9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 29th, 2020

Govt approves 32 projects under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana

News:A total of 32 projects have been sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY). The projects envisage the creation of direct and indirect employment for about 15,000 persons


Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters)

  • Launched in 2017
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Food Processing Industries
  • Objectives:
    • Creation of modern infrastructure for food processing mega food parks/ clusters and individual units
    • To create effective backward and forward linkages – linking farmers, processors and markets
    • To create robust supply chain infrastructure for perishables
  • Sub-Schemes:
    • Mega Food Parks
    • Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
    • Creation/ Expansion of Food Processing/ Preservation Capacities (Unit Scheme)
    • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
    • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
    • Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
    • Human Resources and Institutions

The cause and concerns over red snow in Antarctica

News: Recently, snow around Ukraine’s Vernadsky Research Base, located off the coast of Antarctica’s northernmost peninsula, has started to take on a red tinge



  • The red tint in the snow is caused by the microscopic Chlamydomonas nivalis algae which produce the tinted sunscreen to keep themselves warm.


  • As the snow becomes darker from the tinge from the algae, it absorbs more heat, as a result of which it melts faster.
  • Further, these algae change the snow’s albedo (the amount of light or radiation the snow surface is able to reflect back).

Biofuel from microorganisms

News:International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is developing a method to improve the growth rate and sugar content of a marine cyanobacterium called Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002.



  • Cyanobacteria commonly known as blue-green-algae are microscopic organisms found in both fresh and marine waters.
  • They are photosynthetic, that is, they can manufacture their own food.
  • The yield of sugars from cyanobacteria can be much higher than that of land-based crops. Further, unlike plant-based sugars, cyanobacterial biomass provides a nitrogen source in the form of proteins.

Biofuel: Bio fuels are liquid/ solid or gaseous fuels produced from biomass resources. They are used in place of, or in addition to, diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications.

Classification of Biofuels:

  1. First generation biofuels: It refers to the fuels that have been derived from sources like starch, sugar, animal fats and vegetable oil.
  2. Second generation biofuels – These are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic biofuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood). Examples include advanced biofuels like biohydrogen, biomethanol.
  3. Third generation biofuels – These are produced from specially engineered energy crops such as algae.
  4. Fourth-Generation Biofuels: It uses genetically modified (GM) algae to enhance biofuel production.

Additional Information:

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

  • It is a global institution for genetic engineering and biotechnology
  • It was established as a project of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1983. It became an autonomous International Organisation in 1994

Coming up: New set of targets to protect the natural world

News: The Convention on Biological Diversity is set to identify ‘Global Biodiversity Framework’ of targets for the coming decade to 2030. These targets will replace the Aichi targets and will also lead towards the longer 2050 goal: Living in harmony with nature.


Aichi Biodiversity Targets:

  •  These were included in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the 2011-2020 period adopted by the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • There are 20 Aichi Targets classified under 5 Strategic Goals. The targets were to be achieved by 2020. 
  1. Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
  2. Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
  3. Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
  4. Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
  5. Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building

Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, it is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. 
  • There are 196 parties to the convention. It is a legally-binding treaty.
  • Objectives: 
  1. conservation of biological diversity,
  2. sustainable use of the components of biological diversity 
  3. fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

Convention Protocols:

  1. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: It aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity. It was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003.
  2. Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization: It aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force in 2014

Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing/fitting of aids/appliances (ADIP) scheme

News:The Prime minister will distribute assistive aids and devices to senior citizens (under the Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana-RVY) and the physically challenged (Under ADIP Scheme) at a mega distribution camp at Prayagraj,UP.


About ADIP Scheme:

  • The scheme comes under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • Aim:To assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable and scientifically manufactured appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential.
  • Implementation:It is implemented through NGOs, National Institutes under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and ALIMCO (a PSU that manufactures artificial limbs).
  • Eligibility: a) Indian citizen of any age b) Has 40% disability or more c) Monthly income not more than Rs.20000 d) Must not have received assistance during the last 3 years and for children it’s last 1 year.

About Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana:

  • Launched by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2017.
  • Aim:To provide Physical Aids and Assisted-living Devices for Senior citizens belonging to the BPL category.
  • Under the Scheme, assisted living devices such as Walking Sticks, Elbow Crutches, Hearing Aids, Wheelchairs, Spectacles are provided free of cost to the beneficiary senior citizens.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

News:The Svalbard Global Seed Vault referred to as the earth’s doomsday vault now contains about 1.05 million seeds.


About Svalbard Global Seed Vault:

  • It is the world’s largest secure seed bank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago.
  • The aim of the vault is to preserve a vast variety of crop seeds in the case of a doomsday event, calamity, climate change or national emergency.
  • It is owned and administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on behalf of the Kingdom of Norway.

Additional information:

India’s Seed Bank:

  • India has also established its own seed storage facility at Chang La in Ladakh,
  • It was built jointly by the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) and the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in 2010 under the aegis of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Project Monitoring Group(PMG) Portal

News:Minister of Commerce & Industry has chaired a meeting for the review of infrastructure projects on the Project Monitoring Group(PMG) Portal.


About PMG Portal:

  • Project Monitoring Group (PMG) is an institutional mechanism of the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT),Ministry of Commerce and industry.
  • It aims to facilitate issue resolution in projects that are facing delays or awaiting regulatory clearances with State and/or Central Ministries.
  • Any infrastructural or industrial project (domestic or foreign) with an investment of Rs. 500 Crores and above is eligible for PMG assistance.
  • Further,the portal is assisted by Invest India which provides implementational support in identifying and following up on issues with the States.

Additional information:

About Invest India:

  • Invest India was setup in 2009 as a non profit venture under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India.
  • It is the official Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India and acts as the first point of reference for investors in India.

Meeting held to review MSME key Schemes Generating Employment

News:The Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) held a meeting to review some of the key schemes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme(PMEGP) and Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises(CGTMSE).


About PMEGP:

  • It is a credit-linked subsidy scheme launched in 2008-09 by the Ministry of MSME.
  • Aim:To promote self-employment through setting up of micro-enterprises where subsidy up to 35% is provided by the Government through Ministry of MSME for loans up to ₹25 lakhs in manufacturing and ₹10 lakhs in the service sector.
  • Implementation:Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) at the national level.At the State level,the Scheme is implemented through State Khadi and Village Industries Commission Directorates among others.
  • Eligibility:Any individual above 18 years of age, Self Help Groups, Institutions registered under Societies Registration Act 1860, Production Co-operative Societies and Charitable Trusts are eligible.


  • Launched in 2000 by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Aim:To make available collateral-free credit to the micro and small enterprise sector.
  • Both the existing and the new enterprises are eligible to be covered under the scheme.
  • The Ministry of MSME and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) established a trust named Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises(CGTMSE) to implement the CGS.
  • The corpus of CGTMSE is being contributed by the GoI and SIDBI in the ratio of 4:1 respectively.

Need inquisitorial system of trial in sexual assault cases

News:The Bar Council of Delhi(BCD) has demanded the setting up of a separate police force and replacing the colonial system of investigation and trial with a French inquisitorial system to deal with cases of crimes against women in the country.


About inquisitorial system:

  • An inquisitorial system is a legal system in which the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case. 
  • This is distinct from an adversarial system in which the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense. 
  • The system is used primarily in countries with civil legal systems such as France and Italy, as opposed to common law systems.
  • However,countries using common law may also use an inquisitorial system for summary hearings in cases such as minor traffic violations.

Additional information:

About Adversarial System:

  • The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law countries.
  • It is a system where two advocates represent their parties positions before an impartial jury or judge who attempts to determine the truth of the case.

Explained: Coronavirus in 47 countries, but is it a pandemic yet?

News:The United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has said the world is on the cusp of a coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic.


  • Recently, WHO has declared COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

About Pandemic:

  • Pandemic comes from the Greek word pandemos which means everybody.
  • A pandemic is defined as an epidemic occurring worldwide or over a very wide area crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.
  • However,there is no specific number of countries that a disease must touch for WHO to classify it as a pandemic.

Difference between Pandemic and Epidemic:

  • Epidemic refers to an event in which a disease is actively spreading. Usually,this is an outbreak that has grown out of control but is often within one country or location. 
  • On the other hand, pandemic is an epidemic on a far greater geographic scale that affects a much larger number of people.

Previous cases of Pandemic:

  • In 2009, the WHO had declared a global pandemic of novel influenza A (H1N1), commonly known as swine flu.

Renewable Energy Management Centers(REMCs)

News:Union Power Minister has launched 11 Renewable Energy Management Centers (REMCs).


About REMC:

  • Renewable energy management centres(REMCs) are load forecasting Centres equipped with Artificial Intelligence based Renewable Energy(RE) forecasting tools.
  • They will mainly perform three functions a) forecasting of renewable energy from each plant b) scheduling of renewable energy to customers and c) tracking of generation from the RE plants.
  • The Government of India had approved the implementation of the REMCs as a Central Scheme and had mandated POWERGRID,a Maharatna CPSE under the Ministry of Power as an Implementing Agency.
  • The Centres are being managed by the Power System Operation Corporation of India Ltd.(POSOCO) at Regional and National level and at State level by State Load Despatch Centres(SLDCs).

11th National Krishi Vigyan Kendra(KVK) Conference 2020

News:Union Agriculture minister has inaugurated the 11th National Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Conference.


About the Conference:

  • It has been organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • The main aim of the conference is to highlight technology-led farming and youth entrepreneurship through agriculture.
  • Theme:Empowering Youth for Technology Led Farming.

Additional information:

About KVK:

  • Krsihi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) are agricultural extension centres created by ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research) and its affiliated institutions at district level.
  • The mandate of KVK is technology assessment, refinement and demonstration by providing critical inputs to the farmers which enable them to sustain their productivity.
  • The KVK scheme is 100% financed by the Government of India.The first KVK was established during 1974 (Pondicherry) and currently around 645 KVKs have been established.

About Krishi Vigyan Kendra(KVKs) Portal:

  • The portal aims to transfer the technologies developed by the agricultural scientists to the farmers in a fast and effective manner using web and mobile technology as well as to monitor the activities of Krishi Vigyan Kendras(KVKs).

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