What's New :

1st March 2023

India-Britain exchange scheme


Ahead of the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, the external affairs minister announced UK-India 2030 Roadmap, which aims to bolster the two countries' ties in defence and security, trade and investment.

  • Britain has also announced UK’s first Tech Envoy to the Indo-Pacific region, who will boost ties with India as a priority.

The Young Professionals Scheme:

  • Under the scheme, the U.K. will offer about 3,000 degree-holding Indians in the 18–30-year age group places to work in the U.K. for up to two years.
  • The scheme will commence in early 2023. Both India and UK will allow young professionals in their Countries to hold degree programs.
  • India is the first country to benefit from such a scheme, highlighting the strength of the UK-India Migration and Mobility Partnership agreed upon last year.
  • Objective: The Young Professionals Programme is a recruitment initiative aiming to improve geographical representation, and promote gender parity in the Organization at the international level.

Significance: This landmark migration scheme will enable the brightest and best in both countries to benefit from new opportunities.

India-UK ties on Skill development:

  • Education: Education is an essential plank of the India-UK bilateral relationship. Over the last 10 years, the relationship has grown substantially with the introduction of bilateral mechanisms such as the India-UK Education Forum UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).
  • Indian Students: UK has traditionally been a favourite destination for international students.

At present, there are approximately 20,000 Indian students pursuing Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses in the UK.

Other Government Initiatives to attract International students:

  • HEFA (Higher Education Finance Agency) is a welcome step in providing finance to premier educational institutions to create high-quality infrastructure and innovation ecosystems.
  • Student Insurance Schemes: Contrary to popular opinion, many students who study abroad are not from wealthy families; they take expensive loans to finance their education.
    • The aspiration to secure better exposure and the future can render them prone to difficulties.
    • A mandatory student insurance scheme, as well as responsibility for the welfare of students in the foreign country, should be incorporated into agreements to secure the interests of students who also spend considerably in the host country.

‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme


In a view to conserve the cultural heritage in the country, the government aims to include the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) for businesses in India.

  • The President of India launched the Adopt a Heritage Scheme on World Tourism Day i.e., 27th September 2017.
  • The scheme will allow private and public sector corporations to adopt most of India’s top heritage sites and improve tourism in such areas.
  • It is clarified that ‘The Adopt a Heritage’ is essentially a non-revenue generating project.

The agency will be selected on the basis of the unique concept of vision bid and no financial bid is involved in the scheme.

About the scheme:

  • Private firms, companies, and public sector units can enter into agreements with the Union Ministry of Culture to adopt and maintain State-owned archaeological sites or
  • Businesses that enter such agreements are going to be known as Monument Mitras.
  • The scheme can lead to the adoption of 500 protected sites by August 15 2023, and another 500 sites shortly after that.
  • Fund allocation: Businesses may use their Corporate Social Responsibility funds at select sites to construct and maintain ticket offices, restaurants, museums, interpretation centres, toilets, and walkways.
  • The Ministry of Tourism has the power of term of MoU of Monument Mitras in case of non-compliance with guidelines and expression of interest (EoI), or any other reason for non-performance.

Concerns associated:

  • Lack of skilled professionals in business: The current plan sidelines the mandate of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and abandons the Sarnath Initiative, guidelines devised by the ASI.
  • Local community participation backed: The adopt a heritage scheme will allow the business to employ their candidates for taking care of monuments, however, the local community of that place will leave behind.

List of 10 Monuments adopted by companies under the Adopt a Heritage scheme:

  • Red Fort
  • Gandikota Fort
  • The area surrounding Gangotri Temple and Trail to Gaumukh
  • StokKangri Trek in Ladakh
  • Jantar Mantar
  • SurajKund
  • Qutub Minar
  • Ajanta Caves
  • Leh Palace
  • Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi

Regulating online sale of drugs


Recently, the Ministry of Health has asked the pharma giants to ban the sale of online drugs/medicines, after the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), a powerful lobby of over 12 lakh pharmacists, threatened to launch a country-wide agitation against the government.


About the e-pharmacy culture in India:

  • In the past eight years, the market penetration of e-pharmacies has seen single-digit growth from 3% to 5%.
  • The concept of e-pharmacy has boomed during the COVID times when medicines were needed at doorsteps.

After, these e-pharmacies gave competition to retail and physical stores, the Ministry of Health in early February 2023 pulled up at least twenty companies including Tata-1mg, Flipkart, Apollo, PharmEasy, Amazon and Reliance Netmeds, by issuing them a show cause notice, for selling medicines online.

Prospects and Benefits of E-pharmacy:

  • Economic Potential: At present, e-Pharmacy is at its nascent stage in India, but like other e-commerce categories, it has the potential to be a very large industry segment in the near future.
  • According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the online pharmacy model could account for 5-15% of the total pharma sales in India.
  • The major factors driving the growth of the sector are a large population with unmet medical needs, increasing internet penetration in both urban and rural areas and changing consumer needs.

Benefits to consumers:

  • Increased Convenience: E-pharmacy enables consumers to order medicines in a convenient manner, from their mobile or computer.
  • Increased Access: Online platforms can aggregate supplies, making otherwise hard-to-find medicines available to consumers across India. Further, e-Pharmacies also enable access to rural areas where there is a limited presence of retail pharmacies.
  • Improved drug information and patient Awareness: E-pharmacies have the technology infrastructure to provide value-added information to consumers, such as drug interactions, side effects, medicine reminders, and information on cheaper substitutes
  • Affordability: The e-pharmacy model reduces working capital, overhead costs, and trade margins for pharmacists. This finally translates into a cost advantage for consumers.

Issues with E-pharmacies in India:

  • Regulatory issues: Medicines come under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, of 1940. However, the current Drugs and Cosmetics Act, of 1940 doesn’t explicitly deal with e-pharmacies.
    • Thus, there is no clear-cut guidelines to regulate, control and monitor e-pharmacies in India.
  • Promotion of self-medication: There are concerns that e-pharmacies will encourage self-medication or irrational use of medicines which is already a common practice in India
  • Misuse:
    • Prescriptions submitted to e-pharmacies may be fake, and it could be difficult to verify their authenticity.
    • There are concerns that scheduled drugs can be reordered and misused by consumers leading to drug abuse and other criminal activities.
  • Fake/Illegal sites and substandard medicines: There are concerns over fake or illegal sites coming up thus undermining consumer interest. Further, there are concerns over substandard and counterfeit drugs being sold.
  • Effect on retail sellers: The growth of e-pharmacies has given rise to concerns among retail sellers that their business would be adversely affected as they would not be able to compete with the discounted pricing provided by online platforms.
  • Privacy issues: There are medical privacy concerns associated with the online transactions of drugs as the patient's medical history could be leaked.

Draft rules for E-pharmacy 2018:

  • Definition of E-pharmacy: “business of distribution or sale, stock, exhibit or offer for sale of drugs through a web portal or any other electronic mode”
  • Mandatory Registration: The draft rules make it mandatory for e-pharmacy businesses to register with the Central Licensing Authority
  • Data Localization: It mandates e-pharmacy portals to be established in India through which they are conducting their business and the data generated has to be kept localised.
  • Privacy: It states that the details of the patient should be kept confidential and not to be disclosed to any third party except the central government or the state government concerned.
  • Prescriptions: For carrying out the sale of prescription drugs (i.e. drugs listed under Schedule H, H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules) a prescription by a Registered Medical Practitioner has to be uploaded by the customer.
  • Prohibition on sale of certain drugs: The sale of drugs covered by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, tranquillizers and drugs listed under Schedule X has been prohibited.

Note: Schedule X drugs include narcotics and psychotropic substances.

  • Prohibition on Advertisement: Advertisement of drugs is prohibited on any media for any purpose by an e-pharmacy.
  • Compliance with the IT Act: E-pharmacies have to comply with the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) and Rules.
  • 24*7 helpline: The rules state that complete information on the medicines will have to be provided by the e-pharmacy holders and a 24/7 helpline should be made available.

National Surveillance Programme on Fish Diseases scheme


The Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has launched schemes for Genetic improvement, disease surveillance, Aquaculture and increasing fish species.

  • The three programmes launched include;
    • Genetic Improvement Programme of Indian White Shrimp (Penaeusindicus),
    • National Surveillance Programme on Fish Diseases, launching of aquaculture insurance product and,
    • A Genetic Improvement Facility.
  • Need of the initiative:
    • To strengthen the farmer-based disease surveillance system,
    • Disease cases in fish can be reported easily,
    • For investigation and scientific support is provided to the farmers.

Status of the fishing industry in India:

  • India is the third largest fish-producing country with a fish production of 14.73 million metric tonnes.
  • India is one of the largest exporters of farmed shrimp which is around 7 lakh tonnes.

The Numbers:

  • The West Coast produces 59% while the East Coast generates 41% of total marine fish.
  • Gujarat, with 19% of the total marine fish production, is the leading marine fish-producing State followed by Andhra Pradesh (16.4%) and Tamil Nadu (13.5%).
    • Andhra Pradesh (27.4%) and West Bengal (13.8%) combined produce nearly 41% of the country’s total fish production.

National Surveillance Programme for Aquatic Animal Diseases (NSPAAD):

  • The government of India is implementing the NSPAAD since 2013.
  • Aim: The scheme focuses on improving the farmer-based disease surveillance system. Thus the disease cases are reported immediately.
  • Consequently, the disease gets investigated and scientific support is provided to the farmers.
  • Department of Fisheries sanctioned the NSPAAD: Phase-II under the Pradhan MantriMatsyaSampada Yojana programme to continue the efforts with more intensity.
    • The phase-II will be implemented in pan-India.
  • The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and the State Fisheries Departments are anticipated to play a significant role in this crucial national surveillance programme.

The Genetic improvement program of Penaeusindicus (Indian white shrimp):

  • Under the Make in India flagship programme, ICAR-CIBA has taken on the genetic enhancement of indices, the Indian white shrimp, as a national priority.

The shrimp farming sector mostly depends on one exotic Specific Pathogen Free stock of Pacific white shrimp (Penaeusvannamei) species.

  • Using indigenous feed, Indicus Plus (35% Protein), CIBA has successfully optimized breeding protocol and shown cultural potential across various geographic locations in coastal states.
  • Phase-I of the program is launched under the Pradhan MantriMatsyaSampada Yojana (PMMSY) under the Central sector scheme to establish a National Genetic Improvement Facility for shrimp breeding.

The Genetic Improvement Facility:

  • Genetic improvement of aquaculture species will provide promise in improving production.
  • Strains of several species that grow faster, exhibit greater disease resistance, and have other more favourable characteristics for aquaculture have been produced through selective breeding.

RBI’s coin vending machines

RBI Governor stated that it would be launching a pilot project to assess the functioning of a QR-code-based coin vending machine.


Key features:

  • The central theme of the project is to ease the accessibility to coins.
  • Instead of physically presenting banknotes, vending machines would dispense coins with the necessary amount being deducted from the customer's account through the United Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Customers would have the choice to withdraw coins in the necessary numbers and denominations.
  • Implemented in: The pilot is initially planned to be rolled out at 19 locations in 12 cities across the country.

The machines are intended to be installed in public places such as railway stations, shopping malls and marketplaces.

Need of the initiative:

  • It was observed that the currency being fed into the machines (for coin exchange) was often found to be fake and could not be checked right at that point of time.


  • The proposed mechanism for coin dispensation would be a departure from the conventional machines which relied on banknotes for facilitating coin exchanges.
  • It will eliminate the need for physical tendering of banknotes and their authentication.

Process of currency circulation India:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is India's largest monetary institution. RBI also prints new notes and circulates them across the country with the help of the Currency Chest which further redistributes these notes in the economy through ATMs and commercial banks.
  • In India, the RBI does the job of printing all the notes except notes of one rupee, but the responsibility of minting coins of all denominations comes under the purview of the Finance Ministry.
  • Here it is worth mentioning that Finance Ministry does not distribute the coins and one rupee notes in the economy. It is done by the RBI only.
  • The most important work of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is to circulate new and old currency in the country.
  • RBI collects the old currency through commercial banks and receives the accumulated cash from all the commercial banks.
  • RBI does all these works with the help of currency chests.
  • The establishment of Currency Chests or "currency vaults" has been done by the RBI for circulation of the banknotes in the economy.
  • To open the Currency Chest, the RBI authorizes the selected branches of commercial banks.
  • Bank notes are stored by RBI in these Currency Chests. Currency chest supplies banknotes to other bank branches situated in the nearby area.

IEA’s annual report


Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its report for the year 2022, setting an alarm for global carbon emitters.


Key findings of the report:

  • Around 40% of all average human activity-related methane emissions come from the energy industry.
  • The greenhouse gas is also released throughout the drilling, extraction, and transportation processes through leaks from valves and other equipment.
  • By applying well-known procedures like leak detection and repair programmes and updating leaky equipment, emissions in the oil and gas sector can be reduced by over 75%.
  • Ultimately reducing 75 per cent of the wastage of natural gas could lower global temperature rise by nearly 0.1 degree Celsius by mid-century.
  • For industries: 80 per cent of the available options to curb the release of methane could be implemented by the fossil fuel industry at net zero cost.

About Methane:

  • With only one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, methane remains the most basic hydrocarbon (CH4).  It is flammable and is used as fuel worldwide.
  • As per UNEP For its first 20 years in the atmosphere, methane has a warming effect that is more than 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
  • Agricultural practices, coal mining, oil and gas systems, natural gas networks, and wastes are some of the common sources of methane.
  • Methane has a significant short-term impact on the rate of climate change because it is approximately 25 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Initiatives to tackle Methane emissions:

  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC): The NAPCC was established in 2008 with the goal of raising awareness of the threat posed by climate change and the means to counter it
  • ‘HaritDhara’ (HD): The HaritDhara (HD) anti-methanogenic feed supplement was created by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It can increase milk output while reducing the methane emissions from cattle by 17 to 20%.
  • India Greenhouse Gas Program: The India GHG Program is an industry-led voluntary framework to quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.
    • It is run by the non-profit organisation WRI India, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
  • Bharat Stage-VI: India changed its emission standards from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI).
  • Global Methane pledge: About 100 nations joined forces in a voluntary pledge to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% from the levels in 2020 by 2030 at the Glasgow climate conference (UNFCCC COP 26) in 2021.

Short News Articles

Art and Culture






The annual Pongala festival is celebrated in the month of February-March is going to take place in Kerala.

About the festival:

  • The AttukalPongala held in Attukal Temple, Thiruvananthapuram is the largest congregation of women for a festival in the world.
  • It is a ten-day festival.
  • It got its name from its location, on the banks of the Killi River.
  • Pongala, which means 'to boil over’, is the ritual in which women prepare sweet payasam (a pudding made from rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains cooked together) and offer it to the Goddess or ‘Bhagavathy’.
  • The ritual can only be performed by women and the streets of the city are known to be jam-packed with faithful devotees during the time of the festival.
  • The Goddess ‘Attukalamma’ is said to be appeased by this ritual.
  • The entire Thiruvananthapuram city lights up in festive fervour and the number of devotees has increased to the point that it has been recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records.

Polity and Governance

Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) portal

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology launched the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) portal under the IT Rules, 2021.


  • The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were amended to require social media companies to respect all the rights accorded to the citizens under the Constitution, including in the articles 14, 19 and 21.
  • It aims that social media platforms may now have to allow speech that is not allowed on their platforms, but are otherwise legal to express in public.


  • This portal will allow people who are dissatisfied with complaints to social media companies on content takedown requests, to be heard by one of three Committees constituted by the government.
  • The website of the GACs is now accepting appeals from the public orders.

Science and Technology

India’s first DNA vaccine for Dengue

In a significant development in DNA vaccination research, India’s first and only DNA vaccine candidate for dengue has shown promising results.


  • The world’s first DNA vaccine—ZyCoV-D, developed by Ahemdabad-based pharmaceutical firm ZydusCadila—was approved in 2021 for emergency use against COVID-19.
  • Globally, DNA vaccines are being developed for diseases like tuberculosis and chikungunya.
  • Some 19 DNA dengue vaccines are being evaluated, but yet to reach final clinical trials.

How a DNA vaccine works?

  • DNA and RNA vaccines use genetic material to deliver information to human cells and elicit an immune response.
  • DNA vaccines are safe, easy, affordable to produce, and, unlike RNA vaccines, are stable at room temperature.
  • These attributes make them more promising for rapidly immunizing populations, especially in resource-limited settings.

Science  and Technology

Proton beam therapy

To access the proton beam therapy (PBT), there are not enough facilities offering the treatment, and the cost is also very high.

What is proton beam therapy?

  • Proton therapy, also called proton beam therapy, is a type of radiation therapy.
  • It uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer.
  • A proton is a positively charged particle. At high energy, protons can destroy cancer cells.
  • Like x-ray radiation, proton therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy.
  • Proton beam therapy enables a dose of high energy protons to be precisely targeted at a tumour, reducing the damage to surrounding healthy tissues and vital organs which is an advantage in certain groups of patients or where the cancer is close to a critical part of the body such as the spinal cord.


A Steady Stream


  • As per the RBI’s quarterly statistics, the current account deficit (CAD) widened, and it is seen as a matter of concern as it may have impacts on Trade.

Findings from RBI’s Data:

  • The current account deficit (CAD) widened to 4.4 per cent of GDP in the second quarter of 2022-23, down from 2.2 per cent in the preceding quarter.
  • The latest statistics also reveal a sharp decline in the trade deficit to $1.27 billion in January on the back of a significant rise in net services exports.
  • India’s services exports grew at 23.5 per cent in 2021-22.
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