We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
- For previous editions of 9 PM Brief – Click Here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- Germany as a development actor in a post-Merkel area
- How to grease the wheels of justice
- Bureaucracy’s digital challenge
- In pursuit of Happiness
- Four geopolitical developments and a window of opportunity for India
- NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit
- A crisis of multilateralism and Asia’s rising stake in it
GS Paper 3
- Inside India’s asset monetization gambit
- El Salvador’s crypto foray offers a cautionary tale for other countries
- The war for digital talent: India can emerge as a global hub for it
- Nature-based, people-centred solutions for water
- The use of NFTs by cyber games can explain their utility
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Tackling the Maoists: On left-wing extremism
- Lockdowns slowed green energy push
- A jobs problem: Labour data in India is lagged and patchy. But supply-demand mismatch is still clear
- Country’s first Pan-India helpline for senior citizens: Elder Line (Toll Free No- 14567)
- Union Minister launches the “Amrit Grand Challenge Program” titled “जनCARE”
- Explained: Anti-defection law, for independent legislators
- “COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, Dhanaur Uddyam” was launched to accelerate the pace of Covid vaccination among tribal communities
- 4th Indo-US Health Dialogue 2021 concludes
- National Action Plan for dog Mediated Rabies Elimination by 2030
- Naga Cucumber from Nagaland gets GI tag
- PM dedicates to the Nation 35 crop varieties with special traits
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
The Atlantic Nino effects
Source: This post is based on the article “The Atlantic Nino effect” published in Indian Express on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS1 – Salient features of World’s Physical Geography
Relevance: Atlantic Nino, factors affecting Indian Monsoon
Synopsis: Monsoon predictions are a monumental challenge, especially when it comes to the spatial distribution and the northward migration of the monsoon trough.
Recently, farmers from Madhya Pradesh threatened to take IMD to court for the inaccurate monsoon forecast this year. A question was also raised in Parliament about whether the Arctic warming had led to an erratic monsoon this year.
What is the issue?
Rainfall deficit: The onset of monsoon 2021 began on June 3, almost on time but subsequently, rainfall deficit of up to 30 per cent were seen in Kerala, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and Odisha. The rest of the country is barely normal with deficit being less than 20 per cent.
El Niño in the Pacific: Instead, a return of the La Niña is forecasted by most models for later this year. Considering that 2020 was also a la Niña year, one would expect monsoon 2021 to be above normal.
Arctic affect: The Arctic can affect late-season rainfall and September has seen slightly above normal rain across India.
What is Atlantic Nino?
It is El Niño’s little cousin in the Atlantic, known as the Atlantic Niño, or the Atlantic Zonal Mode. Every few years, from June to August, there is a warming in the eastern equatorial Atlantic, which does not get as much attention as El Niño.
How Atlantic Nino was the cause for rainfall deficit in India?
Sea surface temperature: In 2021, due to Atlantic Niño, the Sea surface temperatures in the eastern Atlantic have remained more than a degree higher than normal this summer.
Number of low-pressure systems: Atlantic Niño’s impact on the monsoon has been known since 2014 when a study led by INCOIS showed that the number of low-pressure systems is greatly reduced by the Atlantic Niño, leading to deficit monsoons.
This year has seen a sharply lower number of low-pressure systems, which contribute up to 60 per cent of the seasonal total rainfall over the core monsoon zone.
The Atlantic and Indian Oceans are not directly connected in the tropics via the ocean: The Atlantic Niño affects the monsoon by producing atmospheric waves, which propagate into the Indian Ocean.
These waves affect air temperatures over the Indian Ocean and influence the land-ocean thermal contrast as well as Low Pressure Systems (LPSs). The biggest rainfall deficits from the Atlantic Niño tend to occur over the Western Ghats and the core monsoon zone. The deficit patterns are a sign of the Atlantic Niño’s influence.
Why monsoon prediction is a challenge in India?
Forecast models rely heavily on El Niño: But only about 50 per cent of the dry years are explained by El Niño. How can monsoons be predicted during non-El Niño years? Clearly, Atlantic Niño is a significant player in monsoon evolution and models and forecasters must pay attention to this Atlantic teleconnection.
Low-pressure systems or LPSs originate in the northern Bay of Bengal and are three-10 times more in number during the active period of the monsoon.
What is the way forward?
First, many of the Atlantic Niños occur during non-El Niño years and this offers a window of opportunity to increase forecast skills based on the accurate prediction of the Atlantic Niño. Indian scientists from INCOIS have argued that the Atlantic Niño is in fact predictable up to three months in advance.
Second, climate scientists are also aware of the monsoon prediction challenge and hence they should continue to try to improve monsoon forecasts.
Forgotten Vista: Beyond History And Archaeology
Source: This post is based on the article “Forgotten Vista: Beyond History And Archaeology” published in The Times of India on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS 1 – Indian culture: salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Relevance: To understand the ways to revamp National Museum.
Synopsis: This article explains the various methods to make National Museum more public engaging.
The government’s Central Vista project plans to increase the size of the Parliament, placement of buildings for military personnel, and additions to the bureaucracy to cater the present and future India’s needs. Similarly, the Central Vista project will also shift the National Museum of India, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA). Using this opportunity, Indian museums need to go beyond a cultural display of past achievement to a more constructive public engagement.
|Read more: Central Vista Redevelopment Project|
How global museums are constructive?
The world is already moving in the way of constructive public engagement. Beyond mere history and archaeology, the more recent public additions around the world include museums for urbanism, ecology, space, design and toys, besides the holocaust and partition museums.
For example, A Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and a Museum of the Future in Dubai.
How Indian Museums can revamp during the Central Vista project?
Three potential ideas are proposed in this regard.
First, Transparent showcase of bureaucratic life
This includes the possibility of including art and culture in the various new secretariat structures themselves. The government departments have to enlarge their buildings and house their own contribution to culture and public life.
Ministries can use this to exhibit art and artefacts on food, agriculture, textiles and technology, etc.
|Read more: Issue of shifting National Archives of India’s annexes – Explained, pointwise|
Second, A separate, retrofitted circle of museums
This includes removing culture into an entirely different section of the vista. Several artists have suggested organising the existing princely houses into a ‘Circle of Culture’ and house the arts and artefacts there.
Once vacated diverse museums could be retrofitted into these (Vista) buildings, with little or no additional construction.
Third, adopt new use to the abandoned infrastructures
Some architects believe that the disused archaic infrastructure, such as abandoned industries, power plants and rail lines, should be put to newly adapted reuse. They show the examples like Tate Modern gallery in London.
If implemented then Delhi’s now-defunct Ring Railway network, abandoned nuclear power plant at Dadri could provide surprising and accessible cultural places.
In conclusion, the government needs to find common ground that seeks innovative cultural renewal (Under Central Vista) and also meets with genuine public approval.
GS Paper 2
Germany as a development actor in a post-Merkel area
Source: This post is based on the article “Germany as a development actor in a post-Merkel area” published in The Hindu on 29th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India.
Relevance: To understand why India and Germany should collaborate with each other for the common good.
Synopsis: The new Chancellor must enable global cooperation policies for a sustainable future with India and the world.
The article highlights what role Germany should play as an important international agent in the fight against global challenges like climate change, fostering global sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations etc. It also talks about India and Germany should collaborate on various matters.
How India and German should collaborate?
Germany is going to preside G7 presidency in 2022. India is also presiding over G20 in 2023. These offer an opportunity to both countries to mutually strengthen governance and frame policies for a common future.
Sustainable Development: For achieving the SDG targets, there is a need for international and Trans-regional cooperation on an equal eye level. With the ongoing pandemic, it is important to frame policies for the global common good.
Germany, being the 3rd biggest economy in terms of global trade and India is one of the big transition economies, they both should collaborate on this. Both countries should together work on various fields like reducing social inequalities, overcoming poverty and ensuring social justice, promoting social peace, political participation, cultural diversity etc
Global Cooperation: For achieving economic development, there is a need for the cooperation of various stakeholders like politics, business, science etc. For global cooperation policy to be successful, strong governance is required. For this, Germany should take the initiative and develop a strategic vision. It should let the world recognizes the urgency of global cooperation policies for a sustainable future.
What are the benefits for India in collaborating with Germany?
Collaborating with Germany is beneficial for India, as India is fighting social inequalities and climate change. The upcoming COP26 in Glasgow thus serves as an important platform to negotiate investments into the greenhouse gas neutral transformations of India’s energy and transport sectors just as much as into the social security systems enabling societal capacities to live with the crises ahead.
How to grease the wheels of justice
Source: This post is based on the article “How to grease the wheels of justice” published in The Hindu on 29th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.
Relevance: To understand the problems that hinder the effective justice delivery system of India.
Synopsis: The problem of pendency of cases in courts across the country can be tackled with a few measures.
Recently, in an event, the Chief Justice of India raised his concern over the pendency of cases. He made a plea to “Indianise” courts to make courts more responsive towards the needs of people. He said people do not seek the court to be modern, instead, they want early resolution of their cases in a cheaper way.
|Must read: Pandemic blues: Lower court pendency at record 4cr now|
What is the present status?
In India, more than 40% of cases are decided after three years. While in many other countries less than 1% of cases are decided after three years.
Present status impacts more to the poor and marginalized, while benefits the rich and powerful section. They tend to delay their cases according to their wish. Moreover, an increase in corruption and crime also affects justice delivery. Data shows that about 70% of prisoners in India are undertrials and are mostly poor citizens.
|Read more: State of Prisons in India – Explained, pointwise|
What should the government/judiciary do?
Filling vacancies: There is a need to reduce the pendency of cases by filling sanctioned judicial positions. Analysis shows that between 2006 and 2019, the average increase in pendency was less than 2% per year. Whereas, the average vacancy in sanctioned judicial positions was about 21%. If the sanctioned positions had been filled, the pendency of cases would have gone down each year.
|Read more: Pendency of Cases and Rising Vacancies in the Judiciary – Explained, Pointwise|
Technology: e-Committee of the Supreme Court provides the following recommendations. These need to implement in the system:
Firstly, computer algorithms should decide on case listing, case allocation and adjournments with only a 5% override given to judges. Under this rational reason and limits should be put on adjournments; case listing should give the main weightage to ‘first in, first out’; and case allocation should take into account logical criteria.
Secondly, Courts should focus on e-filing. The e-Committee gave guidelines on how petitions and affidavits can be filed. It also talks about payment of fees should be done electronically, without lawyers or litigants having to travel to the courts or use paper.
Thirdly, Courts should focus on Virtual Hearing. There is a need to adopt the hybrid virtual hearing model. In pre-COVID-19 years, the increase in the pendency of cases in all courts is about 5.7 lakh cases a year. In 2020 alone, it increased to 51 lakh. It is assumed that if a hybrid virtual hearing model is not adopted, the backlog of cases could cross 5 crores in 2022.
|Read more: Need for an Integrated Digital System in Indian Justice System|
If all the above recommendations are adopted by the system, there are chances that India’s judicial system can rank among the 10 top countries of the world. These changes would make India the preferred nation for international investments and also fulfil the fundamental right to speedy justice of citizens.
Bureaucracy’s digital challenge
Source: This post is based on the article “Bureaucracy’s digital challenge” published in The Hindu on 29th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Role of civil services in a democracy.
Relevance: To understand how civil servants should make use of social media in order to benefit the public the most.
Synopsis: If civil servants don’t use social media appropriately, their role as independent advisers stands threatened.
The article highlights the good use of social media in bureaucracy to make it more effective and public-friendly.
Why using social media by civil servants is considered wrong?
Indian Bureaucracy is characterized by hierarchy, formal relationships and standard procedures, while social media is identified by openness, transparency and flexibility. Some fear that Indian Bureaucracy would be compromised in that process.
Creates selective accountability: In India, the role of social media in bureaucracy has taken a different direction. Social media is getting used by civil servants for self-promotion through their selective posts. Using this, civil servants create a narrative of their performance.
There is a wrong notion getting created in the public consciousness that social media is the way to access civil servants and make them accountable. But we should remember that this creates only selective accountability and cannot substitute institutional accountability.
Why is social media to be used by civil servants?
People: It helps to make people aware of government policies and programmes. It also creates a positive outlook towards the bureaucracy, which is still considered opaque and inaccessible.
Bureaucracy: It helps bureaucrats to engage with the public, serves them transparently while being politically neutral. Anonymity is the hallmark of bureaucracy, including in India. But in contemporary governance where the public is the centre and values are more important than facts, bureaucracy cannot afford to remain completely anonymous.
The use of social media is gradually getting institutionalized in many Westminster system-based countries. For Eg During the Brexit debate in the U.K., many civil servants shaped public debate through the use of social media even while remaining politically neutral. In India, civil servants haven’t reflected on this aspect of digital bureaucracy.
So, bureaucrats should use social media to improve public policies, not for self-promotion. This will set a good precedent for digital bureaucracy.
In pursuit of Happiness
Source: This post is based on the article “In pursuit of Happiness” published in The Hindu on 29th September 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Social Issues and Social Justice.
Relevance: To study the role of happiness in the Indian context.
Synopsis: The great degree of unhappiness in Indian society has a lot to do with the way the law and its institutions operate.
The article talks about Happiness as an important factor to measure the quality of governance. Until the beginning of the publication of the United Nations World Happiness Report in 2012, happiness was not considered an objective of governance. But now, countries are giving it the importance it deserves.
What does the United Nations World Happiness Report signify?
The report shows that countries with a higher GDP and higher per capita income are not necessarily the happiest. This year, the reports also measured the impact of COVID-19 on the people and their evaluation of the performance of governance systems. It was found that Covid has impacted happiness, as sharing and community life was hugely affected during this period.
|Read More: United Nations SDSN publishes “World Happiness Report 2021”|
India and Happiness: India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the World Happiness Report 2021. Happiness, in India, has never been considered as an explicit goal of public policy. The main reason behind unhappiness in Indian society is the way the law and its institutions operate. People remain unhappy as their legitimate grievances remain unaddressed by the legal system.
Law: According to the World Justice Report, 40% of people live outside the protection of the law in the world. More than 5 billion people fall into this ‘justice gap’. India’s rule of law rank was 69 as per the World Justice report 2021. The pendency of 3.5 crore cases justifies this ranking. It has a chilling effect on the right to life, liberty, economic justice, dignity and national integration.
Crime Rate: Data highlights crime as a major source of unhappiness. It shows that happy countries have lower crime rates. It means that individuals living in nations with high crime rates are less happy and satisfied than individuals living in nations with comparatively lower crime rates.
Socio-Demographic Factors: Happiness is also determined by various socio-demographic factors like health, education, crime rate, criminal victimization and fear of crime.
What measures have been adopted by countries to address the happiness gap?
United Arab Emirates: It was the first country in the world to have set up a Ministry of Happiness. The Ministry monitors the impact of policies through a happiness meter and takes measures to ensure a better life.
Bhutan: It introduced Gross National Happiness as a measure of good governance.
What should India do?
Honest and effective governance can create more socio-economic equality. This would create a greater sense of happiness amongst the population. India should work on these parameters.
Four geopolitical developments and a window of opportunity for India
Source: This post is based on the article “Four geopolitical developments and a window of opportunity for India” published in The Indian Express on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
Relevance: This article explains the recent developments around the globe and opportunities for India.
Synopsis: China’s hardships and other significant events around the globe boosts India’s economic prospects
A number of important developments have taken place over the past several weeks. They may appear disconnected, but in fact, they add up to a significant shift in regional and global geopolitics. These developments are,
1. The withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan and the complete takeover of the country by the Taliban.
The Afghan situation is a setback for India in the short run. In the long run, India’s method of keeping faith with the ordinary people of Afghanistan will reap benefits.
2. Significant domestic political changes in China
Political change: The “one country two systems” model in Hong Kong, which was on offer to Taiwan, has lost its credibility after the recent crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong. China may advance its forcible takeover of Taiwan before the AUKUS gets consolidated.
Economic change: After the tech sector, it is the large real estate sector that is facing regulatory assault now in China. This is leading to deepening concern among foreign investors, including those who have long been champions of long-term engagement with China.
|Read more: China’s ‘Lehman moment’|
3. The announcement of the Australia-UK and US (AUKUS) alliance
The AUKUS has now become the core of the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy. China will be more focused on its activities. The Quad now represents, from the Chinese perspective, a second-order threat.
|Must read: AUKUS Security Alliance – Explained, pointwise|
4. The first physical convening of Quad
The meeting outcomes reflect a major step towards its formalisation as an influential grouping in the Indo-Pacific going beyond security.
|Must read: Quad Leaders’ Summit – Explained, pointwise|
How do these events boost India’s economy and how to improve it further?
India might attract significant capital and technology flow from the US, Japan and Europe diverted from China. But, some bold initiatives are required to take advantage of the window of opportunity that has opened.
Some of these issues are being addressed, such as the dropping of retrospective taxation. But India needs to avoid policy unpredictability, regulatory rigidities and bureaucratic red tape.
India should also consider rejoining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. In addition, India can also join the more ambitious Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). These would signal India’s determination to play itself back into the centre of the Asian economy.
|Read more: Why India opted out of RCEP?|
All these developments provide a narrow window for India with a very short shelf life. If grasped with both hands, then it could deliver double-digit growth for India for the next two or three decades.
NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit
Source: This post is based on the article “NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
Relevance: This article explains the evolution of NEET and judicial intervention.
Synopsis: The policy of a single test needs to be reviewed to attain the lofty goals of the New Education Policy.
Recently, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to dispense with the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET). This bill is passed based on the recommendation of the high-level committee led by retired judge AK Rajan.
How NEET evolved?
NEET is a unique system of admission, as no admission in medicine is possible in India without clearing NEET. The idea of common tests found some support in the judgment of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation (2002).
|Read more: Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET|
NEET was notified by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2010. But in 2013, in the Christian Medical College Vellore Association vs Union of India case, the court struck down NEET. The court held that, the NEET as being pro-rich, for pro-coaching centres, and anti-student and one which would lower the standards of medical education.
The Parliament amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and inserted Section 10D to empower the MCI to conduct NEET. Later, in 2016, in the review petition of the case, the Supreme Court ordered the conduct of NEET from 2016 itself. The court did not accept the government of India’s requests to permit State governments to conduct their tests at least in 2016.
NEET and minority institutions
In 2020, the court upheld NEET even in respect of minority institutions. Article 30 gives the minority institutions the right to admit students of their choice. The court held that the rights available under Article 30 are not violated by the introduction of NEET.
|Read more: NEET applies to minority colleges: SC|
What are the issues associated with Judicial observation on NEET?
The Supreme Court considered just the legality of NEET, but it overlooked the real impact of NEET on underprivileged candidates and minority institutions. This is clear from the following reasons,
Does not test the quality: NEET does not test qualities that a doctor must possess such as compassion, empathy and passion to serve humanity.
Against equality: Under NEET, unequal (Students from different backgrounds) are treated as equals (one test for all). This violates the equality mentioned in Article 14. As Article 14 demands, likes are to be treated alike, not unlikes are to be treated alike.
|Read other reasons: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise|
Merit requires fair competition and equality of opportunity. But, the NEET does not satisfy the requirements of Merit. So, the central government should review the policy of a single test so that the actual realisation of the New Education Policy — of equity, inclusion and access — will happen in India.
A crisis of multilateralism and Asia’s rising stake in it
Source: This post is based on the article “A crisis of multilateralism and Asia’s rising stake in it” published in The Livemint on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Relevance: To understand the concepts of Multilateralism.
Synopsis: This article explains the challenges in Multilateralism and suggests ways to improve it.
Multilateralism is facing a crisis at present. Global collaboration is needed to revive multilateralism.
What is Multilateralism?
Multilateralism is also called as a rule-based international order. Its roots lie in the Treaty of Munster-Westphalia, signed in 1648. The treaty asked to avoid wars of attrition between militarily matched states that arose after the Roman Empire’s breakup. Over time, it led to the inviolability of international borders and non-interference in the internal affairs of others.
How has Multilateralism evolved so far?
There have been two major phases of multilateral cooperation.
Firstly, It was dominated by Westphalia, followed by the Concert of Europe.
Secondly, Domination of Economic cooperation: The reconstruction of war-ravaged economies in Europe and Japan after the World War created this phase. This generally centred on the Bretton Woods system (World Bank and IMF). At this phase, multilateralism expanded to incorporate newly-decolonized developing countries.
Economic cooperation paid rich dividends through global prosperity. Global growth that averaged 2% per annum between 1870 and 1950 doubled to 4% between 1950 and 2000. But the growth acceleration was heavily skewed in favour of emerging and developing economies (EMDEs). They are also altering the relative economic weights of advanced economies (AEs), with emerging Asia at the heart of it.
What are the threats faced by Multilateralism at present?
Former colonies, initially wary of globalization, now started defending it. This is due to the role of non-governmental organizations and transnational companies (TNCs) on the EMDEs growth. But now Multilateralism has few challenges. Such as,
Firstly, advanced economies (AEs), once the advocate of Multilateralism, is now disenchanting globalization. For example, Brexit has weakened multilateralism in Europe.
Secondly, the failure of the Bretton Woods system to adjust to shifting weights made it lose its legitimacy.
Thirdly, Trade-and-geopolitical rivalry between the US and China has now taken centre stage.
Fourthly, focus is shifting to bilateral and regional collaboration: Plurilateralism has beaten Multilateralism through arrangements such as the CPA-TPP, TTIP and RCEP.
Overall, average annual economic growth has declined after 2010 to 3.5% in tandem with a trade decline. The growth differential between AEs and EMDEs has also shrunk.
All the present developments led to the emergence of alternative institutions from EMDEs that tried to mimic institutions of the AEs. For example, G7 with BRICS, IMF with CMIM and the World Bank with NDB, AIIB, BRI.
How to revive Multilateralism?
Asia, closely tied to China through supply chains, but dependent on the West for export markets and security. So, Asia can provide a golden opportunity to revive Multilateralism. Apart from that, Multilateralism can be revived in the following ways,
First, the accommodation of China in global governance, via either the G-20 or a similar body.
Second, bridging basic ideological divides between several rising powers like China, India, Russia and Brazil.
Third, reworking the Westphalian notion of sovereignty: As this will address dangerous externalities such as climate change, migration on failing states alone.
Fourth, including non-state players (including TNCs) in a new multi-stakeholder paradigm of multilateralism.
GS Paper 3
Inside India’s asset monetization gambit
Source: This post is based on the article “Inside India’s asset monetization gambit” published in Livemint on 29th Sep 21.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment
Relevance: Understanding various dimensions of National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) project.
Synopsis: The recently rolled out NMP project, though has the right intent, but is fraught with challenges. A look at some of them.
What are some issues with the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) project?
While the Niti Aayog has listed assets worth ₹6 trillion for the NMP, by its own estimate, it can only raise about ₹3.4 trillion in long-term asset leases.
i). The remaining assets on the list are to be developed via public-private partnerships, where the private partner only invests in the asset. No payment accrues to the government.
ii). In the power transmission sector, the regulated tariff projects, part of the balance sheet of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, will have to be de-merged first before being privatized, and may pose associated transaction overheads such as the continuation of the tax holiday on assets.
iii). The clean energy assets on sale are 3.5 gigawatts of plants owned by public sector units. The challenge here will be to sell assets at book value at a time when newer plants are being built at ever-falling tariffs.
iv). Banks are not enthusiastic about NMP and understandably so. At the height of the bad loan crisis in 2017 that brought banks to their knees, the infrastructure sector accounted for a quarter of all non-performing assets.
v). As per reports, the NMP is “aggressive” and “over-ambitious” compared to the pace of privatization that India has so far been able to forge. For instance: In the past three years, a total of 1,408km of roads have been monetized. Against this, the NMP wants to monetize 26,700km of roads by FY22-25—a 20x jump over four years.
|Must Read: National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) project|
El Salvador’s crypto foray offers a cautionary tale for other countries
Source: This post is based on the article “El Salvador’s crypto foray offers a cautionary tale for other countries” published in Business Standard on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
Relevance: Cryptocurrency and its adoption
Synopsis: The tiny Central American nation of El Salvador has embarked on an interesting experiment by recognizing bitcoin as legal tender. This is proving painful for many of its citizens, but it’s a useful “pilot” project for larger economies that are contemplating about this new asset class.
El Salvador has a population of 6.5 million and GDP of about $27 billion. At a nominal per capita of less than $4,200, it is not a rich country.
In 2001, it “dollarised” meaning it replaced its currency, then the colon, with the USD.
This month, at the urging of its President, a crypto-enthusiast, it adopted bitcoin as legal tender as well. This means it now has two parallel legal currencies, USD and bitcoin.
Every business in El Salvador, must accept bitcoin as legal tender for goods or services, unless it is unable to provide the technology needed to process the transaction.
What has been the impact of El Salvador’s decision?
The adoption has led to turmoil in the cryptocurrency market and doesn’t seem to have been well-received in El Salvador itself.
– The value of bitcoin crashed by 19% on September 7, the first day of adoption. Chivo, the govt’s wallet for Bitcoin, was overwhelmed by users trying to register.
– There have been riots and demonstrations against the new currency. Most citizens don’t want to accept the crypto in normal transactions. They are understandably doubtful of holding an asset, which often swings 10% in value on an average day and 25-30% on “swing sessions”.
– The spread on the interest El Salvador pays on its national debt over US treasury rates has widened.
– Ratings agencies downgraded El Salvador once the bitcoin plan was announced in July.
What are some issues with adopting Bitcoin?
Bitcoin mining consumes more power than Belgium on a daily basis. So this is not environmentally friendly. That’s one of the reasons China has offered for cracking down on cryptocurrency.
Another issue is that the money supply increases at a fixed rate, and every transaction recorded on the blockchain involves a unique bitcoin. This makes it hard to carry out normal lending operations. Fractional reserve banking is difficult, except by converting every transaction to a fiat currency before lending, and converting back when servicing the loan. This means accepting massive risks on the exchange rate.
It can take a long time for any transaction to be registered and verified on the blockchain since this must be confirmed by multiple blockchain-watchers.
One of the barriers to adoption is lack of understanding and another is lack of technology. Also, transactions are hard without a smartphone which means a deep penetration of smartphones is needed to encourage widespread adoption.
What are some positive implications?
The world will get a sense of how crypto works as it’s used in normal daily transactions in El Salvador. McDonald’s, local groceries, taxi services, etc., have started accepting bitcoin, and it’s estimated that around 10 per cent of daily transactions by value are now being done in bitcoin.
The war for digital talent: India can emerge as a global hub for it
Source: This post is based on the article “The war for digital talent: India can emerge as a global hub for it” published in Live Mint on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.
Relevance: Digital disruption and the need for Skilling.
Synopsis: Tech skills are in short supply globally. The article lists five measures that we should take that will help India lead efforts to close the gap.
The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of enterprises, creating enormous opportunities for all organizations. This sudden acceleration in demand has led to a war for digital talent.
However, the gap between demand for and supply of digital talent is widening, and it is a global phenomenon. A recent report by McKinsey & Co highlights that there is an estimated gap of 6 million between demand and supply of digital talent across eight countries including the US, China, India and parts of Europe.
As per a Salesforce study, 14 G-20 countries could miss out on $11.5 trillion worth of cumulative growth in gross domestic product (GDP) if the digital-skill gap remains unfilled.
How companies are adapting themselves to manage the shortage of Digital talent?
To deal with these talent wars, companies are adopting a multipronged approach—
– step up fresh hiring so that the supply pool increases
– enhance re-skilling programmes through online learning
– deploy adjacent-talent skills for on-the-job learning, and, above all,
– offer employees a holistic employment experience, one that spans career development, learning and wellness.
For example, the UAE just announced plans to roll out green visas, expand eligibility for golden visas and attract top tech workers for the country to become the preferred investment hub for technology companies.
Several other countries like the UK, US and Australia are rethinking efforts to attract high-skill talent, including fast-tracking visas for at-risk sectors and promoting visas for highly accomplished applicants.
How India can emerge as the world’s talent hub for digital skills?
For India to retain its lead in the digital era, we need to disrupt the traditional approach to talent development.
Implement the National Education Policy in true spirit. Continuous learning, skill credits, world-class academic innovation, experiential learning, faculty training, all need to focus on excellence and outcomes.
Build alternate talent pools. Engineers have been at the core of our talent strategy, but all tech skills don’t require a four-year degree.
Facilitate more women to join the work-stream with hybrid work norms
Revamp vocational education from industrial training institutes and polytechnics.
Incentivize skilling. In the early days of the tech sector, tax incentives played a key role in building a global footprint of multinational corporations in India. We must now create schemes that incentivize skilling for corporates, not just for their own needs, but across the ecosystem.
Explore innovative learning models. Use apprenticeship programmes at scale, not just for a certificate, but coupled with assessments. Invest in building world-class free content that can be leveraged by anyone and aligned with a credible system of certification.
Democratize training. All hurdles for people to get skilled should be removed. Unnecessary entry qualifications and eligibility criteria should be dropped. Government should prioritise a quality-controlled exit process.
India must not only look at strategies aimed at increasing home-grown talent, but also work on attracting the best global talent to catalyse the next decade of growth and innovation.
Nature-based, people-centred solutions for water
Source: This post is based on the article “Nature-based, people-centred solutions for water” published in Business Standard on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems
Relevance: Management of surface and ground water, draft New National Water Policy.
Synopsis: Suggestion and reforms mandated by the draft New National Water Policy.
Since Independence, water policy in India has focused primarily on construction of large dams and extraction of groundwater.
However, the new National Water Policy (NWP), drafted for the first time by a committee of independent experts, points out the limits in further adopting this strategy in different parts of India. To the contrary, the new NWP urges a shift in focus towards management and distribution of water.
What are the suggestions/recommendations given in the new National Water Policy?
First, there is a desperate need to bridge the Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and the Irrigation Potential Utilised (IPU). A growing IPC-IPU gap has meant that trillions of litres of water, stored at huge cost to the national exchequer and the environment, has not been reaching the farmers for whom it is meant.
Bridging the IPC-IPU gap can add millions of hectares of irrigated area at very low cost, even without building a single new dam. To make this happen, the management of the command areas has to be handed over to the farmers themselves.
All successful command area projects in several states show that once farmers themselves feel a sense of ownership, the process of operating and managing irrigation systems undergoes a profound transformation. Farmers willingly pay Irrigation Service Fees to their Water Users Associations (WUAs). This enables WUAs to repair and maintain distribution systems and ensure that water reaches each farm.
Second, the NWP places major emphasis on supply of water through rejuvenation of catchment areas. Neglect and destruction of these areas has meant annual soil loss of about 15.35 tonnes per hectare, which causes siltation of reservoirs and reduces their capacity by 1-2 per cent per annum.
The NWP recommends that rejuvenation of river catchment areas be incentivised through compensation for ecosystem services, especially to vulnerable communities in the upstream, mountainous regions.
Third, the NWP proposes a comprehensive review of safety and siltation of all dams and diversion weirs older than 50 years. Moreover, it suggests that those deemed unsafe or silted up to more than 80 per cent of their storage capacity could be decommissioned in a phased manner.
Fourth, renewed thrust on protection and revival of traditional local water bodies in both rural and urban areas. This would form part of urban blue-green infrastructure for improved water levels and quality, as also flood mitigation, through specifically curated infrastructure. Such as rain gardens and bioswales, restored rivers with wet meadows (where they can meander), urban parks, permeable pavements, green roofs and green walls etc.,
Fifth, it recommends, all government buildings, would be built in accordance with sustainable building codes, adopting water management with recycling, reuse and closed-circuit technologies.
Sixth, the NWP suggests alternatives to ground water governance and management. Drilling to greater depths and pumping at higher rates have caused a precipitous fall in both the water table and water quality in a very large number of districts. Further, the vital ecosystem services provided by groundwater have also been endangered.
In this context, the NWP suggests that effective management of groundwater cannot be based on a centralised, licence-based bureaucratic approach. Rather, Participatory Groundwater Management (PGWM), being pioneered through the Atal Bhujal Yojana, must form the backbone of groundwater programmes in both rural and urban areas.
Finally, the NWP also proposes that the National Aquifer Management Programme (NAQUIM) adopt a bottom-up approach and provide maps at a scale of 1:10,000. Only by going down to this scale will the information provided by NAQUIM be in a form that is usable for the main stakeholders.
The use of NFTs by cyber games can explain their utility
Source: This post is based on the article “The use of NFTs by cyber games can explain their utility” published in Livemint on 29th Sep 2021.
Syllabus: GS3 – Awareness in the fields of IT
Relevance: Relevance of NFTs in digital world
Synopsis: NFTs provide the assurance of immutability and guarantee of uniqueness. However, most of the cutting-edge innovation in NFTs are taking place in the gaming space.
When a person purchases the non-fungible tokens (NFT) of a work of digital art, he is not buying the artwork itself. He is just purchasing a record on a blockchain ledger that identifies him as the owner of that record, not the artwork with which it is associated.
He is neither entitled to rights over the underlying artwork, nor he can prevent others from copying it.
|Must Read: What are Fungible and Non-Fungible tokens?|
What are some significant use-cases of NFTs?
Gaming: The non-fungible tokens are being used to attest the titles of in-game digital assets. This feels intuitively more appropriate than simply using them to signify ownership over digital art.
Zed.run, a racing game in which players race digital thoroughbreds on a virtual track. The horses are generated algorithmically from immutable virtual bloodlines and use blockchain technology to validate pedigree.
A number of games such as CryptoKitties and Axie Infinity have been built along these lines, using blockchain to assure players of the novelty of artefacts algorithmically generated within the game environment.
Cryptokitties with rare Cattributes command a very high price among collectors, giving players every incentive to put in the effort necessary to play.
Opportunity to earn: Since play-to-earn game are thriving, players have significant opportunities to earn money within the game ecosystem.
In many countries, people have flocked to the game in large numbers, particularly from among poorer sections of society. For instance: Over 40% of the players active on Axie Infinity today are from the Philippines.
Notion of the ‘metaverse’: Metaverse is a sort of immersive digital environment which is likely to be the next stage in the evolution of the internet. In the metaverse, everything is a digital asset hence, we need a way to establish title over artefacts in the digital environment, where NFTs can play a huge role.
Dispute resolution: Games are self-contained digital environments that operate according to a set of rules of their own device. Disagreements over the ownership of in-game digital assets can escalate very quickly, and they are often beyond the ability of traditional courts to resolve.
In such cases we need a way to establish title over artefacts in the digital environment. NFTs could well be the solution to that problem.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Tackling the Maoists: On left-wing extremism
What is the news?
In a recent meeting, Union home minister noted that the geographical influence of the Maoists has reduced from 96 districts in 10 States in 2010 to 41 now. Two major Naxalite groups got merged into the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist). The organization is limited to the remote and densely forested terrains of central and east-central India.
What strategy Maoists use to incite violence?
Maoists don’t show dissatisfaction with Indian states. They don’t project their weakness and don’t show willingness for inclusion and welfare. They prefer armed struggle. Furthermore, they use states’ suppression to recruit partners and incite violence.
This strategy has led to some of India’s poorest people, the tribals in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, being caught up in endless violence. It also caused severe losses to the Maoists as well as anti-insurgent security forces. In Philippines and Peru, the same strategy has been followed.
Maoists have flawed understanding of the nature of the Indian state and democracy. They are unwilling to accept that the poor people, whom they claim to represent, seek greater engagement with the electoral and welfare system.
What are some suggestions to weaken the Maoists?
First, the Maoist insurgency still has potency in South Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Andhra-Odisha border and in some districts in Jharkhand. These States must focus on expansive welfare and infrastructure building.
Second, frequent fighting and attacks have not only affected the security forces but also left many tribal civilians caught in the crossfire. A purely security-driven approach fraught with human rights’ violations has only added to the alienation among the poor in these areas.
The Maoists must be compelled to give up their armed struggle and this can only happen if the tribal people and civil society activists promoting peace are also empowered.
The central government should not be satisfied with the mere weakening of the Maoist insurgency and the commitments made to weaken the Maoist hold should not be reduced after it has delivered intended results.
The Union government and the States must continue to learn from successes such as the expansion of welfare and rights paradigms in limiting the movement and failures that have led to the continuing spiral of violence in select districts.
Source: This post is based on the article “Tackling the Maoists” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.
Lockdowns slowed green energy push
What is the news?
As per the report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the lockdowns slowed renewable energy installations in the country.
India aims to install 175 gigawatts (GW) of green energy by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. But only 7 GW of such capacity was added in the financial year 2020-21.
What are the findings of the report?
First, as per the data of Central Electricity Authority, India was to have installed 100 GW of solar energy capacity by March 2023 which includes 40-GW rooftop solar and 60-GW ground-mounted utility scale. The country has managed to install only 43.94 GW till July 31, 2021.
Second, the amount of power traded increased by 20% over 2020. This led to prices on average increasing by 38% from the 2020 rates. As economic growth revives, electricity demand grows and average prices at the exchange increase.
Third, more access to renewable energy, particularly wind and hydropower will lead to lower energy prices.
Analysis regarding coal
Fourth, coal stocks hit a new record high of 1,320 lakh tonnes at the end of 2020-21 and exceeded the monthly averages of the previous five years. Coal India Ltd., India’s largest coal producer reduced its reliance on imported coal and replaced it with domestic coal. It had about two months’ supply.
Fifth, there is an issue of critical coal supplies in most power plants. It is even increasing.
Sixth, imported coal prices have been rising in the past few months because of resurgent demand after the pandemic mainly in China and India, Japan, South Korea, Europe and the U.S.
Seventh, greater reliance on coal imports will increase thermal power prices in India, leading to higher prices for the ultimate consumers.
What are the solutions to deal with high power demand?
Our electricity system needs “flexible and dynamic generation solutions” such as battery storage, pumped hydro storage, peaking gas-fired capacity and flexible operation of its existing coal fleet.
Government should accelerate deployment of such sources to help meet peak demand and also balance the grid at a lower cost. We need cost effective solutions and a buffer against very high prices at the power exchange during peak demand.
Source: This post is based on the article “Lockdowns slowed green energy push” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.
A jobs problem: Labour data in India is lagged and patchy. But supply-demand mismatch is still clear
What is the news?
Recently, GOI unveiled a quarterly report on employment for April-June, which estimates the labour demand of nine handpicked non-farm sectors by surveying establishments with 10 people or more.
What has been the job market trend in India?
India’s economy has been slowing down since 2017-18. Three successive years of dropping GDP growth rate, followed by a contraction last year. Given this context, the big question is what’s happened in the job market?
– As per the latest quarterly report for April-June, though job creation grew by 29% in seven years, but only a million jobs have been added annually over the last seven years.
– The annual PLFS (July 2019-June 2020) shows that there is a shift in employment pattern since 2018 towards agriculture and informality.
– The quarterly PLFS captures only urban trends and the last available one (October-December 2020) confirms the shift away from salaried jobs. The percentage of salaried jobs in October-December 2020 was 48.7%, lower than the 52.7% during the intense lockdown phase of April-June 2020. The unemployment rate of 10.3% in October-December 2020 was higher than the 7.9% of the corresponding period in 2019.
What can be done?
First, step is to start releasing data consistently and also reducing lags. As of now the urban PLFS is released with a lag of nine months and the combined one takes longer.
Second, we need a far bigger industrial manufacturing sector.
The GoI recognises the second solution. It should recognise the first one, too.
Source: This post is based on the article “A jobs problem: Labour data in India is lagged and patchy. But supply-demand mismatch is still clear” published in TOI on 28th Sep 2021.
Country’s first Pan-India helpline for senior citizens: Elder Line (Toll Free No- 14567)
Source: This post is based on the article “Country’s first Pan-India helpline for senior citizens: Elder Line (Toll Free No- 14567)” published in PIB on 28th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The government of India has launched the first pan-India toll-free helpline–14567–for senior citizens called the ‘Elder Line’.
What is the Elder Line?
Elder Line is the first pan-India toll-free helpline–14567–for senior citizens. It aims to provide free information and guidance on pension and legal issues, extend emotional support and intervene in cases of abuse.
The intent is basically to provide senior citizens or their well-wishers with one platform to connect and share their concerns, get information and guidance on problems that they face on a day-to-day basis without having to struggle for it.
Which Ministry has launched the Elder Line?
The Elder Line has been launched by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Tata Trusts and National Stock Exchange (NSE) Foundation, as technical partners, are supporting the ministry in operationalising the Elder Line.
To date, 17 states have opened the Elder Line in their respective geographies.
|Read more: Kerala’s “Bell of Faith Scheme” for elderly|
Why was the Elder Line helpline launched?
India is expected to have nearly 20% elderly population, i.e. over 300 million senior citizens by 2050. This is significant as many countries have a population less than this number.
This age group faces various mental, emotional, financial, legal and physical challenges, and the pandemic has further exacerbated it.
Hence, taking cognisance of the growing need to support the elderlies in the country, the Government of India has launched the Elder Line.
|Read more: Elderly population in India – Explained, pointwise|
Union Minister launches the “Amrit Grand Challenge Program” titled “जनCARE”
Source: This post is based on the article “Union Minister launches the Amrit Grand Challenge Program titled जनCARE” published in PIB on 28th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Minister of Earth Sciences has launched the “AmritGrand Challenge Program” titled “जनCARE”. He also addressed the 10th Biotech Innovators Meet.
What is the “AmritGrand Challenge Program” titled “जनCARE”?
The challenge aims to identify 75 startup innovations in telemedicine, digital health, mHealth with BIG Data, AI, blockchain and other technologies.
What is the 10th Biotech Innovators Meet?
Organized by: Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC).
Theme: “Vigyan se Vikash”
What is the Bio Economy?
The term BioEconomy generally refers to an economy that uses renewable natural resources to produce food, energy, products and services. The important renewable natural resources include the biomass in forests, soil, fields, bodies of water and the sea and freshwater.
The Bio Economy sector has huge growth potential. It will more than double from 70 billion dollars at present to 150 billion dollars by 2025.
Hence, BIRAC has established 60 world-class Bio-incubators in the country to engage with Startups and young entrepreneurs in the Bio economy sector.
Explained: Anti-defection law, for independent legislators
Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Anti-defection law, for independent legislators” published in Indian Express on 29th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
An independent MLA from Gujarat has said he has joined the Congress “in spirit”. This is because, under the anti-defection law, an independent lawmaker becomes disqualified if the person joins a political party after the election.
What is Anti Defection Law?
The Tenth Schedule — popularly known as the Anti-Defection Law— was included in the Constitution via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985.
The Act specifies the circumstances under which changing of political parties by legislators invites action under the law.
What are the circumstances covered under the act?
The Act covers three scenarios with respect to the shifting of political parties by an MP or an MLA:
First Scenario: The first is when a member elected on the ticket of a political party “voluntarily gives up” membership of such a party or votes in the House against the wishes of the party.
Second Scenario: The second is when a legislator who has won his or her seat as an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
In both these instances, the legislator loses the seat in the legislature on changing (or joining) a party.
Third Scenario: The third relates to nominated MPs. In their case, the law gives them six months to join a political party, after being nominated. If they join a party after such time, they stand to lose their seat in the House.
Are there any exceptions under the law?
Yes, legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.
Who decides Disqualification?
Under the anti-defection law, the power to decide the disqualification of an MP or MLA rests with the presiding officer of the legislature. The law does not specify a time frame in which such a decision has to be made.
As a result, Speakers of legislatures have sometimes acted very quickly or have delayed the decision for years — and have been accused of political bias in both situations. Last year, the Supreme Court observed that anti-defection cases should be decided by Speakers in three months’ time
“COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, Dhanaur Uddyam” was launched to accelerate the pace of Covid vaccination among tribal communities
Source: This post is based on the article ““COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, DhanaurUddyam” was launched to accelerate the pace of Covid vaccination among tribal communities” published in PIB on 29th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Minister for Tribal Affairs has launched the “COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, DhanaurUddyam” campaign.
What is the “COVID Teeka Sang Surakshit Van, DhanaurUddyam” campaign?
Aim: To accelerate the pace of Covid vaccination among tribal communities of India.
Under the campaign, the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) is collaborating with UNICEF and WHO to roll out the campaign in tribal districts.
The campaign aims to take the help of 45,000 Van Dhan Self Help Groups (VDSHGs) of the TRIFED to promote livelihoods with health.
The campaign is based on 3 J’s Jeevan (Life), Jeevika (Livelihood) and Jaagrookta (Awareness)
Moreover, the campaign also employs awareness generation in local languages to promote vaccine uptake and COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
It also uses non-traditional partnerships and community reach for mobilization and collective action such as involvement of traditional leaders and incentivizes adoption of vaccines through local health structures and TRIFED’s influencers in tribal districts.
4th Indo-US Health Dialogue 2021 concludes
Source: This post is based on the article “4th Indo-US Health Dialogue 2021 concludes” published in PIB on 28th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare has addressed the closing session of the 4th Indo-US Health Dialogue.
What is the Indo-US Health Dialogue?
Indo-US Health Dialogue is being hosted by India. The dialogue aims to deliberate upon multiple ongoing collaborations in the health sector between the two countries.
The focus of the Dialogue: The issues that were discussed at the dialogue include: strengthening of epidemiological research and surveillance, vaccine development, One Health, zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, health systems and health policies.
During the dialogue, an MoU was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services of the USA concerning cooperation in the field of health and biomedical sciences.
Moreover, the two countries also signed a separate memorandum to continue joint support for the highly productive Indo-U.S. International Center of Excellence in Research (ICER) program. It is an infectious disease research partnership located at the National Institute for Research on Tuberculosis in Chennai.
National Action Plan for dog Mediated Rabies Elimination by 2030
Source: This post is based on the article “National Action Plan for dog Mediated Rabies Elimination by 2030” published in PIB on 28th Sep 2021
What is the news?
The Union Health Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Union Minister of Animal Husbandry has launched the “National Action Plan for Dog Mediated Rabies Elimination from India by 2030“.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a zoonotic, viral disease. People are usually infected with rabies following a deep bite or scratch from an animal with rabies. Transmission to humans by dogs accounts for up to 99% of cases.
The two clinical forms of Rabies are Furious Rabies, characterised by hyperactivity and hallucinations and Paralytic Rabies characterised by paralysis and coma. If immediate medical care is not given to a person after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can reach the brain and result in death.
Treatment: Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which consists of a dose of human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) and a rabies vaccine, is administered on the day of rabies exposure. This prevents virus entry into the central nervous system, which results in imminent death.
Impact of Rabies in India
Rabies is 100% fatal, but 100% vaccine-preventable. Around 33% of global rabies deaths are recorded in India.
About the National Action Plan for Dog Mediated Rabies Elimination
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has drafted the National Action Plan for Dog Mediated Rabies Elimination by 2030 (NAPRE) in consultation with the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
As part of the plan, the ministers have urged all the States and UTs to make Rabies a notifiable Disease. They also launched the “Joint Inter-Ministerial Declaration Support Statement” for Elimination of Dog mediated Rabies from India by 2030 through One Health Approach.
Moreover, villagers in India refer to Rabies as ‘Hadakwa’, unfamiliar with the English name. The mere mention of ‘Hadakwa’ induces terror in rural areas. Hence, the minister advised the officials to use the more familiar term ‘Hadakwa’ in popularizing the activities to be taken up under the Plan.
Naga Cucumber from Nagaland gets GI tag
Source: This post is based on the article “Naga Cucumber from Nagaland gets GI tag” published in AIR on 28th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
Nagaland’s “sweet cucumber” was awarded a geographical identification (GI) tag as an agricultural product under provisions of The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
About Naga Cucumber
Cucumber is one of the most important crops in the Northeast region. Nagaland ranks as the 5th in area and 3rd in production of cucumbers in the North East.
Naga Cucumber has been traditionally cultivated by Naga farmers in their Jhum fields as a mixed crop, mainly during the Kharif season (April –May).
Moreover, Cucumber is also one of the most awaited fruit for Konyak tribe every year. It is called “Maikoh” which literally means “give (Koh) to beloved (mai)”.
What is the speciality of Naga Cucumber?
Naga cucumber is recognised for its sweetness and unique green colour.
Naga cucumbers are juicy, soft, and sweet. They are grown completely organically.
Naga cucumbers differ in taste, shape and sizes from those available in other parts of India.
They are low in calories but high in potassium and contain a high level of water and can serve as an alternative to consuming sports drinks
PM dedicates to the Nation 35 crop varieties with special traits
Source: This post is based on the following articles:
- “PM dedicates to the Nation 35 crop varieties with special traits” published in PIB on 28th Sep 2021.
- “PM Modi launched 35 crop varieties with special traits to address climate change, malnutrition” published in TOI on 28th Sep 2021
- “India gets first herbicide-tolerant & non-GM rice varieties” published in Indian Express on 28th Sep 2021.
What is the News?
The Prime Minister has launched 35 different crop varieties with special traits.
What are these Crop Varieties Launched?
These Crop Varieties have been developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition.
Some of the crop varieties launched include a drought-tolerant variety of chickpea, wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeon pea, early maturing variety of soybean, biofortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean.
These special traits of crop varieties also include those that address the anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health.
What are the other varieties launched?
ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed the country’s first-ever non-GM (genetically modified) herbicide-tolerant rice varieties named Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985.
These varieties contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene making it possible for farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.
Hence, this dispenses with the need to prepare nurseries where paddy seeds are first raised into young plants, before being uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field. This will also significantly save water and labour costs compared to conventional transplanting.