Down To Earth (January 16-31 2024)

Conservation of indigenous crop varieties


  • Recently, farmers in Karnataka are focusing on preserving rare native paddy varieties through cultivation.


  • Conservation of indigenous crop varieties does not mean just collecting and storing seeds in a container, but it needs to cultivate and harvest the crop every year to ensure its conservation.
  • The indigenous crops of India include several varieties of rice, millets, wheat, barley, and maize.
    • The indigenous varieties of rice and millets are resistant to drought, salinity, and floods.

Significance of indigenous crop varieties

  • Adaptability: They are well-adapted to the regions where they originate, making them sturdy and resistant.
    • They require less water and usually display special characteristics in terms of nutritional value, fragrance, and colour.
  • Nutrition: Indigenous food plants tend to be very nutritious, often more nutritious than some introduced (and perhaps more popular) plants.
  • Biodiversity: The diversity provided by eating indigenous vegetables contributes to food security.
    • They are genetically diverse and sustainable.
  • Climate-Smart Agriculture: Cultivation of indigenous crops has the potential to make agriculture climate-smart.

Associated challenges

  • The Green Revolution in the 1960s introduced high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat to increase food production.
    • However, this led to a decline in the production of other food crops such as indigenous rice varieties and millets.
    • It led to the disappearance of many of these indigenous crops, which were widely grown and eaten until just 100 years ago.
  • Complex Harvest Licensing Procedure and Limited Seed Access: Indigenous crop farmers often face complex harvest licensing procedures and limited access to seeds or cuttings.
  • Land Dispossession and Cultural Appropriation: Indigenous farmers often face issues such as land dispossession and cultural appropriation.
  • Lack of Recognition and Limited Access to Resources and Markets: Indigenous farmers often lack recognition and have limited access to resources and markets.
  • Loss of Unique Properties: The loss of indigenous crop varieties means disruption of agriculture cycles that have been feeding, nurturing, and sustaining human beings and other life forms for aeons.
  • Shift in Consumer Preference: Consumers moving to other varieties, shifting rainfall patterns, and a change from multi-cropping to mono-cropping are all contributing to the drop
  • Negative Cultural Perception: There is often a negative cultural perception of Indigenous Food Plants (IFPs) and a lack of preparation knowledge at the consumption level.
  • Other challenges include the competition with subsidised conventional production, limited distribution options, and capabilities and capacity of growers, and lack of institutional support.

Measures to save the indigenous crop varieties

  • Use of Drought-Tolerant Local Varieties: Indigenous farmers often use local varieties of crops that are more tolerant to drought conditions.
  • Polyculture: This is the practice of growing multiple crops in the same space, which can help to maintain biodiversity.
  • Agroforestry: This involves integrating trees into crop fields, which can help to improve soil health and biodiversity.
  • Water Harvesting: Techniques for collecting and storing rainwater can help to ensure a reliable water supply for crops.
  • Soil Conservation: Practices such as crop rotation and cover cropping can help to maintain soil health and fertility.
  • Seed Banks and Seed Exchanges: These can play an important role in preserving ancient, heirloom varieties of important food crops.
  • Reviving Indigenous Crops: In some regions, farmers have returned to growing indigenous crops, which are often better suited to local climatic conditions.
  • Education and Awareness: Spreading knowledge about the importance of indigenous crops and how to cultivate them can help to ensure their survival for future generations.

Related government initiatives

  • The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, 2008: It recognized the on-farm conservation of 20 varieties by tribal communities of Wayanad, namely Kurichiya and Kuruma, under the title, Genome Saviours.
  • Promotion of Indigenous Varieties of Rice: The Indian Government is promoting indigenous varieties of rice through various programs.
    • 574 indigenous varieties of rice have been propagated and tested at more than 10,000 farmers’ fields.
    • Community seed banks have been established at community level involving KVKs and Self Help Groups in remote and tribal areas of the country.
  • Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001: This legislation provides for the registration of traditional crop varieties as farmers’ varieties, and for the sharing of benefits when those varieties are incorporated into new commercial varieties.
  • Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999: This legislation provides for the registration of indications to promote the marketing of goods which derive their quality and characteristics from their geographical origin.
  • National Seeds Programme (1975-85): It was launched with the aid of the World Bank with two components viz. Breeder Seed Production (BSP) and Seed Technology Research (STR).

Climate Crisis and Global Trade


  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has expressed concern that climate change is causing significant disruptions in global trade, particularly in key sea lanes such as the Black Sea, the Red Sea, and the Panama Canal.


  • UNCTAD has been actively participating in discussions on climate change and global trade, and brought into focus the profound climate-related economic inequalities between developed and developing countries.
  • It raised concerns over the disruption in global trade due to the ongoing crisis in the Red Sea shipping route, stating that it would particularly hurt developing nations and warned that it is impacting global food prices.
  • Developed countries are introducing policies, including massive subsidies and tariffs, leading to a trend towards protectionism, in the name of climate action, which could spark trade wars.
    • It could significantly change the global trade system.

Impact of Climate change on global trade

  • Disruption of Supply Chains: Extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, can disrupt supply chains and damage the transport infrastructure necessary for trade in goods.
    • For example, hurricanes and floods can directly damage roads, bridges, ports, and railway tracks.
  • Shift in Comparative Advantage: Changing climatic conditions and the policies introduced to address them are shifting the patterns of comparative advantage.
    • This creates risks for countries that rely on climate-vulnerable sectors but also new economic opportunities for countries with plentiful renewable energy sources.
  • Maritime Transport Risks: Maritime transport is particularly exposed to climate-related risks.
    • Sea level rise represents a direct threat to the operation of ports, while changes in precipitation affect the viability of critical shipping hubs and passages.

Possible Solutions

  • Role of World Trade Organization (WTO): It plays an important part in helping countries to tackle climate change by maintaining a predictable trading environment underpinned by WTO rules.
    • However, the mutual supportiveness of trade and climate change policies could be strengthened by further international cooperation at the WTO.
    • In early 1990, when the UNFCCC was agreed at the Rio Summit, the WTO was also set up with global rules to facilitate free trade between nations.
  • Role of Trade Policies: Well-designed trade policies are essential elements of sound climate change adaptation strategies.
    • Trade can play an essential role in helping countries reduce emissions by increasing the availability and affordability of environmental goods, services, and technologies.
  • Need for Global Coordination: Ensuring that trade and climate change policies are mutually supportive requires global coordination and transparency about government measures.


  • Climate change is not only disrupting global trade but also reshaping it in significant ways. It’s crucial for countries to work together to ensure that trade policies support global efforts to curb climate change.

Nano Urea


  • Field experiment finds problems with nano urea with a substantial decrease in rice and wheat yields when compared to conventional nitrogen fertiliser application.

About Nano Urea

  • It is a nanotechnology-based Agri-input that provides nitrogen to plants. It is a sustainable option for farmers towards smart agriculture and combats climate change.
  • Nano urea is non-toxic, safe for the user; safe for flora and fauna but it is recommended to use a face mask and gloves while spraying on the crop.
  • Its liquid contains 4% Nitrogen as encapsulated nitrogen analogues (analogue is a compound having a structure similar to that of another compound, but differing from it in respect to a certain component).
  • It is the only Nano fertiliser approved by the Government of India and included in the Fertilizer Control Order (FCO).
    • It is developed and Patented by IFFCO.


  • Minimising the Environmental Footprint: Nano urea helps in minimising the environmental footprint by reducing the loss of nutrients from agriculture fields in the form of leaching and gaseous emissions which are used to cause environmental pollution and climate change.
  • It promotes clean and green technology as its industrial production is neither energy-intensive or resource-consuming.
  • Effectiveness: The application of 1 bottle of Nano Urea can effectively replace at least 1 bag of Urea.

Related Concerns

  • Scientific Validity: An opinion paper published in the journal ‘Plant and Soil’ has raised the concerns questioning the efficacy and benefits of the product, emphasising the need for rigorous scientific scrutiny before launching nano fertilisers into the market.
  • Discrepancy Between Claims and Outcomes: Nano liquid urea was introduced as a promising alternative to traditional granular urea.
    • However, it has failed to deliver noticeable results in the field. Farmers using the fertiliser have experienced increased input costs without corresponding improvements in crop yield.
  • Misleading Statements: The product is promoted with misleading and wrong statements about its efficiency as a fertiliser, plant uptake pathways, and environmental friendliness.
    • With the doubts about the effect of nano urea in mind, the price of the product seems excessively high.
  • Nitrogen Uptake Efficiency: It is unclear how even smaller nanoparticles can boost nitrogen uptake efficiency.
    • Scientists are unsure whether the product can reduce farmers’ reliance on urea on its own.
  • Potential Consequences: Exaggerated claims could lead to severe yield losses, impacting food security and farmer livelihoods.

The Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015


  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Mines has proposed changes to the Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015.

The Mineral (Auction) Rules, 2015

  • These rules exercise the powers conferred by section 13 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
  • The rules define several terms such as Composite Licence, Mine Development and Production Agreement, preferred bidder, qualified bidders, successful bidder, technically qualified bidders, reserve price, section, Schedule, tender document, upfront payment, value of estimated resources, and value of mineral despatched.
  • The tender document issued by the State Government shall contain a geological report pursuant to the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules, 2015 specifying particulars and estimated quantities of all minerals discovered in the area.

About the proposed changes

  • Mineral (Auction) Amendment Rules, 2024: These amendments bring about crucial modifications in bid submissions, upfront payments, and performance security.
    • Noteworthy limits have been imposed on upfront payments and performance security for preferred bidders and composite licence holders, ensuring a balanced and competitive environment.

Earlier changes in the rules

  • Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Amendment Rules, 2021: As per the amended rules limestone, iron ore and bauxite blocks having surficial deposits can be auctioned for mining lease at G3 level of exploration.
    • Further, auction for composite licence for all minerals has been allowed at G4 level of exploration.
  • Mineral (Auction) Amendment Rules, 2021: The rules provide incentive for production & dispatch earlier than the scheduled date of commencement of production.
  • Mineral (Auction) Second Amendment Rules, 2021: The amended Rules provide for cap on net worth requirement for mining lease and composite licence.
  • Mineral (Auction) Fourth Amendment Rules, 2021: In case the area proposed by a person is put up for auction to grant a composite licence, such person shall be required to submit the bid security of only 50% of the amount specified for participating in the auction for the said area.
  • Mineral (Auction) Amendment Rules, 2022: As per the amended Rules, global positioning system has been allowed for identification and demarcation of the area where a composite licence is proposed to be granted through auction.

The Environment (Protection) Sixth Amendment Rules, 2023


  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has introduced the Environment (Protection) Sixth Amendment Rules, 2023
  • It further modifies the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.

Key Provisions in the Rules

  • Amendments in Brick Kilns: The existing brick kilns which do not follow zig-zag technology or vertical shaft or use piped natural gas as fuel in brick making shall be converted to zig-zag technology or vertical shaft or use piped natural gas as fuel in brick making within a period of 1-year, in case of kilns located within 10 kilometres radius of non-attainment cities.
  • Revision of Emission Standards for Industrial Boilers: The amendment is related to the revision of the emission standard of particulate matter for industrial boilers.
    • The amendment was done to lay down separate standards for the different types of fuel used in industrial boilers and promote the use of new-age technologies that are less polluting.
  • Changes in Particulate Emission Criteria: Earlier, the particulate matter emission limit was laid down in 4 categories based on the steam generation2. After the amendment, the categories have been reduced to 3, and the particulate emission criteria have also been modified.
    • The new limits have been provided based on the type of Industrial Boiler (fuel-wise).


  • This amendment is a significant step forward in India’s efforts to protect the environment.
  • The rules will help to reduce pollution from air emissions from Boilers used in a number of Industries.
  • The revised criteria will also help to improve the management of India’s natural resources.

Loneliness as a Public Health Crisis


  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised loneliness as a public health crisis.


  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness a global public health concern that comes in light of the increasing levels of loneliness and social isolation worldwide, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Findings by the WHO

  • An estimated 1 in 4 older people experience social isolation, and between 5% and 15% of adolescents experience loneliness.
  • Loneliness can have serious impacts on physical and mental health, quality of life, and longevity.
  • The health risks associated with loneliness are comparable to well-established risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Impacts of Loneliness

  • It activates stress response, resulting in increased inflammation. It also leads to behavioural changes such as dietary change, smoking, alcohol abuse and reduced activity levels.
  • Behavioural Change: Loneliness increases the risk of physiological and psychological ailments and can also lead to social isolation
  • Physiological Impact: It increases risk of premature death by 26%; heart stroke by 32%, coronary artery disease by 29%, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 26%, type 2 diabetes by 98%, and cancer by 10% in men.
    • It increases risk of Depression by 14 times, Anxiety by 11 times, Dementia by 50% and Suicidal thoughts by 27.2%
  • Individual or Sociological Impacts: Loneliness restrict social roles and social prescribing (art, therapeutic writing, group exercises) and increase expenditure due to medical bills or hospitalisations
    • Social isolation due to exclusion, alienation and lack of solidarity from people or society

Response by Global Institutions

  • The WHO has launched an International Commission on Social Connection, which will run for three years.
  • The WHO’s focus on loneliness as a public health concern highlights the importance of social connections to our overall well-being.
    • It’s a significant step towards addressing this issue on a global scale.
  • The British Medical Journal published ‘The prevalence of loneliness across 13 countries: systematic review and meta-analysis’ in 2022.
    • India currently possesses national-level loneliness prevalence data exclusively for older adults, leaving a significant gap in understanding the extent of loneliness among adolescents, adults;

Green Revolution and Issues of Food Security and Health


  • The scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) studied the nutritional value and toxins in high yield variety crops that were introduced at the time of the Green Revolution.
    • They remarked on India's growing burden of non-communicable diseases by 2040.


  • The study reports that breeding programs focused on developing high-yielding varieties have altered the nutrient profiles of rice and wheat, two major staple food grains of India.
  • While chasing yield, the plant genetics have been tinkered with so much that they no longer do the fundamental job of delivering nutrition from the soil to the grains.
  • The impoverished staple grains could worsen the country’s growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
    • This is a significant concern as rice and wheat meet over 50% of the daily energy requirements of people in India.
  • Alarming rise in toxic elements High-yielding rice and wheat varieties released over the last 50 years show higher accumulation of toxic elements in food grains.
  • Depletion in mineral diet quality Nutritional quality of rice and wheat cultivars continue to deteriorate with each passing decade.
  • Food not for health: Adverse health effects of mineral diet quality has steadily increased in high-yielding rice varieties, exceeding constructive effects in 2022.
    • For wheat, adverse and constructive effects continue to deteriorate.
  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition is still a challenge, especially amongst children below the age of five.
    • As per NFHS-5 (2019-21), 32% of children were underweight, 35% stunted, and 19% wasted.
    • Although India made reasonably good progress in reducing infant mortality from 57/1,000 in 2005-06 to 35/1,000 in 2019-21, the progress on other indicators of malnutrition is not very satisfactory.
  • Climate change & food insecurity: Climate change and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, from heat waves to flash floods, pose a big challenge not only to India’s food system but also to poverty alleviation – gains could reverse with these shocks.
  • Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs): The four major NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs), and diabetes.
    • The proportion of deaths due to NCDs in India has increased from 37.9% in 1990 to 61.8% in 2016.
    • The National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke was launched in 2010 as part of the National Health Mission (NHM).
    • It provides technical and financial support to the States/UTs for prevention, early diagnosis, management, and treatment of NCDs

Forced Evolution


  • Plants shift towards self-pollination as they see disruption in interactions with insects due to changes in climate.


  • Disruption in interaction between plants and pollinator species is undoing millions of years of coevolution.
  • The scientists said that the new generations of field pansy flowers were 10% smaller, produced 20% less nectar and were less visited by pollinators compared to their ancestors
  • Field pansy (Viola Arvensis) has shown rapid evolution towards ‘selfing syndrome’ in which the predominantly cross-pollinating plant begins to self-pollinate due to weakened interactions with pollinators.
    • Field pansy is a low-growing plant with pale creamy-yellow flowers, and is considered a native of southeastern Europe and western and now grows in temperate zones.

The Resurrection Ecology Approach

  • The scientists used a ‘resurrection ecology’ approach, in which they grew dormant seeds collected from four populations of field pansy in the 1990s-2000s, along with their descendants, and noted that pollinators have declined in their study region over the past few years.

Cause of Concerns

  • The phenomenon of pollinator-plant mismatch is indeed a cause for concern. It refers to the disruption of the mutualistic relationship between plants and their pollinators due to changes in environmental factors such as global warming.
  • This is a complex issue with far-reaching implications for our ecosystems and food systems.
    • It underscores the importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Global Warming and Mismatches: Global warming can cause mismatches between plants and their pollinators, disrupting this crucial ecological interaction.
    • While there is growing empirical evidence of phenological mismatches occurring today, the occurrence of future spatial mismatches is predominantly theoretical and based on predictive models.
  • Effects on Biodiversity: The effects of a warming climate on species fitness and persistence are becoming more apparent, with an increasing number of studies demonstrating its multiple impacts on biodiversity.
    • This global change can directly affect the fitness of species across their current ranges but it can also alter their ecological interactions.
  • Shift in Flowering Plants’ Reproduction: Amid declines reported in many pollinator populations, a new study on the evolution of one flower species’ mating system has revealed a remarkable shift that could exacerbate the challenges faced by the plants’ insect partners.
    • The flowers’ reproductive evolution may be linked to environmental changes such as habitat destruction and rapid ongoing decreases in pollinator biodiversity.
  • Impact on Ecosystems: An overall decline in pollinators could affect some plant species more severely than others.
    • If plants produce less nectar, there will be less food available to pollinators, which will in turn accelerate the rate at which the animals’ numbers dwindle.
  • The move from cross-fertilisation to self-pollination may benefit plants in the short term, but it could lead species to an evolutionary dead end with increased chances of extinction.

Do you know about Forced Evolution

  • Forced Evolution in Biology: This refers to the concept of artificially inducing or accelerating the evolutionary process in a species, typically through selective breeding or genetic engineering.
    • This could involve selecting for specific traits, such as larger fruit in trees or longer fur in dogs.
    • Another example is inducing antibiotic resistance in bacteria by exposing them to antibiotics.
  • Forced Evolution in Virology: Scientists have explored the idea of creating a designer drug that forces viruses to mutate themselves out of existence.
    • This concept, known as ‘lethal mutagenesis’, involves using drugs to increase the mutation rate of a virus to a point where the virus accumulates so many detrimental mutations that it can no longer survive.

The Geographical Indication (GI)


  • India’s two-decade journey with GI tags has shown limited outcomes asking to simplify the registration processes.

About the Geographical Indication (GI)

  • It is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • It is a form of certification that recognises unique products based on their origin, which is often attributed to agro-climatic variations and traditional cultivation practices.
    • It is extended to non-agricultural products, such as handicrafts, based on human skills, materials and resources available in certain areas that make the product unique.

Governing Laws

  • Under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
  • At the level of the World Trade Organization (WTO), GI is governed under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
    • Article 22(1) of TRIPS defines GIs as ‘indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin’.
  • In many EU nations, GI is classified in two basic categories—Protected GI (PGI) and Protected Destination of Origin (PDO).
    • India only has the PGI Category.
  • Geographical indication is also defined in the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications.

GI Tags and India

  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
  • The Act is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and TradeMarks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications.
The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years.

GI Tags: India and World

  • India lags in GI registration. As per the GI Registry, Intellectual Property India received just 1,167 applications in 2023, of which only 547 products have been registered.
    • It means that the application acceptance ratio is only about 46%, which indicates that regulations are quite strict.
  • Germany leads in GI registrations, with 15,566 registered products, followed by China (7,247), as per 2020 data with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
  • Globally, wines and spirits comprise 51.8% of registered GIs, followed by agricultural products and foodstuffs at 29.9%.
  • In India, handicraft (about 45%) and agriculture (about 30%) comprise the majority of the GI products.

Related Issues

  • Low Awareness Among Producers: Many producers are not aware of the benefits of GI registration, leading to underutilization of this intellectual property right.
  • Rampant Violations: There are numerous instances of unauthorised use and imitation of GI-tagged products.
  • Lack of Proper Marketing and Promotion: Many GI-tagged products are not adequately marketed, resulting in low demand and sales.
  • Post-Registration Issues: Even after obtaining GI registration, many producers face challenges in managing and enforcing their rights.

Way Forward

  • Since India’s GI Act was framed more than two decades ago, it is time to amend it, along with the GI application forms and application processing time. This should be accompanied with suitable institutional development.
  • There is also a need to help producers benefit after the registration process since they are often clueless on how to proceed after getting a GI tag.
  • Health, social wellbeing and welfare policies for artisans and labourers in the non-farm sector have also not received required attention from the policymakers. The government should bolster support to the GI workers in this regard.

Prelims Examination

First Advance Estimates of National Income (2023-24)


  • Recently, the National  Statistical Office (NSO) has released its first advance estimates of national income for 2023-24.


  • These were released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Key Highlights

  • The Indian economy is estimated to grow by a robust 7.3% in FY 2023-24, which is slightly higher than the provisional growth rate of 7.2% during the last financial year.
  • All the economic sectors have fared well by witnessing more than 6% growth, except for the Agriculture and Allied sector, for which the estimated growth is 1.8%, a steep decline from the 4% growth in financial year 2022-23.
    • The Construction sector has been estimated to have double digits growth of 10.7%.
  • Real GDP or GDP at Constant (2011-12) Prices in the year 2023-24 is estimated to attain a level of ₹171.79 lakh crore, as against the Provisional Estimate of GDP for the year 2022-23 of ₹160.06 lakh crore.
  • Nominal GDP or GDP at Current Prices in the year 2023-24 is estimated at ₹296.58 lakh crore, as against the Provisional Estimate of GDP for the year 2022-23 of ₹272.41 lakh crore.
  • The growth in nominal GDP during 2023-24 is estimated at 8.9% as compared to 16.1% in 2022-23.


  • These estimates are indicator-based and are compiled using the benchmark-indicator method i.e., the estimates available for the previous year (2022-23) are extrapolated using the relevant indicators reflecting the performance of sectors.
  • Data sourced from various Ministries/ Departments/ Private Agencies serve as valuable inputs in the compilation of these estimates.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza


  • Recently, a polar bear (IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species - Vulnerable) was found dead due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Utqiagvik in the Arctic region.

About the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

  • It is a strain of the influenza Type A (H5N1) virus that is extremely infectious and often fatal to chickens. It can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock.
  • It was first isolated from a goose in China in 1996, and is now circulating widely in many parts of the world, including Canada.
  • Despite the wide geographic spread in wild birds and poultry, with sporadic spillover to mammals, only a small number of sporadic human cases have been identified.
  • All reported human cases were associated with recent poultry exposures, and no cases of human-to-human transmission have been identified.


  • Influenza A viruses infect humans and many different animals.
  • Influenza B viruses circulate among humans and cause seasonal epidemics. Recent data showed seals also can be infected.
  • Influenza C viruses can infect both humans and pigs but infections are generally mild and are rarely reported.
  • Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in people.



  • Researchers have found that Zosurabalpin is highly effective against Carbapenem Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii (CRAB), which is classified as a ‘priority 1’ pathogen by the World Health Organization.

About Zosurabalpin

  • It is an experimental antibiotic that targets a lipopolysaccharide transporter, and that can kill bacteria which are resistant to most drugs.
  • It is highly effective against CRAB both in the laboratory and in infected animals.
  • It works by blocking a molecular machine called LptB2FGC that transports the lipopolysaccharide toxin from the inside barrier to the outside one.
  • It could also kill the bacteria in the bloodstream of crab-infected mice.

Carbapenem Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii (CRAB)

  • CRAB is a gram-negative bacterium that is often resistant to nearly all antibiotics, including the broad-spectrum carbapenem drugs: meropenem, imipenem, and doripenem.
  • It is commonly found in the environment, especially in soil and water, and can cause human infections of the blood, urinary tract, lungs, wounds, and other body sites.
  • The bacteria are multidrug-resistant, making infections very difficult to treat.
  • CRAB typically causes infections in people who have been cared for in healthcare settings, are very sick, are immunocompromised, or require invasive medical devices, like urinary or bloodstream catheters or ventilators.
  • It is unusual for healthy individuals to get infected with CRAB.
  • Some CRAB can carry genes that enable the bacteria to make carbapenemase enzymes that destroy carbapenem antibiotics.
    • These carbapenemase genes can move among bacteria, increasing the likelihood that multidrug resistance will spread.
  • Due to its high levels of antibiotic resistance and potential for widespread transmission, CRAB is considered an urgent public health threat, particularly in healthcare facilities.

The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2024


  • Recently, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has released the World Economic Situation and Prospects for 2024.

About the World Economic Situation and Prospects (2024)

  • In 2023, global energy investment is estimated to have increased by 7% to a record level of US $2.8 trillion. Investment in clean energy exceeded $1.7 trillion, but its share in total energy investment rose marginally.
  • Investment in fossil fuels, on the other hand, surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2022 and 2023.



Key Findings

  • Global GDP Growth: The report forecasts a deceleration in global GDP growth, from an estimated 2.7% in 2023 to 2.4% in 2024.
    • This signals a continuation of sluggish growth trends.
  • Developing Economies: Developing economies are struggling to recover from pandemic-induced losses, with many facing high debt and investment shortfalls.
  • Regional Disparities: The United States, the world’s largest economy, is expected to see a drop in GDP growth from 2.5% in 2023 to 1.4% in 2024.
    • China is projected to experience a moderate slowdown, with growth estimated at 4.7% in 2024, down from 5.3% in 2023.
    • Europe and Japan also face significant economic headwinds, with growth rates forecasted at 1.2% for both regions in 2024.
  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs): The LDCs are projected to grow by 5.0% in 2024, yet this falls short of the 7.0% growth target set in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Risks and Challenges: Simmering geopolitical tensions, the growing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, tight financial conditions, and high interest rates pose increasing risks to global trade and industrial production.

Decline of Rabi Crops


  • According to data from the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, the acreage under rabi crops is around 1.6 million hectares (ha) less than usual.


  • The rabi crops were sown on a total of 62.96 million ha, as of December 2023, against 64.61 million ha until December 2022.
  • Pulses have seen the most reduction in acreage (1.07 million ha). Wheat and paddy sowing has also dropped.
  • The collective area coverage under Rabi crops recorded a dip of 1.91 lakh hectares.
  • However, some crops like oilseeds and coarse cereals maintained the pace of sowing with their acreages being at par with the previous year’s sown areas.

Rabi Crops

  • These require mild cold climate during sowing period, during vegetative to pod development cold climate and during maturity / harvesting warm climate.
  • The major Rabi crops in India include: Wheat, Barley, Oats, Chickpea/Gram, Mustard, Linseed, Garlic, Onion, Tomato, Banana, Grapefruit, and Mangoes.

A Cholera Outbreak in Odisha


  • Recently, a Cholera outbreak in Odisha has infected some 1,400 people and led to 15 deaths.

About the Cholera

  • It is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by a bacterium Vibrio cholerae that can kill within hours if left untreated.
  • It is a disease of poverty affecting people with inadequate access to safe water and basic sanitation.
  • A global strategy on cholera control: A global roadmap to 2030, with a target to reduce cholera deaths by 90%.


  • Cholera is an extremely virulent disease transmitted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water.
  • Cholera can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea and the severe forms of the disease can kill within hours if left untreated.
  • Among people who develop symptoms, the majority have mild or moderate symptoms. It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms.
    • A minority of patients develop acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration.

Prevention and Control

  • A multifaceted approach is key to control cholera, and to reduce deaths. A combination of surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene, social mobilisation, treatment, and oral cholera vaccines are used.
  • Provision of safe water and basic sanitation, and hygiene practices is critical to prevent and control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  • Oral cholera vaccines should be used in conjunction with improvements in water and sanitation to control cholera outbreaks and for prevention in areas known to be high risk for cholera.

The Carbon Credit Trading Scheme (2023)


  • The Centre and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency have introduced amendments to the Carbon Credit Trading Scheme, 2023.

About the Key Changes

  • These focus on an offset mechanism to allow non-obligated entities to register projects for tracking and certifying reductions or avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Carbon Credit Trading Scheme (CCTS) 2023

  • It was introduced by the Indian Government to develop the country’s first-ever domestic carbon market.

Key Features

  • Formation of a National Steering Committee: The CCTS 2023 entails the formation of a National Steering Committee or Indian Carbon Market (NSCICM) for the governance and direct oversight of the Indian Carbon Market (ICM).
  • Key Stakeholders: The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will be the administrator for the ICM and will be responsible for the development of the GHG emissions trajectory and the targets for the entities to be obligated under the notification.
  • Compliance Requirements: The obligated entities will be required to achieve the GHG emission intensity targets notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
    • The entities that overachieve the set targets will be issued carbon credit certificates and entities that fail to achieve the targets will meet the shortfall by purchasing the carbon credit certificates from the ICM.
  • Carbon Credits: Carbon credits are the primary recommendation of CCTS, with a further recommendation of carbon taxes in the future.
  • Domestic Carbon Credit Trade: The scheme talks about focusing on domestic carbon credit trade in the country and unless India’s own climate goals are achieved, the government has prohibited the export of carbon credit.
  • Coverage: Covering approximately 72% of India’s total CO2 emissions, the CCTS will have far-reaching implications on India’s journey to net-zero carbon emissions by 2070.

Cancer Burden in Asia


  • Recently, the Lancet released a systematic examination for the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study as the ‘Temporal patterns of cancer burden in Asia, 1990–2019’.

Key findings of the report

  • Cancer Incidence: The age-standardised incidence rate (ASIR) of all cancers combined in Asia was 197.6/100,000 in 2019, varying from 99.2/100,000 in Bangladesh to 330.5/100,000 in Cyprus.
  • Cancer Mortality: The age-standardised mortality rate (ASMR) was 120.6/100,000 in 2019, varying 4-folds across countries from 71.0/100,000 in Kuwait to 284.2/100,000 in Mongolia.
  • Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs): The age-standardised DALYs rate was 2970.5/100,000 in 2019, varying from 1578.0/100,000 in Kuwait to 6574.4/100,000 in Mongolia.
    • The burden of cancers, measured in terms of DALYs, rose to 144.7 million in 2019, compared to 86.2 million in 1990.
  • Cancer Types: Tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer (both sexes), breast cancer (among females), colon and rectum cancer (both sexes), stomach cancer (both sexes) and prostate cancer (among males) were among top-5 cancers in most Asian countries in terms of ASIR and ASMR in 2019.
  • Risk Factors: Among the modifiable risk factors, smoking, alcohol use, ambient particulate matter (PM) pollution and unsafe sex remained the dominant risk factors between 1990 and 2019.
  • In India: 1.2 million new cases and 929,600 deaths due to cancer were reported in India in 2019, the second highest in Asia.
    • India also accounted for 32.9% of global deaths and 28.1% of new lip and oral cavity cancer cases in 2019.

Mappia Foetida


  • Recently, the Bombay High Court quashed a case against a pharma company by saying that Camptothecin, a cancer drug, was not a forest produce.
    • It involves the illegal felling of Narkya trees in Chandoli National Park in Maharashtra.

About Mappia Foetida

  • It is locally known as Narkya or Amruta, which is found in the Western Ghats.
  • It grows to a height of 4-10 metres and is characterised by a foetid smell.
  • It is a threatened species because it is an important medicinal plant, much in demand for its anti-cancer properties.
  • The alkaloid camptothecin (CPT), extracted from the wood chips of the trees, is an essential component of chemotherapy.


  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972;
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927;
  • The Bombay Forest Rules, 1942.

Subjective Questions

  1. Examine the role of indigenous crop varieties for sustainable food production in India. Enumerate the steps taken by the government to promote the smart agriculture practice in India.
  2. How far do you think that climate crisis determines the global trade patterns? Suggest some practical solutions.
  3. Analyse the impact of the Green Revolution in the present scenario. Do you think the green revolution has contributed to the rise of non communicable diseases in India?
  4. What do you understand about the Geographical Indication (GI) tags? How did it benefit the local businesses? What are the major concerns?