What is Gig Economy?


The Union Labour Ministry is organizing a program aimed at sharing information and good experiences on policies and global practices relating to gig and platform workers and their social security.


GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Gig Economy?
  2. Advantages of Gig economy.
  3. Challenges related to Gig economy
  4. Measures to address the issues related to Gig economy
  5. Way Forward

What is Gig Economy?

  • Gig economy involves a temporary contractual job or short-term contract or freelance work that a person may take, on a project-to-project basis, for which the payment is made once the task is completed.
  • The gig economy gets its name from each piece of work being akin to an individual ‘gig’. A gig economy encompasses all platforms that hire independent contractors, consultants and workers in different sectors, such as
    • information technology,
    • content creation,
    • social media marketing and communications,
    • food and beverages,
    • creative fields such as art and design.
  • A gig economy, hence, means an existence of temporary or part-time workforce instead of a conventional workforce.

Advantages of gig economy:

  • Cater to immediate demand: Gig economy can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.
  • Cheaper and more efficient: Most times, employers cannot afford to hire full-time employees. In a gig economy, large numbers of people work part-time or in temporary positions. The result is cheaper, more efficient services, such as Uber or Airbnb, for those willing to use them.
  • Wider choice to employers: Technology and connectivity through the internet don’t require the freelancer to come into the office for work. Hence, employers have a wider range of applicants to choose from as they don’t have to hire someone based on their proximity.
  • Offers specific expertise: Professional services firms are hiring gig workers to add deep domain expertise to client-impact teams. Majority of professional services contact workers have years of domain-specific knowledge, like consultants.
  • The wider choice to employees: People often find they need to move around or take multiple positions to afford the lifestyle they want. These days, people also tend to change careers many times throughout their lives; the gig economy is a reflection of this rising trend.
  • Youth economic productivity: India has a high share of young population which is only expected to grow. According to economists at IMF, youth inactivity in India is at 30%, the highest amongst developing countries.
    • Gig economy offers the perfect platform for engagement of youth in productive employment activities.
    • It is also estimated that the gig economy offers a relatively high gender-parity in the workforce, as compared to traditional employment.

Challenges related to Gig Economy:

  • Erosion of traditional economic relationships: Gig economy can have downsides due to the erosion of traditional economic relationships between workers, businesses, and clients. This can eliminate the benefits that flow from building long-term trust, customary practice, and familiarity with clients and employers.
    • It could also discourage investment in relationship-specific assets that would otherwise be profitable to pursue since no party has an incentive to invest significantly in a relationship that only lasts until the next gig comes along.
  • Crowding out traditional workers: Workers who prefer a traditional career path, stability and security that come with it are being crowded out in some industries.
    • The gig economy makes it harder for full-time employees to develop fully in their careers since temporary employees are often cheaper to hire and offer more flexibility in their availability.
  • Disrupted work-life balance for gig workers: Flexibility in a gig economy often means that workers have to make themselves available at any time the gig comes up, regardless of their other needs, and they must always be on the hunt for the next gig.
    • Hence, for some workers, the flexibility of working gigs can disrupt the work-life balance, sleep patterns, and activities of daily life.
  • No employment-related rights: Unlike traditional employment, workers in the gig economy are usually ineligible for any social benefits such as insurance, medical benefits, employees’ provident fund, bonus or gratuity.

Measures to address the issues related to gig workers:

  • Evaluating scale of Gig economy: As of now there exists no authoritative estimate on the total number of gig workers in India, though the centralised nature of the platforms, and the larger platform labour market should make the collating of this data relatively straightforward for the Labour Ministry.
  • Making regulations related to Gig economy: A more viable strategy then would involve conditional government partnerships with platforms under some of its flagship schemes. Here, the successful pilot of Swiggy’s Street Food Vendors programme under the PM SVANidhi, or PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi scheme, may prove to be an illustrative example.

European Union Ban Russian Oil


As part of the sixth package of sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union member states reached an agreement to ban 90% of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the year.


GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Original proposal of the oil embargo
  2. Rationale behind such a move
  3. What are the terms of the ‘compromise deal’ that has been agreed upon?
  4. Why was exemption given for pipeline imports?
  5. How will the sanctions affect Russia?
  6. How will the sanctions affect Europe?
  7. Indian response

Original proposal of the oil embargo

  • The proposal to completely phase out Russian crude and refined products from EU territory within a time frame of six to eight months.
    • Complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline crude and refined.
  • It needed the agreement of all the 27 EU member states in order to be implemented.

Rationale behind such a move

  • The Russian economy is heavily dependent on energy exports, with the EU paying billions of dollars every month to Russia for its crude and refined products.
  • The EU wants to block this massive revenue inflow which, as repeatedly pointed out by Ukrainian President , is akin to Europeans bankrolling Russia’s war.
  • The EU has been attempting, ever since the Ukraine invasion, to build consensus on ways to hurt Russia economically so that it is forced to roll back its military offensive.
  • The most obvious route was to stop buying Russian energy, which isn’t easy given European households’ dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Two long term EU objectives:

  • Reducing fossil fuel dependence in favour of renewables.
  • Eliminating dependence on Russian energy for greater strategic autonomy and energy security

So, Member states agreed to make a start by phasing out Russian oil.

What are the terms of the ‘compromise deal’ that has been agreed upon?

  • The main departure from the original proposal is the “temporary exemption” from the oil embargo for countries that import Russian crude via pipeline.
    • In other words, EU leaders have, in principle, agreed to ban all seaborne imports of Russian crude, which account for two-thirds of EU’s oil imports from Russia.
  • However, with Germany and Poland pledging to phase out even their pipeline imports from Russia by the end of the year, the embargo would eliminate 90% of Russian oil imports.


  • The remaining 10% that’s been allowed represents a free pass for Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria to continue imports via the Druzhba pipeline, the world’s largest oil pipeline network.
  • Additionally, Hungary has obtained a guarantee that it could even import seaborne Russian oil in case of a disruption to their pipeline supplies.
  • This was deemed a legitimate concession since the pipelines do pass through the war zone in Ukraine.

Why was exemption given for pipeline imports?

  • The exemption for pipeline imports was made on the logic that landlocked countries (Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) that are heavily dependent on Russian pipeline oil do not have a ready option to switch to alternative sources in the absence of ports.
    • Hungary imports 65% of its oil via pipeline from Russia,
    • 50% of the Czech Republic’s oil imports are Russian,
    • While Slovakia gets 100% of its oil from Russia.

How will the sanctions affect Russia?

  • Analysts calculate that a two-thirds cut in Europe’s imports of Russian oil would mean a reduction of 1.2-1.5 million barrels a day in oil, and one million barrels in refined products, which might cause Russia an annual loss in revenue of $10 billion.
  • Given Russia’s limited storage infrastructure, the cutback in demand would force Russia to find other markets. Since that won’t be easy, Russia might have to cut production by 20-30%.
  • So far, Asian importers, especially India, have absorbed some of the excess inventory at discounted prices.

How will the sanctions affect Europe?

  • It is likely to further fuel inflation in Europe, where many countries are already facing a cost-of-living crisis.
  • EU leaders have tried to balance contradictory pressures — of having to take decisive action against a military aggressor on European soil, but without causing too much pain to its citizens.
  • But European lifestyles have tended to take cheap Russian energy for granted, and if inflation peaks further, the EU runs the risk of losing public support for harsh sanctions.
What about import of Russian gas?
  • Compared to Russian oil, Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is much greater, and this embargo leaves the import of Russian gas — which accounts of 40% of Europe’s natural gas imports — untouched.
    • In other words, Europe will continue to pay Russia for gas imports. But since crude is more expensive than natural gas, the oil ban is expected to hurt Russian revenues.

Indian response

  • India ramped up purchases of Russian crude at discounted prices in the months following the Russian invasion, and this policy is expected to continue.
  • The announcement of the EU ban caused an immediate surge in oil prices, and as Europe seeks alternate sources – from West Asia, Africa and elsewhere — for its oil needs, prices are expected to stay high.
  • In this context, with Russia reportedly offering discounts of $30-35 per barrel, India has found it convenient to make the most of the cheap Russian crude on offer.

What is An Artillery Rocket?


As the fighting in eastern Ukraine turns into an artillery duel, the Pentagon announced that it would send its most advanced artillery rocket launcher and munitions to the Ukrainian military in the hope of giving it an edge over Russia.


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is an artillery rocket?
  2. Has the United States used these weapons?
  3. Difference between a rocket and a missile in this context
  4. Does Russia have anything similar?
  5. Do the U.S. rockets have other advantages?

What is an artillery rocket?

  • An artillery rocket is a weapon that is typically propelled by a solid-fuel motor and can carry a variety of warheads.
  • During the Cold War, most artillery rockets were unguided and imprecise when fired at greater distances.
  • In the 1970s, the United States invested in a new weapon it called MLRS, for Multiple Launch Rocket System, designed for use in the event that Russian armored vehicles massed for World War III on the border of Western Europe.

Multiple Launch Rocket System:

  • The M270 MLRS launcher was an armored vehicle that could carry two “pods” of munitions.
  • Each pod held either six cluster-weapon rockets that could fly about 20 miles, or a single, larger guided missile, called ATACMS, for Army Tactical Missile System, that could fly about 100.
  • The 23-ton launcher moved on treads, at speeds up to 40 mph.

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System:

  • Years later, the Pentagon introduced a more easily transportable version called HIMARS, for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which is based on a wheeled truck that is much lighter.
  • Unlike its predecessor, the M142 HIMARS truck carries only one pod of munitions, but it can move much faster on and off-road, and can be shipped on a C-130 cargo plane.

Has the United States used these weapons?

  • During Operation Desert Storm, government records show that the U.S. Army fired more than 17,200 unguided MLRS rockets and 32 of the larger ATACMS guided missiles at Iraqi forces.
  • In 2005, the Army fired a new guided rocket, known as a GMLRS, in combat in Iraq for the first time. That rocket has a range of more than 40 miles, more than twice that of the older rockets, and its navigation is aided by GPS signals.

Difference between a rocket and a missile in this context

  • The nomenclature can be confusing sometimes, but generally the word “rocket” is used in a military context to refer to relatively inexpensive unguided weapons powered by solid-fuel motors, while “missile” is generally shorthand for “guided missiles,” more expensive and complicated weapons that use movable fins to steer themselves to their targets and can fly much farther.
  • The Pentagon has already sent short-range, inexpensive and unguided anti-tank weapons that are classified as rockets to Ukraine, like the AT-4, and the longer-range Javelin, which is a guided missile.
  • That delineation worked well in the past with the MLRS and ATACMS weapons, but in more recent years the military has built weapons it calls “guided rockets” — like GMLRS — which are often older rocket designs upgraded to have guidance systems and movable fins on their nose to steer them.
  • The money part still holds true, though. GMLRS rockets remain far less expensive than the old ATACMS and the Precision Strike Missiles being developed to replace them.

Does Russia have anything similar?

  • The Russian military has primarily used three types of unguided artillery rockets during the war in Ukraine.
  • The largest, the 300 mm Smerch, can fire a guided rocket, which makes it more accurate, and has a range similar to the GMLRS, although few have been seen in photos of the war.
  • Most Smerch launches in Ukraine are unguided rockets, many containing cluster weapon warheads.

Do the U.S. rockets have other advantages?

  • There’s one major advantage to the MLRS and HIMARS launchers: They can be fully reloaded within minutes.
  • Both vehicles have a winch that allows them to lower an empty pod to the ground, pick up a new, loaded pod, and pull it into place.
  •  The Russian launchers must be manually loaded, tube by tube.

Relocation of Cheetahs


India will be soon releasing cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia into the wild at Kuno Palpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh.

  • It will initiate India’s ambitious plan of transcontinental relocation of cheetahs.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What was the distribution of cheetahs in India?
  2. What caused the extinction of cheetahs in India?
  3. What is the current status of this project?
  4. About Cheetah

What was the distribution of cheetahs in India?

  • Historically, Asiatic cheetahs had a very wide distribution in India.
  • There are authentic reports of their occurrence from as far north as Punjab to Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu, from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to Bengal in the east.
  • Most of the records are from a belt extending from Gujarat passing through Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha.
  • There is also a cluster of reports from southern Maharashtra extending to parts of Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The distribution range of the cheetah was wide and spread all over the subcontinent.
  • They occurred in substantial numbers.
  • Habitats:
    • Scrub forests
    • Dry grasslands
    • Savannas
    • Other arid and semi-arid open habitats
  • Some of the last reports of cheetahs in India prior to their local extinction are from edge habitats of sal forests in east-central India, not necessarily their preferred habitat.
  • In Iran, the last surviving population of wild Asiatic cheetahs are found in hilly terrain, foothills and rocky valleys within a desert ecosystem

What caused the extinction of cheetahs in India?

  • The cheetah in India has been recorded in history from before the Common Era. It was taken from the wild for coursing blackbuck for centuries, which is a major contributor to the depletion of its numbers through the ages.
  • However, the final phase of its extinction coincided with British colonial rule. The British added to the woes of the species by declaring a bounty for killing it in 1871.
  • Major reasons for the extinction of the Asiatic cheetah in India.
    • The consistent and widespread capture of cheetahs from the wild (both male and female) over centuries
    • Its reduced levels of genetic heterogeneity due to a historical genetic bottleneck resulting in reduced fecundity and high infant mortality in the wild.
    • Its inability to breed in captivity.
    • Sport hunting.
    • Bounty killings.
  • It is reported that the Mughal Emperor Akbar had kept 1,000 cheetahs in his menagerie and collected as many as 9,000 cats during his half century reign from 1556 to 1605.
  • As late as 1799, Tipu Sultan of Mysore is reported to have had 16 cheetahs as part of his menagerie.
  • It is recorded that the last cheetahs were shot in India in 1947, but there are credible reports of sightings of the cat till about 1967.

What is the current status of this project?

  • According to the Government, Kuno is ready to receive the cheetahs.
  • About a month ago a team of government officials visited Namibia to inspect the cheetahs that would be sent to India, review the arrangements and to reach an agreement for the transfer of the cats.
  • It is being reported that Namibia wants India’s support for lifting the CITES ban on commercial trade of wildlife products, including ivory.
  • The draft memorandum of understanding shared by Namibia reportedly contains a condition requiring India to support Namibia for “sustainable utilisation of wildlife”.
  • The cheetahs are to be provided by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an NGO, and not the Namibian government.
  • Three to five cheetahs are expected to be part of the first group of cats and these are expected to arrive as early as May 2022 and released in the wild by August 15.

Issues with Re introduction

  • Experts are divided on whether the reserve would provide a favourable climate for African cheetahs in terms of prey abundance.
  • Cheetah habitat was required to sustain a genetically viable population.

About Cheetah:

  • The cheetah is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
  • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal that lives in Africa and Asia.
African Cheetah
  • IUCN status – Vulnerable
  • CITES status – Appendix-I of the List. This List comprises of migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
  • Habitat – Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
  • Physical Characteristics – Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
Asian Cheetah
  • IUCN Status – Critically Endangered.
  • CITES – Appendix 1 of the list
  • Habitat – 40-50 found only in Iran.
  • Physical Characteristics – Smaller and paler than the African cheetah. Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck. Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.

About Sela Macaque


A new species of old-world monkey recorded from Arunachal Pradesh has been named after Sela Pass, which is a strategic mountain pass at 13,700 ft above sea level, and the New Species has been named Sela Macaque.

  • It was identified and analysed by a team of experts from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and the University of Calcutta.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Sela macaque
  2. About the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)
  3. Publications and other works of the ZSI

About Sela macaque

  • The Sela macaque was geographically isolated from the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala) of Tawang district, according to phylogenetic analysis.
  •  It was discovered to be genetically distinct from the other monkey species reported from this region,
    • Phylogenetics refers to the evolutionary development and diversity of a species or group of organisms.
  • The Sela macaque is genetically related to the Arunachal macaque, according to the study.
    • Physically, the two have a lot in common, such as a comparable build and long dorsal body hair.
    • Both animals have troops that either avoid or are accustomed to being in close contact to people.
  • There are some distinct morphological traits to differentiate the two species. 
    • While the Sela macaque has a pale face and brown coat, the Arunachal macaque has a dark face and dark brown coat.
  • Sela macaque has a tail longer than the Tibetan macaque, Assamese macaque, Arunachal macaque and the white-cheeked macaque but shorter than the bonnet macaque and toque macaque.
  • Sela macaque belongs to the sinica species-group of Macaca, but it differs from all other members of this group through attributes such as brown collar hair and muzzle, thick brown hair around the neck and the absence of chin whiskers.
  • Sela macaque is a major cause of crop loss in the West Kameng district of the State.

About the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)

  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was founded in 1916  by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoFCC) as premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the country.
  • It originated as a Zoological Section of the Indian Museum in Kolkata and its headquarters is in Kolkata.
  • It has been declared as a designated repository for the National Zoological Collection as per Section 39 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002.
The primary objectives of the ZSI are:
  • To promote the survey, exploration, research, and documentation on various aspects of animal taxonomy in the Indian subcontinent. It also seeks the advancement of knowledge on animal taxonomy.
  • To Make a status survey of the threatened and endemic species.
  • Preparation of Red Data Book, Fauna of India, and Fauna of States.
  • Bio-ecological studies on important communities/species.
  • Preparation of database for the recorded species of the country.
  • Maintenance and Development of National Zoological Collections.

Publications and other works of the ZSI

  • ZSI publishes the Red Data Book on Indian Animals. It was first published in 1983 and is similar to the Red Data Book published by IUCN.
  • Publication of results including Fauna of India, Fauna of States, and Fauna of Conservation Areas.
  • It works for the development of Environmental Information System (ENVIS) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Centres.
  • It Conducts collaborative research programs on “Biodiversity” with other organisations in India and abroad.
  • The ZSI is also involved in Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing studies on recorded animal diversity as well as on threatened species.


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