How Agri Infra Fund is strengthening primary Agri Co-Op Societies?
(GS-III: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing)
One year after its launch, the Central government’s Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) has given a major boost to the strengthening of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) – the lifelines of village-level credit systems.
The Ministry of Agriculture data provided to Rajya Sabha last month reveal that a total of 6,524 projects, at cost of ₹4,503, have been sanctioned under AIF.
Out of this, 76 per cent (4,963) of the projects have gone to PACS. This means that 65 per cent of the funds under the scheme have gone to PACS projects.
Recently, The Union Cabinet has approved the various modifications in the Central Sector Scheme of Financing Facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.
Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
The power has been delegated to the Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiaries.
The period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years upto 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 upto 2032-33.
About the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund:
It is a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and credit guarantee.
Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE for loans up to Rs. 2 Crores.
Eligible beneficiaries include:
Originally, it included Farmers, Marketing Cooperative Societies, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore. This subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years.
Credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to Rs. 2 crore.
The fee for this coverage will be paid by the Government.
In case of FPOs the credit guarantee may be availed from the facility created under FPO promotion scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DACFW).
Management of the fund:
It will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.
Pakistan exploiting scope of uranium enrichment in Gilgit Baltistan
(GS-III: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security)
In violation of international laws, Pakistan has been exploiting the scope of uranium enrichment in Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, confirmed locals and political activists from the occupied region.
Earlier, there were reports that Pakistan has given a free hand to Chinese mining companies to plunder natural resources in Gilgit Baltistan. There are reports that over 2,000 leases for mining of gold, uranium and molybdenum have been illegally awarded to Chinese firms by the Pakistan government in occupied Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
What exactly is uranium and what are its uses?
Occurrence: occurs naturally in low concentrations in soil, rock and water and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals.
Uranium that has a silvery grey metallic appearance is mainly used in nuclear power plants due to its unique nuclear properties.
Depleted uranium is also used as a shield against radiation in medical processes using radiation therapy and also while transporting radioactive materials.
Though itself radioactive, uranium’s high density makes it effective in halting radiation.
Its high density also makes it useful as counterweights in aircraft and industrial machinery.
Uranium Mining In India:
In India, Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks.
It occurs along the Singbhum Copper belt (Jharkhand); Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
Significant quantities of reserves were recently discovered in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between Seshachalam forest and Sresailam (Southern edge of Andhra to Southern edge of Telangana).
What is the goal of uranium enrichment?
Uranium contains a rare radioactive isotope, called U-235, that can be used to power nuclear reactors at low enrichment levels and to fuel nuclear bombs at much higher levels.
The goal of uranium enrichment is to raise the percentage levels of U-235, which is often done through the use of centrifuges — machines that spin a form of unrefined uranium at high speeds.
Parker Solar Probe
(GS-III: Awareness in space)
Scientists using data from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe have assembled the most complete picture yet of the inner structure and behavior of the large cloud of space dust, known as the zodiacal cloud, that swirls throughout the solar system.
They found three dust populations in the cloud:
Most of the grains are being slowly pulled in toward the Sun (alpha-meteoroids).
The second population is generated as grains in the swirling cloud collide, creating fragments so small that they are pushed out of the solar system in all directions by pressure from sunlight (beta-meteoroids).
A third group, probably created when a “tube” of cometary debris collides with grains from the first two populations, is scattered out in a distinctive wedge shape.
What are zodiacal clouds?
The sources of zodiacal clouds/interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) include at least: asteroid collisions, cometary activity and collisions in the inner Solar System, Kuiper belt collisions, and interstellar medium grains.
It scatters sunlight in a way that can be seen with the naked eye, but only on very dark, clear nights, as moonlight or light from cities both easily outshine it.
Thickest near the sun and thinnest near the edges of the solar system, the zodiacal cloud looks smooth to the naked eye, but infrared wavelengths reveal bright streaks and ribbons that can be traced back to their sources: comets and asteroids.
About the mission:
NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.
Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun.
The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:
Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.
(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment had recently organised meetings with officials and other stakeholders of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh for implementation of National Trust Act, 1999.
This act looks into the welfare of people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities.
The Act also provides for the setting up of the National Trust.
About the National Trust:
The National Trust is a statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
It was set up under the “National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities” Act.
Its mandate is to discharge two basic duties – legal and welfare.
The objectives of the National Trust in particular are:
To enable and empower persons with disability to live as independently and as fully as possible within and as close to their community as possible;
To facilitate the realisation of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with disability;
To extend support to its registered organisations to provide need-based services; and
To evolve procedures for appointments of guardians and trustees for persons with disabilities.
Disabilities under NTA:
The National Trust works for the welfare of persons with any of the following four disabilities: