9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – September 8th, 2021

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

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

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly) 

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

Needed: A tribunal for CAPF

Source: This post is based on the article “Needed: A tribunal for CAPF” published in The Hindu on 8th September 2021

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

Relevance: To understand the need for a new tribunal for CAPFs.

Synopsis: CAPF needs a tribunal to provide faster resolution for numerous pending cases.

Introduction

There have been numerous cases of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers overstaying leave. To curb that, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently issued orders to “include the provisions of Security Force Court (SFC) as available in the Acts and Rules of other CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces), so that such cases are finalised within minimum time.”

How departmental inquiries are conducted in CRPF?

For non-gazetted ranks: CRPF rules lay down the procedure for the conduct of departmental inquiries against non-gazetted ranks. In normal circumstances, the departmental inquiries are completed within three to six months.

For gazetted ranks: The time taken to order the inquiries is longer as other institutions like the Union Public Service Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Department of Personnel and Training, and the MHA are also tied in for their views and legal opinion.

When personnel overstays their leave: The delinquent officers must be directed to appear before the inquiring authority along with the presenting officer and the defence assistant of the charged official. Even if one of them fails to appear for the hearing, the conduct of inquiry must be postponed.

Since most officers are busy with operational matters, the inquiries take a backseat.

How departmental inquiries are different from Security Force Court(SFC)?

SFC: It is a purely judicial process where the guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and the charged official is at liberty to engage a legal practitioner to defend him.

Departmental inquiry: It is a quasi-judicial proceeding where the mere element of a preponderance of probability is enough to determine guilt. Hence, the conduct of a departmental inquiry is the better option.

How to solve the pendency in CAPF?

Appointing retired officers for inquiry: Most departments of the government appoint retired officers for enquiry. CAPF can also appoint retired officials.

Set up Tribunals: With increasing cases being filed in the High Courts across the country in service matters, it is high time the government considered the setting up of tribunals for the CAPFs on the lines of the Armed Forces Tribunal for defence services.


Making them pay: About the regulation of Big techs

Source: This post is based on the article “Making them pay” published in The Hindu on 8th   September 2021.

Syllabus: GS – 2 Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors.

Relevance: To know about regulating App Operators.

Synopsis: A law to regulate app store operators is key to check Big Tech’s monopolising nature.

Introduction

Recently, South Korea made an amendment to its Telecommunications Business Act. The Act aims to prevent app store operators, such as Google and Apple, from forcing app developers to use their in-store payment systems. It will also check the unfair use of their market position.

Why South Korea made this amendment?

This has happened because of the case involving Apple and Epic games. Here, Apple ousted Epic from its platform, for putting up its own payment system, which bypassed Apple’s payment systems.

Same laws/ initiatives by other countries

Australia: Recently made a law to make Internet platforms, pay media companies for displaying their content. Now the government is in the process of bringing digital payment services such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and WeChat Pay under its regulatory ambit.

European Union: EU draft law seeks to make large platform companies as gatekeepers”. The EU want the gatekeepers to comply with a set of dos and don’ts. This will give the smaller companies a fair chance to compete in the market. This draft law is also aimed at giving more choices to the customers.

USA: Introduced a bill to promote competition and reduce the gatekeeper power in the app economy. The bill aims to increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.

In Indian context

Apple is facing an antitrust challenge in India from a Rajasthan-based non-profit organization called ‘Together We Fight Society’ on this issue. Last year, CCI (Competition Commission of India) also started investigations into similar allegations against Google.

Read more: Regulating tech giants in India- Explained
What should India do?

India can also enact such a law. As such a law cannot be called as radical. Further, the Government had recently set up Open Network for Digital Commerce to “democratise e-commerce” and “to provide alternatives to proprietary e-commerce sites”. So such laws are the need of the hour, given the challenge of protecting and encouraging the smaller players.


Redefining the reservation policy

Source: This post is based on the article “Redefining the Reservation Policy” published in The Hindu on 7th 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: Understanding the reservation policy.

Synopsis: Political parties should consider making substantive changes to the way reservation is implemented.

Introduction

Recently, Tamil Nadu adopted a bill to provide 10.5% reservation for Vanniyakula Kshatriyas within the quota of MBC (Most Backward Class) and DNC (Denotified Communities)

With the 105th Constitutional Amendment, center empowered the states/ UTs to prepare their own list of Socio-Economic Backward Class (SEBC).

Read more: Centre to allow states to make their own OBC list

From this year onwards, 27% of all India quota for admissions for medical and dental courses will be reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Why there is a demand for Caste Based Census?
Read here: Caste based census in India – Explained, pointwise
What are the constitutional provisions?

Article 15(4) (5), Article 16 (4): Scheme of reservation for SEBC is permissible but meant for only those OBC which are not adequately presented.

What are the court judgements?

Indira Sawhney Case (1992): There must be extraordinary circumstances justifying the quantum to exceed the cap.

Maratha case: Maratha Reservation Case Judgment and Federalism

Why sub categorization is required?

Reservation has not translated into an equitable distribution of benefits for many groups in our heterogeneous society. This has generated the need for sub categorization.

NCBC (National Commission for Backward Classes) in 2015: It emphasized on the need for “Classification of OBC” than on streamlining the provisions on creamy layers to ensure free implementation of reservation policy.

Rohini Commission: It was constituted in 2017 for purpose of sub-categorization of communities in the Central list of OBC.

What are the important issues that need to be addressed?

All these call for an objective definition of Creamy Layer. For example, Tamil Nadu’s First Backward Classes Commission recommended that the “affluent sections” or the “creamy layer” in the backward classes should be excluded from reservation.

The annual income limit is one of the parameters that determine the creamy layer. But we observe that since September 1993, this was revised only five times against the norm of revision every three years. Moreover, the norms like GDP inflation, per capita income and a rise in the cost of living should also be considered.

We also see that income from salary and agriculture are not considered, but “income from other sources” is taken into account. The differentiation is unfair.

We should also work to quickly fill the posts of OBC’s. The parliamentary committee highlighted OBC employees in 78 ministries constituted only 21.75%, against the stipulated quota of 27%.

What we need to do next?

Instead of fighting over abstract issues, we should focus on concrete issues that can bring tangible results.

Terms to know


GS Paper 3

Decoding asset monetisation

Source: This post is based on the article “Decoding asset monetisation” published in The Hindu on 8th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Regarding National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) project

Synopsis: Govt recently launched its NMP project. The article throws light on what NMP exactly is and what it is not.

Introduction

The National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) is a bold initiative. But we should first understand what the NMP is and what it is not. The NMP is not about the sale of government-owned assets. It is not about privatisation or disinvestment. The proposal is to offer infrastructure assets that will continue to be owned by the government under a long-term concession agreement to interested private bidders.

How is NMP different from the PPP model of prev govt?

The NMP is very different from the previous govt’s public- private partnership (PPP) infrastructure development of the mid-2000s.

PPP infrastructure development of the mid-2000s.NMP
It was about attracting private parties to build, operate and then transfer ‘greenfield’ or new infrastructure projects under build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession agreements.NMP is about leasing out brownfield infrastructure
assets (such as an already operating inter-State toll highway) under a toll-operate-transfer (TOT) concession agreement.
The winning private bidder took not only the operating risk, but also the development and construction risk of the project, such as a toll road, from scratch.Concessionaire does not need to take any of the construction risk.
It was a complex and messy process. It involved the acquisition of land, securing environmental and other regulatory approvals. All this led to a huge volume of disputes for which there was no readily available resolution mechanism.The process promises to be much simpler and cleaner than what was required in the PPP programme. In such an arrangement, no acquisition of land is involved.
To be successful in the BOT bids required a proven ability to navigate and manage the system.For success under the bidding process of the NMP, what will be required is operational experience in running a particular class of infrastructure assets and a strong understanding of the potential cash flows generated over the life of the concession.

What steps must govt take to ensure NMP’s success?

Flexible contracts: Given the long tenure of these concession agreements for assets, they must be designed to allow for some flexibility so that each party has the opportunity to deal with unforeseen circumstances (such as climate-related disasters) and to prevent needless litigation.

Key performance indicators: Contracts must also incorporate clear key performance indicators expected of the private party and clear benchmarks for assets as they are handed over by the government in the start of the concession. This is key to avoiding disputes about potential additional capital expenditures that might be required to keep the asset operational.

Must Read: National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) project – Explained

Effective implementation: No matter how well a contract is crafted, it still needs to be implemented effectively. Experience shows that there is a tendency for government departments to inject opacity into the implementation of concession agreements so that they have more power over the concessionaire. To avoid this, it would be useful if the responsibility for administering the concession agreements did not lie directly with the line ministries and/or their agencies.

Robust dispute resolution mechanism: It is vital to put in place a robust dispute resolution mechanism. An institution such as ‘3 PPP India’, first mooted in the 2014 Budget, is needed. It would also be advisable to set up an Infrastructure PPP Adjudication Tribunal along the lines of what was recommended by the Kelkar Committee (2015) to create suitably specialised dispute resolution capacity.

The govt could start with sectors that offer the greatest cash flow predictability and the least regulatory uncertainty before expanding the experiment. It could also ensure that resources raised from the NMP are used to fund new asset creation under the National Infrastructure Pipeline. This will ensure credibility.


India’s tryst with the promise of a hydrogen-fuel economy

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s tryst with the promise of a hydrogen-fuel economy” published in Live Mint on 8th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Regarding Green Hydrogen

Synopsis: India is pushing towards cleaner forms of energy. Green Hydrogen offers an opportunity.

Background

Read here: Green Hydrogen – Potential, issues and solutions

What is the present global scenario of Hydrogen production?

The current global production of hydrogen of about 80 million metric tonnes, and is almost wholly produced through fossil fuels. It uses 6% of global natural gas and 2% of coal, and contributes a whopping 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Thus, this route to hydrogen is not optimal.

In the coming years, hydrogen might transcend from fringe to mainstream status. It is not for the first time that such dramatic transformations have been witnessed in India.

What are some examples of dramatic transformations achieved by India?

Jan Dhan yojana: The roll-out of Jan Dhan Yojana no-frills bank accounts reached 400 million in just a few years.

Data usage: In data usage, India has leapfrogged from the bottom to the top global ranking in a short time.

LED usage: In LED usage, India’s market grew by 130 times in five years, from annual sales of 5 million LED bulbs in 2014 to 670 million in 2018.

The exponential scale effect in these examples has had a significant influence on bringing down unit costs. For instance, the price of an LED bulb dropped by nearly 85% in five years. India’s dramatic drop in data prices is also well known. So a similar phenomenon in hydrogen is possible.

What are some applications of Green Hydrogen?

It is expected to play a key role in decarbonization efforts, and has application in a variety of industries such as transportation, including trucks, buses, cars, and rail, as feedstock for fertilizers, chemicals, and refineries, in decarbonizing buildings and decarbonizing high-heat industries such as steel-making.

How the world is pushing forward with Hydrogen?

The global push for hydrogen is snowballing.

Thirty-one countries have already announced strategies. Many in the EU have scaled up investments in electrolyzers, as also China. More than 75 countries have a net-zero carbon ambition, for which hydrogen is indispensable.

Hence, it is possible that 22% of the global energy need by 2050 could be hydrogen-based.

However, the realization of this vision for India requires several things.

What needs to be done by India?

First, an enabling policy framework.

Second, a nudge to increase demand.

Third, infrastructure development, such as pipeline networks and last-mile connectivity. This can be accelerated through proven business models like Master Limited Partnerships, which are common in the West and allow private capital to participate in the scaling-up effort.


Climate crisis in North East India: Why are rainfall patterns changing?

Source: This post is based on the article “Climate crisis in North East India: Why are rainfall patterns changing?” published in Down to Earth on 6th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: impact of climate change on rainfall pattern

Synopsis: Climate change is causing increased variability and unpredictability of rainfall in the North East region of India.

Introduction

The climate of North East India is changing: Rainfall patterns over the region in the last century have considerably changed, resulting in its overall drying up. The India Meteorological Department’s September forecast stated that normal to below-normal rainfall was most likely to continue over many areas of northwest and northeast India.

Why is the rainfall pattern changing? 

Climate change causing drying up of land: An aspect of warming that influences rainfall is drying of the land, which increases the frequency and intensity of dry periods and droughts. An increase in moisture and the drying up together change the rainfall patterns in unpredictable ways.

Increased snowfall in the Eurasian region also impacts monsoon rainfall in North East India. Excessive snowfall in Eurasia causes cooling of the atmosphere of the region, which triggers events eventually leading to a weak summer monsoon season there.

Sea surface temperatures: A study has also attributed a decrease in rainfall to sea surface temperatures over the subtropical Pacific Ocean, which vary in a cycle and each phase of which lasts a decade. The peak comes every 20 years and is known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). As per a study, PDO is being influenced by global warming as it decreases the difference of temperatures among the layers of the ocean. The peak of PDO will change from 20 to 12 years, which may have an impact on the monsoon rainfall in North East India.

These factors may be at play in the north-eastern region of India.

Also, one cannot be sure about the exact impact of climate change on the rainfall in the region for the lack of data and credible long-term research on the same. This is because there is no data collection infrastructure.

What is the future climate scenario for the North East region?

The future climate scenarios look bleak for the region.

Inc in temp and rainfall: They show an increase in temperatures and in rainfall, in contrast with the evidence of a decrease in rainfall over the past century. Environment Ministry has projected that temperatures in the region will rise by 1.8-2.1 degrees Celsius by the end 2030. Annual mean rainfall can rise by 0.3-3 per cent in the same period.

In Assam, the Indian state most vulnerable to climate change, models predict an increase in temperature of 1.7-2.0 degree Celsius between 2021-2050.

What are the implications of a changing rainfall pattern?

A changing rainfall pattern, especially during the monsoon season, has the following impacts:

-Affects the flow of rivers: There is some evidence of the changing course of rivers from several districts in Assam such as Lakhimpur and Dhemaji, where the Subansiri, Dibang (tributaries of Brahmaputra) and Brahmaputra rivers are changing courses in unexpected ways. In Arunachal Pradesh, the Papum Pare district has also been affected by the changing course of the Dikrong river.

Extreme rainfall events being caused by global warming trigger a cascade of events such as accelerated soil erosion along the hill slopes devoid of forest cover. This increases the surface run-off of rivers and changes their course.

The new courses taken by the rivers are often the ancient paleo-channels that it has abandoned for centuries and where people have settled to avoid flooding.

-Extent of snow cover and

-Health of mountain springs

All this, in turn, has an impact on livelihoods, especially agriculture and fishing, forest flora growth, animal and bird habitat (and behaviour), and other ecosystem aspects.


How India is positioned to achieve UN’s sustainable consumption and production goal

Source: This post is based on the article “How India is positioned to achieve UN’s sustainable consumption and production goal” published in Down to Earth on 7th Sep 2021.

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

Relevance: Regarding India’s efforts toward SDG12

Synopsis: India is working towards achieving sustainable development goal related to responsible consumption and production, but much more needs to be done. A look at India’s progress and associated challenges.

Introduction

The United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)12 deals with resource usage. India has prepared numerous sustainable consumption and production plans that are put in the mainstream priority.

India’s progress in regard to the SDG is fair enough but not satisfactory.

Important stats

The average lifestyle material footprint of India according to 2015 statistics is around 8,400 kg per capita per year, which when compared to sustainable material footprint of 8,000 kg per capita per year is quite acceptable.

Municipal waste: The population of China and India together constitutes 36% of the global population, but generates only 27% of the global municipal waste. Whereas, the United States constitutes only 4% of the global population that produces 12% of the waste.

Why food wastage should be addressed?

Impact on Greenhouse emissions: Food wastage reduction can have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions, hunger, pollution and money-saving during recessions.

Will fulfill multiple SDGs: Curbing food loss and wastage can serve to fulfil multiple SDGs at once as well as help bridge the food gap by 2050.

How’s India’s progress on SDG 12?

The SDG 12.3 focuses on reducing per capita global food waste by 2030. About 50 kg of food is wasted per person per year in India, UNEP highlighted in its 2021 report. Still, India, among South Asian countries, has lower level of food wastage compared to its neighbouring countries.

SDG 12.6 and 12.7 require large companies to adopt, promote and integrate sustainable practices and publish the related reports. Some companies are realising the need for greener ways of operation. Flipkart, an e-commerce company, has replaced paper cups for ceramic and glass ones.

What are some steps being taken by the central & state govt?

One important aspect of SDG 12 is the education of people so that they are aware of sustainable development and lifestyles. This would help them make smarter and evaluated choices that are in harmony with nature.

Environment education: The Indian government has included environment education as a compulsory component in the formal curriculum. This is not new as the roots of such an education system date back to the 1960s.

Sustainable tourism: A very closely tied goal is sustainable tourism. Kerala has been the leading state with respect to innovative initiatives for sustainable tourism. The project of ‘Responsible Tourism’ in Kumarakom takes the help of the local community by linking them to the hospitality industry and sustaining eco-friendly tourism. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh has introduced a ‘Homestay Scheme’ to draw tourists to rural areas with natural, comfortable and budget-friendly accommodation and food. These initiatives give a raw experience to the tourists and also boost local incomes.

Among all the states and union territories in India, Jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland are top performing till date with respect to SDG 12, according to the Niti Aayog’s SDG dashboard 2020-21.

What are the challenges?

Less efficient methods: China, India and Pakistan use the method of ‘phytoremediation’, a concept that stems from bioremediation through the usage of plants. This involves tree plantation to restore environment as well as degraded soil restoration. This method is, however, less efficient.

Lower recycling capacity: A considerable part of the total hazardous waste that India produces is recyclable, but only 4% is recycled. Efforts are required to upgrade recycling mechanisms.

What needs to be done?

Reducing fossil fuel usage: After 2017 there has been a slight upward trend in the total energy subsidy. While the increase in renewable energy subsidy is worth appreciating, there is a need for shifting more resources to this area and reducing fossil fuel usage.

India can achieve self-sufficiency in recycling in the next 10 years if National Recycling Policy is implemented properly and scrap care techniques are shifted in the recycling industries.

Terms to know:


Why Palm won’t fix India’s edible oil woes

Source: This post is based on the article “Why Palm won’t fix India’s edible oil woes” published in the Live Mint on 8th September 2021.

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

Relevance: India’s dependency in Edible oils

Synopsis: India should focus on improving indigenous edible oil production rather than focusing on palm oil, that has many problems.

What are the problems associated with oil palm crop?

Reduces choices of farmers: Since, Palm is a long gestation crop, it reduces the responsiveness of farmers to changing market demand. For instance, farmers can switch to other crops like groundnut if it gives high return for the current year but not palm due to its long gestation period.

Must Read: The dangers of India’s palm oil push
What are the reasons for the recent increase in Palm oil price?
  1. Lower production due to pandemic-induced labour shortages in Indonesia and Malaysia,
  2. Significantly higher demand from China,
  3. The diversion of soy oil for the production of bio-diesel in the US.
  4. Share of Home-grown edible oil such as mustard and groundnut oils is limited
Must Read: Some facts about Palm oil
How the government responded to increasing Prices in Pal oil?

Responding to the crisis, the Union government launched an ₹11,000 crore national mission on oil palm in August. The mission focuses majorly on the north-eastern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, both of which get abundant rainfall.

What are the issues & challenges associated with the mission?

Disregard for indigenous oil crops: The policy also completely ignores oils that are already native to India, such as mustard, groundnut, sesame and coconut, which are healthier and grown mostly by resource-poor farmers in rain-fed conditions. Currently, over half of the home-grown edible oil production is contributed by mustard, groundnut and soybean.

States need to respect “zonalisation norms”: For instance, to cater to 50,000 hectares of plantation, a company has to invest about ₹2,000 crore. Since a firm can start recouping its investments and make profits only by the tenth year, farmers will have to mandatorily supply to the company that is operating in a particular zone and vice versa.

Small and marginal oilseed growers are excluded: The crop is suited for rich, large land-owning farmers—and absentee landlords who can wait it out for 5 years before making profits. A strategy to achieve self-sufficiency based on palm, therefore, excludes existing small and marginal oilseed growers.

What steps should be taken?

India could achieve stability in edible oil prices with a mix of strategies, which includes improved research and development (R&D) to increase the yield and oil content in mustard and groundnut.

A possible solution is to incentivize farmers to move away from rice, wheat and sugarcane and instead, plant more oilseeds and pulses where India is deficient. Another oil source is rice bran, which is healthy and holds great potential.

Farmers should be given duty protection from cheap imports, alongside cultivation incentives and price support.

Impose quantitative restrictions: It will be politically difficult to raise duties on palm oil imports, as it will add to inflation. A way out is to impose quantitative restrictions and channelize imports via the public distribution system to stabilize consumer prices.

Must Read: How India achieved atmanirbharta in edible oils during the early 1990s?

Rolling out the EV charging network

Source: This post is based on the article “Rolling out the EV charging network” published in the Business Standard on 8th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Non-conventional Energy resources

Relevance: Future of Green vehicles in India

Synopsis: Steps taken by government to increase EV charging network in India.

Introduction

The Indian vehicle market is poised for a historic leap into electrification. On the rollout of a charging network for electric vehicles (EVs), India faces the classic chicken and egg problem—EVs require charging infrastructure and that requires EVs.

According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, there are 1,800 charging stations in India as of March 2021 for approximately 16,200 electric cars.

To achieve the expectations by 2030, it has been projected that India will need 29,00,000 charging points at an investment of Rs 21,000 crore, in addition to in-home charging points.

What steps are being taken by govt to increase charging infra in India?

Guidelines by Min of power: The Ministry of Power has issued guidelines applicable to EV charging stations. Public charging stations shall be a delicensed activity and any individual or entity is free to set these up, obtaining electricity under open access.

Regulated Tariff: The tariff, determined by the state electricity regulatory commission, shall not be more than the average cost of supply plus 15%. Private charging at residences is permitted, and domestic tariff is applicable.

FAME policy: The Department of Heavy Industries has laid out the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) policy. FAME provides upfront incentives on the purchase of EVs as well as for development of charging infrastructure.

Green licence plates: The Ministry of Road Transport has announced that EVs will be issued green licence plates.

Development of indigenous standards: The Department of Science and Technology and the Bureau of Indian Standards are collaborating on developing indigenous charging options and standards.

Reduced rates on charging station equipment: The GST Council has reduced the rates on charging station equipment from 18% to 5%.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is involved in facilitating partnerships among state governments, public sector partners and private companies to enter this space.

NITI Aayog is spearheading the Mission for Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, that seeks to proliferate low-cost charge-points for two-wheelers and three-wheelers across Bharat.

What are the other alternatives to e-Vehicles?

Hydrogen fuel cell has been provided as another solution for adoption of green automobiles. Hydrogen-power technology is a contrary to Tesla and other automotive giants’ battery-led technology. However, there are also concerns over whether splitting the tightly bonded oxygen and hydrogen atoms of water is energy inefficient.

About 50 units of electricity is required to produce a kilogram of hydrogen. Why use electricity to produce hydrogen when you already have it, is the question posed.

What is the way forward?

Need to sort out the issues related to uniformity of standards and “interoperability.”

The concern over EV charging time can be resolved by battery swapping. Battery-swapping facilities are to be set up alongside charging infrastructure.

The three types of interoperability i.e., plug type, charger-to-network communication, and network-to-network communication, all need to be aligned.


The employment dividend from exports

Source: This post is based on the article “The employment dividend from exports” published in Business Standard on 8th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Effects of Liberalization on the Economy

Relevance: Export sector in India, Creation of jobs

Synopsis: The surge in some export sectors has the potential to address India’s urban jobs challenge with necessary policy intervention.

Introduction

The share of exports in India’s gross domestic product has seen a steady decline to about 11% during the last ten years.

But for the current year, India’s exports of merchandise goods are booming. In the first five months of 2021-22, exports were 67% higher.

More importantly, exports of $164 billion in April-August 2021 were 23% more than those in the same months of 2019. Such healthy growth rates in India’s exports have not been seen for more than a decade.

Also, there is recovery in exports of India’s merchandise goods exports. India’s exports have benefited from the global price increase for petroleum products.

What are some key takeaways from the current export growth?

Growing footprint of China in India’s exports basket: India’s exports to China have been rising at a healthy pace. In a post-pandemic world, China has pushed out the United Arab Emirates to become India’s second biggest export destination, after the United States.

Lukewarm exports recovery of Indian automobile industry: Exports of motor vehicles and cars had almost collapsed. The big question is whether the export engine for the automobile industry (which accounts for a good chunk of manufacturing) would increase in the coming days.

Recovery of a few employment-intensive sectors: For instance, pearls and precious stones have made a comeback. Similarly, exports of gold jewelry have also recovered, though it is yet to recover its pre-pandemic share. Thousands of workers are engaged in these sectors and the pick-up in its exports should signal the return of jobs.

Exports of readymade cotton garments have also improved. They have already acquired a share of 3.7% in total exports, and it appears that if the trend continues, they could increase their share in India’s larger export basket.

All the sectors benefiting from an exports surge can create jobs, particularly in urban India. Policymakers, therefore, cannot afford to lose this opportunity.


The economic reforms — looking back to look ahead

Source: This post is based on the article “The economic reforms — looking back to look ahead” published in The Hindu on 8th September 2021.

Syllabus: GS3- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning

Relevance: Analysis of 1991 reforms

Synopsis: Systemic policy reforms are required to unlock creativity and innovation in the economic system, raise the total factor productivity (TFP) and to achieve higher growth.

Introduction

The crisis caused by the pandemic in the country and at global level has led to a debate about new approaches to manage the economy and the future of humanity.

It has underscored the need for policies to enable resilience in the economy and ensure a robust health system, together with research and development.

What are some positive effects of the reforms?

The reforms led to the following positives:

An increase in foreign exchange reserves

Sustained manufacturing contribution in GDP

Increased share in global exports

Robust information and communication technology software exports

Sustained economic growth in the range of 6%-8%

What are the current challenges to economic growth?

The economic reforms, so far, have been more focused on the technical nature of the economy than the system, process and people.

As a result, primary drivers of the economy, the human capital, technology readiness, labour productivity, disposable income, capital expenditure, process innovation in setting up businesses, and institutional capacity have not got enough recognition.

Human resource capital (HRC) formation: The HRC rank for India stands at 103; Sri Lanka is at 70, China at 34, and South Korea at 27, as brought out by the Global Human Capital Report, 2017.

Low Per capita income: low per capita GDP at $2,104 has direct links to low per capita family income.

Low wages linked with less disposable income of families: Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index in 2016 reflects that the hourly wages in India have been $1.7; they are $38, $24, $20.7 and $3.3 for the United States, Japan, South Korea, and China, respectively. It is ultimately affecting demand.

Low research and development expenditure: It stands at 0.8% of GDP, which is resulting in lower capacity for innovation in technologies and reduced ‘technology readiness’.

Labour productivity: Low productivity has unfavourable consequences for competitiveness, manufacturing growth, exports and economic growth.

Time and cost overruns: there are difficulties in acquiring land for businesses and inefficient utilisation of economic infrastructure.

What reforms can be implemented to drive the economy?

Address the underlying issues: address structural issues — HRC, skills, research and development (R&D), land management and institutional capacity.

Attract large investment in manufacturing and advanced service: enhanced public sector outlay to 8% of GDP for education, skill development and public health, is another first step.

Technology readiness: The reports (by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum) suggest that Industry 4.0 will be defined by new technologies such as robotics, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT).

Build the capacity of public institutions: as per Nobel laureate (1993) Douglass C. North, it is necessary to build the capacity of public institutions. Policy reforms should promote a business-centric approach to create a friendly ecosystem and for efficient internal supply chain management.

 

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Drone use, satellite imagery for agriculture insurance may be a must

What is the news?

Govt, IRDAI are considering using artificial intelligence to control fraud claims, cut delays in settlement.

Pilot studies have been undertaken for estimation of yield at the gram panchayat level by using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, among others.

What is being planned?

Use of drones and satellite imaging could be made mandatory for insurers to keep a check on fraudulent and false insurance claims. For agriculture insurance, where claims are dependent on crop and crop-cutting patterns, the plan is to initially make use of satellite imagery and drones for a detailed evaluation of crop produce on a voluntary basis.

Adoption of AI and Big Data: For this, the Centre and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) are in discussions to adopt artificial intelligence and big data to identify manipulation of processes, and reduce delays in settlement of claims.

Initially, technological upgradation will be voluntary, and this would soon be made mandatory for all insurers, creating a new benchmark.

Further, this could be replicated for industrial insurance as well, due to difficulty in identifying the cause of the problem, and subsequent delay in settlement of claims.

Insurance frauds are reportedly committed at the time of application or claim and cost Rs 45,000 crore per year to insurance companies.

What are the benefits of using tech in agri & industrial insurance?

To prevent fraudulent claims: The use of technology for claim assessment is being pushed to diagnose processes that are being manipulated, leading to fraudulent claims in agricultural as well as industrial insurance.

Use of drones will help in checking the extent of losses in instances such as a fire at the top of a building or oil spillage at sea, where the cause of the problem is difficult to identify or assess.

Source: This post is based on the article “Drone use, satellite imagery for agriculture insurance may be a must” published in Business Standard on 8th Sep 2021.


Mother of all forms: Many official documents still don’t allow mother’s name to be a standalone marker of parentage. Change this

Source: This post is based on the article “Mother of all forms: Many official documents still don’t allow mother’s name to be a standalone marker of parentage. Change this” published in The Times of India on 8th September 2021.

What is the news?

Madras High Court is hearing a PIL seeking revision of all official documents that recognise only the father’s name, and offer no space for the mother’s name. During the case, the Madras HC issued a notice to both central and state governments and demanded explanations.

Non-compliance in previous instances

In 2015, the Supreme Court directed the municipal bodies to not insist on a father’s name for issuing birth certificates. But many municipal bodies still do not comply with that.

Similarly, the education department has issued various circulars that a father’s name is not necessary to avail school admissions. But that too is not followed in practice.

Issues associated with not mentioning the mother’s name in the official documents

Promotes Patriarchy: A mother is often the primary caretaker. When a child grows up, seeing her name missing from the official papers will infuse the patriarchal mindset in the children. It creates a notion that a mother is secondary to the father in the home.

So, including the mother’s name in the official document is a much-needed reform.


Shikshak Parv: PM Narendra Modi launches key education initiatives

What is the news?

The Prime minister has recently launched several initiatives in the education sector on Shiksha Parv. The aim behind these initiatives is to make our education system globally competitive. It also aims to make the youth future-ready.

What is Shiksha Parv?

It is being celebrated by the Ministry of Education. It is celebrated to honor the contributions of teachers. Furthermore, it also highlighted new initiatives under the  New Education Policy 2020.

Its celebration will encourage innovative practices to ensure not only continuity of education at all levels but to improve quality, inclusive practices and sustainability in the schools across the country as well.

Theme: “Quality and Sustainable Schools: Learnings from Schools in India”.

Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise
What are the new initiatives launched?

PM Modi has launched new initiatives under Azadi ka Amrit Mahaotsav.

Indian Sign Language dictionary: The dictionary is launched by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training centre of DPwD (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities). It has 10,000 words in it. It was also accompanied by the launch of the Talking Books (audiobooks for the visually impaired).

School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) of CBSE: SQAAF will help in bridging the inequality in education. It would also address the deficiency of the absence of a common scientific framework for various dimensions. These dimensions include curricula, pedagogy, assessment, inclusive practices and governance process.

NISTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat: It is aimed at training the teachers on new systems and techniques.

Vidyanjali Portal: This portal is used for facilitating education volunteers, donors and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) contributors for school development. It is the platform for the country to achieve ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ with ‘Sabka Prayas’.

N-DEAR (National digital architecture): It will act as a ‘super connect between various academic activities, in the same way as UPI interface revolutionized the banking sector. It will play a major role in eradicating inequality in education and its modernization

Along with these initiatives, PM also urged the private sector to come forward and contribute to increasing the quality of education in government schools.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • Shikshak Parv: PM Narendra Modi launches key education initiatives” published in the Business Standard on 7th September 2021.
  • “PM addresses the inaugural conclave of Shikshak Parv” published in the PIB on 7th September 2021.

Terms to know


What are dugongs, where is India’s first dugong conservation reserve?

Source: This post is based on the articleWhat are dugongs, where is India’s first dugong conservation reservepublished in Indian Express on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Tamil Nadu State government has announced plans to set up a 500-sq km Dugong Conservation Reserve in Palk Bay. This is India’s first dugong conservation reserve.

About Dugongs

Dugongs(Dugong dugon), also called the sea cow, is a herbivorous mammal. They can grow up to three meters long, weigh about 300 kilograms and live for about 65 to 70 years grazing on seagrass and coming to the surface to breathe.

Habitat: They are found in over 30 countries and in India are seen in the Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Kutch, Palk Bay, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Diet: They are largely dependent on seagrass communities for subsistence and are thus restricted to the coastal habitats which support seagrass meadows.

Population: According to a 2013 survey report of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), there were only about 200 dugongs in the Gulf of Mannar in Tamil Nadu, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.

Conservation Status of Dugongs

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Indian Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

CITES: Appendix I

Significance of Dugongs

They are an important part of the marine ecosystem, and their depletion will have effects all the way up the food chain.

Threats faced by Dugongs 

Loss of seagrass habitats, water pollution and degradation of the coastal ecosystem due to developmental activities have made life tough for Dugongs. 

Dugongs are also victims of accidental entanglement in fishing nets and collision with boats, trawlers.


Odisha: Koraput’s Manda buffalo gets unique, indigenous tag

Source: This post is based on the articleOdisha: Koraput’s Manda buffalo gets unique, indigenous tagpublished in The Hindu on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

Manda buffalo has been recognised as the 19th unique breed of buffaloes found in India by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).

Note: Four breeds of cattle – Binjharpuri, Motu, Ghumusari and Khariar – and two breeds of buffalo – Chilika and Kalahandi – and one breed of sheep, Kendrapada, have already received NBAGR recognition.

About Manda Buffalo

Manda Buffalo
Source: The Hindu

Manda Buffalo are found in the Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region of Odisha.

They are small, sturdy buffaloes used for ploughing and in agricultural operations in Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur districts.

Features of Manda Buffalo

These buffaloes have ash grey and grey-coloured coats with copper colour hair. Their lower legs are light in colour with copper-coloured hair at the knee. Some animals are silver-white in colour. 

Population: There are around 100,000 Manda buffaloes in the Eastern Ghats.

Significance of Manda Buffalo

These buffaloes are resistant to parasitic infection and less prone to diseases. Further, they can live, produce and reproduce in a low/nil input system. 

How will the recognition by NGABR help Manda Buffalo? 

After the recognition, the state and Centre will make efforts to conserve this unique buffalo genetic resource of Odisha and enhance their productivity through breeding strategy. 

The governments will help in marketing the produce– milk, curd and ghee- at a premium price resulting in the improvement of the livelihood of the stakeholders.


Ministry of Coal Constitutes Task Force and Expert Committee to Prepare Road Map for Coal based Hydrogen Production

Source: This post is based on the articleMinistry of Coal Constitutes Task Force to Prepare Road Map for Coal based Hydrogen Productionpublished in PIB on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

The Ministry of Coal has constituted a Task Force and Expert Committee to prepare a road map for Coal based Hydrogen Production.

About the Task Force for Coal based Hydrogen Production

The Task Force will be headed by an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Coal. 

Its terms of reference include identification of roles to be played by each stakeholder ministry and monitoring of activities towards achieving coal based Hydrogen production.

What is Coal Based Hydrogen Production?

Coal is one of the important sources of Hydrogen making(Brown Hydrogen). The other sources of Hydrogen making are Grey Hydrogen (produced from natural gas) and Green Hydrogen (produced through electrolysis of water using renewable energy). 

Moreover, production of Hydrogen from coal can be cheaper and less sensitive to imports for India in comparison to Grey Hydrogen and Green Hydrogen.

Read more: Green Hydrogen: Potential, Issues and Solutions – Explained, pointwise

Challenges in Coal Based Hydrogen Production

Coal has not been encouraged for the production of Brown Hydrogen because of the fear that while extracting hydrogen via coal (from the moisture embedded in coal) there may be carbon emission. Hence, due to this, 100% of Hydrogen produced in India is through Natural Gas.

Moreover, production of hydrogen from coal has challenges in terms of Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage(CCUS).

Note: CCUS is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses or stores it, so it will not enter the atmosphere.

What is the solution then?

If the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide formed during the coal to hydrogen process are trapped and stored in an environmentally sustainable manner (CCS and CCUS), then, Indian coal reserves could become a great source of producing brown hydrogen.


El Salvador becomes first nation to adopt bitcoin as legal currency

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • In world first, bitcoin becomes legal tender in El Salvadorpublished in TOI on 7th September 2021.
  • El Salvador becomes first nation to adopt bitcoin as legal currencypublished in Business Standard on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. This means businesses should accept payment in bitcoin alongside the U.S. dollar, which has been El Salvador’s official currency since 2001.

Benefits of making Bitcoin as Legal Tender by El Salvador:

Reduce the cost of remittance transactions: Bitcoin will help El-Salvador save $400 million a year on commissions for remittances. The remittance flows in El Salvador are fundamental since they represent 24% of its GDP.

Financial democratization: The adoption of digital currency would democratize access to electronic payments, since more than 70% of the adult population of the country does not have a bank account.

More options for the consumer: The cryptocurrency could offer more options to consumers.

Potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): El Salvador could attract FDI in payment platform developers, ATM manufacturers and bitcoin miners, among others.

What are the concerns of Making Bitcoin, a Legal Tender by El Salvador?

Carbon Footprint: El Salvador’s bitcoin plan has put a spotlight on the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies as extracting digital currency from cyberspace requires large amounts of energy, and the bitcoin industry’s global CO2 emissions have risen to 60 million tons equal to the exhaust from about 9 million cars.

Regulations: In the absence of a central regulating authority, legalizing bitcoin will have the potential for fraud and money laundering, high energy costs and extreme volatility.

Fluctuations in Bitcoin: There are doubts over how the country will avoid risks linked to sharp fluctuations in the digital currency, whose value can vary by hundreds of dollars in a day.


What is Inspiration 4, SpaceX’s first all-civilian space mission?

Source: This post is based on the articleWhat is Inspiration4, SpaceX’s first all-civilian space mission?published in Indian Express on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

SpaceX has announced that it is planning to launch the Inspiration4 mission by September 15.

About Inspiration4 mission:

Inspiration4 is a spaceflight planned for four people aboard the SpaceX Resilience capsule.

The three-day flight will be the first human spaceflight to orbit Earth with exclusively private citizens on board.

The flight will be privately operated by SpaceX using a previously-flown Crew Dragon capsule launched to low Earth orbit.  

The objective of the Inspiration4 mission

The mission involves circling the Earth for three days and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.

It will orbit the Earth at 575 km, higher than the International Space Station (408 km) and the Hubble Space Telescope (547 km).This will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts last went to repair the Hubble.

Significance of the Inspiration4 mission

The mission is a part of an effort to raise millions for the Tennessee-based St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a paediatric treatment and research facility that focuses on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukaemia and other cancers.

Moreover, the mission will also present an opportunity for collecting large amounts of health data that will aid in planning future crewed space missions.


Union Minister launches program ‘Buzurgon ki Baat–Desh Ke Saath’

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches program ‘Buzurgon ki Baat–Desh Ke Saathpublished in PIB on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

​​The Union Minister of Culture has launched a program named ‘Buzurgon ki Baat – Desh Ke Saath’. He also launched an exhibition on Gita Govinda and a book “Gita Govinda :Jayadeva’s Divine Odyssey” by Dr Utpal K. Banerjee

About Buzurgon ki Baat – Desh Ke Saath

The programme aims at enhancing the interaction between the youth and the elder persons who are 95 years and above and thus have spent around 18 years in India before independence. 

About Gita Govinda

The Gita Govinda is a work composed by the 12th-century poet, Jayadeva (contemporary of several other poets in the court of Lakshmana Sena of Bengal).

It is a lyrical poem dramatizing the love sports of Krishna and Radha.

The Gīta Govinda consists of twelve chapters, further divided into twenty-four songs. Each song consists of eight couplets, it is called Ashtapadi.


Niti Aayog Launches India’s First MBA Programme in Agripreneurship and Value Chain Management Offered by IIS

Source: This post is based on the article Niti Aayog Launches India’s First MBA Programme in Agripreneurship published in PIB on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

NITI Aayog and the Indian Institute of Sustainability of Gujarat University have signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) to launch an MBA programme in agripreneurship and value chain management.

About MBA Programme in Agripreneurship and Value Chain Management

It is a uniquely designed course that will provide global exposure to students in understanding the agriculture ecosystem. 

The Programme will be offered by the Indian Institute of Sustainability(IIS) of Gujarat University.

What is Agripreneurship and Value Chain Management?

Agripreneurship is a combination of Agriculture and Entrepreneurship. It is a process which takes up new methods & techniques in agriculture or allied sectors for better output. It includes agriculture, animal husbandry, agro-based industries, agribusiness, agro-based enterprises, rural & allied sectors as well as agriculture exports. 

Value Chain Management is about the farm to market supply chain system, which includes growing, buying, selling, processing, transporting, storing, checking, and packaging of agricultural goods. 


Three new heatwave hotspots in India put large population at immediate health risk

Source: This post is based on the article Three new heatwave hotspots in India put large populations at immediate health risk published in PIB on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

A team of researchers conducted a study to understand the change in spatial and temporal trends in Heatwaves(HW) and Severe Heat Waves(SHW) over the past seven decades in different meteorological subdivisions of India.

What is Heatwave?

A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature, that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India.

Impact of Heatwaves

Heatwaves have emerged as a deadly health hazard, claiming thousands of lives across the globe with episodes strengthening in frequency, intensity and duration in the past half-century in India as well. 

In such a scenario, it is extremely important to identify the heatwave hotspots in India to prioritize immediate policy intervention and stringent mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Heatwave Hotspots in India

Northwestern, central and south-central India are new hotspots of intense heat waves over the past 50 years in India.

These regions need effective heat action plans with a focus on different vulnerabilities among the inhabitants.


INS Tabar conducts Maritime Partnership Exercise with Egyptian Navy

Source: This post is based on the article INS TABAR CONDUCTS MARITIME PARTNERSHIP EXERCISE WITH EGYPTIAN NAVY published in PIB on 7th September 2021.

What is the News?

Indian Navy’s INS Tabar has carried out a military exercise with a frontline warship of the Egyptian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea.

About the Exercise with Egyptian Navy

The exercise involved multiple activities covering a wide range of naval operations. These included drills for transit through asymmetric threat environments, operations for interdicting suspect vessels at sea, communication procedures and replenishment at sea drills.              

Significance: The exercise was significantly beneficial in enhancing interoperability between the two navies and widened the scope for combined operations against common maritime threats in future. 

About INS Tabar:  

INS Tabar is a Talwar-class stealth Frigate built for the Indian Navy in Russia. The ship is equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors and is among the earliest stealth frigates of the Indian Navy.

The ship is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet which is based at Mumbai under Western Naval Command. 


 

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