Daily News Analysis 19 August 2023 (The Hindu)

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Here are the topics covered for 19 August 2023: Annapurna Food Packet Scheme, UGC Regulations, 2023, Moody’s Ratings, Graphene-Aurora Program, Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme, Pong Dam, AGNIKUL’S SorTeD, Chandrayaan-3.


GS Paper 2

Annapurna Food Packet Scheme


  1. The Rajasthan government recently inaugurated the Annapurna food packet program.


About Annapurna Food Packet Scheme:

  1. Its objective is to increase the coverage under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  2. As part of this initiative, free Annapurna food packets will be handed out monthly to over 1.04 crore households in Rajasthan. (In line with revising the Food Security Act)
  3. Qualified recipients are set to receive these food packets every month.
  4. These packets can be collected from fair price shops (FPS) without any cost.
  5. For every packet distributed, the FPS will earn a commission of ₹10.
  6. Within each packet, recipients will find one kg each of gram pulses, sugar, and iodized salt, a litre of soybean refined cooking oil, 100 grams each of chilli and coriander powder, and a 50-gram portion of turmeric powder.


UGC (Recognition and Grant of Equivalence to Qualifications obtained from Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2023


  1. The draft UGC (Recognition and Grant of Equivalence to Qualifications from Foreign Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2023, has been unveiled by the University Grants Commission (UGC).


New Guidelines:

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released draft guidelines emphasizing diverse funding sources for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). These institutions should:
    1. Identify Funding: Including government grants, alumni contributions, private sector collaborations, and fundraising campaigns.
    2. Develop a Sustainable Revenue Model: This model should derive revenues from student tuition fees, government assistance, overheads from sponsored R&D projects, and endowments.
    3. Explore Other Revenue Streams: Like Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) donations, royalties from intellectual property, and patents.
    4. Revenue Distribution: A balanced HEI should have each revenue stream contributing approximately equally to its total revenue. Expanding undergraduate programs can further boost income, given that more students translate to higher revenues.
    5. Faculty Assessment: The draft recommends ranking faculty based on Academic Performance Indicators (API) scores, with additional incentives to reward and encourage top-performing educators.
    6. Promote a Healthy Work Environment: The guidelines suggest creating an \”emotional infrastructure\” that offers a positive environment for all participants, emphasizing transparency and ethical standards in both educational and research sectors.
    7. Limitations on Degrees: The UGC has restrictions on degrees obtained through distance, online learning, or franchise agreements. Only in-person, regular courses will be recognized for equivalence.
    8. Equivalence Assessment: The UGC will offer an online platform where students can submit their foreign qualifications for evaluation. The Commission promises a swift response within 15 days.
    9. Appeal and Certification: In case of disagreements, an appeal option exists. Once approved, the UGC will provide an equivalence certificate useful for employment, further studies, and other purposes.
    10. This draft underlines the UGC\’s approach to elevate the quality and credibility of higher education in India.


GS Paper 3

Moody’s Keeps India’s Ratings


  1. The rating agency expects India’s economic growth to outpace all other G20 economies through at least the next two years, driven by domestic demand.


Moody’s Outlook for India:

  1. Moody’s Investor Service affirmed India’s long-term local and foreign-currency issuer rating at Baa3 and retained the stable outlook.
    1. India’s economy is likely to continue to grow rapidly by international standards, although potential growth has come down in the past 7-10 years.
    2. High GDP growth will contribute to gradually rising income levels and overall economic resilience.
    3. High GDP growth will also support gradual fiscal consolidation and government debt stabilisation.
    4. Moody’s said it expects India’s economic growth to outpace all other G20 economies through at least the next two years, driven by domestic demand.
    5. The government’s ongoing emphasis on infrastructure development, mirrored in the increasing share of capital expenditure in the Union Budget has led to tangible improvements in logistic performance and the quality of trade and transport-related infrastructure.
    6. The government’s implementation of its digital public infrastructure—which has entailed the widespread adoption of digital payments and data exchange—enhances the efficiency of public service delivery, while also boosting the formalization of the economy and broadening the tax base.
    7. Moody’s said the fundamental improvement in the banking system’s financial soundness over the last three years has also allowed the private sector to leverage buoyant domestic sentiment and channel funding towards capital formation beyond the immediate rebound from the pandemic, as evidenced by the robustness of credit growth.
    8. Despite some upside pressures on spending to help the economy cope with higher inflation, the government has been able to meet its fiscal deficit targets at the central government level over the past two years, aided by buoyant tax revenue
  2. It has also flagged risks from the country’s ‘high debt burden’ and curbs on political dissent.
  3. Factors that could downgrade the ratings:
    1. An escalation of political tensions and/or further weakening of checks and balances that would undermine India’s long-term growth potential.
    2. Durably weaker growth than currently projected would contribute to an ongoing rise in the debt burden, which would weaken the sovereign’s fiscal strength.
    3. A resurgence of financial sector stress that is unlikely to be addressed promptly and effectively would also put downward pressure on the rating.
    4. The periodic flaring of border tensions with neighbouring countries was an outlier among sovereigns assessed as having a lower overall susceptibility to political risk.
    5. Over the longer term, constraints on the economy’s ability to deliver a significant increase in manufacturing and improvements in job creation will limit potential growth.
  4. About Moody’s:
    1. A global integrated risk assessment firm that empowers organizations to make better decisions.
    2. Its data, analytical solutions and insights help decision-makers identify opportunities and manage the risks of doing business with others.
    3. It believes that greater transparency, more informed decisions, and fair access to information open the door to shared progress.
    4. With over 13,000 employees in more than 40 countries, Moody’s combines global presence with local expertise and over a century of experience in financial markets.


Graphene-Aurora Program



  1. Recently, the Maker Village in Kochi, Kerala saw the launch of the \’Graphene-Aurora program\’ by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY).


What is Graphene?

  1. Graphene\’s distinct properties render it a multi-functional material suitable for diverse industrial applications.
  2. In electronics, it contributes to the development of swifter and more competent devices. (Under the aegis of the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) dedicated to extensive electronics manufacturing)
  3. In the realm of material science, it plays a role in strengthening composites.
  4. It bolsters energy storage solutions by improving battery efficiency.
  5. Within the medical domain, it has applications in drug administration and the creation of biosensors, to name a few.


About Graphene-Aurora Program:

  1. Its objective is in promoting innovation and turning graphene technologies into viable businesses in Kerala.
  2. The initiative is designed to cultivate the advanced/emerging ecosystem around Graphene technology and innovation.
  3. Its objective is to mentor, shape, execute, and back SMEs and new ventures in bringing the created graphene technologies to broad-scale usage.
  4. A non-profit organization, named ‘India Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (I-GEIC)’, will be established.
  5. The foundation of I-GEIC will serve as a conduit between academic research and its commercial application, aiding both new ventures and established industries.
  6. With its emphasis on nascent graphene technology, the program aims to position India at the forefront of the global new materials industry.
  7. As for financial support: The Digital University Kerala will oversee the program\’s execution, receiving combined funding from MeitY, the Kerala State Government, and corporate collaborators.


Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme


  1. The Defence Ministry has recently launched Technology Development Fund (TDF) scheme.


About TDF Scheme:

  1. The initiative actively seeks involvement from both public and private sectors, particularly MSMEs, to establish an environment that promotes advanced technological proficiency for defence purposes.
  2. The scheme champions the local creation of components, products, systems, and technologies, especially by MSMEs and emerging start-ups.


Eligibility of the TDF Scheme:

  1. MSMEs and startups that are officially registered within India.
  2. Entities like public limited companies, private limited firms, partnership establishments, limited liability partnerships, single-person companies, and sole proprietorships must be registered according to the relevant Indian regulations.
  3. The business should be under the ownership and control of an Indian national.
  4. Industries where foreign investment does not exceed 49%.


Facts for Prelims

Pong Dam


  1. Recently, the Pong Dam witnessed its peak water inflow since it began operations.


About Pong Dam:

  1. It is built on the Beas River in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. It was formed in 1974.
  2. Its objective is to store water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
  3. The dam is also referred to as Maharana Pratap Sagar.
  4. In 1983, the Himachal Pradesh government designated the entire reservoir as a Wildlife Sanctuary.
  5. By 1994, it earned the distinction from the Indian Government as a “Wetland of National Importance” (in alignment with Wetland Conservation efforts).
  6. In 2002, the site was recognized as a Ramsar Site (as part of the COP14 of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands).
  7. The region boasts tropical and subtropical forests in terms of vegetation.
  8. Some of the plant species present include Eucalyptus, acacia, jamun, shisham, mango, mulberry, ficus, and more.
  9. The dam\’s wildlife includes creatures like Barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, and leopards.
  10. The bird species present encompass Black-headed gulls, Red-necked grebes, plovers, terns, ducks, among others.




Courtesy: India Today


  1. The space-tech startup Agnikul Cosmos, headquartered in Chennai, has marked significant progress in India\’s private space industry through the creation of its rocket, Agnibaan.


Agnikul’s Suborbital Tech Demonstrator (SorTeD):

  1. This groundbreaking suborbital spacecraft showcases the capabilities of 3D printing in aerospace production, positioning Agnikul as the second space-tech firm from India to attain this milestone.
  2. Vehicle Details: Agnikul\’s launch vehicle, known as Agnibaan and stemming from their SorTeD line, is a single-stage rocket powered by the unique Agnilet engine they developed.
  3. Launch Method: The Agnibaan takes off vertically and adheres to a set path during its journey in suborbital space.
  4. Carrying Capability: The vehicle can transport payloads weighing up to 100 kg to a low Earth orbit (LEO) with maximum altitudes reaching 700 km.
  5. Size Specifications: Agnibaan has a stature of 18 m, a width of 1.3 m, and a launch weight of 14,000 kg.
  6. Space for Payload: The designated compartment for payloads is 2m x 1.5m, suitable for housing a single satellite or multiple smaller ones.



  1. Following 34 days aboard the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, the propulsion module and the lander module separated on 17th August. They are now on their individual paths.
  2. The Chandrayaan-3 mission by ISRO comprises a lander module (LM), a propulsion module (PM), and a rover designed for exploring the moon.
  3. After successful separation, the LM is scheduled to move to a reduced orbit via controlled debossing manoeuvres.
  4. The principal responsibility of the PM is to ferry the lander from the point of launch vehicle injection to a lunar orbit of 100 km.
  5. The primary task of the lander is to achieve a soft landing and then release the rover, which will carry out on-the-spot chemical assessments of the moon\’s surface.
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