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

Relevance: Understanding the Regional Diversity in NIRF.

Synopsis: The National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) calculation of regional diversity in education institutes is inaccurate.


Recently, the Ministry of Education has released the 6th edition of NIRF rankings. NIRF formulates the ranking on the basis of five parameters. Each of these has one to five sub-parameters. The article discusses Regional Diversity which is a sub-parameter under Outreach and Inclusivity.

Read here: Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021
How NIRF calculates Regional Diversity?

It calculates regional diversity by counting the percentage of total students enrolled from all other States and countries at that particular institution except the State the institution is located in. It does not count the State-wise representation of students at the institution. For Eg: If there are 100 students in an institution of Delhi, of whom 99 belong to Uttar Pradesh. The formula will show that the institution is extremely diverse because 99% of the students are from ‘other’ State(s). But this is misleading.

How could NIRF improve?

It should calculate data both on Horizontal and Vertical lines. So it should also show the distribution of students between the states.

Horizontal Diversity: Under it, the data should be count from how many States have students come to study at the institution.

Vertical Diversity: Under it, NIRF should count the size of the hometown of the students. The data should show the count of students who has come from Tier I, Tier II, Tier III cities and towns, and villages from within each State.

What should be the way forward?

NIRF ranking provides a transparent method of judging the performance of any institution. We should now work on refining the parameters to make the ranking more accurate.

Women’s turn: is reservation the only way to a fair deal in India? Economic growth delivers justice too

Source: This post is based on the article “ Women’s turn: is reservation the only way to a fair deal in India? Economic growth delivers justice too” posted in The Times of India on 27th September 2021. 

Syllabus: GS 2 Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections. 

Relevance: To understand the status of women in the Indian labour force. 

Synopsis: Instead of providing reservations to women, it is better to introduce policies that make them economically independent. 


Recently, 3 women judges have been appointed as the judges of the Supreme Court, which now accounts for a total of 12% judges in the Supreme Court. With the counts still very low, even after 75 years of Independence, the Chief Justice of India offers to provide a 50% quota to women in Judiciary. This opens the debate for reservation and economic upliftment of women. 

Read more: CJI voices support for 50% representation for women in judiciary
What is the present status of women in holding various offices? 

Indian women’s representation in Parliament and bureaucracy is only marginally better than women in Supreme Court. Its count is also less in contrast to women from other parts of the world. For Eg Iceland, recently celebrated female majority Parliament. It is also on the top list for the World Economic index gender equality for 12 years in a row. 

Labour Force: A research shows that Indian women had been withdrawing from the labour force. This starts happening even before the pandemic. The reason behind that is displacement by the male workers because of the repeated macroeconomic shocks. In contrast to Iceland, where more than 50% of women got a university degree and over 47% contributes to the total labour force. 

Reservations vs Economic growth debate 

Arguments in favour of reservation are that it believes in the principle of social justice. Diverse voices will lead to better decision-making and include the say of the disadvantaged. But providing reservation to the disadvantaged section does not solve the purpose.

Instead of reservation, there is a need to implement good economic policies for the upliftment of not only women but also the other sections like Dalit, Adivasis etc.   

GS Paper 3

Net-zero is not enough

Source: This post is based on the following articles “Net-zero is not enough” published in Business standard on 28th Sep 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to climate change

Relevance: Net zero emission, climate change

Synopsis: A coherent programme of mitigation, adaptation and resilience is what India and every country in the world needs. The global climate discussion must focus clearly on the allocation of available carbon space that will allow countries to work out such a strategy.


The recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has raised a red alert and demanded for more effective actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Consequently, the developed nations have come up with a net-zero carbon emission commitment for 2050 and China has responded with a similar commitment for 2060. India is now under pressure to announce its net-zero commitment.

Further, IPCC report states that having a specific temperature goal, getting to net-zero by some target date is alone not sufficient. The cumulative emissions up to that point also have to be consistent with the temperature rise target.

An analysis of Net zero Targets announced by developed countries defies IPCC’s recommendation.

What are the issues/concerns w.r.t ‘Net zero’ emission targets’ announced by some developed countries?

The commitments announced by the big emitters do not leave adequate carbon space for other countries: According to the IPCC report cited above, the carbon budget available for a 50 per cent chance of staying at or below a 1.5 °C temperature rise is 500 GtCO2 and for a 67 per cent chance is 400 GtCO2. However, cumulative emissions of these net-zero committed countries will be 485 Gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) by the end of their target period.

Hence, the net-zero commitment by the big emitters will use up the entire carbon budget available for the 1.5 °C target and leave no room for any other country.

No recognition of the culpability for past emissions from 1850 to 2019, which have used up 2390 GtCO2 of carbon space.

Lack of intermediate commitments makes it unreliable: The goal set is decades into the future and making it legally binding is of no value. There are hardly any intermediate commitments leading to that distant goal for which these major emitters can be held accountable.

Does not account for Consumption based emission: Further the commitments made by the US, EU, UK and Japan are for the carbon emissions from the production in their territories, not from the emissions attributable to their consumption. Research have shown that since 1991 the impact of rising consumption, satisfied through imported carbon intensive goods, has increased in these countries.

Must Read: More companies pledge ‘net-zero’ emissions to fight climate change, but what does that really mean?

What is the way forward?

Firstly, Climate action must include a commitment to contain the carbon footprint of upper income consumers in all countries as the top 10 per cent of income earners contribute 48 per cent of the global carbon emission.

Secondly, netting of carbon emissions should not be through the purchase of carbon credits from countries but through actual actions such as reforestation to absorb carbon.

Thirdly, Countries like India must argue vigorously for a global agreement on the sharing of available carbon space, as estimated by the IPCC, on the basis of sound principles of climate justice.

Fourthly, Meeting the climate challenge involves mitigation, adaptation and resilience. Significant changes in ecosystems needs modifications in how we live and work. This requires a re-examination of virtually every area of development strategy and adapting it to manage expected changes in factors like temperature, water availability and sea level rise.

Finally, adaptation by itself may not be sufficient to cope with the growing climate instability. The IPCC report has assessed that, earth will see an increase of 4.1-5.6 times for extreme temperature, 1.5-1.7 times for extreme precipitation and 2.0-2.4 times for droughts, even if we succeed in restricting the temperature rise to 1.5-2 °C. So, we need to prepare for resilience to cope with these stresses, which we are already experiencing.

Let us reframe our climate crisis as a relatable threat

Source: This post is based on the article “Let us reframe our climate crisis as a relatable threat” published in Livemint on 28th Sep 2021.

Syllabus– GS3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation.

Relevance: Climate change and poverty

Synopsis: The issues of poverty and climate are fast converging. Hence, it is time to rethink, restructure and reframe the way we are addressing the climate issue.


The climate crisis is not only a ‘tree and forest’ problem. The environment is important, but hunger and housing are much more pressing for the poor in our state.

Why it is needed to make climate change a pressing concern?

Climate shift is affecting poor: The World Bank reported that the world will see 216 million climate refugees by 2050. Northeast India is likely to see as many as 40 million of these refugees coming into their states over the next 20 years.

Migration will not just be across national borders: since natural disasters increasing in intensity and frequency, states like Odisha and West Bengal will probably see large numbers of residents move elsewhere.

Affect every aspect of lives: increased frequency of pandemics, fresh water scarcity, decreased agricultural productivity and much more. Climate change is attacking human survival from all angles.

How we can turn climate risks into economic opportunities?

Production of climate-friendly technologies: Some states like Chhattisgarh have already started selling and procuring green fertilizers to promote regenerative farming. Others like Madhya Pradesh are adopting solar power distribution to end energy poverty through green methods.

We should embrace the economic opportunities that exist in eco-friendly technologies and look upon these as growth drivers. As costs fall, moving towards green and sustainable practices is likely to enhance economic growth.

Collective effort and collective response: One of the results of pandemic was the introduction of a vaccine in record time. It proved that collective pain can result in ground-breaking progress. Climate crisis is rarely acknowledged as a collective problem.

For example, a cyclone in West Bengal is seen as separate from a hurricane in Tamil Nadu, and both seem disconnected from fast-falling water tables.

What is the way forward?

First, we need to shift our climate discussion to people to attract sufficient attention.

Second, everything from solar to regenerative farming has tremendous scope for investment and expansion.

High water: on growing challenge from tropical cyclones

Source: This post is based on the article “High water: on growing challenge from tropical cyclones ” published in The Hindu on 28th Sep 2021. 

Syllabus: GS 3- Disaster and Disaster Management. 

Relevance: To understand the growing challenges from tropical cyclone 

Synopsis: Tropical cyclones laden with moisture and accumulated energy pose a growing challenge, as they have the propensity to inflict heavy damage to lives and property. The welcome concern for public health and economic security must lead to stronger institutional responses to natural disasters too.

Why cyclonic storms over northern Indian Ocean have a severe destructive impact? 

The northern Indian Ocean experiences only a minority of tropical storms annually. But their destructive impact on the subcontinent is severe.

It is due to a dense population and poor capacity to absorb large quantities of rainfall dumped in a short period over cities and towns.

Also, financial arrangements to insure the population against material losses also remain weak. 

What steps need to be taken to mitigate adverse impact of such disasters? 

Research evidence shows more cyclones forming over the Arabian Sea when compared to the Bay of Bengal.

Therefore, the Centre and all States cannot afford to allow large-scale losses to communities to continue each year.

Going beyond disaster response, institutional structures and insurance systems for financial protection, must be put in place.

Cities must prepare to harvest every flood that brings vast quantities of water, so vital to sustain mass populations.

Revitalising PM-KUSUM

Source: This post is based on the article “Revitalising PM-KUSUM” posted in The Hindu on 28th September 2021. 

Syllabus: GS 3 Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: Understanding PM KUSUM Scheme.

Synopsis: There is a need to unlock the PM KUSUM scheme promises in many ways.


The Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy recently reviewed the progress of the PM-KUSUM scheme and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to accelerating solar pump adoption. 

About the PM – KUSUM Scheme 

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-Kusum) scheme was launched in 2019. It aims to help farmers access reliable day-time solar power for irrigation, reduce power subsidies, and decarbonise agriculture. 

Read morePM – KUSUM Scheme 
About the performance of the Scheme 

PM-KUSUM provides farmers with incentives to install solar power pumps and plants in their fields. They can use one of three deployment models: off-grid solar pumps, solarised agricultural feeders, or grid-connected pumps. 

Off-grid pumps have been the most popular option for farmers. So far nearly 2,80,000 systems deployed. But this falls far short of the scheme’s target of two million by 2022. 

What are the challenges associated with the PM-KUSUM Scheme? 

Limited awareness and Farmer’s inability: Farmers have limited awareness about solar pumps. Further, many farmers struggle to pay 30-40% of upfront costs in compliance with scheme requirements. Apart from that, Farmers cannot access bank loans without collateral. 

Issues associated with solarised agricultural feeders and grid-connected pumps: Farmers fail to adopt these due to regulatory, financial, operational and technical challenges. For instance, Only a handful of states has initiated tenders or commissioned projects for solar feeders or grid-connected pumps. 

Challenges with Discoms: Selling surplus power to discoms is one of the main attractions of grid-connected models. But, most Indian discoms have a surplus of contracted generation capacity and are wary of procuring more power in the short term. So, the discoms show very less interest to buy excess power generated under the scheme.  

Further, the grid-connected model requires pumps to be metered and billed for accounting purposes, but it suffers from a lack of trust between farmers and discoms. 

How to improve the performance of the PM-KUSUM Scheme? 

First, extend the scheme’s timelines:  Extending PM-KUSUM’s timelines beyond 2022 would allow discoms to align the scheme with their power purchase planning. Further, adopting solutions like smart meters and smart transformers and engaging with farmers can build trust between discoms and farmers. 

Second, create a level playing field for distributed solar plants: At present, discoms often find utility-scale solar cheaper than distributed solar (under the scheme) due to the latter’s higher costs and the loss of locational advantage due to waived inter-State transmission system (ISTS) charges.  

To tackle the bias against distributed solar, India needs to standardise tariff determination to reflect the higher costs of distributed power plants and do away with the waiver of ISTS charges for solar plants. 

Third, streamline land regulations: Inter-departmental coordination has to be made to streamline land regulations in India. Further, it will also help in reducing delays in leasing or converting agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes such as solar power generation. 

Fourth, support innovative solutions: To address the farmer’s inability to pay the upfront cost, India needs to develop innovative and out-of-the-box solutions. For example, India can implement Karnataka’s pilot project of a farmer-developer special-purpose vehicle to help farmers install solar power plants on their farms. 

Fifth, extensively pilot grid-connected solar pumps:  India has to pilot the solar pumps in different agro-economic contexts. This will be critical to developing a strategy to scale it up. 

In conclusion, the KUSUM scheme, if implemented successfully, can generate thousands of jobs, reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture, and result in oil import savings. 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Red menace: Despite successes, taking out the Maoist core will require smart security-cum-development strategy

Source: This post is based on the article “Red menace: Despite successes, taking out the Maoist core will require smart security-cum-development strategy” published in TOI on 27th Sep 2021. 

What is the news? 

Recently, a meeting took place which was chaired by the Union home minister. This meeting highlighted the declining incidence of Maoist violence in the country. It marked an 82% decline in a decade. Also, over the same decade Maoist influence has shrunk from 96 to 53 districts, with ultras most active in just 25 districts that account for 85% of total violence.  

What are the areas where the core command structure of the Maoists still exists? 

Despite this apparent success, the core command structure of Maoists remains intact. 

Earlier this year, deadly Maoist attack on security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region killed at least 22 jawans. Elusive Maoist commanders like Madvi Hidma operate with small groups of committed fighters and draw on the support of remote tribal populations.

They are active in the deep forested areas of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Sukma districts of Chhattisgarh and adjoining areas of Maharashtra and Odisha. 

What are the recommendations to overcome the Maoists violence? 

First, security operations alone aren’t enough to overcome this challenge. Development of remote affected areas along with targeting of Maoist money flow is key.  

Second, extremists thrive on extortion in areas rich with minerals and minor forest produce like bamboo and tendu leaves. The latter alone account for revenues estimated at Rs 20,000 crore annually. Gram panchayats auction these forest products and Maoists pose as middlemen to get better prices from contractors and take a cut. Thus, the trade in minor forest produce needs a closer look in Maoist-affected areas to break the contractor-Maoist nexus.  

Third, it is poverty that sustains Maoists. We need to work in these areas.

A sharp security-development strategy may end the Maoist menace. 

An institution’s right to govt. aid is not a fundamental right: SC

Source: This post is based on the article “An institution’s right to govt. aid is not a fundamental right: SC” published in The Hindu on 27th Sep 2021. 

What is the news? 

As per a recent judgement of the Supreme Court, the right of an institution, whether run by a majority or minority community, to get government aid is not a fundamental right.

Both have to equally follow the rules and conditions of the aid. 

The judgement came in an appeal filed by Uttar Pradesh against a decision of the Allahabad High Court to declare a provision of the Intermediate Education Act of 1921 unconstitutional. 

What did the SC say? 

First, for both majority or the minority institution, all conditions that have relevance to the proper utilisation of the grant-in-aid by an educational institution can be imposed. All that Article 30(2) states is that on the ground that an institution is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language, grant of aid to that educational institution cannot be discriminated against, if other educational institutions are entitled to receive aid.  

Second, if the government made a policy call to withdraw aid, an institution cannot question the decision as a “matter of right”. 

Third, a grant of government aid comes with accompanying conditions. An institution is free to choose to accept the grant with the conditions or go its own way. 

Fourth, an institution can never be allowed to say that the grant of aid should be on its own terms. 

Why institutions cannot view government aid as a “matter of right”? 

Firstly, government aid is a policy decision. It depends on various factors including the interests of the institution itself and the ability of the government to understand the exercise. 

Secondly, Financial constraints and deficiencies are the factors which are considered relevant in taking any decision regarding aid. It includes both the decision to grant aid and the manner of disbursement of an aid. 

What are the challenges associated with decision? 

The real challenge of the decision made lies in its implementation

Even in a case where a policy decision is made to withdraw the aid, an institution cannot question it as a matter of right. Such a challenge would still be available to an institution, when a grant is given to one institution as against the other institution which is similarly placed. 

 Explained: What is dark energy, and have scientists finally detected it?

Source: This post is based on the article ” Explained: What is dark energy, and have scientists finally detected it?” published in The Indian Express on 28th Sep 2021. 

What is the news?

Last week, an international team of researchers made the first putative direct detection of dark energy. 

What is XENON1T experiment? 

The XENON1T experiment is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy. In this experiment scientists noticed certain unexpected results. As per them, dark energy may be responsible for it. Hence, this experiment can also be used to detect dark energy. 

What is dark energy and dark matter? 

Everything we see makes up less than 5% of the universe. About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.

Dark energy is the mysterious form of energy that makes up about 68% of the universe. Dark energy has been noted as “the most profound mystery in all of science”.

While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe. Both components are invisible.

More is known about dark matter, since its existence was suggested as early as the 1920s, while dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998. Large-scale experiments like XENON1T have been designed to directly detect dark matter, by searching for signs of dark matter ‘hitting’ ordinary matter. Dark energy is even more difficult to find. 

Chandra :: Resources :: Dark Matter (Illustrations)

When can we get direct detection of dark energy? 

The team is hopeful that upcoming upgrades to the XENON1T experiment and similar experiments such as LUX-Zeplin – a next generation dark matter experiment located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and PandaX-xT – another project at China Jinping Underground Laboratory could help directly detect dark energy within the next decade. 

PM Modi launches Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • PM Modi launches Ayushman Bharat Digital Missionpublished in The Hindu on 28th Sep 2021.
  • PM launches Ayushman Bharat Digital Missionpublished in PIB on 27th Sep 2021.
  • “PM Modi launches Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, health ID for every citizen”  published in Indian Express on 27th Sep 2021.
What is the News?

The Prime Minister has launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.

What is Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission?

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission aims to provide digital health IDs for all Indian citizens to help hospitals, insurance firms and citizens access health records electronically when required. 

What are digital health IDs?

It is a unique 14-digit health identification number to be created using a person’s mobile number or Aadhaar. The digital health ID will allow users, hospitals and companies to access health records digitally. 

For example, presenting this ID to a healthcare provider will allow people to digitally receive lab reports, prescriptions, and diagnoses from verified doctors and health service providers. 

What information will the Health IDs capture?

Health IDs will have all health-related information of a person, but the sharing of the records will be done with the consent of citizens. 

This data will contain details of laboratory tests, medical history, doctor visits, prescriptions, and diagnosis. 

Health workers and hospitals will be able to access the information for proper treatment even if the patient moves to a new city or visits a new doctor. 

Is the new Health ID mandatory for citizens?

The Health ID will be free of cost and voluntary. However, the government insists that the medical records of private citizens will be stored to ensure security, confidentiality, and privacy of health-related information. 

Are there any privacy concerns?

Experts have warned that the government will have to be careful with the implementation of the programme. 

While most of them agree that health IDs are a noble step, the lack of a data protection bill could lead to the misuse of data by private firms and bad actors. 

Also, interoperability between systems built by different states and the central repository will be important to ensure that the system works as needed. 

Some also worry about citizens being excluded and denied healthcare due to faults in the system.

What are the other features  of  the  mission?

The other major component of the programme is creating a Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR) and Healthcare Facilities Registry (HFR), allowing easy electronic access to medical professionals and health infrastructure. 

The HPR will be a comprehensive repository of all healthcare professionals involved in delivering healthcare services across both modern and traditional systems of medicine. 

The HFR database will have records of all the country’s health facilities.

DRDO tests Akash Prime missile

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • DRDO tests Akash Prime missilepublished in The Hindu on 28th Sep 2021.
  • Successful Maiden Flight Test of Akash Prime Missile” published in PIB on 27th Sep 2021.
What is the News?

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested a new version of Akash missile named Akash Prime.

What is Akash Prime?

Akash Prime is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by the DRDO and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

It was developed to replace the Russian 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) missile system, currently in service.

The missile is equipped with a homegrown Radio Frequency seeker which imparts an improved accuracy while intercepting targets in various conditions.

The missile will further boost the confidence of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force.

Note: DRDO has recently also tested the Akash-NG missile. Both Akash Prime and Akash NG are variants of the Akash Missile. Akash Missile is India’s first indigenously produced medium-range Surface to Air missile.

Assam’s rice wine Judima gets GI tag

Source: This post is based on the articleAssam’s rice wine Judima gets GI tagpublished in The Hindu on 27th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

Judima has been awarded the geographical indication (GI) tag.

What is Judima?

Judima is a rice wine made from sticky rice (glutinous rice called Bora) which is steamed and mixed with traditional herbs called Thembra (Acacia pennata).

The wine is a speciality of the Dimasa tribe of the state (Assam) and has a distinct sweet taste and takes around one week to prepare, and it can be stored for years.

What is the significance of this recognition?

Judima is the first beverage from the northeast to earn the GI Tag.

Moreover, the GI tag for Judima came 14 years after the ginger of the adjoining Karbi Anglong district received its geographical indication.

Jobs increased by 29% since 2013, says survey

Source: This post is based on the article “Jobs increased by 29% since 2013, says surveypublished in The Hindu on 28th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

The Labour Bureau, which works under the Ministry of Labour, has released findings from the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey.

About All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey(AQEES)

AQEES has been taken up by the Labour Bureau to provide frequent (quarterly) updates about the employment and related variables of establishments, in both organised and unorganised segments, of nine selected sectors.

These nine selected sectors are Manufacturing, Construction, Trade, Transport, Education, Health, Accommodation and Restaurant, IT/ BPO and Financial Services.

Note: This survey report covers employment figures for the first quarter of 2021-22 (April 2021 – June 2021). 

What are the key findings of the survey?
Source: The Hindu

Firstly, there was a 29% increase in employment in these nine sectors during the peak Covid-19 outbreak months of April-June 2021 over a base of 2013-14.

Secondly, among these nine sectors, manufacturing accounts for nearly 41% of the employment followed by Education with 22% and Health with 8%. 

Thirdly, the most impressive growth in employment has been recorded in the IT/BPO sector, with 152%. On the other hand, employment in Trade came down by 25% and in Accommodation & Restaurant, the decline was by 13%.

Fourthly, the overall participation of female workers stood at 29% slightly lower than 31%  reported during 2013-14.

Fifthly, around 27% of the establishments reported pandemic-induced retrenchment. But the silver lining was that 81% of the workers had received their full wages during the lockdown.

Lastly, regular workers constituted 88% of the estimated workforce in the nine selected sectors, with only 2% being casual workers.

NCW Launches Country-Wide Training & Capacity Building Program For Women In Dairy Farming

Source: This post is based on the articleNCW Launches Country-Wide Training & Capacity Building Program For Women In Dairy Farmingpublished in PIB on 27th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

The National Commission for Women(NCW) has launched a countrywide training and capacity building programme for women in dairy farming.

What is the objective of the programme?

The programme aims to empower women and help them achieve financial independence by training them in the quality enhancement of dairy products.

As part of the programme, the NCW is collaborating with agricultural universities all across India to identify and train women associated with dairy farming in different aspects such as value addition, quality enhancement, packaging and marketing of dairy products among others.

About NCW

The National Commission for Women was set up as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act,1990.

Aim: To strive towards enabling women to achieve equality and equal participation in all spheres of life by securing their due rights and entitlements through suitable policy formulation, legislative measures, etc.

Composition: The commission consists of a chairperson, a member secretary and five other members. All are nominated by the Central Government.

Click here to know more about National Commission for Women

Ministry of Food Processing Industries in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, virtually launched the PMFME Scheme Seed Capital Module

Source: This post is based on the articleMinistry of Food Processing Industries in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, virtually launched the PMFME Scheme Seed Capital Modulepublished in PIB on 27th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Food Processing Industries in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises(PMF ME) Scheme Seed Capital Module.

What is the PMFME Scheme Seed Capital Module?

The PMFME Scheme Seed Capital Module has been launched on the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission(DAY-NULM) MIS Portal.

Purpose: To provide seed capital assistance to members of urban Self Help Groups working in the food processing sector in India.

Seed Capital Limit: The Self Help Groups(SHGs) can avail the seed capital assistance of Rs.40,000 per SHG member under the PMFME Scheme. 

About the PMFME Scheme
Source: PIB

The PMFME Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme launched by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries(MOFPI). 

Aim: To enhance the competitiveness of existing individual micro-enterprises in the unorganized segment of the food processing industry. The scheme also aims to promote formalization of the sector and provide support to Farmer Producer Organizations, Self Help Groups, and Producers Cooperatives along their entire value chain.

Click Here to read more about the PMFME Scheme

Covid-19 pandemic cut life expectancy by most since World War II

Source: This post is based on the articleCovid-19 pandemic cut life expectancy by most since World War IIpublished in Business Standard on 28th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

According to a study by Oxford University, the Covid-19 pandemic reduced the life expectancy of men and women in 27 countries in 2020.

What are the key findings of the Study?
Source: Business Standard

Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced life expectancy in 2020 by the largest amount since World War II.

Secondly, Life expectancy fell by more than six months compared with 2019 in 22 of 29 countries studied. These countries span across Europe, the United States and Chile.

Thirdly, there were greater drops in life expectancy for men than women in most countries, with the largest decline in American men, whose life expectancy dropped by 2.2 years relative to 2019.

Fourthly, in the United States, the rise in mortality was mainly among those of working age and those under 60, while in Europe, dea­ths among people aged over 60 contributed more significantly to the increase in mortality.

Lastly, the study concluded that the impact of Covid-19 on life spans may be greater in less developed countries that wer­en’t included in the research. Hence, it urged these countries to make mortality data available for further studies

Govt aims to tap solar energy to power cold chain facilities

Source: This post is based on the article Govt aims to tap solar energy to power cold chain facilitiespublished in Livemint on 28th Sep 2021.

What is the News?

India has planned to utilize solar power to offer uninterrupted power to cold-chain facilities for storing vaccines.

Storage of Vaccines and the need for solar power

There are over 29,000 cold chain storage facilities across India that are used to store both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 vaccines. 

However, due to unreliable electricity supply in several parts of the country, there is a problem in the storage of vaccines. Hence, the government has now planned to ​​use solar power for cold storage facilities. 

There are two ways to use solar energy to store vaccines —storage equipment that runs on solar power or a building that has a solar power facility.

Moreover, using solar power will also help India reach its target of 100GW of solar power generation capacity by 2022, with a significant focus on rooftop solar and decentralised solar installations.

What are the other steps taken by India to increase cold storage facilities?

The Indian Government is receiving cold chain equipment (CCE) procured by UNICEF from other countries. The Bihar government has received the first tranche of the CCE procured by UNICEF as part of the Japanese government’s assistance to India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive. 

The Government of India has also roped in private firms to run cold-chain facilities on solar power.


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