Current Affairs for SSC CGL Exams - 18 FEBRUARY 2019
Former PM says nation slipping to job-loss growth
- The “jobless growth” has slipped into “job-loss growth”,
which, together with rural indebtedness and urban chaos, has made the
growing number of aspirational youths restless, former Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said on Sunday, as he hit out at the government for
failing to uplift the economy to its potential.
- In his convocation address at the Delhi School of Management,
Dr. Singh said the “grave agrarian crisis, the declining employment
opportunities, the pervasive environmental degradation, and above all
the divisive forces at work” were some of the challenges facing the
- “Suicides of farmers and frequent farmer agitations reflect
the structural imbalances in our economy which call for serious in-depth
analysis and political will to address them,” he asserted.
- The attempts at creating additional job opportunities in the
industrial sector have failed as industrial growth was not picking up
fast enough, he alleged.
- In a scathing attack on the government, Dr. Singh said the
small and unorganised sectors which were vibrant and contributing to
generation of wealth and employment opportunities have grievously
suffered in the wake of the “disastrous” demonetisation and “slipshod”
introduction and implementation of the GST.
Agricultural atlas says current policies against rainfed agriculture
- Three out of five farmers in India grow their crops using
rainwater, instead of irrigation. However, per hectare government
investment on their lands may be 20 times lower, procurement of their
crops is a fraction of major irrigated land crops, and many of the
flagship agriculture schemes are not tailored to benefit them.
- A new rainfed agriculture atlas released this week not only
maps the agro biodiversity and socio-economic conditions prevailing in
such areas, but also attempts to document the policy biases that are
making farming unviable for many in these areas.
- There has been “negligence” toward rainfed areas, which is
leading to lower incomes for farmers in these regions, admitted Ashok
Dalwai, CEO of the National Rainfed Area Authority. He also heads the
government’s Committee on Doubling of Farmers’ Income.
- Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on revitalising
agriculture in rainfed areas, he said farmers in such areas are
receiving 40% less of their income from agriculture in comparison to
those in irrigated areas.
- Flagship government schemes, such as seed and fertiliser
subsidies and soil health cards, are designed for irrigated areas and
simply extended to rainfed farmers without taking their needs into
consideration, said Dr. Das.
- Dr. Dalwai agreed that a more balanced approach was needed to
give rainfed farmers the same research and technology focus and
production support that their counterparts in irrigation areas have
received over the last few decades.
Centre to incentivise power plants to curb pollution
- India has proposed incentives worth ₹885 billion ($12.4
billion) to encourage power plants to install equipment to curb
emissions and to develop infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs), a
government statement said.
- The bulk of the money, ₹835 billion, would be aimed at curbing
sulphur emissions from power plants, with the rest devoted to
development of EV infrastructure in 70 cities over five years ending
- The proposal by the Power Ministry to its finance commission
is in addition to an existing proposal that envisages installation costs
for emission-cutting equipment to be passed on to consumers.
- India has already extended a December 2017 deadline for
utilities to meet emissions standards by up to six years as power
producers struggle to comply with stringent rules set out by the
Environment Ministry in 2015 to cut emissions that cause lung diseases,
acid rain and smog.
- Thermal power companies account for 80% of all industrial
emissions of particulate matter, sulphur and nitrous oxides in India.
Afghanistan complaints against Pak liason with Taliban at UNSC
- Afghanistan has lodged a strong complaint with the United
Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Pakistan for its engagement with
- In a letter written to the UNSC, Afghanistan's Deputy
Permanent Representative to the UN Nazifullah Salarzai said, Pakistan's
invitation to the Taliban amounted to a violation of Afghanistan's
- The letter said, as there is no co-ordination with the Afghan
government, it poses a serious threat to the country's security.
- In a tweet, Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sibghatullah
Ahmadi said, Pakistan's move not only undermines the ongoing peace
efforts but also falls in violation of UNSC Resolution 1988.
- India's official policy on the Afghan peace process has been
that it should be Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Scientists recommend increased efficiency in food production for future
- About 37% of the area of the entire world is agricultural
land, a third of which (about 11%) is used for crops. And as the
population of the world rises to 9.7 billion people in 30 years, the
land available for crops will reduce.
- Thus, there is an immediate need to try and improve the
efficiency of food production. Experts predict that agricultural yield
must increase by 50% between now and 2050. How to do this is the
question facing agricultural scientists across the world.
- One way of achieving it has been shown in the model plant
tobacco where the scientists could “engineer photosynthesis” by
increasing the expression of three genes involved in processing light.
This increases the tobacco yield by 20%.
- Another way that some other scientists are trying is to reduce
what is called photorespiration in plants. Here the energy and oxygen
produced in the ‘light reaction’ of photosynthesis is drained by the
plant to make “wasteful” products in the ‘dark reaction’, and not just
carbohydrates and other food material, particularly when the plant’s
leaves close in order to reduce water loss by evaporation
- Seaweeds are rich sources of vitamins A and C, and minerals
such as Ca, Mg, Zn, Se and Fe. They also have a high level of vegetable
proteins and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Best of all, they are
vegetarian, indeed vegan, and do not have any fishy smell, thus good and
- Scientists points out that among the seaweeds found in plenty,
Ulva, Pyropia, Porphyra and Kappaphycus are edible and that it will be
good to cultivate them in large scale, as is done in countries like
- Thus India should embark on Mariculture as vigorously as
Agriculture, given its 7,500 km-long coastal line. Further, it does not
require pesticides, fertilizers and water for irrigation, which is an