GS Paper I
Context: Recently, it was the 205th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima.
What Was the Battle of Bhima Koregaon?
- The Battle of Koregaon took place on January 1, 1818, in the hamlet of Koregaon, Maharashtra, between forces of Maratha ruler Baji Rao Peshwa II and 800 men of the British East India Company.
- Following a 12-hour struggle, the loss of 600 soldiers, and dread of reinforcements from Pune, Baji Rao II withdrew his army from Koregaon and abandoned his attack on Pune.
Why Did the Battle Happen?
- Until the end of the 18th century, the Peshwas had established themselves as Deccan masters.
- By 1802, the British East India Company had signed treaties with the Deccan’s Maratha kings, including the Peshwas of Pune, the Scindias of Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Gaekwads of Baroda, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur.
- These previous monarchs relinquished much of their lordship, revenue, and other privileges via the treaties.
- Baji Rao II, the last of the hesitant Maratha leaders, was defeated by the British at the Battle of Khadki in November 1817 and fled to Satara.
- Baji Rao, After being followed for two months by British Colonel Smith, he shifted his attention and his 30,000-strong army to Pune at the end of December 1817.
What Did the Mahars Look Like?
- Mahars were formerly considered untouchables.
- However, the nature of their profession, which was frequently in administrative or military duties, placed them among upper castes on a daily basis.
- In the 17th century, Maratha King Shivaji enlisted a lot of Mahars into the Maratha army.
- The Mahar men were frequently used as guards or warriors.
- In several conflicts, notably the third battle of Panipat, the Mahar community fought with Peshwa soldiers.
- However, ties between the Mahars and the Peshwas soured after Baji Rao II allegedly insulted the community by turning down their offer to enlist and serve in his army.
Why Is the Battle for Dalit Rights So Important?
- Peshwas were regarded high-caste Brahmins in the nineteenth century, whereas Mahars were deemed untouchables.
- The Peshwas were well-known for persecuting Mahars.
- Several abuses were perpetrated against Mahar Dalits during Peshwa reign.
- This win was vital for Dalits, who had long been marginalised and mistreated.
- To honour the dead men of the Bombay Native Infantry, a 60-foot commemorative obelisk was constructed at the battle site and etched with the names of 49 soldiers.
- Twenty-two of the names on the list belonged to residents of the Mahar settlement.
- The obelisk, which was constructed by the British in 1818, was borne on the Mahar Regiment’s crest until 1947.
- On the 109th anniversary of the fight, Dr. BR Ambedkar visited the battlefield on January 1, 1927.
Why Is There Now Violence in Bhima Koregaon?
- Even before the ceremony celebrating the 200th anniversary of the fight, a number of right-wing organisations – including the Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasabha, Hindu Aghadi, and RashtriyaEkatmata Rashtra Abhiyan – condemned it as anti-national and casteist.
- The anniversary is a rallying cry for all Indians to stand up to forces that promote hatred and violence along caste lines.
- People from various castes served in the British army, including Mahar, Maratha, and even Brahmins.
- People from various castes served in the Peshwa army, including Maratha and Mahar.
- This was a conflict between British and Indian kings, not Mahars and Peshwas.
Source: The Hindu
International Year of Millets (IYM)
GS paper -III
Context – The UN has designated 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM).
The vision of India:
- It was an Indian initiative.
- It intends to make IYM 2023 a ‘People’s Movement’ while presenting India as the ‘Global Hub for Millets’.
- Millets are a traditional crop produced in more than 130 countries and are considered a traditional diet for more than half a billion people in Asia and Africa.
India and millets:
- ‘Millets’ were among the first crops cultivated in India, with evidence of their consumption dating back to the Indus Valley culture.
- Millets are largely a kharif crop in India, necessitating less water and agricultural inputs than other related staples.
- Millets are significant because of their enormous potential to develop livelihoods, enhance farmer income, and assure global food and nutritional security.
- Millets have been highlighted by the Government of India (GoI) due to their vast potential and alignment with numerous UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Millets were renamed as “Nutri Cereals” in April 2018, and the year 2018 was proclaimed the National Year of Millets, with the goal of increasing marketing and demand development.
- During the forecast period of 2021-2026, the worldwide millets market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5%.
Production in India:
- India produces one-fifth of all millets in the globe.
- India’s millet output fell from 21.32 million tonnes (mt) to 15.92 mt between 2003-04 and 2021-22.
- Bajra (reduced from 12.11 mt to 9.62 mt), jowar (6.68 mt to 4.23 mt), and ragi (1.97 mt to 1.70 mt) account for over 98% of it, with minor millets accounting for the remainder (0.56 mt to 0.37 mt).
- Pusa-1201, a hybrid bajra, was developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI).
- It produces an average grain yield of more than 2.8 tonnes per hectare and has a potential yield of 4.5 tonnes per hectare.
- It grows in 78-80 days and is resistant to the lethal fungal diseases downy mildew and blast.
- The grains include 13-14% protein, 55 mg/kg iron (the normal level is 50 mg/kg), and 48 mg/kg zinc (the usual level is 35 mg/kg).
The Importance of Millets
- Millets outperform rice and wheat in terms of minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibre, as well as amino acid profile.
- Bajra (pearl millet) has iron, zinc, and protein levels equivalent to wheat, but it’s gluten-free (unlike wheat, which causes gastrointestinal and autoimmune issues in many individuals) and higher in fibre.
- Rotis made from bajra keep you satisfied for longer since they take longer to digest and do not spike blood sugar levels.
- Can readily handle the problem of “hidden hunger” caused by the consumption of energy-dense but micronutrient-deficient meals: These nutritionally superior features can easily address the problem of “hidden hunger” caused by the consumption of energy-dense but micronutrient-deficient foods.
Effective in combating the harmful impacts of climate change:
- Millets are drought-resistant and hardy crops.
- This is due to their shorter growing season (70-100 days against 115-150 days for rice and wheat), lower water need (350-500 mm versus 600-1,250 mm), and capacity to thrive in poor soils and on mountainous terrain.
The selling price was initially low but is now decreasing:
- Rice and wheat were previously aspirational staples for the impoverished in both urban and rural settings.
- However, as a result of the Green Revolution and the National Food Security Act of 2013, two-thirds of India’s population now receives up to 5 kilogrammes of wheat or rice per month at Rs 2 and Rs 3/kg, respectively.
- In reality, the Modi administration has made the distribution of the two excellent grains free of charge beginning in January 2023. This action tipped the scales much farther against millets.
Work necessary to get it ready to eat:
- Even for the wealthy, rolling rotis using wheat flour is simpler than with millet flour.
- This is because, despite their disadvantages, gluten proteins make wheat dough more cohesive and stretchy.
- The loaves that result are light and fluffy, which is not the case with bajra or jowar.
Low per-hectare yields :
- The national average for jowar is about 1 tonne, 1.5 tonnes for bajra, and 1.7 tonnes for ragi, compared to 3.5 tonnes for wheat and 4 tonnes for paddy — are a deterrent to farmers.
- They would convert to rice, wheat, sugarcane, or cotton if they had guaranteed irrigation.
Absence of Government Support:
- In contrast to paddy and wheat, farmers are hesitant to grow even this high-yielding and naturally bio-fortified bajra (Pusa-1201), which is suitable for both post-monsoon kharif (June-July sowing time) and summer (after harvesting of potato or mustard in February-March and with 1-2 irrigations) cultivation.
- Over the years, millets have been reduced to “orphan crops,” cultivated mostly in marginal regions prone to moisture stress.
- Other millets with nutritional properties similar to bajra include jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), kodo (kodo millet), kutki (small millet), kakun (foxtail millet), sanwa (barnyard millet), cheena (proso millet), kuttu (buckwheat), and chaulai (amaranth). Their usage should be expanded as well.
- Millets might be offered in the form of ready-to-eat foods such as cookies, laddu, murukku, nutrition bars, and extruded snacks in addition to midday meals (think healthier versions of Maggi, Kurkure, or Cheetos).
Large market for millets:
- According to the most recent official data for 2021-22, India has 26.52 crore students enrolled in 14.89 lakh schools ranging from pre-primary to upper secondary levels.
- In addition, 13.91 lakh anganwadi care centres supply additional nourishment to 7.71 crore children and 1.80 crore pregnant and lactating mothers.
- Given the critical need to address micronutrient malnutrition, particularly iron and zinc deficiency, which are major causes of anaemia and stunting, respectively, as well as contributing to impaired cognitive performance and vulnerability to diarrhoea, millets could become a staple part of children’s diets.
- Every schoolchild and anganwadi beneficiary can be offered one daily hot meal made from locally produced bajra, jowar, ragi, kodo, or kutki, along with a 150-ml glass of milk and one egg.
- It will aid in the fight against hidden hunger while also increasing agricultural diversity by providing market for millions of small millet, dairy, and poultry producers.
- In 2022-23, the Centre has two current initiatives, Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman and Saksham Anganwadi &Poshan 2.0, with a total budget of Rs 30,496.82 crore. This can be improved by making them more millets-focused.
What the Centre is doing and what states are doing:
- The Centre might support any state wanting to acquire millets appropriate to their region for distribution only through schools and anganwadis.
- Odisha already has a specific millet programme, which procured 32,302 tonnes of ragi valued Rs 109.08 crore in 2021-22.
- Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana may wish to do the same with bajra as Maharashtra did with jowar, Karnataka with ragi, and Madhya Pradesh with kodo/kutki.
- Of course, they can include milk and eggs. Karnataka and Gujarat are already doing it with milk, and Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha are doing it with eggs.
- A combination of government finance and decentralised procurement connected to nutrition goals — notably, the eradication of hidden hunger among school-age children — can achieve for millets what the Food Corporation of India has accomplished for rice and wheat.
Source: The Hindu
GS Paper – III
Context– AI-manipulated digital media can have an impact on people’s lives as well as public discourse.
- Disinformation and hoaxes are increasing at an exponential rate, progressing from annoyance to combat tactics.
- It has the potential to promote societal strife, polarisation, and, in some situations, even affect election outcomes.
- Deep fakes are a new tactic in the misinformation arsenal.
- They are digital media – video, audio, and photos processed and transformed with the help of Artificial Intelligence.
- It’s essentially hyper-realistic digital deception.
- They are designed to do harm to persons and organisations.
- Access to inexpensive cloud computing, public research AI algorithms, copious data, and the availability of huge media have combined to create a perfect storm for democratising media creation and manipulation.
- This fabricated media content is known as deepfakes.
Creators of Deep Fakes:
- Deepfake creators may be political groups, government agencies, social media users, software tech experts, visual effects artists, or the average layman.
The Advantages of Deep Fakes:
- Education, film creation, criminal forensics, and artistic expression are all easily accessible.
Deep Fakes Pose the Following Risks:
- Reputation is harmed, evidence is fabricated, the public is duped, and faith in democratic institutions is undermined.
- All of this can be accomplished with fewer resources, at a faster pace, and even micro-targeted to galvanise support.
Issues / Challenges
- The first instance of deepfake being used maliciously was discovered in pornography.
- Pornographic videos account for 96% of deep fakes, with over 135 million views on pornographic websites alone.
- Deepfake pornography is only aimed at women. Deep false pornographic images may frighten, intimidate, and cause psychological injury.
- It reduces women to sexual objects, producing emotional misery and, in certain circumstances, financial loss as well as collateral repercussions such as job loss.
- Deepfake may portray a person as engaging in antisocial behaviour and speaking terrible things that they did not say.
- Even if the victim is able to refute the hoax through alibi or otherwise, the fix may be too late to undo the initial damage.
Reduced faith in media:
- Deepfakes can potentially inflict long-term and short-term harm, as well as exacerbate the already deteriorating trust in conventional media. Such deterioration can lead to a culture of factual relativism, eroding the increasingly frayed fabric of civic society.
As warfare tactics between countries:
- Deepfake might be used by a malignant nation-state as a formidable instrument to undermine public safety and cause doubt and turmoil in the target country.
- Deepfakes have the potential to destroy faith in institutions and diplomacy.
As hate speech:
- Non-state actors, such as insurgent groups and terrorist organisations, might employ deepfakes to portray their enemies as making incendiary comments or participating in provocative behaviours in order to incite anti-state emotions among the public.
Unwanted reality is rejected as deep fake or false news:
- The presence of deepfakes lends credence to denials. Leaders may employ deep fakes as a weapon, as well as fake news and alternative-facts narratives, to deny genuine media and truth.
- To build a discerning audience, media literacy activities must be strengthened. Consumer media literacy is the most effective strategy for combating misinformation and deep fakes.
- A real regulatory framework is required, as well as a collaborative conversation with the technology industry, civic society, and legislators to propose legal measures to discourage the manufacture and spread of malevolent deepfakes.
- Deepfake should be taken more seriously by social media networks.
- To identify deep fakes, verify material, and magnify authoritative sources, technology solutions that are simple to use and accessible are necessary.
- Everyone must accept the responsibility to be critical consumers of material on the Internet, think and pause before we post on social media, and be part of the solution to this ‘infodemic’.
Source: The Hindu
GS Paper – III
Context-The Finance Minister recently informed Parliament that banks have written off bad loans worth?10,09,511 crore over the previous five fiscal years.
What percentage of the total?
- Only1.32 lakh crore of the 10.1 lakh crore has been recovered.
- This amounts to just approximately 13% of total write-offs.
- In 2009, the RBI issued guidelines outlining the different types of NPAs and what banks must do once these loans mature.
- The process for NPA recognition began with the RBI’s master circular in 2009.
- It specifies that if an asset has been ‘doubtful’ for a particular amount of time, the asset’s worth must be compensated for in instalments as the asset matures.
- 2014-15: India grew more severe in identifying loans as ‘bad’ in the 2014 to 2015 era.
- The asset quality evaluation was implemented on a regular basis.
- The RBI intervened to prevent loans from becoming evergreen.
- It entails lending more to an already strained asset in the goal of bringing it back up to speed.
- 2021: In 2021, there was a change that made recognition much more severe.
- Even if the asset is standard and there are no issues, banks are required to make provisions based on the risk element for that industry.
- Home loans with teaser rates, for example, are more risky than those without. As a result, arrangements must be made for such loans.
- In the Union Budget for 2021-2022, a National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL) was established to settle stressed loans totaling approximately?2 lakh crore in stages.
What is a Bad loan and NPA?
What exactly is a bad loan?
- A poor loan is one that has not been’serviced’ over an extended period of time.
- Servicing a loan entails repaying the interest and a portion of the principle, based on the terms of the loan arrangement between the bank and the borrower.
- Bad loans are those in which there is less guarantee that the loan will be repaid in full.
What exactly is NPA?
- A non-performing asset (NPA) is a loan or advance on which the principle or interest payment has been late for 90 days.
- Sub Standard: A sub-standard asset is one that has been classed as a non-performing asset for a period of less than twelve months.
- Doubtful: A questionable asset is one that has been an NPA for more than a year.
- A lost asset is one that has already been recognised by the bank or an external entity as a loss, but it has not yet been totally written off due to its recovery value, however little.
What is the necessity for NPA recognition?
- The financial system’s health: The government and regulatory bodies in the banking sector must have a good understanding of how healthy the financial system is.
- A failing financial system can eventually damage people’s lives and livelihoods.
Causes and Challenges (NPA)
- The bank lends to corporations/individuals, etc., whose creditworthiness is not assured, putting itself at risk.
- Banks are unable to reduce their losses by having a thorough awareness of the bank’s sufficiency in terms of loan or capital loss at a certain time frame.
- The monies are being transferred elsewhere by the firms’ promoters.
- Banks that attempt to fund projects that are not viable end up with large NPAs.
- There aren’t enough resources to gather and share credit information among commercial banks.
- Recovery of loans from delinquent borrowers is inefficient.
- Even if an NPA is completely recognised in a given year, even the quickest legal proceedings may not result in full recovery.
- Banks not only suffer large losses in terms of recovery, but the amount to be reimbursed after the haircut may be delayed.
- Bad loans force banks to set aside a portion of their operating revenue to cover for bad loans, a process known as provisioning.
- Any decrease in the perceived valuation of banks may result in a loss of share value, resulting in a general decline in the share markets. This might wipe away stockholders’ riches in the financial markets.
Impact of NPAs on Financial Operations
- This decreases the banks’ earnings.
- This decreases the capital adequacy of a bank or financial organisation.
- Banks have been wary of making loans and accepting zero percent risks. As a result, the generation of new credit is prohibited.
- Instead of focusing on profitability, banks begin to focus on credit risk management.
- Because of the public acknowledgment of NPAs, the proportion of gross loans increased from 4.1% in 2014 to 11.46% in 2018.
- The government’s approach of identification, resolution, recapitalization, and reforms has assisted in reducing NPAs to 5.9% by 2022.
- Using a person’s or corporation’s CIBIL score before lending or financing to that individual or corporation.
- Use of alternative dispute resolution systems, such as Debt Recovery Tribunals and Lok Adalats, to receive settlements more quickly.
- Defaulters’ information should be actively disseminated so that they cannot obtain more loans/finance elsewhere.
- Using the services of the Asset Reconstruction Company.
- Strict action is being taken against significant NPAs. Legal changes such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will be employed.
- Proper execution of the Indradhanush programme.
- Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Securities Interest Enforcement Act (SARFAESI Act) and Debt Recovery Tribunals
- Creating separate Stressed Asset Management Verticals (SAMVs) in banks for high-value NPA accounts, for example.
108th Indian Science Congress
Context:RashtrasantTukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University in Maharashtra will host the 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC).
- The 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC) focuses on strategies to boost women’s participation in the domains of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
- Equal access to STEM education, research, and economic engagement is also required.
- The topic for this year is Science & Technology for Sustainable Development with Women’s Empowerment.
- Other programmes will be conducted in conjunction with ISC.
- A unique presentation highlighting women’s contributions to science and technology.
- Children’s Science Congress – To encourage children’s scientific curiosity and temperament.
- Farmer’s Science Congress – To create a forum for improving the bio-economy and attracting young people to agriculture.
- Tribal Science Congress – Serves as a venue for scientific exposition of indigenous old knowledge system and practise, with a focus on tribal women’s empowerment.
Indian Science Congress Association:
- The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) is a professional organisation within the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology.
- The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) organises the annual Indian Science Congress.
- The inaugural Indian Science Congress took place in 1914.
The objectives of ISCA:
1.Advancing and supporting scientific causes in India.
2.Organizing an annual congress at an appropriate location in India.
3.Publication of proceedings, journals, transactions, and other materials.
4.Obtaining and administering money and endowments for the advancement of science, among other things.
Source: Indian Express
Moon Missions in 2023
Context – Several Moon missions from governmental space agencies and commercial space enterprises are scheduled to launch in 2023.
- The Hakuto-R mission is a lunar lander designed by ispace, a Japanese space technology company.
- Despite being launched in December 2022, it is not scheduled to reach the Moon until April 2023.
- The Rashid Rover, the United Arab Emirates’ first lunar rover, and NASA’s Lunar Flashlight were also launched.
NASA’s Lunar Flashlight:
The mission’s path will take it far beyond the Moon in order to investigate the presence of water near the Moon’s South Pole.
Rashid Rover – Named after Dubai’s royal family, it was the UAE’s first lunar rover.
Chandrayaan-3 from India:
- The Chandrayaan-3 mission is set to launch in June 2013 aboard a Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3).
- It will be a follow-up mission to the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 project, which includes a lunar lander and rover.
- The propulsion module functions as a communications relay satellite for the landed spacecraft.
Russia’s Luna 25 mission
- Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, intends to launch the Luna-25 mission to the Moon in July 2023.
- Since the Soviet Union’s Luna-24 mission in 1976, Luna-25 has been a proposed lunar landing mission.
- The Luna 25 mission is expected to arrive at the Boguslavsky crater at the Moon’s South Pole.
DearMoon, a SpaceX project
- The week-long lunar tourist mission is set to take place in 2023.
- The mission will be launched aboard SpaceX’s Starship.