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Mains Test Series


Why Apaches for Army, ask critics


  1. The U.S. State Department recently approved sale of six Apache helicopters to India for the Army.

Important facts:

  1. In 2015, The IAF procurement plan was approved .
  2. A Contract for 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopter and 15 Chinook heavylit helicopters singed with the U.S. and Beoing on sep 2015
  3. Delivery period: From July 2019 to March 2020.
  4. Under the present procurement plan, the IAF will operate 22 Apache attack helicopters, while the Army will have six of them.
  5. In August 2017, the government approved the procurement of six Apaches
  6. These Six Apaches will be operated by the Indian Army, which has long pitched for attack helicopters of its own.
  7. According to the Defence Security Cooperation Agency(DSCA), the deal would be worth $ 930 million.
  8. At present, Air Force operates all big helicopters, including Mi-35 attack choppers.
  9. These aircrafts can have a disproportionate firepower on enemy tanks on the ground.
  10. Presently, the Army operates only smaller Cheetah and ALH(Advanced Light Helicopters) that weigh less than five tonne.


Sweet nothing


  1. The Cabinet committee on Economic Affairs approved a Rs 7,000 package for the sugar sector recently.

Important Analysis

2.Sugar mills dues to farmers stand Rs 22,000 crore.

4.Steps taken by the government:

  • Recently, the centre proposed a special cess under the GST to help alleviate distress among sugarcane farmers.
  • Assured minimum pricing
  • Special incentives for increasing malassess and ethanol production.
  • Govt will procure sugar from mills at a fixed minimum price.
  • Financial assistance to farmers.

5.Benefits of bailout package:

  • Help famers to come out of debt.
  • Dissipate their immediate liquidity problems to an extent.
  • According to Rating agency Crisil, it will help mitigating about 40% of the outstanding areas to sugarcane farmers.
  • This could help to use excess sugar for the manufacturing of alcohol or ethanol.

6.Problems associated with the sector:

  • Structural problems.
  • Sticks to old-style pricing.
  • Stock holding intermediaries
  1. Solutions:
  • Ensure some linkage between the price paid for sugarcane and the end-product it is used for.
  • Encouraging the feedback from market prices to inform farmer’s future cropping decisions.


 Trade deficit widens to $14.62 billion


  1. India’s trade merchandise trade deficit widened

Important facts:

  1. Trade deficit widened to $14.62 billion in May 2018.
  2. The shortfall was $13.72 billion in April 2018 and $13.84 billion in May 2017.
  3. Reasons:
  • 50% increase in global Brent price
  • Exports in May grow faster on the back of engineering goods, petro products, chemicals and pharma.

Export related figures:

  • Exports during 2018 were valued at $28.86 billion as compared to $ 24.1 billion in May 2017.
  • Merchandise exports in April had grown by only 5.17% while imports grew 4.6%.
  • Exports grew 8.32% in May 2017, while imports grew 33.1%.
  • Cumulative value of exports for the period April-May 2018-19 was $54.77 billion .


  • Imports during May 2018 were valued at $43.48 billion which was 14.85% higher in dollar terms.

5.Major export groups that witnessed strong growth include:

  • Engineering goods (14.8%)
  • Petroleum products(104.5%
  • Organic and inorganic chemicas(34.2%)
  • Drugs and pharmacuticles (25.7%)
  • Cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups and handloom products(24.7%).
  • Oil imports during May 2018 were valued at $11.5 billion which was 49.5% higher in dollar terms and 56.7% higher in rupee terms compared to $7.69 billion in May 2017.


  • To sustain the growth momentum
  • The U.S.-China trade war must be watched.
  • Rising raw material costs will be a challenge
  1. Conclusion:

With the U.S. confirming 25% tariffs on $50 billion Chinese imports and the Chinese stating they would retaliate, it is time for India to keep engaged with both the U.S. and China to safeguard our own interest.


Centre allows pulses import despite overflowing godowns


  1. The government allows pulses import despite surplus stocks.

Important facts:

  1. The centre has allocated quotas for import of pulses and enforcing additional imports agreements with Mozambique.
  2. The allocations of quotas were made at the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) meeting.
  3. Agriculture Commissioner predicts domestic pulses production of 24 million tonnes in 2018-19 because of good monsoon.
  4. good production leads to fall in prices of pulses
  5. Allocation of quotas:
  • For Tur or arhar Dal: 2 lakh tonnes
  • Moong and Urrad: 1.5 lakh tonnes

7.Reasons given by the government  behind this decision:

  • Balancing the needs of Indian consumers
  • Fulfilling the Commitments to foreign trade partners
  • However, the farmer’s groups are not happy with the government’s decision and agitating about falling crop prices.
  1. Agreements signed
  • In 2016, India signed an MoU to double pulses imports from the East African nations.
  • This obligates India to buy 1.5 lakh tonnes from Mozambique this year.
  • The government has also explored the possibility of similar agreement with Kenya.


Pollution curbs monsoon’s cleansing


  1. The study published in the Science Magazine founds that increased pollution particularly from coal burning have potentially weaken ability of monsoon.

Important Facts:

  1. The monsoon plays a critical role in flushing out pollutants over the Asia region.
  2. Researcher of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry from Germany performed atmospheric chemistry measurements by aircraft in a campaign called the “Oxidation Mechanism Observations”.
  3. Key finding of the campaign.
  • The researchers measured the summer monsoon outflow in the upper troposphere between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
  • The monsoon sustained a “remarkably efficient” cleansing mechanism in which contaminants are rapidly oxidized and deposited on the Earth’s surface.
  • Some pollutants were lifted above the monsoon clouds.
  • In winter, when atmospheric moisture is low fumes from unburnt particles it get disperse toward the Indian Ocean leading to vast pollution haze.
  • However what happened to unburnt particles in summer is still unknown.
  • Pollution particles can cool the sea surface temperature mostly in winter.
  • It was found that when circulation reverses in summer the cooler sea surface evaporates less which can reduce the moisture flux leading to weaken the monsoon.
  • The scientist also pointed out that the monsoon system may be flushing out pollutants but there was uncertainty over this effects the monsoon.
  1. The “elevated-heat-pump” effect
  • This effect has boost the seasonal heating of the Tibetan Plateau.
  • The effect result in increasing warming in the upper troposphere during late spring and early summer.
  • Spurring has enhanced monsoon rainfall over northern India during June and July.
  1. Effects on India cities:
  • The India Meteorological Department forecast a 3% dip in total amount of the summer monsoon rains this year.
  • Pollution levels especially in north India’s Gangetic plane shoot up in winter.
  • The cities have witness increase in air pollution during summer seasons.
  • Delhi, Gurugram and several parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are currently face huge dust haze.
  • The air pollution have put the air quality levels to the ‘severe’ category on the air quality index.
  • Indian rainfall is enhanced in spring due to increased loading of black carbon.
  • But the monsoon may subsequently weaken through increased cloudiness and surface cooling.


High UIDAI charges leave banks stressed


  1. Bank has raised the concern over the high license fee by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for Aadhaar authentication services center.

Important News:

  1. The Bank pointed out that high charges for enabling Aadhaar customer service is affecting smaller banks and small finance banks.
  2. Banks have to pay a fee of 20 lakh with validity of two years for production environment facility for authentication of Aadhaar.
  3. In addition for availing pre- production environment facility fee of 5 lacks charged for 3 months.
  4. The Maharashtra Urban Co-operative Banks Federation said it has received multiple complaints from banks over the high charges incurred to them by UIDAI.

Note: The Maharashtra Urban Co-operative Banks Federation represents about 500 of the 517 co-operative banks in Maharashtra.

  1. Most of the non-scheduled urban cooperative bank (UCBs) are unit banks or have less than five branches.
  2. Currently, UCBs has a customer base of five crore and about 1562 urban cooperative banks (UCBs) in India.
  3. UCBs are meeting the credit needs of poor and marginal sections of the society at the rural level and playing a unique and efficient role in financial inclusion and inclusive growth of the country.
  4. The banks authority stated that they have no option but to shift the burden to customers.
  5. UIDAI has defended the bank concern and said that the licence fee levied are very nominal.

Mammals opting more for nightlife


  1. A Study conducted by the University of California,  find that mammals are trying to reduce human contact during the day.

Important Facts:

2. The researchers compiled the data from 76 research studies of 62 mammal’s species.

3. The purpose of the study was to see whether increasing nocturnal activity was a global phenomenon among animals.

3.The species that were the part of research includes:

  • Spotted hyenas of South Africa
  • Black bears of Canadian forests
  • Leopards of western Maharashtra farm land.
  1. Key findings of the study: 
  • Mammals turned 1.36 times more nocturnal (active during night) because of human disturbance.
  • Mammals are avoiding human contact during the day.
  • The pattern was consistent across six continents, species, habitats and human disturbances, ranging from hiking to road building.

5.  Vidya Athreya, a Wildlife Conservation Society-India scientist said that while interpreting such studies more diverse situations and cultural contexts should be considered.

When Shimla queued up for water


  1. Shimla was recently in news for acute water shortage due to drying up of  Nauti-Khad stream.

Important facts:

  1. Potable water for Shimla town is mainly supplied from the sources at Gumma, Giri, Churat, Chair and Ashwani Khad.
  2. Of these, Gumma and Giri are the most reliable sources, contributing an estimated 73% of the total water supply.
  3. Gumma consider to be Shimla’s oldest water supply scheme. The supply system was commissioned in 1921-22 by the British.
  4. The ‘settling tank’ which was constructed in 1981-82 was closed due to the high level of turbidity caused by silt.
  5. This year the water discharge in the stream is low as 9.39 million litres per day (MLD) where the average is between 18-20 MLD.
  6. Possible reasons for worsening situations:
  • The debris deposits has resulted in blocking the water streams.
  • The high tourist footfall during summer has led in reducing the water availability
  • Poor maintenance of pipelines. there is Consistent leakage of Pipeline
  • Rising population
  • Most farmers are cultivating vegetables which has increased the water consumption and also led to changing the soil profile
  • The crisis is a result of a failure of government agencies in exploring new sources of water to meet demand in the town.
  1. Consequences of dried up of stream:
  • The Stream dried up for the first time in last 40 years.
  • In the catchment and natural springs are vanishing.
  • There has been change in vegetation pattern.
  • Tree cover is shrinking and unscientific dumping of debris and muck in water streams is rampant.
  • The drying up of the stream also increased the erratic pattern of rainfall.
  • The failure of a sewage treatment plant that was upstream was eventually identified as the source of contamination.
  • Most of farmers here have been facing similar hardships and have suffered crop losses
  • Shimla has been known as an urban forest but is fast turning into an urban slum
  1. Way forward:
  • There is need to adopting rainwater harvesting techniques.
  • There is need to modernize the system of distribution of water in Shimla town.
  • Installing more tube wells in the catchment area.
  • Illegal tapping of water are some of the issues that need to be addressed on a war-footing.
  • Old pipe lines should be replaced or repaired suitably.
  • State governments should take pro-active measure in addressing the unplanned development in the town that has taken place over the years.
  • The State government should installing water treatment systems that use ultraviolet radiation technology.
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