9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 5th, 2020

Eight states finalise action plan for agri export policy: Govt

News:Government has said that eight states including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Karnataka have finalised the action plan for agriculture export policy.


About Agriculture Export Policy:

  • The Union Cabinet chaired had approved the Agriculture Export Policy in 2018.
  • The policy aims to harness export potential of Indian agriculture through suitable policy instruments to make India a global power in agriculture and raise farmers income.
  • Further,the policy would also help the government in achieving the target of doubling farmers income by 2022.

Objectives of the Policy:

  • To double agricultural exports from present US$ 30+ Billion to US$ 60+ Billion by 2022 and reach US$ 100 Billion in the next few years thereafter, with a stable trade policy regime.
  • To diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value added agricultural exports including focus on perishables.
  • To promote novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and non-traditional Agri products exports.
  • To provide an institutional mechanism for pursuing market access, tackling barriers and deal with sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues.
  • To strive to double India’s share in world agri exports by integrating with global value chain at the earliest.
  • Enable farmers to benefit of export opportunities in overseas market.

Isro signs pact with astrophysics institute to set up optical Telescopes

News:The Indian Space Research Organization has signed a pact with Indian Institute of Astrophysics to establish an optical telescope under Project NETRA.


About Project NETRA:

  • Project NETRA is an early warning system in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.
  • Under the project,the ISRO plans to put up many observational facilities: connected radars, telescopes; data processing units and a control centre.
  • They can spot, track and catalogue objects as small as 10 cm up to a range of 3,400 km and equal to a space orbit of around 2,000 km.

What is the need of Project NETRA?

  • India has 15 communication satellites active in the geostationary orbit, 13 remote-sensing satellites active in low-earth orbit (2,000 km radius) and eight navigation satellites in medium-earth orbit.
  • Hence,the project plays an important role in protecting Indian satellites from space debris and other hazards.

Importance of the Project:

  • The project would make India a part of international efforts towards tracking, warning about and mitigating space debris.
  • The project will also give India its own capability in space situational awareness (SSA) like the other space powers.

Additional information:


  • Apart from ISRO, Defence Research Development Organisation(DRDO) also operates NETRA (Network Traffic Analysis).It is a software network used to analyse internet traffic.
  • It is used by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and other intelligence agencies of Government of India.

UJALA & Street Lighting National Programme Completed Five Successful years of Illuminating India

News:Government of India’s UJALA scheme and Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP) of the central government has completed five successful years.


About UJALA:

  • UJALA stands for Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All.The scheme was launched in 2015.
  • Aim:It aims at promoting efficient usage of energy consumption, energy savings and efficient lighting for all.
  • Implementation:Electricity Distribution Company and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a public sector body of Government of India is implementing the programme.
  • As per the scheme, Electricity Distribution Company would distribute LED bulbs at subsidized rates to every grid-connected customer with a metered connection.
  • Eligibility:Every domestic household having a metered connection from their respective Electricity Distribution Company is eligible to get the LED bulbs under the UJALA Scheme.

About Street Lighting National Programme(SLNP):

  • Street Light National Programme(SLNP) was launched in 2015 to convert conventional street and domestic lights with energy efficient LED lights.
  • Aim:It aims to replace 3.5 crore conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights.
  • This replacement is expected to result in an annual energy saving of 900 crore units and a financial saving of Rs 5,500 crore.
  • Implementation:Energy Efficiency Services Limited,a Public Energy Services Company under the administration of Ministry of Power,Government of India(GoI) is the implementing agency for SLNP.

Additional information:

About EESL:

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited(EESL) is a joint venture of four National Public Sector Enterprises– NTPC Limited,Power Finance Corporation Ltd(PFC),REC and POWERGRID.It was set up under the Ministry of Power.
  • It is a Super Energy Service Company(ESCO) and leads the market-related activities of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency(NMEEE),one of the eight national missions under the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change.

National Pension Scheme for traders fails to gain traction

News:The National Pension Scheme for traders also called the Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana has failed to gain traction among the traders.


  • The Government has set a target of 50 lakh enrolment by the end of March 2020.However,only 25,000 persons have applied so far.
  • Among all states Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of registrations.
  • No one has so far registered in the scheme in the states of Mizoram and Lakshadweep.
  • The experts have suggested that the entry age and the premium for the scheme should be raised to encourage more traders to join the scheme.

About Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana:

  • The National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons Yojana(Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Maan-dhan Yojana) is a pension scheme for shopkeepers launched in July,2019.
  • Objective:The scheme assures a minimum monthly pension of ₹3000 per month to small shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed people after attaining the age of 60 years.
  • Contribution:They have to contribute to the scheme every month from the time of enrolment and till age 60 for getting the pension.The Government of India will also make a matching contribution in the subscribers’ account.
  • Implementation:The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is the pension fund manager for the scheme.
  • Eligibility:The scheme is available to all small shopkeepers, self-employed persons and retail traders with Goods and Services tax (GST) turnover below Rs.1.5 crore. The age limit is 18-40 years.
  • However,the applicants should not be covered under the National Pension Scheme, Employees’ State Insurance Scheme and the Employees’ Provident Fund or be an Income Tax assessed.

I-STEM Portal has been launched by PM at Indian Science Congress(ISC)

News:Prime minister has launched the I-STEM Portal at the 107th Indian Science Congress(ISC).


About I-STEM Portal:

  • I-STEM is Indian Science, Technology and Engineering Facilities web portal.
  • The National Portal is the gateway for researchers to locate the specific facility(ies) they need for their R&D work and identify the one that is either located closest to them or available the soonest.
  • The researcher after locating the facility can make an online reservation in order to use the facility.

Significance of the portal:

  • The portal makes it easier to have a national and regional inventory of resources so as to match users with the resources they need and to do all this in an efficient and transparent manner.
  • This can also lead to a leap in R&D productivity and greatly enhance the effectiveness of public investment.

Vertical Farming: A silent Revolution in Agriculture

News : Vertical Farming is emerging as a silent revolution in agricultural production sector.


About Vertical Farming:

  • Vertical Farming is the process of growing agricultural crops in vertical stacks, mostly in a controlled environment.
  • Under Vertical Farming,the plants are grown indoors with or without soil. This protects the crops from incessant rains, unruly winds and dry climate.
  • The crop yield in vertical farming is also more than traditional farming as it adopts two major farming techniques namely hydroponics and aeroponics.
  • Some common choices of structures to house vertical farming systems include buildings, shipping containers, underground tunnels and abandoned mine shafts.

Need of Vertical Farming:

  • According to the United Nations, the global population is to reach 10 billion by 2050 and therefore food production should increase by 70%.
  • Hence,there is a need for technological innovation in the farming process and Vertical farming is one among those innovations.

Advantages of Vertical Farming:

  • It offers a plan to handle future food demands
  • It allows crops to grow year-round
  • It uses significantly less water
  • Weather doesn’t affect the crops
  • More organic crops can be grown
  • There is less exposure to chemicals and disease

Disadvantages of Vertical Farming:

  • It could be very costly to build and economic feasibility studies haven’t yet been completed
  • Pollination would be very difficult and costly
  • It would involve higher labor costs
  • It relies too much on technology and one day of power loss would be devastating.

Status of Vertical Farming in India:

  • In India Vertical Farming has been introduced in the year 2019.
  • Indian Institute of Agriculture Research(ICAR) is working on techniques and adaptations to introduce in the market.However,it has still not found its application at a wider level.

Additional information:

About Hydroponics and Aeroponics:

  • Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants without soil by using water solvent which consists of mineral nutrients.
  • On the other hand,Aeroponics is a farming method where plants are grown in closed or semi-closed environment with nutrients sprayed in the air.

FSSAI launches ‘Verified Milk Vendor Scheme’ in Gujarat

News:The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has launched ‘Verified Milk Vendors Scheme’ in Gujarat.


About Verified Milk Vendors Scheme:

  • The scheme aims to address the issues of quality and safety in raw milk that is supplied directly to consumers by unorganised milk vendors.
  • Under the scheme, all the unorganised milk producers and vendors in Gujarat will be issued identity cards by taking their registration.This will bring them under the regulation net.
  • Based on the Gujarat experience,the FSSAI has plans to roll-out similar schemes nationwide.

Additional information:

About FSSAI:

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory autonomous body under Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
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