14th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Depression along Kerala Coast’
(GS3: Disaster and Disaster management)
Issue: The government stepped up the warning for coastal communities in the State as the low pressure zone which originated in the Indian Ocean concentrated into a depression over the south east Arabian sea and lay centred about 350 km off the coast of Thiruvananthapuram.
A meeting of the executive committee of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) decided to extend the alert for coastal communities till March 15 in view of the evolving situation. A team from the National Disaster Response Force would be moved to Thrissur to assist the State authorities in emergency response. The Navy has also been requested to be on standby.
A weather bulletin issued by the IMD said squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting up to 65 kmph were likely over the Comorin area, south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala coast in the next 24 hours. The Lakshdweep area is likely to experience wind speed of 55- 65 kmph gusting up to 75 kmph over the next 48 hours.
About National Disaster Management Agency
The Government of India (GOI), in recognition of the importance of Disaster Management as a national priority, set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in August 1999 and a National Committee after the Gujarat earthquake, for making recommendations on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggesting effective mitigation mechanisms. The Tenth Five-Year Plan document also had, for the first time, a detailed chapter on Disaster Management. The Twelfth Finance Commission was also mandated to review the financial arrangements for Disaster Management.
On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective Chief Ministers, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.
Vision of NDMA
To build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation
Functions and responsibilities of NDMA
NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:-
- Lay down policies on disaster management ;
- Approve the National Plan;
- Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;
- Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;
- Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;
- Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management;
- Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation;
- Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government;
- Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary;
- Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.
About National Disaster Response Force
The Disaster Management Act has statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters. Accordingly, in 2006 NDRF was constituted with 8 Battalions. At present, NDRF has a strength of 12 Battalions with each Battalion consisting of 1149 personnel. In the beginning, the personnel of NDRF were deployed for routine law and order duties also. In a meeting of the NDMA with the Prime Minister on October 25, 2007, the need of NDRF being made a dedicated force was highlighted and accepted. This led to the notification of NDRF Rules on February 14th , 2008, making NDRF a dedicated force for disaster response related duties, under the unified command of DG NDRF.
The practice of “proactive availability” of this Force to the States and that of “pre-positioning”, in a threatening disaster situations have immensely helped minimise damage, caused due to natural calamities in the country. The first major test of disaster for NDRF was Kosi Floods in 2008.
About Indian Meteorological Department
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), also referred to as the Met Department, is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. IMD is headquartered in Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India and Antarctica. Regional offices are at Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur and Pune.
IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization. It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region, including the Malacca Straits, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation. Cyclones are usually accompanied by violent storms and bad weather. The air circulates inward in an anticlockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. Cyclones are classified as: (i) extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and (ii) tropical cyclones. The word Cyclone is derived from the Greek word Cyclos meaning the coils of a snake. It was coined by Henry Peddington because the tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea appear like coiled serpents of the sea.
Cyclones are classified as extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and tropical cyclones.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO, 1976) uses the term ‘Tropical Cyclone’ to cover weather systems in which winds exceed ‘Gale Force’ (minimum of 34 knots or 63 kph). Tropical cyclones are the progeny of ocean and atmosphere, powered by the heat from the sea; and driven by easterly trades and temperate westerlies, high planetary winds and their own fierce energy.
In India, cyclones are classified by:
- Strength of associated winds,
- Storm surges
- Exceptional rainfall occurrences.
‘Faulty Aircraft Engines’
(GS2: Regulatory agencies)
Issue: Budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir cancelled as many as 65 flights on Tuesday after aviation regulator DGCA grounded 11 of their A320Neo aircraft with faulty Pratt & Whitney engines, causing severe inconvenience to hundreds of flyers.
About Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is the Indian governmental regulatory body for civil aviation under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. This directorate investigates aviation accidents and incidents. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
Vision of DGCA
Endeavour to promote safe and efficient Air Transportation through regulation and proactive safety oversight system
‘Left Wing Extremism’
(GS3: Challenges to Internal Security)
Issue: On Tuesday, nine CRPF personnel were killed when the mine protected vehicle (MPV) they were travelling in was blown up by triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) in Chhattisgarh.
What is Left Wing Extremism?
Left-wing terrorism (sometimes called Marxist–Leninist terrorism or revolutionary/left-wing terrorism) is terrorism meant to overthrow conservative or capitalist systems and replace them with Marxist–Leninist, socialist, or anarchist societies. Left-wing terrorism also occurs within already socialist states as activism against the current ruling government. It has taken vivid manifestations across the world and presented diverging dynamics and relationships with national governments and political economies.
Armed Naxalite groups operate across large parts of the central and eastern rural regions of India. Informed by the People’s War strategy of Maoism, the most prominent of the groups is the Communist Party of India (Maoist), formed through the merging of two previous Naxalite organizations, the People’s War Group and the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCC). Armed Naxalite movements are considered India’s largest internal security threat. Naxalite militants have engaged in numerous terrorist attacks and human rights violations in India’s Red Corridor.
Indian government strategy to combat left wing extremism in India
A left wing extremism division has been created under the Ministry of Home Affairs to effectively address the Left Wing Extremist insurgency in a holistic manner. The LWE Division implements security related schemes aimed at capacity building in the LWE affected States. The Division also monitors the LWE situation and counter-measures being taken by the affected States. The LWE Division coordinates the implementation of various development schemes of the Ministries/Departments of Govt. of India in LWE affected States. The States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are considered LWE affected, although in varying degrees.
Role and Functions of the Division
- Deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in LWE affected States.
- Reimbursing security related expenditure incurred by the LWE affected States under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.
- Providing assistance to the State Governments for construction/ strengthening of fortified police stations under the Scheme for Construction/ Strengthening of 400 Fortified Police Stations in LWE affected districts.
- Providing funds to the CAPFs for Civic Action Programme in LWE affected areas.
- Reviewing the security situation in the LWE affected States and issuing advisories to the State Governments concerned..
- Providing assistance to State Governments towards capacity building to combat LWE.
- Coordinating implementation of LWE related Schemes of other Central Ministries for LWE affected Districts.
IMPORTANT SCHEMES FOR LWE AFFECTED STATES
- In order to holistically address the LWE problem in an effective manner, Government has formulated National Policy and Action Plan adopting multi pronged strategy in the areas of security, development, ensuring rights & entitlement of local communities etc.
- Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme:Under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme, assistance is provided to 106 LWE affected districts in 10 States for recurring expenditure relating to operational needs of security forces, training and insurance and also for Left Wing Extremist cadres who surrender in accordance with the surrender and rehabilitation policy of the concerned State Government, community policing, security related infrastructure by village defence committees and publicity material.
- Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I):For improving road connectivity, the Government approved the Road Requirement Plan PhaseI (RRP-I) on 26.02.2009 covering 34 LWE affected districts of 8 States i.e. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme envisages 5,422 km road lengths at an estimated cost of ₹ 8,585 Crores. 4,290 km roads have been completed. 08 critical bridges are also being constructed under RRP-I in 6 LWE affected States. The progress is being reviewed regularly. Out of 8 bridges, 2 have been completed in Telangana (1) and Maharashtra (1), while other 6 are under progress at various stages.
- Road Connectivity Project for LWE affected areas (RRP-II):The Government approved this scheme on 28.12.2016 for further improving road connectivity in 44 districts of 9 LWE affected States. This Scheme envisages 5412 km roads and 126 bridges at an estimated cost of Rs. 11,725 Crores. Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal Ministry for this project. The roads included under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the State Governments and the security agencies.
- LWE Mobile Tower Project: To improve mobile connectivity in the LWE areas, the Government on 20.08.2014 approved installation of mobile towers in LWE affected States, namely: Andhra Pradesh (227), Bihar (184), Chhattisgarh (497), Jharkhand (782), Madhya Pradesh (22), Maharashtra (60), and Odisha (253). The Department of Telecommunication, has been implementing this Scheme. 2187 mobile towers have been installed and the project stands completed.
- Scheme of Fortified Police stations: The Ministry has sanctioned 400 police stations in 10 LWE affected States at a unit cost Rs. 2 crores under this scheme. A total of 373 of PSs have been completed, work at 27 PSs is under progress.
- Civic Action Programme (CAP): This scheme is under implementation from 2010-11 in LWE affected areas. Under this scheme funds are provided to CAPFs (CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB) @ Rs. 3.00 lakh per company per year for conducting various civic activities for welfare of local poor peoples in LWE affected areas. This is a very successful scheme to bridge the gap between the Security Forces and the local people and also helpful for winning their hearts and minds. In this context, funds of Rs. 19.02 crore and Rs. 19.00 crore were released during the financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively. For the current financial year 2017-18, an amount of Rs. 19.00 crore has been allocated under the Scheme.
- GIS Mapping: LWE Division initiated a new proposal of GIS mapping of the essential services in the 35 most affected LWE districts. A project has been initiated for mapping of financial services, school, post offices, health facilities, mobile towers, PDS services, Road and security features etc. in time bound manner. This will help to the stakeholder to take informed decision on the developmental and security related issues.
- Unified Command: A Unified Command has been set up in the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand , Odisha and West Bengal. The Unified Command have officers from the security establishment, besides civilian officers representing the civil administration and it will carry out carefully planned counter LWE measures.
- The Left Wing Extremism affected States have been asked to effectively implement the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) on priority, which categorically assigns rights over minor forest produce to the Gram Sabhas.
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: CAG has raised apprehensions about the financial health of Indian Railways with regards to operating ratio. An operating ratio of 99.54% means that Railways is spending 99.54 paise to earn 100 paise.
The CAG said passenger fares and freight charges should be based on the cost involved so that it brings both rationality and flexibility in pricing, considering the financial health of Railways and the current market scenario.
About Indian Railways
Indian Railways (IR) is India’s national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It manages the fourth-largest railway network in the world by size, with 121,407 kilometres (75,439 mi) of total track over a 67,368-kilometre (41,861 mi) route. Thirty eight percent of the routes are electrified with 25 KV AC electric traction while thirty-three percent of them are double or multi-tracked
IR runs more than 13,000 passenger trains daily, on both long-distance and suburban routes, from 7,349 stations across India
The world’s eighth-largest employer, it had 1.308 million employees as of March 2017.
Problems faced by Indian Railways:
Although the development of railways in our country took place rapidly, still there are numberless problems in the path of steady growth. The main problems are stated as under:
1. Old Track and Poor State of Rolling Stock.
The major problem faced by Indian railways is that the tracks are old and outdated. These old tracks cause many serious railway accidents. This has also resulted in speed restrictions. Virtually, every new timetable, running time of all trains has been increased while railways in other advanced countries are reducing it drastically.
2. Irrational tariff fixation
Ticket prices in India are a sensitive and also a political issue. Political parties have prevented Indian railways in fixing ticket rates according to the operating costs. Due to this Indian railway has suffered huge losses.
3. Railway Accidents:
The incidence of railway accidents in our country is greater as compared to other countries of the world. Accidents occur due to the errors and negligence of the employees.
4. Lack of private participation to ease the burden of Indian railways:
5. Lack of Modern Management:
There is a lack of modern management as railway failed to attract adequate incentives and suitable talent. In addition to it, it could not make economic analysis for perspective planning tariff.
6. Outmoded Technology:
The rolling stock technology is absolutely outmoded. The system is beset with excessive man-power and manpower development has not kept pace with technology up gradation. This has made railways incapable of coping with increasing transport demand and of raising and improving the traffic volume and flows at lower unit cost of operation.
7. Problem of Replacement:
The problem of replacement of old and obsolete railways engines, wagons and other equipment has created a serious problem in India.
8. Problem of Laying Double Lines:
Most of the railway lines are single lines which create great inconvenience to the railway organization and passengers.
9. Inadequate Investment:
The railway transport has lagged behind the requirement due to inadequate investment. The shortcoming has been highlighted by different committees, The National Transport Policy Committee, The Rail Tariff Enquiry Committee and The Railway Reforms Committee.
10. Competition with Road Transport:
The competition with road transport is growing in intensity, both in passenger and in goods transport. The lack of coordination between railways and road transport has lowered the earning capacity of the railways. This has further caused delay in traffic movement and inconvenience to passengers.
The Bibek Debroy Committee is a high level committee for “Mobilization of Resources for Major Railway Projects and Restructuring of Railway Ministry and Railway Board” created by NDA Government after coming into power in 2014.
The recommendations of this committee are:
· Establishment of Independent Regulator RRAI
· Transition to commercial accounting
· Streamline recruitment & HR processes
· Focus on core areas
· Decentralization of certain functions
· Indian Railway Manufacturing Company
· Encouraging private entry
· Joint Venture with State governments
· Raising resources
‘Stephen Hawkings dies aged 76’
(Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Renowned British Scientist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. Some of his major achievements are:
1. His ground breaking work on singularities
2. Four laws of black hole mechanics
3. His hypothesis on Hawking Radiation
4. His theory on cosmic inflation
5. His model on universe’s initial state
6. Theory of top-down cosmology
7. His famous book ‘A brief history of time’
‘Increase in cases of Respiratory diseases’
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: Over past three years, cases of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) have increased. However, it cannot be attributed only to Air Pollution.
Measures taken by the government
1. Government has taken various measures to control environmental pollution including tightening of vehicular and industrial norms, promotion of cleaner technologies, strengthening of network of air quality monitoring stations, promoting public awareness etc.
2. Under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, the Districts and States have been strengthened by providing manpower, training of identified Rapid Response Team (RRT) members for outbreak investigations, strengthening of laboratories for detection of epidemic prone diseases including acute respiratory infections.
3. Under Reproductive and Child Health Programme, prevention and treatment of acute respiratory infection including pneumonia is being addressed on priority basis.
4. For prevention and control of Tuberculosis, Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) is being implemented under National Health Mission (NHM).
POSHAN (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment)
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: The Executive Committee which is the Apex body for all Nutrition related activities under the POSHAN Abhiyaan, held its first meeting to decide on the roadmap for the Mission.
The programme aims to improve nutrition among women and children. Ministry of Women and Child development is implementing this programme
Details of the decisions taken during the first meeting:
1. India Nutrition Report shall be released every year by the Government after a detailed survey.
2. On the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti(14th April) this year, Gram Panchayats across the country will hold meetings to discuss on the Nutritional aspects and their implementation along with Health and Sanitation issues. All the Gram Panchayats will be advised to weigh the children and display the weights in the Anganwadi centres
3. Instead of blindly adopting the Nutritional practices of other countries, best practices of states across the country which are successful in reducing Stunting, Anaemia and Malnutrition are to be studied and successful models to be adopted at National level.
4. For special focus on the deprived sections of the Society, District Collectors will hold a detailed survey of the people who are outside the Anganwadi System.