9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 22nd, 2022

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 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2

The need to make cancer drugs affordable

Source: The post is based on the article The need to make cancer drugs affordablepublished in The Hindu on 22nd December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues related to the development and management of health 

Relevance: About the high cost of cancer treatment

News: The article explains the issue of the high cost of cancer treatment in India. 

What are some facts related to the high cost of cancer treatment in India? 

The Rajya Sabha Standing Committee on Health noted that “about 40% of cancer hospitalisation cases are financed mainly through borrowings, sale of assets and contributions from friends and relatives”.  

This situation has arisen because even average out of pocket spending on cancer care is too high. Spending on cancer care in private facilities is about three times that of public facilities.  

According to WHO, the costs associated with other medical care and interventions such as surgical interventions and supportive care would make overall care even more unaffordable. 

In the treatment protocol for breast cancer, CDK (cyclin-dependent kinase) inhibitors constitute a major therapeutic tool. These three drugs belong to this therapeutic class. A month’s treatment using these drugs could range between ₹48,000 and ₹95,000. 

What are the impacts of the high cost of cancer treatment? 

The high treatment cost has seriously impacted survival rates in developing countries. In the case of breast cancer, the five-year survival rate in India is estimated to be 65%. In high-income countries, it is nearly 90%. 

The lack of access to these critical medicines has pushed the life of patients and their families into deep financial stress. It has affected their right to live with dignity, a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.  

The Supreme Court in several judgments has interpreted the right to health as an extension of the right to life under Article 21. According to the WHO Constitution, “enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being”. 

What explains the high cost of cancer treatment? 

Recover research and development cost: According to pharmaceutical companies, they spend over $3 billion bringing a new molecule to the market. They must recover these costs. 

However, the WHO observed that spending on research and development may bear little or no relationship to how pharmaceutical companies set cancer medicine prices. Companies set prices with an eye to maximise profits. 

Intellectual property protection: The pharma companies can exercise monopoly control over their products.  

The scope and the power of these monopolies can become nearly absolute due to several factors. Ordinarily, patent rights over a medicine last until the expiry of its patent term. 

In the case of pharmaceutical patents, the leading firms in the industry often obtain patents on incremental innovations involving older medicines. It is called evergreening. 

What is the way forward to overcome the high cost of cancer treatment? 

The most obvious option is to authorise Indian companies to domestically produce high-priced cancer medicines, by granting compulsory licences in keeping with Sections 84 and 92 of the Patents Act. 

The Government can invoke provisions of Section 100. It empowers the government to authorise any entity to use a patented invention without the authorisation of the patent holder. According to the Rajya Sabha’s Standing Committee on Health, invoking the provisions of Section 100 seems to be the best way forward. 

Benchmarks for ECs’ appointments

Source: The post is based on the article Benchmarks for ECs’ appointmentspublished in The Hindu on 22nd December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS2- Appointment to various constitutional post 

Relevance: About the appointment of Election Commissioners

News: The article explains the issues of the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners. 

What is the true constitutional spirit that guides important offices like ECI?

Article 324 of the Constitution provides for the creation of the ECI. This brings to mind the larger issue of the working of the Constitution. 

According to B.R. Ambedkar “However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot. The working of a Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution.” 

According to Rajendra Prasad “Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. The Constitution, like a machine, is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it. India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them. 

The above views reflect the true constitutional spirit. Constitutional makers are expected to follow this spirit while assigning duties for important constitutional posts. 

What are the weaknesses in the system of appointment of ECs? 

One major weakness in the system of appointments of the ECs proposed is that it perpetuates the bureaucratisation of the ECI. It is not even mentioned in the Constitution anywhere. Two visible manifestations of this are the elevation of ECs to Chief Election Commissioner and the tenures of ECs and CEC.  

The elevation is a clear violation of the principle of primus inter pares (first among equals). Monopolisation of the positions of ECs and CEC by administrative services should be taken into consideration.  

What is the way forward for the appointment of ECs? 

The government need to go outside the existing frameworks as marginal improvements are not enough and bold actions are needed. 

An existing committee of Parliament or a new committee formed for this purpose should a) Propose the qualifications and requirements for persons to be appointed as ECs/CEC. These proposals and the selected candidates should be put to Parliament and should be approved by two-thirds majority of the members of Parliament present and voting, b) Entrusted with the task of searching for and selecting individuals proposed to be appointed as ECs/CEC, c) invite nominations and applications of individuals appropriate for or interested in being appointed as ECs/CEC, and d) Once Parliament approves the committee recommendations, they should be sent to the President for approving the appointments. Once appointed, such persons should stay in their positions for six years or the age of 75 years, whichever is earlier. Persons above the age of 69 years should not be appointed. 

Covid: How to prepare this time – India & the world must know what variant is causing China’s Covid wave

Source: The post is based on the following articles

“Concerning sequence – India’s vaccination strategy should accommodate for SARS-CoV-2 changes” published in The Hindu on 22nd November 2022.

“Covid’s China syndrome” published in the Business Standard on 22nd November 2022.

“Covid: How to prepare this time – India & the world must know what variant is causing China’s Covid wave” published in The Times of India on 22nd November 2022.

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

Relevance: About Covid surge in China.

News: The recent increase in covid cases reported out of China has triggered global alarm. India’s Health Ministry has instructed states to send positive samples to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) to check for new, concerning strains.

About the recent Covid surge in China

Despite the reports of crowded mortuaries, hospital admissions are piling up and stocked-out pharmacies. But weekly death counts are officially in the single digits.

Some mathematical modelling projections calculate a million COVID-19 cases in the coming days in China. An American public health scientist predicts that 60% of China and 10% of the world’s population are likely to be infected in the next 90 days.

What are the lessons from the recent Covid surge in China?

1) Long lockdowns cannot eliminate the virus or prevent the development of new strains, 2) The only reasonable defence possible against severe disease is via vaccines. In China, 90% of the population receives a single dose, and half, a second dose. So, the waning immunity is a cause of concern.

Read more: What ails India’s coronavirus genome sequencing system
Why the recent Covid surge in China is a cause for concern for India?

a) This surge is likely to resonate globally with many more infections, even in India, b) The issue of under-vaccination: Large parts of India’s population is yet to take either the second dose or the third precautionary (booster) dose. For example, less than 17% of young Indians (18-44 years), and less than a quarter of middle-aged Indians (45 -59 years) have taken the third dose.

Read more: How should India handle the new virus variants?
What should India do to prevent the next covid surge?

India should 1) Constantly gather global intelligence on the patterns of infectivity, immune evasion and virulence of currently circulating variants, 2) Check whether the administered vaccines are still efficacious or not, 3) Resume its free vaccination programme for booster doses, 4) Make basic precautions such as masking and social-distancing norms compulsory again, 5) Keep all systems on alert for a rapid, scaled up public health response when needed

India’s strategy should be a combination of vigilance through clinical and genomic surveillance and scenario-based planning.

Strengthening urban local bodies

Source: The post is based on the article “Strengthening urban local bodies” published in the Business Standard on 22nd November 2022.

Syllabus: GS – 2 – Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Relevance: About Strengthening urban local bodies.

News: An effective local government can not only promote healthy urban growth but also ensure ease of living for the population.

About India’s urban local bodies

In India, local governments in cities are established in accordance with the 74th Amendment Act.

-Their institutional framework comprises, a) Urban Local Bodies (ULBs): They administer cities or towns with a specified population. These local bodies are entrusted with functions related to welfare, public health and safety, infrastructural works and other activities related to city development, b) Municipal corporations, municipalities, notified area committees, and town area committees are some other types of urban local bodies.

-The Amendment gave state legislatures the authority to enact levies that support local government budgets. Accordingly, it is constitutionally required for state governments to establish means for ULBs to raise money.

-The Amendment Act gave municipalities constitutional standing and a strong mandate for democratic decentralisation through self-governing local bodies in urban areas.

Read more: Learn from Morbi: Fix local govt
What are the financial challenges faced by the urban local bodies?

a) The transfer of duties from the national and subnational governments to local governments has not been accompanied by a transfer of financial authority, b) Municipal corporations in India rely heavily on subsidies from the Central and state governments to cover their spending needs because they have few other sources of income, c) Over-reliance on property taxes has prevented local governments from fully utilising other revenue streams such as trade permits, entertainment taxes, mobile tower taxes, solid waste user fees, water fees, and value capture finance, d) The proportion of municipal corporations’ own sources of income decreased from 89.1% of total earnings in 1960-1961 to roughly 65 per cent in 2012-2013, e) Despite receiving constitutional recognition in 1992, municipal revenue in India as a whole remained almost constant from 1946 to 1947.

Impacts of the financial constraints: 1) According to the Reserve Bank of India, financially starved urban local bodies are unable to create the resources needed to offer their residents high-quality facilities and services, 2) India’s access to basic urban infrastructure falls short of what has been accomplished in the OECD and other BRICS countries.

Read more: Issues with Local Governance in India – Explained, pointwise
How to improve the financial condition of urban local bodies?

-According to the third State Finance Commission Report of Uttarakhand (2018-19), the ULBs in India must increase their efficiency in collecting parking fees, advertisement taxes, user fees, lease rentals, and property taxes.

– The state governments should ease resource restrictions for the operation of ULBs when developing capacity for sustainable urbanisation.

-A development of a web-based e-governance system can ensure the participation and effectiveness of local government’s operations. For instance, web-based property tax payments.

India should modernise local governance systems and getting them to work closely with local communities in accordance with a clear and effective administrative structure.

GS Paper 3

API crisis, again: PLI in key pharma ingredients was supposed to reduce dependence on China. But the job’s only partly done

Source: The post is based on the article “API crisis, again: PLI in key pharma ingredients was supposed to reduce dependence on China. But the job’s only partly done” published in The Times of India on 22nd December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economy

Relevance: India dependency on imports for APIs

News: The article discusses the impact of dependency on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and measures adopted by India to counter it.

What is the recent issue?

The prices of key Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), which are the essential ingredients in making medicines, have increased recently by 12-25%

This is because China has stocked basic medicines leading to a shortage in the supply chain and increase in the price.

Why India imports APIs from China?

India has the capability to make many key APIs. However, it is the cheap cost provided by China that has made India dependent on imports and incapable of making key APIs.

APIs and key starting materials used in the production made up 63% of total pharma imports for 2018-19. This highlights the need for India to reduce its imports.

What has the performance of PLI scheme in pharma ingredients?

India introduced a PLI scheme in July 2020 to encourage domestic manufacture of a target group of 41 products, including aspirin and penicillin.

According to the recent data, 51 companies had received approval under the PLI scheme to begin new plants to make APIs. However, only about 25-30% of the companies have begun manufacturing.

Even though India has prioritised the PLI scheme through budgetary support, it has not seen the desired result.

What is the way ahead?

India has a good history in pharmaceutical manufacturing and has all the capabilities. Therefore, India needs to use its strength and execute its PLI scheme rapidly to reduce its dependence on China.

With India crossing China’s population next year, how we can create mass prosperity

Source: The post is based on the article “With India crossing China’s population next year, how we can create mass prosperity” published in The Indian Express on 22nd December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3- Indian economy and employment 

Relevance: Issues related to the growth and development of economy 

News: The article explains the need for investing in human capital and formal jobs for the prosperity of the large Indian population. 

According to estimates, sometime in April 2023, India’s population will exceed the population of China. 

Why India should focus on human capital and formal jobs? 

A strong case for human capital-driven productivity is India’s software employment. A meagre 0.8% of workers generate 8% of GDP.  

The remittances from India’s overseas population crossed $100 billion last year. A World Bank report suggests that the qualitative shift during the previous five years from low-skilled, informal employment in Gulf countries to high-skilled formal jobs in high-income countries is significant.  

Last year, the US replaced the UAE as the single biggest source country with 23% of remittances.

Why are monetary and fiscal policies not solutions for resolving all growth-related challenges? 

Monetary policy is cannot resolve growth challenges as credit availability is a bigger problem in India than credit cost. If fiscal deficits could make countries rich, no country would be poor. Global experiences suggest where governments spend money and how this spending is financed matters more than how much is spent.  

Covid made enormous fiscal and monetary policy demands. Western central banks are struggling to shrink their balance sheets. Rich-country borrowing rates have risen by 300% plus and inflation hurts the poor the most.  

So, India avoided these fiscal and monetary policy excesses. 

What should be the focus area of the budget for generating human capital? 

The Finance Bill must target productivity and continuity by legislating human capital and formal job reforms previously proposed. The government should 

a) Reduce the implementation timeline for the powerful National Education Policy 2020 from 15 years to five years, b) Abolish separate licensing requirements for online degrees and freely allow all the 1,000-plus accredited universities to launch online learning, c) Notify the four labour codes for all central-list industries while appointing a tripartite committee to converge them into one labour code by the next budget, d) Continue EODB reforms by designating every enterprise’s PAN number as its Universal Enterprise Number, e) Explode manufacturing employment by abolishing the Factories Act and requiring all employers to comply under each state’s Shops and Establishment Act, f) Reduce the gap between documented salary and in hand salary by making employees’ provident fund contributions optional but raising employer PF contributions from the current 12% to 13%.  

What is the difference between the Indian and Chinese scenarios? 

India and China’s per capita GDP was equal in 1991. It is now five times higher for China. Unlike when China started serious reform in 1978, India today faces a more unfavourable global context of growth, exports, and manufacturing.  

China’s reforms were faster and crisper without the fixed costs of democracy. But this deficit led to their unchallenged policies of Cultural Revolution, one-child norm, and zero-Covid. India’s democracy is a strength. It reflects India’s ability to reconcile diverse aspirations. 

Stay with science, go slow on GM crops Transgenic technology

Source: The post is based on the article “Stay with science, go slow on GM crops Transgenic technology” published in The Indian Express on 22nd December 2022. 

Syllabus: GS3- Science and Technology 

Relevance: Recombinant technology.

News: The article explains the issues related to HT GM crops. 

Why precaution is required for the environmental release of GM crops? 

Transgenic technology is uncontrollable and irreversible after environmental release. Genetically Modified Organisms propagate themselves and proliferate. This process cannot be reversed.  

Therefore, any deliberate environmental release has to be only after a thorough, independent, peer-reviewed assessment of long-term implications.  

What is the current status of GM crops across the world? 

More than 25 years after their introduction, GM crops are still globally grown in just 29 out of 172 countries. Moreover, 91% of GM crop area continues to be in just five countries named USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and India.  

Most countries in Europe and Japan, Israel, and Russia do not grow GM crops. In China, Bt cotton area has been declining and non-GM hybrid technology is used for rapeseed/mustard. 

Only two traits are present in over 85% of GM crops grown — herbicide tolerance and insect resistance 

What are the issues with HT crops? 

HT crops result in not only ecological damage but human health impacts for consumers. Like tobacco, the effects take a longer time to manifest.  

According to independent research on GM crops and associated herbicides, their impact on human health may be probable carcinogenicity, neuro-toxicity, reproductive health problems, organ damage etc. 

The ongoing litigations in the Supreme Court are about serious shortcomings in our regulatory regime. Minutes of meetings of the regulatory body GEAC and the “guidelines and protocols” on the regulator’s website reflect an absence of regulatory protocols for HT crops. 

The technical expert committee appointed by the SC and the unanimous multi-party reports of two parliamentary standing committees have exposed serious lapses and inadequacies in bio-safety testing of HT crops.  

What are the concerns associated with the approval of GM mustard? 

GM mustard’s yield increase claims were based on a comparison with an old, non-hybrid variety. There were several higher-yielding mustard hybrids that should have been the comparators. 

Now, it is claimed that DMH-11’s parental lines will be very useful for breeding better hybrids. But, the countries with the highest yields in the world do not use this GM HT technique. The benefits claimed, hence, are therefore questionable. 

No independent health expert participated in the committees that looked at GM mustard safety. To this day, biosafety data of GM mustard has not been posted on the regulator’s website for independent scrutiny. 

It is claimed GM mustard is necessary to reduce India’s edible oil import bill. Most of the edible oil we import is cheap, non-GM, palm oil. 

What is the way forward for yield improvement of mustard? 

For mustard yield improvement, safe agro-ecological solutions such as the “system of mustard intensification” are showing significant yield increases. This technology should be promoted, not GM HT mustard of dubious yields and safety.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Only 30% reserved vacancies at IITs, Central universities filled in a year

Source: The post is based on the article “Only 30% reserved vacancies at IITs, Central universities filled in a year” published in The Hindu on 22nd December 2022.

What is the news?

IITs and 45 Central universities were directed to conduct the drive to fill vacancies in teaching positions reserved for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes between September 2021 to 2022.

However, the data reveals that there has not been enough recruitment in those categories.

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

As per the Education Ministry, only 30% of identified vacancies were filled in reserved category positions at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology and Central universities.

A total of 1,439 vacancies were identified in this period. Out of which just 449 recruitments were made.

Central Universities: Out of the 45 Central universities, 33 had identified more than 1000 vacancies in these categories, of which just 212 were filled.

Moreover, amongst these 33 universities, 18 of them had recruited no SC, ST or OBC teaching faculty at all, despite having identified vacancies.

12 of the Central universities conducted almost no recruitment during this drive and gave the reason that they could not identify any vacancies in these categories.

As per the data presented in the Parliament, Central universities had a combined backlog of over 920 positions in the SC/ST/OBC categories for teaching faculty till September 2022.

IITs: Of the 23 IITs, only 10 were able to identify 342 vacancies in these categories. 13 IITs were unable to identify vacancies to be filled in this recruitment drive because they follow a “flexible cadre structure for faculty positions”.

However, except for three IITs (Hyderabad, Bhilai and Bhubaneswar), others recruited a small number of SC/ST/OBC faculty and still 358 vacancies remained at 14 IITs.

Most IITs did not recruit SC/ST/OBC candidates at the Professor and Associate Professor levels.

Amendments to the Co-operative Societies Act

Source: The post is based on the article “Amendments to the Co-operative Societies Actpublished in Indian Express on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Lok Sabha has referred the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill 2022 to a joint committee of Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.

What are the key provisions of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill 2022?

Formation of multi-state cooperative society: Presently, only Multi-state cooperative societies (MCCS) can amalgamate themselves and form a new multi-state cooperative society.

– The bill provides that any cooperative society may by a resolution passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting at a general meeting of such society can decide to merge into an existing multi-state co-operative society.

– Such resolution shall be subject to provisions of the respective State Cooperative Societies Act for the time being in force, under which such cooperative society is registered.

Cooperative election authority: The Bill seeks to establish a “cooperative election authority” to bring “electoral reforms” in the cooperative sector. The authority will consist of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a maximum of three members to be appointed by the Centre.

Fund for sick co-operative societies: The Bill establishes the Co-operative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development Fund for the revival of sick multi-state co-operative societies. 

Audit of cooperative societies: The bill proposes to insert a new Section 70A relating to concurrent audit for such multi-state societies with an annual turnover or deposit of more than the amount as determined by the Centre.

Redressal of complaints: The central government will appoint one or more Cooperative Ombudsmen with territorial jurisdiction. The Ombudsman shall inquire into complaints made by members of cooperative societies regarding (i) their deposits, (ii) equitable benefits of the society’s functioning, or (iii) issues affecting the individual rights of the members.

Penalty: The Bill increases the penalty amount for violation of the law to Rs. 1 lakh and potential imprisonment from six months to a year.  

What are the criticisms against the bill?

Firstly, the bill may lead to the concentration of power of the Centre which could impact the “autonomy” of multi-state cooperative societies and create the potential for “misuse”.

Secondly, the bill seeks to take away state governments’ rights and is against the country’s federal structure. It seeks to amend Section 17 of the principal act to allow the merger of any State cooperative society with an existing MSCS. 

– Opposition members argued that this was beyond the Centre’s legislative competency as State cooperatives are not its domain.

Urban-20 (U20) event being organized under G20 presidency of India

Source: The post is based on the article Urban-20 (U20) event being organized under G20 presidency of Indiapublished in PIB on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is organizing the Urban 20 event under the G20 Presidency of India.

What is Urban 20 (U20)?

Urban-20 (U20) is one of the Engagement Groups of G20.

Purpose: It provides a platform for cities from G20 countries to facilitate discussions on various important issues of urban development including climate change, social inclusion, sustainable mobility, affordable housing and financing of urban infrastructure and propose collective solutions.

Hosted by: Ahmedabad, a UNESCO World Heritage city will host the U20 event.

Significance: The initiative facilitates a productive dialogue between the national and local governments and helps promote the importance of urban development issues in the G20 agenda.

– Note: Ahmedabad became a member of the C40 in 2022 and has been a member of other global alliances like the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives(ICLEI).

ICLEI is an international coalition of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change.

What are millets, the grains on PM Narendra Modi’s lunch menu?

Source: The post is based on the article What are millets, the grains on PM Narendra Modi’s lunch menu? published in Indian Express on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

2023 has been declared as the “International Year of Millets” by the United Nations after a proposal from India in 2019. To raise awareness on millets and prepare for 2023, the Indian Prime Minister along with fellow parliamentarians enjoyed a lunch where millets were served.

What are millets, India’s indigenous foodgrains?

The term millet is used to describe small-grained cereals like sorghum (jowar), bajra, little millet (kutki), finger millet (ragi), proso millet (cheena), barnyard millet (sawa) and brown top millet (korale).

Millets were among the first crops to be domesticated. There is evidence for the consumption of millets in the Indus-Saraswati civilisation (3,300 to 1300 BCE). Several varieties that are now grown around the world were first cultivated in India. 

Millets are now grown in more than 130 countries and are the traditional food for more than half a billion people in Asia and Africa. Globally, sorghum (jowar) is the biggest millet crop.

Where are millets produced in India?

In India, millets are mainly a Kharif crop. During 2018-19, three millet crops — bajra (3.67%), jowar (2.13%), and ragi (0.48%) — accounted for about 7% of the gross cropped area in the country.

Jowar: It is mainly grown in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra accounted for the largest area) and production of jowar during 2020-21.

Bajra: It is mainly grown in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.Rajasthan produced the most bajra in the country in 2020-21.

What are the benefits of Millets?

Eco-Friendly: Millets are eco-friendly crops – they require much less water than rice and wheat, and can be grown in rainfed areas without additional irrigation.  

– According to a 2019 study, wheat and rice have the lowest green water footprints but the highest blue water footprints, while millets were exactly the opposite.

– Green water footprint refers to water from precipitation whereas blue water refers to water from land sources. Thus, millets require the least amount of irrigation to be grown.

Highly Nutritious: Millets contain higher protein, fat and fibre content. In 2018, the Agriculture Ministry declared certain varieties of millet as “Nutri Cereals” for the purposes of production, consumption, and trade.

Year-end Review: Ministry of Ayush

Source: The post is based on the article Year-end Review: Ministry of Ayushpublished in PIB on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Ministry of Ayush has launched several initiatives and schemes in 2022.

What are the schemes and initiatives launched by the Ministry of Ayush in 2022?

WHO – Global Center for Traditional Medicine (WHO – GCTM)

Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit(GAIIS) 

During the summit, many new initiatives in Ayush sector were announced such as 1) special Ayush Visa category for foreign nationals who want to come to India to take advantage of Ayush therapy, 2) special Ayush mark for Ayush products and 3) developing of a network of Ayush parks to encourage the promotion, research and manufacturing of Ayush products across the country. 

One Herb, One Standard: An MoU has been signed between the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy(PCIM&H) and Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) to fulfill the objective of “One Herb, One Standard and One Nation”.

Ayush Grid Project

Ayush Ahara: Ministry of Ayush and Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), has formulated regulations of safety & quality standards for food products under ‘Ayurveda Aahara’ category. 

– This comprehensive initiative will ensure manufacturing of quality Ayurveda food products and help in expanding the international market for Make-In-India products.

– A special logo has been created for “Ayurveda Aahara” category which will enable easier identification and reinforce quality in Ayurveda food products.

International Day of Yoga 2022: The theme was ‘Yoga for Humanity’ and this edition highlights the importance and contribution of Yoga in serving humanity all over the world.

– This year many new initiatives took place like the ‘Guardian Ring’ program, which was a collaborative exercise between 79 countries and United Nations organizations along with Indian Missions abroad to illustrate Yoga’s unifying power that surpasses national boundaries. 

Ban by coastal States on purse seine fishing not justified, Centre tells SC

Source: The post is based on the article “Ban by coastal States on purse seine fishing not justified, Centre tells SC” published in The Hindu on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Central Government has told the Supreme Court that a ban imposed by certain coastal States on purse seine fishing is not justified.

What is Purse Seine Fishing?
Purse Seine Fishing
Source: NOAA

Purse seines fishing is used in the open ocean to target dense schools of single-species pelagic (midwater) fish like tuna and mackerel. 

A vertical net ‘curtain’ is used to surround the school of fish, the bottom of which is then drawn together to enclose the fish.

Advantages: Purse-seine fishing in open water is generally considered to be an efficient form of fishing. It has no contact with the seabed 

– It can also be used to catch fish congregating around fish aggregating devices.

Disadvantages: Purse seining is a non-selective fishing method that captures everything that it surrounds, including sea turtles and marine mammals.

Which states have prohibited Purse-seine fishing?

Several States and Union Territories like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Andaman and Nicobar Islands have prohibited Purse-seine fishing in their respective territorial waters of up to 12 nautical miles.

Why does the Centre want the ban on purse-seine fishing to be lifted?

The Union government has recommended the lifting of the ban on purse seine fishing based on a report submitted by an expert committee.

The committee has said that this mode of fishing has per se not resulted in any serious resource depletion so far, given the available evidence. 

It recommended purse seiners to fish in territorial waters and the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) subject to certain conditions. 

The committee has also suggested the framing of a “national management plan on purse seine fisheries”.

What is BF.7, the Omicron sub-variant driving the surge in China?

Source: The post is based on the article “What is BF.7, the Omicron sub-variant driving the surge in China?” published in Indian Express on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The current surge in Covid-19 infections in China is believed to be driven by the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron that is circulating in that country. 

What is BF.7?

BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5.

It has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible. It has a shorter incubation period and a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.

But BF.7 is not the most resilient sub-variant of Covid-19 — a study has reported more than 10-fold higher neutralization resistance in another Omicron sub-variant called BQ.1.

A higher neutralization resistance means there is a higher likelihood of the variant spreading in a population and replacing other variants.

What are the symptoms of the BF.7 variant?

Persons infected with the BF.7 variant of Omicron may experience symptoms similar to other sub-variants. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, vomiting, fatigue and diarrhea.

However, the variant is likely to cause severe illness among those with pre-existing medical conditions and weaker immune systems.

Have there been any BF.7 cases detected in India?

The first case of BF.7 in India was detected in October 2022 by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. So far, two cases have been reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha.

Why is there a surge of Covid-19 cases in China?

China has been seeing a surge in cases ever since it relaxed the strict restrictions last month following rare public protests. 

China had been following a zero-Covid policy for the last three years, which involved extremely restrictive measures to deal with any surge in cases. Every known case, even asymptomatic, was mandatorily hospitalized, small outbreaks triggered hard lockdowns and suspected cases and all their contacts were kept under long isolation. 

The measures were painful but effective in keeping a check on the spread of the virus. However, it also meant that a large proportion of the population was never infected by the virus and had no natural immunity, thereby rendering it extremely susceptible So, once the virus was able to break through the defences, it spread rapidly in the population.

But isn’t a large chunk of China’s population vaccinated?

China indeed has a high vaccination rate — 235.5 doses per 100 population as per the WHO dashboard. However, China was among the earliest countries in the world to develop and administer vaccines to its population and its vaccines were developed against the original variant of the coronavirus.

The virus has mutated many times over since the beginning of 2020 — and the Omicron variants are known to evade the immune response from most vaccines currently in use.

Palm-leaf manuscript museum with audio-visual technology opens window to little-known history

Source: The post is based on the article “Palm-leaf manuscript museum with audio-visual technology opens window to little-known history” published in The Hindu on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

Kerala Chief Minister will inaugurate a palm-leaf manuscript museum with modern audio-visual technology at the Central Archives Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

What is the Palm-leaf Manuscript Museum?

Setup by: Archives Department of Kerala

Purpose: The museum will feature a rare collection of over one crore palm-leaf manuscripts available with the Archives Department with the aim of communicating their importance to the public.

– The manuscripts delve into aspects as diverse as tax, administration and trade to education, prisons, and festivals in the erstwhile Travancore, Kochi and Malabar provide a fascinating glimpse of history that is rarely accessible to the common man.

Significance: This museum will help to learn more and popularize the ancient manuscripts that are part of India’s heritage.

India Semiconductor Mission

Source: The post is based on the article India Semiconductor Mission published in PIB on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology has informed Lok Sabha about India Semiconductor Mission(ISM).

What is the India Semiconductor Mission(ISM)?

ISM has been set up as an Independent Business Division within Digital India Corporation. 

Note: Digital India Corporation is a not-for-profit Company set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY) under Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.

Mandate: It has all the administrative and financial powers and is tasked with the responsibility of catalyzing the India Semiconductor ecosystem in manufacturing, packaging and design. 

– It is also the nodal agency for the Schemes approved under Semicon India Programme. 

Composition: It has an advisory board consisting of some of the leading global experts in the field of semiconductors. 

What is the Semicon India Programme?

Launched in: 2021 

Aim: To develop the semiconductor and display manufacturing ecosystem in the country by providing financial support to companies investing in semiconductors, display manufacturing and design ecosystems. 

Schemes under the programme

– Modified Scheme for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs in India for attracting large investments for setting up semiconductor wafer fabrication facilities in the country to strengthen the electronics manufacturing ecosystem and help establish a trusted value chain. The scheme extends fiscal support of 50% of the project cost.

– Modified Scheme for setting up Display Fabs in India for attracting large investments for manufacturing TFT, LCD or AMOLED-based display panels in the country to strengthen the electronics manufacturing ecosystem. The scheme extends fiscal support of 50% of Project Cost.

– Scheme for setting up of Compound Semiconductors / Silicon Photonics / Sensors Fab / Discrete Semiconductors Fab and Semiconductor Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) / OSAT facilities in India extend fiscal support of 50% of the Capital Expenditure for setting up of these facilities in India.

– Design Linked Incentive(DLI) Scheme: It offers financial incentives, design infrastructure support across various stages of development and deployment of semiconductor design for Integrated Circuits (ICs), Chipsets, System on Chips (SoCs), Systems & IP Cores and semiconductor linked to design. 

Year End Review-2022: Ministry of Women and Child Development

Source: The post is based on the article Year End Review-2022: Ministry of Women and Child Developmentpublished in PIB on 22nd December 2022

What is the News?

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched several initiatives and schemes in 2022.

What are the schemes and initiatives launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2022?

Poshan 2.0

POSHAN Tracker

Rashtriya Poshan Maah (September 2022)

Mission Shakti

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao

National Conference on Skilling in Non- Traditional Livelihood for Girls “Betiyan Bane Kushal”

Organized by: The Ministry Women and Child Development in partnership with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Ministry of Minority Affairs 

Aim: To emphasize convergence between ministries and departments to ensure that girls build their skills and enter the workforce in a diverse set of professions, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics(STEM), where girls have historically been under-represented. 

One Stop Centres

Nirbhaya Fund

Mission Vatsalya

Adoption regulations,2022 under the amended Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act)

PM CARES Fund for children in distress due to COVID-19- PM CARES for Children Scheme

GHAR – GO Home and Re-Unite (Portal for Restoration and Repatriation of Child)

Must Read Daily Current Affairs Articles 19th June 2024

About Must Read News Articles is an initiative by Team ForumIAS to provide links to the most important news articles of the day. It covers The Hindu newspaper. This saves the time and effort of students in identifying useful and important articles. With newspaper websites requiring a paid subscription beyond a certain number of fixed articles,… Continue reading Must Read Daily Current Affairs Articles 19th June 2024

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Impact of omitting several critical events from NCERT textbooks

Source: The post impact of omitting several critical events from NCERT textbooks has been created, based on the article “Erasures in NCERT textbooks go against NEP’s mandate to enhance critical thinking” published in “Indian express” on 18th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper2- Governance- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating… Continue reading Impact of omitting several critical events from NCERT textbooks

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G7 and India- Significance and Challenges- Explained Pointwise

The Prime Minister of India attended the 50th Summit of G7 group which was held in from 13 to 15th June 2024. India is not a member of the G7. However, India participated as a guest in the 2019, 2021, and 2022 G7 summits at the invitation of France, the UK, and Germany respectively. This reflects… Continue reading G7 and India- Significance and Challenges- Explained Pointwise

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Direct Seeding of Rice

Source-This post on Direct Seeding of Rice has been created based on the article “Why direct seeding of rice (DSR) is yet to pick up in Punjab” published in “The Indian Express” on 18 June 2024. Why in the news? The Punjab government has been actively promoting the DSR or ‘tar-wattar‘ technique for rice cultivation.… Continue reading Direct Seeding of Rice

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B.R. Ambedkar’s View on Constitutional Morality

Source: The post B.R. Ambedkar’s View on Constitutional Morality has been created, based on the article “Constitutional respect should not be reduced to optics” published in “The Hindu” on 18th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper2-Indian constitution Context: The article criticizes disregarding the Indian Constitution despite his public displays of respect. It highlights instances… Continue reading B.R. Ambedkar’s View on Constitutional Morality

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Limitations of the existing Laws on Mercenaries

Source: The post limitations of the existing Laws on Mercenaries has been created, based on the article “Laws on mercenaries in war zones” published in “The Hindu” on 18th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper2-international relation-Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate. Context: The article discusses the recruitment of Indian citizens by… Continue reading Limitations of the existing Laws on Mercenaries

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Issues with Growing Tourism in Antarctic

Source-This post on Issues with Growing Tourism in Antarctic has been created based on the article “The last continent must remain a pristine wilderness “published in “The Hindu” on 17 June 2024. Context- The 46th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM-46), held in Kochi, Kerala, recently discussed Antarctic tourism and sought to bring in a regulatory… Continue reading Issues with Growing Tourism in Antarctic

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Elderly Population in India

Source-This post on Elderly Population in India has been created based on the article “The vulnerabilities of India’s elderly “published in “The Hindu” on 18 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper-2- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States. Context -By mid-century, India’s elderly population is expected to reach 319 million,… Continue reading Elderly Population in India

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MATSYA 6000 Submarine

Source- This post on “MATYSA 6000 Submarine” has been created based on the article ” India set to be the 6th country to have its own Deep Sea Mission” published in the PIB on 16th June 2024. Why in News? India is set to be the 6th country of the world to have its own… Continue reading MATSYA 6000 Submarine

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Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2024

Source- This post “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2024” has been created based in the World Bank’s article published on 12th June 2024. Why in News? According to the recently released “Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2024“, the the world is not on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)… Continue reading Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report 2024

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