9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 3rd, 2023

Dear Friends,

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

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

Current Affairs Compilations for UPSC IAS Prelims 2022

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Mains Oriented Articles

GS Paper 1

JCBs Not The Answer – on destruction of unauthorised colonies

Source: This post is created based on the article “JCBs Not The Answer”, published in Times of India on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 1 – Urbanisation and associated issues

News: Recently, unauthorised houses were demolished around Tughlaqabad forte area. This demolition depicts the failure of urban governance in Indian cities.

Corruption of urban governance enable residents to obtain government identification and voting rights but not legal property titles.

However, this is not the issue of Delhi alone, urban centers, including Mumbai and Bengaluru are also facing the same issue.

What are the issues in urban governance of Delhi and other cities?

Although India’s first urban master plan was designed for Delhi in 1962, it has failed to check the unauthorised proliferation of the “silent sprawl”.

Master plans of Delhi, and other big cities were Unrealistic. Today, the Delhi Development Authority estimates that at least 5 million live in unauthorised colonies spread over 175 sq. km.

Despite drives to regularise the unauthorised colonies in cities, they face regular threat of clearance drives by municipal authorities.

Inhabitants of these colonies are integral to the city’s economic and social life. Relocating them miles from their workplace is cruel when Indian cities have a poor public transport system.

The history and economics of India’s population growth

Source: The post is based on the article “The history and economics of India’s population growth” published in Indian Express on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 1 – population and associated issues.

Relevance: About population growth helps economic development.

News: Despite India overtaking China in population, it still belongs to the lower-middle income category (per capita income is around $2,200) This is just one-sixth of China’s and even lower than Bangladesh’s.

How has India’s population grown over the ages?

Population and economic growth
Source: Indian Express

-Around 4,000 years ago, most of the population (estimates vary between 4 to 6 million) was living in and around the Indus basin. “This was perhaps the largest concentration of human beings anywhere in the world at the time,”

-By the time the Mauryan empire flourished, most of the population had shifted to the Ganges basin. “From this time forth the Ganges basin would always contain one of the world’s largest concentrations of people.”

-The next data estimate has been arrived at by using Hsuan Tsang’s observations.

-The next milestone uses data from Ain-i-Akbari in 1595.

-Since 1871 data has become more and more precise, due to formal census and UN projections.

Does population growth help economic development or hinder it?

The starting point of this debate is Thomas Malthus’ argument in 1798 that population growth would depress living standards in the long run. Malthus suggested that the way to avoid this was to exercise “moral restraint.

During the 1950s and 60s, “the general view of economists was that high birth rates and rapid population growth in poor countries would divert scarce capital away from savings and investment, thereby placing a drag on economic development.

Between the 1970s and 1990s, economists “failed to detect a robust relationship between national population growth rates and per capita income growth”.

In the 1990’s the world was also introduced to the concept of “demographic dividend.”

Note: Demographic dividend refers to a period in an economy’s trajectory when there is a bulge in the working-age population (roughly speaking, the population between 15 and 65 years). This opens up a window of opportunity during which such a country can potentially raise its level of savings and investment.

How is population growth associated with economic growth?

population and Economy
Source: Indian Express

The population researchers Fox and Dyson found that the period between 1950 and 1973 saw the fastest growth of population as well as GDP and GDP per capita. They also found few significant developments, a) Accelerated population growth in the post-war years was stimulated largely by the diffusion of medical knowledge, technologies, and public health initiatives, b) Between 1950 and 1973 poorer countries benefitted from a positive investment environment and burgeoning employment opportunities, c) After 1973, the decline in mortality was not due to rapid economic growth.

What will be the impact of population growth and economic development findings on India?

Not every country has managed to escape what is often called the “middle-income trap”. For instance, South Korea and Israel did, but Argentina and South Africa failed the transition.

India is a lower-middle-income country. India is already the most populous country and still expected to see a rise in total population for the next 40 years despite being below the replacement rate of fertility. We should best use India’s demographic dividend.

GS Paper 2

India@75, Looking at 100: Going forward the India way

Source: The post is based on the article “India@75, Looking at 100: Going forward the India way” published in The Indian Express on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Institutions

News: The article discusses India’s role in the United Nations.

How has been the role of India in the United Nations?

UN Security Council: In December last year, India completed its eighth term on the UN Security Council. It was a great opportunity for India to preside over the apex UN organ and take measures for the maintenance of international peace and security.

India is also putting efforts for a permanent seat on the Security Council in the intergovernmental negotiations of the UN General Assembly.

India-UN Development Partnership Fund: India is also taking efforts beyond UNSC.

For instance, the India-UN Development Partnership Fund which is administered by the Permanent Mission of India Office in New York, assists member states of the South with demand-driven socio-economic programs.

United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee: India’s voice on counter terrorism has moved beyond summits and high-level events and has become the mainstream narrative of the international community.

The work of India as Chair of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee is still acknowledged as a powerful voice for a united and cohesive front in the fight against terror.

UN Commission for Social Development: India presided over the UN Commission for Social Development this February. This gave India an opportunity to look into the social development issues, especially those related to women.

The deployment in January 2023 of the all-woman peacekeeping contingent to Abyei in Africa was a step in this direction.

Further, India’s determination to deploy women in the cause of peace is matched by the UN’s bold emphasis on a strong female presence in the field for social cause and ensuring optimal outcomes.

UN Statistical Commission: India achieved a landslide win, capturing 46 of the 53 votes, in the recently concluded elections to the UN Statistical Commission in New York, leaving many member states behind.

This shows that the world considers India as a responsible, caring and contributing partner, willing and able to bring value to the global issues.

UN General Assembly: India’s promotion of millets in International Year 2023 has gained recognition and acceptance at the UN General Assembly.

Further, the efforts of India to roll out vaccines is still recognised at the UN as India was the first country for many member states of the Global South for Covid vaccines during the pandemic.

What can be the way ahead?

The words of Swami Vivekanand, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is achieved”, should be taken into consideration.

This is because India’s diplomacy will have a growing number of roles and duties in a rapidly changing world.

The LAC crisis and the danger of losing without fighting

Source- The post is based on the article “The LAC crisis and the danger of losing without fighting” published in “The Hindu” on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Bilateral groupings and agreements

Relevance– India and China bilateral relationship

News– The article explains the approach of current Indian government on LAC incursions by China.

What is the current situation on LAC?

Three years later after LAC incursions by China, only some areas have witnessed disengagement. Depsang and Demchok, remain unresolved. 26 of the 65 patrolling points in Ladakh are out of reach to Indian soldiers.

Neither diplomatic meetings nor talks between corps commanders have made any progress since September last year.

Regular meetings between Indian and Chinese Ministers, Foreign and Defence, have not yielded results either. Beijing has ignored Delhi’s talking points.

What was the approach followed by the India during 2013 Chinese incursions on LAC?

During the 2013 Depsang crisis, the PLA had blocked Indian patrols at Y-Junction. It is the same place where it has blocked them in Depsang since 2020.

Within three weeks, the PLA was forced to lift the block after the Indian Army launched a quid pro quo operation on the Chinese side in Chumar. The status quo as it existed before PLA’s block was restored.

What has been the Chinese approach towards India in the recent incursions?

Over nine years, China’s approach towards India has been hostile. China sent PLA soldiers to Chumar during Xi ‘s visit to Ahmedabad in 2014.

The Chinese leader did not pay attention to the Indian leader’s plea in Beijing in 2015 to delineate the LAC and has blocked India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Satellite imagery shows that the Chinese were already building massive military infrastructure in Ladakh by the time the Second Informal Summit was taking place in Mamallapuram in late 2019.

What is the way forward for India on LAC incursions by China?

India is under pressure on the border. It needs to find a way to transfer that pressure back to China. Beijing has never compromised unless it has been forced into an uncomfortable spot. India has deployed this tactic since Nathu La in 1967.

India needs to be proactive. Political leadership needs to use its bold imagination. If the political leadership is fearful, the military on the China border will remain in a defensive posture.

Military is used as an instrument by states to pursue policy ends and impose its will upon the adversary. New Delhi must take some military actions. It will provide leverage to its diplomats.

China is a much bigger economic, military, industrial and geopolitical power than India. But the gap shrinks considerably when it comes to local balance on the LAC. If Russia is unable to vanquish Ukraine, China cannot militarily walk over India.

Three years after the border crisis began, a status quoist approach can no longer be the answer. India will have to wrest the initiative from China.

No further delay – on sedition law

Source: This post is created based on the article “No further delay”, published in Business Standard on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Governance – Criminal Justice System

Context: The article analyses the progress on the Supreme Court’s order that ordered the government to stop registering cases under Section 124A of IPC.

India’s Supreme Court (SC) ordered the government, last year, to suspend all sedition trials and stop registering cases under Section 124A of the IPC until the provision was reviewed.

Consequently, those detained under this law were permitted to apply for bail. However, the government recently informed the SC that stakeholder consultation is not yet complete. It resulted in the postponement of the case that challenges the constitutionality of Section 124A.

This delay leaves the contentious law in a state of uncertainty.

What are the issues with government’s delay in fulfilling the SC’s order?

Shows unwillingness: The government’s extended consultation period demonstrates its previous unwillingness to address the issue.

Against democratic ethos: Section 124A, implemented by colonial rulers, is inconsistent with India’s democratic constitution and dedication to free speech.

Ambiguity of the law: Supreme Court decision in Kedar Nath versus State of Bihar, contributed to making this law more ambiguous. The ruling maintained the legality of Section 124A but made its application conditional. It allowed the state to interpret the law widely to arrest dissidents.

From 2015 to 2020, 356 cases were filed under the sedition law, with only 12 convictions. The petitioners have called for a review by a seven-judge Bench. The Supreme Court should expedite its decision, as Section 124A provides state actors with a tool to suppress dissenting voices.

A good divorce – Irretrievable breakdown of marriage should be a ground for divorce

Source: The post is based on the following articles

“Consent Is The Soul Of Marriage” published in The Times of India on 3rd May 2023.

“A good divorce – Irretrievable breakdown of marriage should be a ground for divorce” published in The Hindu on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections.

Relevance: About SC ruling on granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns.

NewsThe Supreme Court in Shilpa Sailesh vs Varun Sreenivasan case held that a court can directly grant a divorce under Article 142 of the Constitution in cases where the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

About the status of divorced and separated couples in India

In India, divorcees have doubled in number over the past two decades. But the incidence of divorce is still at 1.1%, with those in urban areas making up the largest proportion.

According to Census 2011, the population which is “separated” is almost triple the divorced number. There are many women, particularly among the poor, who are abandoned or deserted.

About the current procedure for getting a divorce

For fault-based cases: Under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, a marriage may be dissolved on grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion, bigamy, rape, etc. These are often called as fault-based cases. In these, a divorce petition can be moved by either party without the consent of the other.

For No-fault divorce: This could be sought only by mutual consent under Section 13-B. In such cases, the parties would ordinarily file a motion for divorce, and then have to wait six months before the decree could be passed by court.

The intent was to give a ‘cooling-off period’ and allow the couple time for reflection.

About the recent SC ruling on granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns

Read more: Divorce can be granted on ‘grounds of irretrievable breakdown’: Supreme Court

What is the rationale behind granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns?

a) Courts in the past recognised that in many cases, the mandatory waiting period only prolongs the misery of the couple, and often delays or impedes a settlement, b) Irretrievable breakdown of marriage was considered by the Law Commission in a few of its reports. The Commission in its 71st report recommended that the law be amended to provide for “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” as an additional ground for divorce. The same was reiterated in its 217th report also.

c) In 2010, the government introduced the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010. It proposed to add irretrievable breakdown as a new ground for divorce in both the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act. But after amendment the 2013 bill mentioned that the six-month waiting period could be mutually waived by the parties, d) In Sivasankaran vs Santhimeenal (2021), SC considered the question of social acceptance and economic security of women during irretrievable breakdown and said it should be granted unilaterally.

Note: Under the Hindu Marriage Act, irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not yet a ground for divorce.

What is Article 142 of the Indian Constitution?

Read here: What is Article 142?

What are the advantages of granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns?

The ruling is much needed as a) it provides relief to couples from the “agony and misery” of waiting six to 18 months for a local court to annul the marriage, b) many women are still not financially independent. So, a faster divorce might provide faster financial settlement, c) normalise divorce and can eliminate the social stigma around divorce in India.

What are the concerns highlighted by experts on granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns?

The experts point out that granting divorce for irretrievable breakdowns without a cooling-off period might push women into a disadvantageous position as there are high levels of gender discrimination in India.

The liberal notion of marriage as a partnership of mutual consent is not yet the reality in much of the country, and its dissolution usually entails enormous social and economic hardship for women and children.

GS Paper 3

Why are Blinkit workers protesting?

Source: The post is based on the article “Why are Blinkit workers protesting?” published in The Hindu on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Growth, Development and employment

Relevance: concern associated with gig workers

News: The strike by Blinkit delivery agents has highlighted the situation of gig workers India. The article discusses the issues concerning gig workers.

Who is a gig worker?

Click Here to Read

What is the problem with the recognition of gig workers?

In India, employees are entitled to benefits under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (EPFA), and the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965.

Similarly, contract laborers are governed under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, and are also entitled to benefits such as provident funds.

However, gig workers exhibit characteristics of both employees and independent contractors, and thus do not clearly fit into any rigid categorization.

To resolve the issue of categorization, the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced the Code on Social Security, 2020, which brings gig workers within the ambit of labor laws for the first time.

What is the proposed law of Code on Social Security, 2020?

Under section 2(35) of the Code on Social Security, 2020, a ‘gig worker’ is defined as ‘a person who performs work in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship’.

The Code guides the central and state governments to frame suitable social security schemes for gig workers on matters relating to health and maternity benefits, provident funds and accident benefits among others.

The Code also mandates the compulsory registration of all gig workers and platform workers to avail themselves of the benefits under these schemes.

What are some of the concerns with the proposed law?

Gig work finds reference only in the Code on Social Security out of the four new labour codes proposed. This keeps gig workers excluded from benefits and protections offered by other Codes such as minimum wage, occupational safety etc.

They also cannot create legally recognised unions and remain excluded from accessing the redressal mechanism under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

Gig workers do not have the right to collective bargaining which is a fundamental principle of modern labour law.

Moreover, despite receiving the assent of the President, the Labour Codes are still awaiting implementation due to the delay in framing of rules by the States.

What has been the stand of the court on the issue of gig workers?

A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court that demanded gig workers be declared as ‘unorganised workers’.

Thus, allowing them to come under the purview of the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 (UWSS Act) and be provided with statutory protection in the form of social security benefits.

The petitioner argued that the exclusion of ‘wage workers’ under Sections 2(m) and 2(n) of the UWSS Act is violating their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and denying social benefits amounts to exploitation through forced labour, within the meaning of Article 23.

The Supreme Court sought response from the Centre regarding the issue in December 2021. However, the Centre has not yet responded.

India’s gas policy has protected the consumer from global price volatility

Source- The post is based on the article “India’s gas policy has protected the consumer from global price volatility” published in “The Indian Express” on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Energy

News– The article explains the recently introduced APM pricing reforms.

What are the major goals of these reforms?

First, to protect Indians from extreme price volatility and to provide clarity for planned capex investments in gas-based sectors.

Second, to promote more innovation and investments in exploration and production (E&P).

What were the issues with the Domestic Gas Pricing Guidelines, 2014?

It determined APM prices based on the volume-weighted average price of gas at four international hubs. The transmission of these prices came with a significant time lag of 6 to 9 months. It contained high volatility.

For instance, the APM price between October 2020 and September 2021 remained at $1.79/MMBTU. It was below the marginal cost of production of $3.5/MMBTU for nomination fields.

However, the same APM prices jumped to $8.57/MMBTU in October 2022 due to a 400% price surge in international hub prices after the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It brought tremendous distress to the fertiliser, power and city gas distribution (CGD) sectors.

What are some facts about the APM pricing reforms and its associated benefits?

After the APM reforms, the average cost of cooking fuel for households has been reduced by about 10%. CNG vehicle owners have seen a 6-7% reduction in prices. There will be the reduction in fertiliser subsidies, expected to be more than Rs 2,000 crore each year.

These reforms will also help incentivise investment in the E&P sector by providing a floor price for mature fields of nomination. It will also incentivise new wells of nomination fields which will receive 20% higher prices.

The ceiling on production from ONGC and OIL will remain the same for the first two years. It will then increase by $0.25/MMBTU every year, to adjust for any cost inflation.

The reforms will not impact private operators of New Exploration Licensing Policy fields or High Pressure, High Temperature (HP-HT) fields. They will continue to have marketing and pricing freedom.

What are arguments against the criticism of APM price reforms?

Domestic consumers would have benefitted from the recent decrease in the US-based Henry Hub prices and Russian gas prices without these reforms.

But, current prices would have impacted APM prices only in the next pricing cycle of October 2023-March 2024. The recent change in formula ensures that the benefit to the consumers is passed on without a time lag as the price will now be determined on a monthly rather than half-yearly basis.

Some critics say that current high wellhead prices for domestic gas ensure a continued high price for LNG exports to India except for Qatar LNG. But, domestic gas prices have nothing to do with long-term LNG contracts or even spot purchases of LNG.

What are steps taken by the government for development of the gas sector?

India is aggressively expanding infrastructure for oil and gas operations. It is executing policy reforms to balance the interests of both consumers and producers.

Since 2014, India has increased the length of its gas pipeline network from 14,700 km to 22,000 km in 2023.

The number of domestic connections has increased from 22.28 lakh in 2014 to over 1.03 crore in 2023.

The number of CGD-covered districts in India has increased from 66 in 2014 to 630 in 2023 while CNG stations have gone up from 938 in 2014 to 5,283 in 2023.

India’s LNG terminal regasification capacity has increased from 21.7 MMTPA in 2014 to 42.7 MMTPA in 2023, with another 20 MTPA capacity under construction.

Outlawing India’s tech tariffs

Source– The post is based on the article “Outlawing India’s tech tariffs” published in “The Hindu” on 3rd May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy – International Trade

News- World Trade Organization dispute settlement panels have found India’s tariffs on certain information and communication technology products such as mobile phones inconsistent with India’s WTO obligations.

What are WTO provisions regarding the imposing of tariffs by countries?

WTO member countries are under a legal obligation not to impose tariff rates more than their maximum tariff rates committed in their Goods Schedule. The Goods Schedules are based on the World Customs Organization’s classification system.

World Customs Organization’s classification system catalogues traded products with specific names and numbers. This is also known as the Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN).

Due to the continuous emergence of new products owing to technological innovations, the HSN system is regularly updated to reflect new products. It is known as ‘transposition’.

What is the reasoning by the panel on arguments represented by India in its favour?

First, India argued that its binding tariff commitments on ICT products are contained in the WTO Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products (ITA Agreement).

The ITA Agreement is an arrangement through which select WTO member countries agree to eliminate duties on IT products.

However, as per the panel, Commitments under the ITA become binding on a country under Articles II of GATT only if they are incorporated in the Goods Schedule. India’s Goods Schedule, not the ITA, is the source of India’s legal obligations on tariffs, including on products covered by the ITA.

Second, India argued that an error was committed during the transposition of its Goods Schedule from the HSN 2002 edition to the HSN 2007 edition. Therefore, an error in a treaty would invalidate a state’s consent, as per Article 48 of the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties.

However, WTO has also denied accepting this argument based on few technicalities.

What are the options for India?

It is unlikely that India will comply. Compliance would remove the high protective tariff imposed by India to boost domestic manufacturing of ICT products.

India is likely to appeal against the panel ruling. However, the Appellate Body that hears appeals has ceased to exist since 2019 because the United States has been blocking the appointment of the body’s members.

Thus, India’s appeal will go into the void. Legally, India will not be required to comply with the panel rulings till the time its appeal is heard.

What are options before the EU?

Under the WTO law, the EU cannot cannot impose sanctions. The WTO law does not allow countries to impose trade sanctions when an appeal is pending. Retaliatory action in the form of trade sanctions can be imposed only after the authorisation of the Dispute Settlement Body.

The EU and a few other WTO member countries have created an alternative appellate mechanism — the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA). However, India is not a party to this and will not use it to resolve this dispute.

De-dollarisation: the race to attain the status of global reserve currency

Source: The post is based on the article “De-dollarisation: the race to attain the status of global reserve currency” published in The Hindu on 3rd May 2023

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Relevance: About the de-dollarisation debate.

News: There are evidences that countries are trying to break away from the USD through de-dollarisation.

How dominant is US Dollar in global trade?

The majority of international transactions are carried out in the U.S. dollar. These transactions are cleared by American banks, which gives the U.S. government significant power to oversee and control these transactions.

Since USD is a fiat currency of the US which enjoys reserve currency status, it gives the US the power to purchase goods and other assets from the rest of the world by simply creating fresh currency.

Read more: The de-dollarisation debate

What is de-dollarisation, what are the global efforts towards the De-dollarisation of trade, and How is India pursuing the de-dollarisation of trade?

Must read: De-dollarisation of trade: Opportunities and challenges – Explained, pointwise

What are the negative impacts of de-dollarisation?

Not easy to de-dollarise: Other currencies that tried to compete against the U.S. dollar are not popular and face challenges in carrying out international transactions.

For example, the recent attempt by India and Russia to carry out trade between the two countries in Indian rupees rather than in U.S. dollars has hit a roadblock. This is because the value of India’s imports from Russia far outweighs its exports to the country.

This left Russia with excess rupees in hand. But with that rupee, Russia was unwilling to spend on Indian goods or assets. So, now Russian demands for the settlement of bilateral trade in U.S. dollars. Instead of rupee.

Read here: The possible implications of de-dollarisation of global trade

Can the Chinese Yuan replace the US Dollar?

The U.S. has been running a persistent trade deficit for decades now. The excess dollars that other countries accumulate due to the U.S.’s trade deficit has been invested back in U.S. assets such as in debt securities issued by the US government.

The major reason for such investment is due to a) The high level of trust among global investors in the U.S. financial markets, and b) the ‘rule of law’ in the U.S.

Note: The last time the U.S. ran a trade surplus was way back in 1975.

Currently, the Chinese yuan is seen as the primary alternative to the USD owing to China’s rising economic power. However, restrictions placed by the Chinese government on foreign access to China’s financial markets and doubts over the ‘rule of law’ in China have adversely affected global demand for the yuan.

The financial inclusion of women is set for a tech leap

Source: The post is based on the article “The financial inclusion of women is set for a tech leap” published in the Livemint on 3rd May 2023

Syllabus: GS 3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Relevance: About the financial inclusion of women.

News: 56% of all these new bank accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) are owned by women. This highlights the remarkable financial inclusion of women.

What are the findings of analysis of women’s bank accounts under PMJDY?

According to a report by Women’s World Banking, a) most women only access their PMJDY accounts to withdraw the benefit transfers that they receive in them from the various government initiatives that they are eligible for, b) most of them do not use these accounts for savings, to build a credit history, or avail of any financial products such as insurance and loans.

This highlights the need for women to actively engage in the formal financial industry.

Read more: About improving financial inclusion: Breaking barriers, building inclusion

What are the challenges faced by women while entering the formal financial industry?

-Most women tend to work and shop within a four-kilometre radius of their homes. This means the majority of the industries are beyond the reach of most women, particularly in the rural hinterland.

-Women tend to have concerns around privacy and confidentiality and as a result, they hesitate to discuss personal financial matters with strangers.

-Even though women tend to live longer, they have higher medical expenses. This renders traditional retirement planning poorly suited to the needs of the average woman.

Read more: Financial inclusion is integral to holistic development

What can be done to facilitate women’s participation in the formal financial industry?

Promote the use of digital payments among women: This will reduce physical and financial risks for women associated with travelling to the bank branch. Thereby, reducing the time and effort required to manage their finances. Further, they offer a level of privacy, confidentiality and a sense of control over women’s financial information.

Design dedicated services to address the needs of women: A private research has found that the women-specific financial services industry is worth roughly $700 billion. This represents roughly 5-20% of the total revenue of the industry. This amount far exceeds the annual revenue of most of the world’s leading financial institutions.

So, fintech firms and financial institutions need to make a concerted effort to address the challenges faced by women while using formal finances. They need to bring a gendered approach in each stage of the product delivery cycle to make sure that they are serving the genuine concerns around limited mobility and access to information.

Nurture the ecosystem of business correspondents in rural areas: To ensure women have digital and financial capabilities, India should nurture the ecosystem of business correspondents in rural areas. The correspondents should offer a broader range of services than just plain banking. Such as overdrafts for emergencies, micro-insurance, micro-pension and other similar products.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)

Russia overtakes Australia as top supplier of pulverised coal injection to India since September

Source: The post is based on the article “Russia overtakes Australia as top supplier of pulverised coal injection to India since September” published in Hindu Businessline on 3rd May 2023

What is the News?

Russia has emerged as the top supplier of pulverised coal injection (PCI) to India’s steel mills for at least five months of FY23 displacing Australia as the key supply nation.

What is Pulverised Coal Injection(PCI)?

Pulverised Coal Injection is an essential instrument for modern blast furnace iron making. 

It is a process that involves injecting large volumes of fine coal particles into the raceway of a blast furnace (BF). 

This provides not only a supplemental carbon source but also speeds up the production of liquid iron besides reducing the need for metallurgical coke for reactions in the blast furnace. 

What are the advantages of Pulverised Coal Injection?

– PCI uses non coking coal. This coal is cheaper than metallurgical coke. In most blast furnaces, PCI replaces 30 to 50% of the metallurgical coke charge. This results in lower fuel cost,

– The productivity of blast furnaces improves since coal injection is accompanied by oxygen injection,

– A wide grade of coals can be injected,

– Injection rates are higher than the injection rates of other fuels such as oil and natural gas,

– Coal grinding and injection systems are non-polluting systems. Hence, the overall pollution from coke production for iron making gets reduced by injecting pulverized coal in the blast furnace.

– Coal supplies are relatively stable when compared with petroleum fuel supplies.

Copper plates decoded by Pune-based Bhandarkar Institute sheds light on celebrated ancient Sanskrit poetess Shilabhattarika

Source: The post is based on the article Copper plates decoded by Pune-based Bhandarkar Institute sheds light on celebrated ancient Sanskrit poetess Shilabhattarikapublished in The Hindu on 3rd May 2023

What is the News?

Researchers at the Pune-based Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) have decoded the copper based inscriptions.

The inscriptions have revealed that the celebrated Sanskrit poetess Shilabhattarika was a daughter of Chalukyan Emperor, Pulakeshin II of Badami (in modern Karnataka).

Who was Shilabhattarika? 

Shilabhattarika was an ancient Sanskrit poet.

She is considered a leading figure of the Panchali literary style, which maintains a balance between words and meaning.

According to Rajashekhara, the Panchali style can be traced to the works of Shilabhattarika and possibly in some of the works of the 7th-century poet Bana.

Sharangadhara-paddhati, a 14th-century anthology, praises her and three other female poets for their great poetic genius and erudition.

One of the most iconic songs of the noted Marathi poetess Shanta Shelke, “toch chandrama nabhat” (it is the same moon in the sky), draws inspiration from the verses of Shilabhattarika.

What did the researchers find out about Shilabhattarika?

Researchers have found that Shilabhattarika was the daughter of Chalukyan Emperor, Pulakeshin II.

This finding marks a notable shift in the historiography of Badami Chalukyas by placing Shilabhattarika as having lived in the 7th century CE rather than the current theory which believes that she was the wife of 8th-century Rashtrakuta ruler, Dhruva.

Who was Pulakeshin II?

Pulakeshin II was the most famous ruler of the Chalukya dynasty of Vatapi (present-day Badami in Karnataka). He ruled from 610-642 CE.

He defeated Harshavardhan of Kanauj in a battle near the banks of the Narmada River in 618 CE.

– Note: Badami Chalukyan rulers affixed the title of ‘Satyashraya’ (translated as “patron of truth”) to their names, the only ruler to be known purely by this title was Pulakeshin II.

NMIS 2021-22: Karnataka ranked the most ‘innovative’ State in manufacturing

Source: The post is based on the article “Karnataka ranked the most ‘innovative’ State in manufacturing” published in The Hindu on 2nd May 2023

What is the News?

National Manufacturing Innovation Survey (NMIS) 2021-22 has been released.

What is the National Manufacturing Innovation Survey (NMIS) 2021-22?

Conducted by: Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Aim: To evaluate the innovation performance of manufacturing firms in India.

What are the key findings of the NMIS 2021-22?

Innovative state: Karnataka is the most “innovative” State followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu (DNH&DD), Telangana and Tamil Nadu.

Innovative firms: Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu had the highest share of innovative firms while Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand reported the lowest share of such firms.

Innovation products made by firms: Nearly three-fourths of the firms surveyed with most of them micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) neither made any innovative product nor business process innovation during the survey period of financial years 2017-2020. 

– However, nearly 80% of the firms that did report significant gains such as expanding markets and reducing production costs.

Barriers to innovation: The most frequent “barriers to innovation” were the lack of internal funds, high innovation costs, and lack of financing from external sources. 

– Gujarat and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu (DNH&DD) reported the highest frequencies of barriers to innovation.

Present Refugee Situation in India

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

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Hindu Kush Himalayas Snow Melting- Reasons and Consequences- Explained Pointwise

According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) report, the snow persistence of the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the Indus basins in the Hindu Kush Himalayas have reached a historical low in 2024. The low snow persistence points to increased snow melting in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan Region. The accelerated melting is beyond scientists’… Continue reading Hindu Kush Himalayas Snow Melting- Reasons and Consequences- Explained Pointwise

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Krishi Sakhi Convergence Program (KSCP)

Source– This post on Krishi Sakhi Convergence Program (KSCP) has been created based on the article “Krishi Sakhi”  published in “PIB” on 18 June 2024. Why in the news? The Prime Minister of India recently Krishi Sakhigranted certificates to over 30,000 women from Self Help Groups (SHGs), recognizing them as ‘Krishi Sakhis’ under the Krishi… Continue reading Krishi Sakhi Convergence Program (KSCP)

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Gene therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD)

Source– This post on Gene therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) has been created based on the article “India getting close to developing gene therapy for sickle cell disease, say officials” published in “The Hindu” on 20 June 2024. Why in the news? India is advancing towards developing a gene therapy for sickle cell disease… Continue reading Gene therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD)

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India’s Bio-Bitumen Initiative

Source– This post on India’s Bio-Bitumen Initiative has been created based on the article “On the way: Production of Bitumen using biomass”  published in “Economic Times” on 20 June 2024. Why in the news? India is planning to initiate large-scale production of bio-bitumen derived from biomass or agricultural waste. About India’s Bio-Bitumen Initiative i) India… Continue reading India’s Bio-Bitumen Initiative

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Nalanda University

Source- This post on Nalanda University has been created based on the article “PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Nalanda University in Bihar today” published in “Hindustan Times” on 19 June 2024. Why in the news? Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the new Nalanda University campus near the ancient university ruins in Rajgir. About… Continue reading Nalanda University

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Pro-tem Speaker

Source– This post on Pro-tem Speaker has been created based on the article Who is the pro-tem Speaker of Lok Sabha and how is an MP chosen for the role?  published in “The Indian Express” on 19 June 2024. Why in the news? The 18th Lok Sabha will hold its first session from June 24… Continue reading Pro-tem Speaker

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Juneteenth and its significance

Source– This post on Juneteenth and its significance has been created based on the article ” What is Juneteenth and what is its significance?” published in “The Indian Express” on 19 June 2024. Why in the news? Recently, Juneteenth has been observed on June 19, in the United States of America. About Juneteenth Juneteenth is a… Continue reading Juneteenth and its significance

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[Download] Factly Weekly Compilation – June 2024 – 2nd week

Dear Friends, We are posting a compilation of Factly articles for the month of June 2024 – Second week. We have made several improvements in our compilations structure, to make them more user-friendly and easy to use. Give your feedback on the same and provide suggestions in the comment box, if you want any further… Continue reading [Download] Factly Weekly Compilation – June 2024 – 2nd week

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Concerns related to the infrastructure project planned for Great Nicobar.

Source: The post concerns related to the infrastructure project planned for Great Nicobar has been created, based on the article “Strategic imperative and environment concern in Great Nicobar project” published in “Indian express” on 19th June 2024 UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper3- economy- infrastructure, and environment conservation Context: The article discusses the Congress party’s concerns… Continue reading Concerns related to the infrastructure project planned for Great Nicobar.

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