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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12 January 2024

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 3:

  1. Indian Food Processing Sector and export

 

Content for Mains Enrichment:

  1. People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable and Sustainable India

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP) 

  1. Bharat Tex 2024
  2. Cannabis plant
  3. Amaterasu
  4. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) – 11
  5. Thylakoid membranes
  6. Drishti 10 Starliner 

 


 

Indian Food Processing Sector and export

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Agriculture

 

Source: ET

 Context: Indian processed food exports have witnessed a remarkable 150% growth over the past nine years.

 

Significant Achievements of the Indian Food Processing sector:

  1. Investment in the Processed Food sector: India’s Food Processing Sector emerged as the sunrise sector and attracted FDI investments of about Rs 50,000 crore in the past nine years
  2. Agricultural Exports: India’s agricultural exports have reached an aggregate of about $53 billion during this period.
  3. Geographical Indications (GIs): India boasts 158 food and Agri Geographical Indications (GIs), emphasizing the unique and region-specific nature of its food products.
  4. One District One Product (ODOP) Initiative: Under the ODOP initiative, 708 unique food items have been identified across districts, promoting local specialities.
  5. Global Demand for Indian Foods: There is a burgeoning demand for Indian foods globally.
  6. Potential: India’s food processing market is estimated to reach $535 Billion by 2025

 

Status:

India’s food processing sector, a shining pillar of the Indian economy, has been booming in recent years. Holding a place among the largest food processing industries in the world, it is responsible for a significant portion – about 32 per cent – of India’s overall food market. It employs 13 million people directly and about 35 million people indirectly.

 

Challenges faced by the FPI: while the food processing industry in India has been on an impressive growth trajectory in recent years, there are certain issues that are holding it back.

  1. Gaps in supply chain infrastructure (i.e., lack of primary processing, storage and distribution facilities);
    • g., More than 30% of the produce from farm gates is lost due to inadequate cold chain infrastructure.
  2. Fragmented Supply Chains: High intermediation and lack of direct linkage between farmers and processing companies increase sourcing costs and quality issues. Also hampers traceability and adoption of global safety standards.
  3. Infrastructure Bottlenecks: Insufficient cold storage, refrigerated facilities, and testing laboratories close to production centres result in 30-40% food losses and raised transport costs for processors. Constraint’s scale-up and agility.
  4. Backward Regulatory Systems: Complex registration/licensing norms, high compliance requirements, and differential state policies limit new investments. Outdated systems are unable to ensure food safety in the wake of more chemical usage. Digitalization lacking.
  5. Low Processing Levels: Of the total agriculture and horticulture produce in India, merely around 10% undergoes processing, vs 60-80% for developed nations. Skill gaps limit product diversification and value addition.
  6. Inadequate link between production and processing: Severe under-penetration of formal post-harvest infrastructure leads to farmers opting for quick spot sales rather than supplying processing companies under contracts. Hamper’s visibility and ability to invest in processing equipment.
  7. Seasonality of operations and low-capacity utilization: Seasonal gluts of F&V production cause price volatility for farmers, pressing disposal to avoid losses.
    • In contrast, processors work under low gear in lean periods with high idle capacity as raw material supply tapers.
  8. Institutional gaps in the supply chain, dependence on APMCs: Reliance on fragmented APMC mandi intermediaries to aggregate produce adds 3-4 steps, wastage and commission fee burdens before linking to bulk processors. Holds up modernization efforts.

 

Measures taken by the government to promote the growth of the FPI.

  1. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY): it aims to modernize and upgrade the food processing sector in India, including the supply chain.
    1. Under this scheme, the government provides financial assistance for the development of food processing infrastructure, including cold storage facilities, processing centres, and logistics support.
  2. National Cold Chain Grid (NCCG): launched by MoFPI, it is aimed at creating a seamless network of cold storage facilities across the country.
    1. This network can help to reduce post-harvest losses and improve the quality and shelf life of food products.
  3. Scheme for Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages: to perishable horticulture and non-horticulture produced by plugging the gaps in the supply chain in terms of availability of raw material and linkages with the market.
  4. National Agriculture Market (eNAM): The eNAM platform is a Pan-India electronic trading portal for agricultural commodities. It provides a common platform for buyers and sellers to trade in agricultural products, including fruits and vegetables.
    1. This platform can help to reduce supply chain inefficiencies and improve price transparency for farmers and other stakeholders.
  5. Also, the Logistics challenge of the supply chain is being taken care of by leveraging the existing PM-Gram Sadak yojana, BHARATMALA, and SAGARMALA

 

Transformative approach needed for sustainable development of FPI:

ApproachKey Initiatives
1. Dedicated Food ParksIntegrated infrastructure: cold chain, warehouses, packaging units. Shared services for collective use by food processing companies at one site.
2. Assure MSPs and Contract FarmingEnsure Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for crops. Facilitate contract farming tie-ups between farmer collectives and processing companies for mutual demand-supply assurance.
3. Modernize Certification SystemsImplement the ‘One Nation One Standard’ policy. Revise limits for additives and pesticide residues based on updated scientific research.
4. Skill Development and InnovationImpart processing skills via Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Provide tech/financial assistance for small entrepreneurs. Partner with universities on R&D for innovation.
5. Incentivize Export-Focused Value AdditionProvide concessional financing schemes like Champions and revamped EPCGS. Address trade deficit through value addition in exports.
6. Smart Food Processing HubsEstablish hubs with IoT, AI, and blockchain. Monitor the entire food supply chain for quality, traceability, and efficiency.
7. Nutraceutical InnovationDevelop functional foods for specific health needs. Fortify foods with essential nutrients, probiotics, and bioactive compounds.
8. Zero-Waste ProcessingImplement techniques to utilize every part of the raw material.  Convert food waste into biofuels, create bio-plastics, or animal feed from by-products.
9. Community-Based Processing CentresEstablish centres in rural areas for local farmers. Reduce post-harvest losses and create rural employment opportunities.

 

Conclusion

Food processing has a promising future, provided adequate government support is there. It has the capacity to lift millions out of undernutrition. The government has its work cut out to develop industry in a way which takes care of small-scale industry along with attracting big-ticket domestic and foreign investments.

  

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links

Q. What are the reasons for the poor acceptance of a cost-effective small processing unit? How can the food processing unit be helpful to uplift the socioeconomic status of poor farmers? (UPSC 2017)

 Q: Elaborate on the policy taken by the government of India to meet the challenges of the food processing sector. (UPSC 2019)

 

Prelims Links:

With what purpose is the Government of India promoting the concept of “Mega Food Parks”? (UPSC 2011)

  1. To provide good infrastructure facilities for the food processing industry.
  2. To increase the processing of perishable items and reduce wastage.
  3. To provide emerging and eco-friendly food processing technologies to entrepreneurs.

 

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: B

People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable and Sustainable India

Content for Mains Enrichment:

 

Source: TH

 Context: The “People’s Manifesto for a Just, Equitable and Sustainable India” is a response to India’s crises, released by 85 movements and organizations under Vikalp Sangam. Focused on ecological sustainability, dignified livelihoods, and democratic values, the manifesto advocates policy shifts, emphasizing small manufacturing, crafts, and community-led initiatives.

It addresses concerns about authoritarianism, decentralization, and societal vulnerabilities. The manifesto presents a 21-point charter, urging citizens to actively engage in shaping a just and sustainable future.

 

CategorySolutions Suggested by the ‘People’s Manifesto’
Governancea) Power to Local Bodies: Real devolution of financial and legal powers to village and urban assemblies.
b) Transparency and Accountability: Comprehensive laws ensuring state agency accountability, including public audits.
c) Independent Institutions: Reviving the independence of the Election Commission and media.
Environmental Issuesa) Sustainable Policies: Urging a national land and water policy emphasizing conservation and community-led efforts.
b) Organic Farming: Proposing conversion to organic farming by 2040.
c) Renewable Energy: Advocating for decentralized renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels by 2030.
Othersa) Economic Reforms: Focusing on job creation in small manufacturing and crafts, extending employment guarantees to urban areas.
b) Social Justice: Addressing inter-faith conflicts, prioritizing marginalized groups’ rights, and suggesting increased spending on education and health.
c) Decentralization: Seeking fuller implementation of panchayat laws and a National Environment Commissioner role.

Bharat Tex 2024

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: Union Minister for Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal, reviewed the progress of the upcoming mega textiles event, Bharat Tex 2024, during a meeting with textile Export Promotion Councils and ministry officials.

 

What is Bharat Tex 2024?

It is a global textile mega-event organized by 11 Textile Export Promotion Councils in collaboration with the Ministry of Textiles. It showcases India’s entire textile value chain, emphasizing fashion, traditional crafts, and sustainability.

Aligned with India’s 5F vision, it covers the journey from Farm to Fibre to Factory to Fashion to Foreign, representing the textile production process from raw resources to global markets.

Cannabis plant

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

  

Context: Scientists at CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu, have discovered that phytocannabinoids, compounds found in the cannabis plant, exhibit previously unexplored antibiotic properties.

  • The study specifically focused on tetrahydrocannabidiol (THCBD), a phytocannabinoid, and its efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria contributing to antibiotic resistance.
  • THCBD demonstrated strong antibacterial effects against various resistant strains of S. aureus, including the methicillin-resistant strain.

 

Clasepi

 Source: livemint

Akumentis Healthcare Ltd has introduced Clasepi, a cannabis-based medicine designed to treat seizures in toddlers.

The drug, approved by the Drug Controller General of India, targets seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, or Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

 Clasepi contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with content below 0.1%, and clinical studies have demonstrated its efficacy in reducing seizures, particularly in cases where conventional antiseizure medications have proven ineffective.

Amaterasu

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

  

Context: Japanese scientists discovered a high-energy cosmic-ray event named ‘Amaterasu,’ making it the second-highest-energy cosmic ray ever detected.

  • The energy level of Amaterasu is about 40 million times higher than that produced by the Large Hadron Collider.
  • The discovery of such ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs) could contribute to understanding cosmic phenomena and subatomic particles better, as well as potentially challenging existing theories in high-energy particle physics.
  • Amaterasu’s unique characteristic is that it appears to have originated from an empty region of the universe, presenting intriguing possibilities for unknown astronomical phenomena.

 

The study of these cosmic rays may offer insights into the sources of cosmic rays and enhance our understanding of high-energy physics beyond the Standard Model.

International Classification of Diseases (ICD) – 11

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the ICD-11 Traditional Medicine Module 2, incorporating data and terminology related to Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani Medicine.

  • The Ministry of AYUSH collaborated with WHO in preparing this classification, aiming to strengthen India’s healthcare system, research, development, and policy-making in the traditional medicine sector.
  • The inclusion of traditional medical terminologies in ICD-11 aims to establish a connection between traditional medicine and international standards, fostering a unified global tradition in healthcare.

 

About ICD:

ICD is the international standard for systematic recording, reporting, analysis, interpretation, and comparison of mortality and morbidity data.

Previously, ICD-11 included Module-1 which covers traditional medicine conditions originating in ancient China, which is now commonly used in Japan, Korea etc.

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Thylakoid membranes

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: Thylakoid membranes are small pouches located in the chloroplasts of plants, storing chlorophyll and playing a crucial role in photosynthesis.

  • Originally found in ancient cyanobacteria, these light-sensitive bacteria are believed to have contributed to the oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago.
  • Recent discoveries, particularly 1.75-billion-year-old fossilized thylakoid membranes in microfossils off the coasts of Australia, suggest that thylakoids played a key role in the “Great Oxygenation” event around 2.4 billion years ago.
  • This event involved the release of oxygen by cyanobacteria, initially filling the oceans and eventually escaping into the atmosphere, leading to the transformation of Earth’s atmospheric composition.

The findings open avenues for further exploration of older cyanobacterial microfossils and testing hypotheses related to the emergence of thylakoids and their impact on Earth’s early oxygenation.

Drishti 10 Starliner

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Hindustan Times

 Context: The Indian Navy has received its first indigenous medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone, the Drishti 10 Starliner, developed by Adani Defence and Aerospace.

  

Features:

  • The Drishti 10 Starliner, a variant of Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 Starliner, is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, automatic take-off and landing capabilities, and a 36-hour endurance.
  • It can carry a payload of 450 kg and has the potential for weaponization if required.
  • The drone is 70% indigenous and will enhance the Navy’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

 

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