IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 16th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
India- Saudi Arabia ties
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the World
- Saudi Arabia promises to meet India’s oil needs.
- Saudi Arabia to increase investment in India as well. (Example – Saudi Aramco’s investment of $44 billion in the Ratnagiri refinery, Maharashtra)
Museum of PMs
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Indian Art and Culture; Heritage
- The Union Culture Ministry will construct a museum on Prime Ministers on the Teen Murti Estate, Delhi.
- The museum dedicated to all Prime Ministers will come up within the 25.5-acre estate, but separate from the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) buildings.
- A museum dedicated to all the Prime Ministers in the vicinity of the memorial of the country’s first Prime Minister was envisaged to enable the visitor a holistic understanding of the continued thread of leadership, initiatives and sacrifice that have shaped our nation since independence.
Pollution forecast system unveiled
Part of: GS Prelims and mains III – Environment issues; Pollution; Role of technology
- The Central government announced a pollution forecast system that can alert, three days in advance, about the likelihood of extreme pollution events and dust storms.
- The National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, the IMD and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, are involved with developing the application.
- The system is expected to be made available to the public soon via the CPCB and the Environment Pollution Control Authority.
IIT-Bombay tops in QS ranking
Part of: GS Mains II – Education and associated reforms
- Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has topped the first-ever standalone ranking of Indian higher education institutions by QS.
- QS is a think tank that is famous for bringing out world rankings of institutions.
- Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, which tops Indian institutions in almost all rankings, stands second.
- The top 10 Indian institutions include seven IITs, with the IITs at Madras, Delhi, Kharagpur and Kanpur standing third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the rankings.
- While the University of Hyderabad stands seventh, the University of Delhi stands eighth in the rankings.
- To improve global rankings of Indian institutions, the Centre is trying to facilitate more foreign faculty and foreign students’ intake in Indian institutions.
India, France in talks to conduct tri-service exercise
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the World; Defence
- India and France are in discussions for a bilateral tri-service military exercise.
- Both the countries are also exploring ways to operationalise the logistics agreement.
Do you know?
- If India and France concludes on tri-service exercise, it will be India’s third such joint exercise.
- The first joint tri-service exercise was held with Russia in October last year and India has finalised one with the U.S. to be held next year. (We read in yesterday’s news – India-U.S. tri-services exercise)
- India and France signed a logistics pact in March this year which gives access to their militaries to each other’s bases for logistics support.
- New Delhi can access French bases in the Indian Ocean — Reunion Island, Djibouti and Abu Dhabi.
- These three bases would give the Indian Navy and the Air Force operational turnaround to the far end of the Indian Ocean, improving its monitoring and surveillance of the region, in the backdrop of increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
India and France currently hold bilateral exercises between individual services –
- Shakti : : Army version
- Varuna : : Navy
- Garuda : : Air Force
Developed versus Developing Countries on Global Warming and Climate Change
Part of: GS Prelims and mains III – Environment issues; Climate Change
- Ahead of climate talks (December 2018 Climate Change COP 24 – Katowice, Poland) India in touch with 40 countries.
- India is having discussions with 40 countries, including China, to forge alliances and compel developed countries to make good on promises, made over the years, to provide enough finance and technology to stem runaway global warming.
Do you know?
- Over the years, developed countries have promised to provide $100 billion annually to developing countries to check such warming.
- The ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’ (India, China, Venezuela and Iran) and BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) are networks that are formed to lend weight to developing country concerns.
TOPIC: General Studies 2 and 3
- Health and nutrition
- Agriculture and food security
- Science and technology: Biotechnology
From food security to nutrition security
- October 16 is observed as the World Food Day to mark the creation of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945. The world body envisions a “zero hunger world” by 2030.
- Perhaps, the occasion is incomplete without remembering Nobel Peace laureate Norman E Borlaug, whose “miracle seeds” of wheat saved over a billion people from starvation.
- Borlaug also instituted the World Food Prize in 1986, which is sometimes described as the Nobel Prize in agriculture.
- It’s important to understand the role of science and technology in ushering the Green Revolution, which ensured food security in India.
- Today, similar innovations in biotechnology hold the promise to provide nutrition security.
Background and beginning of green revolution
- In 1943, the Bengal Famine claimed 1.5 to 3 million lives. After independence, India faced the challenge of feeding 330 million people.
- The situation became grim when the country was hit by back-to-back droughts in the mid-1960s.
- Grain production plummeted from 89.4 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 1964-65 to 72.4 MMT in 1965-66.
- India became heavily dependent on the PL 480 food aid from the US. Self-sufficiency in foodgrains became the country’s top policy priority.
- In the early 1960s, India imported 18,000 tonnes of the semi-dwarf high yielding (HY) wheat variety, Lerma Rojo and Sonora 64.
- Developed by Borlaug and his team at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico, these wheat varieties proved to be the harbinger of the Green Revolution.
- Around the same time, the HY miracle rice, IR8 — developed by Peter Jennings and Henry M Beachell of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) — was imported.
- About a decade later, an improved variety, IR36 — developed by IRRI’s Gurdev Khush — made its presence felt in the country’s fields.
- The breeding programme under the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) produced Padma and Jaya, the first indigenous HY rice varieties. These became the centerpiece of India’s rice revolution.
- Breakthroughs in Basmati rice came with the development of Pusa Basmati 1121 and 1509 from 2005 to 2013.
- These rice varieties were developed by teams led by V P Singh, A K Singh and K V Prabhu at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute.
- Pusa Basmati gave Indian rice more value with less water and 50 per cent higher yields compared to the traditional basmati.
Where does India stand today in terms of wheat and rice?
- While the country’s population has grown by more than four times, from 330 million in 1947 to 1.35 billion in 2018, India’s wheat production has increased by over 15 times in roughly the same period — from about 6.5 MMT in 1950-51 to 99.7 MMT in 2017-18.
- India contributes about 13 per cent of the world wheat production, next only to China whose share is about 17 per cent.
- Rice production has shot up by about 5.5 times — from 20.6 MMT in 1950-51 to 112.9 MMT in 2017-18.
- India has a 23 per cent share in world rice production, next only to China whose share is about 29 per cent.
- India is also the largest exporter of rice in the world with about 12.7 MMT, valued at $7.7 billion (Basmati at $4.17 billion and Non-Basmati at $3.56 billion) during 2017-18.
- Notwithstanding its foodgrain surpluses, the country faces a complex challenge of nutritional security.
- FAO’s recent publication, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018 estimates that about 15 per cent of the Indian population is undernourished.
- More than 38 per cent of Indian children aged below five years are stunted and 21 per cent suffer from wasting.
- Several factors ranging from poor diet, unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation, low levels of immunisation and education, especially that of women, contribute to this dismal situation.
- But latest innovations in biotechnology that fortify major staples with micro nutrients like vitamin A, zinc and iron can be game changers.
Efforts on production level for nutritional security
- Globally, the HarvestPlus programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is doing lot of work in this direction.
- In India, the group has released the iron-rich pearl millet.
- The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has independently released zinc and iron rich wheat (WB 02 and HPWB 01), rice (DRR Dhan 45), and pearl millet (HHB 299 and AHB 1200) in 2016-17.
- This could possibly lead to the next breakthrough in staples, making them more nutritious.
- A research team at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute in Mohali has innovated biofortified coloured wheat (black, blue, purple) through crosses between HY Indian cultivars (PBW550, PBW621, HD2967) and coloured wheat from Japan and America.
- These are rich in anthocyanins (antioxidants such those found in blueberries) and zinc (40 ppm compared to 5 ppm in white wheat).
- Farmers of the Borlaug Farmers Association from Punjab and Haryana have been roped in to multiply production of this wheat variety.
- This seems to be the beginning of a new journey, from food security to nutritional security. The best is yet to come.
- Innovations in biofortified food can alleviate malnutrition only when they are scaled up with supporting policies.
- This would require increasing expenditure on agri-R&D and incentivising farmers by linking their produce to lucrative markets
Connecting the dots:
- Biotechnology can be a game-changer in the battle against malnutrition in much the same way that the Green Revolution was in ensuring self sufficiency. Comment.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighborhood- relations
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Bonding with Africa, in partnership
- Chinese President Xi Jinping grabbed headlines last month after announcing a hefty $60 billion package for Africa.
- African leaders have been naturally ecstatic after Mr. Xi’s announcement in Beijing at the inaugural of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)
- At the FOCAC, a triennial assemblage of African and Chinese leaders, the 50-plus African leaders and their Chinese hosts charted big plans to build roads, power plants, and railways and much more in Africa.
- Xi’s mega announcement should trigger celebrations not only in Africa, but also among heads of the emerging economies, especially those of other nations in the BRICS grouping.
- That is, if they reject the media-hyped argument that China, eyeing Africa’s natural resources, is seeking to trap the continent into another round of political serfdom through carefully laden “debt traps”.
- In this narrative, the Chinese Goliath, inching towards global domination, must be stopped in its tracks, before it is too late.
Approaches of India and china towards Africa
- Like China, India also hosts its own triennial conclave with African leaders, which was last held in 2015.
- Though headline numbers show that in dollar throughput, it is distant from China, India’s contribution to Africa’s development is nonetheless significant.
- If China and India are serious about the rise of Africa, the key is to co-link their development strategies on a continental scale.
- The good news is that both countries seem to have done some spadework, in finding an imaginative coordinating mechanism that could benefit them, as well as Africa.
- Ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July, the Chinese Foreign Ministry put out the message that New Delhi and Beijing should vigorously pursue the ‘China-India Plus One’ or ‘China-India Plus X’ model in engaging with Africa.
- The mandarins in Beijing were referring to the mechanism yielded by the Wuhan informal summit, where it was decided that China and India would coordinate their approaches for engaging a third country or set of countries in South Asia and beyond.
- The Chinese also described Beijing and New Delhi as “like-minded partners” in Africa.
- Meanwhile Russia has already launched an initiative to bond with Africa.
- South Africa, the host of the recent BRICS summit and co-chair of FOCAC in Beijing, will always remain the natural gateway for a vibrant emerging economy engagement with Africa.
- A post-Wuhan India must pick up the threads and weave a potent emerging economy narrative for bonding with Africa, triggering a structural shift of global significance.
Connecting the dots:
- Rather than competing with each other, India and China need to link their development plans for the continent. Do you agree?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) The Tropic of Cancer passes through:
- India and Iran
- Iran and Pakistan
- India and Saudi Arabia
- Iran and Iraq
Q.2) Which of the following countries borders ‘Persian Gulf’?
Select the correct code:
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
- 1, 2, 3 and 5
- 2, 3 and 4
- 2, 3, 4 and 5
Q.3) Bilateral drills such as – Yudh Abyaas and Cope India – are associated with:
Q.4) Bilateral drills such as – Shakti, Varuna and Garuda – are associated with:
Decoding the Rafale controversy
Castles in the air
Not just liquidity: on NBFCs crisis
Falling short on most counts
Hamstringing the RTI Act
The great smog of 2018
A diplomatic blind spot
A change still to come
The rising stock of global economic risks
How India can overcome the zero hunger challenge