12th April, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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International Energy Forum Ministerial Meeting
(GS3: Global groupings)
Issue: India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer after the US and China, will host the 16th International Energy Forum Ministerial (IEF—16), that will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
The ministerial comes in the backdrop of a supply cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia that has led to a rally in global oil price. This has resulted in the cost of Indian basket of crude, which averaged $47.56 a barrel in 2016-2017, touching $63.80 (average price) in March 2018. The Indian basket represents the average of Oman, Dubai and Brent crude.
1. The International Energy Forum, also known as IEF, is the world’s largest recurring gathering of energy ministers. Covering all six continents and accounting for around 90% of global supply and demand for oil and gas, the IEF is unique in that it comprises not only consuming and producing countries of the IEA and OPEC, but also Transit States and major players outside of their memberships, including Argentina, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa
2. The International Energy Forum (IEF) aims to foster greater mutual understanding and awareness of common energy interests among its members. Its 72 Member Countries are signatories to the IEF Charter, which outlines the framework of the global energy dialogue through this inter-governmental arrangement. Apart from them, 20 countries are also participating in this meeting as special invitees
3. As a major consumer, India is trying to leverage its position to seek reasonable rates. New Delhi is also reworking its import strategy by stepping up the share of short-term contracts whenever the market is favorable and exploring long-term supply deals at discounted prices as its new energy architecture evolves.
4. The 16th IEF International Energy Forum Ministerial will take place on 10-12 April in new Delhi under the theme “The Future of Global Energy Security: Transition, Technology, Trade and Investment”
(GS3: Indigenization of technology)
Issue: The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will visit Tamilnadu on April 12. He will inaugurate the 10th edition of Defence Expo, DefExpo-2018 in Chennai at Tiruvidanthal, in Kancheepuram district.
About the expo
The tag line of DefExpo this year is “‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub” to showcase India’s capability in export of defence systems and components. More than 670 exhibitors including over 150 international exhibitors will take part in the DefExpo. MSME sector will have a fair representation this time around 15%.
Indian participation include majors like Tata, L&T, Kalyani, Bharat Forge, Mahindra, MKU, DRDO, HAL, BEL, BDL, BEML, MDL, GRSE, GSL, HSL, MIDHANI, Ordnance Factories, and many others. Major international companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing (USA), Saab (Sweden), Airbus, Rafael (France), Rosonboron Exports, United Shipbuilding (Russia), BAE Systems (UK), Sibat (Israel), Wartsila (Finland), Rhode and Schwarz (Germany) are among many others participating at DefExpo 2018.
(GS1: Modern Indian History)
Issue: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has paid tributes to Mahatma Phule on his birth anniversary.
About Mahatma Phule
Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was an Indian social activist, a thinker, anti-caste social reformer and a writer from Maharashtra.
His work extended, to many fields including eradication of untouchability and the caste system, women’s emancipation and the reform of Hindu family life. On 24 September 1873, Phule, along with his followers, formed the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Seekers of Truth) to attain equal rights for people from lower castes. Phule is regarded as an important figure of the social reform movement in Maharashtra. He and his wife, Savitribai Phule, were pioneers of women’s education in India. He is most known for his efforts to educate women and lower caste people. The couple was among the first native Indians to open a school for girls in India in 1st January 1848. According to Dhananjay Keer, Phule was bestowed with the title of Mahatma on 11 May 1888 by another social reformer from Bombay, Vithalrao Krishnaji Vandekar.
‘Coal Bed Methane’
(GS1: Factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector in India)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today gave its approval for issuing a notification amending clause 3. Due to this amendment relaxation is granted under the Petroleum & Natural Gas Rules 1959 (PNG Rules, 1959), to Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries for not applying for grant of license/lease under the PNG Rules, 1959 for extraction of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) under their Coal Bearing Areas.
Impact of this decision
1. The decision is in line with the Government’s initiatives of ‘Ease of Doing Business’. It will expedite the exploration and exploitation of CBM, enhance the availability of natural gas and reduce the gap in demand and supply of natural gas.
2. The increased development activities for exploration and exploitation of CBM gas reserves in-and-around the block will generate economic activities which in turn has potential to create employment opportunities in CBM operations and in the industries.
About Coal bed methane
Coal-bed methane (CBM) is a form of natural gas that is trapped in the carbon structure of coal seams. That is, the methane is absorbed to the surface of the coal. It is an unconventional resource, as the methane contained in the coal does not migrate to other rock strata.
Its extraction involves drilling down vertically and then horizontally in the coal seam.
The gas is released in a controlled and safe manner by pumping out the water that occurs naturally in coal seams, or cleats’, to reduce the underground pressure on the coal.
This is the basic principle of CBM extraction: wells are drilled into the coal seams, and the water is removed to reduce the pressure on the coal so the gas can be collected. If dewatering stops, the coal seam and the well fill with water, which automatically prevents the gas from being released.
The entire process is reversible and any gas left in the wellbore is re-adsorbed by the coal, which makes CBM inherently safer than conventional gas reservoirs
Pradhan MantriAwaasYojana – Gramin
(GS2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: The performance of the rural housing scheme has shown upward swing, increased nearly four times in the last four years. This is despite the fact that it took a few months to complete the process of beneficiary registration, geo-tagging, account verification etc.
About the programme
PMAY-G aims at providing a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless householder and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated house, by 2022. The immediate the objective is to cover 1.00 crore household living in kutcha house/dilapidated house in three years from 2016-17 to 2018- 19.The minimum size of the house has been increased to 25 sq.mt (from20sq.mt) with a hygienic cooking space. The unit assistance has been increased from Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 1.20 lakh in plain and from Rs75,000 to Rs 1.30 lakh in hilly states, difficult areas and IAP district. The beneficiary is entitled to 90.95 person day of unskilled labour from MGNREGS. The assistance for construction of toilet shall be leveraged though convergence with SBM-G, MGNREGS or any other dedicated the source of funding. Convergence for piped drinking water, electricity connection, LPG gas connection etc. different Government programmers are also to be attempted.
The cost of unit assistance is to be shared between Central and State Government in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and the Himalayan States. From the annual budgetary grant for PMAY-G,90% of funds is to be released to States/UTs for the construction of new house under PMAY-G This would also include 4%allcation towards Administrative expenses .5%of the budgetary grant is to be retained at the central Level as reserve found for special Projects. The annual allocation to the states is to be based on the Annual Action Plan (AAP) approved by the Empowered Committee and the found to States /UTs is to be released in tow equal installments.
Once of the most important features of PMAY-G is the selection of beneficiary. To ensure that assistance is targeted at those who are genuinely deprived and that the selection is objective and verifiable, PMAY-G instead of selecting a the beneficiary from among the BPL households selects beneficiary using housing deprivation parameters in the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011 date which is to be verified by the Gram Sabhas.
‘Discovery of Magnetic field’
Issue: After a four-year-long study on the ‘Swarm Mission’ by the European Space Agency (ESA), a second magnetic field has reportedly been discovered.
Significance of this discovery
ESA found this with the help of a trio of satellites, which have been studying Earth’s magnetic field. These satellites show details of the steady swell of a magnetic field produced by the ocean’s tides. This discovery is believed to be a big help in building better models around global warming.
About Swarm spacecraft
Swarm is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission to study the Earth’s magnetic field. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength, direction and variations of the Earth’s magnetic field, complemented by precise navigation, accelerometer and electric field measurements, will provide data for modeling the geomagnetic field and its interaction with other physical aspects of the Earth system. The results offer a view of the inside of the Earth from space, enabling the composition and processes of the interior to be studied in detail and increase our knowledge of atmospheric processes and ocean circulation patterns that affect climate and weather.
‘Protection of Women rights’
(GS2: Constitutional Body)
Issue: Consent of a bride to marriage is an inherent part of the Hindu marital law, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday. With this, the court refused a plea to judicially declare that a Hindu marriage entered into without the bride’s voluntary consent or after playing fraud on her is invalid.
Reason for denying the petitioner his request
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the Hindu Marriage Act inherently held a forceful marriage or a fraudulent one held without the woman’s voluntary consent as invalid. The court said there was no need for a judicial declaration when the statute itself was amply clear.
‘Missile defence production’
(GS3: Indigenization of technology)
Issue: L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited (L&T MBDA) has responded to a request for information (RFI) from the Centre to make fifth generation anti-tank guided missiles, short range surface-to-air missiles and medium range anti-ship missile systems for India’s armed forces, the company said. L&T MBDA is a joint venture between engineering giant Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Europe’s MBDA which designs and produces missiles and missile systems.
Objective of this partnership
L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited (L&T MBDA) is leveraging its strong parentage to bring in world class guided weapon systems technology for the Indian armed forces under the ‘Make in India’ initiative with a clear objective of indigenously developing, manufacturing and supplying highly advanced missiles and missile systems
‘Joint venture to produce battle tank parts’
(GS3: Indigenization of technology)
Issue: The Kalyani Group and JSC Research and Production Corporation ‘Uralvagonzavod’ (UVZ) of Russia have decided to to form a strategic partnership for delivery of components for assembly, service and repair of 125-mm smoothbore gun to be used in repair and modernisation of T-72 and T-90 tanks.
About the partnership
1. UVZ, one of the largest scientific and industrial complexes in Russia and one of the world’s largest main battle tank manufacturers, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the $2.5 billion Kalyani Group to create a strategic partnership to explore the mutually beneficial opportunities
2. The other areas of collaboration include 100 mm ship mounted artillery gun, manufacture of certain parts of T-72 and T-90 battle tanks and joint participation in the proposed programme of the Indian Defence Ministry to hand over army base workshops to private companies under the concept of government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) model.
‘First offshore wind energy project in India’
(GS3: Infrastructure related to Energy)
Issue: In what will help boost its clean energy commitments, India has called for expression of interest (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project in the country that is being set up in Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat, according to a government statement.
Significance of the project
The development assumes significance, given the 1000 megawatt (MW) size of the project, with the government’s plan to set up at least 5 gigawatt (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2022. India plans to leverage scale to bring down the offshore energy tariffs by harnessing the enormous wind power potential along its 7,600km coastline.
India, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015. The country plans to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 60 GW is to come from wind power projects.
The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) an autonomous body under the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India
At global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs. With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers. Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players
Background of wind energy development in India
In September 2015, the Union cabinet had cleared the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy, which involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high-potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process.
About National Offshore Wind energy policy
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy released its first ever National Offshore Wind Energy Policy on 1st October 2015. India has already achieved significant success in the onshore wind power development with about 24 GW of wind energy capacity installed. The introduction of this policy, will replicate the success of onshore wind power development in the offshore wind power development.
Following are some of the key points of the policy:
- The offshore wind farms can be built in the following two maritime areas :
- Indian territorial waters, which generally extend up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from the baseline; and
- Exclusive Economic Zone, beyond the 12 nm limit and up to 200 nm, where India has right to construct structures such as wind farm installations.
- The MNRE will act as the “Nodal Ministry” for development of Offshore Wind Energy in India and will work for Development and Use of Maritime Space within the Exclusive Economic Zone.
- The National Institute of Wind Energy will act as the “Nodal Agency” for the development of offshore wind energy and will call for proposals under International Competitive Bidding (ICB).
‘Successful launch of IRNSS-1I’
(GS3: Achievements in the field of Space)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Thursday launched the IRNSS-1I navigation satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. This is the eighth such satellite to be a part of a constellation.
About the satellite
1. The 1,425-kg satellite made by Bengaluru-headquartered Alpha Design Technologies, in collaboration with Isro, is the second satellite to be actively built by the private industry.
2. Serving both military and civilian needs, the regional navigation satellite system, also called NavIC, will broadcast highly-accurate timing signals that a receiver can use to triangulate its location.
3. IRNSS-1I is expected to replace IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven navigation satellites that was rendered ineffective after its three rubidium atomic clocks failed. The seven satellites are part of the NavIC navigation satellite constellation.
‘RBI and Big Data analytics’
Issue: The RBI said it would be setting up a data sciences laboratory that would employ professionals with skills in computer science, data analytics, statistics, economics, econometrics and finance. The unit is expected to begin work in December
Significance of this move
1. Such a unit could help monetary policymakers get a better sense of how prices are moving in real time
2. A central bank that has inflation control as its primary task could then get an understanding of how prices are moving in real time—though the inflation forecast would continue to be the intermediate policy target.
3. A dynamic database of bank lending activity could help a regulator spot outlier activity that may lead to trouble later. This assumes that data across the banking sector is aggregated. Trends in retail lending can also be spotted by plugging into the databases of consumer credit rating agencies.
Other examples of big data being used by the government include:
1. First, it had used data from the goods and services tax network (GSTN) to analyse trends in interstate commerce.
2. Second, numbers from the Indian Railways ticketing system had been used to map out internal migration.
3. Third, the finance ministry had used satellite data to argue that India is perhaps more urbanized than the traditional sources of data tell us.
What is Big Data?
Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.
While the term “big data” is relatively new, the act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for eventual analysis is ages old. The concept gained momentum in the early 2000s when industry analyst Doug Laney articulated the now-mainstream definition of big data as the three Vs:
Volume: Organizations collect data from a variety of sources, including business transactions, social media and information from sensor or machine-to-machine data. In the past, storing it would’ve been a problem – but new technologies (such as Hadoop) have eased the burden.
Velocity: Data streams in at an unprecedented speed and must be dealt with in a timely manner. RFID tags, sensors and smart metering are driving the need to deal with torrents of data in near-real time.
Variety: Data comes in all types of formats – from structured, numeric data in traditional databases to unstructured text documents, email, video, audio, stock ticker data and financial transactions.
The importance of big data doesn’t revolve around how much data you have, but what you do with it. You can take data from any source and analyze it to find answers that enable 1) cost reductions, 2) time reductions, 3) new product development and optimized offerings, and 4) smart decision making. When you combine big data with high-powered analytics, you can accomplish business-related tasks such as:
*Determining root causes of failures, issues and defects in near-real time.
*Generating coupons at the point of sale based on the customer’s buying habits.
*Recalculating entire risk portfolios in minutes.
*Detecting fraudulent behavior before it affects your organization.
Limitations of big data
As valuable as this kind of big data can be, it also presents serious challenges. First is the logistical issue. Companies hoping to use big data will need to modify their entire approach as data flowing into the company becomes constant rather than periodic: this mandates major strategic changes for many businesses. Next, real-time big data demands the ability to conduct sophisticated analyses; companies who fail to do this correctly open themselves up to implementing entirely incorrect strategies organization-wide. Furthermore, many currently used data tools are not able to handle real-time analysis.
One of the biggest concerns many laypeople and politicians have about real-time analysis of big data is privacy. Civil liberties advocates have attacked the use of big data from license plate scanners and drones, for example. The idea is that authorities should not be able to circumvent constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
There is a flip side as well; given the growing criticism that machine-learning algorithms can reinforce human prejudices
‘Belt and Road Initiative’
(GS2: Effect of policies of developed and developing countries on India’s interests)
Issue: International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that China’s Belt and Road initiative is showing signs of progress but warned of potential debt risks for partner countries involved in joint projects.
President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled in 2013, aims at building a modern-day Silk Road connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. China has pledged $126 billion for the ambitious plan.
In his opening speech to the annual Boao Forum on Tuesday—Asia’s equivalent of Davos—Xi said Belt and Road pacts had been made over the last five years with more than 80 countries and international bodies.
What is debt trap?
A situation in which a debt is difficult or impossible to repay, typically because high interest payments prevent repayment of the principal