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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 6 April 2024

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 3:

  1. Crop Diversification in India

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Innovative Taxes

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. IMD warns of more tornadoes in the Bay of Bengal
  2. Political parties’ symbols
  3. Draft model rules for childbirth registration
  4. 75 years of NATO
  5. Exchange-traded currency derivatives
  6. Agriculture in News
  7. Plankton crash
  8. Voice Engine
  9. NexCAR19
  10. Agni-Prime ballistic missile

 

Mapping

  1. Kumittipathi village (Kongu Region, TN)

 


 

Crop Diversification in India

GS3/GS1 Paper 

 Syllabus: Agriculture/ Geography

 

Source: DTE

 Context: West Bengal farmers are shifting from wheat cultivation to more lucrative options like bananas, lentils, and maize, especially in border districts like Murshidabad and Nadia.

Reasons Behind the Shift from Wheat Production:

  1. Wheat Blast Disease: The emergence of wheat blast disease in Bangladesh in 2016 led to a two-year ban on wheat cultivation in border areas of West Bengal. This prompted farmers to explore alternative crops due to the severe yield losses caused by the fungal infection.
  2. Economic Viability: Farmers have turned to alternative crops like bananas due to their higher profitability compared to wheat. Stagnant wheat prices and concerns over water consumption further incentivized the shift.
  3. Shift to Higher Output Crops: Maize cultivation has surged in the area, with production increasing eightfold from 2011 to 2023. Despite lower prices per quintal compared to wheat, maize offers higher per-hectare output and demand from poultry and food processing industries, making it a lucrative alternative.
  4. Pulses and oilseed production have also seen significant growth in the region.

 

Other reasons for this shift in West Bengal and other parts of India:

  1. Nutrient deficiency in soil: Continuous cultivation of the same crops depletes specific nutrients from the soil, leading to soil nutrient deficiency and decreased microfauna population. Example: Rice-wheat system in Northwestern India replacing traditional crops like pulses and oilseeds.
  2. Resource use efficiency: Monocropping reduces resource-use efficiency. Introducing diverse crops and cropping patterns helps revive soil health and improve resource-use efficiency.
  3. Urbanization: Increased food demand due to population growth and urbanization stresses agricultural land, leading to crop intensification and substitution of food crops with commercial crops.
  4. Infrastructure facilities: Improved irrigation, transport, storage, and marketing facilities allow farmers to diversify towards more profitable crops.
  5. Government incentives: Initiatives like Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and state government financial incentives encourage farmers to change cropping patterns.
  6. Erratic rainfall: Sudden adverse weather conditions like erratic rainfall, drought, and pest outbreaks compel farmers to diversify their cropping patterns for risk mitigation.

 

What is Crop Diversification?

Crop diversification refers to the practice of growing a variety of crops on a farm instead of focusing on just one or a few crops. Crop diversification in India represents a strategic shift from the traditional monoculture farming practices towards a more varied cultivation approach. Through diversifying crops, farmers can reduce dependency on a single crop, thereby increasing resilience against climatic and economic fluctuations

 

Types of crop diversification:

 

The trend of crop diversification in India:

  • Towards Cash crops:g., growing more cash crops like fruit and vegetables instead of food grains.
  • Shifted to horticulture: Since good inputs (seeds and know-how) are available, farmers are growing horticultural crops along with or as an alternative to food grains.
    • India produces 10% of the world’s production of fruits and holds the first place in the case of fruits like papaya, mango, and banana, among others.
  • Water intensive to water efficiency patterns: Some water intensive Food grains (paddy) and cash crops (such as sugarcane) losing interest in favour of water-efficient crops or pulses and oil seeds.
    • These are not only water-efficient but also climate-resilient.
  • Organic farming: Many regions of the country have also seen an increase in cropping area under organic farming. States like Sikkim have become fully organic states.
  • ZBNF: Many states like Maharastra, and Telangana are promoting Zero Budget Natural farming, under it use of chemicals for growing crops is discouraged. 

 

Significance/Benefits of Crop Diversification in India:

Significance Description
For farmers Income Stabilization: In Karnataka, the cultivation of millets, alongside traditional crops, has provided farmers with an alternative income source, buffering them against the price volatilities of mainstream crops.
Market Demand Fulfillment: By growing organic produce in Sikkim, farmers are tapping into the growing market demand for organic food, both domestically and internationally, ensuring higher profitability.
Reduced Price Dependency: Farmers in Tamil Nadu diversifying into pulses and oilseeds have found these crops to be less subject to international price fluctuations than cash crops like cotton and sugarcane.
Alternative Market Channels: In Kerala, diversification into spice crops like turmeric and ginger has opened up new market channels, including export markets, offering farmers lucrative alternatives.
Environment
Reduced chemical use benefits the environment.
Pest and Disease Management: Intercropping can reduce the need for chemical pesticides, promoting natural pest control.
Availability of water: Promotes efficient water use, reducing irrigation demands.
Soil Health Improvement: Planting leguminous crops improves soil fertility, benefiting subsequent crops.
Government

 

Improves food security and nutrition, reducing malnutrition and anaemia.
Enhances socio-economic status through quality food production.
Trade Reduces import dependence, particularly for pulses and oilseeds, benefiting the economy.
Market Opportunities: Diversifying into niche markets, like organic farming, can lead to higher prices for produce.
Source of Biofuels: Crops like Jatropha and Pongamia can be used for biofuel production, offering additional income streams for farmers and contributing to energy security
Risk Reduction Diversification helps in mitigating the impact of adverse weather conditions, such as drought, by ensuring some level of harvest.

 

Government Initiatives for Crop Diversification

  1. National Food Security Mission (NFSM): Encourages farmers to grow pulses and oilseeds in addition to cereals.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): Focuses on improving water use efficiency through micro-irrigation, supporting the cultivation of less water-intensive crops.
  3. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): Promotes organic farming, facilitating diversification into high-value organic crops.
  4. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): Provides flexibility and autonomy to states to prioritize their agriculture and allied sector investments, including diversification efforts.
  • 1. Crop Diversification Programme (CDP), a sub-scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) is being implemented in the Original Green Revolution States viz; Haryana, Punjab & Western Uttar Pradesh since 2013-14 to divert the area of water-intensive paddy crop to alternative crops like pulses, oilseeds, coarse cereals, Nutri cereals etc
  1. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): Aims at holistic growth of the horticulture sector, encouraging farmers to diversify into horticultural crops.
  2. Mera Pani-Meri Virasat Scheme (Haryana): Provides financial aid to farmers transitioning from paddy cultivation to water-saving alternatives such as pulses, oilseeds, millets, and vegetables.

 

Challenges with the Crop Diversification in India:

  1. Market Risks and Limited Opportunities: Farmers may hesitate to switch from established crops like rice and wheat due to fluctuating market prices and limited demand for alternative crops, potentially leading to income loss.
  2. Financial Constraints: Diversifying crops requires additional investment in seeds, equipment, and knowledge, which smallholder farmers may lack. Creating a market for nutritious crops like millet also requires investment in processing facilities.
  3. Lack of Infrastructure and Storage: Perishable diversified crops need specialized storage and transportation facilities, which are often lacking in rural areas. Without proper infrastructure, there’s a risk of spoilage, resulting in wasted produce and lost income.
  4. Clash With Dietary Habits: Crop diversification could disrupt established market dynamics and consumption patterns in regions where rice and wheat are staple foods, potentially affecting market acceptance and farmer livelihoods.

 

The way forward and Conclusion:

Moving forward, India can explore innovative approaches to promote crop diversification and sustainable agriculture. One such avenue is agri-tourism and ‘U-Pick’ farms, where tourists can engage in experiential agriculture by harvesting fruits and vegetables directly from the fields. This not only offers farmers additional income but also fosters a connection between consumers and agriculture, promoting appreciation for diversified crops.

Moreover, advancements in gene editing techniques like CRISPR present an opportunity for biofortification, enhancing the nutritional value of crops to address malnutrition concerns and open new markets for biofortified produce.

Additionally, integrating regenerative agriculture practices such as cover cropping, composting, and no-till farming with diversified crop rotations can contribute to sustainable diversification. These practices not only improve long-term crop yields but also sequester carbon, mitigating the impacts of climate change on agriculture.

 

Mains Links:

How did India benefit from the contributions of Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Dr. M.S. Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively? (UPSC 2019)

Explain various types of revolutions, that took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How have these revolutions helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (UPSC 2017)

Innovative Taxes

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

 

Source: LM

 Context: Toronto’s latest tax innovation, the ‘stormwater charge,’ aims to tackle urban flooding by penalizing properties with excessive concrete.

 

Type Tax Description
Historical Unusual Taxes Russia’s Beard Tax In 18th-century Russia, a tax was levied on beards to encourage a more Western, clean-shaven appearance.
Britain’s Window Tax In the same era, British homes were taxed based on the number of windows, a strategy aimed at the wealthy
Modern Unusual Taxes Toronto’s ‘Stormwater Charge’ This proposed tax in Toronto is based on the ratio of permeable to impermeable surfaces on properties, intending to mitigate flooding.
Switzerland and Germany’s Dog Tax Depending on the breed and weight of the dog, owners can be taxed differently, with larger breeds like Bull Terriers and Great Danes incurring higher taxes.
Sweden’s Baby Name Tax A tax is imposed on families choosing names that are deemed confusing, offensive, or hard to pronounce, such as the case of a family who named their daughter Metallica.

 

These taxes serve diverse purposes: influencing behaviour, raising funds, promoting social norms, targeting specific groups, and regulating choices.

/ 06 April 2024, Today's Article

IMD warns of more tornadoes in the Bay of Bengal

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: IMD warns of more tornadoes in West Bengal after a recent one killed 5 and over 100 injured in Jalpaiguri.

 

What is a Tornadoes?

A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. It is often visible as a funnel-shaped cloud and is capable of causing significant damage to structures and landscapes.

 

Structure of a Tornado:

Aspect Tornado Tropical Cyclone
Definition A rapidly rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. A large-scale, atmospheric wind and rainstorm that rotates around a low-pressure centre.
Location Typically occurs over land Typically occurs over oceans
Size Much smaller in size, with diameters on the order of a few hundred meters. Much larger in size, with diameters ranging from tens to hundreds of kilometres.
Formation Forms from severe thunderstorms Forms over warm ocean waters
Duration Short-lived, lasting from a few seconds to a few hours. Can last for several days, moving across large distances.
Speed Moves more slowly, typically at speeds of 10 to 20 mph (16 to 32 km/h) Moves quickly, with forward speeds ranging from 30 to 70 mph (48 to 113 km/h)
Wind Shear Require substantial vertical shear of horizontal winds Require very low values of tropospheric vertical shear

 

Temperature Gradient Produced in regions of large temperature gradient Generated in regions of near-zero horizontal temperature gradient

 

Damage Can cause localized, but severe damage, including the destruction of buildings and trees. Can cause widespread damage, including flooding, storm surges, and high winds.

 

Political parties’ symbols

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The Election Commission of India (ECI) allocates symbols to political parties and candidates based on the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.

  • Recognized parties have reserved symbols, while unrecognised parties are allotted free symbols during elections.
  • Unrecognised parties can apply for a common symbol if they meet certain criteria, including securing at least 1% of votes in the previous election or having elected representatives.
  • The recent denial of a common symbol to Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and the allotment of a new symbol to Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) have raised questions.

 

The current rules may need amendment to ensure fair treatment based on past electoral performance and representation.

 

Draft model rules for childbirth registration

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: LM

 Context: The Home Ministry has drafted Model Rules requiring parents to record their religion separately when registering the birth of a child, departing from the previous practice of recording the family’s religion.

  • The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, allows the birth certificate to serve as a single document for various purposes such as admission to educational institutions, obtaining a driving license, and registering for Aadhaar.
  • The bill also facilitates digital registration and aims to establish national and state-level databases of registered births and deaths, facilitating efficient delivery of public services and benefits.
  • Additionally, it includes provisions for collecting the Aadhaar numbers of parents for birth registration.

 

75 years of NATO

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: WEF

 Context: NATO, founded in 1949, celebrates 75 years with recent expansion and renewed unity.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is a military alliance of 32 countries from North America and Europe. It aims to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through collective defence against aggression.

 

Exchange traded currency derivatives

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has postponed the implementation of its new norms for the exchange-traded currency derivatives (ETCD) market.

  • This decision follows concerns raised by market participants regarding participation in the ETCD market, which led to increased volatility in the forex market.
  • The new norms, aimed to allow users to take positions in the foreign exchange derivatives market without needing to establish the existence of underlying exposure, up to a single limit of $100 million equivalent across all currency pairs involving the rupee.
  • However, the RBI emphasized that the regulatory framework for ETCDs remains consistent, guided by the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.
  • Users are required to ensure compliance with the requirement of having underlying exposure, and the limit for taking positions was subsequently amended to a single limit of $100 million combined across all exchanges.

 

While the postponement may not have immediate implications, it could lead to increased trading volumes on such platforms, stabilizing pressure on options premiums.

 

Agriculture in News

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE, HBL

Technique Description Benefits Challenges
Mulching Farmers in the Ladakhi village of Phey are defying the odds by successfully growing organic watermelons (a crop typically unsuited for the cold desert region) using Mulching Prevents soil erosion; Increases organic matter in the soil Lack of technical knowledge; Higher initial setup cost; Need for constant human intervention
Mulching involves covering topsoil with plant materials like leaves or straw. It helps create a soil structure that allows rainwater to infiltrate easily, reducing runoff.
Hydroponics Hydroponics is a soil-less farming method where plants grow in a water-based nutrient solution, often with an aggregate substrate like vermiculite or coconut coir. Resource efficiency; Higher yields; Reduced labour costs; and increased plant yields. Lack of technical knowledge; High initial setup costs; Need for constant human intervention; Infrastructure limitations hindering widespread adoption

Plankton crash

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: A panel formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) investigated the red colouration of the sea in Puducherry and attributed it to a plankton crash.

  • A specific species of phytoplankton, Noctiluca scintillans, was found to be ruptured, releasing red pigment into the sea.
  • The panel ruled out algal bloom and contamination from a nearby paper manufacturing unit, stating that the unit’s operations did not coincide with the discolouration incidents.
  • Instead, the panel identified high iron concentration as a potential factor favouring plankton bloom.
  • Environmental parameters such as sea surface temperature, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen were found conducive to the proliferation of this species.

 

A plankton crash is when a dramatic bloom of plankton in a pond is replaced by very few viable plankton. This can be caused by a lack of nutrients or CO2

Dead plankton can create large amounts of stable foam on the surface of the pond. 

Voice Engine

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 

Context: OpenAI has unveiled its Voice Engine, a groundbreaking text-to-audio tool capable of replicating any voice in any language.

  • Users can upload a 15-second audio sample, and the engine generates audio in the same voice based on a written prompt.
  • OpenAI highlights the positive applications of Voice Engine, such as aiding non-readers, translating content, and assisting non-verbal individuals, concerns over its potential misuse have arisen.
  • Deepfake technologies, including voice cloning, have been exploited to deceive people, especially during elections.

NexCAR19

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: The President of India, launched India’s first indigenous CAR-T cell therapy for cancer at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Named NexCAR19, it is the world’s most affordable CAR-T therapy, marking a significant milestone in India’s advancement in cell and gene therapy.

Agni-Prime ballistic missile

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Economic Times

Context: India successfully conducted a night trial of the new-generation Agni-Prime ballistic missile, from the Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha.

  • The test, conducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) and DRDO, met all objectives, confirming its reliable performance.
  • The Agni-Prime incorporates new propulsion systems, advanced navigation, and a canister-launch system, enhancing strategic deterrence capabilities

Agni-Prime is a two-stage canisterised solid propellant ballistic missile with a dual redundant navigation and guidance system, according to DRDO.

It has a range of 1,000-2,000km and was tested for the first time in June 2021.

It is lighter than all the earlier Agni series of missiles.

Kumittipathi village (Coimbatore, TN)

Mapping

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The rock paintings at Kumittipathi village near Coimbatore are significant testimonies to the prehistoric Kongu region.

Believed to be around 3,000 years old, these cave paintings depict an elephant, a chariot, and scenes from the lives of early inhabitants. Despite their cultural and historical importance, the paintings are at risk due to damage caused by miscreants.

 

What are Rock Paintings?

Rock paintings are ancient artworks created by early humans on natural rock surfaces using natural pigments like ochre, charcoal, and clay. These paintings provide insights into the lives, beliefs, and cultures of ancient societies.

 

Other such sites in India:

Rock Painting Site Location Description
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters Madhya Pradesh One of the oldest rock art sites globally, dating back to the Paleolithic era. Features over 700 rock shelters with paintings depicting hunting scenes, rituals, and daily life.
Edakkal Caves Kerala Situated in the Wayanad district, features Neolithic rock engravings and paintings dating back over 6,000 years. Depicts human and animal figures, symbols, and geometric patterns.
Rock Shelters of Padavayal Kerala Located in the Wayanad district, contains prehistoric petroglyphs and paintings from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. Artworks depict hunting scenes, human figures, and animals.
Rock Art Complex of Lakhudiyar Uttarakhand Near Almora, contains petroglyphs and rock paintings dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. Features images of animals, humans, and geometric patterns.
Rock Art Sites of Chaturbhujnath Nala Chhattisgarh Found in the Kanker district, these rock shelters contain prehistoric paintings dating back thousands of years, including images of animals, humans, and abstract symbols.

 

About Kongu Region (or Kongu Nadu)

Kongu Nadu is a region in Tamil Nadu (and some parts of Karnataka, and Kerala).. It boasts diverse geography, including the Western and Eastern Ghats and rivers like Kaveri. Coimbatore, Tiruppur, and Salem are key urban centres. Historically, it was the seat of the Cheras and was later ruled by the medieval Cholas, Vijayanagara Empire, and Madurai Nayaks.

 

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