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Daily Current affairs 28 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

RBI’s Financial Stability Report

15

2

Govt revamps WPI revision team

15

3

National Mission on natural language translation

01

4

Bombay High Court upholds reservation for Marathas

01

5

Maharaja Ranjit Singh

14

Title

  1. RBI’s Financial Stability Report (The Hindu, Page – 15)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper-III under Indian Economy

Theme

Financial status of Banks

 

Context:

The RBI has recently released  financial stability Report. This report discusses some of the recent  developments that have an impact on the financial stability of India.

 

Basic Terms to understand:

Provisioning Coverage Ratio: Under provisioning norms laid down by the RBI, banks are required to set aside certain percentage of funds in order to cover risk arising from NPAs. The provisioning amount is defined in terms of percentage of bad assets and depends upon the asset quality. The percentage of bad asset that has to be ‘provided for’ is called provisioning coverage ratio. For example, if the provisioning coverage ratio is 25% for a particular category of bad loans, banks have to set aside funds equivalent to 25% of those bad assets out of their profits. Provisioning coverage ratio differs in terms of the quality of assets. For NPAs categorized as “Loss assets”, bank has to set aside 100% of such loss assets out of its profit. 

 

Capital Adequacy ratio (CAR): The CAR has been laid down by the BASEL committee on banking supervision under Bank of International Settlement located in Basel, Switzerland.

It has been laid down to ensure financial stability and to prevent failure of banks. 

So far, 3 BASEL Norms have been laid down: Basel I (1998), Basel II (2004), Basel III (2009). 

CAR= (Tier-1 Capital + Tier-2 Capital)/ RWAs * 100.

The Banks in India are required to maintain CAR of 9% (Tier-1 capital: 7% + Tier-2 Capital: 2%) along with Capital Conservation buffer (CCB) of 2.5%.

Hence, unlike the BASEL III norms, which stipulate capital adequacy of 10.5% (8%-CAR + 2.5% CCB) , the RBI has mandated to maintain capital adequacy of 11.5% (9%-CAR + 2.5%-CCB)

 

Highlights of the Report:

Decline in the GDP Growth: There has been decline in the GDP growth rate mainly on account of decline in the Investment rate and Consumption Expenditure, which are considered to be the main drivers of GDP in India. The GDP growth is expected to pick up in 2019-20. The Government must focus on reviving the private investment demand and at the same time remain vigilant about the global economic slowdown.

Decrease in GNPAs: The GNPA ratio has declined  to 9.3 % in March 2019. The GNPAs of the public sector Banks has also registered a decline and presently stands at 12.6%. The GNPA ratios of all SCBs may come down from 9.3 per cent in March 2019 to 9.0 per cent by March 2020.

Machine generated alternative text: a. SCBs GNPA ratios
• Mar-17 • Mar-18 • Sep-18 • Mar-19

 

Increase in Credit and Deposit Growth:  The aggregate credit growth registered marginal increase of 13.2% in March 2019 as compared to 13.1% in Sep 2018. The aggregate deposit growth also registered increase from 8.7 per cent in September 2018 to 9.9 per cent in March 2019.

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Increase in the net income: SCBs’ net interest income growth improved to 16.5 per cent in March 2019 as compared to 15.9 per cent in September 2018. Despite higher growth in operating expenditure in March 2019 as compared to September 2018, SCBs were able to maintain positive earnings.

Provision Coverage Ratio: The provision coverage ratio (PCR) of all SCBs increased sharply from 52.4 per cent in September 2018 to 60.6 per cent in March 2019.

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Capital Adequacy Ratio: SCBs’ capital to risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR) improved from 13.7 per cent in September 2018 to 14.3 per cent in March 2019 after recapitalisation of PSBs.

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Improvement in Asset Quality:  Bank-wise distribution of asset quality shows that the number of banks having very high GNPA ratio (more than 20 per cent) came down in March 2019 as compared to September 2018. This implies a broader improvement in asset quality. Bank-wise distribution of capital adequacy indicates that there were more banks having their CRAR at more than 12 per cent in March 2019 as compared to September 2018.

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Sectoral asset quality: The asset quality across broad sectors improved in March 2019 as compared to September 2018, except agriculture which showed a marginal increase in GNPA ratio

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Credit quality of large borrowers: Share of large borrowers in SCBs’ total loan portfolios and their share in GNPAs was at 53.0 per cent and 82.2 per cent respectively in March 2019; this was lower compared to 54.7 per cent and 83.9 per cent in September 2018. 

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Banking Stability Indicator

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Rationale:

  • The asset quality of the banks has suffered due to a rise in the NPAs. Further, a large portion of distressed assets in the banking system is concentrated in just a few sectors such as infrastructure, aviation, mining and textile. 

  • Concentration of bad assets in a handful of sectors increases the risk for the banking system as default in one sector can put significant pressure on the balance sheet of several banks. 

  • Further, since the banking and the financial system is highly interconnected, the failure of one bank, or some banks, is likely to affect the stability of other banks. 

  • This interdependence is measured by the Banking Stability Index.

 

Definition

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) defines Banking Stability Index (BSI) as “the expected number of banks that could become distressed given that at least one bank has become distressed”. 

Hence, as the BSI increases, it means that more banks are expected to become distressed if one bank in the system is distressed.

The BSI takes into account the following parameters:

  • Efficiency of the Banks

  • Profitability

  • Soundness

  • Liquidity

  • Asset Quality.

The banking stability indicator (BSI) gives a mixed picture. While banks’ asset quality and soundness improved, balance sheet liquidity i.e., proportion of liquid assets and stable liabilities, as also profitability need improvement.

 

 

Title

  1. Govt revamps WPI revision team (The Hindu, Page-15)

Area of interest

Prelims: Indian Economy

Theme

About WPI

Highlights

Context:

The Government has reconstituted the working group tasked with the responsibility of making recommendations to the current WPI. 

 

Rationale for Making changes to WPI:

The current base year (2011-12) and coverage of the commodities under WPI was introduced in May 2017. Since 2011-12, significant structural changes have taken place in the economy and hence it becomes necessary to examine the coverage of commodities, their weightage and a possible change in the base year. The working group is set to give recommendations on changes to these aspects of the WPI.

 

Details about WPI

Wholesale Price Index (WPI) measures the average change in the prices of commodities at the wholesale level.

WPI covers commodities falling under the three major groups namely Primary Articles, Fuel and Power and Manufactured products.

The index basket of the present 2011-12 series has a total of 697 items including 117 items for Primary Articles, 16 items for Fuel & Power and 564 items for Manufactured Products.

It is published by the Office of Economic Advisor, Department for promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.

 

WPI Food Index: WPI food index measures the changes in prices of food items at the level of producers. The WPI Food index is compiled by taking the aggregate of WPI for “Food Products” under “Manufacture Products” and “Food Articles” under “Primary Article”

 

NOTE: Earlier the RBI used to target WPI to control inflation. However, based on the recommendations of Urjit Patel, the RBI has now been targeting CPI

 

 

Title

  1. National Mission on natural language translation (The Hindu, Page-01)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper -2 under Polity & Governance 

Theme

About National Mission on Natural Language Translation and PM-STIAC

Highlights

Context:

The Ministry of Electronics and IT has put forward a proposal for Natural Language Translation- one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).

 

Details

  • The national mission on natural language translation aims to make science and technology accessible to all by facilitating access to teaching and researching material bilingually — in English and in one’s native Indian language.

  • To achieve this, the government plans to leverage a combination of machine translation and human translation.

  • The government plans to set up an ecosystem which involving the Central and State agencies and start-ups.

 

About  Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC)

  • The PM-STIAC is an overarching Council that advises PM on science, technology, as well as innovation. It aids in formulation and timely implementation of major science and technology missions and evolve interdisciplinary technology development programmes. It also advises government on developing ‘Clusters of Excellence’ in science including city-based R&D clusters.

  • The PM-STIAC replaced the earlier Scientific Advisory Committee to Prime Minister and to Cabinet.

  • It is headed by Principal Scientific Advisor to the government of India. It has nine members, including Chairperson.

  • Apart from nine members, it will also have twelve special invitees — eleven ex officio secretaries 10 central ministries, related to science, technology, energy and education.

 

Missions under PM-STIAC

MISSION 1: Natural Language Translation

MISSION 2: QUANTUM FRONTIER

MISSION 3: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

MISSION 4: NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY MISSION 

MISSION 5: ELECTRIC VEHICLES

MISSION 6: BioScience for Human Health

MISSION 7: WASTE TO WEALTH

MISSION 8: DEEP OCEAN EXPLORATION

MISSION 9: AGNIi 

Title

4. Bombay High Court upholds reservation for Marathas (The Hindu, Page-20)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper –II – Polity & Governance

Theme

Reservation for Marathas

Highlights

Context:

The Bombay High Court upheld reservation for Marathas in the State but quashed the 16% quota by calling it “not justifiable”. The court said it should not exceed 12% for education and 13% for jobs as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC).

 

Background:

  • The State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) in Maharashtra had earlier recommended reservation for Marathas under the category of Socially and Educationally Backward Class.

  • In pursuance of this recommendation, the state government of Maharashtra provided for 16% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the Marathas.

 

Verdict of the Bombay High Court

  • The classification of the Maratha class into “Socially and Educationally Backward Class” was justified.

  • The court held that the classification “complies with the twin test of reasonable classification permissible under Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution of India, namely, intelligible differentia and rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved.

  • In this regard, the court ruled that State possesses the legislative competence to enact the Maharashtra State Reservation for Seats for Admission in Educational Institutions in the State and for appointments in the public services and posts under the State (for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) SEBC Act

  • It stated that ‘exceptional circumstances and extra-ordinary situations’ justify crossing of the limit of 50% reservation as set out in the Indra Sawhney case by the Supreme Court.

  • The 50% limit of reservation can be crossed subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.

 

Impact of the verdict

  • It could break the ceiling of 50% fixed on the reservation by the Supreme Court.

  • It could encourage other states to give quota.

  • The issue of quota could emerge as vote bank politics in future.

 

Title

5. Maharaja Ranjit Singh (The Hindu, Page-14)

Syllabus

Prelims: Indian History

Theme

About Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Highlights

Honoring an iconic Punjab Maharaja

  • On the 180th death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the legendary ruler of Punjab, a bronze statue was unveiled.

  •  The main ceremony will take place on Saturday at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, at Lahore, which commemorates the spot where the 5th guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, died in 1606.

  • Lahore was the capital of the Sikh Empire under the leadership of Ranjit Singh.

  • This will be his first sculpture in Pakistan.

  • The sculptors chose a horse called Kahir Bahar, which was gifted to the Maharaja by Dost Mohammad who established  Barakzai dynasty and was one of the prominent rulers of Afghanistan during 19th century.

The basic objective is to promote religious tourism, which is in line with the present government’s policy as well. Kartarpur Corridor is one such initiative. Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s sculpture is a small step in that direction. He figures very prominently in the history and culture of Punjab.

About Ranjit Singh :-

  • Ranjit Singh was born in 1780 and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21 in 1801.

  • The Treaty of Amritsar of 1809 was an agreement between the British East India Company and Ranjit Singh ,which prevented him from any further territorial expansion south of the Sutlej, however permitted him complete freedom of action to the north of it. 

  •  Ranjit Singh’s governance reforms, especially land reforms, were the most practical reforms made by any ruler. He was also extremely wise to call French Generals to train his army — which was a very progressive decision.

  • His policies were based on respect for all communities.

  • He donated gold to overlay the sanctum of the Harmandir Sahib with gold, which is now known popularly as the "Golden Temple".

  • He died in 1839 which led to the decline of Sikh Empire.

 

 

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

G20 Summit 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims: All about G20, composition, objectives and significance.

For mains: Significance, composition, issues associated and need for revamping the grouping.

 

Context: World leaders from 19 countries – and the European Union – are meeting in Osaka, Japan for latest edition of G20 summit.

 

What is the G20?

The G20 is an annual meeting of leaders from the countries with the largest and fastest-growing economies. Its members account for 85% of the world’s GDP, and two-thirds of its population.

The G20 Summit is formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy”.

Establishment:

After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.

 

Presidency:

The group has no permanent staff of its own, so every year in December, a G20 country from a rotating region takes on the presidency. 

That country is then responsible for organising the next summit, as well as smaller meetings for the coming year.

They can also choose to invite non-member countries along as guests. The first G20 meeting took place in Berlin in 1999, after a financial crisis in East Asia affected many countries around the world.

 

Who attends these meetings?

At first, the G20 was mostly attended by finance ministers and central bank governors.

That changed after the global financial crisis in 2008. With banks collapsing, unemployment rising and wages stagnating, the organisation turned into an emergency council for presidents and prime ministers.

 

Full membership of the G20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

 

Its relevance in changing times:

As globalization progresses and various issues become more intricately intertwined, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macroeconomy and trade, but also on a wide range of global issues which have an immense impact on the global economy, such as development, climate change and energy, health, counter-terrorism, as well as migration and refugees.

The G20 has sought to realize an inclusive and sustainable world through its contributions towards resolving these global issues.

 

Facts for prelims:

Sherpa is a personal representative of the leader of a member country at an international Summit meeting such as the G8, G20 or the Nuclear Security Summit and are responsible for thrashing out the details before the meeting of the leaders. 

 

Mains Question: Do you think the G20 and its summits are just talking shops for powerful world leaders? Discuss its role in the time of economic crises.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013

 

What to study?

For prelims: key features, objectives and coverage of the act.

For mains: significance, issues present with the legislation and ways to address them.

 

Context: The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan met State Food Secretaries and State government officials along with officials of Food Corporation of India (FCI), Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and State Warehousing Corporations (SWCs)in New Delhi. Shri Paswan discussed various issues pertaining to efficient implementation of national food security act.

 

National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:

As passed by the Parliament, Government has notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 on 10th September, 2013.

The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

 

Key features:

  • The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
  • The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
  • The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
  • The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
  • Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
  • In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
  • The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
  • Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.

 

Ways to increase the efficiency:

  • Use of Information Technology right from the time of purchase of food grains till its distribution will help in increasing the overall efficiency of the entire process, while maintaining transparency and curbing corruption.
  • It is imperative that there is a seamless flow of information online between the FCI and States and therefore they need to be integrated so that exact information about how much food grain has been procured from which mandi, which warehouse it is stored in and for how long and when it has been released for distribution can be available.
  • There should also be information about the quality of food grains at the time of purchase, storage conditions in the warehouse, when it is given to PDS shops and when the shops have distributed it to the beneficiaries.
  • Move towards One Nation One Ration Card (RC) which will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice. This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
  • Expand the coverage of Integrated Management of PDS (IMPDS) to all the states.

 

Why ensure food security?

The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life and is characterized by availability, access, utilization and stability of food. Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.

 

Mains Question: Is there any improvement in public distribution system since the implementation of reforms enacted by the National Food Security Act 2013? Critically discuss.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Electoral Bond Scheme

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of Electoral Bonds and highlights of the scheme.

For Mains: Significance of the scheme, benefits and concerns associated.

 

ContextState Bank of India (SBI) has been authorized to issue and encash Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorized Branches.

 

About Electoral bonds:

What are electoral bonds? Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.

Key features: Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.

Eligibility: As per provisions of the Scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

Need: The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.

 

How will the Bonds help?

  • The previous system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent. The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed.
  • According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc. After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
  • Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.

Mains Question: Critically examine the effectiveness of electoral bonds in ensuring transparent political funding and suggest alternatives?


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Atal Tinkering Labs

 

What to study?

For Prelims: AIM, ATL and their important features.

For Mains: Various initiatives to promote innovation and their significance.

 

Context: 8878 schools have been selected for establishing Atal Tinkering Lab (ATLs) to promote research and innovation in schools.

 

What are ATLs?

With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.

Objective: The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.

Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.

Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society can set up ATL.

 

Significance of ATLs:

Atal Tinkering Labs have evolved as epicenters for imparting these ‘skills of the future’ through practical applications based on self-learning.

Bridging a crucial social divide, Atal Tinkering Labs provide equal opportunity to all children across the spectrum by working at the grassroot level, introducing children to the world of innovation and tinkering.

 

About AIM:

The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is the Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Biotechnology related issues.

 

Fortified rice

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is food fortification, FSSAI.

For Mains: Food fortification and food security.

ContextDepartment of Food & Public Distribution has approved the “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System”Financial Assistance up to 90% in case of North-Eastern, Hilly and Island States and up to 75% in case of rest of the States has been extended.

 

What is Rice Fortification?

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health. Rice fortification is the practice of increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice and to improve the nutritional quality of the rice.

 

Why Rice Fortification?

Rice is the world’s most important staple food. An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.

Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.

Fortified rice are contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.

 

Food fortification in India:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’. These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods. The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

Jal Shakti Abhiyan

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features, significance and the need for Jal Shakti Abhigyan.

 

Context: The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservationefforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.

Key features:

  • The campaign would be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank.
  • Coverage: The campaign would run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon would be covered from October 1 to November 30. Overall, 313 blocks with critical groundwater levels would be covered, along with 1,186 blocks with over-exploited groundwater and 94 blocks with low groundwater availability.
  • Aim: to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities already being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry, along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes being undertaken by the Jal Shakti and Environment Ministries.
  • Block and district-level water conservation plans would be drafted, and Kisan Vigyan Kendras would hold melas to promote better crop choices and more efficient water use for irrigation.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

International Seed Testing Association (ISTA)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: ISTA- composition, objectives, roles, functions and significance.

 

Context: The International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) is to hold its 32nd Congress in Hyderabad.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Telangana government are jointly hosting the conference, which will be attended by stakeholders from across the globe.

 

About ISTA:

  • Founded in 1924, with the aim to develop and publish standard procedures in the field of seed testing, ISTA is inextricably linked with the history of seed testing.
  • It is an association of laboratories which are authorised to check on the marketability of seed as defined in various countries’ laws.
  • Its duties include defining methods to determine the ability to germinate, the vigour of seed, and the content of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in seed.
  • The test results, as certified by ISTA member laboratories, are accepted by the trading partners of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in international seed traffic.
  • The North American equivalent of the ISTA is the Association of Official Seed Analysts(AOSA).

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Population and associated issues.

 

Sister-city agreement between Kobe and Ahmedabad

 

Context: In a bid to cultivate, promote and enhance opportunities on business, academic and cultural fronts between Kobe in Japan and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, a sister-city agreement has been inked between the two cities.

 

Significance:

This agreement will formalize the relationship between the two cities, both of which are unique in their own ways. While Kobe is the Creative Design City of Asia, Ahmedabad is India’s first World Heritage City.

After the agreement, a plan will be laid out on creating more opportunities for cooperation between the two cities on the academic, cultural as well as business fronts.

 

Facts:

Kobe is located in the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. 
PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe have also inked a sister-state agreement for Gujarat and Hyogo Prefecture.

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab:

 

Context: A statue of Ranjit Singh, who ruled Punjab for almost four decades (1801-39), was recently inaugurated in Lahore.

 

Key facts:

  • Ranjit Singh was born on November 13, 1780 in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan. At that time, Punjab was ruled by powerful chieftains who had divided the territory into Misls. Ranjit Singh overthrew the warring Misls and established a unified Sikh empire after he conquered Lahore in 1799.
  • He was given the title Lion of Punjab (Sher-e-Punjab) because he stemmed the tide of Afghan invaders in Lahore, which remained his capital until his death.
  • His general Hari Singh Nalwa built the Fort of Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the route the foreign rulers took to invade India.
  • At the time of his death, he was the only sovereign leader left in India, all others having come under the control of the East India Company in some way or the other.
  • He also employed a large number of European officers, especially French, to train his troops. He appointed French General Jean Franquis Allard to modernise his army. In 2016, the town of St Tropez unveiled the maharaja’s bronze statue as a mark of respect.
  • Ranjit Singh’s trans-regional empire spread over several states. His empire included the former Mughal provinces of Lahore and Multan besides part of Kabul and the entire Peshawar. The boundaries of his state went up to Ladakh — Zorawar Singh, a general from Jammu, had conquered Ladakh in Ranjit Singh’s name — in the northeast, Khyber pass in the northwest, and up to Panjnad in the south where the five rivers of Punjab fell into the Indus.
  • During his regime, Punjab was a land of six rivers, the sixth being the Indus.
  • The maharaja was known for his just and secular rule; both Hindus and Muslims were given powerful positions in his darbar.
  • He turned Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar into the Golden Temple by covering it with gold.
  • He is also credited with funding Hazoor Sahib gurudwara at the final resting place of Guru Gobind Singh in Nanded, Maharashtra.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


Facts for Prelims:

 

“TrackChild” and “Khoya-Paya” web portals:

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed web portals “TrackChild” and “Khoya-Paya” to track the missing and found children.

The TrackChild Portal is implemented in association with various stakeholders including Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Railways, State Governments/UT Administrations, Child Welfare Committees, Juvenile Justice Boards and National Legal Services Authority.

The “Khoya-Paya” has been integrated as a citizen corner on TrackChild portal.

 

Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology (CICMT):

As per a Memorandum of Agreeme

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