Ojaank IAS Academy




20 October 2022 – Current Affairs

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World Spices Congress

Paper 3 – Agriculture

Why You Should Know?

The 14th edition of the World Spices Congress (WSC) will be held in Mumbai on February 16-18, 2023 during the G-20 meeting

In detail –
  • The edition  will be organised by Spices Board India (Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India) in collaboration with various trade and export forums at CIDCO Exhibition and Convention Centre, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra. More than 1000 delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to participate in the event.
  • Spices, the biennial event organised by Spices Board India, continues to be the premier platform to bring together the global spice industry to deliberate on the problems and potential of the sector.
  • The event is expected to deliberate on aspects such as production, processing, value addition, quality and safety, trade and supply chain management of spices in the current circumstances.
  • Regulatory authorities of major importing countries and trade ministries and export promotion agencies of G-20 member countries are expected to hold consultations with the Indian spice industry. This  14th edition  of ‘WSC’ will be only about ‘Spices’.
  • The theme chosen for the current edition of WSC is ‘Vision 2030: SPICES ‘Sustainability – Productivity – Innovation – Collaboration – Excellence and Security’.
  • In addition to business sessions, WSC  will also host exhibitions showcasing the strengths and capabilities of the Indian spice industry including product range, applications in medicinal/health sectors, innovations and cutting edge technologies.
  • It is noteworthy that WSC was first organized in 1990, through 13 successful editions during the three decades since then, WSC has established a tradition that has benefited spice stakeholders worldwide and remains a much preferred event among the global spice community. It will promote new business opportunities and strengthen business ties.
Spice Production in India
  • India is the world’s largest producer of seed masala. About 60 per cent of the world’s spices are supplied from India.
  • An estimated 12.50 lakh hectares of spices are cultivated in the country every year, which produces about 10.5 lakh tonnes of spices. Of these, cumin coriander alone is about 10 lakh. grown in the area.
  • India produces many types of spices. The current production of these different types of spices is about 3.2 million tonnes worth about US$ 4 billion and India has an important place in world spice production.
  • According to a data, export of spices contributes 41% to the total export earnings of all horticulture crops in the country.
  • India is also a major exporter of chillies, turmeric, cumin, black pepper and many other spices. The country also imports various spices to meet the local requirement of flavour as Indian cuisine is incomplete without adding varieties of spices.
  • Due to the different types of climate in India – from the tropical region to the subtropics and temperate zones – almost all types of spices are produced well. In fact, almost all the States and Union Territories of India produce some spice or the other.
  • Indian spices also play an important role in India’s economy. The Indian climate is good for spices and India produces 75 types of spices out of 109 listed with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
  • Kerala, Punjab, Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh and many other states are centres of growing spices. Apart from exports, these spices are also being used for flavouring foods in the country and also in medicines, medicine, perfumes, cosmetics and many other industries.
  • Indian spices are used as dried seeds, leaves, flowers, bark, roots, fruits and some spices are grinded and used as powders.

Note – Kerala state is famous for spice production, but if you look at the largest state to grow all the spices together, it is Andhra Pradesh.

Increasing prevalence
  • Due to a lot of changes in people’s food habits, they have started liking spicy food in terms of taste. Seasoning is basically a vegetable product or a mixture of them, which is used to enhance the aromatic taste of foods. Along with this, the spice relieves many diseases.
  • Spices are being produced even in heterogeneous climates located in remote desert areas of many states. Along with good yields at low cost, it gives good income in the market. Therefore, Rajasthan and Gujarat are known as bowls of seed spices across the country.
  • Due to the market in the state itself, farmers do not have much trouble in selling the crop. With the increase of spice farming, industries related to it have also started opening up in various districts. Along with the Central Government, the State Government has also launched many schemes to promote spice farming.
Efforts of Government of India to increase spice production
National seed spices research centre
  • National Seed Spices Research Centre, located in Ajmer district of Rajasthan, was established by Indian Agricultural Research on 22 April 2000
  • The main objective of the Institute is to undertake basic applied and strategic research work to improve seed spice crops.
  • At present, the Centre is mainly focusing on development and research of biotic and abiotic stress resistant and high essential oil and high yielding varieties.
Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs
  • It was formed in 2013 with the support of over 100 countries along with India. Its chairman is India and the Spices Board of India acts as its secretariat.
  • The task of the committee is to develop and expand the standards for spices and edible herbs across the world.
  • The Codex Committee has prepared and finalised standards for eight spices and edible herbs in the last five seasons. These spices and herbs are cumin, oregano, garlic, cloves, ginger and organo.
Boosting spice production Internationally
Codex elementris commission
  • The Codex Elementris Commission is an intergovernmental body established jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • It has been formed under the framework of the Food Security Programme of the United Nations to ensure better standards in food trade and to protect the health of the people.

Sources – Livemint

Crop Residue Management

Paper 3 – Agriculture

Why You Should Know?

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare held a Ministerial Level Inter-Ministerial Review Meeting with the States on the issues of crop residue management.
In detail –
  • It was said in this meeting that the states need to ensure effective use of 2.07 lakh machines already supplied by the Center during the last 4 years and 47 thousand machines supplied during the current year.
  • Under the Central Scheme on Crop Residue Management,  the government is already providing financial assistance to Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR due to stubble burning.
  • Rs 601.53 crore has already been released by the Centre so far during the current year. Also, out of the amount given in the last four years, about Rs 900 crore is available with the states.
  • The meeting stressed on the need for states to effectively utilize this funds provided by the Government of India for stubble management.
  • Stating the need to implement appropriate IEC activities for the targeted farmers in the meeting, the states have been advised to deal with the situation by making a strategic plan by deploying all necessary resources.
  • In view of the benefits of bio-decomposer, states have been advised to demonstrate this technology on farmers’ fields in a big way. During the current year, the states have set a target of bringing more than 8.15 lakh hectares under this technology.
  • Biomass based power plants, bioethanol plants and adjoining industries have been requested to promote and propagate ex-situ use of stubble through mapping of stubble demand as well as  intensify IEC activities for public awareness of farmers through intensive campaigns with participation of all stakeholders through Kisan Melas, Publications, Seminars, Consultations. This will effectively control stubble burning.
Crop Residue Management in India
  • Crop residues are those parts of the plant that are left in the field after harvesting and threshing, for example straw, stem, stalk,  leaves and peels etc. China, India and the United States top crop residue burning.
  • In India,  it is most burnt in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. If we talk about statistics, at present, even in agriculturally developed states like Haryana and Punjab, only 10 percent of the farmers are managing crop residue.
  • Our country produces 154.59 MT/year, paddy residue annually. Burning it is  causing a loss of 0.236 tonnes of nitrogen, 0.009 tonnes of phosphorus and 0.200 tonnes/year of potash.
  • If we talk about the reasons for this, then the crop  residue  is being burnt by ignorant  even after lack of proper technology and some farmers are aware  . Due to lack of proper crop management, it is becoming a serious problem in our country.
  • In the absence of information, farmers do not use it as organic matter in the soil, but most of the part is burnt and destroyed or used in other household purposes.
  • According to a study, only 22 per cent of crop residue is used, the rest is burnt.
  • Crop residue is an important part of the diet of livestock in India. A considerable amount of crop residue is burnt in the fields due to time constraints and cost burden at the farmers’ level.
  • The use of suitable harvesting machines can ensure the receipt of higher amounts of crop residue and reduce wastage of crop residues.
  • For this purpose,  machines  like Combine Preventive Mawrs, Straw Recovery Mawrs Special Mawrs can be used using technology.
Side effects of crop residue burning
  • Burning crop residue increases the organization of gaseous pollutants  such as  carbon monoxide, methane, nitrosoxide and hydrocarbons  in the troposphere. Burning one ton of straw can cause 3 kg of water to burn. Particulate matter (PM) releases 60 kg of carbon monoxide, 1,460 kg of carbon dioxide, 199 kg of ash and 2 kg of sulfur dioxide. Due to these gases, the normal air quality decreases.
  • Crop residue burning of paddy is an important source of aerosol particles especially coarse particles such as coarse particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5). Various studies have found that fine particles released due to burning of agricultural residue easily enter the lungs, causing heart problems.
  • By setting the crop residue on fire in the field, there is a decrease in soil moisture and an increase in soil temperature, which reduces the fertility of the field as well as adversely affects the physical, chemical and biological condition of the soil.
  • In the field where the stubble is burnt, the animals and insects called friends of the farmers also die in the grip of the fire.
  • When the residues of crops are burnt,  the beneficial nutrients stored in their roots, stems and leaves are destroyed by burning. Burning paddy straw in the field causes a loss of almost all the amount of nitrogen present in the straw, about 25 percent of phosphorus, 20 percent of potassium, and 5 to 50 percent of sulfur.
  • After harvesting, there is a possibility of fire in the surrounding fields, barns and populated areas if the paddy crop residue is burnt.
  • Along with this, due to increasing pollution in India, there is fear in the minds of foreign tourists. In such a situation, he comes to India and starts avoiding playing with his health.
Government of India’s efforts for crop residue management
  • The Government of India is implementing various schemes for the management of crop residue in view of the damage caused by burning of crop residue and environmental protection.
  • Under this,  along with the availability of agricultural machinery for farmers by including Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Indian Council of Agricultural Research Institutes, State Agricultural Institutions,  Agricultural Universities etc., work is being done to organize knowledge sharing, awareness campaigns and various dimensions of capacity development.
  • Central Sector Scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the State of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh & NCT of Delhi ‘ is being operated in select states of the country.
  • Efforts are also being made to benefit farmers,  especially small and marginal farmers, by promoting agricultural mechanization through CHCs, private entrepreneurs and farmers’ organisations.
  • Farmers are also being provided grants on crop residue management agricultural machinery individually.  Subsidy up to 50 and 80 percent is being provided on agricultural machinery at individual farmers and custom hiring centers for crop residue management  .
  • Under the   crop residue management scheme,  nine types of agricultural implements such as Super Straw Management System (SMS), Happy Seeder, Paddy Straw Chopper/ Shredder/ Mulcher, Sorb Master / Rotary Slasher, Hydraulic Reversible MB Plow, Jiro Till Seed Drill, Tractor, Reaper Binder (Tractor, Self-Propelled, Three Wheel and Four Wheel),  Grants are being given on Super Seeder, Baler.
  • Pusa Decomposer – This is a small capsule made by scientists of ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute,  Pusa, which converts crop residue into profitable agricultural waste manure.  A capsule costs Sirpf  Rs 4-5 and only 4 capsules are required to convert the residue of an acre of farm into useful manure  .

Source – PIB

Urea Production

Paper 3 – Agriculture

Why You Should Know?

Recently, the Barauni plant of Hindustan Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (HURL) has started urea production. The country has achieved another milestone by setting up this new ammonia urea plant at Barauni.
In detail –
  • The state-of-the-art gas-based Barauni plant is part of an initiative by the government to revive the closed urea units of Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited (FCIL) and Hindustan Fertilizers Corporation Limited (HFCL).
  • Revival of closed units of FCIL and HFCL has been the top priority agenda of the present government to increase the availability of domestically produced urea in the urea sector.
  • The government has approved an estimated investment of Rs 8,387 to Hindustan Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited (HURL) to revive the Barauni unit. The plant will have a urea production capacity of 12.7 LMTPA.
About Hindustan Fertilizers and Chemicals  Limited
  • HURL is a joint venture company authorised with effect from June 15, 2016 to    predictly revive Gorakhpur,  Sindri and Barauni units in association with Coal India Limited (CIL), NTPC Limited (NTPC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and FCIL/HFCL.
  • An investment of Rs 25,000 crore has been made for this work.
  • Hurl plants have many unique features like state-of-the-art blast proof control room equipped with DCS (Distributed Control System), ESD (Emergency Shutdown System) and Environmental Monitoring System etc.
  • It also has India’s first air-operated bullet proof rubber dam with a length of 65 metres and a height of 2 metres. There is no external wastewater disposal in these plants.
  • The systems  are highly motivated, dedicated, operated by well-trained operators. The facility    integrates the best technologies in the   world with an aim to meet the demand for urea in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.
  • The commissioning of the three PLANTS of HURL will increase indigenous urea production in the country by 38.1 LMTPA and help realise the Prime Minister’s  vision of making India ‘self-reliant’ in urea production.
  • It is one of the largest fertilizer manufacturing units in India, the foundation stone of which was laid by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The project will not only improve the availability of fertiliser to farmers but also boost the economy in the region including infrastructure development like roads, railways, ancillary industries etc besides ensuring food security of the country.
  • Apart from urea supply, the project will also help in developing small and medium scale industries/vendors around the manufacturing unit.
  • There will be a lot of entrepreneurship activities around the hub and this will further boost job creation.
  • The operation of the plants will be a major step towards making the country self-reliant in urea fertilizer, saving foreign exchange due to reduction in imports and “Self-reliant India in Fertilizer”.
  • Hurl’s Gorakhpur plant has already been commissioned in December 2021 and the Sindri plant is likely to be commissioned soon.
Urea crisis  in India
  • India has long been dependent on imports to meet its urea requirement.
  • Government of India data shows that we consumed a total of 358.6 lakh tonnes of urea in 2021-22, including nano urea. Of this, domestic urea production stood at 250.71 lakh tonnes. The number of nano urea bottles used was equivalent to 17.5 lakh tonnes of urea.
  • This dependence on  imports to meet urea needs is one of the major reasons for urea shortage.
  • Apart from this, there are some traditional reasons for urea shortage, such as sowing occurs at more or less the same time in the whole country.
  • Apart from this, farmers in India do not have enough extra money to buy urea in advance. They come to the shop to get urea only  when they need it.
  • When demand increases, fertilizer companies increase supply. Now this creates another problem. The railway’s rule is that if goods trains carrying more than a certain number of fertilizers start coming on the same track, then they stop the arrival of new goods trains of fertilizer on that track for some time due to their limited capabilities. Due to this, despite adequate quantity of urea available with the companies, there are many times problems in reaching urea to the farmers on time.
  • Storage capacity problems also occur at many levels. Wholesalers and retailers do not have the capacity to store suddenly to meet the increased demand.
  • At the state level, there are often problems at the level of allocation and distribution of districts. Districts where there is high  demand are sometimes undersupply. The central government asks states for a forecast of fertiliser requirements for the kharif and rabi seasons.
  • Urea smuggling is one of the reasons for the shortage of urea in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal,  Rajasthan and some northeastern states.  It is that about 5 lakh tonnes of urea is being smuggled from different states. The largest share of these is said to be smuggling to Nepal. Nearly half of the total urea smuggling has been going to Nepal alone.
Impact of urea crisis
  • Due to the shortage of urea, many problems arise. The first problem is that there is a risk of decreasing the area under cultivation. Then if enough urea is not used, the productivity of the crop decreases.
  • Due to lack of adequate fertilizers, the quality of grains is not that good. It is also seen many times that farmers are forced to sow paddy varieties that are prepared in a short period of time, whose production is low.
  • Urea is less needed in short duration paddy. It has also been observed that black marketing increases when there is a shortage of urea. Due to black marketing, farmers have to buy urea at a higher price and this increases the cost of agriculture. ”
Government of India’s measures to overcome urea crisis
  • In order to reduce import dependence in the case of urea, the central government is starting new conventional urea plants on the one hand and new plants of nano urea are being set up on the other hand.
  • A few years ago, the government had planned to start six new plants of conventional urea. The annual production capacity of each of these plants was fixed at 1.27 million tonnes. If all these plants start producing at their full capacity, Then India’s domestic urea production capacity will increase by 7.62 million tonnes.
  • Similarly, to increase the production of nano urea, the government is working on a plan to increase the number of production units from the current one to eight. By  November 2025, all these units will start production and at that time India will be able to produce 440 million bottles of nano urea annually, equivalent to 200 lakh tonnes of conventional urea.
  • With the introduction of new production units of conventional urea and nano urea, it is expected that by 2025, India will be completely self-sufficient in urea.
  •  The government is also working to prevent urea smuggling to avoid shortage of urea. The border is being monitored more strictly for some time.

Source – PIB

National Credit Framework

Paper 2 – Education

Why You Should Know?

recently Union Minister of Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan presents draft National Credit Framework (NCRF) for public consultation
In detail –
  • In keeping with the vision of the new National Education Policy (NEP), the Government of India has developed the National Credit Framework (NCRF) to ensure integration of academic and professional sectors leading to flexibility and mobility between the two.
  • NCRF will prove to be a big changer. It will open up many options for further progress of students and will create a relationship between school and higher education with vocational education and experiential learning, thereby mainstreaming skilling and vocational education.
  • For students who have dropped out of mainstream education, NCRF will enable them to re-enter the education ecosystem.
  • The National Credit Framework under NEP is a next generation, multi-dimensional instrument. The National Credit Framework is an umbrella framework for skill training, re-skilling, up-skilling, accreditation and evaluation of educational and skill institutions and our people in the workforce.
  • The National Credit Framework   will seamlessly integrate credits earned through school education, higher education and vocational and skill education by incorporating the National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF), the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and the National School Education Qualification Framework (NSEQF).
  • It supports the acceleration of education for students who have unique learning talents and recognizes the pre-learned strength of a workforce that has informally acquired knowledge and skills through traditional family heritage, work experience or other ways.
Proposed Benefits of  National Credit Framework
1. For students

The framework will ensure flexibility in the duration of study/course through provisions for multiple entry and exit/working options as well as pave the way for creditation of all learning hours including academic, vocational and experiential learning. It will also provide for lifelong learning—that is, learning anywhere at any time.

It will help students as follows:
  • Establishment of multidisciplinary and holistic education with flexible curriculum
  • Removing the difficult distinction between subjects of education and making the choices of study respectable, allowing more than one in the same period
  • Removing the distinction of arts,  sciences, social sciences, commerce etc.
  • Giving credit to the student for each education/skill/experience
  • Enhancing the scope of basic education by including both basic and cognitive
2. For institutions

The national credit framework will bring integration into higher education institutions to promote multidisciplinary education, creating a diverse and rich base of students’ knowledge.

This will also help:
  • Promote strong cooperation between institutions
  • Simplifying and uniformising the credit mechanism
  • Growing focus on research and innovation
  •  Promoting digital learning, blended learning and open distance learning
  • Leveraging institutional infrastructure
3. For the Government

It is expected that this framework will help the government in fulfilling the national vision of increasing student enrolment, complementing the demographic dividend and transforming India into the skill capital of the world.

It will also do the following:
  • Making vocational education and training/skills aspirational
  • Highly educated and trained workforce for self-reliant India
4. For industries

This framework will help students acquire NSQF-approved basic skills developed by industries and become more employable. The provision of micro-credentials that it has will allow integration of accelerated educational upgradation/up-skilling.

This will also help in:
  • Re-skilling and up-skilling of existing employees/engineers
  • Making students more employable by enabling a more holistic design of study
  • Creating a multi/inter-sectoral skill pool of employable youth

Source – IE

Cuba missile crisis

Paper 2 –  International Issues

Why You Should Know?

This year, in 2022,  the Cuban missile crisis is completing 60 years, due to which US President Joe Biden has once again drawn the attention of the world to the crisis that left the Third World War.

In detail –
  • Speaking about the Russia-Ukraine war, Biden said the world is on the brink of a nuclear war for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis. Putin is lagging behind in this war, which is increasing the risk of nuclear attack.
  • Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s veiled threat to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine marked the first possibility of a nuclear “Armageddon” since the Cuban missile crisis.
  • The Cold War reached its peak in October 1962, when the two great superpowers,  the Soviet Union and the United States, were on the verge of nuclear war for 13 days. The standoff, known as the Cuban missile crisis, was resolved and the disaster was mitigated by timely talks between Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F Kennedy.
What is the Cuban Missile Crisis?
  • The incident took place in October 1962. It was the Cold War. The US was interfering on Cuba, the US wanted to topple the Fidel Castro government there and also wanted to kill Castro.
  • Cuba, frightened by america, reached the Soviet Union. The Communist Party government in  both countries became deep friends.
  • The Soviet Union promised to protect Cuba from the United States. Cuba began to get financial help and now Castro was standing in front of america.
  • Prior to this incident, the US had deployed nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey to surround Russia. The Soviet Union was aware of this.
  • The Soviet Union had a significantly smaller number of nuclear missiles with direct access to the US. When Cuba came to the Soviet Union, it saw an opportunity.
  • The Soviet Union deployed its nuclear missiles in Cuba. Now the Soviet Union can attack the interior of America.
  • At first, America remained oblivious, but as soon as it came to know about it, the situation worsened. He started searching cuba-bound ships at sea.
  • On October 14, 1962, an American U-2 spy aircraft flying across Cuban territory took pictures of several medium-range ballistic nuclear missile sites built in Cuba, with the potential to target strategic centers in the central region.
  • After this the conflict with the Soviet Union started. It seemed that there would be an attack now that there would be an attack then. The situation remained like this for 13 days.
This is how the tension ended
  • This was followed by a “secret”  agreement between Soviet chief Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F Kennedy.
  • After this, the Soviet Union removed missiles from Cuba, in return, the US promised that it would not interfere in Cuba and remove missiles deployed in countries close to the Soviet Union. After this, the Cuban missile crisis ended.
  • After Cuba’s missile crisis, the two superpowers created a Moscow-Washington hotline to have direct communication links to their leaders and prevent such tensions.
  • While nuclear war was averted thankfully, Cuba’s missile crisis did not mark a Cold War resolution, nor the culmination of a growing arms race.

Sources – IE

Tamil Nadu government’s efforts to save endangered vultures

Paper 3 – Biodiversity

Why You Should Know?

Recently, the Tamil Nadu government has constituted a state-level committee for conservation of vultures.
In detail –
  • The 10-member committee will be headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden. Its members include representatives of NGOs.
  • The committee will implement an action plan for vulture conservation which includes scientific management of carcasses and sample analysis of cattle carcasses, regulation to ban poisonous drugs for vultures, setting up of vulture conservation breeding centres, monitoring of vulture population, conducting vulture census across the country,  creating awareness on vulture conservation and regular monitoring of vulture population across the state  included.
  • It is noteworthy that vultures play an important role as manual scavengers of nature, which keeps the environment clean. The vulture population has decreased over time and are now severely endangered.
  • Four of the nine species of vultures found in India — oriental white-backed vultures, long-beaked vultures, red-headed vultures and Egyptian vultures — are found in Tamil Nadu.
Conservation of vultures in India
  • Vulture is a dead bird that relies only on the bodies of dead animals for food. In this way, he works as a skilled and natural cleaner for the environment. Their digestive system is strong so that they can also digest rotten meat full of germs. Thus vultures actually prevent the spread of many infectious diseases.
  • Vultures found in the subcontinental regions of India and South East Asia are old world vultures and  have a relatively close relationship with moths, hawks and eagles, etc.
  • In the first decade of 1990, there were about four million vultures in India, eliminating about 1.2 million tonnes of meat at an annual rate. In the last ten decades, a drug called Diclofenac has cleared 99% of the vulture population from India.
  • The first declining vulture population in India was recorded in Kelwadel, Ghana National Park (Bharatpur, Rajasthan) between 1980 and 1990, which proved to be a milestone for further calculations.
  • The sudden decline in vultures was then observed in northern India and its associated neighbouring countries as well. In the same sequence, four species of vultures (white-backed vultures, belnachunch vultures, long-tailed vultures and raj vultures) have fallen into the Critically endangered category listed by the World Conservation Association, which is the highest category of threat assessment.
diclofenac drug
  • This medicine was given to cattle for pain relief. If the animal dies within 72 hours of treatment, then this medicine is present in its body. If vultures feed on this contaminated carcass, then this medicine acts as poison for them.
  • The main cause of death of vultures is the failure of the kidneys during diclofenac poisoning, which is caused by eating the carcasses of animals that have once been treated with these painkillers. In such cases, 85% of intestinal lesions have been seen in vultures.
  • Despite being banned in veterinary medicine, diclofenac is available for human medicine and its illegal use in veterinary medicine is also possible. In this context,  monitoring of chemical levels in dead cattle carcasses is essential to ensure consideration and research on other potential threats to vulture conservation, including chemical pollution, habitat modification and infrastructure effects, to control the mortality of left over vultures in the open environment.
  • In collaboration with BNHS and Royal Society for Protection of Birds at The Veterinary Research Institute of India, the level of diclofenac residues in dead bodies of dead cows and buffaloes collected from all over India is being effectively and comprehensively monitored. In the 2004-05 survey, about 11 per cent of the bodies were found to be toxic. Meloxichem was found to be relatively safe for standard vultures, so its alternative use was emphasized.
  • In 2006, diclofenac painkiller was banned from being used in veterinary medicine in south-eastern countries including India, Nepal, Pakistan. The 2007-08 survey found remains of diclofenac in about 6 per cent of cattle carcasses. In 2008, there is a provision of imprisonment for the sale, promotion and use of this drug.
Vulture Protection Policy in India
Ex-situ conservation programme
  • The Government of India has implemented a multi-pronged scheme for vulture re-production: (Ex-situ Conservation Programme) The Ex-situ conservation programme aims to establish the population of vultures in the forests automatically by 2030.
  • In the first phase, it is proposed to increase vulture population by captive breeding and in the second phase,  it is proposed to restore these vultures in a safe natural environment.
  • At present, such natural areas are being identified where there is a natural population of vultures and new vultures are taking birth. Such areas are to be declared vulture safe zones by ensuring availability of diclofenac-free food.
  • In different places of South Asia, centers are being set up to preserve three species of vulture called (which are ‘critically endangered’) in breeding centers.
  • In these centres, ex situ conservation is done by checking sick vultures as well as analysis of cattle carcasses. The breeding programme of three breeds in India is being carried out by The Bombay Natural Historic Assembly (BNHS), Mumbai,  at three centres – Pinjore (Haryana), Rajbhatkhawa (West Bengal) and Rani (Assam). In addition, five zoos located at Junagadh, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar have also been recognized by the Central Zoo Authority for vulture breeding.
  • The breeding rate of vultures is slow. These are a practicing bird of a wifehood. Male vultures and female vultures form pairs for life and often start breeding from the age of five. Only one egg is given in a year, so the breeding rate of vultures is slow. Now artificial incubation is being used to increase this rate. The egg hatching time of a species called is mostly between 50-55 days.
  • The biggest problem in the success of bird breeding programs is the accurate identification of sex, because males and females are single in nature, generally it is not possible to distinguish sex between them by looking at them. Keeping male and female vultures in equal proportion in breeding centers is helpful for greater success of breeding. The Veterinary Research Institute of India has found a method for molecular sex identification in species of vultures and is supporting captive breeding programmes.
  • The Government of India as well as other countries have also started to save the population of vultures of the species called so that they can be  saved by protected breeding and their growth by surveillance until they establish themselves.
Insitu conservation programme
  • The objective of this program is to provide food to the birds mainly in a safe place and free from the toxic drug Diclofenac. Several steps have been taken by the Government of India to eliminate the use of diclofenac, a medicine used in veterinary medicine, in a phased manner and to use any other medicine as an alternative.
  • Recent surveys demonstrate that still about 4 percent of carcasses are toxic from diclofenac. The number of toxic bodies has come down but the figure is still above the safe level of 1 per cent. Any steps aimed at eliminating the use of diclofenac in veterinary medicine will not be fully effective until diclofenac is eliminated from human medical use.
  • The success of vulture conservation programme depends on the immediate removal of toxic painkillers from vulture food and coordinating them according to the normal environment. This requires active participation of veterinarians and animal owners. Both should be suitably informed for information related to new issues.

Sources – TH

Swadesh Darshan Yojana

Paper 3 – Tourism

Why You Should Know?

The central government is soon going to launch Swadesh Darshan 2 with selected destinations from 15 states.
In detail –
  • Under the scheme, 15 states with two or three destinations have been identified, which want to provide financial assistance to strengthen tourist infrastructure.
  • The initiative is being taken  as part of the first phase of ‘Swadesh Darshan 2’  starting January.
  • Fifteen states are part of the first phase which includes Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Two destinations in each state have been identified.
  • Prayagraj, Chitrakoot and Gwalior are among the cities identified in 15 states across the country to be promoted as part of India’s new domestic tourism policy, which focuses on reviving destination tourism by moving away from the theme-based tourism circuit.
  • Some of the prominent places identified are Jhansi and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, Gwalior, Chitrakoot and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh and Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.
  • Significantly, the Swadesh Darshan scheme is 100% centrally funded.
  • The government recently revamped the scheme as Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD 2.0) to develop sustainable and responsible destinations with a tourism and destination centric approach.
What is Swadesh Darshan Yojana ?
  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme is a Central Sector Scheme launched in the year 2014-15  by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture,  Government of India with the objective of integrated development of thematic tourism circuit.
  • Swadesh Darshan Yojana Scheme has been launched by the Ministry of Tourism (Ministry of Tourism),  Government of India for the organized or holistic development of themed tourism circuits.
  • The objective of this scheme is to promote, develop and prepare the country in this field.
  • Fifteen thematic circuits have been identified under the scheme – Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Sufi Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Rural Circuit , Tribal Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, North East Circuit.
  • The scheme is envisaged to keep pace with other schemes like  Swachh Bharat Abhiyan  , Skill India, Make in India etc.  which ranks the tourism sector as a key engine for employment generation, driving force for economic growth, building synergies with various sectors so that tourism realises its potential.
Objectives of  Swadesh Darshan Scheme
  • To develop circuits with tourism potential on priority and in a planned manner.
  • To promote employment through active participation of local communities.
  •  Development of identified theme-based circuits in an integrated manner.
  • Communities-based development and pro-poor tourism approach.
  • To promote the cultural and heritage value of the country.
  • Enhance tourist attractions sustainably by developing world-class infrastructure in circuits or destinations.
  • To make local communities aware of the importance of tourism that it will increase their sources of income, better standard of living and overall development of the respective area.
  • To promote local art, handicrafts, culture, cuisine or cuisine etc. to generate livelihood in the identified areas.
  • To prepare tourism potential for direct and multiplier effects for job creation and growth of the economy.
Tourism in India
  •  India’s cultural richness and landscape beauty make it a destination that must be visited at some point in life. Its vast ranges stretching from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the tropical flora of Kerala encapsulate an incomparable diversity of landscapes, cultures and people. Walk the streets of any Indian city and you will walk shoulder to shoulder with many representatives of the great religions of the world.
  • Tourism in India is important for the country’s economy and is growing rapidly. The  World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) calculated that  tourism in India  generated ₹13.2 lakh crore (US$170 billion) or 5.8% of India’s GDP and provided 32.1 million direct and indirect employment  in 2021.
  • The sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 7.8% to ₹33.8 lakh crore (US$420 billion) by 2031 (7.2% of GDP).
  • Over 17.9 million foreign tourists arrived in India in 2019 as compared to 17.4 million in 2018, representing a 3.5% increase. This makes India the 22nd most visited country in the world and the 8th country in Asia and the Pacific.
  • The number of domestic tourists across all states and UTs in 2012 was 1,036.35 million, an increase of 16.5% from 2011. In 2014, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were the most popular states for tourists.
  • Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Agra and Jaipur were the five most visited cities in India by foreign tourists during the year 2015. Worldwide, Delhi ranks 28th in the number of foreign tourists, while Mumbai is ranked 30th, Chennai 43rd, Agra 45th, Jaipur 52nd and Kolkata 90th.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021, places India at 54th position out of a total of 117 countries.
  • The report ranks the value competitiveness of India’s tourism sector at 13th out of 140 countries. It mentions that India has fairly good air transport infrastructure (ranked 33rd), especially given the country’s developmental stage, and proper land and port infrastructure (ranked 28th). The country has also scored high in natural resources (ranked 14th), and cultural resources and business travel (ranked 8th).
  • Significantly, the Ministry of Tourism formulates national policies for the development and promotion of tourism. In the process,  the Ministry   consults and collaborates with other stakeholders in the sector including representatives of various Central Ministries/Agencies, State Governments, Union Territories and private sector.
  • Concerted efforts  are being made to promote specific tourism products such as rural, cruise, medical and environmental tourism. The Ministry of Tourism is running the Incredible India campaign focused on promoting tourism in India  .

Source – TH

Tribal youth exchange programme

Paper 2 – Government Policies

Why You Should Know?

Recently, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs organized the 14th Tribal Youth Exchange Programme for the development of tribal youth
In detail –
  • Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan in  collaboration with Left Wing Extremism Division (LWE), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and financial assistance has been organizing tribal youth exchange programme since 2006 for development of tribal youth and their integration with mainstream. During this financial year 2022-23, 26 tribal youth exchange programmes are being organized by the organisation across the country.
  • The objective of the programme is to sensitise tribal youth to India’s rich cultural heritage and enable them to imbibe the concept of unity in diversity, make them aware of developmental activities and industrial advancement and help tribal youth develop emotional connections with their peers in other parts of the country and enhance their self-esteem.
  • The duration of each tribal youth exchange programme is 7 days. As many as 220 selected youths in the age group of 18-22 years from Left Wing Extremism affected districts of Sukma and Rajnandgaon districts of Chhattisgarh, Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh and Jamui district of Bihar are participating in it.
  • The major activities of this tribal youth exchange programme include interactive sessions with constitutional authorities, dignitaries and eminent persons, panel discussions, lecture sessions, activities under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, speech competition, skill development, industry visits related to career guidance, knowing about the ongoing sports events,  Visits to CRPF camps, cultural performances etc. are included.
Tribal Communities  in India
  • Tribals in India are often referred to as ‘tribal people’. Tribals are mainly in majority in the Indian states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh,  Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, tribals in 8 states of North East and minority in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, while they are in majority in Indian Northeastern states, such as Mizoram.
  • The term ‘Scheduled Tribe’ has been used for tribals in the Indian Constitution. The major tribal communities of India are Andh, Gond, Kharwar, Munda, Khadia, Bodo, Kol, Bhil, Koli, Saharia, Santhal, Bhumij, Oraon, Lohra, Birhor, Pardhi, Asuras, Bhils, Bhilala, Meena, Takankar etc.
  • The Government of India has recognized them as “Scheduled Tribes” in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Often they are placed in the same category “Scheduled Castes and Tribes” with Scheduled Castes.
  • All tribal communities in India have their own distinct languages. Linguists have placed all the tribal languages of India into mainly three language families – Gondi, Dravidian, Astrik and some tribal languages also fall under the Indo-European language family.
  • Among the tribal languages, ‘Bhili’ has the highest number of speakers, followed by ‘Gondi’ language in the second place and ‘Santali’ language in the third place.
  • According to the 2011 census, tribals constitute 8.6% (10 crore) of India’s population.

Note- India’s first tribal woman President Smt. Draupadi Murmu ji has become, who belongs to the Santhal tribe community.

Sources – PIB

AK-203 assault rifles

Paper 3 – Security

Why You Should Know?

Recently, Russian official informed that AK-203 rifles will be manufactured in Uttar Pradesh by the end of this year.

In detail –
  •  The Government of India is  constantly trying to increase the strength  of the army, under this, it has now been decided to manufacture AK-203 Assault Rifle  in India.
  • The rifle will be manufactured in India in collaboration with  Russia and will be produced at the Korva Ordnance Factory in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The manufacture of the AK-203 assault rifle is expected to begin by the end of 2022. A senior Russian official gave this information.
  • The Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited was set up in 2019 to manufacture Russian-origin Kalashnikov assault rifles at the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Amethi in Uttar Pradesh plans to produce 6.01 lakh AK-203 assault rifles in the next 10 years. Earlier, about 70 thousand to 1 lakh AK-230 rifles and its technology will be brought to India from Russia.
  • After about 32 months, the army will be able to get this dangerous rifle after the work of making rifles in the factory located in UP.
Features of AK-203 Rifle
  • The Indian Army has been using INSAS rifles for a long time. After getting the state-of-the-art AK-203 assault rifle to the Indian Army, its strength will increase.
  • The AK-203   Assault Rifles weighs 3.8 kg and is 705 mm in length, while the INSAS rifle weighs around 4.15 kg and is 960 mm in length.
  • Due to the low weight and short length, the handling of ak-203 assault rifle will be easy and this rifle can be carried for a long time.
  • Due to weight loss, the jawans will be less tired and it will also be easier to run.
  • The AK-203 assault rifle has bullets of 7.62x39mm and its range is also 800 meters, which makes it more lethal.
  • The AK-203 assault rifle can be operated in automatic mode and can fire only 600 bullets in a minute.
  • The AK-203 has a box magazine of 30 rounds and its mass velocity is 715 meters per second. The INSAS rifle can fire 650 bullets in a minute, but the accuracy of the AK-203 is high.

Sources – TH

Indigenous trainer aircraft HTT-40

Paper 3 – Science & Tech

Why You Should Know?

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, unveiled an indigenous trainer aircraft HTT-40 designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at the India Pavilion during the 12th DefExpo in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 19, 2022.
In detail –
  • This trainer aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art contemporary systems and is designed with pilot-friendly features. Built with more than 60 per cent in-house parts and collaboration with private industry, this aircraft is an excellent example of the vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • HTT-40 will be used for basic flight training, aerobatics, instrument flying and close formation flights.
  • Whereas, its secondary roles will include safety and night flight. This is a testimony to the state-of-the-art technology designed to meet the primary training needs of the Indian Defence Services.
  • Based on a carefully tested turbo-prop engine, this aircraft is equipped with the latest avionics, an air-conditioned cabin and ejection seats. It has unique features like change-over of pilots, hot-refuelling and short-turnaround time. All tests required for certification were completed in a record six years before its first flight.
  • HTT-40 has completed all systemic tests, all PSQR performance, warm weather, sea level and cross wind tests and user-assisted technical tests. It demonstrated its immunity to rain water. Interim approval is obtained from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) that the aircraft is fit for flight.
About Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is a public sector undertaking in India, which manufactures air plants. It is headquartered in Bengaluru.
  • HAL was established on 23 December 1940 by Walchand Hirachand in collaboration with the then Kingdom of Mysore as Hindustan Aircraft Limited in Bangalore.
  • HAL today is one of the oldest and largest aerospace and defence manufacturers in the world.
  • HAL is currently involved in the design and manufacture of fighter jets,  helicopters, jet engines and marine gas turbine engines, avionics, software development, spare supplies, overhauling and upgradation of Indian military aircraft.
  • HAL currently has 11 dedicated Research and Development (R&D) centres and 21 manufacturing divisions under 4 production units spread across India.
  • HAL is managed by the Board of Directors appointed by the President of India through the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
  • Over the years,  HAL   has   designed and developed several platforms such as the HF-24 Marut, Dhruv, LUH, and LCH. HAL also manufactures indigenous products with technology transferred from DRDO
  • HAL supplies integrated L-40 stages for GSLV Mk II, propellant tanks, feed line of PSLV, GSLV MkII and GSLV MkIII launch vehicles and structures of various satellites.
  • HAL Supplies/ The services are primarily for the Indian Defence Forces, Coast Guard and Border Security Force. Transport aircraft and helicopters have also been supplied to Indian carriers and state governments.

Sources – PIB

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