Central Bank Digital Currency


According to the recent reports the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) digital rupee — the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) — may be introduced in phases beginning with wholesale businesses in the current financial year.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
  2. Why are central banks issuing digital currencies?
  3. What will the introduction of the digital rupee change for citizens?

About Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC):

  • CBDC is the legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form.
  • It is the same as a fiat currency and is exchangeable one-to-one with the fiat currency. Only its form is different.
  • The digital fiat currency or CBDC can be transacted using wallets backed by blockchain.
    • Though the concept of CBDCs was directly inspired by Bitcoin, it is different from decentralised virtual currencies and crypto assets, which are not issued by the state and lack the ‘legal tender’ status.
  • CBDCs enable the user to conduct both domestic and cross-border transactions which do not require a third party or a bank.

How will CBDC help?

  • Introduction of CBDC has the potential to provide significant benefits, such as reduced dependency on cash, higher seigniorage due to lower transaction costs, reduced settlement risk.
  • Introduction of CBDC would also possibly lead to a more robust, efficient, trusted, regulated and legal tender-based payments option.
  • RBI had proposed amendments to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, which would enable it to launch a CBDC.
  • RBI has repeatedly flagged concerns over money laundering, terror financing, tax evasion, etc with private cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, etc. Introducing its own CBDC has been seen as a way to bridge the advantages and risks of digital currency.

Why are central banks issuing digital currencies?

  • To bring down the use of physical cash.
  • The cost of issuing digital currencies is far lower than the cost of printing and distributing physical cash.
  • The RBI can create and distribute the digital rupee at virtually zero cost since the creation and the distribution of the digital rupee will happen electronically.
  • Unlike physical cash, which is hard to trace, a digital currency that is monitored by the RBI can be more easily tracked and controlled by the Central bank.
  • Central bank digital currencies are promised as reliable, sovereign-backed alternatives to private currencies which are volatile and unregulated.
  • This feature of digital currencies, however, has raised various concerns regarding their privacy and could slow down their adoption.
  • In fact, it is worth noting that the need for privacy has been one of the primary reasons behind the switch to private digital currencies.

What will the introduction of the digital rupee change for citizens?

  • There are several models proposed by technology experts and evangelists on how the digital rupee could be transacted, and the formal announcement by the RBI will likely provide the details.
  • One chief difference could be that a digital rupee transaction would be instantaneous as opposed to the current digital payment experience.

Tomato Flu


A new infection dubbed tomato flu, or tomato fever, has been detected in India mostly among children younger than five, according to a report in the Lancet Respiratory Journal.


GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is tomato flu?
  2. How can tomato flu be treated? How to take care of it?

What is tomato flu?

  • The flu that gets its name because of the red blister it causes.
  • It affects children below five years of age.
  • The symptoms of this flu, also called Tomato fever, include rashes, skin irritation and dehydration.
  • According to several reports, the flu can also cause tiredness, joint pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, high fever, and body ache.
  • In some cases, it may also change the colour of the legs and the hands.
  • The symptoms will resolve overtime on their own if supportive care is given.

How can tomato flu be treated? How to take care of it?

  • Like other cases of flu, tomato fever is also contagious.
  • If someone is infected with this flu, they need to be kept in isolation as this could spread rapidly from one person to another
  • It is essential to prevent children from scratching the blisters caused by the flu.
  • Proper rest and hygiene is also advised.
  • Utensils, clothes and other items used by the infected persons must be sanitised to prevent the flu from spreading.
  • Fluid intake would also help counteract dehydration.

Pandurang Khankhoje


Lok Sabha Speaker, who is currently in Canada for the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, will travel to Mexico where he will unveil statues of Swami Vivekananda and Maharashtra-born freedom fighter and agriculturalist Pandurang Khankhoje (1883-1967).


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who was Pandurang Khankhoje?
  2. What was his association with the Indian independence movement?
  3. How did Khankhoje reach Mexico?

Who was Pandurang Khankhoje?

  • Born in Wardha, Maharashtra, in the late 19th century, Pandurang Khankhoje came in contact with other revolutionaries early on.
  • As a student, Khankhoje was an ardent admirer of the French Revolution and of the American War of Independence. Closer to home, the Hindu reformer Swami Dayanand and his Arya Samaj movement, which called for a spirit of reform and social change, became the hero to a young student group led by Khankhoje.
  • Khankhoje decided to go abroad for further training in revolutionary methods and militaristic strategy.
  • At this time, the British government’s suspicions of him were also growing due to his anti-government activities.
  • Before leaving, he visited Bal Gangadhar Tilak, by whom he was inspired.
    • Tilak advised him to go to Japan, which was itself a strong, anti-West Asian imperialistic force then.
  • After spending time with nationalists from Japan and China, Khankhoje eventually moved to the US, where he enrolled in college as a student of agriculture.
  • But a year later, he joined the Mount Tamalpais Military Academy in California to fulfil his original purpose of leaving India.

What was his association with the Indian independence movement?

  • Khankhoje was one of the founding members of the Ghadar Party, established by Indians living abroad in 1914, mostly belonging to Punjab.
  • Its aim was to lead a revolutionary fight against the British in India.
  • While in the US, Khankhoje met Lala Har Dayal, an Indian intellectual teaching at Stanford University.
    • Har Dayal had begun a propaganda campaign, publishing a newspaper that featured patriotic songs and articles in the vernacular languages of India. This was the seed from which the Ghadar Party would emerge

How did Khankhoje reach Mexico?

  • At the military academy, Khankhoje met many people from Mexico.
  • The Mexican Revolution of 1910 had led to the overthrow of the dictatorial regime, and this inspired Khankhoje.
    • He also reached out to Indians working on farms in the US with the aim of discussing the idea of Indian independence with them. There, he met with Mexican workers as well.
    • Along with the Indian workers, militant action was planned by Khankhoje in India, but the outbreak of the First World War halted these plans.
  • He then reached out to Bhikaji Cama in Paris, and met with Vladimir Lenin in Russia among other leaders, seeking support for the Indian cause.
  • However, as he was facing possible deportation from Europe and could not go to India, he sought shelter in Mexico.
  • Soon, in part due to his prior friendship with Mexican revolutionaries, he was appointed a professor at the National School of Agriculture in Chapingo, near Mexico City.
    • He researched corn, wheat, pulses and rubber, developing frost and drought-resistant varieties, and was part of efforts to bring in the Green Revolution in Mexico.
    • Later on, the American agronomist Dr Norman Borlaug, called the Father of the Green Revolution in India, brought the Mexican wheat variety to Punjab.

Kerala Savari


Kerala has soft launched ‘Kerala Savari’, the country’s first online taxi service owned by a State government, to ensure fair and decent service to passengers along with fair remuneration to auto-taxi workers.


GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About ‘Kerala Savari’
  2. Security-related features of ‘Kerala Savari’
  3. Will the new government initiative end the monopoly of private cab aggregators?

About ‘Kerala Savari’:

  • Operated by the Motor Workers Welfare Board under the aegis of the Labour Department.
  • Private cab aggregators used to make a killing with surge pricing during peak hours or in the event of rains.
  • The passengers were often forced to pay through their nose during these critical times.
    • But there will be no fluctuation in fares on Kerala Savari irrespective of day or night or rain.
  • When private app-based taxi companies increase the charges for services up to two to three times during emergencies, neither passengers nor workers benefit from it.
  • But Kerala Savari only charges an 8% service charge in addition to the rate set by the government, whereas the private cab aggregators charge up to 20 to 30% service charge.
  • The taxi owner will get the approved fare on ‘Kerala Savari,’ while cab owners working for private online companies would often get a fare which is below the government-approved rate.
  • Furthermore, of the 8% service charge collected from passengers, 6% will go to the technical partner, and the remaining 2% will go to the implementation of this scheme and for providing promotional incentives to passengers and drivers.
  • The government will not be benefiting from this scheme.
    •  For instance, if the passenger travelled a distance fixed for ₹100, the total fare would be ₹108 including service charge.
    • The car owner will get ₹100 and the remaining ₹8 would be used for running the facility and for providing promotional incentives to passengers and drivers.
    • In the case of online private cab aggregators, the car owner used to get below the rate of ₹100 although he covered a distance fixed for the same fare band. In addition, they would charge more than 20% service charge.

Security-related features of ‘Kerala Savari’:

  • Kerala Savari is claimed as a safe and reliable online service for women, children, and senior citizens.
  • This consideration has been given importance in app designing and driver registration.
  • A police clearance certificate is mandatory for drivers joining the scheme apart from the required proper training.
  • It has also been decided to install GPS in vehicles at a subsidised rate. This will be implemented in a phased manner.
  • A 24-hour call centre has been prepared for this purpose. A state-of-the-art call centre is functioning at the district office of the Motor Workers Welfare Board. The call centre works in such a way that all service-related issues can be resolved immediately.
Panic button system:
  • This button can be pressed in the event of a car accident or in cases of any other danger.
  • One can do it completely privately. If the driver presses the panic button the passenger will not be alarmed and the same goes for when the passenger presses the panic button.
  • When one presses the button, there is an option to select the Police, Fire Force, and Motor Vehicle Department numbers.
  • If you are in such a dangerous situation that you cannot select any option, press the button for a few seconds and you will be directly connected to the police control room.

Will the new government initiative end the monopoly of private cab aggregators?

  • Kerala has over five lakh autorickshaws and one lakh cabs.
  • The State government plans to bring all auto-taxi workers engaged in the sector under the new platform.
  • Since smartphone literacy is high in Kerala, the State is hopeful of bringing them under the scheme in a short span of time.
  • In addition, the Kerala government has also decided to provide fuel, insurance, and tyre subsidies for vehicle owners in the future and has already initiated talks with major companies in this regard.
  • After the evaluation of the first phase of the project in Thiruvananthapuram, it will be extended to the entire State in a phased manner.

Forever Chemicals


A recent study published in Environment Science and Technology has found that rainwater from many places across the globe is contaminated with “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” (PFAs), which are called “forever chemicals” because of their tendency to stick around in the atmosphere, rainwater and soil for long periods of time.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are PFAs?
  2. What harm do PFAs cause?
  3. How can these chemicals be removed from rainwater?

What are PFAs?

  • According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, firefighting forms and many other products that resist grease, water and oil.
  • PFAs can migrate to the soil, water and air during their production and use.
  • Since most PFAs do not break down, they remain in the environment for long periods of time.
  • Some of these PFAs can build up in people and animals if they are repeatedly exposed to the chemicals.

What harm do PFAs cause?

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists a variety of health risks that are attributed to PFA exposure, including decreased fertility, developmental effects in children, interference with body hormones, increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of some cancers.
  • Recent research has also revealed that long-term low-level exposure to certain PFAs can make it difficult for humans to build antibodies after being vaccinated against various diseases.

How can these chemicals be removed from rainwater?

  • While there is no known method that can extract and remove PFAs from the atmosphere itself, there are many effective, albeit expensive, methods to remove them from rainwater that has been collected through various rainwater harvesting methods.
  • One way to do this would be to use a filtration system with activated carbon.
    • The activated carbon will need to be removed and replaced regularly.
    •  Also, the old contaminated material must be destroyed.
  • Recently, Science reported a cheaper method that EPA researchers led by William Dichtel and Brittany Trang stumbled upon by chance.
    • The researchers first placed a PFA compound in a solvent called DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide).
    • They then mixed it with sodium hydroxide (lye) in water.
    • They found that when this mixture was heated up to boiling temperature, the PFA compound began to degrade.
    • However, this method doesn’t work for all PFAs and only works for certain PFA subsets.
    • The scientists are now looking at ways to scale up their technique to include different types and also large amounts of PFAS.


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