UPSC Exam 2017-18: PIB Summary and Analysis

GENERAL STUDIES PAPER 2

Topic: International Relations

Cabinet approves the Extradition Treaty between India and Lithuania

Keypoints:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the signing and ratification of the Extradition Treaty between India and Lithuania.
  • The Treaty would provide a legal framework for seeking extradition of terrorists, economic offenders and other criminals from and to Lithuania.
  • The Treaty would help in extradition of fugitive criminals including terrorists for criminal prosecutions from Lithuania who may have committed crimes against India.
  • It will bring the criminals to justice, with a view to ensure peace and tranquility to public at large.

 

Cabinet apprised of the MoU between India and Switzerland on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector

Context:

  • The Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Railways, Government of India and the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of Swiss Confederation on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector.

Keypoints:

The   MoU   will   enable technical cooperation in the following areas:-

  1. Traction Rolling stock
  2. EMU and train sets
  3. Traction Propulsion Equipments
  4. Freight and Passenger Cars
  5. Tilting Trains
  6. Railway Electrification Equipments
  7. Train scheduling and operation improvement
  8. Railway Station modernization
  9. Multimodal transport
  10. Tunneling technology

Background

  • Ministry of Railways have signed MoUs for technical cooperation in the Rail sector with various foreign Governments and National Railways.
  • The identified areas of cooperation include high-speed corridors, speed raising of existing routes, development of world-class stations, heavy haul operations and modernization of rail infrastructure, etc.
  • The cooperation is achieved through exchange of information on developments in areas of railways technology & operations, knowledge sharing, technical visits, training & seminars and workshops in areas of mutual interest.
  • The MoUs provide a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector.
  • The MoUs facilitate exchange of technical experts, reports and technical documents, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas and other interactions for knowledge sharing.

 

GENERAL STUDIES PAPER 3

Topic: Agriculture and Food Security

Increased production and efficient distribution of food grains can move our country forward

Context:

  • The last seventy years after independence have been years of significant growth. The country’s food grain production increased by 8.7 per cent and reached a record high of 273.83 million tonnes in 2016-17.

Keypoints:

  • The increased production and efficient distribution of food grains can move our country forward to achieve the goal of zero hunger and adequate nutrition for all.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute, and ranks as the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruit and cotton.
  • The growing needs of our country’s increasing population require us to evolve our own home grown food security strategy.
  • The need of the hour is to provide an end-to-end (E2E) ecosystem comprising of “4-I s” namely ‘Irrigation’, ‘Infrastructure’, ‘Investment credit’ and ‘Insurance’. The second is Lab-to-Land (L2L) transfer of technology.
  • The infrastructural improvements in rural roads, dependable quality power, godowns, cold storage facilities, refrigerated vans and market yards are an essential prerequisite for improving the efficiency of the agricultural sector.
  • Timely credit facilities at reasonable interest rates and farmer-friendly insurance policies are important building blocks of a robust ecosystem for Agriculture.

 

Formidable challenges confronting India

  • Except wheat, productivity of other crops in the country is below world average mainly because of poor access to irrigation and improved technology.
  • Workforce in agriculture sector is declining at the rate of approximately 2 percent every year.
  • Marketing of agricultural produce and getting a fair return is a big challenge for most farmers.
  • The productivity of livestock is still quite low with an average milk yield of 4.90 kg per in-milk buffalo and 3.1 kg per in-milk cow.

Solutions:

  • According to one estimate, “to double farmers’ income by 2022, the progress in various sources of growth has to be accelerated by 33 percent”.
  • The growing needs of our country’s increasing population require us to evolve our own home grown food security strategy.
  • Increased production and efficient distribution of food grains can move our country forward to achieve the goal of zero hunger and adequate nutrition for all.
  • Prime Minister has called for doubling the income of Indian farmers by 2022.
  • In addition to rain water harvesting and construction of check dams, the government is considering linking of rivers as a possibility to enhance the area under irrigation.
  • These infrastructural improvements like rural roads, dependable quality power, godowns, cold storage facilities, refrigerated vans and market yards are an essential prerequisite for improving the efficiency of the agricultural sector.
  • Two other important building blocks of a robust ecosystem are timely credit facilities at reasonable interest rates and farmer-friendly insurance policies.
  • These allow for farmers to invest in better, income-generating crops and agricultural practices and increase their incomes.
  • The insurance cover shields the farmers against unforeseen climatic and natural disasters.
  • The kisan credit cards and the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) are steps in the right direction and need to be universalized.
  • The government have to ensure the end-to-end services. Right from the purchase of seeds to the post-harvest operations, the farmer’s needs have to be addressed through a network of efficient farmer-friendly institutions.
  • There is certainly a need to step up public investment in and for agriculture which currently stands at 2.7 percent of GDP.
  • A new initiative called E-NAM seeks to remedy this situation by adopting an e-trading platform for agricultural commodities.
  • The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act is also being proposed to be amended by introducing single-point levy of market fee across a State and a united single trading licence.
  • First is intensification of farming by enhancing productivity through use of high yielding varieties of seeds and efficient use of land and water.
  • High yielding varieties cover only 69 percent of the total area under cereal crops. While irrigation facilities are being expanded by the government, there is a need to educate the farmers on using the water efficiently.
  • Every drop of this scarce resource must be made use of optimally. Equally important is that more crops must be grown on the same land.
  • Farmers must be encouraged to diversify and take up high value crops like fruits, vegetables, fibre, condiments, pulses, spices and sugarcane.
  • There is also a tremendous potential to diversify towards other allied occupations as well like dairy and forestry.
  • Similarly, we need to encourage farmers to take up agro-forestry and forestry, especially in view of the fact that India currently meets 40 percent of its non-fuel timber requirement from the import of wood and wood products.

 

Topic: Management of Natural Resources 

Government constitutes a High Level Committee for proper management of water resources in North Eastern Region 

Context:

  • The Government has constituted a high-level committee for proper management of the water resources in the North Eastern Region (NER) under the Chairmanship of Vice-Chairman, Niti Aayog.
  • This is to review the flood situation and relief work in the North Eastern States.

Keypoints:

  • The Committee would facilitate optimising benefits of appropriate water management in the form of hydro-electric power, agriculture, bio-diversity conservation, reduced flood damage erosion, inland water transport, forestry, fishery and eco-tourism.
  • The Brahmaputra and Barak river systems which account for one-third of India’s run off, are highly prone to floods.
  • Brahmaputra is one of the largest river systems in the world and causes considerable distress and costs on the region through frequent flooding and erosion.

The terms of reference of the Committee include:

  1. Appraisal of existing mechanism/institutional arrangements for management of water resources of the North Eastern Region.
  2. Identification of gaps in the existing mechanism/institutional arrangements for optimal management of water resources of the NER.
  3. Suggest policy interventions required for optimally harnessing the water resources for accelerating development in the NER
  4. Spelling out of actionable measures required for optimizing the management of water resources in the North-East.
  5. Chalking out a Plan of Action for dovetailing of the schemes/programmes of concerned Union Ministries, their attached offices and autonomous bodies as well as the schemes of the respective North-Eastern State Governments.
  • The Committee includes Secretaries from the Ministries of Development of North Eastern Region, Department of Border Management, Department of Space, Power, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and National Disaster Management Authority and Chief Secretaries of all the 8 states in NER as Members.  
  • The Committee may co-opt or invite as special invitees Secretaries of other Ministries / Departments as well as experts who have domain knowledge in the matter.

 

Topic: Environment and Ecology 

Turtle Sanctuary to be set up in Allahabad

Context:

  • In order to protect the rich aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga from escalating anthropogenic pressures, development of a Turtle sanctuary in Allahabad along with a River Biodiversity Park at Sangam have been approved under Namami Gange programme.

Keypoints:

  • The project would include development of River Biodiversity Park at Sangam (confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Sarasvati), establishment of a Turtle Rearing Centre (Permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp and makeshift annual hatcheries) and awareness about the importance of river Ganga and imperativeness of its conservation has been approved.
  • This project will provide much needed platform to make the visitors aware of their place in the ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities, improve their understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources.
  • The task of dissipating knowledge about river Ganga will be taken up ardently in this project, which is 100% centrally funded.
  • The sustenance of more than 2000 aquatic species including threatened gharials, dolphins and turtles in river Ganga exemplifies the rich biodiversity of this lifeline to over 40 per cent of the country’s population.
  • Rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad are home to some of the most endangered fauna like turtles (Batagur kachuga, Batagur dhongoka, Nilssonia gangetica, Chitra indica, Hardella thurjii etc.), the National Aquatic Animal – Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and numerous migratory and resident birds.