9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – June 23, 2021

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 2  

GS Paper 3  

Prelims Oriented Articles (FACTLY) 

Mains Oriented Articles

What the law says on compensation for Covid deaths 

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States 

Tags: Covid deaths, GS Paper 2, Social issues, Disaster Management Act 

What is the News? 

The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on a petition by two advocates seeking compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the families of those who have died of Covid-19 or related complications. 

Provisions for Compensation for Death: 

    • The Centre has declared Covid-19 as a notified disaster under the Disaster Management Act. 
    • Section 12(iii) of the Act says the National Authority shall recommend guidelines for the minimum standards of relief to be provided to persons affected by disaster. 
    • The relief shall include ex gratia assistance on account of loss of life as also assistance on account of damage to houses and for restoration of means of livelihood. 
    • The Centre revises the relief amount from time to time. In 2015, the Disaster Management Division of the Home Ministry has notified relief as Rs 4 lakh per deceased person. 

What can we do to avoid the third wave of Covid? 

Source: Click here 

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


Synopsis: India needs to urgently adopt a targeted vaccination strategy, prioritizing high risk groups and potential super spreaders. 


A targeted vaccination strategy is critical to avoid a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections. Due to limited resources, optimal utilisation of the scarce resource must be a key strategy. 

What are the policy gaps in the current vaccination strategy?  

The current policy of vaccination benefits digitally aware citizens and creates inequality in the administration of vaccine. Drive-through vaccination centers in some cities increase the inequality. This is not a desirable policy objective.  

    • Currently, the focus of vaccination is on the number and percentage of people vaccinated. However, the major focus should be on who is vaccinated. At present, the 45-plus age group has been the main target group as there is higher mortality in this group. But a major policy gap is observed in vaccinating the 18-45 age group. certain high-risk groups under the 18-45 age group should be targetted. 
    • The Government has advised that infected persons should avoid being vaccinated for three months after recovery. Implementation of this policy on the ground may not be happening.  
    • There is the issue of a large number of people who have been infected by the virus but are not aware of it. Thus, a large percentage of jabs may be going to people who already have antibodies. 

How do we need to devise targeted groups? How will this help? 

The Union Health Ministry has authorised state governments to plan state-level prioritisation policies within the 18-45 age group. It is vital for state governments to use this option. A policy that targets certain high-risk groups within the 18-45 age group is required. 

    • Firstly, the population in the 18-45 age group can be divided into three categories.  
      • Category A comprises people who have already caught Covid-19 and have developed antibodies. 
      •  Category B includes those who have not yet been infected.  
      • Category C includes a small subset of high-risk groups and potential super-spreaders. For example, street vendors, auto-rickshaw drivers, milk and vegetable vendors, newspaper vendors, journalists etc. They should be given priority. 
      • Secondly, this method will help in reducing the number of deaths. It would be appropriate that the central government issues a detailed advisory on this. 
      • Thirdly, it makes sense to target high-risk groups and potential super-spreaders for vaccination. This should not be delayed. Targeted vaccinations will also enable a faster continuation of economic activities and will reduce the stress on economically vulnerable groups. 

The conclusion  

    • To tackle 3rd wave, Targeted vaccination with limited supply is important. The central government has already permitted on-the-spot registrations. 
    • Further, state governments need to take the initiative and plan for targeted and prioritised vaccinations.  

Countering a political act that has a legal garb

Source: The Hindu 

Gs2: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability 

Tags: Sedition, Sedition Law, Lakshadweep issue,  

Synopsis: Sedition cases should be charged only when any act either spoken or written creates incitement into violence or social disturbance. 


    • Recently, Aisha Sultana, a filmmaker from Lakshadweep, booked for the alleged offenses of sedition and statements prejudicial to national integrity. 
    • She was alleged to have used the word ‘bioweapon’ in a television discussion while criticising the Lakshadweep Administrator’s actions 
    • However, MS. Sultana’s case is only one among the numerous sedition cases recently registered in the country. 
    • Earlier, In Lakshadweep, people were booked for sedition cases even for putting up placards or posters against the Prime Minister. 

Sedition during British India  

    • The offense of sedition was introduced in 1870 under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  
    • In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was charged with sedition. He described the provision as “perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.” 
    • Gandhiji, who himself was a lawyer, made two points in his statement during the trial. 
    • One, he admitted the charge of preaching disaffection towards the then existing regime. 
    • Two, he justified his act and said that it was his duty to do so as it is “a sin to have affection for the system under the British Raj. 
    • Further, explained that Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. 
    • If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not incite violence. 
    • After this, the British Raj used the draconian provision only when they alleged that a speech or writing resulted in violence or social disturbance. For example, 
    • Bal Gangadhar Tilak was tried in 1897 on an accusation that the articles in Kesari (Marathi paper owned by him) incited violence that led to the killing of two British officers. Tilak was convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 18 months. 

Sedition in Free India: Kedar Nath Singh case 

    • Kedar Nath Singh case (1962), the assertion made by Gandhiji in the court was indirectly laid down as the law by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. 
    • In Kedar Nath Singh, the accusation was that Kedar Nath, a Forward Communist Party leader, had asserted his belief in a revolution. 
    • He said that the revolution “in the flames of which the capitalists, zamindars, and the Congress leaders of India…. will be reduced to ashes….” 
    • The Court said that “comments, however strongly worded, expressing dislike of actions of the Government, without exciting violence, would not be penal.” 
    • Similarly, in Balwant Singh case (1995), slogans for an independent Sikh nation were found to be not seditious as it did not lead to incitement of violence. 
    • This proposition was followed consistently, till Vinod Dua (2021) case, where the Court said that a journalist cannot be booked for sedition for expressing dissent. 

What is the current situation? 

    • Even today, the draconian law of sedition is being used against political opponents essentially as a political act. 
    • Sedition charges are frequently and intentionally being registered solely based on words spoken, written, or tweeted. For example, Aisha Sultana case. 
    • According to the report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), between 2016 and 2019 there was a 160% increase in the registration of sedition cases. However, the conviction rate during this period fell from 33.3% to 3.3%. 
    • This can have a chilling effect on people’s movements. 

Way forward 

    • The Supreme Court of India and the High Courts should take Suo Motu cognizance of the incidents, where the state purposefully uses draconian laws to suppress criticism and protest. 
    • Such Suo Motu proceedings would reflect the kind of judicial activism that our time demands. 

Why does China consistently beat india on soft power

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: India and its Neighborhood- Relations. 

Tags, SOft power, India China relations, Foreign Policy of India,  

Synopsis: China’s has advantage over India in terms of hard power (economic power + military power) as well as soft power 

What is soft power? 

Soft power, a tool of foreign policy, is a mix of cultural, policy and political influences based on power of attraction. It is the ability to persuade others in a peaceful means. 

    • Foreign policy influence comes from the legitimacy and morality of one’s dealings with other countries. 
    • Cultural influence is based on others’ respect for one’s culture. 
    • Political influence is how much others are inspired by one’s political values. 
    • It is difficult to measure soft power.  

How is China’s soft power more attractive than India’s Soft power?  

India might think it is more attractive than China. However, the numbers based on the Lowy Institute survey show otherwise. 

    • In diplomatic influence, overall, India ranks sixth and China ranks first among 25 Asian powers, 
    • On diplomatic networks, India nearly matches China in the number of regional embassies it has but is behind in the number of embassies worldwide (176 to 126). 
    • In terms of multilateral power, India matches China in terms of regional memberships, but its contributions to the UN capital budget are less compared to Chinese contributions (11.7 per cent to 0.8 per cent of the total). 
    • In surveys of foreign policy leadership, ambition, and effectiveness, China ranks first or fourth on four measures while India ranks between fourth and sixth in Asia. 
    • In terms of cultural influence, India ranks in fourth place and China in second place in Asia. 
    • In terms of cultural projection, 
    • India scores better on Google searches abroad of its newspapers and its television/radio broadcasts. It also exports more of its “cultural services.” 
    • Whereas China does better on several other indicators. For instance, India has only nine brands in the list of the top 500 global brands whereas China lists 73. 
    • On the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, India has 37 while China has 53. 
        • India also lags in the Passport freedom Index. Chinese citizens can travel visa-free to 74 countries while Indians can travel only to 60 countries. 
        • In terms of information flows, in 2016–17, India hosted a mere 24,000 Asian students in tertiary education institutions whereas China hosted 2,25,000.  
        • In terms of tourist arrivals, in 2017 India received 5 million tourists from Asia whereas China received 41 million and ranked first among 25 Asian countries. 
    • in terms of political influence, India ranked 12th and China ranked 10th. 
    • In terms of political stability and absence of violence/terrorism”, India ranked 21st, and China ranked 15th. 
    • Further, confidence on India’s regional ambitions, economic, military, and diplomatic capabilities, with Southeast Asia is very low according to the State of Southeast Asia Survey Reports 

Need to rethink discriminatory policy

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: Population and Associated Issues 

Tags: GS Paper 2, Government policies, two-child policy, population-related issues 

Synopsis: Recent Assam government proposed to bar people with more than two children from welfare schemes. 


Similar norms related to contesting local body elections are present in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha and Haryana. 

How is the policy flawed and discriminatory? 

    • Firstly, measures such as the two-child policy discriminate against the poor and the socially marginalized. 
      • These policies also provoke people, and it increases communalization of the society. 
      • It increases vote bank politics as these policies are misused by politician to gain support from particular community. 
    • Secondly, China used such penal measures to control population but in long term it failed. 
      • In case of India judicious mix of policies that focusses on improving social indices such as literacy and healthcare, especially of women and children, and family planning measures, including promotion of modern contraceptives made the demographic transition sustainable. 
    • Thirdly, In India the focus is slowly shifting from childbearing to child rearing. 
      • As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Census data population growth in India is not a matter for concern. 
      • India’s population is expected to peak by 2050 and then decline sharply with the total fertility rate projected to reach 1.3 by 2100. 
    • Fourth, In Assam TFR is declining sharply among all communities. 
      • According to the fifth NFHS (2019-20), the TFR for Muslims in Assam is 2.4 from 3.6 in 2005-06. 
    • Lastly, total fertility rate (TFR) for depends on many socio-economic factors including: 
      • Higher levels of poverty 
      • lower levels of education and 
      • population concentrated in less developed rural areas. 

That is why coercive measures need to avoided and policies should be based on fairness, freedom and equality. 

The farmers’ protest began a year ago. How has it lasted this long?

SourceThe Indian Express 

Topic: Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints 

Tags: Farmer’s Protest, Farm laws, GS Paper 3, Agriculture 

Context: The farmer protest movement against three Acts passed by the Parliament has sustained itself for more than six months. Article discusses the plausible reasons behind it. 

Why has the farmer protest movement lasted this long? 

    • Support from the hegemonic agrarian class of Punjab: This class which has ruled this state since the mid-’60s in the post-Green Revolution phase has joined this protest. This section of the society has an abundance of human and material resources. 
    • Why are they supporting the movement? – Land, for this agrarian class, holds social and cultural value. The acts passed by the Parliament have reinforced their fears over the weakening of their control over the agricultural economy. 
    • Support from other sections of the society: It has enormous support among retired and even serving civil servants, teachers, students, civil society activists, artists and professionals.  
    • Protest is for survival: Earlier agrarian protests in the ’80s revolved largely around the enhancement of support prices, institutionalised credit system, regular supply of inputs on subsidised rates, etc. Those protests used to threaten to stop the supply of food-grain to other states. Whereas now the crisis is privatisation of agricultural operations and of food-grain not finding a market. This protest is for survival. 
    • Upcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh: Another reason for its longevity is the forthcoming election in early 2022 in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. This explains the desperation of political parties, to support this agitation. In Punjab, it has provided an opportunity to the present government to overcome anti-incumbency. Knowing well that the state assembly has no powers to nullify the central Acts and introduce their own Acts to regulate agriculture trade, the state govt of Punjab did exactly that. 


There is an urgent need to overcome the uncertainty in public policy and revisit the market centred growth model to ensure food security for the poor, food sovereignty of the country, and income redistribution policies for marginalised populations including farmers. 

Terms to know 

  • Three Agri-laws passed by the Parliament 
  • MSP 
  • APMC 

India’s Medical Health Crisis: Not enough doctors, nurses 

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS Paper 2, Health and Associated issues 

Tags: Medical health crisis, shortage of doctors, Health, Social Issues, GS Paper 2 

Synopsis: The Covid-19 has overburdened India’s poor healthcare system. Government has taken various initiatives to overcome it. But there is one area that doesn’t get attention which is India’s acute shortage of doctors and nurses. 

Doctors in India: 

    • Doctors in India: India had 1.16 million doctors of whom only 80% or 0.9 million were working in 2019.This results in 0.68 doctors for every 1,000 people. 
    • WHO prescribes a ratio of 1 doctor for every 1,000 people. 

How much time would it take for India to reach WHO standards? 

    • In 2019-20, as many as 70,262 students graduated with a MBBS degree. If only 80% join medical work, it would take another seven years to reach the WHO standard. 
    • Moreover, even if India continues to add 1.1% to its population every year, and even if it increases MBBS seats by 5.5% each year, it will take 10 years to reach the WHO standard. 

India’s Status of Doctors when compared to other Countries: 

    • BRICS (Brazil, Russia China, and South Africa) countries average two doctors for every 1,000 people. 
    • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which has 38 members, mostly developed countries, has 3.1 doctors. 
    • On the other hand, at the current pace, India will take 32 years and 57 years to level with BRICS and OECD respectively. 

Status of Nurses in India: 

    • India had 3.24 million or 2.36 nurses per 1,000 people in 2020.The WHO prescribes three nurses per 1,000 people. 
    • Even if India adds 0.21 nurses every year, it would take two years to reach the WHO-required nurse ratio, 11 years to reach BRICS and 32 to get to the OECD ratio of 9.6 nurses per 1,000 people. 

Disparity Region and States wise: 

    • India has an average of 0.68 doctors per 1,000 people.But there is only 0.1 doctor for 1,000 people in rural India. 
    • The disparity among states is also huge.UP has increased its doctor count by 6% in the last two years and Delhi by 27%.On the other hand, Bihar did not add any nurses between 2016 and 2018. 

Covid leaves Indian adults poorer by 6.1% in 2020: Credit Suisse

Source: Business Standard 

Syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

Tags: Global Wealth Report, poverty, Gini Coefficient, Indian Economy, GS Paper 3 

What is the News? 

Credit Suisse has released a report titled Global Wealth Report 2021. 

Key Takeaways from the Global Wealth Report 2021: 

 Report on Global Wealth: 

    • The aggregate global wealth has risen by $28.7 trillion to reach $418.3 trillion at the end of 2020 despite the pandemic. 
    • In terms of current US dollars, total wealth grew by 7.4% and wealth per adult was up 6.0%. 
    • Gini coefficient — a broad-based measure of inequality has increased in most of the countries except in the US, where it fell marginally. 
    • Developed regions were better off in 2020.Total wealth has increased by $12.4 trillion in North America and by $9.2 trillion in Europe. 

Report on India: 

 Covid-19 Impact on Indian Adults: 

    • The Covid-19 pandemic has left the Indian adults poorer by 6.1% in 2020. 
    • Wealth per Indian adult in 2020 has dropped to $14,252 by 2020-end compared to pre-pandemic levels.On a cumulative basis, the drop in the wealth of Indian adults at $594 billion. 
    • The drop in the wealth of Indian adults in 2020 was amplified by exchange rate depreciation: at fixed exchange rates. 
    • Moreover, in real terms, the average wealth level in India in 2020 was at a level seen in the United States 70 years ago. 
    • However, in the next five years, wealth per Indian adult will surge past $20,000, a rise of over 40%. 

India’s Wealthiest: 

    • India’s wealthiest has seen their share in the country’s wealth rise in 2020 even though overall wealth in India declined. 
    • The wealth share of the top 1% went up from 39.5% in 2019 to 40.5% at the end of 2020. 

Gini Coefficient of India: 

    • India’s Gini coefficient, a measure of the distribution of income across the population has increased from 74.7 in 2000 to 82.0 in 2019 and reached 82.3 at the end of 2020. 
    • However, India has done less badly than China on its Gini coefficient as China has seen a sharper concentration in 2020. 

What is the Gini Coefficient and why is it not a good indicator to measure inequality? 

    • Gini coefficient is widely used to track wealth distribution.A higher Gini index indicates greater inequality. 
    • However, the formula it uses, such as large aggregations of people as data inputs, simply lacks sensitivity to cases of a disproportionate share of wealth held by very few people. 
    • Hence, it fails to adequately reflect changes in financial status if wealth levels at the bottom are negligible to begin with. 
    • Therefore, a tiny change recorded in India’s Gini Coefficient for 2020 should not be taken as an assurance that covid did not widen our gaps of well-being by much. 
    • Most evidence points to millions having been pushed into poverty, even as owners of corporate equity saw their net worth go up as stock markets boomed. 

Covid vaccines: EU ignores India, S Africa’s patent waiver plea at WTO 

Source: Click here 

Syllabus: issues relating to intellectual property rights. 

Tag: WTO, Patents, GS Paper 3, IPR Related Issues 

Synopsis: The European Union has presented a declaration to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that overlooks the goals of India and South Africa’s combined request for an intellectual property (IP) waiver on Covid pharmaceuticals and vaccines. 


Despite the fact that the waiver idea has the support of over 100 countries, the EU has been opposing it for the past eight months. 

What is the issue surrounding the waiver? 

    • Firstly, if adopted, the waiver will give countries critical policy flexibility to eliminate IP hurdles, allowing them to collaborate more in R&D, manufacturing, and scale-up, and thereby improve the availability of Covid medicines and vaccines. 
    • Secondly, the EU proclamation is being seen as a diversionary technique, since it asserts its position of implementing relevant policies under the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement during the pandemic. 
    • The EU reaffirmed the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, urging nations to facilitate the use of compulsory licensing. 
    • Thirdly, this might delay the progress of reaching an agreement on the waiver. Waiver is important to address the inequalities in access to Covid vaccines. 

Infodemic due to top-down Misinformation 

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: Role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges 

Tags: Infodemic, Misinformation, Covid misinformation, GS Paper 3, Internal Security 

Synopsis: Domestic political actors are a major source of false or misleading information about the coronavirus which is concerning many Indians. 

What is infodemic, disinformation, misinformation and fake news? 

    • Misinformation It refers to information that is false or inaccurate, and is often spread widely with others, regardless of an intent to deceive. 
    • Infodemic: It is an immense wave of information that includes false and misleading material, rumours that attempts to exploit the crisis for propaganda for profit. Misinformation accompanied with the pandemic is known as infodemic. 
    • Disinformation: It refers to false or out-of-context information that is presented as narrative or facts for deliberately misleading.  
    • Fake News: It is purposefully crafted, sensational, emotionally charged, totally fabricated information that mimics the form of mainstream news  

 What are the major sources of misinformation? 

    • As per recent survey one in four (23%) people has said Government, politicians or political parties are the source of misinformation. 
    • Only 16% are concerned about Facebook being a source and 14% said YouTube is major source for the spread of misinformation. 
    • Among messaging applications only 28% believes WhatsApp generate more widespread misinformation. 
    • Only 9% identified activist groups as the most concerning source of false or misleading information about the coronavirus. 

However, Indian authorities are mostly interested in misinformation generating from activists. 

Some recent examples of widespread misinformation during pandemic: 

    • One, ‘coronil’ the ayurvedic remedy was launched in June last year by Patanjali Ayurveda and claimed to be certified by WHO. 
      • It claimed 100 per cent recovery from COVID-19 within seven days of consuming the medicine but later it was pointed out that the license was for an immunity booster.  
    • Two, Former President of the United States and Brazilian President are prominent international examples for spreading misinformation related to corona. 
    • Three, some politicians have also claimed that cow urine can protect people against COVID-19.  
    • Similarly, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare last year came under severe criticism for recommending a range of unproved, alternative remedies to prevent or treat the disease. 

Why misinformation generating from top is harmful for the society? 

    • Firstly, Coronil episode showed how misleading information from prominent public figures and people in positions of authority can lead to bigger problems. 
    • Globally many reporters have found that official COVID-19 death tolls are far lower than the actual excess deaths during the pandemic. 
      • For instance, The Hindu found this in Tamil Nadu after comparing Civil Registration System data with the officially reported figure. 
    • Secondly, Misinformation spread by top politicians and promoted by partisan news media destroys the democratic fabric of the society. 
      • It also makes the fight against corona virus more difficult. 
    • Thirdly, though top-down misinformation from politicians, celebrities, and other prominent public figures forms a small part of the false and misleading. 
      • But they have a large share of social media engagement which results into infodemic. 

That it is why top down misinformation when people are suffering from deadly corona is more serious. It suggests that government needs holistic approach to deal with infodemic instead of just focussing on any one source. 

Edge computing will be key to automating cars and factories. 

Source: TOI 

Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers 

Tag:  edge computing, Science and Technology, GS Paper 3 

Synopsis: Edge computing will be the key to automation of factories and cars.  

What is Edge Computing? 

Edge Computing is a distributed information technology (IT) architecture in which client data is stored and processed as near to the originating source as possible. 

In simple terms, Edge computing is a computing that is done at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud at one of a dozen data centers to do all the work. 

Whereas in traditional technology data captured by sensors and cameras will be sent to data centers. Then data centers will analyse and send back the appropriate action to be taken.  

For example, in a self-driving car, for brakes or a sudden turn, captured data will be sent to data centers. Then centers send the appropriate action back to the car.   

Whereas in case of edge computing data storage and processor will be in the car. So, it can take instant decisions in case of emergency.  

Significance of Edge Computing 

    • Saves bandwidth: It saves bandwidth, since data is not being sent on the network. For example, in facial recognition and motion analytics cameras, images require massive bandwidth. The edge processor can process images and send the processed data to the data centre for further analytics, reducing traffic. 
    • Applications: Edge devices can monitor air quality and temperature patterns in a room and send alerts to the central building management system on breach of air quality parameters. 
    • Edge Computing system installed in ITC can detect and reject the defected products within milliseconds.  
    • Availability of internet: Further, it is useful for the regions where there’s no internet.  


Since last 2-3 years, custom processors are being made by companies. These processors are used for specific applications such as voice, video and image processing, which are essential in edge computing.  

These custom processors are powerful enough to store and do the necessary computations themselves. 

Why is China targeting cryptocurrencies?

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers 

Tag: Cryptocurrency, cryptocurrencies in India, GS Paper 3, Money and banking, Indian Economy 

Synopsis: Bitcoin has fallen below $30,000 for the first time in more than five months. This is because of China’s crackdown against cryptocurrencies which are not sanctioned by China. 

What has China done? 

    • China has asked banks and online payment firms not to offer any crypto-related services, such as account openings, registration, trading, clearing, settlement and insurance reiterating the 2017 ban. 
    • Moreover, China has also asked Banks and payment companies to step up monitoring of money flows involved in cryptocurrency trading and coordinate more closely in identifying such risks. 

Why has China taken action against cryptocurrencies? 

    • To crackdown on Crypto Mining: China accounted for around 65% of global Bitcoin mining operations in 2020 with Sichuan province rated as its second largest producer. 
    • Role of Bitcoin Miners: Bitcoin miners play a similar role to gold miners — they bring new Bitcoins into circulation. They get these as a reward for validating transactions which require the successful computation of a mathematical puzzle. And these computations have become ever-increasingly complex and therefore energy-intensive in recent years. Huge mining operations are inevitable if one is to mine Bitcoins. 
    • To stop access to cheap electricity: Access to cheap electricity has made mining lucrative in China. In 2020, China accounted for two-thirds of the total computational power last year. 
    • To stop Illegal activities: Cryptocurrencies bypasses official institutions and the anonymity that it offers makes it a flourishing business for illegal activities. 
    • To avoid Financial Risk: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies cannot be traced by a country’s central bank making them difficult to regulate. Hence, China has acted on cryptocurrencies to prevent and control financial risks. 
    • To launch its own Digital Currency: China is planning to introduce its own digital currency. Its aim is to allow China to conduct transactions in its own currency around the world reducing dependency on the dollar which remains dominant internationally. 

Four theatre commands likely to be raised by year-end

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate 

Tags: GS Paper 3, Security Forces, Internal Security, theatre command 

Synopsis: The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has chaired a meeting with the Vice Chiefs of the three Services and representatives of Government to iron out differences on the integrated theatre commands creation. 

What is a theatre command? 

  • A theatre command is a military structure wherein all the assets of the army, air force and navy in a particular theatre of war are under the operational control of a three-star general. 

What is the current situation? 

    • The Indian armed forces currently have 17 commands. There are 7 commands each of the Army and the Air Force. The Navy has 3 commands. 
    • There is one joint command in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is the first Tri-Service theatre command of the Indian Armed Forces, based at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. 
    • The other tri-service command, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), looks after the delivery and operational control of the country’s nuclear assets. 

What are the four integrated tri-service commands that are being planned? 

    • Air Defence theatre command 
    • Maritime theatre command (A maritime theatre commander will not be appointed right away. The command will be first raised, and commander appointed later) 
    • Integrated eastern theatre command 
    • Integrated western theatre command 

Why is an integrated theatre command being planned? 

    • Major countries including the US and China function on the theatre command concept with the idea of seamless integration among the land, sea and air forces for better coordination and response. 
    • Moreover, the idea behind integrated theatre command is to rationalize war fighting resources, and efficiency of executions and to face threats in an integrated manner. 
    • This means that the proposed Theatre Commands are going to be highly dependent on the interoperability amongst various units of the three services which is not available yet. 

Challenges in the creation of Theatre Command: 

    • Objections by Indian Air Force (AIF): IAF fears that it will lose control over its assets and operations if integrated theatre commands come up. Moreover, it also has issues over the naming of the commands. 
    • Moreover, experts have said that there has been no occasion during actual warfare when the three services have not operated with commendable cooperation. Hence, there is no need for an integrated theatre command. 

We need a state agency to spur breakthrough research 


Syllabus: Awareness in the field of biotechnology and Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health 

Tags: Vaccines, GS Paper 3, Science and technology,  

Context: Quick development of COVID vaccines was possible due to mRNA technology and this critical technology could only be developed due to funding given by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). We need such agencies all around the world. 

Rapid development of vaccines 

    • Within 48 hours of the genetic sequence of the covid virus being published by Chinese scientists, Moderna had developed a recipe for a vaccine by deploying a new technology it had been using to develop a Zika vaccine.  
    • BioNTech was able to produce a working recipe even sooner—in a matter of hours.  
    • By the end of February, both companies had batches of viable vaccines ready for clinical trials.  

Never in the history of humanity had we moved so rapidly from the identification of a disease to its prevention. 

Why were we able to develop the vaccines so quickly? 

    • Advances in genetic technology made it possible for Chinese scientists to publish the genetic sequence of the virus in a matter of weeks, giving researchers a head-start in understanding how it worked inside the human body.  
    • Previous work done on SARS and MERS: Due to the work that had already been done to understand the genetic make-up of other coronaviruses—SARS and MERS—scientists were able to quickly identify the specific genetic sequence that coded its distinctive spike protein.  
    • mRNA technology: The most significant reason we were able to produce vaccines so soon was a new experimental technology (mRNA technology) that allowed us to take all we knew about the virus and use it to get the human body to engineer its own defenses. 

What is mRNA? 

Messenger RNA (or mRNA) refers to single-strand RNA molecules that carry instructions from our DNA to cells.  

    • mRNA tells them what proteins they should produce and when.  
    • For a while now, scientists have been able to design mRNA, introduce them into living cells, and get them to make proteins on demand.  
    • Numerous applications: Getting the body to produce proteins to supplement natural deficiencies, improve blood flow, or even reverse the effects of life-threatening diseases like multiple sclerosis. 

How can we use mRNA technology to combat disease? 

Perhaps the most ingenious use of this technology is in combating disease.  

    • If mRNA can instruct the body to produce proteins that mimic the shape of an invading virus (the spike protein in COVID’s case), we can train our immune system in advance to identify dangers and create antibody defences for when a real virus comes along. 

What is the role played by DARPA in all this? 

The mRNA technology is not new. Research in the field had been going on for at least two decades. But there were many occasions when funding ran out. At that point, a $25 million grant from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) kept the research work going.  

Why we need state agencies/state capital, like DARPA in every country? 

Big scientific breakthroughs especially in experimental technologies need state agencies to step in because of 

    • a long gestation periods. 
    • no definitive path towards the outcome  

Private capital rarely supports this sort of research. 

Major contributions of DARPA 

DARAPA’s investment over the years has resulted in some truly revolutionary technologies as  

    • the internet 
    • autonomous vehicles 
    • GPS (Global Positioning Systems) 
    • mRNA vaccines 

So, what will it take to set up a DARPA in India? 

There are three unique challenges that need to be overcome. 

    • Space to make mistakes: First, we need to make sure that we give this agency the space to make mistakes. Scientists need to be able to enquire an idea without having to justify why—even if those lines of investigation end up being futile.  
    • They need to be able to try out fantastic ideas in the hope that one in a hundred—or even a thousand—will yield an elusive breakthrough.  
    • Political will: Then we will also need to muster up the political will to see this through. Moonshot projects, almost by definition, are incapable of yielding results on a timescale that is of any use—or relevance—to a politician.  
    • We need to secure political commitment beyond the time horizon within which most politicians are accustomed to working. 
    • Moonshot project: It is an exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits. 
    •  A ready market: Finally, we need to build methods to take innovations to market. For DARPA, this goal has been served by the US department of defense that gladly accepts any invention it comes up with and deploys it in the field.  
    • This not only gives inventors a way out of the laboratory into the real world, it also surfaces technologies that could have broader commercial appeal and allows them to be tested before being released to the wider world. 


In our current context, these challenges might seem particularly insurmountable. But we must remember that India’s space programme has faced all these challenges and yet managed to become the unmitigated success that it is. If we, did it once, we can do it again. 

Terms to know 

  • mRNA technology 
  • DARPA 

Save jobs or protect savers? A new monetary policy dilemma 

 SourceBusiness Standard 

Syllabus: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

Tags: RBI, monetary policy, Indian Economy, GS Paper 3, Accommodative Policy, accommodative stance 

Context: Should RBI increase the interest rate or continue with its accommodative stance? A new model has also been suggested – HANK (Heterogenous Agents New Keynesian). 


While the world is still debating whether modern monetary theory (MMT), which encourages governments to spend without having any meaningful fiscal constraints, should be the norm, something new has been for India— Heterogenous Agents New Keynesian (HANK) model. 

What is HANK? 

In simple terms, the model suggests that interest rates can be kept low for the greater good. While a section of depositors does get affected, not all savers may necessarily be negatively impacted when central banks push down the interest rates. 

    • Rationale behind HANK: The central idea behind the HANK model, is that by increasing demand with monetary expansion, firms would ramp up production. This would improve their survival rate amid a deep shock like the pandemic and protect jobs that would eventually push more wages and salaries in the hands of households, most of whom may get compensated for a drop in their interest incomes on saving. 

    • The HANK model also depends on fiscal policy to address part of the price stability concerns, traditionally the main job of a central bank. The central bank on its part can do many things – it can keep interest rates low, enhance liquidity, or even do direct or indirect monetization for the government to help it spend more. This helps growth, generates demand, and can give rise to inflation 
    • The government then formulates tax policies that redistribute income to people who are in dire need.  
    • What HANK doesn’t recommend? – HANK, however, does not suggest unrestrained spending for long. This specialised policy comes in handy when the country is witnessing a once in a century crisis. 

Why should RBI continue with its accommodative stance? 

A continuation of RBI’s accommodative stance is necessary in the backdrop of the second wave and to help support a sustainable recovery through lower rates and easier financial conditions. 

    • Lowest monetary policy rates ever are also justified at a time when the pandemic managed to push the gross domestic product (GDP) to its deepest contraction in the last fiscal year. 

Why should RBI discontinue with its accommodative stance? 

    • Impact on pensioners: There are at least 42 million senior citizens in India with at least Rs 14 trillion deposits who have no hedging (risk management) in case of interest rate declines as we have no comprehensive social security.   

Way forward 

The interest rate component can be adjusted in the case of people who are not solely dependent on interest income.  

    • For example, alternate financial savings avenues such as equity markets participation are getting popular. But they do not ensure the safety of the principal and are therefore not desirable to the senior citizens. 

Terms to know 

  • Accommodative stance of RBI 
  • Fiscal policy  
  • Liquidity management by RBI 

Export’s India’s window of opportunity 

SourceBusiness Standard 

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

Tags: Exports, GS Paper 3, Indian Economy, International Trade 

Context: Possibility of a sharp recovery for Indian economy can only be realized through a strong focus on exports. 

Export-led growth of global economies 

Since World War II, we have seen many countries grow on the back of rising investments and exports.  

    • Japan, South Korea, China, and to some extent, Thailand and Malaysia, are all examples of economies where exports played a major role in driving economic transformation.  

Hence, it has been clear for some time now that strong exports are crucial in driving development. 

What are some key learnings from Asian experience that we can implement? 

    • Exports and imports go hand in hand: Experience of Asian countries, like Japan, China etc, illustrates that imports and exports grow hand in hand.  
    • Example: Automobile industry – India imports $6.1 billion worth of auto components, but using these imports, our automobile industry exports $18 billion worth of products. 
    • This holds true for India as well. For example, between 2001 and 2010, India’s trade-to-GDP ratio nearly doubled from 26% to 49%. Both imports and exports grew during this period. In nominal terms, both imports and exports grew at rates close to 20% in this decade. 
    • Focus on intermediate goods: Almost half of China’s imports consisted of intermediate goods, which were then instrumental in raising their exports. Important to note is that a liberal import regime was followed for such intermediate goods, with duty-free imports allowed. Hence, India should not increase tariffs or raise non-tariff barriers on intermediate goods. This is because: 
    • Goods that come into India flow into goods manufactured for exports. Any increase in the cost of such products indirectly increases production costs and hampers our exports.  
    • By raising the cost of these critical inputs, we end up further eroding our competitiveness, already burdened by a high cost of logistics, credit, and power. 
    • Present situation – Presently, a large proportion of our imports, 32%, consist of intermediate goods. Almost 70% of all anti-dumping duties are levied on intermediate goods. This needs to change. 
    • Proper incentive structures: Incentive structures were put in place to ensure higher relative profitability of exports compared to the rest of the sectors.  
    • The incentive structures ranged from subsidised bank credit, export targets linked to long-term credit, export subsidies, and incentives for research & development, amongst others.  
    • Phasing out of import substitution: An important lesson is that while import substitution may have been in place, it was gradually phased out.  
    • Developing capabilities in manufacturing: Another important lesson is that these countries having developed their capabilities in labour-intensive industries gradually moved up the manufacturing value chain.  
    • Public investment in infrastructure to reduce the cost of logistics is another key policy intervention. Several strategic sectors were identified for promotion.  

The lessons from the experiences of Asia indicate that export promotionrather than import substitution, drives development. 

Has India been able to replicate the above policies followed by Asian countries? 

No. This can be seen from the following facts 

    • Dismal share in global merchandise trade: According to the World Trade Organization, India’s share in global merchandise trade stood at less than 2%, despite having the inherent strength and potential to do much better. 
    • Manufacturing as a share of GDP and employment remained stagnant between 1990 and 2020. Whilst exports have increased, they are dwarfed in scale by China.  
    • Low global share in food processing exports: Even in traditional sectors, like food processing where India has one of the largest raw material bases in the world, we command a 2% share in global exports. 

Why couldn’t India replicate the Asian experience? 

Several factors explain this.  

    • Availability of credit: We lag in credit availability to the private sector. Domestic credit to the private sector, as a percentage of GDP, stood at 50 per cent in India, compared to 165 per cent in China and 123 per cent in other upper-middle-income countries.  
    • Low private debt-to-GDP ratio: Our private debt-to-GDP ratio is extremely low and there is immense possibility of enhancing it for manufacturing and exports.  
    • Cross-subsidization of power 
    • Higher cost of logistics 
    • Labour laws  
    • A traditional export basket: Similarly, the composition of India’s exports needs to undergo a radical change. Our export basket is predominantly traditional and does not comprise cutting-edge products. As much as 70% of India’s exports target 30% of world trade comprising items with a declining global share. 

What steps should India take and what reforms have been implemented? 

The need is to promote our domestic manufacturing industry to drive exports and growth. Several important policy steps have been taken in this regard over the past few years.  

    • Lowering of corporate tax: The decision to lower the corporate tax rate to 22% for all firms and 15% for new manufacturing firms, will encourage the domestic manufacturing sector.  
    • PLI Schemes: The introduction of the production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes in several key sectors, for the first time, incentivize production, rather than inputs. These schemes will help domestic manufacturing achieve size and scale. 
    • Rationalization of labor codes: As many as 29 Central labor laws were rationalized into four codes.  
    • Definitions of MSMEs revised: The definitions of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been raised upwards, allowing them to grow in size, whilst maintaining the benefits of MSMEs.  

All these steps should help the domestic industry achieve size and scale. 


The possibility of a sharp recovery for the economy can only be realized through a strong focus on exports. The opportunity of India integrating itself into global value chains cannot be allowed to pass. Strong and coordinated policy action, across all levels of governments, is needed to realize this opportunity. 

Terms to know 

  • Import substitution 
  • Intermediate goods 
  • Cross-subsidization 
  • Production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes 
  • Rationalization of labor codes 
  • Revision of definition of MSMEs 

Impact of Fed’s Policy changes on the Indian Economy 

Source: Livemint 

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

Tag: US federal reserve, Indian Rupee, US Fed rates, GS Paper 3, Indian Economy 


The decision of U.S federal reserve to increase interest rates by 2023 will have a significant impact on India. It may depreciate the Indian rupee and increase the inflation levels in the country thereby demanding robust reforms.  

Why is a change in Fed rates a concern for all? 

    • Any interest rate change in the U.S influences exchange rates, international money flows and, to a certain extent, interest rates the world over. The implications are very wide as the US is the world’s largest economy and the dollar is the most traded currency. 
    • When the FOMC raises rates, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) of American origin and other large foreign funds move back to the US in search of better returns. 
    • When FIIs withdraw money from the host country, it negatively influences the exchange rate. This results in depreciation of the host country’s currency and resulting in appreciation of the dollar.  

What is its link with the Indian economy? 

    • Given that India is a growing economy offering higher returns, there exists a strong link between changes in Fed rate and FII flows 
    • A Fed rate change leads to fluctuations in Indian capital markets and impacts exchange rate. With the FOMC hinting at two rate hikes by 2023, Indian stocks and currency have been adversely impacted.  
    • Rupee depreciation can lead to higher import prices, and with crude oil being the largest component of Indian imports, it could lead to increased fuel prices, worsening the cost-push inflation.  

Thus, the government should strive for economic revival and initiate reforms, and build on India’s story of being an attractive destination for investors. 

The role of multilateral lenders in minimizing climate change

Source: click here 

Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

Tag: Climate change, ADB, Environment, Climate financing, Multilateral funding, GS Paper 3, Environment 

Synopsis: Asia should take bold measures and launch green projects in the energy sector to make a difference. 


We must fight climate change, meet the emission-reduction goals under the Paris Agreement, all while promoting economic growth and putting the region’s development on a green path. 

Why is the efforts of  Asia important in the climate change battle? 

Asia accounts for 36% of the global GDP, has made progress in economic development and poverty reduction.  

    • It is also responsible for 80% of the world’s coal consumption, and 60% of CO2 emissions. 
    •  Many countries have experienced the devastating consequences of climate change: floods, droughts, heat waves and storms.  
    • The region requires major changes in the energy sector. These include: avoiding the use of fossil fuels and switching to low-carbon fuels, deploying more renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, reducing final energy demand, and incentivizing investment in low-carbon technologies. 
    • A commitment across the region will be needed to meet the goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.  
    • Asia needs to balance climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Ensuring universal energy access is critical as more than 200 million people in the region still have no electricity. 
    • Countries such as China, Fiji, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Singapore and Timor-Leste have pledged carbon-neutrality. 

How will the ADB help in minimizing climate change? 

The (ADB) is ready to take on a leadership role in the region in meeting these commitments. It aims at stepping up our climate finance and capacity-building efforts to help developing member countries achieve their NDCs. 

    • Firstly, under ADB’s Strategy 2030, the target is to focus 75% of Asian Development Bank’s operations on climate adaptation and mitigation. $80 billion in climate financing from 2019 to 2030 will be provided.  
    • Secondly, ADB will contribute to the global effort envisioned by COP26. We will promote a holistic approach that integrates the ecological, social and financial aspects of flexibility across our operations.  
    • Thirdly, private sector operations to support this agenda should be continued. It should fill investment gaps and lead technological and business innovation in the pursuit of sustainable solutions.  
    • Technology advances have slashed the costs of producing renewable energy by up to 80% in the case of solar photovoltaics. Emerging technologies like smart grids, energy storage and hydrogen make it easier to integrate renewable energy into power networks and distributed energy systems. 
    •  Smart technologies have enhanced the flexibility and resilience of power networks. Digitalization has boosted energy efficiencies on the demand side. 
    • Lastly, for cross-sectoral impact, innovative energy projects are utilizing public-private sector synergies 
    • For example, in Thailand, ADB provided long-term financing for a 10MW wind power project with an integrated 1.88MW-hour pilot battery energy storage system. It is the first private sector project in the country to integrate utility-scale wind power generation with battery storage.  

The conclusion  

    • ADB envisions an energy policy that is aligned with global commitments under the Paris Agreement and is responsive to the needs of our DMCs as they build sustainable and resilient energy systems. It could include a formal withdrawal from financing new coal-fired power plants. 

Digital Agristack for Farmers 

Source: Livemint 

Syllabus: E-technology in the aid of farmers 

Tags: Digital Agristack, agri technology, GS Paper 3, Agriculture 


The agricultural ministry is working towards creating a Digital Agristack for farmers. It will collect granular data to provide growers with a range of customized services like input quantity, output choice, potential market etc. 

About Agristack: 

    • The project will collect granular data to provide growers with a range of customized services. Like, what to plant, where to sell, market information on price movements, and linkages to formal credit arrangements. 
    • Each farmer will be provided a unique farmer’s ID, which will be linked to her Aadhaar number.  
    • It will contain details related to land ownership, the crops she grows, soil health and the benefits available under government schemes such as direct cash transfers, crop insurance and subsidized credit. 

Significance of Agristack: 

    • The stack will fuel innovation and support several value-added services as deduced by a consultation paper titled India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture-IDEA. 
    • It would curtail information anomalies and allow farmers to effectively plan what and how much to produce. 
    • It would breed investment towards the agricultural sector and augment research towards more resilient crops.  
    • Agri-tech startups received over $1.5 billion of investment in the past 5-7 years and AgriStack can open the taps for more inflows. 
    • It would enable use of Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) on large datasets. This will not only support farm management but can also help develop and design new crop protection products. 
    • It would be used by insurance firms to do effective crop loss assessment. This would result in prudent settlement of claims and rationalisation of future premiums. 

Concerns associated with Agristack: 

    • Linking land ownership data with Aadhaar may hit a roadblock because the process of digitizing land records is still under progress in India. Further land disputes account for more than 60% of all civil litigation. 
    • A blind reliance on technology may lead to exclusion errors as observed in other welfare programmes like the food subsidy scheme. 
    • Accessibility of data is another issue as big players can easily access it while small farmers are excluded due to digital divide. Further, if the same data ends up solely in the hands of a set of large traders, it could help them manipulate markets. 
    • It can be used by large corporations to encourage unnecessary purchase by the farmers. They can then sell farmers everything from chemicals to credit and pare their own current marketing and human resource costs. 
    • Accuracy of data may be questionable as capturing high quality data on crops and soil conditions from India’s 150 million land parcels is not an easy task. 
    • The revenue model of private firms working on pilot projects is still not clear. They may sell farmers data and breach their privacy 

Way Ahead: 

    • The private firms working on pilot projects must effectively cooperate with state governments to reconcile the differences over land ownership. 
    • The government should move ahead with the project based on the results obtained from pilot trails.   
    • It should duly consult farmer groups or otherwise run the risk of a meltdown later. The ongoing protests against the farm reform laws shows the adverse consequences which may arise due to non-consultation. 

Green Tariff Policy 

Source- Live Mint 

Syllabus – GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Tags: green tariff policy, GS Paper 3 

Synopsis- The green tariff policy will enable DISCOMs to supply clean electricity to consumer. 


    • India is working on a green tariff policy and soon launches guidelines enabling power distribution companies to supply only clean electricity to customers at a green tariff. 
    • Green tariff policy-  
    • The Green Tariff Policy will assist DISCOMs in providing electricity generated from clean energy projects at a lower cost as compared to power from conventional fuel sources such as coal. 
    • The policy comes as solar and wind power rates in India have reached all-time lows of $1.99 per unit and $2.43 per unit, respectively. 

India’s ultimate goal 

    • India aims to achieve 175 GW of renewable capacity, including 100GW of solar power, by 2022. 
    • According to the Central Electricity Authority, by 2030, India’s power requirement would touch 817GW, more than half of which would be clean energy. 

Advantage of green tariff policy- 

    • Supply cheaper renewable energy- 
    • Once the mechanism is in place, discoms can exclusively buy green electricity and supply it at ‘green tariff’, which will be the weighted average tariff of green energy that the consumer will pay. 
    • Open access will allow large users of energy, generally those who consume more than 1MW, to purchase power from the open market rather than relying on a more expensive grid. 
    • Ensuring open access will also encourage major green electricity users to build their own green energy facilities. 

How India intends to address the issue of intermittent solar and wind energy supply. 

The Union Power Ministry will shortly issue a strategy to encourage hydro pump storage schemes, with a potential capacity of about 96 GW. 

    • The plan is to elevate water to a certain height during off-peak hours and then discharge it into a lower reservoir to produce energy. 

Prelims Oriented Articles

Govt labels Delta-plus ‘variant of concern’, urges caution 

Source: TOI 

Syllabus: Science and Technology 

Tag: Covid 19, Coronavirus, Delta Variant, Delta Plus Variant, Virus Mutation, Variant of concern, GS Paper 2, Health, Social Issues 

Synopsis: The Government of India has categorised the Delta Plus variant as a ‘variant of concern’.  

What is Delta+ variant? 

    • The Delta variant formerly known as B.1.617.2 is believed to be the most transmissible variant of Covid -19 yet. It has been initially detected in India.  
    • The Delta plus variant (B.1.617.2.1 or AY.1) has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta variant. 

What are the characteristics of the Delta plus variant? 

 The Delta plus variant has three important characteristics: 

    • Increased transmissibility 
    • Binds strongly to receptors of lung cells, and 
    • potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. 

What measures have been suggested by Central Government?  

The Centre has suggested immediate containment measures including: 

    • preventing crowds and intermingling of people, 
    • widespread testing, 
    • prompt contact tracing and 
    • vaccine coverage on a priority basis in districts affected by Delta plus variant. 

What is a Variant of Concern (VOC)?   

WHO (World Health Organisation) classifies a variant as a VOC when it is associated with: 

    • An increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology o 
    • Increase in virulence (Ability to cause severe/life-threatening disease) 
    • Decrease in the effectiveness of public health measures or available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

Explained: How judges recuse from cases, and why 

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary 

Tag: Recusal of Judges, Judiciary in India, GS paper 2, Polity 

Synopsis: Recently, two Supreme Court (SC) judges have recused themselves from hearing cases relating to West Bengal. 

What is the recusal of judges? 

    • Recusal is the removal of oneself as a judge or policymaker in a particular matter. 

Why does a judge recuse?  

The judges usually recuse themselves when there is a Conflict of Interest: 

    • Conflict of Interest: It can occur in many ways, such as, holding shares in a company that is a litigant to having a prior or personal association with a party involved in the case. 
    • As the judges have a duty to act fair, they recuse from the case. 
    • Another instance for recusal is when an appeal is filed in the Supreme Court against a judgement of a High Court that may have been delivered by the SC judge when he or she was in the HC. 

Centre, states came together to roll out public friendly reforms, says PM.

Source: Indian Express 

Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors 

Tags: One Nation One Ration Card, ease of doing business, Atma Nirbhar Bharat package GS Paper 2, S 

What is the News? 

The Prime Minister write up on four reforms brought, as a part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package in May 2020 have improved the ease of living for the public, particularly the poor, the vulnerable and the middle class. 


In May 2020, the Centre had announced to increase borrowing limits of states from 3% to 5% of their Gross State Domestic Product for 2020-21. 

Of the 2% extra borrowing limit, 1% was made conditional on the implementation of reforms in four focus areas. 

Which are those four focus areas: The four focus areas are: 

    • One Nation One Ration Card: It required state governments to ensure that all ration cards in the state under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) were seeded with Aadhaar numbers of all family members. 
    • This ensures availability of ration to beneficiaries under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare schemes especially the migrant workers and their families at any Fair Price Shop (FPS) across the country. 17 states have implemented this reform. 
    • Improving ease of doing business: It required states to ensure: 
      • renewal of business-related licenses is made automatic, online and non-discretionary on mere payment of fees. 
      • Another requirement was to implement a computerised random inspection system to reduce harassment and corruption. 
    • Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) revenue reforms: It required states to 
      • notify property tax floor rates in accordance with circle property rates and 
      • notify water and sewerage charges, to at least recover operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. 
    • Power Sector Reforms: It required states to ensure: 
      • Reduction in Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses 
      • Targeted reduction in Average Cost of Supply and Average Revenue Realisation (ACS-ARR) gap and 
      • Direct benefit transfer (DBT) of electricity subsidy to farmers. 

Rare pygmy hogs released in Assam’s Manas National Park 

Source: The Hindu  

Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation 

Tag: Pigmy Hog, Gs paper 3, Environment, Faunal diversity in India,  

Synopsis: Around Eight captive-bred pygmy hogs were released in the Manas National Park of Assam.  

About Pygmy Hog: 

    • Pygmy Hog is the smallest member of the pig family. It is native to alluvial grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas at elevations of up to 300 m. 
    • Habitat: The only known population of Pygmy Hog lives in Assam, India, and possibly southern Bhutan. 
    • Features: The pygmy hog is one of the very few mammals that build its own home, or nest, complete with a ‘roof.’ 
    • Indicator Species: Pygmy Hog is an indicator species. Its presence reflects the health of its primary habitat, the tall, wet grasslands of the region. 
    • IUCN status: Endangered 
    • Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule 1 

Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme(PHCP) 

    • The Programme is a collaboration among Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust of UK, Assam Forest Department, Wild Pig Specialist Group of International Union for Conservation of Nature and Union Environment Ministry. 
    • Under the programme, six pygmy hogs — two males and four females — were captured from the Bansbari range of the Manas National Park in 1996 for starting the breeding programme. 
    • The reintroduction programme began in 2008 with the Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary (35 hogs), Orang National Park (59) and Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary (22). 
    • As part of the programme, around 142 pygmy hogs were reintroduced into the wild. This is much more than their current original global wild population. By 2025, the PHCP plans to release 60 pygmy hogs in Manas National Park. 

About Manas National Park: 

    • Manas National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, Project tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve. 
    • It shares a common border with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. 
    • The Park is home to many endangered species like Assam roofed turtle, golden Langur, hispid hare, and pygmy hog. It is also famous for its wild water buffaloes. 
    • Lastly, The Park is located on the Manas river which is a major tributary of Brahmaputra. 


World’s first GM rubber sapling planted in Assam. 

Source: The Hindu 

Syllabus: Awareness in the field of Bio-technology 

Tag: GS Paper 3, Agriculture, Science and technology, S&T,   

What is the News? 

Rubber Board has planted the world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber at its Sarutari research farm in Guwahati, Assam. 

About GM Rubber Crop: 

    • GM Rubber Crop has been developed at the Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) in Kerala. 

How was GM Rubber developed? 

    • GM rubber was developed by inserting the MnSOD (manganese containing superoxide dismutase) gene which was taken from the rubber plant itself. 

What was the need for GM Rubber? 

    • Natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited for the colder conditions in the Northeast which is one of the largest producers of rubber in India. Due to this, the growth of young rubber plants remains suspended during the winter months. This leads to progressive drying of the soil. 
    • However, the GM rubber plants are expected to overcome the severe cold conditions during winter which is a major factor affecting the growth of young rubber plants. Hence, this is the reason GM Rubber crop has been developed. 

Significance of GM Rubber: 

    • Firstly, the GM Rubber is the first GM crop developed exclusively for the North-East. 
    • Secondly, GM Rubber has the ability to protect itself from the adverse effects of severe environmental stresses such as cold, drought among others. 
    • Thirdly, there are no plant species in India that can breed with natural rubber. Therefore, there is no risk of genes flowing from GM rubber into any native species, a concern often raised by environmental groups. 

Ownership rights to unauthorised colonies located on Yamuna Flood Plain

Source: Times of India 

Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation. 

Tags: Yamuna Flood plain, Zone O,  GS Paper 3, Protected Areas 

Synopsis: The new master plan of Delhi 2041 would provide ownership rights to residents of at least 71 unauthorized colonies located along the Yamuna flood plain. 


    • Zone O-I is the “river zone” with the active floodplain, spread over 6,295 hectares, and no construction would be allowed here.  
    • Zone O-II, covering 3,638.4 hectare, has been rezoned as “riverfront” with regulated development. 

Rationale behind demarcation of Zone O: 

    • The demarcation is in compliance with 2015 NGT order. The tribunal had directed that the floodplain be identified for a flood in 25 years in the interest of ecology, biodiversity and river flow. 
    • The demarcation is based on a scientific study conducted by IIT delhi. Based on this, only 5 unauthorised colonies fell in the active flood plain area while 71 were outside it. Thus, enabling the latter to apply for ownership rights if the delineation is allowed. 

Google hit with European Union antitrust probe on ad-tech dominance

Source: Click here 

Syllabus: GS 3, Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security 

Tag: – google, EU Antitrust policy,  

Synopsis: Google faces a European Union enquiry into its advertising technology. 


What is Anti-Trust Policy? 

EU developed its Antitrust policy based on Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). 

    • Article 101 prohibits anti-competitive agreements between two or more independent market operators. 
    • Article 102 prohibits abusive behaviour by companies holding a dominant position on any given market. 

The goal of EU’s anti-trust policy is to create a level playing field in the free market and prevent businesses from having too much power.  

If companies found violative of any of the provisions, EU will initiate an Anti-trust probe on them.  


    • We are concerned that Google has made it more difficult for competitors to compete in internet advertising. Google and publishers monetise their internet services with the help of online advertising services. 
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