Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

17 MAR 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Responsible AI — the need for ethical guard rails.

 The Hindu


On the difficult trail of India’s most wanted

The Hindu


The hidden pandemic of single-use plastic

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

Delhi remains most polluted capital: report

Syllabus –

 GS2- The environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Analysis: –

  1. Delhi remained the most polluted capital city in the world but India, on the whole, had improved its average annual PM2.5 (particulate matter) levels in 2020 than in 2019, according to a report from IQ Air, a Swiss air quality technology company specialising in protection against airborne pollutants, and developing air quality monitoring and air cleaning products.
  2. Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration level, based primarily on data from the Central Pollution Control Board, was 84.1 μg/m³ in 2020, a 15% improvement from the 98.6 μg/m³ recorded in 2019 when the city was ranked the world’s most polluted capital for the second straight year.
  3. Average pollution levels were 51.9 μg/m³ in 2020 compared with 58.1 μg/m³ in 2019, making India the third most polluted country in 2020, unlike in 2019, when its air was the fifth most noxious.

Cabinet gives nod to Bill for setting up DFI

Syllabus – 

GS3-Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Analysis: –

  1. The Union Cabinet recently approved a Bill to set up a Development Finance Institution, Finance Minister announced.
  2. The Minister said the government had mentioned in the Budget that it would be setting up a national bank for funding infrastructure and development activity.
  3. As of December 2019, she said, there were over 6,000 brownfield and greenfield projects requiring funding.
  4. Even as the Budget session is still on, the Cabinet has already cleared the setting up of a Development Finance Institution.
  5. The Budget provided for an initial amount of ?20,000 crore for the institution.

Changes to NCT Act revive power tussle

Syllabus – 

GS2- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges there in

Analysis: –

Three decades after it was enacted, significant amendments have been proposed to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, bringing contradictions between the Central and Delhi governments to the fore once again.
  1. Senior advocate at the Supreme Court Rebecca John said the Bill would snatch away from the residents of Delhi the accountability and answerability they sought from the elected representatives and hand them to a nominated official.
  2. It would be a tragedy since Delhi has long sought statehood; that the longstanding wish of the city’s residents should fructify in this way is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. The will of the people cannot be thwarted in this way.

U.K. turns to Indo-Pacific in post-Brexit foreign policy

Syllabus –

 GS2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Analysis: –

  1. Britain wants to expand its influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region to try to moderate China’s global dominance, a document laying out post-Brexit foreign and defence policy priorities said recently.
  2. The document sets out a planned increase of Britain’s nuclear warhead stockpile by more than 40% to weigh against evolving global security threats, and underlines the importance of strong ties with the U.S. while naming Russia as the top regional threat.
  3. Calling the Indo-Pacific “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”, the government highlighted a planned British aircraft carrier deployment to the region.
  4. China and the U.K. both benefit from bilateral trade and investment, but China also presents the biggest state-based threat to the U.K.’s economic security.
  5. Britain, the world’s sixth-largest economy, is dwarfed economically and militarily by China, but believes through soft power and strategic alliances it can help persuade Beijing to play by the rules of a new, more dynamic international system.

Mains Analysis

Responsible AI — the need for ethical guard rails.

Why in News: –

Without adequate safeguards, AI can widen social and economic schisms, leading to discriminatory outcomes.


GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. / Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Surrounded as we are by the vestiges of our analogue world, to many of us, these wonderings may seem decades from fruition.
  • The artificial intelligence (AI), the engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is already very much with us.
  • Technology changes at a breakneck pace, and to be of any use, the security we rely on to protect that technology must change alongside it.
  • The next cybersecurity challenge lies with the advances in quantum computing that are set to revolutionize tech while simultaneously equipping threat actors with a new arsenal of cyberweapons.

 Responsible AI:

  • Responsible AI is a framework for bringing many of these critical. Practices together. It focuses on ensuring the ethical, transparent and accountable use of AI technologies in a manner consistent with user expectations, organizational values and societal laws and norms.
  • The principles underscore fairness, transparency and explainability, human-centeredness, and privacy and security are the four key principles of responsible AI.
  • There are 3 types of artificial intelligence (AI), narrow or weak AI, general or strong AI, and artificial super intelligence.

AI’s exponential growth:

  1. AI embedded in the recommendations we get on our favourite streaming or shopping site; in GPS mapping technology; in the predictive text that completes our sentences when we try to send an email or complete a web search.
  2.  It promises to be even more transformative than the harnessing of electricity. And the more we use AI, the more data we generate, the smarter it gets.
  3.  In just the last decade, AI has evolved with unprecedented velocity — from beating human champions at Jeopardy! In 2011, to vanquishing the world’s number one player of Go, to decoding proteins last year.
  4. Automation, big data and algorithms will continue to sweep into new corners of our lives until we no longer remember how things were “before”. Just as electricity allowed us to tame time, enabling us to radically alter virtually every aspect of existence,
  5. AI can leapfrog us toward eradicating hunger, poverty and disease — opening up new and hitherto unimaginable pathways for climate change mitigation, education and scientific discovery.

For better or for worse:

  1. AI has helped increase crop yields raised business productivity, improved access to credit and made cancer detection faster and more precise. It could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030.
  2.  Adding 14% to global GDP. Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.
  3. A study published in Nature reviewing the impact of AI on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finds that AI may act as an enabler on 134 or 79% of all SDG targets.
  4. We are on the cusp of unprecedented technological breakthroughs that promise to positively transform our world in ways deeper and more profound than anything that has come before.

The New study on IA:

  1. The study in Nature also finds that AI can actively hinder 59 or 35% of SDG targets. For starters, AI requires massive computational capacity, which means more power-hungry data centres and a big carbon footprint.
  2. Then, AI could compound digital exclusion. Robotics and AI companies are building intelligent machines that perform tasks typically carried out by low-income workers: self-service kiosks to replace cashiers, fruit-picking robots to replace field workers, etc.;
  3. But the day is not far when many desk jobs will also be edged out by AI, such as accountants, financial traders and middle managers.
  4. Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities.
  5.  Investment is likely to shift to countries where AI-related work is already established widening gaps among and within countries.
  6. Together, Big Tech’s big four — Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook — are worth a staggering $5 trillion, more than the GDPs of just about every nation on earth. In 2020, when the world was reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they added more than $2 trillion to their value.


  1. The algorithm’s never-ending quest for data has led to our digital footprints being harvested and sold without our knowledge or informed consent.
  2. We are constantly being profiled in service of customisation, putting us into echo chambers of like-mindedness, diminishing exposure to varied viewpoints and eroding common ground.
  3. In a world where the algorithm is king, it behoves us to remember that it is still humans with all our biases and prejudices, conscious and unconscious who are responsible for it.
  4.  We shape the algorithms and it is our data they operate on. Remember that in 2016, it took less than a day for Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot, christened “Tay”, to start spewing egregious racist content, based on the material it encountered.
  5.  Today world, it is no exaggeration to say that with all the discrete bytes of information floating about us online, the algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. They can nudge our behaviour without our noticing.
  6. Our level of addiction to our devices, the inability to resist looking at our phones, and the chilling case of Cambridge Analytical in which such algorithms and big data were used to alter voting decisions should serve as a potent warning of the individual and societal concerns resulting from current AI business models.

Solutions for ensuring our humane future:

  1. First, they are not alone in developing and deploying AI; governments also do so. It is neither enough nor is it fair to expect AI tech companies to solve all these challenges through self-regulation.
  2. Second, only a “whole of society” approach to AI governance will enable us to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures and codes of conduct,
  3. To ensure the needed harm-mitigating measures, reviews and audits during design, development and deployment phases, and to inculcate the transparency, accountability, inclusion and societal trust for AI to flourish and bring about the extraordinary breakthroughs it promises.

The Whole of world” approaches:

  1. Given the global reach of AI, such a “whole of society” approach must rest on a “whole of world” approach. The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation is a good starting point
  2. UN lays out the need for multi-stakeholder efforts on global cooperation so AI is used in a manner that is “trustworthy, human rights-based, safe and sustainable, and promotes peace”.
  3. UNESCO has developed a global, comprehensive standard-setting draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence to Member States for deliberation and adoption.

 The INDIA’s opportunities

  1. India, are cognizant of the opportunities and the risks, and are striving to strike the right balance between AI promotion and AI governance both for the greater public good.
  2. NITI Aayog’s Responsible AI for All strategy the culmination of a year-long consultative process, is a case in point.
  3. It recognizes that our digital future cannot be optimized for good without multi-stakeholder governance structures that ensure the dividends are fair, inclusive, and just.

Way Forward: –

  1. It is neither enough nor is it fair to expect AI tech companies to solve all these challenges through self-regulation, government involvement is compulsory because
  2. AI has the potential to improve billions of lives; it can also replicate and exacerbate existing problems, and create new ones.
  3. We ensure that AI applications are as unbiased, equitable, transparent, civil and inclusive as possible, also we ensure that potential harm is mitigated, particularly for the most vulnerable, including for children.
  4.  Without ethical guard rails, AI will widen social and economic schisms, amplifying any innate biases at an irreversible scale and rate and lead to discriminatory outcomes.

 Question: –

Explain how India is cognizant of the opportunities and the risks in Artificial industry, and are striving to strike the right balance between AI promotion and AI governance both?

On the difficult trail of India’s most wanted

Why in News: –

The CBI’s record in bringing to justice some of India’s big-ticket offenders has been a mixed one


GS-2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as talented and dedicated supervisors with a sound knowledge of the law and of unquestioned integrity.
  • It is also an outfit with a few glaring shortcomings, such as the enormous delay taken in completing many an investigation and having in its ranks a set of black sheep who have brought ignominy to the organisation.
  • The CBI’s performance in recent times has been a mixed bag, with its moments of glory alongside its moments of shame.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI):

  1. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. Later, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
  3. The Special Police Establishment (which looked into vigilance cases) setup in 1941 was also merged with the CBI.
  4. The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
  5. The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  6. The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.

Objectives of CBI: –

  • It plays an important role in the prevention of corruption and maintaining integrity in administration.
  • It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.

The Nirav Modi, Mallya Cases:

  • The Nirav Modi case which was very much in the news recently is testimony to the CBI’s capacity to execute a professional job, provided it is given a free hand.
  • Extradition of accused persons who have fled India is the toughest task before the CBI.
  • In this, we have had a few successes and many failures the CBI has done a thorough job in the Nirav Modi case, in ferreting out all details and presenting them before the London court.
  • The CBI can rightfully gloat over its success in the Nirav Modi case.
  • The order (February 25, 2021) of a Westminster Magistrate’s Court, London did not mince words.
  • It confirmed that the accused had indeed committed an extraditable crime.
  • This is a shot in the arm for the CBI investigators.
  • This was undoubtedly the outcome of sustained investigation for two years after overcoming the many obstacles put up by an accused person with enormous influence.
  •  CBI was able to get the help of two former Indian judges to exploit the alleged loopholes in the prosecution story.

 Strategies by the accused:

  1. In all cases of extradition, the ruse of the accused was mainly to dispute that he had committed an extraditable offence. The endeavour here was to prove that the offence alleged against him was not in the statutes of the country where he is living.
  2. Another stand which an accused usually takes is to allege that political considerations had weighed in the mind of the requesting country in demanding extradition.
  3.  A third strategy was on trying to prove that the country seeking transfer of the offender did not fulfil human rights requirements, particularly in respect of hygiene in the prison in which he was proposed to be lodged.
  4. The London judge rejected all three contentions put forward by Mr. Modi’s counsel, and this reflected the thoroughness with which the CBI had done its job.

The extradition treaty with India:

  1. India and the UK signed an extradition treaty in 1992. Since then the UK has accepted only two requests for extradition of a fugitive living in that country.
  2. All other requests remain pending till date. Extradition proceedings are slow in the UK.
  3. The Extradition Act, 2003 The Extradition Treaty provides the broad framework that governs the extradition between India and the UK.
  4. The relevant domestic UK law that governs extradition proceedings is the Extradition Act.
  5. Since 2002, foreign countries have extradited 75 fugitive offenders to India. Of these, 24 fugitive offenders have been extradited to India in the last five years.
  6. These individuals have been extradited to India from more than 20 countries including the United Arab Emirates, Canada, United State of America and United Kingdom

Financial fraud and CBI:

  1. A novel modus operandi was employed to hoodwink many in the top echelons of the bank in connection with the Letters of Undertaking and the bank’s core banking system.
  2. This was a new lesson to learn for bank fraud investigators and the banking industry.
  3. Talk of tightening lending procedures becomes meaningless if a bank employee decides to turn a rogue and is able to successfully hide major unauthorised concessions.
  4.  This is analogous to many attacks admitted to by financial corporations across the globe during the past few decades on their computer systems, where one bad employee can wreck all security arrangements.

Other Challenges: –

  1. In all such matters, another instrument of torture for the prosecution is the so-called Letter Rogatory (LR), which the relevant court in India will have to issue to the corresponding court abroad to get hold of documents or examining witnesses in the countries involved.
  2. This is a painfully long-drawn-out process which many influential accused persons have taken advantage of.
  3. Courts in India are sometimes unfair to the investigating agencies by lambasting them for being responsible for delays, ignoring the fact that it is quite often the foreign government concerned which is dragging its feet.
  4.  This is part of the huge number of travails that the prosecution faces in pinning down the guilty. 
  5. Agencies such as the CBI and ED are sometimes the favourite whipping boys of the public and, unfortunately, sometimes of the judiciary.

 Way Forward: –

  1. The state government’s consent is mandatory for a CBI investigation in its jurisdiction and the agency cannot conduct probe without its nod, the Supreme Court has verdict recently. 
  2. This verdict of SC may put limitation and time lag over CBI investigation
  3. As an extradition treaty made by India with that foreign State providing for extradition in respect of the offences specified in that Convention.
  4. In recent case CBI perforce shows that Indian Government most take some steps to make extradition treaty mare easy in big crime case.

Question: –

The financial crime in current times is too complicated for agencies such as the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to unravel all the facts in quick time. Critically examine the statement.

The hidden pandemic of single-use plastic

Why in News: –

Plastics have been deployed in great quantities as a shield against COVID. But little attention has been paid to where the increased plastic waste will end up.


GS 3: Environment, Conservation, Pollution

  • In 2019, Prime Minister committed to completely phase out single-use plastics by 2022.
  • The commitment called for better arrangements to collect, store, and recycle single-use plastic.
  • The UN Environment Programme, with the support of Norway and Japan, undertook a multiyear assessment of how plastic finds its way into riverways, and ultimately the ocean, through projects like Counter MEASURE.
  • National Geographic’s “Sea to Source: Ganges” Expedition brought together four countries, including India and Bangladesh, to holistically study plastic pollution within the Ganges river basin.
  • The pandemic halted and, in some cases, reversed much of this progress. Plastics, especially single-use plastics, became more ubiquitous.
  • Masks, sanitiser bottles, personal protective equipment, food packaging, water bottles: Life came to be ensconced in a plastic shell.


  • In time, this plastic will disintegrate into tiny particles of less than five millimetres — known as microplastics — and move through water bodies and farm soil to enter the food we eat and the air we breathe.
  • Humans know that only 9 per cent of all plastic ever produced has been recycled, while 79 per cent of all plastic produced can be found in the world’s landfills and in our air, water, soil, and other natural systems. Plastic doesn’t belong in our bodies and it doesn’t belong in nature.
  • But plastic is still important. Its central role in durable goods, medicine and food safety means that it is not practical to get rid of entirely.
  • Instead, humans must be more thoughtful about where, when and how we use it.
  • Humans need an approach that includes reducing the manufacture of new fossil fuel-based plastics, improving waste collection and disposal, and developing and using alternatives.

 Plastic waste in India

  • As much as 3 million metric tonnes of plastic waste was generated in India in 2018-19, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report 2018-19. This roughly translated to 9,200 tonnes a day (TPD).
  • The total municipal solid waste generation is 55-65 million tonnes; plastic waste is approximately 5-6 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country.
  • Goa has the highest per capita plastic waste generation at 60 grams per capita per day, which is nearly double of what Delhi generates (37 grams per capita per day).
  • The annual report was compiled based on submissions from the state pollution control boards (SPCB), though the source of the data provided is unclear as no state-wise survey has been conducted so far. 
  • Clearly, we do not know the amount of plastic we generate as a country, as the increase in wealth and affluence contributes to a higher generation of plastic waste.
  • Despite the Plastic Waste Management legislation of 2011, followed by numerous changes in the recent past, most parts of the country lack systematic efforts required to mitigate the risks associated with plastic waste.
  • The states started providing data on the same only in 2018-19 for the first time.
  • A legal obligation has been reduced to a mere formality, and there is a lack of concern, motivation, awareness, compliance and enforcement of the rules.

Solutions: –

  • There are several steps we can take right now, even during the struggle against COVID-19, keeping in mind that above all we should avoid single-use plastics as much as possible.
  • Firstly, we should ensure that waste collection operates at the same pace as waste generation. We know from UNEP and National Geographic’s work that litter is a large part of the plastic pollution ending up in Indian rivers. Improved planning and frequency of waste disposal operations can alleviate this.
  • Secondly, we must be able to segregate waste and used plastic early in the waste-to-value cycle so that the plastic remains suitable for treatment and recycling.
  • Some source segregation efforts became more normalised during the pandemic and this is a trend that should continue. It will make recycling much easier and more economically viable.
  • Thirdly, we need to encourage environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastics where they exist and develop alternatives where they do not exist.
  • Business models that avoid plastic waste through alternative product delivery systems, promote circularity, and use plastic waste should be encouraged.
  • Finally, considering that plastic pollution is a truly society-wide problem, it is important for government, businesses, and civil society to coordinate to find solutions.
  • Plastic, without doubt, is the miracle commodity that has uses ranging from increasing shelf lives of eatables to medical equipment and automotive. 
  • Managing plastic waste requires effective knowledge, not only among those who produce the plastic, but also among those who handle it.
  • Brand owners, consumers, recyclers and regulatory authorities need to take long strides in ensuring that we first inventorise the total amount of plastic waste that we generate by means of proper calculation
  • The second step would be to identify the avenues where the use of plastic can be minimised.
  • Third, the brand owner and manufacturer should try and understand the fates a plastic packaging material would meet after its purpose of packaging has been served.
  • Last, as consumers, we should ensure that all plastic waste leaving our homes is segregated and is not contaminated with food waste.

International and  National Efforts: ­-

  1. UNEP and its partners are working with the Indian government towards these goals, drawing in researchers, enterprises and community groups to address plastic pollution.
  2. The science being generated by UNEP and National Geographic is informing policy and decision-making processes at the national, regional and local level.
  3. We hope these efforts will contribute to strengthening the existing plastic waste management framework in India and to the development of a National Action Plan for Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution in Rivers.
  4. The draft Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2021, issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC)recently, has necessitated a few changes in the country’s handling of its plastic waste.
  5. The amendment has extended the applicability of the rules to brand-owner, plastic waste processor, including the recycler, co-processor, etc.
  6. It will also include new definitions of:
  7. Non-woven plastic bag
  8. Plastic waste processing

iii. Single-use plastic (SUP) item

  1. Thermoset plastic
  2. Thermoplastic
  3. The Union ministry has proposed increasing the thickness of carry bags made of virgin plasticto 120 microns from 50 microns.
  4. It proposes a ban on the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of specific single-use plastic from January 1, 2022.
  5. These include plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, and thermocol (extended polystyrene) for decoration.
  6. The draft is open for public suggestion for 60 days for consideration by the central government, following which it will be published in the Gazette of India.
  7. These rules may be called Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021, and shall come into force on the date of publication in the Official Gazette.

Question: –

In the fight against COVID-19 the plastic pollution problem lingers in the background.” Discuss.

Started From 14 Mar 2021

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