Daily Current Affairs – 12-06-2023

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          Vadnagar

    Syllabus: GS1/ Art & Culture

    News:

    • The Ministry of Culture has announced the redevelopment of a primary school attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Vadnagar.

    Geography:

    • Vadnagar is a town and municipality under Mehsana district of Gujarat state.
    • It has been known by names like Anartapura, Anandapur,Vridhanagar, Chamatkarpur and so on, during different periods of its history.
    • Vadnagar was situated at a strategic location of two major ancient trade routes: one joining central India with the Sindh and further northwest regions, while another connected the port towns on Gujarat’s coast to northern India.
    • It is often compared to the historic living cities of Mathura, Ujjain and Varanasi as cities inhabited since the early historic period and in the modern day.

    Findings of archaeological excavations at Vadnagar:

    • Vadnagar was first excavated by archaeologists B Subbarao and RN Mehta in 1953.
    • An unbroken sequence of seven successive cultures going back to 750 BCE was found and divided into seven periods;
    1. Pre-rampart phase (in 2nd century BCE), 
    2. Rampart phase (2nd century BCE – 1st century CE), 
    3. Kshatrapa phase (1st – 4th century CE), 
    4. post-Kshatrapa phase (5th – 9th/10th century CE), 
    5. Solanki phase (10th – 13th century CE), 
    6. Sultanate-Mughal phase (14th – 17th century CE) and
    7. Gaekwad phase (17th/18th – 19th century CE).
    • Most of the excavations – like the fortification, a Buddhist monastery, votive stupas, house-complexes, lanes/streets and industrial hearth – are from pre-2nd century BCE to the Gaekwad period.
    • A 25 metres high mound called Darbargadh is the highest point in the middle of the settlement
    • The extensive water management system found here played a role in the town’s continuity. 

    Historical Significance:

    • Overseas trade:Excavated  11,000 shell bangles and cowry shells traced to the Maldives imply involvement in overseas trade. A gold coin, believed to be from the Mamluk dynasty of Egypt that dated back to the 15th century, was also found.
    • The ASI has also found “Roman connection” with Vadnagar.
    • Kumarpal, the Jain king from the Solanki dynasty (1144-74 CE) undertook repairs of the fort wall in 12th century CE, as recorded in a stone inscription on the Arjuna Bari.
    • Abul Fazl in  Ain-e-Akbari has mentioned about the city.

    Vadnagar: A centre of Buddhism

    • Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang is said to have visited Vadnagar around 641 AD, referring to it as  o-nan-to-pu-lo (Anandpur).
    • Vadnagar was an important centre of Sammitya Buddhists, a sect which Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang also supported.He recorded that ‘there are more than 1000 monks of this school in 10 monasteries’. 
    • In 1992, a red sandstone image of a Bodhisattva was found which was brought from Mathura.
    • An elliptical structure or a circular stupa, along with a square memorial stupa of 2×2 metre and 130 cm in height with a wall enclosure have been found here.

    The current town:

    • Vadnagar is an L-shaped town spread across 85 hectares, with the Sharmishtha Lake located on its north eastern edge.
    • It is surrounded by the remains of a fortification wall, punctured by a series of gates that mark the entry and exit points of the town. The gates are Ghanskol Gate ,Pithori Gate, Nadiol Gate, Amtol Gate, Amarthol Gate and Arjun Bari Gate etc.
    • The city has many historical Hindu and Jain temples like Ambaji Mata Temple, Hatkeshwar temple etc.
    • Vadnagar city has made its name in the Tentative list of the UNESCO World heritage sites.

    Source: IE

     

        Limits on UPI transactions

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    News

    • Recently the banks have put daily limits for the transactions facilitated by the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

    Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

    • UPI is a digital payment system through which a user can both send and receive money through a Virtual Payment Address (VPA). The money will be directly debited from the customer’s bank account.
    • It was developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in 2016.

    Virtual Payment Address (VPA)

    • VPA  is a unique identifier that helps UPI to track a person’s account.
    • VPA can be used to make and request payments through a UPI-enabled app. There is no need to fill  bank account details repeatedly for making multiple payments.

    UPI transaction limit

    • Limit set by NPCI:
    • At present, users can make up to 20 transactions or ₹1 lakh in a single day – either all at once or through the day.
    • For certain specific categories of transactions such as the capital markets, collections (such as bills), insurance and forward inward remittances, the limit is ₹2 lakh. 
    • In December 2021, the limit for the UPI-based ASBA (Application Supported by Blocked Amount) IPO and retail direct schemes was increased to ₹5 lakh for each transaction.
    • Limits set by Banks and UPI apps:They can set limits with their own guidelines for UPI transactions.However, these  limits must be within the overall upper limit set by the NPCI.
    • The limit varies from small banks like Canara Bank which allows ₹25,000 transactions, to big banks like SBI that have set a limit of ₹1 lakh. 
    • Google Pay, Paytm, and Amazon Pay have set a limit of ₹1 lakh per day along with a total of up to ten transaction limits across all UPI apps and bank accounts.
    • Reason:The limits are set to balance out customer convenience and potential fraud/risk concerns.

    Why Is UPI the Most Preferred Payment Mode?

    • Timely Transfer:It is based on the IMPS platform and  works 24×7. Thus helps transfer funds instantly the moment a request is submitted..
    • Multiple Accounts Linking: UPI apps allow linking over one bank account. One can simultaneously use the UPI IDs for multiple bank accounts, sending and receiving funds.
    • Simple Interface: There are multiple smartphone apps for UPI activities which come with a simple and user-friendly interface.

     Internationalisation of UPI:

    • Several countries across the globe are adopting UPI for Person-to-Person (P2P), Person-to-Merchant (P2M) and cross-border payments.
    • RBI has also taken steps for cross border linkage of fast payment systems of India and Singapore i.e. UPI-PayNow.

     

    Source: TH

     

    Urban Co-operative Banks

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

    In News

    • Reserve Bank of India has notified 4 key measures to help strengthen Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs).

    The Guidelines

    • New Branches:  UCBs can now open new branches up to 10 percent (maximum 5 branches) of the number of branches in the previous financial year without prior approval of RBI in their approved area of operation.
      • UCBs have to get the policy approved by their board and comply with the Financially Sound and Well Managed (FSWM) Norms.
    • One-Time Settlement: UCBs can also do One-Time Settlement at par with commercial banks.     
      • The central bank has notified a framework governing this aspect for all regulated entities, including UCBs. Now co-operative banks through board-approved policies may provide a process for technical write-off as well as settlement with borrowers.
    • Priority Sector Lending: The RBI has decided to extend the timeline for UCBs to achieve Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets by two years i.e. up to March 31, 2026.
      • The deadline to achieve the PSL target of 60 percent, which was March 31, 2023, has also been extended to March 31, 2024. 
      • The excess deposits, if any, after clearing the shortfall of PSL during FY 2022-23 will also be refunded to the UCB.
    • Nodal Officer: In order to meet the long pending demand of the cooperative sector for closer coordination and focused interaction, the RBI has recently notified a nodal officer as well.

    What are Cooperative Banks?

    • In India, co-operative banks are registered under the States Cooperative Societies Act. They also come under the regulatory ambit of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under two laws, namely, the Banking Regulations Act, 1949, and the Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
    • It is an institution established on a cooperative basis to deal with the ordinary banking business. Like other banks, cooperative banks are founded by collecting funds through shares, accepting deposits, and granting loans.

    Structure of co-operative banks in India

    • Broadly, co-operative banks in India are divided into two categories – urban and rural.
      • Rural cooperative credit institutions could either be short-term or long-term in nature. Further, short-term cooperative credit institutions are further sub-divided into State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
      • Meanwhile, the long-term institutions are either State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) or Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs).
    • On the other hand, Urban Co-operative Banks (UBBs) are either scheduled or non-scheduled. 
      • Scheduled and non-scheduled UCBs are again of two kinds- multi-state and those operating in single state.

    Urban Cooperative Banks

    • UCBs refers to primary cooperative banks located in urban and semi-urban areas. These banks, till 1996, were allowed to lend money only for non-agricultural purposes.
    • These banks were traditionally centred around communities, localities workplace groups. They essentially lent to small borrowers and businesses. Today, their scope of operations has widened considerably.
    • From its origins then to today, the thrust of UCBs, historically, has been to mobilise savings from the middle and low income urban groups and purvey credit to their members – many of which belonged to weaker sections.
    • The Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs), the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), the Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), and Local Area Banks (LABs) could be considered as differentiated banks as they operate in localized areas.

    Significance

    • Financial Inclusion: They have traditionally played an important role in mobilising resources from lower and middle-income groups and in providing direct finance to small entrepreneurs and traders.
    • Low Cost: The key advantage that UCBs enjoy over commercial banks is derived from their cost structure. The labour costs of UCBs are considerably less than that of commercial banks and generally the operating costs are also minimal.
    • Flexibility: The advantages of the local nature of the UCBs also manifest themselves in the flexibility that these banks can provide to their local clients. 
      • Unlike their commercial counterparts, who need to adhere to national and global policies to change in order to alter their practices, UCBs can be far more responsive to the needs of the local community and the changes there. Once again, that provides a massive competitive advantage.
    • Co-operatives have great potential to rejuvenate growth, formalise the economy, and reduce inequality besides improving the standard of living of the poor.

    Challenges

    • Structural Challanges: Most of them being single-branch banks, they have the problem of correlated asset risk which means the entire bank can come down if a local problem of significant scale affects the area. 
      • The regulators are also concerned about their systemic risk. To the extent that UCBs often borrow and lend among themselves, the collapse of one UCB can actually destabilise others. 
    • Capital Growth: But even here, the UCBs face a unique problem – restricted by their cooperative nature, they cannot issue fresh equity to shore up capital. The only capital growth they have, therefore, has to be in line with the growth of the business of their clientele. This remains a challenge for UCBs to struggle with.            
    • Operational Challanges: There are major operational hurdles as well. Lack of professionalism is a common allegation hurled at UCBs from the mainstream banks. It is often viewed that while on one hand, hiring local people has helped keep the costs down and has enhanced the connectedness of these banks with the respective communities and groups, at times it has come at the cost of a professional work ethic. 
    • Lack of Trained and Qualified Staff: Qualifications of the top management are another issue. Experience can scarcely be a substitute for domain knowledge in almost any field, particularly in the banking field. Attracting talent, even though not necessarily of the same gloss as that of private and foreign banks, is of critical importance. 
    • Challenging Changes: The evolving changes in the financial sector combining and integrating micro finance, FinTech companies, payment gateways, social platforms, e-commerce companies and NBFCs challenge the continued presence of the UCBs, which are mostly small in size, lack professional management and have geographically less diversified operations.
    • Frauds, COVID etc affected the asset quality: This, even, resulted in the decline of profitability of Urban Cooperative Banks.
      • Lax corporate governance standards combined with political influence and interference was a prominent reason for the downfall of the sector.

    Way forward

    • The most important aspect of financial inclusion is financial literacy. There is a lack of awareness, especially amongst people, both rural and urban, about various schemes of FIs. 
    • Increase in advertisement in local language, on radio and television, and in print media, with local icons and artistes as brand ambassadors of the campaign, could help in building public confidence
    • In order to improve efficiency, increase transparency and promote fairness, the decision-making processes pertaining to staff administration, granting of credit and new membership should be clearly laid down.  
    • If the UCBs can manage themselves efficiently, there will be increasing freedom for them.

    Source: BS

        Minimum Support Prices (MSP)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & related  issues, Agriculture

    News

    • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the increase in Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for all mandated Kharif Crops for 2023-24. 

    What is MSP?

    • Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.
    • The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces the MSP at the start of each sowing season, taking into account the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)
    • MSP protects the producer- farmers against distress sale during bumper production years.

    Background

    • MSP was first introduced in the 1965-66 season for wheat. Later the coverage was expanded to coarse cereals.
    • In 1965 the government decided to set up a permanent body, called the Agricultural Prices Commission to recommend MSP.This was renamed as the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in 1985.

    Crops Covered

    • The Centre announces the MSP (which is not legally guaranteed) for 22 mandated crops and Fair & Remunerative Price for sugarcane.
    • These include 
      • 14 kharif crops (paddy, jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, tur/arhar, moong, urad, groundnut, soyabean, sunflower, sesamum, niger seed, cotton), 
      • 6 rabi crops (wheat, barley, gram, masur/lentil, rapeseed and mustard, and safflower) and 
      • 2 commercial crops (jute and copra).
    • In addition, MSP for Toria and de-husked coconut is also fixed on the basis of MSPs of rapeseed & mustard and copra respectively. 

    Fair & Remunerative Price(FRP):

    • FRP is the minimum price at which the sugar mills purchase sugarcane from farmers.
    • The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs announces the FRP on the recommendations of CACP.

    Latest Minimum Support Price:Kharif (2023-24)

    The increase in MSP for Kharif Crops is in line with the Union Budget 2018-19 announcement of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the All-India weighted average Cost of Production (CoP).

    Calculation of MSP:

    While recommending MSPs, the CACP looks at the following factors:

    • demand and supply of a commodity;
    • cost of production;
    • market price trends (both domestic and international);
    • inter-crop price parity;
    • the terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture (that is, the ratio of prices of farm inputs and farm outputs);
    • a minimum of 50 per cent as the margin over the cost of production; 
    • the likely implications of an MSP on consumers of that product.

    Calculation Formula:

    • The CACP does not do any field-based cost estimates itself. It makes projections using state-wise, crop-specific production cost estimates provided by the Directorate of Economics & Statistics in the Agriculture Ministry.
    • The CACP calculates three types of costs — A2, A2+FL and C2 — for each mandated crop for different states. 
    • A2 cost:It is the lowest and covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer — in cash and kind — on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
    • A2+FL cost:It includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour.
    • C2 cost: It is the highest of the three costs and defined as a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest for owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL.
    • The National Commission for Farmers, chaired by MS Swaminathan, had recommended MSP under the C2+50 percent formula. That is, the total cost of the crop (C2) and the profit thereon is 50 percent.However. The government announces  MSP on the basis of A2+FL.

    How is the procurement carried out?

    • The Food Corporation of India (FCI), along with state government agencies (SGAs), procures food grains under MSP.
    • There are two types of systems: centralised procurement system and Decentralised procurement system
    • Centralised procurement system:
    • The procurement of foodgrains in Central Pool is undertaken either by FCI directly or by State  government agencies (SGA).
    • Central pool refers to stocks procured through MSP operations for welfare schemes and calamity relief.
    • Quantity procured by SGAs is handed over to FCI for storage and subsequent issue against GoI (Government of India) allocations in the same State or movement of surplus stocks to other States.
    • The cost of the foodgrains procured by State agencies is reimbursed by FCI.
    • Decentralised procurement system: The State Government itself undertakes direct purchase of food grains.It also stores and distributes these foodgrains under NFSA and other welfare schemes.
    • Economic cost to the government:
    • The total cost includes the acquisition and distribution costs. 
    • It is the MSP and incidental costs of procurement, including state taxes, commission to agents, cost of bagging materials, mandi labour, transportation to depot, etc. 

    Concerns of Government:

    • Burden on government exchequer:The economic cost of procurement is very high  for the FCI, which is eventyally borne by the Union government.Thus lead to divergence of funds from being invested in agriculture infrastructure.
    • Lack of storage facility: Due to improper handling and storage, more than 40,000 tonnes of foodgrains have been damaged in the last six years.
    • Environmental degradation: MSP has created highly distorted incentive structures in favour of wheat and rice and along with highly subsidised power and urea, it is leading to an environmental disaster in certain pockets of north-west India.

    Concerns of farmers:

    • No legal statutory backing: a farmer cannot demand MSP as a matter of right.
    • Calculation over MSP:Protesting farmers have been demanding MSP based on C2 cost, instead of A2+FL.
    • Political tool: MSPs serve as a tool in the hands of the policymakers to tweak the production pattern and  incentivise certain crops. Closer to elections, the governments announce high MSPs to win over the farmer vote.
    • Limited procurement:While the government has provision of MSP for many crops, it procures only a few of those and that too from only a few states.Paddy and wheat growing households dominate the charts of MSP awareness and output sold under it.
    • Delayed procurement:Government procurement agencies come late in the market and by the time procurement starts, the majority of the farmers sell out their produce to private players.
    • Limited awareness: The benefits of the MSP are mostly going towards big farmers whereas small and marginalised ones are left out of the benefits.
    • Consider Inflation for input cost:Farmers organisations demand MSP in tune with rising costs of inputs including fertiliser and irrigation.

    Concerns of Consumer:

    • Economic aspect: A sharp rise in MSPs (or higher MSPs over a sustained period) can lead to a spike in food inflation.

    Recommendations

    • Include more crops in MSP like millets,horticulture etc.
    • Instead of focussing MSP,benefiting farmers with schemes like PM-KISAN, PM-AASHA schemes etc.It will provide direct support to them and reduce government fiscal burden.
    • Farmers should be provided assistance regarding which crop to grow, when to sow, apply plant nutrients and which pest is attacking their crop etc.
    • Infrastructure development:
    • The state must intervene to provide post-harvest technologies to farmers to ensure a better shelf life for their produce. 
    • Construction of roads to connect villages to the mandis .
    • Adequate facilities for irrigation, as nearly 50 per cent of the land being rain-fed and lacking ample warehouses to store their produce at the village level.

     

    Source: TH
     

    Indo-US cooperation in agriculture

    Syllabus: GS2/ India & Foreign Relations, International Organisations & Groupings

    In News

    • The role played by the USA in India’s agricultural development during the 1950s and 1960s is not well known.

    Indo-US cooperation in agriculture

    • Agricultural Research Partnerships:
      • Experts in both countries are trying to identify the most useful areas to focus on in terms of possible future collaborations on agricultural research, information exchanges, and technology transfer initiatives that can foster deeper cooperation on sustainable agriculture.
    • USA’s land-grant universities:
      • These institutions, set up in the USA on public land, engaged in agricultural education as well as research and extension activity
      • This was unlike the agricultural and veterinary colleges of the 1950’s in India where Research and extension (training farmers in adopting scientific cultivation practices) was largely left to the state agricultural departments.
      • The model has led to as many as eight agricultural universities coming up in India. 
        • All the eight universities received the US Agency for International Development’s assistance for training of faculty and provision of equipment and books. Each was further linked to a US land-grant institution.
        • The universities were to have their own research farms, regional stations and sub-stations, and seed production facilities.
    • The Green Revolution’s seeds:
      • Traditional wheat and rice varieties were tall and slender. 
      • In 1949, an American biologist S.C. Salmon  identified a wheat variety called ‘Norin-10’.
        • Its plants grew to only 2-2.5 feet, as against the 4.5-5 feet height of traditional tall varieties.
      • In India, the green revolution was launched under the guidance of geneticist M. S. Swaminathan.
        • The Green Revolution period began in the 1960s during which agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, such as the use of high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilizers.

    Significance of partnership

    • What made the US so much interested in India’s agricultural development the way the Soviet Union promoted its industrialization?
      • The answer probably lies in the Cold War geopolitics and great-power rivalry of those times. 
      • It resulted in competition to do-good, extending to “fighting world hunger” and sharing of knowledge and plant genetic material that were viewed as “global public goods”.

    Opportunities 

    • Cold chain transportation:
      • With a high percentage of waste in its current agricultural transportation infrastructure, the Indian market can provide significant new investment opportunities for leading U.S. companies in cold chain transportation logistics and frozen foods distribution. 
    • Strategic supplier to the US:
      • With new reforms designed to expand contract farming, India could become a cost-effective strategic supplier to the United States for key food products with new agriculture value chains designed to meet the needs of U.S. consumers, thereby creating additional food supply channels for U.S. markets and benefitting Indian farmers with secured markets. 
    • Expertise for the local maket:
      • U.S. firms can help India develop value chains for new crops, such as sugar beet, to cater to new demands of its growing middle class and global consumer markets. 
      • The U.S. agricultural sector can also bring its expertise in internet and digital innovations to help the growing demand in India for technology that can help to modernize and streamline several aspects of India’s agriculture value chains.

    India-US Relations

    • About:
      • India and the US share values of democracy, rule of law, human rights, religious freedom that bind the countries together.
    • Bilateral engagement:
      • India and the United States enjoy a comprehensive global strategic  partnership covering almost all areas of human endeavour, driven by  shared democratic values, convergence of interests on a range of issues,  and vibrant people-to-people contacts.
      • Regular exchanges at the leadership-level have been an integral  element of the expanding bilateral engagement.
      • Despite COVID-19 pandemic, India-U.S. cooperation witnessed  intense engagement under various bilateral dialogue mechanisms in a wide  range of areas including defence, security, health, trade, economic, science  & technology, energy and people-to-people ties.
    • Defence and Security: 
      • India-US defence cooperation is based on “New Framework for IndiaUS Defence Cooperation”, which was renewed for a period of ten years in  2015. 
      • In 2016, the defence relationship was designated as a Major  Defence Partnership (MDP). 
        • The MDP recognizes a shared desire to build  a comprehensive, enduring and mutually beneficial defence partnership. 
      • Several defence agreements (BECA, LEMOA, COMCASA) have been signed in recent years. 
      • Bilateral military exercises (Vajra Prahar, Yudh Prayas) and defence exchanges are important  aspects of deepening military-to-military cooperation.
    • Quad: 
      • The four Quad partners (India, Japan, United States & Australia) first formed a “Core Group” in 2004, to swiftly mobilise aid during the joint response to the 2004 Tsunami. Since 2017, Quad engagements have increased and intensified.
    • Counter Terrorism Cooperation:
      • Cooperation in counter-terrorism has seen considerable progress with information exchange, operational cooperation and sharing of counterterrorism technology and equipment. India-U.S. Joint Working Group on  Counter-Terrorism oversees the expanding CT cooperation.
    • Cyber Security Cooperation:
      • The India-US Cyber Framework signed in September 2016, provides for expanding cooperation in the cyber domain.
    • Trade & Economic Relations: 
      • The rapidly expanding trade and commercial linkages form an important component of the multi-faceted partnership between India and the United States. 
      • The U.S. is India’s second largest trading partner and a major destination for our exports of goods and services. 
      • Bilateral trade in goods and services stood at US$ 146 billion in 2019.
      • During the financial year 2020-21, India received the highest ever foreign direct investment amounting to USD 81.72 billion, as per data published by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. 
      • The US replaced Mauritius as the second largest source of foreign direct investment into India during 2020-21 with inflows of USD 13.82 billion. 
      • The US is one of the top 5 investment destinations for Indian FDI.
    • Energy sector:
      • India and the US have a strong bilateral partnership in the energy sector.
      • In 2010, bilateral Energy Dialogue was launched. 
    • Science and Technology:
      • India-US cooperation in Science and Technology is multi-faceted and has been growing steadily under the framework of the India-US Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement signed in October 2005, which was renewed for a period of ten years in September 2019.
      • ISRO and NASA are working together to realise a joint microwave remote sensing satellite for Earth observation, named NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR). 
    • Education partnership: 
      • It is an important pillar of India-US ties and both the countries share strong linkages and history of higher education collaborations.
      • The United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) was set up after a bilateral agreement on education exchange was signed between India and the US on February 2, 1950
    • Indian Diaspora: 
      • About 4.2 million Indian Americans/Indian origin people reside in the US. The Indian Americans [3.18 million] constitute the third largest Asian ethnic group in the US.

    Source: IE

    Captagon Pills

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology, Health

    In News

    • Reports suggest that the Islamic State (IS) and Syrian fighters widely consumed Captagon Pills to increase alertness and suppress appetite during their gruelling battles.

    About

    • Captagon is a highly addictive amphetamine-type drug, which is produced mainly in Syria and widely smuggled across West Asia. 
    • While Nazi Germany supplied Pervitin, a methamphetamine (now known as crystal meth) to its soldiers, the Allied forces gave their troops Benzedrine, which was amphetamine sulfate. 
    • The drug remained popular even after the war until in 1965, when the US banned Benzedrine inhalers after decades of reported abuse.
    • In the following decades, new illicit tablets, mainly containing amphetamine, labelled Captagon surfaced in Bulgaria from where Balkan and Turkish criminal networks smuggled them to the Arabian Peninsula.

    What exactly is Captagon?

    • The original Captagon contained fenethylline, a synthetic drug of the phenethylamine family to which amphetamine also belongs.
    • It was commercially sold in several countries until the 1980s and was banned due to fears of its highly addictive nature.

    What do amphetamine-based drugs do?

    • According to a 2015 report published by Vox, Captagon pills, like other amphetamine-based drugs, stimulate the central nervous system, providing “a boost of energy, enhance someone’s focus, let someone stay awake for longer periods of time, and produce a feeling of euphoria.
    • A person consuming any amphetamine-based drug might feel some sort of placebo effect though, which could lead to erratic behaviours.
    • Captagon or other amphetamine-type drugs usually stay in the blood for around 36 hours. 

    Negative Impacts

    • Consumption of amphetamines can cause loss of appetite and weight, heart problems such as fast heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and heart attack, which can lead to death. 
    • They can also cause high body temperature, skin flushing, memory loss, problems thinking clearly, and stroke.

    Source: IE

    3D Digitisation of Museums

     

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Tech

    In News

    • The Union government has planned to complete 3D digitisation of all museums under its administrative control by the year end for better conservation of artifacts.

    About

    • Museums include Salar Jung museum, Hyderabad, the Allahabad Museum in Prayagraj, the Indian Museum, Kolkata, the Victoria Memorial Hall, the National Museum and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
    • Besides aiding conservation, 3D digitisation in the museum space can offer visitors new ways to access and explore the collection. 
    • 3D models can be used in augmented reality and virtual reality learning experiences, and facilitate 3D printing.

    3D scanning

    • It will mean analysing a real-world object or environment to collect three-dimensional data of its shape and possibly its appearance. The collected data is then used to construct digital 3D models.
    • The entire process was being carried out by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the MeitY and Union Culture Ministry for this.

    JATAN virtual museum builder software

    • The 3D digitisation would be done using the JATAN virtual museum builder software which has been designed and developed by Human Centres Design and Computing Group, Centre for Development of Smart Computing, Pune.
    • JATAN is a digital collection management system for Indian museums. 
    • It is a client server application with features such as image cropping, watermarking, unique numbering, and management of digital objects with multimedia representations. 
    • It can create 3D virtual galleries and provide public access through web, mobile or touch screen kiosks.

    Source: TH