9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 26th, 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

India-EU free trade agreement: Why we need to change our approach to negotiations

Source: The post is based on an article “India-EU free trade agreement: Why we need to change our approach to negotiations” published in The Indian Express on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations

Relevance: India – EU Free Tarde Agreement

News: India-European Union (EU) are negotiating an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) in their third round of Free Trade Agreement.

What is IPA?

It will contain investment protection standards and an independent mechanism to settle disputes between investors and states under international law.

Why is the EU negotiating IPA with India?

Previous Experience: Previous experience of India with investors such as Vodafone, Cairn Energy, etc. has not been good. India has been sued by investors for enforcement of their right under Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

Lack of trust on Indian laws: EU investors can rely on Indian laws. However, there are concerns that Indian laws can be changed anytime. Thus, harming the investors.

Slow Indian judiciary: Indian judiciary is slow in resolving disputes. Therefore, a separate mechanism is needed.

However, there will be concerns with the IPA due to India’s inward-looking approach to investment protection under international law as given in India’s 2016 Model BIT.

What will be the concerns?

First, India wants to make tax-related regulatory measures non-justiciable but the EU has problems accepting this due to the previous tax-related investment disputes of India with Vodafone, Cairn Energy, and Nissan.

Second, the EU wants to create an investment-court like system to resolve treaty disputes between investors and the state. This is in line with the EU’s proposal for creating a multilateral investment court (MIC) for which negotiations are going on at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).  However, India does not have experience with this kind of court system.

Third, the EU wants to include the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) provision in its treaty to eliminate discrimination against EU investors. However, India is against it due to misuse of MFN clause by indulging in disruptive treaty shopping. Therefore, it would be better for India to negotiate for a qualified MFN provision rather than completely excluding it.

Fourth, the EU contains a fair and equitable treatment (FET) provision which is missing in the Indian 2016 Model BIT. FET provision protects foreign investors and makes states liable if it goes back on the specific assurances made to an investor to bring investments.

How will IPA benefit India?

The overall FDI to India has stagnated for the past decade at around 2 percent of the GDP.  Even though the EU share in foreign investment stock in India has increased, it is below the share of EU investment in China and Brazil.

Further, India’s decision to unilaterally terminate BITs has negatively impacted FDI inflows to India. Therefore, India needs the IPA with the EU to attract FDI for becoming a $10-trillion economy by 2030.

However, India should review the 2016 Model BIT, evolve a clear position on MIC and maintain high transparency in negotiations.

Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction

Source: This post is created based on the article “Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction”, published in The Hindu on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Indian Polity – Issues related to federal structure

Context: Constitution does not prescribe any time limit for Governor to give assent to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. It has led to arbitrary holding of bills.

The Constitution adopted by India allows for the modification and amendment of its provisions by the Parliament in accordance with the will of the people.

However, it has left many gaps. One such gap is under article 200 of the constitution, the lack of a timeline for the Governor to give assent to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly.

This has allowed Governors in states with opposition-ruled governments to delay the implementation of democratically elected mandates. Few such examples are the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill and the Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill.

This situation is also present in the states of Telangana and West Bengal.

Similarly, President also has been acting arbitrarily in granting assent to the Bills reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President, under article 201. For example, National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-exemption Bill.

However, there is a time-limit of 6 months for the State Assembly to reconsider the Bill if the President decides to refer it back to the House.

What has been the position of judiciary and legislatures on timelines for Governor and President on giving assent?

Constituent Assembly: During a Constituent Assembly discussion on the draft of Article 200, Professor Shibban Lal Saxena pointed out that there is no prescribed time limit for the Governor to act.

Purushothaman Nambudiri vs State of Kerala (1962): The Supreme Court (SC) has also clarified that the Constitution does not specify a time limit for the Governor to provide assent to Bills. But Courts have maintained that the Governor or President must honour the will of the Legislature and act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.

Any delay to assent Bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which in itself is constitutionally unjust.

National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution: Commission led by A.B. Vajpayee government in 2000 recommended, there should be a time-limit, for the Governor to take a decision whether to grant assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President.

What should be done?

Sarkaria Commission: The commission suggested that the delay from the side of the Governor in granting assent can be avoided by streamlining the existing procedures. Prior consultation should be held with the Governor at the stage of the drafting of the Bill itself, and by prescribing time-limits for its disposal.

Keisham Meghachandra Singh vs The Hon’ble Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly (2020): In this case of anti-defection law, the SC held that the Speaker must act on disqualification petitions against the defecting MLAs within a ‘reasonable time’. It clarified in the same judgment that reasonable time is three months in the case of disqualification petitions. The same reasonable time limit should be set for Governor.

Westminster system: The bedrock of the Westminster system is the concept that the Queen reigns, but the Ministers rule. Therefore, the Governor’s duty is only to ensure that an elected government is working within the parameters of the Constitution. The constitutional vacuum should not give way for unconstitutional inaction, leaving space for anarchy in the rule of law.

Why the Centre is right in not extending the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme?

Source: This post is created based on the articles

Why the Centre is right in not extending the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana scheme”, published in Indian Express on 26th December 2022.

“A welcome move” published in The Hindu on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus Topic – GS Paper 2 – Issues related to hunger and Poverty

News: The Government has decided not to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, (PMGKY).

Read – Features of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, (PMGKY)

Benefits of PMGKY

First, PMGKY absorbed the shock of the pandemic for the extreme poor.

Second, the scheme has provided distress relief to the neediest and helped the Government control its food buffer stocks better.

Third, it will also reduce wastage of procured food grains at a time when procurement figures for rice and wheat by the Food Corporation of India remain high.

Fourth, the PDS and the PMGKY have also acted as income transfers for the poor by allowing them to buy other commodities that they could not have afforded.

How discontinuation of the scheme is beneficial?

First, the scheme is neither physically nor fiscally sustainable.

Second, the current stocks of rice and wheat in the Central pool, at 55.46 mt on December 1, are a third lower than a year ago. There isn’t that much grain in the Food Corporation of India’s warehouses today to distribute.

What are the alternative announcements made by the government?

Government will bear the expenses under National Food Security Act (NFSA). Under NFSA, the 5 kg/person/month grains would be provided, free of cost for one year from January 2023. NFSA beneficiaries will, henceforth, receive not just subsidized grain but free grain up to 5 kg.

What are the benefits of alternative scheme?

For this new provision, Government agencies don’t need to procure more than 60-65 mt annually. The actual procurement, has averaged 90-100 mt (55-60 mt rice and 35-40 mt wheat) in the recent times. It will handle the overflowing public godowns from excessive procurement.

What more should be done?

Universalization of the PDS can be considered. It has already worked well in a few States such as Tamil Nadu, as the scheme would be availed by anyone in need instead of a flawed targeting system.

Administering Change

Source– The post is based on the article “Administering Change” published in The Times of India on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Role of civil services in democracy

Relevance– Civil services reforms

News– The article explains the challenges faced by administration in India. It also suggests the solutions to reform the administration.

Recently, there was forced retirement of 10 senior department of telecom officials, some with doubtful integrity. Since 2014, GoI has retired around 400 officers for lack of integrity or non-performance. Most were Group A and Group B officers.

What are challenges to government administration?

Everyone enters the system young and there are equal opportunities to progress ahead. But the assured promotion system irrespective of performance, too many departments performing no significant functions ruin many officers.

There exist corrupt nexuses that form over a long career being close to netas and moneyed interests.

Lateral hiring is not given much importance. Recruits are struggling for acceptance and direction.

Only 4% of India’s workforce comprise public servants. Compare this to 22. 5% in the UK, 13. 5% in the US and 28% in China.

What is the way forward to reform administration?

Too many mid-career and senior officers have integrity and performance deficits. GoI must find ways to identify and offload them following due process. It should be done alongside recruiting meritorious replacements.

National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building that is aiming to reshape post-recruitment training mechanisms and GoI’s HR policies, is important.

Mid-career appraisals to weed out inept officers will have to proceed concurrently with greater public service recruitment.

State governments must also reform public employment policies. Combined employment of states is much more than GoI and state bureaucracy’s interface with the ordinary citizen is much larger.

Centre and states should also pursue disinvestment more vigorously. They should use part of the proceeds to reform administration.

GS Paper 3

India needs to increase its spending on research and development to become a global leader

Source: The post is based on an article “India needs to increase its spending on research and development to become a global leader” published in The Indian Express on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Science and Technology

Relevance: measures required by India to become the world leader

News: India will be heading the G20 and it has a great opportunity to showcase itself as a global leader or a Vishwa guru.

How can India become a world leader?

India needs to have military as well as technological superiority like the US. The US is currently the world leader due to its investment in research and development (R&D).

India is also heading towards technological innovation with the launch of the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). It aims to create an ecosystem to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

However, India’s success depends on the amount being spent on R&D in relation to other G20 countries.

How have G20 countries performed in R&D?

Gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) is the proposed measure to quantify a country’s commitment to R&D.

According to a report by UNESCO, the G20 nations accounted for 90.6 percent of global GERD in 2018. Global R&D expenditure has increased with the increase in Research Intensity from 1.43 per cent in 1998 to 1.72 per cent in 2018.

Amongst the G20 countries, the US is ahead with 36 percent on R&D expenditure followed by the EU (20 percent), and China (18 per cent) but India’s share is less than 1 percent of G20 R&D expenditure.

What can be the course of action for India?

India currently spends lots of money in subsidies through various schemes. Therefore, it needs to repurpose its massive expenditures on various subsidies towards research and innovation.

Moreover, India needs to learn from Israel, a non-G20 country that has the highest research intensity (RI) of over 5 per cent.

The government of Israel has played an important role in financing and in providing well-functioning frameworks for innovation particularly in SMEs. The innovation system in Israel has led to its economic growth and competitiveness.

Israel has become an example for the nations that despite being a smaller nation, sustainable growth can be achieved by prioritising investments in R&D.

Therefore, India along with technological development needs innovations that can safeguard its basic environment — land, water, and air.

Note: The percentage of expenditure on R&D of a country to their respective GDP provides the research intensity (RI). India is ranked 17th in the G20 with a RI of 0.65 per cent.

Regulating Big Tech

Source– The post is based on the article “Regulating Big Tech” published in the Business Standard on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Indian economy and growth

Relevance– Issues related to fair competition in market

News– The article explains the issues related to anti-competitive practices by big tech companies prevalent in digital markets.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has submitted a report. The report has provided a suggestion that new digital competition regulations be drafted to prevent Big Tech companies indulging in anti-competitive practices.

There is rising global scrutiny of Big Tech companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, for their alleged abuse of market positions and misuse of user data.

The CCI is already in the process of setting up a special group, the dedicated Digital Markets and Data Unit, to monitor digital markets.

What are the challenges related to anti-competitive practices in digital markets?

Digital markets present special challenges as market dominance here can be exploited in ways different from the conventional business practices.

Access to these markets can be contained by blocking or charging huge commissions. It can also be done by enforcing restrictive contracts that prevent products from being sold via other channels.

The platform owner may also offer its own products. It sets up conflicts of interests and hurts competition. Discrimination between the display and treatment of own products versus those of competitors must be prevented. This is especially relevant with search engines and marketplaces.

The dominant platforms garner lots of user data which they can analyse and exploit in many ways. The use of data must be carefully monitored.

The CCI has fined Google twice in separate cases this year. It is investigating Apple for its in-app purchase system. The Supreme Court has greenlighted the CCI’s probe into WhatsApp’s privacy policy, which relates to allegations that the messaging platform shares user data with its parent Facebook.

What are the suggestions by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance for new digital competition regulations?

The report suggests ex-ante regulation, which would be cautionary and based on anticipated changes.

There is a need to frame a definition for “systemically important digital intermediaries” or SIDIs. These are the businesses that require tighter regulation. Such a classification could be based on metrics like revenues, market capitalisation, and the number of active users.

It has suggested the CCI to induct skilled experts such as academics, and attorneys, to ensure it closely monitors SIDIs as well as emerging SIDIs.

SIDIs should submit an annual compliance report describing how they have fulfilled their obligations.

The committee has identified at least 10 such anti-competitive practices that it wishes to curb. For example, it wants anti-steering provisions to prevent a website such as a search engine or marketplace from steering users to products or services offered by itself or a related entity.

The panel has also highlighted the need to curb deep discounting of products, bundling and tying together of services, and the need to prevent Big Tech using personal data for targeted advertising.

What is the way forward? Encouraging competition and allowing the play of market forces is important. But over-regulation could also prevent innovation and growth. So, this is like walking a tightrope.

Moreover, the scope of the CCI to protect personal data and prevent its abuse is limited in the absence of a personal data protection law.

Foundations for an Indian JETP

Source– The post is based on the article “Foundations for an Indian JETP” published in the Business Standard on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy

Relevance– Issues related to clean energy in India

News– The article explains the issue of financing for energy transition in India.

What are climate financing channels that are addressing the distinct problems of investability and investment in energy transition?

The first is The global environmental, social and governance or ESG phenomenon. It has created ample cheap financing for clean energy. But it requires investability that is the foundation of a mature market economy in the energy sector.

The Just Energy Transition Partnership, or JETP, is the nascent second channel of climate financing. It is related to investability.

What is the concept of climate justice? It is the idea that advanced economies polluted the atmosphere. It is impacting the fortunes of poor countries getting to prosperity by doing similarly.

Poor countries therefore say that developed markets must transfer resources to help fund their energy transition.

What is investment and investability in the case of Indian energy transition?

Investment is the business of private firms in generation, storage, distribution, and transmission. It adds up to a market-based electricity sector.

The firms that make decisions that are shaped by prices and prospective profits. Prices would fluctuate at all levels so as to clear supply and demand. It thus induces energy transition by both demand and supply sides.

Investability is existence of necessary conditions for investment

What is the current scenario of financing for energy transition in India?

Climate financing for investment is a largely solved problem. There is near-infinite resourcing from foreign capital in the form of ESG investment. This involves pensioners and insurance customers in Developed Markets. They get a sub-market rate of return for their investments in return for funding the Indian energy transition.

The ESG world is quite able to support the Indian energy transition. But, it is subjected to the limitations of present and future Indian financial regulation, capital controls, tax policy and rule of law.

Our foundational problem is that we have an electricity sector that operates through state control instead of one which operates through the price system.

A one-time expenditure of substantial sums of money is to solve the policy problems and to get up to investability for boundless investment.

JETP is the mechanism for this aid.

What is the way forward for the JETP mechanism in India?

India should keep the investment problem aside. Indian financial firms are well plugged into global ESG circles and  able to access global private capital into Indian private electricity investment. The focus of an Indian JETP should be upon investability.

We should emphasise four principles-

  1. India is a diverse sub-continent. It is comparable with the EU in its heterogeneity. The optimal strategy for electricity sector reforms is quite different across the different states.

The JETP engagement should be with one state at a time. It should prioritise exporting states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu that will face the brunt of carbon taxation in their export destinations.

  1. JETP should be seen as a financing component of the reforms programme that achieves an electricity sector grounded in the price system. External resourcing is a necessary but not sufficient condition for this reforms programme. Three sources of money can play an important role in financing this reform programme: Budgetary resources, the proceeds from government exit, and aid from rich countries.
  2. Discussions around donor and government money should focus only on money that supports this reforms programme, not private ESG money.
  3. The climate community looks for the date by which a state electricity sector will be free of fossil fuels. But the “climate policy transmission mechanism” runs through the price system. The precondition for net zero is thus the date by which a state electricity sector is investable in the eyes of private persons.

Forest rights and heritage conservation

Source– The post is based on the article “Forest rights and heritage conservation” published in The Hindu on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment conservation

Relevance– Issues related to protected areas

News– The article explains the issues of rights of people in protected areas in Karnataka. It also explains the status of  implementation of the Forest Right Act, 2006.

39 areas were declared by UNESCO in 2012 as being critical for biodiversity in the Western Ghats. 10 are in Karnataka.

What is the status of implementation of the Forest Right Act?

The majority of the forest dwellers claimed land that is not more than one acre.

The rejection rate of the other traditional forest dwellers was two times more than the STs.

In the case of the STs, the reasons were attributed to fresh encroachments; claimed lands being on wasteland and forest lands that are not protected or revenue lands. There were multiple applications made in a single family.

In the case of other traditional forest dwellers, it was mainly failure to produce evidence of dependency and dwelling on forest land for 75 years.

What are the challenges faced by the people in the villages falling under eco-sensitive zones?

They face severe restrictions on their entry into the forest. Development activities like road repair have been stopped.

Farming is not allowed in a normal way. The use of fertilizers is banned.

The people are prohibited from cutting trees falling on their houses to undertake repair work.

These restrictions were in enforcement after these areas were declared as protected areas and not necessarily after their declaration as world heritage sites.

The increasing animal insurgency is causing damage to the crops of the farming forest dwellers. They are  not given compensation for the loss if they do not have recognition of their land.

Livestock rearing in the villages close to forests is more challenging than in regular revenue villages. If irrigation projects come up, the grazing lands have been taken over by the government to compensate for the forest land lost to such projects.

What is the current status of rights of traditional forest dwellers?

The respondents were in possession of the lands claimed under the FRA even though their applications were either rejected or were still pending.

There were concerns that people were accepting the resettlement packages and moving out of ‘protected areas’ for good. If half the village population moved away, living a normal life will be difficult for the remaining population.

People are still deprived of basic facilities and other government benefits extended under various schemes and programmes. They don’t possess the records of land that is required to avail these benefits.

The issue becomes complicated when the people refuse to relocate on grounds of their attachment to the land. They are feared about extinction of their culture and religious roots. The gram sabha has to decide the proposed resettlement as it has to give ‘free informed consent’. However, this does not happen.

What is the way forward?

The government must bring more clarity to the Act. It should be done to avoid conflicts between the government agencies conserving biodiversity and the traditional forest dwellers.

The conservation of biodiversity requires special attention. Yet, forest dwellers willing to live in the forest must be allowed to stay.

Those wanting to experience the fruits of development must be relocated according to their choices. They should be given a suitable package. This can be possible only when the areas are declared as protected after consultations with the local population.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Justice Dept. says raising judges’ retirement age may benefit non-performers

Source: The post is based on the article “Justice Dept. says raising judges’ retirement age may benefit non-performerspublished in The Hindu on 26th December 2022. 

What is the News?

Recently, the Department of Justice made a presentation that comprised details of judicial processes and reforms, including the possibility of increasing the retirement age of High Court and Supreme Court judges.

What are the Department of Justice’s concerns about raising judges’ retirement age?

Recently, the Union Law Minister informed Parliament that there was no proposal to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges.

The Department of Justice made a presentation before the parliamentary panel on Personnel, Law, and Justice.

The Department of Justice has said that raising judges’ retirement age might have the following concerns, a) Increasing the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges could extend the years of service of non-performing judges, b) Creating a cascading effect with the government employees, especially at Central and State level, PSUs, commissions, etc, raising a similar demand, c) Deprive the performance of tribunals having retired judges as presiding officers or judicial members.

What are the recommendations of the department on judicial processes and reforms?

The department recommended a) Increasing the retirement age of judges along with measures to ensure transparency and accountability in appointments to the higher judiciary, b) Taking efforts to fill up existing vacancies in the district and subordinate judiciary and bringing down arrears of cases pending in courts

What are the steps taken so far for raising judges’ retirement age?

Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65 years, and High Court judges retire at 62 years.

The 114th Amendment Bill was introduced in 2010. It aims to increase the retirement age of High Court judges to 65 years. The Bill was not taken up for consideration in Parliament and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

CPCB report shows fewer polluted river stretches, but worst ones remain unchanged

Source: The post is based on the article “CPCB report shows fewer polluted river stretches, but worst ones remain unchangedpublished in The Hindu on 26th December 2022. 

What is the News?

According to a recent report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has fallen from 351 in 2018 to 311 in 2022. However, the number of most polluted stretches is practically unchanged.

About the working of CPCB report on water quality

The CPCB network monitors water quality at 4,484 locations across the country.

Conditions for determining water quality: a) Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) exceeding 3 milligrams per litre (mg/l) is identified as polluted locations, b) A BOD less than 3 mg/l means the river stretch is fit for “outdoor bathing,” and c) Two or more polluted locations identified on a river in a continuous sequence are considered as a “polluted river stretch.

Categorisation: There are five priority categories. 1) BOD exceeding 30 mg/l are considered “Priority 1” (P1), meaning, the most polluted and thus needing the most urgent remediation, and 2) The rest of the categories “Priority 2” (P2) to P5 were defined based on BOD less than 30mg/l.

Significance: The success of river-cleaning programmes are measured by the number of stretches moving from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 until those in 5 (requiring the least action) to reduce.

Reason for the report: The National Green Tribunal passed orders that the CPCB and the Jal Shakti Ministry monitor river pollution and ensure that it was dealt with. Every State had to ensure that at least one river stretch was “restored” to at least be fit for bathing.

About the recent CPCB report on water quality

There is almost no change/slight change in the P1 and P2 categories of polluted river stretch from 2018 and the present report. This indicates that further stringent actions are required for control of organic pollution from various point sources of pollution including the development of infrastructure and its proper operation for treatment of wastewater before discharge into recipient water bodies,

Performance of states: Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of “Priority 1” river stretches (6). Maharashtra had the most polluted river stretches of 55, followed by Madhya Pradesh (19), Bihar (18), and Kerala (18).

The overall decrease in the net number of identified polluted river stretches, which have shown improvement in water quality, “could be attributed” to the efforts done for infrastructure development for pollution control.

DESH Bill may let companies have obligation of choice: Govt official

Source: The post is based on the article “DESH Bill may let companies have obligation of choice: Govt officialpublished in the Business Standard on 26th December 2022. 

What is the News?

The Development of Enterprises and Services Hub (DESH) Bill, 2022 will ensure better economic performance, spur economic growth and people awareness.

About the Development Enterprise and Services Hub (DESH) Bill 2022

The Bill seeks to replace the existing special economic zone (SEZ) law.

Announced in the Union Budget earlier this year, the DESH Bill seeks to set up “development hubs” for promoting economic activity, generating employment, integrating with global supply and value chains and maintaining manufacturing and export competitiveness. Such hubs will also include existing SEZs.

Read here: Draft Development of Enterprise and Service Hubs (DESH) Bill: SEZs to be turned into mfg hubs for domestic markets
What are the benefits associated with the DESH Bill?

Compliance with WTO: The Bill ensures that there is no “single” mandatory export obligation for the Enterprise and Service Hubs.  This makes the Bill compliant with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules,

Flexibility for firms to choose: Companies setting up units will either have to give commitments towards making a certain amount of investment, creating a certain number of jobs, exporting goods worth a certain value or introducing new, or breakthrough technology. The government will give them the flexibility to choose any of these.

Clears confusion: The Bill put an end to the finance ministry’s concern that units may declare themselves SEZs to postpone Customs duty payments in the absence of any export obligation or NFE(Net Foreign Exchange Earning) criteria. The self-declaration.

This created a challenge as the firms declare themselves to postpone Customs duty payments in the absence of any export obligation or NFE criteria.

Note: Under the existing law, it was mandatory for units in SEZs to achieve positive net foreign exchange earnings. Further, the value of exports has to be more than the value of imports. This resulted in a dispute at the WTO over three years ago.

Read more: The DESH bill is going to improve the investment environment in India or enhance export competitiveness

New Artificial Nanostructures for Infrared Absorption Technologies can be useful in Defense, Imaging & Sensing

Source: The post is based on the article “New Artificial Nanostructures for Infrared Absorption Technologies can be useful in Defense, Imaging & Sensingpublished in the PIB on 24th December 2022. 

What is the News?

A new method to confine and absorb infrared (IR) light with (Gallium nitride)GaN nanostructures can help develop highly efficient infrared absorbers, emitters, and modulators.

About Gallium nitride(GaN)

The GaN is one of the most advanced semiconductors. It is widely used as a material for blue light emission. In the last 25 years, blue LED with GaN has changed the world significantly.

Apart from that, GaN is also used in visible and ultraviolet light applications. As LEDs and laser diodes are commercially available, the utilization of GaN for IR light harvesting or development of GaN-based IR optical elements is lacking.

About the recent research

The researchers have shown for the first time infrared light emission and absorption with GaN nanostructures. Though blue light emission from GaN has been known for some time, this is the first time that infrared light-matter interactions are demonstrated in GaN.

For this demonstration, the scientists have utilized a scientific phenomenon called surface polariton excitations in GaN nanostructures that lead to light-matter interactions at IR spectral range.

Note: Surface polaritons are special modes of electromagnetic waves travelling at the interface of a conductor and an insulator such as air.

By altering the morphology and shape of the nanostructures, scientists are also able to excite plasmon polaritons in GaN

What are the benefits of recent research?

a) The same research can be translated to many other semiconductors as well, b) The findings will address the demand for IR sources and detectors for energy, security, imaging, and other applications such as Defense, Imaging & Sensing.

Organic solar cells developed on steel substrates can convert a steel roof into an energy-producing device

Source: The post is based on the article “Organic solar cells developed on steel substrates can convert a steel roof into an energy-producing devicepublished in the PIB on 24th December 2022. 

What is the News?

Scientists have developed organic solar cell devices consisting of a blend of organic polymer (PTB7) as a donor and (PCBM) organic semiconductor as an acceptor.

About the third-generation solar cell technologies

These are solution-processed Solar Cells based on semiconducting organic macromolecules, inorganic nanoparticles or hybrids. These technologies lie in their integration with flexible and conformal surfaces.

However, this integration requires developing new top transparent conducting electrodes as alternatives to indium tin oxide, an optoelectronic material currently in use.

The present materials pose limitations because of their brittleness and their optoelectronic efficiency varies with temperature.

About the recent research on organic solar cells

Recently developed organic solar cell devices consisting of a combination of an organic polymer and organic semiconductor developed on steel substrates. Scientists demonstrated the integration of multi-layered electrodes with organic solar cells.

Advantages: a) The new electrodes offer higher optical transmission as compared to only metallic electrodes, b) The devices with multilayer electrodes showed a clear improvement in the photovoltaic performance by 1.5 times, as compared with those obtained with single-layer top metal electrodes of gold, and c) The new organic solar cells can convert a steel roof into an energy-producing device.

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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UPSC Mains Answer Writing 18th June 2024 I Mains Marathon

Following are today’s UPSC Mains Marathon Questions. About Mains Marathon – This is an initiative of ForumIAS to help/aid aspirants in their mains answer writing skills, which is crucial to conquering mains examination. UPSC Mains Answer Writing 18th June 2024 Every morning, we post 2–3 questions based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant… Continue reading UPSC Mains Answer Writing 18th June 2024 I Mains Marathon

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