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28 Jun, 2020

87 Min Read

Anti Drug Action Plan

GS-I : Social issues Drug Abuse

Anti-Drug Action Plan

Part of: GS-I- Social issue- Drug Abuse (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Recently, on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, an annual Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2020-21 for 272 districts was launched by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The plan includes awareness generation programmes, identification of drug-dependent populations, focus on treatment facilities and capacity-building for service providers to curb drug abuse and alcoholism. Drug abuse or substance abuse is the use of illegal drugs (Heroin, Morphine, Opium etc), or the use of prescription drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used.

Imp Points

Action Plan for 2020-21

  • De-addiction Facilities: These would be set up in the “most affected” 272 districts identified by the Narcotics Control Bureau focussing on building up treatment and de-addiction facilities and giving emphasis on reaching the youth and high risk population. The districts mostly belong to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the North-East.
  • Drop-in-Centres for Addicts: The focus will be on setting up drop-in-centres for addicts and also on peer-led community-based outreach programmes for high-risk populations – particularly the youth. These centres will have provision for screening, assessment and counselling and would provide linkage to treatment and rehabilitation services for drug dependents.
  • Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs): Funded by the Ministry, IRCAS would reach out to communities to help those affected by drug addiction.
  • Drug-Free India Campaign: The ministry also announced the launch of the ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign which focuses on community outreach programs.
  • To step up the battle against the severe challenge posed by drug use and alcoholism, the campaign will focus not just on institutional support but also on community outreach programmes in the districts identified in coordination.


  • Awareness and Sensitisation: Apart from celebrity-backed ‘Say No to Drugs’ publicity campaigns, national-level campaigns are planned across schools and higher education campuses to sensitise youngsters, parents and schools about the issue.
  • Change in the Strategy: It introduces a new change in the strategy against drugs. So far, India has been focused on institutions, however, the new action plan focuses on work in society at large.
  • Enhanced Funding: Ministry would ramp up greater funding for institutions to curb the drug abuse.


National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, conducted a National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi during 2018, which is key to the action plan for 2020-21. It is estimated that about 850,000 Indians inject drugs, about 460,000 children and 7.7 million Indians require help for opioid dependence. As per the survey, the prevalence of opioids (a type of drug e.g. Heroin) use in India is three times the global average.

Challenges to Curb the Drug Menace:

Related Data: The findings of the “Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India” report 2019, revealed the estimated 16 crore alcohol consumers in the 10-75 years in the country, as many as 19% of them were dependent on alcohol.

Legally Available Drugs: Such as tobacco is a huge problem which is usually seen as a gateway drug which children take just to experiment with.

Lack of Availability of Rehabilitation Centres: There is a lack of rehabilitation centres. Also, NGOs operating de-addiction centres in the country, have failed to provide the required kind of treatment and therapy.

Smuggling of Drugs: Smuggling of drugs through the states like Punjab, Assam and Uttar Pradesh which share the border with neighbouring countries.

Global Initiatives

The United Nations with the aid of its anti-drug abuse arm, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) spreads awareness, and urges governments to avoid stimulating the Narco economy and deals with the Illicit trafficking of drugs in the disguise of legal pharmaceutical businesses.

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

History: Also known as ‘World Drug Day’, it is celebrated annually on 26th June since 1987. The day is also meant to commemorate Lin Zexu’s efforts towards the strategic dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong in China right before the First Opium War on the Chinese Mainland.

Theme 2020: Better Knowledge for Better Care.

It emphasises the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.


The action plan aims at addiction-free India by countering the growing menace, especially across colleges and universities. However, there is a need to design a more targeted campaign against drugs and substance abuse. Addiction should not be seen as a character flaw, but as an ailment that any other person could be struggling with. Therefore, the stigma associated with drug taking needs to be reduced through social awareness and voluntary processes like medical help by psychologists, as well as strong support from family.

Source: TH

Anthropause Period

GS-I : Social issues Ministry of Social Justice

Anthropause Period

Recently, researchers have coined the term ‘anthropause’ to refer to the Covid-19 induced lockdown period and they will study its impact on other species.

Etymology: The shortened form of prefix ‘anthropo-’ (for ‘human’) and ‘pause’. It is a more precise term for the lockdown period which is also being referred to as the ‘Great Pause’. It refers specifically to a considerable global slowing of modern human activities and notably travel.

Impact: As a result of the lockdown, nature appears to have changed especially in urban environments. The unprecedented curbs led to reports of unusual animal behaviour and unexpected animals are being spotted more frequently. For example, reported sightings of pumas in downtown Santiago, Chile, of dolphins in untypically calm waters in the harbour of Trieste, Italy, and of jackals in broad daylight in urban parks in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Hidden from human view, animals may also start roaming more freely across the world’s oceans, following reductions in vessel traffic and noise-pollution levels.

On the other hand, lockdown may have been more difficult and challenging for various urban-dwelling animals such as rats, gulls and monkeys who depend on food provided or discarded by humans.

Significance of the Study:

Studying this period will provide valuable insights into the relationship between human-wildlife interactions in the 21st century.

Expanding human populations continue to transform their environments at unprecedented rates. The linkages of human and animal behaviour can help provide invaluable information, useful in preserving global biodiversity, maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and predicting global zoonoses and environmental changes. Further, the reduction in human activity during the lockdown on both land and sea has been unparalleled in recent history and the effects have been ‘drastic, sudden and widespread’, making this period more important.


The pandemic affords an opportunity to build a global picture of animal responses by pooling large numbers of datasets. Such collaborative projects can integrate the spatial and temporal approaches outlined above, in an attempt to uncover causal relationships.

Source: PIB

World Drug Report 2020: UN


World Drug Report 2020: UN


Recently, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in its 2020 World Drug Report, has highlighted the possible consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on Illegal Drug Production, Supply and Consumption. According to it, due to economic hardship, people may resort to illicit activities linked to drugs to make a living. The report further, revealed that the measures taken by governments to counter the pandemic inevitably had double-edged consequences on large-scale drug supply.

Imp Points

  • Economic Crisis and Diverted Focus: There would be reductions in drug-related budgets of the governments due to Covid-19 and overall increase in drug use, with a shift towards cheaper and more harmful drugs. Some countries, such as Italy, the Niger and countries in Central Asia, have experienced a sharp decrease in drug seizures, as drug traffickers have diverted their attention to other illegal activities, including cybercrime and trafficking in falsified medicines (in Balkan countries). Other countries, including Morocco and Iran, have reported huge drug seizures, indicating large-scale drug trafficking.
  • Impact of Lockdown: The lockdown could hinder the production and sale of opiates in major producing countries as the key months for the opium harvest in Afghanistan are March to June. The decline in international trade resulting from the pandemic could lead to a shortage in the supply of acetic anhydride, a precursor vital to the manufacture of heroin. A shortage of poppy lancers was observed in the western and southern provinces of the country, mainly due to the closure of a border crossing with Pakistan. However, the shortage of lancers was eventually overcome due to women workers increasingly engaged in the poppy-lancing process, therefore
  • The report also Indicated that the lockdown is increasing demand for cannabis, given that its production often takes place near consumer markets and traffickers. Drug trafficking by air is likely to be completely disrupted by the restrictions on air travel. There are signs of increased use of maritime routes.
  • Maritime Routes: The recent heroin seizures in the Indian Ocean could be interpreted as an indication of an increase in the use of maritime routes for trafficking heroin to Europe along the ‘southern route’. While border measures appear to be hindering trafficking in opiates, large shipments of cocaine are still being trafficked but by alternative means, via sea routes.

India and Illicit Drug Trade

  • Major Hub of Illicit Drug Trade: According to a report by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), India is one of the major hubs of illicit drug trade ranging from age-old cannabis to newer prescription drugs like tramadol, and designer drugs like methamphetamine.
  • Drug Trafficking Routes: India is in the middle of two major illicit opium production regions in the world, the Golden Crescent (Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan) in the west and the Golden Triangle (South-East Asia) in the east.

Golden Triangle: It represents the region coinciding with the rural mountains of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. It is Southeast Asia’s main opium-producing region and one of the oldest narcotics supply routes to Europe and North America.

Golden Crescent: This region of South Asia is a principal global site for opium production and distribution. It comprises Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

Associated Challenges:

  • Easy Borders: The borders are porous and difficult to control in the lower Mekong region so cross-border movements in many places are not significantly hindered by Covid-19 measures.
  • Evolving Ways of Trafficking: The methods of containerised trafficking, couriers and body-packing have reduced due to shutting down of borders and trade. However, dealers might come up with other ways limiting the impact of reduced trade.
  • Limited Control: There is limited government control in the Golden Triangle, trafficking would continue at high volumes.
  • Unaffected Supply: The supply of precursor chemicals is not likely to be disrupted because major organised crime groups source chemicals through direct diversion from industry and not diversion from illicit overseas trade channels.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

It was established in 1997 and was named as a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2002.It acts as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division of the United Nations Office at Vienna.

**UNODC publishes the World Drug Report.


Therefore, use of maritime trafficking routes from Myanmar along the Andaman Sea, some of which cross Indian territorial waters must be strategically observed by India to curb the trafficking. Moreover, methods or procedures to deal with illicit drug supply, their usage must be institutionalised in order to ensure that fight against this menace is not compromised in face of a pandemic or any other crisis.

Additional efforts would be required at the national, regional, and international level to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets in the wake of the pandemic. There is a need to understand the change in the strategy of drug trafficking organisations as a result of the Covid-19 measures.

Source: TH

FATF | On the warpath against terror financing

GS-III : Internal security FATF

FATF | On the warpath against terror financing


# In October 2001, in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the U.S., the plenary session of a little-known global organisation based in Paris working on money laundering and white collar crimes, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), met in Washington DC to discuss a radical shift in its goals.

# It was already very clear to U.S. investigators that the attacks pointed to a terror network around the world from Germany to Karachi, Dubai to London and Kabul, and each thread had to be tracked down through a financial transaction made.

# More importantly, if the world were to actually fight “global terror”, it would need to not only “follow the money” trail but also hold countries that allowed terrorists safe haven and financial assistance to account.

# “The FATF, the leading international body in the global fight against money laundering, will provide its expertise and energy to the related battle against the financing of terrorism,” said Ms. Clarie Lo, the then President of FATF, announcing the shift.

# The FATF plenary then adopted an eight-point amendment to its charter that added Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) to its tasks on Anti-Money Laundering (AML/CFT).

# On September 28, 2001, the UN Security Council also passed a new resolution (UNSC 1373), which added to a previous 1999 resolution (UNSC 1267), which barred links to any group or individual connected to the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

# The lists that the UNSC then approved, of hundreds of designated terrorists, soon became one of the important tasks for the FATF

Technical prism

# The FATF is not a part of the UN system, but it functions out of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development headquarters in Paris, since it was started in 1989 after a decision by members of the G-7 and the European Commission.

# The FATF runs differently from other multilateral agencies, as its primary focus is on reviewing all actions through a “technical” not a political prism, and frowns upon countries bringing bilateral issues to the forum.

# It is not an enforcement agency itself, but a task force composed of 39 member governments who fund the FATF and agree on its mandate.

# This means that FATF depends on the voluntary implementation of its reports by member countries.

# Also, meetings of the group are carried out behind closed doors, and deliberations are not publicised. In the past, the FATF has penalised countries that have disclosed the contents of its meetings.

# Decisions are made by the grouping on a consensus basis, as they conduct reviews of countries on AML/CFT parameters (called “Mutual evaluations”), and then either clear them, or use a “colour coded” reference for them, placing countries in the “Increased monitoring” category or the “grey list”, or the “high-risk jurisdictions” or “call for action” category, as the “blacklist” is formally known.

# At present, only Iran and North Korea are on the blacklist, while 18 countries, including Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Iceland, Jamaica and Mauritius, are on the grey list.

# India became an observer in the grouping in 2006 and was inducted as a full member in 2010.

# It has faced three rounds of mutual evaluations and cleared them, and faces the fourth round next year.

# However, it is Pakistan’s performance at the FATF that most often makes news, as Pakistan has been kept on the group’s radar since 2008, with one stint on the grey list from 2012-2015, and another beginning June 2018.

# Presently, it has until October 2019 to show that it is making progress on the FATF’s report, that gave it a gruelling 27-point action plan to fulfil, or face a blacklisting, which means severe financial restrictions, a downgrading by credit agencies, and most significantly, possible loan cuts by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

# Although the Pakistani government, which has sent ministerial-level delegations to each meeting of the FATF to ensure it is let off penalties, says it has now cleared 14 of the 27 points on the list and has “partially” fulfilled 11 of the remainder, it is still being held strongly to account by the FATF statements, including one particularly stern statement in 2019 that said, “All deadlines given to Pakistan to check terror-funding ended; it failed to complete its action plan in line with agreed timeline.”

# What is significant is that while Pakistan has clearly disregarded warnings from India, the U.S. and other countries to crack down on a number of cross-border terror groups that exist on its soil (such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Haqqani network, etc), it remains eager to avoid the FATF strictures.

# Government officials in Delhi say the difference is heartening, given India’s long and sometimes lone battle over the past few decades in holding Pakistan to account for cross-border terror activities, including in Jammu and Kashmir, the IC-814 hijacking, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Pathankot airbase attack in 2015, Uri Army base in 2016, and many others.

# As a result, in the last few years, while Pakistan has been on the FATF’s watch list, governments in Islamabad have gone to some length to demonstrate their compliance with the FATF demands: changing terror laws to include all UN Security Council-designated individuals and organisations, to show progress in the prosecution of leaders of LeT and JeM, including the re-arrest of Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed last year, as well as tightening all banking mechanisms to show that it has frozen funding to all these groups.

# FATF follows a principle of ostracism against members who don’t comply with its strictures.

Decision making

# Officials say the fact that decisions are taken by consensus in the 39-member group, where any three members can exercise a “veto” on action, has ensured that the FATF doesn’t at present suffer from the same polarisation that has virtually paralysed the UNSC.

# While there are differences between the two main blocs at the UNSC — the U.S., the U.K., France, and Russia, China — at the FATF as well, the entire grouping’s view is made to count.

# This is not to mean the organisation isn’t affected by geopolitical trends.

# The U.S. and other countries have been able to ensure that Iran and North Korea remain on the FATF blacklist, while others are able to avoid the tag as they are able to enlist the political support of enough other countries like China, Russia and Turkey.

# With the U.S. striking a deal with the Taliban this year, and efforts to take it off the UN listing, the global body may change the focus of its reviews in jurisdictions that have engaged with the Taliban in the past.

# It also remains to be seen how the FATF responds to new-age challenges to the global counter-terror and anti-money laundering regime: including bitcoins and cyber currencies, illegal trafficking of wildlife as a source of funding, use of artificial intelligence in terror attacks and biowarfare as part of the wider challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.

# For India, however, its focus at the FATF on countering cross-border terror will be a priority for the foreseeable future.

Source: TH

Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG)


EAG Meeting

Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) is a regional body comprising nine countries. Members - India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Belarus.

It is an associate member of the FATF. Recently India has participated plenary virtual meeting of EAG, under the aegis of the Financial Action Task Force. In the meeting India plans to share more evidence with the key FATF members on the narco-terror cases linked to Pakistan-based syndicates, through which funds are allegedly being supplied to the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

FATF is an inter-governmental body to promote effective measures combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. A country is put on the grey list when it fails to curb terrorism financing and money laundering.

Grey list countries - Pakistan, Myanmar, ,Cambodia, Syria, Mongolia and Yemen in Asia along with few other countries. Putting a country on the blacklist means shutting all doors to international finance for that country. Countries - North Korea and Iran.

Source: IE

About FATF

GS-III : Internal security FATF

About FATF

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
  • The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.
  • As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • With more than 200 countries and jurisdictions committed to implementing them.
  • The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a co-ordinated global response to prevent organised crime, corruption and terrorism.
  • They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes. The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.
  • The FATF reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and continuously strengthens its standards to address new risks, such as the regulation of virtual assets, which have spread as cryptocurrencies gain popularity.
  • The FATF monitors countries to ensure they implement the FATF Standards fully and effectively and holds countries to account that do not comply.

Functions of FATF

  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris, initially to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.
  • In October 2001, the FATF expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, in addition to money laundering.
  • In April 2012, it added efforts to counter the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Since its inception, the FATF has operated under a fixed lifespan, requiring a specific decision by its Ministers to continue. Three decades after its, creation, in April 2019, FATF Ministers adopted a new, open-ended mandate for the FATF.

Objectives of FATF

  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • FATF monitors countries' progress in implementing the FATF Recommendations; reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures; and, promotes the adoption and implementation of the FATF Recommendations globally.

Pakistan’s status

  • Pakistan has been under the FATF’s scanner since June, 2018, when it was put on the greylist for terror financing and money laundering risks, after an assessment of its financial system and law enforcement mechanisms.
  • In June 2018, Pakistan gave a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and the Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
  • Based on this commitment, Pakistan and the FATF agreed on the monitoring of 27 indicators under a 10-point action plan, with deadlines.
  • Successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will move Pakistan out of the greylist; failure by Pakistan will result in its blacklisting by September 2019.
  • FATF wants to see effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all terrorists designated under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373.
  • The Joint Group of the APG has recently informed Pakistan that the country’s compliance on 18 of the 27 indicators is unsatisfactory, though the FATF has agreed that there have been improvements in the AML/CFT regime and the integrated database for currency declaration arrangements.
  • At least three votes (out of 36) would be needed to block a move to blacklist Pakistan. Pakistan may make a diplomatic push to thwart blacklisting.

Impact of being blacklisted

  • Pakistan’s $6 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be threatened.
  • Pakistan faces an estimated annual loss of $10 billion if it stays in the greylist; if blacklisted, its already fragile economy will be dealt with a powerful blow.

India’s Role

  • India is a voting member of the FATF and APG, and co-chair of the Joint Group.
  • India was not part of the group that moved the resolution to greylist Pakistan in 2018 in Paris. The movers were the US, UK, France, and Germany and China did not oppose.
  • As of now, India is pushing for Pakistan to be blacklisted.
  • There is also an opinion that by keeping Pakistan in the grey list one can continue to pressure the country as well as scrutinise its actions.

Asia Pacific Group

  • The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering is an inter-governmental organisation, consisting of 41 member jurisdictions, focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the international standards against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.

UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373

  1. The UNSC resolution 1267 was adopted unanimously on October 15, 1999. It is a consolidated list of people and entities that the UN has determined as being associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and laws which must be passed within each member nation to implement the sanctions.
  2. The UNSC Resolution 1373 was adopted on 28th September 2001. It declares international terrorism a threat to international peace and security and imposes binding obligations on all UN member states.

Source: TH/WEB

Rechargeable Batteries


Rechargeable Batteries

GS- Paper-3 S&T (PT-M-IV)

Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a report ‘Commodities at a glance: Special issue on strategic battery and minerals’. The report facilitated research into battery technologies that depended less on critical raw materials and had the potential to provide higher energy density. Energy density is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given mass of a substance or system, i.e. a measure of storage of energy.

Imp Points

Uncertain Supply: The report highlighted that the supply of raw materials to produce rechargeable batteries is uncertain. Lithium, natural graphite and manganese are critical raw materials for the manufacture of rechargeable batteries.

Rising Demand: Integration of EVs- There has been a rapid growth in demand for rechargeable batteries due to the gradual integration of electric vehicles (EVs) in global transportation. The sales of electric cars have increased by 65% in 2018 from 2017 to 5.1 million vehicles and it will reach 23 million in 2030.

Increased Use of Raw Material: With the increasing number of EVs, the demand for rechargeable batteries and the raw materials used in them have also increased. The worldwide market for cathodes for lithium-ion batteries was estimated at $7 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $58.8 billion by 2024.

The demand for raw materials used to manufacture rechargeable batteries will grow rapidly as other sources of energy lose their importance.

  • Concerns
    Limited Suppliers: The security of supplies is a concern for all stakeholders because the production of the raw materials is concentrated in a few countries.
  • Over 60% of the world’s Cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while over 75% of global Lithium is mined in Australia and Chile.
  • Prone of Volatility: Any disruption to supply might lead to tighter markets, higher prices and increased costs of rechargeable batteries. In 2018, the demand for cobalt surged by 25% from 2017 to 125,000 tonnes, of which 9% accounted for the EV battery sector.
  • Cobalt demand would reach 185,000 tonnes by 2023, with about 35% accounting for the EV battery sector, the report said. Growth in demand for lithium had been significant since 2015, increasing by 13% per year.

Li-ion Batteries

  • A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery.
  • Li-ion batteries use an intercalated (Intercalation is the reversible inclusion or insertion of a molecule into materials with layered structures) lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery.
  • The battery consists of electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement and the two electrodes are the constituent components of a lithium-ion battery cell.
  • Lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
  • They are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries used for military, EVs and aerospace applications.

Alternative sources of energy such as electric batteries are becoming more important as investors become sceptical of the future of the oil industry. There is a need to make a strategy for dynamic monitoring of the raw material cycles, from mining through processing, refining and manufacturing to recycling. It will facilitate early detection of supply risks and also enable the development of mitigation strategies at either company or national level.

Source: DTE

FICCI prepares action plan for industry

GS-III : Economic Issues Economic reforms

FICCI prepares an action plan for the industry

Amid the ongoing border tensions with China, FICCI has prepared a five-point "PEACE" action plan and asked its members to look for alternate sources of supplies.

Amid the ongoing border tensions with China and a call to boycott Chinese goods, the industry chamber FICCI has prepared a five-point "PEACE" action plan -- Productivity, Efficiency, Alternates, Competitiveness and Exports.

Imp Points

The industry body has asked its members to look for alternate sources of supplies and not remain dependent on a single nation.

FICCI President Sangita Reddy said in a letter to members that the industry needs to focus on the five-point ''PEACE'' action plan.


Productivity: FICCI has urged its members to raise their productivity by setting benchmarks for themselves. The body will start a consultancy wing to assist members in raising productivity.

Efficiency: While companies are asked to individually improving productivity and to reduce dependency, the efficiency of the whole ecosystem, too, needs to improve. Companies have been suggested to work with local and state governments to improve efficiency through reforms to improve the ease of doing business. Many of FICCI's suggestions have been accepted and the body has had multiple interactions with the prime minister, the finance minister, chief ministers, and other ministries who have addressed many issues. FICCI will take the views and suggestions of its members to the governments to boost efficiency in days to come.

Alternates: Many in the industry are dependent on suppliers from a single country. Though many products are domestically available, many companies import products from abroad. Each member should look at alternate sources of supply from other countries.

The PM had earlier laid the vision that each member could identify a product that is being imported and manufacture it in India, this idea should be implemented with full gusto. The need of the hour is to collectively encourage suppliers and buyers to develop alternate globally competitive supply chains in India.

FICCI on its part has developed a strategy for air conditioners, furniture, textiles, electronic components, and mobile phones. These are works in progress in the government and announcements have been made.

Competitiveness: Innovation and value-addition will enhance competitiveness and allow entry into the global supply chain - this is a must now. The current coronavirus situation has seen many sectors and firms innovate and competitively produce different products and services, we need to look at each of our businesses and prepare an action plan to improve competitiveness.

FICCI realises that many aspects of government policy affect business' competitiveness - the cost of power, land, labour, etc. The body has clearly communicated to the government that subsidies and wage support (which is crucial to support farmers and lower strata) must come from the government directly and not from businesses.

Exports: Given the current situation in the country, focus on exports is imperative now. FICCI members are urged to ramp up their exports and to begin with exporting 5 per cent of their products and those who are already exporting, must aspire to double it.

Exploring new markets, new products and services will help to take India's share in global trade to 8-10 per cent.

FICCI has taken up these points and specific recommendations with the government for the industry as a whole and in specific sectors also, the body is now looking at enabling the members to work on this PEACE formula in all possible manner.

Source: Web




  • Dolphins use the technique called shelling to capture the tiny fishes into empty shells.
  • This method of tool use has been learnt from their peer groups and not from their mothers. This shows how dolphins adapt to the changing environment.

Freshwater Dolphins

The four freshwater dolphins in the world are:

  1. The ‘Baiji’ is now likely extinct from the Yangtze River in China,
  2. The ‘Bhutan’ of the Indus in Pakistan, and
  3. The ‘Boto’ of the Amazon River in Latin America.
  4. The Gangetic Dolphin/ ‘Susu’ in Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • These four species live only in rivers and lakes.
  • Its presence indicates the health of the riverine ecosystem.

Source: TH

Novel coronavirus infection might trigger type-1 diabetes


Novel coronavirus infection might trigger type-1 diabetes

  • Diabetes poses one of the key risk factors for developing severe COVID-19, and the chances of dying are elevated in people with diabetes.

  • Now, there is growing evidence that a novel coronavirus might actually be triggering diabetes in some people who have so far remained free of it.
  • These patients typically develop type-1 diabetes. The virus seems to be causing diabetes spontaneously in people.

Type-1 diabetes

  • These patients typically develop type-1 diabetes, which is caused when the body’s immune system plays rogue and begins to attack and destroy the beta cells, which produce the hormone insulin in the pancreas.
  • With the destruction of beta cells, the amount of insulin produced is reduced, and hence, the ability of the body to control blood sugar is compromised leading to type-1 diabetes.

Earlier evidences

  • The 2002 SARS coronavirus, too, caused acute-onset diabetes in patients. Like the 2002 SARS coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, too, binds to ACE2 receptors that are found on many organs involved in controlling blood sugar, including the liver and pancreatic beta cells, and subsequently infects the cells in the organs.

Two-way relationship

  • In a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers write: “There is a bidirectional relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes. On the one hand, diabetes is associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19. On the other hand, new-onset diabetes and severe metabolic complications of preexisting diabetes… have been observed in patients with COVID-19.”

Permanent or transient

  • However, more evidence is needed to conclusively prove that COVID-19 indeed causes type-1 diabetes.
  • It is also not clear if acute-onset diabetes in COVID-19 patients will be permanent or transient. The is no clarity whether people who are borderline type-2 develop the disease.
  • The COVID-19 patients who develop diabetes have extremely high levels of blood sugar and ketones.
  • When there is insufficient insulin produced, breaking down the sugar present in the blood is compromised leading to high levels of sugar.
  • At the same time, the body begins to turn to alternative sources of fuel, which in this case are ketones.
  • A study found 42 of 658 patients presented with ketosis on admission.
  • Patients with ketosis were younger (median age 47). Ketosis increased the length of hospital stay and mortality, the researchers found.
  • Using human pluripotent stem cells, researchers grew miniature liver and pancreas and found that both the organs were permissive to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • In particular, they found the pancreatic beta cells were infected by coronavirus. ACE2 is expressed in human adult alpha and beta cells.
  • While the beta cells produce insulin which reduces the sugar level in the blood, the alpha cells produce glucagon, which increases the blood sugar. A fine balance between the two helps maintain the blood sugar level.

Tested in mice

  • The researchers transplanted the miniature pancreatic endocrine cells produced using human stem cells into mice. Two months later, they examined the xenografted pancreas and found ACE2 receptors on beta and alpha cells.
  • When the mice were infected with coronavirus, they found the beta cells were infected by the virus.
  • Thus the virus is capable of damaging the cells that control blood sugar thus triggering acute-onset of type-1 diabetes.
  • According to Nature News, a global database to collect information on people with COVID-19 and high blood-sugar levels who previously do not have a history of elevated blood sugar levels has been initiated.

Source: TH

Indian Ocean Dipole- New phenomenon to emerge

GS-I : Human Geography Oceanography

Indian Ocean Dipole- New phenomenon to emerge

When the Indian Ocean’s ancient climate patterns return

  • About 19,000-21,000 years ago, ice sheets covered North America and Eurasia, and sea levels were much lower, with Adam’s Bridge exposed so that the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka were contiguous.

  • This period, the peak of ice age conditions, is called the Last Glacial Maximum.
  • Researchers analysed simulations of this past climate and predicted that the ongoing climate change could reawaken an ancient climate pattern of the Indian Ocean.

Similarity with the El Nino

  • They find that this could be similar to the El Niño phenomenon of the Pacific Ocean bringing more frequent and devastating floods and drought to several densely-populated countries around the Indian Ocean region.
  • If current warming trends continue, this new Indian Ocean El Niño could emerge as early as 2050. The results were published in Science Advances.

Study on shells of Foraminifera

  • By studying microscopic zooplankton called foraminifera, the team published a paper in 2019 that first found evidence from the past of an Indian Ocean El Niño.
  • Foraminifera builds a calcium carbonate shell, and studying these can tell us about the properties of the water in which they lived.
  • The team measured multiple individual shells of foraminifera from ocean sediment cores and was able to reconstruct the sea surface temperature conditions of the past.
  • “In the previous paper, we argued for the existence of an ‘Indian Ocean El Niño’ during the Last Glacial Maximum. We suggest that the Indian Ocean has the capacity to harbour much larger climate variability than observed during the last few decades or a century,” writes co-author Kaustubh Thirumalai, from the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona in an email to The Hindu.

Lessons to learn

  • He explains that there are many lessons to be learnt from this cooler period about our warmer future, “even though the Last Glacial Maximum consisted of vastly different conditions compared to where the world is headed... For example, global sea-level is rising and glacial ice is melting today whereas the opposite was true for the Last Glacial Maximum”.
  • Prof. Thirumalai adds: “As it is, under present-day conditions, changes in the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation strongly affect Indian Monsoon variability from year to year.
  • If the hypothesised ‘equatorial mode’ emerges in the near future, it will pose another source of uncertainty in rainfall prediction and will likely amplify swings in monsoon rainfall.”
  • The paper adds that it could bring more frequent droughts to East Africa and southern India and increase rainfall over Indonesia.

Source: TH

Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary


Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

Why Eco Sensitive zone tag to Asola Wildlife sanctuary?

  • The Asola wildlife sanctuary has both floral and faunal diversity in the form of
  • Wide variety of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses.
  • The large number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies.
  • Sanctuary comprises of Around 200 species of resident and migratory birds.
  • Wildlife habitats inside the sanctuary act as water recharge zone for Delhi, Faridabad and Gurugram.

Regulated Activities

  1. Hotels and resorts: will not be allowed within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the Eco-Sensitive Zone, whichever is nearer.
  2. Construction: only “Small temporary structures” for eco-tourism activities.
  3. Small-scale non polluting industries
  4. Felling of trees
  5. Civic infrastructure

Banned Activities

  1. Commercial mining
  2. Stone quarrying
  3. Industrial and polluting industries
  4. Sawmills brick kilns

Allowed Activities

  1. Rainwater harvesting
  2. Organic farming
  3. Cottage industries
  4. Agroforestry

Asola-Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 32.7 square kilometres and is at the end of an important wildlife corridor that starts from Sariska National Park in Alwar, Rajasthan and passes through Mewat, Faridabad and Gurugram districts of Haryana.

Source: IE

Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)

GS-III : Economic Issues Oil Crisis

Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)

SATAT Scheme

The Sustainable Alternative towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme on Compressed Bio Gas was launched in 2018. It envisages targeting the production of 15 MMT of CBG from 5000 plants by 2023. The Government of India has taken various enabling steps to ensure the success of the SATAT scheme.

Oil Marketing Companies have offered long-term pricing on CBG to make projects bankable and have agreed to execute long-term agreements on CBG. Under the SATAT scheme, IOT Biogas Limited (Namakkal, Tamil Nadu) decided to divert part/full biogas production to Compressed Biogas (CBG) generation.

The Compressed Biogas procured from the IoT Biogas plant shall be sold through Retail Outlets (ROs) and Institutional businesses (IB). This is the first time an alternative to natural gas is being sold by Oil Marketing Companies.

Compressed Bio-Gas

  • Biogas and CNG are the same but for a few differences.
  • Origin –
    • CNG is found in nature as Natural Gas.
    • Biogas is produced in a sealed tank/ chamber, from an organic feedstock.
  • Composition - Biogas is mainly Methane & Carbon Di Oxide, while Natural Gas is mainly Methane.
  • Compressed Biogas proposes to build large biogas plants that will continuously produce biogas from urban, domestic and industrial wastes.
  • The biogas produced will be stored under pressure in gas cylinders for easy distribution to urban and semi-urban customers as an alternative to charcoal and firewood.
  • Union Government is in the process of including Compressed Bio-Gas under Priority Sector Lending.

Source: PIB

Supreme Court ruling- disqualification petitions

GS-II : Governance Judiciary

Supreme Court ruling- disqualification petitions

In January 2020, a three-judge bench of the SC expressed its displeasure with the Speaker’s lack of urgency in deciding the disqualification petitions. It ruled that Speakers of assemblies and the Parliament must decide disqualification pleas within a period of 3 months. Extraordinary circumstances are exceptions to this.

The ruling settled the law for situations where the timing of the disqualification is misused to manipulate floor tests. The court also recommended the Parliament to consider taking a relook at the powers of the Speakers, citing instances of partisanship. The court also suggested independent tribunals to decide on disqualifications.

In the context of Manipur, this ruling meant that Speaker Khemchand had to rule on the disqualification within 3 months since. Importantly, this three-judge bench also ruled that the 2016 reference to a larger bench by a two-judge bench was not needed. [Decisions of a larger bench are precedents, and binding on smaller benches.]

Source: TH

UN@75 Declaration


UN@75 Declaration

Recently, a commemorative declaration marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations (UN) Charter was delayed as member states could not reach an agreement on phraseology.

The Five Eyes (FVEY)— Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States— along with India, objected to the use of the phrase “shared vision of a common future”, which is associated with China. The Five Eyes (FVEY) network is an intelligence-sharing alliance between these five countries.

The ‘silence’ process was broken at the request of the U.K’s Ambassador to the UN, who wrote a letter on behalf of the six countries to the President of the 74th General Assembly, suggesting alternative wording. Silence process is a procedure by which a resolution passes if no formal objections are raised within a stipulated time. However, China, on behalf of itself and Russia, Syria and Pakistan raised objections to the silence being broken.

The current impasse comes at a time when China’s relationships with a number of countries, including India, Australia and the U.S.A, are strained. Given the impasse, the UN General Assembly President has suggested an alternatively phrased declaration, which he has placed under the silence procedure.

75th United Nations Day

  • The United Nations (UN) will celebrate its 75th anniversary on 24 October 2020.
    • To mark its 75th anniversary in 2020, the UN is igniting a people’s debate: UN75.
    • Through UN75, the UN will encourage people to put their opinions together to define how enhanced international cooperation can help realize a better world by 2045.
  • Each year on 24th October, the UN celebrates its anniversary. UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Charter and the founding of the Organization in 1945.
  • The name "United Nations" was coined by the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • The main organs of the UN are:
    • the General Assembly,
    • the Security Council,
    • the Economic and Social Council,
    • the Trusteeship Council,
    • the International Court of Justice,
    • the UN Secretariat.

The demand of Reforms at the United Nations

  • Security Council Reforms: In UNSC, the permanent member countries (P5) have made the UN defunct in maintaining peace and order. Therefore, the veto powers of P5 and the composition of the UNSC must be made more representative of the current world order.

The P5 countries include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

  • Multilateralism: International relations today are characterized by the power relationships of the United States, China, Russia, India and Europe.
    • A new model of the UN must be formulated, as the current world order has changed from bipolar to unipolar to multi-polar today.
  • The democratisation of UN: Developing countries like India are proposing reforms that seek to democratize the UN, such as UNSC reforms, and UN peacekeeping reforms.
  • Financial Reforms: This holds the key to the future of the UN. Without sufficient resources, the UN's activities and role would suffer.

Source: TH

Amendments in Postal Ballot System

GS-II : Indian Polity Representation of People's Act

Amendments to Postal Ballot System

Recently, the Law Ministry has reduced the age limit for senior citizens who opt for the postal ballot in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Imp Points

  • Now, the voters aged above 65 years or a Covid-19 suspect can opt for postal ballot.
  • Earlier, in 2019, the Law Ministry had amended the Conduct of Election Rules to allow persons with disabilities and those who are 80 years of age or above to opt for a postal ballot during Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
  • Voters of Bihar will be the first to benefit from the amended rules since Bihar will be the first state to have assembly polls after the coronavirus outbreak in India.

Postal Ballots System

  • Ballot papers are distributed electronically to electors and are returned to the election officers via post.
  • Currently, only the following voters are allowed to cast their votes through postal ballot:
    • Service voters (armed forces, the armed police force of a state and government servants posted abroad),
    • Voters on election duty,
    • Voters above 80 years of age or Persons with Disabilities (PwD),
    • Voters under preventive detention.
  • The exception to the above-mentioned category of voters is provided under Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • This act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India. It deals with the following matters:
    • Details like Qualification and Disqualification of members of both the Houses of Parliament and the State Legislatures,
    • Administrative machinery for conducting elections,
    • Registration of Political parties,
    • Conduct of Elections,
    • Election Disputes,
    • Corrupt practices & Electoral offences, &
    • By-elections.

Source: IE

Torpedo Decoy System: Maareech


Torpedo Decoy System: Maareech

The Indian Navy has inducted an Advanced Torpedo Defence System (ATDS) called ‘Maareech’ that is capable of being fired from all frontline ships.

Torpedoes are self-propelled weapons with a warhead and can be used under or on the water surface. They are one of the mainstays of sea-warfare attack systems.


‘Maareech’ has been designed and developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and it is capable of detecting, locating and neutralizing incoming torpedoes. Bharat Electronics Limited, a Defence PSU, would undertake the production of this decoy system.

Working: Maareech detects and locates the incoming torpedo and applies countermeasures to protect the naval platform against attack. It first detects and then confuses and diverts the torpedo attacks on ships from under the water.

By diverting the torpedoes' original course, it forces it to lose its energy thus preventing it from being effective on the target.

Significance: This induction not only stands testimony to the joint resolution of the Indian Navy and DRDO towards indigenous development of defence technology but has also given a major fillip to the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and the country’s resolve to become ‘Atmanirbhar’ in niche technology.

Source: PIB

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