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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

2. Iran nuclear deal.

3. Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference.


GS Paper 3:

1. Ujala scheme.

2. Project ‘NETRA’.

3. Kerala to turn to Miyawaki method.


GS Paper 4:

1. Ethical veganism.


Facts for Prelims:

1. Chinese paddlefish found in the Yangtze declared extinct.

2. Bhitarkanika census on saltwater crocodiles.

3. Smog tower.

4. Bibi Ka Maqbara.


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered: 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.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

What to study?

For Prelims: PMFBY- key features.

For Mains: PMFBY performance analysis, shortcomings and ways to address them.

Context: Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to integrate its land records with the web portal of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). This will help in checking the cases of “over-insurance” — insurance of more land than in possession — as well as insurance of ineligible people.

About PMFBY:

Launched in April, 2016, after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.


  1. Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  2. Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  3. Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  4. Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

Farmers to be covered:

All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.

Compulsory coverage: The enrolment under the scheme, subject to possession of insurable interest on the cultivation of the notified crop in the notified area, shall be compulsory for following categories of farmers:

  1. Farmers in the notified area who possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season. and
  2. Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time.

Voluntary coverage: Voluntary coverage may be obtained by all farmers not covered above, including Crop KCC/Crop Loan Account holders whose credit limit is not renewed.

Challenges at present:

Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.

Data constraints: With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies.

Low payout of claims: The reason for the very low payout of claims is that only few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.

Gaps in assessment of crop loss: There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages. There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling.

Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance, Inadequate and delayed claim payment.

High actuarial premium rates: Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates. If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.

Poor capacity to deliver: There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Iran nuclear deal

What to study?

For prelims and Mains: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)- objectives, why US has withdrawn from this, implications and what needs to be done?

Context: Iran has completely withdrawn from JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal. The announcement came after the US troops killed General Qassem Soleimani.

What was the iran nuclear deal?

Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.

  • Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
  • The JCPOA established the Joint Commission,with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.

Why did Iran agree to the deal?

It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.

Why has US pulled out of the deal?

Trump and opponents to the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah. They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.

Implications for India:

On Oil and Gas: The impact on world oil prices will be the immediately visible impact. Iran is presently India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels as well as the Indian rupee.

It would impact the development of Chahbahar port.

INSTC: It will also affect these plans, especially if any of the countries along the route or banking and insurance companies dealing with the INSTC plan also decide to adhere to U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran.

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: China may consider inducting Iran into the SCO. If the proposal is accepted by the SCO, which is led by China and Russia, India will become a member of a bloc that will be seen as anti-American, and will run counter to some of the government’s other initiatives like the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral with the U.S., Australia and Japan.

Global Implications:

  1. Down trends in global economy.
  2. Fuel prices would reach high points.
  3. Iran may block Strait of Hormuz which is a strategic choke point which inturn would affect global trade.
  4. Giant economy like India, China and Russia will suffer.
  5. US may cancel airlines from US to India because they pass over Iran which would affect airspace industry.

Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About APDRC- objectives and significance, what is Drosophila?

Context: The fifth edition of the Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC5) is being held at Pune.

  • The conference is being organised in the country for the first time by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).
  • The last four editions of this conference took place in Taipei, Seoul, Beijing and Osaka.

About APDRC:

The Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conferences (APDRC) are biennial events that aim to promote the interaction of Drosophila Researchers in the Asia-Pacific region with their peers in the rest of the world.

What is Drosophila?

It is a genus of flies, belonging to the family Drosophilidae, whose members are often called “small fruit flies” or (less frequently) pomace flies, vinegar flies, or wine flies, a reference to the characteristic of many species to linger around overripe or rotting fruit.

  • It is one of the most widely-used and preferred model organisms in biological research across the world for the last 100 years. Several discoveries in biology have been made using this.
  • Its genome is entirely sequenced and there is enormous information available about its biochemistry, physiology and behaviour.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

Ujala scheme

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme.

 Context: Fifth anniversary of the Centre`s zero subsidy `Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All` (UJALA) scheme and `LED Street Lighting National Programme` (SLNP).

Performance of the schemes:

  • Under the SLNP initiative, in five years around 1.03 crore smart LED street lights were installed. This helped in reducing Green House Gas emission by 4.8 million tonnes annually. Also, the initiative has created 13,000 jobs.
  • Under UJALA programme, 36.13 crore LED bubs have been distributed so far. This helped in reducing the green house gas emission by 38 million tonnes annually.

About UJALA scheme:

The main objective of the scheme is to promote efficient lighting, enhance awareness on using efficient equipment which reduce electricity bills and help preserve environment.

The scheme is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Union Ministry of Power.

UJALA is a flagship project of the Govt. of India where it wants every home in India to use LED bulbs so that the net power or energy consumption rate comes down and the carbon emission rates can also be checked.

About SLNP:

Launched in 2015, EESL’s Street Light National Programme (SNLP) has been instrumental in replacing over 50 lakh street lights in over 500 cities in India, leading to 135 crore kWh of energy savings and cost saving of INR 742 crore every year.

Under the programme, EESL replaces the conventional street lights with LEDs at its own costs, with no upfront investment by the municipalities, thereby making their adoption even more attractive.

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Project NETRA

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the project.

Context: Indian Space Research Organisation has inked a pact with Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) to pave the way for collaboration in establishing optical telescope facilities under Project ‘NETRA’ for tracking space objects.

What is Project NETRA (Network for space object Tracking and Analysis)?

Under the project, the ISRO plans to put up many observational facilities: connected radars, telescopes; data processing units and a control centre.

They can, among others, spot, track and catalogue objects as small as 10 cm, up to a range of 3,400 km and equal to a space orbit of around 2,000 km.

Significance of the project:

  • The project will give India its own capability in space situational awareness (SSA) like the other space powers — which is used to ‘predict’ threats from debris to Indian satellites.
  • NETRA’s eventual goal is to capture the GEO, or geostationary orbit, scene at 36,000 km where communication satellites operate.
  • The effort would make India a part of international efforts towards tracking, warning about and mitigating space debris.


Currently there are 15 functional Indian communication satellites in the geostationary orbit of 36,000 km; 13 remote sensing satellites in LEO of up to 2,000 km; and eight navigation satellites in medium earth orbits. Their protection is utmost importance for India.


  • Space junk is an ever-growing problem with more than 7,500 tonnes of redundant hardware now thought to be circling the Earth. Ranging from old rocket bodies and defunct spacecraft through to screws and even flecks of paint – this material poses a collision hazard to operational missions.
  • The rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttles, satellites and other spacecraft.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Kerala to turn to Miyawaki method

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the method.

For Mains: Significance of the method.

 Context: The Miyawaki method of afforestation is to come up on the government office premises, residential complexes, school premises, and puramboke land in Kerala.

What is Miyawaki method?

The Miyawaki method, developed by a Japanese botanist after whom it is named, involves planting saplings in small areas, causing them to “fight” for resources and grow nearly 10 times quicker.

It originated in Japan, and is now increasingly adopted in other parts of the world, including our Chennai. It has revolutionised the concept of urban afforestation by turning backyards into mini-forests.

The process explained:

  1. A pit has to be dug, and its dimensions depend on the available space. Before digging the pit, the list of tree species should be chosen judiciously. As there is very little space to work around with, trees with varying heights should be chosen.
  2. Fill it with one layer of compost, followed by a layer of natural waste such as bagasse and coconut shells and then top it with a layer of red soil.
  3. Plant the saplings following interval and tree height specifications.
  4. The whole process can be completed in two to three weeks. The saplings have to be maintained regularly for a year.

Cost analysis:

The exercise will cost approximately ₹ 20,000 for a 600 sq. ft mini forest.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 4


Ethical veganism

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What is Veganism, ethical veganism?

Context: An employment tribunal in the United Kingdom has ruled that “ethical veganism” is a philosophical belief protected by British law against discrimination.

What’s the case?

The man who brought the case, Jordi Casamitjana, claimed that he was fired from an animal welfare charity, The League Against Cruel Sports, for raising concerns about its pension funds’ alleged investment in companies that use animal testing.

What has the tribunal said?

The tribunal determined that ethical veganism meets the test required to be a philosophical belief, because of which it is protected under The Equality Act, 2010.

What is Veganism, ethical veganism?

Broadly, a vegan person does not consume meat products and also products that are derived from animals (such as milk, eggs, etc).

Ethical veganism, on the other hand, has been defined as the view that attaches a positive ethical valuation to a vegan lifestyle.

There are two types of ethical veganism: broad absolutist veganism, under which it is always wrong to use any product made by or from animals, and modest ethical veganism, under which it is typically wrong to use products made from or by a range of animals including cats, dogs, cows, pigs, etc.

An example of the former category is a person who would not press a leather button, “even if doing so were necessary in order to avert global nuclear war”.

 How is it different from ethical vegetarianism?

Ethical veganism is different from ethical vegetarianism — the latter makes a distinction between products made from animals, such as meat, and products made by animals, such as milk.

Ethical vegetarianism is opposed to products made from animals in particular.

Sources: Indian Express.


Facts for Prelims:


Chinese paddlefish found in the Yangtze declared extinct:

  • It is native to the Yangtze, Asia’s longest river.
  • It is one of the world’s largest species of freshwater species.
  • It has been declared extinct by Chinese scientists. The last confirmed sighting of the fish was in 2003.
  • It is thought to have become functionally extinct — which means there are no breeding pairs left — in 1993.
  • Two other notable Yangtze species — reeves shad, a type of fish and the baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin — were declared ‘functionally extinct’ in 2015 and 2006 respectively.


Bhitarkanika census on saltwater crocodiles:

Context: Bhitarkanika census finds an increase of 15 saltwater crocodiles from last year.

  • There are now 1,757 crocodiles in the park, the census conducted on January 3, 2020, found. Last year, there were 1,742.

Back to Basics:

There are three species of crocodilians—saltwater, Mugger and Gharial.

  1. Mugger:

The mugger crocodile, also called the Indian crocodile, or marsh crocodile, is found throughout the Indian subcontinent.

It is listed as vulnerable by IUCN.

The mugger is mainly a freshwater species, and found in lakes, rivers and marshes.

  1. Gharial:

The Gharial or fish eating crocodile is native to the Indian subcontinent.

It is listed as a Critically Endangered by IUCN.

Small released populations are present and increasing in the rivers of the National Chambal Sanctuary, Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Son River Sanctuary and the rainforest biome of Mahanadi in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary, Orissa.

  1. Saltwater Crocodile:

It is the largest of all living reptiles. It listed as least concern by IUCN. It is found throughout the east coast of India.


Smog tower:

Delhi gets its first smog tower.

In November, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and the Delhi government to prepare a plan to install ‘smog towers’ across the capital to deal with air pollution.
What is a ‘smog tower’?

  • Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers. They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them. After the cleaning, the tower releases clean air.
  • The filters installed in the tower will use carbon nanofibres as a major component and will be fitted along its peripheries. The tower will focus on reducing particulate matter load.


Bibi Ka Maqbara:

It is a tomb located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

  • It was commissioned in 1660 by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the memory of his first and chief wife Dilras Banu Begum.
  • It is considered to be a symbol of Aurangzeb’s ‘conjugal fidelity’.
  • The structure, known as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’ because of its striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal.