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15th October Current Affairs

Organic fertiliser: A must for the next green revolution

(GS-III: Major crop cropping patterns in various parts of the country)

In News:

With the right policy interventions, India can become the hub of organic fertiliser production.

What are organic fertilisers?

Organic fertilisers are derived from animal products and plant residues containing sufficient

Organic fertiliser can be categorised into two segments, according to government rules:

Bio-fertilisers are composed of living microorganisms attached to solid or liquid carriers and are useful for cultivable land, as these microorganisms help in increasing the productivity of soil and/or crops.

Organic manure refers to partially decomposed organic matter like digestate from a biogas plant, compost and vermicompost, which provides nutrients to the soil/crops and improves yield.

The penetration of organic fertilisers is low: The proportion of organic fertilisers of the overall fertiliser consumption was only 0.34 per cent for 2019-20.

With the promotion of biogas production, the government can reap the benefits of its bi-product — fertiliser.

Potentials of organic fertilisers in India:

Utilisation of Solid waste: India produces more than 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW), (According to the National Solid Waste Association of India and the Central Pollution Control Board. )

Considering collection efficiency of 80 per cent and the organic part of MSW to be 50 per cent, the total organic waste generated per day in India comes to around 65,000 tonnes per day.

Even if half of this is diverted to the biogas industry, the government can leverage this by the reduction in import of fossils and fertilisers.

Using Biogas/gobar gas plants effluents: these plants not only produce biogas but also organic fertilisers are known as digestate.

Digestate can help realise the vision to have a second green revolution.

Increase Soil fertility: Digestate can provide organic carbon to the continuously depleting soil, apart from its standard nutrition value.

In India at present, bio-fertiliser production is just over 110,000 tonnes and 34 million tonnes of organic manure, composed of farmyard manure, city compost and vermicompost, among others.

Why India needs to promote production of organic fertlisers?

Popularity:The popularity of organic farming has grown in the domestic market in recent years.

Market size: The market size for Indian organic packaged food is expected to grow at a rate of 17 per cent and cross Rs 871 million by 2021.

Growing awareness: The significant rise of this sector is linked to growing awareness about the harmful effects of synthetic fertiliser on soil, rising health concerns, expanding urban population base and an increased consumer expenditure on food goods.

SATAT Scheme: Bio-compressed natural gas (bio-CNG) and solid organic manure or digestate can be produced in large quantities under the SATAT programme, under which more than 5,000 projects have been started across the country by the industry.

Since organic manure can be improved with the use of bio fertilisers to meet nutrient requirements, both biofertilizers and organic manure have the potential to eliminate the usage of synthetic fertilisers completely.

Will electoral bonds reveal fund source

In News:

The Supreme Court asked the government whether the electoral bond system reveals the source of money pumped in to fund political parties.

Key Highlights:

Free and fair elections are central to democracy: It is the Basic Structure and an opaque way of funding political parties that destroys the concept of Article 324, the petitioner argued.

Two other important and interconnected issues in the petition:

RTI: whether political parties are under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

Amendments to the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act: Subsidiaries of foreign companies would not be treated as foreign sources.

Who can purchase it?

Citizen of India: Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.

Single or jointly: A person being an individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Eligibility:

Political Parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951: Which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State.

Authorized bank: The Electoral Bonds shall be encashed by an eligible Political Party only through a Bank account with the Authorized Bank.

State Bank of India (SBI): It has been authorized to issue and encash Electoral Bonds.

IMF’s recommendation to India

In News:

Although the IMF has downgraded India’s growth forecast to 6.1% for the next fiscal year (2023-24), it has maintained that India “is still a bright spot” for economic growth.

Indian economy is facing a mix of cyclical and structural challenges –

Cyclical challenges: Slow down in private consumption ( it contributes 60% in GDP); declining rural and urban wages; decline in savings ( from 32% (2011) to 29% (2019-20)); decline in gross fixed capital formation ( from 34% (2011) to 30% (2019-20)); high NPAs in the banking sector (nearly 7% now)

Structural challenges: Sluggish agricultural sector growth (around 3%); Suboptimal skill of Human Resources (only 5% of our workforce is formally trained); 4 labour codes have still not been implemented uniformly; and transitional effects of big-ticket reforms- demonetisation and GST

IMF’S Suggestions:

Contain a high level of debt and provide government fiscal support in a targeted and time-bound manner.

Follow tight monetary policy.

Implement structural reforms: E.g. manufacturing sector reforms, doing away with labour market rigidities etc.

Monetary policy refers to central bank activities that are directed toward influencing the quantity of money and credit in an economy. By contrast, fiscal policy refers to the government’s decisions about taxation and spending. Both monetary and fiscal policies are used to regulate economic activity over time.

Carbon dating

In News:

Recently a court in Varanasi has rejected a plea requesting carbon dating into the structure (claimed to be shivling) found inside Gyanvapi Mosque.

What is Carbon dating?

Carbon dating is a widely-used method to establish the age of organic materials. The dating method is based on the fact that Carbon-14 (C-14), an isotope of carbon with an atomic mass of 14, is radioactive, and decays at a well known rate.

Developed by: American physicist Willard F. Libby.

How does it work?

The most abundant isotope of carbon in the atmosphere is C-12. A very small amount of C-14 is also present. The ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the atmosphere is almost static and is known. The changing ratio of C-12 to C-14 in the remains of a plant or animal after it dies can be measured, and can be used to deduce the approximate time when the organism died.

However, carbon dating cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things like rocks (or Shivlings).

Other methods:

Radiometric dating methods: Here, instead of carbon, decays of other radioactive elements that might be present in the material become the basis for the dating method.

Cosmogenic nuclide dating: It is regularly applied to study the age of ice cores in polar regions.

Global Hunger Index

(GS-II: Issues related to poverty and hunger, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection of vulnerable sections of society etc)

In News:

India ranks 107 out of 121 countries  (under the “serious category”) on the Global Hunger Index released by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.

Details:

Earlier India’s rank was 101 (2021)

Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries.

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest private aid organisations in Germany, independent of politics and religion.

Globally:

Stagnant: Progress against hunger has largely stagnated in recent years.

Moderate: The 2022 GHI score for the world is considered “moderate”.

Slight improvement: 2(eighteen point two)in 2022 from 19.1(nineteen point one)in 2014

India on the index:

Serious category: India’s score of 29.1(twenty nine point one places) is in the ‘serious’ category.

Neighbouring countries: India also ranks below Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99).

Afghanistan (109): It is the only country in South Asia that performs worse than India on the index.

India’s child wasting rate (low weight for height): It is 19.3(nineteen point three)%, worse than the levels recorded in 2014 (15.1(fifteen point one)%).

Undernourishment: It has risen in the country from 14.6(fourteen point six)% in 2018-2020 to 16.3(sixteen point three)% in 2019-2021.

Improvement in child stunting and child mortality between 2014 and 2022:

Child stunting has declined from 38.7(thirty eight point seven)% to 35.5(thirty five point five)%.

Child mortality has also dropped from 4.6(four point six)% to 3.3(three point three)%.

Reasons for the fallout globally:

  • Conflict
  • Climate change
  • Economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ukraine war

Some Related Initiatives by India for reducing hunger:

  • Eat Right India Movement
  • POSHAN Abhiyan
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
  • Food Fortification
  • National Food Security Act, 2013
  • Mission Indradhanush
  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme