National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

Syllabus: GS 2/Education 

Why in News ?

  • NIRF announced India Rankings 2023.
  • 5,543 institutions applied for ranking in 2023.

National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

  • NIRF accepted and launched by MoE on 29th September 2015.
  • It provides a methodology for ranking institutions.
  • This is the eighth edition of India Rankings for HEIs.

 Distinct additions of the 2023 edition

  • New subject added: Agriculture & Allied Sectors.
  • Innovation ranking integrated from ARIIA to India Rankings.
  • Scope expanded from Architecture to Architecture and Planning, including Urban and Town Planning institutions.

Key Highlights of India Rankings 2023

  • IIT Madras remains 1st in Overall and Engineering categories for multiple years.
  • IISc Bengaluru ranks 1st in Universities and Research Institutions categories.
  • IIM Ahmedabad leads in Management for multiple years.
  • AIIMS Delhi tops Medical and improves its Overall ranking.
  • National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) Hyderabad surpasses Jamia Hamdard in Pharmacy.
  • Miranda House secures 1st in Colleges consistently.
  • IIT Roorkee excels in Architecture.
  • National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bengaluru maintains 1st in Law.
  • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Delhi leads in Agriculture and Allied Sectors.
  • IIT Kanpur excels in the Innovation category.

Importance of rankings 

  • Rankings/accreditation evaluate educational program quality.
  • India Rankings aid students in choosing universities.
  • Helps universities identify areas for improvement in teaching, research, resources, and infrastructure.



Pulses Production in India

Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & related issues, Agriculture

Why in News ?

  • India heavily relies on imports for Edible oil and pulses.
  • Import dependence is significant for these agricultural commodities.


  • India’s pulse imports decreased by 60% from 2017-18 to 2022-23.
  • Government plans to boost pulse production for self-sufficiency in the next three years.

Imports of Vegetable Oil

  • India consumes 24-25 million tonnes of cooking oil annually.
  • Only 9-10 million tonnes is domestically produced, while 14-15 million tonnes is imported.

India’s pulses

  • India’s pulses output increased from 19.26 mt to 27.50 mt.
  • Higher domestic production led to a reduction in pulses imports.
  • Imports of yellow/white peas and chickpea have significantly dropped.

Image:  Breakup of India’s imports of major pulses

  • Government incentivized farmers to expand pulses crop area during the rabi season.
  • 60% import duty on chana and 50% duty plus minimum price on yellow/white peas.
  • Government’s procurement at minimum support prices (MSP) supported the boost in production.

Indian Pulses Sector

  • India is the largest producer, consumer, and importer of pulses.
  • Pulses cover 20% of food grain area and contribute 7-10% to total food grain production.
  • Rabi season contributes over 60% of total pulse production.
  • Major pulses include chickpeas, pigeon pea, moong beans, urad, masur, peas, and various beans.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka are the top pulse-producing states.
  • 2016 was declared the “International Year of Pulses” by the United Nations to raise awareness of their nutritional benefits and food security.

Climatic Conditions Required

  • Pulse crops cultivated in Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid seasons.
  • Rabi crops require mild cold climate during sowing and warm climate during maturity.
  • Kharif pulses thrive in warm climates.
  • Kharif: Arhar, Urd, Moong, Lobia, Kulthi, Moth.
  • Rabi: Gram, Lentil, Pea, Lathyrus, Rajmash.
  • Summer: Greengram, Blackgram, Cowpea.

Benefits of pulses

  • Pulses offer many benefits like:
    • They are nitrogen fixers (Conserve soil nutrients)
    • Cost advantages – it takes considerably lower amounts of resources to grow pulses
    • Great for intercropping and crop rotation practises
    • Climate resilience
    • Longer shelf life 
    • Need very little processing  
    • Contribute to Global Food Security

Challenges to the Pulse Production

  • Poor storage facilities and rainfed dependency lead to price volatility.
  • Decrease in pulse cultivation due to farmers opting for higher yielding crops with higher MSP.
  • Inconsistent MSP, minimal farmer representation, lower profit.
  • Imported pulses at lower prices.
  • Vulnerability to pests, lack of crop insurance and credit facilities for farmers.
Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission fixes MSP for agricultural products, including pulses.
  • MSP determined based on factors like production cost, supply-demand, market prices, natural resource utilization, economy, and 50% profit on production cost.



Antardrishti (Financial Inclusion)

Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & related issues

  • Why in News ?
  • RBI Governor launched Antardrishti, a Financial Inclusion Dashboard, in June 2023.


  • Antardrishti dashboard assesses and monitors financial inclusion progress.
  • Intended for internal use in RBI, it promotes greater financial inclusion through a multi-stakeholder approach.

Financial inclusion

  • Financial inclusion provides access to affordable financial products and services to vulnerable groups.
  • RBI introduced the concept in India in 2005.
  • The objectives of financial inclusion are to provide the following:
    • A basic no-frills banking account for making and receiving payments
    • Saving products (including investment and pension)
    • Simple credit products and overdrafts linked with no-frills accounts
    • Remittance, or money transfer facilities
    • Micro insurance (life) and non-micro insurance (life and non-life)
    • Micro pension and
    • Financial Literacy.

Significance of Financial Inclusion

  • Financial inclusion promotes economic resources and savings among the poor.
  • It contributes to inclusive growth and overall economic development.
  • India emphasizes effective financial inclusion to uplift the disadvantaged through tailored financial products and services.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)

  • It is the National Mission on Financial Inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, basic savings & deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner. 
  • It was launched by PM Modi in August 2014.
  • Benefits under PMJDY
    • One basic savings bank account is opened for unbanked people.
    • There is no requirement to maintain any minimum balance in PMJDY accounts.
    • Interest is earned on the deposit in PMJDY accounts.
    • Rupay Debit card is provided to the PMJDY account holder.
    • Accident Insurance Cover of Rs.1 lakh (enhanced to Rs. 2 lakh to new PMJDY accounts opened after 28.8.2018) is available with RuPay card issued to the PMJDY account holders.
    • An overdraft (OD) facility up to Rs. 10,000 to eligible account holders is available.
    • PMJDY accounts are eligible for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), Atal Pension Yojana (APY), Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Bank (MUDRA) scheme.

Financial Inclusion (FI) Index 

  • RBI constructed the Financial Inclusion (FI) Index in 2021 to measure the extent of financial inclusion. 
  • It is based on three dimensions (weights indicated in brackets): Access (35 per cent), Usage (45 per cent), and Quality (20 per cent).

Other financial inclusion schemes in India

  • Jeevan Suraksha Bandhan Yojana, 
  • Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, 
  • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), 
  • Atal Pension Yojana (APY), 
  • Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY), 
  • Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme (CEGS) for scheduled castes, and 
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.


MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats and Tangible Incomes)

Syllabus: GS3/ Environment

  • Why in News ?
  • PM Modi launched Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats and Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) on World Environment Day.
  • Scheme focuses on mangrove conservation, shoreline habitats, and tangible incomes.
  • Announced in the 2023-24 Union budget.

MISHTI (mangrove initiative for shoreline habitats and tangible incomes)

  • MISHTI aims to restore mangrove cover in nine states initially.
  • Development of mangroves in 11 states and 2 union territories over five years.
  • Benefits include mitigating threats to coastal areas from rising sea levels and cyclones.
  • Strategy includes sharing best practices and public-private partnerships.
  • Centre funds 80%, state governments contribute 20% of the project cost.

Mangrove Forests

  • Mangroves are shrubs or small trees found in intertidal areas and swamps.
  • They are salt-tolerant and grow in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
  • Mangroves can withstand extreme weather and low oxygen levels but not freezing temperatures.

Significance of Mangroves

  • Mangroves are effective carbon sinks, storing more carbon than terrestrial forests.
  • They contribute to “Blue Carbon” by storing carbon in the soil.
  • Mangroves act as natural barriers against tides and storms, preventing significant property damages.
  • They support diverse marine biodiversity and provide breeding grounds for fish populations.
  • Mangroves support local artisanal fishers, providing employment opportunities.
Do you know?

  • International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem is celebrated every year on July 26 to raise awareness about mangrove ecosystems.
  • The day was designated by UNESCO in 2015.


  • Between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq. km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62% was due to direct human impacts, the Global Mangrove Alliance said in its 2022 report.
  • Infrastructure projects — industrial expansion and building of roads and railways, and natural processes — shifting coastlines, coastal erosion and storms, have resulted in a significant decrease in mangrove habitats.

Mangrove Cover: Worldwide

  • Global Mangrove forests cover around 14.79 million hectares across 113 countries.
  • Asia has the largest Mangrove area with 5.55 million hectares, followed by Africa with 3.24 million hectares.
  • Four countries (Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico) account for over 40 percent of the total Mangrove area.

Mangrove Cover: India

  • India has a mangrove cover of 4,992 square km, which is 0.15% of the country’s total geographical area.
  • West Bengal has the highest mangrove cover in India (42.45%), followed by Gujarat (23.66%) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (12.39%).
  • Other states with mangrove cover include Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Kerala.
  • Important mangrove species in India include Avicennia officinalis, Rhizophora mucronata, Sonneratia alba, Avicennia alba, Bruquiera cylindrica, Heritiera littoralis, Phoenix paludosa, Morinda citrifolia, and Ceriops tagal.


  • Sundarbans is the world’s largest single patch of mangrove forests located in the northern Bay of Bengal.
  • It spans approximately 10,000 sq km, covering parts of Bangladesh and India.
  • Sundarbans was the first mangrove forest in the world to be brought under scientific management in 1892.
  • Four protected areas within the Sundarbans are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

  • The Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was launched at COP27 to UNFCCC in Egypt.
  • Led by the UAE and Indonesia, it includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain as partner countries.
  • MAC aims to raise awareness about mangroves’ role in mitigating global warming and as a nature-based solution to climate change.
  • The alliance works on a voluntary basis, with members deciding their own commitments and deadlines.
  • Members collaborate in research, management, and protection of coastal areas.

Rare Higgs Boson Decay

Syllabus: GS3/Science & Technology

  • Why in News ?
  • Scientists detected a Higgs boson decay into a Z boson particle and a photon.
  • This observation contributes to the understanding of particle physics and the Higgs boson’s properties.

What is Higgs Boson?

  • The Higgs boson is associated with the Higgs field, giving mass to fundamental particles.
  • Quarks and gluons are building blocks of protons and neutrons, which form atomic nuclei.
  • Stronger interaction with the Higgs boson results in higher particle mass.
  • Proposed in 1964, the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012 at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
  • Confirmation of the Higgs field completed the standard model of particle physics.
  • The discovery earned the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for Higgs and Englert.
  • Understanding Higgs bosons and their interactions contributes to our knowledge of the universe.
  • It is colloquially called the “God Particle.”

Standard Model:

  • Standard Model predicts a 0.1% decay pathway for Higgs boson with mass 125 billion eV/c2.
  • Standard Model lacks explanation for dark matter and Higgs boson’s mass.
  • Precise testing helps identify gaps and validate new physics theories.
  • Higher decay rate through the pathway could support new scientific realms.

Rare Decay Process

  • Rare decay process of Higgs boson into Z boson and photon provides valuable insights.
  • Higgs boson is unstable and decays into lighter particles.
  • Standard Model predicts a 0.1% probability for this decay pathway.
  • Significance is not high enough for complete certainty due to its rarity.


Syllabus : Miscellaneous

Why in News ?

  • Indian Railways to secure goomties after Odisha train accident.
  • Measures taken to enhance safety and prevent accidents.
  • Goomties are the junction points where railway tracks intersect.

About Goomty 

  • Goomty is a small cabin housing signaling equipment.
  • Indian Railways to launch safety drive for double-locking goomties.
  • Aimed at enhancing safety and preventing unauthorized access to railway equipment.


Amrit Dharohar Yojana

Syllabus: GS3/ Environment

Why in News ?

  • PM Modi launched Amrit Dharohar Yojana on World Environment Day.
  • Scheme announced in the 2023-24 Union budget.


  • Scheme aims to conserve existing Ramsar sites with local community involvement.
  • Ramsar sites to be developed as eco-tourism centers and generate green jobs.
  • India has 75 Ramsar sites, recognized as important wetlands under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.


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