9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – December 9th, 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 end of Covid Zero

Source– The post is based on the article “The end of Covid Zero” published in the Business Standard on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Effects of policies of developed and developing countries on India interest.

News– The article explains the scenario of the upcoming Covid wave in China and its implications for India.

What is the new Chinese policy on Covid?

Chinese leadership has sharply reversed course and begun relaxing pandemic-related restrictions in the country.

It was done after widespread protests against its “Covid Zero” policy.

What could be the impact of the new Chinese policy on Covid?

Though Omicron is less virulent than Delta, it is still a deadly virus in an unprotected population. 6,000 people died in Hong Kong earlier this year after Omicron had become dominant once some citywide restrictions had been relaxed. Hong Kong had access to Western vaccines as well as Chinese ones.

A surge in infections in the mainland after reopening is almost inevitable. This could turn into a surge in deaths if Chinese vaccines prove relatively ineffective against the currently circulating variants.

Is China well prepared for this new Covid wave?

The three years of Covid Zero in China have not been used to build up capacity in preparation for relaxed restrictions. One analysis has suggested that a full reopening might lead to almost six million people requiring intensive care.

China has fewer than four ICU beds per 100,000 people. This ratio is much worse in the interior than in the cities along the coast.

Only two-thirds of those above 80 have received a full vaccination course, and just 40 per cent were given a booster dose. In addition, the efficacy of these vaccines has come into question.

What does it mean for India?

India has learned to live with Covid. Vaccination has reached most of the country. Social distancing norms have been suspended. These assumptions are, however, predicated on the fact that Covid-19 is not surging anywhere in the world but has a relatively steady rate of infection.

The government will need to re-examine these assumptions in the case of a surge in China after it begins to reopen. Vaccination requirements and testing for arrivals may have to be  reintroduced. The government’s Covid policy, including its genome sequencing of variants, must also be re-examined.

Policy flexibility in response to medical and epidemiological developments have always been central to effective Covid control. It is time to revisit those principles.


The sustained growth in remittances

Source– The post is based on the article “The sustained growth in remittances” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Indian diaspora

Relevance–  Economic cooperation of India with GCC and advanced economies

News– The article explains the trends of remittances across the world. It also explains the case of India

According to the World Bank’s latest ‘Remittances Brave Global Headwinds’ report, remittances to India are set to touch a record $100 billion in 2022. India received $89.4 billion in 2021. This is the first time a country will reach the $100 billion mark.

What is a remittance?

It denotes a sum of money sent by one party to another. These days, the term describes the money sent by someone working abroad to their family back home. In the case of India, the largest sources of remittances have been from Indians working in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

What has been the general trend in remittances this year?

World remittances are expected to touch $794 billion in 2022. This represents a growth of 4.9%. Of the $794 billion, $626 billion went to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Remittances represent an even larger source of external finance for LMICs in 2022, compared to foreign direct investment, official development assistance, and portfolio investment flows. The top recipient countries this year are expected to be India, followed by Mexico and China.

What are the reasons behind the sustained growth in remittances?

According to the World Bank, one of the main reasons is the gradual reopening of various sectors in host-country economies, following pandemic disruptions.

An allied reason was the migrants’ determination to help their families back home during the tough post-pandemic recovery phase.

What are the reasons behind the resilience of India’s inward remittance flows?

The report points to a structural shift in India’s remittance economy. It is both in terms of the top destination countries, and the nature of the jobs held by migrants.

Remittances have benefitted from a gradual structural shift in Indian migrants’ key destinations from largely low-skilled, informal employment in the GCC countries to a dominant share of high-skilled jobs in high-income countries such as the U.S., the U.K., and East Asia.

In fact, between 2016-17 and 2020-21, remittances from the U.S., U.K. and Singapore increased from 26% to 36%. The share from five GCC countries dropped from 54% to 28%. In 2020-21, the U.S., with a share of 23%, surpassed Saudi Arabia as India’s top source country for remittances.

During the pandemic,Indian migrants in high-income countries worked from home and benefited from large fiscal stimulus packages.

In the GCC countries, Indian migrants benefited from governments’ direct support measures to keep inflation low.

Indian migrants may also have taken advantage of the depreciation of the Indian rupee to increase their remittances.

What does the report say about future trends?

The report predicts that growth in remittances will fall to 2% in 2023 as the GDP growth in high-income countries continues to slow. For South Asia as a whole, the growth in remittances is expected to fall from 3.5% in 2022 to 0.7% in 2023.

In the U.S., higher inflation combined with a slowdown will limit remittance flows. The GCC countries will also see cooling of remittance outflows following a slowdown. The demand for labour is expected to soften as construction activities for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar have ended.

Remittances to India are forecast to grow by 4% next year.


What will India offer during its presidency of the G20?

Source– The post is based on the article “What will India offer during its presidency of the G20?” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Global groupings

Relevance–  G20 grouping and its working

News– The article explains the details of the G20 forum. It also explains the case of the India presidency of the grouping.

What is the history of the G20 forum?

The G20 forum was established in 1999 by the Finance Ministers and central bank governors of seven countries  after a meeting in Washington DC. These countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. after a meeting in Washington DC.

The uniting factor was the 1997-98 financial crisis and its aftermath.

The first meeting of G20 leaders took place in 1999. It was elevated to the level of heads of state in 2008. In 2009, G20 was designated the “premier forum for international economic cooperation”.

The forum initially dealt with matters related to macroeconomics. Over the years, its agenda has expanded to cover issues relating to trade, climate change, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, and environment.

What does India’s presidency mean?

As the President-nation, India will host the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in December 2023 in New Delhi.

The group does not have a permanent secretariat, and the presidency is supported by the previous, current, and future holders of the post, together called the troika.

Apart from hosting the summit and setting the theme, the G20 presidency does not come with any formal powers. However, India plans on showcasing its philosophies of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, and LiFE through the theme and the logo of the event. As G20 President, India’s will strive for just and equitable growth for all in the world, in a sustainable, holistic, responsible, and inclusive manner.

India’s presidency also comes as many countries witness inflation and recession trends. It is further compounded by the Russia-Ukraine war and the standoff between the European Union and Russia.

India’s own problems with China pose a potential issue for the effective functioning of the forum.

How does the G20 forum work?

The processes under G20 are divided into two parallel tracks — the finance track and the sherpa track. The finance track is led by Finance Ministers and central bank governors of member nations. They meet throughout the year.

Sherpas are personal emissaries of leaders. They oversee negotiations all through the year, discussing agenda items for the summit and coordinating the substantive work of the G20.

Working groups designed around specific themes operate within both tracks.

Various international organisations such as the UN, IMF, and the OECD also participate in working groups.


India’s Central Asia outreach

Source: The post is based on the article “India’s Central Asia outreach” published in The Indian Express on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations

Relevance: relations between India and Central Asia

News:  National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval hosted a meeting of his counterparts from five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan). This indicates the growing relation between the two.

What is the history of relation between India and Central Asia?

India was connected with Central Asia through the Silk Route. India also shares old and deep cultural ties with the region.

Jawaharlal Nehru in 1955 travelled to Almaty, Tashkent, and Ashgabat. P V Narasimha Rao visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in 1992, and Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1995. Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 became the first Prime Minister to visit Tajikistan.

However, after the “Connect Central Asia policy” in 2012, the relation between India and Central Asia became better and it further improved with the visit of PM Modi to all five Central Asian countries in July 2015.

What is the strategic importance of Central Asia?

Central Asia is extremely rich in mineral and natural resourcesFor example, Kazakhstan has one of the biggest reserves of uranium, the Kyryz Republic is rich in hydro-power while Turkmenistan has one of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas.

India’s engagement with the Central Asian countries is important because of – a) security cooperation after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, b) to counter China’s influence in the region, c) plans for connectivity with Europe including the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), d) to meet its energy needs (Turkmenistan is part of the proposed TAPI gas pipeline), and e) for old cultural links and trade potential.

What have been the recent developments between India and Central Asia?

The engagement between India and Central Asia has been on the backdrop of Taliban taking over Afghanistan. There has been a meeting on the Afghanistan-focussed Regional Security Dialogue in the last year.

India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has highlighted that India and Central Asia share similar concerns regarding the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Further, PM Modi also attended a virtual summit in January 2022 with the leaders of the Central Asian countries. He called for an integrated approach to regional cooperation and raised Afghanistan as a common concern.

The decision to hold a leaders’ summit every two years, a joint working group on Afghanistan, joint counter-terrorism exercises, and a group to operationalise the use of Chabahar port by all five countries have also been taken between India and Central Asian countries.

What are the challenges with the relations between India and Central Asia?

China – China has a direct border with the Central Asian countries and has a bilateral trade of $50 billion whereas India’s trade with the region is only $2 billion. China has also made major investments in these countries with its Belt and Road Initiative.

Lack of access to land transport – India lacks land transport access with Central Asia due to the blockage by Pakistan. To overcome the issue, India wants to integrate the INSTC with Chabahar port in Iran to access the resource-rich region.

Security – There are also security challenges such as extremism, terrorism, and radicalisation in the region. Central Asia shares a boundary with Afghanistan and the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan poses a serious security challenge for the countries in the region.

GS Paper 3


Net zero transition for $7 trillion

Source– The post is based on the article “Net zero transition for $7 trillion” published in the Business Standard on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance– Issues related to climate change and global warming

News– The article explains the efforts put by various sectors to achieve the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

What is contained in the BloombergNEF report?

BloombergNEF modelled a path to global net zero by 2050. It found that annual investments need to jump to $7 trillion to limit warming to 1.77 degrees Celsius above the pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Electric vehicles and low-carbon power present the biggest investment opportunities, followed by power grids. Money is also needed to flow to carbon capture and storage, advanced nuclear technologies and hydrogen.

Demand for lithium in 2050 is predicted to be around 17.5 times the total demand in 2020.

What is the case of solar manufacturing?

India’s decarbonisation journey depends on solar power. Local panel manufacturing received another boost with the government’s recent approval for the second tranche of subsidies worth Rs 1,950 crore. BNEF sees the possibility of an oversupply of modules if all planned production facilities come online.

The US is on its own journey of incentivising local manufacturing of solar panels. Other countries such as Brazil are also in the same league.

The case for supporting a local supply chain of panels is stronger in countries that have high annual installations. Seven countries are in the 5,000 megawatts or above bracket this year. Another 10 are added if the cut-off is 2,000 MW.

What is the case of electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles are accelerating towards an era of super-charged growth. The world’s two largest car markets will be in the lead. These are China and the US.

Every fourth car sold in the US will be electric in the next three years. China and several European countries are already seeing EVs account for around 25% of new car sales.

As many as 66 national and regional governments are committed to selling only EVs and completely phasing out conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. Another set of countries has committed to accelerate the transition to 100 per cent clean cars by signing the Zero Emission Vehicles Declaration, including India and Kenya.

Two- and three-wheelers lead the vehicle electrification wave in India. In the first nine months of this year, 44 electric two-wheelers were launched with an average range of 117 kms. Start-ups continue to be the main players in this segment.

Passenger EV launches in 2022 have centred on premium segments. This is expected to continue in the near term until automakers can offer an affordable small electric car in the super-competitive market.

What is the case of electric aviation?

The electric aviation industry is still at an early stage. There has been a recent surge in orders from aircraft operators for small battery-electric or hybrid-electric machines. According to BNEF, close to 1,000 electric aircraft have been ordered from various manufacturers.

Developers aim to make their aircraft commercially available by 2030.However, the commercial launch of such aircraft needs to overcome technical hurdles and complete the lengthy and costly process of type certification.

Leading developers include Heart Aerospace and Aviation. No electric aircraft are currently commercially available except for Pipistrel’s Velis Electro.


Let’s reflect on what’ll make India a developed country

Source: The post is based on an article “Let’s reflect on what’ll make India a developed country” published in Live Mint on 9th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Economic Development

Relevance: characteristics of a developed nation

News: The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during his recent United Nations General Assembly speech has told the world about India’s ambition to become a developed country by 2047.

How is a country considered developed?

There is no exact definition of a developed country. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has no technical classification for a country’s stage of economic development.

Countries are generally considered developed based on the size of their GDP, per capita income of their citizens along with the presence of high-quality infrastructure.

However, members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) grouping of OECD is generally considered to be among the world’s most developed countries.

Therefore, India to be called a developed country can refer to the parameters adopted by the countries of DAC.

What are the characteristics of the countries of DAC?

First, most of these countries are home to the world’s largest multinational corporations. These MNCs earn a huge amount of money contributing to the GDP of the nation.

Second, these countries are net exporters of high technology, high value goods and services. This helps most of them run a current account surplus and invest in research, improving their factor productivity and profits.

Third, these countries have large multinational banks. These big banks provide cheap credit access to the people and business which in turn helps in the growth of the countries.

Fourth, currencies of these countries have global value. This helps the central bank of those countries to influence the capital flows across the globe through various monetary policies.

Fifth, these countries have active citizen groups that help organize their economies. The citizens of these countries understand their responsibilities in nation-building and take up the responsibility actively.

Sixth, these countries have successfully eradicated absolute poverty and provide some form of minimum living standard to their citizens like basic health care, unemployment benefits, etc.

What is the way ahead for India?

India is on the path of achieving the characteristics of a developed nation in the coming 25 years. However, this can only be possible if proper strategies are adopted along with the collective efforts of its citizens.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022: Rajya Sabha clears Wildlife Bill, Minister promises to protect elephants

Source: The post is based on the article “Rajya Sabha clears Wildlife Bill, Minister promises to protect elephants” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

Rajya Sabha has passed the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022.

What is the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022?

The Bill seeks to amend the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

It seeks to ensure that the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 complies with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Key Provisions of the Bill

Rationalizing schedules: The Bill reduces the total number of schedules from six to four by: 1) Reducing the number of schedules for specially protected animals to two (one for greater protection level), 2) Removes the schedule for vermin species and 3) Inserts a new schedule for specimens listed in the Appendices under CITES.

Permitted certain activities: The Bill seeks better management of protected areas and provides for certain permitted activities like grazing, movement of livestock, and bona fide use of drinking and household water by local communities.

Captive elephants: The Bill permits the transfer or transport of a captive elephant for a religious or any other purpose by a person having a valid certificate of ownership.

Management and scientific authority: The Bill empowers the Central government to designate 1) A management Authority to grant export or import permits for the trade of specimens and 2) A scientific Authority to advise on aspects related to the impact on the survival of the specimens being traded. 

Conservation reserves: The Bill empowers both Central and State governments to declare areas adjacent to national parks and sanctuaries as a conservation reserves, for protecting flora and fauna.

Alien species: The Bill empowers the Central government to regulate and stop the import, trade or possession of invasive plant or animal alien species.

– It provides that people may “voluntarily surrender” any captive animals to the Chief Wildlife Warden, and such surrendered animals will become the property of the state government.

Penalty: The Bill enhances the penalties prescribed for violation of provisions of the Act. For ‘General violations’, the maximum fine is increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. In the case of Specially protected animals, the minimum fine of Rs. 10,000 has been enhanced to Rs.25,000.


After Gujarat results, AAP set for upgrade: What it takes to become a ‘national party’ in India

Source: The post is based on the article “After Gujarat results, AAP set for upgrade: What it takes to become a ‘national party’ in India” published in Indian Express on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) has got 5 seats in Gujarat but its vote share was close to 13%, which meant it is on track to be recognised as a national party by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

What is a National Party?

The ECI has laid down the technical criterion for a party to be recognised as a national party. A party may gain or lose national party status from time to time, depending on the fulfilment of these laid-down conditions.

Criteria to be recognized as National Party: A ​​political party would be considered a national party if: a) It is ‘recognised’ as state party in four or more states; or b) if its candidates polled at least 6% of total valid votes in any four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly elections and have at least four MPs in the last Lok Sabha polls; or c) if it has won at least 2% of the total seats in the Lok Sabha from not less than three states.

What are the current National Parties?

As of now, the ECI has recognised eight parties as national parties — the BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), CPI, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and National People’s Party(NPP) which was recognised in 2019. 

What are the criteria for recognition as a State Party?

Click Here to read


Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022: Government introduces Energy Conservation Bill in Rajya Sabha

Source: The post is based on the article “Government introduces Energy Conservation Bill in Rajya Sabha” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Power has introduced the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022 in Rajya Sabha.

The Bill proposes to amend the Electricity Conservation Act 2001 (last amended in 2010), to introduce changes such as incentivising the use of clean energy by issuing carbon-saving certificates.

What are the key provisions of the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill 2022?

Obligation to use non-fossil sources of energy: The Act empowers the central government to specify energy consumption standards. The Bill adds that the government may require the designated consumers to meet a minimum share of energy consumption from non-fossil sources.  Different consumption thresholds may be specified for different non-fossil sources and consumer categories. 

Carbon trading: The Bill empowers the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme. Carbon credit implies a tradeable permit to produce a specified amount of carbon emissions.  

Standards for vehicles and vessels: Under the Act, the energy consumption standards may be specified for equipment and appliances which consume, generate, transmit, or supply energy.

The Bill expands the scope to include vehicles (as defined under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988), and vessels (including ships and boats).

Applicability to residential buildings: Under the Act, the energy conservation code applies to commercial buildings: (i) erected after the notification of the code, and (ii) having a minimum connected load of 100 kilowatts (kW) or contract load of 120-kilo volt-ampere (kVA).

– Under the Bill, the new energy conservation and sustainable building code will also apply to office and residential buildings meeting the above criteria.

Regulatory powers of SERCs: The Act empowers the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) to adjudge penalties under the Act. The Bill adds that SERCs may also make regulations for discharging their functions.

Composition of the governing council of BEE: The bill strengthens institutions such as the BEE by amending the composition of the governing council of BEE.


Collegium system is the law until Centre brings new legislation, says SC

Source: The post is based on the article “Collegium system is the law until Centre brings new legislation, says SC” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that nobody is stopping the government from bringing a new law on judicial appointments but till then the Collegium system and its Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is the “final word”.

What did the Supreme Court say on the collegium?

The power to enact a law is with Parliament. But this is subject to scrutiny by the courts. Hence, the scheme of the Constitution stipulates the court should be the final arbiter on the position of law.

Based on this, Parliament passed the National Judicial Appointments Commission(NJAC) Act in 2015, but it did not muster the Constitutional mandate.

Therefore, the law on judicial appointments as it stands now is the Collegium system evolved by the Supreme Court in the Three Judges cases. Till this law is prevalent, it must be followed to the teeth.

The court also said that the average clearance of names by the Supreme Court Collegium was just a little over 50%. This means that the government’s views on them are taken into account by the Collegium before proposing a name for judgeship.

Why did the court make these observations on Collegium?

The Supreme Court made these remarks after the Vice-President criticized the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission(NJAC) Act by a Constitution Bench in October 2015. 

The Vice President obliquely referring to the NJAC law said the court had “undone” the will of the people expressed through the Parliament.


Field trials of GM mustard DMH-11 showed high yield, says Science Minister

Source: The post is based on the article “Field trials of GM mustard DMH-11 showed high yield, says Science Minister” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Union Science and Technology Minister has said that the field trials of the transgenic mustard variety, DMH-11 revealed them to be higher yielding and they didn’t deter the pollination habits of honey bees.

Background

Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11(DMH-11) had recently been approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee(GEAC) for cultivation in farmer fields, as a precursor to commercial cultivation. 

The only other transgenic seed permitted to be commercially cultivated in India is Bt cotton.

How has the government of India defended the approval of DMH-11?

Higher yield: The trials conducted over three years by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) suggest that DMH-11 has 28% higher yields than its parent Varuna and was 37% better than zonal checks, or local varieties that are considered the best in different agro-climatic zones. 

Safe for cultivation: Transgenics like DMH 11 are safe for cultivation and for food and feed use.

Safe for Bees: Transgenics were safe for bees and pollination as per studies conducted on Bt cotton in 2018-19.

Self-sustenance in edible oil: The present rate of edible oil consumption in India surpasses the domestic production rate and at present, India meets nearly 55-60 percent of its edible oil demand through imports.

– Hence, the release of GM mustard will contribute to India’s self-sustenance with respect to the production of edible oil.

What is the opposition to GM Mustard approval?

Click Here to read


Over 100 experts oppose ‘Nature Positive Fund’ in open letter to UNx before COP15

Source: The post is based on the article “Over 100 experts oppose ‘Nature Positive Fund’ in open letter to UNx before COP15” published in Down To Earth on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

Over 100 experts want the United Nations, World Economic Forum, European Commission and WWF to reject the ‘Nature Positive Fund’ at the 15th COP to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada.

What is Nature Positive?

Nature positive’ means enhancing the resilience of our planet and societies to halt and reverse nature loss.

The idea is that there should be more nature in 2030 than in 2020.

The ‘nature-positive’ goal could be the equivalent of the 1.5 degrees Celcius pledge, providing a sense of direction for the movement: where emissions cuts are needed to curb rising temperatures, nature protection is needed to boost biodiversity.

What is a Nature Positive Fund?

At the 15th COP to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), countries are planning to discuss setting up a Nature Positive Fund to promote a positive nature agenda.

However, experts have called for the rejection of this fund as it promotes the financialization of nature’s destruction via 1) Monetary valuation of ecosystems, 2) Biodiversity offsetting and 3) Diverting the conversation away from the need to curb biodiversity destruction and towards ‘sustainable’ finance regulation.


Changing Arctic: New insight on freeze-melt cycle of sea ice

Source: The post is based on the article “Changing Arctic: New insight on freeze-melt cycle of sea ice” published in Down To Earth on 8th December 2022

What is the News?

According to a study, the surface and bottom of the Arctic sea ice often do not melt and freeze simultaneously.

About Arctic Sea Ice

The Arctic sea ice is seasonal. It forms in the winter when seawater freezes into massive floating ice blocks and thaws during the summer. When sea ice is present, it insulates the ocean against heat loss.

The sea ice reflects sunlight into space, regulating ocean and air temperature and maintaining habitats above and below the water.

Understanding the timings of the thawing of sea ice and freeze onsets, as well as the lengths of the melt and freeze seasons is crucial. These play a vital role in the “heat budget” of the atmosphere-ice-ocean system. 

Note: A heat budget is a balance between incoming heat absorbed by the earth and outgoing heat escaping it. 

What did the study find on the Arctic Sea Ice?

Until now, most studies calculated the Arctic melt and freeze onsets using remote sensing observations from the surface, but rarely investigated the freeze-thaw process at the ice bottom.

The researchers have now analyzed data from 2001 to 2018 to explore how melting and freezing vary at the ice surface and bottom. 

They found that the surface and bottom of the Arctic sea ice often do not melt and freeze simultaneously. For instance, at the Beaufort Gyre — a major ocean current in the Arctic Ocean — the average ice melt at the bottom is approximately 17 days earlier than the surface melt onset.

This longer melt season under the ice is likely playing a key role in the enhanced thinning of the ice that is keeping the summer extents low.


Process to appoint ad hoc judges must be less cumbersome: Supreme Court

Source: The post is based on the article “Process to appoint ad hoc judges must be less cumbersome: Supreme Court” published in The Hindu on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said that the process suggested by the Centre for the appointment of ad-hoc judges in high courts is “very cumbersome” and suggested a simpler procedure should be adopted so the real objective of their appointment doesn’t get defeated.

Background

In 2021, the Supreme Court had laid down certain guidelines for making appointment of ad hoc judges on a petition filed by NGO Lok Prahari. 

The judgment noticed that Article 224A has largely been a “dormant provision” with only three recorded instances of its invocation in 1972 (Madhya Pradesh high court), 1982 (Madras high court) and 2007 (Allahabad high court). 

Note: According to Article 224A, the chief justice of a high court can request a retired judge of any high court to become a judge of that particular high court. Such an appointment would come into effect with the approval of the President of India. 

What are the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court for making appointments of ad hoc judges?

Click Here to read

​​This judgment required the Centre to prepare a Memorandum of Procedure(MoP) for this.

What is the MoP prepared by the Centre?

The MoP prepared by the Centre for appointing ad hoc judges to High Courts has nearly 20 service conditions which included a six-monthly review of their performance, a report to be drawn out on the judgments delivered and a minimum three years’ service as district judicial officer among other conditions.

What was the Supreme Court’s view on this MoP?

The Supreme Court suggested the Centre to prepare a simpler MoP as these judges are not being selected for the first time. These are persons willing to take the load of work.

The court also suggested that some senior lawyers are willing to offer their services as ad hoc judges as they are willing to serve on the bench for a limited period of two to three years but not commit to a longer tenure.


Union Minister of Rural Development, Shri Giriraj Singh holds a meeting on ‘Cactus Plantation and its Economic Usage’

Source: The post is based on the article Union Minister of Rural Development, Shri Giriraj Singh holds a meeting on ‘Cactus Plantation and its Economic Usage’ published in PIB on 9th December 2022

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Rural Development has convened a consultation meeting on ‘Cactus Plantation and its Economic Usage.

What is Cactus?

Cactus is a Xerophytic Plant which grows relatively at a slower pace.

Cactus are unevenly distributed. Its largest concentration is found around the latitude of 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator. South Africa and sub-tropical North and South America house the highest number of species as well as being densely populated.

What are the uses of Cactus?

– Cactus uses 80% less water than traditional crops and yet produce a high number of fruits. Its fruit is used to make jams and jellies due to its high sugar content and the rest of the crop is used for human consumption and animal forage.

– Additionally, this crop has a higher heat tolerance, which would make it more adaptive globally, as countries prepare to bear extreme temperatures due to climate change.

– Cactus can also be explored for realizing the benefits of its usage for biofuel, food, fodder and biofertilizer production for the larger benefit of the country. This will help reduce the fuel import burden of the country apart from contributing towards employment and income generation for the poor farmers of these areas.


What does it mean for a candidate to lose an ‘election deposit’?

Source: The post is based on the article What does it mean for a candidate to lose an ‘election deposit’?published in Indian Express on 8th December 2022

What is the News?

The state Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have concluded. As with all elections, while there will be candidates who will rake in huge victory margins, there will also be contestants who will lose their Security Deposit – an indicator of clear rejection at the hands of the voters.

What is an election security deposit?

An election security deposit is an amount that is to be deposited with the Returning Officer when a candidate files their nomination. 

This is to be submitted either in cash, or a receipt must be enclosed with the nomination paper, showing that the said sum has been deposited on the candidate’s behalf in the Reserve Bank of India or in a Government Treasury.

The main purpose of this practice is to ensure that only genuinely intending candidates end up filing the nomination to be a part of the electoral process.

Is the amount the same for all elections?

No, it depends on the particular election being conducted, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951 mentions different amounts depending on the level of election.

When is a candidate said to ‘lose’ their security deposit?

As per the Representation of the People Act,1951, the deposit has to be forfeited at an election if:

1) The number of valid votes polled by the candidate is less than 1/6th of the total number of valid votes polled or 

2) In the case of the election of more than one member, it would be 1/6th of the total number of valid votes so polled divided by the number of members to be elected. This refers to elections by proportional representation method, as is the case in Rajya Sabha. 

If the candidate does meet the threshold, the deposit shall be returned as soon as practicable after the result of the election is declared.

Note: If in a general election, a candidate is a contesting candidate in more than one parliamentary constituency or in more than one assembly constituency, not more than one of the deposits shall be returned, and the others shall be forfeited.


UPSC Prelims 2024 CSAT Answer Key – With Detailed Explanation and Typed Questions

Dear Friends, We are releasing our UPSC Prelims 2024 CSAT Answer Key Along with Detailed explanation and typed questions. You can match your answers and also check the reasoning behind it. UPSC Prelims 2024 CSAT Answer Key Directions for the following 4 (four) items: Read the following two passages and answer the items that follow… Continue reading UPSC Prelims 2024 CSAT Answer Key – With Detailed Explanation and Typed Questions

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Migrant workers are vulnerable in GCC states 

Source: The post migrant workers are vulnerable in GCC states has been created, based on the article “Under Kafala, workers are dispensable” published in “The Hindu” on 17th June 2024  UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2-international relation-Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.  Context: The article discusses… Continue reading Migrant workers are vulnerable in GCC states 

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Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage

Source: The post Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage has been created, based on the article “High Court’s take on Marriage Act, an erosion of rights” published in “The Hindu” on 17th June 2024  UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1- Society – Salient Features  Context: The article discusses a problematic… Continue reading Contradictory approach of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on inter-faith marriage

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Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act (POSH Act)-Significance and concerns- Explained Pointwise

Sexual Harassment at the workplace is one of the major issues faced by women in the modern world. Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act (POSH Act) was enacted to effectively counter the sexual harassment cases in India. While there has been a rise in the cases registered under this act, SC has also raised… Continue reading Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment Act (POSH Act)-Significance and concerns- Explained Pointwise

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Source– This post on Burp tax is based on the article “Why has New Zealand removed the ‘burp tax’ on livestock?” published in “Indian Express” on 17th June 2024. Why in the News? Recently, New Zealand announced scrapping the ‘burp tax. About burp tax 1. About the Burp Tax: It was a tax introduced in 2022… Continue reading Burp tax

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