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Current Affairs December 07, 2023: Mega Food Park Scheme, Coastal Erosion in India, One Station One Product, Alternative Investment Funds, Pilatus PC-7 Mk II

{GS2 – MoC – Initiative} Miyawaki Plantation Method

  • Context (PIB): South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd, will use the Miyawaki plantation method for the first time to enhance green cover in and around the Gevra mine.
  • Gevra mine in Chhattisgarh is the largest coal mine in the country.
  • The Miyawaki plantation method is a technique for planting native trees to create dense, biodiverse forests in a short time.
  • It is a Japanese method developed in the 1970s.
  • It involves planting two to four different types of indigenous trees within every square metre.

Benefits of the Miyawaki Plantation Method

  • Rapid and self-sustaining growth: Due to the use of indigenous trees.
  • Enhance biodiversity.
  • Climate change mitigation: It will help to sequester CO2 and combat the urban heat island effect.
  • Ecosystem restoration: It helps restore degraded or barren lands.
  • Soil and water conservation: The dense root systems developed in the Miyawaki forest contribute to soil stabilisation and improve water retention.
  • Pollution control: The forest plays a significant role in absorbing dust particles.

{GS2 – MoFPI – Schemes} Mega Food Park Scheme

  • Context (PIB): Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS) has been discontinued from 2021 with a provision for committed liabilities only.
  • Launched in 2008, it has been implemented by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI).
  • It is a component scheme of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).
  • Aim: It aims to create modern infrastructure for the food processing sector along the value chain from farm to market.
  • Approach: Cluster-based approach with strong forward and backward linkages.
  • Grant-in-aid: GoI provides 50% of the project cost in general areas and 75 % in NE region and difficult areas (subject to a maximum of Rs. 50.00 crores per MFP project).
  • Implementation: A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a corporate body registered under the Companies Act, 2013 implements the MFP project.
    • State government, its entities, and cooperatives need not form a separate SPV to implement MFP.
  • Current status: 41 MFP projects have been approved under the scheme. Of this, 24 MFP projects are operational, and the remaining 17 are under implementation.
  • Set-up of MFP: Central Processing Centre creates common facilities, while Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs) near farms handle primary processing and storage.

Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)

  • An SPV is a subsidiary company created by a parent company to isolate financial risk.
  • It is formed to undertake a specific business purpose or activity.

Mega Food Park

Significance/Benefits of MFPs

  • MFPs offer processing infrastructure, empowering farmers and processors to add value to agricultural produce, increasing shelf life and encouraging product diversification.
  • Enhanced farmer income by providing direct market linkage & ensuring fair price for produce.
  • Generate rural employment, fostering rural development and curbing migration to urban areas.
  • Enhance food security by minimising waste (as high as 30% in India) and expanding processing capacity.
  • Boost for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) by collaboration between MFPs and FMCGs.
  • Boost Export Potential by helping meet global standards.

Reasons for Failure of MFPs

  • MFPS initially required lead investors to partner with three or four other major players to set up parks. This is often resisted citing management challenges and accountability issues.
  • Acquiring the mandated 50 acres of land is challenging given the limited availability of land and its conversion from agriculture to industrial land.
  • Moreover, some states’ strict land ceilings and sub-leasing laws make the state government’s role crucial for project initiation.
  • Lack of easy credit given the issue with selling the new concept to banks.
  • Complex Conditions for Subsidy Grants: The grant is issued in several tranches, each requiring difficult targets to be met.
    • E.g., before releasing the second tranche, nearly 60% of the park’s facilities must be leased out.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)

  • It is a central sector scheme launched in 2017 as SAMPADA – Scheme for Agro-marine Processing and Development of Agro-processing Clusters.
  • The scheme was subsequently renamed ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana’.
  • Objective: PMKSY is an umbrella scheme to create modern infrastructure and improve supply chain efficiency from farm to retail.
  • It will continue until 2026 (coterminous with the 15th Finance Commission cycle).
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI).

Objectives of PMKSY

  • Boost India’s food processing sector.
  • Double the farmers’ income.
  • Create huge employment opportunities, especially in the rural areas.
  • Reduce the wastage of agricultural produce.
  • Enhance the export of processed foods.

Components of PMKSY

  • PMSKY has seven components:
    1. Mega Food Parks
    2. Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
    3. Infrastructure for Agro-Processing Clusters
    4. Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
    5. Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities
    6. Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
    7. Human Resources and Institutions.

{GS2 – MoR – Scheme} One Station One Product

  • Context (PIB): 1189 One Station One Product (OSOP) outlets have been made operational at 1083 stations.
  • The Ministry of Railways (MoR) has launched the OSOP scheme to promote the ‘Vocal for Local’ vision of the GoI.
  • Objective: Build each railway station as a promotional hub and showcasing local and indigenous manufacturing products. Indian Railways.
  • The pilot of the scheme was started in 2022.
  • Under the scheme, the allotment is done to all eligible applicants on a rotational basis.
  • Eligible applicants will be allotted a temporary stall or kiosk for 15 days on deposition of Rs 1,000 with Railways.
  • The stalls are designed uniformly through the National Design Institute to ensure consistency and promote the scheme’s visibility and reach.
  • The zonal railways will identify the stations, eligible products and vendors.
  • Product categories under this scheme includes:
    1. Handicrafts/ Artefacts
    2. Textiles and Handlooms
    3. Traditional Garments
    4. Local agricultural produce / processed/semi-processed foods.

{GS2 –Social Sector – Education} Vocational Education

  • Context (PIB): National Education Policy focuses on Vocational Education and Skill development.

Status of Vocational Education

  • In 2022, only about 15.6% (up from 7.4% in 2017-18) of the 12-59 age group received some form of vocational training.
  • As per the ‘Education 4.0’ report of WEF, 85% of schools in India have not implemented vocational courses as part of their curriculum to date; only 30% of vocational training institutes met the required standards of quality (NCERT).
  • Vocational education in India is often biased towards men. In 2022, only 38% of the students enrolled in vocational training institutes were women.

Need/Significance of Vocational Education

  • Boost economic development: A study by WB suggests that an increase in vocational education enrollment by 1% can lead to a 0.3% increase in a country’s GDP.
  • Meeting industry demand: It enables individuals to acquire specialized skills that are in high demand, ensuring a better match between the skills possessed by the workforce and the needs of the industry.
    • Nearly 93% of India’s population did not receive any vocational or technical training, according to PLFS.
  • Developing rural areas as ‘magnets’ of development: Around 69% of the Indian population still resides in rural areas, empowering them through vocational education can contribute to inclusive growth and reduce rural-urban migration.
  • Reaping demographic dividend as India has over 65% of the population below the age of 35 years.

Challenges Associated with Vocational Education

  • Shortage of VET Institutions: As AICTE (2018-19) quoted, the number of VET institutions in the country is just 10,426.
  • Quality of Training: Many vocational training institutes lack qualified instructors, and industry-relevant curriculum.
  • Societal Stigma: Vocational education is often seen as a ‘second choice’ compared to traditional academic education.
  • Inadequate Infrastructure like lack of well-equipped workshops, labs, and training facilities.
  • Shortage of qualified trainers & instructors: National Skill Development Council reports a shortage of around 22% of trainers across various sectors.

Way Forward

  • Perception change: Launch a national vocational education campaign on lines of Skill India Campaign to showcase success stories of individuals who have excelled through vocational education.
  • Industry-academia collaboration: For eg, collaboration between Tata Motors and ITIs in Gujarat to develop skilled automotive technicians.
  • Capacity enhancement of trainer: Establish comprehensive programs to enhance the skills and qualifications of vocational trainers, ensuring they possess industry-relevant expertise (for eg, Train the Trainer programme)
  • Integrate Emerging Technologies and Future Skills: For e.g., Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre in Bangalore established in collaboration with the German government, offers training on Industry 4.0.
  • Establish Standardization and Quality Assurance Mechanisms to ensure uniformity and maintain high-quality vocational education standards across institutes.

GoI Inititiaves for Vocational Education

  • Vocationalisation of School Education Initiative by the Department of School Education and Literacy under ‘Samagra Shiksha’ to integrate Vocational Education with general academic education.
  • Skill Hubs Initiative launched under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 3.0 to integrate and mainstream vocational education with general education.
  • Skill training through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS), National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme.

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Coastal Erosion in India

  • Context (IE | PIB): According to NCCR, over 1/3rd of India’s coastline is vulnerable to erosion.
  • It is observed that 33.6% of the Indian coastline was vulnerable to erosion, 26.9% was under accretion (growing), and 39.6% was stable.
  • National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR): An attached office to the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It monitors the shoreline changes for the entire Indian coastline.

Coastal Erosion

  • Coastal erosion means the wear down and removal of land and sediments from the coastline.
  • Factors responsible for coastal erosion:
    • Natural processes (waves, tides, currents, sea level rise, and wind)
    • Anthropogenic processes (construction, dredging, land use changes, global warming-induced sea level rise)

Types/Processes of Coastal Erosion

  1. Abrasion/Corrasion: Waves and currents transport sediments, grinding them against the coastline. It is called the “sandpaper effect” because it gradually wears away the rocks and cliffs.
  2. Attrition: Rocks and pebbles carried by waves smash against each other, breaking into smaller pieces.
  3. Hydraulic action: The waves compress air in rock cracks, and the compressed air expands rapidly, forcing the cracks open and further weakening the rock.
  4. Solution/Corrosion: When waves dissolve soluble rocks and minerals, such as limestone and chalk.

Concerns with Coastal Erosion

  • Loss of valuable land causing community displacement, habitat loss and biodiversity loss.
  • Increased vulnerability to storms due to the weakening of natural defences like beaches and dunes.
  • Saltwater intrusion affects drinking water supplies and agricultural lands.
  • Economic Implications: Impact on hosting industries, tourism, and fisheries.
  • Changes in coastal morphology: Erosion can alter the shape of coastlines, leading to changes in wave patterns, currents, and sediment transport.
  • Cultural heritage loss: Erosion threatens historical, cultural, and archaeological treasures along the shoreline.

Measures to Manage Coastal Erosion

  • Beach nourishment by adding sand to beaches to replenish what has been lost to erosion.
  • Seawalls and breakwaters to protect the coastline from waves and currents.
  • Dune restoration to act as natural buffers against erosion.
  • Land use planning: Planning and zoning can help avoid development in areas at risk of erosion.
  • Planting trees and other vegetation along coastlines.

Initiatives Taken by GoI for Coastal Area Protection

Hazard Line

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) has delineated the hazard line (indicates shoreline changes) for the entire coast of India.
  • This line is used for Disaster Management planning, encompassing adaptive and mitigation measures.

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2019

  • It provides for No Development Zones (NDZ) along India’s coastline from encroachment and erosion.

Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP)

  • This involves mapping erosion-prone areas and preparing Shoreline Management Plans for them.

Flood Management Programme (FMP)

  • It is a state-sector scheme launched by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • Under it, state governments plan, investigate, and implement flood management and anti-erosion schemes using their resources based on internal priorities.

Coastal Management Information System (CMIS)

  • Approved under the central sector scheme “Development of Water Resources Information System, it is implemented by the Central Water Commission (CWC).
  • CMIS is a data collection initiative focused on gathering nearshore coastal data for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining site-specific protection structures in vulnerable coastal areas.

National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM)

  • NCSCM is a research institute under MoEF&CC. It is mandated to manage the Indian coast sustainably.

{GS3 – IE – Banking} Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

  • Context (IE): SEBI and RBI shared concern over Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) masking bad loans.
  • AIFs refers to any privately pooled investment fund (whether from Indian or foreign sources), in the form of a trust or a company or a body corporate or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), that is incorporated in India.
  • AIF does not include funds covered under SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.
  • Hence, in India, AIFs are private funds which are otherwise not coming under the jurisdiction of any regulatory agency in India.
  • AIFs are regulated by the SEBI under the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.

Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

Category I AIFs

  • Category I AIFs are funds that invest in start-ups, small and medium enterprises, social ventures, and infrastructure that have social or economic benefits.
  • They include venture capital funds and social venture funds.
  • Category I AIFs enjoy certain incentives and concessions from the government or regulators.

Category II AIFs

  • Category II AIFs are funds that do not fall under Category I or III and that do not use leverage or borrowing, except for meeting day-to-day operational requirements.
  • They include private equity funds, debt funds, fund of funds, and real estate funds.
  • Category II AIFs invest primarily in unlisted companies or units of other Category I and II AIFs.

Category III AIFs

  • Category III AIFs are funds that use complex trading strategies and may employ leverage or borrowing to enhance returns.
  • They include hedge funds, private investment in public equity funds, and other funds that trade with a view to making short-term returns.
  • Category III AIFs invest in listed or unlisted securities.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Nuclear Fusion Reactor

  • Context (TH): JT-60SA, the world’s biggest experimental nuclear fusion reactor, a forerunner of International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) was inaugurated in Japan.
  • It is a joint initiative of Japan and European Union.
  • ITER is a large-scale scientific project launched in 1985.
  • It will be the largest Tokamak device to test magnetic confinement to produce fusion energy.
  • Location: Europe is the host of the project, which is currently under construction in Cadarache, south of France.
  • Objective: The project aims to develop a large-scale experimental device capable of producing 500 MW of fusion power using 50 MW of input heating power.
  • It is a collaborative project involving 35 countries, including India (formally joined in 2005).
  • Funding: The project’s funding is shared among the participating countries. Each member contributes both financially and with in-kind contributions, such as components and expertise.
  • India is responsible for delivery of cryostat, in-wall shielding, cooling water system, cryogenic system, heating systems, Diagnostic Neutral Beam System, power supplies and some diagnostics.

Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear fusion is the process of combining two light atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus, releasing a tremendous amount of energy. This process is what powers the sun and other stars.
  • Nuclear bomb using fusion are referred to as thermonuclear bombs or hydrogen bombs.
  • For fusion bombs, two extremely rare isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium, are used.
  • The hydrogen isotopes are fused together under extremely high temperatures (millions of degrees Celsius) and pressure for the nuclear explosion to occur. (A fission trigger might be required)

Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fission vs Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fission

Nuclear Fusion

Splitting of a large atom into two or more smaller ones. Fusing two or more lighter atoms into a larger one.
It involves a chain reaction, which can lead to dangerous meltdowns. There is no chain reaction involved.
Does not usually occur in nature. Fusion occurs in stars, such as the sun.
Produces many highly radioactive particles (nuclear waste). The fusion reaction produces few radioactive particles, but radioactive particles will result if a fission “trigger” is used.
A critical mass of the substance and high-speed neutrons are required. High density, high-temperature environment is required.
Takes little energy to split two atoms. Extremely high energy is required to bring two or more protons close enough that nuclear forces overcome their electrostatic repulsion.
The energy released by fission is a million times greater than that released in chemical reactions. The energy released by fusion is three to four times greater than that in fission.
Used in an atomic bomb. Used in a hydrogen bomb, which uses a fission reaction to “trigger” a fusion reaction.
Fission is used in nuclear power plants. Fusion is an experimental power-producing technology.
Uranium and Plutonium isotopes are the primary fuel. Hydrogen isotopes (Deuterium and Tritium) are the primary fuel in experimental fusion power plants.
Nuclear waste, a by-product of fission, is an environmental challenge. There is no nuclear waste produced in a thermonuclear reactor.

{Prelims – S&T – AI} Gemini

  • Context (TH): Google took its next leap in artificial intelligence (AI) by launching Project Gemini, an AI model trained to behave in human-like ways.
  • Less sophisticated versions of Gemini are being immediately incorporated into Google’s AI-powered chatbot Bard and its Pixel 8 Pro smartphone.

{Prelims – S&T – Defence} Pilatus PC-7 Mk II

  • Context (IE): Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots died in a crash of their Pilatus PC-7 Mk II trainer aircraft during a routine training sortie.
  • This is the first crash involving the aircraft since it was inducted into the IAF almost a decade earlier.

What is a Trainer Aircraft?

  • A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate flight training of pilots and aircrews.
  • Trainer aircraft are less complex and fly at slower speeds than military pilots will eventually operate.

How Many Types of Trainer Aircraft Does the IAF Have?

  • PC-7 Mk II aircraft: These are used for basic training, the first stage in a rookie cadet’s flight training.
  • HAL Kiran: A jet-powered indigenous trainer aircraft used for the intermediate stage.
  • BAE Hawk: A British jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft used for the final stage.
  • Pipistrel Virus: A basic trainer for flight safety and airwing cadets used by the IAF, Navy, and National Cadet Corps.

Pilatus PC-7 Mk II

  • Pilatus PC-7 Mk II is a Swiss aircraft the IAF procured in 2012.
  • They were procured to meet the shortage of trainer aircraft.
  • The shortage emerged after the indigenously developed HPT-32 aircraft were grounded in 2010 after fatal crashes that killed multiple IAF pilots.

HTT-40: Successor of Pilatus PC-7 Mk II

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s HTT-40 will replace Pilatus PC-7 Mk II.
  • This indigenous trainer aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in six years.
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