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February 12 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



Around one lakh farmers associated with Samyukt Kisan Morcha-Non-Political (SKM-NP) are preparing for a rally in Delhi, seeking guaranteed Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for their produce.

What is MSP?

MSP is guaranteed the amount paid to farmers when the government purchases their crops.

  • Determining Factors: Decided based on recommendations from the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), considering factors like production costs, market trends, and inter-crop price parity.
  • CACP’s Role: An attached office of the Ministry of Agriculture, the CACP recommends MSPs for 22 crops and fair prices for sugarcane.

Crops Covered by MSP:

  • Mandated Crops: MSP is applicable to 22 mandated crops, including 14 kharif crops, 6 rabi crops, and 2 commercial crops.
  • Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP): Sugarcane is considered under FRP.

Production Cost Considerations:

  • Three Cost Types: A2 (paid-out costs), A2+FL (includes imputed family labor), and C2 (comprehensive cost with rentals and interest).
  • CACP’s Approach: Recommends MSP considering both A2+FL and C2 costs but uses only A2+FL for return calculations.

Need for MSP:

  • Economic Challenges: Droughts, demonetization, GST, economic slowdown, and the pandemic led to farmers’ distress.
  • Higher Input Prices: Increased costs for diesel, electricity, and fertilizers added to the farmers’ difficulties.
  • Fair Pricing: MSP ensures fair prices, reducing farm distress and poverty, especially in states heavily dependent on agriculture.

Concerns Related to MSP:

  • Limited Extent: While MSP is announced for 23 crops, in practice, it significantly benefits only rice and wheat farmers.
  • Ineffective Implementation: Shanta Kumar Committee’s 2015 report highlighted that only 6% of MSP reaches farmers, indicating inadequate procurement mechanisms.
  • Skewed Crop Dominance: Overemphasis on MSP for rice and wheat leads to an imbalanced cropping pattern, affecting ecological, economic, and nutritional aspects.
  • Middlemen Dependency: Involvement of intermediaries creates inefficiencies, making it challenging for smaller farmers to benefit.
  • Burden on Government: The government bears a substantial financial burden, diverting resources from other agricultural and rural development initiatives.



The recent presentation of a “white paper” on the Indian economy by the finance minister has sparked debates on India’s economic performance over the past two decades.

This document, prepared by the Ministry of Finance, offers a comparative analysis of economic governance under the Congress-led UPA and BJP-led NDA governments.

Objectives of the White Paper:

Informing Governance Challenges:

  • Elucidates economic and fiscal crises inherited by the NDA from the UPA.
  • Highlights a surge in fiscal deficit during the UPA era.

Highlighting Policy Interventions:

  • Explains policies like GST and IBC for addressing economic challenges.

Fostering Informed Debate:

  • Aims to stimulate informed discussions on national interests and fiscal responsibility.
  • Provides insights into the impact of corruption scandals during the UPA regime.

Emphasizing National Development:

  • Echoes PM Modi’s call for growth, innovation, and inclusive development.
  • Stresses fiscal prudence and efficient governance for sustainable growth.

Contents and Claims:

Pre-2014 Economic Condition:

  • Faced a fragile economy with mismanagement, corruption, and policy paralysis.
  • Challenges included a ‘twin balance sheet problem’, high inflation, fiscal deficits, and infrastructure neglect.
  • Scams and corruption eroded public trust and slowed economic growth.

Post-2014 Economic Reforms and Achievements:

  • Implemented reforms for economic stability, infrastructure development, and digitalization.
  • Achieved global recognition and restored investor confidence.
  • Transitioned from being among the ‘fragile five’ to among the ‘top five’ global economies.

Major Interventions by NDA:

Transformative Governance Reforms:

  • Spearheaded a digital revolution for transparent governance.
  • Encouraged participatory governance.

Social Welfare Schemes:

  • Introduced schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat, Ujjwala, Digital India, PMAY, PMFBY, Ayushman Bharat, PM-KISAN, NEP 2020, Mudra Yojana, etc.

Critical Analysis:

Selective Emphasis:

  • Focuses on NDA successes, overlooking persistent challenges like unemployment and poverty.
  • Unemployment rates remained high during the NDA era compared to the UPA period.

Lack of Comprehensive Analysis:

  • Calls for a nuanced understanding, including social indicators and long-term structural reforms.
  • Does not adequately address agrarian distress and rural unemployment.


  • Key issues like unemployment and poverty alleviation are absent, raising questions about comprehensiveness.
  • Does not provide a detailed assessment of recent policy initiatives’ impact on economic growth.


The white paper underscores the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability but warrants cautious interpretation due to its selective focus and limited scope.

 A more inclusive and evidence-based approach is essential to inform policy decisions and foster sustainable development in India.



The Central government has taken a significant step by extending the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) health coverage to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) along with Anganwadi workers and helpers.

 The Health Ministry is actively processing the details to issue healthcare cards for these workers by the end of the month, with the scheme scheduled to come into effect from March 1.

Key Components of AB-PMJAY:

AB PM-JAY provides a health cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care.

Secondary care involves regular medical treatments, while tertiary care includes specialized treatments by super specialists.

Cashless and Paperless Access:

  • Beneficiaries enjoy cashless and paperless access to services at the point of service.
  • Health Benefit Packages cover surgery, medical and day care treatments, as well as the cost of medicines and diagnostics.

Packaged Rates:

  • Hospitals charge fixed packaged rates for various services to avoid separate charges for each product or service.

Entitlement-Based Scheme:

  • Beneficiaries are identified based on the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
  • Once identified, beneficiaries can seek services at any empanelled hospital.

Funding and Nodal Agencies:

Funding Structure:

  • Funding is shared, with states contributing 40% (60:40 for states/UTs with legislature, 90:10 in Northeast states, J&K, Himachal, Uttarakhand, and 100% for UTs without legislature).

Nodal Agencies:

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) and State Health Agency (SHA) are key entities overseeing implementation.


State Cooperation:

  • Cooperation of states is crucial for harmonizing existing state health insurance schemes with PM-JAY.
  • Some states like West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha, and Delhi haven’t implemented PM-JAY.

Cost Burden:

  • Costs are contentious, especially between for-profit hospitals and the government.

Health Capacities:

  • Public sector health capacities need improvement, requiring partnerships with the private sector.
  • Providers must be held accountable for services.

Avoiding Unnecessary Treatment:

  • Contracts with healthcare providers must emphasize adherence to guidelines and treatment protocols to prevent unnecessary treatments.


Impact on the Poor:

  • In the initial 200 days, PM-JAY benefited over 20.8 lakh poor individuals with free treatments worth Rs. 5,000 crores.

During Covid-19:

  • PM-JAY’s portability allowed eligible migrants to access services in any empanelled hospital across the country during the pandemic, irrespective of their state of residence.

ASHAs’ Contribution and Role:

Evolution of ASHA Programme:

  • ASHA programme has evolved over the last decade and a half.
  • Recognized for substantial contributions in improving community healthcare access.

Key Roles:

  • ASHAs serve as facilitators, mobilizers, and providers of community-level care.
  • Integral part of community platforms like Village Health and Sanitation Committees, Mahila Arogya Samiti, and Community-Based Planning and Monitoring.
  • Played a critical role in the country’s COVID-19 response and continued support for essential health services.


  • Over 13 lakh Anganwadi workers and over 10 lakh anganwadi helpers in the country as of December 31, 2023.
  • India has 9.83 lakh ASHAs, making it the world’s largest community volunteer programme.

AB-PMJAY Figures:

Current Coverage: AB-PMJAY covers 55 crore individuals corresponding to 12 crore families in India.

Health Cards and Admissions:

  • Approximately 28.45 crore Ayushman cards created till December 20, 2023.
  • 11 crore hospital admissions amounting to ₹78,188 crore authorized under the scheme.
  • 26,901 hospitals, including 11,813 private hospitals, empanelled under AB-PMJAY.

Gender Equity:

  • Scheme ensures gender equity with women constituting approximately 49% of total Ayushman cards and 48% of total authorized hospital admissions.


The inclusion of ASHAs in AB-PMJAY reflects a transformative step in recognizing and supporting the vital role played by these community healthcare workers.

This extension of health coverage is expected to enhance the well-being of ASHAs and contribute to the overall improvement of community healthcare in the country.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed the intention to extend Israel’s military operation into Gaza’s southern town of Rafah.

Netanyahu assured “safe passage” for civilians displaced in Rafah during the military operation.

Rafah Crossing:

  • Located at the south of the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people, between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Controlled by Egypt, serving as the crucial entry point for humanitarian aid from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula region.
  • Two other crossings: Erez (north, with Israel) and Kerem Shalom (southern, commercial with Israel).

Sinai Peninsula:

Triangle-shaped, in northeastern Egypt, connecting Asia and Africa.


  • North: Mediterranean Sea
  • East: Israel and Gaza Strip
  • West: Suez Canal (dividing Sinai from African part of Egypt)
  • Southwest: Gulf of Suez
  • South: Red Sea
  • Southeast: Gulf of Aqaba

Maritime borders with Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the south.


  • Rafah Crossing is vital for Gaza’s connectivity and humanitarian aid inflow.
  • Sinai Peninsula serves as a strategic land bridge connecting two continents and hosts critical maritime borders for Egypt.



Chhattisgarh’s Ocher Studio is helping to preserve India’s 4,000-year-old craft Dhokra Shilpkala

About Dhokra Shilpkala:

  • Originated from the Dhokra Damar tribes, traditional metal smiths in Central India.
  • Flourished in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Odisha, integral to cultural and religious practices.

Technique and Process:

Lost Wax Casting: Unique metal casting method, cire perdue, defines Dhokra Shilpkala.

Artistry and Designs:

  • Rustic Charm: Designs exude rustic charm, embracing organic aesthetics.
  • Inspiration: Nature, mythology, and daily life inspire artisans, featuring animals, birds, deities, and tribal symbols.
  • Versatility: Spans miniature figurines, jewelry, sculptures to functional items, showcasing diverse artistic expressions.


  • Threats: Urbanization and mechanized production endanger traditional artisans, risking the ancient craft’s survival.

Lost Wax Method:

  • Clay Core: Creation of a clay core as the sculpture’s base.
  • Beeswax Layer: Artisans coat the core with beeswax, hand-sculpting intricate designs.
  • Clay Mold: Layers of clay form a mold around the wax pattern.
  • Heating: Structure heated, melting wax to leave a cavity mirroring the sculpture.
  • Metal Pouring: Molten brass and bronze poured into the cavity.
  • Solidifying: After cooling, the clay mold breaks away, revealing the final metal casting.



Scientists have created a sensor using “frozen smoke” that employs artificial intelligence methods to instantly identify formaldehyde at concentrations as minimal as eight parts per billion. This sensitivity surpasses the capabilities of the majority of indoor air quality sensors.

About Frozen Smoke (Aerogel):

  • Developed in the 1930s, aerogel is a remarkable material known as “frozen smoke.”
  • Derived from gels, its name combines “aero” (air) and “gel.”
  • Hailed as a miracle material due to its extraordinary properties.

Properties of Aerogel:

Low Density and High Thermal Resistivity:

  • Aerogel boasts a low density and high thermal resistivity.
  • Highly porous structure contributes to its unique properties.

Lightweight and Porous Structure:

  • Texture resembles a fine, dry sponge but feels much lighter.
  • Holds the record as the lightest solid in the world.

Mechanical Properties:

  • Softly pressed, it returns to its original form; harder pressure creates a dimple.
  • Excessive pressure causes it to shatter like glass into tiny pieces.

Application in Sensor Technology:

  • Aerogel-based sensor developed to detect formaldehyde in real time.
  • Offers exceptional sensitivity, detecting concentrations as low as eight parts per billion.
  • Utilizes artificial intelligence techniques for precise detection.

About Formaldehyde:

  • Common volatile organic compound (VOC) emitted by household items like pressed wood products, wallpapers, paints, and synthetic fabrics.
  • Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde, even at low concentrations, can lead to serious health problems.
  • Levels of formaldehyde emitted by household items can accumulate over time, posing health risks.



The National Board for Wildlife deferred the decision on diverting forest land from Kali and Sahyadri tiger reserves for the project.

This decision indicates a cautious approach towards environmental impact assessment and wildlife conservation before approving large-scale infrastructural projects.

About Kalasa-Banduri Project

  • Purpose: The project aims to construct dams and canal systems to divert water from the Mahadayi River in Goa to the Malaprabha River basin in Karnataka.
  • Objective: It seeks to fulfill the drinking water needs of districts like Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot, and Gadag in Karnataka.
  • History: Proposed in the 1980s, the project faced delays due to disputes between Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra.
  • Implementation: Barrages are planned on Kalasa and Banduri streams, Mahadayi tributaries, to redirect water to Karnataka’s drought-affected regions.

Key Facts about Mahadayi River

  • Origin: The river originates in the Western Ghats, specifically from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Belagavi district, Karnataka.
  • Course: It traverses 35 km in Karnataka and 82 km in Goa before merging with the Arabian Sea at Panji.
  • Significance: Mahadayi, also known as Mandovi in Goa, is vital for the water needs of both Karnataka and Goa.
  • Tributaries: Major tributaries include Kalasa Nala, Banduri Nala, Surla Nala, among others.



The Reserve Bank recently announced that the issue price for the upcoming tranche of Sovereign Gold Bond has been set at Rs 6,263 per gram.

About Sovereign Gold Bond

  • SGBs are government securities denominated in grams of gold, serving as substitutes for physical gold.
  • Launched by the Government of India on October 30, 2015.
  • Issued by the Reserve Bank on behalf of the Government.



  • Restricted for sale to resident Indian entities, including individuals, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), Trusts, Universities, and Charitable Institutions.

Investment Limits:

  • Bonds issued in denominations of one gram, with a minimum investment of one gram.
  • Maximum subscription limits: 4 kg for individuals, 4 kg for HUFs, and 20 kg for trusts per fiscal year.
  • In joint holding, the 4 kg limit applies to the first applicant.


  • The bond has a tenor of 8 years with exit options in the 5th, 6th, and 7th years.

Authorized Agencies:

  • Sold through Nationalised Banks, Scheduled Private Banks, Scheduled Foreign Banks, designated Post Offices, Stock Holding Corporation of India Ltd. (SHCIL), and authorized stock exchanges.

Payment and Collateral:

  • Payment through cash (up to Rs. 20,000), demand draft, cheque, or electronic banking.
  • Investors assured of market value at maturity.
  • Eligible as collateral for loans from banks, financial institutions, and NBFCs.


  • Bonds tradable on stock exchanges within a fortnight of issuance.
  • Can be sold and transferred as per Government Securities Act, 2006.


  • Interest taxable as per the Income-tax Act, 1961.
  • Capital gains tax exempted on redemption for individuals.


February 12
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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