1st May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, today launched the GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources – DHAN scheme at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) Auditorium, Karnal in the presence of the Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal Khattar.
About the scheme
The scheme aims to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste. The scheme also aims at creating new rural livelihood opportunities and enhancing income for farmers and other rural people. The Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) comprises two main components for creating clean villages – creating open defecation free (ODF) villages and managing solid and liquid waste in villages. With over 3.5 lakh villages, 374 districts and 16 States/UTsof the country being declared ODF, the stage is set for ODF-plus activities, including measures to enhance solid and liquid waste management. The GOBAR-DHAN scheme, with its focus on keeping villages clean, increasing the income of rural households, and generation of energy from cattle waste, is an important element of this ODF-plus strategy. The scheme envisages the implementation of 700 bio-gas units in different states of the country in 2018-19.
‘GST revenue collection’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The total Gross GST revenue collected in the month of April 2018 is Rs.1,03,458 crore of which CGST is Rs18,652 crore, SGST is Rs.25,704 crore, IGST is Rs. 50,548 crore (including 21,246 crore collected on imports) and Cess is Rs.8554 crore (including Rs.702 crore collected on imports).
April was also the month for filing of Quarterly Return for Composition Dealers. Out of 19.31 lakh Composition Dealers, 11.47 lakh have filed their Quarterly Return (GSTR 4) which is 59.40% and have paid total tax of Rs.579 crores, which is included in the above figure of Rs.1.03 lakh crore of total GST collection.
Significance of this outcome
The buoyancy in the tax revenue of GST reflects the upswing in the economy and better compliance.
(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: May Day, Labour Day or Workers’ Day, the 1st day of the month of May is recognized as International Labour Day to celebrate the strength and dedication of the working class.
History of May Day celebrations
Basically a European Spring festival, 1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago.
Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.
For most countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers’ Day, which occurs on 1 May.
Labour Day in India is more popularly known as May-Day. It was first celebrated in Chennai on May 1, 1923. The initiative was taken by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. The leader of the party, Comrade Singaravelar arranged two meetings to celebrate this occasion.
One meeting was held at the [Triplicane] Beach, and the other took place at the beach opposite Madras High Court. On the meeting, Singaravelar passed a resolution which stated that the government should announce a national holiday on the May Day or Labour Day in India. He also emphasized the need for non-violence within a political party. This was the first time that a red flag was used in India.
‘World Asthma Day 2018’
(GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: On the eve of World Asthma Day (May 1), studies reveal one among every ten persons affected by asthma globally is an Indian, with the country having 20 million such patients and the number is on the rise
The study says while the number of asthmatic patients in India is quiet high, the attacks are not as frequent as in Australia and certain European countries where asthma has a higher rate due to certain genetic reasons.
Asthma is hereditary. The genetic factors interact with environmental factors such as pollution to trigger asthma. Also viral infections and obesity acts as a trigger for asthma among the teenagers
About World Asthma Day
World Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. The theme for 2018 it is ‘Allergy and Asthma’ – dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of asthma.
Asthma is a disease of the airways – which are the breathing tubes that carry air into our lungs. Sometimes it is harder for a person with asthma to breathe in and out, but at other times their breathing is normal.
It is important to understand that asthma is a long-term (chronic) disease. And although there is currently no cure, with the right knowledge and good management, most people with asthma can lead full and active lives.
Causes of Asthma
Asthma and allergies are closely linked. Asthma is more common in families with allergies or asthma, but not everyone with asthma has allergies.
Adults of any age can develop asthma, even if they did not have asthma as a child.
some people have asthma during childhood, but later have very few or no symptoms as adults
Indoor and outdoor pollution (including moulds, gases, chemicals, particles and cigarette smoke) can increase the risk of developing asthma.
Athletes can develop asthma after very intensive training over several years, especially while breathing air that is polluted, cold or dry
Symptoms of asthma
The most common symptoms of asthma are:
*wheezing – a continuous, high-pitched sound coming from the chest while breathing
*shortness of breath – a feeling of not being able to get enough air
*a feeling of tightness in the chest
*Coughing – alongside other symptoms.
Asthma causes three main changes to the airways inside the lungs, and all these can happen together:
* the thin layer of muscle within the wall of an airway can contract to make it tighter and narrower – reliever medicines work by relaxing these muscles in the airways
*the inside walls of the airways can become swollen, leaving less space inside – preventer medicines work by reducing the inflammation that causes the swelling
*Mucus can block the inside of the airways – preventer medicines also reduce mucus.
*Asthma symptoms can be triggered by different things for different people. Common triggers include colds and flu, allergies, and cigarette smoke.
(GS3: Digital Infrastructure)
Issue: Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body in the Department of Telecommunications, is likely to discuss key issues, including in-flight connectivity and net neutrality
Other issues being discussed include
1. The panel may also take up for examination the need for an ombudsman to address grievances of consumers
2. On the long-pending issue of net neutrality, the regulator in its recommendation in November last year had said that the service providers should be restricted from entering into any arrangement that has the effect of discriminatory treatment based on content, sender or receiver, protocols or user equipment.
3. In addition, a discussion is also likely on topics such as ease of doing business, machine to machine communication and regulatory framework for internet telephony
What is Net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle that governments should mandate Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet the same and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Pharmaceutical exports from India, a key component of the country’s foreign trade basket, are estimated to have grown to $17.25 billion in the financial year ended March 31 or almost 2.5% higher than the previous fiscal.
Significance of the growth
The growth assumes significance in the context of challenges under which it was achieved, from increased competition in the mainstay generics space, particularly in the U.S., pricing pressure as well as heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Though better compared with the previous fiscal year and having several several positives, the total export – AYUSH, bulk drugs, intermediates, formulations, biologicals, herbal products, surgicals and vaccines – is way short of the ambitious $50 billion target by 2020.
‘Olive Ridley Turtle’
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings were found buried alive after four days of persistent thundershowers in Odisha’s Gahirmatha Sanctuary compacted their sand-pit nests.
This year, over six lakh turtles nested at Gahirmatha, which hosts more numbers of Olive Ridleys than any mass nesting ground in India. A spell or two of rain around now is normal but continuous and heavy rainfall this year, especially every afternoon between April 24 and 29, has had a catastrophic impact on the Gahirmatha rookery.
Although the loss of hatchlings has not been quantified, the sight of half-hatched eggs and baby turtle carcasses stuck in the sand has left on-duty forest personnel devastated.
Issue: A fresh report backed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessed the extinction risk of 651 freshwater species like fish, molluscs, dragonflies, crabs and aquatic plants native to Africa’s largest lake.
What the report says?
1. In its report, the IUCN pointed out that freshwater species are important sources of food, medicine and construction material for the millions of people living in the area surrounding the lake. The lake, which stretches into Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and whose catchment also touches Burundi and Rwanda, is known for its high-level of unique biodiversity.
2. The report pointed for instance to the African Lungfish, a long eel-like fish, which it said has seen its numbers dwindle due largely to overfishing, poor fishing practices and environmental degradation as wetlands are converted to agricultural land.
3. Industrial and agricultural pollution, over-harvesting and land clearance are among the main threats to biodiversity in the region, the report said.
‘Antarctic Glacier Melting’
(GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Britain and the United States launched a $25 million project on April 30 to study the risks of a collapse of a giant glacier in Antarctica that is already shrinking and nudging up global sea levels.
About the research
The five-year research, involving 100 scientists, would be the two nations’ biggest joint scientific project in Antarctica since the 1940s. The scientists would study the Thwaites Glacier, which is roughly the size of Florida or Britain, in West Antarctica
Glaciers are also known as ‘rivers of ice’, as they are not stationary, but are moving constantly like a river; much slower, from a few millimeters to few meters a day.
The snow keeps on freezing and thawing (depending on the climate and temperature), and finally gets converted into ice, which further gets compacted and firm, when a new layer of snow falls over it and compresses it under pressure. As more snow gets converted into ice, the weight and size of the glacier keeps increasing. This helps the layers to start moving slowly. The upper portions of the glacier are usually not compressed to the levels of the lower layers, and are more brittle, forming deep cracks (crevasses) as they move.
Ice glaciers either break off into smaller icebergs and melt directly into the sea, or melt on land and form river that will empty into the sea. Hence, it is normal for their melting process to occur.
Sea water is evaporating constantly and is replaced by melting glacier water. A problem here occurs when the snow replenishing it is less than the melted water. This is exactly what is happening with most of the glaciers around the world today, gradually reducing their size, and at the same time, increasing the sea water levels.
Effects of melting of ice glaciers
1. Global Warming
Temperatures across the globe have gone upward, helping the cause of ice glaciers melting faster than required. In certain places across the world, small ice glaciers have vanished, exposing the Earth below. Ice glaciers are able to deflect almost 80% heat of the sun, absorbing approximately 20% heat. This figure gets reversed when sunlight falls on the planet; 80% is absorbed and only 20% is deflected back. This in turn helps in increasing global temperatures, and leads a rise in the sea water temperature. As the icebergs melt faster, the sea levels also rise, threatening the low lying regions.
2. Fresh-Water Shortage
Just over 2% of the total water amount on our planet is freshwater that is fit for human use; over 70% consists of the glacier ice and snow. Melted water gets renewed as ice on the glacier through a process known as precipitation. In many parts of the world, this is the ‘only’ source of freshwater supply throughout the year. An ever-increasing human population, and a rapidly decreasing glacier mass will lead to severe freshwater shortage in the near future (some places like those surrounding the Himalayas are already facing a crisis of such a shortage, especially in the dry months).
3. Reduced agricultural output
Agriculture that depends solely on rain will be mostly unaffected by the effects of ice glaciers melting. Such areas are very few, and do not contribute to the major chunk of farmland. Areas affected will be those that depend on water emanating from ice glaciers. During the dry seasons, there will be a shortage of fresh-water from ice glaciers, making the land dry and unsuitable for agriculture. Total agricultural output will reduce, leading to a shortage of food grains.
4. storage of electricity
There are many places across the planet that depend solely on the constant flow of water from melting glaciers for the production of electricity. Once this flow of water is reduced or stops, the production of electricity will also stop. Absolutely no nation can do without electricity, and this will force such places to adopt different sources to produce electricity; most of them will pollute our planet, and possibly even increase global warming.
5. Excessive flooding
In places where there are ice glaciers on higher altitudes, and they are all melting rapidly, it will lead to a sudden increase in water input to rivers, causing floods all along the river. This excess water could also lead to the formation of new lakes, which will keep on increasing in size. This is a serious cause of worry, since the water contained in these lakes could be tremendous, and the bursting of such lakes could cause a major catastrophe all around, destroying everything in its path.
6. Animal habitat loss
There are many organisms that depend solely on glaciers for survival. Certain animals need the temperatures of glaciers for their daily activities. Some bird species depend on the fish species that are found in fresh melting waters of a glacier. With an increase in sea water temperature and rising sea levels, the aquatic plant species will be affected firstly. This will reduce the number of fish species, which in turn will make survival of many bird species difficult.
7. Coral reefs
Corals require sunlight for photosynthesis to survive and thrive. As the sea level rises, enough sunlight will not reach these corals, deteriorating their quality, and even possibly killing them in time. Fish that depend on these corals for food will not survive. This will have an effect on the people who fish for survival in these areas.
8. Earth will get re-contaminated
Many today would never have heard of DDT and many such pesticides, which were banned worldwide years ago. Most of the pesticides got airborne, and were finally deposited in cool areas containing glaciers. A few years ago, these harmful chemicals remained trapped in these layers. Rapid melting of these glaciers is now releasing such chemicals back into the environment, in many lakes and rivers formed by such ‘rivers of ice’.
‘Renewable Energy Storage’
(GS3: Infrastructure related to Power)
Issue: The draft National Energy Storage Mission expects to kick-start grid-connected energy storage in India, set up a regulatory framework, and encourage indigenous manufacture of batteries
What are the targets of the draft policy?
1. The draft sets a “realistic target” of 15-20 gigawatt hours (GWh) of grid-connected storage within the next five years
2. The mission will focus on seven verticals: indigenous manufacturing; an assessment of technology and cost trends; a policy and regulatory framework; financing, business models and market creation; research and development; standards and testing; and grid-planning for energy storage.
Current situation of Renewable Energy in India
Renewable energy sources now make up almost one-fifth of India’s total installed power capacity. However, as power grids increase their share of solar and wind energy, the problem remains that the peak supply of renewable sources does not always meet peak demand
Batteries could help store surplus energy during peak generation times, but are more immediately needed to stabilize the grid when shifting between renewables and the base-load thermal capacity.
The Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) expects to issue tenders for grid-connected storage by the end of the year
Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) is a CPSU under the administrative control of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), set up on 20th Sept, 2011 to facilitate the implementation of JNNSM and achievement of targets set therein. It is the only CPSU dedicated to the solar energy sector. It was originally incorporated as a section-25 (not for-profit) company under the Companies Act, 1956.
However, through a Government of India decision, the company has recently been converted into a Section-3 company under the Companies Act, 2013. The mandate of the company has also been broadened to cover the entire renewable energy domain.
In the present outlook of the RE sector, especially solar energy, SECI has a major role to play in the sector’s development. The company is responsible for implementation of a number of schemes of MNRE, major ones being the VGF schemes for large-scale grid-connected projects under JNNSM, solar park scheme and grid-connected solar rooftop scheme, alongwith a host of other specialized schemes such as defence scheme, canal-top scheme, Indo-Pak border scheme etc. In addition, SECI has ventured into solar project development on turnkey basis for several PSUs. The company also has a power-trading license and is active in this domain through trading of solar power from projects set up under the schemes being implemented by it.
Objectives of SECI
The Main Objectives of the Company are:
1. To plan and execute an integrated programme on development and implementation of renewable energy projects
2. To own, manage, investigate, plan, promote, develop, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, modernization of power projects in solar, on-shore/off-shore wind, geo-thermal, tidal, bio-gas, bio-mass, small hydro and other renewable energy sources in India and abroad
3. To carry on business of generation, forecasting, purchasing, producing, manufacturing, importing, exporting, exchanging, selling and trading in power products and services in India and abroad
4. To plan, develop, maintain, lease, hire, manage solar parks, infrastructure facilities, and all related ancillary facilities & services in India and abroad
5. To carry on the business of planning, investigation, survey, research, design and preparation of preliminary feasibility and detailed project reports, related to Power Projects in India and abroad
6. To co-ordinate the activities of its subsidiaries and Joint Venture Companies, to determine their economic and financial objectives / targets and to review, control, guide and direct their performance with a view to secure an optimum utilization of all resources placed at their disposal
7. To assist, carry out such directions as may be issued by the Administrative Ministry from time to time in executing, evolving, managing, overseeing and coordinating programmes and projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and all such other Programmes or Missions as may from time to time to be implemented
8. To establish, provide, maintain, conduct, scientific and technical research, experiments, pilot projects and tests of all kinds and to process, improve, innovate and invent new products, technologies, directly or in collaboration with other agencies in India & abroad to achieve commercialization
9. To engage in the business of performance monitoring, data analysis, resource assessment, cost engineering, technology forecasting, training & capacity building, skill development, promotion & awareness campaigns etc. in India and abroad
10. To promote, organize, conduct and render consultancy services in the related activities of the Company in India and abroad