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Daily Gist of ‘The Hindu’, ‘PIB’, ‘Indian Express’ and Other Newspapers: 15th February, 2021

Daily news will speed up the preparation for the Civil Services Examination and it also plays a crucial role to grasp the current affairs topic comprehensively. Here we have covered most of the topics related to various categories including National, International, Sports, Science and Technology, and so on.

  1. ‘Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials’

Why in news?

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is implementing farmer’s welfare scheme ‘Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials’.

Key points are:

– The aim is to produce and supply quality seeds to farmers to enhance production and productivity in the country through various components namely Seed Village Programme, Establishment of Seed Processing- cum- Seed Storage Godowns at Gram Panchyat Level, National Seed Reserve, Boosting Seed Production in Private Sector and Strengthening of Quality Control Infrastructure Facilities.

Some of the major achievements under the scheme from 2014-15 to 2020-21 are as under:

– Under Seed Village Programme, 4.29 lakh numbers of Seed Villages have been created  wherein 38.01 lakh qtls. of foundation/certified seeds were distributed at concessional rates to 170.86 lakh farmers.

– To encourage farmers to take up Seed production of Pulses, Oilseeds, Fodder and Green Manure crops locally and make available required certified seeds at village itself, 1.05 lakh qtls. of foundation /certified seeds have been distributed at 75% subsidised rates  to 2.61 lakh farmers.

– Financial support provided to the States to establish 517 no. of Seed Processing-cum-storage godown Units each of 500 Mt. capacity at Gram Panchayat level, for creating 25.85 LQ more capacity each for Seed Processing and for Seed storage, to make available required crop variety seeds locally to farmers to make them self-sufficient.

– Financial assistance provided for movement of 10.37 lakh qtls. of seeds for  making timely availability at affordable price of certified/quality seeds to the farmers of North-Eastern States, UT of J&K, Laddakh, H.P., Uttrakhand and hilly/remote areas of West Bengal.

– Under National Seed Reserve, 17.01 lakh qtls seeds of short and medium crop varieties kept to meet the requirement of farmers for re-sowing during natural calamities and unforeseen conditions i.e. drought, cyclone and flood etc.

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– Subsequent to flood damaging paddy crop in Kerala in August, 2018, 3900 MT seeds kept under National Seed Reserve made available to the farmers for re-sowing, so that farmers of the State  didn’t face seed scarcity.

– In order to alleviate malnutrition in the country, 71 bio-fortified varieties (nutritionally enriched with protein, Iron, Zinc, amino acids, Pro vitamin-A & vitamin-C etc.,) of different crops (rice, wheat, maize, pearl millet, lentil, mustard, soybean, cauliflower, sweet potato and pomegranate etc.) developed.

– The breeder seeds of bio-fortified varieties have been allotted to the States for further multiplication for enhancing availability of seeds to the farmers in the country.

– 3436 registration certificates for plant varieties issued by PPVFR Authority for intellectual proprietary rights purpose. These include under Farmers’ Variety, the varieties which are traditionally cultivated and evolved by the farmers in their fields, and the wild relative or landrace of a variety about which the farmers possess common knowledge.

  1. PM Modi lays foundation stone and inaugurates various projects in Kochi, Kerala

Why in news?

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inaugurated and laid foundation stone of various projects in Kochi Kerala on 14 February, 2021.

Key points are:

– Governor of Kerala, Chief Minister of Kerala, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan,Ministers of State Mansukh Mandaviya , V. Muraleedharanwere present on the occasion.

– Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that the works inaugurated today cover a wide range of sectors. They will energise the growth trajectory of India.

– He said that Propylene DerivativePetrochemical Project (PDPP), inaugurated today, will help strengthen India’s journey towards being Aatmanirbhar as it will save foreign exchange.

– A wide range of industries would gain and employment opportunities would be generated.

– Similarly, with Ro-Ro Vessels, a distance of almost thirty kilometres on road will become 3.5 kilometers through waterways leading to less congestion and more convenience, commerce and capacity-building.

– The Prime Minister asserted that the Government of India is undertaking many efforts to improve tourism related infrastructure in Kerala.The inauguration of Sagarika, the International Cruise Terminal in Kochi is one example of this.

  1. India Maps the 21st Century

Why in news?

The Department of Science and Technology is announcing sweeping changes to India’s mapping policy, specifically for Indian companies.

Key points are:

– Maps and accurate geospatial data are crucial for national infrastructure projects such as linkages of rivers, creation of industrial corridors and deploying smart power systems.

– Emerging vibrant technologies like Digital India, Smart Cities, eCommerce, autonomous drones, delivery, logistics and urban transport require a leap forward in mapping with greater depth, resolution and precision.

– In every economic endeavor, spanning agriculture, finance, construction, mining and local enterprise, India’s farmers, small businesses and corporations alike stand to gain tremendously from the application of innovative technologies based on modern geospatial data technologies and mapping services.

– The Hon’ble Prime Minister observed however, that the existing regime imposed significant restrictions on the mapping industry – from creation to dissemination of maps, requiring Indian companies to seek licenses, follow a cumbersome system of pre-approvals and permissions.

– Compliance with these regulatory restrictions has subjected startups in India to unnecessary red tape, hindering Indian innovation in map technologies for decades.

– To realise India’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and the goal of a 5 trillion-dollar economy, the regulations that apply to geospatial data and maps henceforth stand radically liberalised.

–  Furthermore,our corporations and innovators are no longer subject to restrictions nor do they require prior approvals before they collect, generate, prepare, disseminate, store, publish, update digital Geospatial Data and Maps within the territory of India.

–  India is emerging as a mapping power, creating next generation indigenous maps of India and taking these new technologies to the rest of the world.

  1. India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal

Why in news?

– India’s first full-fledged international cruise terminal is inaugurated in Kerala.

Key points are:

– Kochi is a city of trade and commerce. The people of this city understand that time is of the essence. They also appreciate the importance of proper connectivity.

– Two important factors that shape economic development are: Capacity Building and  Making infrastructure modern  for future needs. The next two development works are related to these themes. ‘Vigyan Sagar’, is the new knowledge campus of Cochin Shipyard.

– This year’s Budget has devoted significant resources and schemes that will benefit Kerala. This includes the next phase of the Kochi Metro. This metro network has come up successfully and has set a good example of progressive work practices and professionalism.

  1. Disqualification of 7 Nagaland MLAs

Why in news?

– The Kohima Bench of the Gauhati High Court has dismissed two interlocutory applications filed by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) that sought to keep seven of its suspended MLAs off the 60-member Nagaland Assembly.


The applications were dismissed pending a final verdict on a plea by the seven MLAs challenging the maintainability of a writ petition relating to their disqualification.

About the issue

– The NPF filed disqualification petitions on 24 April, 2019,  against its seven suspended MLAs for “wilfully” defying its collective decision to support the Congress candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

– NPF claimed the seven MLAs had willfully given up their party membership, thereby attracting provisions under the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.

– These MLAs, however, said as the NPF’s decision to support the Congress candidate was “against the principle of regionalism”, they said they had backed the other candidate. The NPF had not contested the polls.

  1. Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Why in news?

Lok Sabha Passes Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021. It is already in force by way of an Ordinance promulgated on 4th November, 2020.

Key points of the Bill are:

– It seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 so as to (i) enable automatic stay on awards in certain cases and (ii) specify by regulations the qualifications, experience and norms for accreditation of arbitrators.

– Seeks to ensure that stakeholder parties can seek an unconditional stay on enforcement of arbitral awards in cases where the “arbitration agreement or contract is induced by fraud or corruption.”

– Also does away with the 8th Schedule of the Act that contained the necessary qualifications for accreditation of arbitrators.

– Added a provison in Section 36 of the Arbitration Act and will come into effect retrospectively from October 23, 2015. As per this amendment, if the Court is satisfied that a prima facie case is made out that the arbitration agreement or contract which is the basis of the award was induced or effected by fraud or corruption, it will stay the award unconditionally pending disposal of the challenge made to the award under Section 34.

  1. Doubling Farmers Income

Recently, the Central Government admitted that no actual assessment of farm income has been carried out since 2013.

Key points are:

– The Government of India in its Annual Budget 2016-17 set a policy target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

– Agriculture sustains livelihood for more than half of India’s total population. Doubling farmers’ income in such a short period is an overwhelming task for decision makers, scientists and policy makers because of its continued role in employment, income and most importantly in national food security.

– Doubling farmers’ income is possible through increasing total output and better price realization in the market, reduction in production costs,diversification of product, efficient post-harvest management, value addition, etc.

Some institutional reforms taken by the Government are:

– Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Soil health card, and Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana: Aiming to raise output and reduce cost.

– Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana: To provide insurance against crop and income loss and to encourage investment in farming.

– Interlinking of rivers – To raise output and farm incomes.

– Operation Greens: To address price volatility of perishable commodities like Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP).

– PM Kisan Sampada Yojana: To promote food processing in a holistic manner.

Some Technological Reforms are:

Initiating E-NAM: The National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

Technology mission on cotton: Its objective is to increase the income of the cotton growers by reducing the cost of cultivation as well as by increasing the yield per hectare through proper transfer of technology to the growers.

Technology Mission on Oilseeds, Pulses and Maize (TMOPM): Few schemes implemented under TMOPM are: Oilseeds Production Programme (OPP), National Pulses Development Project (NPDP), etc.

Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): It is a scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.

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