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Current Affairs 26 October 2023


  1. Centre approves ₹22,303­ Cr. subsidy on key fertilizers
  2. International Solar Alliance
  3. Pulses to Buck Rise in Kharif Output
  4. Asian Development Bank
  5. 20 Vital Signs of Earth worsened to imperil life on it, says study
  6. BRO achieves Breakthrough in Crucial Tunnel Work

Centre Approves ₹22,303­Cr. Subsidy on Key Fertilizers


On Wednesday, the government unveiled a subsidy of ₹22,303 crore for phosphatic and potassic (P&K) fertilizers during the current rabi season. It was announced that farmers would continue to have access to the crucial soil nutrient DAP (di-ammonium phosphate) at the existing price of ₹1,350 per 50 kg bag.


GS3- Issues related to Direct and Indirect Farm Subsidies and Minimum Support Prices

Dimensions of the article:

  1. Recent developments
  2. Nutrient-based subsidy scheme
  3. Challenges associated with the Nutrient-based subsidy scheme

Recent Developments

  • The Union Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the proposal presented by the Department of Fertilizers to establish the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) rates for the 2023-24 rabi season, covering the period from October 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024, for P&K fertilizers.
  • Union Minister Anurag Thakur, in a press briefing, emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the availability of affordable fertilizers to farmers. He noted that an estimated ₹22,303 crore would be expended as a subsidy on P&K fertilizers for the rabi season.
  • In May, the Union Cabinet had already sanctioned a ₹38,000 crore subsidy for P&K fertilizers during the kharif season of 2023-24.
  • Furthermore, the rates for NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) will remain unchanged at ₹1,470 per bag, while SSP (single super phosphate) will be priced at approximately ₹500 per bag. The cost of MoP (muriate of potash) will decrease from ₹1,700 to ₹1,655 per bag.
  • The Cabinet has established the NBS rates at ₹47.02 per kg for nitrogen (N), ₹20.82 per kg for phosphorus (P), ₹2.38 per kg for potash (K), and ₹1.89 per kg for sulfur (S).
  • For the kharif season of 2023-24, the government had set a per kg subsidy rate of ₹76 for nitrogen, ₹41 for phosphorus, ₹15 for potash, and ₹2.8 for sulfur.
  • When questioned about the reduction in the per kg subsidy rates for N, P, K, and S, Mr. Thakur explained that international prices for finished products and raw materials had slightly decreased but remained high. Therefore, the government continued to provide subsidies to maintain the existing rates.
  • He also noted that the fertilizer subsidy had increased to nearly ₹2.55 lakh crore in the last fiscal year, compared to around ₹73,000 crore in 2014-15.

Nutrient-based Subsidy Scheme

  • In accordance with the Nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) system, fertilizers are made available to farmers at reduced prices based on the nutrients they contain, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and sulfur (S). Additionally, fertilizers enriched with secondary and micronutrients like molybdenum (Mo) and zinc receive an extra subsidy.
  • The NBS policy dictates that the government announces the subsidy for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers on an annual basis, specifying the subsidy amount for each nutrient per kilogram. These determinations consider factors such as international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rates, and the inventory levels within the country.
  • The primary goal of the NBS policy is to promote the usage of P&K fertilizers to achieve an optimal nutrient balance (N:P:K = 4:2:1) in NPK fertilization. This approach is intended to enhance soil health and subsequently increase crop yields, leading to higher income for farmers. Moreover, by encouraging the rational use of fertilizers, the government anticipates a reduction in the fertilizer subsidy burden.
  • The NBS policy has been in effect since April 2010 and is administered by the Department of Fertilizers within the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.

Challenges Associated with NBS

  • Urea remains excluded from the NBS framework, thus continuing to be subject to price controls, while NBS has been applied to other types of fertilizers.
  • A significant imbalance exists in fertilizer pricing. Fertilizers, excluding urea, which were deregulated, have experienced price hikes ranging from 2.5 to four times during the period from 2010 to 2020. In contrast, the price of urea has increased by a mere 11% since 2010. This discrepancy has led to increased urea usage by farmers, exacerbating the fertilizer imbalance issue.
  • Considering that fertilizer subsidies rank as the second-largest subsidies after food subsidies, the NBS policy not only strains the financial well-being of the economy but also harms the soil quality in the country.
  • Subsidized urea is being diverted to bulk purchasers, traders, and even non-agricultural users like plywood and animal feed manufacturers. Furthermore, it is finding its way into neighboring countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal through illegal channels.

-Source: The Hindu

International Solar Alliance


The International Solar Alliance (ISA) will soon publish its inaugural ‘global solar stocktake report.’ This initiative is inspired by the first-ever ‘Global Stocktake’ conducted by the United Nations Conference of Parties, scheduled to take place in Dubai later this year.


GS3- Environment

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About the report
  2. About ISA
  3. The 4-Priority Areas of the Program
  4. Important Projects of the ISA
  5. Conclusion

About the Report:

  • During the Global Stocktake, countries are expected to provide an account of their efforts to shift their economies away from fossil fuels and outline plans for course correction if their commitments prove insufficient to prevent severe global warming.
  • This process, stemming from the 2015 Paris Agreement, is slated to occur every five years.
  • Its purpose is to assess the progress made by member countries in adopting solar energy. It was noted that in 2020, approximately $300 billion was invested in solar, increasing to about $380 billion in 2022. However, manufacturing remains unevenly concentrated in China.
  • The stocktake will explore strategies to diversify solar manufacturing.

About ISA:

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a collaborative platform driven by its members with a proactive approach to promote the widespread adoption of solar energy technologies.
  • Its primary objective is to facilitate energy accessibility, ensure energy security, and steer the transition towards cleaner energy sources in its member nations.
  • The ISA was initiated as a joint effort between India and France to mobilize collective action against climate change by promoting the use of solar energy solutions.
  • The headquarters is located in India, with its Interim Secretariat based in Gurugram.
  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has granted Observer Status to the International Solar Alliance. This status facilitates well-defined cooperation between the Alliance and the United Nations, fostering global energy growth and development.

The 4-Priority Areas of the Program:

These priority areas are designed to create a conducive environment for investments in solar energy within the member countries. These areas encompass:

  1. Analytics & Advocacy
  2. Capacity Building
  3. Programmatic Support
  4. Readiness and enabling activities

Important Projects of the ISA:

  1. One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG): The OSOWOG initiative focuses on establishing a framework for global cooperation and creating a network of interconnected renewable energy resources, primarily solar energy, that can be shared seamlessly
  2. ISA Solar Technology and Application Resource Centre (ISTAR C): This project aims to develop a network of centers for technical training, entrepreneurship, research, and innovation.
  3. Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Scheme: Under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Scheme, the Indian government supports the ISA by providing training to master trainers in the field of solar energy.
  4. A significant focus area for the ISA, led by India and France, is the expansion of solar installations in Africa. To support this objective, the organization has established the Global Solar Facility, aimed at boosting solar investment in the region and subsequently expanding to West Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
  5. As of 2022, global solar photovoltaic installations reached 1,133 gigawatts (GW), with 191 GW added in that year. Approximately one-fourth, or around 350 GW, is situated in China, which is not an ISA member. The United States, an ISA member country, follows with 111 GW, and India ranks among the top five countries globally with 62 GW.


Union Minister for Power and Renewable Energy R.K. Singh emphasized the critical role the ISA plays in the transition to renewable and solar energy. India’s substantial experience in this field positions it to be a pivotal contributor. Singh highlighted that among various renewable energy sources, solar energy has a distinct advantage due to its reliability, dependability, and availability for more extended periods throughout the year, making it a solution for universal energy access.

-Source: The Hindu

Pulses to Buck Rise in Kharif Output


Initial independent crop estimates suggest that the production of pulses, certain coarse cereals, and groundnuts is likely to reach a three-year low. However, there is optimism for the overall output to increase by 1.5% to 4% in this season, primarily driven by higher yields of rice and cereals. Despite this, retail inflation in pulses is expected to remain elevated.


GS3- Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Data related to production of crops
  2. Status of inflation for pulses and cereals

Data related to production of crops:

  • The initial independent estimates for this year’s kharif season suggest that the production of certain crops, including pulses, some coarse cereals, and groundnuts, may reach a three-year low. However, the overall foodgrains production is expected to increase, primarily due to higher rice and cereal yields.
  • Despite experiencing a monsoon season with 6% less rainfall than normal, kharif crop sowing saw a slight increase of 0.2% by the end of September. Nevertheless, crops like jute (-5.6%), pulses (-4.2%), cotton (-3%), and oilseeds (-1.6%) witnessed declines in sowing.
  • The output of pulses is expected to decrease to a range of 6.9-7.3 million tonnes, compared to 8.24 million tonnes in the previous year and 7.62 million tonnes in the year before that, according to a projection by the Bank of Baroda.
  • Among pulses, arhar, which saw a nearly 5% decline in sowing, is expected to experience a minor reduction from last year’s 3.31 million tonnes to a range of 3.22-3.27 million tonnes. However, the output of urad and moong pulses may witness more significant drops.
  • The total foodgrains production is projected to be in the range of 158-162 million tonnes, representing a 1.5% to 4% increase over the previous year’s levels, as per the assessment by Jahnavi Prabhakar, an economist at the bank.
  • She mentioned, “We anticipate an overall increase in production with crops like rice and sugarcane showing improvement. However, some drag is expected in the case of pulses, cotton, and jute.”

Status of inflation for pulses and cereals:

  • Economists anticipate that retail inflation for pulses and cereals will remain high due to the less optimistic production outlook. In September, consumer cereal prices rose by 11%, while pulse inflation increased from 13% in August to 16.4%. At the wholesale level, pulse prices surged by 17.7%.
  • Dipti Deshpande, principal economist at CRISIL, commented, “We expect some easing in food inflation with the kharif harvest, but there may be limited relief for pulses and cereals inflation.”

-Source: The Hindu

Asian Development Bank


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $400 million loan to assist the government in implementing its urban reform program. This policy-based loan is intended to bolster the government’s efforts to incorporate reforms focused on enhancing infrastructure and promoting well-planned urban development within a regulated framework.



  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About ADB
  2. Areas of focus
  3. India and ADB

About ADB:

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank that extends loans and investments for development initiatives in its member countries.
  • The bank was established in 1966 with the support of the United Nations organization, now known as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and under the leadership of Japan, one of the first industrialized countries in Asia.
  • ADB’s headquarters is situated in the Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • ADB started with 31 members and now has 68. Out of these, 49 are regional members located in Asia, benefiting from the bank’s programs, and 19 are non-regional members, mainly from Western countries, contributing capital to the bank.
  • The bank admits members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and non-regional developed countries.
  • The decision-making process at ADB is similar to that of the World Bank, with the number of votes a member holds corresponding to their share ownership. Presently, Japan holds the highest number of shares, constituting about 15.5% of the bank’s ownership.

Areas of Focus:

  • ADB concentrates on key development areas aligned with the World Bank’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • These areas encompass education, health, transport, energy, the finance sector, and climate change. ADB aims to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth by financing projects in fields such as education and health and by enhancing capital markets and business infrastructure in target countries.
  • The bank also undertakes specialized areas like Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Information Technology, Regional Cooperation and Integration, and more, serving as secondary capacity-building programs.

India and ADB:

  • India is a founding member of ADB and ranks as the bank’s fourth-largest shareholder.
  • Since its initiation in India in 1986, ADB has aligned its operations with the government’s development priorities. This approach will persist through the forthcoming country partnership strategy for 2023–2027.
  • ADB remains dedicated to revitalizing India’s economy, generating formal job opportunities, addressing climate challenges, and assisting lower-income states. ADB’s operations also promote private sector development, gender empowerment, regional integration, knowledge solutions, and capacity development.
  • Up to the present time, ADB has committed $52.6 billion in public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance to India, with cumulative loan and grant disbursements totaling $40.71 billion, financed through regular ordinary capital resources and other special funds. ADB’s sovereign portfolio encompasses 66 loans amounting to $15.4 billion.

-Source: The Hindu

20 Vital Signs of Earth Worsened to Imperil Life on it, Says Study


A global team of scientists has issued a warning in a study published in the journal BioScience, stating that twenty of the 35 critical indicators of the Earth’s health have deteriorated to an unprecedented extent, endangering life on our planet.


GS3- Environment

Dimensions of the article:

  1. More on the study results
  2. Analysis of the outcome
  3. Way forward suggested

More on the study results

  • These 20 indicators, including Arctic sea-ice levels, ice mass loss in Antarctica and Greenland, sea level rise, and surface temperature anomalies, have reached record extremes, according to the research team, which includes scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Bangladesh.
  • The study also presented key statistics related to temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, the year 2023 has already experienced 38 days with global average temperatures surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as highlighted by the researchers in their study.

Analysis of the outcome:

  • Co-lead author William Ripple, a distinguished professor at Oregon State University in the United States, expressed concern by stating, “Life on our planet is clearly under siege.”
  • Regarding greenhouse gas emissions, the scientists pointed out that this year’s Canadian wildfires released over 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, surpassing the country’s entire greenhouse emissions for 2021.
  • The study also acknowledged that fossil fuel subsidies had nearly doubled globally between 2021 and 2022, rising from USD 531 billion to just over USD 1 trillion.
  • The authors suggested that the increase in subsidies might be attributed to the elevated energy prices resulting from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Way Forward Suggested:

  • Study author Thomas Newsome from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney in Australia emphasized the need to accelerate global efforts to combat climate change while reducing ecological impacts.
  • He noted that extreme weather and climate-related consequences disproportionately affect the world’s poorest individuals, who have contributed the least to climate change. Therefore, climate-related actions should be rooted in equity and social justice.
  • The authors of the study called for policies aimed at addressing the underlying problem of “ecological overshoot” and advocated transitioning to a global economy that prioritizes human well-being while curbing over-consumption and excessive emissions by the wealthy.
  • Specific recommendations in their study include phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, promoting plant-based diets, increasing efforts to protect forests, and adopting international agreements for coal elimination and fossil fuel non-proliferation.

-Source: Daily Pioneer

BRO Achieves Breakthrough in Crucial Tunnel Work


A highly skilled and motivated team of engineers from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has achieved a significant milestone in the ongoing Project Sampark on National Highway 144A (NH144A) from Akhnoor to Poonch.


GS3- Internal Security

Dimensions of the article:

  1. More on the achievement
  2. About BRO
  3. About Project Sampark

More on the achievement

  • According to a statement from Lt-Col Suneel Bartwal, the Defence spokesman based in Jammu, the team has successfully completed the breakthrough for the first of four tunnels, known as the Kandi Tunnel, which spans 260 meters. This engineering achievement is highly commendable.
  • Once the critical tunnel is finished, it will significantly improve the strategic connectivity for the Armed Forces, facilitating more efficient and expedited transportation from Jammu to Poonch for travelers.
  • The fact that this breakthrough occurred ahead of schedule underscores the exceptional expertise and determination of the BRO. Brigadier Tejpal Singh, the Chief Engineer of Project Sampark, was present to witness this historic moment.
  • Despite facing adverse weather conditions, including heavy rainfall and landslides along the entire road stretch, the tunnel work, which began in March 2023, has seen remarkable progress.

About BRO:

  • The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is responsible for the construction and maintenance of road networks in India’s border regions and neighboring friendly nations. Currently, the BRO is active in twenty-one states, one union territory (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), as well as in neighboring countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
  • One of the ongoing projects of the BRO is the construction of a tunnel at the Rohtang Pass, which is anticipated to be completed by 2019. The BRO operates through 18 distinct Projects, namely Arunank, Beacon, Brahmank, Chetak, Deepak, Dantak, Himank, Hirak, Pushpak, Sampark, Setuk, Sewak, Shivalik, Swastik, Udayak, Vartak, Vijayak, and Sela Tunnel.
  • Its operational reach extends across various regions within India, as well as in Bhutan, Myanmar, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Established on May 7, 1960, the BRO was created with the primary objectives of safeguarding India’s borders and developing infrastructure in remote and challenging areas of the northern and northeastern parts of the country.
  • The BRO comprises the Border Roads Wing, which operates under the Ministry of Defense, and the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF). Officers within the BRO are selected through the Indian Engineering Services (IES) Examination, conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

About Project Sampark:

The Project Sampark, initiated by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in 1975, is responsible for the construction, enhancement, and upkeep of around 2,600 kilometers of vital roadways in the border regions of Jammu, Kathua, Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri, Reasi, and Poonch.

-Source: Daily Pioneer

December 2023