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04 February, 2020

25 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Revenue Deficit grants for states
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
CAG report on army provisioning
India extends reach in Indian Ocean Region International Relations
NCRB report on missing children and women
WHO report on cancer
GS-III Reverse Osmosis water purification technology
Locust attack in Punjab Miscellaneous
Samurai Loan Economic Issues
GS-II :
Revenue Deficit grants for states

Syllabus subtopic:

  • Functions and Responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and Challenges Pertaining to the Federal Structure, Devolution of Powers and Finances up to Local Levels and Challenges Therein
  • Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the recommendations by FFC and the action taken by the government; types of deficits; about finance commission

 

News: The finances of revenue-deficit states may be hit as the Finance Minister in her budget allocated only 40% of the Rs.74,340 crore revenue deficit grants for FY21, which was recommended by the 15th Finance Commission (FFC), despite having accepted its proposal.

 

 

Background

  • The Commission had recommended post-devolution revenue deficit grants for 14 states in 2020-21.

 

  • Of the Rs.74,340 crore revenue deficit grants, Rs.37,917 crore was meant for Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. The remaining Rs.36,423 crore was for Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

 

  • The government had accepted the above recommendation of the Commission.

 

Recommendations made by the FFC

  1. Revenue deficit grants
  • As per FFC estimates, 25 of the 28 states face a total pre-tax devolution revenue deficit of Rs.6.43 trillion in 2020-21.

 

  • After accounting for the projected tax devolution to the states of Rs.8.55 trillion, 14 states garner post-tax devolution revenue surplus of Rs.3.08 trillion, while the remaining 14 face a combined post-tax devolution revenue deficit of Rs.74,340 crore. These states have been compensated by the FFC.

 

  • The largest beneficiaries of the recommendation are Kerala ( Rs.15,323 crore), Himachal Pradesh ( Rs.11,431 crore), Punjab ( Rs.7,659 crore), Assam ( Rs.7,579 crore), Andhra Pradesh ( Rs.5,897 crore), Uttarakhand ( Rs.5,076 crore) and West Bengal ( Rs.5,013 crore).

 

  1. Weightage of population and demographic performance
  • Since the FFC used 2011 Census data, the tax share of most southern states with low population growth rates, such as Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, has come down, while the share of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat has gone up.

 

  • The FFC assigned 15% weight to the population of a state, down from the 17.5% allocated by the 14th Finance Commission, while raising the weight under demographic performance from 10% to 12.5%.

 

3. Special grants & nutrition grants

  • The finance ministry has also asked the FFC to review its recommendations on special grants and nutrition grants to the states.

 

  • The commission had recommended special grants of Rs.6,764 crore for 2020-21 to ensure that no state receives less than what it received in FY20 on account of tax devolution and revenue deficit grants.

 

  • However, the Union finance ministry has requested the FFC to reconsider the recommendation, holding that “it introduces a new principle". The beneficiaries of the proposal were Karnataka, Mizoram and Telangana.

 

 

Types of deficits & how they are calculated

1. Revenue Deficit:

  • Revenue Deficit is the excess of government’s total revenue expenditure to its total revenue receipts. Revenue Deficit is only related to revenue expenditure and revenue receipts of the government.

 

  • The difference between total revenue expenditure to the total revenue receipts is Revenue Deficit.

 

What does it mean?

A revenue deficit indicates that the government doesn't have sufficient revenue for the normal functioning of the government departments. In other words, when the government starts spending more than it earns, it results in Revenue Deficit. Revenue Deficit forces the government to disinvest or cover the shortage by borrowing.

 

Remedial measures:

In the case of Revenue Deficit government usually tries to curtail their expenses or increase its tax and non-tax receipts. This can be done by introducing new taxes or increasing the tax on people in higher-earning slabs.

 

2. Fiscal Deficit:

The excess of total expenditure over total receipts excluding borrowings is called Fiscal Deficit. In other words, the Fiscal Deficit gives the amount needed by the government to meet its expenses. Thus a large Fiscal Deficit means a large amount of borrowings.

 

What does it mean?

Simply put a Fiscal Deficit is a measure of how much the government needs to borrow from the market to meet its expenditure when its resources are inadequate.

 

Remedial measures:

  • Various measures might be taken to reduce Fiscal Deficit, some of them can be reducing public expenditure in the form of subsidies, reduction in expenditure on bonus, LTC, Leaves encashment etc.
  • Alternatively, measures to increase the revenue are also taken in forms of broadening tax base restructuring and sale of shares in public sector units etc.

 

3. Primary Deficit:

Primary Deficit is Fiscal Deficit of the current year minus interest payments on previous borrowings. While Fiscal Deficit represents the government's total borrowing including interest payments, Primary Deficit shows the amount of borrowing excluding interest payments.

 

What does it mean?

Primary Deficit shows the amount of government borrowings specifically to meet the expenses by removing the interest payments. Therefore, a zero Primary Deficit means the need for borrowing to meet interest payments.

 

Remedial measures:

A higher Primary Deficit reflects the amount of new borrowings in the current year. Since this is the amount on top of already existing borrowings (Fiscal Deficit) similar measures can be taken to reduce the amount of borrowings.

 

About Finance Commission (FC)

  • It is a Constitutionally mandated body that is at the centre of fiscal federalism.

 

  • Set up under Article 280 of the Constitution, its core responsibility is to:
  1. evaluate the state of finances of the Union and State Governments,
  2. recommend the sharing of taxes between them
  3. lay down the principles determining the distribution of these taxes among States.

 

  • Its working is characterised by extensive and intensive consultations with all levels of governments, thus strengthening the principle of cooperative federalism.

 

  • Its recommendations are also geared towards improving the quality of public spending and promoting fiscal stability.

 

  • First Finance Commission was set up in 1951 and there have been fifteen so far. Each of them has faced its own unique set of challenges.

 

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission was constituted on 27 November 2017 against the backdrop of the abolition of Planning Commission (as also of the distinction between Plan and non-Plan expenditure) and the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), which has fundamentally redefined federal fiscal relations.

 

  • The Terms of Reference of the current Commission have some distinctive features, including recommending monitorable performance criteria for important national flagship programmes and examining the possibility of setting up a permanent non lapsable funding for India’s defence needs.

 

  • The reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – one of Jammu and Kashmir and one of Ladakh – presents a new dynamic. On the whole the Finance Commission faces new challenges in the process of the evolution of our federal polity.

 

  • As an important Constitutional entity, the Commission is committed to balancing competing claims and priorities among all three tiers of government in a credible manner.
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GS-II :
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the West Asia peace plan and issues around it; about OIC and its significance for India

 

News: The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has said it rejects US President Donald Trump's recently unveiled Middle East plan.

  • The 57-member body, which held a summit to discuss the plan in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah, said in a statement that it "calls on all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form".

 

Background

US President Donald Trump had described his long-delayed plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a "win-win solution" for both sides.

 

About OIC

  • It is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states.

 

  • It is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations.

 

  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony“.

 

  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.

 

  • Permanent Secretariat is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

 

  • Key bodies:
  1. the Islamic Summit,
  2. the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM),
  3. the General Secretariat, in addition to the Al-Quds Committee and three permanent committees concerned with science and technology, economy and trade, and information and culture.
  4. There are also specialized organs under the banner of the OIC including the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as well as subsidiary and affiliate organs that play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC member states.

 

India and OIC

India’s former External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj addressed the inaugural session of the 46th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on March 1, 2019, in Abu Dhabi as a “guest of honor”. The moment was phenomenal in itself: for the first time in 50 years, since OIC’s inception, India attended it.

India was invited to attend the first summit of the OIC 50 years ago in 1969 in Morocco. But the Indian delegation had to return midway due to a withdrawal of the invitation after Pakistan’s objection. It was a setback for Indian diplomacy, as it could not further become a part of the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world (after the United Nations). Pakistan’s adamant stance toward India’s non-entry in the grouping has ensured even today that India is neither a member nor an observer of the OIC, despite having one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. Countries like Thailand and Russia are observer members, despite having a significant minority Muslim population.

In addition to this, the OIC’s stand on the Kashmir issue questions the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a legitimate part of India. The organization has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s concerns over Jammu and Kashmir. With regards to this, the OIC has been issuing statements criticizing alleged atrocities and human rights violations in the state.

But winds of change have been blowing for India. India is the third largest economy in the world, one of the biggest importers of hydrocarbons like gas and oil, and one of the largest exporters of labor, with more than 8 million Indians living in West Asia, especially in the Gulf region. West Asia and India’s growing economic and energy interdependence makes it difficult for the former to ignore the latter.

India’s presence at the 46th OIC meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is historic, but it still remains a stepping stone toward larger engagement with the OIC and the Muslim world. Article 4 (1) of the OIC Charter states the need for consensus among the OIC Council of Ministers for deciding on granting observer status to a state. Consensus-building for India’s entry in the grouping without Pakistan’s support is inconceivable. Thus, it remains in India’s interest to engage positively with Pakistan on this issue and collectively work for the ideals to which the OIC is committed.

With mushrooming concerns like the rise of Islamophobia, cross-border terrorism, extremism, and instability in the world order, the OIC has become more relevant than ever before. Active engagement in the grouping by India, home to around 10 percent of the Muslims in the world, can add more substance to the existence and working of the OIC.

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GS-II :
CAG report on army provisioning

Syllabus subtopic: Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the report and its significance; about CAG: powers, functions and independence

 

News: In a report tabled in Parliament on Monday, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) pulled up the Army for deficiencies in the provision of special clothing, rations and housing for troops in high-altitude areas, including Siachen.

 

Audit of provisioning and procurement (2015-16 to 2017-18)

  • There were delays of up to four years in the procurement of high-altitude clothing and equipment, leading to an acute shortage of essential clothing and equipment. There was a critical shortage of snow goggles, ranging from 62% to 98%. The troops had not been issued ‘multi-purpose boots’ from November 2015 to September 2016, and had to resort to the recycling of available boots.

 

  • Furthermore, as the old models of face mask, jacket and sleeping bags were procured, the troops did not get the benefit of using improved products.

 

  •  Lack of research and development by defence laboratory led to a continued dependence on import.

 

  • On the special rations authorised for troops in high-altitude areas to meet their daily energy needs, the CAG said substitutes for the scaled items were authorised on a “cost-to-cost’’ basis, and this resulted in the supply of a reduced quantity. This compromised the calorie intake of the troops by as high as 82%.

 

What did the report say on INDU?

  • As for the Indian National Defence University (INDU, the CAG said the institute was “yet to fructify”, even as the project cost had been revised from Rs.395 crore (in 2010) to Rs.4,007.22 crore (in 2017), up 914%.

 

  • The INDU was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999 to address the deficiencies in India’s security management system.

 

  • The Union Cabinet accorded in-principle approval in May 2010 for establishing it in Gurugram at an estimated cost of Rs.395 crore. The land was acquired in September 2012; however, the setting up of the INDU is yet to fructify even after two decades of the Kargil War.

 

  • The draft INDU legislation had been lying for approval with the Cabinet Secretariat since December 2017.

 

What did the report say on the ‘Housing project’ for the army?

  • The housing project, aimed at improving the living conditions of the troops in high-altitude areas, was executed in an ad hoc manner.

 

  • In the first two phases of the pilot project, extensive summer and winter trials were conducted. The third phase constituted the confirmatory trial, at a cost of Rs.63.65 crore. This was avoidable, since the first two phases were exhaustive.

 

  • The sanction was not obtained from the competent authority for the main project, and the handing over of the assets, created under the pilot project, to the units got delayed beyond the stipulated time. There were discrepancies between the assets shown in the Numerical Asset Register and those on the ground.
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GS-II : International Relations
India extends reach in Indian Ocean Region

Syllabus subtopic: India and its Neighborhood- Relations.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about India’s efforts to extend its reach in the IOR; about Vanilla islands; about India-Madagascar relations

 

News: India’s flood relief outreach to Madagascar will be followed up this week, as the island’s Defence Minister travels to Lucknow and Delhi from Tuesday.

 

Background

  • The Indian navy conducted “Operation Vanilla”, with INS Airavat delivering relief material including food, clothing, medicines and water. The humanitarian gesture by New Delhi also showcased India’s strategic capabilities in the furthermost islands of the IOR under India’s policy of “Security and Growth for All in the Region”(SAGAR) for IOR islands.

 

  • The SAGAR concept was first announced by PM Modi in March 2015, during his visit to Mauritius and other Indian Ocean islands. At the time, Madagascar, as well as Comoros and the French island of Reunion, were a part of the East and South Africa Division at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

 

Reworked approach by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)

  • Recently the MEA decided to include the three islands as part of the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) desk along with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritus and Seychelles. In a December 16 circular on the decision, the MEA said the incorporation of the “Vanilla islands” as they are called, reflected “the growing strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Islands within the framework of Indo-Pacific”.

 

  • Vanilla Islands is an affiliation of the island nations Seychelles, Madagascar, Réunion, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte in the Indian Ocean to form a new travel destination brand. Aim of the co-operation that has been founded on August 4, 2010 at La Réunion is to pool forces and jointly market the region compared to the solely individual marketing of each island in the past.

 

  • The inclusion of the region in the IOR signals the government’s increasing level of comfort with the “Indo-Pacific” concept that describes the entire neighbourhood from the coast of Africa to the U.S. west coast.

 

  • In one of many changes, effected last week, to the MEA organisational structure, Foreign Secretary decided to club the entire Indian Ocean Region, Southern and Indo-Pacific divisions under one additional secretary (Indo-Pacific).

 

Cooperation in Maritime domain

  • The Indian Navy undertakes Joint Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) patrols with Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius, which have all joined India’s coastal radar chain network.

 

  • Maritime Domain Awareness has also emerged as a high priority area and India has signed a series of white shipping agreements and logistics agreements with several countries.

 

  • In addition, the Indian Navy has established an Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for Indian Ocean Region (IOR) at Gurugram and has invited international observers for information exchange of movements on the high seas.

 

About the visit of Madagascar’s Defence Minister

  • It will be the first such high level visit since Delhi incorporated the island into the “Indian Ocean Region (IOR)”.

 

  • During his visit, Madagascar’s Defence Minister is expected to discuss implementing the MoU on defence cooperation signed during President Ramnath Kovind’s visit to Antananarivo in March 2018. The Minister will travel first to Lucknow to attend the Defexpo, and later attend the India-Africa Defence Ministers’ conference in Delhi, and hold a bilateral meeting with India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

 

  • Madagascar’s Defence minister will also discuss the devastation in Madagascar due to flooding after a cyclone and heavy rains in the island’s north-west left at least 31 dead and affected nearly 100,000 people.

 

India–Madagascar relations

  1. Historical relations
  • Relations between Madagascar and western India began in the 18th century and regular trade dates to at least the late 19th century. Interstate relations began in 1954 when independent India established a consulate in French-controlled Madagascar. When Madagascar became independent in 1960, the consulate was upgraded to embassy status.

 

  • In February 2011, relations were considered cordial, with several high-level officials having had exchanging visits over the course of relations. Approximately 20,000 people of Indian origin lived in Madagascar, including 2,500 Indian citizens.

 

  • In March 2018, Ram Nath Kovind became the first Indian President to visit Madagascar. Kovind was conferred the Grand Cross of the Second Class, Madagascar’s highest honour for non-citizens, by Prime Minister of Madagascar Olivier Solonandrasan.

 

  1. Trade and finance
  • In November 2008, Exim Bank gave Madagascar a $25 million loan for agricultural improvements. As of 2011, 61 Malagasy people had received training as part of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme.

 

  • In March 2018, to facilitate its financial assistance programme, India decided to offer Madagascar a US$80.7 million Line of Credit (LoC) for agriculture and mechanisation.

 

  1. Military

India Navy operates a Coastal Surveillance Radar (CSR) station in Madagascar.

 

  1. Geological history

In 2013, scientists discovered that Madagascar and India were part of a single continent about 85 million years ago. The sliver of land joining them is called Mauritia.

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GS-II :
NCRB report on missing children and women

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the study: aim, need and key findings; about NCRB

 

News: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released its study on  missing children and women.

 

Background

In 2019, the Supreme Court had directed the NCRB to “analyse the data on missing persons (especially on women and children) so that areas prone to persons being trafficked can be identified”.

 

About the study

  • The NCRB study was based on the annual Crime in India Report compiled by the agency for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

 

  • The NCRB quoted Wikipedia to define a missing person. The study said that “some young people run away from home due to unbearable conditions of abuse and maltreatment….they become vulnerable to trafficking, violence, drug addiction, prostitution and other risks of exploitation and involvement in crime,” and added that many missing persons end up getting trafficked.

 

Aim of the study

The study aims to identify the areas where registered cases of missing persons, specifically women and children, are higher than in other areas.

 

Need for the study

The need for the study arises because of the fact that incidents of missing women and children are not uniform across the country. Some parts of the country report higher incidents and such areas could be one of the source, transit or destination sites for child /women trafficking.

 

Key findings of the study

  • The highest number of women and children who go missing in the country are from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh respectively. The two States recorded the maximum number of cases of missing children and women among all other States in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

 

  1. Women:
  1. The three States where the highest number of women went missing in the three years are Maharashtra, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. In 2016, as many as 28,316 women went missing in Maharashtra, followed by 29,279 in the year 2017, and 33,964 in 2018.

 

  1. Mumbai and Pune recorded the highest number of such incidents, with 4,718 and 5,201 women going missing in 2017 and 2018, while in Pune, the number of missing women for the same years was 2,576 and 2,504 respectively.

 

  1. In West Bengal, the number of missing women for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 was 24,937, 28,133 and 31,299, respectively. Madhya Pradesh recorded 21,435, 26,587 and 29,761 missing reports of women in the three years.

 

  1. Children:
  1. In the years 2016-18, a total of 63,407, 63,349 and 67,134 children were reported to be missing across the country. The maximum number of missing children reports were recorded in Maharashtra and West Bengal in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.

 

  1. In Madhya Pradesh, Indore reported the highest number of missing children, with 596 in 2017 and 823 in 2018. The numbers for Satna district surged from 360 missing children in 2017 to 564 in 2018.

 

  1. In West Bengal, Kolkata district had the maximum number of missing children reported in 2018, with 989 such cases, and Nadia district, bordering Bangladesh, showed a steep increase from 291 missing children reports in the year 2017 to 474 in 2018.
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GS-II :
WHO report on cancer

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the report: aim and key findings; about WHO

 

News: World Health Organization (WHO) report has released two global reports on February 4, which is World Cancer Day.

 

WHO report on cancer burdens and patterns in India in 2018

Aim: The report aims to set the global agenda on cancer, mobilise stakeholders and help countries set priorities for investing in cancer control and universal health coverage

 

Key findings:

  • There are an estimated 1.16 million new cancer cases, 7,84,800 cancer deaths, and 2.26 million 5-year prevalent cases in India’s population of 1.35 billion.

 

  • One in 10 Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in 15 Indians will die of cancer.

 

  • The six most common cancer types in India are
  1. breast cancer (1,62,500 cases),
  2. oral cancer (1,20,000 cases),
  3. cervical cancer (97,000 cases),
  4. lung cancer (68,000 cases),
  5. stomach cancer (57,000 cases), and
  6. colorectal cancer (57,000).

Together, these account for 49 per cent of all new cancer cases.

  • Of 5.70 lakh new cancer cases in men, oral cancer (92,000), lung cancer (49,000), stomach cancer (39,000), colorectal cancer (37,000), and oesophageal cancer (34,000) account for 45 per cent of cases.

 

  • Of 5.87 lakh new cancer cases in women, breast cancer (1,62,500), cervical cancer (97,000), ovarian cancer (36,000), oral cancer (28,000), and colorectal cancer (20,000) account for 60 per cent cases.

 

  • Tobacco-related cancers account for 34-69 per cent of all cancers in men, and constitute 10-27 per cent of all cancers in women in most regions in India.

 

  • An increasing trend in the incidence of oral cancer has been observed among men in the fourth to seventh decades of life, possibly as a result of increasing consumption of unregulated flavoured chewing products that contain areca nut, such as paan masala.
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GS-III :
Reverse Osmosis water purification technology

Syllabus subtopic:

  • Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
  • Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the prohibition and its significance; about BIS; NGT; CPCB; water filtration technology

 

News: The Union Environment Ministry has published a draft notification that effectively prohibits users from installing membrane-based water purification, mainly reverse osmosis, systems in their homes if the water has been sourced from a supply that meets the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water norms.

 

Why?

The Ministry has issued this order to comply with an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which has prohibited the use of reverse osmosis (RO) purifiers in places where total dissolved solids (TDS) in the supplied water are below 500 mg per litre.

 

Background

  • The Water Quality Association of India, which represents companies that make RO systems, had moved the Supreme Court for a stay of the NGT’s order.

 

  • The SC declined to intervene and the NGT had directed the Environment Ministry to issue a notification that restricted the use of water filters.

 

Why did NGT ordered a ban on RO filters?

The NGT had ordered a ban on RO filters on the grounds that they wasted water and that, in the process of removing salts, they often deprived drinking water of essential salts. RO while useful in reducing salts does not tackle bacterial agents or trace chemicals and manufacturers often claim that additional filtration is required to deliver potable water.

 

What are BIS regulations on drinking water?

  • Current BIS regulations consider 500 mg/litre—1,200 mg/l of total dissolved solids, which consists of salts and some organic matter, as acceptable though there is no lower limit.

 

  • The regulations also put the onus on commercial bottlers, who make RO water, to ensure that water that is lost in the RO production process is stored in “safe, hygienic” conditions and that a record of such water “wasted” is maintained. Makers of such systems have to register with the Central Pollution Control Board.

 

  • By June 5, 2022, RO manufacturers can only supply home purification systems that waste no more than 25% of the water and these systems must be able to inform consumers of the TDS levels at the inlet and water outlet, the Ministry adds.

 

  • The Delhi Jal Board, among others, claims that the water it supplies meets BIS norms.

 

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Reverse Osmosis water purification process is accomplished by water pressure pushing tap water through a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities from water. This is a process in which dissolved inorganic solids (such as salts) are removed from a solution (such as water).

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GS-III : Miscellaneous
Locust attack in Punjab

Syllabus subtopic: Major Crops - Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the locust attack; threat and action taken to contain it

 

News: Swarms of locusts were spotted in two border villages of Punjab’s Fazilka district, prompting the state Agriculture Department to sound a high alert.

 

Where did the attack originate from?

Emanating from Pakistan, the swarms of peststhree to four-km-long and one-km-wide — settled at the trees in these border villages.

 

What is the threat?

Any failure to control the pests could lead to serious implications for agriculture production in India, especially in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, which will ultimately hit commodity prices and food security.

 

Prompt action taken

  • As soon as swarms of locusts were spotted near the villages, a team including members from the Agriculture Department and fire brigade was pressed into service to eliminate pests.

 

  • About 400-500 tonnes of insecticides were used to eliminate the locusts. The boomer and tractor-mounted high velocity sprayers besides fire brigade vehicles were used to control the pests.

 

  • Timely action against the attack ensured their elimination and no damage was caused to crops.

 

 

What are Locusts?

Locusts, popularly known as ‘tiddi dal’, are short-horned grasshoppers. Their appearance in winter months is a new phenomenon.

 

Were there any previous locusts attack in India?

  • India has not witnessed any full-blown locust cycles after 1962. However, during 1978 and 1993, large-scale upsurges were observed.

 

  • Localised locust breeding was controlled in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010.

 

  • Since 2010, the situation remained calm and no major breeding and swarm formation has been reported.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Samurai Loan

Syllabus subtopic: Effects of Liberalization on the Economy, Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the Samurai loans raised by NTPC and its utility

                                                                                      

News: India’s largest power generator NTPC Ltd has raised a $750 million-worth term loan in Japanese yen, claiming it to be the “largest ever” Samurai loan raised by any Asian corporate.

 

What are Samurai loans?

  • Samurai loans allow non-Japanese firms to tap into the investment capital available in Japan and borrow funds in yen, which is among the currencies with the lowest interest rates.

 

  • The cross border syndicated loan provides the borrower with capital to either enter the Japanese market or the ability to convert the proceeds into the firm’s local currency for use in existing operations.

 

How were the funds raised?

  • The loan was raised under the automatic route of RBI’s External Commercial Borrowing regulations and has been fully underwritten by the State Bank of India in Tokyo, Sumimoto Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore and Bank of India, Tokyo.

 

  • The facility has a door-to-door maturity of 11 years — the period within which the amount would have to be paid back — under two tranches.

 

What would be the funds used for?

  • The funds raised would be used towards implementing systems that would help the state-owned power giant fund capex for installation of Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) system that helps in substantial reduction of toxic sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions.

 

  • It would also be invested in NTPC’s new hydro projects as well as projects using ultra-supercritical technology, which are plants that require less coal per megawatt-hour and, therefore, lead to lower carbon emissions.

 

  • Finance Minister said in her Budget speech that utilities running thermal power plants with high carbon emission levels are advised to close those plants with emissions above pre-set norms.
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