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CURRENT AFFAIRS BOOSTER : 1st SEPTEMBER 2023



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Current Affairs

 

1st September 2023


NATIONAL AFFAIRS

1)  J&K’s Bhaderwah Rajmash & Sulai Honey and Assam’s Chokuwa rice gets GI Tag

Chennai(Tamil Nadu) based Geographical Indications Registry has granted Geographical Indication(GI) tags to Bhaderwah Rajmash(Red kidney beans) and Sulai Honey of Jammu & Kashmir(J&K) and Chokuwa rice(Magic Rice) of Assam.

·         Geographical Indication Registry functions under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry(MoCI)

About Geographical Indication(GI) Tag
i.Geographical Indication (GI) is a type of intellectual property right that recognizes products that come from a particular place and possess special qualities, characteristics, and features associated with that area. Unauthorized use of these products are protected.
ii.India enacted the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, to provide for the registration and better protection of GI relating to goods in India, which came into force from September 2003.

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2)  MoSJE & NSKFDC Signed MoU to Enhance Socio-Economic Uplift of Safai Karamcharis

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) to enhance the socio-economic upliftment of Safai Karamcharis, manual scavengers, waste pickers, and their families.

·         The MoU signed for the fiscal years (FY) 2023-24 and 2024-25 will focus on empowering the marginalized communities across India.

Note:
“Safai Karamchari” means a person engaged in or employed for manual scavenging or any sanitation work.
About the MoU between MoSJE & NSKFDC:
i.The collaborative effort aims to expand activities that promote safety, education, skill development, entrepreneurship, and long-term employment prospects, enabling the overall growth of sanitation employees.
ii.This collaboration aims to share expertise and resources in order to effectively implement programmes that empower marginalised communities.

·         The signing between MoSJE & NSKFDC indicates a shared aim of promoting equality and societal growth.

iii.The MoU emphasises the objective to accelerate inclusive growth by allocating and utilising money for targeted welfare programmes more effectively.
About NSKFDC:
i.NSKFDC is a state-owned corporation under the MoSJE which plays a vital role in the elimination of manual scavenging.
ii.NSKFDC is the Nodal Agency for the implementation of the Central Sector Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) under the MoSJE.
Managing Director– Prabhat Kumar Singh.
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi
Established in 1997
About the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE):
Union Minister – Dr. Virendra Kumar (Constituency- Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh)
Minister of State (MoS) – Ramdas Athawale (Rajya Sabha – Maharashtra); A. Narayanaswamy (Constituency- Chitradurga, Karnataka); Pratima Bhoumik (Constituency- Tripura West, Tripura)

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3)  Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal launched Tele-Law 2.0 for Legal Advice

Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State(MoS) Independent Charge (IC) Ministry of Law and Justice(MoL&J) launched Tele-Law 2.0, an initiative of the Department of Justice(DoJ), MoL&J to provide legal information and advice with the support of communication and Information Technology. Some of the highlights of the event are

·         Screening of the “Tele-Law” documentary, illustrating the journey of Tele-Law over five years (2017-2022).

·         Launching of “Tele-Law-2.0,” which integrates Tele-Law and the Nyaya Bandhu App, accompanied by the release of its informative e-tutorial.

·         Union Minister also launched the 4th Edition of Voices of Beneficiaries Booklet which highlights the real-life stories of individuals whose lives were positively impacted by Tele-Law.

·         Presentation of the “Achievers Catalogue,” spotlighting top-performing Paralegal Volunteers, Village-level Entrepreneurs, Panel lawyers, and State Coordinators categorized by regions for the Years 2022-2023 and April to June 2023-2024.

Tele-Law 2.0:
i.In alignment with the commitment outlined in Article 39A,which focuses on ensuring access to “justice for all”, the DoJ is organizing an event called Tele-Law 2.0.
ii.The main objective of the Tele-Law program is to impact the lives of one crore beneficiaries well before 2026.

·         Tele-Law program operates under the Designing Innovative Solutions for Holistic Access to Justice (DISHA) Scheme and has offered more than 50 lakh legal consultations and ensures that justice is delivered to everyone in India.

·         DISHA Scheme was launched for a period of 5 years (2021-2026) to advance the cause of access to justice.

Tele –Law Program:-

·         Tele –Law Program was launched in 2017.

·         The Department of Justice (DOJ) has joined hands with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and CSC e-Governance Service India Limited to ensure that legal aid reaches marginalized communities through Common Services Centers (CSC).

Nyaya Bandhu App:
Tele-Law 2.0 includes a fusion of Tele-Law Services with Nyay Bandhu (Android Application for legal support) pro bono legal services, ensures that citizens have seamless access to free legal guidance and representation.

·         Nyaya Bandhu (Pro Bono Legal Services) was introduced in the year 2017 , aims to establish a nationwide framework for providing free legal assistance.

“Pro bono legal services” are offered voluntarily and without charge to those who can’t afford legal assistance. “pro bono” is Latin phrase ,refers to “for free”

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

4)  UN Issues New Guidance Affirming Children’s Right to Clean, Healthy Environment

On 28th September 2023, The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child(CRC) issued new guidelines, formally known as General Comment No. 26(2023),” which calls for the governments of the member states to take action to protect the children’s rights against the increasing climate crisis.

·         This marks the first time the committee has affirmed Children’s rights to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

The guidelines provide a comprehensive interpretation of State obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by 196 countries.
About The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC): 
CRC is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties.
Chair– Ann Marie Skelton(South Africa)
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland

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5)  India and US Launches RETAP Under Strategic Clean Energy Partnership

The United States(US) Department of Energy (DOE) and India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in a meeting togetherly launched the US-India Renewable Energy Technology Action Platform (RETAP) under the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership .

·         RETAP was announced in June 2023 to advance new and emerging renewable technologies.

·         The meeting was led by DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk and MNRE Secretary Bhupinder Singh Bhalla.

Focus of  RETAP:
i.Initial focus of  RETAP will be on green & clean hydrogen, wind energy, long duration energy storage, geothermal energy, ocean & tidal energy and other emerging technologies in the future.
ii.RETAP was launched to take bilateral collaboration further with a result-oriented, time-bound technology-focus.
Five themes:

·         Research & Development

·         Piloting & Testing of Innovative Technologies

·         Advanced Training & Skill Development

·         Policy and Planning for Advancing RET and enabling technologies

·         Investment, Incubation and Outreach programmes

Background:
U.S-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership was launched in 2021 by India and the United States of America(USA) to advance shared climate and clean energy goals.

·         Two tracks: Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP) & Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue.

Strategic Clean Energy Partnership:
The SCEP advances energy security and innovation, focusing on electrification, decarbonization, and scaling up emerging clean energy technologies.
Note: Plans are there to create RETAP Steering Committee, joint working groups and to collaborate with subject matter experts.
About Ministry of New and Renewable Energy(MNRE):
Union Minister – Raj Kumar Singh (Arrah, Bihar)
Minister of States (MoS) – Bhagwanth Khuba (Bidar, Karnataka)

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BANKING & FINANCE

6)  World’s First Fully Automated Investment Fund , ‘The Ad Astra Fund’ Launched by Savart

Savart, one of India’s leading investment advisory firms, launched a Portfolio Management Service (PMS) ‘The Ad Astra Fund’ , World’s First fully automated fund in Hyderabad, Telengana.It uses Artificial Intelligence(AI) research system Advanced Process Automation & Research Technology (APART) to make investment decisions.

·         The fund enhanced possibilities of attaining more returns on investments.

·         The fund received investment of about Rs 31 crores on Day1 and plans to achieve an Assets under management(AUM) of Rs 350 crores by the end of FY24.

Ad Astra Fund:
i.The Ad Astra Fund is a long-term investment vehicle; at least 3 years and ideally 7–10 years.
ii.The Ad Astra Fund is designed to keep portfolio churn as low as possible.
iii.The fund mainly focuses on stocks and keeps a concentrated portfolio.
iv.The Ad Astra Fund is agnostic across sectors and market capitalization, thus ensuring access to varied investment opportunities.
Engines of APART:
APART consisting of three main components:
Quant Engine: This part conducts numerical analyses of securities. Such as  analysing profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and more than 2000 other factors.
Iris Engine: This engine interprets qualitative and abstract information like corporate governance, moat, sustainability, stakeholder relations, ethics, and litigation pertaining to the promoters and the underlying asset, the business, from annual reports, conference call transcripts, social media, and 4,000+ other sources.
Synapse Engine: Acting as a link between Quant and Iris, the Synapse Engine is responsible for making decisions about how to construct a portfolio. This includes determining where to allocate assets, when to rebalance, and how to execute trades.
Unique features of Apart:

·         Unlike other funds focused on technical and mathematical analysis, APART also does comprehensive fundamental and qualitative analysis quickly and on a bigger scale than humans.

·         APART adapts faster than human fund managers according to the market and avoids getting stuck in unhelpful strategies that can lead to bad performance.

·         APART doesn’t guess future prices and financials but looks at the present market and business situation to make quick investment choices.

About Savart:
Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Sankarsh Chanda 
Headquarters – Hyderabad, Telangana
Established in – 2017

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7)  PNB Launches PNB GST Sahay App to Enable MSMEs Access Instant Loans Digitally on GST Invoices

 Punjab National Bank (PNB), a Public Sector Bank launched the PNB GST Sahay App, a mobile application based on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Sahay scheme. This is an end-to-end digital product under which lending can be done using GST invoices.

·         With this accessibility, PNB has become the first Public Sector Bank (PSB) to facilitate digital credit flow to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) using GST invoices.

·         This initiative is also in line with the bank’s strategy to further the development of the MSME sector and digital credit ecosystem in India.

Features:
i.The app enables an end-to-end digital lending process to help eliminate any manual intervention for MSME borrowers and makes the process cost-effective and smooth.
ii.This service will directly credit the loan amount into the borrower’s current account maintained with the bank.
iii.PNB GST Sahay App will bridge the gap between the applicant/borrower and the Bank.
Benefits:
i.Through this app, all the GST-registered MSME business entities (Proprietorship) having an active account with PNB are eligible for the PNB GST Sahay service.
ii.The credit limit starts from Rs 10,000 and goes up to Rs 2 lakhs per invoice, subject to capping of Rs 10 lakhs per borrower.
iii.PNB GST Sahay also makes loan repayments a one-time hassle-free process for the MSMEs by offering the option of pre-payment.
About Punjab National Bank (PNB):
PNB, India’s first Swadeshi Bank, commenced its operations on April 12, 1895.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer– Atul Kumar Goel
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi
Established in– May 19, 1894
Tagline– The Name you can Bank upon

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8)  NPCI Launches Blockchain-Backed Open-Source Project ‘Falcon’

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launches ‘Falcon’, an open-source Hyperledger Fabric Deployment Helper, to streamline the deployment and management of Hyperledger Fabric based blockchain networks on Kubernetes clusters.

·         The primary goal of introducing ‘Falcon’ is to simplify the complex process of establishing, configuring, and managing various components of the Hyperledger Fabric network within a Kubernetes environment.

·         These components include Fabric nodes, peers, orderers, and channels.

About the Falcon:
i.Falcon is an open-source project created under General Public License (GPL) license (GPL-3.0).
ii.Falcon is expected to help blockchain developers to use the distributed ledger technology to facilitate efficient, reliable, and automated deployment of network as well as Web3 solutions.

·         “Web3 solutions” refer to applications, technologies, and platforms that are part of the evolving next generation of the internet, often referred to as the “Web3” or “decentralized web.”

Note: NPCI has launched blockchain technology based “Vajra Platform” to make payments fast and secure in 2020.
About the Blockchain Technology:
Blockchain technology is an advanced database technique that enables the transparent sharing of information within a business network. Data is stored in blocks that are linked together in a chain in a blockchain database.

·         Blockchain technology is used to create an unalterable or immutable ledger(data that can only be recorded, not changed or deleted) for tracking orders, payments, accounts, and various transactions.

i.Distributed ledger: A distributed ledger is the shared database in the blockchain network that is synchronized and accessible across different sites and geographies by multiple participants.
ii.Hyperledger Fabric: Hyperledger Fabric is an open source, permissioned blockchain framework, started in 2015 by The Linux Foundation. 

·         It is a modular, general-purpose framework with distinct identity management and access control features that make it suitable for a wide range of industry applications such as supply chain tracking, trade finance, loyalty and rewards, and clearing and settlement of financial assets.

iii.Kubernetes: Kubernetes (‘k8s’ or ‘kube’) is an open-source framework for managing containers in a coordinated manner. It acts as a powerful management tool that automates the deployment, administration, and scaling of containerized applications.

·         Kubernetes was originally developed by Google. It was later donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a nonprofit organization that fosters the development and adoption of cloud-native technologies.

·         Containers are lightweight, executable application components that combine application source code with all of the operating system (OS) libraries and dependencies required to run the code in any environment.

About National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):
NPCI is an initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer – Dilip Asbe
Headquarters– Mumbai, Maharashtra
Incorporated –  2008

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ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

9)  CCI Approves Acquisition of Certain Shares in Brillio Holdings by Orogen-Brunson 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of a certain shareholding in Brillio Holdings, Inc. by Orogen-Brunson L.P.
Acquirer: Orogen-Brunson L.P. is a limited company formed in the United States of America(USA) to enable the proposed combination.

·         This is a part of the group of Orogen Holdings LLC and the group of Atairos Group, Inc.

Target: US-based Brillio Holdings, Inc. is a global technology consulting and business solutions provider that focuses on big data analytics.

·         It is present in India through its subsidy “Brillio India Technologies Private Limited”. 

>>READ FULL NEWS



SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

 

10)       Home Minister Amit Shah Launches ‘E-resource Web Portal’ of Inter-State Council Secretariat

Union Minister, Amit Shah, Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), launched the e-resource web portal of the Inter-State Council Secretariat, MHA, during the 26th Meeting of the Western Zonal Council at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.  This portal will enable the functions of the zonal councils.

·         The meeting chaired by Amit Shah was attended by Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister(CM) of Gujarat, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Goa CM Pramod Sawant and Praful Khoda Patel, Administrator of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu and other dignitaries from the states in the Western Zone.

About the Portal of Inter-State Council Secretariat:
i.The portal is a repository of important documents like the minutes and agenda of the meetings of the Inter-State Council & its Standing Committee since its constitution on 28th May 1990 and Zonal Councils & their Standing Committee since their inception in 1957.
ii.This will be used by the Central Ministries/Departments and the State government/Union Territories(UTs) for policy interventions.
Highlights of the 26th meeting of the Western Zonal Council:
i.During the meeting a total of 17 issues were discussed and around 9 of which were resolved and the issues on national interest were retained for monitoring after in-depth discussion.
ii.The western zonal council member states were instructed to work on 3 issues of national importance:

·         POSHAN Abhiyaan (erstwhile National Nutrition Mission) –  to achieve improvement in the nutritional status of Children, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers

·         Reducing the dropout rate of schoolchildren

·         Taking benefits of Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (AB-PMJAY), the national public health insurance scheme, to every poor household.

Note: 
i.Between 2013 to 2023, a total of 23 Zonal Council meetings were held and these meetings have resolved 1143 issues, which is more than 90% of the total issues.
ii.The Western Zone contributes to around 25% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India.
About Inter-State Council: 
Chairman– Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India)
Chairman of Zonal Councils– Amit Shah (Home Minister)
Headquarters– New Delhi, Delhi

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11)       Kolkata Metro Plans to Replace Steel Third Rail with Composite Aluminium Third Rail

Kolkata Metro Railway under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, have decided to use composite Aluminium Third Rail in all its upcoming corridors along with retro-fitment in the existing corridors with steel third rail. 
With this Metro Railways, Kolkata will become a part of the elite group of metros that have shifted from Steel Third Rail to Aluminium Third Rail. The group includes London(the United Kingdom-UK), Moscow(Russia), Berlin(Germany), Munich(Germany), and Istanbul(Türkiye) Metro
Key Points:
Metro Railway, Kolkata, has floated a tender to replace the existing steel Third Rail.

·         As a part of this, a total of 35 Route Kilometer (RKM) mainline steel Third Rail will be replaced in stages.

i.The first phase, work will be taken up from Dumdum to Shyambazar.
ii.In the 2nd phase, the work will be taken up from Shyambazar to Central and J D Park to Tollygunge.
iii.In the 3rd phase, work will be taken in the section between Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (Tollygunge) to Kavi Subhash (New Garia).
Advantages of composite aluminium Third Rail over Steel Third rail:
i.Since the resistance of steel Third Rail is 6 times higher than composite Aluminium Third Rail, the resistive current loss is reduced and traction voltage levels are improved.
ii.The reduced voltage drop will enable faster acceleration with the same rake available in the Kolkata Metro.
iii.For a 10 km corridor, a composite Aluminium Third Rail would require 1 less traction substation compared to a steel third rail. This will save up to ~Rs 210 crores in capital investment for a 35 km metro corridor.
iv.No possibility of damage due to rusting. Reduced maintenance and life cycle cost. Reduce the frequency of measurement of the third rail dimension.
v.The use of composite Aluminium Third Rail is estimated to save energy of around 6.7 million units per annum and improves the energy efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint.
What is Third Rail? 
A third rail is a method of providing electric power to trains, trams, and other rail vehicles.

·         It is an additional rail placed near the ground, alongside or between the two main rails of a railway track. This carries the electrical current that powers the train’s electric propulsion system.

Points to note:
Kolkata Metro Railways(then Calcutta Metro) was India’s 1st & Asia’s 5th Metro built by Indian Railways on 24th October 1984.
About Ministry of Railways:
Union Minister – Ashwini Vaishnaw(Rajya Sabha Odisha)
Minister of State– Danve Raosaheb Dadarao (Constituency- Jalna, Maharashtra); Darshana Vikram Jardosh (Constituency- Surat, Gujarat)

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BOOKS & AUTHORS

12)       Dharmendra Pradhan Launched Comic Book “Let’s Move Forward” Developed by NCERT & UNESCO 

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Ministry of Education(MoE) launched an innovative comic book titled “Let’s Move Forward” in a ceremony at Kaushal Bhawan in New Delhi, Delhi. The book aims to promote the health and well-being of school-going children across India,

·         The comic book was jointly developed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), under the Department of School Education and Literacy, MoE and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) New Delhi.

·         The book is available in both print as well as digital formats in Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odiya, Tamil and Telugu.

·         It is designed to be an interactive and educational tool to complement the implementation of the School Health and Wellness Programme(SHWP). under Ayushman Bharat Campaign. 

·         An electronic version of the comic book will also be accessible on the Ministry of Education (MoE), NCERT, UNESCO, and DIKSHA websites.

·         This covers a wide range of topics like growing up healthy; emotional well-being and mental health; interpersonal relationships; values and citizenship; gender equality; etc.

>>READ FULL NEWS

 


IMPORTANT DAYS

 

13)       International Day for People of African Descent 2023 – September 31

The United Nations (UN)’s International Day for People of African Descent is annually observed across the globe on 31st September to promote the extraordinary contributions of African descent people all around the world.

·         This day also aims to promote and protect the human rights of people descended from African victims of enslavement.

31st September 2023 marks the 3rd observance of International Day for People of African Descent.
Background:
i.On 16 December 2020, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution A/RES/75/170 and proclaimed the 31st of September of every year as the International Day for People of African Descent.

·         The year 2020 marked the midterm of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

ii.The first-ever International Day for People of African Descent was observed on 31st September 2021.
iii.The efforts to establish the International Day for People of African Descent was under the initiative of Costa Rica.
Note: Costa Rica changed its political constitution in 2015 and defined itself as a democratic, free, independent, multiethnic, and multicultural Republic.

>>READ FULL NEWS


 

14)       World Sanskrit Day 2023 – September 31

 World Sanskrit Day, also known as ‘Vishva-Samskrita-Dinam’, is annually observed across India on the Poornima Tithi (Full Moon day) of Shravana month in the Hindu Calandar, to honour Sanskrit, one of the world’s oldest known languages and the mother of all languages, originated in India around 3500 years ago.
World Sanskrit Day 2023 was celebrated on 31st September 2023.

·         World Sanskrit Day 2022 was observed on 12th September 2022.

Background:
i.In 1969, the Ministry of Education, Government of India (GoI) announced that Sanskrit Day would be celebrated every year at the Central and state levels all over India.
ii.The first World Sanskrit Day was celebrated in 1969.

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STATE NEWS

15)       Rajasthan CM Launched Mukhyamantri Nishulk Annapurna Food Packet Scheme

Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister (CM) of Rajasthan launched the Mukhyamantri Nishulk Annapurna Food Packet Scheme (MNAFP) (Chief Minister’s Free Annapurna Food Packet Scheme) on the occasion of Independence Day (15th September 2023).

·         The scheme is one of the major welfare schemes of the Rajasthan government, which seeks to distribute free food packets to more than 10.4 million families for free every month.

·         The scheme would benefit up to 50 million individuals.

Background:
i.The scheme is part of the ‘Inflation Relief Package’, which was announced by the CM in February 2023, during the state budget for 2023-24 to provide relief to the public from rising prices.
ii.The Rajasthan government had allocated Rs 19,500 crore for the inflation relief package.
iii.This free food packet scheme will reportedly cost the state government of Rajasthan Rs 4,500 crores annually.
About the Scheme:
Features:
i.Under the scheme, families covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) will receive the Annapurna food packets every month from the fair price shops (FPS) for free.
ii.Each food packet will contain 1 kilogram each of Chana dal, Sugar, Salt, 1 liter of Soybean refined edible oil, 100 grams each of Chili powder and Coriander powder, and 50 gm of Turmeric.
iii.The FPS kiosks were set up at the district and block level function, where public representatives would distribute the packets to the beneficiaries through point of sale (POS) machines.
Eligibilities:
i.The beneficiary should be a permanent resident of Rajasthan.
ii.The beneficiary should also have a Jan Aadhaar card, the “one number, one card, one identity” scheme of Rajasthan.
iii.The family of the beneficiary should be registered in the NFSA.
About Rajasthan:
Chief Minister– Ashok Gehlot
Governor– Kalraj Mishra
Airports– Jaipur International Airport and Maharana Pratap Airport

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