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Current Affairs 23 April 2024

  1. India’s Pulses Imports Surge 84% in FY 2024 to Six-Year High
  2. MEA Revokes Passports of Over 100 Goans for Allegedly Hiding Information
  3. Declining Household Savings Sparks Debate in India
  4. BFI Biome Virtual Network Program
  5. National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization
  6. Padma Awards


India’s imports of pulses surged by 84% in fiscal 2024, reaching a six-year high. This significant increase is attributed to lower domestic production and the government’s decision to waive import duties on red lentils and yellow peas.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Current Status of Pulses in India
  2. India’s Initiatives to Boost Pulses Production
  3. Reasons Behind India’s Dependence on Pulses Imports
  4. Strategies to Ensure India’s Self-Sufficiency in Pulses

Current Status of Pulses in India

  • Global Position: India is the world’s largest producer (25%), consumer (27%), and importer (14%) of pulses.
  • Contribution: Pulses cover about 20% of the area under foodgrains and contribute 7%-10% to the total foodgrains production in India.
  • Top Producing States: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka are the leading states in pulses production.
Imports and Exports:
  • FY 2023-24 Imports: India imported 4.65 million metric tons of pulses, a significant increase from 2.53 million tons in 2022-23, marking the highest since 2018-19.
  • Value Surge: The import value of pulses surged by 93% to USD 3.75 billion.
  • Specific Imports:
    • Red lentil imports, mainly from Canada, doubled to 1.2 million tons.
    • Duty-free imports since December led to increased yellow pea imports from Russia and Turkey.
  • Key Export Sources: South Asian nations, including India, primarily import pulses from Canada, Myanmar, Australia, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
Pulse Characteristics:
  • Cultivation Conditions:
    • Temperature: 20-27°C
    • Rainfall: 25-60 cm
    • Soil Type: Sandy-loamy soil
  • Nutritional Value: Pulses are major sources of protein in vegetarian diets.
  • Agricultural Benefits:
    • Being leguminous crops, all pulses except arhar help restore soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air, making them suitable for crop rotation.
  • Cultivation Cycle:
    • Rabi Pulses (60% contribution): Gram (chickpea), Chana (Bengal gram), Masoor (lentil), Arhar (pigeon pea). These crops require a mild cold climate during sowing, vegetative to pod development, and warm climate during maturity/harvesting.
    • Kharif Pulses: Moong (green gram), Urad (black gram), Tur (arhar dal). Kharif pulse crops require a warm climate throughout their lifecycle from sowing to harvesting.

India’s Initiatives to Boost Pulses Production

National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Pulses:
  • Objective: To enhance the production of pulses through various interventions.
  • Coverage: Operates in 28 States and 2 Union Territories, including Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Key Interventions:
    • Assistance to Farmers: Financial and technical support to farmers through States/UTs for various interventions.
    • Cropping System Demonstrations: Promoting best practices and demonstrating efficient cropping systems to farmers.
    • Seed Production and Distribution: Focus on producing and distributing High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) and hybrids of pulse seeds.
  • Seed Hubs: Establishment of 150 Seed Hubs for Pulses has been instrumental in increasing the availability of quality pulse seeds.
 Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) Scheme:
  • Launched: 2018
  • Components:
    • Price Support Scheme (PSS):
      • Involves the procurement of pulses from pre-registered farmers at Minimum Support Price (MSP).
    • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS):
      • Compensates farmers for the price difference between the MSP and the actual market price.
    • Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS):
      • Aims to encourage private sector participation in the procurement of pulses.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR):
  • Role: To enhance the productivity and quality of pulse crops through research and development.
  • Focus Areas:
    • Collaborative Research: Partnering with State Agricultural Universities for applied research.
    • Variety Development: Development of location-specific high-yielding varieties and production packages.
  • Achievements (2014-2023):
    • Recognized 343 high-yielding varieties and hybrids of pulses for commercial cultivation across India.

Reasons Behind India’s Dependence on Pulses Imports

Shift in Agricultural Practices:

  • Traditional Crop Rotation: Historically, farmers in India practiced crop rotation with pulses.
  • Shift to Water-Intensive Cereals:
    • Rice and wheat have become more predominant due to increased consumption demands and government incentives.
    • Availability of better irrigation facilities has further promoted the cultivation of these water-intensive cereals.

Economic Factors:

  • Lower Returns from Pulses: Pulses often offer lower economic returns per hectare compared to cereals, discouraging their cultivation, especially on fertile and irrigated lands.

Environmental Challenges:

  • Erratic Rainfall and Droughts: Pulse production is generally rain-fed, making it susceptible to fluctuations in rainfall and drought conditions.
  • Research and Development: Less focus on R&D for pulses, coupled with their higher susceptibility to diseases and pests, makes them less attractive to farmers compared to cereals and cash crops.

Strategies to Ensure India’s Self-Sufficiency in Pulses

Economic Incentives:

  • Competitive MSPs: Offer Minimum Support Prices for pulses that are competitive with rice and wheat.
  • Subsidies: Provide subsidies for seeds, fertilizers, and other agricultural inputs specific to pulse cultivation.
  • Crop Insurance Schemes: Mitigate risks associated with weather fluctuations through crop insurance schemes.

Promotion of Sustainable Farming Practices:

  • Crop Rotation: Encourage farmers to reintegrate pulses into their cropping patterns, emphasizing the long-term benefits for soil health and sustainable farming.
  • Research and Development: Invest in the development of drought-resistant, high-yielding pulse varieties tailored to different regional conditions.
  • Farmer Training and Extension Programs: Promote the adoption of improved pulse varieties through farmer training and extension programs.

Infrastructure and Technology:

  • Irrigation Facilities: Expand irrigation facilities to suitable areas for pulse cultivation, particularly in drought-prone regions.
  • Water-Efficient Techniques: Promote water-efficient irrigation techniques like drip irrigation to conserve water.

Supply Chain Management and Storage:

  • Improved Storage Facilities: Enhance storage facilities for pulses to minimize post-harvest losses and ensure price stability throughout the year.
  • Streamline Supply Chain: Improve efficiency in the supply chain to reduce transportation costs and minimize price manipulation by middlemen.

Promotion of Dietary Diversification:

  • Alternative Protein Sources: Encourage dietary diversification by promoting the consumption of protein-rich alternatives like lentils, millets, and eggs, addressing hidden hunger and enhancing nutritional intake.

-Source: The Hindu


A recent memorandum issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has resulted in the revocation of passports of more than 100 people from Goa in recent months. These individuals, potentially unaware of the memorandum, are accused of withholding crucial information when attempting to surrender their passports after acquiring Portuguese citizenship.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reasons for Passport Revocation
  2. Revocation of Passport and Issue of OCI Card
  3. What is the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card?

Reasons for Passport Revocation

Goan’s Portuguese Connection:
  • Historical Background:
    • Goa was a Portuguese colony for about 450 years, from 1510 to 1961.
  • Portuguese Citizenship Law:
    • Individuals born in Goa before 19th December 1961 can register as Portuguese citizens.
    • Many Goans have registered in Lisbon and obtained Portuguese citizenship.
    • A Portuguese passport allows visa-free entry to various countries, including the UK and EU.
    • Overseas job and educational opportunities have driven Goans to pursue Portuguese citizenship.
2022 MEA Memorandum:
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a memorandum on 30th November 2022.
  • It addresses the “surrender of Indian passport on account of acquisition of foreign nationality by an erstwhile Indian citizen.”
  • Under section 10 (3) (b) of the Passport Act of 1967, passports obtained by concealing dual citizenship can be cancelled, even if not used for travel.
  • Previously, penalties were imposed for surrendering an Indian passport, but a 2020 Kerala High Court judgment invalidated this, stating only prosecution for Passports Act violations is permissible.

Revocation of Passport and Issue of OCI Card:

Dual Citizenship Issue:

  • India doesn’t permit dual citizenship.
  • Goans with Portuguese passports must give up their Indian citizenship.

Impact on OCI Application:

  • Revoked Indian passports prevent these individuals from applying for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI).
  • Previously, a ‘surrender certificate’ was needed to apply for OCI cards.
  • Due to the passport revocation, this option was unavailable.

Current MEA Directive:

  • Passport authorities are now instructed to issue ‘revocation certificates’ instead of surrender certificates for passports obtained by concealing information.
  • This allows Indian nationals from former Portuguese territories with Portuguese citizenship to apply for OCI.
  • OCI status grants foreign citizens of Indian origin the right to reside and work in India indefinitely.
Portuguese Rule in Goa:

Historical Overview:

  • Located on India’s west coast, Goa was under Portuguese rule from 1510 to 1961.
  • It was captured by Afonso de Albuquerque and became a key trade hub for Eastern spices.
  • Remarkably, Goa was the capital of the entire Portuguese Empire east of the Cape of Good Hope for 450 years.

Path to Independence:

  • In the 1940s, as India approached independence from British rule, the fight for Goa’s freedom began.
  • Finally, on 19th December 1961, Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule after over four centuries of colonization.

What is the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card?

Introduction and Purpose:

  • The OCI concept was introduced to address demands for dual citizenship from the Indian diaspora, especially in developed nations.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs defines an OCI as:
    • A person who was an Indian citizen on or after 26th January 1950; or
    • Eligible to become an Indian citizen on 26th January 1950; or
    • A child or grandchild of such a person, among other criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of OCI card rules, applicants are ineligible if they, their parents, or grandparents were citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2015 merged the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) category with the OCI category.

Launch and Background:

  • The OCI Card scheme was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2005.
  • It was initiated to recognize the strong emotional bond of the Indian diaspora with their homeland and to acknowledge their contribution to the nation’s development.

Benefits of the OCI Card:

  • Multiple entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to India.
  • Exemption from registering with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) regardless of stay duration.
  • Parity with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in financial, economic, and educational sectors.

Limitations and Restrictions:

  • No voting rights.
  • Prohibited from purchasing agricultural or farmland.
  • All activities, except research, require special permission from the Indian Mission/Post/FRRO.
  • Holders cannot participate in elections or hold public office, reflecting the government’s stance on distinguishing between citizenship and overseas citizenship.

Current Scenario:

  • The OCI card scheme is a significant part of India’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with its diaspora.
  • As of March 2020, over 3.5 million OCI cards had been issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The majority were issued to foreign nationals in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.

-Source: The Hindu


The recent decline in household savings, driven by a significant reduction in net financial savings, has become a central topic of debate in India.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Interpreting Lower Financial Savings
  2. Implication of Higher Debt Burden
  3. Macroeconomic Implications of Fall in Household Savings

Interpreting Lower Financial Savings

Net Financial Savings of Household:

  • Defined as the difference between gross financial savings and borrowing.

Gross Financial Savings:

  • Reflects the change in a household’s financial assets over a period.
  • Includes bank deposits, currency, and investments in mutual funds, pension funds, etc.

Household Borrowing:

  • Comprises credit from non-bank financial corporations, housing corporations, and mainly from commercial banks.
Factors Reducing Household Net Financial Savings:
  • Increased Consumption Expenditure:
    • Households finance additional consumption by increasing borrowing or depleting gross financial savings.
    • The consumption to GDP ratio remained largely unchanged at 60.95% in 2021-22 and 60.93% in 2022-23, indicating this factor didn’t significantly reduce gross financial savings.
  • Higher Physical Investment:
    • Households finance tangible investment by increasing borrowing or depleting gross financial savings.
    • The gross financial savings to GDP ratio decreased from 7.3% to 5.3% in 2022-23, while the household physical investment to GDP ratio rose from 12.6% to 12.9%.
  • Increased Interest Payments:
    • Higher interest rates lead to an increase in interest payments by households.
    • Higher borrowing is partly offset by interest income from financial assets, but largely attributed to increased household interest payments.
Implication of Higher Debt Burden

Concerns for Macroeconomy:

  1. Debt Repayment and Financial Fragility:
    • Household repayment capacity depends on income flow.
    • A key criterion for evaluating debt sustainability is the difference between the interest rate and income growth rate.
      • Interest payments to households are income for the financial sector.
      • Failure to meet debt repayment commitments reduces financial sector income and weakens their balance sheets.
      • This can negatively impact the macroeconomy if the financial sector reduces credit disbursement to the non-financial sector.
  2. Effect on Consumption Demand:
    • Household consumption expenditure is influenced by disposable income, wealth, debt, and interest rate.
      • A reduction in household wealth can lead to decreased consumption as households try to maintain their wealth by increasing savings.

Macroeconomic Implications of Fall in Household Savings

Increasing Household Susceptibility:

  • Both the stock indicator of debt to net worth and the flow indication of liabilities to disposable income are on the rise.

Impact of Higher Interest Rates:

  • Higher interest rates, employed as a policy tool to control inflation by reducing macroeconomic output and employment, can escalate household debt levels.
  • This can potentially lead households into a debt trap.

Effects on Consumption and Aggregate Demand:

  • Elevated interest rates can negatively affect household consumption due to increased debt burden.
  • This, in turn, can have adverse consequences for aggregate demand.

Changes in Household Balance Sheet Trends:

  • Indicates a broader shift in the economy’s structure.
    • Financialisation of the Economy:
      • The asset side of the household balance sheet is transitioning from production-based assets to monetary or financial exchange-based assets.
      • This shift may render the goal of achieving a five trillion-dollar economy fragile and jobless.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) has joined the Blockchain for Impact (BFI) Biome Virtual Network Program to accelerate transformative healthcare solutions through biomedical innovation.


GS III: Science and Technology

About BFI Biome Virtual Network Program


  • To nurture cutting-edge biomedical science and innovation and fast-track the impact of transformative scientific advances to address key healthcare challenges in India.

Areas of Focus:

  • The program focuses on critical biomedical innovations such as infectious disease diagnostics, antimicrobial resistance, cell therapy, immuno-oncology, regenerative tissues, and digital health technology, among others.

Collaborative Approach:

  • Unites incubators and research institutes to foster collaboration among stakeholders in the translational pipeline, aiming to transform research discoveries into real-world applications.

Funding Allocation:

  • BFI will allocate over $200,000 over three years, leveraging C-CAMP’s expertise to develop essential programs for healthcare-based startups.

About C-CAMP


  • C-CAMP is an initiative supported by the Department of Biotechnology and has been promoting cutting-edge research and innovation in life sciences since 2009.


  • To promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the life sciences sector.
  • C-CAMP has cultivated an entrepreneur-friendly culture in and around the academic/research environment through its involvement in Seed Funding Schemes for Startups.

-Source: The Hindu


All cases of organ transplants will be allocated a unique National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO)-ID for both the donor and the recipient, according to a recent directive by the Union Health Ministry.


GS II: Regulatory Bodies

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Features
  2. About National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO)

Key Features

Directive by Union Health Ministry:

  • The Union Health Ministry has issued a directive to eradicate commercial dealings in organs, particularly those involving foreign citizens.

Mandatory NOTTO-ID:

  • NOTTO-ID is essential for considering the allocation of organs in deceased donor transplants.
  • For living donor transplants, the ID should be generated within 48 hours after the transplant surgery.
  • Hospitals are required to generate NOTTO-ID from the NOTTO website.

Stricter Monitoring:

  • The Health Ministry has called for enhanced monitoring of such transplants by local authorities.

About National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO)


  • NOTTO is a national-level organization established under the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • It operates as the apex centre for:
    • Procurement and distribution of organs and tissues.
    • Registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.

Divisions of NOTTO:

  1. National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network:
    • Functions as the apex centre for all India activities related to the procurement and distribution of organs and tissues.
    • Mandated as per the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011.
  2. National Biomaterial Centre (National Tissue Bank):
    • Established to bridge the gap between demand and supply and ensure quality assurance in the availability of various tissues.
    • Activities include coordination for tissue procurement and distribution, donor tissue screening, removal and storage of tissues, preservation of tissues, laboratory screening, tissue tracking, sterilization, records maintenance, data protection and confidentiality, quality management in tissues, patient information, development of guidelines, protocols and standard operating procedures, and training.

-Source: The Hindu


Former Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, actor-turned-politician Mithun Chakraborty, singer Usha Uthup and tennis player Rohan Bopanna were among a host of prominent personalities who were conferred with Padma awards by President Droupadi Murmu.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Padma Awards
  2. About Bharat Ratna

The Padma Awards

  • The Padma Awards are announced annually on the eve of Republic Day (26th January).
  • There are 3 Padma Awards:
    • Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service),
    • Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order) and
    • Padma Shri (distinguished service).
  • The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
  • The Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
  • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
Is it a title?
  • The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.
  • Article 18 clause 1- Abolishes titles and makes four provisions in that regard: It prohibits the state from conferring any title (except a military or academic distinction) on anybody, whether a citizen or a foreigner.
About Bharat Ratna
  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
  • Bharat Ratna is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
    • Recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
    • Only 3 Bharat Ratna Awards can be given in a year.
  • Bharat Ratna- 1st degree of honour
  • Padma Vibhushan- 2nd degree of honour
  • Padma Bhushan- 3rd degree of honour
  • Padma Shri- 4th degree of honour

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024