1. Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR)

The issue in news

PM to chair Virtual Global Investor Roundtable.

About the VGIR:

  • The VGIR is being organized by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
  • It is an exclusive dialogue between leading global institutional investors, Indian business leaders and the highest decision-makers from the Government of India and financial market regulators.
  • The Roundtable will witness participation from twenty of the world’s largest pension and sovereign wealth funds with a total Assets Under Management of about US$6 trillion.
  • VGIR 2020 will focus on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for the path to a USD 5 trillion economy.
  • The event will provide an opportunity to leading global investors and Indian business leaders to engage and deliberate with senior policymakers on how to further accelerate the growth of international investments in India.


  1. India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments

The issue in news

8th meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments.

About the India – UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments:

  • The Joint Task Force was created in 2012 as a crucial forum for further deepening the economic ties between the UAE and India.
  • The mechanism has assumed greater importance as the two countries entrench the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in January 2017.
  • Among other things, both sides discussed the opportunities for cooperation and potential investments in key sectors in India including the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, mobility and logistics, food and agriculture, energy and utilities and others.
  • The two sides also discussed issues related to the development and operation of UAE-based funds to invest in India, including in the light of SEBI Foreign Portfolio Investor Regulations 2019.


  1. India’s merchandise trade: Preliminary data, October 2020

The issue in news

Preliminary data of India’s merchandise trade in October 2020 released.

Main points

  • India’s merchandise exports in October 2020 were USD 24.82 billion, as compared to USD 26.23 billion in October 2019, a fall of 5.4%.
  • India’s merchandise imports in October 2020 were USD 33.6 billion, as compared to USD 37.99 billion in October 2019, a decline of 11.56%.
  • India is thus a net importer in October 2020, with a trade deficit of USD 8.78 billion, as compared to a trade deficit in Oct 2019 of USD 11.76 billion; this is an improvement by 25.34%.
  • The top 5 commodities of export that recorded positive growth during October 2020 vis-à-vis October 2019 are rice, oil meals, other cereals, iron ore and oilseeds.
  • The top 5 commodity groups of import showing a fall in October 2020 over the corresponding month of last year are silver, newsprint, cotton (raw and waste), pulses and transport equipment.


  1. Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System

The issue in news

15 States have been identified for implementing the Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System.

About the Scheme:

  • The “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System” is being implemented by the Department of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD).
  • The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-2020 with a total budget outlay of Rs.174.6 Crore.
  • Fifteen State Governments have identified their respective districts (1 district per state) for implementing the Pilot Scheme.
  • Already 5 states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh have started the distribution of fortified rice in their respective identified districts.


Fortification of Rice:

  • Fortification is the addition of key vitamins and minerals such as Iron, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamins A & D to staple foods such as rice, wheat, oil, milk and salt to improve their nutritional content.
  • Either these nutrients would have been lost during the processing, or they would not have been present at all in these food items.
  • Fortified rice contains nutrients such as iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamins A, B1 and B12.


Benefits of fortification:

  • Fortification of food helps address the issue of micronutrient malnutrition, which is also known as hidden hunger.
  • Many times, due to the inadequate intake of a balanced diet, or due to the lack of variety in food, people do not get sufficient micronutrients.
  • Fortification of food is a safe method of improving nutrition among people since the addition of micronutrients to food does not pose a health risk to people.
  • It also does not change the taste, aroma or texture of food.
  • Fortification of rice is especially important since micronutrient deficiency is particularly seen in countries where the consumption of rice is more prevalent.
  • The World Health Organisation also recommends rice fortification in regions where rice is a staple food as a health strategy to enhance the iron status of populations.


  1. NCAER Report

The issue in news

Union Minister of Earth Science releases the NCAER Report on “Estimating the economic benefits of Investment in Monsoon Mission and High Performance Computing Facilities”.

Main points

  • The key take away from the report is that ‘India’s investment of nearly 1,000 Crores in these facilities would provide benefits worth rupees 50 thousand Crores to nearly 1.07 Crore below poverty line (BPL) agricultural households and 53 Lakh BPL fisher-folk households in the country’.
  • The NCAER report refers to economic benefits as direct monetary gains to crop farmers, livestock rearers, and fishermen in the country.
  • The report showed that 551-crore NMM (National Monsoon Mission) for improving the understanding of the enigmatic monsoon and 439-crore investment to enhance supercomputing capabilities used for weather forecasting resulted in an economic gain of 50,463 crore in terms for below-poverty-line farmers and fisherfolk.
  • About 98 per cent of the farmer respondents, hailing from 121 rain-fed districts in 11 States, said they made a modification in one or more of nine critical practices such as changing breed or variety, changing schedule or fertiliser or pesticide application, changing the irrigation schedule and early or delayed harvesting based on weather advisories leading to increased income.
  • About three out of four livestock owners from 92 districts in 10 States who participated in the survey, said they were using weather advisories for three major practices such as modification of the shed or shelter, vaccination against seasonal diseases and fodder management.
  • Fishermen who participated in the survey stated that while Ocean State Forecast advisories helped them avoid empty trips, Potential Fishing Zone advisories, on average helped them get an additional income of 17,820 per trip.


Data Collection for the Study

  • The study collected data from farmers, fishermen, and livestock owners through face-to-face interview, and an interactive voice response system (IVRS).
  • A total of 173 districts (of the total 732 districts in India) across 16 states (of the total 29) were considered for the study to appropriately represent agro-climatic zones, rain-fed areas, coverage of major crops, and incidence of extreme weather events in the country.
  • Agro-climatic zones: It refers to a geographical area with similar soil type, rainfall, temperature, and water availability. India is divided into 15 major agro-climatic zones.


About NCAER:

  • The NCAER or the National Council of Applied Economic Research was started in 1956 as a public-private partnership, both catering to and funded by the government and private industry.
  • It is a New Delhi based non-profit think tank of economics.
  • It is India’s oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute.


About the National Monsoon Mission (NMM):

  • The NMM was launched by the Ministry of Earth Sciences in 2012 with an aim to develop a state-of-the-art, dynamic monsoon prediction system for short, medium, and long-range forecasts.
  • The augmentation of the National Monsoon Mission with High-performance Computing facilities has helped the country in achieving a paradigm shift in weather and climate modeling for operational weather forecasts.


  • To improve Seasonal and Intra-seasonal Monsoon Forecast
  • To improve Medium Range Forecast
  • Participating institutions:
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune
  • National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida
  • India Meteorological Department, New Delhi


  1. Urban Mobility India Conference 2020

The issue in news

The 13th Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference is being organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

About the UMI Conference:

  • The first UMI Conference was held in 2008 in New Delhi.
  • The annual Urban Mobility India (UMI) Conference and Expo is a flagship event held under the aegis of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.
  • The genesis of UMI is from the National Urban Transport Policy of the Government of India, 2006 (NUTP), which lays a very strong emphasis on building capabilities at the State and city level to address the problems associated with urban transport and undertake the task of developing sustainable urban transport systems.
  • The theme of the UMI Conference 2020 is “Emerging Trends in Urban Mobility”.
  • The primary objective of the conference is to disseminate information to the cities, whose officials attend the conference, and to help them keep up-to-date with the best urban transport practices.
  • The conference provides an opportunity for key decision-makers and delegates to interact with other professionals, experts, academia, industry, civil society, technology, services providers and other stakeholders in Urban Transport both domestic and international so that the delegates can carry home ideas to develop their urban transport along a sustainable path.
  • It is also a forum to discuss key issues relevant to the sector and suggest measures to address them.


  1. Shri Shakti Challenge

The issue in news

6 women-led start-ups win COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge organized by MyGov in Collaboration with UN Women.

Main points

  • MyGov in collaboration with UN Women launched the COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge in April 2020.
  • This was a unique challenge hosted on the platform of MyGov that called for applications from women-led start-ups as well as start-ups who have solutions that address issues faced by a larger number of women.
  • Out of 1265 entries from all over the country, 25 were shortlisted and finally, 11 start-ups were provided prize money of Rs.75000 each to further develop their ideas.
  • These 11 start-ups were further evaluated after they had developed their solutions, and three were chosen winners and an additional 3 were chosen as ‘Promising Solutions’.
  • The winners were awarded Rs.5 lakhs each, and the promising solutions received Rs.2 lakh each.


  1. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)

The issue in news

Union Minister holds a review meeting of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).

Main points


  • In November 2008, with an objective to make available generic medicines at affordable prices to all, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers launched the “Jan Aushadhi Scheme”.
  • To reinvigorate the supply of affordable generic medicines with efficacy and quality equivalent to that of branded drugs, the scheme was revamped as “Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Yojana” in 2015.
  • To provide further momentum to the ongoing scheme, it was again renamed as “Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana” (PMBJP).

Jan Aushadi Kendras

  • Bureau of Pharma PSUs in India (BPPI) are running Jan Aushadhi Kendras as a part of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana. These are the centres from where quality generic medicines are made available to all. 726 districts of the country have Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

Role of BPPI in PMBJP

  • The Department of Pharmaceuticals of Government of India has established a Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India to support the CPSUs to coordinate the sales, marketing, supply and procurement of the generic medicines.
  • These medicines are distributed to the healthcare seekers through Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras.

PMBJP Objectives

  • The scheme aims at educating the masses about the generic medicines and that high prices are not always synonymous with high quality. It intends to cover all therapeutic groups and create demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners.

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