Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 10 July 2019

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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 10 July 2019


Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. 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.

National Dairy Plan

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Government support for increasing milk production in the country through various schemes and key features of such schemes.

 

Context: Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying is implementing World Bank assisted National Dairy Plan – I in 18 States to support milk cooperatives and milk producer companies along with breeding improvement initiative. 

 

Key features of the scheme:

  • National Dairy Plan Phase I (NDP I) is a Central Sector Scheme.  
  • Funding will be through a line of credit from the International Development Association (IDA), which along with the share of the Government of India will flow from DADF to NDDB and in turn to eligible End Implementing Agencies (EIAs).
  • NDP I will focus on 18 major milk producing states namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh which together account for over 90% of the country’s milk production.

 

Objectives:

  1. To help increase productivity of milch animals and thereby increase milk production to meet the rapidly growing demand for milk.
  2. To help provide rural milk producers with greater access to the organised milk-processing sector.

 

End Implementation Agencies (EIAs) would be State Cooperative Dairy Federations; District Cooperative Milk Producers Unions; Cooperative form of enterprises such as Producer Companies; State Livestock Development Boards; Central Cattle Breeding Farms (CCBF), Central Frozen Semen Production and Training Institute (CFSP&TI), Regional Stations for Forage Production and Demonstration (RSFP&D); Registered Societies/ Trusts (NGOs); Section 25 Companies, subsidiaries of statutory bodies, ICAR Institutes and Veterinary/ Dairy Institutes/Universities that meet the eligibility criteria for each activity as may be decided by the National Steering Committee (NSC).

 

Background:

India’s milk production increased from 165.40 MMT in 2016-17 to 176.35 MMT in 2017-18, a growth rate of 6.62 per cent.

The country ranks first in global milk production.

The per capita availability of milk in India during 2017-18 was 375 gm/day and by 2023-24, it is estimated to increase to 592 gm/day.

 

Mains Question: During the past three years, India has outpaced the global milk production with an annual growth rate of 5.53% compared with the 2.09% achieved globally. Examine how is it made possible.


GS Paper 1:

Topic covered:

  1. Issues related to women.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features, objectives and significance of the programme, issues related to feminization of agriculture.

 

Context: In line with the provisions of National Policy for Farmers (NPF) (2007), the Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development is implementing a programme exclusively for women farmers namely, Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP).

Funding support to the tune of up to 60% (90% for North Eastern States) for such projects is provided by the Government of India.

 

About Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana:

  • The “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP), a sub component of the Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM) seeks to improve the present status of women in Agriculture, and to enhance the opportunities available to empower her.
  • MKSP recognizes the identity of “Mahila” as “Kisan” and strives to build the capacity of women in the domain of agro-ecologically sustainable practices.
  • It has a clear vision to reach out to the poorest of poor households and expand the portfolio of activities currently handled by the Mahila Kisan.
  • The focus of MKSP is on capacitating smallholders to adopt sustainable climate resilient agro-ecology and eventually create a pool of skilled community professionals. Its objective is to strengthen smallholder agriculture through promotion of sustainable agriculture practices such as Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA), Non Pesticide Management (NPM), Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), Pashu-Sakhi model for doorstep animal care services, Sustainable regeneration and harvesting of Non-Timber Forest Produce.

 

Need for feminization of agriculture:

Rural women form the most productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India. More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods. About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration. Agriculture support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators. Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc. As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India. Also discuss how those problems could be solved.


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

NASA to launch Dragonfly

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key objectives, significance of the mission and related facts on Titan.

 

Context: NASA plans to launch an unmanned nuclear-powered drone, Dragonfly as early as 2026 to search for life on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

 

Key facts:

  • Dragonfly aims to search for signs of microbial alien life on Saturn’s moon Titan, while navigating its earth-like gravity and aerodynamics in the process.
  • The mission will succeed NASA’s Cassini probe, which ended its 13-year mission orbiting Saturn in September 2017 by diving into Saturn’s atmosphere. 
    Dragonfly mission is a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, which includes a series of space exploration missions, which are being conducted with the purpose of researching several of the Solar System bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto.
  • The New Frontiers programme also includes Pluto probe New Horizons, Jupiter probe Juno and OSIRIS-Rex asteroid mission.
  • The Dragonfly mission replaces a previously discontinued concept project called Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM), which required a balloon probe to circumnavigate Titan. 

 

Why study Titan?

Titan is an analog to the very early Earth, and can provide clues to how life may have arisen on our planet.

Titan is larger than the planet Mercury and is the second largest moon in our solar system

As it orbits Saturn, it is about 886 million miles (1.4 billion kilometers) away from the Sun, about 10 times farther than Earth. Because it is so far from the Sun, its surface temperature is around -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius). Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earth’s.

 

Objectives of the mission:

  • Explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years.
  • Study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed.
  • Investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs.
  • Search for chemical evidence of past or extant life.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topic covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Basel Norms

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features and overview of Basel norms.

For mains: Significance, need for and challenges in implementation.

 

Context: An assessment of compliance with Basel Norms was recently conducted by the Regulatory Consistency Assessment Programme (RCAP). RCAP is part of the Basel committee.

The assessment focused on the completeness and consistency of the domestic regulations in force on 7 June 2019, as applied to commercial banks in India, with the Basel large exposures framework.

 

Background:

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) is the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks, has 45 members, comprising central banks and bank supervisors from 28 jurisdictions.

 

Key findings:

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) norms on large exposures for banks are not only compliant with the Basel requirements, they are stricter in some areas as well.
  • This is highest possible grade. In some other respects, the Indian regulations are stricter than the Basel large exposures framework. For example, banks’ exposures to global systemically important banks are subject to stricter limits, in line with the letter and spirit of the Basel Guidelines, and the scope of application of the Indian standards is wider than just the internationally active banks covered by the Basel framework.

 

What are Basel guidelines?

Basel guidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by group of central banks- called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel accord.

Basel is a city in Switzerland which is also the headquarters of Bureau of International Settlement (BIS).

The purpose of the accords is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.

 

BASEL-I:

Introduced in 1988.

Focused almost entirely on credit risk, it defined capital and structure of risk weights for banks.

The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk-weighted assets (RWA).

India adopted Basel 1 guidelines in 1999.

BASEL-II:

Published in 2004.
The guidelines were based on three parameters:

  1. Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets.
  2. Banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that is credit and increased disclosure requirements. The three types of risk are- operational risk, market risk, capital risk.
  3. Banks need to mandatory disclose their risk exposure to the central bank.

 

Basel III:

In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released. These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.

Basel III norms aim at making most banking activities such as their trading book activities more capital-intensive.

The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters viz. capital, leverage, funding and liquidity.

Presently Indian banking system follows Basel II norms.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Port integrity campaign

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: features and significance of the cam, about MACN.

 

Context: Maritime Anti-Corruption Network starts port integrity campaign in India.

 

What is it?

The campaign, which aims to reduce and (in the long term) eliminate integrity issues and bottlenecks to trade during operations in Indian ports, is a collective action of MACN, the Government of India, international organizations, and local industry stakeholders.

The main activities of the campaign include implementation of integrity training for port officials and the establishment of clear escalation and reporting processes. 

 

About MACN:

Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a global business network of over 110 companies working to tackle corruption in the maritime industry.

Established in 2011 by a small group of committed maritime companies.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Human Rights courts

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: human rights courts- provision with regards to its establishment, composition, objectives and why there is delay in setting up of such courts?

 

Context: The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Central government, the States and the Union Territories on the prolonged delay for over a quarter of a century to establish exclusive human rights courts in each district and appointing special public prosecutors in them.

 

What’s the issue?

The Human Rights Act had called for the establishment of special courts in each district to conduct speedy trial of offences arising out of violation and abuse of human rights.

 

Establishment:

Section 30 of the Act envisages that a State government, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court, by notification, specify for each district a court of session as a court of human rights for the speedy trial of violation of rights. Whereas Section 31 of the Act provides the State government to specify and appoint a special public prosecutor in that court. 

 

Need:

To uphold and protect the basic and fundamental rights of an individual it is an indispensable obligation upon the State to provide affordable, effective and speedy trial of offences related to violation of human rights which can only be achieved by setting up special courts in each district as provided under the Act.

 

Background:

From 2001 to 2010, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded that 14,231 i.e. 4.33 persons died in police and judicial custody in the country. This includes 1,504 deaths in police custody and 12,727 deaths in judicial custody from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010, and a large majority of these deaths being a direct consequence of torture in custody, the petition said.

India Human Rights Report 2018 threw light on various rights violations such as police brutality, torture and excess custodial and encounters deaths, horrible conditions in prisons and detention centres, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, denial of fair public trial.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue:

Why in News? Second India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue is being held.

The IRSED was established following a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation during the 19th edition of the Annual India-Russia Bilateral Summit, which was held on October 5, 2018, in New Delhi.

The First India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue was held in St. Petersburg in 2018.

 

Plan Bee:

What is it? It is an amplifying system imitating the buzz of a swarm of honey bees to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks. It is a unique strategy adopted by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).

Why in news? It has earned the best innovation award in Indian Railways for the 2018-19 fiscal.

 

Utkarsha 2022:

What is it? It is a three- year road map for medium term objective to be achieved for improving regulation, supervision of RBI. It was recently finalised by the RBI. This medium-term strategy is in line with Global central banks’ plan to strengthen regulatory and supervisory mechanism.

 

Green tax on plane tickets:

Context: France to impose green tax on plane tickets from 2020.

The new measure is expected to bring in some €182 million a year which will be invested in greener transport infrastructures, notably rail. It will only be applied on outgoing flights and not those flying into the country.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

The GM cotton conundrum:

Context: A few Haryana farmers have defied a government restriction against sowing banned HT Bt Cotton in Hisar. However, the government is determined to curb its spread.

 

What is HT Bt cotton?

Herbicide-tolerant Bt (HT Bt) Cotton is genetically modified crop of unapproved genes which is not permissible in India.

 

Significance:

Technically, herbicide is like a poison which is used to destroy unwanted vegetation.

The technique in the HT Bt Cotton makes the crop resistant to herbicide following modification in genes of the seeds. Normally, when an herbicide is sprayed, then it destroys unwanted vegetation along with causing harm the cotton crop also. So, farmers use less herbicide in their fields. But with the introduction of HT Bt Cotton, there won’t be any impact of herbicide on the cotton crop while the unwanted vegetation will be destroyed. This will lead to more use of chemicals in fields causing harm to other crops.

 

What’s the extent of HT Bt Cotton in India?

In the absence of government approval, production of HT Bt seed is illegal, but farmers say it’s available in those states where its being grown defying the laws.

A section of farmers have started sowing its seeds particularly in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the past few years.

A government panel had found that the HT Bt Cotton was grown in 15 per cent of the areas in these states during 2017-18 while this percentage was 5 per cent for Punjab.

 

Why is it preferred by the farmers?

According to supporters of HT Bt Cotton, its preferred to reduce the cost of labour as de-weeding is an extremely labour intensive activity involving 40 per cent of the total cost for growing cotton.

The farmers have felt the impact of HT Bt Cotton in terms of lower costs and reduced crop losses leading to higher production and income.

 

Bt crops in India:

Indian government in 2010 had imposed a moratorium, leaving Bt Cotton as the only genetically modified crop permitted for cultivation in the country.

 

What do the opponents of HT Bt Cotton say?

Such seeds will cause more diseases among humans and animals apart from causing damage to the environment.

 

Do we need GM crops?

Yes and why?

  • Higher crop yields.
  • Reduced farm costs.
  • Increased farm profit.
  • Improvement in health and the environment.

 

No and why?

Lack of clarity: It is clear that the technology of genetic engineering is an evolving one and there is much, especially on its impact on human health and environment that is yet to be understood properly. The scientific community itself seems uncertain about this.

While there are many in this community who feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, others point to the irreversibility of this technology and uncontrollability of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) once introduced in the ecosystem. Hence, they advocate a precautionary approach towards any open release of GMOs.

Threat to domestic crops: One of the concerns raised strongly by those opposing GM crops in India is that many important crops like rice, brinjal, and mustard, among others, originated here, and introducing genetically modified versions of these crops could be a major threat to the vast number of domestic and wild varieties of these crops.

In fact, globally, there is a clear view that GM crops must not be introduced in centres of origin and diversity. India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive. Hence it will only be prudent for us to be careful before we jump on to the bandwagon of any technology.

There is also a potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms. There is also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.