Current Affairs September 22

Kasturirangan panel

  • The Centre has started the process to revise school textbooks by appointing former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Kasturirangan as the head of a 12-member steering committee responsible for developing a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF)
  • Kasturirangan also chaired the drafting committee for the National Education Policy, 2020 which recommended the development of a new NCF.
  • The steering committee has been given a tenure of three years to complete its task,


R value

  • The R value, which reflects how rapidly the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, dropped to 0.92 by mid-September.
  • The reproduction number, or R, refers to how many persons an infected person infects on an average. In other words, it shows how ‘efficiently’ a virus is spreading.



Agri export


  • The Indian government has been encouraging agricultural exports to meet an ambitious target of $60bn by 2022.
  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industries shows that the contribution of agricultural and processed food products in India’s total exports is 11%.
  • Primary processed agricultural commodities form the majority share. India’s export earnings will increase by focusing more on value-added processed food products rather than primary
  • From 2015-16 to 2019-20, the value of agricultural and processed food increased significantly from $17.8bn to $20.65bn.
  • The Indian agricultural economy is shifting from primary to secondary agriculture where the focus is more on developing various processed foods.
  • The Indian food processing industry promises high economic growth and makes good profit
  • India’s agricultural export basket is changing from traditional commodities to non-traditional processed foods.
  • Traditionally, Basmati rice is one of the top export commodities.
  • However, now there is an unusual spike in the export of non-basmati rice. In 2020-21, India exported 13.09 million tonnes of non-basmati rice ($4.8bn), up from an average 6.9 million tonnes ($2.7bn) in the previous five years.
  • Similarly, Indian buffalo meat is seeing a strong demand in international markets due to its lean character and near organic nature.
  • The export potential of buffalo meat is tremendous, especially in countries like Vietnam, Hong Kong and Indonesia
  • In 2020-21, the export of poultry, sheep and goat meat, cashew kernels, groundnuts, guar gum, and cocoa products went down in terms of value and total quantity.
  • The export of processed food products has not been growing fast enough because India lacks comparative advantage in many items.
  • This may imply that the domestic prices of processed food products are much higher compared to the world reference prices.
  • The main objective of the Agriculture Export Policy is to diversify and expand the export basket so that instead of primary products, the export of higher value items, including perishables and processed food, be increased.
  • The exporters of processed food confront difficulties and non-tariff measures imposed by other countries on Indian exports


  • The Centre’s policy should be in the direction of nurturing food processing companies, ensuring low cost of production and global food quality standards, and creating a supportive environment to promote export of processed food.
  • Developed countries have fixed higher standards for import of food items.
  • Reputed Indian brands should be encouraged to export processed foods globally as they can comply with the global standard of codex.
  • Indian companies should focus on cost competitiveness, global food quality standards, technology, and tap the global processed food export market



  • The Quad is not a security arrangement though there is a widespread feeling that without stronger security underpinnings it would play a limited role in dealing with the real challenge of China’s militarisation.
  • The Malabar exercise is not a naval alliance, even though the habit of cooperation is geared to facilitate communication and interoperability in times of need
  • Australia’s defence budget has seen enhanced outlays for the ninth straight year.
  • For the financial year 2020-2021, it touched AUD 44.61 billion (USD$34.84 billion) representing a 4.1% hike over the previous year
  • The AUKUS pact will facilitate the transfer of nuclear submarine propulsion and manufacturing technologies to Australia, the first instance of a non-nuclear nation acquiring such capability
  • Even if the first of the eight nuclear-powered submarines may be available only around 2040, or perhaps a few years earlier, the very fact of Australia operating such advanced platforms adds a new dimension to the evolving maritime security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The AUKUS pact is also an emphatic assertion of the relevance of the U.S.-Australia Security Treaty (ANZUS).
  • New Zealand, the outlier, walked away in 1984 from the treaty that ironically still bears its initials.
  • Its “nuclear free” stance ran counter to the U.S. Navy’s non-disclosure policy in regard to nuclear weapons aboard visiting vessels.
  • AUKUS provides a fresh opportunity to the United Kingdom to reinsert itself more directly into the Indo-Pacific.
  • It is already a member of the Five Eyes (FVEY), an intelligence-sharing alliance built on Anglo-Saxon solidarity (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.). AUKUS is not a substitute for the Quad.
  • At the same time, it does not erode the Quad’s significance as a platform for consultations and coordination on broader themes of maritime security, free and open trade, health care, critical technologies, supply chains and capacity-building
  • In 2016, Japan’s Mitsubishi-Kawasaki consortium that manufactures the Soryu-class diesel-electric submarine lost out to France’s Naval Group (formerly known as the DCNS) which bagged the contract to build 12 diesel-electric submarines in Australia to replace its six Collins-class vessels.
  • The Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A submarine offered by France was a diesel electric variant of its own Barracuda-class nuclear attack submarine.
  • It is heightened threat perceptions that have now prompted Australia to switch from conventional to the far more potent nuclear attack submarines
  • China, expectedly, has strongly criticised AUKUS and the submarine deal as promoting instability and stoking an arms race.
  • Its nuclear submarines are on the prowl in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Yet, China denies Australia and others the sovereign right to decide on their defence requirements!
  • Australia’s nuclear submarines would help create a new balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, especially in tandem with the U.S. and the U.K. Australia will now have a more meaningful naval deterrence of its own to protect its sovereign interests.
  • Australia is set to play a more robust role in ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
  • France’s momentary pique at the cancellation of the contract by Australia should soon subside.
  • As a major Indo-Pacific power, France is an important part of the regional security calculus


Swooping down Algorithm


  • China has pursued aggressive measures in its tech sector in the past few months, ranging from strong-arming IPOs to limiting gaming hours for children.
  • A host of legislative instruments are in the process of being adopted, including the Personal Information Protection Law, the Cybersecurity Law, and the draft Internet Information Service Algorithm Recommendation Management Provisions
  • The Management Provisions, released by the Cyberspace Administration of China, are possibly the most interesting and groundbreaking interventions among the new set of legislative instruments.
  • The provisions lay down the processes and mandates for the regulation of recommendation algorithms which are ubiquitous in e-commerce platforms, social media feeds and gig work platforms.
  • They attempt to address the concerns of individuals and society such as user autonomy, economic harms, discrimination, and the prevalence of false information
  • Algorithmically curated feeds dominate most of our interactions on the Internet.
  • Such an algorithm helps a user navigate information overload and presents content that it deems more relevant to the user.
  • These algorithms learn from user demographics, behavioural patterns, location of the user, the interests of other users accessing similar content, etc., to deliver content.
  • This limits user autonomy, as the user has little opportunity to choose what content to be presented
  • The draft says users should be allowed to audit and change the user tags employed by the algorithms to filter content to be presented to them.
  • Through this, the draft aims to limit classifications that the user finds objectionable, thereby allowing the user to choose what to be presented with
  • The draft has a clear emphasis on active intervention by recommendation algorithm providers to limit and prevent information disorder.
  • This indicates how China is attempting to crack down on mis-/dis-/misinformation
  • Regulating algorithms is unavoidable and necessary.
  • The world is lagging in such initiatives and China is hoping to lead the pack.
  • The draft addresses pressing issues and entrenches some normative ideals that should be pursued globally.
  • The regulatory mechanism institutionalised algorithmic audits and supervision, a probable first in the world.
  • It is high time for India to invest better and speed up legislative action on the regulation of data, and initiate a conversation around the regulation of algorithms.
  • India should strive to achieve this without emulating China, where this draft only complements a host of other laws. India must act fast to resolve the legal and social ills of algorithmic decision-making.