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02 Apr, 2021

82 Min Read

Suez Canal Lakes

GS-I : Physical Geography World Geography

Suez Canal Lakes

Due to the blockage of the Suez Canal, the $200 billion of India’s trade flows with Europe, North America and South America is at risk. So, the Department of Commerce has worked out an action plan to cope with the crisis, including possibly re-routing shipments through the Cape of Good Hope (Re-routing may take 15 additional days.)

More details on SUEZ CANNEL: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Suez-Canal-crisis-Past-to-Present


Suez Canal significant?

  • Suez Canal is a critical shipping artery that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas through Egypt.
  • It carries over 12% of world trade by volume.
  • A human-made waterway, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most heavily used shipping lanes.
  • Built in 1869, it provides a major shortcut for ships moving between Europe and Asia.
  • Before their construction, these ships had to sail around Africa to complete the same journey.

Why is the Suez Canal blocked now?

  • The vessel blocking Suez is the Ever Given, a Panama-registered container ship.
  • It was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.
  • The 2018-built vessel, which is 400-m long and 59-m wide, got stuck here due to a mishap caused by bad weather.
  • It was passing northwards through the Suez Canal in order to enter the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The ship weighing 2 lakh tonnes ran aground and got stuck sideways across the canal.
  • It is suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground.
  • It is thus blocking the path of other ships waiting to cross through on both sides.
  • None of the crew members was injured.
  • The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is now trying to refloat the Ever Given using rescue and tug units.
  • Diggers are also trying to free the ship from the canal’s bank, where it is lodged.

Suez Canal

  • Opened in 1869, it is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt.
  • It connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt and divides Africa and Asia.
  • It offers watercraft a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans, avoiding the South Atlantic and Indian oceans.
  • It extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez.
  • It provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans.

Cape of Good Hope

  • The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.
  • There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of Africa. But the Cape Agulhas is the southern-most point.
  • The currents of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at the point where the warm-water Agulhas current meets the cold-water Benguela current and turns back on itself.
  • That oceanic meeting point fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point (about 1.2 km east of the Cape of Good Hope).

Source: TH

Purple Revolution

GS-I : Indian Geography Agriculture

Purple Revolution

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu announced phase 2 of the purple revolution under the Aroma Mission, after the success of phase 1 in Doda, Jammu. Under the purple revolution, the farmers in the Doda district had their incomes quadrupled after shifting from maize to lavender cultivation.

First-time farmers were given free lavender saplings and those who have cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling. The farmers will get help from IIIM-Jammu to sell their produce.

Farmers could reach the four distillation units set up by CSIR-IIIM Jammu in Doda for the extraction of lavender oil.

  • At present, large-scale lavender cultivation is limited to J&K but governments in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are also encouraging their farmers to take up lavender.

Purple Economy: Lavender oil sells for at least Rs 10,000 per litre. Lavender water can be separated from lavender oil. It is used to make incense sticks. Hydrosol is formed after distillation from the flowers. It is used to make soaps and room fresheners.

Aroma Mission

  • In 2016, the Centre launched Aroma Mission to boost cultivation of plants for essential oils which have aromatic medicinal properties.
  • The mission supports domestic aromatic crop-based agro-economy to move from imported aromatic oils to homegrown varieties.
  • Nodal laboratory - CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow.
  • Participating laboratories - CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT), Palampur; CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM), Jammu etc.

Source: PIB

CIISCO Algorithm- Aditya-L1 Solar probe – UPSC Prelims S&T

GS-III : S&T Space

CIISCO Algorithm- Aditya-L1 Solar probe – UPSC Prelims S&T

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) Identification in Inner Solar Corona (CIISCO) algorithm will be used in India’s first solar mission, Aditya-L1. CIISCO was developed by the Aryabhatta Research Institute of observational sciences (ARIES) and Royal Observatory of Belgium.

This new algorithm will be used to detect and track the accelerating Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) in the lower corona of the Sun. Previously, Computer Aided CME Tracking Software (CACTus) based on a computer vision algorithm was used to detect and characterise such eruptions.

This vision algorithm detects the CMEs automatically in the outer corona where these eruptions cease to show accelerations and propagate with a nearly constant speed. However, this algorithm could not be applied to the inner corona observations due to the vast acceleration experienced by these eruptions.

Coronal Mass Ejections

  • Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) that comes from the Sun are huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines.
  • They cause various disturbances to the space environment, and cause geomagnetic storms, satellite failures, and power outages.


Aditya-L1 Mission is India’s first solar mission planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Earlier the name was Aditya -1, which has been renamed as Aditya-L1 Mission.

It is ISRO’s second space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat for a scientific expedition to study the Sun. The mission was initially named Aditya 1 which was limited to observing only the solar corona.


  • AstroSat, was launched in September, 2015, by PSLV-C30 from Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh).
  • It is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously.

Objective: is to study Sun’s Corona, Chromosphere and Photosphere. In addition, it will study the particle flux emanating from Sun, and the variation of magnetic field strength.

Aditya L1 Mission

  • It was launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) XL
  • Mission Aditya L1 comprises few moving components which may be a cause of collision in space
  • Given below is a list of payloads which have been used for the mission:
    • Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC)
    • Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT)
    • Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX)
    • Plasma Analyser Package for Aditya
    • Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS)
    • High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS)
    • Magnetometer

The main objective of the Aditya L1 Mission is that it will help in tracking Earth-directed storms and predict its impact through solar observations

Why did ISRO Rename Aditya 1 Mission as Aditya L1 Mission?

Aditya-1 mission was planned for observing only the Corona of Sun. The reason behind Corona getting heated to very high temperatures is still a mystery in Solar Physics. Aditya -1 mission involved placing the satellite in 800 Km low earth orbit. Later ISRO planned to place the satellite in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian Point (L1). L1 is 1.5 Million Km from the Earth. This point provides the advantage of observing the Sun continuously without any disturbance. Hence the mission was renamed as Aditya L1 mission.

What is the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC)?

It is an internally occluded solar coronagraph capable of simultaneous imaging, spectroscopy, and spectro-polarimetry close to the solar limb.

What are the observations expected from Aditya L1?

Observations on the following:

Sun’s photosphere (soft and solid X-rays)

Chromosphere (UV) and

Corona (visual and NIR)

Lagrange Point 1

  • Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • The L1 point is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about 1/100th of the way to the Sun.
  • L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of 5 points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
  • These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
  • A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
  • The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Other Missions to the Sun

  1. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s aim is to trace how energy and heat move through the Sun’s corona and to study the source of the solar wind’s acceleration. It is part of NASA’s ‘Living With a Star’ programme that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
  2. The earlier Helios 2 solar probe, a joint venture between NASA and space agency of erstwhile West Germany, went within 43 million km of the Sun’s surface in 1976.

Source: IE

Large Hadron Collider

GS-III : S&T International S&T initiative

Large Hadron Collider

GS-Paper-3: S&T– UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

Context: Large Hadron Collider beauty Experiment. The LHCb experiment at CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) has announced the results of their latest analysis of data. LHCb is an experiment set up to explore what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the Universe we inhabit today.

Fourteen billion years ago, the Universe began with a bang. Crammed within an infinitely small space, energy coalesced to form equal quantities of matter and antimatter. But as the Universe cooled and expanded, its composition changed. Just one second after the Big Bang, antimatter had all but disappeared, leaving the matter to form everything that we see around us — from the stars and galaxies to the Earth and all life that it supports.

Imp Points:

  • Physicists at. the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland might have discovered a brand new force of nature.
  • LHC is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It is present in the European Council for Nuclear Research’s (CERN’s) accelerator complex and was first started up on 10 September 2008.
  • It has a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
  • It is designed to produce proton-proton collision, to be followed by collisions between lead nuclei. Higgs Boson is called the god particle.
  • Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they are made to collide. The beams travel in opposite directions in two separate beam pipes kept at an ultrahigh vacuum.
  • They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets.
  • Much of the accelerator is connected to a distribution system of liquid helium, which cools the magnets, as well as to other supply services.

What is the new finding?

  • CERN scientists are excited enough to reveal that if the anomaly they had detected was confirmed.
  • Because, if confirmed, it would require a new physical process, such as the existence of new fundamental particles or interactions.

What is this excitement all about?

It is necessary to delve into the world of elementary particles to understand this.

(1) Particle zoo

Until now it is believed that the electron, muon and tauon and their antiparticles, though they differ in mass, behave similarly in particle interactions.

  • Broadly speaking, elementary particles are classified into the particles called baryons – which include protons, neutrons and their antiparticles the antiprotons etc.
  • The “middle mass” particles, roughly speaking, are called the mesons and they include members such as the K and B particles.
  • We then have the leptons, which include the electron and its cousins the muon and tau particles and the anti-particles.
  • At a still smaller scale, there are tiny particles called quarks and gluons.
  • There are six flavours of quarks: up, down, truth, beauty, charm and strange. They too have antiquarks associated with them.

In this particle zoo, while the baryons are made up of combinations of three quarks, the mesons contain two quarks, more accurately a quark and antiquark pair, and the leptons are truly fundamental and are thought to be indivisible.

(2) Colliding particle beams

By interactions here, is meant the following:

  • If a huge particle accelerator such as the LHC were to accelerate beams of hadrons (such as protons) to very high speeds, a fraction of that of light, and then cause them to collide.
  • Basically, smash through the repulsive nuclear forces and shatter them, the hadrons would break up into constituents which would recombine to form short-lived particles, which would decay into stabler states.
  • Roughly speaking, during this process, they are imaged in a huge multistorey detector and the number of specific processes and particles are counted.

(3) Lepton universality principle

  • One such process that was measured was the decay of a meson B (which contained the beauty quark) into K-meson (which contains the strange quark) and a muon-antimuon pair, and this was compared with the decay of B into K and an electron-antielectron pair.
  • The expectation is that the ratio of the strengths of these two sets of interactions would be just one.
  • This is because the muons are not essentially different from the electrons as per the Standard Model, the presently accepted theoretical model of all elementary particle interactions.
  • This is called the lepton universality principle.

More Article on LHC: https://www.aspireias.com/daily-news-analysis-current-affairs/Particle-physics-Large-Hadron-Collider-experiment

Source: TH

Biodiversity Heritage Sites in India: UPSC PRELIMS

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Biodiversity Heritage Sites in India: UPSC PRELIMS

GS-Paper-3: Environment– UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

Context: BHS are areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems - terrestrial, coastal, inland and marine waters - having a rich biodiversity. Maharashtra government declared an area at Amboli in Western ghats in Sindhudurg district as a Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS).

More Envi Information: http://www.wiienvis.nic.in/Database/bhs_8650.aspx
BHS are areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems - terrestrial, coastal, inland and marine waters - having a rich biodiversity.

  • The biodiversity comprises any one or more of the components like,
    1. Species richness - Wild and domesticated species or intra-specific categories,
    2. High endemism,
    3. Presence of rare, endemic and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance,
    4. Presence of wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or landraces or their varieties,
    5. Past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds and having cultural or aesthetic values.
    6. Area with significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values; important for the maintenance of cultural diversity

As per Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002,

    1. State Governments can notify in the official gazette, in consultation with ‘local bodies’, areas of biodiversity importance as BHS.
    2. State Government in consultation with the Central Government may frame rules for the management and conservation of BHS.
    3. State Governments can frame schemes for compensating or rehabilitating anyone economically affected by such notification.

State Biodiversity Boards (SBB) may invite suggestions for the declaration of BHSs, through the Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) and other relevant community institutions.

Areas having any of the following characteristics may qualify for inclusion as BHS.

Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS)


Nallur Tamarind Grove

Bangalore, Karnataka


Chikmagalur, Karnataka

University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru




Glory of Allapalli


Tonglu BHS and Dhotrey BHS under the Darjeeling Forest Division

Darjeeling, West Bengal



Dialong Village


Ameenpur lake




Gharial Rehabilitation Centre

Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Chilkigarh Kanak Durga

West Bengal

Purvatali Rai


Naro Hills

Madhya Pradesh



Schistura Hiranyakeshi

  • It is a new small freshwater fish species discovered near Amboli in Sawantwadi tehsil of Sindhudurg district.
  • It is a rare sub-species of Schistura, a freshwater loach.
  • Named after the Hiranyakeshi River near Amboli village, this fish is a colourful fish that lives in water and streams in an abundance of oxygen.
  • It was important to conserve this species as it might face extinction due to fishing activities.

Source: ENVIS

Jammu and Kashmir Lakes

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Jammu and Kashmir Lakes

Srinagar’s Dal Lake along with five other ones in Jammu and Kashmir are to be declared protected wetlands.

Wetland Information: https://www.aspireias.com/upsc-related-facts-and-data/Ramsar-sites-Wetlands-in-India-Quick-facts

Other lakes - Wular Lake, and Nigeen Lake in the Kashmir region; Sanasar Lake, Manasbal Lake and Purmandal lake or Chotta Kashi (in Samba district) in the Jammu region.

The decision was taken in the meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Wetland Authority, chaired by Chief Secretary.

Chief Secretary asked the Forest Department to profile various wetlands of Jammu and Kashmir and recommend their notification under,

    1. Environment Protection Act, 1986 and
    2. Wetland (Conversation & Management) rules.

Forest Department is the nodal department for the preparation of digital inventory, documentation and development of a geospatial database on wetlands.

Source: ENVIS

Apophis Asteroid and Asteroid research programmes

GS-III : S&T Space

Apophis Asteroid and Asteroid research programmes

GS: Paper-3: Space-based missions: Prelims-Personality Test

First detected in 2004, Apophis is now officially off the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA's) asteroid “risk list”. This has ruled out any chance of Apophis smacking Earth in 2068, and doesn’t show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.

Asteroids or planetoids or minor planets are made up of metals and rocks. They revolve around the sun and are too small to be called planets. The asteroid belt is located roughly between the orbits of the planets Jupiter and Mars. The mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth's moon.


These are rocky objects that orbit the Sun, much smaller than planets. They are also called minor planets. According to NASA, 9,94,383 is the count of known asteroids, the remnants from the formation of the solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.

Asteroids are divided into three classes.

  1. First, those found in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.
  2. The second group is that of trojans, which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet. NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans. In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.
  3. The third classification is Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which have orbits that pass close by the Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth-crossers.

More than 10,000 such asteroids are known, out of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). PHAs are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs.


  • It is NASA’s highly automated collision monitoring system that continually scans the most current asteroid catalog for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years.
  • Whenever a potential impact is detected, it will be analyzed and the results will be immediately published in the ‘asteroid risk list’, except in unusual cases where independent confirmation is sought.

Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA)

  • It is the first international space mission to demonstrate asteroid impact hazard mitigation ny using a kinetic impactor to deflect an asteroid and measure the deflection.
  • This mission that targets a double asteroid called Didymos is cooperation between NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission and European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Hera.
    1. DART (to be launched in 2021) would slam into the smaller asteroids of the Didymos system in 2022.
    2. Hera (to be launched in 2024) would measure the impact crater produced by DART collision and study the change in the asteroid’s orbital trajectory. It will arrive at the Didymos system in 2027.

AIDA will help in studying asteroid strength, surface physical properties and internal structure.

A recent study at National Aeronautics and Space Administration has found out that asteroid 16 Psyche, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, could be made entirely of metal and is worth an estimated 10,000 quadrillion US dollars.

  1. Asteroid 16 Psyche is located 370 million kilometers away from earth between Mars and Jupiter and has a diameter of 140 miles.
  2. It was discovered in the year 1853 by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gaspard and was named after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul, Psyche.
  3. Unlike most asteroids that are made up of rocks or ice, scientists believe that Psyche is a dense and largely metallic object thought to be the core of an earlier planet that failed formation.
  4. Psyche’s shape is like a potato which takes about five earth years to complete one orbit of the sun but only a bit over 4 hours to rotate once on its axis.

The latest study through the Hubble Space Telescope and ultraviolet observation gives a clearer picture of Psyche’s composition. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.

It was found that Psyche could be a unique asteroid composed of iron and nickel almost completely which is similar to earth's core. The iron alone would be worth more than 10,000 quadrillion US dollars. Scientists noted that the manner in which Psyche reflected ultraviolet light was very similar to the way iron reflects sunlight.

NASA’s Psyche mission: The primary target of the Psyche mission to be launched in 2022 by NASA is to study this asteroid completely and confirm the assumptions being made by the scientists.

Psyche mission will be the first mission to investigate this metallic asteroid. Psyche spacecraft will land on the asteroid in early 2026. As the composition of Psyche is very similar to earth’s own core, its study will also give an insight to earth’s violent history of collisions and accretion that created it.


NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft briefly touched asteroid Bennu, from where it is meant to collect samples of dust and pebbles and deliver them back to Earth in 2023.

What is the OSIRIS-REx mission?

OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.

  1. This is NASA’s first mission meant to return a sample from the ancient asteroid.
  2. Launched in 2016, it reached its target in 2018.
  3. The departure window for the mission will open up in 2021, after which it will take over two years to reach back to Earth.

Asteroid Bennu:

The asteroid was discovered by a team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999.

Scientists believe that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s formation, implying that it is roughly 4.5 billion years old.

  1. Because of Bennu’s age, it is likely to contain material that contains molecules that were present when life first formed on Earth, where life forms are based on carbon atom chains.
  2. Because of its high carbon content, the asteroid reflects about four per cent of the light that hits it, which is very low when compared with a planet like Venus, which reflects about 65 per cent of the light that hits it. Earth reflects about 30 per cent.
  3. It classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO), might strike the Earth in the next century, between the years 2175 and 2199.

Hayabusa 2

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has decided to make a crater on asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu) to collect underground samples. This is part of the Hayabusa 2 mission launched in December 2014, to explore asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu). The purpose of drilling is to collect samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa 2

  • Hayabusa 2 was launched in December 2014 and is planned to complete a mission of six years.
  • It arrived at Ryugu in July 2018 and will spend 18 months studying the asteroid before making its return to Earth in December 2020.
  • The mission builds on the original Hayabusa mission that was launched in 2003 and successfully linked up with asteroid Itokawa in 2005.
  • It returned samples to Earth in 2010 marking the first time sample materials from an asteroid were brought back to Earth.

Why Study Asteroids?

  • Asteroids, like comets, are primitive bodies that can be considered to be the building blocks of the early solar system. They hold a record of the birth and initial evolution of the solar system.
  • Larger planets like Earth went through a more complex evolution over which the pristine materials were melted and altered significantly. Due to this change, the materials found on large planets do not hold information into their early stages of formation.
  • Comets and asteroids, formed early in the evolution of the Solar System, retain a record of when, where and in what conditions they were formed. Exploration of these primitive bodies is essential in gaining insight into the formation of the Solar System.

Source: TH

Dindori Millets Project- Agriculture UPSC

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

Dindori Millets Project- Agriculture UPSC

GS: Paper-3: Agriculture and Dry Land area Development: Prelims-Personality Test

Context: 2023 will be observed as the International Year of Millets after India’s proposal to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was approved. In the last six decades, millets have seen a drop in area despite green evolution in the 1960s; however, the productivity seems to go up with the help of high-yield varieties and better technologies.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has supported an initiative to revive kodo millet and kutki (little millet) cultivation in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.

  • The IFAD project was started in 2013-14, with women-farmers from 40 villages - mostly from the Gonda and Baiga tribes - growing these two minor millets.
  • The identified farmers were supplied good-quality seeds and trained by Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University in Jabalpur and the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
  • They were trained on field preparation, line-sowing and application of compost, zinc, bavastin fungicide and other specific plant protection chemicals.
  • Further, a federation of the farmers’ self-help groups undertook procurement of the produce and also its mechanical de-hulling.
  • [Mechanical de-hulling is the traditional time-consuming manual pounding process to remove husk from the grain.]
  • The IFAD project has helped in meeting nutritional goals and reviving millet cultivation.


Millets score over rice and wheat, whether in terms of vitamins, minerals and crude fibre content or amino acid profile. They are gluten-free. In 2018, the Union Agriculture Ministry declared millets as “Nutri-Cereals”, considering their “high nutritive value” and also “anti-diabetic properties”. 2018 was observed as ‘National Year of Millets”. The UN General Assembly too adopted an India-sponsored resolution to mark 2023 as the “International Year of Millets”. Yet, these high-nutrient cereals (fine grains) aren’t the first choice of either consumers or farmers.

Background of Millets

Millets are one of the oldest foods, these are the small-seeded hardy crops which can grow well in dry zones or rain-fed areas under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are cultivated in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed and mountainous areas. These areas include Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

Due to their short growing season, millets can develop from seeds to ready to harvest crops in just about 65 days. This highly beneficial characteristic of the millets is of vital importance in thickly populated regions of the world. If stored properly, millets can keep well for two years or beyond.

Millets can not only grow in poor climatic or soil conditions and provide nutritious grain as well as fodder, but these can also very well fit into multiple cropping systems under irrigation as well as dryland farming due to their short growing season.

The prolonged and easy storability of millets under ordinary conditions has given them the status of Famine Reserves and this feature is of great importance for India, as the agriculture of our country suffers from unexpected changes in monsoon.

Types of Millets in India

The millets commonly grown in India include Jowar (sorghum), Bajra (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), Jhangora (barnyard millet), Barri (Proso or common millet), Kangni (foxtail/ Italian millet), Kodra (Kodo millet) etc. Let us read about them in detail and also learn their regional names.

  1. Barnyard Millet is a high source of iron and fibre. It is known as Kuthiravali in Tamil, Oodhalu in Kannada, Odalu in Telugu, Kavadapullu in Malayalam and Sanwa in Hindi.
  2. Finger Millet is a staple that is a very good substitute for oats and cereals. It is known as Ragi in Kannada, Ragulu in Telugu, Kelvaragu in Tamil, Koovarugu in Malayalam and Mundua in Hindi.
  3. Foxtail Millet is rich in minerals and vitamins. It is known as Thinai in Tamil, Kirra in Telugu, Thinna in Malayalam, Navane in Kannada and Kangni in Hindi.
  4. Little Millet is also loaded with iron and fibre, the regional names are Chama in Malayalam, Same in Kannada, Samai in Tamil, Sama in Telugu and Kutki in Hindi.
  5. Proso Millet is known as Barri in Hindi, Panivaragu in Tamil & Malayalam, in Kannada it is called Baragu and Varigalu in Telugu
  6. Pearl Millet is a high source of proteins, it is known as Bajra in Hindi, Sajje in Kannada, Sajjalu in Telugu, Kambu in Tamil and Kambam in Malayalam

Importance of Millets

According to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, in 2016 – 2017, the area under the cultivation of millet declined with 60% less coverage area (to 14.72 million hectares) due to change in consumption pattern, conversion of irrigated area for wheat and rice cultivation, unavailability of millets, low yield, dietary habits, less demand. This resulted in fall in the level of nutrients like vitamin-A, protein, iron and iodine in women and children leading to malnutrition.

  1. Most of the millets are non-acid forming, non-glutinous, highly nutritious, and easily digestible foods. Due to low glycaemic index (GI) being gluten-free, it helps in a slower release of glucose over a longer period of time thus reducing the risk of diabetes mellitus. Individuals suffering from celiac disease can easily incorporate various millets in their diets.
  2. Millets are rich sources of minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains appreciable amounts of dietary fibre and vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin B6, β- Carotene, and niacin. The availability of high amounts of lecithin is useful for strengthening the nervous system. Therefore, regular consumption of millets can help to overcome malnutrition.
  3. Although Millets are rich in phytochemicals like tannins, phytosterols, polyphenols and antioxidants, they do contain some anti-nutritional factors which can be reduced by certain processing treatments.
  4. Millets have a wide capacity for adaptation because they can grow from coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh to moderately high altitudes of North-eastern states and hilly regions of Uttarakhand. Millets can withstand variations in moisture, temperature and the type of soils ranging from heavy to sandy infertile lands.

The Indian policymakers refocused their attention towards millet farming systems and enacted policies to create an enabling environment for the farmers. With respect to millets production, some of the existing schemes by the Government of India include:

  1. Integrated Cereals Development Programmes in Coarse Cereals ICDP-CC based Cropping Systems Areas under Macro Management of Agriculture -MMA.
  2. Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion – INSIMP a part of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana” – RKVY which is the only comprehensive initiative to support millet production.
  3. Rainfed Area Development Programme – RADP: a component of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana – RKVY.

Given below are some of the advantages of Production of Millets in India.

  1. Millets are termed as the ‘miracle grains’ or ‘crops of the future’ as they can not only grow under harsh circumstances but are drought-resistant crops that require fewer external inputs.
  2. Millets are dual-purpose crops. It is cultivated both as food & fodder, thus providing food/livelihood security to millions of households and contributing to the economic efficiency of farming.
  3. Millets contribute to mitigating climate change as it helps reduce the atmospheric carbon pressure CO2. On the contrary, Wheat being a thermally sensitive crop and Paddy is a major contributor to climate change through methane emission.
  4. Production of millets does not depend on the use of chemical fertilizers. The millet crops do not attract pests and are not affected by storage.
  5. Millets are remarkable in their nutritive value be it vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre or other nutrients. It is nearly 3 to 5 times nutritionally superior to wheat and rice. Sorghum (Jowar) is an important source of polyphenols, antioxidants, and cholesterol-lowering waxes.
  6. Millets help in curbing obesity, lowers the risk of hypertension, CVDs, T2DM, cancers as well as helps in preventing constipation due to their high dietary fibre content coupled with low glycaemic index.

Millets as Smart Crop

  • Millets are Photo-insensitive (do not require a specific photoperiod for flowering) & resilient to climate change.
  • Millets can grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.
  • Millets are less water consuming and are capable of growing under drought conditions, under non-irrigated conditions even in very low rainfall regimes
  • Millets have low carbon and water footprint (rice plant needs at least 3 times more water to grow in comparison to millets).
  • Millets can withstand high temperature. In times of climate change Millets are often the last crop standing and, thus, are a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers.

Source: IE

PRISM Scheme by Ministry of Science & Tech


PRISM Scheme by Ministry of Science & Tech

Union Minister for Science & Technology inaugurated the PRISM (Promoting Innovations in Individuals, Startups, and MSMEs) scheme recently.

About PRISM Scheme:

  • PRISM is an initiative of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research(DSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • To help an individual innovator to become a successful technopreneur.
  • It promotes, supports, and funds implementable and commercially viable innovations created for society.
  • Under the initiative, an innovator of Indian nationality – student, professional and common citizen is eligible.
  • Eligible candidates are provided with technical, strategic, and financial assistance by DSIR-PRISM.
    • Assistance is provided in the stages like idea development, prototype development, and pilot scaling and patenting.
  • The proposals under the scheme will be accepted for the following sectors:
    • Green technology
    • Clean energy
    • Industrially utilizable smart materials
    • Waste to Wealth
    • Affordable Healthcare
    • Water & Sewage Management and
    • any other technology or knowledge-intensive area.
  • Financial Assistance: The grant under the scheme is given in two phases:
    • Phase I:
      • Category-I: For proof of concept/prototype/models, a grant amount of around Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.
      • Category II: For fabrication of working model/ process know-how/ testing, a grant amount of around Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.
    • Phase II: For Enterprise incubation, a grant amount of a maximum of around Rs.50 lakhs.

Source: PIB

Global Gender Gap Index 2021

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

Global Gender Gap Index 2021

  • This Index was released by the World Economic Forum in 2006.
  • The Gender Gap Index acts as a compass to track the progress on their toward gender parity of the countries in four areas,
    1. Political Empowerment,
    2. Economic Participation and Opportunity,
    3. Educational Attainment and
    4. Health and Survival.
  • It examines the drivers of gender gaps and outlines the policies and practices needed for a gender-inclusive recovery.
  • The index scores the countries from 0 (inequality) to 1 (equality).
  • Among 156 countries ranked by the Gender Gap Report 2021, Iceland is the most gender-equal country in the world.
  • India has ranked 140th rank, becoming the third-worst performer in South Asia.
    • India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap to date.
  • For India, max decline occurred on the political empowerment subindex.
  • The decline also took place in the economic participation and opportunity subindex, and health and survival subindex.
  • 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 the economic participation and opportunity subindex.

Source: TH

Food Waste Index 2021

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

Food Waste Index 2021

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report aims to advance progress on the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3

  • SDG 12.3 aims at halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains.
  • This report presents food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date, generating a new estimate of global food waste.
  • It publishes a methodology for countries to measure food waste, at household, food service and retail levels, in order to track national progress towards 2030 and to report on SDG 12.3.

Key Highlights:

  • The 2021 index has revealed that 17% of all food available at consumer levels was wasted in 2019.
  • The food waste amounted to 931 million tonnes of food sold. Around 690 million people had to go hungry.
  • It was prepared by using data from 54 countries and then extrapolated to the remaining countries.
  • On average, 74 kgs of food was wasted per capita/year at the household level. India wastes 50 kg/capita/year.

Recommendations -

  • Countries can raise climate ambition by including food systems in their NDCs.
  • Regional Food Waste Working Groups will provide capacity building and training to participating Member States in measuring food waste, developing a national baseline, etc., for food waste prevention.
  • The UN Food Systems Summit provides an opportunity to launch bold new actions to tackle food waste globally.

Food Loss Index

  • The Food Waste Index report is in contrast to the Food Loss Index of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
  • The Food Waste Index covers the later stages of food’s journey - food waste - occurring at household, food service and retail levels.
  • Food loss and waste cause about $940 billion/year in economic losses.
  • As of now, none of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement mention food waste.

Source: TH

PLI Scheme for Food Processing Industry

GS-III : Economic Issues Food security

PLI Scheme for Food Processing Industry

Union Cabinet has approved the PLI (Production Linked Incentive) Scheme for Food Processing Industry.

About PLI scheme for Food Processing Industry

  • The scheme will be implemented over a 6-year period from 2021-22 to 2026-27.
  • The scheme aims to support the creation of global food manufacturing champions according to the natural resources of India.

Objectives of the Scheme

  • PLI scheme will support food manufacturing organizations with stipulated minimum sales.
  • It will also support Indian brands of food products in the international markets with an outlay of Rs. 10900 crore.
  • It will increase employment opportunities and ensure good prices for farm produce and higher income for farmers.

Salient features of the PLI scheme for the Food Processing Industry

  • The first component of the scheme
    • It will incentivize the manufacturing of 4 major food product segments:
      • Marine Products,
      • Mozzarella Cheese
      • Processed Fruits & Vegetables
      • Ready to Cook/ Ready to Eat (RTC/ RTE) foods
    • Applicants will require investing in Plant & Machinery in the first two years.
    • The entities selected for making innovative/ organic products will be exempt from the Minimum Sales and mandated investment requirements.
  • 2nd component of the scheme
    • Under this component, support will be provided for branding and marketing abroad.
    • The entity will receive grants for in-store Branding, shelf space renting, and marketing.

Implementation of the scheme

  • Project Management Agency (PMA) will implement the scheme.
  • PMA will be responsible for verification of eligibility for support, and scrutiny of claims eligible for disbursement of incentive.
  • The scheme is “fund-limited”, i.e. the amount restricts to the approved limit. This amount will not exceed even in case of outstanding performance.

Source: TH

Investment Opportunities in India’s Healthcare Sector Report- NITI Aayog

GS-II : Governance Governance

Investment Opportunities in India’s Healthcare Sector Report- NITI Aayog

Highlights of the Report:

  • The report outlines the investment opportunities in various segments of India’s healthcare sector.
  • This includes hospitals, medical devices and equipment, health insurance, telemedicine, home healthcare, and medical value travel.

India’s Healthcare Industry:

  • Healthcare Sector Growth Rate: India’s healthcare industry is growing at a Growth Rate of around 22% since 2016.
    • At this rate, it is expected to reach USD 372 Billion in 2022.
  • In 2015, the healthcare sector became the 5th largest employer as it employs around 4.7 million people directly.
    • As per estimates of the National Skill Development Corporation, healthcare can generate 2.7 Million additional jobs in India between 2017-22.
  • India’s FDI Regime for Healthcare Sector: India’s Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) regime in the Health Sector has been liberalised extensively.
    • Currently, FDI is permitted up to 100% under the automatic route for the hospital sector and the manufacture of medical devices.
      Automatic route: The non-resident investor or Indian company does not require prior approval from the Government of India for the investment.
    • In the pharmaceutical sector, FDI is permitted up to 100% in greenfield projects.
    • For the brownfield projects, it is up to 74% under the automatic route.
  • India’s FDI in the Healthcare Sector has increased:
    • The FDI has increased from USD 94 Million (2011) to USD 1,275 Million (2016), a jump of over 13.5 times.

Source: TH

New Bird Species Nacaduba Sinhala Found

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

A group of lepidopterists discovers a new species of butterfly. It was named as “Nacaduba Sinhala Ramaswamii Sadasivan”.

Note: A lepidopterist is a person who specializes in studying butterflies and moths.

About the New Species:

  • It is a Line Blue Butterfly Species that belongs to the Nacaduba genus group.
    • Line Blues are small butterflies belonging to the subfamily Lycaenidae.
    • Their distribution ranges from India and Sri Lanka to the whole of southeastern Asia, Australia and Samoa.
  • This butterfly species was discovered in the Agasthyamalai in the Western Ghats a decade ago. But now it found a place in the Journal of Threatened Taxa.
  • It is the first time that a butterfly species was discovered by an all-Indian research team from the Western Ghats.

About Journal of Threatened Taxa(JoTT):

  • It is an open-access peer-reviewed, monthly international journal on conservation and taxonomy.
  • The journal is published by the wildlife conservation and research NGO Zoo Outreach Organisation (ZOO).

Source: IE


GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government Schemes & Programmes


AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship) aims to translate science-based deep-tech research to startups & ventures across India.

  • Partners - Atal Innovation Mission has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this initiative, which will be implemented by Venture Center, a technology business incubator.
  • Beneficiaries - 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.
  • It is also open to CEOs and Senior incubation managers of AIM Funded Atal Incubation Centers that are supporting deep tech entrepreneurs.
  • Working - It aims at addressing specific issues through in-depth learning, training and guidance over a period of 12 months.

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.

Source: PIB

Culex Mosquito

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

Culex Mosquito

With the change in season and rise in temperature, culex or common house mosquitoes have made reappearance across Delhi.

  • Unlike Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread dengue and chikungunya and breed in clean water, culex mosquitoes breed in unclean stagnant water.
  • Culex mosquitoes are known as carriers or vectors of diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, West Nile Virus and Lymphatic filariasis.
  • They bite by detecting body heat and carbon dioxide that humans exhale.

Source: Aspire

Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Environmental Pollution

Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index

The comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) is a rational number to characterise the quality of the environment at a given location following the algorithm of source, pathway and receptor. An increase in the CEPI score denotes adverse effects on the receiving environment.

  • A Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) did an assessment of Tamil Nadu’s CEPI scores.
  • Groundwater is becoming more polluted in Tamil Nadu’s industrial areas and Vellore is the state’s most polluted district in terms of river pollution.
  • According to the CEPI water score 2018, five industrial clusters in Tamil Nadu were found to have a water score of more than 50. Of these,
    1. Vellore-North Arcot, Manali and Tiruppur were ‘critically polluted areas’ - CEPI individual score of 60 and above.
    2. Cuddalore and Coimbatore were ‘severely polluted areas’ - CEPI individual scores between 50 and 60.
  • Most serious pollution threat to groundwater was from calcium, chloride and iron that are associated with sewage and pollution from tanneries.

Source: PIB

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