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Daily Current Affairs

1-March -2024- Top News of the Day

1. India Bolsters Strategic Presence in Indian Ocean: Deploys Technical Personnel in Maldives, Inaugurates Infrastructure in Mauritius

Topic: GS2 – International Relations

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding India’s diplomatic and strategic initiatives in the Indian Ocean region.

Context:
  • Earlier in the week, India dispatched its first team of “technical personnel” to the Maldives to assume control of one of the three aviation platforms stationed in the country.
  • These personnel will replace Indian military forces, which are required to depart the islands by March 10th.

More about the news:

Joint Inauguration in Mauritius:

  • In a collaborative effort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius jointly inaugurated an airstrip and jetty on Agaléga, a Mauritian dependency located approximately 1,100km north of Port Louis and 2,500km southwest of Malé, the capital of the Maldives.

Strategic Significance of Mauritius and Maldives:

  • Both Mauritius and the Maldives hold significant strategic importance for India, especially concerning maritime security and strategic interests in the Indian Ocean.
  • The presence and increasing activities of China in the region have underscored India’s maritime security imperatives.

Developments in the Maldives:

  • Following the election of President Mohamed Muizzu, who is perceived as pro-China, the Maldives requested India to withdraw its military personnel from the country.
  • The first team of Indian civilians has since arrived to operate a helicopter in Addu, the southernmost atoll of the Maldives, as part of an agreement to replace Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives.

Enhancement of Infrastructure in Mauritius:

  • In Mauritius, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2015 for the improvement of sea and air transportation facilities on Agaléga island.
  • The recent inauguration of the airstrip and jetty reflects India’s commitment to assisting Mauritius in meeting its development goals and enhancing the capabilities of its defense forces.

China’s Presence in the Indian Ocean:

  • China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean region poses strategic challenges for India and other regional players.
  • China’s extensive engagements in the region, including diplomatic, trade, and military initiatives, underscore its ambitions for greater influence and control in the Indian Ocean.

View from New Delhi:

  • India recognizes the urgency of engaging with island nations in the Indian Ocean region and managing diplomatic relationships while pursuing strategic interests.
  • While the Mauritian government has managed domestic criticism of India’s presence relatively well, the situation in the Maldives remains a concern, especially regarding President Muizzu’s claims about Indian military personnel.

Conclusion:

  • The deployment of Indian technical personnel in the Maldives and the inauguration of infrastructure in Mauritius reflect India’s efforts to enhance its strategic presence and partnerships in the Indian Ocean region.
  • As China’s influence in the region grows, India’s strategic imperatives necessitate close engagement with island nations to safeguard its interests and maintain regional stability.
                               Maldives’ Significance for India

Strategic Location:

  • Located south of India, the Maldives holds immense strategic importance in the Indian Ocean, acting as a gateway to the Arabian Sea and beyond.
  • This allows India to monitor maritime traffic and enhance regional security.

Cultural Link:

  • India and Maldives share a deep cultural and historical connection dating back centuries.
  • Until the first half of the 12th century, Buddhism was the principal religion in the Maldivian islands.
  • ·      There is an inscription of Vajrayana Buddhism, that had existed in the Maldives in ancient times.

Regional Stability:

  • A stable and prosperous Maldives aligns with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy, promoting peace and security in the Indian Ocean region.

PYQ: Discuss the political developments in Maldives in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India?

(200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2013)

Practice Question:  How are India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region impacted by the transition of military personnel in the Maldives, collaborative efforts with Mauritius, and China’s expanding presence, and how is India navigating these challenges diplomatically and strategically?

(250 words/15 m)

2. Prime Minister Modi Launches India's First Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry, Paving the Way for Sustainable Maritime Transportation

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Achievements of Indian S&T; Indigenization of technology This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell technology in maritime transportation which demonstrates India’s progress in adopting cleaner and more efficient energy sources.
Context:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated India’s maiden hydrogen fuel cell ferry, a significant milestone in the country’s maritime sector.
  • The vessel, constructed by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), is earmarked for service in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, representing a leap towards environmentally sustainable transportation solutions.
More about the news: Features and Advantages of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel:
  • The hydrogen fuel cell ferry, costing Rs 18 crore and partly funded by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, boasts advanced features.
  • Measuring 24 meters in length, the catamaran-style vessel accommodates up to 50 passengers in its air-conditioned space.
  • Its construction with high-quality fiberglass reinforced plastic ensures durability akin to metro train coaches.
  • Equipped with five hydrogen cylinders carrying 40kg of hydrogen and supported by a 3-kW solar panel, the ferry offers zero emissions, minimal noise, and enhanced energy efficiency, requiring lesser maintenance compared to conventional combustion vessels.
Functionality and Technology of Hydrogen Fuel Cells:
  • Hydrogen fuel cells operate by harnessing the chemical energy stored in hydrogen, generating electricity through a process that releases only pure water, devoid of pollutants.
  • The fuel cell’s mechanism involves a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the air, producing electricity to power the vessel’s propulsion system.
  • The 50-kW PEM fuel cell utilized in this ferry, alongside Lithium-Ion Phosphate batteries, ensures swift adjustments in power output to meet varying demands.
  • These fuel cells, recognized for their efficiency and compactness, signify a technological leap in maritime applications.
Development and Significance of the Ferry:
  • Constructed entirely by CSL, the vessel incorporates cutting-edge systems, including vessel automation and power management, developed in collaboration with KPIT Technologies, Pune, and scientific research labs under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • India’s early adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology positions it favorably on the global stage, offering immense potential for green fuel adoption in marine transportation.
  • The “Harit Nauka” initiative, unveiled by the shipping ministry, underscores the government’s commitment to transitioning inland vessels towards environmentally friendly fuels, aligning with national goals for sustainable development.
Working Principle of the Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel
  • The green hydrogen vessel operates by converting hydrogen’s chemical energy into electricity through a reaction with oxygen.
  • Utilizing Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology, specifically designed for transportation,
  • The vessel’s fuel cell generates electricity by directing hydrogen fuel through PEM cell stacks.
  • Consequently, the vessel emits only water and warm air, ensuring zero emissions.
  • PEM fuel Cell Technology: Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, also called proton exchange membrane fuel cells, use a proton-conducting polymer membrane as the electrolyte.
  • Hydrogen is typically used as the fuel. These cells operate at relatively low temperatures and can quickly vary their output to meet shifting power demands.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of India’s inaugural hydrogen fuel cell ferry, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the context of the country’s technological advancements, environmental sustainability goals, and transportation infrastructure development. (250 words/15 m)

3. Historic Discovery: Humpback Whales Engage in Same-Sex Mating for the First Time

Topic: GS3 – Environment This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts related to the observation of same-sex behavior in humpback whales contributes to our understanding of species diversity and the complex interactions within marine ecosystems, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to protect vulnerable species and their habitats.
Context:
  • Researchers have made a groundbreaking observation of humpback whales engaging in same-sex mating, marking the first documented instance of such behavior in these majestic creatures.
  • While same-sex sexual behavior (SSB) is not uncommon across various animal species, including over 1500 instances reported in both captivity and the wild, witnessing it in humpback whales is unprecedented and adds to our understanding of natural behaviors.
More about the news: Darwinian Paradox: Contradictions in Evolutionary Theory:
  • The prevalence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom presents a Darwinian paradox, contradicting Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which prioritizes reproduction as the ultimate goal of all organisms.
  • SSB diverts resources and time away from reproduction, seemingly counterproductive to evolutionary success.
  • Yet, SSB exists widely across species, challenging traditional evolutionary explanations.
‘Indiscriminate Mating’ Hypothesis: Explaining Same-Sex Behavior:
  • The “indiscriminate mating” hypothesis has gained traction as an explanation for SSB.
  • According to this theory, ancestral animal species mated without regard to sex, as mate recognition can be physiologically and cognitively costly.
  • Being overly selective in choosing mates may result in missed reproductive opportunities, leading to the persistence of SSB as an adaptive behavior.
Social Bonds and Evolution: Insights from Recent Studies:
  • Evolutionary biologists Bailey and Zuk proposed that SSB contributes to establishing and maintaining positive social relationships, particularly in social species.
  • Recent studies have found evidence supporting this hypothesis, suggesting a correlation between the incidence of SSB and sociality among species.
  • Such behavior fosters bonds and alliances within groups, potentially reducing intrasexual aggression and conflict.
Survival Benefits of Same-Sex Behavior: Adaptive Evolution:
  • Contrary to being maladaptive or aberrant, same-sex sexual behavior in mammals appears to be a convergent adaptation with specific survival benefits.
  • It mitigates intrasexual aggression, particularly adulticide among males, potentially contributing to the establishment of dominance hierarchies and reducing conflicts within social groups.
  • Rather than a deviation from evolutionary norms, SSB emerges as a strategic adaptation with tangible advantages for species survival.
Conclusion:
  • The observation of same-sex mating among humpback whales adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the prevalence and adaptive nature of homosexuality across the animal kingdom.
  • Insights from evolutionary theory and recent studies shed light on the complex dynamics underlying SSB, highlighting its role in social bonding, conflict mitigation, and ultimately, species survival.
About Humpback whales
  • Among the four species of baleen whales is the humpback whale.
  • With the help of their baleen plates, these massive, toothless whales can separate their prey from saltwater.
  • Their sleek bodies can reach lengths of up to 33 metres and weights of more than 30,000 kilogrammes.
  • Every major ocean in the globe is home to humpback whales. They are known to travel across deep offshore waters and spend time over and around seamounts in the open ocean, despite their normal predilection for areas of the continental shelf.
IUCN Status: Least Concern. Migration
  • With the exception of the population in the Arabian Sea, humpback whales travel up to 10,000 kilometres annually during their longest migrations of any whale species.
  • They travel because their feeding and breeding grounds are so dissimilar.
  • Antarctic krill, which are microscopic crustaceans that resemble shrimp and have a hard outer shell made up of numerous sections, such as crabs, prawns and barnacles, are the food source for humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer months.
  • These animals reside in enormous groups known as swarms.
  • Humpbacks travel north during the winter months in search of warmer, subtropical waters for mating and nesting.
  • The only stationary whales in the world that feed and breed in the same region are the humpback whales of the Arabian Sea.
Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of the recent observation of same-sex mating among humpback whales in the context of biodiversity conservation and evolutionary theory. (150 words/10 m)

4. India Faces Growing Obesity Epidemic, Particularly Among Youth: Lancet Study

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about public health challenges, including non-communicable diseases like obesity, and understand the implications for healthcare policies and interventions.
Context:
  • India is witnessing a potential obesity epidemic, particularly among the young population, as highlighted in a global analysis published by The Lancet.
  • The report reveals a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity among children and adults in the country since 1990, with millions of individuals classified as overweight or obese.
More about the news: Rising Prevalence of Obesity: Statistics and Rankings:
  • The analysis indicates a sharp rise in obesity prevalence among children and adolescents, with more than three percent affected, marking a considerable increase since 1990.
  • Among adults, the prevalence of obesity, especially among women, has also seen a significant surge.
  • India ranks poorly in global obesity rankings, with alarming numbers reported for both genders.
Health Implications and Risk Factors:
  • Obesity poses a significant health risk, contributing to the burden of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
  • Experts attribute the obesity epidemic in India to dietary shifts away from traditional foods, increased consumption of energy-dense but nutrient-poor diets, and sedentary lifestyles.
Double Burden of Malnutrition: Underweight and Obesity:
  • The study highlights India’s double burden of malnutrition, with severe under-nutrition coexisting alongside rising obesity rates.
  • India ranks highest globally for underweight girls and second highest for boys, indicating a complex health challenge involving both thinness and obesity across various age groups.
Challenges and Interventions: Addressing Obesity:
  • Experts emphasize the need for targeted interventions to address both forms of malnutrition.
  • Strategies to combat obesity include improving the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods, promoting physical activity, restricting the sale and marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, and enhancing nutritional education and labeling.
Multi-faceted Approach and Policy Recommendations:
  • Experts advocates for a multi-faceted approach involving government policies, community initiatives, and individual actions to tackle obesity among adolescents effectively.
  • Measures such as promoting healthier food options, restricting junk food advertisements, clear nutritional labeling and increasing access to affordable and nutritious foods are crucial in combating the obesity epidemic.
Conclusion:
  • The rising prevalence of obesity in India underscores the urgent need for comprehensive interventions to address this public health crisis.
  • Effective strategies targeting dietary habits, physical activity, and societal norms are essential to reverse the alarming trends and promote healthier lifestyles among all age groups.
World Obesity Atlas 2023
  • The World Obesity Federation had released a report “World Obesity Atlas 2023”.
  • This report predicted a significant increase in obesity rates among children and adults in Africa, with a rise of 14% from 5% in child obesity rates and 31% from 18% in adult women by 2035.
  • The report also warned that over half the world’s population could be overweight or obese by 2035, with childhood obesity predicted to more than double.
Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges posed by the obesity in India and evaluate the effectiveness of government policies and interventions in addressing this public health crisis. (150 words/10 m)

5. GDP growth estimate for current year raised to 7.6%

Topic: GS3 – Indian economy – Issues related to growth. UPSC candidates must understand the revised GDP estimates to comprehend economic trends, policy implications, and sectoral performances in India.
Context
  • The National Statistical Office (NSO) revises India’s real GDP growth estimate for the current year to 7.6%, up from 7.3%, with concerns about private consumption and a downgrade in the farm sector.
 Additional information on this news:
  • National Statistical Office (NSO) revises India’s real GDP growth estimate for this year to 7.6%, up from the previous projection of 7.3%.
  • GDP growth estimate for 2022-23 scaled down to 7% from the earlier estimate of 7.2%, while the estimate for 2021-22 raised from 9.1% to 9.7%.
  • Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy projected to rise 6.9% this year, with concerns about private consumption, growing 3.5% in Q3 from 2.4% in Q2.
  • Full-year growth estimate downgraded to 3% from the earlier projection of 4.4% in January.
  • Farm sector GVA growth contracted by 0.8% in Q3, and the full-year expectation is a mere 0.7% rise compared to 4.7% in 2022-23.
  • Chief Economic Advisor expects farm sector recovery in the next year, attributing this year’s growth upgrade to downward revisions in last year’s numbers and stronger investment and net exports.
  • GVA growth in key sectors like construction, manufacturing, and mining has accelerated, contributing to overall economic growth.
  • Surprises in the data include GVA growth remaining at 6.9% while GDP growth is revised upwards, and an average GDP growth of 8.2% for the first three quarters, implying a Q4 growth of 5.9%.
PYQ: Do you agree with the view that steady GDP growth and low inflation have left the Indian economy in good shape? Give reasons in support of your arguments. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2019)
Practice Question:  How do the recent revisions in India’s GDP estimates reflect economic trends, and what implications do they hold for policy formulation? (150 words/10 m)

6. ZSI names a newly discovered sea slug after President Murmu

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Important species Understanding biodiversity through discoveries like Melanochlamys droupadi is crucial for UPSC aspirants in the environment and ecology context.
Context
  •  The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) discovered a new marine species of head-shield sea slug, Melanochlamys droupadi, with a ruby red spot along the coasts of West Bengal and Odisha.
  Additional information on this news:
  • Zoological Survey of India discovers a new marine species of head-shield sea slug, Melanochlamys droupadi.
  • Found along the coasts of West Bengal and Odisha, the species features a distinctive ruby red spot.
  • The slug belongs to the Melanochlamys genus and was discovered in Digha (West Bengal) and Udaipur (Odisha).
  • With a small, brownish-black body, the slug is hermaphroditic and crawls on intertidal zones, leaving marks on sandy beaches.
  • Reproduction occurs between November and January, and the specimens were deposited in Marine Aquarium Regional Centre and Estuarine Biology and Regional Centre.
  • Species in the Melanochlamys genus are generally found in temperate regions of the Indo-Pacific Oceanic realm.
  • Melanochlamys droupadi adds to the three truly tropical species, including Melanochlamys bengalensis from the West Bengal and Odisha coast.
  • The slug’s unique characteristics include the secretion of transparent mucus forming a protective sheath and crawling beneath smooth sand.
  • The discovery highlights the rich marine biodiversity along the Indian coasts and emphasizes the need for conservation efforts.

7.India’s leopard population rises to 13,874; M.P. on top

Topic: GS2 – Environment – Conservation – Important species UPSC aspirants need to understand wildlife conservation dynamics, human-animal conflict, and biodiversity management for broader environmental awareness.
Context
  • India’s leopard population increased by 8% to 13,874, with Madhya Pradesh reporting the highest numbers.
  • Uttarakhand witnessed a 22% decline due to poaching and human-animal conflict.
 Additional information on this news:
  • India’s leopard population increased by 8% from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022, as per an Environment Ministry report.
  • Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of leopards (3,907), followed by Maharashtra (1,985), Karnataka (1,879), and Tamil Nadu (1,070).
  • Uttarakhand witnessed a 22% decline in leopard numbers, attributed to poaching and man-animal conflict.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and West Bengal collectively saw a 150% rise in leopard numbers to 349 animals.
  • The survey covered 20 states, focusing on about 70% of the leopard’s expected habitat in tiger reserves and protected forest areas.
  • Leopards, being adaptable, are found not only in forest reserves but also in villages and sometimes cities, contributing to human-wildlife conflict.
  • Approximately one-third of leopards inhabit protected areas, emphasizing the conservation link between tiger reserves and leopard habitat.
  • Leopard populations in different regions showed varied growth rates, with some areas experiencing stability, suggesting minimal growth.
  • The report highlighted the impact of human activities in multiple-use areas on leopard populations, distinguishing them from the relatively stable tiger populations.
  • The survey involved extensive travel (6,41,449 km) by forest surveyors to track carnivore signs and estimate prey abundance, utilizing camera traps at 32,803 locations and capturing 4,70,81,881 photographs.
More About Leopard
  • Distribution: Found across diverse habitats in India, including forests, mountains, grasslands, and scrublands. Highest concentration in Central India and Eastern Ghats.
  • Conservation Status: “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats include habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, poaching for skin and body parts.
●     Significance:
    • Biodiversity: Key apex predator, maintaining ecological balance by controlling prey populations.
    • Economic Importance: Tourism revenue generated by protected areas with leopards.
    • Challenges: Balancing conservation with human development and addressing human-wildlife conflict
PYQ: Consider the following: (2012) 1.     Black-necked crane 2.     Cheetah 3.     Flying squirrel 4.     Snow leopard Which of the above are naturally found in India? (a) 1, 2 and 3 only (b) 1, 3 and 4 only (c) 2 and 4 only (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4 Ans: (b)  

8. Lancet study shows obesity rates going up across world

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health UPSC aspirants must understand the global rise in childhood and adult obesity, its health implications, and societal challenges for comprehensive awareness.
Context
  • The global study published in The Lancet reveals a fourfold increase in obesity rates among children and adolescents worldwide from 1990 to 2022, with over one billion individuals affected.
 Additional information on this news:
  • Global obesity rates in children and adolescents increased fourfold from 1990 to 2022, while adult obesity rates more than doubled.
  • The total number of individuals living with obesity worldwide surpassed one billion, including 159 million children and adolescents, and 879 million adults in 2022.
  • Obesity has become the most common form of malnutrition globally, surpassing the declining prevalence of underweight individuals since 1990.
  • The study, conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration in collaboration with the World Health Organization, involved over 1,500 researchers analyzing data from more than 190 countries.
  • The research focused on weight and height measurements of over 220 million people aged five years or older, using body mass index (BMI) to assess changes in obesity and underweight from 1990 to 2022.
  • Representatives from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, including V. Mohan, Anjana Ranjit, and Guha Pradeepa, were co-authors of the study in India.
  • In India, both obesity and underweight continue to coexist, with increasing rates of abdominal and generalized obesity observed in the population.
  • India’s obesity rate increased from 0.1% to 3.1% in girls and 0.1% to 3.9% in boys from 1990 to 2022. Among adults, obesity rates rose from 1.2% to 9.8% in women and 0.5% to 5.4% in men during the same period.
Obesity In India – An Alarming Trend
  • Rising Prevalence: Obesity rates are increasing rapidly in India, across both urban and rural areas, affecting adults and children alike.
  • Health Consequences: Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and stroke.
Reasons Behind the Trend
  • Changing Dietary Patterns: Shift toward processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-calorie diets with low nutritional value.
  • Sedentary Lifestyles: Increasing urbanization, desk jobs, and reliance on technology lead to reduced physical activity.
  • Socioeconomic Factors: Economic development influences food choices and accessibility to healthy options.
  • Lack of Awareness: Limited understanding of the health risks associated with obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.
  • Way Forward: Addressing Obesity in India
  • Policy Interventions:
  •  Front-of-pack labelling for packaged foods.
  • Regulations on advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods, especially those targeting children.
  • Fiscal policies (taxes or subsidies) to influence food choices.
  • Environmental Changes:
  • Promoting active transportation through better infrastructure for walking and cycling.
  • Creating more green spaces and recreational facilities in communities.
  • Awareness Campaigns: Large-scale public education initiatives on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Health System Strengthening:
  • Training healthcare providers in obesity prevention and management.
  • Integrating obesity screening and counselling into routine care.
Practice Question:  Outline the major challenges India faces in addressing the rising trend of obesity, and suggest possible measures for effective intervention. (150 words/10 m)

9. Despite policy backing and funding, care for rare diseases not optimal

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health The article highlights India’s Rare Diseases Policy, critical for public health, funding utilization scrutiny, and evaluation, relevant for UPSC.
Context
  • The article discusses India’s Rare Diseases Policy, addressing prevention, management, and funding for rare diseases.
  • Despite progress, challenges like fund underutilization and patient support persist, necessitating continuous evaluation.
 Additional information on this news: Introduction:
  • Rare Diseases Policy in India, issued in March 2021, addresses prevention, management, and cost of treatment for rare diseases.
  • Despite notable developments, periodic evaluation is crucial to assess policy implementation and benefits to target groups.
Scenario of Rare Diseases in India:
  • India has an estimated 7,000-8,000 rare diseases, with less than 5% having available therapies.
  • Rare diseases impact nearly 1/5th of India’s population, with varying definitions globally.
  • The World Health Organization defines rare diseases as having a prevalence of 1 or less, per 1,000 population.
Policy Implementation and Funding:
  • The Rare Diseases Policy includes lowering treatment costs, supporting indigenous research, and creating a national registry.
  • Allocation of ₹50 lakh per patient by the government in May 2022 aimed at treatment of rare diseases.
  • Recent data indicates a disappointing underutilization of allocated funds, with only approximately ₹53 crore out of ₹109 crore utilized.
Patient Advocacy and Urgency:
  • Patient advocacy groups emphasize building urgency for immediate treatment and securing long-term funding support.
  • Advocacy aims to prioritize treatment for eligible patients and demand sustainable funding for Group 3 rare diseases.
  • Only three out of 11 Centers of Excellence have utilized over 90% of the allocated funds, indicating a lack of urgency.
Challenges and Patient Support:
  • Patients exhausted their ₹50 lakh allotment, seeking sustainable funding and continued treatment support.
  • Advocacy groups stress the need for state government involvement through budgetary allocations for rare disease treatment.
Medical Expert’s Perspective:
  • Doctors advocate for a national registry and a centralized laboratory for rare diseases.
  • Establishment of a comprehensive center for multi-specialty care aims to provide respite to caregivers and foster support groups.
Conclusion:
  • The World Rare Diseases Day prompts reflection on policy implementation, fund utilization, and the need for sustained support.
  • Challenges persist despite developments, emphasizing the continuous evaluation required for effective rare disease management.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of India’s Rare Diseases Policy, its implementation challenges, and the need for effective fund utilization. (250 words/15 m)

10. Should Minimum Support Price be legalised?

Topic: GS3 – Indian Agriculture – MSP Critical for UPSC as it involves farmers’ protests, agrarian policies, WTO, and MSP, reflecting socio-economic challenges in India.
Context
●       Farmers in India march to New Delhi, demanding a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP) on 23 crops and some other demands.
 Introduction to the Issue:
  • Groups of farmers initiated a march to New Delhi demanding the fulfillment of various demands, including a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and India’s withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Farmers’ Perspective:
  • Farmers express concerns about low crop prices, with demands centred on a legal guarantee for MSP for 23 crops.
  • Emphasis on the historical neglect of agriculture amid economic reforms initiated in 1991, leading to a crisis in the sector.
  • Farmers advocate for MSP legalization to ensure national food security and a shift to nutrition security, aligning with the global trend of de-globalization.
Government’s Stance and Challenges:
  • The government contends that implementing MSP for all crops is challenging due to the limited functionality of agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) and the dominance of informal markets.
  • The mandi system is functional in only a few states, making it difficult to track transactions and implement legal MSP effectively.
Feasibility of Extending MSP Nationwide:
  • Arguments in favour of legalizing MSP highlight its alignment with the government’s goal of digitizing and formalizing transactions in agriculture.
  • Advocates suggest that even a modest intervention, purchasing 5-10% of produce, can stabilize prices and address distress among farmers.
Concerns about Excessive Government Procurement:
  • Questions raised about the wisdom of extensive government procurement, particularly when it comes to staple crops like rice and wheat.
  • Debate on whether legalizing MSP for all crops would lead to higher prices, potentially affecting consumers.
Addressing Regional Variations and State Policies:
  • Proposal for a State-specific approach to MSP, considering the diverse agricultural regimes across states.
  • Highlighting the need for experts and policymakers to collaborate and devise policies ensuring fair and remunerative prices for farmers.
Balancing Interests and Food Inflation:
  • Acknowledgment of the delicate balance needed between protecting farmers’ interests and addressing concerns of food inflation.
  • Farmers argue that legalizing MSP could reduce inflation, protect consumers, and provide reasonable income to farmers.
Market Regulation and Role of Cooperatives:
  • Emphasis on the importance of regulating markets to prevent inflationary pressures resulting from unorganized markets.
  • Discussion on the potential role of cooperatives as an alternative for farmers, with the need for a legal framework and supportive infrastructure.
Challenges in Cooperative Initiatives:
  • Recognition of successful cooperative models, such as the White Revolution in the milk sector in Gujarat.
  • Acknowledgment of the failure of government-supported cooperatives due to corruption, emphasizing the need for a legal framework and supportive infrastructure.
Conclusion:
  • The complexity of addressing farmers’ demands requires a comprehensive review of agricultural policies, considering regional variations, market dynamics, and the delicate balance between protecting farmers and consumers.
  • Legalizing MSP emerges as a potential solution, but challenges related to implementation, excessive government procurement, and the role of cooperatives need careful consideration and strategic planning.
PYQ: What do you mean by Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low income trap? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2018)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of legalizing Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers in India, considering its implications on agricultural policies and socio-economic dynamics. (250 words/15 m)

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Head Office :- Office No-2 & 3 ,LGF,Apsara Arcade,Adjacent Karol bagh Metro,Old Rajinder Nagar ,New Delhi-110060

2nd Office:- Metro station, 2nd floor, 5B, Pusa Rd, opp. to Metro Pillar no. 110, near Karol Bagh, Block B, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, Delhi 110005

Call us : 9654638994