3rd April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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New plant species discovered in Western Ghats
Issue: Grass-like plant, discovered in Ponmudi, has been named Fimbristylis agasthyamalaensis
About the plant
Classified as sedge, the grass-like plant has been named Fimbristylis agasthyamalaensis, after the locality from which it was found. The researchers came across the species during an expedition to the marshy grasslands in the Ponmudi hills within the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.
The authors have recommended a preliminary conservation assessment of the plant as ‘critically endangered,’ according to IUCN criteria. The report says the species is highly prone to wild grazing.
About Western Ghats
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
The Western Ghats are internationally recognized as a region of immense global importance for the conservation of biological diversity, besides containing areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values. A chain of mountains running parallel to India’s western coast, approximately 30-50 km inland, the Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. These mountains cover an area of around 140,000 km² in a 1,600 km long stretch that is interrupted only by the 30 km Palghat Gap at around 11°N.
‘Micro-nutrient deficiency in India’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: A team of researchers from Austria, the U.S. and India have found that while nearly three-quarters of Indians consume less than the ideal number of calories a day, and more than half have protein deficiency, the deficiencies of micronutrients were more prevalent: nearly nine in 10 Indians are iron-deficient, 85% do not meet the required intake of vitamin A, and two-thirds have zinc deficiency.
What is micronutrient deficiency?
Micronutrient deficiency or dietary deficiency is not enough of one or more of the micronutrients required for optimal plant or animal health. In humans and other animals they include both vitamin deficiencies and mineral deficiencies, whereas in plants the term refers to deficiencies of essential trace minerals
Micronutrient deficiencies affect more than two billion people of all ages in both developing and industrialized countries. They are the cause of some diseases, exacerbate others and are recognized as having an important impact on worldwide health. Important micronutrients include iodine, iron, zinc, calcium, selenium, fluorine, and vitamins-A, B6, B12, B1, B2, B3, and C
Reasons for deficiency
Cost was clearly a concern as deficiencies were found to decrease as household incomes increased. Surprisingly though, urban households had increased deficiencies compared to their rural counterparts (apart from Vitamin A), which the researchers attribute to greater diversity of cereals in rural areas. Having identified 32 representational diets each for north, south, east and west India, the researchers found that the rice-based diets of south and east India make the people in these areas more vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies than people elsewhere.
The researchers found that while those above the poverty line can make up for this nutritional inadequacy without their food budgets being affected much, nearly 160 million people below the poverty line cannot without exceeding their food budgets.
What can be done to address this problem?
Studies suggest that the required micronutrients can be met by reducing the intake of rice (from 61% to around 40% of calorie share) and meat (expensive and with high greenhouse gas emissions) and replacing them with coarse cereals such as bajra and ragi, along with legumes, dark, leafy vegetables, and coconut. These dietary changes could also reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in India by up to 25%
‘Core Sector Growth’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Eight infrastructure sectors grew by 5.3% in February, mainly helped by a robust performance of refinery products, fertilizer and cement segments.
The eight infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity — grew by just 0.6% in February 2017. The core sectors expanded by 6.1% in January
What are Core sectors in India?
The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 % of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
2. Crude oil
3. Natural gas
4. Refinery products
‘Climate Risk and India’
(GS3: Climate Change)
Issue: India is among the countries which are at the greatest risk of food insecurity due to weather extremes caused by climate change, a global study suggests.
What does the study suggests?
The countries at the greatest vulnerability to food insecurity caused by a temperature spike of 2 degrees Celsius global are Oman, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Brazil
Climate change is expected to lead to more extremes of both heavy rainfall and drought, with different effects in different parts of the world
Wetter conditions are expected to have the biggest impact in south and east Asia, with the most extreme projections suggesting the flow of the river Ganga could more than double at 2 degrees Celsius global warming.
About India’s National Plan on Climate change
The Action Plan was released on 30th June 2008. It effectively pulls together a number of the government’s existing national plans on water, renewable energy, energy efficiency agriculture and others – bundled with additional ones – into a set of eight missions. The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change is in charge of the overall implementation of the plan. The plan document elaborates on a unique approach to reduce the stress of climate change and uses the poverty-growth linkage to make its point. Emphasizing the overriding priority of maintaining high economic growth rates to raise living standards, the plan “identifies measures that promote development objectives while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change effectively.” It says these national measures would be more successful with assistance from developed countries, and pledges that India’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions “will at no point exceed that of developed countries even as we pursue our development objectives.”
Plan in a Nutshell
The guiding principles of the plan are:
- Inclusive and sustainable development strategy to protect the poor
- Qualitative change in the method through which the national growth objectives will be achieved i.e. by enhancing ecological sustainability leading to further mitigation
- Cost effective strategies for end use demand side management
- Deployment of appropriate technologies for extensive and accelerated adaptation, and mitigation of green house gases
- Innovative market, regulatory and voluntary mechanisms to promote Sustainable Development
- Implementation through linkages with civil society, local governments and public-private partnerships
- International cooperation, transfer of technology and funding
The core of the implementation of the Action plan are constituted by the following eight missions, that will be responsible for achieving the broad goals of adaptation and mitigation, as applicable.
- National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes: Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments; a goal of increasing production of photo-voltaic to 1000 MW/year; and a goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation. Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research centre, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends: Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates; Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
- National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for: Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code; A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste; Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and Incentives for the use of public transportation.
- National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
- National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
- National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
- National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modeling, and increased international collaboration. It also encourages private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.
The NAPCC also describes other ongoing initiatives, including:
- Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and super critical technologies.
- Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
- Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.
Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits. Further, as on July 2015, around 27 States and 5 Union Territories have prepared State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) consistent with the objectives of NAPCC, focusing on the state specific issues relating to climate change and strategies to tackle them
‘Commonwealth games 2018’
(Facts that can be asked in prelims)
Issue: The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will get underway and understandably, hopes are high from India’s 225-member athletic contingent for the quadrennial games. Historically, it’s an event where Indian athletes across disciplines have always done well.
In the last three editions, the Indian contingent has amassed a total of 215 medals – 50 in 2006, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2014 – and thus it comes as no surprise that with a larger pool of athletes, many of whom are coming off very successful years, fans are expecting a string of podium finishes.
Badminton, shooting, boxing and weightlifting are some of the disciplines where a rich haul of medals is expected.
About Commonwealth games
The Commonwealth Games is an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and has taken place every four years since then (with the exception of 1942 and 1946, which were cancelled due to World War II). The most recent Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014. The Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games from 1930–1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954–1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970–1974.
The games are overseen by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), which also controls the sporting programme and selects the host cities. The games movement consists of international sports federations (IFs), Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs), and organising committees for each specific Commonwealth Games. There are several rituals and symbols, such as the Commonwealth Games flag and Queen’s Baton, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. Over 5,000 athletes compete at the Commonwealth Games in more than 15 different sports and more than 250 events. The first, second, and third-place finishers in each event receive Commonwealth Games medals: gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. Apart from many Olympic sports, the games also include some sports that are played predominantly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls and netball.
Although there are 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games, as a number of dependent territories compete under their own flags. The four Home Nations of the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—also send separate teams.
Nine nations have hosted the Commonwealth Games. 18 cities in seven countries have hosted the event. Australia has hosted four Commonwealth Games (1938, 1962, 1982, 2006) and will host for the fifth time in 2018. Canada has hosted four Commonwealth Games (1930, 1954, 1978, 1994). Two cities have hosted Commonwealth Games more than one time: Auckland (1950, 1990) and Edinburgh (1970, 1986).
Only six countries have attended every Commonwealth Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales. Australia has been the highest achieving team for twelve games, England for seven, and Canada for one
(GS1: Modern India History)
Issue: Google Doodle today paid a tribute to Indian freedom fighter and feminist social reformer Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay on her 115th birth anniversary.
About Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (3 April 1903 – 29 October 1988) was an Indian social reformer and freedom fighter. She is most remembered for her contribution to the Indian independence movement; for being the driving force behind the renaissance of Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and theatre in independent India; and for upliftment of the socio-economic standard of Indian women by pioneering the co-operative movement.
Several cultural institutions in India today exist because of her vision, including the National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, and the Crafts Council of India. She stressed the significant role which handicrafts and cooperative grassroot movements play in the social and economic upliftment of the Indian people. To this end she withstood great opposition both before and after independence from the power centres.
In 1974, she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.
(Facts that can be asked in prelims)
Issue: Former India cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and multiple world-champion cueist Pankaj Advani received the country’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Besides the duo, ace men’s singles shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, former Asian Games gold medallist tennis player Somdev Devvarman, 2017 World Weightlifting champion in the 48kg category, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, and India’s first Paralympic gold medallist, Murlikant Petkar were conferred the Padma Shri – fourth-highest civilian award
List of Padma award winners 2018
Ghulam Mustafa Khan
Philipose Mar Chrysostom
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Alexander Kadakin (Foreigner/Posthumous)
Ved Prakash Nanda (Overseas Citizen of India)
Abhay and Rani Bang
Damodar Ganesh Bapat
Prafulla Govinda Baruah
Mohan Swaroop Bhatia
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu
Pandit Shyamlal Chaturvedi
Jose Ma Joey Concepcion III (Foreigner)
Langpoklakpam Subadani Devi
Arup Kumar Dutta
Ramli Bin Ibrahim (Foreigner)
Anwar Jalalpuri (Posthumous)
Piyong Temjen Jamir
Pran Kishore Kaul
Bounlap Keokangna (Foreigner)
Tommy Koh (Foreigner)
Joyshree Goswami Mahanta
Narayan Das Maharaj
Hun Many (Foreigner)
Nouf Marwaai (Foreigner)
Krishna Bihari Mishra
Sisir Purushottam Mishra
Tomio Mizokami (Foreigner)
Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong (Foreigner)
Keshav Rao Musalgaonkar
Thant Myint – U (Foreigner)
I Nyoman Nuarta (Foreigner)
Malai Haji Abdullah Bin Malai Haji Othman (Foreigner)
Bhabani Charan Pattanaik
Habibullo Rajabov (Foreigner)
M R Rajagopal
Sampat Ramteke (Posthumous)
Chandra Sekhar Rath
S S Rathore
Sanduk Ruit (Foreigner)
Pankaj M Shah
Maharao Raghuveer Singh
Lentina Ao Thakkar
Vikram Chandra Thakur
Rudrapatnam Narayanaswamy Tharanathan – Rudrapatnam Narayanaswamy Thyagarajan
Nguyen Tien Thien
Bhagirath Prasad Tripathi
Manas Bihari Verma
Panatawane Gangadhar Vithobaji
Note: It is not important to remember all the names of Padma award winners, although one should remember details such as the mode of selection of Padma awards, the areas for which awards are announced.
About Padma Awards
Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, is announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
The award is given in three categories, namely,
- Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
- Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
- Padma Shri for distinguished service.
All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines. An illustrative list of the fields is as under:
- Art (includes Music, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Cinema, Theatre etc.)
- Social work (includes social service, charitable service, contribution in community projects etc.)
- Public Affairs (includes Law, Public Life, Politics etc.)
- Science & Engineering (includes Space Engineering, Nuclear Science, Information Technology, Research & Development in Science & its allied subjects etc.)
- Trade & Industry (includes Banking, Economic Activities, Management, Promotion of Tourism, Business etc.)
- Medicine (includes medical research, distinction/specialization in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Sidhha, Allopathy, Naturopathy etc.)
- Literature & Education (includes Journalism, Teaching, Book composing, Literature, Poetry, Promotion of education, Promotion of literacy, Education Reforms etc.)
- Civil Service (includes distinction/excellence in administration etc. by Government Servants)
- Sports (includes popular Sports, Athletics, Adventure, Mountaineering, promotion of sports, Yoga etc.)
- Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)
The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name
All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.