Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 10 Apr, 2021

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Government aims to boost “opium production”

What is the News?

The Union government has decided to bring in the private sector in the production of poppy straw from opium production.

This move is expected to boost the yield of alkaloids which are used for medical purposes and exported to several countries.

Opium Production in India:

  • India is one of the few countries that grow opium legally. It currently only extracts alkaloids from opium gum at few facilities. These facilities are controlled by the Revenue Department in the Finance Ministry.
    • This is done by using the poppy straw method. Under this, the farmers extract gum by manually cutting the opium pods and selling the gum to government factories.
      Note:  Alkaloids are a huge group of naturally occurring organic compounds that contain nitrogen atom or atoms (amino or amido in some cases) in their structures. This includes morphine, strychnine, quinine, ephedrine, and nicotine.
  • However, India’s opium production has been declining over the years. It is depending heavily on imports. Especially to meet the need for Poppyseed for edible purposes and codeine (extracted from opium) for medicinal uses.
    Codeine is the methyl ether derivative of morphine found in the opium poppy
  • Hence, the government decided to adopt the public-private partnership(PPP). Under this, the government will switch to new technologies after trial cultivation by two private firms showed higher extraction of alkaloids using the Concentrated Poppy Straw(CPS).
    • CPS is a mechanised system under which the entire harvest will be cut by machine and transferred to government factories.

Issues in bringing Private Sector in Opium Production:

  • The government will need to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act,1985 to bring in the private players in opium production.
  • Hence, the government has appointed a consultant to help frame an appropriate public-private partnership(PPP) model. It will advise on the changes needed to the rules and laws to facilitate the process. Further, it will also recommend security measures to protect the crop and the final product.

About Opium:

  • Opium is dried latex obtained from the seed capsules of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum.
  • India is one among 12 countries in the world where legal cultivation of opium is permissible. It is permissible within the ambit of the United Nations, Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh are the three traditional opium-growing States. In those states, poppy cultivation is allowed based on licences issued annually by the Central Bureau of Narcotics.

About Poppy Straw:

  • Poppy Straw is the husk left after the opium is extracted from pods. They are used in the commercial manufacture of morphine or other poppy alkaloid derived drugs.
  • Poppy straw is one of the narcotic drugs under the NDPS Act, 1985. Hence, anyone who possesses, selling, purchasing, or using poppy straw without a license or authorization is liable to prosecution under the NDPS Act.
  • Further, the Possession, sale, use of poppy straw is regulated by the State Governments under the State NDPS Rules.
  • Farmers sell the poppy straw to those licensed by the State Governments to purchase poppy straw. Any excess poppy straw is ploughed back into the field.

Source: The Hindu

Government launches “Madhukranti portal” and “Honey Corners” of NAFED

What is the News?

Union Agriculture Minister has launched the “MadhuKranti portal” and “Honey Corners” of NAFED.

About MadhuKranti portal:

  • Madhukranti portal is an initiative of the National Bee Board under the National Beekeeping and Honey Mission.
  • Purpose: It is developed for online registration to achieve a traceability source of Honey and other beehive products on a digital platform.
  • The portal will enable the consumers/public to know about the source of honey and assure the quality of the products.

About National Beekeeping & Honey Mission(NBHM):”

  • National Beekeeping & Honey Mission(NBHM) was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare as part of the AtmaNirbhar Bharat scheme.
  • Aim: To promote & develop scientific beekeeping in the country to achieve the goal of ‘Sweet Revolution’.
  • Implementation: The mission is implemented through the National Bee Board (NBB). Further, It is a Central Sector Scheme (100% funded by Central Govt.).

About Honey Corners:

  • Honey Corners: They are special spaces for the sale of honey. They are operated by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED).
  • Significance: NAFED has developed 14-15 honey corners. NAFED will also develop more honey corners in future. This will promote market support for honey.

About NAFED:

  • National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation(NAFED) is an apex organization of marketing cooperatives for agricultural produce in India.
  • Founded in: It was founded in 1958. It is registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002.
  • Objectives:
    • To organize, promote and develop marketing, processing and storage of agricultural, horticultural and forest produce.
    • To distribute agricultural machinery and other inputs, undertake inter-state, import and export trade, wholesale or retail as the case may be.
    • To act and assist with technical advice in agricultural production for the promotion and the working of its members, partners, etc.
  • Programmes:
    • NAFED is the nodal agency to implement price stabilization measures under “Operation Greens”.
    • NAFED along with the Food Corporation of India(FCI) physically procures oilseeds, pulses and copra under the Price Support Scheme(PSS). This in turn is under the umbrella scheme of PM-AASHA

Source: AIR

Achieving Paris Agreement is the key to save “endemic species”: Study

What is the News?

According to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation, 90% of the endemic species will face extinction unless the goals of the Paris Agreement are met.

Note: Endemic species are those plants and animals that exist only in one geographical region. Species can be endemic to an island, state, nation, country or other defined zone.

For example, Kolar Leaf Nose Bat is endemic to India and endemic to only one cave in Hanumanahalli village in Kolar district, Karnataka

About the Study:

  • The scientists analysed almost 300 biodiversity hotspots — places with exceptionally high numbers of animal and plant species — on land and at sea.
  • Many of these hotspots contain endemic species that are unique to one geographic location.

What did the study find out?

  • Endemic species are 2.7 times more likely to go extinct due to unchecked increase in temperature than other species. This is because they are only found in one place. Climate change alters their only habitat. So, they are at risk of permanent extinction.
  • According to this study, If the planet heats by over 3 °C, then one-third of endemic species living on land will face extinction. Similarly, about half of the endemic species living in the sea will also face extinction.
    • On mountains, 84% of endemic animals and plants face extinction at these temperatures.
    • On islands, the number rises to 100%. It means no endemic species at all.
  • Overall, 92% of land-based endemic species and 95% of marine endemics face negative consequences.
  • Some endemic species threatened by climate change include:
    • Lemurs: unique to Madagascar
    • Snow leopard: unique to the Himalayas.
    • Medicinal plants such as lichen Lobaria pindarensis (this is used to alleviate arthritis).
  • In Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean islands, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats will lose most of their endemic plants and animals by 2050.
  • However, remaining within the climate goals of the Paris Agreement (keep global heating well below 2 °C, ideally at 1.5 °C) will save the majority of the species.

Source: Indian Express

Government launches “NanoSniffer” – a Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector

What is the News?

The Union Education Minister has launched a Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector called “Nanosniffer”.

About Nano Sniffer:

  • Nanosniffer has been developed by NanoSniff Technologies, an IIT Bombay incubated startup.
  • Purpose: It is the world’s first Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector (ETD). It can detect explosives in less than 10 seconds. Not only that but also identify and categorises explosives into different classes.
  • Key Features:
    • NanoSniffer accurately detects all classes of military, conventional and homemade explosives.
    • The device gives visible and audible alerts with a colour display.
    • The device is a 100% Made in India product in terms of research, development and manufacturing. The core technology of NanoSniffer is protected by patents in the US and Europe.
  • Significance:
    • The device will reduce India’s dependency on imported explosive trace detector devices.
    • It will also encourage other institutions, startups and medium-scale industries to research and develop products indigenously.

Source: PIB

“Freedom of Navigation operation”(FONOP) and the “Exclusive Economic Zone”

What is the News?

The US Seventh Fleet has announced that one of its warships, USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) has carried out a Freedom of Navigation operation(FONOP). The FONOP operation carried out approximately 130 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep Islands. This is inside India’s exclusive economic zone. But the US never received India’s prior consent to conduct such an operation.

What is Freedom of Navigation Operations(FONOP)?

  • Freedom of Navigation Operations involves passages conducted by the US Navy. The US Navy will conduct such operations in the exclusive territorial waters of coastal nations.
  • Purpose: These operations denotes that the United States did not agree to the exclusive maritime claims of coastal nations. Thus preventing those claims from becoming accepted in international law.
  • According to the US Department of Defense(DoD), the FONOP Program has existed for 40 years. So far, the program continuously reaffirmed the US policy of exercising and asserting its navigation and freedom rights around the world.

India’s Response:

  • India has protested the U.S. decision to conduct a patrol in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) in the western Indian Ocean.
  • Further, India also said that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) does not authorise other States to carry out military exercises in the EEZ.  Especially those exercises involving the use of weapons or explosives without the consent of the coastal state.

Note: India has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1995. However, the United States(US) is not a signatory.

What is the Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ)?


  • According to UNCLOS, Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. This includes energy production from water and wind. It stretches from the baseline to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the country.

India’s EEZ law:

  • India has legally defined the concept of EEZ in its “Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976”.
  • The Act also says that all foreign ships (other than warships including submarines and other underwater vehicles) shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters.
    • Territorial waters refer to 12 Nautical Miles from the baseline. In this area, the coastal country is free to set laws, regulate the use and also use their resources.
    • The innocent passage refers to the passing through the waters which are not harmful to the peace and security of India.

Source: Indian Express

What is “global minimum corporate income tax”?

What is the News?

The US Treasury Secretary has urged the world’s 20 advanced nations to move in the direction of adopting a global minimum corporate income tax.

What is the Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate?

  • It is a type of corporate tax. Under this, If a company moves some of its operations to another country having low-tax jurisdiction, then the company have to pay the difference between that minimum rate and whatever the firm paid on its overseas earnings.
  • For example, assume Country A has a corporate tax rate of 20 percent and Country B has a corporate tax rate of 11 percent. If the global minimum tax rate is 15 percent. Consider a situation, where Company X is headquartered in Country A, but it reports income in Country B. Then Country A will increase the taxes paid by Company X. This is equal to the percentage-point difference between Country B’s rate and the global minimum rate(15 percent).
    In short, Company X will have to pay an additional 4 percent of the tax to Country A.

Why this Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate move?

  • The goal of a global Corporate minimum tax is to end a 30-year race to the corporate tax rates.
  • Over the past decades, a number of countries have enacted tax policies specifically aimed at attracting multinational business. These countries attract investment by lowering corporate tax rates. This, in turn, has pushed other countries to lower their rates as well to remain competitive.
  • Responding to the incentives created by these laws, many multinational corporations have moved their assets to low tax countries. Particularly their ownership of the intellectual property to countries offering them low or even no-tax treatment for the assets they produce.
  • This has impacted countries around the world. As they lose out on an estimated $100 billion per year in tax revenue. India’s annual tax loss due to corporate tax abuse is estimated at over $10 billion.

What is the US proposal?

  • The US has proposed a 21% Global minimum corporate tax rate. Further, the US also suggest cancelling exemptions on income from countries that do not legislate a minimum tax. This is aimed to discourage the shifting of multinational operations and profits overseas.

India’s Stand on Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate:

  • Indian Government has said that it is open to participate and engage in discussions about the Global Minimum corporate tax structure.
  • It said that the government will look into the pros and cons of the new proposal and take a view thereafter.

Source: Indian Express

Government launches “SARTHAQ” plan to implement NEP at school

What is the News?

The Union Education Minister has released an implementation plan for school education called SARTHAQ. SARTHAQ stands for ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education.


  • SARTHAQ has been developed by the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education.
  • Purpose: SARTHAQ is an indicative and suggestive implementation plan for school education.
    • The plan was launched to implement the goals of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Further, it will assist all the States/UTs in this task.
  • Objectives:
    • To provide all-around development for the students at the primary and secondary level.
    • To establish a safe, secure, inclusive and conducive learning environment for students as well as teachers.
    • To meet the diverse national and global challenges of the present and the future. Further, it will help the students to imbibe 21st-century skills along with India’s tradition, culture and value system.
  • Key Features of the Plan:
    • The plan keeps in mind the concurrent nature of education and adheres to the spirit of federalism.
    • States and UTs are given the flexibility to adapt this plan with local contextualization. Also, they can modify it as per their needs and requirements.
    • The implementation plan delineates the roadmap and way forward for the implementation of NEP, 2020 for the next 10 years.

The SARTHAQ plan is being implemented to meet the following aims of NEP 2020:

  • The plan will pave the way for curriculum reforms. This includes the new national and state curriculum frameworks for school education as well as early childhood care and education.
  • The programme will focus on the improvement of the enrollment ratio of children at all levels. Also, it will focus on reduction in dropouts also.
  • Further, It will provide access to quality and Universal Acquisition of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy by Grade 3.
  • It will implement vocational education, sports, arts, knowledge of India, 21st-century skills, values of citizenship, awareness of environment conservation in the curriculum.
  • Apart from that, It will focus on experiential learning and will also improve the quality of Teacher Education Programmes.

Source: Livemint

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