Daily Current Affairs : 18th and 19th February 2024

Topics Covered

  1. Food Corporation of India
  2. PVTG
  3. IPCC Assessment report
  4. Facts for Prelims

    1 . FCI


    Context: Govt. more than doubles authorised capital of FCI to ₹21,000 crore.  

    About the news

    • The government has raised the authorised capital of state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) to ₹21,000 crore, from ₹10,000 crore, to enhance the operational capabilities and fulfill its mandate effectively. 
    • FCI resorts to cash credit, short-term loan, ways and means etc. to match the gap in the fund requirement. The increase in the authorised capital will reduce the interest burden, decrease the economic cost and ultimately affecting the government subsidy positively. 

    About FCI 

    • The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is a statutory body created and run by the Government of India. 
    •  It is under the ownership of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, formed by the enactment of Food Corporation Act, 1964 by the Parliament of India.  
    • It was set up in 1965 with its initial headquarters at Chennai. Later this was moved to New Delhi. 
    •  It also has regional centers in the capitals of the states. 

    Functions 

    • Procurement: FCI procures food grains such as rice and wheat from farmers at government-fixed Minimum Support Prices (MSP) to ensure fair prices for farmers and stabilize market prices. 
    • Storage: FCI maintains large warehouses and storage facilities across the country to store the procured food grains safely until they are distributed. 
    • Distribution: FCI distributes food grains to various states and government-run welfare schemes like the Public Distribution System (PDS), which provides subsidized food grains to economically disadvantaged households. 
    • Buffer Stock Management: FCI manages buffer stocks of food grains to stabilize market prices and ensure food security during times of scarcity or emergencies. 
    • Transportation: FCI oversees the transportation of food grains from procurement centers to storage facilities and distribution points across the country. 
    • Policy Implementation: FCI implements government policies related to food security, procurement, and distribution of food grains effectively and efficiently. 
       

    2 . PVTG


    Context: With the 2021 Census indefinitely delayed, the government’s attempt at using the PM Gati Shakti portal to estimate the total population of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) across the country is hitting one wall after another. 

    Who are PVTGs? 

    • In 1960-61, the Dhebar Commission identified disparities among Scheduled Tribes, leading to the creation of the “Primitive Tribal Groups” (PTG) category. In 2006, this category was renamed Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). 
    • Initially identifying 52 groups, the category was expanded to include 75 groups in 22,544 villages across 18 states and one Union Territory of India, totalling about 28 lakh individuals. 
    •  These groups, living mainly in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, are characterised by pre-agricultural lifestyles, low literacy, small or stagnant populations, and subsistence economies. 
    • Population sizes vary significantly, from under 1,000 in some groups, such as the Great Andamanese (around 50) and the Onge (around 100), to over 1 lakh in others, such as Maria Gond of Maharashtra and Saura in Odisha. 
    • Some tribes in central India, like Birhor, face stagnation, while the Onge and Andamanese are experiencing a decline. 

    What are the challenges in their development? 

    • PVTGs are severely marginalised due to their isolation, low population, and distinct socio-economic and cultural traits. 
    • They struggle with limited access to basic services, social discrimination, and vulnerability to displacement from development and natural disasters. 
    • They have little political representation, hindering their participation in decision-making. 
    • Mainstream society often overlooks their traditional knowledge and practices, and stereotypes about their backwardness are prevalent. 
    • They are also battling loss of traditional livelihoods and resource rights, lack of market knowledge for Non-Timber Forest Produce, and exploitation by middlemen, threatening their traditional occupations. 

    What schemes have been floated for them? 

    • The Centre and state governments have introduced several initiatives to support PVTGs. 
    • The PVTG Development Plan provides education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities while preserving traditional knowledge. 
    • The Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikas Mission (PMJVM) focuses on market linkages and Minor Forest Produce (MFP) procurement at Minimum Support Prices. 
    • Other significant schemes include the Pradhan Mantri Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana, Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP), which collectively aim for the holistic development of tribal areas. 
    • Additional measures like Eklavya Model Residential Schools, land titles under the Forest Rights Act 2006, Support to Tribal Research Institute (STRI) scheme, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996, and direct recruitment through reservations further aid in education, self-governance, and protection against discrimination. 
    • However, challenges in implementation, such as resource limitations, lack of awareness, and unequal treatment among different PVTG groups have affected the effectiveness of these schemes. 

    3 . IPCC Assessment report


    Context: Since 1988, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced six assessment reports, three special reports, and methodology reports that provide guidelines for estimating greenhouse gas emissions and removal. Three reports from the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle (AR6) were published in 2021-2022.  

    What did the recent report say? 

    • The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) warned that the time to limit the rise of the world’s average surface temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era, as agreed in the Paris Agreement, is running out and that we are close to breaching adaptation limits. 
    •  It also suggested some options and strategies to slow warming, and to adapt and build resilience in natural systems, in human-made systems, and in communities. 
    • After the AR6 synthesis report, the IPCC initiated its seventh cycle (AR7) by electing an IPCC bureau. In 2024, bureau members met for the first time in Turkey to discuss budgeting issues, timelines for the various reports, and the work programme. Before this meeting, the co-chairs and rapporteurs of the Informal Group on Lessons Learned had produced a paper consolidating the learnings from the AR6 cycle and submissions from 66 of the 195 member countries regarding the types of reports, the need for special reports, and the value of ‘full assessment reports’. 
    •  The paper also emphasised a recommendation by member countries to ensure adequate input from the IPCC is available for the second global stocktake to be concluded in 2028. 
    • The paper, along with a report entitled ‘Options for the Programme of Work in the Seventh Assessment Cycle’ — which discussed options for publication, including ways in which the reports could be clustered for production of any special or additional reports, and their pros and cons — fed into the discussions in Turkey. 

    What is meant by ‘global stocktake’? 

    • To assess the world’s progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, UNFCCC countries conduct a ‘global stocktake’ (GST) every five years. The GST is a mechanism to measure collective progress, identify gaps, and chart a better course of climate action. 
    • The first GST started in 2022 and ended at the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC in 2023. 
    • The first GST text, to which member countries agreed to at the COP28 in Dubai last year, requested the IPCC to consider ways in which its work can be aligned with subsequent stocktakes. 
    •  The second GST is due in 2028; and member countries have requested the IPCC to publish its AR7 assessment reports before so that countries could measure their progress against the state of the planet. 

    What will the AR7 cycle produce? 

    • Bureau agreed to produce the full assessment and synthesis reports, the methodology reports, and a special report. The full assessment reports will include reports from three Working Groups (as in the previous assessment cycles) plus a synthesis report. This decision considered the time available for significant new literature to be published, time required to run climate models, time to engage with under-represented communities, and the stress imposed on the IPCC technical support unit and the authors. 
    • The two methodology reports will be on short-lived climate forcers (like methane) and on carbon removal. 
    • The bureau also decided to revise the technical guidelines on impacts and adaptation. 
    • While countries suggested producing special reports spanning 28 topics, the bureau decided it will produce only one, on climate change and cities. 

    What is the timeline for reports? 

    • Several member countries also asked the bureau to ready the assessment reports by 2028 to coincide with the GST. But the bureau couldn’t reach a consensus on the release date, partly due to its experience with authors and countries over the time required to review, finalise, and publish the approved texts. Each assessment report in the past has required at least four years from start to finish. 
    • Countries also said a shortened cycle could compromise the content as not enough new research papers may be published in the window and modelling efforts to understand the changes in climate to the full extent may also remain incomplete. 
    • Many member countries also said a constrained timeline would complicate engagements with individuals and institutions in under-represented countries. 
    • A decision on the timeline with respect to the assessment reports is pending and will be taken at the 61st session of the IPCC. However, the special and methodology reports will be published in 2027. 

    4 . Facts for Prelims


    Jnanpith

    • The Jnanpith Award is the oldest and the highest Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their “outstanding contribution towards literature”. 
    • Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral.  
    • From 1965 till 1981, the award was given to the authors for their “most outstanding work” and consisted of a citation plaque, a cash prize and a bronze replica of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom. 
    • The first recipient of the award was the Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup who received the award in 1965 for his collection of poems, Odakkuzhal (The Bamboo Flute), published in 1950. 
    • The rules were revised in subsequent years to consider only works published during the preceding twenty years, excluding the year for which the award was to be given and the cash prize was increased to ₹1.5 lakh (equivalent to ₹31 lakh or US$38,000 in 2023) from 1981. 
    • In 1976, Bengali novelist Ashapoorna Devi became the first woman to win the award and was honoured for the 1965 novel Prothom Protishruti (The First Promise), the first in a trilogy. 

    Kashmir willow

    • Kashmir willow refers to a type of willow wood that is commonly used in the manufacturing of cricket bats. The willow trees used for cricket bat production are primarily grown in the Kashmir region
    • The wood from Kashmir willow is valued for its lightweight yet durable characteristics, making it well-suited for cricket bats. Cricket bats made from Kashmir willow are generally more affordable than those made from English willow, which is another type of willow wood often used in high-quality cricket bats.

    Rheumatoid arthritis 

    • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just the joints. 
    •  In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. 
    • An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. 

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