Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 20th August-2020


1. National Recruitment Agency(NRA):

Context: Cabinet approves setting up of ‘National Recruitment Agency’ to conduct Common Eligibility Test for multiple government jobs.
Common Eligibility Test, (CET):
• NRA will initially conduct CET for three sectors- railway recruitment Board, Staff Selection Commission, and Institute of Banking and Personnel Selection.
• It will be held separately for three levels – graduates, 12th pass and 10 th pass for non-technical posts.
• To be conducted in 12 Indian Languages of eighth schedule
• Score valid for 3 years.
• Exam twice a year.
• No bar on attempts.

Recruitment Reform – a major boon for the youth:
• At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts, for which similar eligibility conditions have been prescribed.
• Have to pay fee to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams.
• These multiple recruitment examinations are a burden on the candidates, as they have to incur expenditure on fees, travel, boarding,lodging and other things,this single exam will reduce financial burden on students, hence students can save time and money.
• Reduces burden on respective recruitment agencies, involving avoidable/repetitive expenditure, law and order/security related issues and venue related problems.

Cons of CET:
• One step increase, i,e a student has to clear CET first and then go for the respective departments exam.( example …student appearing for SSC, Has to first give CET and then 3 tiers of SSC ).
• Testing centres infrastructure quality must be high.
• candidates to appear once and apply to any or all of these recruitment agencies for the higher level of examination. This would indeed be a boon to all the candidates.
• Not only ease access to rural candidates, it will also motivate the rural candidates residing in the far-flung areas to take the examination and thereby, enhance their representation in Central Government jobs.

Will it lead to speedy recruitment ?
• The government says that the single eligibility test would significantly reduce the recruitment cycle.
• Even some departments have indicated their intention to do with any second level test and go ahead with recruitment on the basis if CET score, physical test and medical examination.
• National Recruitment Agency (NRA):
• A multi-agency body to screen/shortlist candidates for the Group B and C (non-technical) posts.
• NRA will have representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB& IBPS.



2. Cabinetleases out three airports- Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram:

Context:Union Cabinet approved redevelopment of three airports in Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati. The projects are to be developed through ppp mode.

These projects will bring efficiency in service delivery, expertise, enterprise and professionalism apart from harnessing the needed investments in the public sector.

• Government had leased out the Airports Authority of India’s airports at Delhi and Mumbai on Public Private Partnership for Operation, Management and Development about a decade ago.
• lease is for a period of 50 years.
• While these PPP experiments have helped create world class airports and helped in delivery of efficient and quality services to the airport passengers, it has also helped AAI in enhancing its revenues and focusing on developing airports and Air Navigation infrastructure in the rest of the country.
• Revenue received by AAI from PPP partners enabled AAI to create infrastructure facilities in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and also to upgrade their airports to international standards.
• The PPP airports in India are consistently ranked among the top 5 in their respective categories by the Airports Council International (ACI) in terms of Airport Service Quality (ASQ).
Airport Authority of India (AAI)
The AAI was established under Airports Authority of India Act, 1994 is a statutory body.
• The AAI is responsible to create, upgrade, maintain and manage civil aviation infrastructure in India.


3. Fair and Remunerative Price of sugarcane:

Context: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister,has approved the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane payable by sugar mills.
• It is supposed to signal to farmers the need to plant more or less cane for the coming year.
What is FRP:
• It is the minimum price at which rate sugarcane is to be purchased by sugar mills from farmers. FRP is fixed by Union government on basis of recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), an attached office of Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
• CACP is an advisory body.
• Factors: Recommended FRP is achieved by taking into account various factors such as cost of production, demand-supply situation, inter-crop price parity, domestic & international prices etc.
• Sugarcane’s FRP is determined under Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 which will be uniformly applicable all over country.
• Besides FRP, major sugar cane producing states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu announce a State Advised Price, which is generally higher than the FRP.
• Sugarcane price is determined by state/centre, where as sugar price is decided by market.



4. National Food Security Act:

Context: Nearly 60.7 lakh new beneficiaries added under NFSA by states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar during the COVID-19 period; these additional beneficiaries were also able to avail schemes like PM Garibkalyan Anna Yojana.
The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) provides coverage to nearly 81.09 Crore persons to receive highly subsidised food grains through Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under two categories, viz. Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH).

National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:

• As passed by the Parliament, Government has notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 on 10th September, 2013.
• The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity
Key features:
• The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
1. The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of food grains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
2. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of food grains per household per month.
3.The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
4.Childrenupto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
5.In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
6.The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
7.Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.



5.eSanjeevani – telemedicine service:

Context: The ‘eSanjeevani’ digital platform of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has completed 2 lakhtele-consultations.
About the National Teleconsultation Service:
• The Health Ministry launched the National Teleconsultation Service to facilitate telemedicine aiming to provide healthcare services to patients in their homes.
• This offers communication between doctors and patients who are geographically separated.
• There are two types of telemedicine services:
• eSanjeevani: Doctor-to-Doctor, this is being deployed in 155,000 Health and Wellness Centres under Ayushman Bharat.
• eSanjeevani OPD: Doctor-to-Patient (teleconsultation)
• esanjeevani The former is implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWC).
• It aims to implement tele-consultation with identified Medical College hospitals in a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model.
• States have identified and set up dedicated ‘Hubs’ in Medical Colleges and District hospitals to provide tele-consultation services to ‘Spokes’, i.e SHCs, PHCs and HWCs.
• This has proved a boon in containing the spread of COVID while simultaneously enabling provisions for non-COVID essential healthcare.



6. Tackling COVID-19 Youth employment crisis in Asia and Pacific:

Context:The report says that around 41 lakhs of Indian youth are to lose their job due to COVID-19 crisis.
-report by International Labour Organisation and Asian Development Bank.

• The report prepared jointly by the international organizations says that the major percentage of job loss are to be faced by workers belonging to farm and construction sector.
• In 13 countries of the Asia and Pacific region, around 1-1.5 crores of youths might lose their jobs.

Key Findings of the report:

• Pakistan is to lead in youth losing jobs followed by India in the Asia and Pacific regions.

• The unemployment rate in India is to increase to 32.5%. However, of all the countries in the region, Sri Lanka is to face the maximum unemployment at the rate of 37.8%.

• The youth of the age 15 to 24 years are to be hit harder than the adults.

• In India, three-quarters of internships and two-thirds of firm-level apprenticeships were completely disrupted.

Asia and the Pacific Region in 2019:

• In 2019, the unemployment in the region was 13.8%. Four out of every five young workers were engaged in informal employment. Also, one in four young workers were living in conditions of moderate poverty.

How are youth affected by COVID-19 crisis:

• Job disruptions in the form of reduced working hours and earnings
• Job losses for both self-employed and paid workers
• Disruptions in education and training
• Difficulty in moving between jobs
• Difficulties in transition from school to work.

Solutions recommended by report:

• Urgent and large scale targeted responses are required. This might include wage-subsidies or incentives
• Measures to mitigate impact disruption of education and training to students
• Increasing public employment programmes.


7.Mali president announced resignation:

• Ibrahim Boubacar Kita resigns amid military coup.
• Keita faced protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamistins urgency.


• Mali is landlocked country in West Africa.
• Prominent resources includes gold.
• Capital:Bamako.



8.Ethanol blending programme:

Context: The government has set targets of 10 per cent Bioethanol blendingof petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20 per cent by 2030 under the ethanol blending programme to curb carbon emissions and reduce India’s dependence on importedcrude oil.

Why ethanol blending:

• It is estimated that a 5% blending can result in replacement of around 1.8 million barrels of crude oil.
• As the Ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine tomore completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions, and hence reducing the occurrence of air pollution.
• The renewable ethanaol content, which is a by-product of sugar industry, results in net reduction of emissions in carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydro carbons.

What are Biofuels?
• Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel.
• Biofuels may be solid, liquid or gaseous in natuure.
• Solid: Wood, dried plant material, and manure
• Liquid: Bioethanol and Biodiesel
• Gaseous: Biogas

Categories of Biofuels:
First generation biofuels:
• These are made from food sources such as sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology.
• Common first-generation biofuels include Bioalcohols, Biodiesel, Vegetable oil, Bioethers, Biogas.
• Though the process of conversion is easy, but use of food sources in the production of biofuels creates an imbalance in food economy, leading to increased food prices and hunger.

Second generation Biofuels:
• These are produced from non-food crops or portions of food crops that are not edible and considered as wastes, e.g. stems, husks, wood chips, and fruit skins and peeling.
• Thermochemical reactions or biochemical conversion process is used for producing such fuels.
• Examples include cellulose ethanol, biodiesel.
• Though these fuels do not affect food economy, their production is quite complicated.
• Also, it is reported that these biofuels emit less greenhouse gases when compared to first generation biofuels.

Third generation biofuels:
• These are produced from micro-organisms like algae.
• Example- Butanol
• Micro-organisms like algae can be grown using land and water unsuitable for food production, therefore reducing the strain on already depleted water sources.
• One disadvantage is that fertilizers used in the production of such crops lead to environment pollution.

Fourth Generation Biofuels:
• In the production of these fuels, crops that are genetically engineered to take in high amounts of carbon are grown and harvested as biomass.
• The crops are then converted into fuel using second generation techniques.
• The fuel is pre-combusted and the carbon is captured. Then the carbon is geo-sequestered, meaning that the carbon is stored in depleted oil or gas fields or in unmineable coal seams.
• Some of these fuels are considered as carbon negative as their production pulls out carbon from environment.

Why are Indian plants not able to meet the demand for bio-ethanol?
• Sugar mills which are best placed to produce bioethanol do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants and there are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty o the price of bio-ethanol in the future.
• The sugar sector has its own balance sheet issues, sugar mills have to pay high prices for sugarcane set by the government even when there have been supply gluts.
• The prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
• The price of obtaining agricultural waste required for the production of bio-ethanol at 2G plants was currently too high for it to be viable for private investors in the country.
• The expert noted that state governments needed to set up depots where farmers could drop their agricultural waste and that the central government should fix a price for agricultural waste to make investments in 2G bioethanol production an attractive proposition.
• The three state-run OMCs Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. are currently in the process of setting up 2G bio-ethanol plants.


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