Essential Facts (Prelims): 13 December, 2018


  • The NSG was raised in 1986 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Operation Blue Star.
  • The force, which is trained to operate as an elite urban anti-terrorist and anti-hijack force, doesn’t have a cadre of its own or direct recruitment and is instead dependent on personnel sent on deputation from the army and the central armed police forces.


  • The Indian Navy joined a select group of naval forces in the world when it inducted its first non-tethered Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) system .
  • The DSRV is used to rescue crew members from submarines stranded under water in the high seas.
  • The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650 metres and can rescue 14 people at a time.
  • The DSRV can also be transported by air, enabling it to conduct rescue operations across the globe.


  • SEBI has allowed mutual fund (MF) houses to segregate bad assets — known as side pocketing in industry parlance — in their debt and money market schemes.
  • The regulator has also expanded the universe of companies for whom the Offer For Sale (OFS) mechanism is available.
  • Shareholders of any company with a market capitalisation of over ₹1,000 crore would be able to use the OFS mechanism instead of the current limit of the top 200 companies.


  • There are about 23 billion chickens on Earth at any given time, at least 10 times more than any other bird.
  • The second most numerous bird on the planet, at an estimated population of 1.5 billion, is a small creature called the red-billed quelea, sometimes known in its home of sub-Saharan Africa as a feathered locust.
  • The combined mass of those 23 billion chickens is greater than that of all the other birds on Earth.


  • Japan selected the Chinese character for ‘disaster’ as its ‘defining symbol’ for 2018, a year that saw the country hit by deadly floods, earthquakes and storms.

J-K Governor rule

  • Jammu and Kashmir is likely to come under President’s rule on after 28 years with Governor set to recommend Centre’s rule in his report to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Unlike other states, the process of imposing President’s rule in J&K is more nuanced where the Governor rules for the first six months.
  • The ratification has to be done by both Houses of Parliament within two months of imposition of President’s rule. Once approved by both the Houses, the President’s rule is valid for six months.
  • The President’s rule has not been imposed every time Governor’s rule was invoked in the past, with either elections being held within six months or political parties coming together to stake claim to form government.
  • The President’s rule was earlier imposed in 1990 and lasted more than six years due to the sudden rise in terrorism and breakdown of law and order in the Valley.
  • It was first imposed in 1986.

Dam Safety Bill

  • The Bill provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning.
  • There are over 5,200 large dams in the country and about 450 are under construction. There are also thousands of medium and small dams whose safety remains a matter of concern due to lack of legal and institutional safeguards.

Manned mission

  • It is proposed to undertake manned mission to space before 75th Anniversary of Indian Independence.
  • The manned mission will be accomplished using ISRO’s launch vehicle GSLV MkIII.
  • The manned mission will launch Indian astronauts from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota into an approximately 400 Km Low Earth Orbit. The maximum mission planned is of 7 days duration.


  • A Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms’ popularly known as ATMA Scheme is being implemented in 676 districts of 29 states & 3 UTs of the country, including all the districts of Maharashtra & Jharkhand.
  • The scheme promotes decentralized and farmer-friendly extension system in the country.
  • Under the Scheme, Grants-in-aid is released to the State Governments {In the ratio of 60:40 (Centre:State) to General States, 90:10 for North-Eastern & 3 Himalayan States and 100% for UTs}.

Crop Production

  • Govt fixes target for the production of foodgrains in the country annually.
  • The target for the production of foodgrains has been fixed at 290.25 million tonnes for the 2018-19.
  • The production of foodgrains in the country has been estimated at 284.83 million tonnes 2017-18, which is a record.


  • Government fixes Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) of 22 mandated agricultural crops and Fair & Remunerative Price (FRP) for Sugarcane on the basis of recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP), after considering the views of State Governments and Central Ministries/Departments concerned and other relevant factors.
  • In addition, MSP for Toria and De-Husked coconut is also fixed on the basis of MSPs of Rapeseed/Mustard and Copra respectively.
  • The Union Budget for 2018-19 had announced the pre-determined principle to keep MSPs at levels of one and half times the cost of production for all mandated crops.
  • Region specific parameters are kept in view by the CACP while recommending MSP for agricultural crops.
  • Since the cost of production varies in different States on account of differences in levels of irrigation, resource endowment, farm mechanization, land holding size etc., CACP uses all-India weighted average cost of production while making its recommendations and recommends uniform MSP which is applicable to all states.
  • As per the existing arrangements, procurement is made of the crops for which MSPs are announced through Central and State agencies.
  • In so far as cereals/nutri cereals are concerned, they are procured through FCI and decentralized procurement system mainly for distribution under the public distribution system (PDS), for welfare schemes and buffer stocking for food security.
  • Government implements Price Support Scheme (PSS) for procurement of oilseeds, pulses and cotton through Central Nodal Agencies at MSP declared by the Government.
  • A new Umbrella Scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA) has been announced by the government. The scheme consists of three sub-schemes i.e. Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) and Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on a pilot basis.
  • The payments to the farmers are made through Real Time Gross settlement (RTGS)/ National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) and account payee cheque by the procuring agencies. However, if producer/farmers gets better price in comparison to MSP, they are free to sell their produce in open market.