9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 14th, 2022

Dear Friends, We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
    6. Down To Earth
    7. PIB
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
    • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
    • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

WESTERN MNCs HAVE WEAKENED GLOBALIZATION BY TAKING SIDES

Source: This post is created based on the article “R Western MNCs have weakened globalization by taking sides”, published in Live Mint on 14th March, 2022.

Syllabus – GS 1 – Globalization

News: Recently McDonald’s closed its outlet in Moscow. This could be bad news for the global economy.

Why this move of MNCs is against globalisation?

Firstly, It reflects that MNCs are not neutral, furthermore, it is being advertised as corporate virtue signaling or their good moral values. It has undermined the argument that companies are geopolitically neutral. Present MNCs have gone against the examples set by MNCs of the 1990s and 2000s. They never cared about domestic criticism for their political neutrality in foreign countries.

Secondly, Policymakers will now perceive foreign companies as extensions of foreign governments: For instance – what will be the difference between TikTok and Huawei (seen as instruments of the Chinese state) and other Western firms such as YouTube (acting in accordance with US’s foreign policy).

Third, This can lead to limiting foreign investments: This will compound the challenge of global economic recovery in light of the US-China trade war and the pandemic.

Fourth, This can lead to a situation of Economic Balkanisation: restricting access to technology, energy, food. Along with greater regulations of critical sectors such as defense, finance, telecommunications, media.

Global cooperation in tackling climate change, energy transition, and combating pandemic will become much harder.

Need for globalization:

A world dominated by economic nationalism cannot escape political conflict. The free movement of goods, capital, people, ideas have actually helped in maintaining world peace. Globalization helps by giving countries what they want, without the use of force.

What should India do?

India must champion the cause of global economic reconnection. It should focus on high economic growth for national interest, by:

  1. Positioning itself as a stable, secure, prospering economy to attract foreign investors.
  2. Creating a middle path between impoverishing autarky and risky laissez faire.
  3. Promoting competition and preventing market domination.
  4. Broadening trade with energy and defence suppliers to mitigate political coercion.
  5. “Bubbles of trust” with countries of common interest and values can help manage geopolitical risks.

GS Paper 2


NO OVATION FOR INDIA’S STAND ON UKRAINE WAR

Source: This post is created based on the article “No ovation for India’s stand on the Ukraine war”, published in The Hindu on 14th March, 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – India’s Foreign Policies

News: The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has put moral responsibility on India as one of  the world’s largest countries and its populous democracy. At present, the Indian government has abstained in the UN Security Council vote on Ukraine. It has refused to condemn the violation of rights of the Ukrainians.

What are the arguments justifying India’s stance?

“Principle of National Interest” – In international affairs a country must be guided by its national interest. In the present situation, India’s interests have been clearly spelled out as:

  • High dependence of India on Russia for defense equipment.
  • India need of Russia for support on the Pakistan issue in the Security Council.

“East-West Conflict” – the Russian invasion and the West’s reaction is a conflict between the east and the west and India should stay out of it.

Historical Precedent – This is not the first time that such a line has been taken by India. Based on the same principles, India has previously abstained from voting in the UN on the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

What are the arguments against India’s stance?

National interest lies in following International Principles: India presently is facing territorial aggression from China. If India doesn’t want to see itself as a victim of territorial aggression in future, it must condemn Russia’s action. Hence, India should base its decision on international principles of “peaceful co-existence” and “territorial sovereignty.”

Defence supply agreement: It is not evident that anything supplied by the Russians cannot be sourced from the global arms market. For example, India has brought guns from Sweden, ships from the UK, aircrafts from France.

Difference between 1956 and now: Unlike in the 1950’s, the West doesn’t unconditionally support Pakistan vis-a-vis India. Presently, Russia encourages Pakistan.

looking at this situation through an “East v. West” lens Narrow approach is not correct. This situation shows “unprovoked aggression” by a strong country towards an Independent country.  It is against the Indian principles of “Vasudev Kutumbakam” and its aim of becoming a “Vishwaguru”.

Lastly, at present, India should stands in the company of Russia and China, which are not democracies as understood. India needs to rethink on the lines of it’s democratic principles and Panchsheel.


RUSSIA’S MISADVENTURE IN UKRAINE SETS OFF EUROPEAN RE-ARMAMENT

Source: This post is created based on the article “Russia’s misadventure in Ukraine sets off European re-armament”, published in Business Standard on 14th March, 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – International Relations – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

News:  Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has been described as a turning point in the modern history of Europe. It has catalyzed European re-armament, rejuvenated NATO, caused Germany to reassert European leadership, and galvanized tentative Japanese militarism.

Situation before Russian invasion:

NATO countries, except USA and UK, were reluctant in spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on their militaries. It was suggested to ensure the alliance’s readiness to face any military challenge.

Just two months ago, Germany flatly declined to supply Ukraine with lethal weaponry. It also forbade other NATO countries from sending German-made weapons to Ukraine.

How Ukraine crisis has restarted the European armament?

Firstly, Germany immediately sent anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine. Berlin also revoked its block on European Union (EU) countries that were supplying German-made equipment to other countries. This was accompanied by a huge rise in military spending.

Secondly, Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe suggested that Japan should assume responsibility for nuclear defense and that it should consider a NATO-style nuclear-sharing arrangement with the US.

Third, The share prices of European and American defense industries have risen sharply. For example – Lockheed Martin’s share price saw a rise of 12.16 per cent.

Fourth, The Russian advance in Ukraine is moving close to Polish borders (NATO borders). Here, the US has dispatched soldiers to bolster NATO forces, creating a potential flashpoint.

How could it impact India?

Positive: For certain Indian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that are a part of the supply chains of global aerospace and defence (A&D) companies, this event could trigger a significant increase in orders.

Negative: Shift towards seller’s market can give a blow to “Make in India” →

Earlier, New Delhi was pushing the big western defense corporations to set up production in India under the Atmanirbhar Bharat. It was calling shots in the buyer’s market. Now, their priority would be re-arming Europe and setting up corporations there.

Who is set to benefit?

Beijing is the biggest beneficiary of this crisis → The Russian advance has shifted the focus of the USA from China to the European theater. Along with increasing Russian dependence on China.


On the Issue of Accidental Indian missile drop in Pakistan

Sources

  1. The post is based on an article “Hit and Miss” published in the Business Standard on 13th March 2022.
  2. The post is based on an article “Truly Scary moment: IAF must thoroughly investigate accidental missile launch” published in the Times of India on 13th March 2022.
  3. The post is based on an article “Unguided missile: On a malfunction and Pakistan’s probe demand” published in the Hindu on 14th March 2022.

Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – International Relation, Bilateral Relation

News: There was an accidental launch of an IAF cruise missile that landed 124 km inside Pakistan. The missile did not carry any warhead. Thus, there was no loss of lives.

What could have been the impact?

India’s global image and reputation of being a responsible nuclear power is challenged by the incident.

India and Pakistan do not have any robust risk-reduction protocols or mechanisms to deal with such mishaps. If Pakistan had air defence systems, it could have easily judged it as a hostile attack and retaliated. Also, the reaction time in the event of missile launches is only a matter of minutes.

It could have resulted into escalation between two nuclear-powered countries which are undergoing strains in their relations in recent years.

How was the potential crisis averted?

A potential crisis was averted by right diplomatic responses from both sides. Indian side admitted to a “technical malfunction” that led to the accidental firing of a missile.

A “high-level” enquiry has been ordered to investigate the incident and recommend appropriate action to prevent a repeat.

Argument by Pakistan

Inadequate explanation from Indian Side: The Indian government has not revealed either the nature of the missile, nor the location from which it was fired, nor which of the services fired it. It is Pakistan which claimed that an unarmed supersonic missile was fired from the Sirsa Air Force Base. It could have been the Brahmos cruise surface-to-air missile.

Pakistan has alleged that the incident “indicates many loopholes and technical lapses of a serious nature in the Indian handling of strategic weapons”.

Enquiry into the incident: Pakistan has demanded for a joint probe to investigate into the incident. It has also requested that the international community be involved to promote “strategic stability in the region”.

India’s Stand against Pakistan demand

Indian government has rejected the Pakistani demand for a joint probe. Further, it has refuted the claims that it was a Brahmos missile. Indian side stated that all Brahmos trials take place in the eastern part of India or on the Andaman & Nicobar Islands of India.

Status of Missile Regime in India

India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2016. Thus, India is seen as a reliable defence partner that is capable of handling its strengths and contributing to global security. India is developing more missile systems, including a hypersonic variant.

Suggestions for the way ahead

Indian side must give information on the incident as inadequate explanation leaves scope for Pakistan to shape the narrative on this incident if Indian inputs are not provided.

New Delhi and Islamabad must work out a risk-reduction protocol that can help diffuse the misunderstandings and prevent hostile responses to any kind of accident or false alarm.

If it was due to human error: In this case the operational, command and control procedures must be reviewed.

If it was due to a technical glitch: It cast doubts over the weapon system itself, especially at a time when India is looking to export BrahMos to countries like the Philippines. For example, in 1983, during the cold war, the nuclear early warning radar of the USSR reported the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles from the US. But the Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov prevented the WWIII by rightly judging that the warning was false due to malfunctioning detection systems.

GS Paper 3


Monetising surplus land held by state is a good idea, it needs to be done with transparency, sensitivity to public interest

Source: The post is based on an article “Monetising surplus land held by state is a good idea, it needs to be done with transparency, sensitivity to public interest” published in the Indian Express on March 14th, 2022.

Syllabus: GSIII -Indian Economy, Issues in planning and mobilization of resources

Topic: National Land Monetization Corporation

News: Last week, the Union cabinet approved the creation of a National Land Monetisation Corporation Mandate

Read more – About National Land Monetisation Corporation

It will work to monetise the surplus land holdings of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and other government agencies. It will have a detailed and comprehensive inventory of the state’s land holding.

Why has the government come up with NLMC?

First, it will help identify the surplus land. It will give a push for monetising surplus land and also create a database for potential investors.

Second, public sector entities hold vast tracts of land that are either unused and underused land. For example, the Indian Railways is estimated to have around 1.25 lakh acres of total vacant land.

Third, proceeds from the monetisation of these assets will help generate additional resources, boosting government coffers.

Fourth, it will resolve the issue of the “artificial” scarcity of land, with an increase in the supply of land by auctioning off surplus land. It will depress land prices and thus have a moderating effect on costs of projects.

What are the challenges in front of NLMC?

First, the Ministries, departments, and public sector entities may be reluctant to demarcate land parcels as “surplus”.

Second, there will be issues like absence of clear titles, ongoing litigation, and muted investor interest.

Third, there is the issue of the encroachment of government lands.

Fourth, it raises questions over the management of commons, i.e., whether a public purpose can be better looked after by more effective management of public land by the state.

What are the suggestions to tackle the challenges?

Therefore, the separate agency should be housed with professionals with specialised skills that are better suited for this task.

A “specialised skills and expertise” in areas such as “market research, legal due diligence, valuation, master planning, investment banking and land management” is the need of the hour for land monetization.


Ukraine invasion, global wheat supply and India’s opportunity

Source: The post is based on the article “Ukraine Invasion, Global Wheat Supply and India’s opportunity” published in the Indian Express on 14the March 2022

Syllabus: GS III: Indian Economy, Impact

Topic: Economic opportunity for India in wake of Ukraine Crisis 2022

News: the Russia-Ukraine war continues to be at the centre of the world debate and recently, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied insisting on NATO membership which was one of the reasons for Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What are the negative effects of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict?

The energy, gas prices are surging and wheat prices are skyrocketing. For example, wheat prices in exporting countries like the US shot up to $525/tonne, Australian wheat export prices touching $395/tonne, Argentina at $425/tonne, etc.

The US and its western allies may not compromise on the matter. They can put the strictest sanctions on Russia.

Russia-China Relation: China has openly indicated that it will stand firmly with Russia, it may not be good news for either NATO or India.

 What are the opportunities for India in the wake of the crisis?

ReadHow much do Russia and Ukraine contribute to Wheat exports?

Wheat Export can reduce India’s food subsidy bill as well as compensate for the higher costs of imports of crude oil.

Structural Reforms: There are a number of issues, like state wise variation in procurement prices, for example, Punjab has 8.5% mandi fee/cess/ arhatiya commission while in most other states, it hovers around 3-4 per cent. Therefore, central government and states like UP. Punjab and Madhya Pradesh being the largest contributors to the central pool can take lead.

Way Ahead

To tap wheat window, the buffer stock of Food Corporation of India (FCI) can be used for exports of wheat.

Scaling down the target of procuring wheat in the coming marketing season: It can be done by letting the private sector buy wheat at competitive prices.

Procurement reforms: There should be symmetry in procurement costs. like the FCI can put a ceiling on procurement expenses (including arhatiya commissions/fees) to be no more than 3% of the MSP in all states.

Promotion of the private sector companies: state government can promote private players to build export lines, storage silos with grading, packaging and processing facilities.

PDS beneficiaries in wheat-growing states: they can be given an option to get grain or cash in lieu of grains.


Will a services exports-driven economic growth strategy work for India?

Source: The post is based on an article “Will a services exports-driven economic growth strategy work for India” published in the business standard on 14th march 2022

Syllabus: GS III: Indian Economy, Planning etc.

Topic: External Sector

Context: India’s service exports have lagged the outbound shipment of manufactured items, though the gap between the two was narrowing immediately before Covid-19 struck.

Why should India adopt a service exports-led growth strategy for India instead of China’s model of manufacturing exports-led growth?

According to the data provided by the World Trade Organization (WTO), India’s share in global services exports is more than its global merchandise exports. Service exports stood at 4.12% in 2020 compared to share of 1.57% in global merchandise exports in 2020.

Share of manufacturing in India’s GVA is low. It is in the range of 15-17% since 2014-15.

It is difficult to adopt the China’s strategy in a democratic India: Due to difference in economic environment and the nature of polity in India and China, experts have argued against China’s model. It is because China did so by suppressing wages, consumption, keeping borrowing costs low by lowering interest paid to households etc.

Broadened scope of services-export: Pandemic has broadened the scope for India in the export of services. For example, IT-related services can be advanced to other areas such as education, health, legal services (for instance, the Indian law firms can start setting up international offices and advise on the Indian laws sitting in other countries) etc.

Merchandise exports remain susceptible to cyclicality in commodity prices. Therefore, services exports can reduce the pressure on merchandise exports of India to provide jobs as well as foreign exchange inflows.

What are the challenges in service exports?

Job Creation: It is doubtful whether a service export-led growth model would add millions of jobs needed by the economy. Even in the developed countries, the bulk of jobs are not created in service sector like doctors, etc. These are created in restaurants, etc.

Widening of the services export: Until the Indian regulator allows foreign firms to set up in India, it is difficult to boost the Indian export of legal services.

the regulatory regime for legal services requires a number of fundamental changes. For this, the suggestion of legal fraternity can be taken.

Way Ahead

Both, the services and the geographies which require them need to be identified, and the two should be mapped.

India can focus on various services export like legal services, financial advisory, education and telemedicine that can be exported using technologies and where India also has intellectual capabilities.

The making inroads into financial services can also help in the internationalisation of the rupee.

The Indian government need to bring measures to protect privacy of data, reforms its education system etc.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Explained: Why the Russia-Ukraine crisis may lead to a shortage in semiconductors

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: Why the Russia-Ukraine crisis may lead to a shortage in semiconductors” published in Indian Express on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The supply of semiconductors is being threatened once again by the Ukraine crisis. This is on account of the supply of two key raw materials — neon and palladium — that are at risk of being constrained.

Why is there a shortage of semiconductors?

Palladium and Neon are two resources that are key to the production of semiconductor chips. Russia supplies over 40% of the world’s palladium and Ukraine produces 70% of neon.

However, due to the Ukraine crisis, there will be a shortage in supply of these raw materials, which may impact the production of semiconductor chips.

For instance, during the 2014-15 Crimea invasion, neon prices went up several times over, serving as an indication of the seriousness of the current crisis for the semiconductor industry.

Expected Impact of Chip Shortage: A key feature in a chip shortage is that it almost always causes cascading effects, given that the first one creates pent-up demand that becomes the cause for the follow-up famine.

Read more: Semiconductor manufacturing in India – Explained, pointwise
Why are neon and palladium important for chip-making?

Neon gas is used in the photolithography process that is the most common method for fabricating integrated circuits. But for use of neon gas in the semiconductor industry, the gas has to reach 99.99% purity levels — which makes it a rarity. 

Palladium is used for multiple purposes in semiconductor and electronic manufacturing. It is used to a) coat electrodes that help control the flow of electricity and b) plating of microprocessors and printed circuit boards — which is an essential process of chip making. 

Read more: Need of Indigenous Semiconductor Manufacturing Facilities in India – Explained Pointwise

Project to link Tapi, Par, Narmada: Tribals in South Gujarat protest river-linking plan

Source: This post is based on the article Project to link Tapi, Par, Narmada: Tribals in South Gujarat protest river-linking planpublished in Indian Express on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

Tribals in Gujarat have intensified their protest against the Par-Tapi-Narmada river linking project after it was mentioned in the budget speech (2022-23) of the Finance Minister.

What is the Par-Tapi-Narmada River Linking Project?

Par-Tapi-Narmada Link proposes to transfer water from the water-surplus regions of Western Ghats to the water-deficit regions of Saurashtra and Kutch through the Sardar Sarovar Project

The water is proposed to be taken from seven reservoirs through a 395-kilometre canal.

The seven reservoirs proposed in the project are Jheri, Mohankavchali, Paikhed, Chasmandva, Chikkar, Dabdar and Kelwan.

Of these seven reservoirs, only one (Jheri) is located in Maharashtra and the rest are in the Valsad and Dang districts of Gujarat.

What are the benefits of the Project?

The project will provide irrigation benefits to the enroute command and Narmada command. It will also generate hydropower through the powerhouses installed at four dam sites. The reservoirs will also provide flood relief to the people residing in downstream areas.

Why are Tribals opposing the Project?

Tribals settled along the river bank have developed the forest land allotted to them into agricultural farms by incurring the substantial expenditure. With the construction of the reservoirs, their farmland will be submerged, and they will lose their income. It will also result in their displacement.

Tapi River: Tapi is a river in central India located to the south of the Narmada river which flows westwards before draining into the Arabian Sea.The river flows through the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Par River: It is a river in Gujarat with its source near wadpada village in Nashik Maharashtra. It flows into the Arabian Sea.


Department of Pharmaceuticals releases Approach paper on ‘Draft National Medical Devices Policy 2022’ for consultation

Source: This post is based on the article Department of Pharmaceuticals releases Approach paper on ‘Draft National Medical Devices Policy 2022’ for consultationpublished in PIB on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has released “Draft National Policy for the Medical Devices, 2022”.

What is the Medical Devices Sector?

The medical device is a multi-product sector, with the following broad classifications: (a) Electronics Equipment; (b) Implants; (c) Consumables and Disposables; (d) IVD reagents; and (e) Surgical Instruments. 

The Medical Device Sector has remained largely unregulated till 2017 when Medical Device Rules,2017 were framed by CDSCO for comprehensive regulation of Medical Devices in a phased manner especially on the quality, safety, and efficacy aspects, under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.

The Indian medical device market has a significant presence of multinational companies with about 80% of the sales by value generated from imported medical devices.

This Sector is expected to grow in market size from the present $11 Bn to $50 Bn by 2025.

Moreover, to encourage the domestic manufacturing of Medical Devices, Government has launched PLI scheme for promoting domestic manufacturing of Medical Devices, Promotion of Medical Devices Parks.

What is the Draft National Policy for the Medical Devices, 2022?

Released by: Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

Aim: To address core objectives of accessibility, affordability, safety and quality, focus on self-sustainability, innovation and growth in the Medical devices sector.

Objectives: The policy envisions that by 2047, India

– Will be having few National Institutes of Medical Devices Education and Research (NIMERs) on the lines of NIPERs;

– Will be home & originator to 25 high-end futuristic technologies in MedTech

– Will have a MedTech Industry of $100-300 Bn size with 10-12% of Global Market Share.

Features of the Policy

– Regulatory streamlining in order to optimise regulatory processes and multiplicity of agencies for enhanced ease of doing business.

– Quality Standards and Safety of the Devices in order to provide safe devices to the consumers.

– Building Competitiveness through fiscal and financial support.

– Infrastructure Development to provide a best-in-class physical foundation, including medical devices parks.

– Facilitating R&D and Innovation with a focus on enhanced collaboration in innovation and R&D projects.

– Awareness Creation and Brand Positioning in creating awareness and positioning India as a hub for manufacturing of medical devices as part of the “Make in India, Make for the World” initiative.

Read more: Drug Regulations in India – Explained, pointwise

Union Minister reviews Gallium Nitride Technology center – GEECI, Bengaluru

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister reviews Gallium Nitride Technology center – GEECI, Bengalurupublished in PIB on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology has visited the Gallium Nitride Ecosystem Enabling Centre and Incubator(GEECI) facility at the prestigious Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bengaluru.

What is Gallium Nitride Ecosystem Enabling Centre and Incubator(GEECI)?

GEECI has been jointly set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and IISc Bengaluru.

Aim: To establish Gallium Nitride(GaN) based Development Line Foundry facility, especially for Radio Frequency and power applications, including strategic applications. 

What is Gallium Nitride(GaN)?

Gallium nitride(GaN) is a very hard, mechanically stable wide bandgap semiconductor. The compound is a very hard material that has a Wurtzite crystal structure.

Properties of Gallium Nitride: High heat capacity, Sensitivity to ionizing radiation is low, faster-switching speed, higher thermal conductivity and lower on-resistance.

Applications of Gallium Nitride

LEDs and lasers: GaN-based violet laser diodes are used to read Blu-ray Discs.

Transistors and Power ICs: GaN transistors are suitable for high frequency, high voltage, high temperature and high-efficiency applications.

Space and Strategic Applications: ​​Its sensitivity to ionizing radiation is low, making it a suitable material for solar cell arrays for satellites. Military and space applications could also benefit, as devices have shown stability in radiation environments.

Nanoscale: GaN nanotubes and nanowires are proposed for applications in nanoscale electronics, optoelectronics and biochemical-sensing applications.

5G Devices: Due to high power density and voltage breakdown limits, GaN is emerging as a promising candidate for 5G cellular base station applications. It will also play a key role in enabling e-vehicles and wireless communication.


Halari Breed of Donkey: Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying addresses Saurashtra Maldhari Sammelan

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying addresses Saurashtra Maldhari Sammelanpublished in PIB on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has addressed the Saurashtra Maldhari Sammelan. The sammelan deliberated upon the conservation of threatened breeds of livestock, particularly the Halari breed of Donkey.

What is the Halari Breed of Donkey?
Source: ICAR

Halari Donkey is one of the important livestock in the semi-arid landscape of Saurashtra’s Jamnagar and Dwarka district of the state of Gujarat. 

Uses: The Bharwad and Rabari pastoralists are the main communities that use this donkey as a pack animal to carry luggage during migration with small ruminants. The Kumbhar (potter) community also uses this animal for pottery work in the Jamnagar region.

The Halari donkey’s milk is also said to be one of the most expensive in the world which can go upto Rs 1000 for its medicinal values.

Threatened Species: Halari Donkey is currently in a threatened state and requires immediate steps towards conservation to reverse the declining trend in the population. 

A survey of Halari Donkey and its keepers in 2015 found that only 1200 individuals of the breed were existing. In a recent survey conducted in 2021-22, the number came down to 439 individuals.

The reasons for their decline are the unavailability of Halari Donkey males for breeding, disincentives to Halari Donkey rearers with no avenues associated with streamlining the livelihoods (based on donkey milk).


Union Minister launches ‘India Water Pitch-Pilot-Scale Start-up Challenge’ under AMRUT 2.0

Source: This post is based on the articleUnion Minister launches ‘India Water Pitch-Pilot-Scale Start-up Challenge’ under AMRUT 2.0published in PIB on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has launched the ‘India Water Pitch-Pilot-Scale Start-up Challenge’ under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation(AMRUT) 2.0

Why was this challenge launched?

AMRUT 2.0 was launched by the Prime Minister in 2021. The mission aims to provide central assistance for universal coverage in water supply in all statutory towns, upscaling coverage of sewerage and septage management in 500 AMRUT cities, rejuvenation of water bodies and creation of green spaces.

Besides this, the mission also envisages the identification of innovative, proven and potential environment-friendly technologies in the fields of water & used water treatment, distribution and water body rejuvenation. 

To achieve this above goal, this challenge was launched.

What is the purpose of the India Water Pitch-Pilot-Scale Start-up Challenge?

Aim: To empower startups in the water/ used-water sector to grow through innovation and design that will drive sustainable economic growth and generate employment opportunities. 

Thematic areas: The start-ups providing innovative technological/ business solutions in the following areas are eligible to participate: 1) Freshwater systems, 2) Hydro informatics – use of water + data, 3) Used water management, 4) Urban Water Management, 5) Agricultural Water Management, 6) Urban Sewerage Management, 7) Water governance, and 8) Innovation in conventional taps and plumbing systems.

Eligibility Criteria: All entities recognised as start-ups by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) are eligible to participate

Prize: The 100 final selected start-ups in the Challenge will be given a grant amounting to a maximum of Rs. 20 lakh. Mentorship will also be provided.


Prime Minister dedicated the National Defence University to the Nation and addressed its first convocation, at Gandhinagar, Gujarat

Source: This post is based on the article Prime Minister dedicated the National Defence University to the Nation and addressed its first convocation, at Gandhinagar, Gujaratpublished in PIB on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The Prime Minister dedicated the Rashtriya Raksha University(National Defense University) to the nation and addressed its first convocation at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

What is Rashtriya Raksha University?

Rashtriya Raksha University is a Central University located in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. It has a specialization in National and Internal Security. 

It was established by the Government of Gujarat in 2009. The university has been upgraded as an Institute of National Importance through RRU Bill 2020.

The university offers undergraduate, post-graduate, research degree programmes, and professional diploma and certificate programmes.

What is ​​National Forensic Sciences University(NFSU)?

​​National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) formerly Gujarat Forensic Science University (GFSU), is a central university located in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. It is solely dedicated to forensic and investigative science.

The university was formed by the Government of Gujarat in 2008. It was upgraded to the National Forensic Sciences University in 2020. It is recognised as an Institution of National Importance by the Act of Parliament.


Syllipsimopodi Bideni: Primordial octopus had ten arms

Source: This post is based on the article Primordial octopus had ten armspublished in The Hindu on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

Scientists have discovered fossils of a species in Central Montana, USA. They have named it Syllipsimopodi bideni.

What is Syllipsimopodi Bideni?

Syllipsimopodi Bideni belongs to a group of species called vampyropods that includes octopuses.

The species may have lived approximately 328 million years ago during the Carboniferous period, making it the oldest known vampyropod and extending the fossil record of the group by about 82 million years.

Named After: Scientists have named the species after US President Joe Biden to commemorate the start of his presidency and because they were encouraged by his plans to address climate change and to fund scientific research.

Features: It was about 12 cm long and had a torpedo-shaped body. Its fins were large enough to perhaps function as stabilizers and to help it swim.

It is the only known vampyropod to have 10 functional arms, all with preserved suckers.

It likely used its long arms to capture prey — smaller, shelled animals, perhaps — and it’s shorter arms to confine and manipulate prey.

Significance: This discovery greatly changes the human understanding of how octopuses evolved and indicates that the earliest members of the group superficially resembled living squids.


Maternal Mortality in India: Kerala tops in maternal, child health

Source: This post is based on the article “Kerala tops in maternal, child healthpublished in The Hindu on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

The Office of the Registrar General of India has released the Sample Registration System (SRS) special bulletin on Maternal Mortality in India(2017-19).

What are the key findings on Maternal Mortality in India?

The National Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is 103(per one lakh live births) in the country.

Among States, Kerala has emerged on top in maternal and child health. It has recorded the lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 30 in the country.

Another State which has made significant gains is Maharashtra, whose Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) has dipped from 55 to 38.

How has Kerala achieved the lowest Maternal Mortality Ratio(MMR)?

Firstly, Kerala has made substantial investments in setting up high dependency units in every district and in improving 39 delivery points under the Union Health Ministry’s LaQshya (a quality improvement initiative in labour room &  maternity operation theaters) Initiative.

Secondly, Confidential Review of Maternal Deaths, an initiative by the Kerala Health Department since 2004-05, laid the foundation for all maternal health improvement initiatives. This initiative was further strengthened by maternal near-miss audits in all districts, to analyze the critical events which resulted in near maternal deaths. 

Thirdly, it developed the Quality Standards in Obstetric Care in 2012-13 to focus on the management of some of the common causes of maternal deaths — postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), sepsis and amniotic fluid embolism.


What are the Geneva Conventions guidelines during wartime?

Source: This post is based on the article What are the Geneva Conventions guidelines during wartime? published in The Hindu on 14th Mar 2022.

What is the News?

As the Russian-Ukraine Conflict gets intense, there is growing concern surrounding the issue of violations of human rights and Geneva Conventions.

What are Geneva Conventions?

The Geneva Conventions(1949) and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war.

The convention codifies widely accepted ethical and legal international standards for humanitarian treatment of those impacted by any ongoing war. 

The focus of the Conventions is also on the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war, and not the use of conventional or biological and chemical weapons.

Treaties under the Convention: The convention contains four treaties, formalized in 1949 and three additional protocols, the first two of which were formalized in 1977 and the third in 2005.

Four treaties 

– The first Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during the war.

– The second Geneva Convention protects wounded, sick and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during the war.

– The third Geneva Convention applies to prisoners of war.

– The fourth Geneva Convention affords protection to civilians, including in occupied territory.

Note: Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions cover situations of non-international armed conflicts. They include traditional civil wars, internal armed conflicts that spill over into other States, or internal conflicts in which a third State or a multinational force intervenes alongside the government.

Parties to the Convention

The Geneva Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states. The three Protocols have been ratified by 174, 169 and 79 states respectively.

Potential Prosecution under the Convention:

Under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is the ICC that has jurisdiction in respect of war crimes. War Crimes’ refers to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions including wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments among others.

Note: International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) is a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. State parties (signatories) to the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its Additional Protocols have given the ICRC a mandate to protect victims of international and internal armed conflicts.

Mains Answer Writing

[Answered] UPSC Mains Answer Writing 22nd 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 22nd June 2024 Every morning, we post 2–3 questions based on current affairs. The questions framed are meaningful and relevant… Continue reading [Answered] UPSC Mains Answer Writing 22nd June 2024 I Mains Marathon

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Revision of NCERT Textbooks

Source-This post on Revision of NCERT Textbooks has been created based on the article “NCERT textbooks need to keep pace with changing times” published in “The Indian Express” on 22 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 emphasizes the… Continue reading Revision of NCERT Textbooks

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Vadhavan Port Project

Source-This post on Vadhavan Port Project has been created based on the article “MEGA PORT OF CALL” published in “Business Standard” on 22 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper-3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc. Context– The Vadhavan port project, recently approved by the Union Cabinet, marks a significant development for India’s maritime infrastructure. Located… Continue reading Vadhavan Port Project

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Changing Demand for Cereals in India

Source-This post on Changing Demand for Cereals in India has been created based on the article “How demand for cereals in India is changing” published in “The Indian Express” on 22 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus–GS Paper-3- Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices; Public Distribution System – Objectives, Functioning, Limitations,… Continue reading Changing Demand for Cereals in India

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Reservation Judgements: An overemphasis on merit

Source-This post on Reservation Judgements: An overemphasis on merit has been created based on the article “Faizan Mustafa writes on Patna High Court reservation ruling: An overemphasis on merit Constitutional Provisions and Judicial Interpretation” published in “The Indian Express” on 22 June 2024. UPSC Syllabus-GS Paper 2- Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions… Continue reading Reservation Judgements: An overemphasis on merit

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National Testing Agency (NTA)- Functioning and Challenges- Explained Pointwise

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has been caught in the middle of the storm of the NEET controversy. With the recent cancellation of the UGC-NET examination, the reputation of National Testing Agency has further been tarnished. The complaints of paper leaks, deviations of procedure, irregularities in the examinations has further creaked the reputation of the agency.… Continue reading National Testing Agency (NTA)- Functioning and Challenges- Explained Pointwise

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Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill 2024

Source– This post on Capsaicin has been created based on the article “Why chilis burn. And why humans still love them” published in “Indian Express” on 21 June 2024. Why in the news? The Union government notified the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024. It has come into effect from 21 June 2024.… Continue reading Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill 2024

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Sleeping Sickness

Source– This post on Sleeping Sickness has been created based on the article “Chad eliminates sleeping sickness as a public health problem” published in “Down to Earth” on 20 June 2024. Why in the news? Chad became the first country to eliminate a neglected tropical disease (NTD) this year and the 51st globally. The disease eliminated… Continue reading Sleeping Sickness

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Verification of EVM Burnt Memory

Source– This post on Verification of EVM Burnt Memory has been created based on the article “11 candidates apply to verify EVM burnt memory: what is this process?” published in “Indian Express” on 21 June 2024. Why in the news? For the first time, 11 candidates from the 2024 Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections have… Continue reading Verification of EVM Burnt Memory

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Claude 3.5 Sonnet 

Source– This post on Claude 3.5 Sonnet has been created based on the article “What is Claude 3.5 Sonnet and how is it better than GPT-4o, Gemini-1.5 Pro?” published in “Indian Express” on 21 June 2024. Why in the news?’ Anthropic has introduced Claude 3.5 Sonnet which is its latest AI model. This is the… Continue reading Claude 3.5 Sonnet 

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