Daily Current Affairs : 21st, 22nd & 23rd February

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topic Covered

  1. Crop Insurance
  2. Administered Price Mechanism
  3. FATF Grey List
  4. Medical Devices as Drugs
  5. Additional protection under the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
  6. Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF)
  7. Issues with Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
  8. The Sunderbans and Climate Change
  9. Geological Survey of India
  10. Facts for Prelims

1 . Crop Insurance


Context : Centre decided to restrict its premium subsidy in its flagship crop insurance schemes to 30% for unirrigated areas and 25% for irrigated areas (from the existing unlimited), and to make enrolment of farmers in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) voluntary from the 2020 Kharif season.

What were the schemes?

  • At present, under PMFBY and RWBCIS, farmers pay a premium of 2% of the sum insured for all foodgrains and oilseeds crops of Kharif; 1.5% for all foodgrains and oilseeds crops of Rabi; and 5% for all horticultural crops.
  • The difference between actuarial premium rate and the rate of insurance premium payable by farmers, which is called the Rate of Normal Premium Subsidy, is shared equally between the Centre and the states. However, states and Union Territories are free to extend additional subsidy over and above the normal subsidy from their budgets.
  • Until now, there was no upper limit for the central subsidy. Cabinet decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under these schemes for premium rates up to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.

Why changes with this move, and why has the government taken it?

  • One interpretation of this decision is that the burden of premium subsidy will go up for the states. For example, in the old regime, if a farmer’s Kharif crop was insured for Rs 1,00,000 and the rate of actuarial premium was 40%, then the premium paid by the farmer was 2% (Rs 2,000), and the remaining premium was shared by the Centre and the state equally (19% or Rs 19,000).
  • In the new regime, for the same sum insured (Rs 1,00,000) and the same rate of premium (40%), the Centre will give subsidy for premium rates up to 30%. This means that from the Kharif 2020 season , the Centre will have to pay premium at the rate of 14% (out of 30%, the farmer’s share is 2%, and the Centre’s and state’s 14% each) instead of the 19% it paid (out of 40%) in the last Kharif season; the state has to bear the entire burden of the premium subsidy in cases where the rate of premium goes beyond the threshold of 30%.
  • A second interpretation is that the Centre may stop supporting insurance of certain crops in certain areas where the rate of premium is more than 30%. As the notification provides that Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare in consultation with other stakeholders/agencies will prepare/develop State specific, alternative risk mitigation programme for crops/areas having high rate of premium.”
  • Sources said that by capping the subsidy for premium rates up to 30%, the Centre wants to disincentivise certain crops in such areas where growing these crops involve high risks in terms of crop insurance premiums.

How many farmers are covered under these two schemes?

  • During 2018-19, about 5.64 crore farmers are enrolled with PMFBY for an insured sum of Rs 2,35,277 crore, and 30% of the gross cropped is insured. When the government approved PMFBY four years ago, it was described as “a path-breaking scheme for farmers’ welfare” under which there was no upper limit on government subsidy. “Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government,” said a statement released on January 13, 2016. For 2020-21, the government has allocated Rs 15,695 crore for PMFBY.
  • While PMFBY is based on yield, RWBCIS is based on proxies and farmers are provided insurance protection against adverse weather conditions such as excess rainfall, wind and temperature. The number of insured farmers under RWBCIS is relatively low.

How well-placed are states to raise their share of premium subsidy?

  • The states are already defaulting on their share, and the Centre’s new cap will put an additional financial burden on them. Madhya Pradesh has not paid its share of premium even for Kharif 2018, which comes to Rs 1,500 crore. As a result, farmers have not got their claims.
  • Most states have delayed the payment of their share of premium. Sources said that in some states, the expenditure on premium of PMFBY is more than 50% of their budget for agriculture.

What can be the fallout of making the schemes voluntary?

  • That move will lead to a rise in the rates of premium, as the area covered under insurance and the number of enrolled farmers are expected to come down significantly. As of now the schemes are compulsory for all loanee farmers and optional for other farmers. Non-loanee farmers under the crop insurance schemes are much fewer than loanee farmers. If the latter opt out of the schemes, the number of insured farmers will drastically come down. Sources say that in such a scenario, the rate of premium of certain crops in some areas may go beyond 30%.

Which are the other changes in crop insurance schemes?

  • The government has given flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and RWBCIS, and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses. Earlier, these risk covers were mandatory. Sources said this change will have two main impacts.
  • First, it may bring down the rates of overall premium as the state governments now will not be required to invite bids factoring these risks.
  • Second, it will make these schemes less attractive for farmers. However, states/UTs can offer specific single peril risk/insurance covers like hailstorm etc under PMFBY.

2 . Gas Pricing Formula


Context :

Thanks to the fall in global gas prices, India’s domestic natural gas prices are set to nearly halve to a 10-year low of $2 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu), a move that is expected to benefit city gas distributors (CGDs), fertilizer units and power firms.

Background

  • The NDA government scrapped the Rangarajan Committee recommendations soon after it assumed office in 2014, instituting its own formula for domestic APM gas prices in India by linking them to 12-month averages of U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe prices. Soon, the Administrative Price Mechanism (APM) prices rose to $5.6/mmbtu from the $4.2 they were at between 2010 and 2014 when they were linked to Reliance’s KG-D6 price, but have been soft since. The prices fell 12.5%, in the last half-yearly reset in October 2019 to $3.6.

What is it?

  • Much of the natural gas being produced in the country does not command a market-determined price — that is, it is not determined by buyers and sellers based on demand-supply dynamics in the market.
  • Rather, a formula — and a peculiar one at that — is used to fix the price of the fuel every six months. As per the formula, the domestic gas price is the weighted average price of four global benchmarks — the US-based Henry Hub, Canada-based Alberta gas, the UK-based NBP, and Russian gas.
  • The domestic price is based on the prices of these international benchmarks in the prior year, and kicks in with a quarter’s lag. It applies for six months. So, the price applicable from April 1 to September 30, 2019 is based on benchmark prices from January to December 2018.
  • This formula-based pricing has some interesting features and outcomes.
    • One, the formula has no mention about gas actually imported into India. Typically, gas imported in Asian markets is costlier than many international benchmarks. In effect, the price of domestic gas is lower than that of gas imports.
    • Next, the averaging of benchmark prices over the past year and then the time lag of a quarter mean that the domestic gas price movement is often out of sync with what’s really happening on the ground.

3 . FATF Grey List


Context : Pakistan has been retained on the ‘grey list’ of the FATF for the next four months.

Background

  • Pakistan was given a September 2019 deadline to complete the 27-point action plan laid out by FATF.
  • The major aim was to shut down all access to funding of United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Pakistan was also required to prosecute the leadership of the groups for any access to finance.
  • The Pakistan administration was required to tighten laws and banking security norms.
  • In November 2019, after Pakistan was judged to have complied with only four points of the plan. Subsequently, the FATF extended the deadline to February 2020.
  • Pakistan has been on the grey list in the past as well, including between 2012-2015, after which it was taken off the watch list until 2018.

About the Current FATF Decision

  • Pakistan has been retained on the ‘grey list’ of the FATF for the next four months.
  • Pakistan is one of the 12 countries on the grey list, that are being reviewed for actions to stop terror financing and money laundering.
  • FATF has stated that Pakistan had failed to comply with the deadlines in the action plan set by the FATF.
  • The FATF report notes that Pakistan needs to improve in eight specific areas. The major concerns include:
    • Pakistan needs to demonstrate that it is identifying and investigating all terror-financing activities in the country.
    • It needs to freeze the funds of all the designated terrorists.
    • The prosecutions must result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions against all terror entities operating in its territory.
  • In light of the terror financing risks emanating from Pakistan’s jurisdiction, FATF has warned Pakistan to complete the 27-point action plan it has been given, by June 2020, failing which it risks being placed in the blacklist.
  • The blacklist refers to countries for whom there has been a call to action or are placed under strict banking and international financial sanctions. The blacklist of FATF presently includes Iran and North Korea.

4 . Medical Devices as Drugs


Context: Notification of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare notifies all medical devices as drugs and brings them under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, from April 2020.

Background

  • The recent Union Budget had introduced a 5% health cess on import of medical devices, making medical devices costlier for hospitals.
  • Worryingly much of the price hike might be passed on to the patients, cushioning the impact on the profitability margin of hospitals.

About the Notification

  • The notification covers devices used for diagnosis, life support, treatment of ailments, software used in medical instruments, etc. Almost the entire gamut of medical devices will come under the ambit of the notification.
  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization will be regulating the medical devices.
  • The consumables/devices will be brought under regulation in a phased manner up till April 1, 2021.

Concerns

  • Higher regulation : The latest notification paves the way for higher regulation of medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO). Companies will now have to obtain approval to manufacture, import and sell medical devices in India.
  • Higher costs: According to the credit rating agency ICRA, the Centre’s decision is bound to push up the cost of medical devices in India. The increased regulatory requirements will lead to higher input costs. It will increase the cost of compliance, lead time and also lead to higher expenses in launching new products, resulting in an overall increase in the cost of the product.

5 . Additional protection under the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)


Context : A committee adopted India’s proposals for including three species — great Indian bustard, Asian elephant and Bengal florican — for additional protection under the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

What does the Convention seek to do?

  • CMS is a treaty agreed by 129 countries plus the European Union, and functions under the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It works for protection and conservation of species that migrate across frontiers and are facing threats of extinction or require urgent attention.
  • CMS aims to bring together different countries that are part of range of a given species, and facilitate coherent conservation and protection regimes in a group of countries.
  • The conference is being held in India for the first time. Delegates from at least 78 countries are attending.

Why do migratory species need special attention for conservation?

  • With a change in season, many mammals and birds move from one country to another in search of food and shelter, and for breeding.
  • Asian elephants, also known as Indian elephants, migrate from India to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar etc.
  • However, wildlife laws and protection regimes for these species can be different in each country, making them vulnerable to taking, hunting, poisoning etc.
  • Many migratory species are threatened with extinction due to habitat degradation, barriers in their migration routes, and other pressures. Therefore, these species need special attention by all countries that are part of their range.

What were India’s proposals that were accepted?

  • India has proposed inclusion of the three species on Appendix-I of the Convention.
  • Appendix-I lists species threatened with extinction, while Appendix-II lists those in need of global cooperation for favourable conservation status. If listed on Appendix-I, it would facilitate trans-boundary conservation efforts of the these species.
  • The proposals cleared the first hurdle when they were adopted unanimously by the conference’s committee of the whole. However, Pakistan, which is the other range country of the great Indian bustard, did not take part in the discussion on the proposals. The plenary of COP13 is expected to take a final call on the listing

What are the grounds on which India has proposed the listing?

  • Asian elephant : India said the Asian elephant, an endangered species, once used to range from west Asia to north of Yagtze river in China but currently, the range has shrunk to 13 Asian countries, and their population in India to 29,964 in 2017. India said elephants’ inclusion on Appendix-I would ensure better coordination among the range countries, facilitate migration, increase effective habitat area, and reduce killings.
  • Great Indian bustard : Its range stretching across India and Pakistan, it is a critically endangered species with a population of just around 150 individuals and its present habitat having shrunk to 10% of its historical range. India said there is prima facie evidence that the birds fly across the India-Pakistan border and hence the need for bilateral cooperation for recovery of the species.
  • Bengal florican : This too is a critically endangered species of bird that belongs to the bustard family. In its proposal, India said the present population of the South Asian subspecies has shrunk to around 1,000 individuals and its present habitat been restricted to the Terai and Dooars grassland regions of the Indo-Gangetic and Brahmaputra floodplains.

How does listing on a CMS Appendix help a species?

  • Listing generally leads to concerted actions in different national jurisdictions in which a species ranges. Actions may include cooperation among range countries, harmonisation in policies etc through regional agreements. CMS has working groups specialising in various fauna families, and a Scientific Council that advises research-based solutions for conservation.
  • Many countries started shifting towards renewable energy by building infrastructure like wind turbines, power transmission lines, solar parks; these pose risks to wildlife. CMS set up in 2014 an Energy Task Force; it advises contracting parties on how to keep their energy projects wildlife-friendly.
  • Despite the listing and consequent efforts, 73% of 175 migratory species on Appendix-I and 48% of the 518 on Appendix-II have an overall decreasing population trend, CMS says.

So, what changes for the species in India’s proposals?

  • If the plenary eventually adopts these proposals and the listing goes through, which is expected to happen, a formal regional cooperation among range countries would become possible. Once the listing is done, contracting parties within the range of a species are obliged to cooperate in trans-border conservation efforts.
  • Bangladesh, for example, welcomed the proposals on the elephant and the florican, a bird that went extinct in that country in 1882. However, Pakistan did not express any views on the proposal on the great Indian bustard. Conservation efforts would also gain from the international expertise of the CMS family, and could increase pressure on Pakistan for preventing alleged hunting of the great Indian bustard.

What else is on the agenda of the conference?

  • Besides the three species, proposals have been moved for including seven others — jaguar, urial, little bustard, antipodean albatross, oceanic white-tip shark, smooth hammerhead shark and tope shark — for listing on CMS Appendices. COP13 also discussed marine noise pollution, plastic pollution, light pollution, insect decline etc.
  • India has also invited the COP13 to adopt the ‘Gandhinagar Declaration’ urging the world community to strive for ensuring ecological connectivity, especially for sustainable management and conservation of migratory species. India has proposed that once adopted, CMS forward the Gandhinagar Declaration to the 15th meeting of UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in China in October this year, for preparing post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

6 . Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF)


Context : At 100 light years from Earth, a low-mass star was sending signals in a pattern that suggested that an exoplanet was orbiting the star. NASA’s Kepler mission observed a dip in the host star’s light, suggesting that the planet was crossing in front of the star during its orbit. To confirm, researchers turned to an instrument called Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF). It has confirmed that there is indeed an exoplanet.

About Habitable Zone Planet Finder

  • HPF is an astronomical spectrograph, built by Penn State University scientists, and recently installed on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas.
  • The instrument is designed to detect and characterise planets in the habitable-zone — the region around the star where a planet could sustain liquid water on its surface — around nearby low-mass stars.
  • The newly confirmed planet, called G 9-40b, is the first one validated by HPF. It is about twice the size of Earth, and orbits its star once every six Earth-days.

How it Works

  • A spectrograph is an instrument that splits light into its component wavelengths. Scientists then measure the properties of light over a specific portion of the spectrum, and draw conclusions on what is responsible for the trends they observe.
  • Kepler’s observations alone were not enough to confirm a planet. It was possible that a close stellar companion was responsible for the dip in the star’s light. Precision spectroscopic observations from HPF ruled out this possibility. Shooting a high-power laser into the air, researchers generated a “laser guide star”, and subsequent observations found no evidence of blending of light or other stellar companions.
  • At Apache Point Observatory, researchers plotted a ground-based transit of the proposed planet using a process called diffusion-based photometry. They found that the plot agrees with the transits observed by Kepler.
  • Finally, using HPF, an analysis of a set of radial velocities helped provide estimates for the planet’s mass.

7 . Issues with Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)


Context : One in three Aadhaar-based payments for the Centre’s maternity benefit scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), was credited to a wrong bank account, according to a progress report on Poshan Abhiyaan (Nutrition Mission) released by the NITI Aayog.

Background

  • Under the PMMVY, pregnant women and lactating mothers receive ₹5,000 for their first child in three instalments. Each tranche is released upon the beneficiaries meeting some conditions.
  • The money is meant to compensate women for loss of wages, and is aimed at ensuring a healthy nutritional development of the newborn.

Details of the Report

  • “A substantial number of payments (28% of all Aadhaar-based payments, of 31.29 lakh) are going to different bank accounts than what had been provided by the beneficiaries. Sometimes these are even untraceable by beneficiaries and field functionaries.
  • It is a prime cause for dissatisfaction among beneficiaries, which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis,” the report says about the implementation of the scheme on the basis of the data collected until March 31, 2019. 66% of the direct benefit transfers were based on Aadhaar.
  • The report says a telephone survey of 5,525 beneficiaries, conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, revealed that only 60% were aware of the receipt of the benefits and the bank accounts to which the money was transferred.

Recommendations

  • The NITI Aayog has called for “simplification in documentation and operational rules” to avoid delays.
  • It has proposed to “rationalise” the mandatory waiting period of 180 days before the second instalment is released as well as the compulsory birth certificate for the release of the third instalment.
  • It calls for the training of auxiliary midwives who fill up the mother-child protection card, which is among the documents needed to get the benefit, and data entry operators so that application details are entered online and payments and complaints are processed on time.
  • The report calls for improving funds utilisation, which was at 20% in large States, 42% in small States and 5% in Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Kerala, Delhi and Goa. It also highlights the need to address gaps in growth- monitoring devices at anganwadis, pointing out that only 27.6% anganwadi workers were given smartphones to record data and only 35% had devices like weighing scales to measure important nutritional parameters. “It is imperative to ensure that the basic equipment required to conduct growth monitoring is procured and distributed urgently,” the report says.
  • The third main recommendation is on filling of vacancies in the supervisory cadre of Lady Supervisors Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) and District Programme Officer (DPO). According to the report, at the national level, the vacancy rates are in the range of 25% for the CDPO.

Scores of States

  • This is the second report released by the government on the implementation of Poshan Abhiyaan. It scores the States and Union Territories to measure their readiness to execute the programme across four themes: governance and institutional mechanism; strategy and planning; service delivery and capacities; and programme activities and intervention coverage. The States were divided into large and small categories for a better comparison.
  • Among the 19 large States, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh scored the top three ranks, followed by Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. All these States had an implementation score of over 70%. Karnataka, Assam and Kerala were at the bottom, with a score below 55%.
  • Among the eight small States, Mizoram and Sikkim scored above 75%. Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur and Goa were at the bottom, with scores below 60%. However, all small States had a score above 55%, displaying a fairly good level of readiness and implementation.
  • Four of the seven Union Territories had a score of over 70%. Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh, and Daman and Diu scored above 75% and were ranked among the top three Union Territories. Delhi, and Lakshadweep were at the bottom, with scores below 50%.

8 . The Sunderbans and Climate Change


Context : The monsoon in Sunderbans is likely to last longer and get more intense, according to a fact sheet titled The Sunderbans and Climate Change, which was made public during the ongoing Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

About the Issue

  • Climate specialists have predicted that as climate change progresses, monsoon seasons in the Sundarbans will become longer and more intense.
  • Conversely, drought conditions will also become more pronounced, presenting further challenges for agricultural producers in particular and ecosystems in general,” said the document released during the Conference of Parties (COP) being held at Gujarat.

Effects

  • Risk of flooding: The fact sheet points out that large parts of Sunderbans, which are designated as ‘Ramsar Sites’, are highly susceptible to flooding. The inundation of seawater is going to dramatically affect the area.
    • Although mangroves demonstrate some degree of resistance to submersion in water, they are susceptible to tidal inundation which occurs too frequently or lasts too long.
    • Apart from the frequent storms and the rise of sea level, another concern is the rise of salinity both in water and soil.
    • Excess levels of soil salinity can be damaging to ecosystems as salts can accumulate in the soil and hinder plant growth and also threaten the health of freshwater aquatic life such as fish and giant prawns.
  • Bengal tiger : The report estimates the rise in the sea level at 3.2 mm per year currently. The report states that an estimated rise of 28 cm above the sea levels registered in the year 2000 would result in a 96 % decline of the habitat of the Bengal tigerin Bangladesh. The intense monsoon storm is also expected to reduce the availability of prey for the Bengal Tiger in the region, adversely affecting its sustainability in the region.
  • Freshwater species:The convention discussions involved the Transboundary Conservation of Threatened Freshwater Fauna, including species like Indian River Terrapin (Batagur Baska), Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) and Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica).There is clear evidence of the habitat of all the three species extending to the Sunderbans in both India and Bangladesh. The risk of flooding in Sunderbans will adversely affect these freshwater species.
  • Rise of salinity both in water and soil : Excess levels of soil salinity can be incredibly damaging to ecosystems as salts can accumulate in the soil and hinder plant growth. It also threatens the health of freshwater aquatic life such as fish and giant prawns

What should be done

  • There is an urgent need for long term coastal planning to ensure that the critically important intertidal habitats with their unique flora and fauna and local inhabitants have a space to retreat inland in case of flooding and subsequent loss of natural habitat for these species.
  • There is the need to protect the existing natural habitat and also enhance natural vegetation in the region to compensate for the impending loss of natural habitat.

9 . Geological Survey of India


Context : The Geological Survey of India (GSI) on Saturday distanced itself from reports of discovery of gold deposits estimated around 3,350 tonnes in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district.

Background

  • The beginning of geological investigation in India was in the early part of the nineteenth century.
  • A few amateur geologists associated with the Survey of India and Army initiated geological studies in the country. H.W. Voysey (1818-1823) of the Great Trigonometric Survey made the first Geological Map of Hyderabad region along with a detailed report. A committee for “The Investigation of Coal and Mineral Resources” was set up in 1837. The Secretary of the Committee John McClelland made the appointment of the first professional geologist.
  • D. H. Williams was the first Geological Surveyor appointed by the East India Company in 1846. John McClelland for the first time used the term Geological Survey of India in his report in 1848. He designated himself as officiating Surveyor, Geological Survey till 1st April 1850.
  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was set up in 1851 primarily to find coal deposits for the Railways. The arrival of Sir Thomas Oldham, Professor of Geology at Trinity College Dublin and the Chief of Irish Geological Survey at Calcutta on 4th March 1851, marked the beginning of the continuous period of the Geological Survey of India.
  • Over the years, it has not only grown into a repository of geo-science information required in various fields in the country, but has also attained the status of a geo-scientific organisation of international repute.
  • GSI, headquartered at Kolkata, has six Regional offices located at Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong and Kolkata and State Unit offices in almost all States of the country. Presently, Geological Survey of India is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.

Functions

  • The main functions of GSI relate to creation and updation of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment.
  • These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting and investigations, multi-disciplinary geoscientific, geo-technical, geo-environmental and natural hazards studies, glaciology, seismotectonic study, and carrying out fundamental research.
  • Outcome of work of GSI has immense societal value. Functioning and annual programmes of GSI assume significance in the national perspective.

Missions for GSI

  • Mission I: Baseline Geoscience, Data Collection
    • Ground and Marine Surveys
    • Remote Sensing and Aerial Surveys
  • Mission II: Natural Resource Assessment
    • Natural Mineral Resource Assessment
    • Natural Energy Mineral Resources
  • Mission III: Geoinformatics
    • Data Repository and Management, etc
    • Publication and Information, Library
    • Map, Geoinformatics and Data Integration
  • Mission IV: Multidisciplinary Geosciences
    • Geotechnical and Geohazards Management
    • Climate Change and Eco-Systems, etc
    • Fundamental Geosciences and Research

Mission V: Training And Capacity Building

  • Training And Capacity Building

10 . Facts for Prelims


Second-biggest Operation Control Centre for goods trains

  • The world’s second-biggest Operation Control Centre for goods trains, built at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is ready to begin operations

Fit India Squat Kiosk’ and Dawa Dost

  • In a first-of-its-kind scheme aimed at promoting the ‘Fit India’ campaign, the Railways has set up a ‘Fit India Squat Kiosk’ near the entry point of the station. The machine will generate a free platform ticket after a passenger performs 30 squats.
  • The Railways has also opened a ‘Dawa Dost’ store at the station, which will offer generic medicines for passengers at up to 80% discount, according to an official release. “‘Dawa Dost’ aims to make it easier for Indians to take care of their health and help them make substantial savings on their health bills by providing high-quality affordable medicines. The firm is having 10 stores in Rajasthan and Delhi, and plans to expand rapidly

Foreign Exchange Reserves

  • The Foreign exchange reserves of India consists of below four categories :
    • Foreign Currency Assets
    • Gold
    • Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)
    • Reserve Tranche Position

Thal Sena Bhawan

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed the stone-laying ceremony for the proposed ‘Thal Sena Bhawan’ of the Army in Delhi cantonment, which will bring together various pockets of the Army headquarters spread across Delhi under one roof.

Yakshagana

  • Yakshagana is a traditional Indian theatre form, developed in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga and western parts of Chikmagalur districts, in the state of Karnataka and in Kasaragod district in Kerala that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.
  • It is believed to have evolved from pre-classical music and theatre during the period of the Bhakti movement
  • Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn. Its stories are drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other epics from both Hindu and Jain and other ancient Indic traditions

Kawal Tiger Reserve

  • Kawal Tiger Reserve is located at Jannaram mandal of Mancherial District in Telangana state of India. Govt of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012. 

R&D Expenditure

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