Essential Facts (Prelims): 8 December, 2018


  • 160th session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Council is currently underway in Rome.
  • FAO has approved India’s proposal to observe an International Year of Millets in 2023.
  • Millets consists of Jowar, Bajra, Ragi and minor millets together termed as nutri-cereals.
  • The MSP of Jowar, Bajra and Ragi has been increased in 2018-19.
  • Through the Department of Food and Public Distribution, State Governments are allowed to procure jowar, bajra, maize and ragi from farmers at MSP.
  • FAO has also approved India’s membership to the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for 2020 and 2021.


  • With the aim of standardising facilities across homestays and bread & breakfasts in the country, the Tourism Ministry has issued new guidelines to such establishments.
  • Properties where their owners or promoters physically reside will be designated as homestay establishments, while those where only an agent or operator resides will be designated as bed & breakfast.
  • These guidelines will constitute the Common National Standards. Each State and Union Territory will be free to build upon them to suit their requirements, while keeping the core tenets intact.
  • The properties will be categorised as silver and gold on the basis of the facilities they offer..

Institutes of eminence

  • The Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) identified 19 more contenders for the status of Institutions of Eminence (IoE).
  • With this, the total number of universities and institutes recommended by EEC for the eminence tag has gone up to 30, of which six — three public and three private — have been officially announced by the government.
  • The Union Cabinet had approved UGC’s ‘Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities Regulations 2017’, in August 2017.
  • The regulations are aimed at creating an enabling architecture for 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class institutions, since the country has little representation in the international ranking of educational institutions.
  • The private IoEs can also come up as greenfield ventures, provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.
  • The IoEs are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions. For instance, they will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students, and have a flexible course duration and structure.
  • The 10 government institutions, in addition to autonomy, will also get Rs 1,000 crore each from the HRD Ministry to achieve world-class status.
  • The government will offer no financial assistance to the private institutions.

Fugitive Economic Offender

  • The FEO Act, meant to prevent loan defaulters from fleeing the country to evade legal action, came into existence in 2016.
  • A fugitive economic offender is a person who has a warrant of arrest under a scheduled offence but has fled the country to evade prosecution.

Current Account Deficit

  • Current account deficit (CA) widened to 2.9% of GDP for the July-September quarter due to higher trade deficit.
  • The deficit widened due to sharp rise in oil prices.


  • Goa has been declared as the permanent venue for the Annual Global Venture Capital Summit.