Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 30 December 2022

Extended version of BrahMos missile tested

GS Paper - 3 (Defence Technology)

The Indian Air Force on 29 December 2022 successfully tested the extended range version of the BrahMos Air Launched missile against a ship target from Su-30 MKI fighter jet. The extended range of the BrahMos missile is believed to have the ability to take out targets in sea 400 km away.

More about the Missile

  1. The supersonic cruise missile "achieved the desired mission objectives in the Bay of Bengal region and with the successful test, the Indian Air Force achieved a capability boost to carry out precision strikes from Su-30 fighter aircraft against land/ sea targets over long ranges.
  2. The extended range capability of the missile coupled with the high performance of the SU-30MKI aircraft gives the Indian Air Force a strategic reach and allows it to dominate the future battle fields.
  3. The successful test firing was a joint effort by the Air ForceIndian Navy, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and the BrahMos Aerospace (BAPL).
  4. In May this year, the extended-range version of the supersonic missile was successfully tested from the Sukhoi fighter. The extended range was reported to have increased to 350 km from 290 km.
  5. The successful test conducted in May was the first instance in which the missile was test fired from the Su-30MKI fighter jet.


  1. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has a two-stage solid propellant booster engine as its first stage which takes it to supersonic speed.
  2. The second stage is the liquid ramjet engine which takes it closer to Mach 3 (3 times the speed of sound) speed in the cruise phase.
  3. The BrahMos missile is universal for multiple platforms and can be launched from air, land, and sea platforms.
  4. The missile works on the 'Fire and Forget principle' and maintains a high supersonic throughout the flight. The missile is said to have a low radar signature.


Disputes between states resolved in India

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is intensifying, with both states hardening their stance. On 27 December 2022, both Houses of the Maharashtra Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to support a legal battle to resolve the dispute. This came just days after the Karnataka Assembly passed a resolution reiterating Karnataka’s position on the issue.

What is the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute?

  1. The border dispute over Belagavi, Karwar and Nipani in North Karnataka is long-standing.
  2. When state boundaries were redrawn on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Belagavi became part of the erstwhile Mysore state.
  3. Maharashtra claims that parts of Belagavi, where Marathi is the dominant language, should remain in Maharashtra.
  4. In October 1966, the Centre set up the Mahajan Commission, led by former Chief Justice of India Mehr Chand Mahajan, to resolve the border dispute in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
  5. The Commission recommended that Belgaum and 247 villages remain with KarnatakaMaharashtra rejected the report, and in 2004, moved the Supreme Court.

How is the issue being resolved?

  1. Attempts are often made to resolve inter-state disputes with the cooperation of both sides, with the Centre working as a facilitator or a neutral mediator.
  2. If issues are resolved amicably, Parliament can bring a law to alter state boundaries, such as the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1968 and the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1979.
  3. In the Belagavi issue, Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Chief Ministers Basavaraj Bommai and Eknath Shinde and asked them to form a six-member team, comprising three ministers from each side, to address all boundary issues.

What are the other methods available?

  1. Judicial redressal: The Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction decides imputes between states. Article 131 of the Constitution reads: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute
  2. Inter-state CouncilArticle 263 of the Constitution gives powers to the President to set up an Inter-state Council for resolution of disputes between states.


RBI’s latest report on India’s banking sector:

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

According to the Reserve Bank of India’s latest report on trends in the sector, the health of the banking system in India has shown steady improvement. Both public and private sector banks have shown visible improvement,from capital adequacy ratio to profitability metrics to bad loans, on each of these indicators.


More about the news:

  1. As credit growth has also witnessed acceleration in 2021-22, banks have seen an expansion in their balance sheet at a pace that is a multi-year high.
  2. The report indicates that the twin balance sheet crisisof an over-leveraged corporate sector and a banking system saddled with bad loans that acted as a drag on the Indian economy for years is no longer an impediment to growth.
  3. There is a healthy sign that disaggregated data shows that both working capital and term loans have seen an uptick.
  4. The public sector banks have lost market share to their private sector counterparts, PSBs still account for a lion’s share of the consolidated bank balance sheet — they account for 62 per cent of total outstanding deposits and 58 per cent of advances of the banking sector at the end of 2021-22.
  5. The report also points out that both public and private sector banks have seen a steady improvement in their capital position, their asset quality, and their leverage and liquidity positions.
  6. Capital adequacy of banks, as measured by the capital to risk weighted assets ratio, raised from 14.1 per cent in 2021 to 15.7 per cent in 2022, and further to 16 per cent in September 2022.
  7. Banks have witnessed a sharp decline in their gross non-performing loans or bad loans — from the peak of around 11 per cent in 2017-18 to around 5 per cent at the end of September 2022.

Some concern remains:

  1. Loans classified as SMA-0 (those where repayments are due for 0-30 days) have shot up, indicating a build-up of strain in the system.
  2. close watch will also need to be kept on loans that were restructured as they were facing Covid-related stress. Slippages will need to be monitored.
  3. Banks will have to be mindful of the risks emanating from an increasingly uncertain global macroeconomic environment.


Antarctica’s emperor penguins

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

Greater conservation efforts are needed to protect Antarctic ecosystems, and the populations of up to 97 per cent of land-based Antarctic species could decline by 2100 if we don’t change tack, our new research has found. The study, published, also found just USD 23 million per year would be enough to implement ten key strategies to reduce threats to Antarctica’s biodiversity. This relatively small sum would benefit up to 84% of terrestrial birdmammal, and plant groups.


  1. Limiting global warming is the most effective way to secure their future. Threats to Antarctic biodiversity Antarctica’s land-based species have adapted to survive the coldest, windiest, highest, driest continent on Earth.
  2. The species includes two flowering plantshardy moss and lichensnumerous microbes, tough invertebrates and hundreds of thousands of breeding seabirds, including the emperor and Adélie penguins.
  3. Antarctica also provides priceless services to the planet and humankind. It helps regulate the global climate by driving atmospheric circulation and ocean currents, and absorbing heat and carbon dioxide.
  4. Antarctica even drives weather patterns in Australia. Some people think of Antarctica as a safeprotected wilderness. But the continent’s plants and animals still face numerous threats.
  5. Chief among them is climate change. As global warming worsens, Antarctica’s ice-free areas are predicted to expand, rapidly changing the habitat available for wildlife.
  6. Climate change will also likely wreak havoc on other Antarctic specialists, such as the nematode worm Scottnema lindsayae.
  7. The species lives in extremely dry soils, and is at risk as warming and ice-melt increases soil moisture.

How much would it all cost?

  1. The United Nations’ COP15 nature summit concluded in Canada recently. Funding for conservation projects was a core agenda item.
  2. In Antarctica, at least, such conservation is surprisingly cheap. Our research found implementing all strategies together could cost as little as USD 23 million per year until 2100 (or about USD 2 billion in total).
  3. By comparison, the cost to recover Australia’s threatened species is estimated at more than USD 1.2 billion per year (although this is far more than is actually spent).
  4. However, for the “influence external policy” strategy (relating to climate change mitigation) we included only the cost of advocating for policy change.
  5. As Antarctica faces increasing pressure from climate change and human activities, a combination of regional and global conservation efforts is needed.
  6. Spending just USD 23 million a year to preserve Antarctica’s biodiversity and ecosystems is an absolute bargain.