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United Nations Security Council

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Why in the news?

India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the UN in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for a two year term in 2021-22.

What is the UN Security Council?

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), charged with ensuring international peace and security, accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its charter.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions – it is the only body of the United Nations with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. 
  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members – the Soviet Union(now represented by Russia), the United Kingdom, France, Republic of China (now represented by the People’s Republic of China), and the United States – serve as the body’s five permanent members. These can veto any substantive resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or nominees for the office of Secretary-General. 
  • In addition, the council has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve a term of two years. A retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election.
  • The African Group is represented by three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, and Western European and Others groups by two apiece; and the Eastern European Group by one. 
  • The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.


What are the membership reforms sought in the UNSC?

  • There has been discussion of increasing the number of permanent members. The countries who have made the strongest demands for permanent seats are Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan. These are called the Group of 4 or G4.
  • Italy leads a movement known as the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats. Core members of the group include Canada, South Korea, Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina and Colombia. Their proposal is to create a new category of seats, still non-permanent, but elected for an extended duration (semi-permanent seats). 
  • As far as traditional categories of seats are concerned, the UfC proposal does not imply any change, but only the introduction of small and medium size states among groups eligible for regular seats. This proposal includes even the question of veto, giving a range of options that goes from abolition to limitation of the application of the veto.


SMART police survey

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications,

Why in the news?

  • Rahimatpur police station in Satara district in western Maharashtra has emerged as the State topper in a survey based on the ‘SMART’ policing concept announced by the Prime Minister.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI), which executed the survey, assessed 87 shortlisted police stations across the country on a number of parameters like performance in controlling crime, infrastructure of the police building, mess and optimal use of technology, and citizen feedback.

What is SMART police?

Prime Minister had first called for making the police force ‘SMART’ — strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsive, techno-savvy and trained — while addressing the 49th annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police in Guwahati in 2014.


Jal Shakti Abhiyan

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

  • The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.
  • Though water is a State issue, the campaign would be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence.
  • The campaign would run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon would be covered from October 1 to November 30. 
  • Overall, 313 blocks with critical groundwater levels would be covered, along with 1,186 blocks with over-exploited groundwater and 94 blocks with low groundwater availability.
  • Progress would be monitored in real time through mobile applications and an online dashboard at indiawater.gov.in.
  • Block and district-level water conservation plans would be drafted, and Kisan Vigyan Kendras would hold melas to promote better crop choices and more efficient water use for irrigation. A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media would be carried out, with celebrities mobilised to generate awareness for the campaign.
  • The Jal Shakti Abhiyan would aim to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities already being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry, along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes being undertaken by the Jal Shakti and Environment Ministries. 


Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) 

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Why in the news?

Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) is expected to leverage investment of Rs 31,400 crore, handle of 334 lakh MT agro-produce valuing Rs 1,04,125 crore, benefit 20 lakh farmers and generate 5,30,500 direct/ indirect employment in the country by the year 2019-20.

What is the PM Kisan SAMPADA Yojana?

PM Kisan SAMPADA Yojana is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet. It will not only provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country but also help in providing better returns to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers income, creating huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level and enhancing the export of the processed foods.

Under PMKSY following schemes are implemented:

  • Mega Food Parks;
  • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure;
  • Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities;
  • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters;
  • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages;
  • Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure; and
  • Human Resources and Institutions


Beekeeping Development Committee

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Why in the news?

  • The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister set up a Beekeeping Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Bibek Debroy. The Beekeeping Development Committee (BDC) has released its report.
  • BDC was constituted with the objective of identifying ways of advancing beekeeping in India, that can help in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing employment generation, augmenting nutritional security and sustaining biodiversity. Further, beekeeping can be an important contributor in achieving the 2022 target of doubling farmer incomes.

What are the key recommendations of the BDC?

  • Recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and considering landless Beekeepers as farmers.
  • Plantation of bee friendly flora at appropriate places and engaging women self-help groups in managing such plantations.
  • Institutionalizing the National Bee Board and rechristening it as the Honey and Pollinators Board of India under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. Such a body would engage in advancing beekeeping through multiple mechanisms such as setting up of new Integrated Bee Development Centres, strengthening the existing ones, creating a honey price stabilization fund and collection of data on important aspects of apiculture.
  • Recognition of apiculture as a subject for advanced research under the aegis of Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
  • Training and development of beekeepers by state governments.
  • Development of national and regional infrastructure for storage, processing and marketing of honey and other bee products.
  • Simplifying procedures and specifying clear standards for ease of exporting honey and other bee products.


Anti-Dumping Duty

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy

Why in the news?

No anti-dumping duty has been imposed recently on Indian shrimp exports by the United States of America. However, US had imposed anti-dumping duty on import of frozen warm water shrimps from certain countries, including India, in 2004, based on the representations of Southern Shrimp Producers Alliance, an association of local shrimp producers in USA.

What is anti-dumping duty?

  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariff that a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value. 
  • Dumping is a process where a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges in its own home market. 
  • For protection, many countries impose stiff duties on products they believe are being dumped in their national market, undercutting local businesses and markets.


Merchandise Exports

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Why in the news?

  • India has achieved a record high of USD 330. 07 billion of merchandise exports in the year 2018-19, registering a positive growth of 8.75% as compared to the previous year. 
  • India’s share in global trade (merchandise and services) was 2.1% (481.74 USD billion out of total 23,044 USD billion) for exports and 2.6% (600.62 USD billion out of total 23,112 USD billion) for imports in 2017. 
  • Exports have been growing on a regular basis since 2016-17 for almost three years and total exports reached a new peak of more than half a trillion dollars, for the first time in 2018-19. 

What steps has India taken to increase exports?

  • A new Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 was launched on 1st April 2015. The policy, inter alia, rationalised the earlier export promotion schemes and introduced two new schemes, namely Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for improving export of goods   and Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) for increasing exports of services. Duty credit scrips issued under these schemes were made fully transferable.
  • The Mid-term Review of the FTP 2015-20 was undertaken on 5th December, 2017. Incentive rates for labour intensive / MSME sectors were increased by 2% with a financial implication of Rs 8,450 crore per year.
  • A new Logistics Division was created in the Department of Commerce to coordinate integrated development of the logistics sector.  India’s rank in World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index moved up from 54 in 2014 to 44 in 2018.
  • Interest Equalization Scheme on pre and post shipment rupee export credit was introduced from 1.4.2015 providing interest equalisation at 3% for labour intensive / MSME sectors. The rate was increased to 5% for MSME sectors with effect from 2.11.2018 and merchant exporters were covered under the scheme with effect from 2.1.2019.
  • Various measures for improving ease of doing business were taken. India’s rank in World Bank ‘Ease of doing business’ ranking improved from 142 in 2014 to 77 in 2018 with the rank in ‘trading across borders’ moving up from 122 to 80.
  • A new scheme called Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) was launched with effect from 1st April 2017 to address the export infrastructure gaps in the country.
  • A comprehensive Agriculture Export Policy was launched on 6th December, 2018 with an aim to double farmers’ income by 2022 and provide an impetus to agricultural exports.
  • A new scheme called Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme has been launched for mitigating disadvantage of higher cost of transportation for export of specified agricultural products.
  • A new scheme called Scheme for Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) covering the export of garments and made-ups was notified on 7.3.2019 providing refund of duties/taxes at higher rates.


National Rubber Policy

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Why in the news?

The Department of Commerce brought out the National Rubber Policy in March 2019. The National Rubber Policy includes several provisions to support the Natural Rubber (NR) production sector and the entire rubber industry value chain. 

What are the provisions of the National Rubber Policy?

  • National Rubber Policy (NRP) envisages a well-developed value-chain of environmentally sustainable and globally competitive rubber industry, comprising natural and other forms of rubber and products thereof and ancillary sectors, capable of supplying materials and products of international standards to domestic and world markets, with focus on welfare of the entire stakeholder community and national economic progress.
  • Notwithstanding the status of Natural Rubber (NR) being a crucial industrial raw material, the possibility of treating NR as an agricultural product for all practical and legal purposes and income from rubber production as agricultural income would be explored in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Department of Revenue.
  • There would be an orderly and complementary growth of all links in the Rubber Industry Value Chain viz., NR production and processing, manufacturing of tyres and general rubber products, trading, ancillary activities etc. Focussed efforts would be taken at synchronizing all initiatives and attempts towards growth of rubber industry as a whole.
  • NR is not a traditional export oriented commodity and export may be promoted only to adjust temporary demand-supply imbalances in the domestic market, reflected in lower domestic prices. The brand “Indian Natural Rubber” distinguishing Indian rubber in the international market with its assured and consistent quality parameters may also be promoted. 
  • With a view to streamline the objectives envisaged in the Rubber Policy and also to promote “Ease of Doing Business”, the functioning of the Rubber Board would be aligned with the policy requirements. 
  • The price volatility in rubber crop directly impacts livelihood of lakhs of small and marginal growers involved in the sector. Efforts would be made to ensure the livelihood protection of rubber growers by way of insurance/price support in consonance with the prevailing norms and policies. 
  • Focused research on Climate Change on assessing climate risk vulnerability and developing climate resilient technologies for adaptation and mitigation protocols would be taken up to address the challenges. 


Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme(IFLADP)

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

The Central Government has approved implementation of Central Sector Scheme Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme(IFLADP) with an approved expenditure of Rs. 2600 crore over the three financial years from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

What is the Indian Footwear, Leather & Accessories Development Programme(IFLADP)?

It is a scheme to promote the development of the footwear, leather and accessories industry. Sub-schemes under IFLADPare as stated below:

  1. Human Resource Development (HRD) sub-scheme: HRD sub-scheme provides assistance for Placement Linked Skill Development training to unemployed persons @ Rs. 15,000 per person, for skill up-gradation training to employed workers @ Rs. 5,000 per employee and for training of trainers @ Rs. 2 lakh per person.
  2. Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLS) sub-scheme: IDLS sub-scheme incentivizes investment and manufacturing including job creation by providing backend investment grant/subsidy @ 30% of the cost of new Plant and Machinery to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and @ 20% of the cost of Plant and Machinery to other units for modernization and technology upgradation in existing units and also for setting up of new units.
  3. Establishment of Institutional Facilities sub-scheme: The sub-scheme provides assistance to Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) for upgradation of some of the existing campuses of FDDI into Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and establishing 3 new fully equipped skill centres alongside the upcoming Mega Leather Cluster.
  4. Mega Leather, Footwear and Accessories Cluster (MLFAC) sub-scheme: The MLFAC sub-scheme provides infrastructure support to the Leather, Footwear and Accessories Sector by establishment of Mega Leather, Footwear and Accessories Cluster. Graded assistance is provided upto 50% of the eligible project cost, excluding cost of land with maximum Government assistance being limited to Rs. 125 crore.
  5. Leather Technology, Innovation and Environmental Issues sub-scheme: Under this sub-scheme, assistance is provided for upgradation/installation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) @ 70% of the project cost subject to a limit of Rs. 200 crore. The sub-scheme also provides for support to national level sectoral industry council/ association and support for preparation of vision document for leather footwear and accessories sector.
  6. Promotion of Indian Brands in Leather, Footwear and Accessories Sector sub-scheme: Under this sub-scheme, the eligible units approved for Brand Promotion are assisted. The Government assistance is limited to 50% of total project cost subject to a limit of Rs.3 crore for each brand, each year for 3 years.
  7. Additional Employment Incentive for Leather, Footwear and Accessories Sector sub-scheme:Under this scheme, employers’ contribution of 3.67% to Employees’ Provident Fund for all new employees in Leather, Footwear and Accessories sector, are provided for enrolling in EPFO for first 3 years of their employment.


NavIC Messaging Receiver

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic:indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in the news?

ISRO/Antrix have taken up the responsibility of providing NavIC devices on trial basis. Around 200 devices for Tamil Nadu and 250 devices for Kerala are distributed. A few numbers, viz. 8 and 10 respectively are provided to fishermen of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka States for trial exercises.

What is a NavIC Messaging Receiver?

This device provides Emergency Warning Alerts like cyclone, high waves and Tsunami and also provides information on Potential Fishing Zone and International boundary crossing based on the position information from NavIC – India’s indigenous regional navigation system


Prelims Specific

  • Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) portal is a one-stop platform for sharing all cyber related matters amongst Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), government organizations and other stakeholders.
  • International SME Convention 2019 to be Held in New Delhi From 28th – 29th June with the theme “Indian MSMEs, Global Aspirations”
  • Luxurious coaches with glass ceiling termed as Vistadome coaches having panoramic view have been introduced by Indian railways. Some of these coaches have infotainment system also.