12th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Rail MADAD’ (GS3: E-Governance)
Issue: In line with digital initiatives, Indian Railways has for the first time completely digitized the Complaint management system.
About the app
An App to expedite & streamline passenger grievance redressal. RPGRAMS (Railway Passenger Grievance Redressal and Management System),which has been developed by Northern Railway (Delhi Division) and comprises many novel features including ‘Rail Madad’ – a mobile App to register complaints by passengers through mobile phone/web. It relays real time feedback to passengers on the status of redressal of their complaints- the passenger gets an instant ID through SMS on registration of complaint followed by a customized SMS communicating the action taken thereon by Railway. RPGRAMS integrates all the passenger complaints received from multiple modes (14 offline/online modes currently) on a single platform, analyzes them holistically and generates various types of management reports which enable the top management to continuously monitor the pace of grievance redressal as well as evaluate the performance of field units/ trains/ stations on various parameters viz cleanliness, catering, amenities etc.
‘Menu on Rails’ (GS3: E-Governance)
Issue: Minister of Railways & Coal launched a new App ‘Menu on Rails’, a Mobile Application developed by IRCTC for creating awareness to the Railway Passengers for the items served to them on their Rail Journey.
About the app
Mobile App wil help in creating awareness among Railway passengers about food items available and price. In case of pre booked foods like Shatabdi/ Rajdhani/ Duronto / Gatiman/ Tejas ets passengers will become aware about the food items and quantity to be served to them in case they have pre booked their foods.
‘Discovery of a new Star System’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have discovered two new planetary systems, one of which hosts three Earth-sized planets.
About the discovery
- Researchers from Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of Oviedo in Spain analysed the data collected by the K2 mission of NASA’s Kepler satellite
- It reveals the existence of two new planetary systems detected from the eclipses they produce in the stellar light of their respective stars. The first exoplanetary system is located in the star K2-239, characterised as a red dwarf type M3V
- It is located in the constellation of the Sextant at 50 parsecs from the Sun (at about 160 light years). It has a compact system of at least three rocky planets of similar size to the Earth (1.1, 1.0 and 1.1 Earth radii) that orbit the star every 5.2, 7.8 and 10.1 days, respectively. The other red dwarf star, called K2-240, has two super-Earth-like planets about twice the size of our planet.
- The atmospheric temperature of red dwarf stars around which these planets revolve is 3,450 and 3,800 Kelvin respectively, almost half the temperature of the sun. These researchers estimate that all planets discovered will have temperatures tens of degrees higher than those of Earth due to the strong radiation they receive in these close orbits to their stars.
‘Yemen crisis’ (GS2: International relations)
Issue: The United Nations mobilized on Tuesday to avert a “fierce, bloody battle” for a key port in Yemen that provides a lifeline for food, medicine and other vital supplies.
For the past two weeks, Yemen government troops backed by the coalition have been closing in on Hodeida, which they claim is being used by Huthi rebels to smuggle weapons.
The United Nations has warned that up to 250,000 people were at risk if the coalition moves ahead with an all-out offensive to take the Red Sea port.
Significance of the port
Yemen relies on imports for 90 % of its food, and 70 % of the imports transit through Hodeida
About Yemen Civil war
The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions, each claiming to constitute the Yemeni government, along with their supporters and allies. Houthi forces controlling the capital Sana’a and allied with forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have clashed with forces loyal to the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, based in Aden. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have also carried out attacks, with AQAP controlling swathes of territory in the hinterlands, and a long stretches of the coast
Geographical location of Yemen
Yemen officially known as the Republic of Yemen is an Arab sovereign state in Western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second-largest country in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 square kilometres (203,850 square miles). The coastline stretches for about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles). It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Guardafui Channel to the south, and the Arabian Sea and Oman to the east. Although Yemen’s constitutionally stated capital is the city of Sana’a, the city has been under Houthi rebel control since February 2015. Yemen’s territory includes more than 200 islands; the largest of these is Socotra.
Fig 1: Location of Yemen on Arabian Peninsula
‘India-BIMSTEC relations’ (GS2: Regional Groupings)
Issue: India will host the first military exercise of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) group focusing on counter-terrorism in September.
Aim of the exercise
The aim of the exercise is to promote strategic alignment among the member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration. It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand. Initially, the economic bloc was formed with four Member States with the acronym ‘BIST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation). With the admission of Nepal and Bhutan at the 6th Ministerial Meeting (February 2004, Thailand), the name of the grouping was changed to ‘Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation’ (BIMSTEC).
The regional group constitutes a bridge between South and South East Asia and represents a reinforcement of relations among these countries. BIMSTEC has also established a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members. The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion economies. In the last five years, BIMSTEC Member States have been able to sustain an average 6.5% economic growth trajectory despite global financial meltdown
The objective of building such an alliance was to harness shared and accelerated growth through mutual cooperation in different areas of common interests by mitigating the onslaught of globalization and by utilizing regional resources and geographical advantages. Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors—including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change—in 2008.
‘Singapore Summit’ (GS2: Policies of developed countries and its effect on India)
Issue: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump shook hands and smiled cautiously as they met at their historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday, in which the two men will look for ways to end a nuclear standoff on the Korean peninsula.
Significance of this summit vis-à-vis India
- A successful outcome of the Trump-Kim summit may benefit India as North Korea could become an emerging market for the country
- India has stepped up its focus on East Asia as well as ASEAN and any addition of an emerging market like North Korea will be most beneficial for the country’s expanding export-oriented industries
- Though India is not directly involved in the summit but there is obvious Indian stake in such international events that works along its philosophy for a peaceful world
‘Maternity scheme’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: After initial hiccups in implementing the maternity benefit programme Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), the government has finally made some headway and provided cash incentives to nearly 23.6 lakh beneficiaries out of an estimated 51.6 lakh a year.
About the scheme
- The scheme was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2017 and expected to be rolled out in September. However, until January 2018, the government programme had covered only 90,000 women — a mere 2% of the target.
- Under the scheme, pregnant women and lactating mothers are offered a cash incentive of ₹6,000 for the birth of their first child as partial compensation for wage loss, to reduce maternal mortality and malnutrition levels among children.
- While States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal have their own maternity benefit schemes and have been reluctant to implement the PMMVY, the senior official said they were bound to comply because the scheme was a by-product of the National Food Security Act.
- Ministry of Women and Child development is the implementing agency of this programme
Main objectives of the programme
- Providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentive s so that the woman can take adequate res t before and after delivery of the first living child.
- The cash incentive provided would lead to improved health seeking behavior amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW& LM).
‘River Bhavani’ (GS3: Disaster management)
Issue: The district administration has issued flood alert to people living along River Bhavani banks in Mettupalayam taluk.
Following information that the upper reaches of the River in Udhagamandalam had received heavy rain and that there would be discharge of water from the reservoir, the officials began issuing the alert since Sunday morning.
About River Bhavani
Bhavani is a major river in Kongu Nadu region of Tamil Nadu, India. It is the second longest river in Tamil Nadu and a major tributary of the Kaveri River.
Bhavani River originates from Nilgiri hills of the Western Ghats, enters the Silent Valley National Park in Kerala and flows back towards Tamil Nadu. The Bhavani is a 217-kilometre (135 mi) long perennial river fed mostly by the southwest monsoon and supplemented by the northeast monsoon. Its watershed drains an area of 0.62 million hectares (2,400 sq mi) spread over Tamil Nadu (87%), Kerala (9%) and Karnataka (4%). The main river courses majorly through Coimbatore district and Erode district in Tamil Nadu. About 90 per cent of the river’s water is used for agriculture irrigation.
‘Credit Enhancement Fund’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The government is set to unveil a Rs. 500-crore credit enhancement fund next month to facilitate infrastructure investments by insurance and pension funds
The fund was first announced in the Budget for fiscal year 2016-17.
About the fund
Dedicated funds to provide credit enhancement for infrastructure projects which will help in upgrading credit ratings of bonds issued by infrastructure companies and facilitate investment from investors like pension and insurance funds
The initial corpus of the fund, to be sponsored by IIFCL (India Infrastructure Finance Company), will be Rs. 500 crore, and it will operate as a non-banking finance company
‘Common Service Centers’ (GS2: Financial Inclusion)
Issue: The government will work to enable all 2.9 lakh common service centers (CSCs) in the country to operate as business correspondents of banks
Business correspondents are retail agents engaged by banks for providing services at locations other than a bank branch or an ATM.
About the programme
Permitted services include identification of borrowers, collection and preliminary processing of loan applications, collection of small value deposit, disbursal of small value credit, sale of micro insurance, MF products and pension products
Common Services Centre (CSC) programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), Government of India. CSCs are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
CSC e-Governance Services India Limited is a Special Purpose Vehicle (CSC SPV) incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, to monitor the implementation of the Common Services Centers Scheme. It provides a centralized collaborative framework for delivery of services to citizens through CSCs, besides ensuring systemic viability and sustainability of the scheme.
Digital India is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
- Digital infrastructure as Utility to Every Citizen
- Governance and services on demand
- Digital empowerment of citizens
The CSCs would provide high quality and cost-effective video, voice and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services. A highlight of the CSCs is that it will offer web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills. In addition to the universe of G2C services, a wide variety of content and services that are offered are:
- Agriculture Services (Agriculture, Horticulture, Sericulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Veterinary)
- Education & Training Services (School, College, Vocational Education, Employment, etc.)
- Health Services (Telemedicine, Health Check-ups, Medicines)
- Rural Banking & Insurance Services (Micro-credit, Loans, Insurance)
- Entertainment Services (Movies, Television)
- Utility Services (Bill Payments, Online bookings)
- Commercial Services (DTP, Printing, Internet Browsing, Village level BPO).
‘Ghost Particle’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Researchers in Germany have started collecting data with a 60 million euro ($71 million) machine designed to help determine the mass of the universe’s lightest particle (Neutrino)
Those are sometimes called “ghost particles” because they’re so difficult to detect.
About the project
Researchers say determining the mass of neutrinos is one of the most important open questions in particle physics and will help scientists better understand the history of the universe. Some 200 people from 20 institutions in seven countries are part of the project.
Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements and are elementary particles that lack an electric charge
Of all high-energy particles, only weakly interacting neutrinos can directly convey astronomical information from the edge of the universe – and from deep inside the most cataclysmic high-energy processes and as far as we know, there are three different types of neutrinos, each type relating to a charged particle as shown in the following table:
|Charged Partner||electron (e)||muon (µ)||tau (τ)|
Copiously produced in high-energy collisions, travelling essentially at the speed of light, and unaffected by magnetic fields, neutrinos meet the basic requirements for astronomy. Their unique advantage arises from a fundamental property: they are affected only by the weakest of nature’s forces (but for gravity) and are therefore essentially unabsorbed as they travel cosmological distances between their origin and us.
From what we know today, a majority of the neutrinos floating around were born around 15 billion years ago, soon after the birth of the universe. Since this time, the universe has continuously expanded and cooled, and neutrinos have just kept on going. Theoretically, there are now so many neutrinos that they constitute a cosmic background radiation whose temperature is 1.9 degree Kelvin (-271.2 degree Celsius). Other neutrinos are constantly being produced from nuclear power stations, particle accelerators, nuclear bombs, general atmospheric phenomenae, and during the births, collisions, and deaths of stars, particularly the explosions of supernovae.
Figure 2: Source of Neutrinos and experiments conducted by a few countries to detect neutrinos