Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2021

Aug 19, 2021

Current Affair 1:
Agroforestry can replace Jhum cultivation in North East

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Pineapple-based agroforestry, traditionally practiced by ethnic Hmar tribe in southern Assam, can be a sustainable alternative to jhum cultivation in northeast India.

This traditional practice can provide twin solutions for climate change and biodiversity loss, according to a new study. The study was carried out by the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Assam University, Silchar, with support from the Climate Change Program Division of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

What is Jhum?

Jhum cultivation, also called swidden agriculture, a dominant agricultural practice in the region, has become unsustainable due to the reduced fallow cycle resulting in depletion in soil fertility, severe soil erosion and low agronomic productivity.

Hence, northeast India and many south Asian countries are shifting to agroforestry and high-value cropping systems from traditional jhum practices over the past decades, which are considered sustainable and profitable alternatives.

The study assessed the tree diversity and ecosystem carbon storage through the traditional agroforestry system practiced by the local communities. It showed that the system they practice maintains a steady ecosystem carbon stock while reducing land-use-related carbon emission and providing additional co-benefits to the communities.

Agroforestry is the interaction of agriculture and trees, including the agricultural use of trees. This comprises trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes, farming in forests and along forest margins and tree-crop production, including cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm.

Interactions between trees and other components of agriculture may be important at a range of scales: in fields (where trees and crops are grown together), on farms (where trees may provide fodder for livestock, fuel, food, shelter or income from products including timber) and landscapes (where agricultural and forest land uses combine in determining the provision of ecosystem services).

Current Affair 2:
Adding micronutrients to rice

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A very good article from Express on "Rice Fortification". The article is self-explanatory but would like to clarify certain points.

But before that, see a basic about Fortification:

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fortification is the process of increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, such as vitamins or minerals, in a food item to improve its nutritional value and provide public health benefits at minimal cost.

Food fortification is identified as one of the strategies used by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization to tackle nutrient deficiencies at a global level with more than 86 countries working on cereal grain fortification like rice, wheat and maize amongst others.

Fortification has a distinct edge over supplements when it comes to combating micronutrient deficiency. It has minimal effects on taste and cooking properties while at the same time adding multiple nutrients to cure multiple deficiencies. It also has minimal behaviour change, unlike supplements.

Rice is the fifth item to get the government’s fortification push after salt, edible oil, milk and wheat.

About news:

Normal rice floor is mixed with micronutrients (iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12) and water is added to this mixture and then it is solidified and converted into rice kernels (nuts) by an "Extruder machine". These Fortified Rice Kernels (FRK) look very similar to the normal rice and are blended (simple mixing) with normal rice in the ratio of 10 gm FRK with 1 Kg normal rice.

The rice millers which will produce fortified rice, Govt. will provide them Rs. 0.6 per kg (which is basically the cost of producing fortified rice) and this cost will be shared by Centre and States. (Actually Govt. procures paddy from the farmers under MSP and then it is given to Mills for conversion to rice which is then distributed through various schemes. So, Govt. was already providing for the milling cost to the millers and now it will provide for the fortification also to the rice millers).

Current Affair 3:
How Punjab and Haryana are switching to sustainable cropping techniques to preserve groundwater?

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Punjab brought 600,000 hectares under direct-seeded rice (DSR), an alternative for the traditional, water-intensive method of sowing rice. It can help reduce water consumption by as much as 35 per cent over the traditional process of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to waterlogged fields.

In DSR, the pre-germinated seeds are directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine. There is no nursery preparation or transplantation involved in this method. Farmers have to only level their land and give one pre-sowing irrigation.

Farmlands where paddy was sown declined by 100,000 hectares from last year’s 3.1 million hectares, state government figures showed. The area was most likely shifted to other less water-intensive crops

Paddy, the main kharif crop for both the states, is a water guzzler and responsible for the rapid decline in groundwater. In the last few years, the state governments have made various efforts and run campaigns to encourage farmers to diversify into crops like cotton, maize, pulses, among others.

See how question will be asked. They can ask how groundwater can be restored? Options will be: a. Using direct-seeded rice (DSR), you will do correct. Then they will ask use of groundwater has increased in Punjab and Haryana consistently since green revolution till present. You will say no. At least you can eliminate.

Current Affair 4:
Supreme Court issues important directions regarding pending Criminal Cases against sitting MPs & MLAs


The Supreme Court of India (SCI) has recently imposed a penalty on major political parties in its judgment on 10 August 2021, including the BJP and Congress, for not making public, the pending criminal cases of the candidates they had fielded in the Bihar Assembly polls held in 2020. The Bihar elections were the first major election held after the apex court’s directions on 13 February 2020 aimed at decriminalization of politics.

SC issued orders to make criminal antecedents of contesting candidates public in 2020

  1. On 13 February 2020, noting the increasing criminalization of politics in India and the lack of information about such criminalization among the citizens,
  2. the SCI directed that political parties must publish detailed information about the pending criminal cases against the party candidates such as the nature of offences, whether charges have been framed, concerned Court, and case number, along with reasons of selection of the candidate,
  3. and why other candidates without criminal antecedents were not selected.
  4. The reasons should be based on the qualifications, merit, and achievements of the candidates.
  5. All these details were supposed to be uploaded on the websites of the political parties, published in the local vernacular newspaper and a national newspaper, and on the official social media platforms of the party including Facebook and Twitter.

In the recent judgement, the 2020 order has been re-interpreted and modified.

Further to the directions issued in 2020, the SC bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai issued additional directions to make “the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful”.

The measures which aim to make access to the information easier and ensure compliance with the SC’s orders are the following.


  1. Political parties must publish the information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites. Henceforth, political parties must have a caption on the homepage stating, “candidates with criminal antecedents.” This is in addition to the mandatory publication of criminal antecedents of candidates on social media handles and newspapers as cited in the 2020 order, making access to the information for the public easier
  2. The Election Commission of India (ECI) must create a dedicated mobile application that contains information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents.
  3. The ECI must carry out an extensive awareness campaign across various platforms to make every voter aware of their right to information regarding criminal antecedents of the contesting candidates and how to access the same.
  4. The Court added that a separate fund created through the deposition of fines by political parties shall be utilized for this purpose.
  5. The ECI must also create a separate cell for monitoring the required compliance. With the creation of such a cell, non-compliance to the SC’s orders by any political party can be promptly raised to the Court.
  6. The details which are required to be published as mentioned in the 2020 Order, should be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate. Before it  ordered that the details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
  7. The February 2020 order mandated that the political party must submit a compliance report with the ECI in the specified formats within 72 hours of the selection of the candidate. Suppose a political party fails to submit such a compliance report with the ECI, the ECI can raise the non-compliance with the SC as being in contempt of this Court’s orders, which will be viewed seriously.



Current Affair 5:
Immune cells isolated in sea corals, anemones for the 1st time

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Specialised immune cells exist in certain varieties of sea corals and anemones, found a new study. These cells help understand how the organisms protect themselves from viruses and bacteria in the marine ecosystem.

The newly discovered phagocytic cells were identified in cauliflower coral and starlet sea anemone by scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

At least three per cent of the total cell population of these organisms are phagocytic that fight infections, the study found.

Immune cells ingest and destroy foreign and damaged cells through a process called phagocytosis.

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