Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Oct 14, 2020

Current Affair 1:

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PM to dedicate to the Nation 17 recently developed biofortified varieties of 8 crops.

Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology.

Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops. Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.

Biofortification is a process of improvement of nutritional profile of plant-based foods through agronomic interventions, genetic engineering, and conventional plant breeding.

Genetic Engineering and Breeding is known to you already. Agronomical approaches we will discuss in brief.

Biofortification through agronomic approaches can be achieved by applying mineral fertilizers to the soil, foliar fertilization, and soil inoculation with beneficial microorganisms.

Mineral Fertilizer

Mineral fertilizers are inorganic substances containing essential minerals and can be applied to the soil to improve the micronutrient status of soil and thus plant quality. The Phyto availability of minerals in the soil is often low; thus, to improve the concentration of minerals in the edible plant tissues, the application of mineral fertilizers with improved solubility and mobility of the minerals is required.

Foliar Fertilization

Foliar fertilization is the application of fertilizers directly to the leaves. It could be successful when mineral elements are not available immediately in the soil or not readily translocated to edible tissues. Pulse crops were biofortified with micronutrients, Fe, Zn, and Se, through foliar application in various studies that resulted in increased levels of these micronutrients.

Plant Growth Promoting Micro-organisms

Rhizobia, mycorrhizal fungi, actinomycetes, and diazotrophic bacteria are beneficial soil microorganisms associated with plant roots by symbiotic association, and these protect plants by various methods such as promotion of nutrient mineralization and availability and production of plant growth hormones. Though these are naturally present in the soil, their populations can be enhanced by inoculation or agricultural management practices.

The ICAR has so far released 35 varieties of biofortified crops, including two varieties of sweet potato.

See some images on Biofortification:

Just see fortified status on types of crops:

Current Affair 2:
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

News is Pakistan has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). But we will learn here only, UNHRC.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

The Council is made of 47 Member States, which are elected by the majority of members of the General Assembly of the United Nations through direct and secret ballot.

The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution. Seats are distributed as follows:

Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

Currently India is a member. Its term will expire in 2021.

Human Rights Council Subsidiary Bodies:

The Council established the following subsidiary expert mechanism to provide the Council with thematic expertise and forums providing a platform for dialogue and cooperation. These bodies focus mainly on studies, research-based advice or best-practices. They meet and report annually to the Council:

  1. Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People
  2. Forum on Minority Issues
  3. Social Forum
  4. Forum on Business and Human Rights
  5. Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

Don’t confuse UNCHR with UNHRC (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.

1951 Refugee Convention:

Current Affair 3:
Global Hunger Index 2020

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The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators:

  1. undernourishment (share of the population with insufficient caloric intake)
  2. child wasting (share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition)
  3. child stunting (share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition), and
  4. child mortality (mortality rate of children under age five, partly reflecting the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).

Based on the values of the four indicators, the GHI determines hunger on a 100-point scale where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst. Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.

The child stunting rate in India was 37.4 %. The child wasting was at 17.3 %. The undernourishment rate of India was at 14% and child mortality at 3.7 %.











Current Affair 4:
There is water on the Moon trapped in glass

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NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the world’s largest airborne observatory in the form of a Boeing 747SP carrying a reflecting telescope, has observed an unmistakable signature of water on the Moon.

Hydration was first observed at the lunar South Pole by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008. However, on sunlit parts, findings confirmed the presence of hydroxyl ions (OH) in minerals. This is the first finding to confirm molecular water (H2O) directly in parts of the Moon that are exposed to sunlight.

The authors argue that approximately 40,000 km² of the lunar surface has the capacity to store water in the form of these “micro traps”.

Why the findings matter

The discovery is significant for it has shown that water is distributed across the surface of the Moon and is not limited to cold-shadowed places. The new findings imply that water can be trapped on the Moon in a more widespread manner than previously thought. It could enable future missions to the Moon to more effectively tap into this resource on a more global scale, at any location, rather than struggle to reach trapped water at the difficult-to-reach poles.

There are currently four missions active on or around the Moon. These include two orbiters — NASA’s LRO and India’s Chandrayaan-2 — as well as two landers, China’s Chang’e 3 and 4. Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon, and deployed the Yutu-2 rover that is currently operational on the Moon.


Current Affair 5:
State Development Loans (SDLs)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said it would conduct Open Market Operation (OMO) purchase of State Developments Loans. RBI will purchase the SDLs through a multi-security auction using the multiple price method.

While OMOs in central government securities are routine, this is the first time the RBI has announced OMOs for state government bonds. It comes at a time when the RBI is eager to ensure that financial conditions don’t tighten and derail early signs of a recovery in the Covid-hit economy.

What is OMO?

OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale/ purchase of G-Secs to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis.

When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.

How is it done?

RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public.

Now, we will learn State Development Loans

What are SDLs? How do States raise the required funds through the SDLs?

State Development Loans (SDL) are debt issues by the state governments to fund their fiscal deficit. The issue of SDLs is managed by the RBI. It also takes up the responsibility of ensuring the SDLs are serviced by monitoring escrow accounts for payment of interest and principal. SDLs encourage the states to have a better fiscal strength, since the higher the Fiscal strength of a state, the lesser the interest rate/yield that it has to pay.

SDL offers two main advantages which encourage investors to invest in them and help the state governments to raise the required market borrowings to meet the budgetary requirements.

  1. Higher yield
  2. SDLs are similar to Central Government Securities, and do not have Credit risks.

Most of the investors of SDLs are Commercial banks, Insurance companies etc. who are looking for a higher yield on investment.  Since 2014, the government has also allowed Foreign investments in SDLs.

SDLs qualify as approved SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio) security under Section 24 of Banking Regulation Act, 1949. SDLs can be traded electronically on NDS-OM (Negotiated Dealing System- Order Matching), similar to that of Government Bond Market.

Nearly 50 % increase in borrowings through SDLs in 2020-21 so far

As discussed earlier, there is a severe strain on the finances of the various state governments because of COVID-19. Trends of recent years suggest an increase in the preference of the states to go for SDLs.

The need of the states for higher market borrowings is evident through the increase in funds raised through SDLs in the current financial year of 2020-21 (until the first week of August 2020), compared to the same period last year.

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