Distorted use of fertilisers

In News

  • Recent data from the Department of Fertilisers shows a 3.7 per cent increase in the sale of urea during April-October 2022 over the corresponding seven months of the previous year. 

More about the news

  • Issue:
    • Two ambitious schemes of the incumbent government — Soil Health Card and mandatory neem-coating of urea — were supposed to promote balanced use of fertilisers. 
    • Urea:
      • However, far from weaning farmers from urea, annual consumption of this nitrogenous fertiliser has risen from 30 to 35 million tonnes (mt) in the last five years. 
    • DAP:
      • There is a another fertiliser — di-ammonium phosphate or DAP — that is seeing a similar phenomenon of over-application
    • Sales of all other fertilisers:
      • Sales of other fertilisers including complexes containing nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), K (potash) and sulphur (S) in different proportions – have fallen. 
    • Imbalanced use:
      • In other words, instead of balanced use of plant nutrients based on soil testing and specific crop requirement, Indian farmers are effectively applying just urea and DAP — both high-analysis fertilisers containing 46 per cent N and P respectively.
  • Outcome:
    • The effects of these – the current NPK ratio is about 13:5:1, as against the ideal 4:2:1 – would ultimately show up in crop yields. 
    • Plants, like humans, will respond poorly to fertilisers if only one or two nutrients are given in excess. 

Reasons behind this imbalance

  • Underpricing of other fertilizers:
    • Government has fixed maximum retail prices of Urea & DAP. It has informally-fixed MRPs for NPKS complexes and muriate of potash (MOP). 
    • Prices of other fertilizers compared to Urea & DAP are relatively higher. So farmers have little incentive to buy other fertilizers.
    • The fact that DAP does not contain K, S or other macro and micro nutrients wouldn’t matter to a majority of farmers. 
    • For them, choice of fertilisers is primarily a function of prices
  • Subsidisation & political motives:
    • Underpricing of urea (a historical phenomenon) and DAP (recent) is a product of subsidy-induced market distortions. 
    • High government subsidies are behind the low pricing, and high sales, of these two fertilisers.
    • The compulsions of electoral politics have clearly trumped concerns over soil nutrient imbalances.
  • Supply-side constraints:
    • India is facing a tight supply position in fertilisers, especially of phosphatic and potassic nutrients.
    • The challenges include securing supply from new sources, costlier raw material, and logistics.
    • The pandemic has impacted fertilizer production, import and transportation across the world.

Government initiatives to rationalise the fertiliser use

  • The Soil Health Card SchemeSoil health card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
    • Objectives:
      • To issue soil health cards every two years to all farmers, so as to provide a basis to address nutrient deficiencies in fertilization practices.
  • Neem Coated Urea (NCU): It is a fertilizer and an agriculture scheme is supported by the Government of India to boost the growth of wheat and paddy.
    • Apart from the increase in yield, Neem Coated Urea application has other use full effect in paddy and wheat crops.
      • Farmers have observed that the incidence of white ant was reduced with the use of Neem coated Urea in wheat crop. This is because of fragrance of Neem oil that on dissolution was released in the standing water in the standing water and insecticidal properties of Neem.
    • The move will not only benefit the environment and improve farmers’ lives, but curb illegal urea diversion for industrial use.
  • ‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ scheme:
    • Under the scheme, all fertiliser companies, State Trading Entities (STEs) and Fertiliser Marketing Entities (FMEs) will be required to use a single “Bharat” brand for fertilisers and logo under the PMBJP.
      • The new “Bharat” brand name and PMBJP logo will cover two-thirds of the front of the fertiliser packet.

Suggestions & Way ahead

  • The government should replace subsidies on individual fertiliser products with a flat per-hectare cash transfer, maybe twice a year
  • Every farmer can have an e-wallet account into which this money can be credited before the kharif and rabi planting seasons.
    • The e-wallet may be used only for the purchase of fertilisers

The government can maintain a stock of basic fertilisers, including urea and DAP, to ensure no untoward price rise even in a decontrol scenario.

Document on terror acts at the UN Security Council.

In News

  • Recently India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations circulated a document on terror acts at the UN Security Council. 

More about the document highlights

  • Categorising terrorism:
    • The document stated that the era of classifying terrorists as “bad” or “good” on the basis of “political convenience” must end immediately.
    • It also stated that categorising terror acts as “bad” or “good” on intent as religious or ideologically motivated will dilute the shared global commitment to fighting terrorism.
  • Recent history of terror attacks:
    • The terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, were a turning point in the global approach to counter-terrorism. 
    • Since then, London, Mumbai, Paris, and many parts of West Asia and Africa have also experienced terrorist attacks.
  • Transnational threat of terrorism:
    • Terrorist actors and their supporters, facilitators, and financiers collaborate while remaining in different jurisdictions to organise acts anywhere in the world. 
    • A transnational threat can be defeated only by the collective efforts of all States Members of the United Nations.
    • It said that existing and emerging threats call for a renewed collective approach to terrorism.
  • Terrorism sheltering in Afghanistan:
    • The threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan, Al-Qaida, Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent and terrorist groups sheltering in Afghanistan has increased following the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in August 2021.
  • Terrorism from Africa:
    • Africa’s home-grown terrorist groups have found ideological support from global terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and ISIL.
  • Radicalisation through the internet:
    • The risk of radicalisation through the Internet and social media, and terror financing using cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding platforms, was heightened, particularly during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
India’s presidency at UNSCAbout:India assumed the monthly presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).This is the second time of monthly presidency in India’s two-year tenure as an elected member of the Council in 2021-22.India had earlier assumed the UNSC presidency in August 2021.Events:India in its presidency will hold two signature events on reformed multilateralism and counter-terrorism. India’s External Affairs Minister will chair the events.India also proposed to organise a briefing of the Security Council on ‘Global counter-terrorism approach – principles and the way forward”. The briefing will be organised under the ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’ subject.


  • An offence to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act, which causes:
  • Death or serious bodily injury to any person.
  • Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment.
  • Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems resulting in or likely to result in a major economic loss.
  • It encompasses a range of complex threats like organized terrorism in conflict zones, foreign terrorist fighters, radicalised ‘lone wolves’, etc.
  • Factors Responsible for Growth of Terrorism:
    • State-sponsorship and safe havens.
    • State-of-the-art communication systems.
    • Access to advanced technology.
    • Networking of terrorist groups with the criminal underworld.

Groundwater Protection

In News

The United Nations-Water Summit on Groundwater 2022 underlined that groundwater must be protected at all costs since it is key to global food production and food security.

Major Highlights

  • About the Conference:
    • The conference was organised by UN-Water, UNESCO and the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre. 
    • The summit was organised to raise awareness on groundwater conservation at the global stage. 
    • It also marked the completion of the “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible” campaign run by UN-Water throughout 2022.
  • UN 2023 Water Conference:
    • The UN 2023 water conference in New York City offers unprecedented potential for progress on SDG 6 (Sustainable Development Goal 6 is about clean water and sanitation for all) and all water-related goals of the 2023 agenda.
  • Groundwater management:
    • It needs to apply five acceleration instruments to ensure that this succeeds:
      • Governance
      • Data and information
      • Innovation
      • Capacity development
      • Finance
  • Coalition: 
    • A coalition was formed on transboundary water cooperation. 
    • Transboundary waters accounted for 60 percent of the freshwater that flowed globally. 
    • Only 32 countries have 90 percent or more of their transboundary basin and aquifer area covered by operational agreements.
    • The gap between water supply and demand is increasing. So the combination of these three facts can represent a huge potential for future conflicts or it can be a driver of mutually beneficial cooperation.
  • South Asia: 
    • South Asia was the largest consumer of groundwater in the world today.  
    • As of today, in the region, we are drawing over 600 billion cubic metres of groundwater every year — both from transboundary aquifers and from water sources that are very ancient. 
    • This groundwater once drawn for use cannot be recharged back.
    • South Asia hosts not more than five percent of the global land cover. 
    • But it hosts more than a third of the irrigated land and more than a fourth of the global population. 
    • About 85 percent of the water required for irrigation to produce food and 90 percent of drinking water is drawn from groundwater in south Asia.
    • The huge extraction of groundwater is also drying out the rivers. This is another big challenge for this region.

Threat to Groundwater

  • Degradation from human activities, often associated with poor land, agricultural, and waste management threatens:
    • Current uses of groundwater and 
    • Human and ecosystem health 
    • Limits benefits of future generations
  • The problem is more pronounced in South Asia because much of the groundwater is heterogenous. Some 70 percent of groundwater is hosted only in 30 percent of land cover in south Asia and the rest is hosted in areas covered by Himalayan rivers.
  • Water pollution is another issue as much of the groundwater is polluted by contaminants like arsenic and Fluoride. More than 400 million people are exposed to these pollutants. So, it is not just a quantity issue but also a water quality issue in India.


  • Ground water has become an increasingly important natural resource catering to the fresh water requirements of various sectors in India. 
  • Ground water has steadily emerged as the backbone of India’s agriculture and drinking water security.
  • Groundwater is the principal water source for a fourth of the world’s population. India is the world’s largest groundwater user; nearly 250 cubic kilometres was taken out in 2017. 
  • About 90% of this was used for irrigation, the rest went to towns and villages.

Way Ahead

  • Governance, actions and investments on groundwater should be prioritized in vulnerable and climate change / hazard-exposed regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, Small Island Developing States and coastal zones, areas with no or slowly renewable and vulnerable aquifers, and aquifers with naturally occurring but hazardous contaminants, like arsenic
  • The focus should be on underserved and hard-to-reach communities, including women, youth, and indigenous people.
  • Actions for building capacity should be taken in order to better govern and manage groundwater and achieve sustainable development goals (SDG).
  • Protection of groundwater must be guaranteed across all sectors including agriculture.
  • South Asian governments need to strengthen an integrated water management which involves both surface water and groundwater.

New Syria Escalation

In News

After weeks of deadly Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria, Kurdish forces and international players are trying to gauge whether Turkey’s threats of a ground invasion are serious.

Key Points

  • Present Scenario: 
    • Turkish President has repeatedly warned of a new land incursion to drive Kurdish groups away from the Turkish-Syrian border, following a deadly bombing in Istanbul. 
    • In the most recent development, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister flew to Turkey this week for talks on the situation in Syria.
  • Human Rights Watch:
    • It has warned that the strikes are exacerbating a humanitarian crisis by disrupting power, fuel and aid.

Different Foreign Powers Angle in this Scenario

  • Turkey: 
    • Turkey sees the Kurdish forces along its border with Syria as a threat and has launched three major military incursions since 2016, taking control of large swaths of territory.
    • The President of Turkey hopes to relocate many of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey to northern Syria and has begun building housing units there. 
    • The plan could address growing anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey and bolster Erdogan’s support ahead of next year’s elections, while diluting historically Kurdish-majority areas by resettling non-Kurdish Syrian refugees there.
    • There are also plans to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) security corridor in areas currently under Kurdish control. A planned Turkish invasion earlier this year was halted amid opposition by the U.S. and Russia.
  • Kurds: 
    • Kurdish groups are pressing the U.S. and Russia, both of which have military posts in northern Syria, to once again prevent Turkey from carrying out its threats.
    • The Kurds are worried that the West will stand aside this time to appease Ankara in exchange for approval of Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
    • Kurdish groups, which fought against the Islamic State group alongside the U.S.-led coalition and now guard thousands of captured IS fighters and family members, warn that a Turkish escalation would threaten efforts to stamp out the extremist group.
  • Syria: 
    • Insurgents:
      • The so-called Syrian National Army, a coalition of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition groups with tens of thousands of fighters, would likely provide foot soldiers for any future ground offensive. 
      • In previous incursions, the SNA was accused of committing atrocities against Kurds and displacing tens of thousands from their homes.
      • SNA states that they were ordered by Turkish authorities not to speak about plans for a new incursion.
    • Government: 
      • The Syrian government has opposed past Turkish incursions but also sees the SDF as a secessionist force and a Trojan horse for the U.S., which has imposed paralyzing sanctions on the government of Bashar Assad.
      • Damascus and Ankara have recently been moving to improve relations after 11 years of tension triggered by Turkey’s backing of opposition fighters in Syria’s civil war. 
      • Damascus has kept relatively quiet about the killing of Syrian soldiers in the recent Turkish strikes.
  • US:
    • The United States maintains a small military presence in northern Syria, where its strong backing of the SDF has infuriated Turkey.
    • However, the U.S. at first said little publicly about the Turkish airstrikes, speaking more forcefully only after they hit dangerously close to U.S. troops and led to anti-IS patrols being temporarily halted.
    • U.S.’ assurances for Kurds, worried that the U.S. might abandon them to coax a NATO deal out of Turkey: There had been no changes to U.S. policy in the region.
  • Russia: 
    • Russia is the Syrian government’s closest ally. Its involvement in Syria’s conflict helped turn the tide in favour of Assad.
    • Although Turkey and Russia support rival sides in the conflict, the two have coordinated closely in Syria’s north. 
    • In recent months, Russia has pushed for a reconciliation between Damascus and Ankara.
    • Moscow has voiced concerns over Turkey’s recent military actions in northern Syria and has attempted to broker a deal. 

Prevalence of Anaemia in Men

In News

  • Recently, critics have said that anaemia among adolescent girls and boys and women has been studied extensively but anaemia in men has been largely ignored.

What is Anaemia?

  • Meaning
    • Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal.
      • Haemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen and if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or not enough haemoglobin, there will be a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. 
  • Causes of Anaemia
    • The most common causes of anaemia include nutritional deficiencies which include iron deficiency. 
    • Though deficiencies in folate, vitamins B12 and A are also important causes; haemoglobinopathies; and infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and parasitic infections. 
  • Symptoms
    • It includes fatigue, weakness, dizziness and drowsiness. 
    • Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable, with an increased risk of maternal and child mortality.
  • Treatment
    • While iron deficiency anaemia is the most common form and is relatively easy to treat through dietary changes.
    • Other forms of anaemia require health interventions that may be less accessible.
  • Implications
    • It affects cognitive and physical development in children and reduces productivity in adults.
    • Anaemia is an indicator of both poor nutrition and poor health.
    • It can also impact other global nutritional concerns such as stunting and wasting, low birth weight and childhood overweight and obesity due to lack of energy to exercise.
    • School performance in children and reduced work productivity in adults due to anaemia can have further social and economic impacts for the individual and family.  
Data/Facts on Anaemia The Lancet Global Health It revealed that nearly one in four men (23.2%) in the age group 15-54 years in India were anaemic (mild, moderate, or severe).WHO EstimatesWHO estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic.Fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) It found that three out of ten men in rural areas were anaemic.Prevalence of anaemia was more in rural areas than in urban areas.

Government Interventions 

  • Anaemia Mukt Bharat (AMB) 
    • It is a strategy with the target to reduce anaemia in women, children and adolescents in a life cycle approach. 
    • It includes Testing of anaemia using digital methods and point-of-care treatment.
  • Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS)
  • Government implements Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and a Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Umbrella of ICDS as targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan: It is a flagship national nutrition mission to improve nutrition among children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • Introduction of community-based programmes
  • The introduction of community-based programmes for severe acute malnutrition, Jan Andolans, and community-based events, as well as the strengthening collaboration across departments has led to the implementation of a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition.
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme: It is a school meal programme in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children.

Way forward/ Suggestions 

  • Biological viewpoint: Men are not so likely to be iron deficiency as men do not lose iron every month through menstruation.
    • In fact, men do not lose iron unless they are bleeding from somewhere or have some abnormal haemoglobin like thalassemia or sickle cell anaemia. 
  • Extension of policies: The benefits of existing programmes and policies related to anaemia eradication should be extended to men as well.
  • Targeted interventions among susceptible groups of rural men are advised to reduce the prevalence of anaemia.
  • Need of accurate calculation measures: factor that might have overestimated the prevalence of anaemia in rural men is the use of capillary blood samples to measure haemoglobin.
    • Capillary blood samples inflate anaemia prevalence by as much as 33% to 50% in women.
  • Proper nutrition: The need of the hour is to increase the diversity of foods to improve iron and vitamin intake in men, without chemicals. 


In News 

 The drug, lecanemab, jointly developed by pharma companies Biogen and Eisai, was tested on patients with early Alzheimer’s. 

About Lecanemab 

  • Lecanemab belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies. 
  • These antibody-mediated drugs target beta-amyloid, the protein deposition that is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and disrupts cell function.
  • Lecanemab appears to have shown modest effects in early dementia both via clinical improvements (scores in the CDR and ADAS-Cog rating scales) and reduction in amyloid plaques.


In News

Recently, the fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale opened

What are art Biennales?

  • It is an international large-scale showcase of art that takes place every two years at a particular site
  • It is usually non-commercial enterprises – unlike art fairs – that center around a curatorial theme.
  • History 
    • One of the most prestigious and oldest biennales in the world, the Venice Biennale was established through a resolution by the city council in 1893 to celebrate national artistic talent. 
    • With its rising popularity, the 1900s saw the emergence of Biennales across the world, with Bienal de São Paulo being instituted as the first non-European biennial in 1951.
    • In 2009, a global Biennale Foundation was established with an “aim to create a platform for dialogue, networking, and knowledge sharing among contemporary art biennials around the world”. 

The significance of art biennales

  • Biennales help showcase art, and often named after the host city, they become a reason for local pride, promoting cultural tourism and generating revenue through visitors.

A brief history of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

  • An artist-led endeavour, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale was founded in 2011 by Kerala-born, Mumbai-based artists Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu with an aim to “create a platform that will introduce contemporary, global visual art theory and practice to India.”


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