National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 5th April 2019

Sustainable food system

Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: According to eat lancet commission’s report, the way we are producing food today is causing increased emission of greenhouse gases, depleting fresh water supply, compromising land use, exhausting the nitrogen and phosphorous cycle, and endangering biodiversity.

More on the Topic:

  • The report, authored by 37 international experts, including two from India, has been put together by EAT, the science-based global platform for food system transformation, and the journal The Lancet .
  • The EAT-Lancet Commission’s report, for the first time proposes scientific targets for what constitutes a healthy diet derived from a sustainable food system.
  • With 1.35 billion people, that is, 1 out of 6 people globally here in India, India would soon surpass China to become the most populated nation in the world, and that too on one-third of the landmass of China.
  • Feeding all our people a healthy diet in a sustainable manner without compromising on our ecology and environment is going to be the most important challenge for us in the coming decades.

Way Forward:

  • As food systems become more formal and organised, food safety threats increase, not decrease.
  • Taxes on unhealthy foods, subsidies for healthier food options, strong leadership in the public and private sectors and strong civil society movements, is the need of the hour.

Government Initiatives for sustainable Agriculture:

  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichayee Yojana – for irrigation and water use efficiency.
  • Micro Irrigation Fund – focuses on “more crop per drop”
  • Long Term Irrigation Fund – to bring an additional land area under irrigation.
  • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – It incentivises States to draw up plans for their agriculture sector more comprehensively taking agro-climatic conditions, natural resource issues and technology into account.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – It is a comprehensive insurance scheme that covers the damage caused by natural calamities.
  • Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund – to reduce the dependence of farmers on agriculture and provide other allied options.
  • Rural Infrastructure Development Fund – to provide for rural India’s infrastructure requirement.

Model Mains Question: What is sustainable agriculture? Discuss the importance and measures to improve sustainable agricultural practices.

Source: The Hindu

Maitri Bridge

Topic: Infrastructure development

In News: Indian Army builds the longest suspension bridge over Indus river in Leh, Ladakh! In a major boost to connectivity in remote areas in Ladakh, the Indian Army has built a 260-feet long bridge.

More on the Topic:

  • Maitri bridge demonstrates the engineering capability of the Indian Army. The bridge over the Indus river was constructed by Combat Engineers of ‘Sahas aur Yogyata’ Regiment of ‘Fire & Fury Corps’ in just 40 days which is a record. In this short span, around 500 tons of bridge equipment and construction material was ferried.
  • Leh-Ladakh is a key area due to its geographic position. Last year Border Roads Organisation (BRO) built a 35-meter Chamesahn bridge in the region which would remove a major travelling bottleneck in Leh and ease the vehicle movement to the base of Siachen Glacier. The project was completed under Project HIMANK.

Project HIIMANK:

  • HIMANK, is a project of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the Ladakh region of northernmost India that started in August 1985.
  • Himank is responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads and related infrastructure including the world’s highest motorable roads across the Khardung La, Tanglang La and Chang La passes.
  • Himank’s work ensures access to sensitive military areas including the world’s highest battle-ground at the Siachen Glacier and Pangong Tso Lake (at 14500 ft) whose waters span the de facto India-China border.

Source: The Hindu

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund

Topic: Economy

In News: Roadis, a private investor and operator of transport infrastructure worldwide and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) have jointly set up a platform to invest in road projects in India.

More on the topic:

  • The platform would invest up to $2 billion of equity targeting toll-operate-transfer models, acquisitions of existing road concessions and investment opportunities in the road sector with an aim to create a large roads platform in the country.

About NIIF:

  • The government had set up the ₹40,000 crore NIIF in 2015 as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled infrastructure projects.
  • The Indian government is investing 49% and the rest of the corpus is to be raised from third-party investors such as sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds, endowments, etc.
  • NIIF’s mandate includes investing in areas such as energy, transportation, housing, water, waste management and other infrastructure-related sectors in India.
  • NIIF currently manages three funds each with its distinctive investment mandate. The funds are registered as Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Source: The Hindu

AUSINDEX-19

Topic: International Relations

In News: TThird Edition of Bilateral Maritime Exercise between Royal Australian and Indian Navies – AUSINDEX-19 set to begin.

More on the Topic:

  • The aim of the exercise is, “To strengthen and enhance mutual cooperation and interoperability between the IN and RAN, providing opportunities for interaction and exchange of professional views between the personnel of the two navies”.
  • The increased scale of participation signifies the importance attached to the exercise by both countries while the enhanced complexity is indicative of the interoperability between the two navies.
  • Overall, the exercise underscores India’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and shared objectives of the two countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and solidarity with friendly and harmonious countries.

Source:The Hindu

MH 60R Multi Mission Helicopters

Topic: Defense Sector

In News: The United States Department of State has approved the sale of 24 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to India under its Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

More on the Topic:

  • MH 60R helicopters will provide India the capability to undertake anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.
  • These helicopters will also provide India the ability to perform secondary missions, including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay.
  • It is to be noted that India was granted with USA’s unique Major Defense Partner (MDP) designation in 2016, a step towards India accessing U.S. military technology at a level on a par with those of the U.S.’s closest allies.
  • In 2018 India was then given Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) status by the U.S and became the third Asian country after South Korea and Japan (and 37th country globally) to acquire it.

Source: The Hindu

Erode Turmeric

Topic: IPR

In News: Recently Erode’s unique slender turmeric received a GI tag for its distinctive fragrance and colour.

More on the Topic:

  • Erode’s turmeric is smaller and more slender when compared with other varieties, and it has a high curcumin content of around 3.9%.
  • The loamy red and black soil of the Erode region is believed to be the reason behind the distinctive brilliant yellow colour, as well as its characteristic sweet taste and aroma.
  • Due to these distinctive features erode turmeric is the preferred choice of commercial curry powder manufacturers in India and abroad.

Turmeric Production in India:

  • India is the world’s largest producer of turmeric (Curcuma longa), a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family.
  • The plant’s underground stems or rhizomes have been used as spice, dye, medicine and religious maker since antiquity.
  • Telangana is the largest grower of turmeric in the country (followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu).
  • Turmeric is labour and water-intensive crop, so farmers grow it along with onions, tapioca and coconut or sugarcane.
  • The spice’s colour comes mainly from curcumin, a bright yellow phenolic compound that has been in the news for its ostensible potential to fight cancer.
  • As a result, the demand for turmeric with high curcumin content has risen from pharmaceutical companies.

Source: The Hindu

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