6th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Geo-Intelligence Asia-2018’ (GS3: Indigenization of Technology)
Issue: The Eleventh edition of Geo-Intelligence Asia 2018 organized by Geo-Spatial Media and Communication with Directorate General of Information System as Knowledge Partners and Military Survey as Co-organizers, took place at New Delhi
About the summit
The theme of Seminar was ‘Geo-Spatial : A Force Multiplier for Defence and Industrial Security’. The seminar brought together the military, security officials including BSF and Police Forces, Government and industry together to examine the latest technology solutions and on the critical role of geospatial technology in military and security applications.
The Sessions during the seminar covered crucial subjects including Enhanced Situational Awareness for Combat, Smart Cantonments, GIS and Logistics, Cyber Security and LIDAR.
‘Bagasse’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: As World Environment Day 2018 celebrations kick off in India, Ministry of Railways PSU IRCTC launched its trial run of environment friendly bagasse based food packaging on 8 select Shatabdis and Rajdhanis originating from New Delhi.
Bagasse is sugarcane fiber waste left after juice extraction. Sugarcane is a tree-free renewable resource. Historically, bagasse waste has been burned in the fields, and thereby creating
pollution. Now, bagasse is used to manufacturer eco friendly food service products replacing traditional paper,
plastics and styrofoam products. Products manufactured from bagasse require less energy than plastics products.
Benefits of Bagasse
- Bagassse is a tree-free, renewable resource made from sugarcane fiber left after juice is extracted
- biodegradable and compostable
- Use it with hot and cold foods
- Microwave and refrigerator safe
- Sturdy and strong; can take hot food up to 200 degrees F
- Better alternative to traditional plastic, paper and styro-foam products
‘Methanol Economy’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy. NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.
What is Methanol?
- Methanol is a clean burning drop in fuel which can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel.
- Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel, that can be produced from a variety of feed stocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Bio-mass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2.
- The Concept of “Methanol Economy” is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries. 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol.
Benefits of using Methanol
- Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).
- The gaseous version of Methanol – DME can blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks. To adopt Methanol as a transport fuel, it requires minimal infrastructure modifications and capital both in vehicles and in terminal and distribution infrastructure.
- Methanol 15 % blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%. Urban Transport contributes to close to 40% towards urban air pollution
- India by adopting Methanol can have its own indigenous fuel at the cost of approximately Rs. 19 per litre at least 30% cheaper than any available fuel. Methanol fuel can result in great environmental benefits and can be the answer to the burning urban pollution issue.
‘GIAN’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN) course on Urban Analytics: Evaluating and Measuring Sustainability of Cities is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and actively supported by the NITI Aayog.
About the course
The objective of this course is to enlighten the participants with the knowledge and resources to understand and analyze the emerging trends of urbanization and its impacts. It will enable them to evaluate the conditions of sustainability in Indian cities.
‘Global Peace Index’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India has moved up four places to the 137th rank among 163 countries on the 2018 Global Peace Index, due to a reduction in the level of violent crime driven by increased law enforcement, according to a report by Sydney-based Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP).
Other observations made in the report
- Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008. New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark also sit in the top five most peaceful rankings. India was also among the countries with the biggest decreases in the number of deaths, along with Sri Lanka, Chad, Colombia, and Uganda.
- The report provides a comprehensive analysis on the state of world peace. It said that amid continuing social and political turmoil, the world continues to spend enormous resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace.
- The results of the 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI) show that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 per cent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations.
‘Infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs)’ (GS3: Indian economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday permitted non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to invest in infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), in a bid to promote infrastructure development through this investment route.
Aim of this move
In May 2017, the RBI allowed banks to invest in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and InvITs in order to attract more institutional investors to such assets and expand the investment scope of banks. The recent change in policy with regard to NBFCs is also expected to have a similar effect – increase the investor base for the InvIT product. The change in rules for banks was also done by the RBI at the behest of SEBI.
SEBI has been struggling to develop an active investor base for InvITs since the investment instrument was introduced in 2014. Here, infrastructure developers can set up and list trusts which hold infrastructure projects with public investors to recover a part of their investment. However, only two InvITs – IRB InvIT Fund and Indiagrid Trust – have got listed on stock exchanges so far. Despite a series of regulatory relaxations, the product has failed to find takers.
What are InvITs?
Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs) are mutual fund like institutions that enable investments into the infrastructure sector by pooling small sums of money from multitude of individual investors for directly investing in infrastructure so as to return a portion of the income (after deducting expenditures) to unit holders of InvITs, who pooled in the money.
Two types of InvITs have been allowed, one which is allowed to invest mainly in completed and revenue generating infrastructure projects and other which has the flexibility to invest in completed/under-construction projects. While the former has to undertake a public offer of its units, the latter has to opt for a private placement of its units. Both the structures are required to be listed.
InvITs are set up as a trust and registered with SEBI. An InvIT has 4 parties such as Trustee, Sponsor(s) and Investment Manager and Project Manager. .
‘Chalukyan sculpture’ (GS1: Indian Art, Architecture and Craft)
Issue: A rare sculpture of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati dating back to the 7th century was discovered at a Chalukyan temple in Satyavolu village of Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh. The red sandstone sculpture portrays Lord Siva as the therapeutic physician (Rudra Bhaishajana) — as described in Rigveda.
About Chalukyan Sculpture
Chalukya sculptures evolved completely different school of art and architecture in ancient India. The most abiding legacy of the Chalukya sculptures is its architecture and sculpture. Dating back to the 6th century, numerous buildings were built during their reign. Walking on the footsteps of the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple sculpture during the Chalukyan reign is sprinkled with Hindu deities. Primarily the Chalukya sculptures can be categorised into Badami Chalukya Sculpture, Western Chalukya (Kalyani) Sculpture and Vengi Sculpture. Out of these, the former two are renowned for their intrinsic works and finely carved motifs. These are considered one of the most important heritages of India.
Famous Chalukyan sculptures
Chalukyas, who ruled over upper Deccan, were very much interested in temple architecture. They built a number of rock-cut cave-temples and structural temples of brick dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The vital stone temples are the Vishnu temples at Badami and Aihole and the Virupaksha or Shiva Temple at Pattadakal in Bijapur District. The Vishnu temple at Badami was built by the Magalesa of the Chalukya Dynasty and encloses the Aihole message of Vikramaditya II, which gives a lot of information about the Chalukyas. The cave temples, particularly those at Badami includes fine sculptures of Vishnu reclining on Sesha Nag, Varaha the Boar, Narasimha or the half-lion and half-man and Vamana the dwarf. The temple towns of Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal still bear the near perfect shrines that are reminiscent of the brilliant artistry predominant during the Chalukyas.
Brief notes on Chalukyan rule
In the patronage of the Early Chalukya rulers, trialling in temple building planning, art and architecture started roughly in the 5th century in Aihole, Pattadakal and some other places. It was Pulakesin I who shifted his capital from Aihole to Vatapi (Badami). From the central of the 6th century and for almost 200 years, the Chalukyas of Badami held authority over northern Deccan. Around the same time, a group of cave temples at Badami were sculpted under the Chalukya leaders. The Chinese explorer Hiuen-tsang, who visited the Chalukyan Empire in 639 C.E., mentioned Pulakesin II as a defeater of the Deccan. Badami remained the Chalukya capital for approximately 200 years, from 540 C.E. to 757 C.E.
‘Fortified rice’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday announced that his Ministry was mulling over a proposal to distribute fortified rice through the public distribution system.
What is fortified rice?
Rice fortification is the practice of increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice and to improve the nutritional quality of the rice.
Need for rice fortification
Rice is the world’s most important staple food.
- An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.
- Historians have found evidence of rice being eaten in parts of china some 8,000 years ego and it even has the same word as “food” in Chinese. In Bangladesh, home of 160 million people, rice is the main stable food with a daily average consumption of 416 grams per capita.
- Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.
- Fortified rice contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.
- Many Micronutrients are removed due to multi-level milling process which can be restored through fortification.
|• Fortified rice is similar to normal rice in taste and color.
• The cooking process of fortified rice is similar to the normal rice. Fortified rice should not be cooked in excess water; water should be measured before adding to the rice, so that all of the water will be absorbed while cooking.
• Fortified rice should be stored in dry place and kept away from direct sun light like normal rice.
‘Nitrogen Assessment’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Nitrogen particles make up the largest fraction of PM2.5, the class of pollutants closely linked to cardiovascular and respiratory illness, says the first-ever quantitative assessment of nitrogen pollution in India.
Reasons observed for this phenomenon:
- While the burning of crop residue is said to be a key contributor to winter smog in many parts of North India, it contributes over 240 million kg of nitrogen oxides
- Though agriculture remains the largest contributor to nitrogen emissions, the non-agricultural emissions of nitrogen oxides and nitrous oxide are growing rapidly, with sewage and fossil-fuel burning — for power, transport and industry — leading the trend.
- Annual NOx emissions from coal, diesel and other fuel combustion sources are growing at 6.5% a year currently
- Agricultural soils contributed to over 70% of N2O emissions from India in 2010, followed by waste water (12%) and residential and commercial activities (6%).
- India is globally the biggest source of ammonia emission, nearly double that of NOx emissions.
What is Particulate matter?
PM stands for particulate matter (also called particle pollution): the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
Particle pollution includes:
- PM10 : inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller; and
- PM2.5 : fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.
Sources of PM
These particles come in many sizes and shapes and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals.
Some are emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.
Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles.
Harmful effects of PM
Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.
Fine particles (PM2.5) are the main cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the United States, including many of our treasured national parks and wilderness areas.