Current Affairs Apr 1

Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the Central Sector Scheme – “Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI)”.


  • To support creation of global food manufacturing champions commensurate with India’s natural resource endowment and support Indian brands of food products in the international markets with an outlay of Rs. 10900 crore.

Objectives of the Scheme:

The objectives of the Scheme are to support food manufacturing entities with stipulated minimum Sales and willing to make minimum stipulated investment for expansion of processing capacity and Branding abroad to incentivise emergence of strong Indian brands:

  • Support creation of global food manufacturing champions;
  • Strengthen select Indian brand of food products for global visibility and wider acceptance in the international markets;
  • Increase employment opportunities of off-farm jobs,
  • Ensuring remunerative prices of farm produce and higher income to farmers.

Salient features:

  • The first component relates to incentivising manufacturing of four major food product segments viz. Ready to Cook/ Ready to Eat (RTC/ RTE) foods, Processed Fruits & Vegetables, Marine Products, Mozzarella Cheese.
  • Innovative/ Organic products of SMEs including Free Range -Eggs, Poultry Meat, Egg Products in these segments are also covered under above component.
  • The selected applicant will be required to undertake investment, as quoted   in   their Application   (Subject   to   the   prescribed minimum) in Plant & Machinery in the first two years i.e.  in 2021-22 & 2022-23.
  • Investment made in 2020-21 also to be counted for meeting the mandated investment.
  • The conditions of stipulated Minimum Sales and mandated investment will not be applicable for entities selected for making innovative/ organic products.
  • The second component relates to support for branding and marketing abroad to incentivise emergence of strong Indian brands.
  • For promotion of Indian Brand abroad, the scheme envisages grant to the applicant entities for – in store Branding, shelf space renting and marketing.
  • Scheme will be implemented over a six year period from 2021-22 to 2026-27.

Implementation of the Scheme:

  • The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by the Empowered Group of Secretaries chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.
  • Ministry of Food Processing Industries would approve selection of applicants for coverage under the scheme, sanction and release of funds as incentives.
  • The Ministry will prepare Annual Action Plan covering various activities for implementation of the scheme.
  • A third party evaluation and mid-term review mechanism would be built in the programme.




Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement

Why in News?

  • India and Mauritius signed the ComprehensiveEconomic Cooperation andPartnership Agreement (CECPA).
  • The CECPA is the first trade Agreement signed by India with a country in Africa. Both sides have completed their internal legal procedures and the India-Mauritius CECPA will enter into force on Thursday, 01 April 2021.
  • TheAgreement is a limited agreement, which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Financial services, Customs Procedures and Cooperation in other Areas.
  • The CECPA between India and Mauritius covers310 export items for India, including food stuff and beverages (80 lines), agriculturalproducts (25 lines), textile and textile articles (27 lines), base metals and articles thereof (32lines), electricals and electronic item (13 lines), plastics and chemicals (20 lines), wood andarticles thereof (15 lines), and others.
  • Mauritius will benefit from preferential market accessinto India for its 615 products, including frozen fish, speciality sugar, biscuits, fresh fruits,juices, mineral water, beer, alcoholic drinks, soaps, bags, medical and surgical equipment,and apparel.




Military Farms

Why in News?

  • Indian Army Formally Closes Down Military Farms.
  • Military Farms were set up with sole requirement of supplying hygienic cow’s milk to troops billeted in various garrisons across British India. First Military farm was raised on 01 Feb 1889 at Allahabad.
  • Military Farms were even established in Leh and Kargil in late 1990s, with the role of supply of fresh and hygienic milk to troops at their locations on daily basis. Another major task was management of large tracts of defence land, production and supply of Baled Hay to animal holding units.




Jal Jeevan Mission

Why in News?

  • To monitor the rural drinking water supply systems in villages, the Ministry of Jal Shakti has decided to take the digital route to use sensor-based IoT devices to effectively monitor the implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) in more than six lakh villages.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) based remote monitoring provides near real-time information without any manual intervention by using sensors.
  • This would not only allow effective monitoring and management on-ground, but also enable real-time visibility to State water supply.
  • Enormous gains in terms of operational efficiencies, cost reduction, grievance redressal, etc. Data will drive improvement in service delivery and instill transparency for precious natural asset such as water.
  • Several types of sensors have been deployed including flow meters, ground water level sensors, chlorine analyzers, pressure sensors, pump controller etc. to measure all the relevant aspects of water service delivery – quantity, duration, quality, pressure, and sustainability – in addition to providing operational efficiencies.
  • The cloud and analytics powered IoT Platform is integrated with a GIS (Geographical Information System) providing a robust decision support system.

About JJM

  • Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Union Government’s flagship programme, which is implemented in partnership with States/ UTs to provide tap water connection to every rural household by 2024 envisions creating a Digital Wall and Remote Command & Control Centre for monitoring and managing supply of prescribed quality water in adequate quantity (55 Liters Per Capita per Day – LPCD) every day through household tap connections across all rural villages.




 Tracking Solar Eruptions That Disrupt Space Weather

Why in News?

  • Scientists have developed a new technique to track the huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun, disrupting space weather and causing geomagnetic storms, satellite failures, and power outages.
  • As the ejections from the Sun, technically called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), cause various disturbances of the space environment, forecasting their arrival time is very important. However, forecasting accuracy is hindered by limited CME observations in interplanetary space.
  • Software named Computer Aided CME Tracking Software (CACTus) based on a computer vision algorithm was so far used to detect and characterise such eruptions automatically in the outer corona where these eruptions cease to show accelerations and propagate with a nearly constant speed.
  • Various researchers have led to the development of an algorithm, CMEs Identification in Inner Solar Corona (CIISCO) to detect and track the accelerating solar eruption in the lower corona.
  • CIISCO has been successfully tested on several eruptions observed by space observatories, including Solar Dynamics Observatory and Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory, PROBA2/SWAP launched by NASA and ESA, respectively.




Particles Self-assemble Can Pave the Way for Understanding Dynamics in Living Cells

  • Can particles which refuse to interact with each other form condensed phases like solids and liquids be brought together? How do particles form these structures without attraction when left on their own? Scientists have now found a clue to determine how self-assembled structures can be made using a strange class of particles that do not interact and have non-superimposable mirror images (chiral).
  • Molecular chirality is encoded in the static structure of building units of particles. It is well known that it results in interactions that are stereoselective. However, in many systems, chirality can be associated with how the particles move.
  • Whether such chiral activity can introduce stereoselective interactions between particles is still unknown to scientists.
  • By investigating the role of chiral activity, a group of scientists have for the first time shown that objects can self-recognize even when their shape is not chiral.
  • Further, they report spontaneous dimerization into two types of dimers- ‘movers’ and ‘spinners’.
  • Chiral active matter is ubiquitous in nature, and numerous biological systems possess some degree of chiral activity.
  • The present study could thus pave the way towards understanding dynamics in living cells and their assemblies. However, in biological systems, precisely tuning chiral activity is very difficult and how precisely it affects the emergent dynamics is not clear.
  • By exploiting 3D printing to design chiral active matter, they can systematically encode different extents of chiral activity and explore its consequences on the emergent dynamical behaviour.
  • Chirality-mediated selective interactions are of utmost importance in asymmetric catalysis, supramolecular polymerization, medicinal drug designing, and separation where self-recognition, sorting, and discrimination of molecules are required.





Why in News?

  • In a major push towards deep technology and driving the country to become a digitally transformed nation, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog launched AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship), an initiative to promote and support science-based deep-tech startups & ventures across India.
  • AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this nationwide program which will be implemented by Venture Center – a non-profit technology business incubator.
  • The first cohort of the program is open to technology developers (early-stage deep tech start-ups, and scientists/ engineers/ clinicians) with strong science-based deep tech business ideas.


  • The benefits of this program are aimed at addressing specific issues through training and guidance over a period of 12 months.
  • Candidates selected for the program will get access to in-depth learning via a comprehensive lecture series, live team projects, exercises, and project-specific mentoring.
  • The AIM-PRIME program is specifically tailored for the rapid scaling up of deep-tech science ventures in India, providing not just the necessary intellect and support but also the exposure they rightly deserve.




1% of wealthy Indians account for 45% of foreign trips

Why in News?

  • Less than 1% of high income households account for nearly half the international trips from India, according to an analysis by a U.K.-based climate charity called Possible.
  • The report titled “Elite Status: Global Inequalities in Flying” reviews evidence from several reports on air travel to build a case for international policies that impose penalties such as a “frequent flyer levy” on the rich to manage demand and control aviation’s climate impacts.


  • The report shows that .9% of high income households account for 44.9% of outbound trips, 40.3% mid-income households 9.8% of foreign trips, while 89.2% of travellers from low-income households undertook a mere 14.8% of trips.
  • Households with incomes greater than $30,000 in many developing Asian countries actually take more overseas trips than the average household in many developed Asian countries.
  • The analysis suggests that the top 10% of the global population by income (~550 million people) are responsible for 76% of the energy consumption associated with package holidays, while the share of the bottom 10% is zero.




NASA exchanges data of its Mars mission

  • The U.S. space agency NASA has exchanged data of its current Mars mission with its counterparts in China, India, the UAE and the European Space Agency to lower the risk of a collision as their spacecraft were also currently hovering the red planet.
  • ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, spacecraft remained in Mars orbit since it entered there in 2014.
  • India is the first Asian country to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars.
  • NASA’s Perseverance has landed on Mars last month and its rover is currently exploring its surface, while China’s Tianwen-1 consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the parking lot of orbit around Mars on February 24 and expected to land there in the next few months.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE) spacecraft, Hope, is also orbiting the Mars planet. There are two spacecraft from the European Space Agency in the Martian orbit.




Deep-sea secrets

  • How does the deep-sea clam (Archivesica marissinica) survive thousands of metres below sea level? S
  • cientists collected these clams from a cold seep in the South China Sea and decoded its genome to understand its adaptations.
  • They also studied a bacteria (Candidatus Vesicomyosocius marissinica) that lives in the epithelium cells of the clams.
  • They noticed that symbiosis between these two helps the clam to thrive in deep-sea environments.




Comet 2I/Borisov

  • The comet 2I/Borisov was first discovered in August 2019 and was confirmed to have come from beyond the Solar System.
  • Two papers published last week used high-resolution observations from different telescopes to study the comet and found that the comet most likely never passed close to any star other than our Sun.
  • This means the comet is pristine and has a “composition very similar to that of the cloud of gas and dust it — and the rest of the Solar System — formed from some 4.5 billion years ago”.
  • Studying the comet can tell us more about the origin of our Solar System.




WEF’s gender gap index

  • India has slipped 28 places to rank 140th among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, becoming the third-worst performer in South Asia.
  • India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap till date.
  • The country had ranked 112th among 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020.
  • The decline also took place on the economic participation and opportunity subindex, albeit to a lesser extent, India’s gender gap on this dimension widened by 3% this year, leading to a 32.6% gap closed till date.
  • Most of the decline occurred on the political empowerment subindex, where India regressed 13.5 percentage points, with a significant decline in the number of women ministers (from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021).
  • Among the drivers of this decline is a decrease in women’s labour force participation rate, which fell from 24.8% to 22.3%. In addition, the share of women in professional and technical roles declined further to 29.2%.
  • The share of women in senior and managerial positions also remains low: only 14.6% of these positions are held by women and there are only 8.9% firms with female top managers.
  • The estimated earned income of women in India is only one-fifth of men’s, which puts the country among the bottom 10 globally on this indicator.
  • Discrimination against women is also reflected in the health and survival subindex statistics. With 93.7% of this gap closed to date, India ranks among the bottom five countries in this subindex.
  • Wide gaps in sex ratio at birth are due to the high incidence of gender-based sex-selective practices. In addition, more than one in four women has faced intimate violence in her lifetime.
  • Conversely, 96.2% of the educational attainment subindex gender gap has been closed, with parity achieved in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Yet, gender gaps persist in terms of literacy: one third of women are illiterate [34.2%] compared to 17.6% of men.
  • Among India’s neighbours, Bangladesh ranked 65, Nepal 106, Pakistan 153, Afghanistan 156, Bhutan 130 and Sri Lanka 116.
  • Among regions, South Asia is the second-lowest performer on the index, with 62.3% of its overall gender gap closed.
  • In South Asia, only Pakistan and Afghanistan ranked below India.
  • For the 12th time, Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world. The top 10 most gender-equal countries include Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Rwanda, Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland.




Meat-eating Dinosaur Fossil Discovered

  • Scientists in Argentina have unearthed the well-preserved skull of a meat-eating dinosaur that roamed northern Patagonia about 85 million years ago.


  • The dinosaur, named Llukalkan aliocranianus, measured roughly 16 feet (5 meters) long and was a member of a carnivorous group called abelisaurids that prospered in South America and other parts of Earth’s Southern Hemisphere during the Cretaceous Period.
  • Llukalkan, meaning “one who causes fear” in the local native Mapuche language, may have competed directly against a cousin that was equally impressive and slightly larger.
  • Only about 700 meters away from where Llukalkan’s fossilized skull was found, scientists previously had dug up the remains of another meat-eating dinosaur called Viavenator exxoni.
  • Both were abelisaurids, a group of two-legged predators with short skulls, sharp and serrated teeth, extremely short arms with tiny fingers and heads sometimes featuring unusual ridges and small horns.
  • Abelisaurids generally were medium-sized compared to huge carnivorous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived in North America approximately 15 million years after Llukalkan, and Giganotosaurus, which lived in Patagonia about 15 million years before Llukalkan.
  • Llukalkan had a powerful bite, based on the musculature of its jaws, and its teeth could tear flesh from its prey. Unlike some abelisaurids, its skull was not bumpy.




Protected Wetlands

  • Srinagar’s Dal Lake along with five other famous ones in Jammu and Kashmir are to be declared protected wetlands.
  • The other lakes which are to be declared protected wetlands include Purmandal lake, also called Chotta Kashi, located in Samba district.
  • To declare Wular, Dal, Nigeen lakes in the Kashmir region and Sanasar, Manasbal and Purmandal lakes in the Jammu region as protected wetlands.




Article 244 (A)

Why in News?

  • In a video message recently, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution to safeguard the interests of the people in Assam’s tribal-majority districts.

What is Article 244(A) of the Constitution?

  • Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas. Inserted into the Constitution in 1969 by the then Congress government, it also has a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.

How is it different from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution?

  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — Articles 244(2) and 275(1) — is a special provision that allows for greater political autonomy and decentralised governance in certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives.
  • In Assam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
  • Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas.

How did the demand arise?

  • In the 1950s, a demand for a separate hill state arose around certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam.
  • In 1960, various political parties of the hill areas merged to form the All Party Hill Leaders Conference, demanding a separate state. After prolonged agitations, Meghalaya gained statehood in 1972.
  • In the 1980s, this demand took the form of a movement with a number of Karbi groups resorting to violence.
  • It soon became an armed separatist insurgency demanding full statehood.