May 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

National Institute of Nutrition

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIN

Mains level : NIN and its mandate



News

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has said that it stands by its findings certifying mid-day meals without onion and garlic provided by the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) in Karnataka schools as compliant with nutritional norms laid down by the State government.

Issue over NIN decision

  • APF provides food under the government’s mid-day meals programme at 2,814 schools in the State.
  • Absence of onion and garlic from meals made the food unpalatable and resulted in children consuming less quantity of food.
  • The issue is not just about absorption of nutrients, but is also about the food not being as per local tastes.
  • The most important question that authorities are glossing over is why not provide onion and garlic, which are available all round the year and are cheaper than other ingredients.

About NIN

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) is an Indian Public health, Nutrition and Translational research center located in Hyderabad.
  • The institute is one of the oldest research centers in India, and the largest center, under the Indian Council of Medical Research, located in the vicinity of Osmania University.
  • It was founded by Sir Robert McCarrison in the year 1918 as ‘Beri-Beri’ Enquiry Unit in a single room laboratory at the Pasteur Institute, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
  • Within a short span of seven years, this unit blossomed into a “Deficiency Disease Enquiry” and later in 1928, emerged as full-fledged “Nutrition Research Laboratories” (NRL) with Dr. McCarrison as its first Director.
  • It was later shifted to Hyderabad in 1958.
  • At the time of its golden jubilee in 1969, it was renamed as National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

Mandate of NIN

  • Periodic Assessment of Nutrient intakes, Health and Nutrition status of the population for optimal health, and assist the Government and regulatory bodies in policy making
  • Establishment of Dietary Reference Intake values, Recommended Dietary allowances, Dietary guidelines for Indian population; and assessment of Nutrient Composition of Foods
  • Identify various nutrition deficiency disorders prevalent among different segments of the population
  • Conduct operational research for planning and implementation of National Nutrition Programmes in the country
  • Conduct surveys and study the risk factors of NCDs through multidisciplinary research
  • Conduct innovative basic science Research on nutrient interactions, requirements, responses etc
  • Identify and study food and environmental safety challenges for providing scientific input for policy and regulation
  • Development of human resource in nutrition and also provide evidence-based nutrition knowledge to the community
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

Mains level : Multiple facets of Disasters in India and thier effective management


News

  • The Face of Disasters 2019 report was recently published by Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS).

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

  • The ‘Face of Disasters 2019’ report released by SEEDS as part of its 25th anniversary, analyses past trends, looking at disasters from a broader perspective to capture their varied facets.
  • The report talks about the need to look at disaster vulnerabilities that lie under the radar, waiting to strike.
  • Eight key areas have emerged that will be critical to consider as we look ahead:
  1. Water and the changing nature of disaster risk: A ‘new normal’ of rainfall variability is bringing challenges of too much and too little water, often in parallel.
  2. No disaster is ‘natural’: Risks lurking under the radar slip through the cracks because they don’t meet the idea of a ‘natural disaster’.
  3. The silent events: The disasters that go unseen leave those affected at even greater risk.
  4. Land becomes water (and water becomes land): Changes to the coastline are already affecting livelihood sources and will be hotspots for vulnerability in the future.
  5. The complexity of disaster impact: Beyond official ‘damages’, the long-term and uncaptured disaster impacts have life-changing consequences for affected communities.
  6. The urban imperative: Risk is rapidly urbanising and will affect everyone.
  7. Transformations in the third pole: Himalayan glaciers are melting, with serious implications for the whole region.
  8. Planning for what you can’t see: Earthquake risk is looming large under the radar, but are we prepared?

Significance of the report

  • Analysis of past trends shows us that 2019 will see unusual flooding, as well as heatwaves and drought that are already ongoing.
  • The complexity of disasters today requires a proactive and multi-pronged approach.
  • A single mega-disaster can wipe out hard-won development gains and recurrent small-scale stresses keep vulnerable families in a cycle of poverty.
  • While this multiple event pattern is repeated every year, only a few really capture the public attention. Other risks continue to intensify under the radar.

Way Forward

  • Current trends are reinforcing that disasters have multiple facets and complexities.
  • In 2018, India witnessed nearly every type of natural hazard, except a major earthquake and related events.
  • Floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, lightning strikes, cyclones and even hailstorms, a wide range of disasters impacted most of the country.
  • This poses some critical questions and issues and also points to risks that lie ahead. At the core is the idea that disasters cannot be seen in isolation anymore.
  • There is a clear need for comprehensive understanding of risks, and hyper-localised plans and allocation of resources to reduce them.

Back2Basics

Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS)

  • SEEDS, a non profit voluntary organization, is a collective endeavor of young professionals drawn from development related fields.
  • It originated as an informal group of likeminded persons, getting together for the purpose of creative research projects of academic interest.
  • The group was later formalized in early 1994 and has been active in the field ever since.
  • It is involved in research activities in Community Development, Disaster Management, Environmental Planning, Transport Planning, and Urban and Regional Planning.
  • Activities are carried out on behalf of government, semi – government and international development agencies. Independent programs on vital issues are also taken up.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) Survey

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ADR

Mains level: Decriminalization of politics in India


News

  • A nationwide survey involving more than 2.7 lakh people revealed that for 41.34% respondents, distribution of liquor, cash and freebies was an important factor behind voting for a particular candidate in an election, according to the ADR.

ADR survey of India

  • This is the third all-India survey commissioned by the ADR.
  • 86% interviewees felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly.
  • 89% were willing to vote for a candidate with criminal records if the candidate had done good work in the past.

Evaluating Govt. Performance

  • The respondents rated the government’s performance on 31 listed issues as below average.
  • On a scale of one to five, the respondents gave an average of 2.58 for better public transport, followed by 2.53 on the issue of electricity for domestic use and 2.52 for drinking water.
  • The government’s performance on initiatives against river and lake water pollution was rated as 2.51; 2.48 for empowerment of women and security; just 1.37 on eradication of corruption; and 1.15 on the issue of terrorism.

Priorities of Voters

  • As per the survey, better employment opportunities (46.80%), better healthcare (34.60%) and drinking water (30.50%) were the top three priorities, followed by better roads (28.34%) and better public transport (27.35%).
  • Statewise, better healthcare was the highest priority in Assam (45.78%), Kerala (45.24%) and Rajasthan (43.13%) and drinking water was the most important factor for the respondents in Karnataka (50.42%), Andhra Pradesh (45.25%) and Kerala (44.77%).

About Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)

  • The ADR is a non-partisan, non-governmental organization which works in the area of electoral and political reforms.
  • ADR aims at bringing transparency and accountability in Indian politics and reducing the influence of money and muscle power in elections.
  • National Election Watch (NEW) is a conglomeration of over 1200 organizations across the country.
  • ADR has become the single data point for information/analysis of background details (criminal, financial and others) of politicians and of financial information of political parties.
  • ADR has chosen to concentrate its efforts in the following areas pertaining to the political system of the country:
  1. Corruption and Criminalization in the Political Process
  2. Empowerment of the electorate through greater dissemination of information relating to the candidates and the parties, for a better and informed choice
  3. Need for greater accountability of Indian Political Parties
  4. Need for inner-party democracy and transparency in party-functioning
Electoral Reforms In India

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about FSDC

Mains level: Mandate of the FSDC


News

  • The Sub-Committee of the FSDC has discussed ways to address challenges pertaining to the quality of credit ratings in the wake of the IL&FS defaults crisis.

Against faulty Credit Rating

  • Credit rating firms, currently regulated by the SEBI had come under sharp criticism from the RBI recently for failing to identify financial troubles in various companies, especially in the case of IL&FS, which commanded AAA rating just before it started defaulting.
  • RBI officials had expressed concerns over the inability of rating agencies’ to assess credit risk and take timely rating actions.

About  FSDC

  1. FSDC is an apex-level body constituted by the Government of India to create a super regulatory body as mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee in 2008.
  2. Finally in 2010, the then Finance Minister of India, Pranab Mukherjee, decided to set up such an autonomous body dealing with macro prudential and financial regularities in the entire financial sector of India.
  3. An apex-level FSDC is not a statutory body. No funds are separately allocated to the council for undertaking its activities.

Composition

  1. Chairperson: The Union Finance Minister of India
  2. Members:
  • Governor Reserve Bank of India (RBl),
  • Finance Secretary and/ or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA),
  • Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS),
  • Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs,
  • Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance.
  1. Other members include chairman of SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA and IBBI

Responsibilities

  • Financial Stability
  • Financial Sector Development
  • Inter-Regulatory Coordination
  • Financial Literacy
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates
  • Coordinating India’s international interface with financial sector bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Financial Stability Board (FSB) and any such body as may be decided by the Finance Minister from time to time.
Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

Labour Bureau files MUDRA job report

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMMY

Mains level: Problem of Unemployment


News

  • The Labour Bureau has completed its survey on employment generated by the MUDRA loan scheme, giving the Centre a potential data tool to combat other reports showing a dismal scenario on jobs.

About MUDRA Scheme

  1. The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana was introduced in April 2015 as an effort to extend affordable credit to micro and small enterprises.
  2. Loans up to Rs. 10 lakh are extended to these non-corporate, non-farm enterprises by the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) through last-mile financial institutions.
  3. So far, 15.56 crore loans worth a total of Rs. 7.23 lakh crore have been disbursed.
  4. In December 2017, faced with mounting criticism on the failure to create job opportunities, the Labour Ministry had asked the Labour Bureau to initiate the survey on jobs created through the MUDRA scheme.

NSSO survey

  1. The NSSO’s findings showed that unemployment hit a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18.
  2. Central government ministers and officials have already attempted to use the MUDRA scheme’s performance to combat criticism based on the leaked NSSO job survey report.
  3. Some economists have advised caution in the interpretation of MUDRA data, especially as it relates to jobs.

Loan disbursal doesn’t ensure Job

  1. Every new loan certainly doesn’t imply creation of a new job.
  2. It is improbable that these loans are being given to those who were formerly unemployed.
  3. They are more likely being given to people who are moving to self employment from other jobs resulting in no new net job creation.
  4. Given that the average size of the loan disbursed under MUDRA is quite small, it is unlikely that the loan seekers are providing a job to anyone other than themselves.
Microfinance Story of India

[pib] National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

Mains level:  Menace of narcotic drugs in India


News

  • An addiction plague has steadily swallowed India a/c to a study conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
  • The study, named “National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India” is a first of its kind as it gives pan-India and state-level data.

National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

  1. The survey report, which was submitted to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on noted that 5.7 crore people in the country suffered from alcohol related problems.
  2. The survey spanned all the 36 states and UTs of India and citizens between the ages of 10 to 75 responded to the questions set in the study regarding substance abuse.
  3. The intoxicant categories that were studied are as follows: alcohol, cannabis (bhang and ganja/charas), opioids (opium, heroin and pharmaceutical opioids), cocaine, amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), sedatives, inhalants and hallucinogens.

Magnitude of Substance use in India

I. Alcohol

  1. Of the 16 crore people who consumed alcohol across the country, prevalence of alcohol consumption was 17 times higher among men than among women.
  2. More than four lakh children and 1.8 million adults needed help for inhalant abuse and dependence.
  3. The male to female ratio of alcohol users in India is 17:1 and most men consume either ‘desi’ liquor (30 per cent) or Indian Made Foreign Liquor (30 per cent).
  4. A total of 5.2 per cent of the population indulge in harmful alcohol use, means that every third drinker in the country is in dire need of medical help in curing his/her addiction.

II. Cannabis (Bhang, Ganja & Charas)

  1. According to the survey, over 3.1 crore Indians (2.8%) reported to have used any cannabis product in last one year.
  2. Although, the usage of Bhang use is more common than Ganja or Charas but in case of addiction, the number of dependent users is higher for addicts of Ganja and Charas.
  3. Cannabis consumption is higher than the national average in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
  4. In Punjab and Sikkim, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders is considerably higher (more than thrice) than the national average.

III. Heroin, Opium & others

  1. At the national level, Heroin is most commonly used substance followed by pharmaceutical opioids, followed by opium (Afeem).
  2. However, in case of harmful dependence, more people are dependent on Heroin than other similar drugs like Afeem.
  3. Of the total 60 lakh users of Heroin and Afeem, majority of them are from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

IV. Sedatives and inhalants

  1. Less than 1% or nearly 1.18 crore people use sedatives, non medical or non prescription use. However, what is more worrying that its prevalence is high among children and adolescents.
  2. At national level, there are 4.6 lakh children that need help against the harmful or dependence over inhalants.
  3. This problem of addiction of children is more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana.
  4. Cocaine (0.10%) Amphetamine Type Stimulants (0.18%) and Hallucinogens (0.12%) are the categories with lowest prevalence of current use in the country.

V. Addicts who inject drugs

  1. According to the survey, there are 8.5 lakh people in the country who inject drugs (PWID).
  2. Users of opium based drugs report high incidence of injecting drugs (heroin 46% and pharmaceutical opioids 46%), a large number of these drug users report risky injecting practices.
  3. This risky practice more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Methanol-blending in petrol reduces carbon dioxide emission: ARAI study

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Controlling vehicular pollution


News

Govt to support research on methanol blending

  1. Methanol (M-15) blended with petrol and used in the existing BS-IV standard cars reduces carbon dioxide emission, a study conducted by Pune-based group.
  2. M-15 is a mixture of 15% Methanol with Gasoline.
  3. According to the ARAI, the study evaluated emissions in real-world conditions and used 15 per cent M-15 blend in vehicles and tested them for 3,000 km.
  4. The finding has been submitted Transport Ministry to support further research on methanol blending as the government aims to increase fuel blending to 20 per cent by 2030.

Why such move?

  1. India imports ₹7 lakh crore worth of crude oil every year.
  2. Using alternative fuels, we can divert ₹2 lakh crore for farmers to boost agriculture.

Fuel replacement plan and its benefits

  1. Adopting methanol in this scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40 per cent.
  2. By adopting methanol, India can have its own indigenous fuel at the cost of approximately ₹19 per litre, at least 30 per cent cheaper than any available fuel.
  3. According to NITI Aayog, at least 20 per cent diesel consumption can be reduced in the next 5-7 years and will result in a savings of ₹26,000 crore annually.
  4. Also, ₹6,000 crore can be saved annually from reduced bill in LPG in the next three years itself.
  5. Methanol blending with petrol will further reduce the fuel bill by at least ₹5,000 crore annually in the next three years.
Air Pollution

Economic Capital Framework Committee of RBI

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Economic Capital of RBI

Mains level: Debate regarding the independence of RBI and Fiscal Strain on Govt.


News

A new Committee to decide on EC

  1. The Central Board of RBI in consultation with the Govt. of India has constituted an Expert Committee to review the extant Economic Capital Framework of the RBI.
  2. The RBI has named former RBI governor, Bimal Jalan to head the Framework committee.
  3. Expert committee on economic capital framework will have to give its report within 90 days from its first meeting.

Mandate of the Committee

  1. Review status, need and justification of various provisions, reserves and buffers presently provided for by the RBI.
  2. Review global best practices followed by the central banks in making assessment and provisions for risks which central bank balance sheets are subject to.
  3. To suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning that the RBI needs to maintain.
  4. To determine whether the RBI is holding provisions, reserves and buffers in surplus / deficit of the required level of such provisions, reserves and buffers.
  5. To propose a suitable profits distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI, including the situations of holding more provisions than required and the RBI holding less provisions than required.
  6. Any other related matter including treatment of surplus reserves, created out of realised gains, if determined to be held.

Past Committees Recommendations

  1. In the past, the issue of the ideal size of RBI’s reserves was examined by three committees — V Subrahmanyam (1997), Usha Thorat (2004) and Y H Malegam (2013).
  2. While the Subrahmanyam committee recommended that contingency reserve should be built up to 12 per cent, the Thorat committee had said the reserve adequacy should be maintained at 18 per cent of the total assets.
  3. The RBI board did not accept the recommendation of the Thorat committee and decided to continue with the recommendation of the Subrahmanyam panel.
  4. The Malegam committee recommended that adequate amount of profits should continue to be transferred each year to contingency reserves.
RBI Notifications

[pib] NITI Aayog Releases SDG India Index, 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SDG India Index

Mains level: India’s strategy and outcomes towards attaining SDGs


News

  • The NITI Aayog has released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and UTs towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.

SDG India Index

  1. The Index was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India and was launched by NITI Aayog.
  2. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country, and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs.
  3. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the PM’s clarion call of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
  4. It embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

Utility of the Index

  1. The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog, which in turn is guided by MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework comprising 306 indicators.
  2. The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs.
  3. Progress on SDGs 12, 13 & 14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available and SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.
  4. A composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance towards achieving 13 SDGs
  5. If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.

Classification Criteria based on Score:

  • Aspirant: 0-49
  • Performer: 50-64
  • Front Runner: 65-99
  • Achiever: 100

Performance of states

OVERALL Aspirant Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
Performer Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep
Front Runner Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh and Puducherry
Achiever NA

 

Overall Findings

Particular State UT
SDG India Index Score Range 42-69 57-68
Top Performer/s Himachal Pradesh & Kerala Chandigarh
Aspirant Uttar Pradesh Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  • Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water & sanitation, in reducing inequalities & preserving mountain ecosystem
  • Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality & providing quality education
  • Chandigarh leads because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, generating decent work & economic growth, & providing quality education
Transition From MDG to SDG: Issues & Concern

India Post’s e-commerce portal aims to boost parcel business network

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-commerce Regulation in India

Mains level: Providing e-market place for various groups of entrepreneurs.


News

  • Leveraging its parcel business network, India Post has announced the soft launch of its e-commerce portal.

Particulars of the Portal

  1. The primary objective is to provide a medium to sell products for small artisans and anyone who wants to sell their product can sell on the site.
  2. Unlike other e-commerce players, the India Post service will be able to pick up and deliver products in over 1.5 lakh places through its well spread out network.
  3. The products will be shipped through the postal department’s Speed Post service.
  4. A separate parcel directorate has been formed which is empowered to decide on the rates of parcel and other related issues.
  5. The Portal will provide an e-market place to sellers especially to rural artisans, self-help groups, women entrepreneurs, state and central PSUs, autonomous bodies to sell their products to buyers across the country.

Other initiatives

  1. The Minister also launched the internet banking facility for Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) customers who are under Core Banking Solution.
  2. Around 17 crore POSB accounts will be intra-operable and customers can also transfer funds online to RD (Recurring Deposit) and PPF (Public Provident Fund) accounts of post offices/

Why such move?

  1. The Department of Posts has been focussing on the e-commerce sector to increase its revenue receipts.
  2. The Department facilitates has collected and remitted more than Rs 27 billion under cash on-delivery till January 2018 since its introduction in December 2013.
  3. The ongoing e-commerce business segment has resulted in an increase of 13 per cent revenue of India Post in the 2017-18.
e-Commerce: The New Boom

[pib] 1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

Mains level: India’s dual challenge of water conservation and interventions that can be made to prevent a water crisis


News

International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

  1. The first International Conference under the aegis of National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is being organised by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) in Mohali.
  2. The aim of the Conference is:
  • to foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management,
  • to create awareness of water-related problems, motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.
  1. The theme of the Conference “Sustainable Water Management” deals with promoting integrated and sustainable development and management of Water Resources.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

M.S. Swaminathan calls GM crops a failure

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Biotechnology

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level:  BT Cotton

Mains Level: Limitations of GM crops


News

  • A research paper co-authored by leading agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, which describes Bt cotton as a ‘failure,’ was criticised by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser as ‘deeply flawed’.

BT crops: A big Failure

  1. The article ‘Modern Technologies for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security’ was recently published.
  2. It is authored by P.C. Kesavan and Prof. Swaminathan, senior functionaries of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

  1. The article is a review of crop development in India and transgenic crops — particularly Bt cotton, the stalled Bt brinjal as well as DMH-11, a transgenic mustard hybrid.
  2. The latter two have been cleared by scientific regulators but not by the Centre.
  3. It states that the precautionary principle (PP) has been done away with and no science-based and rigorous biosafety protocols and evaluation of GM crops are in place.
  4. BT crops have failed as a sustainable agriculture technology and have, therefore, also failed to provide livelihood security for cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.

Why opt GM?

  1. Conventional GE technology uses genes from soil bacterium to either protect them from specific pests or— as in the case of GE mustard — facilitate hybridization.
  2. This means making the plant more amenable to developing higher-yielding varieties.
  3. Swaminathan, credited with leading India’s Green Revolution, has said the government should only use genetic engineering as a last resort.
  4. He has emphasized that genetic engineering is supplementary and must be need based.
  5. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology.

GM for Abiotic stresses

  1. Abiotic stresses refer to environmental factors that could meddle with plant yield, as opposed to ‘biotic’ stressors such as insects.
  2. GE may be deployed to manage against Abiotic stresses.

Back2Basics

BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis)

  1. BT is a soil dwelling bacterium generally used in biopesticide.
  2. Bt cotton was created through the addition of genes encoding toxin crystals in the Cry group of endotoxin.
  3. When insects attack and eat the cotton plant the Cry toxins are dissolved due to the high pH level of the insect’s stomach.
  4. In 2002, a joint venture between Monsanto and Mahyco introduced Bt cotton to India.
  5. Genetic Engineering appraisal committee (GEAC) is the central agency to allow field trials of BT/GM crops.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

India Water Impact Summit 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India Water Impact Summit 2018

Mains level: Strategy envisioned in the newscards


News

  • India Water Impact Summit 2018 was jointly organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies in New Delhi.

India Water Impact Summit

  1. It is an annual event where stakeholders get together to discuss, debate and develop model solutions for some of the biggest water-related problems in the country.
  2. The discussions this year will be on the rejuvenation of the Ganga River Basin.
  3. There will be multi-country dialogue on the subject, with showcasing of technological innovations, research, policy frameworks and funding models from India and abroad.
  4. The efforts may take various forms including (but not limited to): data collection (sensors, LIDAR, modelling etc), hydrology, e-flows, agriculture, wastewater and more.

Three key aspects on focus

Spotlight on 5 states

  • These include Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and Bihar
  • The objective is to showcase the efforts and works going on within the respective states.

Ganga Financing Forum

  • The Summit introduces the inaugural Ganga Financing Forum that will bring a number of institutions to a common knowledge, information and partnership platform.
  • The Hybrid Annuity Model has redefined the economic landscape of water and waste-water treatment in India.
  • All tenders have been successfully bid out and financial closures being achieved.
  • The Financing Forum will bring together financial institutions and investors interested in Namami Gange programmes.

Technology and Innovation

  • Implementation of the pilot/demonstration programme known as the Environment Technology Verification (ETV) process.
  • This will provide an opportunity for technology and innovation companies from around the world to showcase their solutions for addressing the problems prevalent in the river basin.
Mission Clean Ganga

FSSAI launches awareness drive on trans fats

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Eat Right Movement, Swastha Bharat Yatra, Heart Attack Rewind

Mains level: Read the attached story.


News

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched a new mass media campaign in order to create awareness about trans fats and eliminate them in India by 2022.

Heart Attack Rewind

  1. It is a 30-second public service announcement to be broadcast in 17 languages for a period of four weeks on YouTube, Facebook, Hotstar, and Voot.
  2. It will also be placed on outdoor hoardings and run on radio stations in Delhi and the National Capital Region.
  3. The campaign will warn citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fats and offer strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives.
  4. This campaign will concentrate on the demand side (consumers), who in turn, will push the supply side (food manufacturers) to come up with various strategies in order to reduce and later replace trans fats.

What are Trans Fats?

  1. Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  2. Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.

Why this move?

  1. Studies have recently shown that 60,000 deaths occur every year due to cardiovascular diseases, which in turn are caused due to high consumption of trans fats.
  2. Since the impact of trans fats on human health is increasing exponentially, it is very important to create awareness about them.

Other FSSAI Initiatives

  1. Heart Attack Rewind is a follow-up to an earlier campaign called “Eat Right”, which was launched on July 11, 2018.
  2. As part of the campaign, edible oil industries took a pledge to reduce trans fat content by 2 per cent by 2022.
  3. Later, food companies also took a pledge to reformulate packaged foods with reduced levels of salt, sugar and saturated fat.
  4. Swasth Bharat Yatra, an initiative started under the “Eat Right” campaign which started on October 16 and will end on January 27, 2019, will also seek to create awareness among citizens about trans fats.

A Move to adopt WHO guidelines

  1. In May this year, the WHO released a step-by-step guide for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply.
  2. Since then, a lot of countries have made efforts to reduce the levels of trans fats and in some cases, have completely banned them.
  3. India is also moving towards same by first reducing the levels from 5 per cent to 2 per cent and then altogether by 2022.
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

Country’s first owl festival organized in Pune

 

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Owl Festival

Mains level: Conservation of Owls in India


News

Indian Owl Festival

  1. The Indian Owl Festival, the country’s first owl fest, will be held at Pingori village in Purandar taluka of Pune, Maharashtra.
  2. The two-day festival is organised by Ela Foundation, an NGO working towards nature education and conservation.
  3. It will give information on owl conservation and feature art forms like pictures, paintings, lanterns, lamp shades, posters, origami, stitched articles, poems and stories on owls.
  4. It is a first-of-its-kind festival in the country that is being organised with the intention of creating awareness about owl as a bird and debunking numerous superstitions associated with it.

Why Conserve Owls?

  1. Of the 262 species of owls that are found in the world, 75 feature in the red data book — meaning they are threatened.
  2. Major causes behind this are superstitions and habitat loss, both are man-made.
  3. Owls eat rats, rodents, bandicoots, and mice. Most of the species that owls consume are harmful to agricultural croplands. So these birds are actually very beneficial to farmers.

Owls in India

  1. According to a report published by Traffic India, a wildlife trade monitoring body, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2010, owls were found to be consumed and traded for a wide variety of purposes, including black magic, street performances, taxidermy, private aviaries/zoos, food and in folk medicines.
  2. Despite being protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, the report has found owls to be highly prized and in demand for black magic purposes.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

ISRO successfully launches hyperspectral imaging satellite HysIS

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the HysIS

Mains level:  Important missions of ISRO


News

  • The ISRO has successfully launched the PSLV-C43/HysIS mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota late.
  • This mission, the sixth one this year that will use a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), will see the launch of HysIS – India’s own earth observation satellite.
  • The satellite will be accompanied by 29 other satellites developed by various nations, including 23 from the US.

About the Launch

  1. The PSLV launcher has a total length of 39.4m and consists of a four-stage rocket, that has alternating solid and liquid stages.
  2. PSLV-C43 is a core-alone version of the launch vehicle, and the lightest one in operation. The combined weight of the satellites is 641.5kg.
  3. PSLV-C43 mission’s payload consists of the HysIS satellite, one micro-satellite and 29 nano satellites.
  4. While the 30 foreign satellites will be launched at an altitude of 504 km from the Earth’s surface, ISRO’s HysIS satellite will be launched at an altitude of 636 km.
  5. The satellite will be put into a polar synchronous orbit, which sets it in motion along the axis that runs along the Earth’s geographic North and South Pole.

HysIS

  1. HysIS stands for Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite.
  2. The objective of the probe is to provide observations within the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  3. The imaging tools will help the HysIS satellite monitor atmospheric activity and climate change, while also assisting studies of Earth’s magnetic field.
  4. These observations will have a host of applications, prime among which relate to agriculture, forestry, water management, and coastal patterns.
  5. The satellite’s payload also consists of a 730W power backup, and a 64Ah Li-ion battery.
  6. It will continue to make observations till 2023, when the mission ends.
  7. After this launch, the next big event for the Indian space organisation will be its awaited mission to the moon – Chandrayaan-2 – in early 2019.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

RBI can transfer Rs 1-lakh crore to govt: report

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Debate regarding the independence of RBI


News

  • The Reserve Bank of India has “more than adequate” reserves and that it can transfer over Rs 1-lakh crore to the government after a specially constituted panel identifies the “excess capital”.

Background

  1. Multiple reports had claimed that the government is eyeing the extra cash which will help it in the run-up to the elections.
  2. This comes amidst falling GST collections and little borrowing window left for the government, as it has already used up close to 96 percent of borrowings as of end October.
  3. By taking the money from the RBI, the government will only increase its fiscal deficit, as it will have to issue bonds to the central bank.
  4. The government for the second year in a row has pegged fiscal deficit at 3.3 per cent of GDP this fiscal year.

Excess Capital from RBI

  1. The proposed committee on the RBI’s economic capital framework (ECF) to identify Rs 1-3 lakh crore which is 0.5-1.6 per cent of GDP as excess capital.
  2. As per its stress tests, the central bank can transfer Rs 1-lakh crore to the government if the transfer is limited to passing excess contingency reserve.
  3. It can go up to Rs 3-lakh crore if the total capital is included.
  4. It further said this level will be 75 per cent higher than the average of BRICS economies, excluding India.

Statutory Provisions for Transfer

  1. The statutes do not prohibit transfer of excess capital to the government, pointing out that the RBI Act places no bar as long as government maintains Rs 5 crore of reserve funds under Sec 46 of the RBI Act.
  2. While Section 47 enjoins the RBI to credit its annual surplus to the national exchequer, after provisions, it does not place any restrictions on further transfers.
  3. The RBI’s contingency reserves at 7 percent are higher than the BRICS (excluding India) average of 2 per cent.
RBI Notifications

OBC sub-categorization panel gets 4th extension

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Article 340, Mandal Commission, Indra Sawhney Case

Mains level:  Storm over reservations demand in India.


News

  • The panel constituted by the Union government to look into the sub-categorization of OBCs has been given another extension by the Cabinet till May 31, 2019.

Background

  1. The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India case (1992) had observed that there is no constitutional or legal bar on states for categorizing OBCs as backward or more backward.
  2. It had also observed that it is not impermissible in law if state chooses to do sub-categorization.
  3. So far, 9 states/UTs viz. Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have carried out sub-categorization of OBCs.
  4. However there was no sub categorization in central list of OBCs so far.

Panel for Sub-categorization of OBCs

  1. The panel under G. Rohini was constituted in October 2017 and was supposed to file its report within three months.
  2. It is mandated to divide 5,000-odd castes in the central OBC list into sub-categories for more equitable distribution of opportunities in central government jobs and educational institutions.
  3. The commission has been established under Article 340 of Constitution under which Mandal commission had recommended 27% reservation for socially and educationally backward classes, was appointed.

Task of the Panel

  1. The commission will examine extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among castes included in broad category of OBCs, especially with reference to OBCs included in the Central list.
  2. It will also take up exercise of identifying respective castes/sub-castes/communities synonyms in Central List of OBCs and classify them into their respective sub-categories.
  3. It will work out mechanism, norms, criteria and parameters, in scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Report sees climate risk from rise in Indian AC units

Note4studnets

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Montreal Protocol, Kigali Agreement

Mains level: Prevention of use of Ozone Depleting Substances


News

  • By 2022, India is expected to have one-fourth of the world’s air conditioning units, and the risks to climate from this could be immense, according to a report.

Refrigerants are the most harmful

  1. The refrigerants (coolants) used for cooling are the major contributors to global warming.
  2. If left unchecked, they could cause global temperatures to rise by 0.5 degrees Celsius.
  3. A technology solution that could help to reduce the impact by one-fifth and ensure that air conditioning units use 75% less electricity is the need of hour.
  4. A technology solution would significantly reduce the burden on electricity grids and also save ₹109 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion).

HFCs

  1. Hydrofluorocarbons are organic compounds containing hydrogen, Carbon, and fluorine.
  2. They are commonly used as substitutes for Ozone depleting substances like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and are used in refrigerators and air-conditioners.

Phasing out HFCs

  1. In 2016, India was a signatory to Kigali Agreement with 107 countries to “substantially phase” out hydro fluorocarbons (HFC), by 2045.
  2. This move was aimed to prevent a potential 0.5 C rise in global temperature by 2050.
  3. HFCs are a family of gases that are largely used in refrigerants at home and in car air-conditioners.
  4. India, China, the United States and Europe have committed themselves to reducing the use of HFC by 85% by 2045.

Back2Basics

Kigali Agreement

Please navigate to the page:

Kigali agreement: Prospects and Issues

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

National body set up to study rare form of diabetes

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Monogenic Diabetes

Mains level:  Efforts for preventing diabetes in India


News

What is monogenic diabetes?

  1. Monogenic diabetes is a rare condition resulting from mutations (changes) in a single gene.
  2. In contrast, the most common types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2—are caused by multiple genes (and in type 2 diabetes, lifestyle factors such as obesity).
  3. Most cases of monogenic diabetes are inherited.
  4. Monogenic diabetes appears in several forms and most often affects young people.
  5. In most forms of the disease, the body is less able to make insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar) for energy.
  6. Rarely, the problem is severe insulin resistance, a condition in which the body cannot use insulin properly.

National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group

  1. A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country.
  2. At national level it is coordinated by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC).
  3. ICMR already has a young diabetic’s registry. As an off-shoot, a National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed with MDRF as the nodal centre.
  4. As of now, 33 doctors from across the country are ready to collaborate for this initiative.

Activities under the Group

  1. MDRF would provide guidelines to the collaborators for identifying monogenic diabetes.
  2. They need to look out for certain parameters such as children below six months of age.
  3. They will also look for those diagnosed as Type 1 diabetes but have atypical features such as milder forms of diabetes, and strong family history of diabetes going through several generations.
  4. The collaborators will identify cases of monogenic diabetes and send their details.
  5. They will collect blood samples and following the test results they will be given the treatment.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.