29 th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Railways to roll out smart coaches (GS3: infrastructure)
- The Indian Railways are set to launch their ‘Make in India’ smart coaches with new features like black box and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTVs, matching international standards.
- The maiden smart coach was unveiled at the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareli on Tuesday as part of launching 100 such trains in a pilot project to improve the safety and security of commuters, and to boost efficiency.
- The black box, being introduced for the first time by Indian Railways, has a powerful multi-dimensional communication interface to provide information on passengers and coach condition on real-time basis.
- The black box will act as a coach control unit with communication interfaces for passenger announcements, GPS-based announcement triggers, emergency intercom for commuters, digital destination boards, train reservation display modules, and CCTVs with remote monitoring.
- The modern infotainment system has been installed to locate the train in real time.
- For wheel, coach and track monitoring, Railways have come up with Internet of things-based system. The vibrating-energy-based sensors will monitor the wheels, bearing and hard spots on the track, and will provide data through GPS/GPRS to the remote server for diagnosis and remedial measures.
- The Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU), an industrial grade computer, will monitor the coach maintenance and passenger interface.
- An emergency talk-back system will enable communication between passengers and the guard during a crisis. A Wi-Fi hotspot information system is another innovative feature.
- Smart coaches are also laden with water-level indicator technology to know whether the water in the coach is sufficient and when it needs to be filled. An SMS will be sent to the next watering station when the water level falls below half the coach capacity.
- In the version 2.0 of these coaches, the Railways are planning to introduce a host of new features, such as video analytics with face detection feature; unusual occurrence feature; fire-and-smoke detection unit; and an energy-metering module to measure the energy consumption of the coach.
India-United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF)(GS3: IR, PRELIMS)
- India and United Nations will sign India-United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) for 2018-2022.
- The NITI Aayog is the national counterpart for the UN in India for the operationalization of the UNSDF.
- SDF 2018-2022 outlines the work of UN agencies in India, to support the achievement of key development outcomes that are aligned to the national priorities.
- The seven priority areas outlined in the UNSDF are,
- Poverty and Urbanization;
- Health, Water, and Sanitation;
- Education and Employability;
- Nutrition and Food Security;
- Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Disaster Resilience;
- Skilling, Entrepreneurship, and Job Creation; and
- Gender Equality and Youth Development.
Freedom to pray: on Sabarimala verdict (GS2: polity, prelims)
Women’s right to worship vs religious freedom
- The Constitution protects religious freedom in two ways
- It protects an individual’s right to profess, practise and propagate a religion, and it also assures similar protection to every religious denomination to manage its own affairs
- The legal challenge to the exclusion of women in the 10-50 age group from the Sabarimala temple in Kerala represented a conflict between the group rights of the temple authorities in enforcing the presiding deity’s strict celibate status and the individual rights of women to offer worship there
- The Supreme Court’s ruling, by a 4:1 majority, that the exclusionary practice violates the rights of women devotees establishes the legal principle that individual freedom prevails over purported group rights, even in matters of religion
Breaking traditional notions of impurity
- The majority held that devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that the prohibition on women is not an essential part of Hindu religion
- Beyond the legality of the practice, the court has also sought to grapple with the stigmatisation of women devotees based on a medieval view of menstruation as symbolising impurity and pollution
- Devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender
- SC said that stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability
Centre increases share in State Disaster Response Fund (GS3: Environment, GS2: statutory bodies )
- The Centre has enhanced its contribution in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 75% to 90% with effect from April 1.
- Kerala, which has recently faced the worst floods, will be a major beneficiary of the Centre’s decision. Henceforth all States will be required to contribute 10% to the SDRF.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
- The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is a specialized force constituted “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- Formed in 2006.
- It is the “Apex Body for Disaster Management” in India is the National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA).
- The Chairman of the NDMA is the Prime Minister.
- The responsibility for disaster management in India’s federal system is that of the State Government.
- The ‘nodal Ministry’ in the central government for management of natural disasters is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
State Disaster Response Force (SDRF)
- The SDRF has been constituted in each State in which the Centre, so far, had been contributing:
- 75% for the general category states.
- 90% for special category States of hilly regions every year.
- The SDRF is a resource available to the States to meet the expenses of relief operations of immediate nature, for a range of specified disasters.
- Based on the recommendations of successive Finance Commission, the central government approves the annual allocation to SDRF.
- On the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission, the government has significantly enhanced the allocation to SDRF by 82.30% for 2015-16 to 2019-20.
Locate Public Toilets on Google Maps MoHUA partners with Google to launch #LooReview Campaign (GS2: issues relating to health)
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, under the aegis of Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM – U), has partnered with Google to launch the Loo Review campaign.
- One of the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM – U) is to provide sanitation coverage through public toilet facilities across cities in India for achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
Loo Review campaign
- It is to encourage all local guides in India to rate and review public toilets on Google Maps.
- This campaign is part of a feature which allows all citizens to locate public toilets in their cities on Google Maps, Search and the Assistant and also provide feedback on the same.
- 500+ cities in India with more than 30,000 toilets with the name of “SBM Toilet” are currently live on Google Maps.
NITI Aayog and Oracle sign a Statement of Intent to pilot drug supply-chain using the blockchain (GS3: Awareness in the field of IT)
- NITI Aayog signed an agreement with cloud services provider Oracle, hospital chain Apollo Hospitals, and pharmaceutical manufacturer Strides Pharma Sciences to curb the distribution of fake drugs using new technologies.
- Oracle’s blockchain software permanently registers a drug’s record in the manufacturer’s drug supply chain (serial number, labeling, scanning), leaving no scope for record tampering
- The Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world in volume, accounting for 10% of the world’s production.
- A recent report by World Health Organisation estimates 20% of all drugs sold in India are fake.
- Also, as the largest producer of generic drugs in the world, India is reported to be the source of 35% of all counterfeit drugs sold worldwide.
Arunachal mega dam near pilgrimage cleared, environmentalists see red(GS3: Environment)
- Conservationists asked the Standing Committee of National Board for Wildlife (SC-NBWL) to reverse the clearance for the 1750MW Demwe Lower hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The project’s 124-metre high dam is proposed to be constructed on river Lohit jointly by Athena Energy Ventures and the Arunachal Pradesh government. The project site, greens and local activists say, is extremely close to cultural heritage site Parshuram Kund, a major Hindu pilgrimage.
- Lohit is one of three rivers that meet to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream.
- Environmentalists in adjoining Assam also said the project would severely impact the grasslands of Dibru Saikhowa National Park home of the only population of feral horses in India and riverine islands of Lohit river, which Birdlife International identified as Important Bird Area.
- The NGT had sought a peer review of the project, but the ministry commissioned a short study by a WII-led team, which acknowledged downstream concerns while saying upstream submergence would not be much of an ecological issue. The team admitted the site needed to be studied over three seasons.
- Based on the team’s report, the project was cleared at the 50th meeting of SC-NBWL whose minutes weremade public. The minutes said that that the wildlife board has accepted the Dehradun-based WII’s report on the rapid ecological assessment of impacts of Lower Demwe project on wildlife.