26th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) conducted its 35th Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) meeting of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – Urban
Achievement of PMAY (U)
PMAY (U) has approved more than 51 Lakhs dwelling units against the estimated demand of 1 crore. As the scheme is completing its 3rd year of implementation today, a significant milestone of more than 51 lakh houses approved has been achieved. This is a huge jump in comparison to old housing scheme where 12.4 Lakh houses were approved in around 9 years of its implementation.
In terms of coverage, the Mission is a paradigm shift in the history of housing schemes being implemented in the past. The Government of India is committed to provide “Housing for All” by the end of the Mission period-2022. A National Urban Housing Fund for Rs. 60,000 crores has been set up for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) in phases, for the rapid implementation of PMAY (U).
About PMAY (U)
The Mission will be implemented during 2015-2022 and will provide central assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for:
1. In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation
2.Credit linked subsidy scheme
3.Affordable Housing in Partnership
4. Subsidy for Beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement
Van Dhan Scheme (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Government proposes to set up 3000 Van Dhan Kendras involving 30,000 SHGs across the country under the Van Dhan Scheme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
About the mission
Van Dhan Mission is an initiative for targeting livelihood generation for tribals by harnessing non-timber forest produces, the true wealth of forest i.e. Van Dhan with an estimated value: Rs.2 Lakh Cr. per year. It shall promote and leverage the collective strength of tribals (through SHGs) to achieve scale. It also aims at build upon the traditional knowledge & skill sets of tribals by adding technology & IT for value addition. Further it is to set-up tribal community owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (the Kendra) in predominantly forested tribal districts.
‘Discovery of ordinary matter’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The last reservoir of ordinary matter that had so far evaded detection has been located in the space between galaxies existing as extremely hot filaments of oxygen gas
What is Baryons?
A baryon is a composite subatomic particle. It is made up of three quarks. The most stable baryons are protons and neutrons, so most building blocks of matter are baryons. Baryon comes from the Greek word βαρύς (barys) for heavy. At the time of their naming, most known elementary particles had lower masses than the baryons.
Quarks have many properties, including electric charge, mass, color charge, and spin. There are six types of quarks, known as flavors: up, down, strange, charm, top, and bottom quarks. Up and down quarks have the lowest masses of all quarks. Only up and down quarks are stable; all heavier quarks decay very quickly into these.
For every quark flavor, there is a corresponding type of antiparticle, known as an antiquark. So each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle, an antibaryon. Here, quarks are replaced by their corresponding antiquarks.
A composite particle made of quarks is called a hadron. Baryons belong to the hadron family of particles. Baryons (3 quarks) and mesons (2 quarks) as well as exotic conditions such as pentaquarks with 5 quarks, dibaryon with 6 quarks belong to the hydron family. For reasons of symmetry, particles of only 1 quark are not allowed.
‘Negative Emission Technologies’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius will require not only reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, but also active removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This conclusion from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has prompted heightened interest in “negative emissions technologies.”
One such technology is ‘Electrogeochemistry’
The process uses electricity from a renewable energy source for electrolysis of saline water to generate hydrogen and oxygen, coupled with reactions involving globally abundant minerals to produce a solution that strongly absorbs and retains carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Electrochemical process of hydrogen generation provides a more efficient and higher capacity way of generating energy with negative emissions
‘Global Environment Facility’ (GS2: Important International Institutions)
Issue: World leaders and officials from over 100 nations, including India, top heads of UN agencies and multilateral financial institutions, scientists and activists gathered in this Vietnamese city on Sunday for the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Assembly to tackle global climate change challenges.
The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided over $17.9 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $93.2 billion in co-financing for more than 4500 projects in 170 countries. Today, the GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental issues.
Over the past 27 years, the GEF has supported a range of notable achievements:
- PROTECTED AREAS: Investment in over 3,300 Protected Areas, covering more than 860 million hectares (ha), an area larger than the size of Brazil.
- SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE AND SEASCAPE: Biodiversity protection and planning for more than 350 million ha of productive landscapes and seascapes.
- SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT: Support for over 380 forest-related projects, with $2.1 billion in grants that leveraged an additional $9.5 billion.
- SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT: 103 million ha are under sustainable land management (SLM). These have benefited more than 50 million smallholders.
- GHG EMISSION REDUCTION: Support for 940 climate change mitigation projects expected to contribute 8.4 billion tonnes of direct and indirect GHG emission reductions over time.
- INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: Sustainable management of 43 transboundary river basins in 84 countries.
- SAFE DISPOSAL OF HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS: Phaseout of 29,000 tons of ODP (ozone depleting potential) and sound disposal of more than 200,000 tons of POPs legacy in developing countries.
- ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE: Vulnerability reduction for more than 11 million people in 130 countries.
Significance of this meeting vis-à-vis India
GEF supports the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme to undertake capacity-building in a wide range of areas in India, including climate change adaptation, sustainable land and ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation and rural livelihoods. India is among the largest recipients of climate change assistance
‘International Solar Alliance’ (GS2: Multilateral Institutions)
Issue: The International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to approach multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to specifically finance solar projects
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015. The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 121 countries have joined.
‘Vitamin D deficiency’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Indian women suffering from deficiency of vitamin D are susceptible to diabetes, according to a study
The study that involves 1,361 women from Delhi aged 20 to 60 years showed a significant association of low vitamin D levels with higher blood glucose values in women with pre-diabetes.
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; it can also be consumed in food or supplements.
Having enough vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth; it may also protect against a range of conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
Vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet. However, vitamin D can be synthesized by our body when sunlight hits our skin.
‘India-Seychelles ties’ (GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: At the end of a bilateral meeting with visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure, Mr. Modi announced several initiatives for the strategically located country that included the grant of a major Line of Credit (LoC) for purchase of defence hardware.
Highlights of the meeting
- India and Seychelles will ensure mutually beneficial steps regarding stalled plans for a military base at the island of Assumption
- A $100 million Line of Credit for Seychelles that it can use to buy military hardware from India for building its maritime capacity
- Both sides would intensify cooperation to carry out hydrographical studies of the maritime region and have declared exchange of necessary oceanic maps between two sides.
- India also gifted a Dornier aircraft to Seychelles
- India is ready to finance three civilian infrastructure projects in Seychelles under Special Grant.
About Assumption Islands
Assumption Island is a small island in the Outer Islands of Seychelles north of Madagascar, with a distance of 1,135 km (705 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. In 2018, Seychelles and India signed an agreement to build and operate a joint military facility on a portion of the island. The deal for an Indian military base in Seychelles was declared ‘dead’ by the Island’s opposition party. The plans for an Indian military base in Seychelles stirred up public protests by activists who believe that the islands must stay away from the brewing India-China regional conflict.
‘Boat Races’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The season of boat races in Kerala will begin with the Champakulam Moolam boat race on June 28
About Boat race
The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is one of the oldest vallam kali (snake boat race) (after the Aranmula Boat Race) in Kerala state of south India. The race is held on the River Pamba on Moolam day (according to the Malayalam Era M.E) of the Malayalam month Midhunam, the day of the installation of the deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple
‘National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF)’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) is looking to unveil a $2-billion long-term fund to finance mega projects. The new fund has already been registered.
The NIIF already has two operational funds— the NIIF master fund that invests directly into companies and a fund of funds that invests in funds that are managed by third parties.
National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country.
This is different from the National Investment Fund.
NIIF was proposed to be set up as a Trust, to raise debt to invest in the equity of infrastructure finance companies such as Indian Rail Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Housing Bank (NHB). The idea is that these infrastructure finance companies can then leverage this extra equity, manifold. In that sense, NIIF is a banker of the banker of the banker.
NIIF is envisaged as a fund of funds with the ability to make direct investments as required. As a fund of fund it may invest in other SEBI registered funds.
The objective of NIIF would be to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects. It could also consider other nationally important projects, for example, in manufacturing, if commercially viable.
Functions of NIIF
The functions of NIIF are as follows:
- Fund raising through suitable instruments including off-shore credit enhanced bonds, and attracting anchor investors to participate as partners in NIIF;
- Servicing of the investors of NIIF.
- Considering and approving candidate companies/institutions/ projects (including state entities) for investments and periodic monitoring of investments.
- Investing in the corpus created by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) for investing in private equity.
- Preparing a shelf of infrastructure projects and providing advisory services.
- Provides equity / quasi-equity support to those Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs)/Financial Institutions (FIs) that are engaged mainly in infrastructure financing. These institutions will be able to leverage this equity support and provide debt to the projects selected.
- Invest in funds engaged mainly in infrastructure sectors and managed by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) for equity / quasi-equity funding of listed / unlisted companies.
- Provides Equity/ quasi-equity support / debt to projects, to commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects.
‘Discovery of Hydrocarbons’ (GS1: Distribution of Key Natural Resources)
Issue: Oil India Limited (OIL), one of India’s largest public sector oil exploration and production companies, has made its second hydrocarbon discovery in the onland KG Basin
About KG basin
Krishna Godavari Basin is a peri-cratonic passive margin basin in India. It is spread across more than 50,000 square kilometres in the Krishna River and Godavari River basins in Andhra Pradesh. The site is known for the D-6 block where Reliance Industriesg discovered the biggest natural gas reserves in India in 2003
‘Toxic air’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Besides affecting human health, air pollution is also causing malnutrition in trees by harming a fungi that is important for providing mineral nutrients to tree roots
About the discovery
Mycorrhizal fungi are hosted by the trees in their roots to receive nutrients from the soil. These fungi provide essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from soil in exchange for carbon from the tree.
This plant-fungal symbiotic relationship is crucial for the health of the tree. However, high levels of the nutrition elements like nitrogen and phosphorus in the mycorrhizae changes them to act as pollutants rather than nutrients
The signs of malnutrition can be seen in the form of discolored leaves and excessive falling of leaves.
‘Great Red Spot’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – the most ambitious and complex space observatory ever built – will be used to study Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, shedding new light on the enigmatic storm that has been raging on the planet for over 350 years.
About Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
The massive storm — larger than Earth itself — was first spotted in 1830, and observations from the 1600s also revealed a giant spot on Jupiter’s surface that may have been the same storm system. This suggests Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) has been raging for centuries.
The spot’s iconic colour, which is often attributed to the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation interacting with nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus-bearing chemicals that are lifted from Jupiter’s deeper atmosphere by powerful atmospheric currents within the storm
‘Gauhar Jaan’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Google doodle features legendary musician and dancer Gauhar Jaan, the first Indian to record music on a 78 rpm record, thus opening up a new avenue for Indian classical music.
About Gauhar Jaan
She started singing songs penned by Rabindranath Tagore much before it came to be known as ‘Rabindra Sangeet.’
Her maiden music concert was when she was as young as 17 years. Gauhar began giving dance performances too after a few years. She went on to perform in many parts of India, including Mysuru, Chennai, Dharbanga, and Allahabad. Gauhar used her travels as an opportunity to learn regional art forms. She could sing in as many as 20 languages.