30th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Parker Solar probe’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe — enroute to the Sun to unravel its mysteries — has become the closest spacecraft to it.
As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface expected in 2024.
About Parker solar probe
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun. Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.
The primary science goals for the mission are to trace the flow of energy and understand the heating of the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind. Parker Solar Probe provides a statistical survey of the outer corona.
Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:
- Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
- Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
- Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.
‘Namami Gange’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The Executive Committee (EC) of the National Mission for Clean Ganga approved 12 projects worth Rs. 929 Crore under the Namami Gange programme in its 16th meeting
About Namami Gange programme
‘Namami Gange Programme’, is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
Main pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are:-
- Sewage treatment infrastructure
- River-surface cleaning
- Industrial effluent monitoring
- Ganga gram
- Public awareness
- River-front development
|The key achievements under Namami Gange programme are:-|
|1. Creating Sewerage Treatment Capacity:- 63 sewerage management projects under implementation in the States of Uttarakhand,Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.12 new sewerage management Projects Launched in these states.Work is under construction for creating Sewerage capacity of 1187.33 (MLD).Hybrid Annuity PPP Model based two projects has been initiated for Jagjeetpur, Haridwar and Ramanna, Varanasi.|
|2. Creating River-Front Development:-28 River-Front Development projects and 33 Entry level Projects for construction, modernization and renovation of 182 Ghats and 118 crematoria has been initiated.|
|3. River Surface Cleaning:-River Surface cleaning for collection of floating solid waste from the surface of the Ghats and River and its disposal are afoot and pushed into service at 11 locations.|
|4. Bio-Diversity Conservation:- Several Bio-Diversity conservation projects are namely: Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation, Fish and Fishery Conservation in Ganga River, Ganges River Dolphin Conservation Education Programme has been initiated. 5 Bio-Diversity center’s at Dehradun, Narora, Allahabad, Varanasi and Barrackpore has been developed for restoration of identified priority species.|
|5. Afforestation:- Forestry interventions for Ganga through Wildlife Institute of India; Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute and Centre for Environment Education has been initiated.Forestry interventions for Ganga has been executed as per the Detailed Project Report prepared by Forest Research Institute, Dehradun for a period of 5 years (2016-2021) at project cost of Rs.2300 Crores. Work has been commenced in 7 districts of Uttarakahnd for medicinal plants.|
|6. Public Awareness:- A series of activities such as events, workshops, seminars and conferences and numerous IEC activities were organized to make a strong pitch for public outreach and community participation in the programme. Various awareness activities through rallies, campaigns, exhibitions, shram daan, cleanliness drives, competitions, plantation drives and development and distribution of resource materials were organized and for wider publicity the mass mediums such as TV/Radio, print media advertisements, advertorials, featured articles and advertorials were published.|
|7. Industrial Effluent Monitoring:- Real Time Effluent Monitoring Stations (EMS) has been installed in 572 out of 760 Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs). Closure notice have been issued to 135 GPIs so far and others have been given deadlines for compliance to stipulated norms and for installations of online EMS.|
|8. Ganga Gram:- Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS) identified 1674 Gram Panchayats situated on the bank of River Ganga in 5 State (Uttarakhand,Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Jharkhand,West Bengal). Rs. 578 Crores has been released to Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS) for construction of toilets in 1674 Gram Panchayats of 5 Ganga Basin States. Out of the targeted 15, 27,105 units, MoDWS has completed construction of 8, 53,397 toilets. Consortium of 7 IITs has been engaged in the preparation of Ganga River basin Plan and 65 villages has been adopted by 13 IITs to develop as model villages. UNDP has been engaged as the executing agency for rural sanitation programme and to develop Jharkhand as a model State at an estimated cost of Rs. 127 Crore.|
|National Mission for Clean Ganga, endeavors to deploy best available knowledge and resources across the world for Ganga rejuvenation. Clean Ganga has been a perennial attraction for many international countries that have expertise in river rejuvenation. Countries such as Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Israel etc. have shown interest in collaborating with India for Ganga rejuvenation. Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed with various Central Ministries viz.- Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Ayush, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and Ministry of Agriculture for synergizing the Government schemes.|
‘India-Japan ties’ (GS2: Bilateral agreements)
Issue: Japan announced joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA) submitting the instrument of ratification on 29th October 2018. As of now there are 70 countries that have signed the ISA Framework Agreement (ISA FA) and 47 countries that have ratified it. Japan will be the 71st country to sign and 48th country to ratify the ISA
Other agreements signed between PM Modi and PM Shinzo Abe
- Implementing arrangement for deeper cooperation between Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Indian Navy
- MoC between Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry on Japan-India Digital Partnership
- Statement of Intent between NITI Aayog and Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI), Japan on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- MoC between Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Republic of India and the Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan in the field of Healthcare and Wellness
- MoC between Ministry of Food Processing & Industries and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan in the field of Food Processing Industry.
- The Program for Promoting Investment into India by Japan in the Field of Agriculture and Fisheries between Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, India & Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan.
- MoC on Development of Food Value Chain in Maharashtra between State Government of Maharashtra and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan
- Agreement for Cooperation between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India and Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), Japan for joint research in interdisciplinary areas for application in Industrial Research.
- MoU between Sports Authority of India (SAI), India and University of Tsukuba, Japan for academic exchanges and sports cooperation
- MOC in Postal Field between the Ministry of Communications, Government of India and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Government of Japan.
‘Air pollution’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: One in ten deaths in children across the world is being caused by air pollution, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.
Observations made in the report include:
- As many as 6 lakhs children died from acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) caused by polluted air in 2016, accounting for almost 10% of all child deaths that year. Of these, at least 5.4 lakh were children under the age of 5 years.
- The report highlights that after premature birth, ALRI is the leading killer of children under 5 years worldwide. And over half of all deaths from ALRI in low and middle-income countries are caused by breathing polluted air.
- Globally, 93% of all children live in environments with air pollution levels above the WHO guidelines. India, with 14 out of 20 of the world’s most polluted cities in the world, stands as one of the most vulnerable countries.
- Pollution not only triggers asthma but childhood cancer and can impact neuro-development and cognitive abilities. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.
According to WHO, pollution related mortality and disease burden is one of the highest in India, which accounts for 25% of the global deaths due to air pollution. In 2016, as many as 1 lakh children deaths under the age of 5 years in India were caused due to polluted air.
‘BIMARU states’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Over nearly two decades, the “BIMARU” states have remained at the bottom, while Kerala, Punjab, Goa and Delhi remain at the top. Bihar has remained India’s poorest state over the period.
BIMARU states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh—and 91 of the poorest 100 are concentrated in these seven states.
Scenario of BIMARU states
From 1998-99 to 2015-16, Bihar remained India’s multi-dimensionally poorest state. While Odisha was next to Bihar at the bottom in the late 1990s, it has improved significantly over the last two decades. In the same time, Madhya Pradesh (and later Chhattisgarh) and Uttar Pradesh joined Bihar (and later Jharkhand) at the bottom. Between them, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have over 320 million multi-dimensionally poor people. Over half the population in Bihar, and over 40% in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are multi-dimensionally poor.
At the other end, just 1% of people in Kerala, and between 4 to 7% in Delhi, Punjab, Goa, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu are multi-dimensionally poor. The richest Indian states now resemble upper middle income countries like Jordan, Brazil, and Thailand in terms of multidimensional poverty.
Kerala reduced its already-low levels of multidimensional poverty by 92%, the highest of any states, while Bihar was again at the bottom at 45%
‘Currency swap agreement’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: India and Japan signed a currency swap agreement worth $75 billion during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan
About the agreement
A currency swap typically involves the exchange of interest and sometimes of principal in one currency for the same in another currency. Interest payments are exchanged at fixed dates through the life of the contract. It is considered to be a foreign exchange transaction and is not required by law to be shown on a company’s balance sheet.
It is an important measure in improving the confidence in the Indian market and that it would not only enable the agreed amount of capital being available to India, but it will also bring down the cost of capital for Indian entities while accessing the foreign capital market.
As risk management tools, currency swap agreements make it possible for enterprises operating in developing markets to reduce their exposure to currency fluctuations. A foreign company, in domestic markets, is able to reduce its risk exposure in one currency by increasing its certainty in another.
The advantages of currency swaps present themselves in instances where both parties stand to gain in a market. Most of the times, the domestic company is able to locally access finance at better terms compared to foreign companies. The foreign company enters the market looking for a currency swap rather than domestic financing.