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State PCS

  • 22 Feb 2024
  • 55 min read
Geography

La Nina Links with Air Quality

For Prelims: La Nina Links with Air Quality, El Nino and La Nina events, PM2.5, Gangetic plains.

For Mains: La Nina Links with Air Quality, Salient features of the world’s physical geography.

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, a new study has been published by researchers at the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Advanced Studies, suggesting that even air quality in India could be influenced by El Nino and La Nina events.

  • The study has suggested that the unusual air quality in some Indian cities in the winter of 2022 could be attributed to the record-breaking spell of La Nina prevailing at that time.

What are the Key Findings of the Study?

  • Link between Pollution and Winter Months in India:
    • During October to January, northern Indian cities, like Delhi, typically have high levels of PM2.5 due to various meteorological factors and pollution transport from regions like Punjab and Haryana.
    • The western and southern parts of the country have always had relatively lower levels of pollution, because of their proximity to oceans.
    • The winter of 2022, however, showed a significant deviation from this normal.
      • Northern Indian cities, including Delhi, were cleaner than usual, while cities in the west and the south, like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, experienced worse-than-usual air quality.

  • Anomalous Behaviour in Winter 2022:
    • PM2.5 concentrations in Ghaziabad and Noida reduced significantly, while Delhi saw a slight reduction. In contrast, Mumbai and Bengaluru experienced rises in PM2.5 levels.
      • Northern Indian cities had cleaner air than western and southern cities.
  • Factors Causing Anomaly:
    • The most crucial factor in explaining the anomaly of winter 2022 was a change in the normal wind direction.
    • During winter, the wind usually blows in the northwesterly direction. For example, from Punjab towards Delhi and further into the Gangetic plains.
      • It is a reason for transporting agricultural waste pollutants from Punjab and Haryana into Delhi.
    • In the winter of 2022, however, the wind circulation was in the north-south direction.
      • The pollutants being carried from Punjab and Haryana bypassed Delhi and surrounding areas and flew over Rajasthan and Gujarat to southern regions.
  • La Nina's Influence:
    • Extended La Nina persisted for an unusually long three years by the winter of 2022, impacting wind patterns.
      • The three consecutive years of La Niña conditions (2020-23) — a rare “Triple-Dip” phenomenon — had widespread impacts on the ocean and climate across the globe.
    • Not all La Nina events might produce noticeable changes in wind circulation over India.
    • The 2022 event is particularly strong. And the impact on air circulation became evident only in the third year of La Nina. So, there may be an accumulative effect.
      • The study suggests an unclear impact of El Nino on air quality in India.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM)

  • IITM is a scientific institution based in Pune, Maharashtra. It specializes in expanding research related to tropical meteorology, with a special focus on the tropical Indian Ocean.
  • Key areas of study include monsoon meteorology and air-sea interactions in the South Asian climate.
  • IITM operates as an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.

National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)

  • NIAS is an autonomous research institution located in Bengaluru, India. It was established in 1988 with the vision and initiative of the late Mr. J.R.D. Tata.
  • The institute aims to nurture a broad base of scholars, managers, and leaders who can address complex societal challenges through interdisciplinary approaches.
  • NIAS conducts advanced multidisciplinary research in various fields, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and conflict and security studies.

Conclusion

  • La Nina's influence on air quality in India during winter 2022 highlights the importance of understanding global climate patterns in local environmental conditions.
  • Further research is needed to elucidate the complex interactions between climate phenomena and air quality in India.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Prelims

Q. With reference to ‘Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)’ sometimes mentioned in the news while forecasting Indian monsoon, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2017)

  1. IOD phenomenon is characterised by a difference in sea surface temperature between tropical Western Indian Ocean and tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean.
  2. An IOD phenomenon can influence an El Nino’s impact on the monsoon.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)

Exp:

  • The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is an atmosphere ocean coupled phenomenon in the tropical Indian Ocean (like the El Nino is in the tropical Pacific), characterised by a difference in Sea-Surface Temperatures (SST).
  • A ‘positive IOD’ is associated with cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean and warmer than normal sea-surface temperatures in the western tropical Indian Ocean.
  • The opposite phenomenon is called a ‘negative IOD’ and is characterised by warmer than normal SSTs in the eastern equatorial Indian Ocean and cooler than normal SSTs in the western tropical Indian Ocean.
  • Also known as the Indian Nino, it is an irregular oscillation of sea-surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean in which the western Indian Ocean becomes alternately warmer and colder than the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. Hence, statement 1 is not correct.

Mains

Q. Drought has been recognized as a disaster in view of its spatial expanse, temporal duration, slow onset and lasting effects on vulnerable sections. With a focus on the September 2010 guidelines from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), discuss the mechanisms for preparedness to deal with likely El Nino and La Nina fallouts in India. (2014)

Q.2 Most of the unusual climatic happenings are explained as an outcome of the El-Nino effect. Do you agree? (2014)


Governance

NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023

For Prelims: Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), E-Services, e-UNNAT (Unified, Integrated, Accessible, and Transparent).

For Mains: Annual NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Source: ET

Why in News?

Recently, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) has released the ‘Annual NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023’, showing that Jammu & Kashmir dominated with 1,117 e-services mapped on the NeSDA Way Forward Dashboard.

  • The report is based on the National e-Governance Service Delivery Assessment (NeSDA) Framework.
  • This framework serves as a benchmarking exercise to assess states/Union Territories and Central Ministries regarding their delivery of e-services.

What are the Key Highlights of the Annual NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023?

  • Total Mapped E-Services:
    • By the end of December 2023, a total of 16,487 e-Services were mapped on the NeSDA Way Forward Dashboard, showcasing the extent of digital service delivery across various sectors.
      • In e-service delivery, Jammu & Kashmir is followed by Tamil Nadu (1,101 e-services), Madhya Pradesh (1010), and Kerala (911).
      • Apart from Manipur, the bottom four states are Lakshadweep (42), Ladakh (46), Sikkim (51) and Nagaland (64).
    • Jammu & Kashmir’s commendable progress in e-governance, as evidenced by the provision of 1120 e-services and achieving 100 % service delivery through their unified e-UNNAT (Unified, Integrated, Accessible, and Transparent) platform, has served as a source for replication and dissemination of e-services in Manipur.
  • Major Highlights:
    • Across States/UTs 16,487 Total e-services are provided across States/UTs Jammu and Kashmir provides the maximum (1117) number of e-services, across States/UTs.
      • Maximum e-services are provided in the sector – Local Governance & Utility Services .
      • The tourism sector has achieved the highest saturation for the provision of all mandatory e-services in 23 out of 36 States/UTs. This is followed by Environment and Labour & Employment sector in 20 out of 36 States/UTs
  • Mandatory Service:
    • Rise in saturation of Mandatory e-Services from 48% in NeSDA 2019 to 69% in NeSDA 2021 to 76% in NeSDA Way Forward (2023).
  • Challenges in e-Service Delivery:
    • There are disparities among states, with Manipur facing challenges in providing e-services compared to other regions, indicating a need for concerted efforts to improve digital governance in lagging states.

What is the National e-Governance Service Delivery Assessment (NeSDA)?

  • About:
    • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) formulated the NeSDA Framework to assess States/UTs and Central Ministries with regard to their delivery of e-services as a benchmarking exercise, covering seven sectors.
      • Seven sectors are- Local Governance & Utility Services; Social Welfare including Health, Agriculture, Home & Security; Finance; Labour & Employment; Education; Environment; Tourism.
    • It is released by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
    • In this assessment, the service portals were evaluated alongside their parent Ministry/portal Departments in this project.
  • Categorisation of Portal:
    • All Government portals that were evaluated were divided into two main categories-
      • States/Union Territories/Central Ministry portal.
      • State/Union Territory/ Central Ministry Services Portals.
  • Parameters:
    • There were four main parameters of assessment: -
      • Accessibility.
      • Content Availability.
      • Ease of Use and Information Security.
      • Privacy for Central Ministry Portals.
    • An additional three parameters were also used for the Central Ministry Services Portals -
      • End Service Delivery.
      • Integrated Service Delivery.
      • Status and Request tracking.

Unified Services Delivery:

  • A unified service delivery portal seamlessly integrates services across departments to provide better governance and service availability.
  • These help ensure that all citizen entitlements are available on the cloud, enhance the ease of doing business, and integrate a number of technologies for development activities.
  • Unified and seamless delivery of services is a core tenet of the NeSDA framework and strengthening such portals will enhance the digital empowerment of citizens.

What are the Government Initiatives to Promote E-Governance in India?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Which of the following is/are the aim/aims of “Digital India” Plan of the Government of India? (2018)

  1. Formation of India’s own Internet companies like China did.
  2. Establish a policy framework to encourage overseas multinational corporations that collect Big Data to build their large data centers within our national geographical boundaries.
  3. Connect many of our villages to the Internet and bring Wi-Fi to many of our schools, public places and major tourist centers.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)


Indian Economy

Promoting Local Fintech Players

For Prelims: Fintech Sector, Cybersecurity, Parliament Committees, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), National Payments Corporation of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India

For Mains: India's Digital Payments Ecosystem, Capital Market

Source: TH

Why in News?

In a recent report presented to Parliament, the Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology raised concerns regarding the dominance of foreign-owned fintech apps in India's digital payments ecosystem.

  • Fintech is the use of digital platforms to provide financial services.

What are the Key Highlights of the Report?

  • Emphasis on Effective Regulation:
    • The Committee in its report emphasised that digital payment apps must be effectively regulated as the use of digital platforms to make payments in India is on the rise.
    • It noted that it will be more ‘feasible’ for regulatory bodies such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to control local apps, as compared with foreign apps, which operate in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Dominance of Foreign-Owned Fintech Companies:
    • Fintech companies owned by foreign entities, such as PhonePe and Google Pay, dominate the Indian fintech sector, with substantial market shares.
      • Market share: PhonePe (46.91%) > Google Pay (36.39%) > BHIM UPI (0.22%) (till Oct-Nov 2023).
  • NPCI's Volume Cap Regulation:
    • The Committee’s recommendations are also largely in tune with the NPCI issuing a 30% volume cap on transactions facilitated using Unified Payments Interface (UPI), back in November 2020.
      • The cap restricts individual third-party apps like PhonePe and Amazon Pay from exceeding 30% of total UPI transactions over three months.
      • Apps exceeding the cap were given a two-year phased compliance period (Dec 2022- Dec 2024).
    • The purpose of the cap is to mitigate risks and safeguard the UPI ecosystem during its expansion.
    • NCPI emphasized the importance of enhancing consumer outreach by banks and non-banks to foster UPI growth and achieve market equilibrium.
  • Fraud Concerns:
    • The Committee highlights concerns about fintech platforms being exploited for money laundering, citing instances like the Abu Dhabi-based app Pyppl being administered by Chinese investment scamsters.
    • The fraud-to-sales (F2S) ratio has largely remained around 0.0015% despite the rise in volume of the payment mode in the last five years.
      • The percentage of users affected by UPI frauds stood at 0.0189%.
      • A F2S is a volume-based percentage that measures the number of fraudulent transactions a business processes in a given month compared to their monthly sales volume.

What is Fintech?

  • About:
    • Fintech, or financial technology, is the use of digital platforms, software, and services to provide or facilitate financial services, such as payments, lending, insurance, wealth management, and more.
  • Importance:
    • Fintech is important for India because it can help in:
      • Expanding the access and inclusion of financial services to the large unbanked and underbanked population in India, especially in rural and remote areas.
      • Enhancing the efficiency and convenience of financial transactions, by reducing the cost, time, and friction involved in traditional methods.
      • Fostering the innovation and growth of the Indian economy, by creating new opportunities and markets for entrepreneurs, startups, and consumers.
  • Segments and Trends of the Fintech Sector in India:
    • Major segments under Fintech include Payments, Digital Lending, InsurTech, WealthTech.
      • Digital payments, which enable the transfer of money or value through online or mobile platforms, such as UPI, wallets, cards, and QR codes.
      • Digital lending, which provides loans or credit to individuals or businesses through online or mobile platforms, using alternative data sources and algorithms.
      • Insurtech, which applies technology to improve the distribution, delivery, and management of insurance products and services.
      • Wealthtech, which offers online or mobile platforms for investment, wealth management, and financial advisory services
    • India is amongst the fastest growing Fintech markets in the world. It is home to over 7,000 fintech start-ups.
    • The Indian FinTech industry’s market size is USD 50 Bn in 2021 and is estimated at ~ USD 150 Bn by 2025.
  • Key Regulatory Bodies for Fintech in India:
    • Reserve Bank of India (RBI):
      • Regulates banks, NBFCs, PSPs, and credit bureaus.
      • Responsible for regulating India’s money market and foreign exchange market.
      • Oversees fintech sectors like Digital Payments, Digital Lending, and Digital or neo-banks.
    • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):
      • Regulates securities markets and intermediaries such as stockbrokers and investment advisors.
      • Services like stockbroking and investment advisory fall under its jurisdiction.
    • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI):
      • Regulates insurers, corporate agents, web aggregators for insurance, and third-party agents for insurance.
      • Ensures compliance and integrity in the insurance sector.

What are the Challenges Faced by Local Fintech Players?

  • Fierce Competition:
    • The Indian fintech space is highly competitive, with numerous local and foreign players vying for market share. This intense competition can make it difficult for local players to stand out and acquire a significant user base.
      • Local players often face competition from established global fintech giants with vast resources and experience. These giants can leverage their brand recognition and technological prowess to attract customers and gain a competitive edge.
  • Regulatory Hurdles:
    • The Indian regulatory landscape for fintech is constantly evolving, making it challenging for local players to keep up with compliance requirements.
      • Navigating these complexities can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, especially for smaller startups.
    • Growing concerns around data privacy and security pose challenges for local players. They need to invest in robust data security measures and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations like the Personal Data Protection to gain user trust.
  • Financial Constraints:
    • Compared to their foreign counterparts, local players often have limited access to funding, hindering their ability to invest in new technologies, expand their reach, and compete effectively.
      • While instant payments like UPI have revolutionised the Indian market, their minimal transaction fees can limit revenue generation for local players, especially those solely relying on this segment.
      • McKinsey's report (2023) suggests that instant payments in India may contribute less than 10% of future revenue growth.
        • This projection is due to the absence of fees charged for transactions made through the UPI, while UPI imposes minimal transaction fees, it still generates more revenue compared to fee-less cash transactions.
          • Paperless transactions enhance security and accessibility to digital commerce, compared to costly cash management.
  • Technological Limitations:
    • Rapid technological advancements in the global fintech landscape can be challenging for local players to keep pace with. They need to continuously invest in research and development to stay competitive and offer innovative solutions.
      • Lack of access to advanced technological infrastructure, such as robust internet connectivity in rural areas, can hinder the reach and inclusivity of local fintech solutions.
  • Customer Trust and Behaviour:
    • Establishing trust with users, especially in rural areas, can be challenging due to concerns about digital literacy, data security, and potential scams. Local players need to invest in user education and build trust through transparent practices.

Way Forward

  • Local and Foreign Fintech Players:
    • A balanced mix of Local and Foreign Fintech Players is essential to serve diverse areas like payments, lending, wealth management, and insurance.
      • The optimal mix should balance the interests and needs of the Indian ecosystem, which includes the customers, the providers, the regulators, and the society.
  • Enhanced Regulatory Engagement:
    • Local fintech players should actively engage with regulatory bodies to understand evolving compliance requirements and ensure adherence to regulations.
    • Collaboration with regulators can help streamline accountability and compliance processes and foster a conducive regulatory environment for innovation and growth.
  • User Experience:
    • Design user-friendly interfaces and functionalities that are accessible and cater to varying levels of digital literacy, especially in rural areas.
  • Access to funding:
    • Explore initiatives to facilitate easier access to funding for local players, such as venture capital investments or government grants, which can help them compete effectively.
  • Customer Trust:
    • Focus on education, transparent communication, and robust security measures to build trust.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. With reference to India, consider the following: (2010)

  1. Nationalisation of Banks
  2. Formation of Regional Rural Banks
  3. Adoption of village by Bank Branches

Which of the above can be considered as steps taken to achieve the “financial inclusion” in India?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (d)


Biodiversity & Environment

Concerns Raised on Plastic Waste Pollution

Source: TOI

Why in News?

Recently, A parliamentary panel raised concerns over the ineffective handling of plastic waste in the country, citing a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

  • The panel criticised the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for its lax approach to addressing the issue and urged the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change to improve coordination and take concrete steps to combat plastic pollution.

What is the Finding of the PAC Report?

  • Acknowledgment of Ministry's Efforts: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) acknowledged the Ministry's efforts on plastic waste since May 2021 but stressed the need for more effective measures to protect people from plastic pollution hazards.
  • Increasing Plastic Waste Generation: Plastic waste generation has increased substantially from 15.9 lakh tonnes per annum (TPA) in 2015-16 to 41.2 lakh TPA in 2020-21.
  • Unutilized Plastic Waste and Environmental Impact: Data from 2019-20 shows that 50% of the total plastic waste in the country (34.7 lakh TPA) remained unutilised, leading it to pollute air, water and soil, and ultimately affecting human health.
  • Data Gap and Inconsistencies: The PAC noted a big data gap, observing from CAG's 2022 audit findings that many State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) did not provide data on plastic waste generation for the period 2016-18 to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
    • It also noted that data received from SPCBs was not validated by CPCB and in certain cases, there were inconsistencies in data shared by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) with SPCBs.
  • Importance of Finding Alternatives to Plastic: It observed that "finding a cost-effective and dependable alternative to plastic" was a prerequisite for its elimination.

What are the Measures Taken to Curb Plastic Pollution?

What are the Recommendations of the PAC Report?

  • Importance of Reliable Data Assessment: Underlining gaps in data, the panel expressed the need to have a "reliable assessment" of the amount of plastic waste being generated and it should be the first step towards managing the problem efficiently.
  • Mandatory Reporting on National Dashboard: It recommended "mandatory" reporting of data online on the national dashboard.
  • Urgent and Effective Measures for Enforcement: Immediate and effective steps, in addition to EPR, including spreading awareness about eco-friendly alternatives and ill-effects of SUP, providing funds for R&D on finding alternatives, making implementing agencies accountable, promoting use of recycled plastic content and increasing recycling facilities may be taken to "efficiently enforce the ban on SUP on ground".
  • Vigilance over Industrial Practices: There is a need to keep a close watch on industries to see whether they actually do require collection and recycling or instead make false claims.
  • Embracing a Bottom-Up Approach: There is also a need to adopt a bottom-up approach where every block in the country should have at least one plastic waste recycling unit.
  • Encouraging Industry Participation: Industries or private entities should be incentivised to set up such units at local levels and they should, in turn, work closely with waste pickers through effective remunerative measures.

CPCB

Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

  • PAC is one of the three Financial Parliamentary committees, the other two are the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.
  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
  • Establishment:
    • The Public Accounts Committee was introduced in 1921 after its first mention in the Government of India Act, 1919 also called Montford Reforms.
    • The Public Accounts Committee is now constituted every year under Rule 308 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • Appointment:
    • The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
      • It is to be noted that the Committee, not being an executive body, can only make decisions that are advisory by nature.
  • Members:
    • It presently comprises 22 members (15 members elected by the Lok Sabha Speaker, and 7 members elected by the Rajya Sabha Chairman with a term of one year only.

What is EPR?

  • It makes producers responsible for the environmental impacts of their products throughout their life cycle.
  • EPR aims to promote better waste management and reduce the burden on municipalities.
  • It integrates environmental costs into product prices and encourages the design of environmentally sound products.
  • EPR applies to various types of waste, including plastic waste, e-waste, and battery waste.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Prelims

Q.1 In India, ‘extend producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following? (2019)

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998
(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999
(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011
(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

Ans: (c)

Q.2 How is the National Green Tribunal (NGT) different from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)? (2018)

  1. The NGT has been established by an Act whereas the CPCB has been created by an executive order of the Government.
  2. The NGT provides environmental justice and helps reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts whereas the CPCB promotes cleanliness of streams and wells, and aims to improve the quality of air in the country.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (b)


Agriculture

Scheme for Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector

For Prelims: Polyisoprene. Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector, Natural Rubber, Rubber Producers Societies (RPS).

For Mains: Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector, Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country.

Source: PIB

Why in News?

The financial assistance for the Rubber sector under the ‘Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector (SIDNRS)’ has been increased by 23% from Rs 576.41 crore to Rs 708.69 crore for the next 2 financial years (2024-25 and 2025-26).

  • The government has also announced plans to set up three nodal Rubber Training Institutes in the Northeast to promote the development of rubber-based industries in the region.
  • It will also promote the formation of Rubber Producers Societies (RPS) for the empowerment of rubber growers.

What is Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector (SIDNRS) Scheme?

  • About:
    • The SIDNRS scheme is an initiative by the Government of India to promote the sustainable and inclusive development of the natural rubber sector in India.
      • The SIDNRS scheme was launched in the FY 2017-18.
    • It is implemented by the Rubber Board, a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Objectives of the Scheme:
    • To improve the productivity and quality of natural rubber production.
    • To promote the adoption of sustainable rubber production practices.
    • To improve the income and livelihoods of rubber growers.
    • To create employment opportunities in the rubber sector.
    • To promote the development of the rubber-based industry.
  • Components of the scheme:
    • Subsidy for Replanting Old and Uneconomic Rubber Trees: Financial assistance provided to rubber growers for replanting old and uneconomic rubber trees with high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties.
    • Promotion of Intercropping: Financial assistance provided to rubber growers for intercropping rubber with other crops such as pineapple, banana, and cocoa. Intercropping helps to improve soil fertility, conserve moisture, and provide additional income to rubber growers.
    • Support for Capacity Building: Training and extension services provided to rubber growers on best practices in rubber production, processing, and marketing.
    • Development of Infrastructure: Financial assistance provided for the development of infrastructure facilities such as roads, water harvesting structures, and processing units in rubber-growing areas.
    • Promotion of Rubber-Based Industries: Financial assistance provided for the establishment and expansion of rubber-based industries such as tire manufacturing, footwear manufacturing, and latex processing units.

What are the Key Facts Related to Natural Rubber?

  • About Natural Rubber:
    • Natural rubber is a versatile and essential raw material derived from the latex or milky sap of certain plant species, primarily the rubber tree, scientifically known as Hevea brasiliensis.
      • This latex contains a complex mixture of organic compounds, with the primary component being a polymer called polyisoprene.
    • It was introduced to tropical Asia and Africa by the British Government during the later part of the 19th century.
  • Growing Conditions:
    • Tropical climate with annual rainfall of 200 – 450 cm is suited for cultivation.
    • It requires deep and lateritic fertile soil with an acidic pH of 4.5 to 6.0 and highly deficient in available phosphorus.
    • Minimum and maximum temperature should range from 25°C to 34°C and 80% relative humidity is ideal for cultivation.
    • Regions prone to heavy winds should be avoided.
    • Bright sunshine amounts to about 2000 hours per annum at the rate of 6 hours per day through all the months.
  • Rubber Production and Consumption:
    • India is currently the world’s 6th largest producer of natural rubber while it also remains the second biggest consumer of the material globally (after China).
      • Thailand is the world’s leading natural rubber producing country (accounting for approximately 35% of global natural rubber production in 2022).
    • In South Asia, India holds the 4th-largest position following Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
    • About 40% of India’s total natural rubber consumption is currently met through imports.
  • Rubber Distribution:
    • As of now, India has approximately 8.5 lakh hectares of rubber plantations.
    • Major rubber producing states include: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Assam.
      • The lion's share of this rubber farming, nearly 5 lakh hectares, is concentrated in the southern states of Kerala and the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
      • Additionally, Tripura contributes around 1 lakh hectares to the rubber production landscape
  • Major Applications:
    • Automobiles: Rubber is a key component in tire production due to its excellent grip and wear resistance. Used in seals, gaskets, hoses, and various components for vehicles.
      • The main use of natural rubber is in automobiles. Nearly 65% of natural rubber is consumed by the automobile industry.
    • Footwear: Commonly used in shoe soles for its cushioning and slip-resistant properties.
    • Industrial Products: Found in conveyor belts, hoses, and machinery components.
    • Medical Devices: Used in gloves, syringe plungers, and medical equipment.
    • Consumer Goods: Used in products like balloons, erasers, and household gloves.
    • Sporting Goods: Found in items like tennis balls, golf balls, and protective gear.

What is the Rubber Board?

  • The Rubber Board is a statutory organisation constituted under Section (4) of the Rubber Act, 1947 and functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The Board is headed by a Chairman appointed by the Central Government and has 28 members representing various interests of the natural rubber industry.
    • The Board’s headquarters is located at Kottayam in Kerala.
  • The Board is responsible for the development of the rubber industry in the country by assisting and encouraging research, development, extension and training activities related to rubber.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Prelims

Q. Which one of the following groups of plants was domesticated in the ‘New World’ and introduced into the ‘Old World’? (2019)

(a) Tobacco, cocoa and rubber
(b) Tobacco, cotton and rubber
(c) Cotton, coffee and sugarcane
(d) Rubber, coffee and wheat

Ans: (a)

Q. Match List-I with List-II and select the correct answer using the code given below the Lists: (2008)

List-I (Board) List-II (Headquarters)
A. Coffee Board 1. Bengaluru
B. Rubber Board 2. Guntur
C. Tea Board 3. Kottayam
D. Tobacco Board 4. Kolkata

Code: A B C D

(a) 2 4 3 1
(b) 1 3 4 2
(c) 2 3 4 1
(d) 1 4 3 2

Ans: (b)


Important Facts For Prelims

Paruveta Utsavam

Source: TH

Why in News?

The Indian National Trust For Art And Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is making efforts to get the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare the annual ‘Paruveta’ (mock hunting festival), as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

What is Paruveta Utsavam?

  • About:
    • It is an annual mock hunting festival celebrated at the Sri Narasimha Swamy temple in Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh.
      • The temple, under the governance of the 600-year-old Ahobila Mutt through the 'Guru Parampara', has promoted Srivaishnavism among tribal communities, as evidenced by the Sanskrit drama Vasanthika Parinayam authored by the Mutt's 7th Jeeyar (pontiff) .
    • This festival symbolises communal harmony, during which the deity from the temple's sanctum sanctorum is taken to the 32 Chenchu tribal hamlets around Ahobilam for 40 days (a Mandala).
    • The spiritual journey commences with tribal individuals aiming their bows and shooting two arrows at the palanquin, symbolising reverence and their protective watch over the deity.
    • The Sankranti festival is celebrated on the day the deity reaches their hamlet.
      • While Paruveta is commonly observed in many temples during Vijayadasami or Sankranti, it is only in Ahobilam that it is conducted for a ‘mandala’ (forty days).
      • Chenchus take ‘Narasimha Deeksha’ by wearing yellow robes and ‘Tulasi Mala’ and observe celibacy during this period.
    • The Pancharatra Agama (doctrine of temple worship) refers to Paruveta as 'Mrugayotsava' and provides guidelines for its conduct, emphasising its significance in temple worship.
  • Folklore:
    • In folklore, it's said that Lord Vishnu, in his Narasimha incarnation, wedded Maha Lakshmi, incarnated as a tribal girl named Chenchulakshmi in Ahobilam, where Chenchu tribes honoured Narasimha as their brother-in-law and invited him home for Makara Sankranti.
  • Chenchu Tribe:
    • The Chenchus, also called 'Chenchuvaru' or 'Chenchwar' is numerically the smallest Scheduled Tribe of Odisha.
    • They mainly inhabit in the Nallamalai Hill ranges in the southeastern part of India.
      • They are an aboriginal semi-nomadic tribe of the central hill religions of Andhra Pradesh.
    • Their traditional way of life has been based on hunting and food gathering.
    • Chenchu tribes are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTGs) of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

  • Intangible cultural heritage is the practices, expressions, knowledge, and skills that communities, groups, and sometimes individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.
  • Also called living cultural heritage, it is usually expressed in one of the following forms:
    • Oral Traditions
    • Performing Arts
    • Social Practices
    • Rituals and Festive events
    • Knowledge and Practices concerning nature and the universe
    • Traditional Craftsmanship
Year Recognition of Tradition by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage
2023 Garba of Gujarat
2021 Durga Puja in Kolkata
2017 Kumbh Mela
2016 Nawrouz, Yoga
2014 Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India
2013 Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
2012

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region

2010 Chhau dance, Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
2009 Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India
2008 Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre,Tradition of Vedic chanting, Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana

What is the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)?

The INTACH was founded in 1984 with the vision to spearhead heritage awareness and conservation in India.

  • It is a non-profit charitable organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, of 1860.
  • It has pioneered the conservation and preservation of not just our natural and built heritage but intangible heritage as well.
  • In 2007, the United Nations awarded INTACH a special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Prelims

Q. Recently, which one of the following was included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list?(2009)

(a) Dilwara Temple
(b) Kalka-Shimla Railway
(c) Bhiterkanika Mangrove Area
(d) Visakhapatnam to Araku valley railway line

Ans: (b)

Q. Recently, the manuscripts of which one of the following have been included in the UNESCO’s Memory of World Register? (2008)

(a) Abhidhamma Pitaka
(b) Mahabharata
(c) Ramayana 
(d) Rig-Veda

Ans: (d)


Rapid Fire

Sammakka Saralamma Jathara

Source: PIB

Recently, the Prime Minister of India extended greetings at the start of the largest tribal festival, Sammakka Saralamma Jathara or Medaram Jathara

  • Medaram Jathara (primarily celebrated by the Koya tribe) is the largest tribal religious congregation in the world, held biennually, with approximately 10 million people converging on the place, over four days in the month of 'Magha' (February) on the full moon day in Medaram.
    • Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, Telangana.
  • Medaram Jathara commemorates the bravery of Sammakka and Saralamma, tribal goddesses who fought against injustice.
    • It is a festival with no Vedic or Brahmanic influence.
  • Folklore:
    • Sammakka, found as a newborn amidst tigers, grew up to become a tribal chief and married Pagididda Raju (Kakatiya feudatory chief), she had two daughters, Sarakka and Nagulamma, and a son named Jampanna.
  • During the Jathara people offer bangaram (gold) in the form of jaggery of a quantity equal to their weight to the goddesses and take holy baths in the Jampanna Vagu (stream).
  • Jampanna Vagu, a tributary of River Godavari, named after tribal warrior Jampanna, runs red with his blood from battle against the Kakatiya Army. Tribals bathe here to honour his sacrifice and gain courage.

Read more: Medaram Jathara Festival


Rapid Fire

Flood Management and Border Areas Programme

Source: PIB

The Union Cabinet, has approved the continuation of the centrally sponsored Scheme, "Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP)," proposed by the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (DoWR, RD & GR), for the period of 2021-22 to 2025-26.

  • FMBAP includes two components: Flood Management Programme (FMP) and River Management and Border Areas (RMBA).
  • FMP component for flood control, anti-erosion, drainage development, and anti-sea erosion works.
    • Funding pattern:
      • 90% (Centre): 10% (State) for Special Category States (8 North-Easter States and Hilly States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and UT of Jammu & Kashmir).
      • 60% (Centre): 40% (State) for General/Non-Special Category States.
  • RMBA component (100% central assistance) focuses on flood control, anti-erosion works, and safeguards security installations on border rivers, including joint water projects with neighbouring countries.
  • The Scheme incentivizes states to implement flood-plain zoning, an effective flood management measure.
    • Flood-plain zoning designates areas prone to flooding and dictates permissible developments to minimise damage during floods.

Read more: Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP)


Rapid Fire

Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh

Source: PIB

Recently, the Prime Minister of India extended his wishes to the people of Arunachal Pradesh on its 38th Statehood Day.

  • The modern history of Arunachal Pradesh commences with British control initiated through the Treaty of Yandaboo (after the First Anglo-Burmese War) in 1826, evolving into the establishment of the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) by 1838.
    • In 1914, the Shimla Treaty established the boundary between Tibet and NEFA, recognized by China, Tibet, and British rulers.
    • Before 1962, Arunachal Pradesh was under Assam's constitutional jurisdiction, later transitioning into a Union Territory under separate administration due to its strategic significance.
  • Arunachal Pradesh attained full statehood on 20th February 1987 becoming the 24th state of the Indian Union through the 55th constitutional amendment in alignment with the national policy of granting tribal regions distinct state identities.

Read more: Arunachal Pradesh


Rapid Fire

Statehood Day of Mizoram

Source: PIB

  • Recently, the Prime Minister of India extended his wishes to the people of Mizoram on its 38th Statehood Day (20th February).
  • The Mizo Hills area became the Lushai Hills district within Assam at the time of independence. Further, in 1954 it was renamed the Mizo Hills District of Assam.
  • Mizoram was granted the status of a Union Territory in 1972 after signing an accord with the moderates of the Mizo National Front (MNF).
  • The Union Territory of Mizoram was conferred the status of a full state in 1986 after the signing of the Mizoram Peace Accord between the Central government and the MNF.
  • The formalization of Mizoram State took place on 20th February 1987 after the 53rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution, 1986.
  • Mizoram has been designated as a "tribal area" under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution (Article 244(2)).

Read more: Mizoram


Rapid Fire

Spur-winged Lapwing

Source: TH

Recently, a group of birdwatchers spotted an African-Mediterranean wader bird, the Spur-winged Lapwing (Vanellus spinosus), at Ammavaripet Lake in Warangal, Telangana. It is believed to be the first time the bird has been spotted in India.

  • Family: Spur-winged Lapwing belongs to the family of Charadriidae.
  • Range: Central, sub-Saharan Africa; eastern Mediterranean.
  • IUCN Red List Category: Least Concern.
  • Diet: Carnivore - Primarily insects, insect larvae, and small invertebrates.
  • Active: Diurnal - Variably diurnal or nocturnal.
    • Spur-winged lapwings are active day and night, depending on the concentration of prey and predators in a given area.


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