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Daily Current affairs 28 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Stuck in the valley(Image)

01

2

FinMin, NITI Aayog guidelines ignored in airport privatisation

01

3

Centre to launch Deep Ocean Mission in October

09

4

As old as the hills (Magazine)

06

5

The doctors of paintings(magazine)

09

6

What is zero budget natural farming?

14



 

Title

1.Stuck in the valley (Image) (The Hindu Page.01)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Geography 

Mains:GS Mains paper II, Indian Geography 

Theme

Zojila Pass

Highlights

 

About Zojila Pass

 
  • The pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 ft on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway.

  • This pass is most strategic for the entire Kargil sector which has seen intrusion and war in the past. 

  • Zojila has a historical significance as far as India is concerned. It had helped in the Kargil war. 

  • The pass was reclaimed by the Indians through an operation called as operation Bison. Operation Bison witnessed the use of Army tanks at such a high altitude for the first time in world history.A screenshot of a cell phone

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  •  Zojila tunnel: In 2018: government inaugurated the work for Asia’a longest and strategic bi-directional tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between  Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.

  • The tunnel will have a transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted power supply, tunnel emergency lighting, CCTV monitoring, pedestrian cross passages at every 250 metres, as well as emergency telephones and fire- fighting cabinets at every 125 metres.

 

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Title

2.FinMin, NITI Aayog guidelines ignored in airport privatisation (The Hindu Page.01)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Economy 

Mains: GS, paper III, Indian Economy 

Theme

Privatisation of airports 

Highlights

 

Context: The Union Cabinet in November 2018 decided to introduce private players for operation, management and development through a public-private partnership (PPP) model for six airports in India. 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister dated 8th November 2018 approved the following:

  1. "In-principle" approval for leasing out six airports of AAI viz. Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru for operation, management and development under Public Private Partnership (PPP) through Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC).

  2. Constitution of an Empowered Group of Secretaries headed by CEO, NITI Aayog with Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs and Secretary, Department of Expenditure to decide on any issue falling beyond the scope of PPPAC.

Benefits of involving private players:

  1. PPP in infrastructure projects brings efficiency in service delivery, expertise, enterprise and professionalism apart from harnessing the needed investments in the public sector.

  2. Inclusion of private players will also result in enhanced revenues to the Airport Authority of India (AAI), which may lead to further investment by AAI at Tier II and Tier III cities and economic development in these areas in terms of job creation and related infrastructure.   

  3. The PPP in airport infrastructure projects has brought world class infrastructure at airports, delivery of efficient and timely services to the airport passengers, augmenting revenue stream to the Airports Authority of India without making any investment, etc. of these, for development of Greenfield Airports at Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Presently, the airports being managed under the PPP model include Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin.

  4. The PPP airports in India have been ranked among the top 5 in their respective categories by the Airports Council International (ACI) in terms of Airport Service Quality (ASQ).

  5. While these PPP experiments have helped create world class airports, it has also helped AAI in enhancing its revenues and focusing on developing airports and Air Navigation infrastructure in the rest of the country.  

Recommendations of Finance Ministry not accepted

 
  • In this backdrop, Finance Ministry recommended not to award the same private player more than two airports out of a total of six airports to be privatised. 

  • However, the government panel for public private partnerships — the PPP Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) dismissed key suggestions made by the Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) and the NITI Aayog to improve criteria for selecting bidders.   

  • Key recommendations which were rejected by PPPAC included the requirement of prior experience in operation and management (O&M) as well as providing the total project cost up front for each of the airports, to better determine the financial capability of interested players.

  • Based on the suggestion of the panel, the Cabinet on 3rd July, 2019, approved the proposal for leasing out of three airports viz. Ahmadabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru of Airports Authority of India (AAI) through Public Private Partnership (PPP) to the highest bidder i.e. M/s. Adani Enterprises Ltd. who quoted the highest bid for these airports, for operation, management and development under PPP for a lease period of 50 years as per the terms and conditions of the bid documents. 

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Title

3.Centre to launch Deep Ocean Mission in October (The Hindu Page.09)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Environment and ecology 

Mains:GS Mains paper III, Environment and Ecology

Theme

Deep Ocean Mission

Highlights

 

Context - Ministry of Earth Sciences planned to explore the deepest part of the ocean named the ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’. The project has finally got the green signal from the government. A major thrust of the mission is to explore deepest part of the ocean including finding metals and minerals. The ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’ to be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31. 

 

Important Project under Deep Ocean Mission includes:

  • Setting an offshore desalination plant that will work with tidal energy 

  • Developing a submersible vehicle that can go to a depth of at least 6,000 metres with three people on board. 

  • Exploring Poly Metallic Nodules (PMN) 

 

Importance of Poly Metallic Nodules

  • Poly Metallic Nodules are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt. 

  • Finding 10% of PMN reserve can meet the energy requirement for the next 100 years. It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean. Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) will help in exploring PMN. 

  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).

   

History of Exploring PMN

  • The program on Poly metallic nodules was initiated at CSIR-NIO with the collection of the first nodule sample from Arabian Sea on board the first Research Vessel Gaveshani on 26 January 1981. 

  • India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules. This was based on extensive survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy in which significant contributions have been made by Indian scientists.   

  • This was based on the extensive surveys carried out by the scientists of CSIR-NIO, on several research ships leading to the allocation of an area of 1,50,000 sq km to the country with exclusive rights under the UN Law of the sea (UNCLOS).

  • Subsequently, Environment Impact Assessment studies for nodule mining by CSIR-NIO, development of metal extraction process by CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur and CSIR- Institute for Minerals and Metals Technology, Bhubaneswar and development of mining technology by National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai, have been taken up under the national program on Polymetallic nodules funded by Ministry of Earth Sciences. 

  • In August 2017, India’s exclusive rights to explore poly metallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years. These rights are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules. 

  • The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential is 380 million tonnes, containing 4.7 million tonnes of nickel, 4.29 million tonnes of copper and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt and 92.59 million tonnes of manganese. 

  • This has been approved unanimously in the 23rd session of International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded on August 18, 2017 at Kingston, Jamaica. 

 

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Title

4.As old as the hills (Magazine) (The Hindu Page.06)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Environment and ecology 

Mains:GS Mains paper III, Environment and Ecology

Theme

Nilgiri Mountain Railway 

Highlights

 

Mountain railway

 

•The mountain railways of India are the railway lines that were built in the mountains of India. 

•Three of them, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Kalka–Shimla Railway, are collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Mountain Railways of India. 

•The fourth railway, the Matheran Hill Railway, is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

•All four are narrow-gauge railways, and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is also the only rack railway in India.

 

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Title

5.The doctors of paintings (Magazine) (The Hindu Page.09)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Art & Culture 

Mains:GS, paper 1, Art & Culture 

Theme

About Dhavala manuscripts 

Highlights

 Bengaluru’s premier art institutions : Intach Chitrakala Parishath Art Conservation Centre( IcKpac) 

 
  • This is the only centre in south India where art conservation happens.

  • Also the centre is about to celebrate its 25 years of existence soon.

  • According to the author conservation is like forensic art. The materials used , the anatomy of the surface , the age of the painting -these are all deciphered using  technology.

  • It is far easier to document age of a European painting as there is documentation .

  • The Indian context is harder because ancient art was mostly religious and anonymous, like Chola bronzes , and used traditional material and methodology. This makes the work really difficult.

  • IcKpac has conserved about 20,000 manuscripts so far from the 11th century Dhavala Manuscript that contains teachings of Jainism to India’s only existing copy of kautilya’s Arthashastra

 

Title

6.What is zero budget natural farming? (The Hindu Page.14)

Syllabus 

Prelims: Economy 

Mains: GS paper III, Indian Economy 

Theme

Zero budget natural farming 

Highlights

In news -Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman thrust zero budget farming into the spotlight in the first Budget speech of the 17th Lok Sabha earlier this month, calling for a “back to the basics” approach.

 

What is it and how did it come about?

 
  • Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is a method of chemical free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices. 

  • It was originally promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shri recipient Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation. 

  • He argued that the rising cost of these external inputs was a leading cause of indebtedness and suicide among farmers, while the impact of chemicals on the environment and on long-term fertility was devastating. Without the need to spend money on these inputs — or take loans to buy them — the cost of production could be reduced, and farming made into a “zero budget” exercise, breaking the debt cycle for many small farmers.

  • Instead of commercially produced chemical inputs, the ZBNF promotes the application of jeevamrutha — a mixture of fresh desi cow dung and aged desi cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil — on farmland. This is a fermented microbial culture that adds nutrients to the soil, and acts as a catalytic agent to promote the activity of microorganisms and earthworms in the soil. About 200 litres of jeevamrutha should be sprayed twice a month per acre of land; after three years, the system is supposed to become self-sustaining. Only one cow is needed for 30 acres of land, according to Mr. Palekar, with the caveat that it must be a local Indian breed — not an imported Jersey or Holstein.

  • A similar mixture, called bijamrita, is used to treat seeds, while concoctions using neem leaves and pulp, tobacco and green chillis are prepared for insect and pest management. 

  • The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing. 

  • Mr. Palekar is against vermicomposting, which is the mainstay of typical organic farming, as it introduces the most common composting worm, the European red wiggler (Eisenia fetida) to Indian soils. He claims these worms absorb toxic metals and poison groundwater and soil.

 

Is the budgetary support enough?

 
  • Despite the ZBNF buzz caused by the Budget speech, the Finance Minister did not actually announce any new funding to promote it.

  •  Last year, the Centre revised the norms for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana- Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR), a flagship Green Revolution scheme with an allocation of ₹3,745 crore this year, and the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, which has an allocation of ₹325 crore and is meant to promote organic farming and soil health. Under the revised guidelines, both Centrally-sponsored schemes now allow States to use their funds to promote the ZBNF, vedic farming, natural farming, cow farming and a host of other traditional methods.

  • Andhra Pradesh says it has utilised ₹249 crore from these schemes to promote the ZBNF over a two-and-a-half-year period. The State estimates it will need ₹17,000 crore to convert all of its 60 lakh farmers to the ZBNF over the next 10 years.

  • However, this is only a fraction of the spending on Central government subsidies for fertilizers, pesticides and mass irrigation that has driven the Green Revolution model.

 

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