25 November, 2020

34 Min Read

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions
National Nutrition Mission: NITI Aayog

National Nutrition Mission: NITI Aayog

Recently, the NITI Aayog has released “Accelerating Progress On Nutrition In India: What Will It Take”.

It is the third progress report on the National Nutrition Mission or the Poshan Abhiyaan.

Key features

  • The third progress report (October 2019-April 2020) takes into account the status on the ground and implementation challenges encountered at various levels through large scale datasets.
  • These datasets are the NFHS-4 and Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS).
  • According to the report, India’s targets are conservative on stunting as compared to the global target defined by the World Health Assembly (WHA). It is a prevalence rate of 5% of stunting as opposed to India’s goal of reducing stunting levels to 13.3% by 2022.
  • The targets of reducing prevalence levels of anaemia among pregnant women from 50.3% (2016) to 34.4% (2022) and among adolescent girls from 52.9% (2016) to 39.66% are also considered to be conservative as compared to the WHA’s target of halving prevalence levels.
  • In the wake of the pandemic, experts warn that deepening poverty and hunger may delay achieving the goals defined under the Mission.

Suggestions by the NITI Aayog:

  • On Stunting: (1) To improve complementary feeding using both behaviour change interventions and complimentary food supplements in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS); (2) To work towards investments in girls and women; (3) To improve water, sanitation, handwashing with soap and hygienic disposal of children’s stools.
  • On Wasting: (1) To include interventions that go beyond the treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and also address moderate wasting; (2) To scale-up to reach facility-based treatment of SAM; (3) To urgently release a full strategy for prevention and integrated management of wasting nationally.
  • On Anaemia: To scale-up scenario that focuses only on health sector interventions which will achieve modest improvements in anaemia among women of reproductive age.

National Nutrition Mission ( 2018)


  • To improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • It is backed by a National Nutrition Strategy prepared by the NITI Aayog with the goal of attaining “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat” or malnutrition-free India, by 2022.


  • To reduce stunting, undernutrition, anemia and low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively; (2) To address the problem of malnutrition in a mission-mode.
  • 50% of the total budget comes from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks and the rest of the 50% is through Centre’s budgetary support.
  • The Centre’s budgetary support is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories (UTs) without legislature.

Source: TH

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GS-II : Governance Data Privacy
43 more Mobile Apps banned

43 More Mobile Apps banned by India

Recently, the government of India has blocked 43 new mobile apps, mostly Chinese, in the country, including shopping website AliExpress. This is in addition to a total of 177 Chinese apps banned till now.

Key Points

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned these mobile apps under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act (IT Act), 2000.
  • Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was introduced by an amendment to the Act in 2008.
  • What is in the Act? It gives the Central government the power to block public access to any information online whether on websites or mobile apps.
  • Under Section 69A, if a website threatens India’s defence, its sovereignty and integrity, friendly relations with foreign countries and public order, the government can ban it, after following due procedure.

What are the reasons behind banning apps?

  • The action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
  • Government has received many complaints from various sources about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs also gave a comprehensive report against the misuse of the apps.

What is the impact of the Ban?

  • The decision to ban these apps, which comes amid continuing tensions between India and China, is the clear message from India that it will no longer be a victim of China’s Nibble and Negotiate policy and will review the norms of engagement.
  • The ban may affect one of China’s most ambitious goals, namely to become the digital superpower of the 21st century.
  • It will provide a good opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs to quickly rise to fill market gaps.
  • This is also great for the Atmanirbhar Bharat mission.
  • After the initial ban of apps, the government launched 'Digital India Atmanirbhar Bharat Innovate Challenge' to encourage Indian application developers and innovators and facilitate their ideas and products.


The next source of economic growth lies in the digital economy. India must speed up indigenisation, research and development and frame- up a regulatory architecture to claim data sovereignty.

Source: TH

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GS-II : International Relations Afghanistan
India's assistance to Afghanistan

Afghanistan - India Relations

Recently, at the Afghanistan 2020 Conference, India has announced about 150 projects worth USD 80 million. Also, the USA has decided to reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan to about 2,500 by January 2021.

India - Afghanistan relations:

  • India will launch phase-IV of high-impact community development projects, which include around 150 projects worth USD 80 million. It has signed an agreement for building the Shahtoot dam, which would provide safe drinking water to 2 million residents of Kabul city.
  • It builds on the 202 km Pul-e-Khumri transmission line of 2009, through which India provides power to the city.

India - Afghan relations:

India’s development programmes in Afghanistan are focused around 5 pillars:

  1. Large infrastructure projects.
  2. Human resource development and capacity building.
  3. Humanitarian assistance.
  4. High-impact community development projects.
  5. Enhancing trade and investment through air and land connectivity.

Since 2001, India has committed USD 3 billion towards rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan. During the Taliban years from 1996 to 2001, India did not invest in Afghanistan.

Chabahar Port in Iran, which provides alternate connectivity to Afghanistan.

  • Afghanistan’s growth has been constrained by its landlocked geography and Pakistan blocking transit access made the situation even worse.

Pandemic Support

  • India sent more than 20 tonnes of medicines, other equipment and transported 75,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan to address the Covid-19 challenge.

Shift in Indian Perspective:

  • The Indian government’s decision to invest in Afghanistan’s future, where the Taliban is set to play a dominant role, is being seen as a major departure from the past.
  • India also participated in the commencement ceremony of the intra-Afghan talks in Doha in September 2020, where a 21- member Taliban team was also present. It reflects India's realisation of ground realities and shifting sands in Kabul’s power structure.

Reduction of Troops by USA:

  • In February 2020, the USA and the Tabilan signed an agreement in Doha, (Qatar’s capital).
  • According to it, the USA would withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan in 14 months and would also release Taliban prisoners, held captive by the Afghan government.
  • In return, the Taliban assured that they would not allow transnational jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to use Afganistan as their base and also committed to start direct talks with the Afghan government, which began in September 2020.
  • With the USA leaving at such a crucial point, it not only deprives Afghan forces of the support they need, particularly the airpower, but also affects their morale.
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has committed to funding Afghan troops for four more years.
  • However, this decision will leave Afghanistan with an uncertain future as the Taliban is expected to take over after the troops’ withdrawal.
  • The Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001 after the USA invasion, have since been fighting both foreign troops and the Afghan government.
  • It now controls more than half of the country and contests the whole of it. Since the agreement was signed, the Taliban have conducted more than 13,000 attacks nationwide.
  • According to a UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UMAMA) report in October 2020, nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed in the first nine months of the year and 45% of the deaths were by the Taliban.


  • The increasing level of violence in Afghanistan is a pressing concern. India calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and also believes that the peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
  • India looks forward to walking hand in hand with the people of Afghanistan and the world community to work towards a peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, democratic and united Afghanistan.

Source: Livemint

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GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

Scheme for Creation of Infrastructure for Agro-Processing Cluster: PMKSY

Recently, the Union Minister of Food Processing Industries has attended the Independent Management Advisory Committee (IMAC) meeting to consider the proposals received under the Scheme for Creation of Infrastructure for Agro-Processing Cluster (APC) of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).


  • IMAC approved 7 proposals with a total project cost of Rs. 234.68 crore including grants-in-aid of Rs. 60.87 crore in Meghalaya, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • These projects will leverage private investment of Rs. 173.81 crore and are expected to generate employment for 7750 persons.
  • Scheme for Creation of Infrastructure for Agro-Processing Cluster:

It was approved in May 2017 under the PMKSY, to incentivise the setting up of APCs in the country.

Aims: To develop modern infrastructure and common facilities to encourage a group of entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach by linking groups of producers/farmers to the processors and markets.

  • These clusters will help in reducing the wastage of the surplus produce and add value to the horticultural/agricultural produce which will result in an increase of income of the farmers and create employment at the local level.
  • Under the scheme, each APC has two basic components:
  • Basic Enabling Infrastructure like roads, water supply, power supply, drainage, etc.
  • Core Infrastructure/Common Facilities like warehouses, cold storages, tetra pack, sorting, grading, etc.

Requirements for Setup:

  • At least 5 food processing units with a minimum investment of Rs. 25 crore and at least 10 acres of land is required for at least 50 years.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

  • In 2016, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) introduced an umbrella Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro- Processing Clusters (SAMPADA), which was proposed to be implemented with an allocation of Rs. 6,000 crores for the period of 2016-20.
  • In 2017, it was renamed as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme.


  • To supplement agriculture.
  • To create processing and preservation capacities.
  • To modernise and expand existing food processing units with a view to increasing the level of processing.
  • To add value leading to the reduction of wastage.

Seven component schemes under PMKSY:

  • Mega Food Parks.
  • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure for APC.
  • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages.
  • Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities.
  • Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure.
  • Human Resources and Institutions.

Under PMKSY, capital subsidy in the form of grants-in-aid ranging from 35% to 75% of the eligible project cost subject to a maximum specified limit is provided to investors under the various schemes for undertaking infrastructure, logistic projects and setting up of food processing units in the country.

Source: TH

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GS-III : S&T Space


  • The NASA has found that 16 Psyche asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter is made of rare metals such as gold, cobalt, platinum, rhenium and iridium.
  • The total worth of the precious metals in the asteroid has been estimated as 10,000 Quadrillion USD by NASA scientists.

About Asteroid 16 Psyche

  • Oxidation is constantly occurring at the surface of the asteroid due to solar winds.
  • Solar winds are stream of charged particles from the hot outer atmosphere of the sun called Corona.

How is earth protected from Solar Winds?

  • Earth protects itself from the solar winds with its magnetic field.
  • The magnetic field of the earth deflects most of the charged particles from the sun.
  • However, some of the charged particles get trapped in the Van Allen Radiation belt.
  • There are two such belts around the earth. They are in the inner regions of the magnetosphere of the earth.

Mission Psyche

  • It is a journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Mars.
  • It has been planned to be launched by 2022.
  • The mission will discover will characterize topography of Psyche.

Source: PIB

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Sea Guardian Drones from US

Sea Guardian Drones from US

Recently, two American MQ9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones have been inducted by the Indian Navy. It is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Source: TH

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