Weekly Current Affairs Mains (30th September to 6th October, 2018)



Weekly Current Affairs Mains (30th September to 6th October, 2018)


Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices



Union Government has recently updated some of the provisions of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The updated provisions have been put under the scheme on pilot basis.


  • It is a crop insurance scheme which is in line with One Nation – One Scheme theme and was launched in 2016. The scheme has incorporated the features of the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as the Modified NAIS and has also removed the short comings of these schemes.
  • The PMFBY has replaced the two existing schemes. However, the Water Based Crop Insurance Scheme remains in place but its premium rates have been streamlined with PMFBY.
  • The main objectives of the scheme are –
    • To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop 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
  • Provisions under PMFBY
    • There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops.  In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. 
    • The Balance premium will be paid by the government and there is no upper limit on Government subsidy.
    • The Farmers will get the full amount which has been insured without any capping.
Defined Area

Defined Area (i.e., unit area of insurance) is Village/Village Panchayat level by whatsoever name these areas may be called for major crops and for other crops it may be a unit of size above the level of Village/Village Panchayat.

  • The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
  • All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.
  • There are provisions for farmers to compulsorily enrol under scheme who –
    • possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season
    • Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time
  • Voluntary coverage may be obtained by all farmers not covered above, including Crop KCC/Crop Loan Account holders whose credit limit is not renewed.
  • The Scheme shall be implemented on an ‘Area Approach basis’ i.e. defined area for a notified crop where farmers face similar risks exposures.


  • The Coverage of the insurance has significantly increased in kharif 2016 compared to kharif 2015 across India. The number of farmers insured crossed 4 crores during kharif 2016, a jump from 3.09 crores in kharif 2015.
  • The sum insured under the scheme is now closer to the cost of the production which implies that in case of losses, farmers should theoretically get significantly higher compensation than before.


  • Gaps in assessment of crop loss – The sample size in each village is not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of the crop losses. In many cases the district level agriculture department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
  • Lack of trained manpower – there also lack of trained outsourced agencies and manpower to conduct the survey. Along with this there is a scope of corruption during implementation and non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling.
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment – Insurance companies in many cases did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and therefore did not pay claims. Only 32 per cent of the reported claims were paid out by insurance companies, even when in many states the governments had paid their part of premium. 
  • High Premium rates – Insurance companies have charged high actuarial premium rates i.e 12.6% (highest all India rate ever) and much higher rates were charged in certain regions such as Gujarat (20.5%), Rajasthan (19.9%) and Maharashtra (18.9%).
  • Massive profits for insurance companies – According to CSE analysis, insurance companies have made high profits.
  • Coverage only for Loanee farmers – PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers while the percentage of non-loanee farmers farmers remain less than 5% during Kharif 2016 and 2015. It also failed to cover the sharecropper and tenant farmers.
  • Poor Capacity to deliver – There has been no concerted efforts by the government and insurance companies to build awareness among farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY. There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.

Other issues such as delayed notification by state governments, less number of notified crops that can avail insurance, problem with threshold yield estimation etc. also existed in the implementation of the scheme.


1Premium RatesLowHighLower than even NAIS (Govt to contribute 5 times that of farmer)
2One Season – One PremiumYesNoYes
3Insurance Amount coverFullCappedFull
4On Account PaymentNoYesYes
5Localised Risk CoverageNoHail Storm, LandslidesHail storm, Land slide, Inundation
6Post Harvest Losses CoverageNoCoastal areas for cyclonic rainAll India – for cyclonic and unseasonal rain
7Prevented Sowing coverageNoYesYes
8Use of TechnologyNoIntendedMandatory
9AwarenessNoNoYes (target to double coverage to 50%)



  • The guidelines have been updated to add a provision of penalty for States and Insurance Companies. In case of delay beyond 2 month of the prescribed cut off date, the Insurance Company as well as the State Government have to pay 12% interest rates.
  • The new provisions also include the perennial Horticulture crops (on pilot basis) and it also includes hailstorms in post harvest losses, besides unseasonal and cyclonic rainfalls.
  • It has also included cloud burst and natural fire in localized calamities in addition to hailstorm, landslide, and inundation.
  • Further it also provides for inclusion of coverage for crop loss due to attack of wild animals on pilot basis with the additional financial liabilities of this provision to be borne by concerned state Government.
  • To help in addressing de-duplication mandatory capturing of Aadhar has also been added.
  • It has also been mandated to the Insurance companies that they will have to mandatorily spend 0.5% of their earnings from the annual premium to advertise for the provisions of PMFBY among peasants.


  • PMFBY is a step in the direction of securing the farmers in our country. Agriculture insurance is recognised as an important part of the safety net for farmers to deal with the impacts of extreme and unseasonal weather due to climate change.
  • Various steps that could be taken are as follows –
    • The scheme should be further extended to tenants and sharecroppers and should also include damage caused by cold waves and frost to crops at individual levels.
    • Farmer should also be provided with insurance documents and should also be intimated before deduction of the insurance premium.
    • To promote the scheme small group of farmers and women groups and SHGs should be incentivised.
    • Robust assessment of crop loss should be done through capacity building of state governments, involvement of PRIs and farmers in loss assessment, auditing and multi-level checking to ensure credibility of data and testing incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.


Sample Question:

Critically evaluate merits and demerits of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). (200 Words)



Topic: GS III: Indian Economy 



A Draft policy was formulated by an expert committee formed by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).


  • India has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 2.02million sq. Km and a long coastline of about 8000km with two major groups of Islands lying in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
  • Marine fisheries wealth is estimated at an annual harvestable potential of 4.412 million metric tonnes and an estimated 4 million people depend on the marine fisheries for their livelihood.
  • India’s marine fisheries are highly diverse but predominantly comprising of small – scale and artisanal fisheries.
  • In India the fish production has increased drastically from 861,000 tons in 1951 to 11.5 million tons in 2010.
  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report states that while other world oceans are nearing their fisheries limit, in certain areas, the Indian Ocean’s resources have the potential to sustain increased production.
  • There is also a growing demand for seafood in the country which cannot be met by fisheries and inland aqua-culture alone.
  • Therefore, there is a need to enhance the sea farming sector which is still in its infancy and holds immense potential in the country.
  • Mariculture has already contributed to sustained seafood production in other countries.
  • Mariculture activities in India were initiated in India as early as 1980s by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
  • However, maritime capture in India is characterised by increased and excessive fishing effort, over-exploitation of certain resources from inshore fishing grounds and increased conflicts among stakeholders in the sector.


What is Mariculture?

·        It is a specialised branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of economically important marine plants and animals in the sea or any other water body having tidal influence and includes onshore facilities like hatcheries, nursery rearing and grow out systems using water.

·        Mariculture involves three phases –

o   Hatchery – involves land based facilities to rear broodstock and produce seeds.

o   Nursery – rearing juveniles to a size conducive to stocking in the grow-out systems.

o   Grow-outs – culture of marine plants and animals in the sea, water bodies with tidal influence and land based Recirculating Aquaculture System.

  • Thus this points towards the need of formulating a policy for guiding the development of mariculture in India.


  • The Draft National Policy on Mariculture has been drafted with a goal to
    • ensure sustainable farmed seafood production for benefit of food and nutritional security of the nation and
    • to provide additional livelihood options to the coastal communities for better living.
  • The policy will lead to wide spread adoption of mariculture technologies to meet additional seafood demand, ensuring environmental sustainability, socio-economic upliftment of stakeholders and support the emergence of mariculture production of the country.
  • Satellite remote sensing data and GIS will be used to identify potential zones for mariculture on the basis of scientific evaluation of environmental parameters suitable for various types of farming.
  • Government shall encourage the setting up of off-shore technology parks and coastal embankment systems with all support infrastructures for breeding, culture, packaging and trade.
  • As per Article 21 of Constitution States will be empowered to manage marine fisheries and allied activities which includes mariculture. States will be responsible to issue lease for maritime activities in those specific areas.
  • The State would also register and license all farms for a specific period and will give all protection of all farm assets.
  • The provisions made in the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India empower the panchayats to perform functions mentioned in the eleventh schedule of the Constitution in 29 subjects including fisheries with regard to inland water bodies and therefore, rules for leasing water bodies for mariculture will be made by Local Self Government (LSGs).
  • In the case of natural water bodies, the leases would be given by respective Local Self Governments (LSGs).
  • Mariculture activities would be conducted in a manner that ensures food safety by implementing appropriate national (FSSAI) or international standards and regulations including those defined by FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius.
  • To reduce the risks of introduction and spread of aquatic animal diseases, species specific Good Aquaculture Practices (GAPs) would be developed and implemented.
  • The Government will introduce new schemes for enhancing the skills and capabilities of the traditional fishers and other potential stakeholders to undertake mariculture and popularize the vocation in India.
  • The government will facilitate formation of mariculture cooperatives through skill development and technical /financial support, wherever necessary.
  • Efficient market logistics would be promoted to minimize post-harvest losses and preserving the nutritional quality and value of fish.
  • Cost-effective preservation and packaging facilities will be developed through public-private partnerships.
  • Significance
    • Protect livelihood of fishermen and reduce conflict among sea farmers.
    • It will also promote sea farming sector in the country and work towards its sustainability.
    • It will further enhance the development of off-shore technology and coastal embankment systems.
    • It will also ensure that Marine protected areas, ecologically sensitive areas such as coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and other coastal areas are not considered for mariculture. Thus will safeguard the marine ecology.
    • It will also promote exports in sea food as it will aim to enhance sea food production.


Sample Question:

Discuss the salient features of  draft national policy on mariculture.




Topic: GS II: Indian Society – Urbanization, problems and their remedies.


Why in news?

Recently, a survey was conducted on urban transportation in India.


  • India is a fast growing country (both in terms of GDP and Population) and has been projected to be one of the three countries to witness maximum urban growth by 2050 along with China and Nigeria.
  • About 60% of India’s population is expected to stay in urban areas by 2050 which forms about 14% of the world’s urban population.
  • With growing urbanisation and population, an increasing pressure is being felt on the urban transportation system as well.
  • It has been noted that the motorization in India has been explosive. Initially, it took about 60 years (1951-2008) for India to cross a mark of 105 million registered vehicles however; the same numbers of vehicles were added in about six years (2009-15).
  • At the same time, it was also noted that the share of public transport will also decrease from 75.5% in 2000-01 to 44.7% in 2030-31.
  • During a study by CSE it was found that cities that have a decent public transport spine, compact urban form, short travel etc. combined with conscious decision-making and prioritization related to sustainable modes could be an answer to this challenge.

Challenges of Urban Transportation Systems

  • Administrative Challenges –At present there are many policies and departments which deal with different sectors of transportation system in India. This results in overlapping areas of functioning and decision making which delays the whole developmental process. Along with that corruption also plays a significant role in delaying the process.
  • Development of Road Infrastructure –The urban areas remain largely disconnected with the neighbouring suburban areas. The roads in urban areas also lack regular repairing and scientific planning and construction.
  • Lack of funding for integrated public transport system – According National Transport Development Policy Committee, by 2031 there is a need of around 10900 – 18500 billion for development of urban transport out of which about 55% is need for public transport. Under the funds for Smart City Scheme share of urban transport is projected at only 21%.
  • Lack of Regulatory system – At present there is no single regulatory body to oversee the development of integrated multimodal transit system, issuance of driving license, penalising offenders.
  • Imbalanced investment – The Urban Affairs Ministry has increased the Metro projects from 12% in 2009 to 54% in 2017 but there is no commensurate increase for expanding the bus fleet even though buses carry more commuters.
  • Lack of a pricing strategy – According to some findings, Delhi metro was ranked second most unaffordable means of public transport in the world while premium public transport services like Ac Bus services are beyond the reach of the lower income group.
  • Transit Oriented Development – The transport system lacks last mile connectivity. The modes of transport system are not within the walking distance thus increasing the time taken for travel and also the cost of travel for urban commuters.
  • Environment Issues –High emission of greenhouse gases in metropolitan and megacities has been recorded which can be attributed to various reasons as mentioned below –
    • High level of motorization – With higher personal disposable income and better standard of living people can afford more vehicles and even luxury fuel guzzling ones.
    • Share of various modes of transportation – On a whole it can be seen that personal vehicles and heavy duty trucks drive the consumption levels. In 2013 light duty vehicles used up about 13% of overall energy consumption of the transport sector which is expected to increase to 27% by 2040 and of heavy trucks from 23% in 2013 to 34% in 2040. There is also a decline in the non-motorised transportation such as walking and cycling.
    • Average length of daily travel trips -The city boundaries are expanding leading to urban sprawl which has even though reduced the average density but it has increased the average length of daily travel trips.
    • Increased travel demand based on increasing population – With the increasing population the travel demand of the people for their daily uses is also increasing which is evident from the increasing trend of the vehicle registration (increase of 700 times between 1951 to 2016) and increased traffic on roads.
    • Quality of vehicle technologies and fuels – CSE claims that the emission factors are representatives of a class of vehicles such as small and mid-sized. The analysis shows that newer cars with heavier engines emit more carbon dioxide than old cars. Along with that the process of shifting to cleaner fuel under the Bharat Standards is being delayed due to technical and financial issues. This in turn also affects the country’s import bill which is due to increased demand of fuel in the country.
  • Public Transport Crowding and off peak inadequacy – As there is inadequate fleet of buses and other modes of public transport there is high level of commuters travelling in the vehicle which reduces the marginal rate of satisfaction while travelling.
  • High Rate of road accidents – There is 3% increase in fatalities over the previous year, even as the number of accidents declined by 4.1%, thereby indicating a rise in the severity of accidents. Pedestrians constitute about 19% of total deaths in road accidents in India.
  • Safety for travellers – Public transports are considered unsafe especially for women during late hours. This also discourages the use of public transport and encourages the use of private vehicles for single women.

Steps to improve the State of Urban Transportation

  • Time bound implementation of targets – The policies and the targets of developments such as expansion of roads, modernisation and increasing the bus fleet etc. in a time bound manner.
  • Implementation of Policies – Measure which have been recommended under the National Transport Policy could be adopted which cover a wide array of areas to make the urban transportation better and safer for commuters such as traffic management, financing, governance etc.
  • Increase Funding – Central Government should increase the funding for development of roads. Various methods such as issue of bonds, Public and private partnership etc should be adopted. This should also be directed towards easing the pricing of the public transportation so that it is more accessible to the public.
  • Develop Intelligent Transportation System – This system helps in sensing, analysing, control and using communication technologies to improve safety, mobility and efficiency of ground transportation. It will thus help in smooth public transportation, new economic opportunities, improved safety of commuters etc. (for more details refer to September 2017 current affairs).
  • Integrated and comprehensive planning – The planning urban planning should be integrated with transportation planning. The Transit Oriented Development process should be adopted to improve accessibility and ridership thus making the planning sustainable.
  • Tackle congestion on roads – Examples from other countries such as China who increased the road lengths thereby doubling and tripling them. Other measures such as odd-even policy, rationing the issuance of new vehicles etc could also be adopted. This would also tackle the problem of greenhouse emission in the cities.


Sample Question:

What are the major problems being faced by Indian cities in providing adequate, safe and rapid urban transport system? Explain the steps taken by the union government in this regard. (200 Words)




Topic: GS III: Indian Economy – Energy and Planning



Recently, contracts of the blocks were signed under the OALP Bid Round1.


  • The bid round-1 of OALP was launched in January 2018 under the liberalized Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP).
  • This is the first time that bidding in the E&P sector in India was for blocks that had been selected by bidders themselves with government playing a facilitator role.
  • Under the first bid-round 55 blocks have been signed by 6 six companies.
  • Recently, Cabinet delegated its power to approce awards of block for exploration and production of oil and gas, to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • The delegation of power was for OALP bid under the HELP. These ministries will approve the awards based on the recommendations of a panel of secretaries, called the empowered committee of secretaries (ESC).


  • It is a vehicle which allows the Government to offer the exploration blocks for oil and natural gas throughout the year without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bed methane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not already covered by exploration).
  • OALP was introduced by the Government as a part of the new fiscal regime in exploration sector called HELP or Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy to ensure faster coverage and survey of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery.
  • Before HELP, exploration was confined to blocks which have been put on tender by the Government.  There are situations where exploration companies may themselves have information or interest regarding other areas where they may like to pursue exploration.  These opportunities remain untapped, until and unless Government brings them to bidding at some stage.
  • This move would help to ease of doing business, increase domestic production, eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and create employment opportunities.


  • It is a policy which indicates the new contractual and fiscal model for award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production. It replaced the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).
  • The policy aims to enhance domestic oil and gas production, bring sustainable investment, generate sizable employment, enhance transparency and reduce administrative discretion.
  • Features of HELP –
    • Uniform License – provides uniform licensing systems to cover all hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single licensing framework.
    • Open Acreages – It gives the option to a hydrocarbon companies to a hydrocarbon company to select the exploration blocks throughout the year without waiting for the government to hold the formal bid round.
    • Revenue Sharing Model – Fiscal system of production sharing contract (PSC) is replaced by an easy to administer revenue sharing model.
    • Under this regime the Government will not be concerned with the cost incurred and will receive a share of the gross revenue from the scale of oil, gas etc.
    • Marketing and Pricing Freedom has been granted, subject to a ceiling price limit, for a new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature Areas.


Sample Question: 

Discuss the significance of Open Acreage Licensing and the National Data Repository policies. (200 Words)



Topic: GS III: Ecology and Environment



World Habitat Day was recently observed.


  • It is celebrated on the first Monday of October and it brings the attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable urban development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all.
  • The theme for this year is – Municipal Solid Waste Management.


  • Solid Waste Management refers to the process of collecting, treating and disposing of solid waste generated by all urban population groups in an environmentally and socially satisfactory manner using the most economical means available.
  • There are many categories of Municipal Solid Waste such as food waste, rubbish, commercial waste, constructions and industrial waste etc.
  • It had been estimated in 2010 that everyday about 0.8 kg of waste will be produced by everyday by every person in the world and the amount of the waste produced is expected to triple to 5.9 billion tons a year by 2025 due to increased consumption and ineffective management strategies.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal, Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda highlight and address the key issues of solid waste management.
  • The target of SDG11.6 is to reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • SDG 12 on “Sustainable Production and Consumption” targets among other things, environmentally sound management of all waste through prevention, reduction, recycling, reuse and the reduction of food waste.
  • The New Urban Agenda makes a commitment to “the environmentally sound management and minimization of all waste”.
  • Under the Paris Agreement, Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) of many countries, include action on waste management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In India, Solid Waste management rules and stipulations are laid by Central Government under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Government has also notified the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 2016 which makes it mandatory for all urban local bodies to manage solid waste.
  • Even after notification of rules, most of the cities have confined themselves to collection and transportation of waste to dumping ground. It was found that 68% of the waste generated is collected and only 28% is treated by the Municipal Authorities.


  • Inadequate Waste Management Resources – Due to lack of financing, poor awareness, governance system and inappropriate application of technology are some of the major reasons.
  • Poor Collection and disposal – This causes local flooding and water pollution which further provides breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes. It also causes marine pollution due to littering of beaches and erosion of coastal dumping sites.
  • High per-capita waste generation – High income households and countries generate more waste specifically in rapidly-urbanised areas. The use of electronic goods generate e-waste which is also dumped along with other waste.
  • Lack of integrated system – there is no integrated system of waste collection and disposal. Only about 50% of the waste could be segregated and composted at the starting age.
  • Low functioning – Many landfills have been functioning beyond the stipulated timeline. With the expansion of cities old land fill need to be reclaimed and new sites should be identified.


  • Government has mandated power distribution companies to buy electricity from power plants fuelled by solid waste. It will ensure that realisation of Centre’s dream of generating 700 megawatts of electricity from solid waste-run plants in the next five years.
  • It has also been mandated to all private fertilizer companies to buy compost that is extracted from municipal solid waste. This will also end the monopoly of the urea producing companies.
  • CPCB has also issued guidelines to maintain buffer zones around landfill waste disposal.
  • It has also mandated that new plants need to plant trees and use odour free technology.
  • The Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 notified by the environment ministry aim at creating a process to recover, recycle and reuse the demolition and construction waste.


  • The Committee was established by the Planning Commission. It has highlighted the need for an integrated approach –
    • 5R Approach i.e. reduce, reuse, recover, recycle and remanufacture should be adopted.
    • Local NGOs, RWA members etc should be motivated to take up work of community awareness and door to door collection.
    • Kabadiwalas and rag pickers should be integrated into the Municipal Solid Waste Management system
    • It emphasizes setting up centralised (for incineration, gasification, pyrolysis) or decentralised (for biomethanation, vermicomposting) waste processing facilities keeping in view the quantity and quality of waste generated and financial viability of the processing technology.
    • Standard protocols for landfill management to prevent accidents: set up Common Regional Sanitary Landfill Facility, to reduce the land requirement. Cities above a population of one million should set-up their own landfill and permit all cities and towns within 50km periphery of the city to use the facility for disposal of their waste.


  • The rules and regulations have been put in place however, there is a need to ensure proper implementation of these rules.
  • The officials and contractors should also be trained before the enforcement of the rules.
  • Appropriate resources should also be allocated to the local authorities to ensure proper solid waste management.


Sample Question

Discuss India’s Waste Management Crisis and suggest the changes required to improve waste management in India?