Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Jan 14,2021

RBI constituted Jayant Kumar Dash committee to study Digital lending activities  

News: Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has constituted a working group on digital lending — including online platforms and mobile apps.


  • Objective: The working group will study digital lending activities in the regulated and unregulated financial sector so that an appropriate regulatory approach can be put in place.
  • Composition: The working group comprises six members–four will be from within the RBI and the remaining will be external. Jayant Kumar Dash, executive director at the RBI will head the group that has been advised to submit its report within three months.
  • Terms of Reference of the Digital Lending Working Group:
    • Evaluation of digital lending activities and assessing the penetration and standards of outsourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities.
    • Identifying risks posed by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and consumers.
    • Suggesting regulatory changes, if any, to promote orderly growth of digital lending.
    • Recommending measures, if any, for expansion of specific regulatory or statutory perimeter and suggesting the role of various regulatory and government agencies.
    • Recommending a robust fair practices code for digital lending players Suggesting measures for enhanced consumer protection.
    • Recommending measures for robust data governance, data privacy and data security standards for deployment of digital lending services.

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Explained: What is Houbara Bustard?

News: Eleven members of the United Arab Emirates(UAE) royal family arrived in Pakistan to hunt the Houbara Bustard under a license issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry.


Houbara Bustard

Source: Wikipedia

  • Houbara Bustard: It is a large terrestrial bird found in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
  • Types: Houbara Bustard comes in two distinct types as recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one residing in North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and the other in Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii).
  • Characteristics:
    • The species lives in Arid Climate. It is omnivorous taking seeds, insects and other small creatures.
    • Asian Houbara bustards are known to migrate in thousands to the Indian subcontinent every winter. In fact, it is similar to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard which is native to India.
    • After breeding during the spring season, the Asian Houbara bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Reason for Decline: The main reasons for the decline in the species’ population are poaching, unregulated hunting and the degradation of its natural habitat.
  • Hunting in Pakistan: While Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt the bird, the government invites Arab royals to hunt it every year.

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After rice, India’s wheat exports register highest ever export in six years: US Department of Agriculture.

News: US Department of Agriculture(USDA) has released its forecast of Indian wheat exports for 2020-21(July-June). USDA has estimated India’s Wheat Exports for 2020-21 (July-June) to be around 1.8 million tonnes (mt), as against its earlier estimate of one mt. That would be the highest ever in the last six years.


India’s Wheat Exports:

India’s Wheat Exports

Source: Indian Express

  • Wheat: It is the second most important cereal crop. It is the main food crop, in the north and north-western part of the country.
  • Climate: This rabi crop requires a cool growing season and bright sunshine at the time of ripening. It requires 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall evenly- distributed over the growing season.
  • Wheat Growing Regions: There are two important wheat-growing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the northwest and the black soil region of the Deccan. The major wheat-producing states are Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and parts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Reason for India’s higher wheat exports: Due to surging international prices from Chinese stockpiling and ultra-low interest rate money increasingly finding its way into agri-commodity markets.
  • Concerns: Indian wheat is still not competitive at the government’s minimum support price(MSP) of Rs 19,750 per tonne. The export price of wheat bought in Gujarat is around Rs 20,950 per tonne. That works out to $286 per tonne or $290-plus after adding exporter margins. The above price is higher than the $275-280 that major exporters such as Australia, France, the US, Russia and Canada quoted.
  • Suggestions: This disadvantage can be overcome if wheat is sourced at below MSP from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra where not much government procurement happens.
    • The new crop arriving in these markets would be available at Rs 17,000-18,000/tonne. This wheat can be exported by rail rakes to Bangladesh or shipped to the Middle East (UAE, Oman and Bahrain) and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia).

India’s Rice Exports:

  • Rice: It is the staple food crop of a majority of the people in India. Our country is the second-largest producer of rice in the world after China.
  • Climate: It is a Kharif crop that requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm. In the areas of less rainfall, it grows with the help of irrigation.
  • Rice Growing Regions: Rice is grown in the plains of north and north-eastern India, coastal areas and the deltaic regions. The development of a dense network of canal irrigation and tube wells have made it possible to grow rice in areas of less rainfall such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan.
  • India’s Rice Exports: USDA has estimated that India’s rice imports have hit a record 14.4 mt in 2020 up from 9.79 mt and 11.791 mt of the preceding two years. The country’s closest competitors – Thailand and Vietnam – have seen their exports during this period.

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BARC Develops India’s First Ruthenium 106 Plaque For Effective Eye Cancer Treatment

News: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC) Mumbai has developed an Eye Cancer therapy. It was the first indigenous Ruthenium 106 Plaque for the treatment of Ocular Tumors.


  • Ruthenium-106: It is a radioactive form of the rare heavy metal ruthenium. It is a “platinum group” metal similar to platinum.
  • How is it produced? It is produced from the fission or splitting of uranium-235, the type of uranium used in nuclear fission reactors, so it’s found in spent nuclear fuel.
  • Uses: It is used in medicine for cancer radiation therapy, especially for eye and skin tumors. It is also used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators that power satellites.
  • Harmful to Humans: High doses of ruthenium are toxic and carcinogenic when ingested. The material is strongly retained in the bones.

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Cabinet approves Procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA) ‘Tejas’

News:  Cabinet has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft.


  • LCA Tejas: It is a single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter aircraft designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Tejas was developed in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) for the Indian Air Force(IAF) and Indian Navy.
  • LCA Tejas Mk 1A is an advanced version of LCA Mk1. It is a supersonic fighter at all altitudes for air combat which can carry a payload of 3,500 kg and it is best suited for offensive air support.
  • Key Features: This Mk 1A is equipped with critical operational capabilities of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refueling(AAR).
  • Significance: It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme.

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NIC and CBSE to launch CollabCAD Software

News: National Informatics Centre(NIC), MeitY along with Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE), Ministry of Education is jointly launching CollabCAD Software.


  • CollabCAD Software: It is a collaborative network, computer-enabled software system providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design for students and faculty of the Engineering Graphics Curriculum.
  • Aim: This initiative aims to provide a great platform to students across the country to create and modify 3D digital designs with a free flow of creativity and imagination.
  • Significance: This software would also enable students to collaborate over designs across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.

Other Initiatives:

  • CollabCAD 3D modeling: National Informatics Centre (NIC), CBSE, and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog will jointly release a comprehensive e-book on CollabCAD 3D modeling.
    • This book is ready for public release through the CollabCAD portal and will guide CAD students, beginners, and professionals in understanding and using CollabCAD Software.

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