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28th October Current Affairs

Pulse Release from Buffer Stocks

In News:

The Union government plans to release 40,000 tonnes of tur dal from its buffer stock into the retail market in small lots, in a bid to cool down the recent hike in pulses prices.

Key Points:

Hiking Prices:

Major consuming centres (Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu) of urad and tur dal have seen a 20% spike in prices over the last two weeks alone.

These states have expressed an interest in buying one lakh tonnes of pulses from the Central buffer stock at the MSP rates to sell at subsidised prices.

At an all-India level, the average retail prices of urad have shot up almost 40% in comparison to 2019, while the average retail prices of tur dal have increased by almost 24%.

Retail Intervention:

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has introduced retail intervention, a mechanism to use the buffer stock of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).

NAFED procures pulses from farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP) rates to moderate retail prices by supplying pulses to the States and the Union Territories.

The States are supplied pulses either in bulk or in retail packs for supply through the ration shops of the Public Distribution System (PDS), or through milk and vegetable outlets run by the government or cooperatives.

For such retail intervention, offer prices are fixed on the basis of MSP itself.

This move will also help clear NAFED’s existing stock to make way for procurement from this season’s harvest, due to arrive in markets soon.

Using Open Market Sale:

Apart from the retail intervention, the DoCA has also decided to release 40,000 metric tonnes of tur from the buffer stock in Open Market Sale (OMS) Scheme in small lots so that the releases may reach the retail market at a faster pace and help in cooling off rising prices.

Earlier Measures:

The Centre extended the procurement window for its Price Support Scheme (PSS) up to 90 days from the date of commencement of the scheme in each State.

The PSS is operationalised on the State governments’ request when the prices fall below the MSP.

The Centre promised to provide one kg of pulses per month to all families with ration cards for the three months as part of a Covid-19 relief package (Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana).

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India:

It is registered under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.

It was set up in 1958 with the objective to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.

Agricultural farmers are the members of the General Body of NAFED, who participate in the decision-making process.

Minimum Support Price:

It is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.

The reason behind the idea is to counter the price volatility of agricultural commodities due to the factors like variations in the supply, lack of market integration and information asymmetry.

It is fixed on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Open Market Sale Scheme:

Food Corporation of India (FCI) sells surplus stocks of wheat and rice at predetermined prices through e-auction in the open market from time to time to enhance the supply of food grains.

It is done especially during the lean season to moderate the open market prices in the deficit regions.

Way Forward:

Food and nutrition security is ensured if all of the citizens of a nation have enough nutritious food available, all of them have the capacity to buy food of acceptable quality and there is no barrier on access to food.

The right to nutritious food is a well-established principle of international human rights law. It has evolved to include an obligation for state parties to respect, protect and fulfil their citizens’ right to food and nutrition security.

Parasitic Infections in One-Horned Rhinoceros

In News:

Recently, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India has published reports titled ‘Prevalence of Endoparasitic Infections in Free-Ranging Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros’ for Assam and West Bengal.

Key Points:

Poaching is believed to be the main cause of death in rhinos, however, they also die of natural causes which have not been studied in great detail.

Since 2017, the Rhino Task Force of Assam and WWF India have been undertaking steps to study pathogens found in fresh rhino dung samples in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Before this, there was no systematic study on the prevalence of disease-causing parasites and diseases caused by these in the rhino population in India.

According to the researchers, habitat degradation can lead to an increased exposure to pathogens.

Due to increasing livestock pressure on protected areas, there is a possible threat of pathogens getting transferred from domestic animals to wild animals.

From the samples from Assam and West Bengal, the study concluded that parasites from four genera were present in an estimated 68% of India’s rhino population.

The overall prevalence of endoparasites was 58.57% in Assam and 88.46% in West Bengal; results from UP are pending.

Endoparasites are parasites that live in the tissues and organs of their hosts, such as tapeworms, flukes, and protozoans of vertebrates.

Greater One-Horned Rhino:

There are three species of rhino in Asia — Greater one-horned (Rhinoceros unicornis), Javan and Sumatran.

Poaching for the horns and habitat loss are the two greatest threats to the survival of Asia’s rhinos.

The five rhino range nations (India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia) have signed a declaration ‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species.

Protection Status:

Javan and Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered and the Greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino is vulnerable in IUCN Red List.

All three listed under Appendix I (CITES).

Greater one-horned rhino is listed under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Habitat of Greater One-Horned Rhino:

The species is restricted to small habitats in Indo-Nepal terai and northern West Bengal and Assam.

In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga NP, Pobitora WLS, Orang NP, Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa TR in Uttar Pradesh.

Conservation Efforts by India:

Recently, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has begun a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.

National Rhino Conservation Strategy: It was launched in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020: Launched in 2005, it is an ambitious effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.

Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna

In News:

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the second phase of “Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna” for the underprivileged Thalassemic patients.

Key Points:

The Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program was launched in 2017 and is funded by Coal India Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It will be extended for next two years from 2020.

HSCT refers to the transplantation of stem cells from various sources (bone marrow, growth factor–stimulated peripheral blood, and umbilical cord blood) for the treatment of various diseases like autoimmune, and genetic diseases.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell: It is an immature cell that can develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Hematopoietic stem cells are found in the peripheral blood and the bone marrow. Also called blood stem cell.

Objective: It aims to provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor.

Eligibility: Only patients whose monthly family income is below Rs 20,000 will be eligible for this assistance.

The scheme has been extended to cover Aplastic Anaemia patients (lack of blood cell production in body).

Funding: The CSR initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding rupees 10 lakhs per HSCT.

Statistics: It is estimated 10,000 to 12,000 children are born with thalassemia every year in India.

Data on the prevalence of silent carriers (persons without symptoms but potential to transmit to offsprings) for various Haemoglobinopathies show that silent carriers are 2.9-4.6% for Thalassemia, while it can be as high as 40% for sickle cell anaemia especially among the tribal population.

Haemoglobin variants like Hemoglobin E (HBE) – deformed hemoglobin- in eastern India can be as common as 3-50% which calls for more attention to these diseases.


It is a genetic blood disorder that causes the body to have less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. Thalassemia can cause anemia, leading to fatigue.

Sickle Cell Disease:

It is an inherited disease caused by defects, called mutations, in the beta globin gene that helps make hemoglobin. The red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells.

World Sickle Cell Day 2020 was observed to increase awareness about the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) at the national level.

The day is recognised by the United Nations and celebrated every year on 19th June.