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Current Affairs 24 July 2023


  1. Tomato Prices Soar: Puzzling Economic Phenomenon of #Tomato-nomics
  2. India Adopts Target Range Approach for FY 2023-24 Export Goals
  3. Section 498A of IPC
  4. Steel Slag Road technology
  5. National Tele Mental Health Programme
  6. Brain Fog

 Tomato Prices Soar: Puzzling Economic Phenomenon of #Tomato-nomics


Tomato prices in India have surged dramatically, raising concerns among households. The prices rose sharply from ₹20 to ₹40 per kg in June 2022 and further to ₹100 per kg in July 2023, leading to questions about the reasons for this volatility. Interestingly, despite the soaring prices, the inflation rate for tomatoes is negative, resulting in a perplexing economic situation known as #Tomato-nomics.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Challenges in Tomato Production
  2. Factors Contributing to High Tomato Prices
  3. Impact of High Tomato Prices
  4. Possible Solutions for Reducing Tomato Prices
  5. Negative Inflation for Tomatoes

Challenges in Tomato Production:

  • Regional Concentration: Tomato production is concentrated in a few states, making it vulnerable to regional supply fluctuations.
  • Seasonal Crops: India’s tomato crops, kharif and rabi, have specific harvest periods, leading to variations in availability throughout the year.
  • Lean Period: July-August experiences a lean period for tomatoes as it falls between the two main crops, resulting in lower supply.
  • Declining Production: Despite being a highly cultivated vegetable, tomato production has been declining since its peak in 2019-20.

Factors Contributing to High Tomato Prices:

  • Weather Impact: Heatwaves and delayed monsoons in April and May led to pest attacks on tomato crops, affecting their quality and commercial value. Farmers received lower prices for their produce leading up to June.
  • Viral Infestation: Recent decline in tomato crops in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and other South Indian states can be attributed to infestations of Tomato Mosaic Virus (ToMV) and Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV). These viruses caused significant crop losses over the last three years, impacting tomato yields and driving prices up.
  • Low Commercial Realization: Farmers faced challenges of low prices for their tomato crops between December 2022 and April 2023, receiving as low as ₹6 to ₹11 per kg. This led to farmers selling at unprofitable rates or abandoning their produce, resulting in supply shortage.
  • Shift in Cultivation: Low prices in the previous year prompted many farmers to shift away from tomato cultivation to crops fetching higher prices. This reduced tomato production, exacerbating the supply crunch and pushing prices higher.
  • Inferior-Quality Tomatoes: Inferior-quality tomatoes compelled farmers to sell at low prices or abandon their crops, leading to a scarcity in tomato supply. Incessant rains further impacted new crops and transportation to non-growing regions.
  • Drop in Production: States like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh witnessed a 20% drop in tomato production, further worsening the supply shortage and contributing to high prices.

Impact of High Tomato Prices:

  • Inflationary Pressure: The fluctuating tomato prices have historically contributed to overall inflation levels in the country, which directly affects consumers’ purchasing power.
  • Challenge for Inflation Control: The volatility in tomato prices has significant implications for the Consumer Price Index (CPI), making it challenging for policymakers to effectively manage and control inflation.
  • Financial Strain on Households: High tomato prices put a strain on households’ budgets, particularly affecting low-income families who heavily rely on tomatoes as a dietary staple.

Possible Solutions for Reducing Tomato Prices:

  • Enhanced Value and Supply Chains: Address the issues related to perishability and transportation by improving the value and supply chains for tomatoes.
  • Processing during Peak Seasons: Convert excess tomatoes into paste and puree during peak seasons to ensure an adequate supply during lean periods, thereby stabilizing prices.
  • Promotion of Direct Sales by Farmer Producers Organizations: Encourage the direct sale of tomatoes by Farmer Producers Organizations to provide farmers with a larger share of consumer prices, which may alleviate the burden of middlemen and increase farmers’ earnings.
  • Cultivation in Controlled Environments: Promote the cultivation of tomatoes in Poly Houses and Greenhouses to control pest attacks, improve crop yields, and create a more stable supply throughout the year.

Negative Inflation for Tomatoes

High Base Effect in June 2022

  • The negative inflation rate is a consequence of the high base effect in June 2022.
  • During that period, tomato prices soared, leading to a significantly higher index value for tomatoes.

Lower Index Value in June 2023

  • In June 2023, despite a recent spike in tomato prices, the index value was much lower than the previous year.
  • This decrease in the index value compared to the previous year resulted in negative inflation.

Year-on-Year Calculation in India

  • In India, inflation rate calculations are done on a year-on-year basis.
  • The index value for June 2023 (191) is substantially lower than June 2022 (293), indicating a 35% decrease.

Decline in Index Value

  • The significant decline in the index value from June 2022 to June 2023 led to the occurrence of negative inflation.
  • This negative inflation was observed despite the recent increase in tomato prices.

Rapid Increase and Subsequent Decline in Tomato Prices

  • Tomato prices experienced a rapid surge, reaching Rs 100 per kg in June 2023.
  • However, this price increase was not sustained, and prices began to decline afterward.
  • The decline in prices after the peak contributed to the overall negative inflation rate for tomatoes.

-Source: Indian Express

India Adopts Target Range Approach for FY 2023-24 Export Goals


The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry will use a Target Range Approach for FY 2023-24 export goals, considering global uncertainties. Despite hitting a record USD 450 billion in merchandise exports in 2022-23, India’s outbound shipments have encountered significant challenges in the first quarter of 2023-2024.


GS III: Indian economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Target Range Approach Adopted by the Government
  2. Current Scenario of Indian Export
  3. Status of the Export Sector in India
  4. Challenges Related to the Export Sector in India

Target Range Approach Adopted by the Government

The Target Range Approach adopted by the Government of India for setting export goals involves considering four key parameters:

  • Overall Target of USD 2 Trillion by 2030: India’s Foreign Trade Policy aims to achieve a total export of USD 2 trillion, with equal contributions from services and goods exports by the year 2030. This long-term objective will be taken into account when determining the current year’s targets.
  • Import to GDP Ratio of Importing Countries: The targets will consider the import to GDP ratio of countries that are significant importers of Indian goods. This analysis provides insights into the potential demand for Indian products in various international markets.
  • Export to GDP Ratio of India: India’s own export to GDP ratio will be evaluated to understand its export potential and capacity.
  • Trend Growth of Past Years: Past export growth trends will be analyzed to comprehend India’s trade performance trajectory and use it as a reference for setting realistic targets.

Based on the analysis and a conservative growth rate of 10%, trade experts propose a potential target range for FY 2023-24:

  • Lower End of Range: USD 451 billion (slightly above the previous year’s exports).
  • Upper End of Range: USD 495 billion (assuming a 10% growth rate).

Current Scenario of Indian Export

The current scenario of Indian exports indicates a series of decelerations in both goods and services exports:

Goods Export Performance:

  • Goods exports have been facing a downward trend in recent months, experiencing a significant 22% decline in June 2023, which marks the steepest fall in 37 months.
  • The total export value for June 2023 was USD 32.7 billion, the lowest since October 2022.

Services Export Performance:

  • Exported services have also witnessed a slowdown, with forex earnings from intangible exports growing by only 5.2% to USD 80 billion in the first quarter of 2023-24.
  • In contrast, the previous year 2022-23 saw substantial growth of around 28% in services export earnings, reaching USD 325 billion.
Factors Influencing Exports:
  • A sharp decline of 33.2% in petroleum exports during the first quarter was primarily caused by reduced global oil prices. Additionally, sanctions on Russian oil shipments with price caps have contributed to a moderation in demand.
  • The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) forecast of slower global trade growth in 2023 is influencing India’s export outlook, necessitating a more cautious approach.
  • As per the new Foreign Trade Policy, India’s broader target for exports is to achieve USD 2 trillion by 2030, with services and goods exports each contributing a trillion dollars.

Status of the Export Sector in India:

  • Merchandise Trade Deficit: The merchandise trade deficit, representing the gap between exports and imports, increased significantly by over 39% in 2022-23, reaching USD 266.78 billion, compared to USD 191 billion in the previous year 2021-22.
  • Merchandise Imports and Exports: In 2022-23, merchandise imports rose by 16.51%, while merchandise exports saw a more moderate increase of 6.03%.
  • Overall Trade Deficit: Despite the substantial merchandise trade deficit, the overall trade deficit stood at USD 122 billion in 2022-23, benefiting from a trade surplus in services.
India’s Major Export Arenas:
  • Engineering Goods: The exports of engineering goods witnessed a remarkable growth of 50% in FY22, amounting to USD 101 billion.
  • Agriculture Products: Agricultural exports received a boost due to the government’s efforts to meet global food demand during the pandemic. India’s rice exports were particularly significant, reaching USD 9.65 billion, the highest among agricultural commodities.
  • Textile and Apparels: The textile and apparel sector, including handicrafts, experienced substantial growth, with exports amounting to USD 44.4 billion in FY22. This sector has been further supported by government initiatives like the Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (MITRA) Park.
  • Pharmaceuticals and Drugs: India plays a major role in the pharmaceutical industry, being the third-largest producer of medicines by volume and the largest supplier of generic drugs. India’s pharmaceutical exports contribute significantly to fulfilling global demand, supplying over 50% of Africa’s generic drug requirements, around 40% of the US’s generic drug demand, and 25% of all medicines in the UK.

Challenges Related to the Export Sector in India:

  • Limited Access to Affordable Finance: Exporters in India often struggle to access affordable and timely finance. High interest rates, strict collateral requirements, and limited credit availability from financial institutions, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), hinder their ability to conduct international trade effectively.
  • Overdependence on Few Sectors: India’s export basket is heavily concentrated in a few sectors, such as engineering goods, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. This concentration makes the country’s export sector vulnerable to fluctuations in global demand and market risks. Diversification of exports is crucial to reduce reliance on specific industries and enhance overall resilience to changing global trade dynamics.
  • Protectionist Trade Policies: The global political order has been disrupted by events like the Russia-Ukraine War, leading to an increase in protectionist trade policies in various countries. The weaponization of supply chains and the rise of protectionism in international trade pose significant challenges for India’s export capacities, restricting access to certain markets and affecting trade flows.

-Source: The Hindu

Section 498A of IPC


The High Court of Karnataka recently set aside the conviction of a 46-year-old man under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as the complaint was by his ‘second wife’, which would make the marriage ‘null and void’.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Section 498A of IPC
  2. Bail under Section 498A
  3. Other Indian Laws to Curb Violence Against Women

About Section 498A of IPC:

  • Section 498A deals with the criminal offense of “cruelty by husband or relatives of husband” towards a married woman.
  • Introduced in 1983, it aims to tackle domestic violence and harassment faced by married women in India.
Definition and Punishment:
  • Under Section 498-A IPC, a husband or his relatives can be sentenced to a maximum of three years in jail for subjecting the wife to cruelty.
  • It applies exclusively to married women.
  • ‘Cruelty’ is defined as willful conduct likely to lead the woman to commit suicide or cause grave injury/danger to her life, limb, or mental/physical health. It also includes harassment with the intention of coercing her or her relatives to meet unlawful demands for property or valuable security.

Scope of “Cruelty”:

  • The term “cruelty” is broad, encompassing various forms of abuse that can be inflicted upon a married woman.

Bail under Section 498A:

  • Section 498A is a non-compoundable and cognizable offense, enacted in 1860.
  • Bail can be granted by the Magistrate only after the police register a First Information Report (FIR) based on the complaint filed by the aggrieved party.
  • The Supreme Court emphasizes using Section 498A sparingly, with genuine evidence of cruelty in cases.
  • It should not be misused to settle personal scores.

Other Indian Laws to Curb Violence Against Women:

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA):

  • Enacted in 2005, this law aims to protect women from domestic violence and provides them with civil remedies such as protection orders, residence orders, and monetary relief.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961:

  • This act prohibits the giving or receiving of dowry in connection with marriage and aims to prevent dowry-related harassment and violence against women.

Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013:

  • This act addresses sexual harassment issues at the workplace and requires organizations to establish committees to address complaints.

Indian Penal Code (IPC) Amendments:

Various amendments have been made to the IPC to tackle violence against women:

  • Section 376: Stricter provisions for punishment in rape cases, with different degrees of offenses.
  • Section 354: Deals with criminal assault or use of criminal force against women with the intent to outrage her modesty.
  • Section 354A: Addresses sexual harassment and provides punishment for the same.
  • Section 354D: Criminalizes stalking and imposes penalties for the offense.
  • Section 509: Addresses acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013:

  • This act was introduced after the Nirbhaya case and brought significant changes to laws concerning sexual offenses.
  • It imposed stricter punishments for rape, gang rape, acid attacks, and other sexual crimes against women.

-Source: The Hindu

Steel Slag Road Technology


The innovative Steel Slag Road technology developed by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi in collaboration with the Ministry of Steel and major steel manufacturing companies is making significant strides towards the ‘Waste to Wealth’ mission.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Steel Slag Road Technology
  2. Advantages
  3. Challenges

Steel Slag Road Technology

  • Steel slag road technology utilizes waste steel slag, a byproduct of steel production, to construct strong and long-lasting roads.
  • The process involves processing the slag to remove impurities and metals, then using it as an aggregate for road base or sub-base layers.


  • Eco-friendly Approach: Using waste steel slag in road construction reduces the environmental impact of industrial waste and lessens the burden on landfills.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Steel slag roads are approximately 30% cheaper to build compared to conventional paving methods, resulting in cost savings.
  • Durability: These roads exhibit exceptional durability, resisting weather changes, and significantly reducing maintenance costs.
  • Resource Conservation: The technology eliminates the need for natural materials like ballast and aggregates, preserving valuable natural resources.
  • Managing Waste: Large-scale utilization of waste steel slag helps manage the 19 million tonnes of steel slag produced in India annually.


  • Rapidly Increasing Waste: With India being the world’s second-largest steel-producing country, the volume of steel slag waste is projected to reach 60 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Inefficient Disposal: Inadequate disposal methods have led to the accumulation of huge slag piles around steel plants, causing water, air, and land pollution.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB

National Tele Mental Health Programme


Recently, the union health ministry said the Tele-Manas helpline under the National Tele Mental Health Programme has received over 200,000 calls since its launch in October 2022.


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Tele Mental Health Programme (Tele MANAS)
  2. National Mental Health Programme (NMHP)

National Tele Mental Health Programme (Tele MANAS):

  • The National Tele Mental Health Programme, also known as Tele MANAS, was launched in October 2022.
  • Its primary aim is to offer free tele-mental health services across the entire country, especially targeting individuals in remote or underserved areas.

Reach and Infrastructure:

  • The program is currently operational through 42 active Tele Manas cells spread across 31 states and Union Territories.
  • Toll-free numbers facilitate access to the services, with options available in 20 different languages to cater to diverse populations.
Two-tier System:
  • Tier 1: Comprising state Tele MANAS cells equipped with trained counsellors and mental health specialists, ensuring immediate support and assistance.
  • Tier 2: Involving specialists from District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) or Medical College resources, providing physical consultations or audiovisual consultations through e-Sanjeevani.
Services Offered:
  • Tele Counselling: Trained counsellors offer telephonic counselling to individuals seeking mental health support.
  • Tele Consultation: Mental health professionals provide consultation services when required for more comprehensive assessment and guidance.
  • Referral Services: The program facilitates referrals to other Mental Health Establishments, including Medical Colleges, District Mental Health Program (DMHP) services, and specialty institutes, for specialized treatment if needed.

National Mental Health Programme (NMHP)

  • The National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) was launched by the Government of India in 1982.
  • The primary objectives of NMHP are:
    • Ensuring the availability and accessibility of minimum mental healthcare for all, especially the vulnerable and underprivileged sections of the population.
    • Encouraging the integration of mental health knowledge in general healthcare and social development initiatives.
    • Promoting community participation in mental health service development and encouraging self-help initiatives.
District Mental Health Program (DMHP):
  • Launched under NMHP in 1996, DMHP was modeled after the ‘Bellary Model’ and serves as an essential component of the program.
  • DMHP focuses on the following key areas:
    • Early detection and treatment of mental illnesses.
    • Imparting short-term training to general physicians to diagnose and treat common mental health issues using a limited number of drugs under the guidance of specialists.
    • Training health workers to identify individuals with mental health concerns.
    • Creating public awareness through Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) initiatives.

-Source: Live Mint

Brain Fog


Researchers recently suggested the “brain fog” symptom associated with long Covid is equivalent to ageing 10 years.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Brain Fog
  2. Causes
  3. Treatment

Brain Fog

  • Brain fog is not a medical condition in itself but rather a symptom of other underlying medical conditions.
  • It refers to a range of symptoms that can affect a person’s ability to think clearly.
  • Brain fog is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus or mental clarity.
  • Examples of behaviors associated with brain fog include forgetting tasks, taking longer to complete simple tasks, feeling frequently distracted, and experiencing mental fatigue while working.


  • Brain fog is often linked to lifestyle factors that contribute to hormonal imbalances.
  • Factors that may cause brain fog include exposure to electromagnetic radiation from electronic devices, stress reducing blood flow to the brain, lack of sleep and exercise, dietary issues like food allergies or sensitivities, exposure to toxins, pollution, chemical substances, insecticides, and certain medications.
  • The treatment for brain fog depends on identifying and addressing the underlying cause.
  • For instance, if the brain fog is related to anemia, taking iron supplements may help by increasing red blood cell production and reducing brain fog symptoms.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023