Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 August 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
More cold chains, food parks to boost farm incomes
The government is planning to set up 100 new cold chain projects at a cost of Rs. 12,000 crore to Rs.13,000 crore.
- The centre has also kicked off the process to invite investors to set up six new mega food parks.
- These measures are aimed at boosting farm sector incomes by establishing farm to fork linkages.
India loses an estimated Rs.92,000 crore a year due to wasted food. Rs.9,000 crore has been invested in new cold storage capacity in the past two years and this has reduced 10% of the country’s food wastage.
Mega Food Parks Scheme:
The Scheme of Mega Food Park aims at providing a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure maximizing value addition, minimizing wastages, increasing farmers’ income and creating employment opportunities particularly in rural sector.
Aim of the Scheme: The Scheme is aimed at providing modern infrastructure facilities along the value chain from farm gate to the market with strong backward and forward linkages.
What these food parks provide?
- They facilitate the efforts to increase the level of processing of agricultural and horticultural produce, with particular focus on perishables, in the country and thereby to check the wastage.
How it operates?
- The Scheme has a cluster based approach based on a hub and spokes model. It includes creation of infrastructure for primary processing and storage near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) and common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre (CPC).
- The PPCs are meant for functioning as a link between the producers and processors for supply of raw material to the Central Processing Centres.
- CPC has need based core processing facilities and basic enabling infrastructure to be used by the food processing units setup at the CPC. The minimum area required for a CPC is 50 acres.
- The scheme is demand-driven and would facilitate food processing units to meet environmental, safety and social standards.
Implementation and financial assistance:
- Mega Food Park project is implemented by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act. State Government/State Government entities/Cooperatives applying for setting up a project under the scheme are not required to form a separate SPV.
- The financial assistance for Mega Food Park is provided in the form of grant-in-aid at 50% of eligible project cost in general areas and at 75% of eligible project cost in NE Region and difficult areas (Hilly States and ITDP areas) subject to maximum of Rs. 50 crore per project.
- Reduction in post-harvest losses.
- Maintainance of the supply chain in sustainable manner.
- Additional income generation for the farmers.
- Shifting the farmers to more market driven and profitable farming activities.
- It will be a one stop shop where everything will be available at a single location.
- As per experts, it will directly employ 10,000 people.
- Integrated food parks will help reduce supply chain costs.
- Wastage across the food value chain in India will also be reduced and quality and hygiene improvement to create food products in the country can also be seen.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Indians online to hit 730 mn by 2020
As per the report ‘The Future of Internet in India’, compiled by Nasscom and Akamai Technologies, the number of Internet users in India is likely to more than double to 730 million by 2020. As of December 2015, there were about 330 million Internet users in the country.
Highlights of the report:
- India, which has an Internet user base next only to China, will remain the fastest growing market.
- 75% of the new users would come from rural areas and a majority of new users are expected to consume data in local languages.
- Overall, the e-commerce market in India, which was valued at $17 billion in 2015-16, is expected to double to $34 billion by 2020. The number of online shoppers is likely to more than triple to 175 million in that time, from 50 million in 2015.
- By 2020, India will have an estimated 702 million smartphones in use and mobile phones will emerge as the preferred device for shopping, accounting for 70% of total online shopping.
- Currently, online ticketing and room booking facilities are used by more than 50 million Indians on a regular basis. By 2020, online travel is estimated to account for 40-50% of all travel-related transactions, up from 12% in 2015. The growth is being driven by demand as a larger, younger population comes online.
- In 2016, the fintech market will be worth $8 billion, having grown 20%.
India’s Internet consumption has already exceeded the U.S. to become number two globally. By 2020, the Internet is expected to penetrate deeper in the hinterlands of the country, helping create more opportunities for everyone. This will also present a great opportunity for enterprises to harness the power of the Internet to innovate and scale up operations.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.
ICHR plans encyclopedia of village folklore from across India
ICHR is planning a mammoth encyclopedia of Indian villages complete with its heroes, myth, ballads and history as well as histories of princely states.
This initiative aims to connect people better with the oral and folk traditions.
Along with this, ICHR is also planning to conduct a study of the princely States of modern India and studies to fill the gaps between the Harappan civilisation and the 6 century BC. The idea behind doing the history of princely states is to showcase their contribution and how Indian culture was protected by them.
Is it necessary?
According to historians, the present generations are gradually delinking themselves from their cultural heritage. Hence, they think it’s their responsibility to collect, preserve and transmit this knowledge of history for the generations to come.
How it will be carried out?
The students of history will be taken as apprentices, as barefoot historians, and will be encouraged to collect information of the villages around them. For these projects, the ICHR would seek part funding by corporate houses.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Centre accepts some suggestions of collegium
The Central government has accepted some recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium on draft memorandum of procedures for appointment of judges.
- Lifting the proposed cap on the number of jurists and lawyers for appointment as judges in the Supreme Court. The draft sent to the Chief Justice of India in March had recommended that up to three judges from among jurists and lawyers could be appointed.
- Seniority is now being considered to be the main condition. The government had earlier proposed merit-cum-seniority as the criterion for elevation of judges.
What has not been accepted?
The government has not changed its stand on the proposed clause under which it will have powers to reject any candidate recommended by the collegium on grounds of public interest and national security. The collegium had earlier rejected the proposal. However, the revised draft proposes that the government will communicate to the collegium the reasons for rejecting any name recommended by it.
In December 2015, the supreme court, after restoring the collegium system, had directed the Centre to frame a new MoP. The court had directed the government to do this in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, who would in turn take into confidence his four seniormost puisne judges of the Supreme Court and who are part of the collegium.
Later, the Court had raised concerns over some issues in the draft Memorandum of Procedure (MoP). The Supreme Court had asked the government to re-consider these clauses.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure railways.
Suresh Prabhu announces four new trains
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced four new categories of trains, one for unreserved passengers and three for reserved ones. The introduction of new trains is an attempt to enhance railway services across the country.
New trains announced:
Antyodaya Express: It is a long-distance, fully unreserved, super-fast train service for the common man. It will operate on dense routes.
Humsafar: It is a fully third AC train.
Tejas: It will run at 130 km an hour with local cuisine, Wi-Fi and other amenities on board.
UDAY (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri): It will be overnight train plying on the busiest routes to increase capacity by 40%.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- SAARC Youth Conference: The first ever South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Youth Parliamentarians Conference is being held in Islamabad, Pakistan. The theme of the summit is ‘Peace and Harmony for Development’. The goal of the conference is to build bridges between the future leaders of South Asia on a platform that supports continued engagement and cooperation. It seeks to provide an opportunity for the youth and Parliamentarians to apprise respective Government leaders on where the youth of South Asia stands on a vision for the region ahead of the High Level Summit.
- Sakshi Malik: She has become the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal. She is also the fourth female athlete from the country to earn a medal in Olympics. She won a bronze medal. Overall, this is 25th medal for India in Olympic games.