9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 6th, 2021

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

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

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

To tackle nutrition challenges, we must also address sanitation issues

Source: This post is based on the article “To tackle nutrition challenges, we must also address sanitation issues” published in the Indian Express on 6th September 2021

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

Relevance: To understand the dimension of Nutrition

Synopsis: Understand how the interplay of food and hygiene are important for complete nutrition.

Introduction

Of all the problems confronting the youth, nutritional insecurity is the worst. It has the power to cripple the future of an entire generation. Numerous reports have pointed to the dismal state of nutritional status of the children in India.

What are the findings of national/International Organisations?

UNICEF Report: It indicated that nearly 12 lakh children could die in low and middle-income countries in the next six months due to a decrease in routine health services and an increase in wasting. About three lakh such children would be from India.

National Food Health survey (NFHS 5): It indicated that ever since the onset of the pandemic, acute undernourishment in children below the age of five has worsened, with one in every three children below the age of five suffering from chronic malnourishment.

According to the latest data, 37.9% of children under five are stunted, and 20.8% are wasted — a form of malnutrition in which children are too thin for their height. This is much higher than in other developing countries where, on average, 25%t of children suffer from stunting and 8.9% are wasted

NFHS 4:  It said that approximately 9 percent of children under five years of age in India experience diarrheal disease.

World Health Organisation (WHO): It said that 50% of all mal- and under-nutrition can be traced to diarrhoea and intestinal worm infections, which are a direct result of poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). WHO has estimated that access to proper water, hygiene and sanitation can prevent the deaths of at least 8,60,000 children a year caused by undernutrition.

Studies about linkage of malnutrition with hygiene

WASH and nutrition must be addressed together through a lens of holistic, sustainable community engagement to enable long-term impact. This is because the linkage between nutrition and hygiene is now well established.

It was first highlighted in the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Under this, the states were urged to ensure “adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking water” to combat disease and malnutrition.

Another research in 2015 (Jean H. Humphrey from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health): Study highlighted that poor hygiene and sanitation in developing countries leads to a sub-clinical condition called “environmental enteropathy” in children. It causes nutritional malabsorption and is the source of a variety of problems, including diarrhoea, retarded growth and stunting.

What should be the Indian strategy to counter diarrhoea and malnutrition?

In the Indian, scenario, a simultaneous approach to nutrition and WASH should be adopted. It will not only aid India’s fight against malnutrition but also bolster Covid resilience amongst the most vulnerable sections of society.

A coordinated, multi-sectoral approach amongst the health, water, sanitation, and hygiene bodies, along with strong community engagement can help India achieve the goal of a safe and healthy population.


The judicial role in improving law making:  The key to revitalising India’s reservation system

Source: This post is based on the article “The judicial role in improving law-making” published in The Hindu on 6th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2: Structure, organization and functioning of the judiciary.

Relevance: Judiciary’s role in deliberative legislation.

Synopsis: Rushed laws sacrifice core ideals of constitutional democracy, the judiciary can play a crucial role in course-correcting the Parliament.

Introduction

Deterioration in the quality of debate has prompted demands for reform of legislative procedures. Speaking on the matter, while CJI suggested that intellectuals enter politics, the Judiciary itself can play a positive role in this regard.

Read more: Functioning of Parliament: Challenges and way forward – Explained, pointwise

How can one measure the legislative efficiency of the Parliament?

Often, reports cite the volume of legislation as a measure of legislative efficiency. However, the quality of deliberation by public representatives is equally important. One method of doing it is by ensuring that Parliament adheres to the letter and spirit of the constitution.

How can the Judiciary improve law-making?

Firstly, the Constitution contains certain detailed provisions laying out how laws are to be passed by Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. Unfortunately, these are often undermined.

For example, even when the result through voice votes is not clear, bills are still passed without securing the majority vote required under Article 100. This was evident in the controversial farm laws, which were reportedly rushed and passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha despite objections by Opposition members. The Judiciary can make such legislation unconstitutional and void.

Secondly, checking improper use of Money Bill: Similarly, bills have been certified as Money bills to bypass the Rajya Sabha using the provisions of Article 110.

In the Aadhar case, the Supreme Court recognized its power to check that such procedural provisions are complied with. However, the judiciary does not address their violations in a timely manner. This only strengthens the resolve of violators of the constitutional spirit.

Thirdly, to ensure constitutional reasonableness of law: Judiciary can make deliberation a factor in evaluating the constitutional validity of laws. Courts can call on the State to provide justifications explaining why the law is reasonable and valid.

The court can also examine whether and to what extent the legislature deliberated the reasonableness of a measure.

The Supreme Court adopted this approach in the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association(2013) case. The court invalidated a law prohibiting dance performances only in hotels with less than three stars as rooted in class prejudice and, therefore, violative of equality.

What should Judiciary do next?

Judiciary has demonstrated that it is possible to reform institutions by addressing their dysfunctions. So, Judiciary can nudge the legislature for internal reforms to safeguard democracy.


The key to revitalising India’s reservation system

Source: This post is based on the article “The key to revitalising India’s reservation system” published in The Hindu on 6th  September 2021.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Relevance: To understand the need for caste census in India.

Synopsis: A Socio-economic caste-based census becomes a necessary precondition to initiate any meaningful reform.

Introduction

Recently, the central government’s decision to introduce reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) examinations has been appreciated. This ignited the debate on caste census once again and brought the debate on affirmative action into the limelight.

Affirmative action programme: It was envisaged during the founding moments of the republic. It has enunciated the principle of justice in a deeply unequal and oppressive Indian society.

What is the problem with the current system?

Inequitable: Reservation, despite seven decades, has not translated into an equitable distribution of benefits for many groups in our heterogeneous society.

Consequently, many groups have been left out. There is a strong demand from those who have not been able to get the benefits of reservations, from within the marginalized sections. This calls for a need to devise some policy option that may be able to supplement the existing system of reservation. To study this in detail, the Justice Rohini commission was constituted.

What are the observations of Justice G. Rohini Commission?

The data given by the committee on the sub-categorization of OBC provide some crucial observations.

Key findings of the committee

Based on the last five years data the commission concluded that 97% of central OBC quota benefits go to just under 25% of its castes.

As many as 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in both central government jobs and admissions to central universities.

Also, the report states that just 10% of the OBC have accrued 24.95% of jobs and admissions.

How does insufficiency of data impact policymaking?

The Rohini committee data was based only on the institutions that come under the purview of the central government. The committee hardly has any legible data on the socio-economic conditions of varied social groups at more local levels of State and society.

There is a need for accurate data pertaining to the socio-economic condition of different social groups. Caste-based reservations are important to study upward mobility in society.

Read more: Caste based census in India – Explained, pointwise
What needs to be done?

There is an urgent requirement for a mechanism to address this lacuna and make the system more accountable and sensitive to intra-group demands. So the following actions can be taken:

First, there is a need to develop a wide variety of context-sensitive, evidence-based policy options that can be tailored to meet specific requirements of specific groups.

Second, we need an institution like the ‘Equal Opportunities Commission’ of the United States or the United Kingdom which can:

  1. Make a deprivation index correlating data from the socio-economic-based census of different communities including caste, gender, religion and rank them to make tailor-made policies.
  2. Undertake an audit on the performance of employers and educational institutions on non-discrimination and equal opportunity, and issue codes of good practice in different sectors.
What can be the way ahead?

Socio-economic caste-based census becomes a necessary precondition to initiate any meaningful reform in the affirmative action regime in India. So, that can act as a good first step.


The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges

Source: This post is based on the article “The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges” published in the Indian Express on 6th September 2021.

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

Relevance: This article explains the challenges that can be addressed by the Teachers.

Synopsis:  Teachers need to address few present-day challenges of students.

Introduction

Teachers often feel they are not in power and yet in a position of great responsibility. So, the life of a teacher is always challenging, complex and unbelievably demanding. The world is changing so rapidly, so teachers must embrace change and make necessary adjustments.

What about the teachers of the past?

The greatest teachers, whether the Buddha, Christ, Rama-Krishna, Aurobindo, Yogananda or Nanak, never taught in classrooms. They had no blackboards, maps or charts. They used no subject outlines, kept no records, gave no grades.

Their methods were the same for all who came to hear and learn. Their minds were laboratories of compassion, empathy and reflective thinking. They were stoic and equanimous.

How do teachers need to change?

Individualistic approach: The prevailing standardised education policies and practices have to be replaced with more individualised holistic approaches that prepare children to live productively.

Autonomy of students: The teachers need to implement processes that foster student autonomy and leadership, encourage inventive learners with skills, maximise liberty to make meaningful decisions and develop global partnerships.

Partnership and alliances: In order to avoid distances between communities and people, teachers need to emphasise partnerships and alliances that facilitate the students to coexist, interact and collaborate with others. This will enable children to live together in mutual empowerment.

The teachers have to give greater attention to the happiness and health of children.

Inward and outward-looking: The teachers must look inward and outward to explore new ideas and different ways, clarify a shared vision with students, become aware of the realities, etc.


GS Paper 3

Drug debacle: Endangered vulture population still under threat

Source: This post is based on the article “Drug debacle: Endangered vulture population still under threat” published in Down to Earth on 4th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Vulture conservation in India

Synopsis: India’s vulture populations are not safe; they are still small to recover quickly and will not survive another catastrophic event.

Introduction

Vultures were quite common till the 1980s and are fighting to survive currently. Currently, seven species in Africa and eight species in India are threatened with extinction. India has lost 99% population of the three species, White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture. The Red-headed and the Egyptian Vulture populations have also crashed by 91% and 80% respectively.

This catastrophic decline has been attributed to the use of diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in veterinary practice during the 1990s.

Must Read: The clean-up crew we need (On vulture conservation)
Why is vulture more vulnerable?

Though the usage of diclofenac in India has reduced considerably now, it is continued to be misused in some places. Moreover, vulture population is more vulnerable because:

Small population: Population is still small to recover quickly.

Slow breeding: Also, vultures are slow breeding birds, laying only one egg a year and having a longer immaturity duration after fledging. The remnant population will only double after 10-15 years without the occurrence of any adverse events.

Availability of other NSAIDs: Other NSAIDs like aceclofenac, ketoprofen, nimesulide, etc., that are harmful to vultures are still available for veterinary use in India. Aceclofenac metabolizes into diclofenac and is much more toxic to vultures.

What steps should be taken?

Check toxicity & use of NSAIDs: In the revised National Vulture Conservation Action Plan (2020-2025), the government plans to set up eight new captive-breeding centres (eight are functioning). But without a check on the toxicity of NSAIDs and their use (misuse of diclofenac), releasing the captive-bred populations in the wild will not be considered feasible.

With more robust policies and enforcement of rules that are immediate, we can safeguard the remnant vulture populations in the country.

With better practices, collective motive to change human behaviour and the usage of safe drugs for cattle treatment, we can save vultures from extinction.


National monetization pipeline betrays narrow outlook

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • National Monetization Pipeline and the infrastructure deficit” published in The Hindu on 6th Sep 2021.
  • National monetization pipeline betrays narrow outlook published in The Indian Express on 6th Sep 2021.
  • The incredible certitude of our asset monetization programme” published in Livemint on 6th Sep 21.

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

Relevance: On Asset monetization programme

Synopsis: Monetisation of assets to generate value is a step in the right direction, but the underlying problems and challenges that led to underutilization of these assets need to be ascertained too. Proper execution of NMP based on a policy which is refined gradually as per the feedback received is the way forward.

Background

Read here: National Monetisation Pipeline project – Explained

What are the problems with the NMP?

Poor record on privatization: The record on privatization of the Indian government has been abysmal. Every year, a massive disinvestment target is set and then missed. Alternatively, public sector companies are pushed to buy other public sector firms and that’s passed off as disinvestment.

Examples:

The privatization process of Air India has been on for a few years and so has talk of privatizing public sector banks.

The initial public offering of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, which finance minister spoke of in her budget speech of February 2020, is still a work-in-process.

In the recent case of Indian Railways trying to attract private players to run 150 trains, the plan failed because private operators feared continued government interference.

Hence, when privatization of assets is not being achieved easily, the idea of monetizing assets through operational leases is much more difficult to execute.

Moreover, the bulk of litigation in the courts consists of cases in which the government is a party.

Underestimation of the potential of public assets: NMP views public utility assets through the narrow lens of finance only and, thereby, underestimates their potential contribution to public welfare. It absolves the government from the responsibility to unlock the intrinsic social value of these assets.

No built-in safeguards: NMP is designed to attract rich financial institutions (PE firms) and industrial groups due to high valuation of assets. The result will be a deepening of the concentration of capital and existing inequalities. There will be economic and social implications. The model does not build in safeguards to manage or mitigate these implications.

Structural problems: The government should have identified as to why have these assets been so poorly managed. Was it because of bad leadership, inadequate talent within the PSEs, and/or systemic and structural shortcomings? The low productivity, in most cases, is because their PSE operators have faced a combination of systemic hurdles related to weak dispute resolution mechanisms; regulatory problems; lack of transparency in governance; pricing distortions and intrusive bureaucratic intervention. Until and unless these systemic problems are addressed, the private sector will find it difficult to harness the full value of the assets and the transfer of operatorship to them will offer at best a partial solution.

What steps must the govt take?

Independent regulators: The sectors where government assets are being monetized need independent regulators.

No excess litigation: The government needs to stop being a happy litigant.

Addressing structural problems: If the systemic problems with PSEs get addressed, they could well be the better custodians of the assets. This is due to the fact that the government being the majority shareholder will have presumably mandated them to look beyond just the accumulation of financial value.


Another IBC fix? (On a Code of Conduct for CoC)

Source: This post is based on the article “Another IBC fix? “Published in Business Standard on 6th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to banking sector in India

Relevance:  Corporate insolvency

Synopsis: Regulator’s proposal for code of conduct for the Committee of Creditors (CoC) deserves scrutiny.

Introduction

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), has issued a discussion paper on the corporate insolvency resolution process and invited comment on its suggestions.

What is the issue?

CoC is unregulated, since the members of the CoC are typically from highly regulated sectors such as banks. However, lack of regulation has led to lack of accountability. For instance,

Recently, Appellate authorities have raised questions about “capacity and conduct” of the CoC, and that its responsibility when it comes to choosing the proper market-based resolution.

Even, the more recent IBBI’s discussion paper has stated that, the committee of creditors (CoC) looking after the IBC process “functions in an unregulated environment”.

What are the IBBI’s recommendations in its discussion paper?

Code of conduct for the CoC: The IBBI paper proposes a code of conduct for the CoC that it claims will create accountability, through broad ethical principles. It is in line with the suggestion made by Parliamentary Standing Committee on finance that suggested for a code of conduct for the CoC recently.

Effective bidding process: The paper further points out the frequent revisions of the resolution plans have caused “delay and uncertainty” and argues that new bidding processes such as the Swiss Challenge should be used. (Under the Swiss challenge mechanism, any third party would be permitted to submit a resolution plan for the distressed company. Then, the original applicant would have to either match the improved resolution plan or forgo the investment)

Why a code of conduct is needed?

Some actions by CoCs in the past show how their accountability to their investors might clash with the overall interests of the IBC. Such actions include the acceptance of last-minute resolution plans and of one-time settlements by former promoters under Section 12A of the IBC etc

Why a code of conduct might not be the solution?

It is far from certain whether a code of conduct would speed up the insolvency process or lead to further delays, as the CoC might be challenged at any time for failing to follow some aspect of the code.

While principle-based regulation is better in theory, in practice there might be some concern that it would lead to regulatory creep (Regulatory creep arises when the rules are unclear – when there is confusion about the standards, guidance and regulation. People are left not knowing what is expected of them, what constitutes compliance with the law)

Further, a code of conduct for CoCs that are often dominated by public sector banks runs in conflict with  a more basic problem of accountability –  Banks themselves are only insufficiently accountable because of state control.

What is the way forward?

IBC has been undermined because of misuse of clauses such as Section 12A. It is a reflection of the poor governance within the banks that led to the growth of bad loans in the first place. A code of conduct might be one step towards improving the IBC, but until bank governance is addressed it will not fix the real problem.

Terms to know:


Public sector banks and corporate governance

Source: This post is based on the article “Public sector banks and corporate governance? “published in Business Standard on 6th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3 – Issues related to banking sector in India

Relevance:  Governance of Public Sector Banks (PSBs)

Synopsis: Issues that are hampering the performance of PSBs, consequences, and the way forward.

What are the issues affecting the performance of PSBs?

Delay in appointments of CEO’s and MD’s of PSSBs: In the recent past, after the MD and CEO of Bank of Baroda stepped down, his successor took charge after 100 days. Whereas, in the case of Union Bank and Dena bank, it took 264 days, 262 respectively

Except for Bank of Baroda, none of the 11 PSBs, in the group of nationalised banks, currently has a chairman (non-executive though).

Inadequate board of directors: Most of the nationalised banks do not have an adequate number of directors on their boards.

Under the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, every government-owned bank should have whole-time directors (MD and CEO, and EDs). They are to be appointed by the central government after consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

They should also have one director nominated by the central government and another, with necessary expertise and experience in regulation or supervision of commercial banks, from the RBI.

Apart from this, there are directors who are experts in the field of agricultural and rural economy, banking, co-operation, economics, finance, law, small scale industry, and a chartered accountant. However, at least 60 such positions were vacant, at least for a few months.

Finally, representatives from shareholders as well as workmen and officers are supposed to be on such bank boards. At the moment, probably no PSB has any director from workmen or officer employees on its board.

Non parity in tenure of PSB chiefs and Private bank: A private bank can be run by a CEO till the person is 70 years old, whereas chief of a PSB have to step down at 60, barring the State Bank of India.

Non parity in salary of PSB chiefs and Private bank: PSB chief does not receive market-based salary. The annual earnings of a non-executive chairman of a PSB is capped at Rs 10 lakh, inclusive of fees for attending board meetings. This is way below the compensation of the chairman of any private bank.

Other issues: These include the inability to directly recruit young talent from business schools because of various court judgments, the fear of investigative agencies, the L-1 formula that requires PSBs to buy everything, from tea to technology, from the lowest bidder, not the best one.

What are the negative consequences?

While the whole-time directors run a bank, others called non-official directors or NoDs (another name for independent directors) are critical in formulating strategies and ensuring governance.

In the absence of the required number of NoDs, many PSBs are not able to meet the quorum at the meetings of critical sub-committees of the board.

What is the way forward?

Implement the recommendations: More than a decade back, in June 2010, the finance ministry had appointed a committee on HR issues of PSBs.

It had made 105 recommendations on performance management, capability building and freedom for banks to increase variable compensation and offer stock options, among other things. The government accepted 56 of these recommendations, leaving out the key ones.

To improve governance of PSB’s government needs to implement the recommendations made by committee on HR in true spirit.


Millets could help India mitigate malnutrition and climate change

Source: This post is based on the article “Millets could help India mitigate malnutrition and climate change” published in Livemint on 6th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country

Relevance: Significance of millets in India

Synopsis: India should incentivize the production of millets to enhance food security and score gains on climate resilience.

Introduction

In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 2023 the International Year of Millets. It was proposed by India to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

How are millets significant for India?

Environmental and social benefits: Millets possess immense potential in the battle against climate change and poverty and provide food, nutrition, fodder and livelihood security.

Agri-growth: India is the largest global producer with a 41% market share. A compound annual growth rate of 4.5% is projected for the global millet market in the coming decade.

Restoration of ecosystems and sustainability: Land degradation has been a major problem in India. Drought-tolerant crops with low dependence on chemical inputs would put far less pressure on ecosystems

Biofuel and climate resilience: Millets also offer a significant cost advantage over maize as a feedstock for bio-ethanol production.

Addressing SDGs: Millet farming has led to women’s empowerment. The Odisha Millet Mission saw 7.2 million women emerge as ‘agri-preneurs’.

What steps have been taken by the govt?

Millet Mission: It was launched in 2018 as part of the National Food Security Mission, which has led to the promotion of technological interventions, improvement in seed quality and a minimum support price (MSP) for bajra and jowar.

Millet Network of India and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation: both were involved in collective formation efforts to boost the domestic growth of millets.

What are the challenges?

Market and economic barriers: Unjust pricing and intermediaries have led to farmer distress. Market dynamics doesn’t favour the growth of millets.

Barriers to growth: A rise in incomes and urbanization, together with inadequate government policies, has led to millets being used for various purposes other than for consumption.

What measures can govt take?

Incentivizing the adoption of inter-cropping and providing crop insurance: The inter-cropping of millets with other crops is beneficial because the fibrous roots of millet plants help in improving soil quality, keep water run-off in check and aid soil conservation in erosion-prone areas, thereby restoring natural ecosystems.

Re-introduction of cultural associations and festivals: such as the North-East Network in Nagaland organized in 2020 and Mandukiya in Vishakhapatnam celebrated annually in June/July, has helped promote the growth of millets.

In 2018, the #LetsMilletCampaign in Bengaluru saw the experimental use of millets in dishes such as risotto and pizza by restaurateurs.

State support: The Odisha Millet Mission has reportedly managed to motivate about 70,000 farmers to take up millet farming as part of this programme.


Carbon neutrality powered by AI

Source: This post is based on the article “Carbon neutrality powered by AI” published in Business Standard on 6th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Awareness in the fields of IT

Relevance: Application of AI

Synopsis: Countries like India, which are leading the adoption of climate change measures, will have to encourage energy companies to embrace higher levels of AI usage.

Introduction

As the world pushes to mitigate the impact of climate change, it will have to rely much on emerging technologies.

The foundational shift of energy transition from fossil-based to renewables will have to be done at scale for any positive impact on the environment.

A new report by World Economic Forum (WEF) says that the transition to low-carbon energy can be accelerated and deepened by focused application of artificial intelligence.

How can AI help in accelerating transition to a low-carbon economy?

Increasing efficiency: The supply of renewable energy is increasing in grids which have been built for fossil fuel-based power. The time for setting up renewable power generation is much less than for setting up transmission and distribution lines. As a result, existing electricity grids will have to be managed with far more efficiency to cope with rising supply and usage of renewable energy.

AI can help in management of existing electricity grids with more efficiency to cope with rising supply and usage of renewable energy.

Optimization of the lifecycle of existing grid infrastructure. Renewable energy is not a steady supply, since it depends on weather conditions. Solar works on sunny days and wind turbines when there is a strong breeze. Such intermittent supply of renewables poses problems for managers in maintaining stability of energy passing through the grid.

To deal with unanticipated scenarios: There are several problems which can hurt grids when intermittent power increases. These include power frequency imbalances, blackouts and brownouts, and significant capacity overbuild. With predictive analysis, AI can anticipate the amount of power that will reach the grid by combining weather conditions with supply parameters. AI will allow grid managers to be prepared rather than be impacted by unanticipated surges in supply.

Manage overloading: In future there will be vastly more physical assets connected to the power grid and the distribution grid, and power flows will become dynamic and multidirectional.

Track usage in real-time: In the future, there will be vastly more physical assets connected to the power grid. For example, the rise of energy storage in batteries means that some of this power can be reused when required. A household can have the option of switching between battery power, on-site solar source and the grid based on the situation. Similarly, for individuals, AI can help decide when to charge electric vehicles. AI can decide the charging time and duration based on peak or off-peak rates. Such switching at a large scale across millions of homes will require an AI platform to track usage in real-time.

AI can help in efficient designing and location of solar, wind and other renewable farms: According to German Energy Agency, 56% of power generation could be provided by solar and wind in 2050. This would need huge investments in power grid by 2050. Power system costs would be higher if intelligence automation systems are not used.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Over 900 species of animals have become extinct according to latest IUCN Red List

What is in the news?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently released a Red List reporting the official extinction of 902 species. This was released at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France.

Key Findings in the recent Red List

The recent Red List mentioned that some 902 species are officially extinct.

The Red List also shows that 30 percent of the species (38,543) that it assessed face the threat of extinction.

Some 80 species are extinct in the wild, 8,404 are critically endangered, 14,647 are endangered, 15,492 are vulnerable and 8,127 are near-threatened.

About Tuna Species

The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) moved from endangered to least concern. This is because the Atlantic bluefin tuna had increased by at least 22 percent and had declined by more than half in the Gulf of Mexico over the last four decades.

The Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) moved from critically endangered to endangered. 

The albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and yellowfin tunas (Thunnus albacares) both moved from near threatened to least concern. The yellowfin tuna was overfished in the Indian Ocean.

The Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) moved from vulnerable to near threatened due to the availability of newer stock assessment data and models.

About shark and ray species

37 percent of the world’s shark and ray species were threatened with extinction; The threats include overfishing, loss, and degradation of habitat and climate change.

About Komodo dragon

Komodo dragon
Source: Down To Earth

The world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), has been moved from vulnerable to endangered. The species is endemic to Indonesia and occurs only in the World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores.

Rising global temperature and subsequent sea levels are expected to reduce the Komodo dragon’s suitable habitat by at least 30 percent in the next 45 years.

Due to ongoing human activities, Komodo dragons living outside protected areas in Flores are threatened by significant habitat loss.

Source: This post is based on the article “Over 900 species of animals have become extinct according to latest IUCN Red List” published in DownToEarth on 5 September 2021.


Karbi Agreement – another milestone in PM’s vision

What is the News?

The Government of India has signed a tripartite Karbi Anglong agreement with five insurgent groups to put an end to years of violence and bring peace and prosperity in the state of Assam.

About Karbi Anglong

Karbi Anglong is the largest district in Assam. The district is administered by Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council according to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

The district comprises various tribal and ethnic groups including the Kukis, Dimasas, Garos, Rengma Nagas, Tiwas and Karbis.

This diversity also led to different outfits and fuelled an insurgency that did not allow the region to develop. This agreement hopes to set aside the insurgency.

Key Features of the Karbi Anglong Agreement:

Under the agreement, 5 militant organizations laid down arms and more than 1000 of their armed cadres have given up violence and joined the mainstream society in February 2021.

Development Package: A special development package of ₹1000 crore will be allocated over five years by the Central Government and the Assam Government to take up special projects for the development of Karbi areas.

Greater Autonomy: This agreement will transfer as much autonomy as possible in exercising their rights to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council, without affecting the territorial and administrative integrity of Assam.

Protection of Culture: This agreement will ensure the protection of the culture, identity, language, etc. of the Karbi people and all-round development of the region.

Karbi Welfare Council: The Government of Assam will set up a Karbi Welfare Council to focus on the development of the Karbi people living outside the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council area.

Finance: The Consolidated Fund of the State will be amended to meet the resources of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.

Source: This post is based on the articleKarbi Agreement – another milestone in PM’s visionpublished in PIB on 5th September 2021.


Mu variant: Newly classified by WHO as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of interest

What is the News?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified yet another SARS-CoV-2 variant — B.1.621 — as a variant of interest (VOI) and given it the label “Mu”. 

About Mu Variant

Mu Variant was first seen in Colombia in January 2021 when it was given the designation B1621. 

It has since been detected in 40 countries, but it is currently responsible for only 0.1% of infections globally.

However, the prevalence in Colombia (39%) and Ecuador (13%) has consistently increased.

What is a Variant of Interest (VoI)?

WHO classifies a variant as a Variant of Interest(VoI) if:

  1. The variant is predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape; and 
  2. Identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters in multiple countries alongside the increasing number of cases over time or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health.  

Note: A VOI represents a lower level of concern than a variant of concern (VOC) such as Alpha, Beta or Delta which are associated with factors such as an increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in epidemiology.

Source: This post is based on the article “Mu variant: Newly classified by WHO as a SARS-CoV-2 variant of interest” published in Indian Express on 4th September 2021.


All you need to know about Nipah virus

What is the News?

A 12-year-old boy infected with the Nipah virus died in a private hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala.

About Nipah Virus

Nipah Virus(NiV) is a zoonotic virus. ​​The first outbreaks of the Nipah virus among humans was reported from Malaysia (1998) and Singapore (1999). 

Host Reservoir of Nipah Virus

The animal host reservoir for this virus is known to be the fruit bat, commonly known as flying fox. Fruit bats are known to transmit this virus to other animals like pigs, and also dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.

How does it spread?

It is a zoonotic virus, meaning it has been transmitted from animals to human beings. 

The transmission happens mainly through direct contact with these animals or through the consumption of food contaminated by the saliva or urine of these infected animals.

Person-to-person transmission is not fully established yet.

Symptoms of Nipah Virus infection

Fever, respiratory symptoms including cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue and encephalitis. The death rate for Nipah virus is 70%.

Treatment for Nipah Virus infection

There is no vaccine against Nipah virus. The only available treatment is supportive cough care. Ribavirin, an antiviral drug, was used to treat encephalitis in 2018. 

Source: This post is based on the article “All you need to know about Nipah virus” published in TOI on 6th September 2021.


World failing to address dementia challenge: WHO report

What is the News?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a report titled ‘Global status report on the public health response to ‘dementia’.

About Global status report on the public health response to dementia

Objective: The report takes stock of progress made towards the 2025 global targets for dementia laid out in the WHO’s ‘Global Dementia Action Plan’ published in 2017.

Key Findings of the Report

People Living with Dementia: Currently, more than 55 million people (8.1% of women and 5.4% of men over 65 years) are living with dementia. This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050.

Region-wise: The Western Pacific Region has the highest number of people with dementia (20.1 million), followed by the European Region (14.1 million).

Strategy on Dementia: Only a quarter of countries worldwide have a national strategy for supporting people with dementia and their families. Half of these countries are in Europe with the remainder split between other regions in the world.

Suggestions: The report highlights an urgent need to strengthen support at the national level both in terms of care for people with dementia and in support for the people who provide that care in both formal and informal settings.

About Dementia 

Dementia is a syndrome – usually of a chronic or progressive nature – that leads to deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological ageing. 

It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. 

Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that primarily or secondarily affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.

Dementia is currently the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases and one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide.

Source: This post is based on the article “World failing to address dementia challenge: WHO report” published in Indian Express on 4th September 2021.


INS Hansa marks diamond jubilee

Source: This post is based on the article “INS Hansa marks diamond jubilee” published in PIB on 5th September 2021.

What is the News?

Indian Navy’s premier air station INS Hansa is celebrating its diamond jubilee.

About INS Hansa

INS Hansa is an Indian naval air station located near Dabolim in Goa. It is India’s biggest naval airbase.

History of INS Hansa

INS Hansa was initially set up as a  Naval Jet Flight at Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu in 1958. It was later commissioned as INS Hansa in 1961.

After the liberation of Goa, the Dabolim airfield was taken over by the Indian Navy in 1962 and INS Hansa shifted to Dabolim in 1964.

The airbase has increased its capability over the last six decades and is presently operating over 40 military aircraft, clocking an average yearly flying of over 5000 hours. 

The air station also supports civil aviation by handling domestic and international flights 24×7, with an average of 29000 flights in a year.

Note: INS Hansa is the host for the prestigious event of presentation of the President’s Colour to naval aviation by the Hon’ble President of India.

Source: This post is based on the article “INS Hansa marks diamond jubilee” published in PIB on 5th September 2021.


28th EDITION OF SINGAPORE-INDIA MARITIME BILATERAL EXERCISE ‘SIMBEX’

What is the News?

The 28th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) was conducted.

About Exercise SIMBEX

SIMBEX (Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises) is a joint maritime bilateral exercise between Indian and Singapore navies. The first edition of the exercise was conducted in 1994.

Objective: To enhance interoperability amongst the navies and underscore the shared responsibility of the countries to work together to keep sea lines of communications open.

Significance: SIMBEX is the Indian Navy’s longest uninterrupted bilateral maritime exercise with any foreign navy.

Other Exercise between India and Singapore

About Exercise SITMEX: It is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Royal Thailand Navy(RTN) and Indian Navy(IN). It was conducted for the first time in 2019.

India-Singapore Defence Cooperation

India-Singapore Defence relations cover a very wide spectrum of collaboration from conventional military-to-military exchanges to HADR and cyber security. 

Both navies have a representation in each other’s Maritime Information Fusion Centres and have also, recently signed an agreement on mutual submarine rescue support and coordination.

Source: This post is based on the article “28th EDITION OF SINGAPORE-INDIA MARITIME BILATERAL EXERCISE SIMBEX” published in PIB on 4th September 2021.


“Security for judges and courts states’ responsibility”, says Center

Source: This post is based on the article “Security for judges and courts states’ responsibility, says Center” published in The Times of India on 6 September 2021. 

What is the News?

The Government of India has told the Supreme Court that there is no need to create a dedicated security force to provide protection to judges. Instead, special guidelines have been issued for the States.

Read more: No need for dedicated force to protect judges, courts: Government
Who will provide protection?

Public order and police are covered under List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. Hence, security to the courts and the judges is within the purview of the States/UTs concerned.

However, in order to strengthen the security arrangements the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued guidelines.

About the MHA guidelines

The guidelines prescribe the constitution of the Protection Review Group (PRG). 

The PRG members will consist of the state special branch, intelligence and the home department. The PRG will undertake periodic review (every 6 months) of the security arrangement for the high courts and the district/subordinate courts as well as judges.

The registrar general of the respective HCs shall also be invited to PRG meetings when such arrangements are being discussed.

The PRG will also approve the security measures for the protection of judges.


One vaccine makes more vaccine than another. Does it matter?

Source: Source: This post is based on the article “One vaccine makes more vaccine than another. Does it matter?” published in the Business Standard on 5th September 2021.

What is the news?

The researchers are still working to understand how long their protection lasts, and how it differs from one person to another. Getting answers to these questions is a crucial step to determine who will need a booster shot.

The studies have found that the Moderna Vs Pfizer vaccines have certain subtle differences.

About the difference between Moderna and Pfizer vaccines

Studies have been conducted on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The studies show that Pfizer’s vaccine offers less protection than Moderna’s vaccine. Moreover, researchers found an inferior response to the Pfizer vaccine in people 50 and older.

One theory about Moderna’s vaccine is that it creates more antibodies because it uses a larger dose.

Another theory is regarding long-term immunity. That longer-term protection, which includes T cells and memory B cells, is harder to measure in the lab than antibodies.

Significance of the studies

These studies will help in developing long-term policies for vaccination and aid further research. This will go a long way in securing the health of the public at large.

None of the studies measured whether fewer antibodies results in less protection overtime or not.


 

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