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PIB – 11 August 2021





Focus: GS III- Agriculture

Why in News?

The Government has made a provision for opening of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in each of the rural districts across the country.

  • A total of 725 KVKs have been established across the country till date.

Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK)

  • A Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) is an agricultural extension center in India.
  • Usually associated with a local agricultural university, these centers serve as the ultimate link between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and farmers, and aim to apply agricultural research in a practical, localized setting.
  • All KVKs fall under the jurisdiction of one of the 11 Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes (ATARIs) throughout India.

Functions of KVKs

  • On-Farm Testing: Each KVK operates a small farm to test new technologies, such as seed varieties or innovative farming methods, developed by ICAR institutes. This allows new technologies to be tested at the local level before being transferred to farmers.
  • Front-line Demonstration: Due to the KVK’s farm and its proximity to nearby villages, it organizes programs to show the efficacy of new technologies on farmer fields.
  • Capacity Building: In addition to demonstrating new technologies, the KVK also hosts capacity building exercises and workshops to discuss modern farming techniques with groups of farmers.
  • Multi-sector Support: Offer support to various private and public initiatives through its local network and expertise. It is very common for government research institutes to leverage the network of KVKs when performing surveys with a wide range of farmers.
  • Advisory Services: Due to the growing use of ICT, KVKs have implemented technologies to provide farmers information, such as weather advisories or market pricing, through radio and mobile phones.


Focus: GS II Health

Why in News?

The Ministry of AYUSH signs Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with 11 countries for the cooperation in the field of Traditional System of Medicine and Homeopathy.

 About Traditional Medicine:

The traditional Indian system of medicine comprises of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH), is a perennially neglected alternative medicine sector.

  • The word Ayurveda means ‘Science of Life’ and employs treatment modalities, such as purification, palliation, prescription of various diets, exercises and the avoidance of disease causing factors and it evolved nearly 5000 years ago.
  • The Ayurvedic medicine, though practiced for a wide range of health needs, is more commonly used for preventive and health and immunity boosting activities.
Yoga & Naturopathy:
  • Practices of Yoga are reported to have originated in India and is now being adapted to correct lifestyle by cultivating a rational, positive and spiritual attitude towards all life situations.
  •  21st June is designated as ‘International Yoga Day’.
  • Naturopathy or the naturopathic medicine is a drugless’ non- invasive system of medicine imparting treatments with natural elements based on the theories of vitality, toxemia and the self-healing capacity of the body, as well as the principles of healthy living.
  • The common naturopathy modalities include counselling, diet and fasting therapy, mud therapy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy, acupressure, acupuncture, magnet therapy and yoga therapy.
Unani Medicine:
  • It was originated in the Arab world, though over a period of time it imbibed some concepts from other contemporary systems of medicines in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, India, China and other Middle East Countries.
  • Unani medicine treats a patient with diet, pharmacotherapy, exercise, massages and surgery.
  • Originated in India and is amongst the oldest systems of medicine in the country.
  • It takes into account the patient, his/her surroundings, age, sex, race, habitat, diet, appetite, physical condition etc. to arrive at the diagnosis.
  • Siddha System uses minerals, metals and alloys and drugs and inorganic compounds to treat the patients.
  • Unlike most T&CM, this system is largely therapeutic in nature.
  • Siddha literature is in Tamil and it is practiced largely in Tamil speaking part of India.
  • The word ‘Homeopathy’ is derived from the Greek words, ‘Homois’ meaning ‘similar’ and ‘pathos’ means ‘suffering’.
  • It originated in Germany and was introduced in India around 1810-1839.
  • It uses highly individualized remedies selected to address specific symptoms or symptom profiles.
  • It is practiced in many countries and in India, where it is the second most popular system of medicine.
  • The word combination means the ‘science of healing’ and is considered one of the oldest living and well-documented medical traditions of the world.
  • It originated from Tibet and is widely practiced in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia and Russia.


Focus: GS III- Agriculture

 About Operation Greens Scheme

Nodal: Ministry of Food Processing and Industry (MOFPI)

  • The Operation Greens is a project approved by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI) with the target to stabilize the supply of tomato, onion and potato crops (TOP crops) in India, as well as to ensure their availability around the country, year-round without price volatility.
  • The Operation Green TOP Scheme is a “Central Sector Scheme” under implementation of Ministry of Food Processing and Industry (MOFPI).
 Objectives Of Operation TOP Green Scheme
  • Price stabilization for producers and consumers;
  • Reduction in post-harvest losses;
  • Increase in food processing capacities and value addition in TOP value chain by creating firm linkages with production clusters. 
  • The Setting up of a market intelligence network to collect and collate real time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.
 Strategies for Operation Green Scheme

The scheme will have two-pronged strategy of Price stabilisation measures (for short term) and Integrated value chain development projects (for long term).

 Short term Price Stabilisation Measures
  • The NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilisation measures.
  • The MoFPI will provide 50% of the subsidy on the following two components
  • Transportation of Tomato Onion Potato(TOP) Crops from production to storage
  • Hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops.
Long Term Integrated value chain development projects
  • Formation and Capacity Building of FPOs
  • Quality Production
  • Post-harvest processing facilities – At Farm Level
  • Post-harvest processing facilities – At Main Processing Site
  • Agri-Logistics
  • Marketing/Consumption Points
Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS)
  • The MIEWS Dashboard and Portal is a platform for monitoring prices of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) and for generating alerts for intervention under the terms of the Operation Greens scheme.
  • The portal would disseminate all relevant information related to TOP crops such as Prices and Arrivals, Area, Yield and Production, Imports and Exports, Crop Calendars, Crop Agronomy, etc in an easy to use visual format.


Focus: GS II- Welfare schemes

 About PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Scheme:

  • It was announced in the Union Budget 2021-22.
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme
  • Duration: 6 years.
  • Develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary care health systems even in the last miles of the nation.
  • Strengthen existing national institutions in Health sector
  • Create new institutions, to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases.
The scheme will support in the setting up of
  • Rural, Urban Health and Wellness Centres
  • Integrated Public Health Labs
  • Critical health care hospital blocks
  • National institution for One Health
  • Regional research platform for WHO South-East Asia Region,
  • 9 Biosafety Level III laboratories and 4 regional centres of National Institutes for Virology.
  • Strengthening National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and 5 regional branches of it
  • Expanding the integrated health information panel.


Focus: GS II- Health

Why in News?

The Department of Health and Family Welfare has launched a Digital Portal for Crowdfunding & Voluntary Donations for the treatment of patients of Rare Diseases in accordance with the mandate of the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.

What are ‘Rare diseases’?

A rare disease, also referred to as an orphan disease, is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population.

Most rare diseases are genetic, and are present throughout a person’s entire life, even if symptoms do not immediately appear.

  1. Haemophilia,
  2. Thalassemia,
  3. Sickle-cell anaemia,
  4. Auto-immune diseases,
  5. Pompe disease,
  6. Hirschsprung disease,
  7. Gaucher’s disease,
  8. Cystic Fibrosis,
  9. Hemangiomas and
  10. Certain forms of muscular dystrophies

Are some of the most common rare diseases recorded in India.

Pressing Issues regarding ‘Rare diseases’

  • Rare diseases pose a significant challenge to health care systems because of the difficulty in collecting epidemiological data, which in turn impedes the process of arriving at a disease burden, calculating cost estimations and making correct and timely diagnoses, among other problems.
  • There are 7,000-8,000 classified rare diseases, but less than 5% have therapies available to treat them.
  • About 95% rare diseases have no approved treatment and less than 1 in 10 patients receive disease-specific treatment. Where drugs are available, they are prohibitively expensive, placing immense strain on resources.
  • These diseases have differing definitions in various countries and range from those that are prevalent in 1 in 10,000 of the population to 6 per 10,000.
  • India has said it lacks epidemiological data on the prevalence here and hence has only classified certain diseases as ‘rare.’
  • Currently, only a few pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing drugs for rare diseases globally and there are no domestic manufacturers in India except for those who make medical-grade food for those with metabolic disorders.
  • Due to the high cost of most therapies, the government has not been able to provide these for free.

Provisions of the National Rare Disease Policy 2021

  • Patients of rare diseases will be eligible for a one-tome treatment under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).
  • Financial support up to Rs20 lakh under the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogaya Nidhi shall be provided by the central government for treatment of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment (diseases listed under Group 1) for their treatment in Government tertiary hospitals only. – (NOT be limited to below poverty line (BPL) families, but extended to about 40% of the population as eligible under the norms of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY))

The policy has categorised rare diseases in three groups:

  • Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment;
  • Those requiring long term or lifelong treatment; and
  • Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit.

The government has said that it will also assist in voluntary crowd-funding for treatment as it will be difficult to fully finance treatment of high-cost rare diseases.

Criticisms of the National Rare Disease Policy 2021

  • Though the document specifies increasing the government support for treating patients with a ‘rare disease’— from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh — caregivers say this doesn’t reflect actual costs of treatment.
  • The Policy leaves patients with Group 3 rare diseases to fend for themselves due to the absence of a sustainable funding support.
  • What the policy doesn’t capture is that these are diseases that last a lifetime adding up to a huge amount of expenditure and many of the patients who can’t afford such treatment will be unable to even make it to the prescribed tertiary hospitals for treatment.


Focus: GS II- Environment

Why in News?

A webinar on the occasion of the World Biofuel day was organized by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with the theme “the promotion of the biofuel for a better environment”


  • The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India (GOI) launched the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded loan interest subvention scheme that provides financial assistance to innovative waste to energy biomethanation projects and business models.
  • The industrial organic waste-to-energy bio-methanation projects are generally capital intensive and financially sensitive to both operating costs, including waste availability, and revenue, particularly biogas yield and its utilization scenario.
  • Innovations in such projects seek to improve overall energy output thereby minimizing the cost of energy generation but may lead to increase in the initial project cost at the establishment stage yet increase revenue and reduce operating costs over project’s lifetime.
  • A GIS based inventory tool of organic waste streams developed under the GEF-MNRE-UNIDO project was also launched during the webinar.
  • The tool provides district level estimates of available urban and industrial organic wastes and their energy generation potential across India.
  • The GIS tool will enable SME’s and project developers to set up new waste to energy projects and may facilitate the rapid growth of biomethanation in waste-to-energy sector in the country.

What is Biomethanation

  • Biomethanation is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas.
  • Methanogenesis or biomethanation i.e., formation of methane, is done by microbes known as methanogens.

Three main physiological groups of microorganisms are involved:

  • fermenting bacteria,
  • organic acid oxidizing bacteria, and
  • methanogenic archaea.
  • Microorganisms degrade organic matter via cascades of biochemical conversions to methane and carbon dioxide. 
Government actions

Since, 2014, the Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to increase blending of biofuels.

The major initiatives include

  1. Administrative price mechanism for ethanol,
  2. Simplifying the procurement procedures by OMCs,
  3. Amending the provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951,
  4. Long term ethanol procurement policy,
  5. Ethanol distillation capacity addition and
  6. Enabling lignocellulosic route for ethanol procurement.
National Policy on Biofuels
  • In order to promote biofuels in the country, first National Policy on Biofuels was made by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy during the year 2009.
  • National Policy on Biofuels -2018 builds on the achievements of the earlier National Policy on Biofuels setting new agenda consistent with the redefined role of emerging developments in the renewable sector aiming to bring in renewed focus taking into context the international perspectives and National scenario.
  • The policy envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.
  • The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • The Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee – so that farmers get appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase.
  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.
Importance of biofuels in India
  • Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels.
  • Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.
World Biofuel Day

Every year 10th August is observed as World Bio-Fuel Day in a bid to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels) as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and to highlight the various efforts made by the Government in the biofuel sector.


Focus: GS III- Environment

About National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)

  • NMEEE includes four specific energy efficiency initiatives under its umbrella. 
  • These enhanced energy efficiency measures are aimed at facilitating energy intensive industries (industries that consume large quantities of energy in production process) to reduce their energy footprint and catalize investments in the energy efficiency sector.

The four specific energy efficiency initiatives are as follows;-

  • Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT)
  • Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE)
  • Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP)
  • Framework for Energy Efficiency Economic Development (FEEED)
Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) 

It aims at reducing Specific Energy Consumption (SEC) i.e. energy use per unit of production for Designated Consumers (DCs) in energy intensive sectors, with an associated market mechanism to enhance the cost effectiveness through certification of excess energy saving which can be traded.

Market Transformation for Energy Efficiency (MTEE) 

It aims for accelerating the shift to energy efficient appliances in designated sectors through incentives and innovative business models.

Under MTEE the following programmes were introduced for the promotion of energy efficient products in the market:-

  • Bachat Lamp Yojna (BLY): The programme was developed for replacement of inefficient bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).
  • Super-Efficient Equipment Program (SEEP): This programme was designed for market transformation of super-efficient appliances by providing financial stimulus innovatively at critical point/s of interventions.
Energy Efficiency Financing Platform (EEFP) 
  • It was launched to provide a platform to interact with Financial Institutions (FIs) and project developers for implementation of energy efficiency projects.
  • Under this programme, Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed by BEE to promote financing for energy efficiency projects.
  • For capacity building of FIs, BEE signed MoU with Indian Banks’ Association for the Training Programme on Energy Efficiency Financing.
Framework for Energy Efficient Economic Development (FEEED)
  • It was  designed for development of fiscal instruments to promote energy efficiency.
  • The objective was to provide the comfort to concerned stakeholders through implementation of Energy Efficiency schemes such as Partial Risk Sharing Facility (PRSF) to provide partial credit guarantees to cover a share of the default risk that participating financial institutions face in extending loans to eligible Energy Efficiency sub-projects.
  • Each energy saving loan given by Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) is partially guaranteed for a maximum tenure of 5 years with guarantee coverage ranging from 40-75% of the loan amount or Rs. 15 crore per project.

November 2023