Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[pib] Mongolian Kanjur Manuscripts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mongolian Kanjur 

Mains level : Buddhist literature

The Ministry of Culture has taken up the project of reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur under the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM).  The first sets of five volumes were presented to the President of India.

Try this question from CSP 2011:

Q.India maintained its early cultural contacts and trade links with Southeast Asia across the Bay of Bengal. For this preeminence of early maritime history of Bay of Bengal, which of the following could be the most convincing explanation/explanations?

(a) As compared to other countries, India had a better ship-building technology in ancient and medieval times.

(b) The rulers of southern India always patronized traders, Brahmin priests and Buddhist monks in this context.

(c) Monsoon winds across the Bay of Bengal facilitated sea voyages.

(d) Both (a) and (b) are convincing explanations in this context.

Mongolian Kanjur

  • Mongolian Kanjur, the Buddhist canonical text in 108 volumes is considered to be the most important religious text in Mongolia.
  • In the Mongolian language ‘Kanjur’ means ‘Concise Orders’- the words of Lord Buddha in particular. It has been translated from Tibetan.
  • It is held in high esteem by the Mongolian Buddhists and they worship the Kanjur at temples and recite the lines of Kanjur in daily life as a sacred ritual.
  • The Kanjur is kept almost in every monastery in Mongolia.
  • The language of the Kanjur is Classical Mongolian and it is a source of providing a cultural identity to Mongolia.

About National Mission for Manuscripts

  • The Mission was launched in February 2003 under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, with the mandate of documenting, conserving and disseminating the knowledge preserved in the manuscripts.
  • One of the objectives of the mission is to publish rare and unpublished manuscripts so that the knowledge enshrined in them is spread to researchers, scholars and the general public at large.
  • Under this scheme, reprinting of 108 volumes of Mongolian Kanjur has been taken up by the Mission.

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] Rewa Solar Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rewa Solar Plant

Mains level : Solar tariff issues in India

The PM has inaugurated the 750 MW Solar Project set up at Rewa, Madhya Pradesh.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q. The term ‘Domestic Content Requirement’ is sometimes seen in the news with reference to-

(a) Developing solar power production in our country

(b) Granting licences to foreign T.V. channels in our country

(c) Exporting our food products to other countries

(d) Permitting foreign educational institutions to set up their campuses in our country

Rewa Solar Project

  • This project comprises of three solar generating units of 250 MW each located on a 500-hectare plot of land situated inside a Solar Park (total area 1500 hectare).
  • The Solar Park was developed by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited (RUMSL), a Joint Venture Company of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (MPUVN), and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a PSU.
  • The Project was the first solar project in the country to break the grid parity barrier.
  • This project will reduce carbon emission equivalent to approx. 15 lakh ton of CO2 per year.

Tariff management

  • Compared to prevailing solar project tariffs of approx. Rs. 4.50/unit in early 2017, the Rewa project achieved historic results.
  • It has a first-year tariff of Rs. 2.97/unit with a tariff escalation of Rs. 0.05/unit over 15 years and a levelized rate of Rs. 3.30/unit over the term of 25 years.

Significance of the project

  • The project is also the first renewable energy project to supply to an institutional customer outside the State.
  • The Delhi Metro will get 24% of energy from the project with the remaining 76% being supplied to the State DISCOMs of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Project also exemplifies India’s commitment to attaining the target of 175 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by the year 2022; including 100 GW of solar installed capacity.

Housing for all – PMAY, etc.

[pib] Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs) for Urban Migrants / Poor

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), AHRC

Mains level : Housing for all

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for developing of Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (AHRCs). for urban migrants  / poor.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

“Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojna’ has been launched for

(a) Providing housing loan to poor people at cheaper interest rates

(b) Promoting women’s Self-Help Groups in backward areas

(c) Promoting financial inclusion in the country

(d) Providing financial help to the marginalized communities

AHRC

  • It is a sub-scheme under PM Awas Yojana – Urban.
  • Under the scheme, existing vacant government-funded housing complexes will be converted in ARHCs through Concession Agreements for 25 years.
  • The concessionaire will make the complexes livable by repair/retrofit and maintenance of rooms and filling up infrastructure gaps like water, sewer/ septage, sanitation, road etc.
  • States/UTs will select concessionaire through transparent bidding.
  • Complexes will revert to ULB after 25 years to restart next cycle like earlier or run on their own.

Beneficiaries of the scheme

  • A large part of the workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, domestic/commercial establishments, and construction or other sectors, labourers, students etc. who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities will be the target beneficiary under ARHCs.

Benefits of AHRCs

  • Usually, these migrants live in slums, informal/ unauthorized colonies or peri-urban areas to save rental charges.
  • They spend a lot of time on roads by walking/ cycling to workplaces, risking their lives to cut on the expenses.
  • ARHCs will create a new ecosystem in urban areas making housing available at affordable rent close to the place of work.
  • Investment under ARHCs is expected to create new job opportunities.
  • ARHCs will cut down unnecessary travel, congestion and pollution.

Back2Basics: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)

PMAY-Urban

The PMAY- Urban Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022. The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.

PMAY-Rural

  • In pursuance to the goal – Housing for all by 2022, the rural housing scheme Indira Awas Yojana has been revamped to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin and approved during March 2016.
  • Under the scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of a pucca house to all houseless and households living in dilapidated houses.
  • It is proposed that one crore households would be provided assistance for construction of pucca house under the project during the period from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
  • The scheme would be implemented in rural areas throughout India except for Delhi and Chandigarh. The cost of houses would be shared between the Centre and States.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] Central Sector Scheme: Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSS-AIF

Mains level : AIF

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to a new pan India Central Sector Scheme-Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (CSS-AIF).

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.Increase in absolute and per capita real GNP does not connote a higher level of economic development, if:

(a) Industrial output fails to keep pace with agriculture output.

(b) Agriculture output fails to keep pace with industrial output.

(c) Poverty and unemployment increase.

(d) Imports grow faster than exports.

Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

  • AIF aims to provide a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management Infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
  • Under the scheme, Rs. One Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans.
  • The beneficiaries will include Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), SHGs, Farmers etc among others.
  • The moratorium for repayment under this financing facility may vary subject to a minimum of 6 months and maximum of 2 years.

Management of AIF

  • Agri Infra fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • The National, State and District level Monitoring Committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feedback.
  • The duration of the Scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).

Benefits of the scheme

  • The Project by way of facilitating formal credit to farm and farm processing-based activities is expected to create numerous job opportunities in rural areas.
  • It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for a loan under the fund.

Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMGKAY

Mains level : Assurance of Food Security

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) as part of Economic Response to COVID-19, for another five months from July to November 2020.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss how the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has helped to ensure food security to the vulnerable sections of India during the Covid-19 induced lockdown period.

PM- Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

  • Under the scheme it is proposed to distribute 9.7 Lakh MT cleaned whole Chana to States/UTs for distribution to all beneficiary households under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).
  • Thus it would 1kg per month free of cost under for the next five months -July to November 2020.
  • All expenses on the extended PMGKAY are to be borne by the Central Government.
  • About 19.4 crore households would be covered under the Scheme.

Benefits of the scheme

  • Extension of the scheme is in line with the commitments of the GOI to allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of food grains due to disruption during next five months.
  • Free distribution of whole Chana will also ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals during these five months.

Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Explaining Lithium increase in the Universe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Explaining the increase of Li in the the Universe

Mains level : Not much

In a study recently published in Nature Astronomy scientists from Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) along with their international collaborators have provided a robust observational evidence for the first time that Li production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their He-core burning phase.

Importance of lithium in our life

  • Light inflammable, metal lithium (Li) has brought about transformation in modern communication devices and transportation.
  • A great deal of today’s technology is powered by lithium in its various shades [remember Li-ion battery!].
  • But where does the element come from?
  • The origin of much of the Li can be traced to a single event, the Big-Bang that happened about 13.7 Billion years ago, from which the present-day Universe was also born.

Why lithium was thought to be different?

  • Li content in the physical Universe has increased by about a factor of four over the life of the Universe.
  • However, the rest of the elements carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, nickel and so on which grew about a million times over the lifetime of the Universe.
  • Li, however, understood to be an exemption!
  • Current understanding is that lithium in stars like our Sun only gets destroyed over their lifetime.
  • As a matter of fact, the composition of all the elements in the Sun and the Earth is similar.
  • But, the measured content of Li in the Sun is a factor of 100 lower than that of the Earth, though both are known to have formed together.

So, what the new finding suggests?

  • This discovery challenges the long-held idea that stars only destroy lithium during their lifetime.
  • It implies that the Sun itself will manufacture lithium in the future.
  • This is not predicted by models, indicating that there is some physical process missing in stellar theory.
  • Further, the authors identified “He flash”.
  • “He flash” is an on-set of He-ignition at the star’s core via violent eruption at the end of the star’s core hydrogen-burning phase, as the source of Li production.
  • Our Sun will reach this phase in about 6-7 billion years.

Swachh Bharat Mission

Prerak Dauur Samman

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SBM , Prerak Dauur Samman

Mains level : SBM and its success

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced a new category of awards titled ‘Prerak Dauur Samman’ as part of Swachh Survekshan 2021.

Try this question:

Q. The Prerak Dauur Samman recently seen in news is related to:

a) Swachh Bharat b) Literature c) Health Services d) Visual Arts

Prerak Dauur Samman

  • The Prerak Dauur Samman has a total of five additional subcategories -Divya (Platinum), Anupam (Gold), Ujjwal (Silver), Udit (Bronze), Aarohi (Aspiring) – with top three cities being recognized in each.
  • In a departure from the present criteria of evaluating cities on ‘population category’, this new category will categorize cities on the basis of six select indicator wise performance criteria which are as follows:

1) Segregation of waste into Wet, Dry and Hazard categories

2) Processing capacity against wet waste generated

3) Processing and recycling of wet and dry waste

4) Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste processing

5) Percentage of waste going to landfills

6) Sanitation status of cities

Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

Mains level : Research facilitation schemes in India

To provide a single platform for research internships, capacity building programs and workshops across the country, the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has launched a new scheme called ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ (AV).

Note the following things about the ‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme:

1) Implementing agency/ Nodal Ministry

2) Primary objective

3) Target beneficiaries

4) Its components

‘Accelerate Vigyan’ Scheme

  • Accelerate Vigyan (AV) strives to provide a big push to high-end scientific research and prepare scientific manpower which can venture into research careers and knowledge-based economy.
  • The primary objective of this scheme is to give more thrust on encouraging high-end scientific research and preparing scientific manpower, which can lead to research careers and knowledge-based economy.
  • AV will initiate and strengthen mechanisms of identifying research potential, mentoring, training and hands-on workshop on a national scale.
  • The aim is to expand the research base in the country, with three broad goals – consolidation / aggregation of all scientific training programs, initiating High-end Orientation Workshops and creating opportunities for Research Internships.

Components of AV

1) ABHYAAS

  • It is an attempt to boost research and development in the country by enabling and grooming potential PG/PhD students by means of developing their research skills in selected areas across different disciplines or fields.
  • It has two components: High-End Workshops (‘KARYASHALA’) and Research Internships (‘VRITIKA’).
  • This is especially important for those researchers who have limited opportunities to access such learning capacities/facilities/infrastructure.

2) SAMOOHAN

  • Mission ‘SAMOOHAN’ marks the beginning of Accelerate Vigyan.
  • It aims to encourage, aggregate and consolidate all scientific interactions in the country under one common roof.
  • It has been sub-divided into ‘SAYONJIKA’ and ‘SANGOSHTI’.
  • SAYONJIKA is an open-ended program to catalogue the capacity building activities in science and technology supported by all government funding agencies in the country.
  • SANGOSHTI is a pre-existing program of SERB.

Tax Reforms

Stamp Duty on Mutual Fund Purchases

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mutual Funds, Stamp Duty

Mains level : Regulation of capital market in India

The Amendments in the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 has been brought through Finance Act 2019 for Rationalized Collection Mechanism of Stamp Duty across India with respect to Securities Market Instruments.

Up till now, we knew that stamp duties are levied on property transactions, registrations etc. With the Finance Act 2019, the stamp duties are also levied on Mutual Funds.

What is Stamp Duty?

  • Stamp duty is a legal tax payable in full and acts as evidence for any sale or purchase of a property. It is payable under Section 3 of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899.
  • The levy of stamp duty is a state subject and thus the rates of stamp duty vary from state to state.
  • The Centre levies stamp duty on specified instruments and also fixes the rates for these instruments.
  • It is usually paid by the buyer with regardless of agreement and in case of property exchange, both seller and the buyer has to share the stamp duty equally.
  • A stamp duty paid instrument/document is considered a proper and legal instrument/document and has evidentiary value and is admitted as evidence in courts.

What is the move?

  • Beginning July 1, all shares and mutual fund purchases will attract a stamp duty of 0.005 per cent and any transfer of security will attract a stamp duty of 0.015 per cent.
  • The government had introduced changes to the Stamp duty Act last year by introducing a uniform rate of stamp duty on the trading of shares and commodities.
  • All categories of mutual funds (except for ETFs) will attract stamp duty for the first time.
  • Shares purchased by individuals at stock exchanges were charged stamp duty at different rates by respective states.

Where all will it be applicable?

  • The stamp duty will be applicable on all transactions, including shares, debt instruments, commodities and all categories of mutual fund schemes.
  • As for mutual funds, it will be applicable on all fresh purchases, including the fresh monthly purchases in previously registered Systematic Investment Plans.
  • It will also be applicable if investors switch from one scheme to another and also in case of dividend reinvestment transactions.
  • Transfers of units from one Demat account to another, including market/off-market transfers, will also attract stamp duty.

How does it impact the investor?

  • The impact on long-term investments by a retail investor is nominal.
  • Since the stamp duty will be charged a one-time charge, if an investor invests Rs 1 lakh in a mutual fund scheme or in stock and holds it for two years, he will have to pay a duty of only Rs 5.
  • In fact, it will be marginally lower as the stamp duty is applicable on the net investment value i.e gross investment amount less than any other deduction like transaction charge.
  • There is no duty at the time of redemption.

What about big investors?

  • The impact is higher for investors with short-term investment horizons such as banks and corporates who invest in liquid and overnight schemes of mutual funds.

How much revenue can it generate for the government?

  • In the financial year 2019-20, the mutual fund industry mobilized aggregate funds of over Rs 188 lakh crore.
  • A high portion of that was in overnight funds or liquid funds.
  • A 0.005 per cent stamp duty on this amount works out to Rs 940 crore.
  • If the industry continues to mobilise funds to the tune of Rs 190 lakh crore or higher, it will generate revenues of nearly Rs 1,000 crore for the government from mutual fund transactions itself.

Back2Basics: Mutual Funds

  • MF is a trust that collects money from a number of investors who share a common investment objective.
  • Then, it invests the money in equities, bonds, money market instruments and/or other securities.
  • Each investor owns units, which represent a portion of the holdings of the fund.
  • The income/gains generated from this collective investment are distributed proportionately amongst the investors after deducting certain expenses, by calculating a scheme’s “Net Asset Value or NAV.
  • It is one of the most viable investment options for the common man as it offers an opportunity to invest in a diversified, professionally managed basket of securities at a relatively low cost.
  • All funds carry some level of risk. With mutual funds, one may lose some or all of the money invested because the securities held by a fund can go down in value.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM-FME scheme

Mains level : Food processing industry and the required reforms

The Ministry for Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has launched the PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) as a part of “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is the PM FME Scheme? Discuss its potential to neutralize various challenges faced by India’s unorganized food industries.

PM FME Scheme

  • It aims to provide financial, technical and business support for upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme to be implemented over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore.
  • The expenditure under the scheme would to be shared in 60:40 ratios between Central and State Governments, in 90:10 ratios with NE and the Himalayan States, 60:40 ratio with UTs with the legislature and 100% by Centre for other UTs.

Features of the scheme

  • The Scheme adopts One District One Product (ODODP) approach to reap the benefit of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services and marketing of products.
  • The States would identify food product for a district keeping in view the existing clusters and availability of raw material.
  • The ODOP product could be a perishable produce based product or cereal-based products or a food product widely produced in a district and their allied sectors.
  • An illustrative list of such products includes mango, potato, litchi, tomato, tapioca, kinnu, bhujia, petha, papad, pickle, millet-based products, fisheries, poultry, meat as well as animal feed among others.
  • The Scheme also place focus on waste to wealth products, minor forest products and Aspirational Districts.

Credit facility provided

  • Existing Individual micro food processing units desirous of upgradation of their unit can avail credit-linked capital subsidy @35% of the eligible project cost with a maximum ceiling of Rs.10 lakh per unit.
  • Seed capital @ Rs. 40,000/- per SHG member would be provided for working capital and purchase of small tools.
  • FPOs/ SHGs/ producer cooperatives would be provided a credit-linked grant of 35% for capital investment along the value chain.
  • Support for marketing & branding would be provided to develop brands for micro-units and groups with 50% grant at State or regional level which could benefit a large number of micro-units in clusters.

Why need such a scheme?

  • The unorganized food processing sector comprising nearly 25 lakh units contribute to 74% of employment in the food processing sector.
  • Nearly 66% of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises supporting livelihood rural household and minimizing their migration to urban areas.

Challenges faced

  • The unorganised food processing sector faces a number of challenges which limit their performance and their growth.
  • These challenges include lack of access to modern technology & equipment, training, access institutional credit, lack of basic awareness on quality control of products; and lack of branding & marketing skills etc.
  • Owing to these challenges; the unorganised food processing sector contributes much less in terms of value addition and output despite its huge potential.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Coccolithophores: The Ancient Algae

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Coccolithophores

Mains level : Not Much

A study of microscopic ancient marine algae (Coccolithophores) has found that there is a decrease in the concentration of oceanic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Try this question:

Q.The Coccolithophores sometimes seen in news are-

(a) Diatoms

(b) Algae

(c) Coral Polyps

(d) Sea grass

Coccolithophores

  • Coccolithophores are single-celled algae living in the upper layers of the world’s oceans.
  • They have been playing a key role in marine ecosystems and the global carbon cycle for millions of years.
  • They calcify marine phytoplankton that produces up to 40% of open ocean calcium carbonate and responsible for 20% of the global net marine primary productivity.
  • They build exoskeletons from individual CaCO3 plates consisting of chalk and seashells building the tiny plates on their exterior.

Role as a carbon sink

  • Though carbon dioxide is produced during the formation of these plates, coccolithophores help in removing it from the atmosphere and ocean by consuming it during photosynthesis.
  • At equilibrium, they absorb more carbon dioxide than they produce, which is beneficial for the ocean ecosystem.
  • These investigations are important for future intervention to bring positive changes in the marine ecosystem and the global carbon cycle.

Threats

  • The reduction of coccolithophores is due to an increase in the presence of diatom algae, which occurs after sea ice breakdown with climate change and ocean acidification, and increases the silicate concentration in the waters of the Southern Ocean.
  • Their existence is highly dependent on time and influenced by various environmental factors such as silicate concentrations, calcium carbonate concentration, diatom abundance, light intensity and availability of macro and possibly micronutrient concentrations.

Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.

Learning Platform “Skills Build Reignite”

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Skills Build Reignite

Mains level : NA

MSDE-IBM Partnership has unveiled Free Digital Learning Platform “Skills Build Reignite” to reach more job seekers & provide new resources to business owners in India.

There are various web/portals/apps with Hindi acronyms such as YUKTI, DISHA, SWAYAM etc. Their core purpose is similar with slight differences. Pen them down on a separate sheet under the title various digital HRD initiatives.

Skills Build Reignite

  • The SkillsBuild Reignite tends to provide job seekers and entrepreneurs, with access to free online coursework and mentoring support designed to help them reinvent their careers and businesses.
  • It is a long term institutional training to the nation’s youth through its network of training institutes and infrastructure.
  • IBM will provide multifaceted digital skill training in the area of Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to students & trainers across the nation in the National Skill Training Institutes (NSTIs) and ITIs.
  • Directorate General of Training (DGT) under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is responsible for implementing the program.
  • Job seekers, individual business owners, entrepreneurs and any individual with learning aspirations can now tap into host of industry-relevant content on topics including AI, Cloud, Data analytics etc.

Features

  • Its special feature is the personalized coaching for entrepreneurs, seeking advice to help establish or restart their small businesses as they begin to focus on recovery to emerge out of the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Courses for small business owners include, for example, financial management, business strategy, digital strategy, legal support and more.
  • Plus, IBM volunteers will serve as mentors to some of the 30,000 SkillsBuild users in 100 communities in at least five major regions worldwide to help reinvigorate local communities.

Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AHIDF

Mains level : Animal husbandary sector of India

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth Rs. 15000 crore.

Practice question for mains:

Q. In pursuit of doubling farmer’s income, development of animal husbandry has to play a crucial role. Discuss.

About AHIDF

  • The fund is part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus packages to help people affected by the lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The AHIDF would promote infrastructure investments in dairy, meat processing and animal feed plants.
  • Farmer producer organizations (FPOs), MSMEs, Section 8 companies, private companies and individual entrepreneurs would be eligible to benefit from the fund.
  • It will ensure the availability of capital to meet upfront investment required for these projects and also help enhance overall returns/ payback for investors.

Provisions of the AHIDF

  • The beneficiaries will have to contribute 10 per cent margin towards the proposed infra project and the rest 90 per cent would be a loan component to be made available to them by scheduled banks.
  • The balance 90% would be the loan component to be made available by scheduled banks.
  • Government of India will provide 3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries.
  • There will be 2 years moratorium period for the principal loan amount and 6 years repayment period thereafter.

Air Pollution

‘Decarbonizing Transport in India (DTI)’ Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ITF, OECD

Mains level : Policy measures for cleaner transportation

http://www.newsonair.com/writereaddata/News_Pictures/NAT/2020/Jun/NPIC-2020622172010.jpg

NITI Aayog in collaboration with International Transport Forum (ITF) is set to launch the “Decarbonising Transport in India” project with the intention to develop a pathway towards a low-carbon transport system for India.

Note the following things about ‘Decarbonising Transport in India (DTI)’ Project:

  1. Associated international institution

  2. Whether the institution is a UN body or not

  3. If India is a member of that body

The DTI Project

  • The India project is carried out in the wider context of the International Transport Forum’s “Decarbonising Transport” initiative.
  • It is part of the “Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies” (DTEE) family of projects, which supports transport decarbonisation across different world regions.
  • India, Argentina, Azerbaijan, and Morocco are current participants.
  • The DTEE is a collaboration between the ITF and the Wuppertal Institute, supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment.

Objectives of the project

  • The project will design a tailor-made transport emissions assessment framework for India.
  • It will provide the government with a detailed understanding of current and future transport activity and the related CO2 emissions as a basis for their decision-making.

About International Transport Forum (ITF)

  • The ITF is an inter-governmental organisation within the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) system.
  • It is the only global body with a mandate for all modes of transport.
  • It acts as a think tank for transport policy issues and organises the annual global summit of transport ministers.
  • The ITF’s motto is “Global dialogue for better transport”.
  • India has been a member of ITF since 2008.

Back2Basics: OCED

  • The OECD is an international, intergovernmental economic organization of 36 countries.
  • OECD was founded in the year 1961 to stimulate world trade and economic progress.
  • OECD originated in 1948, as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC).
  • The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) was founded to govern the predominantly US-funded Marshall Plan for post-war reconstruction on the continent.
  • The OEEC was instrumental in helping the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC has evolved into the European Union (EU) to establish a European Free Trade Area.
  • India is NOT a member of OECD.

Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

What is Foldscope?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Foldscope

Mains level : NA

Indian researchers have explored and validated the clinical utility of Foldscope in the diagnosis of diseases using various patient samples.

Though trivial, Foldscope is a significant invention with most crucial applications. It somehow offers an alternative to costly microscopes for some basic diagnosis.

What is Foldscope?

  • Foldscope is an affordable origami-based microscopy device composed of a series of paper clippings.
  • Upon assembly, the device can hold a specimen slide for observation, and this specimen can be viewed via a mobile phone camera attached to it.

How does it work?

  • Foldscope can be assembled using paper clips and mounted on a cell phone using coupler and glue drops.
  • To do the assessment, a patient sample like urine is smeared on a transparent glass slide and visualized under a Foldscope mounted on a cell phone.
  • Sample images can be enlarged using the zoom function of the mobile, which can be stored on the mobile memory card for later reference/patient records.
  • Foldscope visualizes calcium oxalate crystals, which are a major cause of kidney stones.

Utility of Foldscope

  • Foldscope is particularly convenient to diagnose urinary tract infection (UTI) and monitor kidney stone.
  • The study evaluated the use of Foldscope in the clinical diagnosis of oral and urinary tract infections.
  • Using this tool, one can easily monitor own-kidney stone status at home with a simple glass-slide, a Foldscope and a phone in hand.
  • Such monitoring could perhaps avoid kidney stone reaching a painful state or surgery in recurring cases.

Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

Indian Gas Exchange (IGX): the first nationwide online delivery-based gas trading platform

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IGX

Mains level : Utility of the IGX

India’s first gas exchange — the Indian Gas Exchange (IGX) — was launched by the Ministry of Petroleum. The exchange is expected to facilitate transparent price discovery in natural gas, and facilitate the growth of the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket.

Note the following things with caution from the newscard:

  • IGX allows only imported LNG and not domestically produced natural gas.

  • India’s import of LNG

  • GAIL

  • Taxation of LNG

What is IGX?

  • The IGX is a digital trading platform that will allow buyers and sellers of natural gas to trade both in the spot market and in the forward market for imported natural gas.
  • It will allow trading across three hubs —Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat, and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will be regassified and sold to buyers through the exchange, removing the requirement for buyers and sellers to find each other.
  • The exchange also allows much shorter contracts – for delivery on the next day, and up to a month – while ordinarily contracts for natural gas supply are as long as six months to a year.
  • This will mean that buyers do not have to contact multiple dealers to ensure they find a fair price.

Will domestically produced natural gas also be bought and sold on the exchange?

  • The price of domestically produced natural gas is decided by the government. It will not be sold on the gas exchange.
  • However, following appeals by domestic producers that the prices set by the government are not viable given the cost of exploration and production in India.
  • A new gas policy will include reforms in domestic gas pricing and will move towards more market-oriented pricing.

Will this make India more import-dependent?

  • Domestic production of gas has been falling over the past two fiscals as current sources of natural gas have become less productive.
  • Domestically produced natural gas currently accounts for less than half the country’s natural gas consumption; imported LNG accounts for the other half.
  • LNG imports are set to become a larger proportion of domestic gas consumption as India moves to increase the proportion of natural gas in the energy basket from 6.2% in 2018 to 15% by 2030.

What regulatory change is required?

  • Currently, the pipeline infrastructure necessary for the transportation of natural gas is controlled by the companies that own the network.
  • State-owned GAIL owns and operates India’s largest gas pipeline network, spanning over 12,000 km.
  • An independent system operator for natural gas pipelines would help ensure transparent allocation of pipeline usage, and build confidence in the minds of buyers and sellers about neutrality in the allocation of pipeline capacity.
  • Experts have also called for natural gas to be included in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to avoid buyers having to deal with different levies such as VAT across states when purchasing natural gas from the exchange.

Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

AarogyaPath Platform for the Healthcare Supply Chain

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aarogyapath platform

Mains level : Not Much

AarogyaPath Platform has been recently launched to provide real-time availability of critical healthcare supplies.

Possible prelims question:

Q. The AarogyaPath platform recently seen in news is related to:

Options:  a) Tracking of COVID patients/ b) Emergency ambulances service/c)  Supply-chain solutions of healthcare facilities/ d)E-com portal for generic medicines …

Aarogyapath platform

  • The information platform named AarogyaPath with a vision of providing a path which leads one on a journey towards Aarogya (healthy life) has been developed by the CSIR.
  • During the present national health emergency arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein there is a severe disruption in the supply chain, the ability to produce and deliver the critical items may be compromised due to a variety of reasons.
  • The platform would serve manufacturers, suppliers and customers.
  • CSIR expects AarogyaPath to become the national healthcare information platform of choice in the years to come.
  • It would fill a critical gap in last-mile delivery of patient care within India through improved availability and affordability of healthcare supplies.

Its significance

  • This platform provides single-point availability of key healthcare goods that can be helpful to customers in tackling a number of routinely experienced issues.
  • These issues include dependence on limited suppliers, time-consuming processes to identify good quality products, limited access to suppliers who can supply standardized products at reasonable prices within desired timelines, lack of awareness about the latest product launches, etc.
  • It also helps manufacturers and suppliers to reach a wide network of customers efficiently, overcoming gaps in connectivity between them and potential demand centres like nearby pathological laboratories, medical stores, hospitals, etc.
  • It will also create opportunities for business expansion due to an expanded slate of buyers and visibility of new requirements for products.
  • Over time, analytics from this platform is expected to generate early signals to manufacturers on overcapacity as well as on looming shortages.

Urban Floods

I-FLOWS: Mumbai Flood Management System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IFLOWS

Mains level : Urban floods in India

Integrated Flood Warning System for Mumbai (I-FLOWS Mumbai), a state-of-the-art flood warning system has been developed for the city.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Urban floods in India are consequences of unplanned urbanization in India. Discuss with references to the frequent annual floods in Mumbai.

What is IFLOWS-Mumbai?

  • IFLOWS is a monitoring and flood warning system that will be able to relay alerts of possible flood-prone areas anywhere between six to 72 hours in advance.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has developed the system with in-house expertise and coordination with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
  • The system can provide all information regarding possible flood-prone areas, likely height the floodwater could attain location-wise problem areas across all 24 wards and calculate the vulnerability and risk of elements exposed to flood.
  • Mumbai is only the second city in the country after Chennai to get this system. Similar systems are being developed for Bengaluru and Kolkata.

How will it work?

  • The primary source for the system is the amount of rainfall, but with Mumbai being a coastal city, the system also factors in tidal waves and storm tides for its flood assessments.
  • The system has provisions to capture the urban drainage within the city and predict the areas of flooding.
  • The system comprises seven modules- Data Assimilation, Flood, Inundation, Vulnerability, Risk, Dissemination Module and Decision Support System.

Why was this system needed in Mumbai?

  • Mumbai, the financial capital of India, has been experiencing floods with increased periodicity.
  • Floods, especially the ones in 2005 and 2017, are etched in everyone’s memory.
  • Last year, post-monsoon and unseasonal rainfall as late as October, two tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea had caught authorities off guard and left a trail of destruction.
  • The flood during 26th July 2005, when the city received a rainfall of 94 cm, a 100 year high in a span of 24 hours had paralyzed the city completely.
  • Urban flooding is common in the city from June to September, resulting in the crippling of traffic, railways and airlines.
  • As preparedness for floods before they occur, the system will help in warning the citizens so that they can be prepared in advance for flooding conditions.

Benefits

  • IFLOWS-Mumbai will enhance the resilience of the city by providing early warning for flooding, especially during high rainfall events and cyclones.
  • Using this, it will be possible to have an estimate of the flood inundation three days in advance, along with immediate weather updates.
  • The Union Minister said the system was “one of the most advanced” ones and will help the city, which has been experiencing floods with increasing periodicity.
  • The hi-tech system will predict floods before they occur, therefore enabling Mumbaikars to take due precautions in advance.

J&K – The issues around the state

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench for the UT of J&K and Ladakh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CAT

Mains level : Paper 2- Functioning and independence of CAT

The union govt. has inaugurated the 18th Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Try this question from our AWE initiative:

“The Central Administration Tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority.” Explain. (10 Marks)

What is Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)?

  • The Central Administrative Tribunal had been established under Article 323 – A of the Constitution for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service.
  • It aims to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the aggrieved public servants.
  • It adjudicates for the persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or other authorities under the control of the Government.
  • In pursuance of Article 323-A, the Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985.
  • The act authorizes the Central government to establish one Central Administrative Tribunal and the state administrative tribunals.

Composition of the CAT

  • The CAT is a specialist body consisting of Administrative Members and Judicial Members who by virtue of their specialized knowledge are better equipped to dispense speedy and effective justice.
  • A Chairman who has been a sitting or retired Judge of a High Court heads the Central Administrative Tribunal.
  • There are now 18 Benches and 21 Circuit Benches in the CAT all over India.

Its functioning

  • It exercises jurisdiction only in relation to the service matters of the parties covered by the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.
  • The Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bound by the procedure, prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code.
  • Under Section 17 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985, the Tribunal has been conferred with the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court.

Independence of working

  • The conditions of service of the Chairman and Members are the same as applicable to a Judge of High Court as per the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • The orders of CAT are challenged by way of Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.

Port Infrastructure and Shipping Industry – Sagarmala Project, SDC, CEZ, etc.

International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MARPOL

Mains level : Maritime pollution control and its international mechanism

The Ministry of Shipping has informed about the steps taken for prevention and control of pollution arising from ships in the sea and in the inland waterways under the MARPOL Convention.

Aspirants must note the following things:

1. If the convention is a subsidiary to the United Nations/IMO,

2. Whether it is Legally binding?

3. If India is a signatory or not …..

MARPOL Convention

  • MARPOL is the main international convention aimed at the prevention of pollution from ships caused by operational or accidental causes.
  • The Protocol of 1978 was adopted in response to a number of tanker accidents in 1976–1977.
  • It is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions.
  • It was developed by the IMO with an objective to minimize pollution of the oceans and seas, including dumping, oil and air pollution.
  • The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations – and currently includes six technical Annexes.
  • India is a signatory to MARPOL.
  • It has six annexes (I to VI) and it deals with prevention of (1) Pollution from ships by Oil, (2) Noxious liquid substances, (3) Dangerous goods in packaged form, (4) Sewage, (5) Garbage and (6) Air pollution from ships respectively.