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Daily Current affairs 13 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

National Youth Awards

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: About the awards- criteria and other related key facts.

 

ContextNational Youth Awards for excellent work and contribution in different fields of development and social service were recently conferred.

 

About the National Youth Award:

  • The awards are conferred on individuals (aged between 15-29 years) and organizations for excellent work and contribution in different fields of development and social service, such as health, promotion of human rights, active citizenship, community service etc.
  • The awards are given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Department of Youth Affairs.
  • The Objective is to motivate young persons to achieve excellence in the field of national development and social service, to encourage young people to develop a sense of responsibility to the community and thus to improve their own personal potential as good citizens and to give recognition to the outstanding work done by voluntary organizations working with the youth for national development including social service.
  • The individual award comprises of a medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000/-. The award to a youth organisation includes a medal, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 2,00,000/-.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: KVIC and its important functions, world tribal day, various tribal moments.

 

ContextKhadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC) distributed as many as 50 leather kits and 350 Bee-Boxes with live bee colonies in tribal-dominated village in Sirohi district of Rajasthan, one of the aspirational districts in India identified by the NITI Aayog, on World Tribal Day

 

World Tribal Day:

  1. Observed on August 9 every yearWorld Tribal Day or the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peopleis aimed at protecting the rights of the world’s tribal population.
  2. The day also recognises the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.
  3. It was first declared by the United Nations in December 1994 marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in 1982.

 

About Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC):

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956). In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.

Functions: It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to – “plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.”

 

The Commission has three main objectives which guide its functioning. These are:

  1. The Social Objective – Providing employment in rural areas.
  2. The Economic Objective – Providing salable articles.
  3. The Wider Objective – Creating self-reliance amongst people and building up a strong rural community spirit.

 

Few tribal movements that have sprouted across India over the years:

The Santhal rebellion (June 30, 1855 to January 3, 1856): Also known as the Santhal Hool, it was a native rebellion in eastern India against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system by the Santhal people.

The Munda Rebellion: Birsa Munda led the movement in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900, seeking the establishment of Munda Raj and independence after the system of khuntkattidar was corroded by the jagirdars and thikadars who came as moneylenders and as traders.

The Bodo Movement: The official movement of the Bodos for an independent state of Bodoland started under the leadership of Upendranath Brahma of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) on March 2, 1987. While the movement was suppressed by the then government, the ABSU created a political organization called the Bodo People’s Action Committee (BPAC). After the Bodo Accord, the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) was constituted, which was later replaced by the BTQ which was established in accordance with the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) on February 10 2003.

 

Other tribal revolutions that have risen in India between the 18th century and the 20th century include:

  1. 1784-1785: Uprising of the Mahadev Koli tribes in Maharashtra.
  2. 1812 Kurichya Rebellion organised by the tribal people Kurichyas against the Wayanad invasion of British in 1812.
  3. 1857-1858 The Bhil revolted against under the leadership of Bhagoji Naik and Kajar Singh.
  4. 1862 The Koya tribal community revolted in Andhra against tribal landlords called ‘Muttader’ in tribal dialect.
  5. 1891 The tribals of North-East India revolted against the British under leadership of Tikendraji Singh.
  6. The Bastar Revolution in central India
  7. 1917-1919 Kuki Uprising in Manipur against British colonialism under the leadership of their chieftains called haosa
  8. 1941 The Gond and the Kolam revolted in collaboration against British Government in the Adilabad district of the state of Telangana.
  9. 1942 Tribal revolt under leadership of Lakshmana Naik at Koraput in Orissa.

GS paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

National Conference on e-Governance adopts ‘Shillong Declaration’

 

What to study?

For prelims: Overview of Shillong declaration.

For mains: e- governance- potential, challenges in implementation and government efforts to promote.

 

Context: 22nd National Conference on e-Governance adopts ‘Shillong Declaration’ with focus on Northeast.

The declaration has outlined the future trajectory that would be taken in terms of e-governance with a focus on improving connectivity in Northeast.

 

Background:

The Conference on e-Governance was organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions and Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology in collaboration with the Meghalaya Government.

The conference was an attempt to streamline e-governance services for effective policy implementation while helping to bridge the technological divide.

 

The 10-point declaration includes:

  1. The central government and state governments would collaborate to improve the citizens’ experience with government services.
  2. In order to do so, they would promote the timely implementation of India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA).
  3. They would also implement a single sign-on for interoperability and integration among e-Government applications throughout the country.
  4. It also resolved to consolidate the plethora of successful state-level e-Governance projects and domain-based projects with a focus to replicate them as common application software with configurable features.
  5. The declaration also stressed the need to ensure improvement in ease of living and ease of doing business by making a big shift in the role of government from Service Provider to Service Enabler.
  6. It also stressed on the need to take steps to further improve connectivity in the Northeast.
  7. Issues and challenges of telecommunication connectivity at the grassroots and formulate and implement a comprehensive telecom development plan were also addressed in the declaration.
  8. It was also resolved to improve the quality of delivery of e-Services in the Northeast to fulfil the vision of improved citizen experience.
  9. It was also resolved to develop India as a global cloud hub and facilitate the development of Government applications and databases on Cloud by default.
  10. To adopt emerging technologies for finding e-Governance solutions and to promote the Digital India Projects with focus on Smart Cities and Smart Villages through Startups and Smart Entrepreneurship were also resolved in the declaration.

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

International Youth Day

 

What to study?

For prelims: About IYD- related key facts.

For mains: Need for skilling youth, challenges, concerns and measures needed.

 

ContextInternational Youth Day (IYD)observed on August 12, is an awareness day designated by the UN. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youngsters.

Theme: “Transforming education”.

 

Significance of the theme:

It highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, IYD will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education and how these efforts are contributing to the achievement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Background:

IYD was first celebrated on August 12, 2000, after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution accepting the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon in 1998.

 

Challenges ahead:

Statistics remind us that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible:

  1. Only 10% of people have completed upper secondary education in low income countries.
  2. 40 % of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand.
  3. Over 75 % of secondary school age refugees are out of school. In addition, indigenous youth, young people with disabilities, young women, young people belonging to vulnerable groups or in vulnerable situations, etc. are facing additional challenges to access education that respects their diverse needs and abilities as well as reflects and embraces their unique realities and identities.

 

Significance of Education:

Making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive is crucial to achieving sustainable development. Education is a ‘development multiplier’ in that it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies.

Education should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life, but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring.

 

Why educate the youth?

  1. Youth engagement is crucial to bringing about more relevant, equitable and inclusive education.
  2. Youth-led organizations are transforming education by partnering with Governments, educational institutions and other stakeholders, lobbying and advocating education policies and developing complementary training programs.
  3. Youth-led organizations are addressing barriers for youth on the basis of economic status, ethnic group, gender, and other characteristics; updating education plans and school curricula to include lessons about peace, justice and the environment and climate change, among many other areas.
  4. Youth engagement is essential to the transformation of education into a means for inclusive youth development and sustainable development more broadly.

 

Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

 

Context: VP Venkaiah Naidu recently Inaugurated Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana in Jharkhand.

 

What is the scheme all about?

The MMKAY scheme is a target set by the government to provide welfare and financial support to farmers in Jharkhand.

The scheme, which was incorporated in the state budget from the financial year 2019-2020, is the first scheme by the state government that provides 100 percent settlement through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) medium.

 

How does it work?

  1. Under the first phase of the MMKAY scheme, Rs 5000 will be disbursed to 13.60 lakh farmers for each acre of their land with a maximum amount of Rs 25,000.
  2. The amount will be directly transferred through Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) to the registered bank accounts on August 10.
  3. The remaining 22 lakh farmers will also be registered soon and the funds are expected to be transferred by October this year.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

Govt. to launch ‘Uber for tractors’ app to aid farmers

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features, the need for and significance of the app.

 

Context: India’s agriculture ministry has developed a farm equipment rental app-‘Über for tractors’- for Indian farmers.

 

Key facts:

  1. The app lets farmers hire tractors, rotavator and other farm related machinery on rent for with flexible tenures.
  2. The app would enable farmers to have affordable access to cutting-edge technology at their doorsteps.
  3. The app seeks to efficiently connect farmers with custom hiring centres CHCs, just like Uber connects passangers to cabs.
  4. The app also includes a rating system wherein the feedback from both the CHC and the farmers, allowing customers to make informed decisions.
  5. The app will also create an invaluable database for policy-makers, who can track the use and cost of equipment.

 

Significance:

The system would also help to track the usage of new technology that the government wants to promote, such as the Happy Seeder that aims to prevent stubble burning that causes air pollution, or solar dryers that can help farmers process and preserve their produce.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in technology and development of new technology.

 

State-Run Oil Marketing Companies to Buy Biodiesel Made From Used Cooking Oil

 

What to study?

For Prelims: RUCO- features.

For Mains: Need for regulation of used cooking oil and uses of used cooking oil.

 

Context: The government has launched a ‘Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO)’ sticker and a phone app to enable the collection of used cooking oil. Restaurants and hotels interested in supplying used cooking oil can affix the sticker to show availability.

 

What is RUCO initiative?

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had launched RUCO (Repurpose Used Cooking Oil), an initiative that will enable collection and conversion of used cooking oil to bio-diesel.

Under this initiative, 64 companies at 101 locations have been identified to enable collection of used cooking oil.

FSSAI wants businesses using more than 100 litres of oil for frying, to maintain a stock register and ensure that UCO is handed over to only registered collecting agencies.

 

Significance of the initiative:

FSSAI believes India has the potential to recover 220 crore litres of used cooking oil for the production of biodiesel by 2022 through a co-ordinated action. While biodiesel produced from used cooking oil is currently very small, but a robust ecosystem for conversion and collection is rapidly growing in India and will soon reach a sizable scale.

 

Background:

The initiative was launched after the food safety regulator notified standards for used cooking oil. According to FSSAI regulations, the maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25%, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption.

 

What are Total Polar Compounds (TPC)?

  1. In many countries, TPC is used to measure the quality of oil. The level of TPC increases every time oil is re-heated. Some of the studies show that TPC accumulation in oil without food is slower than that in oil frying with food.
  2. Higher level of TPC in cooking oil leads to health issues like hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and liver disease. One of the studies also noticed high levels of glucose, creatinine and cholesterol with declined levels of protein and albumin in cooking oil.

 

Significance of the initiative:

Currently, used cooking oil is either not discarded or disposed of in such a manner that it chokes drains and sewerage systems. Apart from setting quality standards, the new regulation addresses the way this oil is discarded. As used cooking oil is considered the most reasonable feedstock for biodiesel production, the FSSAI is planning to redirect the used cooking oil from the food business operators. It has already started collecting used oil in small quantities either through a barter arrangement or at cost.

 

National Policy on biofuels- salient features:

Categorization: The Policy categorises biofuels as “Basic Biofuels” viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and “Advanced Biofuels” – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

Scope of raw materials: The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.

Protection to farmers: Farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplus production phase. Taking this into account, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending with petrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

Viability gap funding: With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the Policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels.

Boost to biodiesel production: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in technology and development of new technology.

 

Iron ion battery

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of Iron Ion battery, significance and advantages over other traditional batteries.

 

ContextIIT Madras has fabricated a rechargeable iron ion battery and registered initial success.

 

Key facts:

  1. The rechargeable iron ion battery has been designed using mild steel as the anode.
  2. The iron ion battery is cost-effective and the amount of energy that can be stored in the battery is also high.
  3. While lithium ions are the charge carriers in lithium ion battery, the Fe2+ ions perform that function in the case of iron ion battery.
  4. When fabricated under controlled conditions, the amount of energy that can be drawn from the iron ion battery is 220 Wh per kg, which is 55-60% of lithium ion battery’s performance.
  5. In iron ion battery, vanadium pentoxide is used as the cathode. Vanadium pentoxide was chosen as it has a layered structure with very large spacing between the layers.
  6. The large inter-layer spacing in vanadium pentoxide allows iron ions to easily move in and bind to the interlayers of the cathode and also easily get detached and move back to the anode.

 

Benefits of iron over Lithium:

  1. Iron has favourable physico-chemical properties like lithium.
  2. The redox potential of iron ion is higher than lithium ion and the radius of the Fe2+ ion is nearly the same as that of the lithium ion.
  3. Iron is more stable during the charging process and therefore prevents short-circuiting of the batteries. This, when compared with the popular lithium metal-based batteries helps cut down the cost and make it safer to handle.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

 

Certification of seeds to be made mandatory

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Mandatory certification- need, issues, challenges and significance.

 

Context: The Centre is planning to mandate uniform certification of seed by amending the Seeds Act, 1966.

 

Need for mandatory certification:

More than half of all seeds sold in India are not certified by any proper testing agency, and are often of poor quality.

Besides, the existing legislation that was enacted over half a century ago.

 

Key changes proposed:

The 1966 Act starts with these words: “An Act to provide for regulating the quality of certain seeds for sale…” The new Bill removes the word “certain”, and aims to regulate the quality of all seeds sold in the country, as well as exported and imported seeds.

The new law will also raise the stakes by increasing penalties for non-compliance. Currently, the fine ranges from ₹500 to ₹5,000.

 

Significance of the move:

This could increase overall agricultural productivity by up to 25%.

The main aim of the new legislation is to bring uniformity to the process of quality regulation.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA):

Context: The BCCI has agreed to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

About NADA:

  1. National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) was set up as registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1890 on November 24, 2005 with a mandate for Dope free sports in India.
  2. The primary objectives are to implement anti-doping rules as per WADA code, regulate dope control programme, to promote education and research and creating awareness about doping and its ill effects.

 

Falaq:

Context: Iran unveils ‘improved’ radar air defence system, called Falaq.

  • Falaq is a mobile radar and a vehicle housing a control room, which is an improved version of the Gamma, a system of Russian origin. 
  • It has a range of 400 km (250 miles) that could help defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones. 

 

Summary of important Editorials:

 

Cycle of extremes: On droughts and floods:

Context: Aided apparently by beneficial conditions in the Indian Ocean, very heavy rainfall has been recorded, notably in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, the northeastern States, Karnataka, the Konkan coast, hilly districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

 

Concern:

A normal Indian Summer Monsoon is bountiful overall, but as last year’s flooding in Kerala, and the Chennai catastrophe of 2015 showed, there can be a terrible cost in terms of lives and property lost, and people displaced.

 

Madhav Gadgil Report:

Recent floods have brought the focus back on an almost forgotten 2011 report on the Western Ghats that had made a set of recommendations for preserving the ecology and biodiversity of the fragile region along the Arabian Sea coast.

 

What did the Gadgil Committee say?

  • It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management.
  • It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
  • Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
  • It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.
  • The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authorityto regulate these activities in the area.

 

What was the need for the subsequent Kasturirangan Committee?

  • None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.
  • In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturiranganto “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
  • Its report revealed that of the nearly 1,750 responses it had examined, 81% were not in favour of the Gadgil recommendations. In particular, Kerala had objected to the proposed ban on sand mining and quarrying, restrictions on transport infrastructure and wind energy projects, embargos on hydroelectric projects, and inter-basin transfer of river waters, and also the complete ban on new polluting industries.

 

Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:

  1. A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining.
  2. No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions.
  3. A ban on new polluting industries
  4. Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned.
  5. Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.

 

Way forward:

  1. Recent floods are a lesson worth of learning for India’s disaster management system. India, having more than 7500 km of coastline, should have a strong disaster early warning and management system.
  2. Cooperation between the states can create an expert and integrated national structure, to manage any kind of natural disaster.
  3. There is now a need to learn lessons from past tragediesand increase the resilience of disaster-struck areas through sustainable and long-term development that would involve minimal intervention in natural processes. There is an urgent need for corrective action.
  4. The Madhav Gadgil Report and The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction (2015-2030)must be considered while planning and implementing and completely adopting integrated and inclusive institutional measures.
  5. To work towards preventing vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery and strengthen resilience by inclusion of private sector and local population to prevent such mishaps in the future.

 

Need of the hour:

  1. The government’s measures have been “piecemeal” and “short-term”. They are not addressing the problem at the source — they are firefighting.
    But, is there a long-term solution?
  2. There needs to be “a basin-wide approach” to the problem. That should ideally bring in all the basin-sharing countries on board. Besides, interstate relationships, political cooperation and the role of the government are also important.
  3. The government can also try flood-plain” zoning, which is done the US. Depending on the vulnerability of the area, you divide them into categories, and accordingly ban certain activities on it: like farming, building a house etc.

 

Things to consider:

  • In drafting their management plans, States must be aware of the scientific consensus: that future rain spells may be short, often unpredictable and very heavy, influenced by a changing climate.
  • They need to invest in reliable infrastructure to mitigate the impact of flooding and avert disasters that could have global consequences in an integrated economy. 
  • It is important to increase resilience through planning, especially in cities and towns which are expanding steadily.
  • Orderly urban development is critical for sustainability, as the mega flood disasters in Mumbai and Chennai witnessed in this century make clear.
  • Similarly, there’s also an urgent need to upgrade dam management in the region.

 

Conclusion:

As a nation that is set to become the most populous in less than a decade, India must address its crippling cycles of drought and flood with redoubled vigour. Scientific hydrology, coupled with the traditional wisdom of saving water through large innovative structures, will mitigate floods and help communities prosper.

 

Note: Some articles of yesterday’s current affairs have been covered today. The remaining will be covered in tomorrow’s current affairs.

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