Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021

Jun 11, 2021

Current Affair 1:
Mustard oil blending banned

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From June 8, 2021, mustard oil did not need to be blended with anything else.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had decided this on March 31. This would end the practice to add other edible oil (like from palms, rice bran, etc) to mustard oil. This is good news for mustard farmers whose fortunes were adversely hit as up to a fifth of mustard oil volume could earlier be blends of other oils.

But why did India start the practice in the first place? And how has it affected consumer health?

The dropsy epidemic

The Union health ministry had allowed blending in edible vegetable oil in a notification in 1990.

In 1998, Delhi and other north Indian states witnessed the dropsy epidemic — a disease that caused swelling in the body due to the build-up of fluid in tissues. At least 60 people died and 3,000 were hospitalised in the national capital. The first case of dropsy was reported in West Bengal in 1877, according to official data. But the disease was prevalent in North India where mustard oil is majorly consumed. South Indian states didn’t report any cases of dropsy for the people there largely consume groundnut or coconut oil.

Regulations brought up in blending.

Following the Union health ministry 1990 notification allowing for the blending of edible vegetable oil, the FSSAI rolled out regulations in the regard in 2006.

Producers and other companies involved in blending were regularised through the Agriculture Produce (Grading and Marking) Act (AGMARK). It also made it mandatory to write the kind of oil used for blending over the packet.

Has blending led to dependence over the import of oil?

Blending mustard oil with other edible oils considered to bolster nutritional profile, taste and quality.

The processing industry took advantage of blending. Cheap palm oil would be blended up to 80 per cent in mustard oil some time. As a result, profits of mustard farmers dried up, which discouraged them from cultivating the crop.

This could be one of the reasons behind India’s increasing dependency on oil import over the last two decades (In 1990-91, India was self-reliant in mustard oil production and produced 98 per cent of oil needed).

The decision to stop its blending offers a ray of hope to farmers as well.

About Mustard Mission

Mustard Mission was started to increase the mustard yield. And as per the expectations, this mission has proved to be effective in increasing mustard cultivation this year. Mustard is one of the major oilseed crops of the Rabi season.

As per 3rd Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2020-21 is as under:

At present, Rajasthan alone produces 40.82% of the total mustard in India, as the highest mustard production state.

Interesting poster:

Current Affair 2:
All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019-20

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To portray the status of higher education in the country, Ministry of Education has endeavoured to conduct an annual web-based All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) since 2010-11. The survey covers all the Institutions in the country engaged in imparting of higher education. It is the 10th in the series of AISHE annually released by the Department of Higher Education.

These are useful in making informed policy decisions and research for development of education sector.

Key features of All India Survey on Higher Education Report 2019-20: This only you need to know and remember.

  1. Total Enrolment in Higher Education stands at 3.85 crore in 2019-20 as compared to 3.74 crore in 2018-19, registering a growth of 11.36 lakh (3.04 %). Total enrolment was 3.42 crore in 2014-15.


  1. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), the percentage of students belonging to the eligible age group enrolled in Higher Education, in 2019-20 is 27.1% against 26.3% in 2018-19 and 24.3% in 2014-2015.


  1. Gender Parity Index (GPI) in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 1.01 against 1.00 in 2018-19 indicating an improvement in the relative access to higher education for females of eligible age group compared to males.
  2. Pupil Teacher Ratio in Higher Education in 2019-20 is 26.
  3. In 2019-20: Universities: 1,043(2%); Colleges: 42,343(77%) and stand-alone institutions: 11,779(21%).

  1. 3.38 crore Students enrolled in programmes at under-graduate and post-graduate level.  Out of these, nearly 85% of the students (2.85 crore) were enrolled in the six major disciplines such as Humanities, Science, Commerce, Engineering & Technology, Medical Science and IT & Computer.
  2. The number of students pursuing PhD in 2019-20 is 2.03 lakh against 1.17 lakh in 2014-15.
  3. The Total Number of Teachers stands at 15,03,156 comprising of 57.5% male and 42.5% female.

One of the most important schemes for higher education is Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in the year 2013 with the objective of funding eligible State Higher Educational Institutions. Central funding (in the ratio of 65:35 for general category states and 90:10 for special category states) will be criterion based and outcome subject. The funding goes from the Union Ministry to the State Councils of Higher Education through the State Governments/UTs before reaching the identified institutions.

Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan will establish new universities through promotion of existing autonomous colleges and group transformation of colleges.


Current Affair 3:
United Nation General Assembly


Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid was on Monday overwhelmingly elected as President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, garnering 143 votes out of the 191 ballots cast.

Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprised of all 193 Members of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter. It also plays a significant role in the process of standard-setting and the codification of international law.

Each member has one vote.

All UN Member States are represented in the General Assembly. Each Member State has one vote. Decisions on such key issues as international peace and security, admitting new members and the UN budget are decided by a two-thirds majority. Other matters are decided by simple majority. Many decisions are reached by consensus without a formal vote.

In recent years, an effort has been made to achieve consensus on issues, rather than deciding by a formal vote, thus strengthening support for the Assembly’s decisions.

How President is elected?

Any Member State can put forward a candidate for President of the General Assembly (PGA).  He/she is not required to be, but always has been, a citizen of the Member State presenting the candidacy. The PGA is elected in his/her personal capacity and for the duration of the term of office represents the membership as a whole.

The Member State of the PGA cannot at the same time hold the office of Vice-President or Chair of a Main Committee.  Thus, the five permanent members of the Security Council, who are always Vice-Presidents, cannot hold the office of the PGA.

The President is elected by a simple majority vote of the GA.  The President is elected at least three months before formally assuming office, usually in mid-June.  This allows him/her to prepare and to assemble a team before the GA session begins in September.

What is the role and mandate of the PGA?

The PGA is the guardian of the GA Rules of Procedure but has no say in the actual decision-making of the GA – in fact, the PGA does not have a vote in the GA.  Even on procedural matters, the PGA always remains under the authority of the GA.

The Charter of the UN establishes only the function of the PGA.  The exact role and mandate have been defined and agreed on by the GA and are described in the GA Rules of Procedure, in GA revitalization resolutions, and in other GA resolutions which assign responsibilities and tasks to the PGA.

Just read once:

How are the Vice-Presidents elected?

The GA elects the twenty-one Vice-Presidents for the next session on the day of the election of the PGA.  Like the PGA, the Vice-Presidents formally assume office at the opening of the GA session.  The five permanent members of the Security Council are always among the Vice-Presidents.  To ensure balanced geographical representation, the remaining Vice-Presidencies are distributed among the regional groups as follows:

  • 6 members from the Group of African States
  • 5 members from the Group of Asian States
  • 1 member from the Group of Eastern European States
  • 3 members from the Group of Latin American States
  • 2 members from the Western European or other States Group

The list adds up to 22.  There are only 21 Vice-Presidents, as the regional group putting forward the PGA gets one less vice-presidential mandate.  Each regional group usually agrees on a clean slate. This allows for election by acclamation.

Current Affair 4:
Committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending

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The central government has also released an expert committee report on the Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India by 2025. The roadmap proposes a gradual rollout of ethanol-blended fuel to achieve E10 fuel supply by April 2022 and phased rollout of E20 from April 2023 to April 2025.



Augmentation Of Ethanol Production Capacity: Both the sugarcane-based and grain-based ethanol production capacities shall have to be augmented by 78% and 187% to 760 and 740 crore litres respectively.

To enable a pan-Indian roll-out, ethanol would need to be supplied from surplus to deficit states as per requirements so as to ensure uniform availability of ethanol blends in the country.

Ethanol Blending Roadmap

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas should immediately notify the plan for pan-India availability of E10 fuel by April, 2022 and its continued availability thereafter until 2025 for older vehicles, and launch of E20 in the country in phases from April, 2023 onwards so as to make E20 available by April, 2025.

Augmenting Infrastructure of Oil Marketing Companies

OMCs will need to prepare for the projected requirement of ethanol storage, handling, blending and dispensing infrastructure.

Expediting Regulatory Clearances for Ethanol Producing Units

Currently, ethanol production plants/distilleries fall under the “Red category” and require environmental clearance under the Air and Water Acts for new and expansion projects. This often takes a long time leading to delays. While several steps have been taken to expedite Environment Clearances (EC) under the Environment Protection Act there are few areas of concern which if addressed, will facilitate early setting up of ethanol distillation capacities in the country.

Incentives For Ethanol Blended Petrol Vehicles

Globally, vehicles compliant with higher ethanol blends are provided with tax benefits. A similar approach may be followed so that the cost increase due to E20 compatible design may be absorbed to a certain extent, as is being done in some states for promoting EVs.

Encouraging Use of Water Saving Crops to Produce Ethanol

A survey was conducted to understand potential for ethanol production from the lens of water consumption. It concluded that sugar continues to be the most lucrative food crop for ethanol even though it has the highest water consumption per acre. Amongst grains, maize is the least water-intensive crop that can be used for ethanol production, although the rate of conversion to ethanol is lower than for rice and broken rice. The production of ethanol from maize and such other low water consulting feedstock may be encouraged.

In India:


Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) is the nodal department for promotion of fuel grade ethanol producing distilleries in the country. Government has allowed ethanol production/ procurement from sugarcane-based raw materials viz. C & B heavy molasses, sugarcane juice / sugar / sugar syrup, surplus rice with Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Maize.

Supply of ethanol under the EBP Programme has increased from 38 crore litres during ESY 2013- 14 to 173 crore litres during ESY 2019-20 resulting in increase in blend percentage from 1.53% to 5.00% respectively. Further, the allocation for the ongoing ESY (2020-21) has surged to 332 crore litres, which is 91% more in comparison to the ethanol supplies received during preceding ESY (2019-20).


The government of India has advanced the target for 20 per cent ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) to 2025 from 2030. E20 will be rolled out from April 2023.

This measure is aimed at reducing the country’s oil import bill and carbon dioxide pollution. This new initiative is also part of measures to improve energy security and self-sufficiency measures.

Currently, 8.5 per cent of ethanol is blended with petrol in India. (In above graph, you can easily observe)


Current Affair 5:
Dehing Patkai National Park


The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary has been declared as a National Park by the forest department of Assam. With the up-gradation of Dehing Patkai, Assam has now 7 National Parks.

The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 says whenever it appears to the state government that an area, whether within a sanctuary or not, is, by reason of its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, or zoological association of importance, need to be constituted as a national park for the purpose of protecting, propagating or developing wildlife therein or its environment.

The six others are: Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Orang and Dibru-Saikhowa and Raimona. Kaziranga and Manas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Dehing Patkai forms the largest stretch of lowland rainforests in India. The Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as Dehing-Patkai Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant.

The importance of Dehing Patkai

Dehing Patkai, dubbed the “Amazon of the East”, is the second-largest bio-diversity hotspot in the world. Spread across 575 sq. km area, this rainforest has a 5 layered canopy and is the only forest in the world where 8 species of cats —royal Bengal tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, marbled cat, civet cat, fishing cat, jungle cat and leopard cat—are found together.

The rainforest, described as a jewel of forest and wildlife, has hornbills of different varieties, more than 300 species of birds, more than an equal number of species of butterflies, reptiles, hoolock gibbons, around 50 species of snakes, orchids, some with medicinal value, medicinal plants, flora and fauna among others.

The Assam state bird, state tree and state flower are found in this rainforest.

Rampant coal mining inside the fragile and pristine Dehing Patkai biodiversity is not new.

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