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APMC mandis to be connected with e-NAM


GS Paper – II & III


Context– The integration of 101 agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) mandis onto the electronic platform e-NAM was recently authorised by the government.


  • On March 31, the total number of mandis connected to the e-NAM platform is scheduled to reach 1,361.
  • In Bangalore last year, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) also introduced the Platform of Platforms (PoP) under the e-NAM platform.
  • To promote e-NAM and encourage farmer and trader engagement, the government has already developed programmes like as the Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund, the Kisan Rath Mobile App, and the Platform of Platforms (PoP) within the e-NAM site.
  • These programmes attempt to enhance price discovery, boost transparency, and provide farmers access to a larger market for their goods.
What is e-NAM?
  • e-NAM (Electronic National Agricultural Market) is an online agricultural commodity trading network in India.
  • The Government of India started it in 2016 with the goal of creating a single national market for agricultural goods.
  • It combines current physical marketplaces with an electronic platform, such as Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and other market yards.
  • It allows farmers, merchants, and buyers to purchase and sell agricultural commodities via an internet gateway, giving them access to different marketplaces and customers around the country.
  • In addition, the platform provides real-time price discovery, quality testing, and transportation services, encouraging openness, efficiency, and competitiveness in agricultural markets.
What are APMC Mandis?
  • Farmers sell their agricultural goods to dealers and agents at APMCs, or Agricultural Produce Market Committees.
  • State APMC Statutes compel farmers to sell their goods through licenced dealers and agents, which govern these mandis.
  • These mandis were set up to safeguard farmers from exploitation and to ensure that farmers receive fair prices for their goods.
  • Mandis are markets or yards where farmers sell their agricultural goods to licenced dealers and commission brokers.
  • In India, there are approximately 7,000 APMC mandis, each servicing an unique geographical region or cluster of villages.
Significance of integrating APMCs in e-NAM
  • They aid in market regulation by guaranteeing quality standards, timely payments, and transaction transparency.
  • Improved oversight and regulation of dealers and commission agents.
  • It will aid producers in real-time price discovery and steady price realisation.
  • It will aid in the expansion of agricultural commerce and market reach.
Government initiatives to develop APMC mandis include:
  • It allows farmers to sell their goods online and reach a larger clientele.
  • The 2017 Model APMC Act seeks to liberalise the agriculture market and attract private participation.
  • Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) were recommended by the government to assist farmers in acquiring market access and improving negotiating power.
  • The Agricultural Infrastructure Fund (AIF) intends to give financial assistance to farmers.

Source – The Hindu

Linking Voter ID to Aadhaar

GS Paper- II

Context- According to the Election Commission (EC), over 60% of India’s 94.5 crore voters have connected their Aadhaar numbers to their voter IDs.

  • The Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 was recently approved to deduplicate electoral registers by enabling election officials to gather voters’ 12-digit Aadhaar numbers.
Important Findings: 
  • Gujarat and Delhi have the lowest voter Aadhaar linking rates, while Tripura topped the list with nearly 92% of voters attaching their Aadhaar.
  • The total number of Aadhaar-linked voters is 56,90,83,090.
  • Lakshadweep and Madhya Pradesh are the second and third most populous states, with almost 91% and 86% of the vote, respectively.
  • Gujarat has the lowest voter Aadhaar registration rate, with only 31.5% linking their Aadhaar to their voter ID.
  • Fewer than 34% of voters in the national capital, Delhi, have connected their Aadhaar.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka both fell short of 71%, with Tamil Nadu and Kerala coming in at roughly 63% and 61%, respectively.
Need to Link Voter ID with Aadhaar
  • Duplicate Voter Entries May Lead to Inflated Voter Counts: Duplicate voter entries can lead to inflated voter counts, resulting in erroneous election results and undermining the fundamental purpose of democratic elections.
  • Voter Fraud: Voting entries can be used by fraudsters to cast numerous ballots or impersonate actual voters, resulting in election fraud and jeopardising the democratic process’s legitimacy.
  • Duplicate entries need more resources to manage, update, and deduplicate electoral rolls.
  • Duplicate entries can potentially result in real voters being disenfranchised, as their names may be incorrectly removed or designated as duplicate entries, denying them the opportunity to vote.
  • Lack of Trust: Duplicate voter registrations can weaken public faith in the political process, raising concerns about the election’s fairness and openness.
  • Legal Disputes: Inaccurate electoral rolls can also result in legal challenges and conflicts, causing delays in the publication of election results and doubt about the election’s outcome.
Issues Related to Linking Aadhaar with Voter ID
  • Since the government proposes exclusions from the ambit of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, it is now allowed to misuse the important information obtained through the Aadhar – Voter ID connection. Such a connection will provide the government with demographic information that has been connected to Aadhaar and is linked to the voter database.
  • The ability to vote is one of the “most sacred rights” and cannot be denied just because a person does not have an Aadhar card. The preference for Aadhaar for voter identification is perplexing, considering Aadhaar is merely proof of domicile, not citizenship.
What more can be done?
  • Aadhaar is an Indian government-issued unique identification number that can assist prevent duplicate entries and guarantee that each voter has a unique identity.
  • Using data analytics to compare voter lists with other databases such as PAN, driving licence, and passport can assist election officials detect and delete duplicate entries more quickly.
  • Voter education can help eliminate duplicate entries by raising voter knowledge about the significance of keeping correct voter lists and the implications of having duplicate entries.
  • Frequent voter list updates are required to guarantee that the lists stay accurate and up to date.
  • Biometric verification, facial recognition, and machine learning can all assist to automate the process of recognising and deleting duplicate entries, making it more efficient and accurate.
  • Anyone discovered to have generated or aided duplicate entries might face legal prosecution, which can serve as a deterrent to such behaviour.

Source – The Hindu

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and its Geoeconomic Implications

GS Paper III

Context– With a forecast 7% growth rate for the current fiscal year, the Indian economy is on track to have the highest growth rate among the world’s major economies. Furthermore, the unfolding geoeconomic and geopolitical dynamics that will maintain India’s consumption-driven development phenomena will drive investment and output in the next years.

What exactly is a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA)?
  • A regional trade agreement (RTA) is a treaty between two or more nations in a specific region that intends to decrease or remove trade obstacles such as tariffs and quotas in order to enable increased commerce between the member countries.
  • Free Trade Agreements, Customs Unions, Common Markets, and Economic Unions are all examples of RTAs.
What is Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?
  • A free trade agreement (FTA) is a form of RTA that eliminates tariffs and other trade obstacles on products transferred between member nations.
  • Although FTAs may contain provisions for trade in services and investment, their primary focus is on lowering tariffs on products.
India’s experience with RTAs/FTAs
  • India’s signing of bilateral trade agreements has increased dramatically since 2021.
  • Other examples are the India-Mauritius CECPA in 2021, the India-UAE CEPA, and the Australia-India ECTA in 2022.
  • Negotiations on these topics are underway with the United Kingdom and Canada, and serious aspirations to sign FTAs with the EU and Israel have also been declared.
Geoeconomic Implications
India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA):
  • The India-UAE CEPA reinforces India’s commitment to I2U2 (Israel, India, UAE, and the US), commonly known as the Western QUAD, a regional force assembled in October 2021.
  • This deal gives India access to its western neighbours, which can help it negotiate trade accords in the absence of China.
  • It moves India closer to establishing an India-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) free trade agreement, hence improving relations with the Gulf states.
  • On the economic front, the trade agreement is expected to nearly treble bilateral commodities trade by 2027, enhance service trade, and create tens of thousands of employment in labor-intensive industries.
The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA)
  • The Australia-India ECTA strengthens Australia-India connections on a variety of fronts, including geopolitics.
  • After the two countries sign a more comprehensive FTA, known as the CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement), several other sectors including as services, investments, government procurement, and intellectual property would be included.
  • Even within the QUAD, Australia and India’s strong connection will aid in the development of an Australia-India specialty.
Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)
  • The IPEF, a Biden administration-led economic initiative with fifteen cooperating member countries, has the enormous potential to ink a regional trade pact and establish a trading bloc without China.
  • If that occurs, India, as a member, will undoubtedly benefit.
How would FTAs affect consumption-driven growth?
  • FTAs can increase consumption demand through two channels.
  • The FTAs will permit cheaper commodity imports and improve consumer choice.
  • The second point to make is that the direct multiplier impact of increasing commerce and employment will have a multiplier effect on domestic earnings.
  • Both of these dynamics, when combined, will raise consumer purchasing power and consumption demand.
Factors that put India at Competitive Advantage
  • The IPEF, a Biden administration-led economic initiative with fifteen cooperating member countries, has the enormous potential to ink a regional trade pact and establish a trading bloc without China.
  • If that occurs, India, as a member, will undoubtedly benefit.
How would FTAs affect consumption-driven growth?
  • FTAs can increase consumption demand through two channels.
  • The FTAs will permit cheaper commodity imports and improve consumer choice.
  • The second point to make is that the direct multiplier impact of increasing commerce and employment will have a multiplier effect on domestic earnings.
  • Both of these dynamics, when combined, will raise consumer purchasing power and consumption demand.
  • India’s superior demographic dividend over China provides it with a competitive edge. The under-30 population in India is around 52 percent, compared to around 40 percent in China, which is expected to drop quicker over the next decade. The young population is predicted to fuel consumer-led growth through increasing spending, saving, and investing.
  • Second, according to 2019 estimates, the average Indian pay is 10% that of China, giving Indian products relative cost-competitiveness when compared to Chinese products. Foreign investment is already being attracted.
  • India’s enormous emphasis on physical infrastructure through initiatives such as the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for FY 2019-25 and expansion in the transport sector would lower transaction costs.

Without a question, FTAs are becoming as crucial economic diplomacy weapons for India as it seeks higher degrees of engagement with friendly states. At the same time, India’s FTAs are a two-tiered game. It must negotiate with the concerned nation/s at the international level, while it must negotiate with numerous conflicting constituencies at the domestic level. Nonetheless, the importance of FTAs as an economic engine through trade and investment cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, with India set to overtake China as the world’s most populated country in January 2023, it will be the world’s largest product and factor market.

Source – The Hindu

Food Security and Energy Crisis In The South Asian neighbourhood

GS Paper- III

Context- To be true, the Ukraine-Russia war has thrown numerous Global South countries’ energy markets into disarray. Moreover, supply cuts by edible-oil exporting countries, along with rising fuel prices, have resulted in an increase in food prices, making food security a priority issue, particularly for vulnerable segments of society. Moreover, China’s COVID-19 spike has affected the world economy, particularly in BoB.

How is the South Asian neighbourhood changing?
  • Sri Lanka and Pakistan are both suffering economic challenges, with the former experiencing a full-fledged economic collapse and the latter dealing with massive foreign loans, power shortages, and significant inflation.
  • The IMF approved a precautionary loan of $4.7 billion to Bangladesh in light of the country’s hazardous macroeconomic position, which includes high inflation and volatility in the Bangladeshi Taka.
  • Businesses are closing down and unemployment is skyrocketing in post-coup Myanmar.
  • Nepal, too, is experiencing growing trade imbalances and dwindling foreign exchange reserves.
How is the Russia-Ukraine conflict threatening food security?
  • Ukraine and Russia play important roles in global food supply chains, affecting low- and middle-income nations as well as vulnerable people who are already struggling with hunger in the post-pandemic globe.
  • Because both nations exported more than one-third of the world’s wheat and barley, as well as around 70% of sunflower oil, governments all over the globe suffered when the conflict halted shipments of over 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain.
  • Monthly agricultural commodities exports to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East were anticipated to be 6 million tonnes. By June 2022, this figure had shrunk to one-fifth of its previous value.
  • Global food costs have grown by 20%, according to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). It also anticipates an increase in the undernourished population of 7.6 to 13.1 million as a result of the conflict and its implications on food costs and availability.
Sri Lanka: A case of Food security crisis
  • The Sri Lankan economy’s collapse has wrecked havoc on the country’s food security.
  • The abrupt transition to organic farming in 2021 harmed Sri Lanka’s agriculture trade performance.
  • The island country was forced to import sugar, rice, and a variety of other commodities, including intermediate items in which the economy previously held a surplus.
  • By 2022, the tea business, a significant commodity of exchange, had suffered losses of around US $425 million, exacerbating the economy’s foreign exchange crisis even more.
Energy crisis
  • According to data research on energy imports, all of the nations in the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), particularly India, Burma, and Bhutan, rely substantially on energy imports.
  • The region’s trade dependence on fuel is a significant burden, rendering it extremely sensitive to external macroeconomic shocks. The Russia-Ukraine conflict emphasises the need of states having energy self-sufficiency.
  • Despite the fact that the BIMSTEC countries developed a ‘Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation in BIMSTEC’ and signed an MoU for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection in August 2018, the lack of required infrastructure and adaptive power markets, the lack of grid system synchronisation, the lack of financial policies, and other related issues have slowed progress in energy cooperation among the region’s countries.
  • Bangladesh, in particular, has been placed in a difficult position in terms of energy security due to its inability to initiate the transition to renewable energy and its massive reliance on petroleum imports.
  • The Russia-Ukraine confrontation has fueled the fire. With rising energy prices and subsidy expenditures, Bangladesh’s fiscal balances and current account deficits have been concerning.
  • Finally, the administration had to impose some austerity measures. Domestic rates for diesel, kerosene, octane, and gasoline were raised to attain price parity with neighbouring countries like as India, China, and Nepal.
Way ahead
  • It becomes imperative for regional groupings to set up safeguards against crises where their food security is affected by geopolitical events and domestic macroeconomic threats.
  • The notion of a food bank for BIMSTEC countries modelled after the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Food Bank is a solid start since it would help to stabilise prices.
  • Recently, India convened the second Agriculture Ministerial-level conference of the BIMSTEC nations in November 2022, when it encouraged the member countries to adopt a regional plan for reforming agriculture and boosting millets into food systems.
  • Promotion of intra-regional trade of food commodities such as millets, when these nations have surplus production, may significantly reduce food insecurity.
  • The region’s overdependence on fuel will make it more vulnerable and threaten its financial stability. As a result, creating a local energy market is vital for the area. This can be accomplished by hastening the green transition.
  • Japanese FDI has consistently had higher repercussions and spillovers in the Indian economy. If Japanese enterprises’ economies of scale and potential in creating various green energy technologies could be completely realised, the region’s reliance on China, which is presently the dominating player in the domain of solar energy, would be reduced.

Regional economies have enormous potential to invest in green transition technologies and sustainable agricultural research, which may help them achieve self-sufficiency in energy and food markets, respectively. The Bay of Bengal area, led by India, has the potential to lead the world in renewable energy developments such as solar and wind.

Source – Indian Expreess

Cyberattacks: India’s Opportunity To Conceptualize Global Cyber Security Framework

GS Paper – III

Context- The fragile underbelly of our rapidly growing digital networks has been exposed in recent weeks. Ransomware is becoming the most common type of hostile intrusion. In this case, the culprits want large sums of money in exchange for the release of withheld material. According to data, over 75% of Indian organisations have been subjected to similar assaults, with each breach costing an average of 35 crore in damage.

There have been two recent ransomware attacks.
  • The first was a ransomware assault on the systems of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, India’s premier institute. Over 40 million health records were exposed, and it took more than two weeks to bring the systems back online.
  • Soon after, the BlackCat ransomware group entered the parent business of Solar Industries Ltd, one of the Ministry of Defence’s munitions and explosives producers, and stole almost 2 Terabytes of data.
What exactly is a cyber-attack?
  • Cyberattacks are unlawful attempts to steal, expose, change, disable, or destroy information via computer systems.
  • These assaults can target a variety of institutions, including governments, enterprises, organisations, and individuals, and can result in catastrophic repercussions such as the theft of sensitive information, financial loss, reputational harm, or the interruption of key services.
Who is behind cyberattacks?
  • Cyberattacks against businesses can be carried out by criminal groups, state entities, and ordinary individuals. Outsider vs insider threats is one approach to categorise cyberattack risks.
  • Organized criminals or criminal gangs are examples of external cyber risks. Professional hackers, similar to state-sponsored actors, and amateur hackers, similar to hacktivists
  • Insider threats are people who have authorised and legitimate access to a company’s assets and intentionally or unintentionally misuse them. They are as follows: Workers who disregard security regulations and procedures, Employees that are dissatisfied with their present or prior jobs, Access to the system for business partners, clients, contractors, or suppliers.
Growing vulnerability
  • With the distinction between the physical and digital domains becoming more blurred, every key infrastructure, from transportation to electricity and financial networks, would become especially vulnerable to attacks by hostile state and non-state actors.
  • As demonstrated in Ukraine’s continuing conflict, electronic systems in warheads, radars, and communication devices have apparently been rendered ineffective by hacking and GPS jamming.
  • With the advent of 5G and quantum computing, the potency of malicious software and opportunities for digital security breaches will only grow.
  • This year, cybercrime is anticipated to generate $8 trillion in worldwide harm.
India’s cybersecurity architecture
  • In 2022, India’s cybersecurity agency, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), issued a list of standards for organisations to follow when linked to the internet sphere. This included the legal requirement to report cyberattack occurrences within hours of becoming aware of them, as well as the designation of a pointsperson with domain knowledge to interface with CERT-In.
  • The proposed Digital Personal Protection Bill 2022 in India proposes a fine of up to 500 crore for data breaches.
  • India’s armed services have established a Defence Cyber Agency capable of offensive and defensive manoeuvres. Every Indian state has its own cyber command and control centre.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs established the Indian Cybercrime Co-ordination Centre (I4C), which functions as a node in the response to cybercrime by coordinating with state police forces across the country. It also coordinates the execution of other nations’ mutual legal assistance accords (MLAT).
Have you ever heard of “Bluebugging”?
  • It is a type of hacking that allows attackers to get access to a device via its discoverable Bluetooth connection.
  • If a device or phone is blue-bugged, a hacker may listen to the calls, view and send messages and steal and change contacts.
  • It began as a danger to laptops equipped with Bluetooth. Later on, hackers used the approach to mobile phones and other gadgets.
Limitations In India’s cybersecurity infrastructure
  • Most organisations lack the tools necessary to detect, much alone prevent, intrusions.
  • India likewise has a severe shortage of cybersecurity personnel. In comparison to the 1.2 million individuals in the United States, India is expected to have a total workforce of roughly 3,00,000 in this area.
  • The majority of our businesses are in the private sector, and their engagement in India’s cybersecurity frameworks remains restricted.
Global understanding is essential
  • With the majority of cyberattacks emanating from beyond our borders, international collaboration would be crucial to maintaining the security of our digital realm. It would also be a cause with international appeal.
  • India has previously inked cybersecurity treaties with the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and the European Union, among others.
  • Even under international frameworks such as the Quad and the I2U2 (both of which India is a member), efforts are being made to strengthen cooperation in cyber event response, technological collaboration, capacity building, and cyber resilience. Yet, there is no really global structure, with numerous organisations working in silos.
  • The United Nations General Assembly established two procedures to address security problems in the information and communication technology (ICT) environment.
  • Russia formed the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) with the whole UN membership through a resolution.
  • The other is the United States’ resolution on the continuance of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), which includes 25 countries from all major areas.
  • The two adversarial permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, who are India’s most significant strategic allies, disagree on several areas of the Internet, including openness, data flow limitations, and digital sovereignty. These UN organisations would struggle to hold productive talks in the middle of current international events.

The G-20 summit in India this year, which will include all of the stakeholders pushing the global levers of power, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring together local and international engagement groups from across the spectrum and guide the direction of these dialogues. India might make an attempt to create a worldwide framework of minimum acceptable cybersecurity standards. This would be one of the most important contributions to collective security made by any nation in contemporary times.

Source – Indian Expreess


Facts for Prelims

IREDA to finance Renewable Energy projects in foreign currency

Context: IREDA intends to open a branch in Gujarat’s GIFT City to fund renewable energy projects in foreign currency.

  • The IREDA’s Gandhinagar office will be designated as an overseas office, allowing it to avoid foreign exchange hedging charges.
  • It comprises of a multi-service Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) (DTA).
  • IFSCA is India’s single regulator in charge of developing and regulating financial products, financial services, and financial institutions at International Financial Services Centers (IFSCs).
About IREDA:
  • The IREDA is a mini-ratna business that reports to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • It was established as a non-banking funding organisationspecialising in renewable energy.
  • IREDA plays a critical role in renewable energy project financing, giving financial institutions/banks confidence to lend in the field.

Matching of the eShram beneficiaries’ data with the Ration Card data

Context: The Ministry of Labour and Employment has begun the process of linking eShram recipients’ data with Ration Card (National Food Security Act (NFSA)) data.

  • This programme will guarantee that all qualified employees enrolled on eShram get Ration Card benefits under the NFSA.
About eShram Portal:

Launched by: Ministry of Labour& Employment


  • To establish a national database of unorganized/migrant employees and provide them a Universal Account Number (UAN).
  • To expand the advantages of social security and welfare programmes to unorganised employees, particularly migrant workers, and to identify workers who are denied the different benefits of Central and/or State Government welfare schemes owing to a lack of understanding or otherwise.


Context: More than 40 percent of gramme panchayats do not submit digital attendance.

  • The government has mandated that the attendance of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers be tracked via a smartphone application called the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS)
  • Only community work under MGNREGS necessitates the use of NMMS.
  • According to Ministry authorities, the NMMS app is being used to gather data at 85% of MGNREGS work locations.
NMMS Information:
  • On May 21, 2021, the Ministry of Rural Development unveiled the NMMS App. This software aims to increase transparency and ensure proper scheme monitoring.
  • It allows for real-time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGA labour locations, as well as a geo-tagged image.
  • The app contributes to increased community supervision of the programme.
  • The software is available to Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers in all states and union territories.

Revised guidelines for MPLADS

Context:  The Revised Guidelines for Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)-2023 were published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Guidelines Have Been Revised:
  • The revised criteria widen the scope of the Scheme, allowing the lawmaker to approve initiatives in response to changing community needs.
  • New Internet Portal: The online site will be used to manage the whole fund flow procedure under the amended criteria.
  • This will allow for real-time monitoring, more openness and accountability in the system, and better MPLAD Scheme efficiency and efficacy.

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