Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Zika Virus in India

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 10th July-2021


  • Department of Public Enterprises
  • UN Report on Youth and Agriculture
  • Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
  • Zika Virus in India
  • Human-wildlife conflict one of the greatest threats to wildlife species – WWF and UNEP report
  • Bonalu Festival


  1. Department of Public Enterprises

#GS2 #Government policies and intervention

Context: Recently, the Government has integrated the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) with the Finance Ministry from the ministry of Heavy industries.

About the Move:

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced about this change in her budget speech 2021-2022.
  • It has been brought under finance minister in a bid to ease coordination regarding future disinvestment plans.
  • The Finance Ministry will now have six departments while DPE’s parent ministry.
  • This also gives it a better control over key state-owned firms, review their capital expenditure plans and chalk out measures relating to revival as well as closure of CPSEs
  • Finance ministry already has a department dealing with Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE). So, inclusion of DPE would result into better coordination on issues like disinvestment.
  • The move comes ahead of the significant privatisation roadmap being pursued by the government, including strategic sale of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation, Container Corporation, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd, Pawan Hans, and Air India, which are expected to be completed in 2021-22.
  • Key government companies like BPCL, ONGC, IOC, HPCL, Power Grid Corporation, Coal India, among others, will now come under direct control of Finance Ministry.

About Department of Public Enterprises:

  • In their 52nd Report, the Estimates Committee of 3rd Lok Sabha (1962-67) stressed the need for setting up a centralized coordinating unit, which could also make continuous appraisal of the performance of public enterprises.
  • This led to the setting up of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in 1965 in the Ministry of Finance.
  • In 1985, BPE was made part of Ministry of Industry.
  • It is the nodal department for all the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
  • DPE’s present functions includes, among others, review of capital projects and expenditure in CPSEs and measures aimed at improving their performance and capacity building.
  • It lays down, in particular, policy guidelines on performance improvement and evaluation, autonomy and financial delegation and personnel management in CPSEs.
  • It furthermore collects and maintains information in the form of a Public Enterprises Survey on several areas in respect of CPSEs.
  • Department of Public Enterprises is headed by Secretary to the Government of India.

Major Functions of DPE:

  • Coordination of matters of general policy affecting Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs).
  • Restructuring of PSEs including the mechanisms or closure’s when needed.
  • Giving out advice relating to revival.
  • Counselling, training and rehabilitation of employees in CPSEs under Voluntary Retirement Scheme.
  • Categorisation of CPSEs including conferring ‘Ratna’ status.
    • CPSEs are classified into 3 categories- Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna. Presently, there are 10 Maharatna, 14 Navratna and 74 Miniratna CPSEs.


  1. UN Report on Youth and Agriculture:

#GS3 #Agriculture and allied activities #Employment issues #GS1 #Youth related issues

Context:  A new UN report on youth and agriculture underscores the urgent need to make agri-food systems more appealing to young people to secure the future of global food security and nutrition.

About the report:

  • ‘Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems’ is a report by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on food security and nutrition.
  • The panel provides independent, scientific analyses and advice to the CFS, an inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together on food security and nutrition for all.
  • The CFS is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Highlights of the report:

  • Youth aged between 15 and 24 years accounted for 16% of the world’s population in 2019.
  • Young people were concentrated in Asia, Central and Southern Asia with 361 million youth and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia with 307 million youth, followed by sub-Saharan Africa (211 million youth).
  • Unemployment rates for youth are three times higher than for adults in all regions of the world, and a vast majority of unemployed youth are young women.
  • Food systems are the largest employer: Agri-food systems, if made more appealing and equitable to youth, are a large, untapped reservoir of employment opportunities.
    • Particularly in the Global South, agri-food systems are already the largest employer of young people.
    • Food systems are a complex web of activities involving production, processing, handling, preparation, storage, distribution, marketing, access, purchase, consumption, food loss and waste, as well as the outputs of these activities, including social, economic and environmental outcomes.
  • More Employment Opportunities: Covid-19 has affected labour markets around the world, hurting employment prospects for the youth more than those belonging to other age groups. Globally, employment among the youth fell 8.7% in 2020 compared with 3.7% for adults.
  • The youth engagement and employment in sustainable agri-food systems is simultaneously a goal to be realized and a means for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and of economic well-being.
  • Youth are on the front lines to build the food systems of the future, while also facing significant risks from climate change, social and economic inequities.

Why more focus on Developing countries?

  • Almost 88 percent of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live, particularly in Africa, where over 70 per cent of youth subsist on $2 per day or less.

The report recommended:

  • Providing an enabling environment for youth as agents of change
  • Securing dignified and rewarding livelihoods
  • Increasing equity and rights to resources to the youth to access, conserve and protect land, seeds and biodiversity, fisheries and forests. Ensuring recognition of their legitimate tenure rights
  • Enhancing knowledge, education and skills, supporting youth-led start-up initiatives
  • Fostering sustainable innovation

Examples of global youth movements promoting rights to land, food and cultural heritage include:

  • La Via Campesina youth movement
  • Slow Food Youth Network
  • Agroecological Movement of Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Fishermen’s Pastoral Council
  • Afrika Youth Movement

Indian Scenario

  • Youth in Numbers:
    • The youth (18-29 years) constitute 22% of India’s population, which is more than 261 million people.
    • According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the median age of Indian population is around 28 years in 2021 and will become 31 years by 2031.
    • Hardly 5% of the youth are engaged in agriculture though over 60% of the rural people derive their livelihood fully or partly from farming and its related activities.
    • Clearly, the modern youth are disenchanted with agriculture and are shunning it as a profession.

Related Initiatives:

  • Motivating and Attracting Youth in Agriculture(MAYA Road Map) 2018
    • The road map works on offering the youth a variety of avenues and opportunities for economic growth, social respect and application of modern technologies in farming and allied activities.
    • Roadmap also focuses on paradigm shift from narrow focus on ‘youth as a farmer’ to ‘youth as value chain developer’
  • ARYA (Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture): Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated this programme.
    • To attract and empower the Youth in Rural Areas to take up various Agriculture, allied and service sector enterprises for sustainable income and gainful employment in selected districts
    • To enable the Farm Youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital-intensive activities like processing, value addition and marketing, and
    • To demonstrate functional linkage with different institutions and stakeholders for convergence of opportunities available under various schemes/program for sustainable development of youth.


  1. Agriculture Infrastructure Fund:

#GS3 # Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies

Context: Recently, the Union cabinet approves modifications to the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to increase investment.

Key Details of these modifications:

  • Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  • For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
  • Modifications also allowed the agriculture minister to make necessary changes in future without seeking its approval with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiary without altering basic spirit of the scheme.
  • The repayment period has been increased from 4 years to 6 years up to 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 years to 13 years up to 2032-33.

About the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund:

  • The Union Cabinet in July 2020 approved this Central Sector Scheme.
  • This provides a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
  • Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE for loans up to Rs. 2 Crores.
  • Intended beneficiaries include: Farmers, Marketing Cooperative Societies, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
  • All loans under this financing facility will have interest subvention of 3% per annum up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore.
    • This subvention will be available for a maximum period of seven years.
  • Credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan up to Rs. 2 crore.
    • The fee for this coverage will be paid by the Government.
    • In case of FPOs the credit guarantee may be availed from the facility created under FPO promotion scheme of Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DACFW).
  • It will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feed-back.

Central Sector Schemes:

  • These schemes are 100% funded by the Central government.
  • Implemented by the Central Government machinery.
  • Formulated on subjects mainly from the Union List.
  • g.: Bharatnet, Namami Gange-National Ganga Plan, etc.


  1. Zika Virus in India

#GS1 #Health related issues #GS3 #Disaster and Disaster Management

Context: Recently, Zika Virus Disease (ZVD) was reported for the first time in Kerala.

Key Details:

  • 15 cases of Zika Virus Disease is reported in Thiruvananthapuram district.
  • While the first case identified was a 24-year-old pregnant woman, subsequent cases have been reported largely among health workers.
  • Alerts have been sent to keep a close eye on cases of mosquito bites, and conduct necessary fumigation drives.

What is Zika Virus?

  • Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.
  • It was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.
  • Sporadic cases have been reported throughout the world since the 1960s, but the first outbreak happened only in 2007 in the Island of Yap in the Pacific.
  • In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.
  • The vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue, Yellow fever and chikungunya.
  • Additionally, infected people can transmit Zika sexually.
  • Zika virus is also transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.


  • Most people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms.
  • When they are manifested, symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache.
  • The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3-14 days.
  • The US National Institutes of Health study estimated the fatality rate at 8.3 per cent following the studies on confirmed Cases in Brazil in 2017.

Is Zika Dangerous?

  • Generally, the virus is not considered dangerous to anyone other than pregnant women.
  • Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly (smaller than normal head size) and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome.
  • Many countries with Zika outbreak, reported a steep increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome
    • A neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death.


  • There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Instead, the focus is on relieving symptoms and includes rest, rehydration and acetaminophen for fever and pain.

Zika virus in India:

  • In India, Zika virus was first recorded in 1952-53.
  • The latest major outbreak was in 2018, when 80 cases were reported in Rajasthan around the months of September and October.
  • Prior to this, three cases were detected in Bapunagar area in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district in May 2017.
  • One case was also reported from Krishnagiri district on Tamil Nadu in July 2017.


  1. Human-wildlife conflict one of the greatest threats to wildlife species – WWF and UNEP report

#GS3 #Conservation

Context: A report titled, A future for all – the need for human-wildlife coexistence, was recently released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Highlights of the report:

  • Conflict between humans and animals is one of the main threats to the long-term survival of some of the world’s most iconic species.
  • Globally, conflict-related killing affects more than 75 per cent of the world’s wild cat species. It also affects polar bears and Mediterranean monk seals as well as large herbivores such as elephants.
  • Global wildlife populations have fallen an average of 68 per cent since 1970.
  • The report featured contributions from 155 experts from 40 organisations based in 27 countries.
  • The report also points to the increase of pandemics as a subset of this Human-Wildlife Conflict.
    • The COVID-19 sparked by a zoonotic disease that very likely originated in wild animals and then spread to people is driven by the close association of people, their livestock, and wildlife and by the unregulated consumption of wild animals.
  • As per the report, human-wildlife conflict is not just conservation issue but also a development and humanitarian issue which affects the income of farmers, herders, artisanal fishers, and Indigenous peoples, particularly those living in poverty.
    • It also interferes with access to water for communities competing with wildlife for local water sources and drives inequality as those who pay the price for living with wildlife rarely receive the benefits of coexistence.
  • Reducing human-wildlife conflict in this way can lead to opportunities and benefits not only for biodiversity and impacted communities, but for society, sustainable development, production, and the global economy at large.

Indian scenario:

  • India faces an increasing challenge of human wildlife conflict, which is driven by development pressures and an increasing population, high demand for land and natural resources, resulting in loss, fragmentation, and degradation of wildlife habitats.
  • As per, Union ministry of Environment, over 500 elephants were killed between 2014-2015 and 2018-2019, mostly due to human-elephant conflict.
    • During the same period, 2,361 people were killed as a result of conflict with elephants.
  • Report also found that 35 per cent of India’s tiger ranges currently lie outside protected areas.
    • Apart from India’s tigers, 40 per cent of the African lion range and 70 per cent of the African and Asian elephant ranges fall outside protected areas.
  • India will be most-affected by human-wildlife conflict because it has the world’s second-largest human population as well as large populations of tigers, Asian elephants, one-horned rhinos, Asiatic lions and other species.
  • As per the report, India’s elephants are biggest victims of the conflict as they are restricted to just 3-4 per cent of their original habitat.
    • Their remaining range is plagued by deforestation, invasive species and climate change.
  • The report gave the example of Sonitpur district in Assam.

Sonitpur Model:

  • In Sonitpur district in Assam, destruction of forests had forced elephants to raid crops, in turn causing deaths of both, elephants and humans.
  • In response, WWF India had developed the ‘Sonitpur Model’ during 2003-2004 by which community members were connected with the state forest department.
  • They were given training on how to work with them to drive elephants away from crop fields safely.
  • WWF India had also developed a low-cost, single strand, non-lethal electric fence to ease the guarding of crops from elephants.
  • Afterwards, crop losses dropped to zero for four years running. Human and elephant deaths also reduced significantly

Way Forward:

  • Completely eradicating human-wildlife conflict is not possible. But well-planned, integrated approaches to managing it can reduce conflicts and lead to a form of coexistence between people and animals.
  • Empower gram panchayats in dealing with the problematic wild animals as per the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Augment fodder and water sources within the forest areas.

About WWF:

  • WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.
  • It was established in 1961 and is headquartered at Gland, Switzerland.
  • WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

About the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

  • UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment established on June 5, 1972 with Headquarters at Nairobi, Kenya.
  • It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
  • Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
  • Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.


  1. Bonalu Festival

#GS1 #Culture #Important Festivals

Context: Bonalu is a popular religious festival of the Jagadambika Temple on Golconda Fort, Telangana.


  • Bonalu is a Hindu Festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshiped.
  • It is the state festival of Telangana. It is celebrated in parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Word Bonalu came from “Bhojanalu” meaning food, which is offered to the goddess during festival time.
  • According to the Hindu calendar month of Aashadam, Bonalu festival starts with the religious procession starting from Langar Houz to the temple near Bala Hissar on top of the Golconda Fort.
  • It is celebrated during ashada masam. It is believed that during Ashada Maasam, the Goddess comes back to her maternal home.
  • Women folk in household prepare rice that is cooked along with Milk, Jaggery in a New Earthen or Brass Pot, which is adorned with Neem Leaves, Turmeric and Vermilion.
  • Women carry these pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam, including Bangles and Saree to the Mother Goddess at Temples.



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