24th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘5G communications’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: A high-powered committee on India’s 5G road map said the advent of next-generation wireless services may unleash USD 1 trillion economic opportunity for the country, and suggested that the government announce spectrum allocation and related policy by the year end.
The committee chaired by AJ Paulraj, Professor, Stanford University, has identified and recommended specific bands for 5G spectrum allocation but cautioned that India needs to “correct” certain anomalies related to high cost of spectrum and that the quantum of spectrum allocation itself “needs a big fillip”.
Other recommendations made by the committee
- the panel has recommended phase-wise allocation of 5G spectrum including 405 Mhz (readily-available) and additional 137 Mhz (involving further studies) of sub 4 GHz radiowaves, and 5.25 GHz along with 8.3 GHz of sub 45 GHz category
- For WiFi, it has favored opening additional bands of unlicensed spectrum in the 5 GHz band for outdoor use.
- The cost of spectrum, relative to per capita GDP, is much higher than most countries. Both these factors drive up infrastructure costs.
- The report noted that India will make large investments (estimated at USD 100 billion) over next 5-7 years to create nationwide 5G infrastructure.
- The steering committee has also mooted constitution of panel with a five-year term that can advise on building spectrum technology infrastructure for India.
- It has also batted for creation of a 5G implementation and oversight committee with the participation from Government, academia, industry
- On the regulatory side, it has suggested appointment of an expert committee for business enablement, security and privacy for smart infrastructure
- 5G road map pursued by India should not only move the country forward but also result in progress of weaker sections of society.
‘USA-China trade war’ (GS2: Effect of policies of developed countries on India’s interests)
Issue: The U.S. slapped steep tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on Thursday, triggering a swift tit-for-tat retaliation from Beijing
The escalation came as the world’s two largest economies hold their first formal discussions since June on the spiraling trade war.
Why is USA slapping tariffs on China and every other country?
Mr. Trump has pushed aggressive trade actions to lower the U.S. trade deficit. But U.S. trading partners have retaliated aggressively, which is hurting American farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
‘Australian Prime minister’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Treasurer Scott Morrison will be Australia’s new Prime Minister
The Liberal party is the senior partner in the ruling conservative coalition that will face an election by May 2019. The Liberal-National government has consistently trailed the opposition Labor party in opinion polls.
‘Hurricane Lane’ (GS1: Geophysical phenomenon)
Issue: Hawaii residents scrambled for water and ramen noodles in stores on Wednesday as Hurricane Lane bore down on the U.S. islands and authorities urged people to prepare for “life threatening” floods and landslides.
Though the hurricane weakened slightly as it spun across the Pacific Ocean, it remained a powerful Category 4 storm, the second-strongest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of wind intensity
What is a Hurricane?
A hurricane is a large rotating storm with high speed winds that forms over warm waters in tropical areas. Hurricanes have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour and an area of low air pressure in the center called the eye.
The scientific name for a hurricane is a tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclones go by different names in different places. In North America and the Caribbean they are called “hurricanes”, in the Indian Ocean they are called “cyclones”, and in Southeast Asia they are called “typhoons.”
How do Hurricanes occur?
Hurricanes form over the warm ocean water of the tropics. When warm moist air over the water rises, it is replaced by cooler air. The cooler air will then warm and start to rise. This cycle causes huge storm clouds to form. These storm clouds will begin to rotate with the spin of the Earth forming an organized system. If there is enough warm water, the cycle will continue and the storm clouds and wind speeds will grow causing a hurricane to form. Hurricanes rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. This is due to the rotation of the Earth called the Coriolis effects
Parts of a hurricane
- Eye – At the center of the hurricane is the eye. The eye is an area of very low air pressure. There are generally no clouds in the eye and the wind is calm.
- Eye wall – Around the outside of the eye is a wall made up of very heavy clouds. This is the most dangerous part of the hurricane and where the highest speed winds are. The winds at the eye wall can reach speeds of 155 miles per hour.
- Rainbands – Hurricanes have large spirally bands of rain called rainbands. These bands can drop huge amounts of rainfall causing flooding when the hurricane hits land.
- Diameter – Hurricanes can become huge storms. The diameter of the hurricane is measured from one side to the other. Hurricanes can span a diameter of over 600 miles.
- Height – The storm clouds that power hurricanes can become very tall. A powerful hurricane can reach nine miles into the atmosphere.
‘India-China ties’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Nearly a year after the disengagement at Doklam, India and China have agreed to work towards full implementation of ongoing confidence building measures along the disputed border, besides drafting a new bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence exchanges and cooperation between the two countries
Major breakthroughs in the talks include:
- The two sides agreed that Doklam-like incidents should be handled with sensitivity, and handled with restraint, rationality and maturity.
- Both sides referred to the strategic communications issued to the two militaries following the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in April.
- It was decided to expand the engagement between the armed forces relating to training, joint exercises and other professional interactions. Both sides also decided to work towards a new bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence exchanges and cooperation to replace the MoU signed in 2006
- In order to ensure peace and tranquillity on the border, both ministers agreed on greater interactions at the working level, including operationalisation of the hotline between the relevant departments of the armed forces
‘Laser satellite’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Nasa is launching a laser-armed satellite next month that will measure — in unprecedented detail — changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice to understand what is causing ice sheets to melt fast.
Need for such a satellite
In recent years, contributions of melt from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica alone have raised global sea level by more than a millimeter a year, accounting for approximately one-third of observed sea level rise, and the rate is increasing.
About the mission
ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.
ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.
Beyond the poles, ICESat-2 will also measure the height of ocean and land surfaces, including forests.
‘Affordable Housing’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: PM Modi stated the commitment of his government to provide a house to every family by 2022, while dedicating over one lakh houses built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) in Gujarat’s Valsad district.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) is an initiative by Government of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022
It has two components: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G and also PMAY-R) for the rural poor. This scheme is converged with other schemes to ensure houses have a toilet, Saubhagya Yojana electricity connection, Ujjwala Yojana LPG gas connection, access to drinking water and Jan Dhan banking facilities, etc
The features of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana are that the government will provide an interest subsidy of 6.5% on housing loans availed by the beneficiaries for a period of 20 years under credit link subsidy scheme (CLSS) from the start of a loan. the houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana would be constructed through a technology that is eco-friendly, while allotting ground floors in any housing scheme under PMAY, preference will be given to differently abled and older persons.
‘GDP growth’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Indian economy is expected to grow by around 7.5 per cent in 2018 and 2019 as it is largely resilient to external pressures like those from higher oil prices
Moody’s said the run-up in energy prices over the last few months will raise headline inflation temporarily but the growth story remains intact as it is supported by strong urban and rural demand and improved industrial activity.
Other observations made by the Moody’s
- Moody’s put G-20 growth at 3.3 per cent in 2018 and 3.1 per cent in 2019. The advanced economies will grow 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 2 per cent in 2019, while G-20 emerging markets will remain the growth drivers at 5.1 per cent in both 2018 and 2019.
- While robust activity is shown in the industrial sector, a normal monsoon together with the increase in the minimum support prices for Kharif crops in India should support rural demand.
- Thus, despite external headwinds from higher oil prices and tightening financing conditions, growth prospects for the remainder of the year remain in line with the economy’s potential
‘Himalayan ecosystem’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, NITI Aayog had set up 5 Working Groups (WGs) in June 2017 to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas.
The themes include: Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security, Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region, Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation, Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in Himalayas and Data/Information for Informed Decision Making.
What the report says?
- The reports list challenges in all 5 thematic areas. Nearly 30% of springs crucial to water security of people are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge
- Himalayan Tourism growing annually at 6.8% has created huge challenge related to solid waste, water, traffic, loss of bio-cultural diversity etc.
- With the projected arrival of tourists in IHR States to more than double by 2025, urgent actions will be needed to address critical issues of waste management and water crisis in addition to other environmental and social issues.
- In the north eastern States, thousands of the households continue to practice slash and burn (shifting cultivation) that need to be addressed in view of ecological, food and nutritional security.
- Predominantly unskilled workforce remains a challenge for the mountains as well that need high priority to address migration of youths.
- Also challenges related to data availability, data authenticity, compatibility, data quality, validation, user charges for Himalayan States need addressal for informed decision making at different levels of governance.
The report calls for actions include setting up of a Himalayan Authority for coordinated and holistic development of entire Himalayan region and launching of “Himalaya Calling”: An Awareness to Action Campaign as people’s movement. The call for actions also includes suggestions for setting up of Mission on Spring Water Management in Himalayas, National Mission/Program on Transforming Shifting Cultivation in North Eastern States, demand driven network of skill and entrepreneurship development Centers in Himalayan States, consortium of institutions of high learning for mountain specific research and technology
‘National Nutrition month’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India organized an orientation workshop for various stakeholders participating in the Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) being celebrated in the month of September.
Motive behind national nutrition month
- Celebrating the Poshan Maah in the form of a drive will give an early thrust to the Poshan Abhiyan
- There can be a complete turnaround in the area of malnutrition if the Poshan Mission is taken up on warfooting as was the case in the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme.
The Workshop focused on sensitizing the line Ministries, States/UTs and District level functionaries and partners on various aspects of Rashtriya Poshan Maah (National Nutrition Month) being celebrated during the month of September across the Country as part of Jan Andolan under POSHAN Abhiyaan.
‘Trade war’ (GS2: Policies of developed countries and its effect on India’s interests)
Issue: Raghuram Rajan, who warned of a financial crisis in 2005 before it hit, is now cautioning that trade wars when combined with a build-up in leverage and high asset prices could result in a toxic mix that would be a drag on global growth.
While global growth has been strong in recent years, the concern is how long it can continue and whether elevated asset prices are justified on the basis of it.
The US and China returned to the negotiating table this week after more than two months, but a lack of progress after two days of talks renews the threat of escalation in the trade war. While US stock prices hit a new high this week, emerging market gauges have fallen, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dropping about 17% year to date.
Emerging market countries like India and Brazil that are heading into elections should focus on maintaining macroeconomic stability, added Rajan.