IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th May, 2020


End of a monopoly

Government decisions:

- Will be enacting a Central law to dismantle the monopoly of agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandis in the wholesale trading of farm commodities.

- the Centre is enacting a law using the provisions of entry 33 of the Concurrent List which deals with agricultural produce, including “foodstuffs”, “cattle fodder” and “raw cotton”..

Current Practice:

1. Most state APMC laws today permit first sale of farm produce to take place only in notified mandis within the particular tehsils or talukas.

2. Buyers, too, need to obtain individual licenses from each APMC in order to transact.

Criticism of the move:

1. Agriculture is a state subject under the Constitution.

2. APMC has established infrastructure which helps in preventing the distress sale.

3. These traders also provide loans in case of distress to the farmers.

4. Farmers are well versed with the APMC set up and providing good infrastructure in APMC would have solved the issues.

5. Already government initiative of E-NAM is in progress which is seeking to unify all these APMC hence ensuring merging the strength of APMC along with freedom to transact.

Need for the reform:

1. State governments have done very little all these years to remove barriers to trade in farm produce.

2. Farmers, like any businessmen, should have the freedom to sell their produce to anyone, anywhere and anytime.

3. Green revolution happened because centre decided to import high yield variety seeds from mexico.

4. There are some 2,500 markets controlled by commission agents, who mediate between sellers and buyers even when not required.

5. This arrangement is anathema to the spirit of liberalisation and also goes against Article 301 of the Constitution, which envisages freedom of trade and commerce “throughout the territory of India”.

Way Forward:

1. The objective behind its proposed law should not to dismantle APMCs.

2.  Farmers will continue to bring their produce to mandis that have good infrastructure (auction platforms, weighbridges, godowns, etc) and where they are likely to find more buyers (Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur Mirchi Yard for chilli and the Unjha APMC of Gujarat for jeera are good examples). But that should be a matter of choice, both for farmers and buyers

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/farmers-agriculture-apmc-mandi-green-revolution-agrarian-crisis-monopoly-6418046/



3 lakh evacuated as Amphan hurtles towards Bengal coast

Efforts to minimise the impact:

1. 35,000 people were moved to cyclone shelters while field level staff were shifting people to identified shelters.

2. 36 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in both States.

3. Rescue and relief teams of the Army and Navy along with ships and aircraft of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have been put on standby.

4. Officials from agencies of the Department of Telecommunications and Ministry of Power have also been deployed to ensure maintenance of essential services.

5. Continuous awareness about not to step out from houses as sometimes the tail of cyclone does maximum damage.


Super Cyclones in Bay of Bengal:

1. Higher than normal temperatures in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) may be whetting ‘super cyclones’.

2. Cyclones gain their energy from the heat and moisture generated from warm ocean surfaces. This year, the BoB has posted record summer temperatures.

3. warming around India is not longer restricted to just the BoB but also the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. This makes storm prediction less reliable as well as disrupting monsoon patterns.

4. Lockdown also played a part in in. It led to  Reduced particulate matter emissions which meant fewer aerosols, such as black carbon, that are known to reflect sunlight and heat away from the surface.


Naming of Cyclones:

1. Cyclones that form in every ocean basin across the world are named by the regional specialised meteorological centres (RSMCs) and Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs).

2. There are six RSMCs in the world, including the India Meteorological Department (IMD), and five TCWCs.

3. In 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), which comprised Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region.

4. The list of 169 cyclone names released by IMD last month, in April, were provided by these countries — 13 suggestions from each of the 13 countries.

5. The new list included the last name from the previous list (Amphan) as it remained unused at the time of release.

Severity of Cyclones:

1. Wind speed of over 62 kmph is classified as a tropical cyclone and assigned a name.

2. It becomes a severe cyclonic storm if the speed is between 89 and 118 kmph.

3. A very severe cyclonic storm, if the speed is between 119 and 221 kmph.

4. Those with higher speeds are categorised as super cyclonic storms.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/3-lakh-evacuated-as-amphan-hurtles-towards-bengal-coast/article31628291.ece



Behind new incidents, a changed dynamic along India-China border


- Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in as many as four incidents in recent weeks along the undefined LAC.

- Chinese state media said the People’s Liberation Army was “tightening control” in one of the flashpoints in Galwan Valley in the western sector.

- China accused India of “unilaterally” changing the status quo by “illegal construction”.

- Troops from both sides were involved in fisticuffs that led to injuries.


Protocols to solve the disputes:

2005 model protocol emphasised on confidence building measures.

1. Both sides will not use force or threaten to use force.

2. Both sides will treat each other with courtesy and refrain from any provocative actions.

3. The 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement said patrols “shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding” of the LAC.

4. both sides to “exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force or threaten to use force against the other side” in face-offs.

Reasons behind it:

1. A greater capability by India to patrol up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

2. increasingly assertive Chinese posture.

3. Jostling and fisticuffs are a cause for concern because they could lead to unintended consequences or escalation.

4. There is a larger pattern that the Chinese are becoming more assertive in pursuing their territorial claims in contested areas, that is happening both in the South China Sea and along the India China border.

5. India has been upgrading its infrastructure along the border, thereby allowing troops to patrol with greater depth and frequency into areas where the Chinese had, by virtue of favourable terrain and better infrastructure.

6. India is seeking to restore a balance, to the extent that it is possible given enduring advantages of terrain and logistics on the Chinese side, by creating road and air connectivity to the LAC.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/behind-new-incidents-a-changed-dynamic-along-india-china-border/article31628194.ece


India, U.S. to collaborate on COVID-19 vaccine trials, say U.S. health officials

Comment of Health Officials:

1. U.S. and Indian scientists have been collaborating on key research questions fostering the development and testing of safe, cost-effective vaccines against a range of infectious diseases that could save innumerable lives in India.

2. partners under the Vaccine Action Programme (VAP) are planning to collaborate on the development and testing of vaccine candidates and diagnostics for COVID-19.



CBI alerts States, U.T.s and Central agencies to malicious software threat

CBI Alert:

1. Sent alerts to all the States, Union Territories and the Central agencies on a malicious software threat that uses an update related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. The alert related to banking Trojan and Cerberus.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/cbi-issues-alert-to-states-on-banking-phishing-software-on-basis-of-interpol-input-officials/article31624989.ece



Criteria for ‘medium’ units to be revised

Government Proposal:

1. Enhancing the investment and turnover limits to up to ₹50 crore and ₹200 crore respectively.

2. Criteria should be based on investment ‘or’ turnover instead of investment ‘and’ turnover as announced.

3. government planned to raise MSMEs’ contribution to India’s exports to 60% from the 48% at present.

4. Boost the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP from 29% currently to 50%.


Changed definition of MSME:

1. As per the revised definition, any firm with an investment of up to ₹1 crore and turnover under ₹5 crore will be classified as ‘micro.’

2. A company with an investment of up to ₹10 crore and a turnover of up to ₹50 crore will be classified as ‘small’.

3. A firm with an investment of up to ₹20 crore and a turnover under ₹100 crore will be classified as ‘medium.’



Benefits of the move:

1. It will allow more firms to be qualified as MSME leading to access the collateral free loans recently announced under Atmanirbhar abhiyan.

2. Many MSME are constrained in size because of the subsidies provided by the government, changed definition will let them grow.

3. It will allow more companies to participate in the tenders, which are applicable only for MSME participation.

4. More companies will be eligible to take loans under Priority sector lending schemes.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/criteria-for-medium-units-to-be-revised/article31626639.ece

Prelims Bits

Vaccine Action Program:

1. It is a 33-year collaboration between the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) along with other partners.

2. Under the VAP, U.S. and Indian scientists carry out collaborative research projects directed toward development of vaccines and immunodiagnostic reagents, or to address other issues which are important for vaccine research.

3. Priorities under VAP currently include: dengue, enteric diseases, influenza (including avian influenza), malaria, and tuberculosis (TB).


US Agency For International Development (USAID) :

1. Paying for the 200 ventilators donated by USA.

2. The United States Agency for International Development is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.


Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) :

1. It is not a statutory body.

2. It is a primary investigation agency in India.

3. It Operates under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

4. CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act.

5. The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the Union Territories.

6. CBI requires permission from the states to enquire cases in States.

7. The High Courts and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to order a CBI investigation into an offence.

8.CBI is the official agency to deal with Interpol.


Less invasive surfactant administration (LISA):

1. It has been developed as a lung protective strategy for respiratory management and ventilation in view of the mechanical ventilation causing damage to the preterm lungs of newborns.

2. It is a minimally invasive surgery.

3. This unique technology uses a thoracoscope that is introduced into the patient’s chest via a 5-6 cm small incision.