27th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘South India’s Largest milk Dairy’
(GS3: Processing industries)
Issue: The largest milk dairy in south India is slated to commence production on a 14-acre plot at Nandi Cross. The ₹165-crore dairy of Kolar-Chickballapur Cooperative Milk Union Ltd. (Kochimul) will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday and is expected to give a fillip to milk production and processing in the drought-prone districts of Kolar and Chickballapur. This will further give fillip to the ongoing white revolution in India
What is White Revolution?
Operation Flood, launched in 1966, was a project of India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), which was the world’s biggest dairy development program. It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the USA in 1998, with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11. In 30 years it doubled milk available per person, and made dairy farming India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment generator. It was launched to help farmers direct their own development, placing control of the resources they create in their own hands. All this was achieved not merely by mass production, but by production by the masses.
The Anand pattern experiment at Amul, a single, cooperative dairy, was the engine behind the success of the program. Verghese Kurien, the chairman and founder of Amul, was named the chairman of NDDB by the then Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri. Kurien gave the necessary thrust using his professional management skills to the program, and is recognized as its architect.
The National Dairy Development Board has been constituted as a body corporate and declared an institution of national importance by an Act of India’s Parliament.
The National Dairy Development Board — initially registered as a society under the Societies Act 1860 — was merged with the erstwhile Indian Dairy Corporation, a company formed and registered under the Companies Act 1956, by an Act of India’s Parliament – the NDDB Act 1987 (37 of 1987), with effect from 12 October, 1987. The new body corporate was declared an institution of national importance by the Act.
The general superintendence, direction, control and management of NDDB’s affairs and business vests with the Board of Directors
Issue: In India, private enterprises engaged in genome mapping now offer testing for relative genetic risks, which effectively predict the risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The costs involved vary from ₹25,000 to ₹50,000. However, they do not guarantee comprehensive or accurate prognosis for individuals.
Reason for such prognosis
This is because the country has not yet developed indigenous genetic panels specific to its native populations but continues to depend on European genetic panels, except for prenatal genetic testing, which is specific to Indian populations.
A genetic panel is developed when scientists identify mutant genes that cause diseases in specific populations. Each panel comprises already identified genes that mutated in patients, causing specific health conditions, say, a type of diabetes. Once the panel is created, screening any number of individuals for specific diseases becomes cost-effective and efficient. However, the European panels against which Indian DNA is screened mostly prove ineffective because genes that mutate and cause abnormalities are not the same among the two geographical-genetic regions.
What needs to be done?
India should develop a baseline genetic data for each of its social groups. An initial investment for whole genome sequencing would be ₹1,000 crore. Once Indian panels are made there will be a dip in cost for screening individual patients, ranging from ₹100 to ₹1,000 as against the initial sum of ₹5 to ₹10 lakh required for sequencing a family of four and also with better results
What is Genome Mapping?
Genetic mapping – also called linkage mapping – can offer firm evidence that a disease transmitted from parent to child is linked to one or more genes. Mapping also provides clues about which chromosome contains the gene and precisely where the gene lies on that chromosome.
Genetic maps have been used successfully to find the gene responsible for relatively rare, single-gene inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Genetic maps are also useful in guiding scientists to the many genes that are believed to play a role in the development of more common disorders such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and psychiatric conditions.
(GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan, met here on Monday for the first high-level contact between both sides that decided to “reset” their ties this year in the run-up to a Xi-Modi summit meeting in China.
Areas noted for cooperation
1. A free trade agreement (FTA) between India and China would be negotiated in due course, which would be a breakthrough in ties.
2. In 2017, the bilateral trade reached $84.4 billion, registering a growth of 20.3% from the year before and a record high. In particular, China’s import from India soared by 40%, helping ease the bilateral trade imbalance. China remained India’s largest trading partner. India had become one of the most important overseas investment destinations for Chinese companies.
3. The two sides would jointly promote the synergy between China’s Belt and Road initiative and India’s development strategies, including the “15-year Development Agenda”, “Make in India” and “Digital India” to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation and share development experience.
4. The two sides would promote India’s exports to China so as to address the trade imbalance between the two countries.
5. China welcomed the participation of Indian businesses in the agricultural, pharmaceutical and IT sectors, and the participation of producers of manufactured goods. China would provide Indian participants with preferential arrangements.
6. The two sides agreed to set up a special working group to draw a road map for developing two-way trade … The two sides supported the multilateral trading system and safeguard the interests of developing members. Both sides would demonstrate flexibility to reach at an early date a modern, comprehensive and mutually beneficial RCEP agreement of high standards.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. The free trade agreement is scheduled and expected to be signed in November 2018 during the ASEAN Summit and Related Summit in Singapore, after the first RCEP summit was held on 14 November 2017 in Manila, Philippines. RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement which includes several Asian and American nations but excludes China and India.
In 2017, prospective RCEP member states accounted for a population of 3.4 billion people with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of $49.5 trillion, approximately 39 percent of the world’s GDP, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than half that amount. It is the world’s largest trading bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy. According to estimates by PwC, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, PPP) of RCEP member states is likely to amount to nearly $250 trillion by 2050, or a quarter of a quadrillion dollars, with the combined GDPs of China and India making up more than 75% the amount.
‘GI Tag tussle for Basmati Rice’
(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: Madhya Pradesh has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging an order passed by Assistant Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI) excluding the State from being granted the GI tag for basmati rice.
It claimed that around 80,000 farmers who produce approximately 10 lakh tonnes of “basmati” rice in a single paddy season would be affected if they were not allowed to sell their produce as basmati rice.
About Basmati rice
Basmati rice is a variety of long, slender-grained aromatic rice which is traditionally from the Indian subcontinent. As of 2014, India exported 59 percent of the overseas basmati rice market, while Pakistan accounted for the remainder, according to the state-run Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
The areas of basmati rice production in India are in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Bihar. India’s total basmati production for the July 2011–June 2012 crop year was 5 million tonnes. In India, Haryana is the major basmati rice cultivating state, producing more than 60 percent of the total basmati rice produced in India.
About GI tag
Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country. Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.
The office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade marks in Ministry of Commerce is responsible for registration of GI products in India
‘Karnataka Assembly elections 2018’
(GS2: State legislatures)
Issue: Karnataka Assembly Elections will be held on May 12 and the result will be declared on May 15, 2018, the Election Commission announced on Tuesday. Karnataka elections will be held in a single phase. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that the model code of conduct has come into effect in the poll-bound state
About Election Commission of India
India is a constitutional democracy with a parliamentary system of government, and at the heart of the system is a commitment to hold regular, free and fair elections. These elections determine the composition of the government, the membership of the two houses of parliament, the state and union territory legislative assemblies, and the Presidency and vice-presidency.
Elections are conducted according to the constitutional provisions, supplemented by laws made by Parliament. The major laws are Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of conduct of elections and post election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.
Elections for the Lok Sabha and every State Legislative Assembly have to take place every five years, unless called earlier. The President can dissolve Lok Sabha and call a general election before five years is up, if the government can no longer command the confidence of the Lok Sabha, and if there is no alternative government available to take over.
Governments have found it increasingly difficult to stay in power for the full term of a Lok Sabha in recent times, and so elections have often been held before the five-year limit has been reached. A constitutional amendment passed in 1975, as part of the government declared emergency, postponed the election due to be held in 1976. This amendment was later rescinded, and regular elections resumed in 1977.
Holding of regular elections can only be stopped by means of a constitutional amendment and in consultation with the Election Commission, and it is recognised that interruptions of regular elections are acceptable only in extraordinary circumstances.
Transiting Exo-planet Survey Satellite
Issue: The search for the cosmic real estate is about to begin anew with NASA and SpaceX joining hands for their all-new combined mission. NASA’s little spacecraft, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will ascend on a Falcon 9 rocket of the SpaceX to go up in the space on April 16
TESS, abound with cameras and ambition, would be staying between the moon and the Earth for at least two years, scanning the sky for alien worlds.
NASA’s spacecraft, Kepler, discovered near about 4,000 possible planets in the Milky Way galaxy, after it was launched in 2009. Thanks to Kepler’s discovery, astronomers now think there are other potentially habitable planets in our galaxy, meaning the nearest one could be as close as 10 to 15 light-years from here. Kepler made its way ahead to survey other star fields but soon, its pointing system broke and after having spent nine years in space, it is now running out of fuel. So now, the torch is passed on to TESS. It’s now TESS’s job to survey those nearby planets.
(GS3: Indian economy)
Issue: The Government of India, in consultation with Reserve Bank of India, deliberated over its borrowing programme for 2018-19 and finalised its borrowing calendar for the first half of 2018-19. Government had budgeted for 2018-19 Gross G-Sec borrowing of Rs. 6,05,539 crore. The Government intends to use larger inflows from Small Savings Schemes to fund its Fiscal Deficit during the year. The Government will borrow Rs. 1,00,000 crore from NSSF as against budgeted amount of Rs. 75,000 crore.
What are Government securities?
A government security is a bond issued by a government authority with a promise of repayment upon maturity. Government securities such as savings bonds, treasury bills and notes also promise periodic coupon or interest payments. These securities are considered low-risk, since they are backed by the taxing power of the government.
Government securities are exempt from state and local taxes, making government bonds advantageous for investors in high tax brackets. The bonds are very liquid, but have low rates of return. The securities rarely protect against inflation and have little or no capital gains opportunity.
Many investors hold government securities through mutual funds. The funds offer diversification among all types and maturities of bonds, which is difficult for retail investors to achieve without investing more cash than mutual funds require. However, fund-management fees lower investors’ overall returns.
Although government securities carry little risk of default, they carry interest rate risk. When interest rates rise or fall, bond prices react inversely.
Small Saving schemes have been always an important source of household savings in India. Small savings instruments can be classified under three heads. These are: (i) postal deposits [comprising savings account, recurring deposits, time deposits of varying maturities and monthly income scheme(MIS)]; (ii) savings certificates [(National Small Savings Certificate VIII (NSC) and Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP)]; and (iii) social security schemes [(public provident fund (PPF) and Senior Citizens‘ Savings Scheme(SCSS)].
A “National Small Savings Fund” (NSSF) in the Public Account of India has been established with effect from 1.4.1999. A new sub sector has been introduced called “National Small Savings Fund” in the list of Major and Minor Heads of Government Accounts. All small savings collections are credited to this Fund. Similarly, all withdrawals under small savings schemes by the depositors are made out of the accumulations in this Fund. The balance in the Fund is invested in Central and State Government Securities. The investment pattern is as per norms decided from time to time by the Government of India.
The Fund is administered by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs) under National Small Savings Fund (Custody and Investment) Rules, 2001, framed by the President under Article 283(1) of the Constitution. The objective of NSSF is to de-link small savings transactions from the Consolidated Fund of India and ensure their operation in a transparent and self-sustaining manner. Since NSSF operates in the public account, its transactions do not impact the fiscal deficit of the Centre directly. As an instrument in the public account, the balances under NSSF are direct liabilities and constitute a part of the outstanding liabilities of the Centre. The NSSF flows affect the cash position of the Central Government.
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: A National Conference on Down syndrome was organized by the National Trust under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. A book entitled “Twilights Children” based on the lives of person suffering from Down syndrome was released on the occasion.
About Down syndrome
Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition associated with intellectual and learning disabilities. Delayed development and behavioral problems are often reported in children with it. On 19th December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared to observe 21st March as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) and since then every year, this day is officially observed by UN to create awareness about people with Down syndrome. The objective of this conference was to provide excellent opportunities to the parents to obtain information about latest development in education and skilling and inclusive living of persons with Down syndrome.
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: In what is set to raise concerns over the ongoing climate change, warmer winters and early spring in recent decades have led to an increase in the frequency of snow avalanches in the Western Indian Himalayas, said a recent study published in the official scientific journal of US-based National Academy of Sciences.
What the study suggests?
Warming air temperatures in winter and early spring have enhanced the occurrence of wet snow avalanches which are able to reach the bottom of sub-alpine slopes in Western Indian Himalayas, where they have high potential to cause damage
In the wake of increasing human habitation along the mountain region and increasing traffic on the steadily expanding road network, the study predicts major implications and flags concerns over the growing risk to people living in the region due to climate change.
About programmes aimed at conservation of Himalayas in India
The National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).
NMSHE is a multi-pronged, cross-cutting mission across various sectors. It contributes to the sustainable development of the country by enhancing the understanding of climate change, its likely impacts and adaptation actions required for the Himalayas- a region on which a significant proportion of India’s population depends for sustenance.
NMSHE seeks to facilitate formulation of appropriate policy measures and time-bound action programmes to sustain ecological resilience and ensure the continued provisions of key ecosystem services in the Himalayas. NMSHE intends to evolve suitable management and policy measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan ecosystem along with developing capacities at the national level to continuously assess its health status.
Recognizing the importance of scientific and technological inputs required for sustaining the fragile Himalayan Ecosystem, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been given the nodal responsibility of coordinating this mission. However, the mission involves valuable cooperation of Indian Himalayan States, the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to achieve its goals.
The most crucial and primary objective of the mission is to develop a sustainable national capacity to continuously assess the health status of the Himalayan ecosystem, enable policy bodies in their policy-formulation functions and assist states in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) with their implementation of actions selected for sustainable development.
This integrated objective would require
a) Scientific assessment of the vulnerability of the Himalayan eco system to short and long term variability in the weather and climate in all its dimensions of physical, biological and socio-cultural aspects
b) Research for framing evidence-based policy measures to protect the fragile ecosystem and
c) Time-bound action programmes at state level in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in order to sustain the ecological resilience and ensure the continued provision of key ecosystem services.
Secondary objectives of the National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem identified within the overall primary objective are:
- Networking of knowledge institutions engaged in studies on Himalayan Ecosystem and development of a coherent data base on the geological, hydrological, biological and socio cultural dimensions including traditional knowledge systems on preservation and conservation of the ecosystem
- Detection and decoupling of natural and anthropogenic induced signals of global environmental changes in mountain ecosystems and prediction of future trends on potential impacts of climate change on the Himalayan ecosystem with a sound S&T backup
- Assessment of the socio-economic and ecological consequences of global environmental change and design of appropriate strategies for growth in the economy of the mountain regions and the lowland systems dependent on mountain resources in the region
- Studying of traditional knowledge systems for community participation in adaptation, mitigation and coping mechanisms inclusive of farming and traditional health care systems
- Evaluation of policy alternatives for regional development plans towards sustainable tourism development, water and other natural resource management for mountain ecosystems in the region
- Creation of awareness amongst stakeholders in the region for including them in the design and implementation of the programme
- Assisting the states in the Indian Himalayan Region with informed actions required for sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem