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25th November 2022

Odisha’s Kutia Kondh tribe rediscovered a palate for the ‘poor man’s food’

Context:

A movement built around the Burlang Yatra, a traditional festival of the ‘Kutia Kondh tribe’ of Odisha, has involved traditional millet crops in reviving their ancient food palate.

Background:
  • In collaboration with Millet Network of India (MINI), a forum founded for the promotion of millet, NIRMAN started celebrating the Burlang Yatra on a large scale to increase awareness about millet.
  • In the past, millet used to be the staple food for tribals in Odisha. When paddy and other foods reached their doorstep through the public distribution system and the expanding consumer market, tribals started treating millets as subsistence crops that they grew to use or eat for themselves rather than to sell.
  • Some millet started to disappear from the tribal food basket.

In 2017, the Odisha government realized the importance of highly nutritious and climate-resilient millets in tribal society.  The Odisha government has also started celebrating ‘Mandia Dibas’ (Millet Day) on November 10 to popularise the crop.

Kutia Kondh tribe’:

  • The Kutia Kondhs are particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) in Kalahandi district, Odisha.
  • They live in Lanjigarh, Thuamul Rampur, Madanpur Rampur, and Bhawanipatna blocks.
  • The Kondhs worship ‘nature’ like many other tribal groups in the country.
  • Kutia kondh are mostly dependent on shifting cultivation, cultivation of minor agriculture products, and collection of NTFP. 
  • The practice of youth dormitory is gradually losing its importance but is still prevalent among Kutia kondh villages. 
  •  Dhap and Salap Baja are the essential musical instruments of Kutia Kondhs.

About:
  • Millet is a collective term referring to a number of small-seeded annual grasses that are cultivated as grain crops, primarily on marginal lands in dry areas in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions.
  • Some of the common millets available in India are Ragi (Finger millet), Jowar (Sorghum), Sama (Little millet), Bajra (Pearl millet), and Variga (Proso millet).

  • The earliest evidence for these grains has been found in the Indus civilization and was one of the first plants domesticated for food.
  • It is grown in about 131 countries and is the traditional food for around 60 crore people in Asia & Africa.

Do you know?

  • India is the largest producer of millet in the world.
  • It Accounts for 20 % of global production and 80% of Asia’s production.

Significance of Millets:

Nutritionally Superior:

  • Millets are less expensive and nutritionally superior to wheat & rice owing to their high protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like iron content.

Gluten-free a low glycemic index:

  • Millets can help tackle lifestyle problems and health challenges such as obesity and diabetes as they are gluten-free and have a low glycemic index (a relative ranking of carbohydrates in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels).

Super Crop at Growing:

  • Millets are Photo-insensitive, have less water consumption, and are capable of growing under drought conditions, under non-irrigated conditions even in very low rainfall regimes.

Initiatives by Tribals:

  • Tribals grow interdependent crops in a single field and harvest them one after another, which helped millets and other crops survive.
  • The tribals also managed to revive pulses, oilseed, and tubers which are regarded as companion crops. Now, the community has discovered four to five crop varieties from different villages.

Incidentally, two species of the mint family, supposed to belong to the Himalayan belt, have also been identified as traditional crops cultivated by tribals of the Kandhamal district in Odisha.

Other Initiatives at the Pan-India level:

  • Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millet Promotion (INSIMP)
  • Increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP): The government has hiked the Minimum Support Price of Millets, which came as a big price incentive for farmers.
  • Further, to provide a steady market for the produce, the government has included millets in the public distribution system.
  • Input Support: The government has introduced the provision of seed kits and inputs to farmers, building value chains through Farmer Producer Organisations and supporting the marketability of millets.

Tipu Sultan and the Controversy around his Contributions

Context:

Tipu Sultan became a symbol of resistance against British rule, with emphasis on aspects of his persona which suited the nationalist narrative. Today, there has been increased spotlight on his autocratic tendencies and brutal repression in annexed territories, with an increased emphasis on his religion.

Historical Background:

  • Tipu Sultan was born Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, (1751 –1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore based in South India.
  • Hyder Ali was the father of Tipu Sultan.
    • Hyder Ali was the military officer who served the kingdom of Mysore and then became the de facto ruler of the province in 1761. 
  • Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa was the mother of Tipu Sultan.
  • Tipu Sultan handed over the command to important military and diplomatic missions when he was just 17 years of age.
  • Tipu Sultan was the right-hand man of his father in the wars and this helped Hyder Ali capture the thrones of southern India.
  • Tipu Sultan died defending his fortress of Srirangapatna against British forces in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799.
  • His forces were heavily outnumbered and his French allies had not been able to come to his aid.
  • His final act of valor and defiance has been glorified by many who see him as a nationalist, anti-colonial icon.

His Struggle against the British:

First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)

  • Tipu Sultan fought alongside his father against the British in the First Anglo-Mysore War in 1766 when he was 15 years old.
  • Tipu Sultan received military training from French officers who worked for his father.
  • At the age of 16, he led a cavalry corps in the conquest of Carnatic in 1767.
  • He also made a name for himself during the First Anglo-Maratha War, which lasted from 1775 to 1779.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)

  • The British seized the French-controlled port of Mahe in 1779, which Tipu had protected by supplying troops for its defense.
  • Hyder Ali launched an invasion of the Carnatic in response, with the aim of driving the British out of Madras.
  • Tipu Sultan successfully reclaimed Chittur from the British in December 1781.
  • Tipu Sultan recognized the British as a new form of threat to India.
  • By the time Hyder Ali died on December 6, 1782, Tipu Sultan had acquired sufficient military experience.
  • The Treaty of Mangalore, signed in 1784, put an end to the Second Mysore War.

Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-92)

  • On 28th December 1789, Tipu Sultan gathered troops in Coimbatore and launched an assault on Travancore's lines, knowing that Travancore was a British East India Company ally (according to the Treaty of Mangalore).
  • Lord Cornwallis responded by mobilizing company and British military powers, as well as forming alliances with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, in order to defeat Tipu.
  • The company forces advanced in 1790, capturing a large portion of the Coimbatore district. Tipu launched a counter-offensive, retaking most of the territory, though the British retained control of Coimbatore.
  • In 1791, his adversaries made gains on all fronts, with Cornwallis' main British force capturing Bengaluru and threatening
  • Tipu Sultan harassed British supply and communication lines and implemented a scorched earth strategy of refusing the invader's local resources.
  • Cornwallis was successful in this last attempt, as a shortage of provisions forced him to retreat to Bengaluru rather than attempt a siege of Srirangapatna.
    • He was forced to cede half of his territory to the allies and deliver two of his sons as hostages in the subsequent treaty before he paid the British the three crores and thirty lakhs rupees set aside as war indemnity for the campaign against him.
    • He paid the money in two installments and returned to Madras with his sons.

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and Death of Tipu Sultan: (1799)

  • In 1799, three armies marched into Mysore: one from Bombay and two from the United Kingdom, one of which included Arthur Wellesley.
  • During the Fourth Mysore War, they besieged Srirangapatna, the capital.
  • The British East India Company had over 26,000 troops, while Tipu Sultan's forces numbered 30,000.
  • When the British broke through the city walls, Tipu Sultan was advised to flee through hidden passages by French military advisors, but he declined.
  • Tipu Sultan was killed at the Srirangapatna Fort. He was buried at the Gumbaz, next to his father's grave.

Tipu Sultan as an Administrator:

  • He started the Navy as a department for wars in the ocean for the first time.
  • With highly productive agriculture and textile manufacturing, Mysore overtook Bengal Subah as India's dominant economic force during his reign.
  • Construction of Dams: On the Kaveri River, Tipu Sultan laid the base for the Kannambadi dam (Krishna Raja Sagara or KRS dam).
  • During Tipu Sultan's reign, a new land revenue system was developed which initiated the growth of the Mysore silk industry for the first time.
  • Tipu Sultan was a moral administrator. Liquor use and prostitution were strictly banned during his rule. Psychedelics, such as Cannabis, were also banned from use and cultivation.
  • Tipu Sultan introduced a new coinage system and calendar.

Civil Aviation Ministry notifies draft Aircraft Security Rules, 2022

Context:

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified the draft Aircraft Security Rules, 2022.

About
  • The new rules will supersede the Aircraft Security Rules, 2011 after Parliament passed the Aircraft Amendment Act, 2020 in September 2020, giving statutory powers to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

The primary responsibilities of BCAS include laying down standards and measures with respect to the security of civil flights at international and domestic airports in India.

  • The amendment in Parliament was required after the United Nation’s aviation watchdog, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), raised questions about the regulator's functioning without statutory powers.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation, primarily dealing with safety issues. It is responsible for the regulation of air transport.

Key points:

  • The BCAS can impose a fine of RS50 lakh to RS1 crore (depending on the size of the company) on airports and airlines if they fail to prepare and implement a security program, or if they commence operations without seeking a security clearance.
  • Large airports can also face a penalty of Rs1 crore if they fail to plan the design and layout of the airport in accordance with the National Civil Aviation Security Programme.

National Civil Aviation Security Programme:

Objective:

  • To protect the safety, regularity, and efficiency of international civil aviation by providing, through regulations, practices, and procedures, the necessary safeguards against unlawful interference.
  • The NCASP aims to maintain the security of national and foreign operators providing services from civil airports supporting international flights.
  • The draft rules now authorize airports to engage’ private security agents’ instead of CISF personnel at “non-core areas” and assign security duties per the recommendation of the National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016.

Need of the Initiative:

  • In order to deal with the cyber security threat
  • Regularise the functioning of Airports and Air Transportation.
  • Regulations among concerned government bodies.

National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016:

Vision:

  • To create an eco-system to make flying affordable for the masses and to enable 30 crores of domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crores by 2027, and international ticketing to increase to 20 crores by 2027.
  • Similarly, cargo volumes should increase to 10 million tonnes by 2027.

Mission:

  • Provide safe, secure, affordable, and sustainable air travel for passengers and air transportation of cargo with access to various parts of India and the world.

Objectives:

  • Establish an integrated eco-system that will lead to significant growth of the civil aviation sector, which in turn would promote tourism, increase employment and lead to balanced regional development.
  • Ensure the safety, security, and sustainability of the aviation sector through technology and effective monitoring.
  • Enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development.
  • Enhance ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures, and e-governance.
  • Promote the entire aviation sector chain in a harmonized manner covering cargo, MRO, general aviation, aerospace manufacturing, and skill development.

 

Ministry of Civil Aviation

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for the formulation of national policies and programs for the development and regulation of the Civil Aviation sector in the country.
  • It is responsible for the administration of the Aircraft Act, of 1934, Aircraft Rules, of 1937, and various other legislation pertaining to the country's aviation sector.
  • This Ministry exercises administrative control over attached and autonomous organizations like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi and affiliated Public Sector Undertakings like Airports Authority of India and Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited.
  • The Commission of Railway Safety, which is responsible for safety in rail travel and operations in terms of the provisions of the Railways Act, 1989 also comes under the administrative control of this Ministry.

India, Iran on development of Chabahar Port

Context:

Recently, Tehran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani visited India for foreign-level talks on various issues.

About
  • During the delegation-level talks, the two sides reiterated their commitment to continue cooperation for the development of the Shahid Beheshti terminal of the Chabahar Port.
  • The two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues including

The Chabahar Port:

  • The Chabahar Port is a key pillar of India’s India-Pacific vision to connect Eurasia with the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The Chabahar Port located in Iran is the commercial transit center for the region and especially Central Asia.
  • Significance:
  • The port will also be part International North-South Transport Corridor network connecting India.

Notably, the first rail transit cargo from Russia to India entered Iran recently through the Sarakhs border crossing, marking the official launch of the eastern section of the North-South railway corridor.

India’s Perspective:

India’s vision: To make Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar a transit hub and link it to INSTC to reach out to Central Asian Countries.

International North-South Transport Corridor:

  • INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) is India’s vision and initiative to reduce the time taken for EXIM shipments to reach Russia, Europe, and enter the central Asian markets.
  • International North-South Transport Corridor is a corridor to increase trade between India and Russia.
  • This trade route is 7200 Km long and the transport of freight is through a multi-mode network of roads, ships, and railways.
  • This route connects India and Russia through Iran and Azerbaijan.
  • The corridor is aimed at reducing the carriage cost between India and Russia by about 30 percent and bringing down the transit time from 40 days by more than half.
  • Establishing a land route via Kabul and Tashkent to form the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor” would maximize the potential of this collaboration.

Also, India wants to include Chabahar port to be included in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Why does Central Asia assume significance for India?

  • Geo-strategic location: Its geographical proximity, strategic location, and historical linkages make it an important partner for New Delhi.
  • Energy hub: Central Asia has an abundance of oil and gas deposits. The region contains vast hydrocarbon fields both on-shore and off-shore in the Caspian Sea which homes to around 4 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and approximately 3 percent of oil reserves.
    • Gas (Turkmenistan)
    • Oil, gas, and uranium(Kazakhstan)
    • Uranium and gas(Uzbekistan)
    • Hydropower (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan)
  • Global power hub: Strategically, Central Asia is emerging as the next high-stakes competition ground for global powers, hence; it would behoove India to pay closer attention.
  • Leading role: Central Asia provides India with the right platform to leverage its political, economic, and cultural connections to play a leading role in Eurasia.
  • Significant transportation hub: The region is a major transportation hub for gas and oil pipelines and multi-modal corridors connecting China, Russia, Europe, and the IOR.

Public sector banks: Growth and Concerns

Context

The Public sector banks (PSBs) have reported remarkable growth in the July-September quarter of the year 2022.

Key points:

  • Profits increased: The asset quality of PSBs has improved, their profits have increased and they have recorded an impressive pace of credit growth in the July-September quarter.
  • Better stock market performance: The performance of PSBs is also getting reflected in the stock market performance of banks.
  • Improved Asset quality: It is measured as Gross Non-Performing Assets as a percentage of total advances (GNPA ratio) and has seen a sustained improvement.
    • As an example, Canara Bank’s GNPA ratio has fallen from 7.80 percent in December 2021, to 6.37 percent in September 2022.
    • Union Bank of India’s GNPA ratio has declined from 11.6 percent in December 2021, to 8.45 percent in September 2022.
    • Reduction in GNPAs can be explained by better recoveries.
  • Better Borrowing rates: Borrowers who availed of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) — a scheme to help borrowers tide over the challenges posed by the pandemic by providing a 100 percent guarantee to lenders have exhibited good repayment behavior.

What are the reasons for Public sector banks making Profits?

  • Due to the rise in loans including housing and corporate loans.
  • Interest income, which includes interest on advances and interest on investment has seen a sharp growth.
  • While banks have been able to pass on higher rates to borrowers. This has boosted the net interest margins of banks.
  • Clean-up of stressed assets, better regulation, pick-up in loans, and an improvement in corporate credit demand are driving the profitability of public sector banks.

Impacts:

On Customers

On Banks

  • Ease in loan availing norms.
  • Better Interest rates
  • More regulations to identify defaulters
  • Security and safety of Public Money

 

 

  • As the stock of non-performing assets shrinks, and fresh slippages from standard to non-performing assets are curtailed, banks do not need to set aside as many funds.
  • The extended regulatory forbearance post the global financial crisis led to the evergreening of loans and hid the banking sector’s vulnerability.

Concerns associated:

  • The exploitation of Customers by Banks using more market demand of their banks.
  • An increase in loans by customers can increase the risk of more defaults in the future due to economic downfalls and other situations like the Pandemic.
  • A lack of Market stabilization strategy by banks can lead to a future reduction in the Funds of banks.

Points to be considered by banks in the future:

  • The cost of deposits and the possible stress emerging from the Micro, Small, and Medium Industries must be taken seriously by banks for future downfalls in profits.
  • To sustain higher credit growth, banks have started offering higher interest rates on deposits. With interest rates on fixed deposits rising, the share of low-cost deposits — current account and savings account (CASA) — has seen a dip. This will likely have a bearing on the margins of banks.
  • Banks will also have to compete with other high-yielding instruments such as mutual funds.
  • The pace of credit and deposit growth will determine the trajectory of income and profits of banks in the coming quarters.

Short Articles

Topic: Polity & Governance

Supreme Court launches online portal for RTI


  • An online portal for filing Right to Information (RTI) applications about the Supreme Court has been operationalised.
  • The online portal will streamline responses of the Supreme Court under the Right to Information Act.
  • Earlier, RTI applications with respect to the top court were being filed through post only.
  • RTI means that any Indian citizen can request any information (which is supposed to be public knowledge) from the offices and departments of the state or central governments.
  • The RTI Act mandates that the said offices and departments must process such requests in a timely manner.

Topic: Science & Technology

A close-up of the Moon




  • NASA's Orion spacecraft has sent back close-up pictures of the Moon as the Artemis 1 mission made its closest approach to the lunar body.
  • This was the first time that such close images of the Moon were snapped by a "human-rated vessel since Apollo - 80 mi (128 km) above the lunar surface.
    • The Apollo program had ended in 1975.
  • Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis program.
  • Artemis I is an uncrewed mission and aims to test NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft before it sends humans to the Moon in future.
    • If this mission is successful, NASA will then conduct a human trip around the moon in 2024, which will be known as Artemis II. 

Topic: Science & Technology

ISRO successfully launches 200th 'RH-200' Rohini sounding rocket


  • The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) launched its 200th consecutive 'RH-200' Rohini Sounding rocket.
  • ISRO's journey into the indigenous rockets began with a sounding rocket launch on November 21,1963, from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station, that is now a part of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
  • In 1967, ISRO started launching a series of indigenous sounding rockets named 'Rohini' from TERLS.
    • RH-75, with a diameter of 75mm, was the first truly Indian sounding rocket, which was followed by RH-100 and RH-125 rockets.
  • Currently, India has three operational sounding rocket variants —RH-200, RH-300-Mk-II and RH-560-Mk-III.

 

  • Sounding rockets take their name from the nautical term "to sound," which means to take measurements.
  • These rockets are generally used to collect important scientific information, check the earth's atmosphere or to test newly developed sub-components, before using them on larger rockets.

Topic: Environment

India's proposal for enhance protection to Leith's softshell turtle adopted

  • India's proposal for enhancing protection status to Leith's softshell turtle has been adopted at the ongoing world wildlife conference in Panama.
  • The transfer of Leith's softshell turtle from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I would ensure that legal international trade in the species does not take place for commercial purposes.
  • About
  • Leith's softshell turtle is a large freshwater soft-shelled turtle which inhabits rivers and reservoirs. It is endemic to peninsular India.
  • The species has been subject to intensive exploitation over the past 30 years. It has been poached and illegally consumed within India. It has also been illegally traded abroad for meat and for its calipee.
  • The population of this turtle species is estimated to have declined by 90 per cent over the past 30 years and the species is now difficult to find. It is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The species is listed on Schedule IV of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, which gives it protection from hunting and trade.
  • However, poaching and illegal trade of protected turtle species is a major challenge in India with seizures of thousands of specimens reported every year.

 

Editorial

Opening stance

Context:

The first phase of a pact sealed with Australia under the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) by India in April 2022 is likely to be operationalized soon, paving easier market access for Indian services and goods. 

India-Australia Trade deal:

  • Countering China’s dominance: Australia’s disappointment with the ‘weaponisation of trade’ by China helped to galvanise sentiment about India being a more trustworthy partner.
  • Reliability: It is a strong positive signal about India’s credentials to a world shuffling its feet away from disrupted supply chains towards a ‘China plus one’
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 25th November 2022

Mains Question:

Question:What are the challenges faced by developing countries to achieve the goal of Green Economy? Discuss in light on recently held COP 27.

Question Mapping

  • Subject: Environment (GS-III)
    • Sub-topic: Environmental Conferences 
  • Introduce with UNFCCC COP 27 and IPCC 1.5 °C significance.
  • Further write about the “loss and damage fund’, briefing some details about the course of its achievement.
  • Discuss the challenges poor countries are facing to achieve green economy goal.
  • Also enumerate challenges specific to India.
  • Conclude with clean energy infrastructure and Carbon as global commons.
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