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Here are the topics covered for 28th December 2023:
GS-1: Grow Local, Eat Local
GS-2: India-Russia Annual Summit
GS-3: Indian Banks’ Asset, Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPIs)
Facts for Prelims: SLIM, Fruit Flies
Grow Local, Eat Local
- Farmers from several districts of West Bengal organized an indigenous seed festival and took a pledge to conserve different varieties of native seeds.
About the Festival
- The native seed festival, originally initiated in South India at Thiruthuraipoondi in Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, in 2006 by the late Nel Jayaraman, has gained prominence over the years.
- The annual two-day festival attracts organic farmers and advocates of traditional seed varieties, becoming one of the largest seed exchange programs in the country.
- Showcasing around 200 native grain varieties, the festival promotes genetic diversity and resilience to harsh climates. Notable varieties like Mapillai samba, thanga samba, and kichili samba are featured.
- An interesting aspect is that farmers receive two kg of native seeds with a commitment to return four kg the following year, fostering sustainability.
- Additionally, the use of native seeds is associated with reduced irrigation needs, promoting water conservation.
- The festival serves as a platform for sharing knowledge, with organic farmers discussing farming practices for various crops like kambu (pearl millet).
India-Russia Annual Summit
- President Vladimir Putin extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Russia next year during a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the Kremlin.
- So far, 21 annual summits have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.
- The last summit took place in New Delhi in December 2021.
- The trade between both countries has grown for the second year in a row.
- S. Jaishankar held a ‘comprehensive and productive’ meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister on the bilateral economic cooperation.
- India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
21st India-Russia Annual Summit
- The leaders highlighted the importance of enhanced economic cooperation, focusing on new drivers of growth for long-term, predictable, and sustained collaboration.
- They commended the success of mutual investments and anticipated increased investments in each other\’s nations.
- The discussions also covered the role of connectivity through the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the proposed Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor.
- Both leaders expressed eagerness for greater inter-regional cooperation, particularly with the Russian Far East, involving Indian states.
- The ongoing bilateral collaboration in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, including humanitarian assistance, was acknowledged and appreciated.
Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPIs)
- Foreign portfolio investment in the debt market is expected to surge in early 2024, anticipating the inclusion of Indian bonds in global indices scheduled for June.
More About News
- When Indian bonds, primarily government securities (GSecs), are included in a global index, the Indian bond market is poised to receive a boost as foreign funds are anticipated to purchase GSecs in larger quantities.
- A surge in foreign portfolio investment (FPI) inflows in the debt segment is expected in the first quarter of calendar year 2024, with some pick-up anticipated in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2023-24.
- The inclusion of Indian bonds in global indices, scheduled for June, is likely to provide a cushion for India to comfortably finance the current account deficit.
- JP Morgan has announced that 23 Indian bonds, with a notional value of $330 billion, will be included in its Global EM bond index from June, with the share expected to rise to 10% in 10 months.
- In 2024, Indian sovereign bonds are expected to be included in other global indices, attracting additional inflows of $40-50 billion.
- The inclusion of Indian bonds in global indices is seen as a positive development that will contribute to the buoyancy of FPI flows and provide support to the higher current account deficit.
Indian Banks’ Asset
- The Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio of Indian Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) continued to show improvement in the second quarter of FY24, reaching a new low for the decade, according to the Reserve Bank of India\’s (RBI) report titled \’Trend and Progress of Banking in India\’.
Highlights of the Report
- The improvement in asset quality, measured by GNPA ratios, that began in 2018-19 continued during 2022-23, with the GNPA ratio of Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) reaching a decadal low of 3.2% at the end of September 2023.
- Approximately 45% of the reduction in SCBs\’ GNPAs during 2022-23 came from recoveries and upgrades.
- The consolidated balance sheet of SCBs (excluding Regional Rural Banks) grew by 12.2% in 2022-23, marking the highest in nine years, driven by sustained credit growth.
- The capital positions of banks improved, with the Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) at 16.8% at the end of September 2023, meeting regulatory requirements. Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) also saw an expansion of their balance sheets, driven by loans and advances, with improved capital buffers and profitability in 2022-23 and Q1:2023-24.
- The consolidated balance sheet of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) expanded by 14.8% in 2022-23, driven by double-digit credit growth.
- The sector exhibited improved profitability and asset quality in 2022-23 and H1:2023-24 while maintaining higher capitalization with a capital-to-risk (Weighted) Asset Ratio (CRAR) exceeding regulatory requirements.
- As the banking sector looks ahead to 2024, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) emphasized the importance of guarding against credit losses, leveraging higher capital buffers, and provision coverage ratios (PCR) for stability.
- Qualitative measures such as enhanced disclosures, strong codes of conduct, and clear governance structures were highlighted as contributors to financial stability.
- The RBI noted the global environment\’s uncertainty but affirmed that the Indian banking system is well-positioned for further improvement.
Facts for Prelims
- SLIM, a spacecraft developed and launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 7, 2023, weighed only 590 kg at launch, making it significantly lighter than Chandrayaan-3, which weighed 3,900 kg.
- Launched alongside the next-generation X-ray space telescope, XRISM, onboard an H2A rocket, SLIM was initially scheduled for launch in 2021 but faced delays due to XRISM preparations, resulting in the 2023 launch date.
- Despite its smaller size, SLIM carried out its mission, showcasing the efficiency of the Japanese space program.
- Fruit flies, measuring around 1/8 inch with red eyes, are commonly found in homes, restaurants, and supermarkets, especially around decaying or fermenting food.
- Their bodies feature a tan front and a black rear.
- These flies deposit eggs near the surface of fermenting foods, and the emerging larvae feed in the same area.
- This surface-feeding behavior allows damaged or overripe parts of fruits and vegetables to be removed without discarding the rest.
- Fruit flies are prolific reproducers, laying up to 500 eggs given the opportunity, and their life cycle, from egg to adult, can be completed in approximately a week.
- Scientists are using fruit flies to find clues to Huntington’s disease.