Daily Current affairs 17 May 2019UPSC - Daily Current Affair
Relevant articles from various news sources:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the project.
Context: The Kerala Legislative Assembly recently announced an initiative to digitize all its records and proceedings under its ambitious project called E-Vidhan.
Significance: Once the project is completed, all the Assembly proceedings like submission of notice by a member, question and answers, and all the other correspondence and business concerning the Assembly will go paperless.
What is e-Vidhan?
- It is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) comes under the Digital India Programme.
- Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MoPA) is the ‘Nodal Ministry’ for its implementation in all the 31 States/UTs with Legislatures.
- The funding for e-Vidhan is provided by the MoPA and technical support by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MietY).
- The funding of NeVA is through Central Sponsored Schemee. 60:40; and 90:10 for North East & hilly States and 100% for UTs.
Aim of the project: To bring all the legislatures of the country together, in one platform thereby creating a massive data depository without having the complexity of multiple applications.
- Paperless Assembly or e-Assembly is a concept involving of electronic means to facilitate the work of Assembly.
- It enables automation of entire law-making process, tracking of decisions and documents, sharing of information.
- Through the cloud technology (Meghraj), data deployed can be accessed anywhere at any time.
- Himachal Pradesh is already the first Digital Legislature of the country.
State Government’s Role in the implementation of e-Vidhan:
- The State Government will appoint a Secretary level officer to be designated as the nodal officer/representative for e-Vidhan implementation in the State Legislature(s).
- State Government will bear the funds required for running of e-Vidhan MMP after 3 years.
- The State Government will ensure capacity building for the effective implementation of e-Vidhan MMP module.
- State Government/Legislature will undertake maintenance and replacement of ICT equipment after 3 years.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features, need and significance of the new material.
Context: US researchers have designed a fully recyclable plastic which can be disassembled into its constituent parts at molecular level. The name of newly created recyclable plastic is Poly (Diketoenamine), or PDK.
- Unlike conventional plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives simply by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution.
- It can be fully recycled into new materials of any form, shape or colour without any loss of its performance or quality.
- Not only does acid break down PDK polymers into monomers, but the process also allows the monomers to be separated from entwined additives.
The new material takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective. It means that this recyclable plastic can be disassembled into its constituent parts at molecular level.
Most of the plastic products are made of large molecules called polymers. It is composed of various units of small carbon compounds named monomers. Manufacturers generally add chemicals to make plastic more useful.
When these plastics, with different chemical composition, go to processing unit are mixed and ground together into smaller pieces. After that plastic goes to the melting unit to make a new material, it becomes difficult to identify true properties.
Sources: the Hindu.
What to study?
For prelims: key features and recent findings by GSI.
For mains: need for enhancement of domestic production.
Context: Geological Survey of India (GSI) has released a report on graphite reserves in India. About 35 % of India’s total Graphite reserves is found in Arunachal Pradesh. This is the highest found in country.
As per GSI’s 2013 report, Arunachal Pradesh sits on 43% of the country’s graphite resources followed by Jammu & Kashmir (37%), Jharkhand (6%), Tamil Nadu (5%), and Odisha (3%).
At present India imports majority of Graphite from other countries. With 35 % of India’s Graphite deposits being found in Arunachal Pradesh, the State could now be developed as leading producer of graphite in country thus helping in meeting its future needs.
- Graphite is a naturally-occurring form of crystalline carbon. It is a native element mineral found in metamorphic and igneous rocks.
- It is extremely soft, cleaves with very light pressure, and has a very low specific gravity.
- It is the only non-metal element that is a good conductor of electricity.
- It is also known as a dry lubricant for its greasy feel.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Roles, contributions and achievements of Ishwar Chandra.
Why in News? The giant statue of Ishwar Chandra was recently vandalized by some political goons in Kolkata.
About Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:
- He was the 19th century intellectual.
- He was perhaps the first Indian reformer to put forward the issues of women.
- His Bengali primer, Borno Porichoy, remains, more than 125 years after his death in 1891, the introduction to the alphabet for nearly all Bengali children.
- He was a polymath who reconstructed the modern Bengali alphabet and initiated pathbreaking reform in traditional upper caste Hindu society.
- He studied Sanskrit grammar, literature, Vedanta philosophy, logic, astronomy, and Hindu law for more than 12 years at Sanskrit College in Calcutta, and received the title of Vidyasagar — Ocean of Learning — at the age of just 21.
- Privately, he studied English literature and philosophy and was appointed principal of Sanskrit College on January 22, 1851.
Reforms by Ishwar Chandra:
- The focus of his social reform was women — and he spent his life’s energies trying to ensure an end to the practice of child marriage and initiate widow remarriage. He argued, on the basis of scriptures and old commentaries, in favour of the remarriage of widows in the same way as Roy did for the abolition of Sati.
- He launched a powerful attack on the practice of marrying off girls aged 10 or even younger, pointing to social, ethical, and hygiene issues, and rejecting the validity of the Dharma Shastras that advocated it. He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).
- He campaigned against polygamy.
- On October 14, 1855, Vidyasagar presented a petition to the Government of India praying for early passing a law to remove all obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows and to declare the issue of all such marriages to be legitimate.
- On July 16, 1856, The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, known as Act XV, was passed.
Sources: Indian Express.
- Issues related to health.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key findings of the study, concerns raised and reforms needed.
Context: Global Drug Survey (GDS) report has been released.
About the survey:
- The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is an anonymised online survey that uses a detailed questionnaire to assess trends in drug use and self-reported harms among regular drug users and early adopters of new trends.
- The survey is not designed to determine the prevalence of drug behaviour in a population. It throws light on stigmatized behaviours and health outcomes of a hidden population that is otherwise difficult to reach.
- It uses its data and expertise to create digital health applications delivering screening and brief interventions for drugs and alcohol.
- It also produces a range of drug education materials for health and legal professionals, the entertainment industry and the general public.
Key findings on India:
- Indians — more than from other nationalities — are seeking help to reduce their alcohol intake.
- Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis were the most common stimulants used by Indians.
- Of the nearly 1,00,000 respondents from 30 countries, Indians reported ‘being drunk’ on an average of 41 times in the last 12 months — behind the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and
- About 6% of the female Indians surveyed reported seeking ‘emergency medical treatment’ in the last 12 months. The global female average was about 13%.
Drug menace in India:
India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east. Drug trafficking and abuse also pose serious threat to our societies.
Estimates suggest that there are 40 lakh drug addicts in the country. The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine-based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions. In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups.
Sources: the Hindu.
- Awareness in space.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the mission, why study far side of the moon?
In January, the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 — named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology — became the first ever craft to touch down on the far side of the lunar surface.
- China landed its probe in the Von Karmen Crater in the Aitken Basin at the Moon’s south pole — home to one of the largest impact craters known in the solar system.
- They detected materials such as olivine and low-calcium pyroxene that are rare elsewhere on the surface. Researchers suggest that these materials were ejected from the Moon’s upper mantle when it was struck by a meteor.
How was moon born?
The most widely accepted theory is that moon was born when a massive protoplanet slammed into young Earth, sending plenty of terrestrial building blocks into orbit around it.
Scientists suspect that the moon was covered in a magma ocean during its very early days. As it progressively cooled and solidified, denser minerals remained in the ocean’s depths while less dense minerals floated to the surface. This meant the geochemical compositions of the eventual mantle and crust layers turned out to be distinct from each other.
About the mission:
- Chang’e 4 is the fourth mission in the country’s lunar mission series which is being named after the Chinese moon goddess.
- The tasks of the Chang’e-4 probe include low-frequency radio astronomical observation, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the moon.
Significance of the mission:
According to experts, landing on the far side of the moon is undoubtedly one of the most challenging missions ever launched by any of the world’s superpowers.
Sources: The Hindu.
Paper 2 and 3:
- 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.
- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
What to study?
For Prelims: PMFBY- key features.
For Mains: PMFBY performance analysis, shortcomings and ways to address them.
Context: Out of ₹1,400 crore earmarked annually for the north-eastern States under the Centre’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, only ₹8 crore — or just over half a per cent — was actually spent last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Four north-eastern States — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — are not covered under the scheme at all.
Issues with the implementation of the scheme:
- Farmers in seven States and four Union Territories nationwide will not be covered by the scheme in this kharif or summer season, for which sowing begins next month.
- Some large States like Bihar and West Bengal have withdrawn from PMFBY to set up their own State-level schemes and Punjab has never participated in the scheme, while UTs like Delhi and Chandigarh are largely urban spaces.
- However, States in the Northeast, as well as the Union Territory of Daman and Diu, face challenges such as the lack of interest by insurance companies and the lack of State budgetary resources to pay their share of the premium.
- This lack of coverage has left thousands of maize farmers devastated by losses from the fall armyworm pest there without any hope of insurance.
- Insurance companies have been reluctant to bid for these States, as the administrative costs are high. There are no proper land records. Historic yield data is not available for these States, particularly at the gram panchayat and block level.
Challenges at present:
Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.
Data constraints: With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies.
Low payout of claims: The reason for the very low payout of claims is that only few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.
Gaps in assessment of crop loss: There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages. There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling
Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance, Inadequate and delayed claim payment.
High actuarial premium rates: Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates. If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.
Poor capacity to deliver: There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY. PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.
In April, 2016, the government of India had launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).
Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.
- Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
- Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for prelims:
Indian Coast Guard ship (ICGS) Vigraha:
Why in News? It has been decommissioned recently at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
- It is a frontline offshore patrol vessel (OPV). It was commissioned into service on April 12, 1990.
- It was the seventh OPV built by Mazagaon Dock Ltd, Mumbai. It was first of its class among other OPVs of third series.
- It was also leased to Sri Lankan Navy on a dry lease from August 2008 to January 2011. Later, it was re-inducted into Indian Coast Guard (IGC) in January 2019 after which it was continuously based at Visakhapatnam.
Context: The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has honoured Dr Pramod Kumar Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the ‘Sasakawa Award 2019 for Disaster Risk Reduction’.
- The Sasakawa Award is the most prestigious award of the United Nations in the area of Disaster Risk Management.
- Instituted 30 years back, the award is jointly organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Nippon Foundation.
- The winners of the award can be either organisations or individuals who are bestowed with a grant of USD 50000 as the award prize.