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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th July 2021

  • IASbaba
  • July 13, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Soil-less agriculture

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Sci and tech 

In news A former naval officer who is an expert in soil-less agriculture has been carrying out campaign, ‘Mission Turmeric 2021’ 

  • It aims to begin an “orange revolution” by teaching people to cultivate turmeric in shade houses in grow bags (large porous containers made of high density polyethylene) packed with coco-peat (made from the pith of the coconut husk) instead of soil. 
  • The method resulted in better yield with higher Curcumin content.
    • Curcumin is a bright yellow phenolic compound in Turmeric known for its potential to fight cancer.

What is soil-less agriculture? 

  • In soil-less agriculture, such as hydroponics, micro and macro nutrients that have been pre-mixed into a water reservoir, along with high levels of oxygen, are delivered efficiently to the plant roots. 
  • Advantages of Soilless Agriculture
    • Faster growth
    • Extreme decrease in water and nutrient use
    • Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA): CEA is a method of agriculture that optimizes the temperature, humidity, airflow, and light within the growing environment of a farm. 
    • Location: The farm is closer to the consumer, decreasing the carbon footprint of delivery and increasing the freshness of the product. 
    • Requires less space to grow
  • Challenges
    • Soil-less agriculture cannot be treated as a magic solution. Besides the high initial investment, the method requires practice in order to succeed. 
    • Growers need to manage the various parameters more meticulously as compared to soil-based cultivation. 
    • And despite the good results, there is no premium pricing for the produce from hydroponics

News Source: TH


APEDA inks MoU with NAFED

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy

In news the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED).

About the MoU

  • Objective of the MoU: For harnessing exports potential of agricultural and processed food products of cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs)
  • The key areas of cooperation include facilitating APEDA registered exporters getting assistance under all the schemes implemented through NAFED. 
  • The MoU shall ensure sustainability and growth of exports by Cooperatives by addressing issues such as technology, skill, quality products and market access.
  • It will also facilitate participation of Farmers’ Cooperatives in global trade

What is Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)?

  • It is an apex body under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products. 
  • It was established under the APEDA Act of 1985.
  • Functions 
    • Promotion of exports of agricultural and processed food products. 
    • Promotion of export oriented production and development of the Scheduled products.
    • To make Improvement in areas such as packaging
    • Setting standards and specifications for the scheduled products 
    • Financial assistance, reliefs and subsidies to the related industries.
    • Provide training in the related areas

What is National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED)?

  • It is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India.
  • It was founded on 2nd October 1958.
  • It is registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002.
  • NAFED is now one of the largest procurement as well as marketing agencies for agricultural products in India.
  • Objectives
    • (1) To organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce; 
    • (2) To distribute agricultural machinery, implements and other inputs; 
    • (3) To act and assist for technical advice in agricultural production

News Source: PIB


Retail Direct Gilt Accounts (RDG) scheme of RBI

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III -Economy

In news The RBI has announced a scheme under which retail investors will be allowed to open retail direct gilt accounts (RDG) directly with the central bank.

What are the features of the scheme?

  • Objective: For improving ease of access by retail investors through online access to the G-secs market – both primary and secondary – along with the facility to open their gilt securities account (‘Retail Direct’) with the RBI.
  • This account can be opened through a dedicated online portal, which will provide registered users access to primary issuance of government securities (G-secs) and to NDS-OM.
    • NDS-OM means RBI’s screen based, anonymous electronic order matching system for trading in government securities in the secondary market.
  • This will provide one-stop solution to facilitate investment in G-secs by individual investors.
  • No fee will be charged for opening and maintaining the account with the RBI.
  • Non-Resident retail investors eligible to invest in government securities under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are also eligible under the scheme.

Do You Know?

  • When Government issues its securities first time (Primary Market) then authorized  institutions are allowed to purchase G-secs. These institutions are called Primary dealers which include banks and finance related companies. 
  • Once these have purchased the G-secs, other institutions such as RBI, Banks, NBFCs can purchase these securities in the secondary market 
  • Few years back, RBI allowed  individuals (retail investors) to participate in primary market as well as secondary market but not directly rather through other institutions.
  • Till now, Govt. securities was traded in a lot size of minimum Rs. 5 crore and by the institutional investors (banks, NBFCs etc., RBI) but now with the participation of retail investors, this lot size will be reduced and retail investors will be able to buy/sell govt. securities easily. 
  • If a retail investor is able to sell his govt. securities easily (even of small value) that means more and better liquidity facility.

What is Government Security (G-sec)?

  • G-secs are debt instruments issued by the government to borrow money.
  • Like bank fixed deposits, g-secs are not tax-free.
  • They are generally considered the safest form of investment because they are backed by the government. So, the risk of default is almost nil.
  • However, they are subject to fluctuations in interest rates. So, they are not completely risk-free.
  • Such securities are short term (treasury bills having maturity period of 91 day, 182 day and 364 day) or long term (Government bonds with maturity of one year or more).
  • In India, the Central Government issues both treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs).

Inflation remains above 6% in June 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy

In news Inflation remained above 6% in June at 6.3%.

  • Growth impulses remained fragile with the second COVID-19 wave hurting the recovery momentum.
  • Experts opine that lack of policy support from government (Ex: Cutting oil taxes) to bring down inflation could make RBI reverse its growth supporting approach (low interest rates)
  • Consumer durables and capital goods stood out as the worst affected sectors in May

Important findings with regard to output/production industries (For May 2021)

Manufacturing Decreased to 9.5% 
Electricity  Decreased to 7%
Mining  Increased slightly by 0.6%

Inflation in different sectors (June 2021)

Fuel and light  12.7% 
Oils and fats Increased by 34.8%
Eggs Increased by 19.4% 

Do you know?

  • There are different indices in India like Wholesale Price Index(WPI), Consumer Price Index(CPI) etc which measure inflation rates in India. 
  • But what we generally find in headlines as inflation rate in India is Inflation rate based on CPI.

The Difference between WPI and CPI

Context WPI CPI
Definition Amounts to the average change in prices of commodities at the wholesale level. Indicates the average change in the prices of commodities at the retail level.
Publishing office Office of Economic Advisor (Ministry of Commerce & Industry) Central Statistics Office (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation) & Labour Bureau
Commodities Goods only Goods and Services both
Base Year 2011-12 2012

Note: Base Year to be revised.

Published Monthly Monthly

News source: TH


Naga Peace Talks

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – North East insurgency; Centre state relations

In news Recently, the Nagaland Government appealed to all Naga political groups and extremist groups to cooperate in establishing unity, reconciliation and peace in the region.

  • The peace process between the central government and two sets of the Naga extremist groups has been delaying for more than 23 years.

What is the background of Naga Insurgency?

  • The Naga Hills became part of British India in 1881. The effort to bring scattered Naga tribes together resulted in the formation of the Naga Club in 1918.
  • The club metamorphosed into the Naga National Council (NNC) in 1946.
  • Under the leadership of Angami Zapu Phizo, the NNC declared Nagaland as an independent State on 14th August, 1947, and conducted a “referendum” in May 1951 to claim that 99.9% of the Nagas supported a “sovereign Nagaland”.
  • Nagaland achieved statehood in December 1963
  • In 1975, under the Shillong Accord, some factions of NNC agreed to give up arms.
  • Some members led by Thuingaleng Muivah refused to accept the Shillong Accord and formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1980.
  • In 1988, the NSCN split into NSCN (IM) and NSCN (K) after a violent clash. The NSCN (IM) came to be seen as the “mother of all insurgencies” in the region.
  • Ceasefire Agreement (1997): Signed between NSCN-IM and the government to stop attacks on Indian armed forces. In return, the government would stop all counter-insurgency offensive operations.
  • Framework Agreement (2015): The Indian Government recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas.
  • Recently, the State government decided to prepare the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland but later due to pressure from various fractions, the decision was put on hold

What are the demands of Naga Groups?

  • Key demand: Greater Nagalim (sovereign statehood) i.e redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella. It includes parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Myanmar. The demand also includes the separate Naga Yezabo (Constitution) and Naga national flag.

News Source: TH


NASA’s VIPER Mission

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III -Space

In news NASA has announced that it will launch its Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) in 2023 

About the mission

  • VIPER stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. It is a mobile robot.
  • Objectives:
    • To explore the Moon’s South Pole region.
    • Help create lunar resource maps.
    • Evaluate the concentration of water as well as other potential resources on its surface.
    • To understand if it is possible for human life to sustain there, by using locally available resources.
  • It is the first resource mapping mission on any other celestial body.
  • NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) will be providing the launch vehicle and lander for what’s going to be a 100-day mission.
  • Significance:
    • VIPER’s findings will inform “future landing sites under the Artemis program by helping to determine locations where water and other resources can be harvested” to sustain humans over extended stays.

About Artemis Program

  • During the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. 
  • NASA will collaborate with other commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration for the first time. 
  • Then, the learning from Moon exploration will enable NASA to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

News Source: TH Businessline


(Mains Focus)


EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Prioritising school reopening on the road to recovery

Context: Most schools in India have been closed since the national lockdown started in March 2020. 

Criticism of Prolonged School Closures 

  • Foreign Nations kept their schools running: Various regions around the world have kept their schools, especially primary schools, mostly open. This includes various European countries such as Portugal, France, the Netherlands, etc. 
  • Discriminatory Treatment to education: On the other hand in India, schools have mostly been shut even as other businesses have opened.
  • Widening Learning Gap: The bottom half of children passing Class 10 are about two years behind in terms of skills. Prolonged school closure has already widened this gap. The poorest families living in dense urban slums, who bore the brunt of the first wave are the ones suffering the most from school closures.
  • Increased Vulnerability to dropout: A survey across 10 States in India in November 2020 estimated that nearly two-thirds of children in rural India may drop out of school, a staggering statistic which is likely to have worsened with continuing closure.
  • Erosion of Socail Progress made: Prolonged school shutdown has severely set back India’s fight against ills such as child labour and child marriage.
  • Malnutrition: Due to the shutdown of schools, mid-day meal schemes have been disrupted; even as early as June 2020, it was estimated that about 800,000 additional children would face underweight and wasting.

Given the costs of prolonged school shutdown, there is a need to probe deeper into the risks of opening schools in the context of COVID-19.

  1. Assessing the risk factor
  • we must realise, and be grateful that the risk of COVID-19 for children is much lower than for adults.
  • A study among the nearly two million children in Sweden (where schools have been open throughout), found that there was not a single child death due to COVID-19
  •  As per Mumbai’s dashboard data, the COVID-19 IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) for under-19 is minuscule: about 0.003% . In comparison, the infant mortality rate in India is about 3% (1,000 times greater) 
  • In other words, school-age children are at a negligibly lower risk from COVID-19 when compared to other threats which we consider normal.
  1. Teachers as ‘essential’ staff
  • To reduce the concern among teachers about virus spread, the Government must treat them on a par with essential workers, and offer them prioritised vaccination.
  1. Vaccines for children
  • There are suggestions about tying school reopening to vaccines for children. 
  • Any medical intervention, especially for children, must be based on a careful risk-benefit analysis. 
  • It is pertinent to note that there are growing concerns in the U.S. of a potential link between heart inflammation and the mRNA vaccine, among adolescents

Conclusion

We cannot let our children suffer for that long, by further prolonging school closures. Policymakers must make evidence-based decisions toward school reopening. 

Connecting the dots:


SOCIETY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-1: Population and associated issues, 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

Family mis-planning: UP’s New Population Policy

Context: A new population policy released by Uttar Pradesh’s CM has stated that it not only aims to bring fertility levels down, but also, notably, to “ensure there is a population balance among various communities”

The policy comes at a time when The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has prepared a proposed draft bill for population control.

Do You Know?

  • India has just 2% of the world’s landmass and 16% of the global population.
  • The current Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of Uttar Pradesh was 2.7.
  • India’s TFR is declining. It is now 2.2 per woman, nearing the replacement rate of 2.1, according to the latest government data.
  • TFR indicates the average number of children expected to be born to a woman during her reproductive span of 15-49 years.

UP’s Population Policy aims at:

  1. Decreasing the total fertility rate from 2.7 to 2.1 by 2026 and 1.7 by 2030.
  2. Increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate from 31.7% to 45% by 2026 and 52% by 2030.
  3. Increase male methods of contraception use from 10.8% to 15.1% by 2026 and 16.4% by 2030.
  4. Decrease maternal mortality rate from 197 to 150 to 98, and infant mortality rate from 43 to 32 to 22, and under 5 infant mortality rate from 47 to 35 to 25.
  5. The State’s policy also aims at increasing the life expectancy from 64.3 to 69 by 2030 and child sex ratio (0-6 years) from 899 to 919 by 2030.

Draft Population Control Bill under which a two-child norm would be implemented and promoted has the following incentives:

  • Upon voluntary sterilisation of self or spouse after the second child, a government servant can receive two additional increments during the period of service, subsidy on property purchase from government bodies, housing loans at softer terms, rebates on utility charges, maternity/paternity leave of 12 months, 3% additional contribution from government (as employer) to NPS. 
  • For sterilisation post one-child, there is free healthcare and insurance for the child, free education up to graduation, scholarship if the child is a girl, etc.
  • For those who are not government employees and still contribute towards keeping the population in check, benefits like rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans etc. will be provided
  • BPL couples adopting the one-child policy will get lumpsum money from the government.
  • It proposes that any citizen who “violates” a two-child policy not only be barred from contesting local bodies polls 

Other Key Provisions of the Proposed Bill

  • Awareness: State government to introduce population control as compulsory subject in all secondary schools. Awareness and extensive programmes would be held among those communities, cadres and geographical areas that have a higher fertility rate
  • Applicability: The provision of this legislation shall apply to a married couple where the boy is not less than 21 years of age and the girl is not less than 18.
  • Non-Coercive: The policy will be voluntary – it will not be enforced upon anyone
  • Dedicated Fund: The Uttar Pradesh government plans to set up a state population fund to implement the measures.

Issues and concerns associated with the Bill:

  • A policy or law that arms governments with more powers over citizens is erroneous for a fundamental reason: India is not being threatened by a “population explosion”. Rather, India is naturally witnessing Population decline.
    • TFR has declined from 3.4 in 1994 to 2.2 in 2015. Even in populous UP, the TFR has fallen an impressive 1.1 points to 2.7 in the span of a decade — without the state’s coercive measures
  • Experts have advised caution against any population policy that puts women’s health and well being at risk.
  • Given that the burden of contraception and family planning disproportionately falls on women, it is likely that female sterilisation will increase further.
  • Stringent population control measures can potentially lead to an increase in these practices and unsafe abortions given the strong son-preference in India, as has been witnessed in a few states in the past.
  • The success of India’s southern states in containing population growth indicates that economic growth as well as attention to education, health and empowerment of women work far better to disincentivise larger families than punitive measures. 

Conclusion

Any government interested in supporting fertility decline, then, must go to work on the education and empowerment of women and respecting their choice.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Agricultural and processed food products export Development Authority comes under which of the following Ministry? 

  1. Ministry of agriculture
  2. Ministry of Urban Affairs
  3. Ministry of commerce and industry
  4. Ministry of fertilizers

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding advantages of soilless agriculture

  1. It leads to Extreme decrease in water and nutrient use. 
  2. It helps in decreasing the carbon footprint of delivery and increases the freshness of the product

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding WPI and CPI

  1. WPI is published annually while CPI is published monthly.
  2. WPI is published by Ministry of Commerce and industry while CPI is published under Ministry of statistics and programme implementation.

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWERS FOR 12th July 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 D
2 A
3 C

Must Read

On Regional Powers and Afghanistan:

Indian Express

On Population Explosion:

Financial Express

On Tracing the decline of US Power:

The Hindu

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