Current Affairs Analysis

21st May 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana; Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises; Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme; Solarisation of Konark Sun temple; Sun temple Konark; Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana; Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade; Plans to ban three Class I pesticides; Nepal’s controversial new political map; Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Sun entering into Solar Minimum; Solar Recession; Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve; Agappe Chitra Magna; Coir Geo textiles; Coravax; National Test Abhyas etc.
By IASToppers
May 21, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes and Policies

  • Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
  • Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises
  • Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme
  • Solarisation of Konark Sun temple
  • Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana

Economy

  • Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Plans to ban three Class I pesticides

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Nepal’s controversial new political map
  • Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia

Science and Technology

  • Sun entering into Solar Minimum

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve
  • Agappe Chitra Magna
  • Coir Geo textiles
  • Coravax
  • National Test Abhyas

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Government Schemes and Policies

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana recently.

Aim:

  • To bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector in India.

Key Features:

  • The PMMSY will be implemented as an umbrella scheme with two separate Components namely (a) Central Sector Scheme (CS) and (b) Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
  • The total estimated investment of Rs. 20,050 crore comprises (i) Central share of Rs. 9,407 crore, (ii) State share of Rs. 4,880 crore and (iii) Beneficiaries’ share of Rs. 5,763 crore.  
  • The Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.

Funding Pattern:

1. Central Sector Scheme (CS):

a)  The entire project/unit cost will be borne by the Central government (i.e. 100% central funding).

b)  Individual/group activities are undertaken by the entities of central government including National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), the central assistance will be up to 40% of the unit/project cost for General category and 60% for SC/ST/Women category.

2. Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS):

  • For the Non-beneficiary orientated sub-components to be implemented by the States/UTs, the entire project/unit cost will be shared between Centre and State as detailed below:

a)   North Eastern & Himalayan States: 90% Central share and 10% State share.

b)   Other States: 60% Central share and 40% State share.

c)   Union Territories: 100% Central share.

  •  For the Beneficiary orientated i.e.  individual/group activities sub-components to be implemented by the States/UTs, the Government financial assistance of both Centre and State/UTs governments together will be limited to 40% of the project/unit cost for General category and 60% of the project/unit cost for SC/ST/Women.
  • The Government financial assistance will be shared between Centre and State/UTs in the following ratio:       

a)   The North Eastern & the Himalayan States: 90% Central share and 10% State share.

b)   Other States: 60% Central share and 40% State share.

c)  Union Territories: 100% Central share.

Benefits:

  • Address the critical gaps in the fisheries sector and realize its potential.
  • Augmenting fish production and productivity at a sustained average annual growth rate of about 9% to achieve a target of 22 million metric tons by 2024-25 through sustainable and responsible fishing practices.
  • Improving availability of certified quality fish seed and feed, traceability in fish and including effective aquatic health management.
  • Creation of critical infrastructure including modernisation and strengthening of value chain.
  • Creation of direct gainful employment opportunities to about 15 lakh fishers, fish farmers, fish workers, fish vendors etc. about thrice this number as indirect employment opportunities including enhancement of their incomes.
  • Boost to investments in the fisheries sector and increase of competitiveness of fish and fisheries products.
  • Doubling of fishers, fish farmers and fish workers incomes by 2024.
  • Social, physical and economic security for fishers and fish workers.
[Ref: PIB]

Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to Scheme for Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises (FME) for the Unorganized Sector.

Objectives:

  • Increase in access to finance by micro food processing units.
  • Increase in revenues of target enterprises.
  • Enhanced compliance with food quality and safety standards.
  • Strengthening capacities of support systems.
  • Transition from the unorganized sector to the formal sector.
  • Special focus on women entrepreneurs and Aspirational districts.
  • Encourage Waste to Wealth activities.
  • Focus on minor forest produce in Tribal Districts.

Salient features:

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme with an outlay of Rs.10,000 crore.
  • Expenditure to be shared by the Government of India and States at 60:40.
  • 2,00,000 micro-enterprises are to be assisted with credit linked subsidies.
  • Scheme will be implemented over a 5 year period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
  • Cluster approach and Support to Individual micro units
  • Micro enterprises will get credit linked subsidy @ 35% of the eligible project cost with ceiling of Rs. 10 lakh.  
  • On-site skill training & Handholding for DPR and technical upgradation.
  • Support to FPOs/SHGs/Cooperatives:
  • Grant for backward/ forward linkages, common infrastructure, packaging, marketing & branding.
  • Skill training & Handholding support.
  • Credit linked capital subsidy.

Administrative and Implementation Mechanisms:

  • The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee (IMEC) under the Chairmanship of Minister, FPI.
  • A State/ UT Level Committee (SLC) chaired by the Chief Secretary will monitor and sanction/ recommend proposals for expansion of micro units and setting up of new units by the SHGs/ FPOs/ Cooperatives.
  • The States/ UTs will prepare Annual Action Plans covering various activities for implementation of the scheme, which will be approved by the Government of India.
  • A third party evaluation and mid-term review mechanism would be built in the programme.

 Impact and employment generation:

  • Nearly eight lakh micro- enterprises will benefit through access to information, better exposure and formalization.
  • Credit linked subsidy support and hand-holding will be extended to 2,00,000 micro enterprises for expansion and upgradation.
  • It will enable them to formalize, grow and become competitive.
  • The project is likely to generate nine lakh skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
  • Scheme envisages increased access to credit by existing micro food processing entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the Aspirational Districts.
  • Better integration with organized markets.
  • Increased access to common services like sorting, grading, processing, packaging, storage etc.

Background:

  • There are about 25 lakh unregistered food processing enterprises which constitute 98% of the sector and are unorganized and informal.
  • Nearly 66 % of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises.
  • This sector faces a number of challenges including the inability to access credit, high cost of institutional credit, lack of access to modern technology, inability to integrate with the food supply chain and compliance with the health & safety standards.
[Ref: PIB]

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme

The Union Cabinet has given approval to introduction of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme.

Major Highlights:

  • The scheme is launched to enable additional funding of up to Rs. three lakh crore to eligible MSMEs and interested MUDRA borrowers by way of Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme.
  • Under the Scheme, 100% guarantee coverage to be provided by National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) for additional funding of up to Rs. three lakh crore to eligible MSMEs and interested MUDRA borrowers, in the form of a Guaranteed Emergency Credit Line (GECL) facility.
  •  For this purpose, a corpus of Rs. 41,600 crore shall be provided by the Government of India spread over the current and the next three financial years.

About ECLGS:

  • The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme aims at mitigating the economic distress being faced by MSMEs by providing them additional funding of up to Rs. 3 lakh crore in the form of a fully guaranteed emergency credit line.
  • The main objective of the Scheme is to provide an incentive to Member Lending Institutions i.e., Banks, Financial Institutions and Non-Banking Financial Companies to increase access to, and enable availability of additional funding facilities to MSME borrowers.

Salient features of the Scheme:

  • All MSME borrower accounts with outstanding credit of up to Rs. 25 crore as on 29.2.2020 which were less than or equal to 60 days past due as on that date, i.e., regular, SMA 0 and SMA 1 accounts, and with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 100 crore would be eligible for GECL funding under the Scheme.
  • The amount of GECL funding to eligible MSME borrowers either in the form of additional working capital term loans (in case of banks and FIs), or additional term loans (in case of NBFCs) would be up to 20% of their entire outstanding credit up to Rs. 25 crore as on 29th February, 2020.
  • The entire funding provided under GECL shall be provided with a 100% credit guarantee by NCGTC to MLIs under ECLGS.
  • Tenor of loan under Scheme shall be four years with moratorium period of one year on the principal amount.
  • No Guarantee Fee shall be charged by NCGTC from the Member Lending Institutions (MLIs) under the Scheme.
[Ref: PIB]

Solarisation of Konark Sun temple

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has taken up the Complete Solarisation of Konark sun temple and Konark town in Odisha.

Objective:

  • To develop the historical Sun temple town of Konark in Odisha as ‘Surya Nagri’.
  • To convey a message of synergy between the modern use of solar energy and the ancient Sun Temple and the importance of promoting solar energy.

Major Highlights:

  • The Scheme envisages setting up of 10 MW grid connected solar projects and various solar off-grid applications like solar trees, solar drinking water kiosks, off-grid solar power plants with battery storage etc.
  • This will be done with a 100% Central Financial Assistance (CFA) support of around Rs. 25 Crores from Government of India through Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE).
  • Implementation of this Project will be done by Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA).
  • The Scheme will meet all the energy requirements of Konark town with solar energy.

Konark sun temple:

  • Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark, on the coastline of Odisha, India.
  • The temple is attributed to king Narasinga Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, the temple complex has a 100-foot high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone.
  • Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • This temple was called the “Black Pagoda” in European sailor accounts as early as 1676 CE because it’s great tower appeared black and the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda”.
  • It has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984, it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.
[Ref: PIB]

Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana 

The Chhattisgarh government has launched Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana to ensure minimum income availability to farmers of the state through direct bank transfer on 21 May.

Major Highlights:

  • Under the scheme, the state government will inject Rs.5100 crore into the state’s rural economy through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) into the accounts of farmers.
  • The farmers would be paid Rs.10,000 per acre for paddy, corn, and sugarcane crops, based on the registered and procured area for the Kharif season.
  • The state government also plans to provide a fixed amount per acre based on the registered and notified areas for pulses and oilseed crops.
  • The money will be given to the farmers in four instalments.
  • The state had made the provision for the scheme in the Budget 2020-21.

Significance:

  • The scheme is aimed to stimulate the rural economy in the state, and expected to benefit over 1.87 million farmers.
[Ref: Business Standard]

Economy

Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade

The 2nd Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade has been between India and Bangladesh signed at Dhaka on 20th May, 2020.

Indo-Bangladesh Protocol for Inland Transit and Trade (IBPITT):

  • The Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh allows mutually beneficial arrangements for the use of their waterways for movement of goods between the two countries by vessels of both countries.
  • This Protocol, which was first signed in 1972 and is a reflection of shared history and friendship between the two countries.
  • It was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years giving long term assurance to various stakeholders.

Major Highlights of the second addendum:

  • Routes: The number of Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes are being increased from 8 to 10 and new locations are also added to the existing routes.
  • Inclusion of Sonamura-Daudkandi stretch of Gumti river (93 Km) as IBP route No. 9 & 10 in the Protocol will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh`s economic centres and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
  • The operationalization of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routes and their extension up to Aricha (270 km) will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh.
  • It would reduce the transportation cost to the northern part of Bangladesh through this route and will decongest the Land Custom Stations on both sides.

Ports of Call:

  • Five more Ports of Call and two more extended Ports of Call have been added, increasing the number to eleven Ports of Call and two extended Ports of Call in each country.
  • Inclusion of Jogighopa in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan.

Movement on shallow draft mechanized vessels:

  • Both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.
  • This initiative will allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and North East cargo to Bangladesh and easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh, enhancing the local economy in Bangladesh and the lower Assam region of India.

New opportunities on cargo movement:

  • Under this Protocol, Inland vessels of both the countries can ply on the designated protocol route and dock at Ports of Call in each country, notified for loading/unloading of cargo.
[Ref: PIB]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Plans to ban three Class I pesticides

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has drafted a notification to ban three Class I pesticides associated with high levels of toxicity resulting in farmers’ deaths.

Recommendation:

  • The Anupam Varma committee was set up in 2013 which reviewed the use of 66 pesticides that are used in India but are banned in several other countries.
  • The draft notification is the culmination of the report of the committee. 

Major Highlights:

  • Insecticides categorised Class I are extremely or highly hazardous for use.
  • They contain ingredients that are extremely hazardous (Class Ia) or highly hazardous (Class Ib), as specified by the World Health Organisation.
  • The three pesticides are monocrotophos, methomyl and carbofuran.
  • Class I pesticides like monocrotophos and carbofuran are highly toxic and heavily used in India.
  • The draft also proposed a ban on the use of 24 other pesticides that were being used for a long time in several parts of the country.
  • The new draft based on the subsequent review of the 27 pesticides said  that these pesticides are likely to “involve risk to human beings and animals”.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

Nepal’s controversial new political map 

Nepal has officially issued a new political map recently that shows Kalapani, Limpiadhura and Lipulekh as parts of their territory.

What is the issue?

  • Kalapani-Limpiadhura-Lipulekh is a disputed area between India and Nepal in the tri junction of Nepal-Uttarakhand (India) and China (Tibet).
  • Nepal’s new map shows Kalapani, Limpiadhura and Lipulekh as parts of their territory.
  • This move has been slammed by India as unilateral and contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue.

To read about the issue in detail, kindly visit (Lipulekh border dispute) in the link given below:

Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a report on Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia recently.

Major Highlights:

  • According to the report, the Movement restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures, but without a real change in terms of supply in the East and Southeast Asia region.
  • The priorities and resources towards the pandemic could also jeopardise the efforts to strengthen drug prevention and treatment programmes.
  • Organised crime groups active in the region have shown a high degree of flexibility to respond to shortages of supplies, raising risk levels on certain trafficking routes.
  • The UNODC said a large proportion of methamphetamine, the main synthetic drug of concern in the region, was manufactured, trafficked and consumed without the need for globalised supply chains.

Methamphetamine:

  • Also known as meth, crystal, glass, ice, speed and shards, methamphetamine is a psychostimulant party drug.
  • It is much cheaper and highly addictive compared to cocaine.
  • Its effect may last for over 12 hours.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

  • The UNODC is a United Nations office that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and was renamed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2002.
  • It publishes the World Drug Report annually that presents a comprehensive assessment of the international drug problem.
  • Main issues that UNODC deals with: Alternative Development, anti-corruption, Criminal Justice, Prison Reform and Crime Prevention, Drug Prevention, Treatment and Care, HIV and AIDS, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling, Money Laundering, Organized Crime, Piracy, Terrorism Prevention.

Key facts:

  • India lies in the middle of two major illicit opium and drug production regions of the world: Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle.
  • Golden Crescent: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
  • Golden Triangle: Myanmar, Thailand and Laos
[Ref: The Hindu]

Science and Technology

Sun entering into Solar Minimum

The sun is said to have gone into a state called the solar minimum and is about to enter the deepest period of ‘sunshine recession’.

Solar Minimum:

  • Sun has a solar cycle that lasts on average 11 years and right now we are at the peak of that cycle.
  • Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm which is called the solar minimum.
  • It is a regular part of the sunspot cycle.
  • Intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum.
  • Solar minimum doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull.
  • During solar minimum we can see the development of long-lived coronal holes.
  • This phenomenon is marked by weakening of the sun’s magnetic field, thus allowing extra cosmic rays into the solar system.

Will this affect us?

  • This may cause health risks to astronauts travelling through space as the sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from these cosmic rays.

Key fact:

  • Sunshine recession means the complete absence of sunspots from the sun.
[Ref: Times Now]

Key Facts for Prelims

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve

  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a tiger reserve in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra.
  • It was established in 1955 and is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.
  • It is one of India’s 50 “Project Tiger” – tiger reserves.
  • Andhari, a minor river in wainganga basin flows through the tiger reserve.

Agappe Chitra Magna

  • It is a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit used for detection of COVID-19 has been launched commercially.
  • It is developed by Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) – Trivandrum, an Institute of National Importance of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) along with Agappe Diagnostics Ltd.
  • It uses an innovative technology for isolating RNA using magnetic nanoparticles to capture the RNA from the patient sample.

Coir Geo textiles

  • Coir Geo textiles have been accepted as a good material for rural road construction.
  • It is a permeable fabric, natural, strong, highly durable, resistant to rots, moulds and moisture and free from any microbial attack.
  • Coir Geo textiles will be used for construction of rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)-III.
  • As per the PMGSY new technology guidelines for road construction, 15% length in each batch of proposals, is to be constructed using new technologies.
  • Out of this 5% roads are to be constructed using IRC (Indian Roads Congress) accredited technology.
  • The IRC has now accredited coir Geo textiles for construction of rural roads.

Coravax

  • Bharat Biotech has partnered with the US-based Thomas Jefferson University to develop its experimental vaccine Coravax against Covid-19 under the accelerated development programme.
  • The vaccine uses two different platforms: the nasal flu backbone to deliver Sars-CoV2 genetic material while the second uses the deactivated rabies vaccine as a vector.
  • Bharat Biotech is the world’s largest supplier of rabies vaccines and the rabies carrier vaccine being used is approved for use in the whole population, including children and pregnant women.
  • ●        Birac (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) is also supporting Serum Institute of India’s trials to determine whether the vaccine candidate, VPM1002, protects against Sars-CoV-2.

National Test Abhyas

  • The AI-powered mobile App Abhyas has been developed by National Testing Agency (NTA) to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE Main, NEET under the NTA’s purview.
  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Human Resources Development recently.

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