26th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(GS3: Achievements of India in Science and Technology)
Issue: GSAT-6A, the second predominantly S-band communications satellite, is set to be launched from Sriharikota on March 29.
It will complement GSAT-6, which has been orbiting since August 2015 at 83 degrees East longitude. The 2,000-kg-class 6A, costing about ₹270 crore, is a great deal more than a routine communications satellite. It is designated for the use of the Armed Forces. A special feature of the GSAT-6A is its 6-metre-wide umbrella-like antenna, which will be unfurled in once it is in space. The antenna is thrice as broad as the antennas generally used in ISRO satellites. It will enable mobile communication from anywhere via hand-held ground terminals. Regular communication satellites with smaller antenna require much larger ground stations
The S-band’s antenna was developed by ISRO’s Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. The unfurl-able antenna, hand-held ground terminals, and network management techniques could be useful in future satellite-based mobile communication applications.
The GSAT satellites are India’s indigenously developed communications satellites, used for digital audio, data and video broadcasting. The GSAT series of geosynchronous satellites is a system developed by ISRO with an objective to make India self-reliant in broadcasting services. The repertoire of 10 GSAT satellites, a total of 168 transponders (out of which 95 transponders are leased out to provide services to the broadcasters) in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue operations.
A geosynchronous satellite is a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, with an orbital period the same as the Earth’s rotation period. Such a satellite returns to the same position in the sky after each sidereal day, and over the course of a day traces out a path in the sky that is typically some form of analemma. A special case of geosynchronous satellite is the geostationary satellite, which has a geostationary orbit – a circular geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth’s equator. Another type of geosynchronous orbit used by satellites is the Tundra elliptical orbit.
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Global card companies like Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are losing market share to upstarts in the world’s most innovative payments market: India.
Transactions through India’s homegrown Unified Payments Interface (UPI)—which allows mobile apps run by retailers, airlines and other firms to take payment directly from bank accounts—reached almost half the value of debit and credit cards swiped at stores last month, central bank data shows.
Payment integration into popular apps in India will drive the digital payments market to $1 trillion over the next five years
Challenges for digital payment
One challenge in India is the dominance of cash, which accounts for some 70% of the country’s total transactions by value. However, China transitioned to digital on the back of rising mobile and data penetration, and that process was hastened by e-commerce and social platforms, according to Credit Suisse. The same shift may play out in India, where data usage for 300 million Indian smartphone users rose to 5-10 GB a month from 1GB last year.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India facilitating inter-bank transactions. The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform.
UPI is built over Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) for transferring funds. Being a digital payment system it is available 24*7 and across public holidays. Unlike traditional mobile wallets, which take a specified amount of money from user and store it in its own accounts, UPI withdraws and deposits funds directly from the bank account whenever a transaction is requested. It uses Virtual Payment Address (a unique ID provided by the bank), Account Number with IFS Code, Mobile Number with MMID (Mobile Money Identifier), Aadhaar Number, or a one-time use Virtual ID. An MPIN (Mobile banking Personal Identification number) is required to confirm each payment.
‘Draft Defence Policy
(GS3: Indigenization of Technology)
Issue: A draft defence production policy put out by the government proposes to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in niche technology areas to 74% under the automatic route, in a bid to boost local manufacturing and catapult India into the league of countries housing top defence and aerospace industries.
At present, the FDI cap for the defence sector is 49% under the automatic route for all categories. India is currently the top importer of defence hardware in the world (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been running a campaign with the goal of increasing the share of local manufacturing in the defence sector to create more jobs.
Aim of the new Draft Policy
It aims to create an environment that encourages a dynamic, robust and competitive defence industry, as an important part of the Make in India initiative. According to the policy, India hopes to achieve a turnover of Rs1.7 trillion in defence goods and services by 2025. It has a goal of becoming an arms exporter to the tune of Rs35,000 crore in defence goods and services by 2025.
By giving a leg-up to defence manufacturing, Asia’s third largest economy also hopes to transform itself into a “global leader in cyberspace and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies
(Facts that could be asked in prelims)
The Kerala government on Wednesday declared jackfruit as its official fruit. This would also help in giving in the fruit’s production and sale, besides increasing its value-added products. Every year around 32 crore Jackfruit is produced in the state, of which 30% gets wasted. A total revenue of Rs15,000 crore is expected through sale of jackfruit and its allied products through branding of the fruit
The jackfruit is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family (Moraceae) native to southwest India
The jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands, and its fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching as much as 35 kg (80 lb) in weight, 90 cm (35 in) in length, and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter. A mature jackfruit tree can produce about 100 to 200 fruits in a year. The jackfruit is a multiple fruit, composed of hundreds to thousands of individual flowers, and it is the fleshy petals that are eaten.
Jackfruit is commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines. The ripe and unripe fruit is used, as are the seeds. The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food item throughout the tropical regions of the world. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh
The ‘Kerala jackfruit’ is more organic and tasty as it is produced in a very natural way without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides
Elephant is the state animal of Kerala, while ‘great hornbill’ the bird and ‘kanikkonna’ the official flower. The state had recently declared pearl spot, popularly known as ‘karimeen’, as its official fish.
(GS1: Indian geography)
Issue: Monsoon rains in India are likely to be unaffected by the El Nino weather pattern, which is likely to set in only after the four-month rainy season ends in September
Monsoon season delivers about 70% of India’s annual rainfall and is key to the success of the farm sector, which accounts for about 15% of India’s $2 trillion economy but sustains nearly two thirds of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
What is El-Nino effect?
El Nino is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (commonly called ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including off the Pacific coast of South America. El Niño Southern Oscillation refers to the cycle of warm and cold temperatures, as measured by sea surface temperature, SST, of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific. The cool phase of ENSO is called “La Niña” with SST in the eastern Pacific below average and air pressures high in the eastern and low in western Pacific. The ENSO cycle, both El Niño and La Niña, cause global changes of both temperatures and rainfall
Developing countries that are dependent upon agriculture and fishing, particularly those bordering the Pacific Ocean, are usually most affected. In American Spanish, the capitalized term “El Niño” refers to “the little boy”, so named because the pool of warm water in the Pacific near South America is often at its warmest around Christmas. The original name, “El Niño de Navidad”, traces its origin centuries back to Peruvian fishermen, who named the weather phenomenon in reference to the newborn Christ.”La Niña”, chosen as the ‘opposite’ of El Niño, literally translates to “the little girl”.
As warm water spreads from the west Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the east Pacific, it takes the rain with it, causing extensive drought in the western Pacific and rainfall in the normally dry eastern Pacific. Singapore experienced the driest February in 2014 since records began in 1869, with only 6.3 mm of rain falling in the month and temperatures hitting as high as 35 °C on 26 February. The years 1968 and 2005 had the next driest Februaries, when 8.4 mm of rain fell.
The most prominent droughts in India, six of them, since 1871 have been El Nino triggered droughts, including the recent ones that occurred in 2002 and 2009. Nevertheless, it is important to note that all El Nino years do not lead to drought in India. The year 1997-98 is a stark reminder as it was a strong El Nino year but that did not cause drought in India, in fact, rainfall was in excess. On the other hand, a moderate El Nino in 2002 resulted in one of the worst droughts.
Going by historical data of 135 years from 1880 to 2014, about 90% of all evolving El Nino years have led to below normal rainfall and 65% of evolving El Nino years have brought droughts. From this fact, one thing is clear that El Nino years adversely affect the weather in India in terms of Monsoon rain, with very few exceptions. During an El Nino year, the rainfall is generally below the normal average, which has its negative bearing on crop production.
(GS2: Issues related to health)
Issue: Ten years after the Hepatitis B vaccine was introduced in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), the Union health ministry plans to assess the impact of the immunization on the population. Viral hepatitis, despite government efforts, continues to be a serious public health problem in India. More than 52 million people in the country are currently infected with chronic hepatitis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The health ministry is developing a comprehensive integrated three-year National Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis (NAPVH) with the key objective of providing an actionable framework of evidence based, priority interventions to support the national response for prevention, control and management of viral hepatitis in the country.
Under the plan, studies will be conducted to understand the efficacy of alternative medicine in preventing and treating viral hepatitis, comparison of indigenous and Chinese hepatitis vaccines in clinical trials and understand the modes of transmission of viral hepatitis B.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months. Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure Overtime the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.
The most common cause worldwide is viruses. Other causes include heavy alcohol use, certain medications, toxins, other infections, autoimmune diseases, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).There are five main types of viral hepatitis: type A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A and E are mainly spread by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is mainly sexually transmitted, but may also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are commonly spread through infected blood such as may occur during needle sharing by intravenous drug users. Hepatitis D can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis A, B, and D are preventable with immunization. Medications may be used to treat chronic cases of viral hepatitis. There is no specific treatment for NASH; however, a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity, a healthy diet, and weight loss, is important. Autoimmune hepatitis may be treated with medications to suppress the immune system. A liver transplant may also be an option in certain cases.
Worldwide in 2015, hepatitis A occurred in about 114 million people, chronic hepatitis B affected about 343 million people and chronic hepatitis C about 142 million people. In the United States, NASH affects about 11 million people and alcoholic hepatitis affects about 5 million people. Hepatitis results in more than a million deaths a year, most of which occur indirectly from liver scarring or liver cancer.
About Universal Immunization Programme
India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (U.I.P.) is one of the largest in the world in terms of quantities of vaccine used, the number of beneficiaries, the number of Immunisation session organised, the geographical spread and diversity of areas covered.
The national policy of Immunisation of all children during the first year of life with DPT, OPV, BCG to complete the series of primary vaccination before reaching the age of one year was adopted in 1978 with the lunching of EPI to increase the Immunisation coverage in infancy to 80%. Universal Immunisation programme UIP was launched in 1985 in a phased manner. The measles vaccine was added in 1985 and in 1990 Vit A supplementation was added to the program.
The Vaccination Schedule under the UIP is:
BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) 1 dose at Birth (upto 1 year if not given earlier)
DPT (Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus Toxoid) 5 doses; Three primary doses at 6,10,14 weeks and two booster doses at 16-24 months and 5 Years of age
OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine) 5 doses; 0 dose at birth, three primary doses at 6,10 and 14 weeks and one booster dose at 16-24 months of age
Hepatitis B vaccine 4 doses; 0 dose within 24 hours of birth and three doses at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age
Measles 2 doses; first dose at 9-12 months and second dose at 16-24months of age
TT (Tetanus Toxoid) 2 doses at 10 years and 16 years of age
TT – for pregnant woman two doses or one dose if previously vaccinated within 3 Year
Pentavalent Vaccine is a combination of five vaccines in one: (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus (DPT), Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b). As per Universal Immunization Programme, Pentavalent Vaccine should be started for any child aged more than 6 weeks and can be given up to 1 year of age. Three doses of pentavalent vaccine are included in UIP.
‘Vulnerable employment in India’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Asia-Pacific region will add 23 million jobs between 2017-19, aided by employment growth in South Asian nations, including India, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). But a lot of the jobs being created are of poor quality despite strong economic growth and some 77% of workers in India will have vulnerable employment by 2019, according to the ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook report released on Tuesday.
In India the vulnerable employment level is higher than those of the world or the South Asia region. The report says that of the 535 million labour force in India in 2019, some 398.6 million will have poor quality jobs. The bigger concern in India is while the overall unemployment rate hovers between 3.4% to 3.5% between 2017-19, the unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group is much higher—increasing further from 10% in 2014 to 10.7% in 2019. In 2017, the unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group was 10.5%
What is vulnerable employment?
Vulnerable employment is defined as the sum of the employment status groups of own-account workers and contributing family workers. They are less likely to have formal work arrangements, and are therefore more likely to lack decent working conditions, adequate social security and ‘voice’ through effective representation by trade unions and similar organizations. Vulnerable employment is often characterized by inadequate earnings, low productivity and difficult conditions of work that undermine workers’ fundamental rights.
The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
The unique tripartite structure of the ILO gives an equal voice to workers, employers and governments to ensure that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labour standards and in shaping policies and programmes.
(GS3: Conservation of environment)
Issue: Today’s ‘Google Doodle’ marks the 45th anniversary of the forest conservation initiative called the Chipko Movement.
The goal of the Chipko Movement was to draw attention to and prevent deforestation, which had begun to occur on a mass scale to make way for dams or industry or roads. The movement began in 1973 in Uttar Pradesh, and was an initiative of Sunderlal Bahuguna, a renowned environmentalist.
About Chipko Movement
The Chipko movement or Chipko Andolan refers to a forest conservation movement. Chipko–type movements date back to 1731 AD when in Khejarli village of Rajasthan, 363 people (Bishnoi’s) risked their lives to save khejri trees. In modern India, it began in 1973 in Uttarakhand (then in Uttar Pradesh) and went on to become a rallying point for many future environmental movements all over the world. It created a precedent for starting of nonviolent protest in India, and its success meant that the world immediately took notice of this non-violent movement, which was to inspire in time many such eco-groups by helping to slow down the rapid deforestation, expose vested interests, increase ecological awareness, and demonstrate the viability of people power. Above all, it stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people.The chipko aandolan is a movement that practised methods of Satyagraha where both male and female activists from Uttarakhand played vital roles, including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi and Chandi Prasad Bhatt.
Today, beyond the eco-socialism hue, it is being seen increasingly as an eco-feminist movement. Although many of its leaders were men, women were not only its backbone, but also its mainstay, because they were the ones most affected by the rampant deforestation, which led to a lack of firewood and fodder as well as water for drinking and irrigation. Over the years they also became primary stakeholders in a majority of the afforestation work that happened under the Chipko movement. In 1987, the Chipko movement was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. (The Right Livelihood Award is an international award to “honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today)
‘Earth Hour 2018’
(Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: People across the world are doing their bit “by switching off” for the environment for an hour on the occasion of Earth Hour 2018.
About Earth Hour
Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet and nature.
From pushing for environmentally-friendly laws and policies to crowd-funding for a better future. Coordinated by WWF (World Wildlife Federation) and other volunteer organisations, Earth Hour’s greatest strength is the power of people.
As accelerating climate change and staggering biodiversity loss threaten our planet, Earth Hour 2018-2020 endeavors to spark never-before-had conversations on the loss of nature and the urgent need to protect it.
This year, Earth Hour is the launch of the GIVE UP movement. It’s time to give up wasteful behavior and consumption without thought. GIVING UP is about our power to change the world
Among the Indian landmarks that dimmed their light to raise awareness were India Gate in Delhi and Gateway of India in Mumbai.