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Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

PM-KUSUM

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM-KUSUM

Mains level : Paper 3- Revitalising PM-KUSUM

Context

The Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy recently reviewed the progress of the PM-KUSUM scheme and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to accelerating solar pump adoption.

Background

  • It was launched in 2019.
  • PM-KUSUM aims to help farmers access reliable day-time solar power for irrigation, reduce power subsidies, and decarbonise agriculture.
  • PM-KUSUM provides farmers with incentives to install solar power pumps and plants in their fields.
  • Three deployment models: Pumps come in three models: off-grid solar pumps solarised agricultural feeders, or grid-connected pumps.
  • Off-grid pumps have been the most popular, but the nearly 2,80,000 systems deployed fall far short of the scheme’s target of two million by 2022.
  • The other two models are also worth scaling up for they allow farmers to earn additional income by selling solar power to discoms, and discoms to procure cheap power close to centres of consumption.

Challenges

  • Awareness challenge: Barriers to adoption include limited awareness about solar pumps.
  • Upfront contribution: The other barrier includes farmers’ inability to pay their upfront contribution.
  • Limited progress on two models: Progress on the other two models has been rather poor due to regulatory, financial, operational and technical challenges.

Suggestions

  • Extend the scheme’s timelines: Most Indian discoms have a surplus of contracted generation capacity and are wary of procuring more power in the short term.
  • Extending PM-KUSUM’s timelines beyond 2022 would allow discoms to align the scheme with their power purchase planning.
  • Level playing field: Discoms often find utility-scale solar cheaper than distributed solar (under the scheme) due to the latter’s higher costs and the loss of locational advantage due to waived inter-State transmission system (ISTS) charges.
  • To tackle the bias against distributed solar, we need to address counter-party risks and grid-unavailability risks at distribution substations, standardise tariff determination to reflect the higher costs of distributed power plants, and do away with the waiver of ISTS charges for solar plants.
  • Streamline regulation: We need to streamline land regulations through inter-departmental coordination.
  •  States should constitute steering committees comprising members from all relevant departments for this purpose.
  • Financing farmers contribution:  There is a need to support innovative solutions for financing farmers’ contributions.
  • Many farmers struggle to pay 30-40% of upfront costs in compliance with scheme requirements.
  • To ease the financial burden on farmers, we need out-of-the-box solutions.
  • Grid-connected solar pumps: Current obstacles to their adoption include concerns about their economic viability in the presence of high farm subsidies and farmers’ potential unwillingness to feed in surplus power when selling water or irrigating extra land are more attractive prospects.
  • Further, the grid-connected model requires pumps to be metered and billed for accounting purposes but suffers from a lack of trust between farmers and discoms.
  • Adopting solutions like smart meters and smart transformers and engaging with farmers can build trust and address some operational challenges.

Conclusion

These measures, combined with other agriculture schemes and complemented by intensive awareness campaigns, could give a much-needed boost to PM-KUSUM.

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Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

Illicit Proliferation of networks of N-weapons

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various treaties mentioned

Mains level : Nuclear disarmament

India has underlined the need for the international community to pay closer attention to the “illicit proliferation” of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies.

Key takeaways from India’s remarks

  • India’s remarks appeared to be a veiled reference to China and its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.
  • China’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan was in contravention with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • Several concerns have been raised over the export of nuclear materials to Islamabad by Beijing and that they are in violation of international norms and established procedures.

Do you know?

India has played a leading role in global efforts towards nuclear disarmament and was the first country to call for a ban on nuclear testing in 1954 and a non-discriminatory treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as distinct from non-dissemination, in 1965. Its no-first-use doctrine is a worldwide appreciated strategy.

Issues in Nuclear Disarmament

  • Notion of Nuclear ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-Nots’: The proponents of disarmaments are themselves nuclear armed countries thus creating a nuclear monopoly.
  • Concept of Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE): conducted for non-military purposes such as mining.

India’s commitment for de-nuclearization

India has always batted for a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework.

  • It has outlined a working paper on Nuclear Disarmament submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2006.
  • India participated in the Nuclear Security Summit process and has regularly participated in the International Conferences on Nuclear Security organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • India is also a member of the Nuclear Security Contact Group (but has signed off the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)).
  • India has expressed its readiness to support the commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
  • India couldn’t join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) due to several concerns raised by India.
  • India has piloted an annual UNGA Resolution on “Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction” since 2002, which is adopted by consensus.

Why didn’t India join NPT?

  • India is one of the only five countries that either did not sign the NPT or signed but withdrew, thus becoming part of a list that includes Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, and South Sudan.
  • India always considered the NPT as discriminatory and had refused to sign it.
  • India maintains that they are selectively applicable to the non-nuclear powers and legitimised the monopoly of the five nuclear weapons powers.

Way forward

  • India has actively supported and contributed to the strengthening of the global nuclear security architecture.
  • There is a need for the international community to pay closer attention to the illicit proliferation of networks of nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, components and relevant technologies.
  • India hopes that the international community will continue to work towards realising our collective aspiration for a nuclear weapon-free world.

 

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Back2Basics:

Nuclear Security Contact Group

  • The NSCG was established in 2016.
  • The NSCG or “Contact Group” has been established with the aim of facilitating cooperation and sustaining engagement on nuclear security after the conclusion of the Nuclear Security Summit process.
  • The Contact Group is tasked with:
  1. Convening annually on the margins of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and, as may be useful, in connection with other related meetings
  2. Discussing a broad range of nuclear security-related issues, including identifying emerging trends that may require more focused attention

Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG was set up as a response to India’s nuclear tests conducted in 1974.
  • The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

  • CTBT was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.
  • The Treaty intends to ban all nuclear explosions – everywhere, by everyone.
  • It was opened for signature in 1996 and since then 182 countries have signed the Treaty, most recently Ghana has ratified the treaty in 2011.

Fissile material cut-off treaty

  • FMCT is a proposed international agreement that would prohibit the production of the two main components of nuclear weapons: highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium.
  • Discussions on this subject have taken place at the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), a body of 65 member nations established as the sole multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament.
  • The CD operates by consensus and is often stagnant, impeding progress on an FMCT.
  • Those nations that joined the nuclear NPT as non-weapon states are already prohibited from producing or acquiring fissile material for weapons.
  • An FMCT would provide new restrictions for the five recognized nuclear weapon states (NWS—United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China), and for the four nations that are not NPT members (Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea).

Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Right to Govt. Aid is not a Fundamental Right: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Minority Rights in India

Mains level : Read the attached story

The right of an institution, whether run by a majority or minority community, to get government aid is not a fundamental right.  Both have to equally follow the rules and conditions of the aid, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

What is the case about?

  • The judgment came in an appeal filed by Uttar Pradesh against a decision of the Allahabad High Court to declare a provision of the Intermediate Education Act of 1921 unconstitutional.

Key takeaways from the Judgment

  • The SC has clarified that if the government made a policy call to withdraw aid, an institution cannot question the decision as a “matter of right”.
  • Whether it is an institution run by the majority or the minority, all conditions that have relevance to the proper utilisation of the grant-in-aid by an educational institution can be imposed.
  • All that Article 30(2) states is that on the ground that an institution is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.
  • The grant of aid to that educational institution cannot be discriminated against, if other educational institutions are entitled to receive aid.

Basis of the Judgment

  • A grant of government aid comes with accompanying conditions.
  • An institution is free to choose to accept the grant with the conditions or go its own way.
  • If an institution does not want to accept and comply with the conditions accompanying such aid, it is well open to it to decline the grant and move in its own way.
  • On the contrary, an institution can never be allowed to say that the grant of aid should be on its own terms, the Bench observed.

Various grounds discussed

The court explained why institutions cannot view government aid as a “matter of right”.

  • Government aid is a policy decision: It depends on various factors including the interests of the institution itself and the ability of the government to understand the exercise. Therefore, even in a case where a policy decision is made to withdraw the aid, an institution cannot question it as a matter of right.
  • Financial constraints and deficiencies: These are the factors which are considered relevant in taking any decision qua aid, including both the decision to grant aid and the manner of disbursement of an aid.
  • Not arbitrary decision: The bench said that a policy decision is presumed to be in public interest, and such a decision once made is not amenable to challenge, until and unless there is manifest or extreme arbitrariness, a Constitutional court is expected to keep its hands off.

 

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Back2Basics: Minority Rights in India

  • Article 15: prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion race cast sex or place of birth
  • Article 17: prohibits untouchability
  • Article 25 provides the right to practice any religion.
  • Article 26 allows religious institutions to be opened.
  • Article 27 provides that no person shall be forced to pay any taxes which is not mandatory.
  • Article 28 provides that there shall be no religious instruction to be followed in any particular educational institutions.
  • Article 29 provides that no citizen shall be denied admission in any educational institution on grounds of religion race caste.
  • Article 30 provides that minority shall not be prohibited from any educational institutions.

 

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

Mains level : Features of the ABDM

The PM has launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission to provide a digital Health ID to people which will contain their health records.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

  • The pilot project of the National Digital Health Mission was announced by PM Modi during his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, 2020.
  • The mission will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.
  • This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors and hospitals and healthcare service providers.

The key components of the project include

  • Health ID for every citizen that will also work as their health account, to which personal health records can be linked and viewed with the help of a mobile application,
  • Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR)
  • Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine

What makes this special?

  • The mission will create integration within the digital health ecosystem, similar to the role played by the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in revolutionising payments.
  • Citizens will only be a click-away from accessing healthcare facilities.

 

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Monsoon Updates

Why Cyclone Gulab could give rise to another cyclone?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tropical cyclones

Mains level : Frequent cyclonic activities in India

As a very rare occasion during monsoons, Cyclone Gulab has been developed in the Bay of Bengal and later made landfall close in Andhra Pradesh.

Tauktae, Amphan, Fani, Titli, Bulbul, Gaja… And now Gulab. As and when cyclones with intriguing names approach the Indian coasts, a common question comes to our minds: Who names these storms?

 

This time it is Pakistan, not India, who proposed this name Gulaab!

About Tropical Cyclones

  • A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure centre, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rains.
  • Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, or simply cyclone.
  • A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and the northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the north-western Pacific Ocean.
  • In the south Pacific or the Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as “tropical cyclones” or “severe cyclonic storms”.

Cyclone Gulab

  • Three factors —in-sync phase of Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), warm sea surface temperatures over the Bay of Bengal, and the formation of a low-pressure system.
  • The system’s intensification phases between low pressure – well-marked low pressure – depression – deep depression and to finally becoming Cyclone Gulab was rather rapid, even as the system moved closer to the south Odisha – north Andhra Pradesh coast, where it also made landfall.

What makes Gulab special?

  • India has a bi-annual cyclone season that occurs between March to May and October to December. But on rare occasions, cyclones do occur in June and September months.
  • Cyclones are less common during the June to September monsoon season, as there are limited or almost no favourable conditions for cyclogenesis due to strong monsoon currents.
  • This is also the period when the wind shear — that is, the difference between wind speeds at lower and upper atmospheric levels — is very high.
  • As a result, clouds do not grow vertically and monsoon depressions often fail to intensify into cyclones.
  • So it can be stated that this year, the cyclone season commenced earlier than usual. The last time a cyclone developed in the Bay of Bengal in September was Cyclone Day in 2018.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Tropical Cyclones and India

 

 

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Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

[pib] Crop varieties with special traits

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Crop Varieties with Special Traits

Mains level : GM Crops

In an endeavor to create mass awareness for adoption of climate resilient technologies,  PM will dedicate 35 crop varieties with special traits to the Nation.

About Crop Varieties with Special Traits

  • The crop varieties with special traits have been developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition.
  • Thirty-five such crop varieties with special traits like climate resilience and higher nutrient content have been developed in the year 2021.
  • These special traits crop varieties also include those that address the anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health.

Which are these varieties?

  • Drought tolerant variety of chickpea
  • Wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeonpea
  • Early maturing variety of soybean
  • Disease resistant varieties of rice
  • Biofortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean
  • Pusa Double Zero Mustard 33
  • Canola quality hybrid RCH 1 with <2% erucic acid and <30 ppm glucosinolates and
  • Soybean variety free from two anti-nutritional factors namely Kunitz trypsin inhibitor and lipoxygenase.

Try answering the PYQ:

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is constituted under the:

(a) Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

(b) Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999

(c) Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

(d) Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Indian Missile Program Updates

DRDO tests Akash Prime Missile

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Akash Missile

Mains level : NA

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested a new version of Akash Surface to Air missile Akash Prime from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha.

About Akash Missile System

  • Akash is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
  • It is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
  • It can target aircraft up to 50–80 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.
  • It has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles.
  • It is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

Upgrade in Akash Prime

  • In comparison to the existing Akash System, Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency (RF) seeker for improved accuracy.
  • Other improvements also ensure more reliable performance under low temperature environment at higher altitudes.

 

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