10th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘World Biofuel day (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said biofuels will help boost farm income, aid India’s energy security and create jobs, in a cleaner environment. Speaking at an event to mark the World Biofuel Day, Modi said the government’s focus was to make the village economy stronger.
The government aims to develop Rs1-trillion biofuel economy, with state-run oil marketing companies investing Rs 10,000 crore for setting up 12 second-generation bio refineries.
Actions taken to encourage biofuel in India include
The announcement comes in the backdrop of the Cabinet recently approving the national biofuels policy, which will help India’s efforts to reduce energy imports and carbon emissions. The policy also expanded the scope of raw materials for ethanol production to include sugarcane juice, sugar beet, sweet sorghum and starch containing materials such as corn, cassava, and damaged grains.
The biofuels policy, which aims to provide financial and fiscal incentives specific to a biofuel type, categorized biofuels as first generation (1G), second generation (2G) and third generation (3G) fuels. The first generation category of biofuels includes bio-ethanol and biodiesel. The second generation comprises ethanol and municipal solid waste. The third generation includes bio-compressed natural gas.
Significance of Ethanol
The country last year saved Rs 4000 crore in foreign exchange due to the blending of ethanol and petrol. The target was to increase this saving to Rs 12,000 crore in the next four years
This move assumes importance given that oil imports from India, the world’s third-largest, increased over 25% to $109 billion in 2017-18, against a year ago.
‘Rains in Kerala’ (GS3: Disaster Management)
Issue: Kerala remains on the edge as torrential rain continues to wreck havoc, rising death toll to 26
Multiple columns of Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and ten teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed across Kerala for relief and rescue operations.
The mid nineties and the subsequent decade saw much international debate & discussion around Disaster Response & Preparedness. Some of the notable and more impactful ones were the Yokohama Strategy Plan (1994) & the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005), adopted by the UN. During the same period India faced some of its most severe natural calamities like Orissa Super Cyclone (1999), Gujarat Earthquake (2001) and Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004). This succession of events and the International environment brought to fore, the need of comprehensive disaster management plan. This led to the enactment of the Disaster Management Act on December 26th , 2005. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was constituted to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.
The Disaster Management Act has statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters. Accordingly, in 2006 NDRF was constituted with 8 Battalions. At present, NDRF has strength of 12 Battalions.
The practice of “proactive availability” of this Force to the States and that of “pre-positioning”, in a threatening disaster situations have immensely helped minimize damage, caused due to natural calamities in the country
Today NDRF is a distinguished, unique Force across the country functioning under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, within the overall command, control and leadership of the Director General, NDRF.
At present, National Disaster Response Force consists of 12 battalions, three each from the BSF and CRPF and two each from CISF, ITBP and SSB. Each battalion have 18 self-contained specialist search and rescue teams of 45 personnel each including engineers, technicians, electricians, dog squads and medical/paramedics. The total strength of each battalion is 1,149. All the 12 battalions have been equipped and trained to respond natural as well as man-made disasters. Battalions are also trained and equipped for response during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.
‘Food Security’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Centre on Thursday approved a proposal to sell pulses at discounted rates to state governments, under the public distribution system (PDS) and the mid-day meal scheme for school children.
With the first-of-its-kind move, the government is expecting to clear the 3.5 million tonnes of stock procured during the past one year, and improve nutritional indicators for poor households.
Significance of this decision
Pulses play an important part in human nutrition as they provide high protein and fibre. Pulses are also a significant source of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium. Pulses should ideally be part of a healthy and balanced diet as they also prevent from major diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart ailments
Nearly every third child in India is undernourished: Underweight (35.7%), or stunted (38.4%), and 21% of children under-five years are wasted as per National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16. Also, protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is a major public health problem in India.
‘Quit India anniversary’ (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, hosted an ‘At Home’ reception for freedom fighters on the 76thanniversary of Quit India Day today (August 9, 2018) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
About Quit India Movement
The Quit India Movement, or the India August Movement, was a movement launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India
The Cripps Mission had failed, and on August 8th 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan. The All-India Congress Committee launched a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “An Orderly British Withdrawal” from India. Even though it was wartime, the British were prepared to act. Almost the entire leadership of the Indian National Congress was imprisoned without trial within hours of Gandhi’s speech. Most spent the rest of the war in prison and out of contact with the masses. The British had the support of the Viceroy’s Council (which had a majority of Indians), of the All India Muslim League, the princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army and the Indian Civil Service. Many Indian businessmen profiting from heavy wartime spending did not support the Quit India Movement. Many students paid more attention to Subhas Chandra Bose, who was in exile and supporting the Axis Powers. The only outside support came from the Americans, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressured Prime Minister Winston Churchill to give in to some of the Indian demands. The Quit India campaign was effectively crushed
Sporadic small-scale violence took place around the country and the British arrested tens of thousands of leaders, keeping them imprisoned until 1945. In terms of immediate objectives, Quit India failed because of heavy-handed suppression, weak co-ordination and the lack of a clear-cut programme of action. However, the British government realized that India was ungovernable in the long run due to the cost of World War II, and the question for postwar became how to exit gracefully and peacefully.
‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for continuation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) beyond 12th Five Year Plan period. It will help in connecting 38,412 habitations at an estimated cost of Rs. 84,934 crore (Central Share is 54,900 crore and State share is 30,034 crore). The fund sharing pattern will be same.
About the programme
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched on 25″ December, 2000 with the objective to provide All-Weather road connectivity to the eligible unconnected habitations in rural areas of Country. The programme envisages connecting all unconnected habitations with a population of 500 persons (as per 2001 Census) and above in plain areas. Also eligible are the unconnected habitations with 250 persons and above (Census 2001) in Special Category States’ namely North-East, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand, the Desert areas (as identified in Desert Development Programme) and 88 Selected Tribal and Backward districts as identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs/Planning Commission. For Most intensive Integrated Action Plan (IAP) blocks as identified by Ministry of Home Affairs, the unconnected habitations with population 100 and above (as per 2001 census) is eligible to be covered under PMGSY.
‘Project Swayam’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Ministry of HRD has embarked on a major and new initiative Project called ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM), which will provide one integrated platform and portal for online courses
About the project
This covers all higher education subjects and skill sector courses. The objective is to ensure that the every student in our country has access to the best quality higher education at the affordable cost. Academicians from hundreds of institutions throughout the country are involved in developing & delivering MOOCs through SWAYAM in almost all disciplines from senior schooling to Post Graduation wherein it is intended to develop world class content.
‘Unnat Bharat Programme 2.0’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Government has recently launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, which is the phase-2 of scheme. It covers 750 Higher Educational Institutes.
About the programme
Unnat Bharat Abhiyan aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with atleast (5) villages, so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors
Objective of the scheme are
- To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities;
- Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people; and
- To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth of various Government Programs.
‘National Energy Storage Mission (NESM)’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: In February 2018, an Expert Committee under the chairpersonship of Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, with representatives from relevant Ministries, industry associations, research institutions and experts was constituted by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy to propose draft for setting up National Energy Storage Mission (NESM) for India.
The recommendations of the expert committee
NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute’s joint report on India’s Energy Storage Mission has proposed three stage solution approaches i.e. creating an environment for battery manufacturing growth; scaling supply chain strategies; and scaling of battery cell manufacturing.’
Key areas for energy storage application include:
- integrating renewable energy with distribution and transmission grids;
- setting Rural micro grids with diversified loads or stand-alone systems; and
- Developing Storage component of electric mobility plans.
‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK)’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: The ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK)’ has been introduced, as announced by Minister of Finance in his Budget Speech 2017-18, for works relating to renewal, replacement, upgradation of critical safety assets.
About the fund
The Fund has a corpus of ₹ 1 lakh crore over a period of five years, having an assured annual outlay of ₹20,000 crore with ₹ 15,000 crore as contribution from Gross Budgetary Support and ₹5,000 crore from internal resources of the Railways. In 2017-18, out of the outlay of ₹ 20,000 crore, expenditure of ₹ 16091 crore has been incurred out of RRSK. In the current year also a provision of ₹ 20,000 crore has been made in Budget Estimate and ₹ 3256 crore have been spent till end of June, 2018.
The fund under ‘Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK)’ is being utilized to finance safety related works under plan-heads Track Renewals, Bridge Works, Signaling and Telecommunication Works, Road Safety Works of Level Crossings and Road Over/Under Bridges, Rolling Stock, Traffic Facilities, Electrical Works, Machinery and Plant, Workshops, Passenger Amenities and Training/HRD.
‘The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018’ (GS2: Union Legislature)
Issue: The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities (PoA)) Amendment Bill, 2018 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on 6th August 2018, has been passed by the Rajya Sabha
Details about the bill
Section 18A has been inserted to nullify conduct of a preliminary enquiry before registration of an FIR, or to seek approval of any authority prior to arrest of an accused, and to restore the provisions of Section 18 of the Act.
Section 18A, inserted in the Act, states that:-
(1) For the purpose of the PoA Act,-
(a) Preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person; or
(b) The investigating officer shall not require approval for arrest, if necessary, of any person, against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under the PoA Act has been made and no procedure other than provided under the PoA Act or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, shall apply.
(2) The provision of section 438 of the Code shall not apply to a case under the Act, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any Court.
‘Global Innovation Index (GII) 2018’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: NITI Aayog & Member Secretary of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister together launched the Global Innovation Index 2018 in New Delhi
The event was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – one of the founding partners of GII along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
About the index
The Global Innovation Index (GII) provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 126 countries which represent 90.8% of the world’s population and 96.3% of global GDP. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, and infrastructure and business sophistication. It is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO, an agency of the United Nations).
WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information and cooperation. We are a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 191 member states.
Every April 26, is celebrated as World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign celebrated the brilliance, ingenuity, curiosity and courage of the women who are driving change in our world and shaping our common future.