Daily Current Affairs: 1st November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. Relay Planting, Strip Cropping, Soil munching and No Till
  2. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021
  3. Indus Dolphin
  4. Climate Equity Monitor
  5. SBI Projection on Informal Sector
  6. Facts for Prelims
  7. Places in News

1. Relay Planting, Strip Cropping, Soil munching and No Till

Context: A paper has appeared recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
USA (PNAS) titled: “Integrated farming with intercropping increases food production while reducing environmental footprint”

Key Findings

  • Key Findings of the Paper are :
    1. “relay planting” enhances yield,
    2. Within field rotation or “strip rotation”, allowing strips for planting other plants (such as grass, fruits) besides the major crop was more fruitful,
    3. “soil munching,” that is, available means such as crop straw, in addition to the major crop such as wheat or rice,
    4. “no till” or a reduced tillage, which increases the annual crop yield up by 15.6% to 49.9%, and decreasing the environmental footprint by 17.3%, compared with traditional monoculture cropping.
  • Paper concludes that small farm holders can grow more food and have reduced environmental footprint

Relay planting

  • Relay planting means the planting of different crops in the same plot, one right after another, in the same season. Examples of such relay cropping would be planting rice (or wheat), cauliflower, onion, and summer gourd (or potato onion, lady’s fingers and maize), in the same season.
  • Benefits
    • There is less risk since you do not have to depend on one crop alone.
    • It also means better distribution of labour, insects spread less, and any legumes actually add nitrogen to the soil
  • Challenges
    • The difficulties involved in such relay cropping, namely mechanisation here can be difficult, plus the management requirements are somewhat higher.
  • It is being practiced by small farmers in Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra. They plant onions, turmeric, chillies, ginger, garlic and even some native fruits, thus making profit, during these relay times.

Strip cropping

  • In India, where there are large fields (such as the ones owned by cities and state governments), the land is divided into strips, and strips of grass are left to grow between the crops.
  • Planting of trees to create shelters has helped in stabilising the desert in Western India.
  • It is a method of farming in which two or more crops are grown simultaneously into long narrow strips wide enough to permit independent cultivation but narrow enough to interact agronomical. It means strips are alternated in a crop rotation system.
  • It is the practice of growing the series of alternate strips of various crops in such a manner that all tillage and management practices are performed across the slope.
  • Benefits
    • Strip cropping is an agronomic soil conservation measure. It helps to stop soil erosion and maintain soil fertility. It control runoff erosion and also wind erosion.
  • Western Karnataka (and the nearby Telangana and Northern Tamil Nadu), dry belts with frequent droughts, where 80% of the farmers depend on groundnut as their option practice this type of farming. The Karnataka Watershed Development (KAWAD), together with the AME Foundation, persuaded the farmers to stop using finger millets, fodder and groundnuts.

Soil mulching and no-till

  • Mulching is the placement of any organic or inorganic material over the top of a soil surface to protect it.  Soil mulching requires keeping all bare soil covered with straw, leaves, and the like, even when the land is in use.
  • No-till farming is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage
  • Some of the benefits include: reduced soil erosion, less compaction, moisture conservation, increased control of soil temperature, and a reduction in weed growth. The same set of benefits are also offered by not tilling the soil.

2. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021

Context: The new abortion rules notified by the Union Government recently recognise minors as a vulnerable category and seek to make services more accessible to them. But social stigma and conflict with the POCSO Act, 2012, or the law against child sexual abuse, pose hurdles.

Details of the new rules

  • As per the government’s new rules, the gestational limit for termination of a pregnancy in India has been increased from 20 to 24 weeks for some categories of women.
  • Under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Rules, 2021, the women for whom the limit has been increased include survivors of sexual assault, rape or incest, minors, those whose marital status changes during pregnancy (widowhood and divorce) and those with physical disabilities.
  • The new rules also include mentally ill women, cases of foetal malformation in which there is a substantial risk of physical or mental abnormalities and women in disasters or emergency situations as declared by the government.
  • These new rules fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, which was passed by Parliament in March this year.
  • Earlier, an abortion required the opinion of one doctor if carried out within twelve weeks of conception and two doctors if done between twelve and twenty weeks. As per the new rules, state-level medical boards will be set up to decided if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of foetal malformation where there is a substantial risk of incompatibility with life, physical or mental abnormalities or handicaps.

Why minors were included in the vulnerable category?

  • Minors were included as a special category because it was found that a large number of them were approaching courts for permission to terminate pregnancies beyond 20 weeks.
  • They were the third largest category after those with foetal abnormalities and rape survivors.
  • Due to social stigma around adolescent sex and other reasons contraception services rarely reach adolescents.

Challenges posed by POCSO Act

  • Section 19 of the POCSO Act requires any person aware of a minor engaging in sex to report the matter to the local police even if it was a consensual act as the law pegs the age of consent at 18. The section creates obstacles for medical professionals in providing medical services
  • As a result of POCSO, there is a dramatic drop in the percentage of minors seeking abortion due to fear of Police Harassment


  • Parliament amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 to further empower women by providing comprehensive abortion care to all in March 2021

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment Act

  • The MTP Act regulates the conditions under which a pregnancy may be aborted.  The amendment increases the time period within which abortion may be carried out. 
  • Before the amendment, abortion requires the opinion of one doctor if it is done within 12 weeks of conception and two doctors if it is done between 12 and 20 weeks.  The amendment allows abortion to be done on the advice of one doctor up to 20 weeks, and two doctors in the case of certain categories of women between 20 and 24 weeks.  
  • Upper gestation limit to not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board.
  • The amendment sets up state level Medical Boards to decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities.

Key Features of Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Amendment

The Bill amends the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.  

  • Time limit and grounds for terminating a pregnancy:  The 1971 Act specifies the grounds for terminating a pregnancy and specifies the time limit for terminating a pregnancy.   The amendment amends these provisions.  
Time since conceptionRequirement for terminating pregnancy
 MTP Act , 1971MTP Amendment 
Up to 12 weeksAdvice of one doctorAdvice of one doctor
12 to 20 weeksAdvice of two doctorsAdvice of one doctor
20 to 24 weeksNot allowedTwo doctors for some categories of pregnant women
More than 24 weeksNot allowedMedical Board in case of substantial foetal abnormality
Any time during the pregnancyOne doctor, if immediately necessary to save pregnant woman’s life
  • Termination due to failure of contraceptive method or device: Under the original Act a pregnancy may be terminated up to 20 weeks by a married woman in the case of failure of contraceptive method or device.  The amendment allows unmarried women to also terminate a pregnancy for this reason. 
  • Medical Boards:  All state and union territory governments will constitute a Medical Board.   The Board will decide if a pregnancy may be terminated after 24 weeks due to substantial foetal abnormalities.   Each Board will have a gynaecologist, paediatrician, radiologist/sonologist, and other members notified by the state government. 
  • Privacy: A registered medical practitioner may only reveal the details of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated to a person authorised by law.  Violation is punishable with imprisonment up to a year, a fine, or both.

3 . Indus river dolphin

Context : The census of one of the world’s most threatened cetaceans, the Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) — a freshwater dolphin that is found in river Beas, is all set to commence in the winter as part of a project by the Centre.

About Indus river dolphins

  • Indus dolphins are among the eight fresh water dolphin species currently existing in the world. The Indus dolphin along with the more popular Ganges river dolphin is a subspecies of the South Asian River dolphin.
  • Indus river dolphins are believed to have originated in the ancient Tethys Sea. When the sea dried up approximately 50 million years ago, the dolphins were forced to adapt to its only remaining habitat—rivers.
  • They can only be found in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan and in River Beas, a tributary of the Indus River in Punjab, India.
  • They have adapted to life in the muddy river and are functionally blind. They rely on echolocation to navigate, communicate and hunt prey including prawns, catfish, and carp.
  • The Indus river dolphin is classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

India and Indus Dolphin

  • It was believed that these dolphins were endemic to Pakistan but in 2007, a remnant but viable population of Indus dolphins was discovered in Punjab’s Harike wildlife sanctuary and in the lower Beas river.
  • The Indus river dolphin was declared the State aquatic animal of Punjab in 2019.


  • Construction of irrigation barrages besides heavy water level pollution eroded adequate water flow, food availability & depth needed for the survival of dolphines.
  • Water Pollution : According to data from Punjab Pollution Control Board, while pollution level in Beas is still moderate, Sutlej River, where Indus dolphins once lived, is E Category River, a status accorded to those water bodies having extremely high pollution levels.


  • Since its discovery, research is being done by Punjab’s Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation in partnership with WWFIndia on the current distribution, habitat use and population abundance of the mammal.
  • “Enumeration of freshwater dolphins is being undertaken as a nationwide project of the Central Government.
  • At the State level, the Punjab Government has taken the initiative for conservation of dolphins and its habitat,” The project is to be implemented over five years. “Alongside research, importance will be on engaging the riparian communities by encouraging community led biological monitoring. Villages around the hot spot sites of dolphin occurrence will be developed as models for community led conservation. Extension programmes will be held to develop a group of dedicated individuals, called ‘BeasDolphin Mitras’ [friends and protectors] of the river Beas.
  • The project also will embark on dolphin ecotourism.


  • The survival of river dolphins is vital because their mere presence is an indicator that our river bodies are doing fine

4 . Climate Equity Monitor

Context : A day ahead of the commencement of the 26th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland, India has officially endorsed a website, made by Indian climate experts, that lists the historical carbon dioxide emissions of developed countries.

About Climate Equity Monitor

  • It is a dashboard for assessing equity in climate action, inequalities in emissions, energy and resource consumption across the world, and ongoing climate policies of various countries.
  • The dashboard has been conceptualized and developed by independent researchers from India including the Climate Change Group at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering department at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Bengaluru.


  • The Climate Equity Monitor is aimed at monitoring the performance of Annex-I Parties under the UNFCCC (developed countries) based on the foundational principles of the Climate Convention, namely equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). The performance and policies of the Non Annex-I Parties (developing countries) will be also provided for comparison.

Key Features

  • In keeping with the latest scientific results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that have underlined the importance of cumulative emissions and carbon budgets, the analysis will be anchored in these two concepts. The equitable sharing of the global carbon budget is the fundamental equity principle that will underpin the assessments that will progressively appear on the website.
  • Existing “tracking” websites on climate policies are based in the global North and routinely do not address the crucial aspects of equity and differentiation. Others websites, according to the researchers, bury the key issues in complexities that are not transparently dealt with.
  • The developers of this dashboard have taken this initiative to build awareness, especially among the public of the global South, that climate action is a global collective action problem.


  • The website is intended to debunk the narrative provided by many developed countries, and global non-government organizations that focus attention continually on what developing countries must do, constantly demanding greater commitment and action from them.

5 . SBI Projection on Informal Sector

Context : Signalling a greater shift towards formalisation of the economy, the share of the large informal sector in overall economic activity dipped sharply in 2020-21 even as informal workers continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s adverse effects, the SBI said in a research report.

Key Findings of the Report

  • According to the report the share of the informal economy may have shrunk to no more than 20% of the economic output from about 52% in 2017-18,
  • SBI estimated that the informal economy is possibly at a maximum of 15% to 20% of formal GDP in 2020-21.
  • The SBI projections suggest that the informal agriculture sector has shrunk from 97.1% of the sector’s GVA in 2017-18 to just 70%-75% in 2020-21, driven by the increased penetration of credit through Kisan credit cards. Real estate has also seen a significant dip in informal activity from 52.8% in 2017-18 to 20%-25% last year.
  • The report estimated that about ₹1.2 lakh crore of cash usage has been formalised since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Formal agriculture credit flows have grown ₹4.6 lakh crore between 2017-18 and 2020-21, with digital payments for petrol and diesel rising around ₹1 lakh crore in the same period.

Other reports on Informal Economy

  • An IMF policy paper earlier this year estimated that the share of India’s informal economy in the Gross Value Added (GVA) was at 53.9% in 2011-12 and improved only marginally to 52.4% in 2017-18.
  • As per a National Sample Survey (NSS) of 2014, around 93% of the workforce earned their livelihoods as informal workers.
  • The informal sector consists of “own-account” or unorganised enterprises employing hired workers, with the highest share of such unorganised activity being in agriculture where holdings are small and fragmented.

About Informal Economy

  • The informal economy, comprising activities that have market value and would add to tax revenue and GDP if they were recorded,
  • According to the International Labour Organization, about 2 billion workers, or 60 percent of the world’s employed population ages 15 and older, spend at least part of their time in the informal sector. The size of the informal sector slowly decreases as economies develop, but with wide variations across regions and countries.
  • Informal sector still accounts for about a third of low- and middle-income countries’ economic activity—15 percent in advanced economies

Potential determinants of informal activity:

  • Burdensome regulations (high entry costs, strict labor regulations, high taxes, Complicated procedures, and so on)
  • Low institutional quality (corruption, weak rule of law, lack of accountability, and so on)
  • low human capital
  • high economic inequality
  • low trust in institutions
  • low quality of public services (infrastructure, social protection)
  • lack of access to resources (land, credit, and so on)
  • low monitoring and enforcement
  • individual preference for independent work

Effects of Informal Economy

  • Suboptimal production scales
  • Low investment
  • The “free rider” problem (overuse of public goods, low tax collection)
  • Unfair competition
  • Low innovation
  • Large fraction of poor population uninsured against income shocks
  • Workers unprotected by basic safety standards
  • Inability to raise tax revenue

6 . Facts for Prelims


  • It is the most volumetrically abundant mineral of the Earth’s interior.
  • It is present in the lower mantle (from 660 to 2700 km), and it is important to understand its formation mechanism to better comprehend the origin and evolution of planetary interiors.
  • Bridgmanite consists of magnesium, iron, calcium aluminum oxide and has a perovskite structure.

Invasive alien species

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines IAS as “an alien species whose introduction and spread threaten ecosystems, habitats, or species with socio-cultural, economic and environmental harm and harm to human health”.
  • Invasive alien species are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health.
  • In particular, they impact adversely upon biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species – through competition, predation, or transmission of pathogens – and the disruption of local ecosystems and ecosystem functions.
  • The problem continues to grow at great socio-economic, health and ecological cost around the world.
  • Invasive alien species exacerbate poverty and threaten development through their impact on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural systems, which are an important basis of peoples’ livelihoods in developing countries.
  • This damage is aggravated by climate change, pollution, habitat loss and human-induced disturbance.

7 .Places in News

Garimatha marine sanctuary

  • The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is the only marine sanctuary of Orissa. In 1997 the Government of Orissa declared the area as Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary considering its ecological significance and diverse floral and faunal resources.
  • Located within the close vicinity of the Bhitarkanika National Park, it is Odisha’s only Turtle Sanctuary.
  • A part of the Gahirmatha Beach, the Turtle Sanctuary is the place  where one can spot Olive Ridley Turtles. 
  • These turtles travel all the way from South Pacific Ocean to breed on the coast of Gahirmatha.  About half a million of these species visit the beach every year for mating.

RALP (Rest of Arunachal Pradesh)

  • Other than the Kameng area, which consists of East and West Kameng districts, the rest of the State is referred to by the Army as the RALP.

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