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21st February Current Affairs

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

(GS-III: Government subsidies)

In News:

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has successfully entered its seventh year of implementation with the upcoming Kharif 2022 season, completing six years of its implementation since its announcement on 18 February 2016.

Meri Policy Mere Hath to be launched:

As part of the celebrations, the Govt. has launched a doorstep distribution drive to deliver crop insurance policies to the farmers ‘Meri Policy Mere Hath’ in all implementing States.

The campaign aims to ensure all farmers are well aware and equipped with all information on their policies, land records, the process of claim and grievance redressal under PMFBY.

Performance of PMFBY:

Till date, the scheme has insured over 30 crore farmer applications (5.5 crore farmer applications on year-on-year basis).

Over the period of 5 years, more than 8.3 crore farmer applications have benefited from the scheme.

Moreover, Rs.95,000 crores claims have been paid as against Rs. 20,000 crore farmers share.

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:

It is in line with the One Nation – One Scheme theme- It replaced National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Launched in 2016.

Coverage: All food & oilseed crops and annual commercial/horticultural crops for which past yield data is available.

Premium: The prescribed premium is 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all rabi crops. In the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium is 5%.

Objectives:

  • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crops as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
  • To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.

Coverage:

The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are being conducted under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).

PMFBY to PMFBY 2.0 (overhauled PMFBY):

Completely Voluntary: It has been decided to make enrolment 100% voluntary for all farmers from 2020 Kharif.

Limit to Central Subsidy: The Cabinet has decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under these schemes for premium rates up to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.

More Flexibility to States: The government has given the flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses.

Penalising the Pendency: In the revamped PMFBY, a provision has beenincorporated wherein if states don’t release their share before March 31 for the Kharif season and September 30 for rabi, they would not be allowed to participate in the scheme in subsequent seasons.

Investing in ICE Activities: Insurance companies have to now spend 0.5% of the total premium collected on information, education and communication (IEC) activities.

India, UAE sign Comprehensive Trade Agreement

(GS-II: India and neighbourhood relations)

In News:

India and the United Arab Emirates have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

What is CEPA and how is it different from FTA?

It is a kind of free trade pact which covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership.

It may even consider negotiation on areas such as trade facilitation and customs cooperation, competition, and Intellectual Property Rights.

Partnership agreements or cooperation agreements are more comprehensive than Free Trade Agreements.

CEPA also looks into the regulatory aspect of trade and encompasses an agreement covering the regulatory issues.

As per the CEPA signed between India and the UAE:

90% of India’s exports will have duty-free access to the Emirates.

It covers goods, services and digital trade.

Benefits:

The bilateral trade pact is India’s first in the region and the first comprehensive trade agreement with any country in a decade.

The CEPA is likely to benefit about $26 billion worth of Indian products that are currently subjected to 5% import duty by the UAE, India’s third-biggest trading partner behind the US and China.

It is expected that the CEPA will lead to an increase in bilateral trade from the current $60 bn to $100 bn in the next 5 years.

Through the pact, Indian exporters will also get access to the much larger Arab and African markets.

Guru Ravidas

(GS-I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times)

In News:

Out of the total population of Dalits in Punjab, about 21 percent of the population belongs to the Ravidassia community. The importance of this population can be understood from the fact that due to Sant Ravidas Jayanti on February 16, the date of Punjab Assembly elections was changed from February 14 to February 20.

Who are the Ravidassias?

The Ravidassias are a Dalit community of whom the bulk — nearly 12 lakh — live in the Doaba region. The Dera Sachkhand Ballan, their largest dera with 20 lakh followers worldwide, was founded in the early 20th century by Baba Sant Pipal Das.

Once closely connected with Sikhism, the dera severed these decades-old ties in 2010, and announced they would follow the Ravidassia religion. The dera made the announcement on Guru Ravidas Jayanti in Varanasi.

From 2010, the Dera Sachkhand Ballan started replacing the Guru Granth Sahib with its own Granth, Amritbani, carrying 200 hymns of Guru Ravidas, in Ravidassia temples and gurdwaras.

About Guru Ravidas:

Guru Ravidas was a North Indian mystic poet of the bhakti movement.

While the exact year of his birth is not known, it is believed that the saint was born in 1377 C.E.

Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.

The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.

Notably, he belonged to an untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result. However, the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.

He is believed to be a disciple of the bhakti saint-poet Ramanandaand a contemporary of the bhakti saint-poet Kabir.

One of his famous disciples was the saint, Mirabai.

Among Ravidas’s moral and intellectual achievements were the conception of “Begampura”, a city that knows no sorrow; and a society where caste and class have ceased to matter.

Guru Ravidas Teachings:

Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharambased on his teachings.

He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God. He said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.

Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

The government has notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility  (EPR) on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. The guidelines will come into effect from 1st July 2022.

Overview of the new guidelines:

Four categories of plastic packaging specified:

Category one will include rigid plastic packaging.

Category two will include flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches.

Category three will include multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic).

Category four includes plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.

The guidelines also include:

Specifications for reuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content, and end-of-life disposal of non-recyclable plastic packaging.

Setting up a centralised online portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners, plastic waste processors of plastic packaging waste by March 31.

Producers of plastic packaging will have to manage 35% of the ‘Q1’ waste in metric tonnes in 2021-22. Q1 is calculated by adding the last two years’ average weights of plastic packaging material sold and pre-consumer plastic packaging waste, and subtracting the annual quantity of plastic packaging supplied to brand owners.

The EPR target will be increased to 70% in 2022-23 and 100% from 2023-24 onwards.

The recycling obligation for producers will be 50% for rigid plastics in 2024-25, 60% in 2025-26, 70% in 2026-27, and 80% from 2027-28 onwards.

Environmental compensation shall be levied based upon polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of EPR targets by producers, importers and brand owners, for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution.

For the first time, the guidelines allow for the sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates. Thus setting up a market mechanism for plastic waste management.

Significance:

Along with prohibition of identified single-use plastic items, the new guidelines in India will:

Reduce pollution caused due to littered plastic waste.

Promote development of new alternatives to plastics.

Provide a roadmap for businesses to move towards sustainable plastic packaging.

Provide a framework to strengthen the circular economy of plastic packaging waste.

Boost for formalization and further development of the plastic waste management sector.

What are Plastic Waste Management Rules?

MoEFCC notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules on March 18, 2016, and the Solid Waste Management Rules on April 8 the same year.

As plastic waste is part of solid waste, therefore, both the rules apply to managing plastic waste in the country.

The Plastic Waste Management Rules mandate minimising the generation of plastic waste, avoiding littering, ensuring segregated storage of the waste at source, and handing it over.

The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers, and street vendors to manage plastic waste.

The rules cast EPR on producers, importers, and brand-owners. Extended Producer Responsibility shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste.