19th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Transiting Exoplanet survey satellite’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s newest planet hunter telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), has now shared the first science image that it captured as part of its initial round of data collection.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a space telescope for NASA’s Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method in an area 400 times larger than that covered by the Kepler mission.
The primary mission objective for TESS is to survey the brightest stars near the Earth for transiting exoplanets over a two-year period. The TESS satellite uses an array of wide-field cameras to perform a survey of 85% of the sky. With TESS, it is possible to study the mass, size, density and orbit of a large cohort of small planets, including a sample of rocky planets in the habitable zones of their host stars. TESS will provide prime targets for further characterization by the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future
‘India-Bangladesh ties’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: The construction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Product Pipeline Project and a railway project connecting the two countries were on Tuesday flagged off jointly through video conferencing by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
About the project
At an estimated project cost of Rs 346 crore, expected to be completed in 30 months, the 129 km long India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline will connect Siliguri in India with Parbatipur in Bangladesh and will transport petroleum products from Numaligarh Refinery (NRL) in Assam. While five km of the pipeline is in India the rest of the pipeline will be implemented by Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation.
This pipeline is part of Modi government’s efforts to set up such pipelines connecting India with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), which had decided in 2014, to build cross-border pipeline routes for ferrying natural gas and products. The idea behind such a network of pipelines was to build a better hydrocarbon transportation network to meet increasing demand for energy.
‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ (GS2: Government policies and programmes for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Government has decided to incorporate the provision of penalties for States and Insurance Companies for the delay in settlement of insurance claims under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY). This crucial provision is part of the new operational guidelines issued by the Govt for the implementation of PMFBY.
The farmers will be paid 12% interest by insurance companies for the delay in settlement claims beyond two months of prescribed cut-off date. State Governments will have to pay 12% interest for the delay in release of State share of subsidy beyond three months of prescribed cut-off date submission of requisition by insurance companies.
It incorporates the best features of all previous schemes and at the same time, all previous shortcomings / weaknesses have been removed. The PMFBY will replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as the Modified NAIS.
- To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
- To stabilize the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
Highlights of the scheme
- There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the Government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
- There is no upper limit on Government subsidy. Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government.
- Earlier, there was a provision of capping the premium rate which resulted in low claims being paid to farmers. This capping was done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy. This capping has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
- The use of technology will be encouraged to a great extent. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be used to reduce the number of crop cutting experiments.
- PMFBY is a replacement scheme of NAIS / MNAIS, there will be exemption from Service Tax liability of all the services involved in the implementation of the scheme. It is estimated that the new scheme will ensure about 75-80 per cent of subsidy for the farmers in insurance premium.
Farmers to be covered
All farmers growing notified crops in a notified area during the season who have insurable interest in the crop are eligible.
Compulsory coverage: The enrolment under the scheme, subject to possession of insurable interest on the cultivation of the notified crop in the notified area, shall be compulsory for following categories of farmers:
- Farmers in the notified area who possess a Crop Loan account/KCC account (called as Loanee Farmers) to whom credit limit is sanctioned/renewed for the notified crop during the crop season. and
- Such other farmers whom the Government may decide to include from time to time.
Voluntary coverage: Voluntary coverage may be obtained by all farmers not covered above, including Crop KCC/Crop Loan Account holders whose credit limit is not renewed.
Risks covered under the scheme
- Yield Losses (standing crops, on notified area basis). Comprehensive risk insurance is provided to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks, such as Natural Fire and Lightning, Storm, Hailstorm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Hurricane, Tornado. Risks due to Flood, Inundation and Landslide, Drought, Dry spells, Pests/ Diseases also will be covered.
- In cases where majority of the insured farmers of a notified area, having intent to sow/plant and incurred expenditure for the purpose, are prevented from sowing/planting the insured crop due to adverse weather conditions, shall be eligible for indemnity claims upto a maximum of 25 per cent of the sum-insured.
- In post-harvest losses, coverage will be available up to a maximum period of 14 days from harvesting for those crops which are kept in “cut & spread” condition to dry in the field.
- For certain localized problems, Loss / damage resulting from occurrence of identified localized risks like hailstorm, landslide, and Inundation affecting isolated farms in the notified area would also be covered.
‘Stree Swabhiman’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Common Services Centers, through its initiative for women’s health and hygiene, named ‘Stree Swabhiman’ is striving to create a sustainable model for providing affordable and accessible sanitary products close to the homes of adolescent women and girls in rural areas
About the initiative
The initiative is driven by awareness and personalized outreach by women entrepreneurs who produces and market sanitary napkins themselves. The initiative aspires to play its part in reducing gender divide in access to development opportunities for women and girls which sadly affects access to education, health and workforce participation.
Under Stree Swabhiman initiative for women’s health and hygiene, women entrepreneurs have become symbols of empowerment for women and girls in their communities. Till date, 278 Sanitary Napkin Micro Manufacturing Units have been successfully set up by these Women VLEs. The sanitary napkin produced by these units not only suits the needs of low-income communities, but are also bio-degradable and thus environment friendly.
What are Common Service Centres?
Common Service Centres are physical facilities for delivering Government of India e-Services to rural and remote locations where availability of computers and Internet was negligible or mostly absent. They are multiple-services-single-point model for providing facilities for multiple transactions at a single geographical location.
CSCs are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country. It is a pan-India network catering to regional, geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity of the country, thus enabling the Government’s mandate of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society.
The following types of services are expected to be provided at the CSCs:
- G2C Communication – All G2C (Government to Consumer) Communication including Health, Education, Agriculture, Human Resource Development, Employment, Fundamental Rights, Disaster Warnings, RTI, etc.
- Information dissemination – Interactive kiosks, voice & Local Language Interface, including web browsing
- Edutainment – Including multi-functional space for group interaction, entertainment, training and empowerment
- E-Governance & eServices – Transactions like Market (eKrishi)Information, Banking, Insurance, Travel, Post, eForms to request government services, etc.
- C2G Kiosk – Grievances, complaints, requests and suggestions.
- Financial Inclusion – Payment for NREGA, etc.
- Healthcare – Telemedicine & remote health camps have also been envisaged as part of the CSC’s extended functionalities
- Rural BPO
The CSC project, which forms a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan was approved in September 2006. It is also one of the approved projects under the Integrated Mission Mode Projects of the National eGovernance Plan.
‘E-Sahaj portal’ (GS3: E-governance)
Issue: The Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba launched an online ‘e-Sahaj’ portal here today for grant of Security Clearance.
About the portal
MHA is the nodal Ministry for security clearances in certain sensitive sectors before issue of license/permit, permission, contract etc, to companies/ bidders/individuals by the administrative Ministry. The objective of national security clearance is to evaluate potential security threats, including economic threats, and provide risk assessment before clearing investment and project proposals in key sectors. The aim is to strike a healthy balance between meeting the imperatives of national security and facilitating ease of doing business and promoting investment in the country.
‘Vinai Venkatesham’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Arsenal Holdings Plc’s chief executive officer Ivan Gazidis has stepped down after nine years at the helm to join Italian club AC Milan, the London soccer club said in a statement
Raul Sanllehi will now be the head of football and Vinai Venkatesham is appointed as managing director
About V Venkatesham
Vinai Venkatesham is a British football administrator. An employee of Arsenal F.C. since 2010 in a variety of roles, He worked on London 2012 prior to joining Arsenal, and is currently a non-executive director of the British Olympic Association
‘Grain Output’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Despite patchy rainfall in some parts, the Agriculture Ministry has set a food-grain production target of 285.2 million tonnes for 2018-19, a marginal increase from the previous year’s harvest of 284.8 million tonnes.
The 2018-19 targets for rice, at 113 million tonnes, and wheat, at 100 million tonnes, are marginally higher than last year’s harvest. However, the targets for pulses, coarse cereals and maize are slightly lower.
Over the last two years of normal monsoons and record harvests, prices of several commodities have crashed, hurting many farmers. The government has ramped up procurement of pulses and oilseeds in an effort to ensure that more farmers receive the minimum support price (MSP) for these crops even as the market rates fall, but that has led to a shortage of storage capacity. To overcome this some States consider the new Central scheme to pay oilseed farmers the cash differential between MSP and market prices.
‘Space innovation’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a space technology incubation centre in Tripura capital Agartala. It is the first of six such centres planned nationally to build capacity in new locations.
The space agency’s new Capacity Building Programme directorate will invest ₹2 crore in incubation facilities in Jalandhar, Bhubaneswar, Tiruchi, Nagpur and Indore.
Significance of this programme
This programme will go to locations that have a good presence of academia and industry but do not have activities related to space. The centres will bring out prototypes and innovations for ISRO in electronics, propulsion and others.
‘Short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) system’ (GS3: Indigenization of Technology)
Issue: The Army, which is inducting the indigenously developed Akash short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) system, will get an upgraded variant. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) gave its procedural approval to the variant recently
About the advanced system
The upgraded version will include the seeker technology and possess a 360-degree coverage, and will be of compact configuration. It is operationally critical equipment, which will provide protection to vital assets
The DAC also gave approval for the development of an individual under-water breathing apparatus for the T-90 tank. The apparatus is used by the tank crew for emergency escape.
About Akash missile
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Akash as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme initiated in 1984. It is made by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). Akash has a range of 25 km and can engage multiple targets at a time in all-weather conditions. It has a large operational envelope, from 30 metre to a maximum of 20 km. Each regiment consists of six launchers, each having three missiles.
‘Triple Talaq ordinance’ (GS2: Executive powers)
Issue: In a historic decision, PM Narendra Modi-led central government on Wednesday cleared the promulgation of the Triple Talaq ordinance which criminalises the practice of verbal divorce among Muslim men.
The Ordinance will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for his signature which will finally result in the poromulgation of the ordinance into a law
What is Ordinance?
The term “ordinance” is defined by the Oxford dictionary as an authoritative order. Ordinance is a decree or law promulgated by a state or national government without the consent of the legislature. It includes examples such as collecting revenue through new taxes or harnessing resources during an emergency or threat. For an ordinance to be enforced effectively, it must not be in conflict with any higher law such as state or national law or constitutional provisions.
Article 123 of the Constitution of India grants the President certain law-making powers to promulgate ordinances when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. Hence, it is not possible for the ordinances to be issued in the Parliament. The fundamental reason for bestowing the executive with the power to issue ordinance according to Pandit H N Kunzru (involved in framing the Indian Constitution), was “to deal with situations where an emergency in the country necessitated urgent action.”
An ordinance may be concerned with any subject that the Parliament has the power to legislate on and also has the same limitations as the Parliament to legislate according to the distribution of powers between the Union, State and Concurrent Lists. There are three limitations with regard to the ordinance making power of the executive. They are:
i. The President can only promulgate an ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
ii. The President cannot promulgate an ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action’.
iii. Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of reassembling or they shall cease to operate. They will also cease to operate in case resolutions disapproving the ordinance are passed by both the Houses.
An ordinance has to be converted into legislation within 42 days of commencement of the Parliament session, or else it will lapse. An ordinance can be re-promulgated only thrice. The governor of a state can also issue ordinances under Article 213 of the Constitution of India, when the state legislative assembly is not in session. There have been various important discussions on the ordinance making power of the President and Governor. Significant questions have been asked on the judicial review of the ordinance making powers of the executive; the necessity for ‘immediate action’ while promulgating an ordinance and the granting of ordinance making powers to the executive, given the principle of separation of powers. The separation of power is very crucial in countries such as US and Britain. The US or British governments do not have the power to issue ordinances.