Daily Current Affairs for 6th January 2020

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Indian scientist’s work on nano-material paves way for clean energy vehicle

Paper:  GS III

Topic:  Infrastructure, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, S&T.

For Prelims: Nano-material, Innovation in S&T.

For Mains: Need for conservation and government policy to save the environment.

Why in News: Indian scientist’s work on Nano-material paves way for clean energy vehicle.

The carbon nitride Nano-materials discovered since 2005 by Ajayan Vinu, who is also associated with IIT Bombay, the Institute of Chemical Technology Mumbai and IISc Bangalore has resulted in the production of sodium-ion batteries for vehicles at his lab at the University of Newcastle and the prospect of development of an ‘ultimate clean energy vehicle’ a reality in the next three to four years.

The carbon nitride Nano-materials

  • Carbon nitrides are rapidly gaining importance for fields related to catalysis, energy storage/conversion and other applications associated with their unique chemical and optoelectronic properties.
  • These semiconducting compounds absorb visible light and can harvest solar radiation acting as photo-catalysts for water splitting and other redox processes while exhibiting useful luminescent properties.
  • In both their pure and doped forms they exhibit catalytic properties, due in part to N-H functional groups and N: lone pairs providing Brønsted acid and Lewis base sites.
  • These groups also provide tethering sites for catalytically active metal nanoparticles.
  • Layered polymeric to graphitic forms can undergo intercalation reactions useful for energy and chemical storage applications.
  • With increased control over the dimensionality and morphology of these and other Nano-structures, it is certain that carbon nitride Nano-materials are set to become important actors in fields of catalysis as well as other emerging technologies.

 A solution for the world’s twin problems of pollution and fossil fuel depletion

The work of an Indian scientist based in Australia on Nano-materials and his discovery of carbon nitrides with unique properties – has now seemingly laid the ground for finding a solution for the world’s twin problems of pollution and fossil fuel depletion.

  • Building an ultimate clean energy vehicle:
    • One that combines atmospheric carbon dioxide with sunlight and water to produce fuel while leaving no harmful emissions is a challenge that has boggled the minds of scientists for long.
    • Nano-materials has led to the development of technologies for conversion of carbon dioxide into fuel using sunlight and water and clean-tech like sodium-ion batteries to power electric vehicles.
    • The materials that have discovered – the carbon nitrides like C3N5, C3N6, C3N7 – has seen researchers from the top institutions jumping into the field since these materials have unique semi-conducting characteristics.
    • This system is unique: The ‘highly ordered carbon nitrides’ discovered in his research is the only Nano-material that can be applied to all systems in a clean energy vehicle.
    • Carbon nitride can be used as
      • A metal-free photocatalyst for water splitting,
      • Metal-free system for carbon capture and conversion,
      • Electrode material for super-capacitors and battery,
      • As an electrode catalyst for fuel cells, electrode for solar cell.
      • A single material that can be applied for all these purposes in a device.
    • The target for a vehicle that can harness atmospheric carbon dioxide with sunlight and water to produce hydrogen fuel was set for 2024-25 in 2019.
    • They have developed technologies for each unit already. Now in the process of integrating them together and this is the future.
    • One of the spin-offs of the discovery of carbon nitrides by the scientist – who is considered among the top 15 Nano-material scientists in the world in terms of citations – has been the development of sodium-ion batteries which are being considered as a viable replacement for lithium-ion batteries which power most electric vehicles at present.


  • This is the first time that an Indian defence project has been given to an Indian researcher based abroad, impressed by the research work of the Indian origin Nano-materials scientist, the Indian defence ministry has now awarded a $ 2 million research project to the scientist to develop carbon nitride Nano-materials for a clean energy system requirement in the defence sector, on the sidelines of the 107th Indian Science Congress.
  • Carbon nitrides work by Professor Vinu is considered central “to delivering significant advances in a wide range of industries from electric vehicles to renewable power”.

Additional Information

  • Nano-materials describe, in principle, materials of which a single unit small-sized (in at least one dimension) between 1 to 100 nm (the usual definition of Nano-scale) measured in kelvin.
  • Nano-materials research takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology, leveraging advances in materials metrologyand synthesis which have been developed in support of micro-fabrication
  • Materials with structure at the Nano-scale often have unique optical, electronic, or mechanical properties.

Mains Question

Carbon nitride Nano-materials a solution for the world’s twin problems of pollution and fossil fuel depletion. Explain.


Question Demand: Question demands to write about the new discovery of Carbon nitride Nano-materials and its impact on humanity. Mention about initiatives taken by the government that has helped to in the country for innovation and adoption of e-vehicle.

Introduction: Mention the innovation and its use.


  • Explain the importance of green-fuel in today’s context as due to huge demand of energy and depleting fossil fuels.
  • Issues in improving the technology and huge investment in making to reality.
  • Benefits of green fuel to reduce dependence on export and saving environment.

Conclusion: Suggest the steps that need to be adopted in innovating better technologies and its benefits in conservation and maintenance of green cover along with catering huge demand of energy.



In Maharashtra, linking land records to PM Fasal Bima saves time, plugs leaks

Paper:  GS III

Topic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

For Prelims: PM Fasal Bima Yojana.

For MainsIssues associated with the insurance of the crop and maintenance of land records.

Why in News: In Maharashtra, linking land records to PM Fasal Bima saves time, plugs leaks.


Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(PMFBY)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna was launched on 18th February 2016 by Prime Minister, after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).
  • PMFBY provides a comprehensive insurance cover against failure of the crop thus helping in stabilising the income of the farmers.
  • The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are conducted being under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).
  • The scheme is implemented by impanelled general insurance companies.
  • Selection of Implementing Agency (IA) is done by the concerned State Government through bidding.
  • The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others.
  • The scheme is being administered by the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Premium:It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
  • The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.
A Case Study-  Story of a farmer from Maharashtra village


·         During the previous seasons, the operator of this one-stop-shop catering to most of the Internet-related work of the villagers had insisted that he bring a copy of his 7/12 land extract signed by the local talathi (village level revenue office) for the enrollment process.

·         This time, he just asked for my survey number, and from the drop-down menu helped me zero in on my land parcel and completed the process. This came as a pleasant surprise.

·         Getting the talathi’s signature is tedious since the officer is never in his office,” said Ingole, who has been insuring his crops religiously since 2017.

·         Behind the simple drop-down menu, which saved Ingole from the trouble of locating the village talathi, lies an initiative of the Department of Agriculture, which officers hope will help make the process of enrollment for crop insurance easy.

·         Not just that, it will help plug the leaks in the process.



Maharashtra integrated PF Fasal Bima Yojana with land records

Maharashtra counts itself among the top five states in the country in terms of payment of claims under the PMFBY. During the financial year 2018-19, the state had 1.39 crore farmers opting for the scheme and the total premium collected was Rs 4,778.30 crore.

In the last fiscal, insurance companies had paid Rs 3,730.52 crore as compensation to 54.46 lakh farmers.

  • Maharashtra is the first state in the country to seamlessly integrate its land records with the web portal of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
  • This integration has been rolled out during the 2019-20 rabi season, with farmers accessing their land details online at the enrollment centres.
  • Farmers opting to insure their crops under the PMFBY are required to share their Aadhaarnumber, their bank details, as well as their land records at the enrollment centres.
  • Although available online, the 7/12 land records were to be signed and stamped by the local talathi who verifies the same with the records available with him.
  • Given the workload, the talathi is normally responsible for around 10-12 villages in the locality farmers have to often wait for days before the talathi comes to their village to sign their land records.
  • Land records in Maharashtra have already been digitised. It is now being used to pinpoint the farmer’s land during the enrollment process.

Benefits associated with linkage

  • Convenience and accuracy
    • Small clerical errors sometimes led to farmers not getting their insurance dues, thus linkage with land record helped a lot.

The real pictures

  • In fact, Maharashtra presents an interesting scenario with farmers not opting for crop loans enrolling for the scheme with their own money.
  • Farmers who opt for bank loans are automatically enrolled for the scheme.
  • But there have been multiple protests by farmers groups as well as political parties, which claim that the scheme has failed to achieve its objectives.
  • If farmers are happy with the drop-down menu, officers of the Agriculture Department have more than one reason to root for this integration.
  • Although the PMFBY mandates compulsory verification of land records by ground-level agriculture officers or bank officers, in reality, this has not happened.
  • As a result, cases of “over-insurance” insurance of more land than in possession as well as insurance of ineligible people have happened.
  • Officers cited cases where the insured area was more than the cropped area of the district.
  • Taking advantage of the lack of stringent verification, there were instances of people insuring the same land parcel multiple times.
  • Also, there were cases when non-land holders were found insuring land.
  • Recently, an audit had unearthed a case where a single farmer with 4 hectares of land in Latur was found to have insured around 44 hectares in Latur, Beed, Osmanabad, and Parbhani.
  • Rough estimates by officers of the Agriculture Department have shown that around 20% of the enrollment in any given season had been cases of either over-insurance or of insurance by individuals who didn’t hold any land.

The Government stand on multiple and over-insurance

  • There is almost done away with chances of over insurance, as the land records will be available online.
  • Once the farmer chooses his survey number, the drop-down menu will prompt the user to choose the land parcel that he or she chooses to insure.
  • Once insured, the same land parcel will not be open for insurance again.
  • Multiple training sessions were organised across the state to ensure proper implementation of the process in the current rabi season.


With a view to ensure better transparency, accountability and timely payment of claims to the farmers, the Government has to comprehensively revise the Operational Guidelines of the scheme.

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