9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 3rd, 2021

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

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

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Noble intentions: About the UNSC resolution on Taliban

Source:  This post is based on the article “Noble intentions” published in The Hindu on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – India and Neighbourhood relations

Relevance: This article is about the recent UNSC resolution on the Taliban.

Synopsis

The UN must ensure that the Taliban uphold human rights and give up terror tactics.

Introduction

Recently, the UN Security Council, under India’s Presidency, adopted Resolution 2593. The resolution was sponsored by France, UK and USA. Along with 13 other members, India voted in favour of the resolution and amongst permanent ‘members’ Russia and China both abstained from voting.

What are the key provisions of UN Resolution 2593?
Must ReadIndia in chair, UNSC adopts resolution on Taliban; Russia and China abstain
What are the issues associated with the UN resolution 2593?

Failed to provide countermeasures: The resolution does not contain any language that would hold the Taliban more accountable for their violation of the resolution.

Division amongst the P5 Members: Both Russia and China abstained from voting. This divide in the P-5 nations will only prove to be counterproductive if the UNSC wants to impose any sanctions in future.

Indirectly recognise Taliban: Further, the resolution appears to accept the Taliban regime as the default force in Afghanistan.

How to hold the Taliban accountable?

The Taliban Sanctions Committee is going to meet under India’s chairmanship. The committee needs to ensure that no designated leader of the Taliban and their associates are given recourse to funds, arms or travel permission unless they show a commitment to international principles.

The committee also has to renew the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA).

Read more: UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan(UNAMA)

India’s humanitarian missions are guided by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s humanitarian missions are guided by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” published in the Indian Express on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations.

Relevance: About India’s recent evacuation missions.

Synopsis: The Indian government is coordinating and executing a round-the-clock evacuation of not just Indians but also nationals of other countries during various relief operations.

Introduction

India’s humanitarian mission is guided by the principle of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family). There are several stories of India’s grit and successful diplomatic interventions during the crisis.

The recent example of India following “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”:

The latest such example comes from Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of foreign troops, Afghanistan has plunged into a humanitarian crisis. By evaluating the situation there, the Indian government has launched,

Operation Devi Shakti: It is launched to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals from war-torn Afghanistan.  Also under this operation, the evacuation of three of the last six “Saroop” of the Sikh holy book has also been done.

Read more: Operation Devi Shakti and other missions and The Saroop of Sikh Holy Book
What are the earlier operations carried out by India to fulfil “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”?

Some of the missions conducted by India are:

Vande Bharat Mission:  It brought back the Indian nationals stranded abroad due to COVID-19 and the resultant lockdowns.

Operation Sankat Mochan: Under this mission, 46 Indian nurses were rescued from a Tikrit hospital from the clutches of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in war-ravaged Iraq.

Operation Raahat: It was launched by the Indian Navy and Airforce, to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals of 41 countries from Yemen during the 2015 Yemen Crisis.

In March 2016:  India carried out the successful evacuation of 250 Indians following multiple bombings at Brussels airport in Belgium.

What does this signify?

Such massive and successful operations, boost the morale of the Indian diaspora and people around the world, that wherever they are, India will do all that is necessary to ensure their safety.


CJI flags “Communal content” in media

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • YouTube channels, portals have no accountability: Supreme Court” published in The Times of India on 3rd September 2021.
  • CJI flags ‘communal content’ in media” published in The Hindu on 2nd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 –Significant provisions of Indian Constitution: Fundamental rights, Free speech.

Relevance: Regulation of digital media

Synopsis: To understand how to balance free speech with accountability for digital media.

Introduction

Recently, the Chief Justice of India has raised his concerns over the fake information published on various web sources like Facebook, YouTube etc. He also mentioned that it has the potential to incite communal tensions and can bring communal disharmony. This would ultimately result in giving the country a bad name.

What is the Supreme Court’s view?

While hearing the petition highlighting how some media outlets aired communal content linking the spread of the coronavirus to a Tablighi Jamaat meet held at Nizamuddin in Delhi. In that petition, the SC said although the role of a free press in a democracy must be respected, the rampant misuse of the Right to Speech should be controlled.

The SC also asked the government, whether “there was any regulatory mechanism” in place for the web or against the people who are misusing their Right to Speech.

Why does the misuse happen in web sources? 

No accountability: There is no accountability from web-based platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc.

No regulatory control: No presence of regulatory control over the publishing of fake news. For e.g., various channels on YouTube publish the news without verifying the facts.

Misuse of social media by criminals: Anti-social elements exploit it to run weapons, drugs, contraband and pornography. Hate and violence are shared and spread through these virtual platforms.

What actions have been taken by the Government?

To control the spread of fake information, the government introduced:

Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021: It tends to strike a balance between the media’s right to Free speech and citizen’s Right to correct information. Its objective is to stop the circulation of fake news and hold web portals and channels accountable for who published the fake news.

The government also requested to transfer cases challenging the Information Technology Rules of 2021 from the various High Courts to the SC for quick resolution of the cases.

For complaints against broadcasters: The government introduced Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules of 2021. The Rules provide for a three-level grievance Redressal mechanism.

What needs to be done?

There is an urgent need for a “properly framed regime” to establish accountability. The first step can be the ability to trace the “originators” of messages on social media platforms.


GS Paper 3

Douse the farm fire – “Stubble burning Issue”

Source: This post is based on the article Douse the farm fire published in Business Standard on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Relevance: Addressing the issue of stubble burning.

Synopsis: Despite various measures taken by both, state governments and central government, the issue of stubble burning continue to add to the air pollution in the North India and NCR region. It calls for a fresh relook at the issue.

Introduction

The stubble burning incidents are expected to increase this time compared to last year, when the farm fires played havoc. Neither the threat of punitive action nor the incentives for safe management of the leftover crop biomass had deterred the farmers from torching their fields. Since Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (UP) are now heading for polls and the farmers’ agitation is continuing unabated, stringent measures to curb this recurring menace are unlikely.  The Union government, too, has not come up with any concrete proposal or strategy to combat this practice.

Why do farmers prefer stubble burning?

Firstly, it is essentially the result of the need to clear the land quick enough for the timely planting of the next wheat crop.

Secondly, despite government subsidies, alternative methods are costly, which makes farmers reluctant to adopt them.

Thirdly, the alternative method takes time to get rid of stubble, which delays the sowing season of wheat. The use of the stubble decomposer produced by the New Delhi-based Indian Agricultural Research Institute has also failed to attract farmers’ fancy, despite its usefulness, because of the time factor.

Finally, the absence of a lucrative market for wheat straw, compels farmers to go for stubble burning.

All this calls to relook at the issue and adopt a suitable way forward.

Way forward

There is a need to create a market for paddy biomass by converting it into an economic good to generate additional income for the farmers. Some start-ups have also come up to procure biomass from the farmers for producing manure and biofuel. The Haryana government has announced plans to offer Rs 1,000 an acre to farmers who, instead of burning the residue, give it to the industrial units for various uses. The Punjab government has suggested a premium of Rs 100 per quintal on the minimum support price of paddy for those farmers who do not torch their fields.

Despite all these, the best solution would be to wean the farmers of northern states away from paddy cultivation by incentivizing the growth of alternative shorter-duration crops that would vacate the land in time for wheat sowing.


Long-feared space junk has become an imminent threat

Source: This post is based on the article Long-feared space junk has become an imminent threat published in Mint on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

Relevance: Solution to address the issue of space debris.

Synopsis: With the increasing cost-effectiveness in rocket and satellite technologies, more countries and companies are planning more missions to orbit than ever before. This will ultimately result in more space debris that could trigger a mass collision in the future. This calls for countries and corporates to collaborate on the issue.

Introduction:

In March, a Chinese military satellite collapsed in the orbit. It left a trail of debris high above the Earth. Yunhai 1-02, as the satellite is known, collided with a piece of junk leftover from a Russian rocket launched in 1996. It was the first major collision in Earth orbit since 2009. However, it won’t be the last.

What is space junk?

The dead and unwanted craft (rockets or satellites) left behind in the finite space of Earth orbit is referred to as space junk. As this junk increases, so would collisions; each collision would in turn produce debris that would make further collisions more likely. The result could be a belt of space junk so dense that it would make certain low-Earth orbits unusable. More than 100 million pieces of space junk are now orbiting the Earth.

Recent instances:  In 2007, China launched a ballistic missile at one of its old weather satellites, producing the largest cloud of space debris ever tracked. In 2009, a non-functional Russian communications orbiter collided with a functioning one operated by an Iridium Satellite, producing almost 2,000 pieces of debris measuring at least 4 inches in diameter.

What are the initiatives taken to manage space junk?

Firstly, in 1995, NASA issued the world’s first set of debris-mitigation guidelines. It proposed that satellites should be designed to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within 25 years of mission completion.

Secondly, other space-faring countries and the United Nations follow their own guidelines. But urgency and compliance were lacking, partly because the world had not yet experienced a destructive collision between spacecraft and debris.

Way forward:

Firstly, updating the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is the need of the hour. In particular, provisions that give countries permanent property rights to their objects in space may complicate efforts to clean up debris.

Secondly, there is a need for greater clarity on common issues is required to boost trust and cooperation.

Thirdly, NASA should fund research into debris-removal technologies—such as those recently demonstrated by Astroscale, a Japanese startup, which hold promise.

Finally, The US should also seek to expand the Artemis Accords, a framework for space cooperation that includes (so far) 11 other countries.

Terms to know: Artemis accord

Credit Where It’s Due – “on credit growth”

Source: This post is based on the article “Credit Where It’s Due” published in ToI on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3– Issues related to the Banking sector

Relevance:  Linkage between credit growth and economic growth.

Synopsis: Lack of Credit growth has lagged economic recovery. Here’s why that’s about to change.

Introduction

April-June GDP estimates show that there is strong evidence of a sharp recovery in the economy after second-wave lockdowns. Although broad-based indicators of real economic activity like mobility, energy demand, and GST e-way bill generation are now substantially higher than pre-Covid levels, the credit to GDP ratio is still lagging behind. Lack of credit growth is a drag on economic growth.

Why India’s Credit to GDP ratio is lower?

Firstly, an important reason is the inability of the financial system to profitably extend credit to smaller enterprises. The cost of loan evaluation could not be reduced below a certain level if processes were manual. For the loan to be profitable to the bank, the loan size had to be large. That meant borrowers who only needed smaller loans could not be serviced.

Secondly, the reasons for weak loan growth suggest that large businesses have been reducing their short-term loans. This has two main reasons:

  • One, the fear of further restrictions due to a possible third wave has meant every business is trying to keep its inventories low.
  • Two, in an economic contraction larger firms squeeze smaller suppliers and customers, reducing advances paid to suppliers and goods sold on credit to customers.

Thirdly, it has to be understood that credit growth is not weak because of the weak balance sheets of either borrowers or lenders. Corporate leverage levels are at decade lows. Among lenders, banks as well as non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), leverage is at all-time lows.

Why credit growth is going to increase in the future?

With the “account aggregator” model now underway. It will allow users to share digital data about their financial and economic transactions with potential lenders, penetration should rise further. That means an increase in the Credit to GDP ratio.


Is monetising public assets a good idea?

Source: This post is based on the article “Is monetising public assets a good idea?” published in The Hindu on 3rd Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Regarding Asset Monetisation programme launched recently by the govt.

Synopsis: Two experts, viz. Montek Singh Ahluwalia (MS) and Professor Ajay Shah (AS), share their views over Asset Monetisation programme of the government.

Background
How can govt go about monetising operational assets?

Both experts mention ways in which govt can pursue monetisation of assets:

MSAS
We need more infrastructure, but the public sector simply doesn’t have the resources to build it. Also, we have huge value embedded in existing infrastructure. So, why not realize that value and let the public sector use the resources to build the infrastructure we need. There are two possible responses.

  • Let pvt sector build: One, for new infrastructure, one can think of bringing in the private sector, set up a contractual framework for what it has to do, and then let it bring its own resources.
  • Govt builds the asset and then the asset is sold: The second is to recognize that there are more risks in the construction stage, and it is perhaps better to let the public sector build the asset and then sell it off to private players or if not an outright sale, let the private sector manage it.
The government does not have the capacity to enter into contracts and deal with contract negotiations and difficulties. Similarly, many parts of the development process are difficult for private sector people to solve. Here’s a way out:

Early development by the govt and then asset is sold: Government should do the early development of infrastructure, which is the high-risk phase, create an operating asset, and then sell the asset off to private people. So, the asset goes off the public balance sheet and into the private balance sheet.

The money collected by the government can go back into developing new assets. There is merit in this thought process given the constraints of state capacity in India.

Why the govt chose asset monetisation over outright privatisation?
MSAS
We should do both monetisation and privatisation because we don’t know what’s best.

  • One reason that the government might not want to do outright privatisation is if it involves the transfer of a scarce resource like land. It’s easier to justify a 30-year lease because at the end of that lease the land stays with the government.
  • In another context, if the land is of no great value, you could simply hand it over.
Sale of an asset is much more practical rather than a reduced state domination

  • Ownership of an infra asset means private sector will take more care of it and put efforts to make it a high-quality asset.
  • Entering into a complex contract with a govt involves great risk because the Indian state is not a great party to have a contract with. So, a clean asset sale puts an end to the complexity of government interference.
Can we ensure that there’s no asset stripping by pvt investors?

Asset stripping means selling assets at a profit without regard for the company’s future. In this case, it means that after the contract period is over (let’s say 30 years), then the incentive for a pvt sector player to put money into the asset, to ensure that it remains productive even after the contract period ((in 31st, 32nd and 33rd year) goes down. This doesn’t happen when the asset is owned by the private sector player.

MSAS
Preventing asset stripping can be done via:

  • Renewal of lease before it ends: One option would be that you allow a renewal of the lease even before the lease ends. But then we need a competitive process there.
The question is how much complexity you want to build into a contract. Private sector is not comfortable entering into complex contracts with the Indian state. Now, that doesn’t mean that outright sale is easy. With an outright sale, we will still have a government regulator, and we will face the problem of regulatory capacity.

The trade-off is about the cost of building regulatory capacity versus the cost of building contracting capacity.


Our export efforts hold the key to growth in the quarters ahead

Source: This post is based on the article “Our export efforts hold the key to growth in the quarters ahead” published in Livemint on 3rd  September  2021.

Syllabus: GS3– Indian Economy and issues related to Growth, Development and Employment

Relevance: Role of Exports in stimulating Economic growth.

Synopsis: India’s growth hope in the immediate future is dependent heavily on exports.

What are the challenges that impact export promotion?

Issues in remission of duties and taxes on exported products (RODTEP) scheme structuring:

Under RODTEP, Steel, pharma, and chemicals get no rebate at all, although many products using these inputs do. This kind of cross-sectoral unevenness can get India into trouble with the World Trade Organization (WTO) once again.

The scheme looks like a subsidy to selected sectors disguised as duty rollback. The scheme is not available across all sectors without exception.

Shortage of sea-borne containers: A crippling shortage of sea-borne containers has affected the use of key large-volume products in the Indian export basket (tea, basmati rice, furniture, garments).

What are the suggestions?

Firstly, the excluded products under RODTEP need the rebate if they are to survive in a fiercely price-competitive global market in the months to come.

Secondly, two policy actions are immediately necessary. At a time when container rates have shot up, there is surely a case for a sea-freight subsidy for a limited period. Even more urgently, the estimated 25,000-30,000 containers locked up at different ports owing to customs disputes need to be unloaded into warehouses and these containers freed.

Why the recently announced NMP cannot be relied upon for growth prospects?

Firstly, in the current setting, the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) announced in the Union Budget, will not provide any immediate help in economic growth. Because there are several procedural stages for each monetized asset, that makes revenue realisation difficult. Also, it is intended to provide only a small part of the infrastructure expenditure budgeted for the year. Hence, it is the exports that will have to drive growth. Monetization is merely a funding source.

Secondly, there are other concerns with NM. The scheme offers a participation incentive to states with a 33% matching transfer from the Centre for revenues that states realize under the scheme. This matching transfer could result in, states under-achieving the potential value realizable.

Thirdly, it must be remembered that the most attractive schemes can sometimes fail to find appeal among all states. For instance, the NMP document refers to the Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure announced in October 2020. It offered states an interest-free loan with repayment after 50 years to complete stalled capital projects, or settle the outstanding bills of contractors. The only constraint was that the funds had to be used by the end of March 2021. However, Tamil Nadu did not sign on for its share of ₹351 crore.

Fourthly, legal pitfalls could limit the potential of NM. Hence, the NMP demands clear and well-thought-through processes, with sufficient transparency and safeguards in the form of regulatory structures.


Digitalize all supply chains to unlock trade efficiencies

Source: This post is based on the article “Digitalize all supply chains to unlock trade efficiencies” published in Livemint on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3: Awareness in the fields of IT

Relevance: Issues with the logistic sector in India, need for digitalization.

Synopsis: India has risen on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index from 77 in 2018 to 63 in 2019 across 190 countries. Its 68th rank in “trading across borders” can be improved upon through digitalization.

Introduction

In the age of the fourth industrial revolution, India must digitalize supply chains to reduce inefficiencies, improve transparency, reduce logistics costs. It will enhance the overall global competitiveness of Indian industries, especially small and medium enterprises.

What is the need for digitalization of the supply chain?

Higher logistic cost: Logistics cost in India is estimated at around 13% of gross domestic product (GDP).

In 2018, India’s rank on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index was No. 44 among 160 countries, below such countries as China (26), Chile (34), and South Africa (33).

No seamless connectivity: The interaction between importers and customs is not seamless. Data has to be submitted via a customs broker or authorized courier in most cases.

To ease governance: Digitalization will enable direct tracking and traceability and enhance tertiary processes like audits, financial transparency, and risk management through data feeds, collection and abstraction.

What are the steps taken by the government?

Digitalization measures: Initiatives such as the Goods and Services Tax Network, GST, have been game-changer in improving the experience of importers, exporters, and logistics service providers.

Apart from ICES 1.5 and ICE GATE, new developments like the Express Cargo Clearance System for express delivery and Single Window Interface for Trade for electronic data interchange across multiple agencies involved in customs clearance have also eased business processes.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs has launched its eSanchit mechanism for paperless processing and the uploading of supporting documents to facilitate trade.

Steps taken by the private sector: For example, DHL Import Easy Tool is a first-of-its-kind website-based platform. It globally offers a single interface where importers can view and manage all their transactions pertaining to the import process in real-time.

It is being piloted in India and is designed to be a one-stop intuitive platform for importers.

What are the suggestions to improve digitization?

First, the Indian industry must develop and integrate innovative tools and India’s government should facilitate their use and secure technology interfaces in partnership with the industry for their implementation.

Second, companies can be given some incentives to adopt digitalization. For example, subsidizing logistics costs.


From Legs to Minds – ” On Software industry in India”

Source: This post is based on the article “From Legs to Minds” published in India Express on 3rd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Growth, Development, and Employment

Relevance: Software industry in India.

Synopsis: Regulatory simplicity allowed Indian software services and start-up ecosystems to flourish. Hence, to grow, India needs to cut regulatory cholesterol and spend the next 25 years unleashing the entrepreneurial energies of 1.3 billion Indians.

Introduction

In 1893, during a sea journey to attend the World Parliament of Religions and a Technology Expo, Swami Vivekananda convinced Jamsetji Tata that technology can be imported, but scientific temper cannot be bought and must be built within a country.

Evolution of the Indian software industry:

Role of Jamsetji: Jamsetji set up the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Technology-encouraging culture at the Tatas pioneered India’s software industry in the 1960s.

Software exports: India now exports more software than Saudi Arabia does oil. Covid and recent Chinese events have increased India’s attractiveness to global investors.

Big reforms: like GST, MPC, and IBC. The PM announced on Independence Day that 15,000 of our current 69,000+ employer compliance and 6000+ filings have been identified for removal. This abolition will accelerate formal employment and reduce corruption.

Why did the manufacturing and software industries develop differently?

Regulatory cholesterol: It is one of the reasons why it took 72 years for 1.3 billion Indians to cross the total GDP of 66 million Britishers.

Role of SEZ and STPI: STPI’s genius was simplicity. It allowed rebadging existing assets, embraced trust over suspicion, and adopted self-reporting that was largely paperless, presence less, and cashless.

SEZs largely replicated the regulatory cholesterol and distrust that has made India an infertile habitat for employment-intensive industries.

How has regulatory simplicity resulted in the development of the Indian service sector?

India’s software services and tech startups are built on openness, consistency, and fairness. China’s magnificent 80 times rise in per-capita GDP over 40 years has also been built on these principles.

Development economics outlier: Few models predict a $2,500 per-capita income country with five million people writing software, internet data costs per GB at 3 percent of US levels, 1.2 billion people empowered with paperless digital identity verification, and a $3 trillion public market capitalization.

High productivity: 0.8 percent of India’s workers generate 8 percent of GDP. The mandatory global digital literacy program and digital investment super-cycle sparked by Covid in education, medicine, shopping, office work, payments, restaurants, and entertainment will double our software employment in five years.

Hub of start-ups: India’s software industry’s talent, alumni, and startups have raised over $90 billion since 2014 from 500+ institutional investors.

India’s software services industry and tech startups each are estimated to be worth about $400 billion today. By 2025, India’s startup universe value will grow to $1 trillion.

Key suggestions:

First, build on the resources represented by our young because, without their involvement, we cannot succeed.

Second, to increase our prosperity we need massive formal, non-farm job creation, regulatory trust, and simplicity that our technology industry enjoys in the rest of our economy.


Chipped & vulnerable: GoI must make public investments to encourage private manufacturing in strategic semiconductor industry

Source: This post is based on the article “Chipped & vulnerable: GoI must make public investments to encourage private manufacturing in strategic semiconductor industry” published in The Times of India on 2nd September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources.

Relevance: The article explains the recent shortage of semiconductors.

Synopsis: There is an urgent need for India to scale up the manufacturing of semiconductors.

Introduction

India’s automobile industry is facing a major shortage of semiconductors. The supply situation isn’t expected to ease any time soon. That’s mainly because chip manufacturing is concentrated in a few countries.

Why there is a shortage of semiconductors?

The semiconductor shortage today is a result of multiple factors.

These include the rapid growth of 5G Technology, the ever-growing need for greater computing power, the Covid pandemic induced demand for information communication technology and digital entertainment products.

Private firms cannot easily set up manufacturing plants to produce semiconductors. Establishing foundries is hugely capital intensive and has a gestation period of up to three years.

What has India already done?

India invited proposals from semiconductor companies to set up the industry in December 2020. The government also offered more than $1 billion in cash incentives to each semiconductor company that sets up manufacturing units.

What should India do to improve the availability of semiconductors?

India should increase the base for semiconductor manufacturing and also has to formulate policies to promote domestic chip manufacturing.

India should follow the US, China and South Korea’s path. These countries invested huge public money on-chip manufacturing.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Indian Railways’ Chandigarh Railway Station awarded 5-Star ‘Eat Right Station’ certification by FSSAI

Source: This post is based on the articleIndian Railways’ Chandigarh Railway Station awarded 5-Star ‘Eat Right Station’ certification by FSSAI published in PIB on 3rd September 2021.

What is the news?

Indian Railways’ Chandigarh Railway Station has been awarded a 5- star ‘Eat Right Station’ certification for providing high-quality, nutritious food to passengers. This certification is granted by FSSAI to railway stations adhering to standard food storage and hygiene practices.

About ‘Eat Right Station’ program

The ‘Eat Right Station’ certification is awarded by FSSAI to railway stations that set benchmarks in providing safe and wholesome food to passengers.

The station is awarded a certificate upon a conclusion of an FSSAI-empanelled third-party audit agency with ratings from 1 to 5.

The 5-star rating indicates exemplary efforts by stations to ensure safe and hygienic food is available to passengers.

The certification is part of the ‘Eat Right India’ movement.

Chandigarh Railway Station becomes the fifth station in India to get this recognition. The other railway stations with this certification include Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station; (Delhi), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus; (Mumbai), Mumbai Central Railway Station; (Mumbai) and Vadodara Railway Station.

What is ‘Eat Right India’ movement?

It is a large-scale effort by FSSAI to transform the country’s food system to ensure safe, healthy, and sustainable food for all Indians.

Eat Right India adopts a judicious mix of regulatory, capacity building, collaborative, and empowerment approaches to ensure that our food is suitable both for the people and the planet.

Terms to know: FSSAI

Raptor attention: 160 species of birds of prey endangered worldwide

Source: This post is based on the article “Raptor attention: 160 species of birds of prey endangered worldwide” published in “Down To Earth” on 1st September 2021.

What is the news?

A new analysis by ‘International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and BirdLife International’ remarks about the threats faced by the birds of prey.

The study claims, 30 percent of the 557 raptor species around the world are threatened by extinction to some degree.

What are the key findings of the study?

The study noted that the raptors prey on a wide range of vertebrates and thus, facilitate long-distance seed dispersal. This indirectly increases seed production and pest control.

The study mentions that 557 raptor species around the world are facing threats of extinction.  Of these, 18 species are critically endangered, 25 are endangered, 57 are vulnerable and 66 are near-threatened.

The threats of birds are a result of habitat loss, deforestation, pollution, human-wildlife conflicts and climate change.

The population of Philippine eagles, the largest variety of eagles in the world, and the hooded vulture decreased rapidly in the last decades.

The Annobon scops-owl has an estimated population of fewer than 250 and is restricted to Annobon Island off West Africa. Recently, it has been classified as ‘critically endangered’ because of rapid habitat loss and degradation.

Key findings related to India

The vulture population in India has declined by over 95 percent because of the widespread use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

What are Raptors?

Raptors are also known as birds of prey. These are species of birds that primarily hunt and feed on vertebrates. This includes birds such as a hawk, eagle, owl, vulture, etc.


Over 4 billion don’t have social protection: UN

Source: This post is based on the article Over 4 billion don’t have social protection: UNpublished in The Hindu on 1st September 2021.

What is the News?

The International Labour Organization(ILO) has released a report titled ‘World Social Protection Report 2020–22’.

Purpose of the Report:

The report provides a global overview of recent developments in social protection systems, including social protection floors and covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Social protection includes access to health care and income security particularly in relation to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or loss of the main income earner, as well as for families with children.

Key Findings of the Report:

Coverage of Social Protection: Currently, only 47% of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people (53%) obtain no income security at all from their national social protection system. 

Inequalities in Social Protection: There are significant regional inequalities in social protection. Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage with 84% of people being covered by at least one benefit. On the other hand, Asia and the Pacific (44%), the Arab States (40%) and Africa (17.4% ) have marked coverage gaps. 

Government Spending on Social Protection: It varies significantly. On average, countries spend 12.8% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social protection (excluding health). However, high-income countries spend 16.4% and low-income countries only 1.1% of their GDP on social protection.

Social Protection by Category wise:

Children: The vast majority of children still have no effective social protection coverage – only one in four children (26.4%) receives a social protection benefit. 

Cash Maternity Benefit: Only 45% of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash maternity benefit. 

Disability: Only one in three persons with severe disabilities (33.5%) worldwide receive a disability benefit. 

Unemployment: Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower; only 18.6%  of unemployed workers worldwide are effectively covered. 

Old Age Pension: Around 77.5% of people above retirement age receive some form of old-age pension. But major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas and between women and men. 


Indian biologist wins global award in turtle conservation

Source: This post is based on the article “Indian biologist wins global award in turtle conservation” published in The Hindu on 3rd September 2021.

What is the News?

Indian biologist Shailendra Singh has been awarded the Behler Turtle Conservation Award for bringing three critically endangered turtle conservation species back from the brink of extinction.

Who has given this award?

The award was given by several global bodies involved in turtle conservation such as Turtle Survival Alliance, IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservancy, and the Turtle Conservation Fund.

Why was he given this award? 

He was awarded for bringing three critically endangered turtle conservation species back from the brink of extinction. These species are red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur kachuga), northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), and black softshell turtle (Nilssonia nigricans).

About Northern river terrapin:

  1. Northern river terrapin is a species of riverine turtle native to Southeast Asia. It is one of Asia’s largest freshwater and backwater turtles.
  2. Habitat: The species is currently found in Bangladesh (in the Sundarbans), Cambodia, India (parts- West Bengal & Odisha), Indonesia and Malaysia.
  3. IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  4. Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule I

About Red Crowned Roofed Turtle:

  1. Red Crowned Roofed Turtle is a species of freshwater turtle endemic to South Asia.
  2. The last known stronghold for this river turtle is on the Chambal River in central India, however, small isolated populations may still exist in the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins. 
  3. IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  4. Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule I

About Turtle Survival Alliance(TSA)

It was formed in 2001 as an International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN) partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.

About Turtle Conservation Fund(TCF):

It was established in 2002 as a partnership initiative of Conservation International, IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG), and Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). Later, it was joined by other organizations.

The fund is focused on ensuring the long-term survival of tortoises and freshwater turtles.

About IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG)

It is one of the more than 100 Specialist Groups and Task Forces that constitute the working network of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). It provides expertise and science-based recommendations with conservation relevance covering all species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles and tortoises.

Note: The SSC is a science-based network of some 7000+ appointed volunteer specialists and experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of “a world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity.”


Ayush Ministry kickstarts campaign to distribute prophylactic medicines

Source: This post is based on the article Ayush Ministry kickstarts campaign to distribute prophylactic medicines published in PIB on 2nd September 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Ayush has launched a campaign of distributing Ayush prophylactic medicines and written guidelines on diet and lifestyle.

Moreover, the National Medicinal Plants Board(NMPB) has also launched a national campaign to promote the cultivation of medicinal plants in the country.

What are Prophylactic medicines?

A prophylactic is a medication or a treatment designed and used to prevent a disease from occurring. 

Example: A prophylactic hepatitis vaccine prevents the patient from getting hepatitis, while a prophylactic dental cleaning prevents tooth decay.

Campaign to Promote cultivation of medicinal plants:

Under this campaign, cultivation of medicinal plants will be done on 75,000 hectares of land in the next year across the country. 

The campaign has been started from Saharanpur in UP and Pune in Maharashtra.

About National Medicinal Plants Board(NMPB): 

It was established in 2000 under the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha & Homoeopathy).

Aim: To develop the medicinal plants sector through developing strong coordination between various ministries/ departments/ organizations for the implementation of policies/programs on medicinal plants.


India’s green projects to get UK funds

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s green projects to get UK funds” published in Livemint on 3rd September 2021.

What is the News?

The India and UK Finance Minister has agreed on a USD 1.2 billion investment in green projects and renewable energy to boost India’s green growth ambitions at the 11th India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue.

What are the investments announced by India and the UK?

  1. A $1-billion investment from CDC, the UK’s development finance institution in green projects in India during 2022-26.
  2. A $200 million private and multilateral investment into the UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund for renewable energy and 
  3. A Climate Finance Leadership Initiative(CFLI).

About UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund:

It was established with investment from India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), Government of UK. 

The fund invests in scalable operating companies and platforms across renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, e-mobility, resource conservation and associated value chains in India.

The UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund is based in Mumbai and EverSource is the fund manager

About Climate Finance Leadership Initiative(CFLI):

It is aimed at mobilizing private capital into sustainable infrastructure in India. These investments will support India’s target of 450 gigawatts (GW) renewable energy by 2030.

The initiative will be backed by the City of London Corporation and led by Bloomberg’s CFLI.


40 Central universities to implement credit ban

Source: This post is based on the article “40 Central universities to implement credit bank” published in The Hindu on 3rd September 2021.

What is the News?

Forty Central universities will be implementing innovative measures such as the academic credit bank and the Glue Grant Scheme.

About Glue Grant Scheme:

Under the Glue Grant Scheme, institutions in the same city would be encouraged to share resources, equipment and even allow their students to take classes from each other. 

Ultimately, faculty will be able to design joint courses and a Delhi University(DU) student will be able to take a few classes at IIT-Delhi or vice versa,

This also means that institutions need not duplicate work by developing the same capacities, but would be able to build on each other’s expertise.

About Academic Credit Bank:

Under this, students can attain qualifications by earning credits rather than specific durations on campus. 

A certain number of credits would add up to a certificate, then a diploma and then a degree. This would allow for multiple entries and exit points. 

Moreover, students can earn up to 40% of their credits in online Swayam classes. In the future, the credits will be valid across institutions.


ADIF aims to rank India startup ecosystem in Top 3 globally by 2030

Source: This post is based on the article “ADIF aims to rank India startup ecosystem in Top 3 globally by 2030” published in Livemint on 3rd September 2021.

What is the News?

The Alliance of Digital India Foundation(ADIF) plans to rank India’s startup ecosystem among the Top 3 globally by 2030, with a focus on finding the right policy framework to drive growth.

India’s Startup Ecosystem:

India is the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China in terms of size. The US tops the list with 396 unicorns, while China is at the second position with 277 unicorns.

Over the last year, India has added three unicorns every month taking the total count to 51. However, India stands at the 20th spot among the top 100 countries that have been ranked in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2021 by Startup Blink. 

Note: A privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion is called a unicorn.

Problems faced by Indian Startups:

Google has proposed to charge a fee of up to 30% on revenue earned by apps through its Play store in line with Apple’s App store policy. 

But since most of the apps and startups in India don’t have high margins, therefore, this is creating a major problem for Startups in India.


Blue straggler – bigger and bluer star formed when one star eats up another

Source: This post is based on the article “Blue straggler – bigger and bluer star formed when one star eats up another published in PIB on 2nd September 2021.

What is the News?

Indian researchers have done a comprehensive analysis to understand the formation of blue stragglers.

What are Blue Stragglers?

Blue stragglers are a class of stars on open or globular clusters. They stand out as they are bigger and bluer than the rest of the stars.

Note: A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity giving them their spherical shapes and high concentrations of stars toward their centers.

First Discovered by: Blue stragglers were first discovered by Allan Sandage in 1953.

About the study by Indian Researchers:

Indian Researchers have studied 228 clusters with a total of 868 blue stragglers. They compared the mass of the blue stragglers to the mass of the turnoff stars (which are the most massive ‘normal’ stars in the cluster) and predicted the formation mechanisms. They have found that:

  1. Half of the blue stragglers are formed through mass transfer from a close binary companion star,
  2. One third are likely formed through collisions of 2 stars and
  3. The remaining are formed through interactions of more than 2 stars.

Significance of this study:

The study will help improve understanding of the stellar systems. It will help uncover exciting results in studies of large stellar populations including galaxies.


Centre plans PSU land sale worth more than Rs 600 crore via e-bidding

Source: The post is based on the article “Centre plans PSU land sale worth more than Rs 600 crore via e-bidding” published in Business Standard on 3rd September 2021.

What’s in news?

The Center is planning to sell parcels worth more than ₹600 crores of public sector undertakings via the e-bidding platform. Further, the government also aims to sell non-core assets worth ₹10000 crores through this platform.

About the PSU land sale:

PSU Land sale
Source: Business Standard

The government is looking to push the sale of idle assets of PSUs. The sale will be managed by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).

The valuation and reserve price of assets are also fixed. The sale of assets will be done through the new e-bidding platform developed by state-run MSTC.

This is on the lines of the National Monetisation Pipeline, but this sale would only include non-core assets. Unlike the NMP, however, the ownership of assets will be transferred in the case of PSU land sale.

In the first phase land assets of BSNL, MTNL, BEML, and Shipping Corporation of India (SCIL) would be put on the block. The first sale will be of litigation-free assets.

DIPAM is also planning to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to sell litigation-marred land assets of public sector undertakings and government departments.


Powergrid wins the prestigious global ATD Best award

Source: This post is based on the article “Powergrid Wins the Prestigious global ATD Best Award” published in the PIB on 2nd  September 2021.

What is the news?

Recently, Powergrid won the prestigious global ATD (Association for Talent Development) Award for nourishing the best talent. It got 8th rank among the 71 organizations from around the globe.

It is the only Indian PSU to win this award and one of the only two companies from India to figure in the Top 20.

What is ATD?

It is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations.

ATD’s BEST Award – It is the talent development industry’s most rigorous and coveted recognition. The global program recognizes organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success through talent development.

What is Powergrid?

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID), is a Maharatna CPSU under the Ministry of Power, Government of India. It is playing a strategic role in the development of the Indian Power Sector.

POWERGRID owns and operates the Inter-State transmission network of the country. Its transmission system availability is consistently over 99%. This is at par with international utilities.

POWERGRID has won this International recognition for its efforts in talent development practices and programmes. The talent development initiative in POWERGRID is driven by the POWERGRID Academy of Leadership (PAL).

What is PAL?

PAL is POWERGRID’s state-of-the-art Institute of Learning in Management and Technology, catering to both domestic and international clients. At PAL, training and initiatives are organized for enhancing employee performance, boosting employee productivity, improving and strengthening company culture.


 

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