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Current Affairs 29 March 2023

CONTENTS

  1. The quota kerfuffle in Karnataka
  2. Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme
  3. Nano Fertilisers
  4. Parole and Furlough

The Quota Kerfuffle in Karnataka


Context:

At the Cabinet meeting in Karnataka, the BJP government did away with the nearly three-decade-old 4% reservation for Muslims in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and distributed it equally among the Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas, two dominant land-owning communities in the State, at 2% each.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions Of the Article:

  1. How has OBC and SC reservation changed?
  2. How are Muslims losing out?

How has OBC and SC reservation changed?

  • The Cabinet decided to exclude Muslims from the OBC category and scrapped the 4% reservation given to them under Category 2B.
  • This has been divided equally among Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva-Lingayats for whom new categories of 2C and 2D have been created respectively.
  • Following the change, the reservation quantum for Vokkaligas and others in the group went up from 4% to 6% and for Veerashaiva-Lingayats and others in the group, from 5% to 7%.
  • Earlier, the two communities were under 3A and 3B respectively, which stand scrapped.
  • The Cabinet also recommended internal reservation among the 101 SCs, a long pending demand of the SC (left) faction to the Union Government.
  • Of the 17% reservation given to SCs in Karnataka, it has sliced up 6% to SC (left), 5.5% to SC (right), 4.5 % to SC (touchable) and 1% to SC (others).
  • While the basis for internal reservation was the recommendation of the A. J. Sadashiva Commission report of 2012 when reservation to SCs was pegged at 15%, the Government has adjusted the share, based on a Cabinet sub-committee report, as per the new reservation quota that has been hiked to 17%.

How are Muslims losing out?

  • The BJP, which does not count Muslims among its voter base, has scrapped the reservation for Muslims, arguing that backward classes reservation is not based on religion.
  • Since 1995, the community has been given 4% reservation under Category 2B on grounds of being socially and educationally backward.
  • Since the community has now lost its social and educational backwardness reservation status, it can claim reservation under the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections.
  • This change has to be approved by the Centre.
  • However, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and converted Christians continue to remain in the backward classes category.
  • Also, nomadic Muslims in Category 1 continue to remain there.

-Source: The Hindu


Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme


Context:

A top government official recently indicated that investors in the popular small saving schemes Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Sukanya Samriddhi Account (SSA), whose rates have not been hiked since January 2019, are unlikely to get higher returns anytime soon.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme
  2. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana

Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme in India

The Public Provident Fund (PPF) Scheme is a long-term savings scheme that is popular in India. Here are some important facts about the scheme:

  • Introduction: The PPF Scheme was introduced in 1968 by the Finance Ministry’s National Savings Institute to encourage individuals to save and earn returns on their savings.
  • Objective: The primary objective of the PPF Scheme is to help individuals make small savings and provide returns on the savings.
  • Safety: The PPF Scheme is considered to be one of the safest investment products as the government of India guarantees investments in the fund.
  • Tenure: The tenure of a PPF account is 15 years, and it can be renewed in blocks of 5 years.
  • Interest Rate: The interest rate payable on PPF accounts is currently 7.1%.
  • Investment Amount: The minimum investment amount for a PPF account is Rs. 500, and the maximum investment amount is Rs. 1.5 lakh per annum.
  • Eligibility: Any Indian citizen can open a PPF account.
  • Account Holder: PPF accounts cannot be held jointly, but it is possible to make a nomination.
  • Tax Exemption: Investments in PPF are tax-exempt under section 80C of the Income Tax Act (ITA), and the returns from PPF are also not taxable.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana:

  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is a savings scheme launched by the Government of India on January 22, 2015.
  • The scheme aims to promote the welfare of the girl child in the country and prevent gender discrimination.
  •  It encourages parents to save money for the future of their girl child and promote their education and other fields.
Features of Sukanya Samriddhi Account:

Here are some essential features of the Sukanya Samriddhi Account:

  • Minimum and Maximum Deposit: The minimum deposit required to open a Sukanya Samriddhi Account is Rs. 250, and the maximum deposit allowed in a financial year is Rs. 1.5 lakh.
  • Account Opening: The account can be opened in the name of a girl child until she attains the age of ten years.
  • One Account per Girl Child: Only one account can be opened in the name of a girl child.
  • Opening of Account: The account can be opened at any Post Office or authorized bank.
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal from the account shall be allowed for the purpose of higher education of the account holder to meet education expenses.
  • Premature Closure: The account can be prematurely closed in case of the marriage of the girl child after she attains the age of 18 years.
  • Transfer of Account: The account can be transferred anywhere in India from one Post office/Bank to another.
  • Maturity: The account shall mature on completion of a period of 21 years from the date of opening of the account.
  • Tax Benefits: Deposits made to the Sukanya Samriddhi Account qualify for deduction under Section 80-C of the Income Tax Act. Also, interest earned on the account is tax-free under Section 10 of the Income Tax Act.

-Source: The Hindu


Nano Fertilisers


 Context:

The Department of Fertilisers conducted an audit which revealed a variation of 25-50% in the reduction of nitrogen use after the application of nano urea.

  • The use of nano urea can help the government save approximately USD 3 billion (around Rs 24,687 crore) in subsidy bills annually and reduce India’s dependence on urea imports.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Nano Fertilisers
  2. Significance of Nano Fertilisers in Agriculture
  3. Challenges Associated with Nano Fertilizers

About Nano Fertilisers:

  • Nano fertilisers are highly efficient fertilisers that provide nutrients like nitrogen to crops through fine granules.
  • These fertilisers have a smaller particle size, which makes them more effective than traditional fertilisers.
Nano Urea Liquid:
  • Nano urea liquid is a type of nano fertiliser that was developed in 2022 by the Indian Farmers and Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO).
  • The liquid is made up of urea and other micronutrients, which are encapsulated in nano-sized polymer coatings.
  • The coating helps in the controlled release of the nutrients, ensuring that the crops receive a steady supply of nutrients over time.
  • The primary benefit of using nano urea liquid is that it can replace conventional urea and reduce its requirement by 50%.
  • This is because nano urea liquid is more efficient, and the crops require a smaller quantity of it to meet their nutrient requirements.

Significance of Nano Fertilisers in Agriculture:

Nano fertilisers have the potential to revolutionize the agriculture industry with their numerous benefits, some of which are listed below:

  • Reduce Losses: Nano fertilisers use nanoscale porous domains on plant surfaces to deliver nutrients, which improves the effectiveness of nitrogen delivery and reduces losses to the environment. This leads to a more efficient use of fertilisers and helps in reducing environmental pollution.
  • Increase Farmers’ Income: Nano fertilisers are cost-effective and easy on the pocket of farmers, which can significantly increase their income. It can also reduce the cost of logistics and warehousing. For example, a small bottle of 500 millilitres of nano urea spray is said to be a substitute for a full bag of 45 kilogrammes of conventional urea.
  • Making Crops Stronger: Nano fertilisers reduce the excess use of conventional fertilisers and make crops stronger and healthier. They also protect crops from the lodging effect, which is the bending over of the stems near ground level of grain crops, making them very difficult to harvest and can dramatically reduce yield.

Challenges Associated with Nano Fertilizers:

  • High Cost: The advanced technology and production methods used for producing nano-fertilizers make them expensive compared to conventional fertilizers. As a result, small farmers may find it unaffordable, limiting their access to this technology.
  • Quality Control: Strict quality control measures are necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of nano-fertilizers. However, the absence of standardized regulations for their production and distribution has resulted in poor quality control and inconsistent outcomes.
  • Environmental Concerns: The long-term effects of nano-fertilizers on soil health, water quality, and ecosystem balance raise environmental concerns. Proper testing and regulation are essential to ensure the sustainable use of these fertilizers.
  • Regulatory Framework: The development and usage of nano-fertilizers require a comprehensive regulatory framework to ensure their safe and sustainable use. The lack of a robust regulatory framework has led to confusion and uncertainty among farmers and policymakers.
  • Limited Research: The research on the long-term effects of nano-fertilizers is limited. More research is necessary to fully understand the impact of these fertilizers on the environment and human health.

-Source: Down To Earth


Parole and Furlough


Context:

Recently, Supreme Court of India ruled that the period of parole granted to convicts during the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent overcrowding in prisons and avoid the risk of spread of infection, cannot be counted as part of their actual sentence period.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Parole
  2. About Furlough
Parole:
  • A system of releasing a prisoner with suspension of the sentence.
  • Conditional release subject to behavior and reporting to authorities.
  • Given for specific reasons, such as a death in the family or wedding of a blood relative.
  • Not a right, may be denied even with a sufficient case.
  • Release is not treated as remission of sentence.
Furlough:
  • Similar to parole, but granted in cases of long-term imprisonment.
  • Period of furlough granted is treated as remission of sentence.
  • Seen as a matter of right for a prisoner, to enable them to retain family and social ties and counter the effects of prolonged imprisonment.
  • Granted periodically irrespective of any specific reason.
  • May not require reporting to authorities during the period of release.

-Source: Indian Express


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