06 th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘IMPRINT-2’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: For advancing research in the high education institutions, the government has approved 122 new research projects at a cost of Rs 112 crore under IMPRINT-2 covering Energy, Security, Healthcare, Advanced Materials, ICT and Security/Defence domains.
About the scheme
IMPRINT is the first of its kind Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) supported Pan-IIT + IISc joint initiative, now open for private institutions too, to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance.
IMPRINT provides the overarching vision that guides research into areas that are predominantly socially relevant.
‘Bidder Information Management System (BIMS)’ (GS2: Transparency and E-governance)
Issue: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (M/o RT&H) has developed the Bidder Information Management System (BIMS)
Objective of this system
To streamline the process of pre-qualification of bidders for EPC Mode of contracts for all National Highway works with enhanced transparency and objectivity. BIMS would work as a data base comprising bidder wise information covering basic details, civil works experience, cash accruals and network, annual turnover etc. so that bidders’ pre-qualification is assessed based on evaluation parameters like threshold capacity and bid capacity from already stored data and technical evaluation can be carried out in a faster manner using this information.
BIMS would be used by all the project implementation agencies of the Ministry, for maintenance of technical information of civil works of contractors/ concessionaires, and for online technical evaluation of civil works bids.
Achievements of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways achieved the highest ever award of 51,073 km of National Highway projects and highest ever construction of 28,531 Km over a four year period from 2014-15 to 2017-18. Construction of National Highways has more than doubled from 12 km /day in 2014-15 to 27 km/day in 2017-18 and the total investments in the sector has increased by 2.5 times compared to 2014-15. This significant leap in the National Highways award and construction was achieved through multiple policy initiatives taken by the Ministry like the Hybrid Annuity Model, Toll Operate Transfer Model (TOT), increased threshold for project appraisal and approval, support for languishing projects, enhanced inter-ministerial coordination etc.
‘P V Sindhu’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The first woman to get a third Worlds crown, the Spaniard fantastically stayed the course to greatness. Taking the knockout punch this time was Sindhu, who lost 21-19, 21-10 for her second successive defeat in the World Championship final.
‘Desi Chips’ (GS3: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology)
Issue: These are the kind of chips that India always wanted, but could not make. Now, computer scientists and a student team from the IIT- Madras have developed the first of a family of six industry-standard microprocessors.
The initial batch of 300 chips named RISECREEK, produced under Project Shakti, has been fabricated free at Intel’s facility at Oregon, U.S., to run the Linux operating system.
Significance of this chip vis-à-vis other chips
The IIT team says its microprocessors can be adapted by others, as the design is open source. They optimize power use and compete with international units such as the Cortex A5 from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM).
At a frequency of 350 MHz, RISECREEK can meet the demands of defence and strategic equipment such as NAVIC (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite) and Internet of Things (IoT) electronics, its developers say.
The Shakti plan started in 2014 as an IIT-M initiative.
‘Hiroshima anniversary’ (GS1: World History)
Issue: Hiroshima marked the anniversary of the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing with a somber ceremony Monday to remember the people killed and injured and a call to eliminate nuclear weapons amid hopes of denuclearizing North Korea.
The U.S. attack on Hiroshima killed 140,000 people, and the bombing of Nagasaki killed more than 70,000 three days later, leading to Japan’s surrender and ending World War II.
About the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attack
During the final stage of World War II, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. The United States dropped the bombs after obtaining the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed at least 129,000 people, most of whom were civilians. They remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare.
In the final year of the war, the Allies prepared for what was anticipated to be a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign that destroyed 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945. As the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific War, the Japanese faced the same fate. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. The Japanese ignored the ultimatum and the war continued.
On August 6, one of its B-29s dropped a Little Boy uranium gun-type bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, a Fat Man plutonium implosion-type bomb was dropped by another B-29 on Nagasaki. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition, for many months afterward. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.
What was Quebec Agreement?
The Quebec Agreement was an agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States outlining the terms for the coordinated development of the science and engineering related to nuclear energy, and, specifically nuclear weapons. It was signed by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt on 19 August 1943, during World War II, at the Quadrant Conference in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
The Quebec Agreement stipulated that the US and UK would pool their resources to develop nuclear weapons, and that neither country would use them against the other, or against other countries without mutual consent, or pass information about them to other countries. It also gave the President of the United States a veto over post-war British commercial or industrial uses of nuclear energy. The agreement merged the British Tube Alloys project with the American Manhattan Project, and created the Combined Policy Committee to control the joint project. Although Canada was not a signatory, the Agreement provided for a Canadian representative on the Combined Policy Committee in view of Canada’s contribution.
‘Soil Conservation’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The creeping danger for agriculture may not be from the clouds above or the water levels in reservoirs, but from the slow death of the soil the farmer tills, according to a report
What the report says?
- In vast swathes of land in the Karnataka State, organic carbon has depleted to a point where the soil cannot sustain life without extensive human involvement.
- Erosion, a result of the changes in landscape and agrarian practices, is seeing millions of tonnes of soil being washed away from fertile lands.
- These disconcerting findings come from the culmination of a four-year research into the soil in drylands under the Sujala scheme, implemented by the State government with 14 agencies and with funding from the World Bank.
- While micro-nutrient deficiency is widespread — something that can be corrected with the use of the right fertilizer — there are other permanent indicators that have raised concern. For instance, take the critical nutrient of organic carbon that is an indicator of “life in the soil,” productivity and ability to trap nutrients. In over 88% of the land area, it is below the ideal level of 0.75%. More than half the land has carbon content below the ‘danger mark’ of 0.5%.
The combined effect of these problems is that a majority of the agricultural land is classified as Class III or below, which signifies a marked dip in productivity of land and farmers’ earnings. Combined with socio-economic factors, it isn’t a coincidence then that several studies are showing a dramatic increase in fallow land where agriculture is no longer practiced.
Note: Even though this is a state scheme, it holds significance since the scientific reports published on soil holds a nationwide significance. Such schemes and observations can be quoted in your mains exam paper wherever it found relevant
‘Man-Animal conflict as a disaster’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: In possibly the first-of-its-kind move, the Uttar Pradesh government has given its in-principle approval to bring man-animal conflict under listed disasters in State Disaster Response Fund to ensure better coordination and relief during such incidents.
Significance of the move
The move will enable faster relief, creating awareness, ensuring police support in areas when such conflicts are reported, and proper guidelines to handle situations when wild animals venture in human in-habitation.
According to data provided by World Wildlife Fund, 98 cases of human and big cats conflicts have been reported in the state in the last two years. Tiger attacks in Uttar Pradesh have alone claimed seven lives in last three years in Uttar Pradesh, according to the union environment ministry data.
The recognition of man-animal conflict as disaster under SDRF is a paradigm shift in handling such situations which will ensure better synergy among agencies and quicker relief to affected people
The Wildlife Protection Act does not have provision for compensation in case any human being or cattle is killed by a wild animal within a protected area or sanctuary. The government gives ex-gratia at fixed rates in such cases but that is a time-consuming process and may take a year to get relief, that too if inquiry clears such a payment
The forest department and other agencies like health, police, district administration work in silos when a situation of man animal conflict arises but bringing it under SDRF will ensure that all these agencies work in synergy under district magistrate in better and efficient manner
‘USA-China trade war’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: With the U.S. imposing an additional 25% duty on imports worth $34 billion from China, certain Indian products may become more competitive, the CII said.
What the CII said?
- An analysis by the industry chamber revealed that India should focus on the U.S. market for items in the categories of machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles and transport parts, chemicals, plastics and rubber products.
- India can focus on several goods for expanding its exports to the U.S. and China after the increase in duties by both countries on imports from each other. Top exports from India to the U.S. which are covered in the list of items for which the tariffs have been raised include pumps, parts of military aircraft, and parts for electro-diagnostic apparatus, passenger vehicles of 1500-3000 cc, valve bodies and parts of taps.
- Exports of these items stood at more than $50 million in 2017, according to CII, and can be increased with concerted efforts. Countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have increased their exports of these products to the U.S. in recent years
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) works to create and sustain an environment conducive to the development of India, partnering industry, Government, and civil society, through advisory and consultative processes.
CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization, playing a proactive role in India’s development process. Founded in 1895, India’s premier business association has around 9000 members, from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and MNCs, and an indirect membership of over 300,000 enterprises from around 265 national and regional sectoral industry bodies.
CII charts change by working closely with Government on policy issues, interfacing with thought leaders, and enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and business opportunities for industry through a range of specialized services and strategic global linkages. It also provides a platform for consensus-building and networking on key issues.
Extending its agenda beyond business, CII assists industry to identify and execute corporate citizenship programmes. Partnerships with civil society organizations carry forward corporate initiatives for integrated and inclusive development across diverse domains including affirmative action, healthcare, education, livelihood, diversity management, skill development, empowerment of women, and water, to name a few.
As a developmental institution working towards India’s overall growth with a special focus on India@75 in 2022, the CII theme for 2018-19, India RISE : Responsible. Inclusive. Sustainable. Entrepreneurial emphasizes Industry’s role in partnering Government to accelerate India’s growth and development. The focus will be on key enablers such as job creation; skill development; financing growth; promoting next gen manufacturing; sustainability; corporate social responsibility and governance and transparency.
‘Gaganjeet Bhullar’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar claimed his maiden European Tour title with a one-shot victory at the Fiji International golf tournament
‘Article 35A of Indian Constitution’ (GS2: Legislature)
Issue: The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on Article 35A to 27 August, in the wake of simmering protests in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra added that “it’s an issue to be decided by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court”. The Supreme Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the validity of the Article 35A on Monday.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India on 14 May 1954 in accordance with the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir