GS Paper I- History and Geography of the world and Society.

UN Environment And WHO Agree Major Collaboration On Environmental Health Risks.



  • UN Environment and WHO have agreed a new, wide-ranging collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year.
  • Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, signed an agreement to step up joint actions to combat air pollution, climate change and antimicrobial resistance, as well as improve coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues.
  • The collaboration also includes joint management of the BreatheLife advocacy campaign to reduce air pollution for multiple climate, environment and health benefits.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • This represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years.
  • The new collaboration creates a more systematic framework for joint research, development of tools and guidance, capacity building, monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals, global and regional partnerships, and support to regional health and environment fora.
  • The two agencies will develop a joint work programme and hold an annual high-level meeting to evaluate progress and make recommendations for continued collaboration.
  • The WHO-UN Environment collaboration follows a Ministerial Declaration on Health, Environment and Climate Change calling for the creation of a global “Health, Environment and Climate Change” coalition, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2016.
  • Just last month (Dec 2017), under the overarching topic “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet”, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which convenes environment ministers worldwide, adopted a resolution on Environment and Health, called for expanded partnerships with relevant UN agencies and partners, and for an implementation plan to tackle pollution.
  • Priority areas of cooperation between WHO and UN Environment include: Air Quality – More effective air quality monitoring including guidance to countries on standard operating procedures; more accurate environment and health assessments, including economic assessment; and advocacy, including the BreatheLife campaign promoting air pollution reductions for climate and health benefits.

Sources- UNI.


GS Paper II- Governance.

Kerala Govt Ties Up With Zone Startups For Early-Stage Accelerator Programme.



  • Kerala Startup Mission, the southern state’s nodal agency for encouraging startups, has launched an accelerator programme in collaboration with domain expert Zone Startups India.
  • In a statement, Zone Startups India – a privately-operated accelerator – said that this was the first such initiative by the Kerala government to help startups in the revenue stage attain a right product-market fit through a curated customer validation process.
  • Early-stage startups beyond the ideation stage and currently assessing product-market fit are eligible to apply. The programme is open to startups from other states as well.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The initiative will be structured as a three-month virtual accelerator programme. It will be a mix of live virtual mentoring sessions and mentors visiting Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi to interact with members of the selected startups.
  • A week-long residential programme in Bengaluru and Mumbai will also be part of the initiative.
  • While startups from other states will have to pay a programme fee of Rs 1 lakh, companies from Kerala are eligible for a 90% scholarship from Kerala Startup Mission to attend the programme.
  • January 18, 2018 is the last date for applications. The programme is expected to begin on February 5, 2018.
  • Zone Startups India was set up in 2014 as a joint venture with BSE Institute Ltd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd – and Canada-headqurtered accelerator Ryerson Futures Inc.
  • It runs one programme each with Bombay Stock Exchange, Barclays, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and Thomson Reuters.
  • In December, 2017, Zone Startups India, non-banking finance company Capital First and and the Department of Science and Technology announced seed funding for three startups founded by women entrepreneurs. These were Periwinkle Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Tactopus Education and Revol Inc.
  • A number of states have been creating nodal agencies to boost startups. The central government had in 2016 launched the Startup India Programme to boost innovation by simplifying compliance and providing funding support.

Sources- VC Circle.


GS Paper III- Economic Development.

India’s First-Ever FDI In Fertiliser Sector: Yara Completes Acquisition Of Tata Chemicals Urea Plant.



  • Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara International, on 12th January, 2018, announced the completion of its acquisition of Tata Chemicals Ltd’s 1.2 million tonnes per annum production capacity urea plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Rs 2,682-crore deal includes the transfer of all assets and liabilities (working capital) relating to the Babrala unit, while marking the first foreign direct investment in India’s highly regulated urea sector.
  • Speaking in New Delhi, Yara International CEO and president Svein Tore Holsether said that investing in the new country is always exciting…India is the second largest fertiliser market in the world and they are now here with this acquisition to deepen their footprint. So, this is definitely a major step for the company.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • The company aims to contribute with its knowledge and solutions to improve the lives of farmers in India. With this acquisition, Yara gains a significant position in the north India with access to a strong network of 650-700 dealers. It will enable the company to provide enhanced crop nutrition solutions to farmers.
  • Yara’s current turnover of $40 million in India will increase to $350 million. The Babrala plant, which was commissioned in 1994, is the most energy-efficient plant in India with energy efficiency on par with Yara’s best plants across the globe.
  • According to Yara, the acquired plant has an annual production of 0.7 million tonne ammonia and 1.2 million tonne urea. The urea produced is allocated for states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab and Haryana and will be marketed under Yara’s global brand name for premium urea products – YaraVera.
  • In August 2016, Tata Chemicals had announced sale of its urea business to Yara. The sale was part of the company’s plans to strengthen the fertiliser business by partnerships and/or transfer of ownership to world-class companies. Shares of Tata Chemicals closed 1.14% down at Rs762.10 piece on BSE.

Sources- The Indian Express, Livemint.