News Snippet

News 1: Purchasing Manager’s Index signals deceleration in pace of manufacturing expansion(PMI gives an idea about present and future industry conditions which helps Central banks and investors regarding business sentiment)

News 2: MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States(Combining MGNREGS and PMKSY so as to achieve the objective of restoring degraded land. Desertification is one of the biggest challenges being faced by humans. Related question came in UPSC prelims 2016)

News 3: Centre plans cutting coal supply to plants that don’t comply on biomass co-firing (Biomass co-firing will ensure achievement of clean energy targets while reducing costs)

News 4: Houses under PMAY (To provide affordable housing for all and its importance in women empowerment)

News 5: Induction of indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter marks a new chapter (New and Indigenous defense technology which will bolster nation’s security)

News 6: Nobel Prize in Medicine (Genome mapping of extinct hominins. It is important as Denisovan term has been asked in UPSC prelims 2019)

News 7: UNCTAD: India’s GDP growth to fall to 5.7% in 2022 (Organization to promote trade and development in developing countries)

 

 

News 1: Purchasing Manager’s Index signals deceleration in pace of manufacturing expansion


Background

India’s manufacturing sector saw its slowest expansion since June, according to S&P Global India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)

PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity – both in the manufacturing and services sectors.

It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before. It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.

PMI Reading

A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction.

Implications for the economy

  1. The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity.
  2. Economists consider the manufacturing growth measured by the PMI as a good indicator of industrial output, for which official statistics are released later.
  3. Central banks of many countries also use the index to help make decisions on interest rates.

What does it mean for the markets?

  1. The PMI also gives an indication of corporate earnings and is closely watched by investors.

News 2: MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States


Background

With limited funds to deal with the gargantuan task of restoring degraded land and reversing desertification in the country, the government is now planning to bring convergence between the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

Desertification and MGNREGS

  1. According to the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas published by the Environment Ministry in 2021, at least 30% of India’s total geographical area is under the category of “degraded land”.
  2. Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa have more than 50% of land area undergoing desertification or degradation, while States with less than 10% land degradation are Kerala, Assam, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh.
  3. In 2019, the government raised its target of restoration of degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030 following a commitment made during the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14). Nearly three years on, the government is nowhere near this target.
  4. Though the Ministry has been making efforts to contribute towards meeting the international commitment, the constraints posed on economy by the pandemic restricted the target to 4.95 million hectares by 2025-26.
  5. Therefore, there is a compelling reason for the Ministry to explore alternative opportunities to fulfil the commitment.
  6. The Rural Development Ministry is now hoping that by making use of the MGNREGS, which for the financial year 2022-23 has a budget of ₹73,000 crore, the government can scale up the area to be covered.

MGNREGA/MGNREGS

PMKSY

UPSC 2016 prelims

What is/are the importance/importance of the ‘United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’?

  1. It aims to promote effective action through innovative national programs and supportive inter-national partnerships.
  2. It has a special/particular focus on South Asia and North Africa regions, and its Secretariat facilitates the allocation of major portion of financial resources to these regions.
  3. It is committed to bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating the desertification.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer – Option C (Official UPSC Answer Key)


News 3: Houses under PMAY


Background

Over 69% of houses constructed under the Prime Minister’s special housing scheme are either wholly or jointly owned by women in rural areas.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin

Objective

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) was launched by the Prime Minister in 2016 with the aim to provide pucca house to all who are houseless and living in dilapidated houses in rural areas. The overall target is to construct 2.95 crore pucca houses with basic amenities by March 2024.

Funding

Under PMAY, the cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for Northeastern and hilly states.

Target group: Identification of beneficiaries eligible for assistance and their prioritization to be done using information from Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) ensuring total transparency and objectivity.


News 4: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana


Background

Two schemes are helping the “dignity aspect of women” – SBM and PMUY

  1. Over 9.4 crore LPG connections have been released under the Ujjwala Yojana.
  2. This scheme also received global recognition from International Energy Agency, which has described it as a major achievement in improving the environment and health of women.
  3. Another scheme that has helped women gain dignity and security is the Swachh Bharat Mission under which 11.5 crore toilets were constructed in the rural areas and 70 lakhs were built in the urban areas.
  4. The government quoted a report, “Access to toilets and the safety, convenience and self-respect of women in rural India”, to claim that after the construction of toilets, 93% of women reported that they were no longer afraid of being hurt by someone or harmed by animals while defecating.
  5. As many as 93% of women reported they are no longer afraid of contracting health infections; 92% of women said they were no longer afraid of going to the toilet in the dark of night, the report said.

PMUY

  1. Ministry: Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas
  2. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
  3. The scheme was launched on 1st May 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh.
  4. The target under the scheme was to release 8 Crore LPG Connections to the deprived households by March 2020.

News 5: Induction of indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter marks a new chapter


Background

Induction of the indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) adds unique capability to the combat potential of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and marks a new chapter. The 143 Helicopter Unit received the LCA ‘Dhanush’.

High altitudes

  1. The twin-engine LCH, designed and developed by HAL, is a 5-8 tonne class dedicated combat helicopter.
  2. It was conceptualised after the 1999 Kargil conflict when the need for such a dedicated platform capable of operating in high altitudes was felt. 
  3. It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 m (16,400 ft) with considerable load of weapons and fuel significantly augmenting the firepower of the IAF and the Army in high altitude areas.
  4. The helicopter has a combat radius of 500 km and go up to a service ceiling of 21,000 feet which makes it ideal to operate at high altitude areas of the Siachen glacier.
  5. The LCH is armed with 20 mm nose gun, 70 mm rockets, anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ and air-to-air missile ‘Mistral-2’ of MBDA which has a maximum interception range of 6.5 km.

News 6: Nobel Prize in Medicine


Background

Swedish scientist Svante Paabo won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discoveries on human evolution that provided key insights into our immune system and what makes us unique compared with our extinct cousins.

Mr. Paabo has created the genome sequence of Neanderthals and Denisovans. The geneticist was successful in sequencing a part of mitochondrial DNA from a 40,000-year-old bone

Genomes of extinct homonins and human evolution:

While Neanderthal bones were first discovered in the mid-19th century, only by unlocking their DNA — often referred to as the code of life — have scientists been able to fully understand the links between species.

This included the time when modern humans and Neanderthals diverged as a species, determined to be around 8,00,000 years ago. Gene flow had occurred from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, demonstrating that they had children together during periods of co-existence.

This transfer of genes between hominin species affects how the immune system of modern humans reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. People outside Africa have 1-2% of Neanderthal genes.

  • Mr. Paabo and his team also managed to extract DNA from a tiny finger bone found in a cave in Siberia, leading to the recognition of a new species of ancient humans they called Denisovans.
  • Neanderthals and Denisovan to be sister groups which split from each other around 6,00,000 years ago. Denisovan genes have been found in up to 6% of modern humans in Asia and southeast Asia, indicating that interbreeding occurred there too.
  • Dr. Pääbo’s research has resulted in the rise of a new scientific disciple called paleogenomics, which is the study and analysis of genes of ancient or extinct organisms

Possible migration and inter-breeding

UPSC 2019 prelims

The word ‘Denisovan’ is sometimes mentioned in media in reference to

(a) fossil of a kind of dinosaurs

(b) an early human species

(c) a cave system found in North-East India

(d) a geological period in the history of Indian subcontinent

Answer – Option b (Official answer key)


News 7: UNCTAD – India’s GDP growth to fall to 5.7% in 2022


Background

India’s growth will likely ease to just 5.7% in 2022 from 8.2% in the previous year, as economic activity is “being hampered by higher financing costs and weaker public expenditures”, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said in its Trade and Development Report 2022. The country’s growth will further drop to 4.7% in 2023.

UNCTAD findings

  • UNCTAD said, “Going forward, the government has announced plans to increase capital expenditure, especially in the rail and road sector, but in a weakening global economy, policymakers will be under pressure to reduce fiscal imbalances, and this may lead to falling expenditures elsewhere.”
  • The report acknowledged that various PLI schemes is incentivizing corporate investment. However, rising import bills for fossil energy are deepening the trade deficit and eroding the import coverage capacity of foreign exchange reserves.

UNCTAD

  • Established: 1964
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
  • It is an intergovernmental organization intended to promote the interests of developing states in world trade.
  • UNCTAD is the part of the United Nations Secretariat dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.
  • The organization’s goals are to: “maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis”.
  • It reports to the UN General Assembly and United Nations Economic and Social Council.
  • It is a member of United Nations Development Group.

 

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