(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Defence and security
Context The Indian Prime Minister is soon expected to launch the National Intelligence Grid or NATGRID that aims to provide a “cutting-edge technology to enhance India’s counter-terror capabilities”.
- The final “synchronisation and testing” of the ambitious electronic database is being carried out so that it can go live.
What is NATGRID?
- NATGRID is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information from more than 20 organisations in the field of telecom, tax records, bank, immigration, etc. to enable the generation of intelligence inputs.
- NATGRID is a post Mumbai 26/11 attack measure.
- It aims to mitigate a vital deficiency — lack of real time information, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley’s movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009.
- NATGRID will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies
- At least 10 central agencies like IB, R&AW and others will have access to the data for counter-terror investigations.
- It will also have access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems, including FIRs, across 14,000 police stations in India.
- Unlike the NCTC or the NIA which are central agencies, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data sets of various organizations and services in the country.
- It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help preempt terror plots.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) are two organisations established in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks of 2008.
- The data recovery centre for NATGRID is at Bengaluru
Do you know?
- NATGRID is exempted from the Right to Information Act, 2005 under sub-section (2) of Section 24.
- The project was supposed to go live by December 31 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Awareness in space.
Context The Orbiter and other instruments of Chandrayaan-2 mission have, in two years, gathered a wealth of new information that has added to our knowledge about the Moon and its environment.
What happened to Chandrayaan-2?
- Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, had failed to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.
- The lander and rover malfunctioned in the final moments and crash-landed, getting destroyed in the process.
Why is this mission still relevant?
- Despite the failure, the mission’s orbiter and other parts have been functioning normally, gathering information.
- Recently, the ISRO released the information gathered by the scientific payloads till now, some of which were still to be analysed and assessed.
Key information gathered from Chandrayaan-2
- Presence of water molecules on moon which is the most precise information about water till date.
- Presence of Minor elements: Chromium, manganese and Sodium have been detected for the first time through remote sensing.
- Information about solar flares: A large number of microflares outside the active region have been observed for the first time. It shall help in understanding the mechanism behind heating of the solar corona.
More about the Chandrayaan-2 Mission
- Scientists used the Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) onboard Chandrayaan-2 in September 2019 to study the Sun.
- Primary objective of Chandrayaan 2: To demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface.
- The mission consisted of an Orbiter of the Moon, Vikram (after Vikram Sarabhai) – the lander and Pragyan (wisdom) – the rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
Part of: Prelims and GS -II – Policies and interventions; Law and Policy
Context As part of India@75, the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED) is setting up an Atmanirbhar Bharat corner.
About Atmanirbhar Bharat corner
- This corner will be an exclusive space to promote GI tagged tribal art and craft products besides natural and organic products.
- With the focus on “Vocal for Local” and building an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, TRIFED is undertaking several activities, while re-dedicating its efforts towards tribal empowerment.
- The TRIFED has been actively collaborating with several ministries & agencies such as:
- Ministry of Culture.
- Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce.
- India Posts.
- Ministry of Tourism.
- Office of the Prime Minister.
- TRIFED is also setting up an Atmanirbhar Bharat corner in 75 Indian Missions/ Embassies across the world in the next 90 days by collaborating with Ministry of External Affairs.
- The first Atma Nirbhar Bharat corner has been successfully inaugurated at the Indian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand on the occasion of Independence Day.
What is TRIFED?
- It was established in August 1987 under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984 by the Government of India.
- Main objective: Institutionalising the trade of Minor forest products(MFP) and to provide the tribals of India a fair price for the surplus agricultural products produced by them.
- It is a national level cooperative body.
- Ministry: Ministry Of Tribal Affairs.
- TRIFED is mandated to bring about socio-economic development of tribals of the country by institutionalising the trade of Minor Forest Produce & Surplus Agricultural Produce (SAP) collected/ cultivated by them.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS- I – Important Geophysical phenomena
Context Recently, in a major discovery, footprints of three species of dinosaurs have been found in the Thar desert in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.
- It proves the presence of the giant reptiles in the western part of the State.
About the Discovery:
- The footprints belong to three species of dinosaurs – Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontes glenrosensis and Grallator tenuis.
- The footprints were 200 million years old.
- The dinosaur species are considered to be of the theropod type, with the distinguishing features of hollow bones and feet with three digits (like fingers).
- Theropod includes all the flesh-eating dinosaurs.
- The ‘Age of Dinosaurs’ (the Mesozoic Era – 252-66 Million Years Ago) included three consecutive geologic time periods (the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods). Different dinosaur species lived during each of these three periods.
About Thar Desert
- The name ‘Thar’ is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges. It is also called the ‘Great Indian Desert’.
- Location: Partly in Rajasthan state, northwestern India, and partly in Punjab and Sindh provinces, eastern Pakistan.
- It is bordered by the irrigated Indus River plain to the west, the Punjab Plain to the north and northeast, the Aravalli Range to the southeast, and the Rann of Kachchh to the south.
- It Presents an undulating surface, with high and low sand dunes separated by sandy plains and low barren hills, or bhakars.
- Barchan, also spelled Barkhan, crescent-shaped sand dunes produced by the action of wind predominately from one direction are also present.
- Several playas (saline lake beds), locally known as dhands, are scattered throughout the region.
- The desert supports a relatively rich biodiversity with several large mammals, notably the blue bull, blackbuck, and Indian gazelle or chinkara.
(News from PIB)
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-I – Art & Culture
- Celebrated in: Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand.
- It is an agricultural festival, observed to welcome the new rice of the season.
- It is observed on the fifth day of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhaadra (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
- People offer the newly harvested crop called Nabanha to their respective presiding deities, as a part of the rituals
News Source: PIB
Part of: Prelims and GS – II – International Relations
The 2+2 dialogue signifies the importance of the India – Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. India and Australia share an important partnership which is based on a shared vision of free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. As two democracies we have a common interest in peace and prosperity of the entire region.
- In-depth discussion on bilateral & regional issues
- Afghanistan, maritime security in Indo-Pacific, cooperation in multilateral formats & other related topics discussed
- Emphasis on ensuring free flow of trade, adherence to international rules & sustainable economic growth in entire region
- Invitation to Australia to engage in India’s growing defence industry – expand military engagements across services, facilitate greater defence information sharing and to work closely for mutual logistic support; invited Australia to engage India’s growing defence industry and to collaborate in co-production and co-development of defence equipment.
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS Prelims
In News: In a notable step forward in India’s fight against COVID-19, Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has transferred the know-how of indigenously developed Saline Gargle RT-PCR technique, used for testing COVID-19 samples.
- The Saline Gargle RT-PCR technology is simple, fast, cost-effective, patient-friendly and comfortable
- It also provides instant test results and is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, given minimal infrastructure requirements.
- The transfer of knowhow would enable the innovation to be commercialized and licensed to all capable parties, including private, government and various rural development schemes and departments. This will lead to commercial production in the form of easily usable compact kits in the light of the prevailing pandemic situation and probable third wave of COVID-19.
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS-I: Personalities in Indian national movements
Context: PM pays tribute to Subramania Bharati on his 100th Punya Tithi
About Subramania Bharati
- A Tamil writer, poet, journalist, Indian independence activist, social reformer and polyglot
- Popularly known as “Mahakavi Bharathi” (“Great Poet Bharathi”), he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time.
- His numerous works included fiery songs kindling patriotism during the Indian Independence movement.
- He fought for the emancipation of women, against child marriage, stood for reforming Brahminism and religion. He was also in solidarity with Dalits and Muslims.
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS-I: Personalities in Indian national movements
Context: PM pays tributes to Acharya Vinoba Bhave on his Jayanti
- An Indian advocate of nonviolence and human rights
- Often called Acharya (Sanskrit for teacher), he is best known for the Bhoodan and Gramdaan Movement.
- He is considered as a National Teacher of India and the spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi.
- He was an eminent philosopher. The Gita has also been translated into Marathi language by him with the name as Geetai means mother Geeta
News Source: PIB
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Governance
In News: Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) Holds Interactions with Trade Unions and Media at Mathura refinery.
What is the e-Shram portal?
- e-Shram portal is a portal through which the government aims to register 38 crore unorganised workers, such as construction labourers, migrant workforce, street vendors and domestic workers, among others.
- The workers will be issued an e-Shram card containing a 12-digit unique number, which, going ahead, will help in including them in social security schemes.
Significance of e-Shram portal – National Database on Unorganized Workers (NDUW)
- Targeted identification of the unorganized workers was a much-needed step and the portal which will be the national database of our nation builders will help take welfare schemes to their doorstep, who are the builders of our Nation.
- Targeted delivery and last mile delivery, has been a major focus of the schemes of government of India and the National Database of Unorganised workers (E-Shram portal) is another key step towards that.
News Source: PIB
- GS-2: Policies and politics of developed and developing countries
Context: Recently, U.K. government brought into effect the Age Appropriate Design Code or the Children’s Code that provides a set of regulations that will make using the digital space safer for children.
What is the Children’s Code?
- The Children’s Code is a data protection code of practice for online services likely to be used by children.
- It sets out 15 standards for online services, including in apps, games, toy and devices and even news services.
- It is rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that recognises the special safeguards children need in all aspects of their life.
What are the threats to children online?
- Research shows that within 24 hours of a social media profile being created, children were being targeted with graphic content.
- It shows that services such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are allowing children, some as young as 13 years old, to be directly targeted within 24 hours of creating an account with a stream of harmful content.
- Despite knowing the children’s age, the companies are enabling unasked contact from adult strangers
- These platforms are recommending damaging content, including material related to eating disorders, extreme diets, self-harm and suicide as well as sexualised imagery and distorted body images.
- Further, these recommendations are by no means ‘bugs’ or mistakes in the code. They are designed to maximise engagement, activity and followers — the three drivers of revenue.
- Though not intentionally designed to harm children, they are not currently creating a safe space for them to learn, explore and play
Who does the Code apply to?
- The Code applies to “information society services likely to be accessed by children”.
- This includes apps; programs; search engines; social media platforms; online messaging or internet-based voice telephony services; online marketplaces; content streaming services (like video, music or gaming services); online games; news or educational websites; and any websites offering other goods or services to users on the internet.
- Electronic services for controlling connected toys and other connected devices are also included.
- The code applies to the U.K. based companies and non-U.K. companies that use data of children in the country.
Will children in India benefit from the Code?
- It has the potential to completely transform the way that companies collect, share and use children’s data, requiring them to offer children a high level of privacy protection by default
- UK Code will force tech giants to make the entire architecture child-friendly, and not region-specific alone. If tech giants universalise their safety architecture, children across the world, including in India, will benefit from the Code.
It is high time that the Indian government incorporated child safety into its social media agenda.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Context: On September 2, the RBI launched the account aggregator framework aimed at making financial data more easily accessible.
- Under it, a number of fin-tech entities have been granted the licence by RBI to operate as account aggregators.
- Eight large banks have also agreed to share various financial data about their customers with account aggregators.
How will an account aggregator work?
- The framework will allow financial data to be exchanged between the holders of data and its users.
- The RBI has allowed a number of companies like PhonePe to act as account aggregators to facilitate this process.
- Account aggregators will act as intermediaries who will collect data from one financial entity and exchange it with another.
- For example, a bank which is processing a loan application from a potential borrower may want to access a variety of financial data about the borrower. The lending bank can access details of the borrower’s savings, past loan repayment record, mutual fund holdings and insurance holdings through an account aggregator.
- The borrower, however, will have to grant consent for the sharing of his data with the lending bank.
What are its benefits?
- At the moment, the various financial data of an individual is scattered across the databases of several financial institutions. So a person’s savings and loans data may be with a bank, his investments data may be with a mutual fund, while his insurance data may be with another financial entity.
- Under the account aggregator framework, all this data can be easily collated and shared through account aggregators with the consent of the individual.
- Proponents of the framework believe that the easier availability of data will have significant benefits for the economy.
- The framework will help financial institutions make better assessment of the creditworthiness of individuals, and thus make better loan decisions.
- Even though mechanisms such as CIBIL already exist to assess the creditworthiness of individual borrowers, their scope is limited.
- An individual’s PAN number, for instance, captures only a limited number of transactions which are of value higher than a certain minimum threshold amount.
- It is said the framework will offer a wider array of data to financial firms, making them more willing to serve creditworthy populations that they earlier ignored.
- Account aggregators can also make life easier for creditworthy customers by allowing them to share their financial data digitally with ease.
- The availability of wider financial data may also help financial institutions offer better products tailored to the needs of individual customers.
What are the safeguards provided?
- The issue of the security of the financial data of individuals will be a looming concern going forward, given the risk of data theft.
- To protect the privacy of individuals, account aggregators are supposed to receive and share financial data in an encrypted form.
- The RBI has also said the data ownership will reside with individuals.
What happens next?
- More financial firms are expected to get on board the framework given the benefits of accessing data.
- Over time, financial institutions may also mandate data from account aggregators as a condition for individuals to receive loans and other services.
- Some believe an individual’s PAN number may be a better way to access his financial data as it serves as a common link between multiple accounts maintained by an individual.
- The eventual success of the framework, however, will depend on multiple factors. The extent to which financial firms desire extensive, micro-level financial data from their customers and the enthusiasm among customers to share their data will also play a crucial role.
Connecting the dots:
Spotlight Sep 11: Discussion on New strides in Food processing sector
- GS-3: Food Processing
Context: India has made vast progress overtime in providing food security for its people and has become largely self-reliant in agriculture. Accordingly, the policy focus has shifted from attaining self-sufficiency to generating higher and stable income for the farming population. Food processing industry (FPI) is one area which has the potential to add value to farm output, create alternate employment opportunities, improve exports and strengthen the domestic supply chain.
- India, with about 11.2 per cent of total arable land in the world, is ranked first in the production of milk, pulses and jute, second in fruits and vegetables and third in cereals (Government of India, 2019).
- It is also the sixth largest food and grocery market in the world.
- Food & Grocery retail market in India further constitutes almost 65% of the total retail market in India. By 2025, India’s food processing industry is expected to be worth over half a trillion dollars.
- Through the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), the Government of India is taking all necessary steps to boost investments in the food processing industry in India. The government has sanctioned 41 food parks funded under the Mega Food Parks Scheme of which 38 have final approval; 22 are operational as of 1 August 2021.
Potential of Food processing industry in India
The importance of post-harvest management is that it has the capability to meet food requirements of a growing population by eliminating losses, making more nutritious food items from raw commodities, i.e., fruits and vegetables, and by proper processing and fortification.
- Employment Generation: It provides direct and indirect employment opportunities, because it acts as a bridge between Agriculture and Manufacturing.
- Doubling of farmers’ income: With the rise in demand for agri-products there will be commensurate rise in the price paid to the farmer, thereby increasing the income.
- Reduce malnutrition: Processed foods when fortified with vitamins and minerals can reduce the nutritional gap in the population.
- Reduce food wastage: UN estimates that 40% of production is wasted. Similarly, NITI Aayog estimated annual post-harvest losses of close to Rs 90,000 crore. With greater thrust on proper sorting and grading close to the farm gate, and diverting extra produce to FPI, this wastage could also be reduced, leading to better price realisation for farmers.
- Boosts Trade and Earns Foreign exchange: It is an important source of foreign exchange. For e.g. Indian Basmati rice is in great demand in Middle Eastern countries.
- Curbing Migration: Food Processing being a labour intensive industry will provide localized employment opportunities and thus will reduce the push factor in source regions of migration.
- Curbing Food Inflation: Processing increases the shelf life of the food thus keeping supplies in tune with the demand thereby controlling food-inflation. For e.g. Frozen Safal peas are available throughout the year.
- Crop-diversification: Food processing will require different types of inputs thus creating an incentive for the farmer to grow and diversify crops.
- Preserve the nutritive quality of food and prolongs the shelf life by preventing them from spoilage due to microbes and other spoilage agents,
- Enhances the quality and taste of food thereby bringing more choices in food basket
- Enhances consumer choices: Today, food processing allows food from other parts of the world to be transported to our local market and vice versa.
Challenges Faced by Food Processing Industry in India
Supply and Demand Side Bottlenecks
- Small and dispersed marketable surplus due to fragmented holdings, low farm productivity due to lack of mechanization, high seasonality, perishability and lack of proper intermediation (supply chain) result in lack of availability of raw material. This in turn, impedes food processing and its exports.
- Demand of processed food is mainly restricted to urban areas of India.
- More than 30% of the produce from farm gate is lost due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure.
- The NITI Aayog cited a study that estimated annual post-harvest losses close to Rs 90,000 crore.
- Lack of all weather roads and connectivity make supply erratic.
Informalization in Food Processing Industry
- The food processing industry has a high concentration of unorganised segments, representing almost 75% across all product categories. Thus, causes the inefficiencies in the existing production system.
Deficiencies in the Regulatory Environment:
- There are numerous laws, under the jurisdiction of different ministries and departments, which govern food safety and packaging.
- The multiplicity of legislation and administrative delays leads to contradictions in food safety specifications and guidelines.
- Further, most processing in India can be classified as primary processing, which has lower value-addition compared to secondary processing.
- Due to this, despite India being one of the largest producers of agricultural commodities in the world, agricultural exports as a share of GDP are fairly low in India relative to the rest of the world.
- The same proportion is around 4% for Brazil, 7% for Argentina, 9% for Thailand, while for India it is just 2%.
Besides these, issues like mounting cost of finance, lack of skilled and trained manpower, inadequate quality control and packaging units and high taxes and duties, thwart development of FPI.
The new strides to further boost the sector:
India cannot afford any wastage of food, according to FAO; every third malnourished child is an Indian. Several measures have been taken by the Indian government like National Food Security Act, 2013 and India Food Banking network. However, with the rapid increase in the population, it is of essence for the Indian government to improve the measures for preventing wastage of food.The cooperatives sector can help to decrease this wastage.
- There is a need for an integrated approach with a focus on forging backward and forward linkages, which are crucial for scaling up the economic viability of the sector.
- The regulatory framework for contract and corporate farming needs to be developed in this regard. Model land leasing law developed by NITI Aayog is a step in the right direction that needs to be implemented by states with suitable local adaptations and modifications.
- Promote the holistic development of the sector by increasing private sector participation with a well-developed framework for risk-sharing and fiscal incentives for creating infrastructure for logistics, storage, and processing. There is a need for modification in the Mega food park scheme for first-time entrepreneurs as the current cap of ten crores credit is not sufficient and has to be enhanced for the high-cost adoption of technology and enhancement of scale.
- The implementation architecture needs to be simplified for a complete overhaul of certifying and approval procedures. There is a crying need to get a single window scheme for the same.
- Ensure uniform implementation of the APMC act to increase private sector participation and also harmonisation of tax structure under GST to reduce vast fluctuations in price.
- There is also an urgent need to improve research and development (R&D) standards. This will meet stringent global standards and increase the scope for exports. The globalisation has increased trade across the borders and about 460 million tons of food valued at US$ 3 billion is traded annually. Hence, India has immense potential for global trade in agricultural and processed food products. The share of food processing exports in total exports was about 12% during the last few years. Between 2011 and 2015, India s exports of processed food products have been growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.3%. These figures reinforce the fact that India can capitalise on the export potential of the food processing sector in the forthcoming years.
- There is also a need to encourage academia and industry to commence courses in food packing, processing, biotechnology, information technology so that there would be a constant supply of skilled manpower and also help India achieve global excellence in the food processing sector.
Can you answer?
- Integration of food processing into the agricultural production cycle will help achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income. Do you agree? Substantiate.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
Q.1 According to ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 moon mission explored which area of the moon?
- Moon’s North Pole
- Moon’s South Pole
- Moon’s North-West part.
- Unexplored part of the Moon
Q.2 The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED) comes under which of the following Ministry?
- Ministry Of Tribal Affairs
- Ministry Of Commerce
- Ministry of Environment
- None of the above
Q.3 Barchans are characteristic features of which of the following regions?
- Amazon forest
- The Great Indian Desert
- Mediterranean region
- The Great Barrier Reef
ANSWERS FOR 11th Sept 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Food Emergency in Sri Lanka:
On Gender Equity in Higher Education:
On Water Scarcity in NER: