9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 1st, 2023

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 funding and demand for MGNREGA

Source: The post is based on the article The funding and demand for MGNREGA” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: MGNREGS and associated concerns

News: The article discusses the performance of MGNREGS and challenges associated with it.

What are some highlights of Economic Survey 2022-23 on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)?

The Economic Survey 2022-23 showed that 6.49 crore households demanded work under the MGNREGS.

The survey credited the scheme for having a positive impact on income per household, agricultural productivity, and production-related expenditure.

It also said that the scheme helped with income diversification and infusing resilience into rural livelihoods.

What is Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)?

Click Here to Read

How has MGNREGA helped during the Covid Pandemic?

It acted as a lifeline for a record 11 crore workers during the first lockdown in 2020.

Wages earned under MGNREGA helped compensate between 20% to 80% of the loss of income caused because of the lockdown. The demand for the work also increased during the pandemic.

Moreover, the demand for jobs under MGNREGA has seen a decline in recent months but it is still larger than pre-pandemic levels. This shows that rural households are still in need of the job despite the end in curbs of pandemic.

As per the Ministry of Rural Development, demand under MGNREGS has doubled in the last seven years,

Therefore, looking at the huge demand for jobs under the scheme, the government has increased the budget for the scheme over the years.

How has the Centre’s allocation for MGNREGS changed over the years?

The budgetary allocation for the scheme has increased successively since 2013 from ₹32,992 crore in the 2013-14 Union Budget to ₹73,000 crore in 2021-22.

However, in recent years, the actual expenditure on the scheme has successively been higher than the amount allocated to it at the budget stage.

What are the challenges with the implementation of MGNREGA?

Decline in the number of days of employment: The scheme provides 100 days of employment per household per year. However, since 2016-17, on average, less than 10% of the households completed 100 days of wage employment.

Further, the average days of employment provided per household under the MGNREGS fell to a five-year low this financial year.

Increasing Budgetary allocation: Every year the budget allocation on MGNREGS increases. However, it should be at least ₹2.72 lakh crore for FY 2023-24, if the government intends to provide legally guaranteed 100 days of work per household.

Moreover, every year, about 80-90% of the budget gets exhausted within the first six months. This causes a slowdown of work on the ground and a delay in wage payments to workers.

Delay in wage Payments: There has been delay in the payments of wage to workers, even though SC has directed the centre to release the wages on time. Wage delays also have an impact on the MGNREGA work. For example, vendors are reluctant to supply materials for any new work due to the delay in payments.

Minimum Wage Rate: Minimum wage rate under MGNREGS is fixed by the Centre on the basis of the Consumer Price Index-Agricultural Labourers. However, the type of work done by agricultural labourers and MGNREGS workers was different.

Therefore, it has been suggested that minimum wage should be decided on the basis of the Consumer Price Index-Rural. It is more recent and provides for higher expenditure on education and medical care.

Other issues:  Fake job cards, corruption, late uploading of muster rolls, and inconsistent payment of unemployment allowance also hampers the implementation of MGNREGS.


The New Great Game In The Himalayas – China’s territorial disputes are as much about dominating important rivers as occupying land

Source: The post is based on the article The New Great Game In The Himalayas – China’s territorial disputes are as much about dominating important rivers as occupying land” published in The Times of India on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations

Relevance: concerns associated with water sharing between India and China.

News: The article discusses the water challenges that India face from China.

What are the water challenges that India faces from China?

China’s requirement of freshwater is huge and it wants to fully utilize the water for its economy.

China wants to have monopoly in the emerging green technologies, build a domestic chip making industry, extract rare earth metals, etc. All these would need a huge amount of freshwater.

Moreover, China has built dams on almost every major river on the Tibetan plateau, including the Mekong, Salween, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Yellow, Indus, Sutlej, Shweli and Karnali.

It has unveiled plans to build dams on the rivers that still remain free flowing, such as the Arun and the Subansiri.

Further, China also hides hydrological data from India and hence has plans to weaponise the sharing of water.

It has planned to occupy all important watersheds in the Himalayas to justify water transfer schemes and its right to use waters emanating from these watersheds.

Therefore, there are chances to have disputes not only over land but also for water between India and China.

What are the water threats for India?

Most of the major rivers of South Asia originate in the Tibetan plateau. Nearly half that water, i.e., 48%, runs directly into India.

According to sources, nearly 60% of their freshwater sources for India are contaminated. The water in the Brahmaputra River system, the Siang, turns dirty and grey when the stream enters India from Tibet.

Further, the Tibetan glaciers are melting at the rate of 7% annually and two-thirds of the glaciers on the plateau will be gone by 2050.

This current trend of melting suggests that Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and other rivers across the northern India plains could become seasonal rivers in the near future.

Hence, India will face a major scarcity of water in the coming future and may get involve in conflict with China. Therefore, there is a hidden war already on and India needs to recognize it early.


AISHE report shows that the pandemic threatens to undo gender parity gains in higher education

Source: The post is based on the article “AISHE report shows that the pandemic threatens to undo gender parity gains in higher education” published in Indian Express on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Issues

News: All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) report has revealed an increasing gender divide in higher education.

The Covid-19 pandemic seems to have made it harder for women to achieve equality in the workforce. This is because, during the pandemic, men had more job security, and could negotiate higher wages. Furthermore, since the pandemic ended, the number of women in some classes has gone down. Also, in fields where women had made significant progress, the progress has now been reversed, reported by All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) for 2020-21. For example, the gender ratio in the B.Com course is down to 2016 levels.

The gap is increasing where the gender gap was already present and

What are the challenges to gender equality in education?

The setback in gender equality in college and university classrooms is in contrast to other developments in school education.

The ASER report, released two weeks ago, shows that parents are still interested in getting their daughters enrolled in schools.

But the gender divide in higher education institutions is visible.

It will have a negative impact on girls’ empowerment, which could have a ripple effect on the nutrition, health, and education of future generations.

What are the government’s steps to overcome the gender divide?

In the wake of the pandemic, the government was quick to respond to several welfare and equity-related issues, including relief packages under PMJDY and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Rozgar Abhiyaan and the launch of the SVANIDHI scheme for street vendors, a large percentage of whom are women.

What more should be done?

The Centre, state governments, and educational institutions need to work together to make it easier for women to return to university.

It requires increasing funding for scholarships, building more dorms and hostels, or helping to promote social change that will make it easier for half of the country’s population to achieve their goals.


A new Sino-Russian alliance: What are its implications for India?

Source– The post is based on the article “A new Sino-Russian alliance: What are its implications for India?” published in The Indian Express on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

Relevance– India in changing global order

News– The article explains the emerging Sino-Russian alliance and its strategic implication. It also explains the Russian calculations behind the Ukraine war and its impacts.

China and Russia unveiled a partnership “without limits” and with no “forbidden areas” in Feb 2022. Russia and China had a strategic partnership for a long time. The Beijing declaration did lay out a solid basis for jointly confronting the West.

What were the Russian calculations for invading Ukraine?

Putin had hoped that his military offensive would lead to a quick collapse of the regime in Ukraine and occupation of Ukraine. This will impact the European security order.

It will deeply divide Europe and fracture the US-led trans-Atlantic security system. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the occupation of Ukraine will further undermine the credibility of the US as a global power.

Putin’s victory in Europe would have had a dramatic impact on Asia. It would have weakened US alliances in Asia and boosted China’s ambition to radically reshape its periphery. China would have used force for unification with Taiwan.

How has the Ukraine war played out?

Ukraine’s determination has prevented the quick collapse of the regime in Kyiv. It has helped to mobilise massive military assistance from the Western world.

Putin is locked in a stalemate. He has lost nearly 50% of the territory Russia gained in eastern Ukraine during the early phase of the invasion.

Russia’s military material and manpower losses have been immense. Moscow faces a harsh regime of Western economic sanctions.

What are the geostrategic implications of the Sino-Russia alliance and the Ukraine war?

Putin and Xi have facilitated Western unity under American leadership. The Ukraine invasion has also allowed the US to put simultaneous pressure on both China and Russia.

In Europe, the Ukraine war has helped the US to galvanize and expand NATO.

The Russian invasion has also triggered the fear of Chinese territorial expansionism in Asia. This has led to the strengthening of US bilateral alliances with Australia and Japan. The US has significantly raised its military and political support for Taiwan.

The Sino-Russian alliance and the Ukraine war have seen Germany and Japan joining the battle against Moscow and Beijing.

Japan and Germany happen to be the world’s third and fourth largest economies. Their mobilisation significantly alters the so-called “balance of powers” between the West and the Moscow-Beijing axis.

Both Berlin and Tokyo are now committed to raising their defence spending to deal with the security challenges from Moscow and Beijing.

Washington is limiting the influence of Russia and China in Eurasia by bringing its alliances and partnerships in Europe and Asia closer.

Leaders of America’s Asian allies joined for the first time a NATO summit last June in Madrid. NATO has promised to take a greater interest in shaping the Indo-Pacific balance of power.

There is a growing prospect that Moscow will become more beholden to Beijing after Putin’s military misadventure in Ukraine. Beijing is unlikely to abandon Moscow. A weakened Putin will remain a valuable asset for Xi even as Beijing seeks to limit some of the new Western hostility to China.

How is it impacting India?

China can increase the military pressure on the disputed border with India.

Delhi depends on Russian military supplies to cope with the PLA challenge and Moscow is now a junior partner to Beijing. This is certainly not a good situation for India.

Dependence on Russian arms has severely constrained India’s position on Ukraine. It has cast a shadow over Delhi’s engagement with Europe and the US. It is now the biggest constraint on India’s freedom of action.

India is facing the prospect of a unipolar Asia dominated by a rising and assertive China. So. it has turned to the US and its allies to restore the regional balance of power.

The transition has become more urgent and complicated by the new Sino-Russian alliance Ukraine war.

GS Paper 3


Solar energy is not the best option for India

Source– The post is based on the article “Solar energy is not the best option for India” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Energy

Relevance– Sources of energy

News– The article explains how the overemphasis on solar power is not the right option for India. It also provides arguments in support of hydropower

Why overemphasis on solar energy is not the right option for India?

The first is the wrong comparison of solar power with coal electricity at the load centre, instead of at the pithed. It costs about half that of the load centre. According to the Central Electricity Authority, moving electricity through high voltage wires is cheaper than moving coal.

The second flaw is not comparing like with like. Solar electricity is intermittent and coal electricity is continuous. There is a need to add the cost of storage by battery.

Supporters of solar power add the environmental cost of carbon to coal. But, now the carbon market has crashed.

The shadow price or true economic value of coal is even lower than its market price. The cost of labour in mining carries a shadow price of zero.

Some researchers estimate the cost of carbon emission in terms of deaths due to particle pollution. Implicitly, they only include the particulate emission cost of carbon.

The number of deaths is multiplied by a figure for the value of statistical life. It is calculated by asking potential victims about their desire to pay to avoid an increase in probability by 10% of your death due to pollution.

They have arrived at a figure of ₹1 crore. The comparable figure in the United States is ₹1.8 crore. In reality, They don’t get so much compensation in case of any accident.

Thus, solar energy is made financially viable by leaving out storage battery costs and providing subsidies and concessions that are front loaded by the government.

What are arguments in support of hydropower?

Renewable energy in large hydro is both low carbon and least cost.

India has utilised only about 15% of its hydro potential whereas the U.S. and Europe have utilised 90% and 98% of their potential, respectively.

The extent of utilisation of hydro potential seems to be an index of civilisational development and evolution. The Three Gorges project on the Yangtze by China is the world’s biggest hydro electric project.

One major reason for the stress in the power sector is the focus on renewable energy in a big way.

NTPC was a model thermal power producer meant to produce coal-based electricity. It is doing unrelated diversification into renewables. It is not its core competence.


Expect action on our aim of carbon neutrality by 2070

Source– The post is based on the article “Expect action on our aim of carbon neutrality by 2070” published in the mint on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment

Relevance– Climate change

News– The article explains the challenges in reducing emissions by developing countries. It also tells about the steps taken by India to fight climate change and the way forward to meet financial needs for a low emission path.

What are the issues in the fight against climate change?

Many developed countries have already peaked their emissions. But, it is an enormous task for developing countries to achieve carbon neutrality.

The low carbon development strategy is being suggested to achieve low emissions. But, it needs appropriate technology and huge financial resources.

Developed countries have made a commitment of funds and technology transfer. But, resource flow and transfer of technology is inadequate.

What are steps taken by India to fight climate change?

India is committed to decouple emissions and economic growth in its development strategy. Its strategy is guided by NDCs adopted in 2015 and updated in 2022. Country has set the target of net-zero emissions by 2070.

More than 40% of existing electricity is based on non-fossil fuel resources.It is envisaged to reach 50% by 2030.

The total carbon stocks in country forests are increasing. Carbon sequestered through forest and tree cover is estimated at 30.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide

The vision of LiFE seeks the rational utilisation of natural resources with transition from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.

The renewable energy is covered under country provision for priority sector lending. Green bonds are gaining traction in global and domestic financial markets. SEBI has enhanced the scope of green debt securities.

What is the way forward to meet the financial needs for fighting climate change?

2.5 trillion is needed to meet India NDC targets by 2030. Mobilisation of resources from private and public resources will be vital.

A holistic approach is needed for scaling up resources for climate action. An enhanced role by multilateral development banks to catalyse private finance at scale and reasonable cost is imperative.

Developed countries should assume the responsibility of enabling access to financial resources and technology. The G20 presidency provides an opportunity to India to highlight global cooperation in accessing technology and finance.


Why state must cede power to communities

Source– The post is based on the article “Why state must cede power to communities” published in the Business Standard on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Economy. GS1- Society

Relevance– Developmental model across the world

News– The article explains the reason for the broken state of affairs across the most advanced societies. It also explains the importance of community in achieving development

What are the reasons for the broken state of affairs across the most advanced societies of the world?

Large parts of the blame can be put on two types of liberalism —classical liberalism and left liberalism.

Classic liberalism believes in excessive individual rights and freedoms, free markets and a limited state. This led to the rise of inequality and the concentration of wealth and power.

It helped the rise of left liberalism, or progressive liberalism. It ended up expanding the power and role of the state even more.

Liberalism was built on the implicit assumption that traditional social institutions like family, tribe, caste, and religion were oppressive. They need dismantling. These institutions did become oppressive as a result of giving them excessive power.

Currently, it is the liberal state that is the most oppressive institution. It is leading to broken societies.

What is the importance of communities?

The way out of this state of affairs is to re-empower older and newer institutions that build community. So, the role of community becomes important.

Communities should be given more powers to provide the basic services like health and law & order.

Community organisations will expand livelihood opportunities at a far lower cost and with greater alignment with community objectives than government.

Outside Europe and America, the countries that actually managed to address issues like jobs, education were “illiberal” and largely monocultural countries in Asia. Examples are Japan, Asean and China.

The list of “broken” countries now includes most of the developed West. Family, community and other social organisations have broken down in these countries.

What is the way forward for the development of Indian society?

There is a need to always focus on strengths. India’s strengths are our strong family, caste and tribal values and affiliations. With reform and empowerment, they can deliver better social and economic outcomes.

Taxpayers can be encouraged to contribute a specific proportion of their post-tax incomes to a community organisation of their choice. These contributions will surely need social audits.

There is a need for inheritance tax on wealthy persons who do not leave at least 50 per cent of his posthumous wealth for charitable or social purposes.

There is no case for an annual wealth tax. It will just encourage the wealthy to evade and shift to tax havens.

An inheritance tax, with generous exemptions for property and cash left for family, will offer incentives for contributing to the betterment of society.


Economic survey 2022-23 highlights

Source: The post is based on the following articles

“The Economic Survey that wasn’t” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

“The Economic Survey’s growth forecast is a little too optimistic”, “An economic overview that scores on cogency” and “India’s Economic Survey has got back to its true and tested format” published in the Livemint on 1st February 2023.

“Optimistic outlook – Higher growth will need more reforms” published in the Business Standard on 1st February 2023.

“Express View on Economic Survey 2023: Reason for optimism” published in the Indian Express on 1st February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Government Budgeting.

Relevance: Economic survey 2022-23 summary.

News: The government recently released the Economic Survey 2022-23. This article presents important Economic survey 2022-23 highlights.

What are the advantages of Economic Surveys?

a) The Economic Survey is the medium in the country for a rigorous, thoughtful, and nuanced discussion of new economic ideas. Such as universal basic income, economic divergence among States, steps to improve property tax revenues using satellite technology, estimating internal migration of people, and so on.

b) It has typically been the medium to raise issues for public discussion over strategic economic matters.

c) The survey provides a report card of the government’s economic performance.

What are the challenges associated with Economic Surveys?

Government is not constitutionally bound to present the Economic Survey or to follow the recommendations that are made in it.

Historically, the survey’s recommendations are not always reflected in the Union Budget. Thus, surveys ended up becoming a collection of long opinion pieces on the Indian economy and economic matters.

What are the positives from the Economic survey 2022-23?

The Economic Survey 2022-23 summary highlights 1) recovery from the pandemic-induced disruption is complete and the “GDP growth will probably lie in the range of 6.0% to 6.8%.” This is due to a) a rebound in private consumption aided by a release of “pent-up” demand, b) a surge in exports in the initial months of 2022-23, and c) the increase in government capital expenditure, 2) Provided some new data which increases transparency. Such as on the housing market, digital infrastructure, etc, 3) Widened its coverage, with detailed chapters on climate change and the social sector, 4) Places India’s economic story in a global context with realism. 5) India is entering a new era of growth, where its citizens can look forward to a better quality of life with better-equipped schools, affordable healthcare, and increased formal employment opportunities and 6) It highlights the continuity of reforms in India. It compares the reform story of the last eight years to the 1998-2002 period. Such as “creating public goods, fostering trust-based governance, and the recent introduction of the Jan Vishwas Bill”.

Must read: Economic Survey 2022: Highlights

What are the challenges highlighted by the Economic Survey 2022-23?

The Economic Survey 2022-23 summary 1) pointed out that the ‘Make in India’ and manufacturing gross value added (GVA) grew only at 4% (real) even before the pandemic hit, 2) Growth in private consumption has come at the cost of decreasing household financial savings, 3) The economy has seen a K-shaped recovery, 4) There is huge disguised unemployment in agriculture, 5) Reforms since 2014 have not resulted in higher growth so far because of one shock after another, 6) Balance-sheet stress in both the corporate and the banking sectors after the financial crisis will affect growth outcomes.

Global concerns: 1) Rich-world central banks are likely to keep raising interest rates. While inflation has come down, it is still nowhere near their targeted 2%, 2) Central banks have been gradually withdrawing the money they had printed and pumped into the financial system. This will keep long-term interest rates high and discourage consumption, hurting their imports and our exports, 3) Ongoing Ukraine war could affect the global economy in multiple ways.

What are the major recommendations highlighted by the Economic Survey 2022-23?

a) Capital expenditure must grow to facilitate employment despite fiscal deficit limitations, b) The private sector has all the necessary pre-conditions lined up to step up. So, they need to increase private capex spending, c) Reforms such as goods and services tax and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code need more work to perform as desired, d) The money should be spent on creating assets that would boost future productivity, instead of on current consumption, e) Highlighted the need to harness Nari Shakti (women power), education and skilling, f) There was a need to dismantle LIC – license, inspection and compliance, g) Provide affordable, reliable and viable power supply and h) Ensure energy security and energy transition for India to fully realize its potential.

Read more: Economic Survey 2022-23 PDF

The Survey emphatically states the Indian economy is well-placed to embark on a growth trajectory similar to what it experienced post-2003. But achieving sustained growth would require more policy interventions.


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Out-of-pocket health spending still high, despite hike in government expenditure

Source: The post is based on the article “Out-of-pocket health spending still high, despite hike in government expenditure” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2022-23, almost half of all health spending in India is still paid by patients themselves directly at the point of treatment.

What are the key highlights from the Economic Survey on Health spending in India?

Economic Survey on Health
Source: The Hindu

Out-of-pocket expenditure: The share of government health expenditure in total health expenditure was just 28.6% in the financial year 2013-14. This has increased to 40.6% by 2018-19.

– There was also a significant decline in out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of total health expenditure from 64.2% in 2013-14 to 48.2% in 2018-19.

– But still almost half of all health spending in India is still paid by patients themselves directly at the point of treatment. In states such as Uttar Pradesh, the out-of-pocket estimates were as high as 71.3%. 

Note: Out-of-pocket expenditure is the money paid directly by households, at the point of receiving health care. This occurs when services are neither provided free of cost through a government health facility nor is the individual covered under any public or private insurance or social protection scheme. 

Government Health expenditure: ​​Central and State governments budgeted expenditure on the health sector has reached 2.1% of GDP in the budget estimates for 2022-23 and 2.2% in the revised estimates for 2021-22, an increase from 1.6% in 2020-21. 

Note: It has been recommended several times that the government’s health expenditure be raised from the existing 1.2% to 2.5% of GDP by 2025. 

Ayushman Bharat Jan Arogya Yojana: Under this scheme, approximately 21.9 crore beneficiaries have been verified including 3 crore beneficiaries verified using State IT systems. This is less than 50% of the originally targeted approximately 50 crore beneficiaries under the scheme.

Digital Health Ids: As of January 2023, over 31.11 crore digital health IDs have been created and the health records of over 7.52 crore people have been linked with the IDs.

Overweight children and adults: According to the National Family Health Survey, the rate of overweight children under 5 years old has gone up from 2.1% in 2015-16 to 3.4% in 2019-21.

– Similarly, the number of women who are overweight or obese has increased from 20.6% to 24%, while the number of men who are overweight has gone up from 18.9% to 22.9%.

Must read: Economic Survey 2022: Highlights

Share of education in budgetary allocations has fallen over the past seven years: Survey

Source: The post is based on the article “Share of education in budgetary allocations has fallen over the past seven years: Survey” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2023, the share of education in budgetary allocations has fallen over the past seven years.

What are the key highlights from the Economic Survey on Education?

Economic Survey on Education
Source: The Hindu

Share of Education in Budgetary allocation: The budgetary allocation for education as a percentage of total expenditure has dropped over the past seven years, from 10.4% to 9.5%.

– The share of education within the umbrella of the social services category has also reduced from 42.8% to 35.5% between the financial years 2015-16 and 2022-23.

– Part of this could be attributed to the faster growth in spending on health and other measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Improvement in GER: The financial year 2021-22 saw an improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratios (GER) in schools across all levels. 

– GER stands for the enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the eligible official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education in a given school year.

The decline in dropout rates: There is a “steady decline” in school dropout rates at all levels from 14% in 2020-21 to 12.6% in 2021-22.

– Government schemes such as Samagra Shiksha, Right to Education(RTE) Act 2009, improvement in school infrastructure and facilities, residential hostel buildings, availability of teachers, regular training of teachers, free textbooks, uniforms for children and PM POSHAN Scheme played the major role in increasing enrollments and retaining students.

Higher Education: The number of medical colleges in the country has increased from 387 in 2014 to 648 in 2022 and the number of MBBS seats has increased from 51,348 to 96,077.

– The number of Indian Institutes of Technology rose from 16 to 23 between 2014 and 2022 and Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) from 13 to 20.

Distance Education: Distance education in India has witnessed a 7% increase in enrollment in the financial year 2021-22 from FY20, and 20% increase since FY15.


Economic Survey 2022-23: Indian start-ups exploring reverse-flipping

Source: The post is based on the article “Economic Survey 2022-23: Indian start-ups exploring reverse-flipping” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2022-23, the Indian startup ecosystem is facing several challenges despite recording an increase in the number of startups to 84,012 in 2022 from 452 in 2016.

What are the key highlights from the Economic Survey on Indian startups?

Startup Ecosystem in India: India ranks among the largest start-up ecosystems in the world, with about 48% of young companies in the country being from tier II and III cities.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT) has recognised that startups have created more than 900,000 direct jobs.

The government has also strengthened its intellectual property rights regime by modernizing the IP office, reducing legal compliances, and facilitating IP filing for start-ups, women entrepreneurs, small industries and others. This has resulted in a 46% in the domestic filing of patents between 2016 and 2021.

According to the Global Innovation Index 2022 Report, India has entered the top 40 innovating countries for the first time in 2022, by improving its rank from 81 in 2015 to 40 last year.

What are the challenges faced by startups in India?

Flipping: Many start-ups have been headquartered overseas, especially in destinations with favourable legal environments and taxation policies, technically known as ‘flipping’.

Flipping refers to the process of transferring the entire ownership of an Indian company to an overseas entity, including the transfer of all Intellectual Property and data owned by the Indian company. Typically, flipping happens at the early stage of the startup.

However, several Indian start-ups are now exploring ‘reverse flipping’ or shifting their domicile back to India.

Other Challenges: The survey pointed out several other challenges start-ups face such as funding hurdles, revenue generation struggles, lack of easy access to supportive infrastructure and a complex regulatory tax environment.

What are the recommendations given by the Economic Survey on Indian startups?

The survey has suggested measures such as 1) simplifying multiple tax layers, 2) resolving uncertainty due to tax litigation, especially of employee stock ownership plans, 3) exploring the incubation and funding landscape for start-ups in emerging fields like social innovation and impact investment, 4) facilitating mentorship programmes through partnerships with established private entities and 5) simplifying the process for the grant of an ‘inter ministerial board’ certification for start-ups.


India Ranks Third In Net Gain In Annual Forest Area Over The Past Decade

Source: The post is based on the article “India Ranks Third In Net Gain In Annual Forest Area Over The Past Decade” published in PIB on 31st January 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2022–23, India is leading one of the most ambitious clean energy transitions in the world and is unwavering in its resolve to combat climate change.

What are the key highlights from the Economic Survey on clean energy transition efforts?

India’s Forest Cover: India ranks third globally with respect to the net gain in average annual forest area between 2010 and 2020. 

– The survey attributes the same to the robust framework and policies of the National and State Governments such as the Green India Mission(GIM), Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority(CAMPA), etc. 

– Among the Indian States, Arunachal Pradesh has the maximum carbon stock in forests and Jammu & Kashmir contributes the maximum per-hectare carbon stock.

Preservation of Ecosystems: As part of dedicated efforts to preserve ecosystems, India now has 75 Ramsar sites for wetlands.

– There is also an increase in mangrove cover by 364 sq. km. in 2021, as a result of various regulatory and promotional measures to protect and conserve mangroves.

Transition to Renewable Energy: India is progressively becoming a favored destination for investment in renewables. During the period 2014 -2021, total investment in renewables stood at US$ 78.1 billion in India.

– The likely installed capacity by the end of 2029-30 is expected to be more than 800 GW, of which non-fossil fuel would contribute more than 500 GW, resulting in the decline of the average emission rate of around 29 per cent by 2029-30 compared to 2014-15.

National Green Hydrogen Mission, approved by the government to make India an energy-independent nation and to decarbonize the critical sectors, thereby resulting in 3.6 Giga tonnes of cumulative CO2 emission reduction by 2050.

Finance for Sustainable Development: The survey throws light on the efforts that India has taken towards mobilizing private capital:

– Green Bonds: The issuance of Sovereign Green Bonds will help the government to tap the requisite finance from potential investors for deployment in public sector projects aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of the economy. 

– A Green Finance working committee has been set up to oversee and validate key decisions on the issuance of Sovereign green bonds.

Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR): SEBI has issued new sustainability reporting requirements under the BRSR which are more granular with quantifiable metrics in line with the principles ensconced in the ‘National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct’.BRSR was made mandatory for the top 1000 listed entities (by market capitalisation) from 2022-23.

India at COP 27: India has updated its Nationally Determined Contributions(NDCs) by advancing its target of installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuels ahead of 2030, to 50%.  The Survey mentions India’s Long-Term Low Carbon Development Strategy (LT-LEDS) which focuses on the rational utilization of national resources with due regard to energy security.

Initiatives related to other environmental issues:

The survey highlights the achievement of India in doubling the tiger numbers in 2018, four years before the targeted year 2022. The population of Asiatic Lions has also shown a steady increase, with a population of 674 individuals in 2020, higher than the 523 lions in 2015.

New Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022, & E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 have also been notified to promote the circular economy.


Shipbuilding has the potential to strengthen the mission of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’: Economic Survey

Source: The post is based on the article “Shipbuilding has the potential to strengthen the mission of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’: Economic Survey” published in The Hindu on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2023, shipbuilding has one of the highest employment multipliers and is capable of generating mass employment in remote, coastal and rural areas.

What is the importance of the Shipbuilding Industry in India?

Strategic importance: Shipbuilding industry is a strategically important industry due to its role in energy security, national defence and the development of the heavy engineering industry.

Highest employment multiplier: Among manufacturing activities, shipbuilding has one of the highest employment multipliers of 6.48 and is capable of generating mass employment in remote, coastal and rural areas.

– For instance, the recently commissioned aircraft carrier INS Vikrant alone engaged approximately 500 MSMEs, 12,000 employees from ancillary industries, and 2,000 shipyard employees.

Contribution to Indian Economy: A study undertaken by the Navy for the construction of seven P17A ships reveals that around three-fourths of the total project cost of warships is invested back into the Indian economy.

This investment is ploughed back into the economy through indigenous sourcing of raw materials, development of equipment and systems installed onboard ships and other manpower services.

An indigenous shipping and shipbuilding industry can also reduce freight bills and forex outgo, thus reducing the current account deficit.

Collaborative production system: Shipbuilding has links to other ancillary industries including steel, engineering equipment, port infrastructure, trade and shipping services which have the potential to create a collaborative production ecosystem.


Economic Survey 2022: Highlights

Source: The post is based on the article “Economic Survey 2022: Highlightspublished in PIB on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

The Government has tabled the Economic Survey 2022-23. The Survey laid out the outlook for India’s growth, inflation and unemployment in the coming years.

What is an Economic Survey?

Click Here to read

What are the key highlights from Economic Survey 2022-23?

Economic Survey 2022-23
Source: PIB

GDP Growth: Indian economy in 2022-23 has nearly: recouped what was lost, renewed what had paused and re-energised what had slowed during the pandemic and since the conflict in Europe.

The survey has projected the Indian economy to grow by somewhere between 6%-6.8% depending on global factors in 2023-24 with 6.5% as a baseline expectation.

Inflation: The RBI has projected headline inflation at 6.8% in FY23, outside its comfort zone of 2% to 6%. High inflation is seen as one big factor holding back demand among consumers. However, the Survey sounded optimistic about the inflation levels and trajectory, saying it is not high enough to deter private consumption and also not so low as to weaken the inducement to invest.

Unemployment: The Survey said employment levels have risen in the current financial year. It pointed to the Periodic Labour Force Survey(PLFS), which showed that the urban unemployment rate for people aged 15 years and above declined from 9.8% in the quarter ending September 2021 to 7.2% one year later.

Economic Survey 2022-23
Source: TOI

Capital Expenditure: The government’s emphasis on capital expenditure (Capex) has continued despite higher revenue expenditure requirements during the year. The Centre’s Capex has steadily increased from a long-term average of 1.7 % of GDP (FY09 to FY20) to 2.5% of GDP in FY22 PA.

Social Expenditure: Social Sector witnessed a significant increase in government spending. It has increased to Rs. 21.3 lakh crore in FY23 (BE) from Rs. 9.1 lakh crore in FY16.

The survey highlights the findings of the 2022 report of the UNDP on Multidimensional Poverty Index which says that 41.5 crore people exited from poverty in India between 2005-06 and 2019-20.

Climate Change and Environment: India declared the Net Zero Pledge to achieve net-zero emissions goal by 2070. 

India achieved its target of 40% installed electric capacity from non-fossil fuels ahead of 2030.

About 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity will come from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

Agriculture and Food Management: Private investment in agriculture has increased to 9.3% in 2020-21.

MSP for all mandated crops fixed at 1.5 times of all India’s weighted average cost of production since 2018.

Industry: The credit to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has grown by an average of around 30% since January 2022.

India has become the second-largest mobile phone manufacturer globally.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows into the Pharma Industry have risen four times, from US $180 million in FY19 to US $699 million in FY22.

External Sector: India is the largest recipient of remittances in the world receiving US$ 100 bn in 2022. Remittances are the second-largest major source of external financing after service export.

As of end-November 2022, India is the sixth-largest foreign exchange reserves holder in the world.

Current account deficit(CAD): The widening of CAD may continue as long as prices remain elevated, however, the country’s economy remains strong.

The report further says that if CAD widens further, the Indian Rupee may come under depreciation pressure.


Survey calls for new mineral policy, extending coal usage

Source: The post is based on the article Survey calls for new mineral policy, extending coal usagepublished in Livemint on 1st February 2023.

What is the News?

According to the Economic Survey 2023, India needs a carefully crafted multi-dimensional mineral policy to address the issues posed by an uneven distribution of rare earth elements.

What is the importance of Rare earth elements(REEs) and critical minerals?

Rare earth elements
Source: TOI

Rare earth elements(REEs) and critical minerals are essential for generating renewable energy. However, these are produced in a few countries and processed in even fewer countries.

Many experts also warn of the availability of rare earth elements and critical minerals to be the next geopolitical battleground as crude oil has been over the last fifty years.

What are the suggestions given by the survey?

There is a need to create strategic mineral reserves along the lines of the existing strategic petroleum reserves to ensure a continuous supply of minerals.

The government should carefully make a multidimensional mineral policy that would reduce India’s dependence on imports of rare earth elements(REEs) and critical minerals.

Government should consider investing in internal research including technological innovation for mineral exploration and processing and the development of recycling, reusing, and repurposing (R3) technologies.

India should also look to foreign partnerships such as the one established with Australia to develop India’s latent potential through critical minerals exploration and mining.


Shumang Leela: The art of gender-bending

Source: The post is based on the article “Shumang Leela: The art of gender-bending” published in The Hindu on 29th January 2023.

What is the News?

A traditional style of theatre art called Shumang Leela from Manipur has entertained and informed audiences for centuries.

What is Shumang Leela?

Shumang Leela is a traditional form of theatre in Manipur.

Shumang Leela translates to “courtyard performance”. It is performed in an open courtyard surrounded by spectators on all four sides.

The tradition is believed to be descended from Lai Haraoba, a ritual of the Meitei community of Manipur.

The plays serve as a medium to spread awareness among people of social, political and economic issues. Shumang Leelas may also discuss moral values, unity and integrity. 

In this play, the roles of women are all played by men, called Nupi Shabis. In the case of women’s theatre groups, the roles of men are played by women.

Today, Shumang Leela is of two types: 1) Nupa Shumang Leela, performed only by men and 2) Nupi Shumang Leela, performed only by women.


UPSC Mains Answer Writing 21st 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 21st 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 21st June 2024 I Mains Marathon

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UPSC Mains Answer Writing 20th 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 20th 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 20th June 2024 I Mains Marathon

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Must Read Daily Current Affairs Articles 21st 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 21st June 2024

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[Download] New 10 PM Weekly Compilation – June 2024 – 2nd week

Hello, everyone. We are posting a Compilation of the 10 pm current affairs quiz – June 2024 – 2nd week for practice of current affairs. All Questions have been framed based on the format of 2024 UPSC prelims exam. The compilation has been arranged based on the Prelims syllabus. Click on the following link to download… Continue reading [Download] New 10 PM Weekly Compilation – June 2024 – 2nd week

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7 Years of GST

Source-This post on 7 Years of GST has been created based on the article “7 years of GST: Balancing tech & transformation” published in “Business Standard” on 20 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus–GS Paper-3– Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. Context– The article discusses the performance of GST… Continue reading 7 Years of GST

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Revision of Competitive Examination

Source-This post on Revision of Competitive Examination has been created based on the article “Revise competitive exams for a better educated country” published in “Livemint” on 20 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper-2- Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Context-The article criticizes the current system of competitive… Continue reading Revision of Competitive Examination

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Significance of AI for Education Sector

Source-This post on Significance of AI for Education Sector has been created based on the article “Educators should leverage AI for an educational transformation” published in “LiveMint” on 20 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper-2- Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. Context-The article discusses the potential of… Continue reading Significance of AI for Education Sector

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India’s Rank on the Global Gender Gap Index 2024

Source: The post India’s rank on the Global Gender Gap Index 2024 has been created, based on the article “Cost of inequality: What India’s 129 rank in Global Gender Gap Index means” published in “Indian express” on 20th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper3- economy-growth, development, and inclusive growth Context: The article discusses India’s… Continue reading India’s Rank on the Global Gender Gap Index 2024

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The changing role of the Global South in the global economy

Source: The post the changing role of the Global South in the global economy has been created, based on the article “Developing countries can spur global growth but they need support” published in “Indian express” on 20th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper3- Economy -growth, and development Context: This article discusses the changing role… Continue reading The changing role of the Global South in the global economy

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Present Refugee Situation in India

Source: The post present refugee situation in India has been created, based on the article “Blueprints beyond borders, for solace and shelter” published in “The Hindu” on 20th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper3- Internal security Context: The article discusses the global refugee crisis and India’s historical role in granting asylum. It criticizes India’s… Continue reading Present Refugee Situation in India

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