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Prelims Specific

  • MALABAR exercise: Trilateral maritime exercise among India, Japan and the USA in the Indian ocean. The exercise would further strengthen India – Japan – US Naval cooperation and enhance interoperability, based on shared values and principles.


India and NSG

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s

Why in News?

The Indian Prime Minister again pitched for India’s entry into NSG

What is NSG?

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multilateral export control regime and a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons
  • It was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975. The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development
  • Its membership consists of 48 countries which have access to nuclear fuel and technology resources
  • The aim of the NSG is to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons

India and NSG

  • India needs nuclear fuel and technology for the development of its nuclear energy for civilian use, however, the restrictions to non NSG members hamper transfer of nuclear technology to India
  • Although, NSG has given a waiver to India in 2008, effectively removing its restrictions, the waiver remains subject to international politics
  • Thus, the success of India’s civilian nuclear power programme requires India to become a member of the NSG to safeguard supply of nuclear technology and fuel
  • Membership will increase India’s access to state-of-the-art technology from the other members of the Group

Challenges to India’s membership:

  • The guidelines for NSG require members to be a signatory of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT); which India has refused to sign for being discriminatory
  • China, a crucial ally of Pakistan, is a member of NSG; and stonewalls India’s attempts to join the export control group
  • NSG decisions are taken on the basis of consensus, thus even a single member’s dissent stops India’s entry in the grouping


Stubble burning

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: environmental pollution and degradation

Why in News?

Punjab government takes steps to check stubble burning during this harvesting season

What is stubble burning?

What is Stubble burning?

  • Stubble burning is a common practice followed by farmers in northern plains such as states of Haryana and Punjab to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
  • Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter

Factors responsible?

  • Farmers need to clear the residue quickly, as the time window between harvesting and the next sowing is very small
  • The machines promoted during mechanization drive leaves a lot of stubble, which was not a problem using traditional manual methods
  • Burning is considered to improve productivity by killing weed roots and harmful bacteria by the farmers
  • Stubble burning is more cost effective for small and marginal farmers because of financial constraints of collecting and using stubble for various advantageous uses
  • Low awareness among farmers on harmful effects of the practice

Negative impacts of Stubble burning

  • Killing of useful organisms along with weed etc. does more harm than benefits
  • Pollution caused by stubble burning remains over northern plains during whole winter because of high pressure cell being formed over the area. This pollution is one of the major causes of mortality and diseases in northern plains area
  • There is a risk of fires growing out of control, and stubble burning near forest areas are one of the causes of forest fires
  • Scientific research shows loss of fertility being related to stubble burning practices


Zero Budget Natural Farming

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Agriculture

Why in News?

In a recent meeting of agricultural scientists, ZBNF has again been hailed to be a successful model of sustainable farming

What is ZBNF?

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming, as the name implies, is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero.
  • This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops.
  • It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation


  • As both a social and environmental programme, it aims to ensure that farming – particularly smallholder farming – is economically viable by enhancing farm biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • It reduces farmers’ costs through eliminating external inputs and using in-situ resources to rejuvenate soils, whilst simultaneously increasing incomes, and restoring ecosystem health through diverse, multi-layered cropping systems.
  • Cow dung from local cows has proven to be a miraculous cure to revive the fertility and nutrient value of soil. One gram of cow dung is believed to have anywhere between 300 to 500 crore beneficial micro-organisms. These micro-organisms decompose the dried biomass on the soil and convert it into ready-to-use nutrients for plants.
  • Resilient food systems are the need of the day given the variability of the monsoons due to global warming and declining groundwater in large parts of India. The drought-prone regions in India is reportedly seeing promising changes already in farms with the ZBNF.
  • Zero budget natural farming requires only 10 per cent water and 10 per cent electricity than what is required under chemical and organic farming. ZBNF may improve the potential of crops to adapt to and be produced for evolving climatic conditions.

Steps taken by Government:

  • Government of India has been promoting organic farming in the country through the dedicated schemes of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015-16 and also through Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
  • In the revised guidelines of PKVY scheme during the year 2018, various organic farming models like Natural Farming, Rishi Farming, Vedic Farming, Cow Farming, Homa Farming, Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) etc. have been included wherein flexibility is given to states to adopt any model of Organic Farming including ZBNF depending on farmer’s choice.
  • Under the RKVY scheme, organic farming/ natural farming project components are considered by the respective State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) according to their priority/ choice
  • The government announced major promotion boost to ZNBF in 2019 budget, under which farmers would be trained in the method and the socio-economic impact measured

IPCC special report on ocean and cryosphere in a Changing Climate

Paper: General Studies 1; General Studies 3

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

Why in News?

IPCC special report on oceans and cryosphere released recently highlights the negative impact of climate change

Major highlights:

  • Over the last decades, global warming has led to widespread shrinking of the cryosphere, with mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers, reductions in snow cover and Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, and increased permafrost temperature
  • It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system. Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled.
  • Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity.
  • By absorbing more CO2, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification
  • Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising, with acceleration in recent decades due to increasing rates of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (very high confidence), as well as continued glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion.
  • Increases in tropical cyclone winds and rainfall, and increases in extreme waves, combined with relative sea level rise, exacerbate extreme sea level events and coastal hazards.


  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, dedicated to providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change, its natural, political and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options
  • The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. Membership is open to all members of the WMO and UN.
  • The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report was a critical scientific input into the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement in 2015.


TB Harega Desh Jeetega’ Campaign

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resource

Why in News?

  • The government launched the new TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign, along with the National TB Prevalence Survey.

Major highlights of the campaign

  • Aims to make India TB-free by 2025 against the global target of 2030
  • Three strong pillars:
    • clinical approach
    • public health component
    • active community participation
  • Other supporting elements of the campaign comprise private sector engagement, patient support, and political and administrative commitment at all levels
  • The campaign aims to improve and expand the reach of TB care services across the country, by 2022.
  • This includes preventive and promotive approaches, and proposes potentially transformative interventions such as engagement with private sector health care providers, inter-ministerial partnerships, corporate sector engagement, latent TB infection management, and community engagement.
  • The interventions will be accompanied by a comprehensive, mass media and communications campaign to generate awareness about the disease and the free treatment services available under the government program

Other steps taken by government recently

The Government is targeting TB under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP). RNTCP has released a ‘National strategic plan for tuberculosis 2017-2025’ (NSP) for the control and elimination of TB in India by 2025. According to the NSP TB elimination have been integrated into the four strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build”(DTPB).

  • Notification of new cases: Notification of all TB patients from all health care providers is made mandatory by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India since 2012. All health care providers (clinical establishments run or managed by government (including local authorities), private, or NGO sectors, and /or individual practitioners) should notify every TB case to local health authorities (district health officer, chief medical officer of a district, and municipal health officer of a municipal corporation/ municipality) every month.  With its amendment in 2015, all laboratories are also included to notify TB cases
  • NIKSHAY: To facilitate TB notification, RNTCP has developed a case-based web-based TB surveillance system called “NIKSHAY” (https://nikshay.gov.in ) for both government and private health care facilities. Future enhancements under NIKSHAY are for patients support, logistics management, direct data transfers, adherence support and to support interface agencies which are supporting programme to expand the reach.
  • Public Private Partnership: For the promotion of public-private mix (PPM) in TB prevention and care, private providers are provided incentives for TB case notification, and for ensuring treatment adherence and treatment completion. The incentives are provided through direct beneficiary transfer.
  • Free Drugs and Diagnostic Tests: Free drugs and diagnostic tests are provided to TB patients seeking treatment from private health sector. There are two approaches for ensuring access to free drugs and diagnostic tests to TB patients in the private sector, first is access to programme- provided drugs and diagnostics through attractive linkages; and second is reimbursement of market- available drugs and diagnostics.
  • Nikshaya Poshan Yojana:  It is centrally sponsored scheme under the National Health Mission (NHM), financial incentive of Rs.500/- per month is provided for nutritional support to each notified TB patient for duration for which the patient is on anti-TB treatment. Incentives are delivered through Direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to bank accounts of beneficiary.
  • Expanding options for ICT based treatment adherence support mechanisms.
  • Intensifying TB control activities in key populations is addressed in NSP such as TB-HIV, Diabetics, Tobacco use and Alcohol dependence, Poor, undernourished, economically and socially backward communities, TB control in hilly and difficult terrains, Substance dependence and sexual minorities, pregnant, Paediatric population, Prison Inmates and staff of prisons/jails,management of extra pulmonary TB
  • Air borne infection control measures:TB infection control is a combination of measures aimed at minimizing the risk of TB transmission within population and hospital and other settings.
  • Contact tracing: Since transmission can occur from index case to the contact any time (before diagnosis or during treatment) all contacts of TB patients must be evaluated.
  • Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT): Preventive therapy is recommended to Children < 6 years of age, who are close contacts of a TB patient. Children will be evaluated for active TB by a medical officer/ pediatrician and after excluding active TB he/she will be given INH preventive therapy
  • Addressing social determinants of TB like poverty, malnutrition, urbanization, indoor air pollution, etc. require inter departmental/ ministerial coordinated activities and the programme is proactively facilitating this coordination.
  • Health system strengthening for TB control under the National Strategic Plan 2017-2025 is recommended in the form of building and strengthening enabling policies, empowering institutions and human resources with enhanced capacities.