Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Green Revolution
- India Ageing Report
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Green Revolution
Context: M.S. Swaminathan, the agricultural scientist known as the father of the Green Revolution in India, died at his residence in Chennai.
What is Green Revolution?
- It is defined as a period of rapid, scientific agricultural advancement in the mid-1960s that involved growing a high-yielding, disease-resistant variety of wheat, particularly in Punjab.
- Dr. Swaminathan was the key architect of this movement and worked in close collaboration with former Union Agriculture Ministers C. Subramaniam (1964-67) and Jagjivan Ram (1967-70 and 1974-77) towards safeguarding India’s food security.
- Short-straw or dwarf varieties of crops like rice and wheat formed the basis of India’s Green Revolution.
Issues in traditional Seeds
- Traditional wheat and rice varieties were tall and slender. They grew vertically on application of fertilizers and water, while “lodging” (bending over or even falling) when their ear-heads were heavy with well-filled grains.
- The Green Revolution entailed breeding semi-dwarf varieties with strong stems that didn’t lodge. These could “tolerate” high fertilizer application. The more the inputs (nutrients and water), the more the output (grain) produced.
What are high-yielding varieties of crops?
- High-yielding varieties of crops, or HYVs, produced a higher yield of crop per hectare in comparison to traditional variants.
- These variants are produced using a combination of traditional breeding steps and biotechnology, which includes genetic diversity. The resulting HYVs are usually disease-resistant and have a higher tolerance to conditions like drought.
- IR8, a variety of rice developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce as much as seven tonnes of rice per hectare compared to traditional seeds that could produce only two tonnes per hectare, was one of the main HYVs grown during the Green Revolution.
- The “miracle rice” was first introduced in the Philippines and was produced by crossing a tall high-yielding strain from Indonesia called Peta with a sturdy dwarf variety from China called Dee-Geo-woo-gen.
- Other HYVs grown during the Green Revolution in India included Kalyan Sona and Sonalika varieties of wheat which were considered to be of good “chapati-making” quality and had “amber grains and good yield potential.
What was the need for Green Revolution in India?
- Frequent famines: In 1964–65 and 1965–66, India experienced two severe droughts which led to food shortages and famines among the country’s growing population. Modern agricultural technologies appeared to offer strategies to counter the frequency of famines.
- Lack of finance: Marginal farmers found it very difficult to get finance and credit at economical rates from the government and banks and hence, fell as easy prey to the money lenders. They took loans from landlords, who charged high rates of interest and also exploited the farmers later on to work in their fields to repay the loans (farm labourers).
- Low productivity: In the context of India’s rapidly growing population, the country’s traditional agricultural practices yielded insufficient food production. By the 1960s, this low productivity led India to experience food grain shortages that were more severe than those of other developing countries. Agricultural technological advancements offered opportunities to increase productivity.
Benefits of Green Revolution :
- Increased Agricultural Productivity: The introduction of high-yielding crop varieties, improved agricultural practices, and the use of modern technologies led to a substantial increase in crop yields. This boost in productivity helped meet the growing food demands of India’s population.
- Food Security: The Green Revolution played a crucial role in enhancing food security in India. The increased production of staple crops like wheat and rice ensured a more stable food supply, reducing the risk of famines and food shortages.
- Higher Income for Farmers: Higher crop yields meant increased incomes for many farmers. The adoption of modern agricultural practices allowed farmers to cultivate more efficiently, leading to improved livelihoods for rural communities.
- Reduced Dependence on Food Imports: Prior to the Green Revolution, India had to rely on food imports to meet its domestic demand. The increased production of crops like wheat and rice reduced the need for costly food imports, saving foreign exchange reserves.
- Rural Development: The Green Revolution had a positive impact on rural development. Increased agricultural incomes contributed to the growth of rural economies, leading to improved living standards and infrastructure development in rural areas.
- Employment Generation: The expansion of agricultural activities and the adoption of modern farming techniques created employment opportunities in rural areas. This helped reduce rural unemployment and underemployment.
- Export Opportunities: India became self-sufficient in food production and even started exporting surplus grains. This provided additional revenue through agricultural exports, contributing to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
- Technological Advancements: The Green Revolution spurred investments in agricultural research and development. It encouraged the development of new agricultural technologies and practices that continue to benefit Indian agriculture.
- Transformation of Agriculture: The Green Revolution marked a transformation in Indian agriculture from traditional, subsistence farming to more commercial and market-oriented agriculture.
Criticism of The Green Revolution
- Environmental Concerns: Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides led to soil degradation and water pollution. Overuse of groundwater for irrigation led to the depletion of aquifers in some regions.
- Income Disparities: The benefits of the Green Revolution were not evenly distributed, and larger, wealthier farmers often gained more from the new technologies, exacerbating income inequalities in rural areas.
- Depletion of Natural Resources: The intensive farming practices associated with the Green Revolution put pressure on natural resources like soil and water, leading to long-term sustainability concerns.
- Inter-Crop Imbalances: Although all food-grains including wheat, rice, jowar, bajra and maize have gained from the Green Revolution, it is wheat which has benefited the most. It has wrested areas from coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds. The result is that an excess of production in two main food-grains (wheat and rice) and shortages in most others today prevail side by side.
US Contribution in the Green Revolution’s Seeds
- Introduction of New seed variety- In 1949, an American biologist S.C. Salmon stationed in Japan – under US occupation after World War II – identified a wheat variety. Called ‘Norin-10’, its plants grew to only 2-2.5 feet, as against the 4.5-5 feet height of traditional tall varieties. By 1960-61, many varieties incorporating the Norin-10 dwarfing genes in a spring wheat background were released.
- Vogel shared the seeds of Norin-10 and his original crosses with Norman Borlaug, working with the Rockefeller Foundation in Mexico. Borlaug, in turn, crossed these with the spring wheats grown in Mexico
- Swaminathan got in touch with Borlaug, who came to India only in March 1963, following a request placed to the Rockefeller Foundation. He sent the seeds of four Mexican wheat varieties bred by him, which were first sown in the trial fields of IARI and the new agricultural universities at Pantnagar and Ludhiana. By 1966-67, farmers were planting these in large scale and India, from being an importer, turned self-sufficient in wheat.
2 . Dengue
- Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild flu-like symptoms to severe and potentially life-threatening conditions.
- It is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans primarily through the bites of infected female Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti.
- Most cases of dengue fever can be treated at home with pain medicine. Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting dengue.
- There is no specific treatment for dengue. The focus is on treating pain symptoms.
- Acetaminophen (paracetamol) is often used to control pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are avoided as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
- There is a vaccine called Dengvaxia for people who have had dengue at least once and live in places where the disease is common.
- For people with severe dengue, hospitalization is often needed.
- The mosquitoes that spread dengue are active during the day.
- Lower the risk of getting dengue by protecting yourself from mosquito bites by using:
- clothes that cover as much of your body as possible
- mosquito nets if sleeping during the day, ideally nets sprayed with insect repellent
- window screens
- mosquito repellents (containing DEET, Picaridin or IR3535)
- coils and vaporizers.
- Established Sentinel Surveillance Hospitals with laboratory support for augmentation of diagnostic facility for Dengue in endemic State(s) in 2007 which has been increased to 783 in 2022.
- To maintain the uniformity and standard of diagnostics IgM MAC ELISA test kits are provided through National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune to the in identified SSHs on receipt of requirement from the respective states.
- Trainings are imparted for capacity building of programme managers on implementation of National guidelines for prevention and control of Dengue and to deal with outbreak or upsurge situations.
- Under National Health Mission, budgetary support is provided to the States/UTs for Dengue.
3 . India Ageing Report
Context: Elderly to make up 20% of population by 2050: UNFPA report.
- UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.
TheirUNFPA’s mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
- The agency began operating in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.” While its name was changed to the United Nations Population Fund in 1987, the original acronym remains.
- The goal of UNFPA is to ensure sexual and reproductive rights and choices for all, especially women and young people, so that they can access high-quality sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.
About India Ageing Report:
- UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) India, in collaboration with the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), unveiled the “India Ageing Report 2023.”
- The report sheds light on the challenges, opportunities and institutional responses surrounding elderly care in India
, as India navigates a demographic shift towards an ageing population.
- The India Ageing Report 2023 represents a thorough review of the living conditions and welfare of older individuals in India.
- It leverages the latest data available from the Longitudinal Ageing Survey in India (LASI), 2017–18, Census of India, Population Projections by the Government of India (2011–2036) and World Population Prospects 2022 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to provide an up-to-date perspective.
Findings of the report
- According to the Report by 2046 it is likely that elderly population will have surpassed the population of children (aged 0 to 15 years) in the country. The decadal growth rate of the elderly population of India is currently estimated to be at 41%, and the percentage of elderly population in the country is projected to double to over 20% of total population by 2050.
- It further states that more than 40% of the elderly in India are in the poorest wealth quintile, with about 18.7% of them living without an income, adding that such levels of poverty may affect their quality of life and healthcare utilisation.
- It also projected that the population of people aged 80+ years will grow at a rate of around 279% between 2022 and 2050 with a predominance of widowed and highly dependent very old women – a finding in line with the pattern across several nations.
- The data showed that women, on average, had higher life expectancy at the age of 60 and at the 80, when compared to men — with variations across States and Union Territories.
- Life expectancy of women at 60 years is greater than 20 years in States such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, raising concerns about their social and economic well-being.
- Sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) among the elderly has been climbing steadily since 1991, with the ratio in the general population stagnating.
Issues raised in the Report
- The report further sheds light on major challenges facing India’s ageing population like the feminisation and ruralisation of the older population and suggests that policies must be designed to suit their specific needs.
- It also reviewed the response of the government and state authorities to the needs of elderly people during the Covid-19 pandemic based on experiences of older people.
- It said that while most said they received state aid, this was not enough; that there were no accessible public healthcare facilities; and that nobody except NGOs or CBOs (community-based organisations) helped them. In light of this, the report called for a special focus on older persons in disaster-preparedness plans that are formulated henceforth.
- It added that there is a lack of credible data on various issues related to the elderly in India and more could be done by including questions on relevant and emerging issues related to older persons in the upcoming data collection exercises of the National Sample Survey, the National Family Health Survey, and the Census of India, respectively.
Solutions provided in the Report
- It suggested that the government must work on increasing awareness about schemes for older persons, bring all Old Age Homes under regulatory purview and focus on facilitating in-situ ageing to the extent possible.
- It called for the government to encourage the creation and running of elderly self-help groups, and stressed the importance of having elderly people live in multigenerational households.
- It also suggested that the government should encourage in situ (at home) ageing as much as possible by creating short-term care facilities like creches or day-care facilities, citing better care when elderly people live with their respective families.
International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
- The International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) serves as a regional Institute for Training and Research in Population Studies for the ESCAP region.
- It was established in Mumbai in July 1956, till July 1970 it was known as the Demographic Training and Research Centre (DTRC) and till 1985 it was known as the International Institute for Population Studies (IIPS).
- The Institute was re-designated to its present title in 1985 to facilitate the expansion of its academic activities and was declared as a ‘Deemed to be University’ in August 19, 1985 under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
- Started in 1956 under the joint sponsorship of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Government of India and the United Nations, it has established itself as the premier Institute for training and research in Population Studies for developing countries in the Asia and Pacific region.
- IIPS holds a unique position among all the regional centres, in that it was the first such centre to be started, and serves a much larger population than that served by any of the other regional centres. The Institute is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- Objectives include- To train persons from India and other countries in demography and related fields, including demographic aspects of family planning, To undertake scientific research on population problems which are of special importance to India and other countries in the ESCAP region, To collect, organize and disseminate demographic information about the population of India and other countries of the world! To provide services of research, evaluation, training, consultation and guidance related to demographic problems to government departments, public corporations or private establishments as deemed desirable in pursuance of the objective of the Society.
4 . AFSPA
Context: The Manipur government on Wednesday extended the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the whole State — except in the jurisdiction of 19 police stations in seven districts of the Imphal valley — for another six months.
- The Act in its original form was promulgated by the British in response to the Quit India movement in 1942.
- After Independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to retain the Act, which was first brought in as an ordnance and then notified as an Act in 1958.
- The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control.
- The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament, and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958. It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
- The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, often abbreviated as AFSPA, is a law that grants special powers to the armed forces when deployed in certain regions to assist civil authorities in maintaining law and order, particularly in areas affected by insurgency and armed conflict.
- AFSPA can be enforced to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
- The Indian States that are under AFSPA Act are Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Provisions of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)
- They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more people in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
- If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
- Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.
- AFSPA provides legal immunity to armed forces personnel for actions taken in “good faith” during the discharge of their duties. This means that they cannot be prosecuted in civil courts for actions carried out in the course of their duties.
What is a “disturbed area” and who has the power to declare it?
- A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
- The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.
- A suitable notification would have to be made in the Official Gazette. As per Section 3, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs would usually enforce this Act where necessary, but there have been exceptions where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.
Are there safety nets?
- While the Act gives powers to security forces to open fire, this cannot be done without warning given to the suspect.
- The Act further says that after any suspects apprehended by security forces should be handed over to the local police station within 24 hours.
- It says armed forces must act in cooperation with the district administration and not as an independent body.
Issues with the act
- Human Rights Violations: One of the most significant criticisms of AFSPA is the alleged human rights abuses that have occurred under its provisions. There have been reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, and other abuses by security forces operating under the protection of AFSPA.
- Lack of Accountability: AFSPA provides legal immunity to armed forces personnel for actions taken in “good faith” during their duty. Critics argue that this immunity clause hampers accountability and makes it difficult to hold individuals responsible for human rights violations accountable.
- Public Protests: The imposition of AFSPA in certain regions has led to public protests and demonstrations against the law. These protests often call for its repeal or amendment, and some have resulted in clashes between protesters and security forces.
- Impact on Development: In conflict-affected regions where AFSPA is in force, there have been claims that the law’s presence hampers development activities and economic progress. The security situation can deter investments and development projects.
- Negative Perception: AFSPA has also contributed to a negative perception of security forces in some regions. The law’s association with alleged human rights abuses can lead to distrust and apprehension among local populations.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.
- Quantum computing uses subatomic particles, such as electrons or photons. Quantum bits, or qubits, allow these particles to exist in more than one state (i.e., 1 and 0) at the same time.
- Classical computers today employ a stream of electrical impulses (1 and 0) in a binary manner to encode information in bits. This restricts their processing ability, compared to quantum computing.
Norman Borlaug Field Award
- The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, is presented every October in Des Moines, Iowa, by the World Food Prize Foundation.
- The $10,000 award recognizes exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under the age of 40
- Awardees emulate the same intellectual courage, stamina and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty demonstrated by Dr. Norman Borlaug as a young scientist working in Mexico in the 1940s and ’50s.
- Kalanamak is a scented rice of Nepal and India . Its name means black husk.
- This variety has been in cultivation since the original Buddhist period (600 BC).
It is popular in Himalayan Tarai of Nepal i.e., Kapilvastu, and eastern Uttar Pradesh, where it is known as the scented black pearl.
- Kalanamak rice was granted the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag in 2012 by the Government of India.
- Kalanamak Rice is approved for 11 districts of Zone 7 of UP. These 11 districts are located in the divisions of Gorakhpur (Deoria, Gorakhpur, Mahrajganj, Siddharth Nagar districts), Basti (Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharth Nagar districts), and Devipatan (Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda, Shravasti districts).
- Kalanamak rice is rich in micronutrients such as Iron and Zinc. Therefore, this rice is said to prevent diseases borne out of nutrient deficiencies.
- Regular intake of Kalanamak rice is said to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the behaviour of antibodies produced by the immune system to protect against diseases and foreign substance.
- Niels K. Jerne, Georges J.F. Köhler and César Milstein were awarded the medicine Nobel Prize in 1984 for their work on the “the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies”.
- Monoclonal antibodies are specifically engineered and generated to target a disease. They are meant to attach themselves to the specific disease-causing antigen. An antigen is most likely to be a protein.
Collective Security Treaty Organization
- The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia consisting of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
- The Collective Security Treaty has its origins in the Soviet Armed Forces, which was replaced in 1992 by the United Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States and was then itself replaced by the successor armed forces of the respective independent states.
- Similar to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty (CST) establishes that an aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.
- The CSTO charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories are prohibited from joining other military alliances.
Current Account Deficit:
- The current account deficit is a measurement of a country’s trade where the value of the goods and services it imports exceeds the value of the products it exports.
- The current account includes net income, such as interest and dividends, and transfers, such as foreign aid.
- The current account represents a country’s foreign transactions and, like the capital account, is a component of a country’s Balance of Payment.
- Cookies, which are also called HTTP cookies, internet cookies, or browser cookies, are files stored on the computer designed to hold a small, specific amount of data about a particular website or client.
- They act as digital ID cards, aiding in user authentication by allowing websites to recognise and keep one logged in during visit.
- They foster a sense of personalisation, recalling preferences such as language choice or website theme.
- Types of cookies:
- Session cookies- They are temporary cookies like post-it notes for websites. They are stored in the computer’s memory only during your browsing session
- Persistent Cookies- are the digital equivalent of bookmarks. They stay on the device after the browsing session ends
- Secure Cookies- are only sent over encrypted connections, making them safer from prying eyes. Secure cookies are often used for sensitive data like login credentials
- Third-party cookies come from a domain other than the one being visited. They are often used for tracking and advertising purposes, which can be both useful and, at times, intrusive.
Vector Borne Diseases
- Vector-borne diseases are infectious diseases caused by pathogens (such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites) that are transmitted to humans or animals through the bite of an infected vector, typically an arthropod, such as a mosquito, tick, sandfly, or blackfly
- These vectors serve as carriers for the disease-causing microorganisms and play a crucial role in the transmission of these diseases.
- Several well-known diseases are vector-borne, including: Malaria: Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes and caused by Plasmodium parasites, Dengue Fever: Transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes and caused by the dengue virus, Lyme Disease: Transmitted by ticks and caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, Zika Virus: Transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes and caused by the Zika virus, Chagas Disease: Transmitted by triatomine bugs and caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.