03rd Nov, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Micro, Small and Medium enterprises’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today launched a historic support and outreach programme for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector. As part of this programme, the Prime Minister unveiled12 key initiatives which will help the growth, expansion and facilitation of MSMEs across the country.
About new initiatives introduced
- Prime Minister announced the launch of the 59 minute loan portal to enable easy access to credit for MSMEs. Loans up to Rs. 1 crore can be granted in-principle approval through this portal, in just 59 minutes. Prime Minister mentioned the second announcement as a 2 percent interest subvention for all GST registered MSMEs, on fresh or incremental loans.
- All companies with a turnover more than Rs. 500 crore, must now compulsorily be brought on the Trade Receivables e-Discounting System (TReDS). He said that joining this portal will enable entrepreneurs to access credit from banks, based on their upcoming receivables
- Public sector companies have now been asked to compulsorily procure 25 percent, instead of 20 percent of their total purchases, from MSMEs. Out of the 25 percent procurement mandated from MSMEs, 3 percent must now be reserved for women entrepreneurs.
- Tool rooms across the country are a vital part of product design. One of the announcement was that 20 hubs will be formed across the country, and 100 spokes in the form of tool rooms will be established.
- Clusters will be formed of pharma MSMEs. 70 percent cost of establishing these clusters will be borne by the Union Government.
- The Prime Minister said that one of the announcements is on simplification of government procedures. He said that the return under 8 labour laws and 10 Union regulations must now be filed only once a year.
- Under air pollution and water pollution laws, now both these have been merged as a single consent for someone who wants to establish a business. PM further said that the return will be accepted through self-certification.
- Prime Minister mentioned that an Ordinance has been brought, under which, for minor violations under the Companies Act, the entrepreneur will no longer have to approach the Courts, but can correct them through simple procedures.
- The Prime Minister also spoke of social security for the MSME sector employees. He said that a mission will be launched to ensure that they have Jan Dhan Accounts, provident fund and insurance.
Submarine Rescue System with a Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) (GS3: Security)
Issue: The Indian Navy has inducted a Submarine Rescue System with a Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) along with associated equipment.
About the system
This System has a Side Scan Sonar for locating the position of the submarine in distress at sea, providing immediate relief by way of posting Emergency Life Support Containers with the help of Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and thereafter rescuing the crew of the submarine using the DSRV itself.
The Indian DSRV has the capability to rescue personnel from a distressed submarine (DISSUB) up to a depth of 650 m and it is the latest in terms of technology and capabilities
With this capability, India has joined a select league of nations which have this unique capability and we are now in a position to not only provide rescue cover to our own submarines but also to other friendly nations in the IOR and beyond. Our vision is to emerge as a centre of regional excellence for Submarine Rescue Services in line with the stature of our great nation.
‘DAWN spacecraft’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA’s Dawn space probe, our visitor to the Solar System’s protoplanets Vesta and Ceres, is cold and dead.
The spacecraft finally ran out of fuel whilst it was orbiting Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt.
About the mission
Dawn was a space probe launched by NASA in September 2007 with the mission of studying two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres. Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies, the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and the first to visit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres in March 2015, a few months before New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015.
It was the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion, which enabled it to enter and leave the orbit of two celestial bodies. Previous multi-target missions using conventional drives, such as the Voyager program, were restricted to flybys
About Asteroid belts
Scattered in orbits around the sun are bits and pieces of rock left over from the dawn of the solar system. Most of these objects, called planetoids or asteroids — meaning “star-like” — orbit between Mars and Jupiter in a grouping known as the Main Asteroid Belt.
Most of the asteroids in the Main Belt are made of rock and stone, but a small portion of them contain iron and nickel metals. The remaining asteroids are made up of a mix of these, along with carbon-rich materials. Some of the more distant asteroids tend to contain more ices. Although they aren’t large enough to maintain an atmosphere, but there is evidence that some asteroids contain water.
Some asteroids are large, solid bodies — there are more than 16 in the belt with a diameter greater than 150 miles (240 km). The largest asteroids, Vesta, Pallas and Hygiea, are 250 miles (400 km) long and bigger. The region also contains the dwarf planet Ceres. At 590 miles (950 km) in diameter, or about a quarter of the size of our moon, Ceres is round yet is considered too small to be a full-fledged planet. However, it makes up approximately a third of the mass of the asteroid belt.
‘Ozone hole’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: Although colder-than-average temperatures in the Antarctic stratosphere created ideal conditions for destroying ozone in 2018, declining levels of the depleting chemicals prevented the hole from being as large as it would have been 20 years ago, scientists from the NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have revealed.
What do the findings say?
- The findings showed that the ozone hole that forms in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica each September was slightly above the average size in 2018.
- NOAA scientists said colder temperatures in 2018 allowed for near-complete elimination of ozone in a deep, 5km layer over the South Pole. This layer is where the active chemical depletion of ozone occurs on polar stratospheric clouds.
- The 2018 ozone hole was strongly influenced by a stable and cold Antarctic vortex — the stratospheric low pressure system that flows clockwise in the atmosphere above Antarctica
Nations of the world began phasing out the use of ozone-depleting substances in 1987 under an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol.
How is Ozone hole formed?
The ozone layer resides in the stratosphere and surrounds the entire Earth. UV-B radiation (280- to 315- nanometer (nm) wavelength) from the Sun is partially absorbed in this layer. As a result, the amount of UV-B reaching Earth’s surface is greatly reduced. UV-A (315- to 400-nm wavelength) and other solar radiation are not strongly absorbed by the ozone layer. Human exposure to UV-B increases the risk of skin cancer, cataracts, and a suppressed immune system. UV-B exposure can also damage terrestrial plant life, single cell organisms, and aquatic ecosystems.
Only 10 or less of every million molecules of air are ozone. The majority of these ozone molecules resides in a layer between 10 and 40 kilometers (6 and 25 miles) above the Earth’s surface in the stratosphere.
Each spring in the stratosphere over Antarctica (Spring in the southern hemisphere is from September through November.), atmospheric ozone is rapidly destroyed by chemical processes.
As winter arrives, a vortex of winds develops around the pole and isolates the polar stratosphere. When temperatures drop below -78°C (-109°F), thin clouds form of ice, nitric acid, and sulphuric acid mixtures. Chemical reactions on the surfaces of ice crystals in the clouds release active forms of CFCs. Ozone depletion begins, and the ozone “hole” appears.
Over the course of two to three months, approximately 50% of the total column amount of ozone in the atmosphere disappears. At some levels, the losses approach 90%. This has come to be called the Antarctic ozone hole.
The ozone “hole” is really a reduction in concentrations of ozone high above the earth in the stratosphere. The ozone hole is defined geographically as the area wherein the total ozone amount is less than 220 Dobson Units. The ozone hole has steadily grown in size (up to 27 million sq. km.) and length of existence (from August through early December) over the past two decades.
What is Montreal protocol?
The Montreal Protocol stipulates that the production and consumption of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere–chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform–are to be phased out by 2000 (2005 for methyl chloroform). Scientific theory and evidence suggest that, once emitted to the atmosphere, these compounds could significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that shields the planet from damaging UV-B radiation.
Man-made chlorines, primarily chloroflourobcarbons (CFCs), contribute to the thinning of the ozone layer and allow larger quantities of harmful ultraviolet rays to reach the earth
‘US-Iran-India’ (GS2: International relations)
Issue: India has become one of the eight countries to get a waiver on the sanctions re-imposed on Iran by the Donald Trump administration. India told the US that it was willing to restrict monthly oil purchase from Iran from 22.6 million tonnes (452,000 barrels per day) to 1.25 million tonnes or 15 million tonnes in a year.
India, which imports crude oil to meet 80% of its energy demand, is heavily dependent on Iran. In FY18, Iran was the third largest supplier of crude oil to India, followed by Saudi Arabi and Iraq.
‘Rural E-commerce market’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The rural e-commerce market in India has the potential to be at $10 billion to $12 billion in the next four years on the back of increasing internet penetration, rising household income and the government’s push on digital in rural areas, said a report
Other observations made in the report
- Diversified income sources from non-agricultural activities, positive agricultural outlook, a high propensity to spend, and the rising number of nuclear families in rural India are some of the other factors driving this growth.
- This rising demand would require localization from e-commerce companies. Hence, companies need to create the right balance in their product mix comprising both value-for-money, unbranded items and branded products, which cater to the aspirations of rural customers who are price sensitive.
‘Viral infections’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Along with the rise in the number of influenza H1N1 cases, the city (Bengaluru) is now also under the grip of fever and upper respiratory tract infections.
Doctors attribute this to fluctuations in weather and increased allergen and pollen load.
At least six out of every 10 patients suffer from sore throat, fever, runny nose, cough, allergic bronchitis, asthma and middle ear infection. Without adequate precautions, most tend to develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Airway Disease (COPD)
The number of H1N1 positive cases reported in Karnataka that stood at 652 till October 20, touched 999 on Friday. Five more persons succumbed to the disease in the last two days taking the total H1N1 death toll to 17
What is H1N1?
H1N1 flu is also known as swine flu. It’s called swine flu because in the past, the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs. That changed several years ago, when a new virus emerged that spread among people who hadn’t been near pigs.
Symptoms can include:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Body aches