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Daily Current affairs 13 DECEMBER 2018

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Infrastructure- energy related issues.

 

Saubhagya scheme

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features, objectives and targets of the scheme.
  • For Mains: Significance of the scheme.

 

Context: Nine States have achieved complete household electrification under the Saubhagya scheme. They are Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Sikkim, Telangana and West Bengal. With this, 16 States in the country now have 100 per cent household electrification.

 

About SAUBHAGYA Scheme:

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ was launched in September, 2017.

Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided.

Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme.

The scheme aims to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country.

  • All DISCOMs including Private Sector DISCOMs, State Power Departments and RE Cooperative Societies shall be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme in line with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
  • Eligibility: The prospective beneficiary households for free electricity connections under the scheme would be identified using SECC 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under SECC data would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on payment of Rs. 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bill.

 

Scope of the Scheme:

  • Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all un-electrified households in rural areas.
  • Providing Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) based standalone system for un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible villages / habitations, where grid extension is not feasible or cost effective.
  • Providing last mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining economically poor un-electrified households in urban areas. Non-poor urban households are excluded from this scheme.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Electrification, in contemporary times, is a basic human necessity. With reference to the Saubhagya scheme, examine the feasibility of a national universal electrification program.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  3. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of NRC and related key facts.
  • For Mains: Issues associated and ways to address them.

 

Context: The Supreme Court on December 12, 2018 extended the deadline for the submission of claims and objections by individuals excluded from the first draft of the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC) to December 31, 2018.

 

Background:

The Assam government released the final draft of NRC on July 30, 2018. The list incorporates names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants. The names of 40.07 lakh people have been left out.

 

Assam NRC:

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a list that contains names of Indian citizens of Assam. It was last prepared after Census in 1951. Assam, which had faced an influx of people from Bangladesh since the early 20th century, is the only state having an NRC.

The Assam government on July 30, 2018 released the second and final draft of the state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft includes the names of Indian citizens who have been residing in Assam before March 25, 1971.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  3. Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

 

Rohingya refugees

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Who are Rohingyas?
  • For Mains: Displacement of Rohingya community, controversy associated and the need for international cooperation to address the issue.

 

Context: India has handed over to Myanmar the first 50 houses built by the country for the displaced minority Rohingya Muslims in the restive Rakhine province.

 

Background:

India signed a development programme for Rakhine State in Myanmar late last year which was designed to assist the Myanmar government in Rakhine State to build housing infrastructure for displaced persons.

More than 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017 after a military crackdown, triggering a massive refugee crisis.

 

Who are Rohingyas?

They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar. They were classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”. They speak a dialect of Bengali and not Burmese. Ethnically they are much closer to Indo-Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino-Tibetans of the Country.

 

What’s the issue?

Few years ago, religious and ethnic tensions between the Rohingya Muslims and the Rakhine Buddhists (who make up the majority of the population in Myanmar) escalated into widespread, deadly rioting. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee. Since then, ongoing violent attacks have forced even more people to leave their homes.

  • The Myanmar Government says that Rohingya people are not Burmese citizens – but the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for generations. Today, they are a people with no home or citizenship.
  • Rohingya people are being widely abused and exploited. They are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  2. Money laundering related issues.

 

What Are Britain’s ‘Golden Visas’?

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What are Golden Visas, who can avail them and why they have become controversial?

 

Context: The UK government has put on hold plans to suspend “golden visa” category in reference to its use by super-rich foreign nationals, including Indians, to acquire fast-track settlement rights in Britain.

 

What are Golden Visas or Tier 1 Visas?

They provide a faster route for wealthy investors coming from outside the European Union and Switzerland to settle in Britain. The program was introduced in 2008 to attract wealthy foreign nationals willing to invest large amounts of capital in Britain.

 

Criteria:

To qualify, foreign nationals must put down a minimum of 2 million pounds (around $2.5 million) as an investment in Britain. Such an investment in United Kingdom bonds, share capital or companies allows investors to apply for permanent residency within five years.

  • For a £5 million investment, they can apply for permanent residency after three years.
  • An investment of £10 million can open the door to permanent residency after two years. After that, the nationals theoretically could apply for citizenship.

 

Criticisms:

Billions of pounds have poured into London over the past decade, following an influx of global elites who have benefited from the program. The visa program has always had its critics, with anticorruption campaigners railing against Britain’s openness to ill-gotten riches from overseas and the foreigners who invest them.

A survey found that the scheme brought limited economic benefits because most of the investors had bought fixed-interest loan securities known as gilts, meaning that they were effectively loaning the government money instead of investing in the country.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

Water traces found on asteroid Bennu

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: OSIRIS-Rex mission and facts on asteroid bennu.

 

Context: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid Bennu’s rocky surface.

 

About the mission:

OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.

  • OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, which previously sent the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto and the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter.

 

Scientific Mission Goals:

  • During its three year orbit of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will be conducting a range of scientific experiments in order to better understand the asteroid.
  • The aim of the mission is to collect a sample of regolith- the loose, soil-like material which covers the surface of the asteroid.

 

Why was Bennu chosen?

Bennu was selected for a the OSIRIS-REx mission from over 500,000 known asteroids, due to it fitting a number of key criteria. These include:

Proximity to Earth: In order for OSIRIS-REx to reach its destination in a reasonable timeframe, NASA needed to find an asteroid which had a similar orbit to Earth.

Size: Small asteroids, those less than 200m in diameter, typically spin much faster than larger asteroids, meaning the regolith material can be ejected into space. Bennu is around 500m in diameter, so rotates slowly enough to ensure that the regolith stays on its surface.

Composition: Bennu is a primitive asteroid, meaning it hasn’t significantly changed since the beginning of the Solar System (over 4 billion years ago). It is also very carbon-rich, meaning it may contain organic molecules, which could have been precursors to life on Earth.

Additionally, Bennu is of interest as it is a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA). Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Discuss the significance of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
  2. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

UN ‘Momentum for Change’ climate action award

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, awardees and significance of the award.

 

Context: An Indian private project, HelpUsGreen is one of 15 ground-breaking projects from around the world that has won this year’s UN climate action award.

  • The other 14 projects which won the UN ‘Momentum for Change’ climate action award showcase how ideas, big and small, are successful in tackling climate change.

 

About HelpUsGreen:

  • The project collects flowers from temples and mosques across many cities\towns in Uttar Pradesh and recycles them to produce natural incense, organic fertilizers and biodegradable packaging material.
  • The project currently employs 1,260 women in Uttar Pradesh, helps in preventing chemical pesticides from entering into the river through temple waste.
  • Developed as the world’s first profitable solution to the monumental temple waste problem, the HelpUsGreen’s products are handcrafted by women who earlier used to be manual scavengers.
  • The HelpUsGreen aims to provide livelihoods to 5,100 women and recycle 51 tonnes of temple waste daily by 2021.
  • Under HelpUsGreen, 11,060 metric tonnes of temple-waste has, so far, been recycled. As a result,110 metric tonnes of chemical pesticides that enter the river through temple waste have been offset.

 

About ‘Momentum for Change’ initiative:

Momentum for Change is an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on the enormous groundswell of activities underway across the globe that are moving the world toward a highly resilient, low-carbon future. Momentum for Change recognizes innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

FAME-India Scheme

 

To promote manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technologyand to ensure sustainable growth of the same, Department of Heavy Industry is implementing FAME-India Scheme Phase – I [Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India] from 1stApril 2015.

The scheme was initially up to 31st April 2017, has been extended up to 31stMarch 2019 or till Notification of FAME-II, whichever is earlier.

 

FAME-India Scheme Phase – II:

  • The scheme proposes to give a push to electric vehicles (EVs) in public transport and
  • It seeks to encourage adoption of EVs by way of market creation and demand aggregation.

Automobile Sector:

  • 100% FDI by automatic route is permitted in the automobile sector.
  • Further, the sector is deregulated, both private sector and public sector are free to carry out investment in the automobile sector, including for manufacturing of Electric Vehicles and E-Buses.

 

Background:

FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.

Vehicles in most segments – two wheelers, three wheelers, electric and hybrid cars and electric buses obtained the subsidy benefit of the scheme.

  • FAME focuses on 4 areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.

 

Source: PIB


Facts for Prelims:

 

Indian Navy- Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle:

Context: The Indian Navy has inducted its first Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) System at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. With this, the Indian Navy joins a select group of naval forces in the world that boasts of this niche capability.

  • DSRV is used to rescue crew members stranded in submarines that get disabled. The DSRV can be operated at a depth of 650 meters and can hold around 15 people.

India’s first Jean Monnet CoE opened at MAHE:

Context: India’s first Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, established by the European Union, was recently inaugurated at the Department of European Studies (DES) in Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE).

  • It comes with grant of €1,00,000 to pursue India-EU interdisciplinary studies in culture, literature, education and society.

Who is Jean Monnet? A French political economist and diplomat, Jean Monnet was influential supporter of European unity and is considered as one of founding fathers of European Union. He also has been called “The Father of Europe” by those who see his innovative and pioneering efforts in the 1950s as the key to establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of today’s European Union.

Universal Health Coverage Day- December 12:

Context: International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) on 12 December aims to mobilize diverse stakeholders to call for stronger, more equitable health systems to achieve universal health coverage, leaving no one behind.

The theme of World Health Day is: Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere.

What is Universal Health Coverage?

Universal health coverage (UHC) ensures all people, everywhere, can access the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. It is a fundamentally political goal rooted in the human right to health. It is also one of the smartest investments any country can make.

 

World’s first floating nuclear plant in Russia:

Akademik Lomonosov is the world’s first “floating” nuclear power plant (FNPP). It is coming up in Russia.

Key facts: An FNPP is basically a mobile, low-capacity reactor unit operable in remote areas isolated from the main power distribution system, or in places hard to access by land. They are designed to maintain both uninterruptible power and plentiful desalinated water supply in remote areas.