GS PAPER II NEWS

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY III)

Why in News

Over 1 Lakh Million Tons of food grains distributed to over 2 Crore beneficiaries by 12 States/UTs in First 10 days itself of scheme under PMGKAY-3.

Key Points

  • The Secretary of Department of Food & Public Distribution briefed about the PMGKAY-3 and One Nation One Ration Card scheme at virtual press conference.
  • They stated that the department started implementation of “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” (PM-GKAY III) for two months i.e., May and June 2021.
  • They providing an additional quota of free-of-cost food grains (Rice/Wheat) at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month, over and above their regular monthly National Food Security Act (NFSA) entitlements to about 80 Crore beneficiaries.
  • The Government of India will bear all expenditure of over Rs 26,000 Crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intrastate transportation etc.
  • The States which have started distribution of the 5 kg of free rice and wheat include Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and Uttarakhand.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)


  • It is a food security welfare scheme operated by the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • It was implemented in March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
  • It aims to feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households.
  • Under PMGKAY, government provides 5 kg of rice per person and 1 kg of dal to each family holding a ration card.
  • The scale of this welfare scheme makes it the largest food security program in the world.

One Nation One Ration Card

  • The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ was launched on a pilot basis in four states in 2019.
  • The objective behind this scheme is to ensure all beneficiaries, especially migrants get ration (wheat, rice and other food grains) across the nation from any Public Distribution System (PDS) shop of their own choice.
  • Under this scheme, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from the PDS in the locality where they live.
  • Its other purpose is that no poor person should be deprived of getting subsidized food grains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another.
  • It aims to reduce instances of corruption by middlemen and fraudulence in ration cards to avail benefits from different states.

National Food Security Act (NFSA)

  • It was enacted in 2013 by an Act of the Parliament.
  • The National Food Security Act 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to the needy one.
  • It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.
  • The act also recognizes maternity entitlements.
  • The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).

Jal Jeevan Mission

Why in News

Puducherry has become fourth State/UT ‘Har Ghar Jal’ by ensuring that every rural home in the Union Territory gets a household tap connection.

Key Points


  • With this, it becomes the fourth State/UT after Goa, Telangana and Andaman & Nicobar Islands to provide assured tap water supply to every rural home.
  • It was covered under the Union Government’s flagship programme, Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Puducherry’s achievement is another achievement of Jal Jeevan Mission as people living in rural areas can practice regular handwashing at home and maintain physical distancing by avoiding crowds at public stand posts.
  • Further, the State of Punjab and the UTs of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu have also crossed the milestone of covering 75% of rural homes with assured tap water supply.

About Puducherry Geography

  • Puducherry is blessed with various rivers and tributaries.
  • Five rivers in Puducherry district, seven in Karaikal district, two in Mahé district and one in Yanam district drain into the sea, but none originates within the territory.
  • Puducherry has 84 irrigation tanks and more than 500 ponds which are the lifeline for groundwater recharging systems, drinking water and agriculture.
  • Puducherry has been consistently working towards de-silting of ponds & rejuvenation of its local water bodies, which is crucial for drinking water supply schemes.
  • An effective community mobilisation & participation is achieved through a well-charted IEC plan by the UT.

Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)

  • JJM is a flagship programme of the Union Government, which aims to provide tap water connection to every rural household of the country by 2024.
  • The programme will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as:
  • Recharge and reuse through grey water management,
  • Water conservation,
  • Rain water harvesting.
  • It will be based on a community approach to water and will include extensive Information, Education and communication as a key component of the mission.
  • It also looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.
  • The fund sharing ration between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States, 50:50 for other states, and 100% for Union Territories.

Way Forward

  • The UT of Puducherry is now planning for effective treatment & reuse of greywater coming out of homes.
  • The UT is actively working towards water source sustainability.
  • The four regions, namely Pondicherry Region, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahe region are at different locations, geographically separated from each other.
  • In fact, in 2021-22, government is planning to invest more than Rs. 1 lakh Crore in the country to ensure tap water supply to rural homes.
  • This kind of investment in rural areas will boost the rural economy.

Connected Commerce: Creating a Roadmap for a Digitally Inclusive Bharat

Why in News

Recently, NITI Aayog and Mastercard released a report titled ‘Connected Commerce: Creating a Roadmap for a Digitally Inclusive Bharat’.

Key Points


  • The report identifies challenges in accelerating digital financial inclusion in India and provides recommendations for making digital services accessible to its 1.3 billion citizens.
  • Based on five roundtable discussions held in October and November 2020, the report highlights key issues and opportunities, with inferences and recommendations on policy and capacity building across agriculture, small business (MSMEs), urban mobility and cyber security.
  • India is emerging hub of digital financial services globally, with solutions like UPI growing tremendously and being hailed as instrumental in bringing affordable digital payment solutions to the last mile.
  • Key issues addressed during five roundtable discussions are:
  • Acceleration of digital financial inclusion for underserved sections of Indian society.
  • Enabling SMEs to ‘get paid, get capital and get digital’ and access customers, and ensure their continued resilience.
  • Policy and technological interventions to foster trust and increase cyber resilience.
  • Unlocking the promise of digitization in India’s agriculture sector.
  • The essential elements of a digital roadmap to make transit accessible for all citizens.

Highlights of the report

  • Key recommendations of the report are:
  • Strengthening the payment infrastructure to promote a level playing field for NBFCs and banks.
  • Digitizing registration and compliance processes and diversifying credit sources to enable growth opportunities for MSMEs.
  • Building information sharing systems, including a ‘fraud repository’, and ensuring that online digital commerce platforms carry warnings to alert consumers to the risk of frauds.
  • Enabling agricultural NBFCs to access low-cost capital and deploy a ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) model for achieving better long-term digital outcomes. Digitizing land records will also provide a major boost to the sector.
  • To make city transit seamlessly accessible to all with minimal crowding and queues, leveraging existing smartphones and contactless cards, and aim for an inclusive, interoperable, and fully open system such as that of the London ‘Tube’.

NITI Aayog

  • The NITI Aayog is a public policy think tank of the Government of India, established in 2015 by scrapping Planning Commission which was formed in 1950.
  • It was created with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.
  • Its initiatives include:
  • 15-year road map, 7-year vision, strategy, and action plan,
  • AMRUT,
  • Digital India,
  • Atal Innovation Mission,
  • Medical Education Reform,
  • Agriculture reforms,
  • Indices Measuring States’ Performance in Health,
  • Education and Water Management, etc.
  • It comprises:
  • Chairman: Prime Minister of India
  • Chief Ministers of all states,
  • Chief Ministers of Delhi and Puducherry,
  • Lieutenant Governors of all UTs, and
  • Vice-chairman nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • In addition, temporary members are selected from leading universities and research institutions. These members include:
  • Chief Executive Officer,
  • Four ex-official members, and
  • Two part-time members.

Israeli-Palestinian clashes

Why in News

Recently Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed on a daily basis in and around Jerusalem’s Old City.

Behind the Israeli-Palestine Clashes

  • Old City of Jerusalem is the home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and the emotional epicenter of the Middle East conflict.
  • It has been the scene of violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs for 100 years and remains one of the most bitterly contested cities on earth.
  • The latest clashes began a month ago with an Israeli move to block some Palestinian gatherings around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
  • After those restrictions eased, tensions over a plan to evict dozens of Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighborhood continued to fuel confrontations.
  • On 10th May 2021, stun grenades echoed across a holy hilltop compound, and hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Jerusalem

  • Israel views Jerusalem as its “unified, eternal” capital.
  • It had captured east Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Palestinians want those territories for their future state, with east Jerusalem serving as their eventual capital.
  • But Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in a move not recognized internationally.
  • The fate of east Jerusalem has been one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.
  • Israelis were set to mark Jerusalem Day on 10th May, a national holiday celebrating the annexation.
  • In past years, thousands of Israelis, mainly religious nationalists, have marched through the Old City, including the densely populated Muslim Quarter, in a display considered provocative by many Palestinians.
  • In recent days, hardline Israelis have staged other events in east Jerusalem, leading to scattered, violent altercations with Palestinians.

Al-Aqsa Mosque: the holy hilltop


  • The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and sits on a sprawling plateau that is also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock.
  • Muslims refer to the compound as the Noble Sanctuary.
  • The walled plateau is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount, because it was the location of biblical temples.
  • Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D., with only the Western Wall remaining. The mosques were built centuries later.
  • The site is open to tourists during certain times but only Muslims are allowed to pray there. The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

International Reactions

  • Jordan and other Arab nations that have friendly ties with Israel have condemned its crackdown on the protests.
  • Israel’s archenemy Iran has encouraged Palestinian attacks.
  • The U.S. and the EU have condemned the violence and expressed concern about the evictions.

Wider unrest

  • Clashes in Jerusalem, and particularly in Al-Aqsa, often reverberate across the region.
  • The Palestinian militant group has called for a new intifada, or uprising, like the one triggered by an Israeli politician’s visit to Al-Aqsa in 2000.
  • Gaza militants have fired rockets and balloons with incendiary devices attached to them in support of the protesters as an informal cease-fire with Israel has started to fray.
  • Protests have been held in the occupied West Bank and in Arab communities inside Israel.
  • A series of deadly shootings in the West Bank last week has also heightened tensions.

GS PAPER III

Horticulture sector

Why in News

The Government of India has allocated Rs. 2250 Crore for the development in the horticulture sector during 2021-22 which can massively help the farmers in doubling their income.

Key Points

  • To promote and for holistic growth of the horticulture sector in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has invested Rs. 2250 Crore for the year 2021-22 for ‘Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ (MIDH).
  • Government intervention in the horticulture sector has led to the situation wherein horticulture production has surpassed the agriculture production in the country.
  • During the year 2019-20, the country recorded its highest ever horticulture production of 320.77 million tons from an area of 25.66 million hectares.

Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture’ (MIDH)

  • MIDH is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo.
  • Under MIDH, the fund sharing ration between the Centre and states is 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States and 60:40 for other states.
  • MIDH has played a significant role in increasing the area under horticulture crops.
  • Area and production during the years 2014-15 to 2019-20 has increased by 9% and 14% respectively.
  • The mission has boosted best practices which have significantly improved the quality of produce and productivity of farmland.
  • The initiative of MIDH has not only resulted in India’s self-sufficiency in the horticulture sector but also contributed towards achieving sustainable development goals of zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, no poverty, gender equality etc.

Horticulture sector


  • Horticulture is the branch of plant agriculture dealing with garden crops, generally fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
  • It covers all forms of garden management, but in ordinary use it refers to intensive commercial production.
  • Horticulture falls between domestic gardening and field agriculture, though all forms of cultivation naturally have close links.
  • It is divided into the:
  • Cultivation of plants for food (pomology and olericulture)
  • Pomology deals with fruit and nut crops.
  • Olericulture deals with herbaceous plants for the kitchen, including carrots (edible root), asparagus (edible stem), lettuce (edible leaf), cauliflower (edible flower buds), tomatoes (edible fruit), and peas (edible seed).
  • Plants for ornament (floriculture and landscape horticulture).
  • Floriculture deals with the production of flowers and ornamental plants, generally, cut flowers, pot plants, and greenery.
  • Landscape horticulture is a broad category that includes plants for the landscape, including lawn turf but particularly nursery crops such as shrubs, trees, and vines.

Way Forward

  • However, the sector is still facing a lot of challenges in terms of high post-harvest loss and gaps in post-harvest management and supply chain infrastructure.
  • There is tremendous scope for enhancing the productivity of Indian horticulture which is imperative to cater to the country’s estimated demand of 650 Million MT of fruits and vegetables by the year 2050.
  • Some of the new initiatives like focus on planting material production, cluster development programme, credit push through Agri Infra Fund, formation and promotion of FPOs are the right steps in this direction.