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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 25 June 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 25 June 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Population and associated issues.


Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission


What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the programme.


Context: National Workshop on Experience Sharing under Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission.


About SPMRM:

The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is a unique programme, designed to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.


Funding Support:

  1. There is a funding support of up to 30% of the estimated investment for each Rurban cluster, given as Critical Gap Funding (CGF), while 70% of the funds is mobilized by the States through convergence with synergic State and Central programmes and private investment and institutional funding.
  2. The CGF is now shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio of 60:40 for Plain area States and 90:10 for Himalayan and NE States.


Various Provisions:

Provision of basic amenities – 

  • Provision of 24/7 Water Supply to all households,
  • Solid and Liquid Waste Management facilities at the household and cluster level

Provision of Inter and Intra village roads–

Adequate Street Lights and Public Transport facilities using green technologies.

Provision of Economic Amenities –

Various thematic areas in the sectors of Agri Services and Processing, Tourism, and Skill development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.


Mission’s Objective:

The objective of the National Rurban Mission (NRuM) is to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters.


Need for development of such clusters:

As per Census of India Statistics, the rural population in India stands at 833 million, constituting almost 68% of the total population.

  • The rural population has shown a growth of 12% during the 2001-2011 period and there has been an increase in the absolute number of villages during the same period.
  • Large parts of rural areas are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other.
  • These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive location and competitive advantages.
  • Hence, making a case for concerted policy directives for such clusters; these clusters once developed can then be classified as ‘Rurban’.


Mains Question: Write a critical note on the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


National Policy on Biofuels – 2018


What to study?

For Prelims: National Biofuel Policy- key features, classification of biofuels.

For Mains: Biofuels- significance, policies for their promotion and challenges therein.


Context: The National Policy on Biofuels-2018 approved by the Government envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.


National Policy on biofuels- salient features:

Categorization: The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

Scope of raw materials: The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

Protection to farmers: Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

Viability gap funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

Boost to biodiesel production: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.


Expected benefits:

Import dependency: The policy aims at reducing import dependency.

Cleaner environment: By reducing crop burning & conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuels there will be further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.

Health benefits: Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential health hazard and can lead to many diseases. Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel will prevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.

Employment Generation: One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in Plant Operations, Village Level Entrepreneurs and Supply Chain Management.

Additional Income to Farmers: By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by the farmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these waste if a market is developed for the same.


Significance of Biofuels:

Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels. Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.


Classification of Biofuels:

1st generation biofuels are also called conventional biofuels. They are made from things like sugar, starch, or vegetable oil. Note that these are all food products. Any biofuel made from a feedstock that can also be consumed as a human food is considered a first generation biofuel.

2nd generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstock. The sustainability of a feedstock is defined by its availability, its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on land use, and by its potential to threaten the food supply. No second generation biofuel is also a food crop, though certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption. Second generation biofuels are often called “advanced biofuels.”

3rd generation biofuels are biofuel derived from algae. These biofuels are given their own separate class because of their unique production mechanism and their potential to mitigate most of the drawbacks of 1st and 2nd generation biofuels.


Mains Question: Discuss the importance of biofuels for India? Critically examine whether the national policy on biofuels will help India unlock it’s biofuel potential?

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.




What to study?

For Prelims: PMU- key features.

For Mains: PMUY- objectives, features, significance and measures needed to sustain the momentum.


Context: 7.23 Crore Connections released under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.


About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Who is eligible? Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.


Key objectives of the scheme are:

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.
  • Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
  • Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.


What makes LPG adoption necessary?

  1. A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.
  2. According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

Mains Question: Examine the objectives, merits and demerits of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


National Policy on Domestic Workers


What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the proposed National Policy on Domestic Workers, International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

For Mains: Need for a policy and guidelines on this, vulnerability and challenges faced by domestic workers, international experience.


Context: Draft National Policy on Domestic Workers Under Consideration.


There is a need for the policy due to the following reasons:

  • Employer-dominated, domestic work industry is characterised by low, stagnant wage rates. Wages are particularly low for Bengali and Adivasi workers.
  • Irregular payment of wages by employer.
  • Extraction of more work than agreed upon at the start of employment.
  • Practice of arbitrarily reducing wages.
  • Private power of regulation enjoyed by the employer.
  • Private nature of regulation has allowed the employer to exercise quasi-magisterial powers over the domestic worker in India.
  • Workers’ attempts to renegotiate their terms of work or to leave such employment are outbid by verbal, and often, physical assaults by employers.
  • Domestic workers are on an almost absolute risk of unemployment or criminalisation when they try to obtain their dues.


Proposed national policy for domestic workers:

  • Its aimis to protect the domestic workers from abuse, harassment, violence and guarantee them rights in the matter of social security and minimum wages. The policy also includes social security cover and provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour.
  • It is a national policy for all kinds of household helps, under which payment of wages will be made to the board under fixed slab rates and the central board/trust will be managed by all stakeholders.
  • The policy intends to set up an institutional mechanismto social security cover, fair terms of employment, grievance redressal and dispute resolution. 
  • It provides for recognising domestic workers as a worker with the right to register themselves with state labour department or any other suitable mechanism.
  • The policy will also promote the rightsfor them to organise and form their own unions/associations and affiliate with other unions/associations. It will also provide for model contract of employment with well-defined period of work and rest.
  • It also aims to regulate the recruitment and placement agencies by respective governments through formulation of a policy.
  • It will also have a tripartite implementation committee at centre, state and district levels.
  • It will also clearly define various termssuch as part time workers, full time workers, live in workers, employers and private placement agencies.


Mains Question: The proposed national policy for domestic workers fails to achieve the purpose it is designed for. Critically examine.


Relevant articles from various news sources:

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.


Complaint Management System (CMS) by RBI 


What to study?

For prelims and mains: CMS- need for, features and significance.


What is it? Launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Complaint Management System (CMS) is a software application to facilitate RBI’s grievance redressal process

Aim: to improve customer experience in timely redressal of grievances. 


How it works?

Customers can lodge complaints against any regulated entity with public interface such as commercial banks, urban cooperative banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs). 
The complaint would be directed to the appropriate office of the Ombudsman/Regional Office of the RBI. 



The application improves transparency by keeping the complainants informed through auto-generated acknowledgements and enabling them to track the status of their complaints and file appeals online against the decisions of the Ombudsmen, where applicable.

Complainants can also voluntarily share feedback on their experience in obtaining redressal. 



Sustaining the confidence of consumers in banks and other financial service providers (FSPs) through prompt and effective grievance redressal, together with empowering customers through education is pivotal for maintaining trust in the banking system. 


Sources: the Hindu.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

Jal Hi Jeevan Hai


What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the scheme, the issue of water scarcity and measures needed to avert the problem.


Context: The farmers of northern districts of Haryana have shown a keen interest in crop diversification scheme called ‘Jal Hi Jeevan Hai’ of the Haryana government which promotes to diversify paddy area into maize, arhar dal (pigeon pea) and soybean.


About the scheme:

The scheme is for replacement of Paddy by Maize and other crops in 7 dark zone blocks.

The target is to diversify around 50000 Hectare area from this season.



Due to continuous Paddy growing in the State about 1 mtr. water table is depleting per year. Crop diversification through the above scheme is intended to promote technological innovation with sustainable agriculture and enable farmers to choose crop alternatives for increasing productivity and income.


The root causes of this over-exploitation of water are because of the following:

  1. A continuous cultivation of water guzzling crops in rice wheat cropping system. 
  2. Ground water withdrawal has outpaced its recharge that take place from annual precipitation.
  3. The method of irrigation in the rice and wheat crops results in excess watering and wastage of water.


Objectives of the scheme:

  • To reduce the area of water guzzling crops in Haryana
  • Induction of technological innovation for establishing alternate crops for sustainable agriculture.
  • To introduce Resource conservation,
  • To restore ground water table
  • To control soil fatigue because of rice-wheat cycle and introduce soil conservative and micronutrients balanced crop for the soil.
  • To shift the farmer from paddy wheat cycle and give more profitable crop options to the farmers
  • Ensure purchase of produce of this diversified area through MSP and also give farmer input support and cover his risk by insuring them completely under PMFBY by paying their insurance premium by the Government with an overall objective of increasing farmers’ income which will step forward in achieving ‘doubling of farmers’ income goal”.


Incentives Provided By The Government:

  • Rs 2000/- per acre for the farmer. 
  • High quality and high yield hybrid seed will be provided to these selected farmers on HSDC counters free of cost.
  • The selected farmers will be covered by State Government by paying the farmer’s premium share also for Maize Crop under PMFBY. 
  • The produce of these farmers will be purchased by the state Government at MSP.


Sources: TOI.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

What is Lunar Evacuation System?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: NASA’s moon mission, various components and LESA.


Context: Among preparations for NASA’s 2024 Moon mission, one has been to test a device called Lunar Evacuation System Assembly, or LESA.


What is LESA?

Developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), LESA is a pyramid-like structure whose purpose is to rescue an astronaut should he or she suffer an injury on the lunar surface.


How it works?

LESA can be operated by a single astronaut to rescue a fallen colleague. It enables an astronaut to lift their crewmate onto a mobile stretcher in less than 10 minutes, before carrying them to the safety of a nearby pressurised lander.


Sources: Indian Express.


Facts for prelims:


Vaishno Devi shrine to have own disaster response force:

Context: The Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu will get a dedicated in-house disaster response force by September next year.

The shrine is located atop the Trikuta hills in Reasi district of Jammu region.

The shrine board and the NDRF have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) early this year keeping in mind the hilly terrain and need to impart advanced disaster management training to the shrine board staff in batches to keep them in a state of readiness for effectively and promptly responding to any disaster situation.



International Olympic Committee formally opens $145M new headquarters in Switzerland:

The International Olympic Committee has formally opened its 145 million Swiss francs ($145 million) new headquarters exactly 125 years after the Olympic Games was revived.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a not-for-profit independent international organisation that is committed to building a better world through sport. Created on 23 June 1894, just under two years before the first Olympic Games of the modern era in April 1896, the IOC is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement.

Functions: As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family, from the NOCs, the IFs, the athletes and the OCOGs to the Worldwide Olympic Partners, broadcast partners and United Nations (UN) agencies, and shepherds success through a wide range of programmes and projects. On this basis, it ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values. 


Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI):

What is it? The NDVI is a simple indicator which tells how much of the ground is covered with vegetation. It basically calculates the difference between the red and near infrared components of light reflected by objects, from, say, a satellite. Since healthy vegetation strongly absorbs red and reflects near infrared light, this difference can indicate the presence of healthy vegetation and map it into a colour code.

Why in News? Researchers recently found that NDVI does not yield a reliable estimate of food abundance for elephants in tropical forests. In fact, researchers show that this index has a negative correlation with graminoids (grassy food – grasses, sedges and rushes – preferentially consumed by elephants) in tropical forests.

Utility of NDVI: NDVI has been used to estimate the amount of food abundance available to herbivorous animals, for example, elephants. The NDVI is used, for instance, in attempts to track the presence of elephants using the vegetation they consume. 

Summaries of important Editorials:


Reimagining the NITI Aayog:


Typically, federations (including the Indian one) face vertical and horizontal imbalances:

  1. A vertical imbalance arises because the tax systems are designed in a manner that yields much greater tax revenues to the Central government when compared to the State or provincial governments; the Constitution mandates relatively greater responsibilities to the State governments. For example, in India, post the advent of Goods and Services Tax (GST), the share of States in the public expenditure is 60% while it is 40% for the Centre to perform their constitutionally mandated duties.
  2. The horizontal imbalances arise because of differing levels of attainment by the States due to differential growth rates and their developmental status in terms of the state of social or infrastructure capital.


Horizontal imbalance involves two types of imbalances:

Type I is to do with the adequate provision of basic public goods and services.

Type II is due to growth accelerating infrastructure or the transformational capital deficits.


What needs to be done to remove these imbalances?

Removing these two imbalances clearly comprises two distinct policy goals and calls for following the Tinbergen assignment principle, which are two different policy instruments.

It is in this context that the role of NITI Aayog 2.0 must be reimagined to create a niche, assume the role of another policy instrument and become the second pillar of the new fiscal federal structure.


Issues present:

With the Planning Commission disbanded, there is a vacuum especially as the NITI Aayog is primarily a think tank with no resources to dispense, which renders it toothless to undertake a “transformational” intervention.


Need of the hour:

There is an urgent need for an optimal arrangement. The Finance mInister cannot do the dual job. It is best that the Union Finance Commission be confined to focussing on the removal of the horizontal imbalance across States of the Type I: i.e. the basic public goods imbalance.

The need is to create another institution to tackle the horizontal imbalance of the Type II; for this the NITI Aayog is the most appropriate institution.


How can NITI Aayog 2.0 play a renewed role in cooperative federalism?

NITI Aayog 2.0 should receive significant resources (say 1% to 2% of the GDP) to promote accelerated growth in States that are lagging, and overcome their historically conditioned infrastructure deficit, thus reducing the developmental imbalance.

 NITI Aayog should be engaged with the allocation of “transformational” capital in a formulaic manner, complete with incentive-compatible conditionalities.

NITI Aayog 2.0 should also be mandated to create an independent evaluation office which will monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the utilisation of such grants.

It must be also accorded a place at the high table of decision-making as it will need to objectively buy-in the cooperation of the richer States as their resources are transferred to the poorer ones.