Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 07 February 2023

National interest content in private channels

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

From 1 March 2023, all private television channels in the country will be required to air ‘national interest content’ on a daily basis, as per an advisory by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

What is the new obligation?

1.    The new policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of television channels include a requirement for private broadcasters to undertake public service broadcasting for 30 minutes every day, based on certain themes given by the I&B ministry.

2.    With the advisory issued on 30 January 2023, the ministry has clarified that the national interest content can be embedded in the programmes being telecast, and that the content need not be of 30 minutes at a stretch.

3.    The public service broadcast can be split over smaller time slots, but can’t be done from midnight to 6 am.

Many formalities for broadcasters

1.    The broadcasters are now required to keep a record of the content telecast for a period of 90 days.

2.    The Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, under I&B Ministry, shall keep the record. The government also requires the broadcasters to submit a monthly report online on the Broadcast Seva Portal.

3.    The content can be shared between the broadcasters and a repeat telecast on one or several channels is also allowed now.

4.    In fact, a digital repository of relevant videos or textual content for the purpose may be developed, the advisory said, which may be accessed and used by TV channels.

What are the themes?

1.    The ministry mentioned eight themes in the uplinking/downlinking policy document — education and literacy; agriculture and rural development; health and family welfare; science and technology; welfare of women; welfare of the weaker sections of the society; protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and national integration. The scope of prescribed themes has been expanded.

2.    The list of themes of national importance and of social relevance given under clause 35 of the Policy Guidelines are indicative and may be expanded to include similar subjects of national importance and social relevance such as water conservation, disaster management, etc.

Where it doesn’t apply

1.    The condition applies to all channels, except those mentioned specifically as exempt, where this may not be feasible.

2.    These include wildlife channels and foreign channels; besides live telecast in case of sports channels. Channels broadcasting more than 12 hours of devotional/spiritual/yoga content are exempt from furnishing monthly reports.


Naval LCA lands on INS Vikrant

GS Paper -3 (Defence technology)

The Naval variant of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) undertook maiden landing on-board the country’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant. This is also the maiden landing of a fixed wing aircraft on the carrier as part of its operationalization.

More about the news:

1.    It is a historical milestone achieved towards Aatma Nirbhar Bharat by the Indian Navy as Naval Pilots carry out landing of LCA (Navy) on-board INS Vikrant.

2.    It demonstrates India’s capability to design, develop, construct and operate IAC with indigenous fighter aircraft.

3.    Post commissioning, efforts are currently under way to operationalise the aviation complex of the carrier after which it would be ready for operational deployment.

Past precedence

1.    In January 2020, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had demonstrated successful arrested landing of Naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on INS Vikramaditya and subsequently, 18 take-offs and landings were conducted in five days.

2.    The Navy has projected a requirement for a twin engine aircraft to operate from the carrier and DRDO has now embarked on developing a Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF) being on the experience of the Naval LCA.

3.    The ship powered by four General Electric engines uses an aircraft-operation mode known as Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) for which it is equipped with a ski-jump for launching aircraft, and a set of three ‘arrester wires’ for their recovery on board.

4.    Initially, the carrier would be operating the existing Mig-29Ks in service, while a decision on procurement of an advanced fighter, between the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and the Dassault Aviation Rafale, is expected in the next few months. 

5.    In the long-term, the TEDBF is being developed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of DRDO is expected to be the mainstay. T

6.   The project under development is expected to get approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) by mid-2023 and could be inducted into the Navy by 2031-32.

7.    The TEDBF is envisaged as a twin engine medium weight fighter with an all up weight of 26 tonnes and wing folding.

8.    In 2017, the Navy had floated Request for Information (RFI) to procure 57 twin engine carrier fighters which is now set to downsize to around 26 including few twin seater trainer variants, with the TEDBF in the pipeline.

9.    The Navy had contracted 45 Mig-29K aircraft from Russia for INS Vikramaditya few of which have been lost in crashes and given the availability rates, there won’t be enough aircraft to operate from both the carriers.


1.    The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas was conceptualised in 1984. Since the first flight of the LCA technology demonstrator in January 2001, the indigenous single engine 4.5 generation multi-role fighter jet christened as ‘Tejas’ by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in May 2003.


Calculations behind the MGNREGA budget

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

The government has slashed the budget for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme to Rs 60,000 crorein 2023-24. This, after record outlays during 2020-21 to 2022-23, which also saw a significant step-up in employment under the scheme that guarantees a minimum 100 days of unskilled manual wage work in a financial year (April-March) to every rural household on demand.

More about the news:

2.    Over the last three years, India’s economy suffered massive disruptions, initially from the Covid-induced lockdowns.

3.    The war in Ukraine that gave a shock to global commodity markets comparable to the oil and food price hikes of the 1970s and 2008-09.

4.    The job and real income losses these entailed necessitated special ameliorative interventions for the country’s vulnerable sections.

Safety nets to overcome these:

The public distribution system:

1.    Sales of rice and wheat under government schemes totalled 92.9 million tonnes (mt) in 2020-21, 105.6 mt in 2021-22 and 71.2 mt in April-December 2022, as against an average annual off-take of 62.5 mt during 2013-14 to 2019-20.

2.    More than 81 crore ration cardholders were given 5 kg of grain per month free of cost, in addition to their regular 5-kg entitlement at Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 3/kg for rice.


1.    It generated an all-time-high 389 crore person-days of employment in 2020-21 and 363 crore in 2021-22.

2.    Even the current fiscal’s projected 290-300 person-days will exceed the 265 crore-plus generated in 2019-20 and 2018-19, and the average 235 crore in the preceding three years.

It is because of the assumption:

1.    The economy has fully emerged from the pandemic and also overcome the war’s challenges, which aren’t as threatening as in 2022.

2.    If 2023-24 turns out to be a “normal” year, the need for extraordinary distress mitigation diminishes correspondingly.

Realism in assessment:

1.    It could be rural wages growth, which has displayed a rising trend in nominal (inflation-unadjusted) terms since mid-2022.

2.    According to the Tractor and Mechanization Association’s data, tractor sales fell from 8.99 lakh units in 2020-21 to 8.42 lakh units in 2021-22. But sales during April-December 2022 were 10.5% up over April-December 2021, with the actual growth happening from September 2022.

Reason for this growth:

1.   The main reason for both rural wages and growth in tractor sales picking up might be a decent post-monsoon kharif crop that didn’t suffer much damage from excess rainfall at the time of harvesting, unlike in 2021-22.

2.    To generate adequate labour demand in manufacturing, construction, and contact-based services such as trade, hotels, and transport — MGNREGA may not require any additional funding in 2023-24.

Budgets for other flagship rural schemes:

1.    The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi or PM-Kisan in 2023-24 has been maintained at the current fiscal’s level of Rs 60,000 crore.

2.    The budget for JJM — which aims to provide functional tap connections to every rural household by 2024, on the lines of the government’s earlier programmes for ensuring universal access to LPG (Ujjwala), electricity (Saubhagya), toilets (Swachh Bharat) and bank accounts (Jan Dhan) has been increased to an unprecedented Rs 70,000 crore.

3.    PMAY, which seeks to build/provide pucca homes with basic amenities for all rural and urban households, again by 2024, has also received enhanced budget support from 2021-22.


India Energy Week
GS Paper -1 (Resources)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged global investors to explore investment opportunities in the country’s energy sector, saying India is the most opportune place at present.

More about the news:

1.    PM at the India Energy Week 2023 said the Budget (for 2023-34) has provided ₹10 lakh crore for capital expenditure, which will give a boost to green hydrogen, solar power and road sectors.

2.    He urged us to explore all opportunities connected with India’s energy sector. India is the most opportune place for investment today.

3.   The Prime Minister also recalled several initiatives taken by the government to promote green energy and make India net zero by 2070.

4.    He noted that India has become the second-largest producer of mobile phones and the fourth-largest crude refiner in the world.

5.    India has the fourth-largest crude refining capacity in the world, and the government is working on increasing refining capacity from 250 MMTPA to 450 MMPTA.

6.    The gas pipeline network will expand to 35,000 km in the next four-five years from 22,000 km presently. No-go area for oil and gas exploration has been reduced by 10 lakh square kilometers.

Some initiatives:

The National Green Hydrogen Mission:

1.    It is aimed at making India the global hub for the production of green hydrogen. The National Hydrogen Mission was launched on August 15, 2021, with a view to cutting down carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable sources of energy.

2.    The mission seeks to promote the development of a green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonnes) per annum with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 GW in the country by 2030.

3.   Solar cooktop: They will give a new dimension to cooking in India.

Rolling of 20% ethanol-blended petrol in 11 States/UTs:
1.    Petrol blended with 20 per cent ethanol was rolled out at select petrol pumps in 11 states and union territories as part of a programme to increase use of biofuels to cut emissions as well as dependence on foreign exchange-draining imports.

2.   At present, 10 percent ethanol is blended in petrol (10 percent ethanol, 90 per cent petrol) and the government is looking to double this quantity by 2025.

3.    The Prime Minister launched the higher 20% ethanol-blended petroltwo months ahead of the planned rollout at the India Energy Week (IEW) 2023.

4.    Ethanol blending in petrol has increased from 1.5 per cent (in 2014) to 10 per cent and is now progressing towards 20 per cent blending.

5.    In the first phase, 15 cities will be covered and in the next two years it will be expanded throughout the country.

6.    India saved as much as ₹53,894 crore in forex outgo from 10 per cent blending besides benefiting the farmers.

7.    E-20 (petrol with 20 percent ethanol) will be available at 84 petrol pumps of three State-owned fuel retailers in 11 States/UTs.

Target advanced by 5 years:
1.    We also advanced the availability of E20 blended petrol to 2025, 5 years from earlier planned in 2030, adding that now E20 is being rolled out ahead of schedule on a pilot basis.

2.    India is on a fast trajectory of economic growth and projected to witness the largest increase in energy demand of any country over the next two decades, accounting for close to 28 percent of incremental global growth in energy demand.

3.    Use of ethanol, extracted from sugarcane as well as broken rice and other agri produce, will help the world's third largest oil consumer and importing country cut its reliance on overseas shipments.

4.    India currently is 85 per cent dependent on imports for meeting its oil needs. Also, it cuts carbon emissions.

Advantages of blending:

1.    Use of E20 leads to an estimated reduction of carbon monoxide emissions by about 50 per cent in two-wheelers and about 30 per cent in four-wheelers compared to E0 (neat petrol).

2.    Hydrocarbon emissions are estimated to reduce by 20 per cent in both two-wheelers and passenger cars.

Boost to sugarcane farmers:
1.    The programme gives sugarcane farmers an additional source of income. During the last eight years, ethanol suppliers have earned₹81,796 crore while farmers have got ₹49,078 crore.

2.    Along with the launch of E20, Green Mobility Rally was also part of the IEW-23 to create public awareness for the green fuels in the country such as E20, flex fuels, hydrogen and CNG etc.

3.    The current annual ethanol production capacity in the country is about 1,037 crore litres which includes 700 crore litres of molasses-based and 337 crore litres of grain-based production capacity.

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