Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2020

Aug 04, 2020

Current Affair 1:
Status of Palm Oil in India

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Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to farmers in India’s northeast to cultivate oil palm, and to the eight state governments in the region to set up oil palm missions. environmentalists have expressed concerns about potentially unplanned expansion, especially considering both the Centre and state governments are yet to undertake any feasibility assessments. But our concern is Palm oil. We go through important points relevant for exam.

India is one of the major growers of oilseeds. Its vegetable oil economy is the fourth largest after the US, China and Brazil. Yet the country relies on imports to meet over 70 per cent of its vegetable oil requirements; almost 60 per cent of the requirement is met through palm oil. The reason is simple. Palm oil is cheap—it costs 20 per cent less than most vegetable oils—as well as versatile.


Apart from being used as common cooking medium, it is used for making a vast array of food and consumer products, right from vanaspati (hydrogenated vegetable oil), ice creams to lipsticks, soaps and shaving foams. Since 2001, palm oil consumption in the country has increased from 3 million tonnes to nearly 10 million tonnes—that is a growth of over 230 per cent.

Efforts taken by the government:

The government had anticipated this growth in demand as early as in the 1980s and had set up a committee to identify potential areas for growing the crop.

By 2012, the government had identified 2 million ha across the country for oil palm cultivation and decided to implement the National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) under the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). Under the mission, farmers were provided training and given subsidised plant materials and input assistance. Private companies were also invited to set up processing factories in oil palm growing areas to facilitate procurement as well as to provide agriculture extension services.

In 2018, the National Food Security Mission prepared a brief note on oil palm. According to the note, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) had identified 19.33 lakh ha of land as being suitable for oil palm cultivation, including 2.18 lakh ha in the northeast. And in the northeast, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura have been encouraging oil palm plantations with targeted programmes and subsidies. Mizoram is way ahead of the rest, with its programme dating to 2005.

Every year, the states under NMOOP set a target of bringing additional area under the crop. Though the Mission received an initial enthusiasm, the targets have been routinely missed (see ‘Targets missed, over and again’, below).

See the import of India below. It has been consistently increasing.

India imports Palm oil mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia: Below are CPO and RBD: crude palm oil (CPO) and refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm oil

If you remember this news, India’s move to restrict palm oil imports from Malaysia which has criticized India’s internal policy decisions.

It was a huge blow to Malaysia. Malaysia exports large part to India. Now, it has resumed imports. So, don’t mess with India. See below image.


Current Affair 2:
Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN)

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The Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) is being used by the State/UT governments in India to monitor the supply chain of Covid response material. We will learn Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).

Three images below to explain eVIN: Very important.


eVIN has reached 32 (in image, it is given 12, change it to 32) States and Union Territories (UTs) and will soon be rolled-out in the remaining States and UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Ladakh and Sikkim. At present, 23,507 cold chain points across 585 districts of 22 States and 2 UTs routinely use the eVIN technology for efficient vaccine logistics management. Over 41,420 vaccine cold chain handlers have been introduced to digital record-keeping by training them on eVIN. Nearly 23,900 electronic temperature loggers have been installed on vaccine cold chain equipment for accurate temperature review of vaccines in storage.

Current Affair 3:
India has invoked the peace clause of the World Trade Organisation

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India has invoked the peace clause of the World Trade Organisation to extend the ceiling to its farmers who grow rice. This move has raised a strong objection from developed economies like the US and the EU. The peace clause exempts the country which invoked it from sanctions of the WTO.

India has announced that its drive production in 2019-20 at $ 43.67 billion and India is offering a subsidy of $ 5 million which is excess according to the rules of WTO as member countries can provide subsidy to only 10 % of the total production.

We will see some WTO provisions:

The WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) classifies policies for agriculture into three: tariff (market access), domestic support (domestic subsidies) and export subsidies. But the most controversial as well as the important one is the set of domestic support measures for agriculture. These domestic support measures are nothing, but subsidies given by the member countries to their agricultural sector.

What are domestic supports? How are they classified?

Domestic supports are subsidies given by member countries to promote their agricultural sector. Different types of subsidies are given to support the agricultural activities –including input subsidies, subsidies for R&D, subsidies for food security etc. The AoA classifies domestic support into trade distorting (reducible or to be reduced) and non-distorting (which are non-reducible or need not be reduced) categories. For trade distorting type of subsidies, the WTO sets limit beyond which members can’t give support (de minimis box). Often domestic support related issues are a cause for conflict at various Ministerial Conferences.

Different types of subsidies

The Agreement on Agriculture classifies domestic subsidies into different types.

  1. Green box support
  2. Blue box support
  3. Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or Amber box which includes product specific and non-product specific support
  4. Special and differential (S&DT) treatment box.
  5. De minimus support

Green Box is domestic support measures that doesn’t cause trade distortion or at most causes’ minimal distortion.

Blue box supports are subsidies that are tied to programmes that limit production. Hence it is an exemption to the general rule related to agricultural support. The Blue box subsidies aim to limit production by imposing production quotas or requiring farmers to set aside part of their land.

The AMS represents trade distorting domestic support measures. It is referred as the “amber box” in the Agreement on Agriculture. The AMS means annual level of support (subsidies) expressed in monetary terms, provided for an agricultural product in favour of the producers (product specific) of the basic agricultural product and non-product specific support provided in favour of agricultural producers in general.

Special and Differential Treatment Box (S&DT)

WTO gives special concessions to the developing countries under the S &DT box given the backwardness of their agricultural sector. The S&DT measures generally comprises of (i) investment subsidies like tractors and pump sets to farmers (ii) agricultural input services like fertilizers to farmers. These subsidies should be provided only to low income and resource poor producers (or poor farmers) in developing countries.

De-minimis support

De minimis support indicate the minimum level of trade distorting (AMS) subsidies that can be given by a country to its agricultural sector. This de minimis subsidy is expressed as percentage of the country’s agricultural GDP.  The de minimis level is 5 per cent of agricultural GDP for developed countries whereas for the developing countries including India, the de minimis ceiling is 10 per cent.

Some important data about Rice:



Current Affair 4:
Population composition in India

This is the third topic we are covering from Sample Registration System survey 2018, which was released recently. Two topics already covered IN OUR Previous Current Affairs section.

  1. Correlation between Education level and Fertility rate. Click here to READ.
  2. SRS 2018 Report on Infant Mortality Rate. CLICK HERE TO Read.

Now we will cover the current topic.

Age is one of the vital demographic characteristics, which is useful for the government to formulate policies or to plan developmental and health programs.

Since India gained independence, there has been considerable improvement in its health parameters such as life expectancy, healthcare facilities and education, and drop in fertility and mortality rates, which have contributed by and large to the demographic changes witnessed since then. Since 1971, proportion of India’s population under the age of 14 years has declined from 41.2% to 25.9% in 2018. Simultaneously, the proportion of elderly population, aged 60 years and above has increased from 5.3% to 8.1%.

About two thirds of India’s population belong to the working age group

India’s working population aged between 15 to 59 years constituted 66% of total population of the country. In contrast to the population composition of children (under 14) in the respective states, the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have reported more than 70% of population falling in the working category as against Bihar, which reported the least, less than 60% of the population in the working category. A total of 8.1% of the India’s population were aged above 60 years, ranging from 6.3% in Bihar to close to 13% in Kerala.

Slight drop in the share of elderly population compared to 2016

The share of elderly population (60 years & above) has gradually increased since 1971. However, data from the past eight years indicates that the percentage of elderly persons in the population increased from 8% in 2011 to 8.3% in 2012 and stayed consistent till 2016. Compared to 2016, it has slightly decreased to 8.1% in SRS 2018.

Meanwhile, the share of those of those aged between 0 to 14 years has dropped significantly, from 29.4% in 2011 to 25.9% in 2018. The working population (15 to 59 years) has increased from 62.5% in 2011 to 66% in these eight years.

Southern states have lower share of population in the 0-14 age group

State-wise data indicates that the share of population in the 0 to 14 years is lower in southern states compared to the rest of the country. For instance, in 2018, the share of population in the 0-14 age group in southern states was between 19.8% in Andhra Pradesh and 23% in Karnataka. The highest such share in Karnataka (23%) is still lower than the national average of 25.9%.

Share of Females more than Male counterparts in working age and elderly categories

In 2018, a total of 64.7% of females in rural areas and 69.6% of females in urban areas fell in the working age category of 15 to 59 years. This was higher than that of their male counterparts- 64.3% in rural areas, and 68.7% in urban areas.

The sex ratio at birth i.e. number of females per 1000 males, is lower in urban areas as compared to rural areas since 2012. Between 2016-18, the child sex ratio at birth was 900 in rural areas and 897 in urban areas.

A greater share of persons in the working age group are in Urban areas than in Rural areas

The data also indicated that the proportion of persons in urban areas was higher than that in rural areas in case of persons in the working age and senior citizens. At the same time, there were more children (under-15) in rural areas, than in urban areas. This may be the result of lower fertility rate in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Also, the proportion of women was more in the working age group and elderly category as against the proportion of men. Urban areas accounted for a greater share of persons than rural areas in these two categories. One reason for this might be the migration of rural population to urban areas seeking better opportunities in the working age group.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indicated that population explosion may pose challenges to the future generations during his Independence Day speech in 2019. However, if the current trends continue, the proportion of persons in the working age will decrease and the proportion of elderly persons will increase in the long run as health facilities and life expectancy improves. Furthermore, inter region disparities can also lead to increased influx of migrants into the southern states. For instance, Bihar which has a higher share of children now will have more persons in the working population in the coming 20 to 30 years, unlike in the southern states.

Current Affair 5:
What is ammonium nitrate, the chemical that exploded in Beirut?

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The Lebanese capital Beirut was rocked on Tuesday evening local time by an explosion that has killed at least 78 people and injured thousands more. The country’s prime minister Hassan Diab said the blast was caused by around 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored near the city’s cargo port.

Ammonium nitrate has the chemical formula NH?NO?. P

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