3rd May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh weather’
(GS3: Disaster management)
Issue: As many as 72 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Rajasthan as heavy rain and dust storm on Wednesday evening wreaked havoc in parts of the two states.
In Rajasthan, at least 27 persons died and more than a 100 were injured as strong winds and dust storms hit Alwar, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts, leaving a trail of destruction and uprooting hundreds of trees
Action taken till now
Relief and rescue teams have been pressed into service to clear debris and restore power supply. He said contingency funds have been released to the respective district administrations.
What is Dust storm?
A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Fine particles are transported by wind and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another.
Dry-lands around North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula are the main terrestrial sources of airborne dust. Also with some contributions from Iran, Pakistan and India into the Arabian Sea, and China’s significant storms deposit dust in the Pacific. It has been argued that recently, poor management of the Earth’s dry-lands, such as neglecting the fallow system, are increasing dust storms size and frequency from desert margins and changing both the local and global climate, and also impacting local economies.
The term sandstorm is used most often in the context of desert sandstorms, especially in the Sahara Desert, or places where sand is a more prevalent soil type than dirt or rock, when, in addition to fine particles obscuring visibility, a considerable amount of larger sand particles are blown closer to the surface. The term dust storm is more likely to be used when finer particles are blown long distances, especially when the dust storm affects urban areas
Issue: Astronomers have detected helium gas in the atmosphere of a planet that orbits a star far beyond our solar system for the first time.
An international team from the University of Exeter in the UK, discovered evidence of the inert gas on ‘super-Neptune’ Exoplanet WASP-107b, 200 light years from Earth and in the constellation of Virgo
Helium is the second most common element in the universe and it has long-since been predicted to be one of the most readily-detectable gases on giant Exoplanet.
What is an Exoplanet?
An Exoplanet or extra-solar planet is a planet outside our solar system that orbits a star.
(GS3: Environmental Pollution)
Issue: Underwater robots have found that a vast, oxygen-depleted “dead zone” in the Gulf of Oman is now the largest such area in the world. The seagliders found a zone with little to no oxygen covering almost 165,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Florida or Scotland. The Gulf of Oman covers 181,000 square kilometres and is actually a strait linking the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz.
What is a Dead zone?
Dead zones can occur naturally in deep water, but they’re increasing in size and number at the bottom of coastal waters across the globe, mostly due to the use of chemical fertilizers and wastewater.
The agricultural runoff feeds oxygen-greedy algae blooms. Algae can clog fish gills and certain species of the photosynthetic organisms release toxins. All types use up oxygen when they die and decay.
Earlier this year, scientists warned that ocean dead zones absent of oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950. They said the number of very low oxygen sites near coastlines have increased 10-fold.
‘150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’
(Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, chaired the first meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, at Rashtrapati Bhavan
About the committee
The Committee has a total of 125 members, including 116 from India and encompasses the President (as chair), the Vice-President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers, former Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers, senior MPs and political leaders from across party lines, and eminent Gandhians, social thinkers and activists representing a cross-section of Indian society and regional diversity.
(GS2: Welfare policies for vulnerable section of the population)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for extending the investment limit from Rs 7.5 lakhs to Rs 15 lakhs as well as extension of time limits for subscription from 4thMay 2018 to 31stMarch, 2020 under the Pradhan MantriVayaVandanYojana (PMVVY) as part of Government’s commitment for financial inclusion and social security.
About the scheme
The PMVVY is being implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions. The scheme provides an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly / quarterly / half yearly and annual basis. The differential return, i.e. the difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis.
Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Cadre review and formation of Group ‘A’ service of the technical cadre of Petroleum & Safety Organization (PESO) in the name of Indian Petroleum & Explosives Safety Service (IPESS).
The measure will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and it will also enhance career progression of its Group ‘A’ officers.
PESO is a subordinate office under Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP). The organization is serving the nation since 1898 as a nodal agency for regulating safety of substances such as explosives, compressed gases and petroleum. Over the years, the role and responsibilities of PESO have increased manifold and expanded into diverse fields. Today, the organization deals with wide range of subjects related to explosives, petroleum, compressed gases, pressure vessels, gas cylinders, cross-country pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Auto Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Auto LPG) etc. The increase in workload is manifested in the quantum jump in the number of licensed premises and other activities.
‘Pradhan MantriSwasthya Suraksha Yojana(PMSSY)’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: In a major boost to the expansion of healthcare infrastructure in the country, the Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of Pradhan MantriSwasthya Suraksha Yojana(PMSSY) beyond 12thFive Year Plan to 2019-20.
About the scheme
The PMSSY, a Central Sector Scheme, aims at correcting the imbalances in the availability of affordable tertiary healthcare facilities in different parts of the country in general, and augmenting facilities for quality medical education in the under-served States in particular.
The PMSSY was announced in 2003 with objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country. PMSSY has two components –
1. Setting up of AIIMS-like institutions; and
2. Up-gradation of existing State Government Medical College (GMCs).
‘World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)’
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given approval to accede to the Protocol under World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on tobacco control to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. It will be applicable to both smoking and chewing or smokeless tobacco (SLT) forms as negotiated and adopted under Article 15 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). India is a party to WHO FCTC.
About the protocol
The protocol lays down obligations of the parties. It spells out supply chain control measures that must be adopted by the parties viz. licensing of manufacture of tobacco products and machinery for manufacturing of tobacco products, due diligence to be kept by those engaged in production, tracking and tracing regime, record keeping, security; and measures to be taken by those engaged in e-commerce, manufacturing in free-trade zones and duty free sales.
The protocol lists out offences, enforcement measures such as seizures and disposal of seized products. It calls for international cooperation in information sharing, maintaining confidentiality, training, technical assistance and cooperation in scientific and technical and technological matters.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO. The objective of FCTC is to provide a framework for supply and demand reduction measures for tobacco control at the national, regional and global levels.
1. Elimination of illicit trade in tobacco products through strengthened regulation will help in strengthening comprehensive tobacco control, leading to reduction in tobacco use which in turn, will result in reduction in disease burden and mortality associated with tobacco use.
2. Accession to such treaty will provide actionable alternatives against such prevailing practices that are affecting public health at large. India
3. The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is a path breaking initiative in strengthening global action against tobacco and is also a new legal instrument in public health
Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)
(GS2: Welfare policies for vulnerable section of the population)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today has approved the proposal for renaming and restructuring of Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) as Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK).
Impact of this decision
1. The restructured programme would provide better socio economic infrastructure facilities to the minority communities particularly in the field of education, health & skill development as compared to the present situation, which would further lead to lessening of the gap between the national average and the minority communities with regard to backwardness parameters
2. The criteria for identification of Minority Concentration Towns and Clusters of Villages have been rationalized by lowering the population percentage criteria of Minority Communities
3. The Programme aims to address development deficits in the identified minority concentration areas. The identification of minority concentration areas has been done on the basis of presence of substantial population of notified Minority Communities based on Census, 2011.
About the programme
1. MsDP has been identified as one of the Core of the Core Schemes under National Development Agenda in the Report of the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, which was constituted by NITI Aayog. The programme was launched in the year 2008-09 in 90 identified Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) having at least 25% minority population and below national average with respect to one or both of the backwardness parameters with the objective of developing assets for socio-economic and basic amenities. The MCDs were identified on the basis of census 2001 data. The programme continued during 11th Five Year Plan.
2. The projects considered are additional class rooms, laboratories, school buildings, hostels, toilets, buildings for Polytechnics, ITIs, Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres / Sub-centres, Anganwadi Centres, Rural Housing etc.
“Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana”
(GS3: Indian agriculture)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Umbrella Scheme, “Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana” in agriculture sector beyond 12th Five Year Plan for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20
About the scheme
The Umbrella scheme comprises of 11 Schemes/Missions. These schemes look to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic and scientific manner to increase the income of farmers by enhancing production, productivity and The Schemes that are part of the Umbrella Schemes are :-
(i) Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH): It aims to promote holistic growth of horticulture sector; to enhance horticulture production, improve nutritional security and income support tofarm Households.
(ii) National Food Security Mission (NFSM), including National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP): It aims to increase production of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and commercial crops, through area expansion and productivity enhancement in a suitable manner in the identified districts of the country, restoring soil fertility and productivity at the individual farm level and enhancing farm level economy. It further aims to augment the availability of vegetable oils and to reduce the import of edible oils.
(iii) National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): It aims at promoting sustainable agriculture practices best suitable to the specific agro-ecology focusing on integrated farming, appropriate soil health management and synergizing resource conservation technology.
(iv) Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE): It aims to strengthen the ongoing extension mechanism of State Governments, local bodies etc., achieving food and nutritional security and socio-economic empowerment of farmers, to institutionalize programme planning and implementation mechanism, to forge effective linkages and synergy amongst various stake-holders, to support HRD interventions, to promote pervasive and innovative use of electronic / print media, inter-personal communication and ICT tools, etc.
(v) Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP): it aims to increase production of certified / quality seed, to increase SRR, to upgrade the quality of farm saved seeds, to strengthen the seed multiplication chain, to promote new technologies and methodologies in seed production, processing, testing etc., to strengthen and modernizing infrastructure for seed production, storage, certification and quality etc.
(vi) Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM): It aims to increase the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions where availability of farm power is low, to promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership, to create hubs for hi-tech and high value farm equipment, to create awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities, and to ensure performance testing and certification at designated testing centers located all over the country.
(vii) Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ): It aims to minimize loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from the ravages of insect pests, diseases, weeds, nematodes, rodents, etc. and to shield our agricultural bio-security from the incursions and spread of alien species, to facilitate exports of Indian agricultural commodities to global markets, and to promote good agricultural practices, particularly with respect to plant protection strategies and strategies.
(viii) Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics and Statistics (ISACES): It aims to undertake the agriculture census, study of the cost of cultivation of principal crops, to undertake research studies on agro-economic problems of the country, to fund conferences/workshops and seminars involving eminent economists, agricultural scientists, experts and to bring out papers to conduct short term studies, to improve agricultural statistics methodology and to create a hierarchical information system on crop condition and crop production from sowing to harvest.
(ix) Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC): It aims to provide financial assistance for improving the economic conditions of cooperatives, remove regional imbalances and to speed up – cooperative development in agricultural marketing, processing, storage, computerization and weaker section programmes; to help cotton growers fetch remunerative price for their produce through value addition besides ensuring supply of quality yarn at reasonable rates to the decentralized weavers.
(x) Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM): it aims to develop agricultural marketing infrastructure; to promote innovative and latest technologies and competitive alternatives in agriculture marketing infrastructure; to provide infrastructure facilities for grading, standardization and quality certification of agricultural produce; to establish a nationwide marketing information network; to integrate markets through a common online market platform to facilitate pan-India trade in agricultural commodities, etc.
(xi) National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A) it aims to bring farmer centricity & service orientation to the programmes; to enhance reach & impact of extension services; to improve access of farmers to information &services throughout crop-cycle; to build upon, enhance & integrate the existing ICT initiatives of Centre and States; and to enhance efficiency & effectiveness of programs through making available timely and relevant information to the farmers for increasing their agriculture productivity.
‘Pollution in Indian cities’
(GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Responding to the air pollution data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday, the government claimed that various measures have led to pollution levels actually falling in 2017.
At 143 microgrammes/cubic metre, Delhi’s PM (2.5) levels in 2016 — as reported by the WHO — made it the sixth most polluted city in the world. The government, citing Central Pollution Control Board data, said it was 134 microgrammes/cubic metre in 2016 and 125 microgrammes/cubic metre in 2017
‘Taj Mahal Discoloration’
(GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Experts say that the discolouration of the Taj Mahal — the ‘browning’, as observed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday — is due to a mix of weathering as well as industrial pollution but thorough studies are required before remedial measures are implemented.
Various environmental threats to Taj
1. Sulphur-dioxide emanating from the Mathura refinery
2. A study by Indian and US researchers argued that the key culprits responsible for the discoloration were: particulate matter; carbon from burning biomass and refuse; fossil fuels; and dust — possibly from agriculture and road traffic.
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Manufacturing sector activity improved marginally in April, driven by rise in new business orders amid favorable demand conditions, amid easing inflationary pressures
The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), rose from 51.0 in March to 51.6 in April, indicating faster improvement in the health of the country’s manufacturing economy than in the prior month.
The survey noted that business sentiment was at the strongest level since the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) in July 2017.