InstaLinks : help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
1. What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?
GS Paper 2:
1. Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force report
2. New tie-ups in Nepal, concern in India
GS Paper 3:
1. Draft National Retail Trade Policy
GS paper 4:
1. ICICI Videocon fraud – An issue of Corporate Ethics
Content for Mains Enrichment
1. Story: You Lose but Win
Facts for Prelims
1. Losar Festival
2. Ratnagiri Rock carvings
3. ‘PRASAD’ project – Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh
4. Malnutrition, NCPCR, JJ Act
5. Rules of Origin
6. Green Methanol Production
7. Organic Solar Cells
What is a ‘bomb cyclone’?
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Important Geophysical Phenomena such as cyclones etc.
Direction: The article tries to explain the concept of air masses and fronts and how they impact the weather of a region.
Context: An intense blizzard/snowstorm/bomb cyclone is wreaking havoc across the United States and Canada.
- The air flows from high to low pressure, creating winds. Storms form when a mass of low-pressure air meets a high-pressure mass.
- Forecasters have dubbed the blizzard a “bomb cyclone,” describing it as distinct from typical weather patterns.
- While this type of storm is not uncommon, it is extremely powerful (as a result of a blast of Arctic air plunging south), with high winds delivering heavy snow or rain to many regions.
What defines a bomb cyclone?
- Bomb cyclones form when the air near Earth’s surface rises quickly in the atmosphere, triggering a sudden drop in barometric pressure — at least 24 millibars within 24 hours
- This quickly increases the pressure difference or gradient, between the two air masses, therefore making the winds stronger.
- This process of rapid intensification has an even more ferocious-sounding name: bombogenesis.
|Air masses and fronts||Types of air masses||How do they influence the weather?|
|On the basis of temperatures||On the basis of moisture|
|● Air masses are enormous bodies of air that have almost consistent physical properties such as temperature and moisture.
● Because of the varying densities of nearby air masses, they do not combine easily.
● As a result, distinctive weather phenomena known as fronts occur at the convergence zone or boundary zone of two air masses.
|● Cold air mass: When the air mass above is cooler than the surface it is relatively unstable since the land is warmer and the air rises after heating, leading to the formation of Cyclones.
● Warm air mass: It occurs when the air mass is warmer than the surface above it, contributing to atmospheric stability and anti-cyclonic conditions.
|● Continental air masses
● Oceanic air masses: These are moist, resulting in rainfall. The migration of oceanic air masses toward the Indian subcontinent causes monsoon rains in India.
|● Interaction between two different air masses frequently generates atmospheric instability, leading to cyclonic formations.
● According to the polar front hypothesis, the polar front is created at the meeting point of warm humid air masses from the tropics and dry cold air masses from the poles → low pressure is formed near the polar front resulting in the formation of an extratropical or temperate cyclone.
Q. Discuss the concept of air mass and explain its role in macro-climatic changes. (UPSC 2016)
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2015)
Consider the following statements:
- The winds which blow between 30 N and 60 S latitudes throughout the year are known as westerlies.
- The moist air masses that cause winter rains in the North Western region of India are part of westerlies.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force report
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors
Direction: The article discusses a relatively new sector in India, the AVGC sector, and recommendations to promote the sector given its enormous growth potential.
Context: The AVGC Promotion Task Force (Chaired by I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra) report has proposed a national AVGC-Extended Reality Mission with a budget outlay to be created for integrated promotion and growth of the sector.
- The Union Budget 2022-23 announced the formation of an AVGC Promotion Task Force to realise and develop – local capacity, and local and global demand, to widen the scope of the AVGC industry.
- Accordingly, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has established an AVGC Promotion Task Force.
- The Task Force’s Terms of Reference include:
- Developing a national AVGC policy.
- Recommend a national curricular framework for AVGC-related graduate, postgraduate, and doctoral courses.
- Collaborate on skilling initiatives with academic institutions, vocational training centres and industry.
- Increase employment opportunities.
- Increase exports and recommend incentives to attract FDI in the AVGC sector, etc.
About the AVGC sector in India:
- Current situation: The AVGC sector in India, which may have witnessed 28% growth in 2021, contributes about $2.5-3 billion of the estimated $260-275 billion worldwide AVGC market and employs about 1.85 lakh AVGC professionals.
- Nature (Expanding): India has moved into the global Top 5 in the gaming industry and can witness a growth of 14-16% in the next decade and by 2023, the number of online gamers is expected to reach 45 crores.
- To become a $40 billion industry (5% of the global market) by 2025, with annual growth of 25-30% and the creation of about 1,60,000 new jobs.
- As a result, it has the potential to become the “Create in India” and “Brand India”
- Challenges: Despite the fact that the AVGC sector in India is rapidly growing, there remains a vacuum due to a lack of formal gaming training courses and legal clarity.
Recommendations of the Task Force:
- Draft national and State policies: For the promotion of the sector.
- Launch the ‘Create in India’ campaign: With an exclusive focus on content creation.
- An international AVGC platform: Aimed at attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
- Co-production treaties and innovation:
- A Memorandum of Cooperation may be signed between India and other developed global AVGC markets – U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Germany, for providing internships to Indian AVGC professionals.
- Establishment of AVGC accelerators and innovation hubs in academic institutions.
- National and regional centres of excellence: For skill development.
- The skilling and industry outreach for youth in Tier 2 and 3 towns and villages.
- There should be special incentives for women entrepreneurs in the sector.
- Leveraging National Education Policy: To develop creative thinking at the school level. The Ministry of Education may advise NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) to create books focusing on subjects relevant to AVGC.
- A University Grants Commission (UGC)-recognised curriculum: For undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
- Standardisation of admission tests: For AVGC-related courses.
- A framework to protect child rights in the digital world and promotion of local children’s channels for raising awareness.
- Democratising AVGC technologies by promoting subscription-based pricing models for MSMEs, start-ups and institutions.
- Indigenous technology development through incentive schemes and Intellectual Property creation.
- Setting up a dedicated production fund for domestic content creation to promote the country’s culture and heritage globally.
With an eye on the demand for 20 lakh skilled professionals in the AVGC sector in this decade, there is a need to augment skilling initiatives and enhance industry participation for training purposes and to ensure employment opportunities.
New tie-ups in Nepal, concern in India
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: India and Neighbourhood countries
Source: Indian Express
Context: Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” was sworn in as Nepal’s new Prime Minister after he switched sides to join hands with a bitter foe, the former prime minister Kharga Prasad Oli.
Delhi views Oli as pro-China, and the coming together of Communist forces to form the government is a turning back of the clock from its point of view. After the bitterness in ties during Oli’s terms in office from 2015-2016 and 2018-2021, India-Nepal relations improved after Deuba became PM in 2021.
The issues/reasons for the bilateral relations slide apart between India and Nepal are:
Territory claims issues at the Lipulekh pass
- The Treaty of Sugauli signed by Nepal and the British East India Company in 1816, defined River Mahakali as the western border of Nepal.
- However, India claims that the river begins in Kalapani as this is where all its tributaries merge. But Nepal claims that it begins from LipuLekh Pass, the origin of most of its tributaries
The ‘China card’
Trade agreements carrying vestiges of old rules
- India-Nepal trading agreements still carry vestiges of old rules. For example, Nepali traders cannot import products from India that are not manufactured in India
Recalibration of ties, for better future India-Nepal relations:
- The boundary dispute should be resolved on affirmative lines
- Sensitizing Towards Nepal: India should engage more proactively with Nepal in terms of people-to-people engagement, bureaucratic engagement as well as political interactions.
- Investments from India
Prelims Link: UPSC 2016
Consider the following pairs:
|Community sometimes mentioned in the news||In the affairs of|
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 only
(c) 2 and 3
(d) 3 only
Q. The Nepal-India relationship has never been free of controversy as the perspectives of both sides are yet to change, in this context discuss the need for recalibrating their ties.
Draft National Retail Trade Policy
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth
Source: Live Mint
Context: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sought the views of 16 departments and ministries on its draft national retail trade policy
- After getting comments from all the departments and ministries, DPIIT would seek approval from the Union Cabinet on the policy
What is Retail Trade?
Retail trade encompasses department store, bookstores, and grocery stores, along with many others that sell new or used goods to the public for personal or household use.
About the Policy:
Aim of the policy: To formulate strategies to provide a globally competitive and sustainable environment for the overall development of retail trade through targeted efforts.
This can be done through:
- Ensuring easy and quick access to affordable credit
- Facilitating modernization and digitisation of retail trade by promoting modern technology and superior infrastructural support
- Development of physical infrastructure across the distribution chain
- Promotion of skill development and improve labour productivity
- Providing an effective consultative and grievance redressal mechanism for the sector
Government’s schemes for promoting the retail sector:
- Finance: PM Mudra Yojana, PM Jan Dhan Yojana
- Infrastructure status to Warehousing and logistics, multi-modal logistics parks, Smart Cities Mission etc.
- Digital: ONDC, GeMS portal etc.
Other policies in the pipeline are:
- DPIIT is also working on formulating a national e-commerce policy to promote the growth of the online retail sector in the country.
- A new industrial policy is also on the anvil: This will be the third industrial policy after the first in 1956 and the second in 1991
Committee Report- Promotion & Regulation of E-Commerce
Q. In the context of changing dynamics of commerce and trade, Discuss the challenges in the formulation of a new Retail Trade Policy for India. (15M)
ICICI Videocon fraud – An issue of Corporate Ethics
GS Paper 4
Syllabus: Corporate Ethics
Source: Indian Express
Context: Just days after the arrest of former MD and CEO of ICICI bank, Chanda Kochhar, and her husband, Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged involvement in the ICICI loan fraud case.
What was the case about?
According to the CBI, several companies of Videocon Group promoted by Dhoot have been sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs 3,250 crore by ICICI Bank in violation of the RBI guidelines, Banking Regulation Act, and credit policy of the bank.
As part of the quid pro quo, Dhoot allegedly invested Rs 64 crore in Nupower Renewables, a company owned by Deepak Kochhar, through a circuitous route between 2010 and 2012.
Chanda Kochhar was a member of the committee that cleared the loan to Dhoot, the CBI has alleged. According to the agency, Chanda Kochhar abused her official position to sanction the loan to Dhoot.
Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interests of a company’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, senior management executives, customers, suppliers, financiers, the government, and the community.
Ethical issues with Corporate Governance in India:
- Conflict of Interest: The challenge of managers potentially enriching themselves at the cost of shareholders
- Weak Board: Lack of diversity of experience and background represents a major area of weakness for these boards.
- Separation of ownership and management: In the case of family-run companies, the separation of ownership and management remains a key challenge
- Independent directors
Suggestions to improve Corporate Governance in India:
Recommendations of Uday Kotak Panel:
- Diverse board members: Minimum 6 directors to be on the board of listed entities; every listed entity to have at least 1 independent woman director
- Transparency: More transparency on the appointment of independent directors
- The audit Committee must review the use of loans.
- Robust risk management policies
- Effective governance infrastructure
- Evaluation of the Board’s performance
- Communication: Facilitating shareholder communication with the board is key.
Good Examples by corporates in India: TATA Groups
Tata companies continually aspire to better ethics, just as they are committed to better business practices.
Philanthropic trusts control over 66% of Tata holdings. While the Tata family has a very small shareholding.
Owners, Employees, Customers, and Society
Gandhi’s seven sins also emphasize Corporate Governance:
- Commerce without morality
Q. Explain the concept of corporate governance. Does it have the potential to address the problems of conflict of interest in the business sector? Give your view with recent examples
Content for Mains Enrichment
Story: You Lose but Win
Direction: This can be used as an example in an essay/ethics on the importance of Fairplay, ethical conduct in sports and being a better person in life.
Kenyan runner Abel Mutai was only a few meters from the finish line when he became confused with the signs and stopped, thinking the cross-country race had ended. Spanish sprinter, Ivan Fernandez, who was behind him realized what went wrong and started shouting to the Kenyan to keep running. Mutai did not know Spanish and could not understand what Fernandez was saying.
Realizing what was going on, Fernandez pushed Mutai to victory, A report later asked Ivan, “But why did you let the Kenyan win?” Ivan replied, “I didn’t let him win, he was going to win. The race was his.”
The reporter said, “But you could have won!” Ivan replied, “But what would be the merit of my victory? What would be the honour of this medal? What would my mother think of it?”
Facts for Prelims
Context: PM extended his greetings on the occasion of the Losar festival (the beginning of the Tibetan new year)
It consists of the offering of prayers, dances, and songs in the honor of Ibex and the pilgrimage of Mount Kailash.
- Losar is the Tibetan word for ‘new year’
- Ladakhi Buddhists make a religious offering before their deities in the domestic shrines or in the Gompas
History: It was developed in the pre-Buddhist era, during the 4th century AD. The Bon religion (indigenous religious tradition of Tibet) practices the burning of incense. When Lord Buddha arrived in Tibet, this ritual was combined with the harvest celebration, and the Losar festival was born.
Ratnagiri Rock carvings
Source: Indian Express
Context: Experts and conservationists have raised concerns over the proposed location for a mega oil refinery in Barsu village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district might damage prehistoric geoglyphs/Petroglyphs found in the Konkan region of Maharashtra.
- Petroglyphs are made by scratching, rubbing, or chipping at rock surfaces.
- Pictographs are painted rock surfaces.
- Geoglyphs are larger, ground markings made usually by trenching or clearing away rocks and the top layer of soil, in patterns or lines that stand out from the natural surface.
- Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus (Sada in Marathi).
‘PRASAD’ project – Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh
Source: The Hindu
Context: President of India Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the ‘PRASAD’ project at the tourism facilitation centre in the pilgrim town of Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh
About Srisailam temple:
- Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva and goddess Parvathi.
- It is referred to as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas of the Goddess, Parvati
- Here Parvati is worshipped as “Mallika” and Shiva is worshipped as “Arjuna“, represented by the lingam
- There is inscriptional evidence from the Satavahana dynasty which places the temple to be existent from the 2nd century
- Most modern additions were done during the time of king Harihara I of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- The presiding deity of the place is Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy in natural stone formations in the shape of Lingam
PRASAD scheme is ‘Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive’.
This scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India for enriching the religious tourism experience. It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritized, planned, and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience. The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism.
Malnutrition, NCPCR, JJ Act
Context: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued a directive to NGOs to not show vulnerable children in representational pictures for their fundraising activities.
- A 2013 campaign ‘Khushi’ – by U.K.-based NGO, Save the Children, featured a 20-month-old baby lying on a hospital bed inside a malnutrition treatment centre in Tonk, Rajasthan.
- Earlier, NCPCR asked the NGOs to refrain from such depiction as it amounted to a violation of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015.
- According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), such depictions are misleading as the issue of malnutrition is being vigorously pursued through its Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 scheme.
- Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
- It covers 2 broad groups of conditions –
- Undernutrition: It includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
- Overweight: It includes obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer).
- Despite decades of investment to tackle this malaise, India’s child malnutrition rates are still one of the most alarming in the world.
- The Global Hunger Index (2022), which is calculated on the basis of total undernourishment of the population, child stunting, wasting and child mortality, places India at the 107th spot among 121 countries.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
- It is an Indian statutory body established by an Act of Parliament – the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
- The Commission works under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and became operational in 2007.
- It is mandated to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Indian Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- As defined by the commission, a child includes a person up to the age of 18 years.
JJ Act, 2015:
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development introduced the Act to replace the Juvenile Delinquency Law and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000.
- One of the main provisions of the Act is that minors in conflict with the law between the ages of 16 and 18 can be tried as adults
Rules of Origin
Context: Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) notifies Rules of Origin (RoO) for the India-Australia trade pact
What are the Rules of Origin?
As per the WTO, Rules of origin are the criteria needed to determine the national source of a product. Their importance is derived from the fact that duties and restrictions in several cases depend upon the source of imports (also see infographic below)
- Each FTA has its own origin rules
- CAROTAR provisions were introduced by the Indian government in 2020
What are the CAROTAR Rules?
- Importers have to prove that imported products have undergone value addition of at least 35% in the countries of origin.
- Earlier, merely a country-of-origin certificate, issued by a notified agency in the country of export was sufficient to avail the benefits of FTAs.
What is a Free Trade Agreement?
It is an arrangement between two or more countries or trading blocs that primarily agree to reduce or eliminate customs tariffs and non-tariff barriers on substantial trade between them.
- India-Australia economic cooperation and trade agreement (ECTA) will come into effect from December 29.
- Australia is the 17th largest trading partner of India and India is Australia’s 9th largest trading
- India-Australia bilateral trade for both merchandise and services is valued at $ 27.5 billion in 2021
India’s ongoing FTA negotiations with the UK, EU and other countries might face the issue from non-tariff barriers e.g., USA (Issue of carbon emission from steel); EU (EU proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanisms from 2026)
A nontariff barrier is a way to restrict trade using trade barriers in a form other than a tariff. Nontariff barriers include quotas, embargoes, and sanctions on a range of issues such as carbon emission, labour and gender balance standards, Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures etc.
India has FTAs with Australia, UAE, Mauritius, Japan, Singapore etc.
The term ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’ often appears in the news in the context of the affairs of a group of countries known as (UPSC 2016)
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the five countries (Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand) with which ASEAN has existing FTAs.
Green Methanol Production
Source: Live Mint
Context: India’s largest power producer NTPC signed an MoU with Italy-based Maire Tecnimont to jointly develop a commercial-scale green methanol production facility at the NTPC project in India.
What is Methanol?
Methanol is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source. It also occurs naturally in humans, animals, and plants.
Compared to conventional fuels, renewable methanol cuts carbon dioxide emissions by up to 95%, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80%, and completely eliminates sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions.
Organic Solar Cells
Context: Scientists at IIT Kanpur have developed organic solar cell devices consisting of a blend of organic polymer (PTB7) as a donor and (PCBM) organic semiconductor as an acceptor on steel substrates.
- It can convert a steel roof into an energy-producing device
- This is part of emerging 3rd generation photovoltaic solar cells technologies
What are 3rd generation photovoltaic solar cells technologies?
Third-generation solar cells (SCs) are solution-processed SCs based on semiconducting organic macromolecules, inorganic nanoparticles or hybrids.
How do organic solar cells work?
A typical organic solar cell consists of two semiconducting layers made of plastic polymers and other flexible materials. The cell generates electricity by absorbing particles of light, or photons.
- It is based on the photosynthesis process in Plants
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