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4th November Current Affairs


  1. Centre to extend fortified rice scheme
  2. Exercise Malabar gets under way
  3. UPI transactions grew nearly 12% month-on-month
  4. INS Airavat reaches Sudan with food aid
  5. Exports fall again on global trade woes


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Children in anganwadis and government schools could soon be eating rice infused with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12.


  • In a bid to combat chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the government is making plans to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal schemes across the country from next year, with a special focus on 112 aspirational districts, according to a statement from the Food Ministry.
  • An existing pilot scheme to distribute fortified rice through the Public Distribution System in 15 districts has only been implemented in five districts so far, although more than half the project duration is over.
  • The Food Corporation of India has now been asked to come up with a comprehensive plan to scale up the annual supply of fortified rice from the current 15,000 tonnes to at least 1.3 lakh tonnes, said the statement.

About Fortified Rice

  • Fortifying rice involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.

Implementation Issues

  • Only five States — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh — have started the distribution of fortified rice in their identified pilot districts.
  • The remaining 10 States have only now identified their respective districts, and will soon start distribution, but less than one and a half years remain in the pilot scheme period.

Supply Issues

  • Currently, there are only 15,000 tonnes of these kernels available per year in the country.
  • To cover PDS, anganwadis and mid-day meals in the 112 aspirational districts, annual supply capacity would need to be increased to about 1.3 lakh tonnes.
  • To cover PDS across the country, 3.5 lakh tonnes of fortified kernels would be needed.

Who implements the Fortification of rice schemes?

Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Department of Food & Public Distribution.

Details of Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under PDS

The Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System (PDS)” has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-20.

  • The Pilot Scheme is funded by Government of India in the ratio of 90:10 in respect of North Eastern, Hilly and Island States and 75:25 in respect of the rest of the States.
  • The Pilot Scheme focuses on 15 districts, preferably 1 district per State.
  • The decentralized model of fortification by States/UTs has been approved in the Pilot Scheme with blending at the rice milling stage.
  • The operational responsibilities and identification of the districts for implementation of the Pilot Scheme lie with the States/UTs.
  • States/UTs have been requested to operationalize blending of fortified rice at milling stage and start its distribution through PDS as early as possible.
  • So far, 15 States have consented for implementation of the Pilot Scheme.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

Phase-I of naval exercise Malabar 2020, consisting of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., began off the coast of Visakhapatnam in the Bay of Bengal.


  • This is the 24th edition of the exercise that began in 1992.
  • Indian Navy ships Ranvijay, Shivalik, Shakti, Sukanya, and submarine Sindhuraj were exercising with US naval ship USS John S McCain, Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Ballarat, and Japanese Maritime Self Defence ship JS Onami, the Navy said.
  • The four navies would conduct a range of high-end training, including air defence and anti-submarine exercises, aviation, communications and at-sea replenishment between ships.
  • India and Australia are natural partners in the Indo-Pacific, and Exercise MALABAR is a clear demonstration of the depth of trust and cooperation between our defence organisations.

MALABAR Exercise

  • It is an annual exercise between the navies of India, Japan, and the U.S. held alternately in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • It began in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S.
  • Then it got permanently expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions were higher by over 10% from ₹ 2.98 lakh crore in August. Volume wise, it grew nearly 12% month-on-month.


  • In the past few years, person-to-person and person-to-merchant money transfer have become simpler and safer due to BHIM UPI, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said in a tweet showing the monthly data transactions.
  • UPI is currently the biggest among the NPCI operated systems including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay etc.
  • Digital transactions were already on the rise but the lockdown imposed during the pandemic provided a thrust and the value of UPI transactions crossed the 200 crore-mark.
  • The growth is likely to come on the back of strong use cases of merchant payments, government policies including Jan Dhan Yojana, personal data protection bill along with the growth of MSMEs, growth of millennials and high smartphone penetration.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • It is a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.

Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
  • Advantages of UPI Includes – Immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock 24*7 and 365 days.
  • UPI Enables Single mobile application for accessing different bank accounts with Single Click 2 Factor Authentication – Aligned with the Regulatory guidelines yet provides for a very strong feature of seamless single click payment.
  • It also features Virtual address of the customer for Pull & Push providing for incremental security with the customer not required to enter the details such as Card no, Account number; IFSC etc.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Under Mission Sagar-II, INS Airavat will deliver food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
  • Mission Sagar-II follows the first Mission Sagar undertaken in May-June 2020, wherein India provided food and medicines to Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros.
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Key Points Mission Sagar – II

  • Mission Sagar-II, follows the first ‘Mission Sagar’ undertaken in 2020.
  • As part of Mission Sagar-II, Indian Naval Ship Airavat will deliver food aid to Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea.
  • Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles along with La Réunion are part of Indian Ocean Commission. India has recently become an observer to the Commission.
  • The assistance is in line with India’s role as the first responder in the Indian Ocean region.
  • The deployment is also in consonance with the Prime Minister’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
  • Earlier, India had sent Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kesari, carrying food items and medical assistance teams, to countries in the southern Indian Ocean to deal with Covid-19 pandemic as part of a “Mission Sagar” initiative.

Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)

  • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) was launched in 2015. It is India’s strategic vision for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • Through SAGAR, India seeks to deepen economic and security cooperation with its maritime neighbours and assist in building their maritime security capabilities.
  • Further, India seeks to safeguard its national interests and ensure Indian Ocean region to become inclusive, collaborative and respect international law.
  • The key relevance of SAGAR emerges when seen in conjunction with India’s other policies impacting the maritime domain like Act East Policy, Project Sagarmala, Project Mausam, India as ‘net security provider’, focus on Blue Economy etc.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • India’s merchandise exports slid back into contraction mode in October as struggling global trade continued to face headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Outbound shipments declined 5.4% from a year earlier to $24.82 billion, after a brief respite in September when exports had expanded 6% to snap a six-month-long contraction.

Imports shrink

  • Merchandise exports in the first seven months of the current financial year amounted to $150.07 billion, a 19.1% contraction from the year-earlier period.
  • The trade data shows the recovery is uneven and fragile as exports declined both sequentially and year-on-year, pointing to a sluggish global recovery.
  • The continuous decline in non-oil, non-gold imports are pointing towards very weak domestic demand.

Gems sector flounders

  • Exports of rice (112%), chemicals (73.9%) and drugs and pharmaceuticals (21.8%) recorded the highest growth in October, while transport equipment and petroleum products saw the sharpest declines of (–56.3%) and (-53.3%), respectively.
  • Among employment-intensive sectors, gems and jewellery and leather also reported contractions of (-21.3%) and (-3.8%), respectively, while export of carpets jumped almost 38% and handicrafts grew by more than 11.3%.
  • Calling for a deeper analysis of the reasons behind the decline in exports of major export commodities over recent months, the Federation of Indian Exporters’ Organisations (FIEO) called for “urgent and immediate” action to resolve key issues that led to October’s ‘nominal’ dip.
  • FIEO listed a shortage of containers and an increase in sea freight charges as issues needing attention.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024