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20th Livestock Census

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 20th Livestock Census

Mains level : State of livestocks in India



News

  • The Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying released the results of the latest livestock census, which provides headcount data of domesticated animals in the country.

Livestock Census

  • Under the livestock census, various species of animals possessed by households, household enterprises or non-household enterprises and institutions are counted at site — both in rural and urban areas.
  • In other words, it covers all domesticated animals in a given period of time.
  • India has been conducting livestock censuses periodically since 1919-20. The last livestock census was conducted in 2012.
  • This is the 20th one, started in October 2018. For the first time data has been collected online through tablet computers.

Which animals and birds are counted in this census?

  • The census tracks the population of various species of domesticated animals such as cattle, buffalo, mithun, yak, sheep, goat, pig, horse, pony, mule, donkey camel, dog, rabbit and elephant and poultry birds (fowl, duck, emu, turkeys, quail and other poultry birds).

What are the population trends for different kinds of cattle?

  • While the overall cattle population has increased by 0.8 per cent between 2012-19, the population of indigenous cattle has come down by 6 per cent — from 151 million to 142.11 million.
  • However, this pace of decline is much slower than the 9 per cent decline between 2007 and 2012.
  • In contrast, the population of the total exotic/crossbred cattle has increased by almost 27 per cent to 50.42 million in 2019.

How do the data show an eastward shift of cattle, as mentioned earlier?

  • West Bengal has emerged as the state with the largest number of cattle in 2019 followed by Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • In 2012, Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of cattle but this population has come down by almost 4 per cent since.
  • The cattle population is also down in Madhya Pradesh (4.42%), Maharashtra (10.07%) and Odisha (15.01%).
  • States that registered the maximum increases between 2012 and 2019 were West Bengal (15.18%), Bihar (25.18%) and Jharkhand (28.16%).

What are the implications of the decline in the numbers of indigenous cattle?

  • Due to continuous fall in productivity, indigenous breeds of cattle have become liabilities for farmers, forcing them to desert the unproductive cows.
  • Farmers find other animals such as buffaloes, goats and sheep much more productive.
  • Unlike cows, if these animals become unproductive, they can be sold and slaughtered for further processing.
  • Experts believe this could have long term health and environmental impacts because the milk of indigenous breed has higher nutritional value than that of crossbreeds.
  • Moreover, there is a danger of losing these indigenous breeds, which have been developed and sustained by generations from time immemorial.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

State of the World’s Children Report 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : State of the World’s Children Report 2019

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • UNICEF released its State of the World’s Children report for 2019.

Highlights of the report

  • The UNICEF report found that one in three children under the age of five years
  • Around 200 million children worldwide — are either undernourished or overweight.

Children in India

  • In India, every second child is affected by some form of malnutrition.
  • The report said 35% of Indian children suffer from stunting due to lack of nutrition, 17% suffer from wasting, 33% are underweight and 2% are overweight.
  • According to government figures, stunting and wasting among children in the country has reduced by 3.7 per cent and the number of underweight children have reduced by 2.3 per cent from 2016 to 2018.

Other details

  • One in five children under age 5 has vitamin A deficiency, which is a severe health problem in 20 states.
  • Every second woman in the country is anaemic, as are 40.5% children.
  • One in ten children are pre-diabetic.
  • Indian children are being diagnosed with adult diseases such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

India’s among its neighbors

  • Among countries in South Asia, India fares the worst (54%) on prevalence of children under five who are either stunted, wasted or overweight.
  • Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow at 49% and 46%, respectively. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the better performing countries in the region, at 28% and 32%, respectively.
  • India also has the highest burden of deaths among children under five per year, with over 8 lakh deaths in 2018.
  • It is followed by Nigeria, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 8.6 lakh, 4.09 lakh and 2.96 lakh deaths per year, respectively.
Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

India Innovation Index 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India Innovation Index 2019

Mains level : Significance of the index



News

  • NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner released the India Innovation Index (III) 2019.

India Innovation Index (III) 2019

  • The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven UTs in India.
  • It intends to perform the following three functions-
  1. Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores
  2. Recognizing opportunities and challenges, and
  3. Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation
  • The India Innovation Index 2019 is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.
  • The states have been bifurcated into three categories: major states, north-east and hill states, and union territories / city states / small states.

Performance of states

  • Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
  • Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh form the remaining top ten major states respectively.
  • The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India.
  • Sikkim and Delhi take the top spots among the north- eastern & hill states, and union territories/city states/small states respectively.
  • Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most efficient states in translating inputs into output.

Significance

  • The study examines the innovation ecosystem of Indian states and union territories.
  • The aim is to create a holistic tool which can be used by policymakers across the country to identify the challenges to be addressed and strengths to build on when designing policies.
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ex Eastern Bridge-V

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Indian Air Force is participating in a Bilateral Joint exercise with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO), named Ex Eastern Bridge-V.

Ex Eastern Bridge-V

  • It is a bilateral Joint exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF) with Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO).
  • For the first time, MiG-29 fighter aircraft will be participating in an International Exercise outside India.
  • IAF contingent comprises of MiG-29 and C-17 aircraft. MiG-29 will be exercising with Royal Air Force Oman’s Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16 and Hawk.

Significance

  • The exercise will enhance inter-operability during mutual operations between the two Air Forces and will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.
  • The participation of IAF in the exercise will also promote professional interaction, exchange of experience and operational knowledge.
  • Besides strengthening bilateral relations, it will also provide a good opportunity to the air-warriors to operate in an international environment.
Indian Air Force Updates

[pib] GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) Initiative

Mains Paper 2 : E-Governance |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GOAL

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives



News

  • Union Ministry of Tribal Affairannounced the second phase of GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) initiative.

About GOAL

  • It is a Facebook program aimed at inspiring, guiding and encouraging tribal girls from across India to become village-level digital young leaders for their communities.
  • Launched earlier this year in March, GOAL connects underprivileged young tribal women with senior expert mentors in the areas of business, fashion and arts to learn digital and life skills.
  • In the second phase of the program, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Fb together will digitally mentor 5000 young women in India’s tribal dominated districts.

Initiatives under GOAL

  • The GOAL program will provide economically and socially marginalized young women with the tools and guidance they need to succeed, using technology they may otherwise have not had access to.
  • The program will include weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions, focused on a range of skills such as digital literacy, entrepreneurship and online safety.
  • In total, more than 200,000 hours of guidance will be provided using Facebook family of apps including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Digital India Initiatives

[oped of the day] A cost-effective way to power generation

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Power generation and energy security


Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

India has been aggressively expanding its power generation capacity. Today’s installed capacity of 358 GW is about four times what it was in 1997-98. It shows a doubling of capacity in each of the past two decades. 

Sources of energy

    • Drivers – The major growth drivers have been renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, and investment from the private sector. 
    • Private – The private sector accounts for almost half the installed generation capacity. 
    • Renewables – For the last three years, growth in generation from renewables has been close to 25%. 
    • Aggressive targets – India aims to have the capacity of renewable of 175 GW by 2022 and 500 GW by 2030. Solar and wind power plants would account for much of the targeted capacity from renewables. 

Realising the renewable targets – Thermal challenge

    • %share – the thermal generation capacity accounts for about two-thirds of the installed generation capacity in the country. Though there is increasing awareness about the environmental impact of fossil fuels, the reliance on thermal plants is unlikely to end any time soon. 
    • Capacity
      • Plant capacities are large and therefore targeted capacity additions can be achieved by constructing fewer such plants. 
      • It would take 18 solar or wind projects to generate the same quantity of power as one thermal plant. 
      • Administrative overheads that would have to be incurred in setting up the multiple projects could significantly add to the cost.
    • Cost of projects – infrastructure projects have an inverse relationship between size and unit cost, indicating economies of scale. 
        • As the capacity of power plants increases, the average cost of power per MW reduces. 
        • The average cost per MW for a thermal plant is about 25% lower than that of a solar plant. 
        • focus on developing larger solar and wind power plants that can also exploit similar economies of scale.

Project ownership

    • Private sector – Over the last two decades, 63% of the total planned generation capacity has come from the private sector. 
      • Private investment in renewables accounts for almost 90% of investment in wind and solar projects. 
    • Cost of private solar power – Private sector plants have an average cost per MW that is 12-34% lower for all categories except solar. 
      • Lower capacity cost has a direct impact on electricity tariffs.
      • Capacity costs account for more than 90% of the levelized cost of electricity, irrespective of the fuel type. 
    • Creating additional capacity at a lower cost will play a big role in keeping electricity tariffs low. 

Marginal capacity costs

    • Additional capacity – Even as total capacity in generation has been growing, the cost of installing additional capacity has fallen. 
    • Reasons for the decline could be as follows :
      • Advances in technology have resulted in the construction of larger power plants. 
      • Compared to the 15-year period before 2013, power plants installed in the past six years have on average been significantly bigger
      • The economies of scale in power generation. 
      • An increasing share of private sector investment. The share of the private sector in capacity creation has been 70% in the last decade as compared to 46% in the decade before that.

Conclusion and way ahead

    • With economic growth, the demand for power in India is only going to increase further. 
    • China added generation capacity that was equal to a third of India’s total installed capacity in 2018. 
    • India should create generation assets with the lowest unit cost by optimising plant capacities and encouraging private sector investment
    • The declining marginal cost for capacity can be used to replace existing capacity with newer capacity that are more efficient.
Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

[op-ed snap] The gender digital divide

Mains Paper 1 : Role Of Women & Women Organization |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Gender Digital Divide


Context

India’s digital divide between men and women is huge.

Data

  • At a recent session at the Indian Mobile Congress, it was pointed out that only 35% of Indian women have access to the internet. 
  • According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, male users account for 67% of India’s online population; women account for just 29%.
  • A large proportion of Indian women remain cut off from the world’s most significant phenomenon of recent decades.
  • The Internet has become a great enabler. The gap is not just socially appalling, it is also terrible for the country’s economic prospects. 
  • According to GSMA’s The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019, closing the gender gap in mobile internet use in developing countries could add $700 billion to their combined economy over the next five years.

Internet as an enabler

  • The impact isn’t just about money but also the empowerment of women through information. 
  • Those who have the means to cross-check assertions made in social settings are that much more likely to exercise greater agency in their lives. 
  • Greater female presence online could also make the internet a nicer place, given the bad civic sense—trolls, fake news, and various misdeeds—that prevails in large parts of cyberspace. 

Conclusion

The divide may mirror India’s structural inequities. A failure to address the gap will hurt us all.

Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] There is a contradiction in trying to attract foreign investors before reforming labour, land acquisition laws

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : FDI India - challenges


Context

India launched the Make in India campaign in 2014 with these words: “Sell anywhere but manufacture here.” 

Objectives

    • Emulate China — India wanted to emulate China in attracting foreign investment to industrialise India. 
    • Manufacturing growth – to increase the manufacturing sector’s growth rate to 12-14% per annum.
    • Manufacturing share – to increase this sector’s share in the economy from 16 to 25% of the GDP by 2022.
    • Employment – to create 100 million additional jobs by then.

Status of FDI & exports

    • FDI – Foreign direct investment has increased from $16 billion in 2013-14 to $36 billion in 2015-16. 
    • Stagnant – FDIs have plateaued since 2016 and are not contributing to India’s industrialisation. 
    • Declining – FDIs in the manufacturing sector are on the wane. In 2017-18, they were just above $7 billion, as against $9.6 billion in 2014-15. 
    • Services – they cornered most of the FDIs — $23.5 billion, more than three times that of the manufacturing sector.
    • Export-led growth – Few investors have been attracted by this prospect. India’s share in the global exports of manufactured products remains around 2% — China’s is around 18%.

Reasons for failure

    • Shell companies – a large fraction of the Indian FDI is neither foreign nor direct but comes from Mauritius-based shell companies. Most of these investments were “black money” from India, which was routed via Mauritius. 
    • Productivity – The productivity of Indian factories is low.
      • According to a McKinsey report, workers in India’s manufacturing sector are almost four and five times less productive than their counterparts in Thailand and China. 
      • This is not just because of insufficient skills, but also because the size of the industrial units is too small for attaining economies of scale, investing in modern equipment and developing supply chains. 
    • Small companies – Labour regulations are more complicated for plants with more than 100 employees. Government approval is required under the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 before laying off any employees and the Contract Labour Act of 1970 requires government and employee approval for simple changes in an employee’s job description or duties.
    • Infrastructure is also a problem area. 
    • Although electricity costs are about the same in India and China, power outages are much higher in India.
    • Transportation takes much more time in India. 
      • According to Google Maps, it takes about 12.5 hours to travel the 1,213 km distance between Beijing to Shanghai. A Delhi to Mumbai trip of 1,414 km takes about 22 hours. 
      • Average speeds in China are about 100 km per hour, while in India, they are about 60 km per hour. 
      • Railways in India have saturated while Indian ports have constantly been outperformed by many Asian countries.
      • The 2016 World Bank’s Global Performance Index ranked India 35th among 160 countries. Singapore was ranked fifth, China 25th and Malaysia 32nd. 
      • The average ship turnaround time in Singapore was less than a day; in India, it was 2.04 days.
    • Governance – Bureaucratic procedures and corruption continue to make India less attractive to investors.
      • In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, India is ranked 77 among 190 countries. 
      • India ranks 78 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index
      • To acquire land to build a plant remains difficult. 
      • India has slipped 10 places in the latest annual Global Competitiveness Index compiled by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

Outcomes

    • There is clearly a contradiction in the attempt to attract foreign investors to Make in India before completing the reforms of labour and land acquisition laws. 
    • Liberalization is not the panacea for all that ails the economy, but it is a prerequisite if India intends to follow an export-oriented growth pattern.

Steps in the direction

    • Reduction of the company tax from about 35 to about 25% comparable with most of India’s neighbors. 
    • This is also consistent with the government’s effort to compete with Southeast Asian countries, to attract FDIs. 
    • In the context of the US-China trade dispute, several companies will shift their plants from China to other Asian countries. 
    • According to the Japanese financial firm Nomura, only three of the 56 companies that decided to relocate from China moved to India. Of them, Foxconn is a major player which will be now assembling its top-end iPhones in India.

New challenge

India will have to face another external challenge too as it sees capital fleeing the country. The net outflow of capital has jumped as the rupee has dropped from 54 a dollar in 2013 to more than 70 to a dollar in 2019.

FDI in Indian economy

KHON Ramlila

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : KHON Ramlila

Mains level : India- Thailand cultural relations



News

  • The Culture Department of Uttar Pradesh government is going to organise the country’s first training and performance programme of world famous KHON (खोन) Ramlila.

Khon Ramlila

  • KHON Ramlila of Thailand is included in the list of UNESCO’s Intangible cultural heritage and it’s a form of masked dance depicting the scenes of Ramlila.
  • It has no dialogues and background voices narrate the whole story of Ramayana.
  • KHON Ramlila’s performance is also a visual delight famous for its beautiful attire and golden masks.
Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

Rangdum Monastery

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rangdum Monastery

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • The Rangdum monastery in Ladakh in Kargil district could soon be given the status “monument of national importance” by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Rangdum Monastery

  • It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelugpa sect, situated on top of a small but steep sugarloaf hill at an altitude of 4,031 m (13,225 ft) at the head of the Suru Valley, in Ladakh.
  • The 18th century monastery is “perched picturesquely on a top of a hillock like an ancient fort”.
  • The main highlight of the monastery is its central prayer hall with an amazing collection of Tibetan and other artifacts.
  • Apart from the monastery, the Rangdum locality, located 130 km from Kargil town, also serves as the base for various trekking routes.

About ASI

  • The ASI is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture.
  • It is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.
History- Important places, persons in news

Media coverage of terrorism

Mains Paper 3 : Organized Crime & Terrorism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Regulating role of social media against organized terrorism



News

  • In a conference of chiefs of Anti-Terrorism Squads, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval referred to former UK PM Margaret Thatcher on her remarks on role of media against terrorism.

Role of media in combating terrorism

  • Media is a very important organ to fight terrorism.
  • As Margaret Thatcher said, if terrorists take action and the media is quiet, the terrorism will end.
  • Terrorists terrorize people. If media does not write, nobody would come to know.

The context

  • In June 1985, militants affiliated with Hezbollah hijacked Trans World Airlines flight 847, taking more than 150 passengers hostage.
  • A US Navy diver was killed, and the hostages were released in batches in a prisoner exchange with Israel.
  • The hijacking got huge media coverage across the world.
  • On 15 July 1985, Thatcher spoke about the hijacking where she said that we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.

What Margaret Thatcher said

  • In our societies we do not believe in constraining the media, still less in censorship.
  • The media should agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, a code under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists’ morale or their cause.
  • For newspapers and television, acts of terrorism inevitably make good copy and compelling viewing.
  • The hijacker and the terrorist thrive on publicity: without it, their activities and their influence are sharply curtailed.
  • There is a fearful progression, which the terrorists exploit to the full.
  • They see how acts of violence and horror dominate the newspaper columns and television screens of the free world.
  • They see how that coverage creates a natural wave of sympathy for the victims and pressure to end their plight no matter what the consequence. And the terrorists exploit it.
  • Violence and atrocity command attention. We must not play into their hands.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Global Hunger Index 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GHI

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • The Global Hunger Index 2019 was recently released.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

  • The GHI has been brought out almost every year by Welthungerhilfe lately in partnerships with Concern Worldwide since 2000; this year’s report is the 14th one.
  • The reason for mapping hunger is to ensure that the world achieves “Zero Hunger by 2030” — one of the SDGs laid out by the United Nations.
  • A low score gets a country a higher ranking and implies a better performance.
  • It is for this reason that GHI scores are not calculated for certain high-income countries.
  • Each country’s data are standardised on a 100-point scale and a final score is calculated after giving 33.33% weight each to components 1 and 4, and giving 16.66% weight each to components 2 and 3.

For each country in the list, the GHI looks at four indicators:

  • Undernourishment (which reflects inadequate food availability): calculated by the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient)
  • Child Wasting (which reflects acute undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, those who have low weight for their height)
  • Child Stunting (which reflects chronic undernutrition): calculated by the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, those who have low height for their age)
  • Child Mortality (which reflects both inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environment): calculated by the mortality rate of children under the age of five.

India’s performance

  • The latest GHI has ranked India a lowly 102 among the 117 countries it has mapped.
  • India is one of the 47 countries that have “serious” levels of hunger.
  • In 2018, India was pegged at 103 but last year 119 countries were mapped.
  • So while the rank is one better this year, in reality, India is not better off in comparison to the other countries.

Global scene

  • On the whole, the 2019 GHI report has found that the number of hungry people has risen from 785 million in 2015 to 822 million.
  • It further states that “multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve ‘low’ levels of hunger by 2030”.

India’s score relative to its neighbors

  • Among the BRICS grouping, India is ranked the worst, with China at 25 and a score of just 6.5.
  • Within South Asia, too, India is behind every other country.
  • Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan (in that order) are all ahead of India.

Why is India ranked so low on GHI?

  • There is one category — Child Wasting, that is, children with low weight for their age — where India has worsened.
  • In other words, the percentage of children under the age of 5 years suffering from wasting has gone up from 16.5 in 2010 to 20.8 now.
  • Wasting is indicative of acute undernutrition and India is the worst among all countries on this parameter.
  • India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent — the highest wasting rate of any country in this report for which data or estimates were available.
Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

[pib] Food Safety Mitra (FSM) Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FSM Scheme

Mains level : Food safety measures



News

  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the ‘Food Safety Mitra (FSM)’ scheme, along with the ‘Eat Right Jacket’, and ‘Eat Right Jhola’ to strengthen food safety administration and scale up the ‘Eat Right India’ movement.

FSM scheme

  • The scheme will support small and medium scale food businesses to comply with the food safety laws and facilitate licensing and registration, hygiene ratings and training.
  • Apart from strengthening food safety, this scheme would also create new employment opportunities for youth, particularly with food and nutrition background.
  • The FSMs would undergo training and certification by FSSAI to do their work and get paid by food businesses for their services.

Eat Right Jacket

  • The ‘Eat Right Jacket’ will be used by the field staff.
  • This jacket has a smart design to hold tech devices like tablets/smart phone, a QR code and RFID tag for identification and tracking.

Eat Right Jhola

  • The ‘Eat Right Jhola’, a reusable cloth bag shall replace plastic bags for grocery shopping in various retail chains.
  • Since on repeated use, bags are often contaminated with microorganisms and bacteria, proper and regular washing of cloth bags is essential to ensure safety and hygiene.
  • These cloth bags are being provided on rental basis through a private textile rental service company.
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Tulagi Island

Mains Paper 2 : India & Its Neighborhood - Relations |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tulagi Island

Mains level : Chinese ambitious naval expansion



News

  • China is leasing an entire Pacific Island named Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. This has sparked worldwide concerns.

Tulagi Island

  • Tulagi is a small island (5.5 km x 1 km, area 2,08 km²) in Solomon Islands, just off the south coast of Ngella Sule.
  • The town of the same name on the island was the capital of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate from 1896 to 1942 and is today the capital of the Central Province.
  • The capital of what is now the state of Solomon Islands moved to Honiara, Guadalcanal, after World War II.
  • The island was originally chosen by the British as a comparatively isolated and healthier alternative to the disease-ridden larger islands of the Solomon Islands archipelago.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[oped of the day] For a wider food menu

Mains Paper 2 : Poverty & Hunger |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hunger Index

Mains level : India - Malnutrition


Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.

Context

The Prime Minister announced in Mann Ki Baat address that September is to be observed as ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’. He urged people to support the government’s nutrition campaign to ensure a healthier future for women and children. 

State of malnutrition

    • Across income strata – Both poor and affluent families are affected by malnutrition due to lack of awareness.
    • Decline – Efforts by the government have led to a decline in malnutrition by 2% per annum. 
    • Leading cause of death – According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study by the University of Washington, malnutrition is among the leading causes of death and disability in India, followed by dietary risks including poor diet choices. 
    • Large no of undernourished – FAO estimates that 194.4 million people in India, about 14.5% of the total population, are undernourished. 
    • Global Hunger Index 2018 – it ranks India 103 out of 119 countries on the basis of three leading indicators: 
      • the prevalence of wasting and stunting in children under five years of age
      • child mortality rate under five years of age
      • the proportion of undernourished in the population

Poshan Abhiyaan

    • Flagship program – aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
    • An integrated approach – It is an amalgamation of scientific principles, political fortitude, and technical ingenuity. 
    • Zero Hunger – The key nutrition interventions and strategies contribute to the targets of the World Health Assembly for nutrition and the SDGs on “zero hunger”.

Zero Hunger – challenges

    • Dimensions of malnutrition – Achieving zero hunger requires not only addressing hunger, but also the associated aspect of malnutrition. 
    • Healthy diet – Healthy diets are an integral element of food and nutrition security. Food consumption patterns have changed and resulted in the disappearance of many nutritious native foods such as millets. 
    • Foodgrain productionWhile foodgrain production has increased over five times since Independence, it has not sufficiently addressed the issue of malnutrition. 
    • The focus of agriculture on staplesAgriculture sector focused on increasing food production, particularly staples, which led to lower production and consumption of indigenous traditional crops/grains, fruits, and other vegetables.  
    • Food monotony – FAO’s work has demonstrated that dependence on a few crops has negative consequences for ecosystems, food diversity and health. Food monotony increases the risk of micronutrient deficiency. 
    • Overreliance on a few staple crops coupled with low dietary diversity is a leading cause of persistent malnutrition. 
    • Intensive monoculture agricultural practices can perpetuate the food and nutrition security problem by degrading the quality of land, water and the food derived through them.
    • Lifestyles in cities pose other dietary problems. 
    • Urban food planning needs to incorporate nutritional security and climate resilience.

Agricultural biodiversity 

    • It ensures a wider food menu to choose from. 
    • Small farmers, livestock and seed keepers in India are on the front-line of conserving the unique agrobiodiversity of the country. 
    • The loss of globally significant species and genetic diversity has an adverse impact on diets.

[op-ed snap] Let’s focus on demand for education

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : A new approach to Education


Context

The work, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty draws insights from various ground-level experiments that involve field trials in poverty-stricken areas. They offer policy advice based on their learnings. 

Applying to education in India

    • India should go beyond the mere supply of schools, getting children into classrooms and focus on the demand for education.
    • The generation of demand is not always easy, especially in remote areas that aren’t exposed to the modern economy. 
    • School enrolment depends on the returns that families foresee on their investment. 
    • A study was conducted in three randomly selected villages in northern India. 
    • Exposed to job opportunities for women at business process outsourcing (BPO) centers, families began to re-evaluate their returns and the school enrolment of girls went up significantly.

Quality of education

    • Education quality is essential for demand to rise, and supply lacunae act as a hindrance. 
    • Due to the exposure via the internet, demand appears to be increasing, but the government’s supply of education is at odds with new patterns of demand. 
    • Very few state-run schools in India are English medium while education in English is what the country’s have-nots are increasingly looking for. 

Conclusion

India needs to work on both demand and supply. And the latter may still be what it’s best equipped to reform.

Explained: Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)

Mains Paper 3 : Inclusive Growth & Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)

Mains level : Applications of RCT in poverty alleviation


News

  • The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to three economists for their pioneering research into the use of experimental approaches to fight global poverty.
  • The new Nobel laureates are considered to be instrumental in using randomized controlled trials to test the effectiveness of various policy interventions to alleviate poverty.

Randomized Controlled Trial

  • A RCT is an experiment that is designed to isolate the influence that a certain intervention or variable has on an outcome or event.
  • A social science researcher who wants to find the effect that employing more teachers in schools has on children’s learning outcomes, for instance, can conduct a randomized controlled trial to find the answer.
  • The use of randomized controlled trials as a research tool was largely limited to fields such as biomedical sciences where the effectiveness of various drugs was gauged using this technique.
  • The Nobel laureates’ trio applied RCT to the field of economics beginning in the 1990s.
  • Kremer first used the technique to study the impact that free meals and books had on learning in Kenyan schools.
  • Banerjee and Ms. Duflo later conducted similar experiments in India and further popularised RCTs through their book Poor Economics, published in 2011.

Why is RCT so popular?

  • At any point in time, there are multiple factors that work in tandem to influence various social events.
  • RCTs allow economists and other social science researchers to isolate the individual impact that a certain factor alone has on the overall event.
  • For instance, to measure the impact that hiring more teachers can have on children’s learning, researchers must control for the effect that other factor such as intelligence, nutrition, climate, economic and social status etc.
  • RCTs promise to overcome this problem through the use of randomly picked samples.
  • Using these random samples, they believe, researchers can then conduct experiments by carefully varying appropriate variables to find out the impact of these individual variables on the final event.

Criticisms of RCT

  • A popular critic of randomized controlled trials is economist Angus Deaton, who won the economics Nobel Prize in 2015.
  • He has contended in his works that simply choosing samples for an RCT experiment in a random manner does not really make these samples identical in their many characteristics.
  • While two randomly chosen samples might turn out to be similar in some cases, he argued, there are greater chances that most samples are not really similar to each other.
  • RCTs are more suited for research in the physical sciences where it may be easier to carry out controlled experiments.
Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

World Economic Outlook, 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WEO report

Mains level : Economic slowdown in India



News

  • In the gloomy global economic picture painted by the IMF, India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy, tying with China.

Growth projections for India

  • IMF has projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for the current fiscal year, despite an almost one per cent cut in the forecast.
  • The report projected India’s economy to pick up and grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year.
  • The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent this year and 3.4 per cent next year amid a “synchronised slowdown”.
  • IMF’s projected growth rate of 6.1 per cent for 2019-20 is consistent with the Indian Monetary Policy Committee’s forecast.

Mapping the slowdown

  • India’s economy decelerated due to sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.
  • It added that corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty was other factor that weighed on demand.
  • The global slowdown is due to rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in developed countries.

Suggestions for India

  • The IMF suggested that India should use monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms to address cyclical weakness and strengthen confidence.
  • A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term.
  • This should be supported by subsidy-spending rationalization and tax-base enhancing measures, said the report.
  • Other measures it suggested included reducing the public sector’s role in the financial system, reforming the hiring and dismissal regulations that would help incentivise job creation and absorb the country’s large demographic dividend”, and land reforms to expedite infrastructure development.

Crisis looming on Auto Sector

  • The auto sector is one of the areas seriously affected globally.
  • Global car sales fell by three per cent last year, while the number of automobile units manufactured declined by 1.7 per cent, in value terms it fell by 2.4 per cent.
  • The number of auto units produced by China fell by four per cent, its first decline in more than two decades, according to the WEO.
  • It said the two main reasons for the decline of the auto sector were the removal of tax breaks in China and the rollout of new carbon emission tests in Europe.
  • The auto industry had a large global footprint and vehicles and related parts are the world’s fifth largest export product, accounting for about 8 percent of global goods exports in 2018.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

One Nation One FASTag Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RFID technology

Mains level : One Nation One FASTag Scheme



News

  • Minister of Road Transport and Highways inaugurated the scheme.

One Nation One FASTag scheme

  • The ‘One Nation One FASTag’ scheme will be implemented from December 1.
  • The plan aims to integrate the collection of toll digitally and ensure seamless mobility of vehicles across India.
  • It can be availed upon activation by new cars having Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on national and state highways throughout the country.

Why such scheme?

  • At present, 60 lakh vehicles in India have FASTags.
  • According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), these devices will make passing through tolls considerably smoother since drivers will no longer have to carry cash or stop to make a transaction.

What is ‘FASTag’?

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.
  • As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.
  • Sensors are placed on toll barriers, and the barriers open for vehicles having valid FASTags.
  • A FASTag is valid for five years and needs to be recharged only as per requirement.
Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

Microbial fuel cells

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microbial fuel cells

Mains level : Microbial fuel cells and its applications



News

  • The London Zoo has used plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a fern.

Microbial fuel cells

  • They are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate current.
  • Electrons produced by the bacteria are transferred to the negative terminal and flow to the positive terminal.
  • Plants naturally deposit biomaterial as they grow which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil.
  • This creates energy that can be harnessed by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.

Benefits over other power sources

  • Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight.
  • On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.
Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology