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UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 22-July-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. Govt plans to reduce number of PSU banks to just five: Report

  2. HOG Technology

  3. Soil health is degraded in most regions of India

  4. Manodarpan

  5. Government Advertisement and CCRGA

  6. P-8I Crafts

  7. Key Accomplishments and Action Plan of Sustainable Growth Pillar under India–US Strategic Energy Partnership

  8. US House of Representatives passes amendment slamming Chinese aggression against India


Why in news?

  • India is looking to privatise more than half of its state-owned banks to reduce the number of government-owned lenders to just five as part of an overhaul of the banking industry, government and banking sources said.


  • The first part of the plan would be to sell majority stakes in Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab & Sind Bank, leading to an effective privatisation of these state-owned lenders, a government official said.

  • "The idea is to have 4-5 government owned banks," said one senior government official. At present, India has 12 state-owned banks.

  • The government official said that such a plan would be laid out in a new privatisation proposal the government is currently formulating, and this would be put before the cabinet for approval.

  • The government is working on a privatisation plan to help to raise money by selling assets in non-core companies and sectors when the country is strapped for funds due to lack of economic growth caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Several government committees and the Reserve Bank of India have recommended that India should have not more than five state-owned banks.

  • The government has already said that there will be no more mergers (between state-owned banks) so the only option for them is to divest stakes

  • Last year, the government had merged ten state-owned banks into four, creating a handful of larger banks in the process.

Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/industry/banking/govt-plans-to-reduce-number-of-psu-banks-to-just-five-report-11595243683640.html )


Why in new?

  • Indian Railways' NFR zone to operate two of its trains with HOG technology, will save on energy bill


  • The new technology HOG will be available at  ₹6 per unit as compared to end EOG system, in which cost of power is  ₹22 per unit.

  • The new technology will not only help to reduce the power costs for running trains but will also help provide a cleaner environment for our future generations to come.

  • The diesel fuel saving in these two trains on this account is expected to be around 1132 Kilo Litre per annum, thereby saving diesel fuel cost of approx. Rs. 7.16 crore per annum.

  • The system runs the train’s ‘hotel load’ (the load of air conditioning, lights, fans, and pantry, etc.) by drawing electricity from the overhead electric lines through the pantograph.

  • Indian Ministry of Railways has decided to adopt Head on Generation (HOG) technology on all Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches trains to reduce power costs.

  • Another advantage of the HOG system is zero emissions of CO2 and NOx.

Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/indian-railways-nfr-zone-to-operate-two-of-its-trains-with-hog-technology-will-save-on-energy-bill-11595207432129.html )


Why in news?

  • Extractive farm practices such as higher use of chemicals and burning of crop residues are degrading Indian soil and jeopardizing the health of its citizens, says Rattan Lal, soil scientist, and winner of the 2020 World Food Prize. 


  • According to Lal, who is currently the director of Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, India needs to formulate a national soil protection policy and pay farmers for ecosystem services.

  • Practices that farmers need to follow to restore soil health :

  • Do’s : The dos are residue mulching, no-till farming, growing a cover crop or forage, managed grazing, using compost and bio-fertilizers , drip sub-fertigation, agro-forestry, integration of crops with trees and livestock, recycling of all bio-waste on land, and observing the Law of Return, that is, replace everything one way or another what is removed from land.

  • Don’ts : The don'ts are no burning of residues, no removal of top soil for brick making, no flood irrigation, no excessive or imbalanced use of chemicals, no puddling and flooding of rice fields.

  • Farmers must be compensated through payments for ecosystem services, which could be around  ₹1200 per acre per year. We must also have a national soil protection policy.

  • There must be Rights-of-Soil or Rights-of-Nature.

Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/-soil-health-is-degraded-in-most-regions-of-india-11595225689494.html )


Why in news?

  • Union HRD Minister to launch Manodarpan, an initiative under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, to provide psychosocial support to students for their Mental Health and Well-being


  • During the COVID pandemic, the HRD Ministry felt the need to focus on continuing education on the academic front and the mental well-being of the students.

  • The Ministry has, therefore, taken up an initiative, named, ‘MANODARPAN’ covering a wide range of activities to provide Psychosocial Support to students for their Mental Health & Well-being during the COVID outbreak and beyond.

  • The ‘Manodarpan’ initiative has been included in the ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT ABHIYAN, as a part of strengthening human capital and increasing productivity and efficient reform and initiatives for the Education sector.