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Daily Current Affairs : 20-Feb-2020

Major Topics Covered :


2. Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020

3. India shifts towards clean diesel

4. Tirur Vittla

5.Cabinet approves Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission

6. Union Cabinet approves Revamping of PM Fasal Bima Yojana and RWBCIS schemes to address challenges


Why in news ?

• On February 19, 2020, the Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced that Government of India is to launch “TILHAN MISSION” to boost the oil seed production. The announcement was made at an occasion of Soil Health Card Day. Soil Health Card Day was celebrated all over India on February 19, 2020.

Important facts

• Government of India is to increase oil seed production in order to make the country self-reliant in oil seed production. The Minister also announced that GoI is to create 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations all over the country. In order to support this, the GoI is to provide Rs 6,000 rupees.

Current Oil Seed Scenario in India

• India is the fourth largest vegetable oil economy in the world after USA, China and Brazil. Today, the oil seeds account for 13% of cropped area in the country.

The National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. The scheme was to be implemented for 5 years between 2014-15 and 2018-19.


2. Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020

Why in News?

The Union Cabinet has approved the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill, 2020 to monitor medical procedures used to assist people to achieve pregnancy.

• The Bill will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.

Key Features of the Bill

Safe ART

• The bill makes provisions for safe and ethical practice of assisted

reproductive technology services in the country. o The Bill will ensure confidentiality of intending couples and protect the rights

of the child born through ART.

Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing Mandatory: The test allows doctors to test embryos for any possible abnormal chromosomes before they are transferred to the uterus. This is to avoid any genetic diseases in the population born through these technologies.

A National Board which will lay down a code of conduct to be observed by those operating ART clinics.

o The Board will also formulate minimum standards for laboratory and

diagnostic equipment and practices to be followed by human resources employed by clinics and banks.

ART Bank means an organization that is set up to supply sperm/semen, oocytes/oocyte donor and surrogate mothers to Assisted Reproductive Technology clinics or the patients.

Regulatory Boards at State Level

o The States and Union Territories will have to form State Boards and State

authorities within three months of the notification of the proposed legislation. o The State Board shall have the responsibility to follow the policies and plans

laid by the National Board for clinics and Banks in the State.

A national registry and registration authority, which will maintain a database to assist the national Board to perform its functions.


o The Bill proposes for a stringent punishment for those practising sex

selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices. o The bill has a provision that those involved in trafficking and sale of embryos will be fined Rs 10 lakh at first instance and in second instance the person could be imprisoned for up to 12 years.

Need for the Bill

Exponential Growth: Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. India is among countries that have seen the highest growth in the number of ART centres and ART cycles performed every year.

o Clinics in India offer nearly all the ART services—gamete donation,

IntraUterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and gestational surrogacy.

India has become one of the major centres of the global fertility industry (ART), with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. This has also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues; yet, there is no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.

• The select committee of the Parliament that examined the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, 2019 has said that it would be prudent to bring the ART Bill before the Surrogacy Bill, 2019, to establish a regulatory mechanism for ART clinics.

o The ART Regulation Bill is supposed to be more overarching and the first step to regulate the sector. Without registration and a proper database of medical

institutions and clinics providing such services, it is impossible to regulate services like surrogacy and abortion (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, 2020).

• It needs to be noted that all the three Bills are designed around protecting

and recognizing women’s reproductive rights.


3. India shifts towards clean diesel

Why in news?

• From April 1, 2020, India will shift to Euro-VI emission compliant from Euro-IV grades that is being followed now. This means that India will shift towards more clean form of fuel.

Important points?

• As India shifts to Euro VI grades, it will join select league of nations using pure and clean fuel. These fuels contain just 10 parts per million of Sulphur. The Sulphur emissions are the main reasons that choke pollution in major cities. With Indian Oil Corporations and all other leading refineries already adopting BS-VI petrol and diesel, India is already on track in implementing clean fuel in the country.

BS VI Emission Norms

  • According to the United Nations, 9 out of 10 people on the planet are now breathing polluted air. This has led to a growing global health crisis, causing about 7 million deaths per year, as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

  • Due to their use, hazardous pollutants in the air are increasing leading to health ailments like Asthma, Bronchitis, heart diseases and even cancer.

  • Over the years, the government has taken various initiatives to address the issues related to air pollution such as the National Clean Air Program, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and the Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms.

BS-VI Emission Norms

  • In India, air pollution is killing one lakh children under the age of five every year and is responsible for 12.5% of all deaths in the country.

  • According to one WHO’s measure, India has nine of the world’s ten most polluted cities.

  • The Union Environment Minister has recently announced that the BS-VI emission norms will be implemented from the year 2020, and this will drastically reduce vehicular pollution.

  • In order to comply with BS-VI norms, the vehicle manufacturers need to move to the new technology to make vehicles compliant with the BS VI standards.

  • The switch to BS-VI vehicles was to happen in 2022 but looking at the poor air condition, the move was advanced by four years.

  • All vehicles will have to follow new standards (BS -VI) from 1st April, 2020. The standards cover four and two-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

  • At present, BS IV and BS III fuels are available across India.

4. Tirur Vittla

Why in news?

Tirur vettila has obtained a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

Important points

• Tirur Vettila is a type of betel leaf which is grown in Tirur and nearby areas of Malappuram district of Kerala.

• Tirur Vettila is unique for its significantly high content of total chlorophyll and protein in fresh leaves.

• Tirur vettila possesses some special biochemical characters like unique flavour and aroma.

Eugenol is the major essential oil in Tirur betel leaf contributing to its pungency.

• The leaves are nutritive and contain anticarcinogens, showing future opportunities in anticancer drugs.

• Betel vine was reported to have immunosuppressive activity and antimicrobial property.

• The Intellectual property rights (IPR) Cell of Kerala Agricultural University has received National IP Award, 2019 of Government of India its efforts in the facilitation of GI Registration.

Geographical Indications

• Geographical Indications of Goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country.

• Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.

• India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection)Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.


5. Cabinet approves Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission

Why in News?

The Union Cabinet has approved the Phase II of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) [SBM (G)]. • It will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM).

Important Facts

• SBM (G) Phase-II will be implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in a mission mode with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores.

Funding Pattern and Norms: The fund sharing pattern between Centre and States will be 90:10 for North-Eastern States and Himalayan States and UT of J&K; 60:40 for other States; and 100% for other Union Territories.

• Funding Norms for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) have been

rationalized and changed to per capita basis in place of number of households.

• The SLWM component of ODF Plus will be monitored on the basis of output- outcome indicators for 4 key areas:

Plastic waste management, o Biodegradable solid waste management (including animal waste

management), o Greywater management o Fecal sludge management.

• It will continue to generate employment and provide impetus to the rural economy through construction of household toilets and community toilets, as well as infrastructure for SLWM such as compost pits, soak pits, waste stabilisation ponds, material recovery facilities etc.

o It will also help the rural India effectively handle the challenge of solid and

liquid waste management and will help in substantial improvement in the health of the villagers in the country.

Swachh Bharat Mission (G) Phase-I: The rural sanitation coverage in the country at the time of launch of SBM (G) on Oct, 2 2014 was reported as 38.7%.

o More than 10 crore individual toilets have been constructed since the launch

of the mission; as a result, rural areas in all the States have declared themselves ODF as on 2nd October, 2019.

6. Union Cabinet approves Revamping of PM Fasal Bima Yojana and RWBCIS schemes to address challenges

Why in News?

Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the revamp of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and the Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS).

• The revamped scheme will be effective from 2020 Kharif season. Key Changes

Reduced Share of the Centre:

• The Centre has slashed its share of the premium subsidy from the

current 50% to just 25% in irrigated areas and 30% for unirrigated areas. o Farmers pay a fixed share of the premium: 2% of the sum insured for Kharif

crops, 1.5% for rabi crops and 5% for cash crops. o Currently, the Centre and State split the balance of the premium equally.

However, the revamp now reduces the burden on the Centre and increases the share of States.

Voluntary Enrollment:

• The enrolment in these schemes has been made voluntary for all farmers,

including those with existing crop loans. o When the PMFBY was launched in 2016, it was made mandatory for all farmers with crop loans to enrol for insurance cover under the scheme.

Flexibility to Select Risk Cover:

• It has also allowed states the flexibility to select varied additional risk

covers, with or without opting for the base PMFBY cover. o Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar had decided to exit the scheme citing high costs and the need to customise it based on geographical diversities.

Cut-off Dates for State to Release its Share:

• It has also introduced cut-off dates for states to release its share of

premium subsidy. o If states don’t release their share before March 31 for the Kharif

season and September 30 for rabi, they won’t be allowed to implement the scheme. o Data shows a large number of states that participate in the scheme don’t

release their share on time, which leads to a delayed compensation paid to farmers.

Compulsory Serving Time Period for Insurance Firms:

• The government has made it compulsory for the States to allow crop

insurance firms to operate for three years.

• Currently, the tenders floated by the States are for one-year, two-year or

three-year periods.

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