05 th Dec, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Swadesh Darshan’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: “Development of Tribal Circuit: Peren-Kohima-Wokha Project” will be inaugurated in the state of Nagaland. This is the first project to be implemented in the state under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
About Swadesh Darshan scheme
Under the scheme ‘Swadesh Darshan’, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of circuits. Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely: North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit. In Union Budget 2017-18, 959.91 crore has been allocated for the Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits around specific themes under Swadesh Darshan scheme.
“3 Essential “S”s of Climate Finance – Scope, Scale and Speed: A Reflection” (GS3: Environment)
Issue: Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, released a Discussion Paper entitled “3 Essential “S”s of Climate Finance – Scope, Scale and Speed: A Reflection” on the sidelines of COP 24 to UNFCCC at Katowice, Poland.
Highlights of the discussion paper
- The Discussion Paper examines analytically the scope, scale and speed required in climate finance.
- While the financial requirements of developing countries run into trillions of Dollars, the commitments made by the developed countries for enhancement and support in relation to climate finance is not clearly translated into reality.
- Equally important is the issue of reporting and tracking of climate finance. The Discussion Paper finds serious concerns with the various numbers on climate finance reported by the developed countries.
- While the developing countries like India have been taking many actions against climate change and adapting to its adverse effects best to their own abilities and national circumstances, as mandated in the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, the climate actions of developing countries have to be supported by climate finance flows from developed to developing countries.
- The Parties at CoP 24 in Katowice in December, 2018 need to address these important questions on climate finance
‘GSAT 11’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: India’s heaviest satellite GSAT 11, weighing 5,854 kg, was successfully launched by the European commercial launch provider Arianespace in the early hours of Wednesday from Kourou space centre, French Guiana.
About GSAT mission
The GSAT satellites are India’s indigenously developed communications satellites, used for digital audio, data and video broadcasting. The GSAT series of geosynchronous satellites is a system developed by ISRO with an objective to make India self-reliant in broadcasting services. The repertoire of 10 GSAT satellites, a total of 168 transponders (out of which 95 transponders are leased out to provide services to the broadcasters) in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue operations.
GSAT 11 is an advanced communication satellite. It is the largest and heaviest satellite built by ISRO. It will fulfil most needs of providing broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible gram panchayats under BharatNet project
The satellite was launched by Arianspace’s heavy Ariane 5 launch vehicle (VA246) along with a Korean weather monitoring satellite. The total weight of both the satellites aboard the launch vehicle is 10,298 kg.
‘Climate threat’ (GS3: Environment)
Issue: Assam and Mizoram are the most vulnerable to climate change among the Himalayan states, according to a study presented by a team of Indian scientists at the COP 24 climate conference being held in Katowice, Poland.
Observations made in the report
- The team studied 12 western and eastern Himalayan states on various parameters crucial for adaptation to climate change such as irrigated area, per capita income (for 2014-15), area under crop insurance, forest cover and the extent of slopes.
- Assam has higher vulnerability because it has one of the lowest areas under irrigation and lowest forest area per 1,000 rural households among the 12 states. Besides, it has lowest per capita income, lowest area under crop insurance and relatively low participation in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme, which provides 100 days of employment (unskilled public work) to at least one adult member of every poor rural household.
- Mizoram is also highly vulnerable because of the same issues but also because at least 30% of the geographical area is under slope.
- Jammu and Kashmir has the third highest vulnerability ranking, mainly because it has no area under crop insurance, least road density, low percentage of area under horticulture crops, low livestock to human ratio and low percentage of women in the overall workforce, among other factors.
Sikkim has the lowest vulnerability because it has the highest per capita income among the states assessed, lowest area under open forests but good coverage of dense forests, large area under orchards and a low population density.
‘Open Market operations (OMO)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it would inject Rs 10,000 crore into the system through purchase of government securities to increase liquidity
Open market operations are conducted by the RBI by way of sale or purchase of government securities (g-secs) to adjust money supply conditions. The central bank sells g-secs to suck out liquidity from the system and buys back g-secs to infuse liquidity into the system. These operations are often conducted on a day-to-day basis in a manner that balances inflation while helping banks continue to lend. The RBI uses OMO along with other monetary policy tools such as repo rate, cash reserve ratio and statutory liquidity ratio to adjust the quantum and price of money in the system.
Importance of OMO
In India, liquidity conditions usually tighten during the second half of the financial year (mid-October onwards). This happens because the pace of government expenditure usually slows down, even as the onset of the festival season leads to a seasonal spike in currency demand. Moreover, activities of foreign institutional investors, advance tax payments, etc. also cause an ebb and flow of liquidity.
However, the RBI smoothens the availability of money through the year to make sure that liquidity conditions don’t impact the ideal level of interest rates it would like to maintain in the economy.
Liquidity management is also essential so that banks and their borrowers don’t face a cash crunch. The RBI buys g-secs if it thinks systemic liquidity needs a boost and offloads them if it wants to mop up excess money.
‘Disabilities act’ (GS2: Fundamental rights)
Issue: A study conducted by the Disability Rights India Foundation (DRIF) on the implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, across 24 States, has revealed that more than half have not notified the State rules, despite a significant lapse of time.
What does the survey say?
- The study, conducted in collaboration with the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (NCRPD), said the Act, passed in December 2016, should have been notified by all States within six months.
- The study, which concentrated on the States’ administrative machinery with respect to the Act, found that 79.2% of the States had not constituted the funds for implementation of the RPWD Act. Among the five States to have constituted the funds, Tamil Nadu has allocated ₹10 crore while Himachal Pradesh has allocated ₹5 crore.
- Though 62.5% of the States have appointed Commissioners for Persons with Disabilities, the progress has not been substantial. Only three States have constituted Advisory Committees, comprising of experts, to assist the State Commissioners
- Out of the 24 States and Union Territories that responded to the study, Madhya Pradesh was ranked the highest, followed by Odisha, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.
- While 58.3% of the States have not notified Special Courts in the districts for trying offences under the Act, 87.5% have not appointed a Special Public Prosecutors as mandated by the law
Salient features of RPWD act
- Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
- The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
- Persons with “benchmark disabilities” are defined as those certified to have at least 40 per cent of the disabilities
- Responsibility has been cast upon the appropriate governments to take effective measures to ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy their rights equally with others.
- Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education (not less than 5%), government jobs (not less than 4 %), reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes (5% allotment) etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.
- Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
- Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education to the children with disabilities.
- For strengthening the Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign, stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings (both Government and private) in a prescribed time-frame.
- Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy making bodies at the Central and State level.
- Office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities has been strengthened who will now be assisted by 2 Commissioners and an Advisory Committee comprising of not more than 11 members drawn from experts in various disabilities.
- Similarly, the office of State Commissioners of Disabilities has been strengthened who will be assisted by an Advisory Committee comprising of not more than 5 members drawn from experts in various disabilities.
- The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and also monitor implementation of the Act.
- District level committees will be constituted by the State Governments to address local concerns of PwDs. Details of their constitution and the functions of such committees would be prescribed by the State Governments in the rules.
- Creation of National and State Fund will be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities. The existing National Fund for Persons with Disabilities and the Trust Fund for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities will be subsumed with the National Fund.
- The Act provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
- Any person who violates provisions of the Act, or any rule or regulation made under it, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to six months and/ or a fine of Rs 10,000, or both. For any subsequent violation, imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs five lakh can be awarded.
- Whoever intentionally insults or intimidates a person with disability, or sexually exploits a woman or child with disability, shall be punishable with imprisonment between six months to five years and fine.
- Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.
‘Average temperature’ (GS3: Climate change)
Issue: Winter is likely to be warmer than average, with fewer ‘cold wave’ days between December and February, according to a forecast by the India Meteorological Department.
The forecast suggests that ‘above normal’ seasonal minimum temperatures (>0.5° C) are most likely over most of the subdivisions of the country. However Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh in central India, would most likely see ‘normal’ (between 0.5°C and -0.5°C) seasonal minimum temperatures prevailing.
‘Bogibeel bridge’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate on December 25 the Bogibeel Bridge, India’s longest rail-road bridge, connecting the north and south banks of the Brahmaputra, falling in the eastern part of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
About the project
Bogibeel is part of infrastructure projects planned by India to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. This includes the construction of a trans-Arunachal highway on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, and new road and rail links over the mighty river and its major tributaries such as the Dibang, Lohit, Subansiri and Kameng.
‘New Caledonia’ (GS1: Tsunami)
Issue: New Caledonia on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of coastal areas following a tsunami warning, after a powerful undersea earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck off the east coast of the French territory.
What is a Tsunami?
The Earth’s lithosphere is broken up into a bunch of discrete pieces, called plates that move around the surface of the planet. There are seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates. This motion is driven by the flow of the mantle rock beneath the plates and by the forces plates exert at their boundaries where they touch each other. Earthquakes happen when plates move with respect to each other because of the friction and stress at the edges of plates prevents them from slipping smoothly at their boundaries. When one plate is forced to dive beneath another plate, there is no way to do it except with some component of vertical motion creating tsunami
The tsunami that occurred during 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of Mw 9.3 was primarily caused by vertical displacement of the seafloor, in response to slip on the inter-plate thrust fault. The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean affected many countries in Southeast Asia and beyond, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, the Maldives, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Seychelles and others.
The Government of India has put in place an Early Warning System for mitigation of such oceanogenic disasters under the control of Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. A state-of-the-art early warning centre was established with the necessary computational and communication infrastructure that enables reception of real-time data from sensors, analysis of the data, generation and dissemination of tsunami advisories following a standard operating procedure.
‘Mangdechhu hydropower project’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: India is expected to commission a major hydropower project in Bhutan in the coming weeks
About this project
It is a 750MW run-of-river power plant being built on the Mangdechhu River in Trongsa Dzongkhag District of central Bhutan. Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA), which is constituted by the Indian Government and the Royal Government of Bhutan, is developing the project.
Mangdechhu is one of the ten hydroelectric projects planned under the Royal Government of Bhutan’s initiative to generate 10,000MW hydropower by 2020 with support from the Government of India. An agreement was signed between the two governments for the execution of Mangdechhu HEPP in April 2010.
The INR33.82bn ($551m) project is funded by the Government of India through a 70% loan and a 30% grant.
Most of the electricity generated by the Mangdechhu hydropower project will be used to meet the energy requirements of Bhutan and the surplus electricity will be exported to India.